Cook Islands: An Overview

Fifteen tiny islands in paradise, that a small nation calls home


Where would someone say, “may you live long”, upon meeting you for the first time, but in the Cook Islands?

The Cook Islands greeting Kia Orana, means exactly that, “may you live long.” It’s a unique first gesture of friendship from a special Polynesian people, renown for their hospitality and warmth.

Sprinkled over 2.25 million sq km of the South Pacific Ocean, the Cook Islands are like an ei (necklace) of island gems at the centre of the Polynesian Triangle.

Lying between Tahiti and Samoa, the Cook Islands consists of two main islands, Rarotonga and Aitutaki, with 13 smaller islands. All of the islands combined make up a land area of just 240 sq km.


Each of the island ‘gems’ is unlike the other and all have their own special features. From the majestic peaks of Rarotonga, the main island, to the low lying untouched coral atolls of the northern group islands of Manihiki, Penrhyn, Rakahanga, Pukapuka, Nassau and Suwarrow. The latter, inhabited only by a caretaker and his family, is a popular anchorage for yachts from all over the world.

The southern group of islands is made up of the capital Rarotonga, Aitutaki, Atiu, Mangaia, Mauke, Mitiaro, Manuaw, Palmerston and Takutea. Takutea is an uninhabited bird sanctuary and managed by the Atiu Island Council. Manuae is the remaining uninhabited island.

Cook Islanders have their own Maori language and each of the populated islands a distinct dialect. The population of the Cook Islands is around 20,000.

The Cooks have been self-governing in free association with New Zealand since 1965. By virtue of that unique relationship, all Cook Islanders hold New Zealand passports, and use a combination of New Zealand currency and distinctive Cook Islands coins and a $3 dollar note that has the same value as New Zealand currency.



See also:

Holidays With Kids: Cook Islands Family Friendly Guide

Lebanese walking food tour of Punchbowl

My birthday gift to my Mum this year was a walking food tour of Punchbowl and what a food-lovers delight it turned out to be.

Organised by Maeve O’Meara’s  Gourmet Safaris, the tour takes in all the best places to source and eat food in the Sydney suburb of Punchbowl.

Lebanese cuisine is well regarded in the suburb, to the extent that culinary walking tours of Punchbowl sell out months ahead.There are a number of Lebanese sweet shops in the suburb.

Both Mum and I are familiar with the suburb of Punchbowl since it is relatively close to where we both live but we have never shopped there.

Nancy was our guide on the Lebanese Walking Tour of Punchbowl and she was just wonderful. So warm and welcoming, informative and funny.


We met in the morning at 9.30am at the very well-known Jasmine Restaurant for beautiful, fresh Lebanese coffee.

Over coffee, Nancy gave us a little of her backstory. She is of Lebanese background, grew up in the area and explained that she was raised to eat only Lebanese food.





Our first stop was a typical Middle-Eastern grocer. It contained bread, dairy and dry goods, plus all the Middle-Eastern ingredients required to make beautiful dishes, like fine crushed wheat for tabbouleh.


Staples of Lebanese cooking and cuisine 

Nancy had set up a lovely tasting table and we learnt all about and tasted chickpeas, fava beans, halva, lebanese bread, egg noodles, lentils, pomegranate molasses, rose water and orange blossom water, halloumi  and labneh (strained yoghurt).





Nancy showed us an aniseed  biscuit,”Kaak”, that she said was used as a breakfast cereal, with heated milk. She said it was rather bland, so that sugar is often added. It also makes a good midnight snack apparently.


Lebanese spices and pantry essentials

Sumac: red-purple spice crushed from a berry that grounds around the Mediterranean. It gives a lemony peppery taste and goes well with tomatoes. Essential for fattoush.

Za’atar: green spice mix – dried crushed oregano flowers, mixed with sumac and sesame seeds. It’s the Lebanese equivalent of Vegemite and is eaten for breakfast mixed with oil and painted on pita bread. Good with lamb too – makes a nice crust. Paint lamb with olive oil and coat wit za’atar. Nice sprinkled on Lebanese bread with a spread of labne, chopped tomatoes and cucumber. Mix in a teaspoon with 2 beaten eggs and fry in a little olive oil for a beautiful omelet.

B’Harat: Seven spice mix of all spice (pimento), nutmeg, cinnamon, cardamon, pepper, coriander and cloves. Used in many savoury dishes.

Fattoush: Wonderful Lebanese salad made with tomatoes, cucumber, radish, capsicum and fried Lebanese bread.

Labne: Yoghurt spread used on bread.

Tahini: Sesame seed paste used in almost everything. Mix wit equal amounts of grape, carob or pomegranate molasses, it’s used like jam and spread on bread. Used in sauces like tarator and essential for dips such as hummous.

Molasses: Pomegranate, grape and carob varieties are the fruit cooked down to sauce-like consistency. Pomegranate molasses can be used in salad dressing and in dishes needing its tangy sweetness.

Rose and Orange Blossom Water: Essences from flower petals mixed in water and used in all sweets. Lebanese sweets are similar to Greek and Turkish with the addition of spice and these floral aromas.

Ashta: Clotted cream equivalent. Made with milk simmered slowly, ashta is the rich residue skimmed from the surface.

Mafrouka: A fabulous sweet served on a plate, the base made from semolina mixed with rosewater, topped with ashta and sprinkled with roasted almonds and crushed pistachios and drizzled with syrup.







Next up and close by on The Boulevarde, Punchbowl was Abu Ahmad Butchery. These guys supply IGA and Woolworths and have been operating since 1994.

They sell the Lebanese specialty of both beef and lamb kafta: balls of minced or ground meat—usually beef, chicken, lamb, or pork—mixed with spices and/or onions.

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They even have a special ‘walking tour sausage’, the pine nut and rose water sausage. How amazing!

We crossed the railway bridge and over to Yum Yum Lebanese Pizza & Cafe on Punchbowl Road we went. This Lebanese pizzeria and cafe has been operating for 23 years. Founded by his dad, the current owner gave us the history of the place.

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The za’atar pizzas here are $2.30, can you believe? Master O won’t ever forget that. Amazing price and common, we were told, as a takeaway breakfast for the many commuters making their way to work via the train station close by.

Our next top was down Punchbowl Road at Baalbek Bakery and this place proved to be an absolute revelation to me.

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Related links:

Lebanese Gourmet Food Safari  of Punchbowl

Punchbowl“, Wikipedia entry, accessed 8 June 2016.






Sicilian Food Tour of Five Dock


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July 2013

On a lovely, sunny winter Saturday, I went on a wonderful food tour with my cousins Paola and Rosie.

Organised by Carmel Ruggeri, who co-owns La Casa Ristorante in Russell Lea, the tour was a Sicilian Food Tour that focussed on the Sydney suburb of Five Dock as a speciliast hub for sourcing great Sicilian-inspired ingredients and food.

We met at Carmela’s restaurant La Casa Ristorante at 9.45 am where we were greeted by wonderfully warm hospitality and a lovely freshly roasted coffee before the tour began.

After loading in to a mini van, we soon arrived at Five Dock and our first stop, La Cremeria De Luca.

This place was really special and so beautiful inside. Take a look.




They made wonderful granita here, which is a traditional breakfast in Sicily. We tried one made from ice, frozen espresso coffee, blended with cream and sugar.





A brother and sister team have opened up Cremeria De Luca, with help from their Dad, who is quite a character. The grandfather had a gelateria in Sicily and a picture of the Grandfather’s licence in the shop is a lovely, nostalgic touch.



Next up on the Sicilian trail was Caminiti Butchery, across the road. They had set up a barbeque out the front of the shop to try delectable sausages that they make. There were two types: Sicilian Pork and Fennel; and Provolone and Tomato.

The pork and fennel ones were lovely, but in terms of an unusual and delicious taste, the Provolone cheese and tomato ones were amazing.



Next up was Bar Rizzo for some arancinis. Bar Rizzo is a cafe now more known for its breakfasts. But they also do wonderful arancini, according to Carmela.

We tried them and they were sensational.

The lady who made them said the recipe came from her brother. Arborio rice is used, as is Neapolitan sauce. Egg and parmesan is mixed into the rice. Some have mozzarella, peas, bolognese sauce. They are prepared for celebrations and the lady who made them said they were “a lot of work”.

Our stroll took us past a memorial to Sicilians in the area. Here we saw elderly men hanging out on benches and shooting the breeze.

Onwards to Pasticceria Tamborrino, a landmark cake shop in Five Dock.

Cristina was our guide who, together with her partner, run the place. Her partner trained in Rome as a pastry chef and opened the store 12 years ago. There is a huge variety of everything, from cakes to biscuits, and other desserts, with cannoli a specialty.

While seated at a big table at the back of the store we were informed by Cristina that cannoli are prepared on a stick, then deep fried. They are then filled with custard, ricotta (Southern Italian specialty), or chocoloate (Rome and Northern Italian specialty).

Large cannoli bubble up because white wine is used, she said. Cottonseed oil is used for frying. Sicilian varieties of canneli have candied fruit and pistachio.

Cristina also showed us the most famous cake Pasticceria Tamborrino make, the baccio cake. It is made from an elastic chocolate (a secret ingredient, says Cristina) and filled wih semi-freddo. It won’t melt in a fridge and is 76% chocoloate.

Our final stop was Peter’s Delicatessen. This place has for several generations been Raineri’s delicatessen.

Here, they strive for traditionalism. There’s Sicilian olive oil and San Daniele proscuitto. We tried a cheese from the North of Italy, the Veneto region, called “Asiago” . It was mild, young cow milk cheese.

Our guide explained that we can’t bring salami from Italy. Some of the Australian salami makers have been going for a long time and this deli uses Casa products, from St Mary’s.

We also tried a pecorino, sheep’s milk, cheese. It was aged under pepper and because it is very light, you “can eat a tonne”. It had a lovely aftertaste.

Next up was a salami from Lismore and some Provolone piccante. We also had mortadella from Perth. Peter explained that there was not a prestigious following for mortadella here as there is in Italy. The chicken and chilli antipasto was excellent.

Peter then proceeded to make us a three cheeses pasta disha, using home made fusilli or strozzapreti. The cheeses were asiago, parmeggiano and truffle pecorino.

We tried the truffle pecorino too and it was out of this world good. The flavour of truffles cut through and deeply infused the beautiful cheese.


84 Ramsay Rd
Corner First Avenue
Five Dock


185 Great North Rd

Five Dock
(02) 9713 7027


157 Great North Rd

Five Dock


73-75 Great North Road

Five Dock


97 Great North Rd
Five Dock New South Wales 2046
(02) 9713 6886


Related articles:

Alpha leads Sydney odyssey: Peter Conistis


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Peter Conistis’s new venture Alpha is a monument to everything that’s great about Greeks in Australia.

Chef Peter Conistis shows off Alpha. Picture: Adam Taylor

Chef Peter Conistis shows off Alpha. Picture: Adam Taylor Source: News Limited

 THE freshness and zing of the flavours, and the idea of ordering enough for a table to share, are trends very much in favour.

One thing you say about Greeks is they don’t mind building a monument. Greece, of course, has one of the world’s most impressive collections of marbleware, done large, but even a drive around Sydney reveals the wonders of red-brick and faux-colonnade suburban monuments Greek-Australians affectionately call “wog mansions”.

And now Sydney has the Hellenic Club, a building, or group of buildings, in the process of a revitalisation so wonderful it’s like a gift to the city from the Greek community. It’s hard not to be impressed, and grateful.

The first part of this redevelopment to open is Alpha, a restaurant occupying the bones of an 1880s church on Castlereagh St. The space has been disused since the 1950s, with threats to tear it down to build an office tower mercifully never realised.

New-fashioned dolmades at Alpha. Picture: Adam Taylor

New-fashioned dolmades at Alpha. Picture: Adam Taylor  Source: News Limited

The $4 million-plus renovation has been transformative. Walk through sliding glass doors to find an airy white space with probably 20ft ceilings held aloft by arches and colonnades, fitted out with clever fixtures that include lamps in the shape of fishing nets.

In the kitchen is one of Sydney’s favourite Greek sons, Peter Conistis, a man whose culinary journey has been something of a personal odyssey spanning 20 years.

His credits include Civic Dining, Omega, Cosmos and Eleni’s, some of which have succeeded fantastically, others which haven’t. After a two-year hiatus, he’s back, and how.

At Alpha, Conistis has been careful not to alienate the Greek diners who are here in their droves, while striving to attract a new clientele with food that’s at once homely and honest, precise and sophisticated.

It’s village food, really, but done beautifully. It’s a happy coincidence that the freshness and zing of the flavours, and the idea of ordering enough for a table to share, are trends very much in favour right now.

 The rabbit and olive pie at Alpha. Picture: Adam Taylor

The rabbit and olive pie at Alpha. Picture: Adam Taylor  Source: News Limited

The menu opens with a selection of dips that include an excellent and rustic sheep’s milk yoghurt tzatziki ($7), all chunky with dill, garlic, mint and cucumber; and melitzanosalata ($8), a gorgeous smoked eggplant dip, eaten with fluffy, charred pita ($2 per person).

Dolmades ($10), those famous Greek vine leaf parcels, are sexed up with almond rice and preserved lemon, while ouzo-cured ocean trout ($11) with grilled fennel and ruby grapefruit, is coolly summery, ambitious and eats well.

Diners with even the barest knowledge of Greek food will find much that’s recognisable, from meatballs in tomato and red wine ($11), to an oregano-and-lemon marinated lamb shoulder ($29/$39), spanakopita ($16), Greece’s famed spinach and fetta pie, and twice-cooked octopus with spinach and white beans ($21).

 The gorgeously luxe

The gorgeously luxe “retro” scallop moussaka at Alpha. Picture: Adam Taylor  Source: News Limited

The sentimental will love Conistis’s nod to his past via two “vintage” dishes from 1993 – one a gorgeously luxe “moussaka” ($24) of just-cooked scallops layered between slices of creamy eggplant, the other a rabbit and black olive pie ($32), that’s dense and gamey, the rabbit flaked so it resembles the texture of tuna, the filo pastry dry and crisp.

The salads are lovely. Try a Horiatiki salad ($13) of cucumber, capsicum, red onion, olives and a slab of fetta that’s like a day trip to Athens. The crunchy, textural cabbage salad with kohlrabi ($7) is also very good.

Alpha's Horiatiki salad is like a day trip to Athens. Picture: Adam Taylor

Alpha’s Horiatiki salad is like a day trip to Athens. Picture: Adam TaylorSource: News Limited

Desserts, which include chocolate baklava ($6), are Greek-strength sweet, and the addition this week of skilled pastry chef Nic Waring (ex-Sailors Club) to the staff will add class.

The Greek and Australian wine list has its hits and misses while the service, under ex-Aria maitre d’ Jye Hong, is enthusiastic, if not necessarily very Greek.

I love Alpha. If I worked nearby I’d eat here a lot, not just for Conistis’s food that’s as comforting and wholesome as that of a favourite yiayia’s, but because the project is devilishly ambitious and enterprising.

Later this year, Conistis will open a fine diner upstairs in a gorgeous space yet to be finished, and a mezze bar will open on Elizabeth St next year.

In the meantime, enjoy Alpha. It’s a very fine monument to everything that’s great about Greeks in this country.

Greek Donuts with spiced honey syrup and walnut ice-cream at Alpha Restaurant. Picture: Adam Taylor

Greek Donuts with spiced honey syrup and walnut ice-cream at Alpha Restaurant. Picture: Adam TaylorSource: News Limited


238 Castlereagh St, Sydney

Phone 90981111


Food Greek

Open For lunch, Monday-Friday, and dinner, Monday-Saturday

Service Excellent

Value Exceptional

Highlight Beautiful food, beautiful place

Lowlight The lunch menu is limited

Rating 7.5/10

Secret Marrickville

Simon Black explores the inner west’s multicultural village. Pictures Rohan Kelly


Tasty retreat

IF you’ve eaten a buffet breakfast in NSW chances are you’ve tasted Richard Deignan’s bacon.

The fourth-generation butcher and owner of the Black Forest Smoke House on Victoria Rd supplies most of the large hotel chains in Sydney and surrounding suburbs.

“If you’ve stayed in any of the large hotels in the city you’ve woken up to our breakfast,” Mr Deignan said. “Which is lucky, during the GFC the one thing, the one constant was breakfast. It helped us to make it through.”

Marrickville - Secret Suburbs

Black Forest Smokehouse owner Richard Deignan with a Hand rolled double smoked Ham.Source: News Limited

While most of Mr Deignan’s business is supplying chains and wholesalers he still maintains a small shopfront on his 1000sqm factory.

The suburb is known for its produce, from the Marrickville pork roll which sees a lunchtime queue at the Hellenic Bakery and Cake store, to the organic markets on the weekend.

Every cheese and pasta producer has a shopfront with the local producers and council banding together to create a Made in Marrickville brand.

Owner and manager of the The Pasta Factory on Buckley St, Gino Farrugia, said the food community is relatively unknown in surrounding suburbs.

“You pay $30 (in other suburbs) for what you can buy here for $7,” he said.


A thriving theatre hot spot

Marrickville - Secret Suburbs

Producer Jessica Burns and Monique Salle at The Factory Theatre, 105 Victoria Road, Marrickville.Source: News Limited

LIKE much of the inner west Marrickville is becoming a centre for arts with many theatres, art galleries and boutique coffee houses cropping up in the once industrial suburb.

On Faversham St the famous Red Rattler theatre continues to host everyone from musicians, artists and designers to the more ambiguous “experimentalists” and activists.

The artistic community is strong in Marrickville with more than 40 arts spaces, including the ESP Gallery on Illawarra Rd and Factory 49 on Shepherd St.


Past glories

Marrickville - Secret Suburbs

Corinna, mum Paola and Tharen Candi walking home from school past the ruins from an old castle at The Warren.Source: News Limited

THERE is a castle in Marrickville which still has its own feudal community.

Wool merchant, politician and eccentric millionaire Thomas Holt built The Warren, a gothic mansion complete with art galleries, Turkish baths and rabbit breeding ground (hence the name) in 1864.

While Holt left Australia in 1883 and the castle was demolished in 1919 after playing host to an order of Carmelite nuns and an artillery training camp during World War I, the area, several blocks long, is still known by locals as The Warren.

“My husband grew up here,” resident Paola Candi says. “He doesn’t tell people he’s from Marrickville; he says he’s from The Warren.”


Marrickville - Secret Suburbs

Things of interest around the suburb of Marrickville. Statues on shop awnings on Marrickville Road.Source: News Limited

The strange figures perched above the shopfronts in Marrickville are the work of Victorian artist Ces Camilleri who erected sculptures prior to the 2000 Olympics.

“It was funny because Marrickville used to have a bad name down in Melbourne,” Camilleri said. “People would say to me `oh it’s pretty rough there isn’t it’. It doesn’t seem like that anymore, it’s much more welcoming.”

Marrickville - Secret Suburbs

Marrickville — Secret Suburbs. Things of interest around the suburb of Marrickville. Statues on shop awnings on Marrickville Road.Source: News Limited

Mr Camilleri returns to the suburb each year to maintain the sculptures and has noticed a change.

“There’s more artwork,” he said. “And people are happier. It’s just a nice culture sort of place now.”


Trash becomes treasure

Marrickville - Secret Suburbs

Warehouse Manager Andrew Cutts at Reverse Garbage.Source: News Limited

A MASSIVE T-Rex head, a 2m King Kong and coffee cup jellyfish were all garbage once, but now they’re part of Australia’s largest creative reuse centre.

Located in warehouse eight at the Addison Road Community Centre Reverse Garbage was the brainchild of a collective of school teachers who, in 1974, wanted an easy way to source materials for craft collection.

About 100 football fields worth of recyclable materials per year finds their way back into reuse rather than ending up on the trash.

Here you can find a piano for $80, hundreds of store mannequins, clothing, books, DVDs and some astonishingly hip-looking furniture.

“We’ve started to do reupholstering lately,” manager Andrew Cutts said. “For example we had some old purple cinema curtains donated and an ugly old vinyl couch.”

Marrickville - Secret Suburbs

Here you can find a piano for $80, hundreds of store mannequins, clothing, books, DVDs and some astonishingly hip-looking furniture.

“We’ve started to do reupholstering lately,” manager Andrew Cutts said. “For example we had some old purple cinema curtains donated and an ugly old vinyl couch.”


Solid as a brick

Marrickville - Secret Suburbs

Hunter Schiller, 4, playing at Enmore Park.Source: News Limited

ONCE upon a time these were the brick pits which helped build Sydney with a single factory forging up to 300,000 bricks per week from the clay earth around Marrickville.

When the boom ended the pits became old and unused, eventually filling in with rainwater and posing a public safety hazard with drownings occurring in several of them.

The council resumed the old pits in the 20s and 30s creating many of the small public parks which populate the suburb.

Marrickville - Secret Suburbs

But the history of the area is lost on four-year-old Hunter Shiller who simply wants to get to the top of the rocket slide.

“The rocket is the best thing,” he said. “But they block it off.

“I want to get up there.”

The top levels of the slide are now blocked off to the public in much the same way as the brick pits were filled in with dirt but Hunter and mum Carolyn still enjoy the rest of the rides in the afternoon sun.

The Best Ten Cafes in Sydney’s Inner West

The Best Ten Cafes in Sydney’s Inner West

We’re all devoted to our own local cafe, but there’s no denying that the inner west has had particularly rich pickings of them lately. After a spate of new openings in 2012, the area offers everything from big-breakfast old faithfuls to fine-dining-trained chefs and experimental commune-type sanctuaries.

But if there’s one quality that ties these disparate breakfast-to-lunch hangouts together, it must be their sense of community. They all pride themselves on their local and hyperlocal produce, in-house preparation techniques, and nose for what their most important customers — locals — want.

So if you’re an inner westie, here’s our guide to the ten best cafes you’ll want to visit and revisit. And if you’re not from the area, well, it’s time for an expedition.

1. Cornersmith

Cornersmith is a legend worthy of its reputation. Originally a thread shop, the space is beautifully pared back, with a stark, tiled wall, a mustard ceiling and nary a vintage poster or knickknack in site. It feels a little French and a little like you’re sitting in a large kitchen of an old Australian home. A blackboard displays the simple menu, including a list of what fresh produce they have in that week. The menu revolves around these ingredients, which the co-owners, James and Alex, gather locally as much as possible — Marrickville residents who grow vegetables trade their excess for a jar of home-made jam or relish. Everything is made from scratch (they even have their own beehive), the service is super-friendly, the coffee is great.

314 Illawarra Road, Marrickville;

2. The Grounds of Alexandria

The team behind the Grounds have taken an industrial warehouse and transformed it into a homely, wholesome sanctuary. In fact, it’s almost a town. There’s the garden, which grows produce for the kitchen and doubles as an outside eating area for take-away meals. Listen carefully, you’ll find the chickens around here too. There’s also a kids’ playground, gardening classes, on-site bakery, and a coffee roasting facility incorporating testig and a boutique school. On a Saturday morning, the place is brimming with families, children joyously patting ducks, bunnies, and guinea pigs that don’t look too perturbed by the attention. It’s tempting to see this as some kind of cult — though one that truly justifies the following.The only downside of this experimental paradise that we can see is the time you’re likely to wait to get fed. Turn up early, plan a weekday visit, or pack your patience and wait for a table with a coffee in the garden.

Building 7A, 2 Huntley Street, Alexandria;

3. Double Roasters

Double Roasters has breathed life into a 1950s warehouse. Inside the cafe is a wave of activity: the espresso machine is purring away, with the barista furiously pumping out hot coffee; the coffee blender is sucking and spitting out aromatic beans; and staff are scurrying back and forth with plates of food. One of the selling points of Double Roasters is its passion for coffee. Single origin beans are roasted on site in 12kg batches, ensuring superior quality and consistency. The food menu is straightforward, but you’ll definitely get bang for your buck.

199 Victoria Rd, Marrickville;

4. Excelsior Jones

It’s hard not to fall in love with Excelsior Jones. The friendly cafe sits in what used to be an old corner store in Ashfield and is a welcome addition to a quiet neighbourhood that was, before Excelsior, devoid of a local haunt. Co-owners Anthony Svilicich and James Naylor are both ex Le Monde, and also on board to bring a touch of brilliance to the modest menu is Adrian Borg, who previously held stints at Assiette and District Dining. House-cured salmon hash with pearl shallots, fried buckwheat, poached egg, and fresh herbs ($16) is nourishing and tasty to say the least, while the bacon and egg sandwich with capsicum relish and aioli ($10) will please any fan of this staple. The team is incredibly enthusiastic about providing a place where locals and people from all walks of life are welcome and feel comfortable, and the atmosphere definitely reflects this.

139 Queen Street, Ashfield;

5. The Counter

There’s been a gradual takeover in the inner west cafe scene of smaller, well-designed cafes that focus primarily on coffee. Which, of course, a good cafe should. But the Counter in Petersham has also managed to include all the right eggs in its basket. Breakfast options are simple but with added tasty flares such as sourdough bread or homemade mayonnaise. The Smith’s Sister ($14) is a classic of slow poached eggs and bacon on sourdough, while the Mr Smith Sambo ($9.50) mixes a soft egg, bacon, tomato relish, and mayonnaise between toasted sourdough. While there is limited space and you might find yourself having a bit of a wait for a table, the delightful staff, and fast service means you won’t be frustrated by this smaller cafe.

96 Audley St, Petersham; 02 9560 2949

6. The Rag Land

It’s no secret that Redfern is definitely on the up. A little more gentrified, a little more hip. And while the Redfern/Waterloo border isn’t exactly Sydney’s most happening hotspot just yet, the Rag Land — a play on its Raglan Street location and light, bright bric-a-brac interior — is certainly a place worth visiting. Great food, sweet digs, and some winning coffee from one of the nicest teams we’ve met for a long time ranks high in our books. It’s also more than reasonably priced, welcoming, unpretentious, community-minded, and has FBi radio peeps winging it down the road.

129 Raglan Street, Redfern

7. Black Star Pastry

Just off King Street in Newtown, this hole-in-the-wall patisserie is unlike anything you’ve ever seen. With rebels in the kitchen and hipsters on the floor, Black Star is one of a kind. What sets them apart from the rest? The creativity tablespooned into every single mixing bowl. And the end result? An eclectic combo of offerings, sure to wow all of one’s senses. For beginners, we recommend the strawberry watermelon cake with rose cream (four potions for $24). Then, try the lemon meringue tart with basil jelly, a genius concoction that will have you ordering a dozen at a time. For the kids, there’s Ginger Ninjas ($4), which have replaced the somewhat jaded gingerbread man at this happening hotspot.

277 Australia St, Newtown;

8. Trainspotting

Choose life. Choose a job. Choose breakfast. Given it shares its name with the famous nineties drug film, it’s apt that Trainspotting is drawing addicts — albeit of a different kind. The brainchild of Cameron Macpherson, previously of Restaurant Pepper in Balmain and Pier in Rose Bay, this unassuming café is giving Lewisham locals a long-awaited caffeine kick, and coffee connoisseurs something new to buzz about. The breakfast menu features the usual suspects as well as a number of in-house specialties. The Trainspotting Envy ($13) — poached eggs on a bed of spinach leaves topped with a feta and basil sauce — goes down a treat.

Shop 1, 3 Victoria Street, Lewisham

9. Paper Cup

Paper Cup is a Middle Eastern treat in the inner west. As well as coffees (Coffee Alchemy beans, roasted in nearby Marrickville) the tiny galley service area puts out a focused breakfast menu and sandwiches, with Middle Eastern flavours providing a hit of spices and texture to the signature dishes. Arabian-style bircher muesli with poached fruit, yoghurt, pistachios and honey ($10), and the Dr Shakshuka eggs poached in cumin and chilli-infused tomato sauce with local ricotta and fetta ($13) are both excellent. There is a sweet local vibe here. The staff chat to the customers, and one of the parents from the school across the road supplies the gluten free chocolate brownies; another the chai tea. Everything else (besides the bread) is prepared right in front of you, with the assistance of an induction cooktop and slow cooker.

157/161 Cambridge St, Stanmore;

10. Fleetwood Macchiato

There’s plenty to like about Fleetwood Macchiato aside from its punchline sagacity. The cosy cafe in the quiet neighbourhood of Erskineville is inviting from the moment you step in. Owners Tara, David, and Jai have previously already worked together so are no strangers to the industry and it’s obvious. The simple fit out of wood panelling and white walls is home to a combination of good food, relaxed atmosphere and friendly service. Bread is provided from Organic Bread Bar in Paddington and it’s worth noting that whatever they’re putting between the slices is homemade and incredibly mouth-watering. A bacon and egg roll comes smashed with avocado, mustard mayo, spicy sriracha sauce, pickles, and mushrooms ($12.50) and a wholemeal baguette is overflowing with fig, taleggio, fennel, and a well-dressed watercress and mesclun salad mix ($11).

43 Erskineville Road, Erskineville;

By the Concrete Playground team.

57134 Theory and Creative Writing

Warning: The information on this page is indicative. The subject outline for a particular semester, location and mode of offering is the authoritative source of all information about the subject for that offering. Required texts, recommended texts and references in particular are likely to change. Students will be provided with a subject outline once they enrol in the subject.

UTS: Communication: Creative Practice
Credit points: 8 cp
Result type: Grade, no marks

There are course requisites for this subject. See access conditions.

Handbook description

This is a core subject for two of the graduate writing programs and one which provides valuable theoretical and historical contexts for students’ own writing. It introduces students to major developments in literary theory and examines in close detail a number of key texts from several genres that illuminate the use of theory for the practising writer. It also introduces students to some of the major developments in western literature, such as realism, modernism and postmodernism, as well as to the narrative theories that underlie these developments, particularly in relation to contemporary writing. Students critically explore ideas on writing directly arising from their theoretical and other reading, both in classroom discussion and in their written work. Students also workshop their creative writing, which is expected to reflect aspects of writing and literary theory that has been explored in the subject.

This subject:

  • contextualises writing by examining literary movements, ideas and developments
  • promotes essential critical and creative thought in relation to reading and writing
  • enables a practical understanding of aesthetics and cultural debates
  • enables exploration and experimentation of ideas in writing practice.


Subject objectives/outcomes

At the completion of this subject, students are expected to:

  1. understand the relationship between literary theories and writing practices
  2. have developed their own critical voice
  3. apply that critical voice to their own work and that of others
  4. have improved their skills in analysing the writing of others
  5. appreciate the diversity and possibilities of theoretical approaches to writing
  6. be able to apply theoretical approaches to their own creative writing.


Contribution to course aims and graduate attributes

This subject:

  • contextualises writing by examining literary movements, ideas and developments
  • promotes essential critical and creative thought in relation to reading and writing
  • enables a practical understanding of aesthetics and cultural debates
  • enables exploration and experimentation of ideas in writing practice.


Teaching and learning strategies

Reading and writing activities will be conducted via several modes, including formal and informal lectures, seminar presentations, workshopping activities, research, in-class discussion and analysis. Students will also participate in the UTS Online Blackboard learning system to exchange material for discussion and to circulate drafts of their work for feedback prior to classes. Material supplementary and complementary to the weekly lectures will also be posted on UTS Online.



Critical Reading and Writing
While readers can read without being writers, the reverse is impossible. As Alberto Manguel reminds us in A History of Reading (1997), the first maker of messages and creator of signs was meaningless without his/her logical other: ‘Writing required a reader.’ Therefore students are required to read closely the work of other writers to understand the possibilities open to them. The readings include exemplary texts in several genres, critical essays, literary and cultural theory. We shall be doing a close study of the readings, paying particular attention to the relationship between critical theory and practice, as represented in the key set texts, and to the broader cultural and historical contexts of the authors studied. Students will present a seminar paper reflecting a close reading and analysis of the examples they choose to illustrate the exploration of their topic. These examples shall be from the reader or the list of set texts. However as students are encouraged to read widely, examples from other texts may be considered for study and discussion; if this is the case, it will be each student’s responsibility to provide copies of these readings to the class before their scheduled seminar presentation. Drafts of these presentations may be circulated beforehand via UTS Online.

Creative Reading and Writing
Every workshop is informed by the belief that continual and detailed examination of one’s writing within a group provides the best context for developing creative writing. This philosophy stretches back at least as far as Dorothea Brande’s writing workshops in the 1930s, where she promoted ‘corrective reading’: the refinement of work by application of constant self-criticism. The workshop enables students to acquire and develop the process of corrective reading within an atmosphere of generous yet rigorous scrutiny. Each student will present their own writing for discussion in workshop either in small groups or to the whole class at least once during the semester, and will receive both oral and written feedback from the rest of the class. The workshop will be supportive of risk-taking and experimentation, and the feedback will aim to raise questions and identify problems through constructive criticism offered with goodwill and generosity. One piece of creative work is to be handed in for assessment; this work will be partly inspired and shaped by the theoretical components of the subject and will ideally be an example of theory in practice.



Assessment item 1: An academic essay of 2,500-3,000 words, reflecting a close reading and analysis of the chosen topic and discussing the relationship between theory and writing. The essay will originate from a ten-minute class presentation during which the student will receive feedback from the lecturer and peers.

Objective(s): a, b, c, d
Weighting: 50%
Length: Word Limit is 2,500–3,000 words
Assessment criteria:
    • Insightful reading of the set text/s
    • Logical and thorough development of critical ideas
    • Application of theoretical approaches/arguments to the set text/s
    • Clarity and appropriateness of expression to the essay form
    • Effective presentation of the work including correct referencing and bibliography.
    • Evidence of supplementary research, including recent refereed articles from library databases

Assessment item 2: A piece of creative writing demonstrating theory in practice

Objective(s): a, c, e, f
Weighting: 50%
Length: 3,000 words or equivalent
Assessment criteria:
    • Originality and imaginative quality of work
    • Structural and stylistic accomplishment
    • Creative reflection of theoretical approaches
    • Professional presentation of the work.


Minimum requirements

Students are expected to read the subject outline to ensure they are familiar with the subject requirements. Since class discussion and participation in activities form an integral part of this subject, you are expected to attend, arrive punctually and actively participate in classes. If you experience difficulties meeting this requirement, please contact your lecturer. Students who have a reason for extended absence (e.g., illness) may be required to complete additional work to ensure they achieve the subject objectives.


Recommended texts

Online readings available through library website

  • Gustave Flaubert, Madame Bovary. (Novel) Any recent edition
  • V. de Sica. The Bicycle Thief. (Film) Available to view in library



The following is a select list of references which students will find useful for this subject. All books are available in the UTS library.

Reference works:
Abrams, M.H. A Glossary of Literary Terms (1988)
Fowler, Roger (ed). A Dictionary of Modern Critical Terms (1987)
Harris, Robert. ‘A Glossary of Literary Terms’
Lentriccia, Frank & Thomas McLaughlin (eds). Critical Terms for Literary Study (1987)
Peck, John & Martin Coyle. Literary Terms and Criticism, a students’ guide (1984)
Saunders, Ian. Open Texts, Partial Maps: a literary theory handbook (1993)
Wolfreys, Julian (ed). Critical Keywords in Literary and Cultural Theory(2003)

Theory and criticism:
Bal, Mieke. Introduction to the Theory of Narrative (1985)
Barthes, Roland. A Roland Barthes Reader, ed. & introd. Susan Sontag (1982)
Derrida, Jacques. Acts of Literature, ed. Derek Attridge (1992)
Eagleton, Mary (ed). Feminist Literary Theory, a reader (1986)
Eagleton, Terry. Marxism and Literary Criticism (1976)
—————— Literary Theory: an introduction (1983; 1996)
Foucault, Michel. The Foucault Reader, ed. Paul Rabinow (1984)
Frow, John. What Was Postmodernism? (1991)
Jameson, Frederic. The Political Unconscious: narrative as a socially symbolic act (1981)
Kermode, Frank. The Art of Telling: essays in fiction (1983)
—————— An Appetite for Poetry: essays in literary interpretation (1989)
Hawkes, Terence. Structuralism and Semiotics (1977)
Holquist, Michael. Dialogism: Bahktin and his world
Homer, William Innes. The Usage of Contemporary Criticism Clarified (1999)
Hutcheon, Linda. A Poetics of Postmodernism: history, theory, fiction (1988)
—————— & Joseph Natoli (eds). A Postmodern Reader (1993)
The Johns Hopkins Guide to Literary Theory and Criticism (ed Michael Groden, Martin Kreiswirth & Imre Szeman) (2004)
Kerschner, R.B. Joyce, Bakhtin and Popular Literature: chronicles of disorder (1989)
Lodge, David. Modern Criticism and Theory: a reader (1988)
The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism (Gen Ed Vincent B. Leitch) (2001)
Norris, Christopher. Deconstruction: theory and practice (1982)
Rimmon-Kenan, Shlomith. Narrative Fiction: contemporary poetics (1983)
Rivkin, Julie & Michael Ryan (eds). Literary Theory: an anthology (1998)
Tompkins, Jane P (ed). Reader-Response Criticism, from Formalism to Poststructuralism (1980)
Wolfreys, Julian. Literary Theory: a reader and a guide
—————— Introducing Literary Theories; a guide and a glossary (2001)

Cultural/historical commentary:
Davis, Mark. Gangland: cultural elites and the new generationalism (1997)
Docker, John. In a Critical Condition; struggles for control of Australian literature (1984)
Gelder, Ken & Paul Salzmann. The New Diversity: Australian fiction 1970-88 (1989)
Manguel, Alberto. A History of Reading (1997)

Writing guides/writers on writing:
Brande, Dorothea. Becoming a Writer (1981)
Dillard, Annie. The Writing Life (1989)
Disher, Gary. Writing Fiction (1983)
Lodge, David. The Practice of Writing (1996)
Plimpton, George (ed). Writers at Work, the Paris Review interviews (1981)

Green-minded residents bag a banner


Friday, 22 August 2008

Banners flown in Sydney’s streets have been given a new lease of life. The used banners are now being transformed into carry bags, the first of which were snapped up by visitors to the City’s recent Live Green festival.

Council’s senior project co-ordinator Kath McLaughlan said the banners to bag project, a partnership between Council and Marrickville’s Reverse Garbage, was a successful example of turning waste into a resource.

‘A stockpile of City of Sydney banners had been growing and growing,’ she said. ‘They are a fantastic resource but we just didn’t know how to turn them into a reusable item.’

Reverse Garbage is a non-profit cooperative that collects industrial discards for resale. Projects manager Mary-Jean Newton explained that while most people are keen recyclers, many still struggle to come to terms with how to reuse certain materials.

After brainstorming ideas ranging from outdoor pillow covers to horse pyjamas, Reverse Garbage eventually settled on cutting and sewing the 4.5 metre by 1.5 metre banners to produce practical and durable shoulder bags with straps.

Volunteers were originally sewing the bags by hand, before Willy Suwanto offered the services of his embroidery and design business, Bordir. ‘We wanted to keep it local and with the Live Green festival fast approaching, we are so lucky we found him,’ Ms Newton said.
Charged with the massive task of making the first batch of 3000 bags, Mr Suwanto said the project gave him butterflies in the stomach. ‘I thought it would take one and a half to two months but we were still going right up to the end,’ he said. Mr Suwanto had two people sewing the bags and said it was possible to make ten bags from each banner.

Giving back to the community is not new to Willy Suwanto. He has visited hospitals and taken children with disabilities on motorbike rides.

The first batch of bags were made from the city’s old 2030 banners, displayed around the CBD earlier this year, and distributed free at Live Green. Each bag featured a tag declaring: ‘I used to be a City of Sydney banner’ with a vintage date.

‘We still have lots of banners, we’ve had them for years and they are still for sale, but they don’t go out as fast they come in. It’s great that council has taken the intiative through its waste educators to get a project like this going,’ Ms Newton said.

More than 1600 street banner poles are positioned throughout the city, at locations on George Street, Martin Place, Macquarie Street, Oxford Street, Taylor Square, Williams Street and Kings Cross.