Locums for a Small World Blog

Best restaurants, best bars and best pastimes in every single Australian capital city (pt. 1)

Posted by Everett Fitch

Over the years we’ve written rather extensively about all the top locales to visit in Australia. In doing so we’ve almost run out of adjectives to accurately describe this wonderful country. Every adjective from awe-inspiring to zestful has leapt from our keyboards. Don’t worry though we haven’t run out of things to say yet. And fortunately we haven’t run out of locations to talk about, either.

It’s time to dive a little deeper, don’t you think? Instead of the broad strokes we’re used to. We’re going to give you a complete list of the best restaurants, best bars and best pastimes in every last Australian capital. This way if you find yourself in any one of these cities with no idea as to what to do then just jump on our trusty blog and you’re all set. Oh and for those of you who’ve been to these cities and don’t agree with our finds please feel free to write your favorite places in the comments below. We’d love to hear what you think.

Adelaide, South Australia

Best restaurant: Orana (Aboriginal word for “welcome”)

If you want a real taste of Australia with a spotlight on not just local but native, too, then Orana is where you should go. It’s quite the unique experience – small and intimate where the focus is on the food and all the wine pairings that go with.

Best bar: The Collins Bar

Instead of picking a hip, new bar (as there are a ton in Adelaide to choose from) we opted for an established, tried-and-true favorite called The Collins Bar. This is a specialty cocktail joint with a modern, relaxed atmosphere. Grab a babysitter then head to this bar for some exemplary cocktails and great conversation.

Best pastime: Adelaide Hills

This was a tough one. It was a choice between a beach destination and tramping through winery-coated hills. We decided to head for the hills. The Adelaide Hills has it all (except for a beach). Pick some fresh fruit straight from the bush, tree or vine. Sample some local wines. Stroll through the hills unencumbered. Watch kangaroos hop around. IT'S GOT EVERYTHING.

Brisbane, Queensland

Best restaurant: Stokehouse Brisbane

Almost as brilliant as Stokehouse Brisbane’s menu is its riverside location. It has an open design with big windows so you feel as though you’re right in the mix of nature. You can sit on the deck too if you want. You can even catch a glimpse of the city from your seat. So snag a Mediterranean dish and let the ambient city life wash over you. Be warned, this place fills up fast so book in advance.

Best bar: The Laneway

It’s difficult to choose a proper bar for everyone to enjoy. All sorts of people have all sorts of different tastes in scenery and ambience. Though we think all will be pleased with The Laneway. It’s cemented itself as one of the best bars in all of Brisbane for its welcoming yet stylistic atmosphere and its bountiful selection of boutique beers and finely crafted cocktails. Not to mention it has a firm focus on being both green and local in its never-ending pursuit of spirits, wines, beers and cocktail ingredients.

Best pastime: North Stradbroke Island (AKA "Straddie")

When it comes to pastimes we tend to opt for the outdoors, especially in a place like Brisbane. We don’t want to discriminate too much; occasionally we do offer insight into top museums, art galleries, historic buildings, etc. But for the most part the outdoors is where it’s at and it’s always ripe for exploring.

Head to North Stradbroke Island via a short ferry ride from Brisbane. You’ll be met with sublime views. Either relax or customize your own tour: everything from 4WD treks to sandboarding is available.

Canberra, Australian Capital Territory

Best restaurant: Eighty Six

A retreat from the fine-dining, small-plate atmosphere, Eighty Six could be coined a hipster eatery. But we’d be remiss if we did such a disservice to such a radiant restaurant. It can be a bit noisy in here but that’s because the diners are having a helluva flavor experience and can’t do anything but shout about it. The menu is richly unique, the plates are meant to be shared, and a blackboard shows you what’s been eighty-sixed (nixed) from the menu as they slowly run out.

Best bar: 54 Benjamin

There are a lot of great bars in Canberra. That’s because the capital is a hip place to be. But we had to decide on one. And 54 Benjamin was our choice. It is newer than most bars in town but we picked it for very sound reasons. They have a penchant for creating high-end cocktails that hit your taste buds just right. And it’s a place where pretty much everyone can feel welcome.

Best pastime: National Gallery of Australia

Remember when we said we tend to opt for the outdoors? Well this time in Canberra we’re staying inside. That’s not because Canberra is lacking in things to do outdoors, no. It’s because when you’re in the capital city of Australia you’re going to want to visit the National Gallery of Australia. It hosts contemporary, Australian, Indigenous and Asian artwork among others. Don’t stop here, either. Canberra is home to many great art galleries. Get out in the city and explore.

Darwin, Northern Territory

Best restaurant: Hanuman

Ask a Darwin local about a few of their favorite restaurants and they’ll most certainly throw Hanuman in the mix. That’s because it’s a community staple. It’s been said that the chef and restaurateur Jimmy Shu put Darwin on the map when it comes to great dining. The menu combines Thai, Indian and Nonya flavors to give diners an unforgettable tasting experience. Try the fresh and local barramundi for a real treat.

Best bar: The Darwin Ski Club

This one’s a bit of a cheat as it’s kind of a restaurant, too. It also doubles as the home of the Northern Territory Water Ski Association. But all are welcome.

While we say go ahead, order a delicious bucket of prawns straight from the Arafura Sea and dig in. We also say come here after a long day to watch the spectacular sunset as you sip on a local brew.

Best pastime: Darwin Harbour

Darwin is a great jumping-off point for adventurers of all kinds. You’ve got Kakadu National Park, Mary River National Park and Litchfield National Park all nearby. Plus Darwin Harbour is right out your front door.

Magnificent landscapes rich with wondrous flora and fauna surround this Northern Territory capital. It’s extremely difficult to choose just one experience for our list. But since we have to choose we’re going with a pleasant nature cruise around Darwin Harbour. It’s a fantastic primer to get you excited about all the other outdoor adventures you can have in this part of Australia.

Stay tuned for our next installment where you’ll find out about all the best restaurants, best bars and best pastimes in the rest of the capital cities across Australia: Hobart, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney. Again, feel free to comment below if you’ve been to any of these places, or if you have any places you’d recommend yourself. In the meantime, find out what physician opportunities are available in Australia right now by clicking the orange button below.

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Topics: Adelaide, South Australia, Brisbane, Queensland, Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia, Best Restaurants in Australia, Best Bars in Australia, Best Pastimes in Australia

These birds like their nectar shaken, not stirred

Posted by Saralynn White

describe the imageAs the wet season approaches Australia’s Northern Territory and the mercury begins to climb, locals head indoors to...drink. The capital city of Darwin reputedly has some of the best pubs in all of Australia and Mitchell Street is where you’ll find them. Just don’t tell the country’s lorikeets.

There's another natural phenomenon that occurs here at this time of the year: Drunken Parrot Season. Yes, flocks of seemingly tipsy red-collared lorikeets (a type of parrot and a sub-species of the rainbow lorikeet) are seen staggering about, falling out of trees, and (much like humans) they apparently get more and more friendly as the haze wears on. Really blotto birds have no fear of humans whatsoever. They're rescued from lawns and roadsides, but are they actually drunk? The best explanation is that the birds are eating tree fruit that has fermented. Apparently, polly is three sheets to the wind.

The distinctive bright blue head, green wings and red and orange markings on the neck of the lorikeet make these birds hard to miss—even when they’re not flying under the influence. But the number of lush lorikeets is increasing each year and unlike human benders, binging birds don't just sleep it off: they suffer from a hangover-like sickness that lasts several days and is sometimes accompanied by respiratory problems.

LorikeetLorikeet resized 600

This year, animal experts are preparing to rescue and care for hundreds of “pissed” birds, who are given sweetened porridge and fresh fruit—the avian version of hangover food. Wildcare Inc. NT and The Ark, Inc. are both non-profit wildlife care and rescue organizations that work to assist the wayward birds every year. 

Oh, and if you aren’t already familiar with the lovely lorikeet don’t let their strange annual drinking binge stop you from being a fan. The birds are beloved throughout the country and make “one heckuva lovely racket” that Aussies are accustomed to hearing every morning. Check out the video of some lorikeets enjoying some nectar
(and getting drunk) in this mate’s neighborhood tree:

Topics: Darwin, Drunk Parrot Season, Lorikeets, Wildcare Inc. NT, The Ark, Northern Territory

70 years later, Darwin is an all-new frontline; just ask Dr. Starkey.

Posted by Saralynn White

Darwin, the capital of Australia's Northern Territory


Hello again from the Top End of Australia,

We toured the Darwin Military Museum this past month and learned details of Australia’s role in World War II.
My father, Army Air Force Master Sergeant Joe Starkey, was an aircraft mechanic on various islands in the region (New Guinea, Solomon Islands, and the Philippines) and spent time in Australia. In fact, I still have a 1943 Australian dollar bill he brought home.

If you’re not familiar with the details, on February 19, 1942 Japanese aircraft brought fury down on Darwin. A total of 683 bombs were dropped killing 243 people in the first raid—though to prevent panic spreading throughout the country, authorities at that time played down the number of deaths. It was the first and the largest single attack mounted by a foreign power against Australia. Incidentally, the raid was conducted by the same pilots who had bombed Pearl Harbor less than three months earlier—and they flew from the same aircraft-carrier fleet! Ultimately, 64 raids occurred in the Northern Territory over the next three years, prompting ain influx of some 250,000 military personal from Australia, Great Britain, Canada and the USA to the region. The USS Peary destroyer became a watery grave for 91 brave US sailors who died during the attack; the sunken ship remains in Darwin.

Tragically, the city of Darwin was destroyed again in 1974—on Christmas Eve no less—when Cyclone Tracy came ashore. Now rebuilt, it is the most modern city in the country and has a young, growing population of about 120,000. The city itself is built on a low bluff overlooking the harbor, and the region (like the rest of the Top End) has a tropical climate with a wet and a dry season. We finally had our worst bout of rain with 4 inches falling in 8 hours, so our grand total for January was 20 inches. This made for wild wave action in front of our home when the tides were their highest. Molly caught a shot of a bloke who didn’t seem to be bothered by tidal waters as he fished!

Molly Evans atop "The Hanger"
This month, Molly also checked off two big items on her “bucket list”: she climbed the largest steel span bridge in the world over Sydney Harbor, “The Hanger” (it’s affectionately called that because it looks like a clothes hanger), and she took a two-day railroad journey on the famed “Ghan” train. She rode in the Kangaroo Red class with a backpack from Adelaide to Katherine

The famed Ghan, and nearly famous Molly EvansWe both enjoyed a coastal weekend fishing trip with new friends, including a sand dunes cruise in an open-air utility truck. We didn’t catch any fish, but we did see a magnificent sunset. I was completely enthralled by the "mudskippers" living on the mangrove and in water. These amphibious fish use their fins to move around in a series of skips—up to two feet into the air! Unbelievably, they breathe through their skin, which must remain moist. They pretty much blend right in here!

We are loving thA mud skipper in the mangrovee hot, humid experience at the Top End of Australia and have met so many wonderful people. We’re heading home soon, it's not the end of our locum tenens adventures - not by a long shot.

Dr. Kathryn Starkey and "Izzy"Cheers,
Kathy & Molly

Dr. Kathy Starkey, an OB/GYN, and her partner, Molly Evans, have chosen locum tenens as a permanent lifestyle (they're currently on their seventh assignment). Their adventures have taken them to New Zealand's North and South Islands, the Cayman Islands, Western Australia, the Australian island state of Tasmania and now the Top End of Australia.

Topics: Darwin, mudskippers, Dr. Kathryn Starkey, Molly Evans, Top End of Australia

Locums for a Small World Blog

Twice a month, our inquisitive locum tenens community asks us to tackle topics ranging from cuisine and culture to recreation and entertainment. We also include great storytelling from our doctors. Have a topic you’d like to read about? Let us know.

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