Monthly Archives: June 2019

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Three of the best: Coburg

Ten years ago you could still have snapped up a bargain unrenovated California bungalow in Coburg.

These days it’s getting harder – most of the period houses have been rejuvenated, extended and occupied by a whole new wave of families.

Many of those families moved out to the suburb as young couples from the more cramped inner suburbs, attracted by the fact they could buy a house with character, plus get a backyard and a side drive, and still be within 10 kilometres of the city.

A decade or so down the track the children of this new demographic have grown into teenagers and, with their weight in numbers, their families have been able to lobby successfully for the reopening of Coburg High School.

The school had its first intake of Year 7s this year since it was closed in 2004.

Today the houses may no longer be bargain price – unless you’re prepared to venture up to the northern end of the suburb. But you can still get a lot of house for your money in Coburg, says local agent Shelley Quinn of Brad Teal Real Estate.

The streets are wide and block sizes are often generous, and there are endless streetscapes of those lovely Edwardians and California bungalows, interspersed by the occasional Victorian and a smattering of more modern rebuilds.

“There is something of a romance with period homes in the suburb,” Ms Quinn says.

Proximity to transport is another big drawcard. Apart from being a whisker from CityLink, the suburb has three tramlines and three railway stations on the Upfield line.

A bike track running down the side of the railway line and straight into town is packed with cyclist commuters every morning.  Locals love

Up this end of Sydney Road you get authentic old school multicultural Coburg, but hipster-ish neighbourhood cafes are springing up across the suburb – with some favourites including True North in Munro Street and vegetarian eatery Little Deer Tracks in O’Hea Street. O’Hea Street also has the eponymous bakery and delicatessen which is crowded with locals sitting down for lunch or grabbing something to cook up on their way home. Best addresses

In the eastern part of the suburb, streets like The Grove, The Avenue and Rennie Street have some very grand homes that wouldn’t look out of place in the more salubrious eastern suburbs. The Glencairn Estate, behind John Fawkner Hospital on Moreland Road, has beautiful tree-lined streetscapes of Edwardian homes protected by a heritage overlay.

32 Queen Street $950,000 – $1,045,000 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, 2 car spaces

There is something particularly lovely about a well-renovated Californian bungalow – all those gables, the grand porch at the front and usually a bay window or two. Inside they are usually well-proportioned with the only problem that the living areas were usually sited in the front of the home.

This renovation has taken advantage of that by turning what would probably have once been the formal lounge with its lovely bay window into the main bedroom, and creating an en suite and walk-in robe within its generous proportions, and turning the other room – perhaps originally the dining – into a formal lounge.

There are two more bedrooms either side of the hallway beyond this, plus a beautiful modern bathroom with sleek bath and shower, a separate powder room and a generous laundry.

The house then opens out to a spacious open-plan living meals and kitchen area with north-facing windows that flood it with light despite the easterly orientation of the rear.

Bi-fold doors open to the backyard with its covered deck area and a rectangle of grass. At the south end of Coburg, and walking distance to the Melville Street tram, this will be an ideal home for a family.

Room for improvement A bigger family could enclose the front formal lounge to become a fourth bedroom at a pinch. 

3 Chambers Street $670,000 – $730,000 2 bedrooms, 1 bathroom, 1 car space

Once a compact Victorian cottage, this home has been nicely extended and renovated to make for a very comfortable and rather chic home suitable for a couple or small family.

It’s a pretty house, with the fretwork on the verandah behind the deep landscaped front garden picked out in striking magenta to contrast with the two-tone grey.

The current owners have taken advantage of the wider than normal block to create a new side extension at the front that houses a lavish bathroom and laundry.

At the back the living areas are oriented sidewards towards the north, where windows and sliding doors open on to a generous deck and al fresco area providing for a number of relaxation and entertainment options.

The back area is dominated by a heated swim spa which has its own deck and access to an outdoor shower on the way back to the bathroom.

In the backyard is also an almost self-contained studio, with a kitchenette and toilet and plenty of room for a desk and daybed, but not quite enough for a full-sized bed. Beyond that is a shed and a carport that has access to the right of way from the rear laneway.

Room for improvement The backyard here is made up of pockets that would work well for adults but are not very user-friendly for smaller children. Creating a bigger backyard would require some serious demolition, perhaps of the swim-spa and the studio. 

9 Webb Street $770,000 – $840,000 3 bedrooms, 1 bathroom, 1 car space

A good family home benefits from a range of spots where the family can get away from each other to do their own thing. This one has them in spades, especially once the weather improves enough for outdoor living.

It starts with the very pleasant sitting area on the porch looking out over the nicely parterred​ front yard, sheltered by the characteristic overhang of this style of early 20th-century weatherboard.

There are two separate living areas, another sheltered al fresco entertaining area in the backyard, and the bonus surprise of a loft studio accessible from the main bedroom.

Built into the roofline, this studio has plenty of light and would be perfect as a study, music practice area or perhaps a yoga retreat.

Beyond the three good-sized bedrooms – the main is particularly generous – and the formal lounge, the family area – lit on three sides – will comfortably hold a troop of teenagers, serviced by a smart well-appointed kitchen.

There’s an extra toilet off the laundry to supplement the big central bathroom, and a shed out the back. Coburg North Primary and and O’Heas Bakery and Deli are just round the corner.

Room for improvement At present the covered al fresco area takes up much of the backyard making the home more suitable for teenagers, but this could be removed to return some backyard space for those with smaller children wanting a trampoline or room to run around.   Domain

Help Tegan Martin help Molly-Jane: Support Tegan on Celebrity Apprentice

Molly-Jane Boyson and Tegan MartinSHE is the Newcastle-born model who made her mark on the world stage.

But now Miss Universe 2014 contestant Tegan Martin needs her home town’s help.

Currently shooting 14-hour days for the next instalment of Celebrity Apprentice, Martin, 22, wants to use the show to raise as much money as she can for a charity close to her heart.

Touched by the story of Molly-Jane Boyson, a New-Lambton girl born with a rare genetic disease known as CACT, Martin wanted to help the five-year-old realise her dream.

‘‘I recently attended a benefit night for Molly-Jane,’’ Martin said. ‘‘She is a beautiful little girl, full of energy and her condition breaks my heart. ‘‘It was her dream to go to Disneyland and I am proud to say I was a small part in helping it come true. ‘‘I called on my close friend Miss USA Nia Sanchez and after countless emails and phone calls and with her help I was able to supply the family with tickets to Disneyland.

‘‘It was an amazing feeling to have helped even if only a little.

‘‘But this wasn’t enough. ‘‘This little girl’s story touched me and I wanted to do more.

‘‘Then came Celebrity Apprentice and I have decided to raise money for The Metabolic Clinic at theChildren’s Hospital at Westmead. ‘‘They have kept Molly-Jane alive but are underfunded and in danger of closure.

‘‘I’ll do anything I can for that little fighter.’’

The ultimate goal in Celebrity Apprentice is to raise much-needed funds for deserving charities, with each contestant nominating a cause of their own.

The better they go in the challenges and the more money they raise the more likely they are to remain on the show.

‘‘I’m going to need all the help I can get so I don’t get fired,’’ Martin said.

‘‘I would love some donations and some support from all those Novocastrians and Newcastle businesses out there.’’

Martin said the long days filming for the series, which is expected to air in September, have been demanding, but she is enjoying herself.

‘‘I’m not going to lie, it’s been hard,’’ Martin said.

‘‘It feels like an endurance test, but I am getting there.

‘‘I’m really enjoying the company. ‘‘There are a wide, diverse range of characters. ‘‘I’m the youngest, so I’m trying to absorb as much knowledge as I can. ‘‘I think a lot of people may have underestimated me, but I’m hopefully showing them what I can do.’’

Martin hopes her role on the show will provide a platform to break into more TV work.

If you want to help Tegan raise money for her chosen charity and keep her on the show then you can contact her on Instagram @tegan.martin and send her a direct message. Teganwill contact you with details on how to donate.

In Bruges, Belgium travel guide: A behind the scenes look

Belfort Markt. Photo: Jan DarthetWould you take holiday tips from a pair of hitmen? If you have caught the 2008 black comedy, In Bruges, you are probably ready to give it a go. The English film, which follows the adventures of a pair of criminals laying low after a botched hit, is set in the lovely Belgian city of Bruges, or Brugge, as the locals call it. With the medieval streetscapes stealing every scene, this film does for Bruges’ tourism industry what Peter Jackson’s movies have done for New Zealand’s.  Our hit list helps you make the most of any stay. TO MARKET, TO MARKET

Way before New Yorkers invented Fifth Avenue, the good folk of Bruges strutted their stuff at the Grote Markt, or big market. The ornately gabled medieval buildings, built by the town’s powerful guilds, are a perfect illustration of the medieval art of bling. WATER WORLD

Shh, don’t tell Venice, but Bruges’ network of charming canals may be the city’s most underrated attraction. With fewer tourists than you will find in the Italian city, you can follow the waterways to explore the city without getting swamped by crowds. Our favourite is the romantic Groenerei​, or green canal, lined with trees, creepers and elegant mansions. The best vantage point is from the Peerdebrug​, or Horse Bridge. BEER NECESSITIES

They’re a thirsty mob in Bruges: this little town once had no fewer than 54 breweries within its walls. The sole survivor, De Halve Maan​, is going strong: to avoid the traffic jams caused by its many delivery trucks, they are currently building build a 3km pipeline under the city streets to pump the beer to their bottling facility outside town. Sign up for one of the regular brewery tours, or just sample some wares in the airy tasting room. The Brugse Zot lager is a popular choice; for something stronger, try the Straffe Hendrik.

halvemaan.beART ATTACK

Like Florence, Bruges was once the epicentre of an artistic revolution. Back in the 15th and 16th centuries, the likes of Jan van Eyck​ and Hans Memling​ used oil paints to create a new type of art, one that moved away from traditional religious imagery to celebrate the riches of the real world. The sumptuous canvases on display in the Groeninge Museum include portraits of Bruges’ elite clad in rich furs and velvets and bedecked with dazzling jewellery, as seductive as any advertisement in Vogue.

bezoekers.brugge.beCIRCLING THE SQUARE

The Grote Markt​ is only one of Bruges’ grand squares. Just a short walk away is the Burg, once the town’s administrative centre and still one of its most imposing spaces. Amid the grand Gothic architecture, keep an eye out for the 14th century city hall, or Stadhuis​, bedecked with statues of the Counts of Flanders and their Countesses. Its interior is equally impressive, particularly the wooden ceiling in the Gothic Hall. A geometric bunker by Toyo Ito, sitting in a pool of water, brings a striking contemporary touch to the square.  TENDER MERCIES

Few people guess the purpose of the mighty medieval building located next to the Church of Our Lady. For hundreds of years, Saint John’s Hospital was a place of shelter for pilgrims, travellers and the sick. Today it is a museum which displays not just medical artefacts, but also furniture, sculpture and silverware. Keep an eye out for the gorgeous caskets, altarpieces and the art on display in the chapel.

bezoekers.brugge.beUPSTAIRS, DOWNSTAIRS

The two-storey Basilica of the Holy Blood has a distinctly split personality. The downstairs chapel is a masterpiece of minimalism, a starkly lovely 12th century Romanesque room. The riotously decorated chapel upstairs, which allegedly houses a vial containing the blood of Christ, is a complete contrast.


Ever notice how often women get left out of history? Take the Crusades. European men streamed towards to Jerusalem, driven by religious fervour and a killing fever. But what about the women they left behind? Some retreated to a nunnery; others chose a more sociable option. Bruges’ Begijnhof​, or Beguinage, was a tranquil retreat that let women stay in touch with the outside world. Its whitewashed houses, shaded by trees and fringed by a daffodil-covered law, are appealing even today.

bezoekers.brugge.beMARBLE MARY

The mighty Church of Our Lady took 700 years to build; locals grumble that the current renovations may take almost as long. Scaffolding means the soaring interiors lose their impact, and the famous royal tombs are also temporarily off-limits. However, you can still check out the church’s most famous exhibit, a serene Madonna and Child by Michelangelo that is the only one of his creations to leave Italy during his lifetime. TOWERING ABOVE

The mighty 83 metre Belfry plays a key role in the film, In Bruges. If you are up for climbing 366 steps, you will get an amazing view of the rooftops and the snaking silver canals. The tower used to have a wooden spire, but after it burnt down for the third time in 1741, the locals gave up and left it as it is now.


Emirates operates 84 flights per week from Australia to Dubai with a daily onwards connection to Brussels, from where there are regular train services to Bruges; phone 1300 303 777; see emirates杭州夜网m/au. STAYING THERE

With its intimate canalside setting and romantic rooms, Die Swaene​ is one of Bruges’ most charming lodgings, rooms from $250, see At Steenhouwersdijk​ 1; see slh杭州夜网m. EATING THERE

Everyone wants a smart little diner like Quatre Mains just around the corner. The lucky folk of Bruges get to drop in for their delicious shrimp bisque whenever they like. At Philipstockstraat​ 8; see facebook杭州夜网m/4mains. DRINKING THERE

An easily-overlooked door leads down to t’Poatersgat​, a gorgeous vaulted cellar bar. A great place to sample Belgian beer, with 120 different varieties on tap. At Vlaamingstraat 82; see facebook杭州夜网m/t-Poatersgat.

The writer travelled courtesy of Visit Flanders and Emirates Airlines.

Philadelphia’s medical Mutter Museum has an intriguing twist

A cabinet of skulls in the Mütter Museum of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia. A cabinet showcasing different sized skeletons.

The museum’s main gallery.

The brain of Albert Einstein on slides.

A cabinet showcasing different sized skeletons.

A cabinet showcasing different sized skeletons.

Philadelphia’s College of Physicians is a nondescript brick building that you would probably walk past were it not for a sign announcing that the building’s contents are “disturbingly informative”. What, you can’t help but wonder, is that supposed to mean?

In short, it means the Mütter Museum, which was founded in 1858 when Dr Thomas Dent Mütter donated a collection of 1300 anatomic and pathological specimens to the college. Originally, this collection  was meant as a teaching aid: it would help doctors better acquaint themselves with the human body and its ailments.

Since then, the collection has grown to 25,000 objects, and opened to the public, though it remains true to its original mandate. “Our mission is the same,” Anna Dhody, director of the museum, tells me when I meet her in a basement office. “Our mission in the 150-year-plus history has always been education.”

Shrunken heads aside, this place is a far cry from Ripley’s Believe It or Not.

Dhody takes me on a tour of the museum, which is spread over two floors, and presented salon-style, with many wooden cabinets and glass panels. I should mention that the Mütter Museum sugar-coats nothing; a visitor should come with an open mind and a strong constitution.

“Certain things definitely elicit audible responses,” Dhody says, as we wander past a giant jar filled with flakes of skin, all of them picked off by a person with the mental disorder dermatillomania. As a teaching facility, the museum admits people of all ages; Dhody has seen a seven-year-old ask sensible questions and a 17-year-old pass out from revulsion. To put it mildly, Mütter is a matter of personal taste.

“If you open any of these drawers,” Dhody continues, pointing out safety pins, buttons and nails, “everything you see was removed from somebody’s throat.”

I could offer long, detailed descriptions of the cabinets surrounding us. I could talk about the conjoined twins, the super-colon, the wax model of an arm riddled with smallpox, the plaster bust of a woman with a salivary gland tumour, even the preserved thorax of John Wilkes Booth, the man who shot Abraham Lincoln. But I’ll refrain, because what’s most interesting – what makes the Mütter Museum both admirable and worthy for visiting – is how respectfully everything is treated, how soberly and measured.

Labels are kept carefully objective, leaving interpretations to the visitor. It’s not about spectacle or sensationalism; it’s about reality in all its obtuse and unsettling manifestations. “Knowledge is the most important thing,” Dhody says. She wants people to look and marvel at the world around us.

Two exhibits are particularly effective at provoking this. The first is little more than a series of slides, created by a pathologist named Thomas Harvey. “For decades,” a plaque explains, “Harvey kept the brain of one of the world’s greatest minds in a glass jar, sometimes in a cider box under a beer cooler, and eventually the brain ended up on the floor of a closet in Kansas. Harvey also dissected the brain into 240 blocks and created 1000 microscopic slides of the brain tissue.”

That brain belonged to Albert Einstein, and peering down at slices of the great thinker’s brain is to wonder at the power of the brain itself.

The other exhibit, in a room dedicated to “Healing in Civil War Philadelphia,” reminds a visitor of how miraculous are the leaps and bounds of modern medicine.

“What was it like to get shot and lose your arm?” asks a sign beside a small black room. I enter my gender, height and skin tone into a touch-screen computer, then enter the room to stand before an oversize mirror. The simulated amputation that follows is relentless and confronting. It also makes me realise another value of museums like this one  – empathy, fellow-feeling for others and their suffering.  TRIP NOTESMORE INFORMATION

discoverphl杭州夜网m. GETTING THERE

Several airlines offer flights from Sydney and Melbourne to Philadelphia, including Qantas, via Dallas-Fort Worth. See qantas杭州夜网m. Philadelphia is conveniently located between New York and Washington DC, making it a good stop on the Amtrak train service. See amtrak杭州夜网m. STAYING THERE

The recently refurbished Westin Philadelphia is on Rittenhouse Square, walking distance to many attractions, including the Mütter Museum. Rooms range from about   $310 a night. See starwoodhotels杭州夜网m/westin/philadelphia. SEE + DO 

The Mütter Museum, 19 S 22nd Street, is open daily 10am to 5pm. Entry is $22.  See muttermuseum杭州夜网.

The writer was a guest of the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Wallabies lock Sam Carter on track to return from knee injury in time for Rugby World Cup

Wallabies and Brumbies lock Sam Carter is aiming to make a late bid for the 2015 Rugby World Cup. Photo: Jay CronanThe World Cup dream for Wallabies and Brumbies lock Sam Carter is well and truly alive with his quicker than expected recovery from a knee injury.

Carter is on track to return to the field in mid-August for a National Rugby Championship match with NSW Country.

If all goes well in his comeback from a torn medial ligament, Carter will then be available for selection for the Wallabies’ historic Test match against the USA in Chicago on September 5.

That will be the last hit-out for the Wallabies before they start their World Cup campaign against Fiji in Cardiff on September 24.

Carter returned to straight line running last week – eight weeks after his knee injury.

He is aiming to play for NSW Country in their first game of the NRC on August 22, giving him time to launch a late bid for World Cup selection.

“If I’m in the picture, maybe I can perform in one game before they [the Wallabies] go to the US,” Carter said.

“Watching a team you were a part of last year and not being able to be a part of it is tough, but I’m just doing everything I can to get back and make sure I’m right to go.

“Personally, I think that I’ll have confidence in my knee, then it’ll be up to the coaches and staff to what they want to do with me.”

Wallabies coach Michael Cheika sent Carter a message of support soon after he tore the MCL in his knee in the Brumbies’ 22-16 win over the Bulls on May 30.

Carter would be a valuable addition to a Wallabies forward pack, which has shown plenty of positive signs in the team’s opening two wins in The Rugby Championship against South Africa and Argentina.

The 24-year-old made 11 appearances for the Wallabies in his debut international campaign last year.

The Wallabies are blessed with several quality options at lock. Rob Simmons and Will Skelton were in the starting side in the win over the Pumas, while Dean Mumm provided plenty of impact off the bench.

Carter will have another running session on Friday as he continues his rehabilitation.

“Each day I’m progressing that little bit further, it’s pretty positive at the moment,” Carter said.

“The knee has responded really well to all the treatment and all the rehab I’ve been doing. Mid-August is around the 10-11 week mark. It’ll be good to get back out there and hopefully test it out.”

The Wallabies have the opportunity to clinch The Rugby Championship when they host the All Blacks at ANZ Stadium on August 8.

While Cheika’s men haven’t fired on all cylinders so far, they are laying the groundwork ahead of the World Cup.

“Both games weren’t particularly pretty to watch at times, but the most important thing is they got the result and they are starting to come together really well,” Carter said.

“It’s exciting times to watch a team develop and hopefully I can be a part of it.”