Despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, there’s still a lot to love about Australia.
As restrictions begin to ease around the nation and domestic tourism resumes, we spoke to internationals who now call Australia home, and what they love about where they live.
American rock musician Brian Ritchie
Lives: Hobart, Tasmania, with his Sri Lankan-born wife Varuni Kulasekera
Why Tasmania? I was an Errol Flynn fanatic and always wanted to see Tasmania (Flynn was Tasmanian). I first visited in 1989 when our band The Violent Femmes did a gig in Hobart. I also accompanied my partner Varuni Kulasekera (then an entomologist with the American Museum of Natural History) on a Tasmanian insect collecting trip in 1996.
At Liffey Falls, we decided we wanted to live here. The band Midnight Oil sponsored us and we moved in 2007. I thought Tasmania was going to be our retreat but then I’ve become embedded in the cultural community through my work curating MONA FOMA (a music and arts festival).
What do you love about Hobart? The light and the fresh air and living on the edge of the world where people allow you to do whatever you want. It’s been a huge adventure developing a creative ecosystem that disrupts the conventional entertainment industry.
Tips for visitors: You can’t go wrong driving around Tasmania and stopping for picnics amid such natural splendour. I love Hastings Caves in the Huon Valley and Cockle Creek way down south.
French winemaker Jacques Lurton
Lives: Part of the year on Kangaroo Island, South Australia
How did you discover Kangaroo Island? I’ve been in Australia for every vintage since 1984. My first wife and I honeymooned on Kangaroo Island in 1997 and we fell in love with it. I created the Islander Estate in 2002 to make cool climate wines. The vineyard was destroyed in the recent bushfires but I remain committed to the island.
What do you love about Kangaroo Island? Its remoteness. I feel an amazing freedom here. There’s nobody on the roads and you’re so connected with nature. It’s so different from my life in Bordeaux surrounded by 18th century chateaux. Australia brings me back down to earth. I love the community. I may be a part-time resident but there’s much more than a piece of my heart here.
Tips for visitors: I’m drawn to the drama of the island’s North Coast, especially the wild Western River Cove, a white sand beach ringed by cliffs, which is starting to revegetate after the fires. My favourite places in the east, where there was no fire damage, are Pennington Beach and Dudley Wines cellar door with spectacular views over Antechamber Bay.
Italian marine biologist Alessandra Giannascoli
Lives: Cairns, Queensland
How did you come to live in North Queensland? After studying marine biology in Italy, I went to James Cook University in 2010 to do my master’s degree on corals. I then moved to Cairns and have been working with Frankland Islands Reef Cruises since 2013.
I’m a master reef guide and love being in the water every day, monitoring the reef for the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and sharing my knowledge with guests from around the world.
What do you love about FNQ? The fact that the Great Barrier Reef is a huge complex ecosystem with so many different ribbon and fringing reefs, islands and cays. Every time you go in the water, you don’t know what to expect.
For me, Cairns is a dream city. It feels like you’re on holiday because there are so many international visitors. I also love the surrounding rainforest.
Tips for visitors: I like Fitzroy Island because it has very resilient corals. Inland, I enjoy the Babinda Boulders and Josephine Falls in Wooroonooran National Park. It’s a bit more off-the-beaten path than the Daintree so it’s less crowded.
Scottish Festival director Kath Mainland
Lives: Melbourne, Victoria
How did you come to be in Melbourne? I used to be chief executive of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. When a head hunter contacted me about the Melbourne International Arts Festival (now called Rising Melbourne), I thought how wonderful it’d be to organise a big festival in a large international city, which has such a terrific arts community and great infrastructure.
What do you love about Melbourne? It has all the bustle of a big city when you want it, with an incredible diversity of cultural experiences, yet it’s comprised of walkable neighbourhoods, like North Fitzroy and South Melbourne. I love its tiny independent cafes and bars. I also discovered the beauty of the Royal Botanic Gardens when we produced Fire Gardens with the French Compagnie Carabosse.
Tips for visitors: There’s something for people of all ages and interests. I took my parents to My Fair Lady and the St Kilda Film Festival, while the itinerary for my sister included laneway bars and a visit to de Bortoli Wines in the Yarra Valley via helicopter. I love Curtin House and its rooftop cinema. As the new chair of Regional Arts Victoria, I’m also discovering fabulous artistic communities around the state.
British chef Rick Stein
Lives: Part of the year in NSW
How did you come to be here? I had a gap year in Australia in 1967. I discovered the beautiful beaches and dairy country of the south coast, which reminded me of Cornwall. The first time I tasted oysters was in Merimbula and it was a revelation.
In 1984, I started renting beach houses in Sydney’s Northern Beaches with my first wife and kids. With my second wife, we spend several months a year between Sydney and our Bannisters restaurants in Mollymook and Port Stephens.
What do you love about NSW? Sydney exudes great energy, which feels like it comes from the ocean. There’s nothing like the Sydney Fish Markets and the multicultural food scene is sensational.
Mollymook and Port Stephens have such an easy-going seaside ambiance and terrific seafood. I love working with Australian blue eye, barramundi, John Dory, whiting and flathead, not to mention lobsters and prawns.
Tips for visitors: In Sydney, we always go to Icebergs, Sean’s Panaroma, Golden Century and Bert’s.
I really like Cupitt’s Estate farm restaurant outside Ulladulla. They make serious cheese, great beer and wine and they have lovely Sunday afternoon jazz sessions. Nearby, in Milton, there’s Small Town Food & Wine, Pilgrims vegetarian cafe and the Milton Hotel.