Original thinker changed face of investment banking in Australia


In 1973, the Caldons sailed to Australia. It was a long trip on the boat, and John did his homework, reading the entire Australian tax code on his way over. In 1973, he joined Price Waterhouse, and in 1977 became the youngest tax partner, setting up in the Parramatta office. Pauline continued working as a nurse and they had two children; she later went to university, completed an arts degree at Macquarie University and worked as a librarian. The Caldons separated then divorced in the late 1990s.

Right from the start, Caldon’s special brand of charm, commercial nous and on-his-feet lateral thinking established him as the pre-eminent tax advisor to some of the largest companies in Sydney. Hill Samuel, soon to become Macquarie Bank, became one of Caldon’s major clients. As they paid the accounting firm so much money annually in fees, it made more sense to hire him as a senior director.

John Caldon (centre) with the Macquarie infrastructure investment team. Credit:Fairfax

Recruited by Robin Crawford, and backed by chief executive officer Tony Berg, Caldon joined the Macquarie team just before the bank’s formation in 1984 and founded the bank’s “project and structured finance” division. He hired Nicholas Moore, a future chief executive, and spawned Macquarie’s fabled infrastructure funds management empire.

He inspired a generation of Macquarie executives to think big and think globally. Here, he had his greatest impact.

Caldon tried his hand at many businesses.

Caldon tried his hand at many businesses.Credit:Peter Morris

In 1996, promoted to joint deputy managing director, assumed to be next in line to the redoubtable Allan Moss, he decided on a different course. Turning 50 prompted Caldon to think about life after Macquarie and he resigned in 1998 to pursue other business interests.

Still, he derived great joy from Macquarie’s continuing success on the global stage and avidly followed the successful careers of his former understudies, including the former chief executive Nicholas Moore and current chief executive Shemara Wikramanayake.

Appointed in 2009 by the Commonwealth as chair of the Australian Rail Track Corporation, he quickly set to work on establishing a national freight network, curing inefficiencies in port links (most notably in the Hunter) and organised new investment in the network.

Between 2007 and 2009, he chaired Haddington Resources Limited, a diversified base metals exploration and development company and helped it to become one of only three tantalite producers in Australia.

Caldon tried his hand at many businesses, most recently Flame Media, which media celebrity Lyndey Milan, his devoted partner for the past 16 years, founded with him a decade ago. They quickly established Flame as a producer and exporter of leading Australian documentaries and programs that might otherwise not have reached an international audience.

John Caldon established Flame Media with his partner Lyndey Milan.

John Caldon established Flame Media with his partner Lyndey Milan.Credit:Fairfax

He hated bureaucracy and stultified thinking. In late January, in one of his last emails to friends, he lamented the many failings of private enterprise but added: “how much worse are government businesses — protected; bureaucratic, totally defensive in approach etc. — a mistake has to be avoided at all cost; totally hung up on trivia like four gold watches.”

In 2014, with Bob Carr, he co-founded the Didius Julianus Society meeting to discuss the classical world from about 637BC (birth of Solon) to 637AD (fall of Jerusalem) over an excellent menu. Caldon led many of the learned discussions with great verve given his vast, near encyclopaedic knowledge of ancient Roman and Greek history.

A life-long atheist, he loved discussing religion and philosophy and empathising with another person’s viewpoint.

His formidable achievements notwithstanding, his legion of friends remember him most for his insatiable curiosity, abundant generosity of spirit, eagerness to mentor others, readiness to assist colleagues in need and an infectious love of life.

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Last April, John was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. Milan and he travelled a journey of every treatment imaginable. He fought for life to exhaustion, but without complaint. It all took a turn for the worse a couple of weeks ago when he suffered a stroke, and he died a week short of 74, on February 16.

He is survived by loving partner Lyndey, son Patrick and daughter Liz, who all were with him at the end), their partners, his brother James, his former wife Pauline, and four grandchildren.

Adam Geha is chief executive and co-founder of EG. He worked closely with John Caldon for six years (1997-2002).

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Traveller writers reveal the meals that changed their life


One bite, and everything changes. One mere morsel of food. One tiny portion of a meal, and all of a sudden your world is turned upside down, your idea of what is good and bad, your opinion of what is delicious and what is inedible, your entire notion of life and what it can be – everything changes.

This is the beauty of food and the glory of travelling to enjoy it. Food is transformative. It’s alchemical. It should be something so simple, the combination of a few products and ingredients handed to you on a plate, and yet it’s so much more than that. It’s such a vital display of identity, such an important representation of culture, of history, of passion and of skill.

So many of us can track our travels by the dishes we’ve eaten and the places in which they were consumed. Food becomes memory so cherished and real: that first crackle of a French baguette smothered in demi-sel butter; that first sip of broth from a bowl of Saigon pho; that salty, fatty, cheesy slip of pasta at a Roman trattoria. Spectacular experiences. Otherworldly joys.

Food, when you travel, can be so many things to so many people. It can be disappointing, of course. It can be challenging. It can even be disgusting. But then it can be tasty. It can be fulfilling. It can be mind-boggling. And on occasion – on a beautiful, memorable, rare occasion – it can be life-changing.

These are the meals and the moments that the Traveller team is celebrating today: the times when food has surpassed its function as mere sustenance or even as experience and caused our writers to rethink everything they know, to see not just cuisine but the world as a whole in a different light. For some that has been the product of a deceptively simple meal; for others it’s been a journey to modern gastronomy’s outer limits. What links those experiences is the shock, the wonder, the revelation. One bite, one morsel, one meal – and everything changes.

– Ben Groundwater

TERRY DURACK

Dinner among the food shelves at Roscioli in Rome

When in Rome, I tend to do as the Romans do. I go to Roscioli for spaghetti alla carbonara, the most Roman of pasta dishes, in the most Roman of restaurants. Except it isn’t really a restaurant, and that’s what changed me.

Roscioli has always reinvented itself, beginning as a traditional Roman bakery opened by Marco Roscioli in 1972, at the suggestion of his entrepreneurial uncle, Franco. The Antico Forno Roscioli in via dei Chiavari was built on the site of a bakery dating back to 1824, and the tiny store grew and grew, as if powered by yeast. By 1993, Roscioli also opened a salumeria and grocery store nearby that sourced the finest produce from all over Italy.

It didn’t take long for local shoppers to beg for some of the mortadella or provolone to be sliced and stuffed into a panini, and maybe for a glass of wine to go with it. In 2002, Marco’s sons, Pierluigi and Alessandro, added a tiny basement kitchen and wine cellar to the deli, and squeezed a few small tables and chairs into the shop. A new Roman tradition was born.

I was walking past one fine day soon after, and stopped to peer in to this magical place, its walls lined with giant tins of salted anchovies, whole wheels of Parmigiano Reggiano and dozens of bottles of fine Italian wine, with tables taking almost all the available space. My laughable Italian got me a table for dinner, squeezed up against the refrigerated glass deli counter under hanging legs of prosciutto di San Daniele. It changed the game for me.

Why? The carbonara. It was chewy, resilient, challenging. It was salty, rich and peppery. I’ve had good pasta before. I’ve even had great pasta. But this really felt like I was eating Rome. The spaghettoni (like thick spaghetti) was coated in an emulsion of sizzled guanciale (pork jowl) fat, aged pecorino and the yolks of rich, golden eggs from celebrated poultry producer, Paolo Parisi, under a shower of freshly ground Sarawak pepper. The flavour came in waves, and the al dente nature of the pasta forced me to slow down, chew every mouthful, take my time. It’s probably the first time I ever really understood the principles of the slow food movement.

That pasta became an instant benchmark against which all other pasta has been measured. It helped me understand that magic happens when tradition is not considered sacrosanct but built upon – respected and yet updated, like Rome itself. I am forever looking forward to going back to Roscioli to relive the moment. See salumeriaroscioli.com

BEN GROUNDWATER

Live baby eel at Mugaritz, Spain

It’s a trick. There’s no way this is what we think it is. They’ve used some sort of gel, I tell my partner, to make the eel look as if it’s still moving. It’s meant to play with our perceptions. It’s supposed to mess with our minds.

The dish is placed in front of us with no comment or explanation. It isn’t even a dish, in fact, just a folded napkin upon which sits a perfect sphere of clear liquid, a bubble twice the size of a 50-cent piece. Inside that bubble is a single elver, a baby eel, a delicacy here in the Basque Country when it’s sauteed with olive oil and garlic. But this one seems to be moving.

My partner spies a waiter hovering nearby. “Is this alive?”

He just nods a “Yes.” We let that news settle over us as we stare at our “plates”. The eel inside is alive. We’re expected to eat it. Now.

The restaurant is Mugaritz, an avant-garde eatery in the mountains above San Sebastian. Its chef, Andoni Luis Aduriz, is known for pushing boundaries, for leading his diners on thrilling journeys through texture, aroma and taste.

This is not supposed to be just another delicious meal. You can have one of those anywhere in the Basque Country. Food at Mugaritz is adventure and experience, it’s gastronomy in all its glory, experimental and esoteric and wild. It challenges you. It tests you. And there’s nothing as testing as the live baby eel encased in seawater. We find out later that the dish is simply called “Origins”. No kidding. It looks like the very beginning of every life. It is a life. It is alive.

This is Aduriz talking to us, challenging us. When you choose to eat an animal, he’s saying, you take its life. So, here is an animal. Take its life. Maybe you’re not OK with that. But then, why were you OK with the last dish of steamed grouper? Why are you OK with the plastic packets of chicken breasts you pick off the supermarket shelf at every week? This is the reality of eating. This is what you do.

This single dish has changed my life. It’s changed the way I think about food, changed the consideration I have for eating meat, for taking life. I still do it, but I’m conscious of it. I think more about what’s on my plate and where it came from. I make decisions based on that.

There is a trick to Origins, and the message it sends. The elver, though, is real. It’s alive. I lift up the napkin and pop the sphere in my mouth and chew as the seawater explodes and the eel crunches and my partner and I stare at each other wide-eyed, having reached the zenith of a white-knuckle gastronomic ride.

Nothing will ever be the same. See mugaritz.com

NINA KARNIKOWSKI

Eight ingredients or less at Uri Buri in Acre, northern Israel

I like to think I know by now that when it comes to food, appearances can be deceiving. But then here I am in the magnificently dilapidated port city of Acre (Akko) in northern Israel, in a seafood restaurant called Uri Buri that I’ve heard people raving about across the country, looking down at my plate and getting, well, judgy.

A dozen slices of kingfish, swimming in a mix of olive oil, lime and garlic, topped with shaved onion. This, so said the ravers, is supposed to change my life? I look across at my host, chef-owner Uri Jeremias, whose spectacular waist-length white beard is outdone only by his spectacular round belly, and he nods his encouragement. So, I taste and, basically, my mouth explodes.

Here’s the thing about Jeremias. He isn’t a trained chef, just a guy with a deep love of the ocean and food, who taught himself to cook back in 1989 when he opened this restaurant. The result is the minimalist cooking style that has made Uri Buri such a success, and a menu full of fresh, unpretentious dishes.

There’s salmon sashimi sitting simply in soy sauce, topped with a dollop of wasabi gelato, that hasn’t left the menu for 20 years. There’s an elegant fish soup made with amberjack, coconut milk, curry, lime and ginger, followed by a plate of melt-in-your-mouth anchovies, perfection with a glass of chenin blanc from the nearby Golan Heights region.

“I have two cooking rules,” says Jeremias while I stuff my face. “The first is buy the best ingredients, the second is don’t spoil them … I never use more than eight ingredients in any dish.”

And that’s it. My whole concept of what defines a good meal, changed forever. Focus on quality produce, work some miracles with olive oil, garlic, chilli and lime, and food will always taste this fantastic. Well, maybe if you live somewhere like Acre, one of the oldest continually inhabited places on Earth, where Jeremias buys his fish direct from the wizened fishermen by the seaside each morning and everything else from the local market, which sources its produce from the abundant small farms this region is known for.

My meal ends with Uri Buri’s famous OMG, a trio of orange, mandarin and grapefruit (get it?) sorbets, made from organic fruit from Jeremias’ daughter’s garden, topped with a splosh of olive oil. It’s a sensation.

Luckily, I only have to roll a few hundred metres down the road to the Efendi Boutique Hotel afterwards, an opulent 12-room hotel that merges two restored Ottoman-era palaces, also created and owned by Jeremias. Too full for bed, I head up to the rooftop terrace and, looking out over the crowns of the city’s mosques and synagogues to the sea, vow never to let appearances deceive me again. See efendi-hotel.co.il

BRIAN JOHNSTON

A nameless neighbourhood trattoria, Sicily

I find the restaurant quite by accident, down a side street near the cathedral. It has no sign – that would attract the attention of Marsala’s tax collectors – but the owner is hovering outside. For €8, he says, I can have a set menu, including mineral water and local wine. “And no service charge either,” he adds. He’s a thin man with a neat moustache and relaxed manner that suggests he doesn’t much mind whether I eat here or not.

Eight euros? I shrug off my hesitation when I peer inside and see local businessmen, jackets off and ties loosened, reading pink sports pages and rumbling about politics. The walls are panelled in pine. Chequered tablecloths cover rough trestles.

I’m offered a small plate of antipasti: fat crunchy olives, good salami, dry grana cheese. The olives are the enormous southern-Italian Bella di Cerignola variety, cured in ash and magnificently blue-green. The cheese is hard, with a nutty flavour well matched to the semolina bread from a basket.

“This bread is the best made in town,” says the trattoria owner in unexpected English, blushing into his moustache. He pours me a glassful of amber-dark marsala, twisting the neck of the bottle when finished so none of it drips. The fortified wine is a bit sweet but, at this price point, passably pleasant.

After I’ve polished off the last olive I’m served spaghetti with a strong, rich tomato sauce flecked with pink fingernail-sized prawns hauled out of the sea that morning. The secondi is superb: lightly fried squid in batter, so tender it dissolves in my mouth, and dribbled with fresh lemon juice. My dessert is a mini-cassata decorated with marzipan, icing, lurid quarters of preserved fruit and a glace cherry.

I recall this meal again and again in the decades that follow, after every overhyped Michelin-starred meal and overpriced, Instagram-conscious dish; in every posh restaurant from Barcelona to Bergen. It has been a constant reminder that cheap food can be great food, and that unknown back-alley restaurants can provide lovely dining experiences.

Marsala sits amid red earth and prickly pears on Sicily’s sun-beaten western coast. It’s a no-nonsense place of baroque buildings and cobwebby wine warehouses bathed in blinding North African light. It has an inconsequential loveliness, and so does my meal. I slump in the heat, in the trattoria’s shadows, listening to the kitchen’s clatter and inhaling the aromas of tomato sauce and lemon.

This simple meal has forever put Marsala on my mental map. Ever since, I’ve always sought out bargain local eateries, and mostly been satisfied. Places with no awards, no likes and no hype, but dishing up delight. See visitsicily.info

ROB MCFARLAND

Highlands Bar & Grill, Birmingham, Alabama

Shortly after being seated in Highlands Bar & Grill, our server, Justin, swaps our white napkins for black ones. It’s a small gesture, executed wordlessly, but it speaks volumes about the restaurant’s attention to detail. The reason for the change? My dining companion and I are both wearing dark outfits and the black napkins are a better match.

Frank Stitt was just 28 years old when he opened Highlands Bar & Grill in 1982 on a rundown street in Birmingham, Alabama. His aim was to utilise the finest local ingredients and apply the cooking techniques he’d learnt in the south of France to his native Southern cuisine.

It’s an approach that hasn’t wavered in almost four decades. Although the menu changes daily to showcase the best seasonal produce, there are several dishes that are so popular Stitt daren’t remove them. One such stalwart is the stone-baked grits, an often-bland Southern staple that’s been transformed into a cloud-like pillow of cheesy perfection. Doused in a rich, buttery sauce with wild mushrooms and country ham, it’s one of the most divine things I’ve ever tasted.

The menu is brief – just nine appetisers and eight mains – but Justin’s descriptions of each dish are so detailed and evocative, I want to order everything.

The only dinner reservation we can secure is when the restaurant opens at 5.30pm. But already it’s brimming with a well-heeled crowd of tourists and locals. The atmosphere is upscale without being formal – think white tablecloths, dark wood panelling and vintage French prints. Contemporary music plays in the background while patrons at a marble-topped bar eat oysters while watching an NFL game on a small TV.

What made this meal life-changing? Well, for a start it was an experience that actually lived up to the hype. Four months before my visit, Highlands was named America’s most Outstanding Restaurant in the prestigious James Beard Awards. And this was no fluke – it had already been a finalist nine times. Its pastry chef, Dolester Miles, was named the best in the country, too.

So often these awards are bestowed on pretentious, flash-in-the-pan outfits that are more style over substance. Highlands earned this accolade through hard work and perseverance and by relentlessly obsessing over quality and service. There is something life-affirming about these old-fashioned virtues being rewarded, particularly when they’re accompanied by a refreshing dose of humility. When I ask Justin why such a prestigious award isn’t mentioned on the menu or alluded to by the staff, he simply replies: “If you don’t bring it up, we don’t bring it up.” See highlandsbarandgrill.com

UTE JUNKER

Breakfast in Iran

Other people might look at the table and see breakfast. I see riches beyond measuring. There are bowls of feta cheese, watermelon, walnuts, and cucumber. There are jams in a profusion of flavours: sour cherry, fig, peach, carrot. There are soft omelettes with fresh tomatoes, and rich lentil soups. And above all, there is bread: large round loaves, flatbread with its edges pleasantly singed, and longer, chewier loaves.

I haven’t seen such bounty in months. Before arriving in Iran late last night, I had spent months travelling through the Middle East. I wandered through medieval souks and formidable desert castles, explored Roman ruins and hiked rolling hills. And I have eaten falafel – more falafel than is entirely reasonable. It feels as if every meal I have eaten on this trip has consisted of some combination of falafel, hummus, tabbouleh and pita bread, with skewered meats making an occasional thrilling appearance.

My first Iranian breakfast, simple as it is, announces the truth as unmistakeably as a fanfare of trumpets: last night, I didn’t just cross a political border. I also crossed a culinary frontier. No more subsistence dining: things are about to get interesting.

As we criss-cross the country over the next few weeks, every meal brings new revelation: the delights of duck fesanjan, an intoxicating mix of walnut and pomegranate; the tang of gormeh sabzi, a sour, herb-filled stew; and above all else, the just-one-more-spoonful seduction of tahdig, crunchy rice that has deliberately been allowed to crust onto the bottom of the pot. (The only thing better than tahdig is potato tahdig, when sliced potatoes are slipped underneath the rice to create an irresistable carb-laden classic.)

I’ve eaten delicious food before, of course, and analysed recipes to understand how ingredients work together. But as I eat my way through Iran, for the first time I start think about how every meal you eat comes with an invisible side serve of geography and history.

The diverse landscapes we are travelling across are reflected in things we eat, from the shores of the Caspian Sea, where we feast on smoked fish and the last of the season’s caviar, to hilltop hikes where we gaze down on the leafy orchards that supplied the fruit on which we’re snacking.

Even the long-vanished Persian empire has left its mark on the country’s cuisine. Persia’s emperors may have got the glory, but perhaps the most lasting imperial achievement came courtesy of the empire’s engineers. They are the ones who created the gravity-assisted irrigation systems that transformed once-arid areas of the country into fertile gardens. That makes the rich flavours of Iranian food – the pistachios and pomegranates, the oranges and mint – the empire’s most delicious legacy.

JILL DUPLEIX

Lentil Soup In a medieval ghost town In Abruzzo

The soup was thick with lentils, chickpeas, barley and white beans; a nutty, earthy, wintry soup cooked by two elderly woman in floral aprons, and served in a tough, hollowed-out bread roll. It was winter, 2004, and I was hungry and cold, with shoes soaked through from snow. Every spoonful brought me back to life, infusing me with warmth and strength.

This was my introduction to the medieval town of Santo Stefano di Sessanio, perched high on the panoramic mountain range of Abruzzo’s Gran Sasso National Park, an hour and half’s drive from the coastal town of Pescara. The solemn little village, with its tall, limestone houses, twisting, cobblestoned alleyways and circular fortress, dates back to the 11th century. Discovering it was like walking through a portal in time.

It was also my introduction to Swedish-Italian architect Daniele Kihlgren and his passion for saving this ancient hilltop town from falling into rubble. Since 2005, Kihlgren’s Sextantio foundation has been slowly and painstakingly buying abandoned buildings and restoring them using purely local and regional materials and crafts.

“Italy isn’t only the Coliseum, Venice and the Uffizi Gallery” says Kihlgren. “It’s a whole distinct world of traditions and sensations that is at risk of disappearing.”

It could so easily have been lost to the ravages of time. Once part of an estate belonging to the Medici family, Santo Stefano was a thriving township devoted to the production of carfagna, a coarse wool used for military uniforms and monks’ cowls. For thousands of years, shepherds moved their flocks from the mountain pastures down to the wide plains of Apulia in a rhythmic seasonal process known as transhumance. The inevitable march of progress led to the younger generations deserting the village to escape the poverty of rural life, and the population fell from 1500 people at the start of the 20th century, to around 50 today.

Thanks to Kihlgren, you can now stay in the exquisite Palazzo della Loggia, furnished with hand-crafted mattresses, blankets and antiques. You can also dine on lentil soup in the atmospheric Locanda Sotto Gli Archi, where original recipes are recreated using locally grown crops.

This tiny little village, and what it has become, taught me as a traveller to never take for granted the beauty that we find. I am now far more conscious of the commitment and passion that lies behind many of the wondrous sites we visit as tourists. So often, the tradition, the heritage or the natural beauty we seek, only exists because one (usually quite mad, often ridiculed) person is sufficiently obsessed with saving it, protecting it or restoring it. It’s fair to say I came home changed, with an overwhelming craving for lentil soup. See sextantio.it

MORE DRINKS AND DISHES – HONOURABLE MENTIONS

VINCISGRASSI, LE MARCHE

You grew up on lasagne – nice, creamy, comfort-food lasagne. Now it’s time to go next-level and step up to vincissgrassi ( vin-chiss-grarsy), a proudly regional dish from Italy’s mountainous Le Marche region, of pasta layered with creamy calves’ brains, chicken livers, wild mushrooms, prosciutto, white wine, and herbs. Once you’ve had it, you’ll look at lasagne and laugh.

CASSOULET, SOUTH-WEST FRANCE

To call cassoulet baked beans and sausages is to call Dom Perignon a nice little bubbly. This is the king of all stews, a hearty, rustic and yet sophisticated baked dish from the south-west of France that brings together white beans, sausage, and pork with duck or goose confit under a golden crust of breadcrumbs. Pass the red wine, please.

SHOYU RAMEN, JAPAN

This is Tokyo’s classic ramen-noodle dish, a soup made from chicken bones or dried fish, seasoned with soy sauce and then added to chewy noodles, fermented bamboo shoots, and a marinated boiled egg – sensational.

TXULETA, SPAIN

It doesn’t get much more simple or delicious than this: a bone-in rib-eye steak, cut as thick as your arm, doused with salt and then seared until it’s barely rare over open fire at an “asador” high in Spain’s Basque Country.

BANH MI, HOI AN, VIETNAM

This might just be the world’s best sandwich, a short, French-style bread roll smeared with pate and butter and filled with various pork products, pickled vegetables, fresh herbs, and a secret chilli sauce that is the stuff of instant addiction.

THALI, INDIA

Is there a greater joy than being able to dig into your food with your hands, to mixing up curries with rice, to scooping it up with bread, to adding chutneys, to crackling pappadums, to doing all this with the simplest eating tools imaginable? Surely not.

SOLE MEUNIERE, FRANCE

One of the often-unsung heroes of French cuisine, sole meuniere has an otherworldly greatness, the delicate meat of the fish perfectly balanced by the richness of lightly browned butter with lemon and parsley.

SCHNITZEL IN VIENNA

This dish might be considered a greasy pub filler, but the real deal has a succulent veal interior, crunchy coating and accompaniment of potato or cucumber salad that raises it to a simple but elegant meal fit for an emperor. See wien.info

NISHIMURAYA HONKAN, JAPAN

The winter snow-crab season in venerable hot-spring town Kinosaki Onsen is a must for gourmets. Stay at this ryokan and your kaiseki meal might include crab sashimi style, boiled, grilled and in a hotpot. See nishimuraya.ne.jp

MORE RESTAURANTS AND BARS – HONOURABLE MENTIONS

THE AMERICAN BAR, THE SAVOY HOTEL, LONDON

With its white-jacketed mixologists, black-and-white Chanel colour scheme and warm and clubby atmosphere, this is a bar – at nearly 130 years old, the oldest in London – in which you could move in and live on cocktails all year round. And as its legendary bartender, Harry Craddock, said in the 1930s, cocktails are “the finest appetisers around”. thesavoylondon.com

BAR DESY, SAN SEBASTIAN, SPAIN

This is the local bar of your dreams, a plain, unfashionable little joint in the San Sebastian suburbs where the food is excellent, the craft beer is top-notch and the welcome from the father-son team of Jose and Gorka Perez makes you feel instantly like part of the family.

UOSHIN, TOKYO, JAPAN

There’s nothing fancy about Uoshin, a seafood izakaya in Tokyo’s Ebisu neighbourhood – but that’s its attraction, the perfect demonstration of just how relaxed and enjoyable and yet incredibly tasty a Tokyo bar can be. See uoshins.com

ASADOR ETXEBARRI, AXPE, SPAIN

This Basque restaurant is no secret – it’s currently No. 3 on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list – but it’s well worth the trouble to secure a booking: the food here, each dish grilled over hot coals, and yet cooked with surprising delicacy and finesse, is cuisine at its absolute pinnacle. See asadoretxebarri.com

HARWOOD ARMS, LONDON, ENGLAND

England has extremely good food: allow that to sink in as you sit at the Harwood Arms, a “gastro-pub” in west London, and enjoy traditional fare that has been given a gentle nudge into greatness, expertly handled and perfectly presented. See harwoodarms.com

CORIANDER LEAF, SINGAPORE

Odd fusion cuisines are usually better for shock value than flavour, but this modest, mid-range restaurant proves otherwise. Pan-Asian influences range from Turkey and Iran through to India, Korea and Japan, and every dish is sensational. See corianderleaf.com

HIGH NOTE SKYBAR, ARIA HOTEL, BUDAPEST

Voted No. 1 hotel in the world by TripAdvisor in 2017, this gorgeous music-themed property’s crowning glory is a stunning rooftop bar with gasp-inducing views of the city and St Stephen’s Basilica. See highnoteskybar.hu

CONNIE, TWA HOTEL, NEW YORK

The standout feature of JFK’s new TWA Hotel is Connie, an intimate ’60s-themed cocktail bar located in a refurbished 1958 TWA Lockheed Constellation Starliner. See twahotel.com

TROISGROS, FRANCE

France’s first family of food has held three Michelin stars for more than 50 years, but everything about their restaurant, from the conceptual design to the fresh flavours on the plate, is ultra-contemporary. troisgros.com

DIRT CANDY, NEW YORK

Three cheers for chef Amanda Cohen. In addition to launching New York’s first vegie-based restaurant 12 years ago, she has abolished tips and curated a wine list consisting exclusively of female winemakers. See dirtcandynyc.com/

D.O.M., SAO PAULO

Long before everyone was a locavore, Brazilian chef Alex Atala’s showcased Amazonian ingredients – from heart of palm to ants – in ambitious degustation dinners at his Sao Paulo restaurant. See domrestaurante.com.br

LE COMPTOIR, PARIS 

It’s the bistro of your dreams, as you sit inside or out on the street, elbow-to-elbow, with platters of terrines and cheeses by day, and an adventurous set menu at night. Former fine dining chef, Yves Camdeborde, is the poster boy for France’s “bistronomy”, with an aim to make traditional bistro cooking relevant to today. See hotel-paris-relais-saint-germain.com

SWAN OYSTER DEPOT, SAN FRANCISCO

For the past 74 years, three generations of the Sancimino family have been behind the marble counter of this gussied-up seafood diner, serving up local oysters and cracked Dungeness crab with sauce Louis, Anchor Steam beer and wise-guy humour. The counter, however, is short, and the queue is long. Visit 1517 Polk Street, San Francisco. 

THE LONG BAR, RAFFLES, SINGAPORE

The Long Bar does what a bar should do … transport you to another place. With its rattan ceiling fans and potted palms, this is a glimpse of old colonial Singapore. The Singapore Sling cocktail, first created here in 1915, is no longer as sweet as it was ( a good thing), but you’re really here for the illicit pleasure of cracking open peanuts and strewing the shells on the floor. See raffles.com



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Dave Hughes on the ‘miracle’ diet that changed his life


Comedian and host of Hughesy, We Have A Problem Dave Hughes reveals why becoming a vegan has been a “miracle” for his body and how staring at a wall ended up changing his life.

You became a vegan in 2019. Is it just you in your family who has taken up veganism? And how has it changed your life?

It’s just me at the moment. My wife eats very little meat and she eats dairy. I’ve found [the vegan diet] really good. It gets a little tricky when you’re looking at a restaurant menu and it’s limited. For me, it’s well worth it. Apart from all the ethical considerations and it being better for the environment, it’s also better for my body. I just turned 50 and I can run every day now without getting sore. It’s actually a miracle – I’m going to call it a miracle! I’m running 5km in just over 20 minutes. I’m shocked by how good my body is at the moment. I woke up stiff and sore for 15 bloody years, I reckon. Now I can go down the stairs in the morning without going sideways – I go front ways because I’m not sore at all.

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You’ve started meditating recently. How did that come about?

I’ve been interested in meditation since I was young, probably since my late teenage years. I did a little back then, and I always promised myself I’d get back into it. Last year, maybe [because of] COVID or whatever, I decided to commit to it properly and it’s been life-changing. I highly recommend it to everyone. It’s invaluable for life. There’s a world beyond your thoughts, and that world is where the real joy is.

How do you meditate?

I do it twice a day, in the morning and the evening – or just whenever I can. I turn off the phone or place it on flight mode, and set an alarm for 20 minutes. I like to have my eyes open and I basically stare at a wall. I focus on my breathing – on my breath going in and out of my nostrils. That’s what you want to focus on, that breathing. Look, your mind will wander and that’s natural. But the practice is bringing it back to the breath. It’s not about how many times your mind wanders, it’s about noticing it’s wandering and bringing yourself back to the breath. It’s honestly changed my life.

Your panel series Hughesy, We Have A Problem is back for a new season. Are you still enjoying it?

Absolutely. I’m grateful for the opportunity to do this show – any opportunity to have an audience and get a laugh, I’ll take. Laughter is a very important part of life. We should all laugh at the silliness of life. Obviously in the past year, we’ve all been going through experiences that are different and difficult. We need to laugh when we can. We’ve been knocked off our tracks, I suppose, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s made me grow, I think. It’s made me stronger.

Do you have a favourite solved “problem” from the show thus far?

We had one where an audience member wasn’t allowed to have an animal in their flat. We got the building manager on, and they agreed to allow the pet. We solved the problem and brought out a rescue dog from a shelter for this woman to take home. That episode went to air, and my wife – who’s a bit of a cynic – said, “Did that woman really adopt that dog?” And I told her that it looked like she did. But she said, “Can you ring the producer and find out if she definitely adopted that dog?” So I rang and they said, “No, she didn’t want the dog.” I told my wife that and she said, “Is the dog still up for adoption?” The producers said yes… So we adopted that dog, and that dog’s name is Bubbles. Bubbles is the gift that keeps on giving.

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Overnight traffic conditions changed on Pacific Motorway



Residents and motorists along the Pacific Motorway will experience changed overnight traffic conditions from this weekend on the Pacific Motorway at Yelgun.

The changes are in place to carry out concrete slab replacement work.

Work will require one southbound lane of the highway to be closed, about 24 kilometres north of the Ewingsdale interchange, while the existing concrete pavement is removed and replaced to provide a smoother, safer and longer lasting surface for motorists.

Speed restrictions will be in place for both northbound and southbound motorists, with occasional brief stoppages for southbound road users.

To minimise impacts to motorists, work will be carried out overnight starting Sunday, February 14, from 6pm to 3am, and is expected to be complete by 3am on Friday, February 19, weather permitting.

Motorists are advised to drive to the conditions, and follow the directions of signs and traffic control.

Transport for NSW thanks motorists for their patience during this time.

For the latest traffic updates download the Live Traffic NSW App, visit livetraffic.com or call 132 701.



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What has changed in the year since cannabis possession was legalised in the ACT?


Dire warnings of legal loopholes, a mental health crisis and drug driving fears accompanied the legalisation of cannabis in the ACT last year.

But one year on, cannabis users and stakeholders alike say that, while overall the impacts have been subtle, the change has been for the better.

“Overall, we found cannabis use hasn’t changed and, in some ways, that’s the big story, because there were really dire predictions at the outset,” Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drug Association ACT chief executive Devin Bowles said.

So what changed a year ago?

The legislation changed the laws governing personal possession, use and cultivation of cannabis in Canberra.

Coming into effect on January 31 last year, the new laws allowed possession of up to 50 grams of cannabis per person, and made it legal to grow and consume cannabis in your own home.

The plants must be grown outdoors and there is a limit of two plants per person and four per household.

While possession and cultivation became legal, buying the seeds and supplying cannabis or cannabis plants to anyone remained illegal.

But the legislation is at odds with Commonwealth cultivation and possession laws, which still make it unlawful to possess cannabis in the ACT.

Simple cannabis offences drop by 90 per cent

Canberrans have been legally allowed to grow a small number of cannabis plants for a year now.(ABC News: Luke Stephenson)

This legal conflict between the territory and the Commonwealth prompted concerns ACT Policing could ignore the local laws and instead charge users under federal law.

Those fears so far have been unfounded.

ACT Policing figures show the number of Simple Cannabis Offence Notices issued in 2020 dropped by almost 90 per cent — down from 56 to 5.

Interstate residents and ACT under-18 residents can still be charged.

Police figures also show there have been no standalone small amount cannabis possession offences recorded since the new legislation came into effect.

Drug driving offences remained steady.

Detective Acting Superintendent Callum Hughes said ACT Policing had no significant issues in implementing the new cannabis laws.

“Drug use and drug possession continues to be associated with other crime types such as drug driving, assault, burglary and possession of stolen property etcetera.”

No increase in hospital visits recorded

Expanded emergency department at Canberra Hospital
ACT Health data shows there has been no increase in hospital presentations since the cannabis laws passed.(Supplied: ACT Health)

Another serious concern about the laws centred on the physical and mental health effects of recreational cannabis use.

Shortly after the laws passed the ACT Legislative Assembly, but before they became law, Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt wrote to Chief Minister Andrew Barr about the potential health impacts.

ACT Health launched a public health campaign about the potential impacts of cannabis use — which include reduced brain function, memory loss, and an increased risk of psychoses, or even developing schizophrenia.

But ACT Health data shows there has been no increase in hospital presentations since the laws passed.

Between February and December 2019 there were 31 cannabinoid-related presentations to Canberra Emergency Departments, representing 5.4 per cent of total illicit-drug-related presentations in that period.

During the same period after the laws passed, there were 32 cannabinoid-related presentations, 5.2 per cent of all illicit-drug-related presentations.

Cannabis usage remains at steady rate

Anonymous woman's hands rolling a cannabis joint.
A spike in cannabis levels in Canberra’s wastewater was detected in June 2020, which authorities attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic.(Unsplash: Thought Catalog)

The annual Ecstasy and Related Drugs Reporting System report for the ACT found cannabis usage rates remained mostly steady.

“That applies to treatment for their cannabis use, but also for associated mental health issues, so we see it as a positive for mental health.”

Wastewater testing also showed no increase in cannabis use immediately after the legislation passed.

A spike in cannabis levels was detected in June, but similar increases were observed in other jurisdictions, which authorities attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic.

ACT Health said this was consistent with national trends.

“An increase in cannabis use was observed, mainly cited as due to ‘boredom/less things to occupy time’, ‘more time to use the drug’ and ‘greater anxiety/depression with COVID-19’,” ACT Health said.

New laws ‘not perfect’, but beneficial for users

Close up of hemp leaves.
Anecdotally, drug users are being perceived differently in Canberra.(Unsplash: Matthew Brodeur)

Canberra resident Dave is a casual cannabis user and believes the new laws have had a positive impact.

He said one of the biggest benefits was on the way people perceived cannabis users, which he believed was encouraging problem users to seek help.

“Cannabis is not seen as being so much dependency forming,” he said.

“I think they’re [now] more inclined to go and to seek help with that, to try to get drug treatment, go into counselling, maybe psychiatry, psychotherapy, things like that, because there’s less of a severe stigma involved with it now.

“Certainly, the people who are going in to have issues dealt with don’t feel so much shame about having issues with cannabis use.”

But Dave does not think the law is perfect, and said the rules around roadside drug testing need to be reformed to better measure the intoxication level of the driver.

“It’s simply the presence or absence of it that defines whether you’ve committed a crime, and they don’t consider whether you’re impaired, as with alcohol testing,” he said.

“It is really a hole in the legislation.”

For the man who started it all, this is just the start

The marijuana is spread out on the table, a joint is half rolled, and there are glass jars around.
The legislation legalised personal possession and use.(Unsplash: Wesley Gibbs)

The architect of the legislation, Labor MLA Michael Pettersson, has been pleased with the results so far.

But he said the laws were not the end of the road for drug reform, but rather a step towards treating drug use as a public health problem, rather than a criminal one.

“For the most part, I think things are pretty similar to what they were before, but I think we’re now heading in the right direction,” he said.

“Treating drug use as a crime hasn’t stopped drug use, treating drug use as a public health problem is the best way we can go about reducing drug use in our society.”

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ASX ends little changed, slips for week



Investors spent the week waiting for US President-elect Joe Biden’s economic stimulus plan details but failed to get a boost after it was revealed.

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How Fatherhood Changed My Perception of Lockdowns


Before my daughter’s birth, I would have privately dismissed many of these people as curtain-twitching authoritarians, but was I any different? The promise of security lies at the heart of our collective bargain with the state. The state retains the authority to lock us up, take us to war, or even kill us if we pose enough of a threat. Upon winning office, many of our leaders assume the power to deploy drones and other weapons that can hover over villages thousands of miles away and drop bombs. At home, armed police officers have the authority to shoot people. The public generally backs the state’s possession of these powers. In fact, there is usually overwhelming support for leaders exhibiting themselves as the guarantors of law and order. The U.K. proudly publicizes its success in deporting criminals. Indeed, almost every Conservative government since World War II has styled itself as one of law and order, and the most successful Labour administration in that time, led by Tony Blair, campaigned on being tough on crime.

But, as we see today, security is not just about personal safety from violence or terrorism—it is a much broader concept. It is concerned with the defense of the realm, and of property, health, incomes, and savings. It takes in people’s community, their class, race, gender, religion, and ethnicity. It can be as ethereal as the security of a certain way of living, a culture or national identity. It is not a fixed concept, but constantly moving and politically contested, evolving as the perceived threat morphs over time. In the 1980s, security in Britain was concerned with inflation, and in the 1990s, crime. After 9/11 and the 7/7 bombings in London, it shifted to address the threat from terrorism. After the 2007–8 financial crisis, the British government intervened to guarantee the security of people’s savings.

At each turn, the public turned to the state to act as the ultimate guarantor of security, whether that meant cutting interest rates, hiking jail sentences, introducing “snooping” laws—or even legitimizing torture.

We now see governments deploying extraordinary powers over individuals to control the latest threat to security: the pandemic. And polling suggests that there is consent for the state to step in, to protect—just as I had wanted the doctor to step in to protect my family. Only over time, as the threat dissipates, do people start demanding a rebalancing of security and freedom (and resent the financial cost of security).

Faced with this reality, did my demand for greater security—the safety of the hospital ward—reflect a faith in the system, a signal that, despite the crisis of confidence at the heart of Britain’s seemingly never-ending political chaos, a fundamental degree of trust remained between ruler and ruled? I don’t think so. While I did trust the doctors looking after my wife and my daughter, and have never bought the idea that the government’s lockdowns would be a precursor to some permanent authoritarian environment, my reluctance to leave the hospital was a sign not of faith in the system, but of a lack of faith.

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How Canberra’s influence game changed in 2020


She is new to being the face of an interest group, having spent two years with the non-profit and taking on her current role in July 2020 in the middle of the crisis, but her experiences are shared by a range of advocates from major associations who were spoken to by this masthead.

There are shared frustrations from lobbyists about the lack of in-person meetings with government decision-makers through large parts of 2020 but there is also agreement that dialling in on the computer has proven to be an efficient way to touch base quickly when reacting to the fast-changing economic and social environment.

“Pre-COVID I would never have pictured that sort of scenario playing out with children walking in,” Dent says. “It has changed things.”

Rethinking relationships

Most people outside of Australia’s political circles will know groups like the Australian Council of Social Service, the Business Council of Australia and the Australian Council of Trade Unions largely through their significant presence in the news and on social media.

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But for most of those involved with influencing the nation’s policymakers, getting coverage in the media is only one part of a complex job. A lot of the unseen work traditionally happens over coffee at Canberra’s Parliament House and electorate offices across the country, where lobbyists aim to explain their point of view and ultimately change legislation affecting every Australian.

Last year, the typical channels for this sort of lobbying dried up fast. Sitting weeks were cancelled, there were limits on who could come to Parliament and border restrictions to limit the spread of the pandemic kept workers in their homes.

“It was a huge opportunity and a huge threat to how the industry operated,” Financial Services Council deputy chief executive Blake Briggs says.

“A lot of effective advocacy is based on the quality and depth of the relationships you have with key decision-makers,” he says. “That’s much harder to do when you can’t physically sit down with someone and take them through your arguments and evidence and the data you’re using to support your position.”

Briggs says most lobbyists were left relying heavily on the depth of pre-existing relationships. The industry was being affected in real-time and it was crucial to know MPs on all sides of the political spectrum or to quickly build trust.

His lobbying also became much more data-driven, he says, with Treasury, the Reserve Bank and ministers needing to know specifically what was happening among financial providers. In the early days of the crisis there were significant concerns about the strain lending institutions might be under.

“There was a huge demand for up-to-date data in real time about how the market was functioning. I think that will leave a permanent mark on how policy is done — I think there will be a lot more focus on data in the future,” he says.

Shifting gears

Some lobbyists weren’t able to get as much attention on the issues they had previously planned to focus on over the year. The pandemic was all-consuming and it was hard to win interest on any other topic from politicians, says a representative of a major industry group who did not want to be named in case it affects their relationships.

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“Everyone was understandably focused on the crisis … but it derailed some of the plans we’d made at the end of 2019 and meant we had to be louder in other ways,” they say.

Another advocate who preferred not to be named says MPs tended to be more open-minded than in the past about innovative ideas and recommendations, but they also found it difficult to get cut-through on issues not related to the nation’s economic recovery or immediate pandemic assistance.

Briggs has noticed some of his counterparts in other groups have “been louder in the media” and “had to rely more on those levers” to get their arguments out than they would have if they’d been able to walk the corridors of Parliament.

“That may appear as them being louder or more shrill,” he says.

With challenges for every company across the country due to the pandemic, many of the changes are set to stay for the time being. Industry Super Australia’s deputy chief executive Matt Linden, who is based in Canberra, can’t recall a year where the workload has been as intense as 2020. “I think everyone from our organisation pulled out all the stops to be on top of everything,” he says.

Policy changes were coming “thick and fast” and the group’s responsibilities escalated as the year went on and emergency changes allowing more than 3 million people to access their superannuation savings early were brought in to help struggling workers.

The year forced Industry Super to use technology at an accelerated pace, including video-conferencing, and increase their focus to ensure messages put out to the public and to policymakers were clear and relevant.

“There is a limited bandwidth in terms of your ability to get messages out when it has been a busy year media-wise in terms of all the topics being covered. It’s a challenge,” he says.

“We’re all looking forward to this year hopefully being different to the last.”

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Gini Wijnaldum told he “can’t get away with” Liverpool wages as he hasn’t “changed lives”


Gini Wijnaldum can’t consider himself to be worthy of a place among Liverpool’s top earners, according to former Premier League striker Darren Bent.

Dutch midfielder Wijnaldum is out of contract with the Reds at the end of the season, and there currently appears to be little chance of him signing a new deal in the coming weeks.

Liverpool are said to want to keep the 30-year-old, who has consistently been a key player for Jurgen Klopp, but both parties are currently apart on issues concerning the offer of a new deal.

The former Newcastle man is still on the same contract he signed after arriving from the Magpies in the summer of 2016, and he is said to earn around £75,000 a week.

While the impasse over a new deal is believed to centre around the number of years on the contract, several reports indicate that Wijnaldum is also after a hike in wages that will put him on a par with some of the club’s top earners.



Wijnaldum is out of contract at the end of the season

Former Tottenham, Aston Villa and England forward Bent doesn’t think he’s worth that though, and has questioned Wijnaldum’s position in the squad.

“He’s been very, very good, but no, I’m not putting him on the same wages as Salah, Mane, even Firmino, for that matter,” Bent told Football Insider.

“But to kind of catapult yourself to where van Dijk is, Alisson, these guys, them two, for instance, changed lives at Liverpool when they came in.

“So to say you want to be on the same kind of level as them, I don’t think so, you can’t get away with that.

“He certainly deserves a bigger wage than he’s probably on but to say that he wants to be one of the top earners in the same bracket as them guys, no.”

How much is Wijnaldum worth? Have your say in the comments below

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