Gold Coast, Australia
When to go
With around 300 days of rays a year, there's almost always sexy weather and warm water on the sun-snogged Gold Coast. Times to avoid are Schoolies Week in late November, when high-school leavers party in packs around Cavill Avenue and Surfers Paradise. The noise-sensitive should also give late October a miss, when the Gold Coast 600 V8 supercars race, held over three days on a street circuit, brings petrolhead mayhem. Fun times to visit are New Year's Eve and the Australian summer for buzzy surf comps.
PlanesFly into Gold Coast Airport at Coolangatta (www.goldcoastairport.com.au), the hub for international and domestic flights into the area. From here it's about a 42-kilometre, or 35-minute drive, north to Surfers Paradise, at the heart of the Gold Coast. Hire a car at the airport or hop aboard a shuttle bus transfer. Airlines serving the airport include Qantas, Jetstar, Virgin Australia, Tiger Airways, Air New Zealand, Air Asia and Scoot, with regular connections from Sydney, Melbourne and Auckland, as well as Asia.
TrainsNerang train station is 15 kilometres, or a 20-minute drive, from Surfers Paradise, handy for rail connections from Brisbane. If you've flown in to Brisbane, the Air Train (www.airtrain.com.au) from the airport stops at Nerang and three other Gold Coast stations. Alternatively, take the local Queensland Rail line to Nerang (www.translink.com.au).
Queensland’s Great Barrier Reef is a fantastic place to dive and snorkel. Your surfing ability will determine the best location to sample our wide variety of waves. Longboarding is well suited to Noosa, and Byron Bay and Crescent Head in New South Wales, but if you’re looking for a more challenging experience check out Margaret River in Western Australia (also an amazing wine region) and Burleigh Heads on Queensland’s Gold Coast. Drive Victoria’s scenic Great Ocean Road where infamous Bells Beach suits serious surfers and Torquay, Anglesea, Lorne and Fairhaven will appeal to beginners. Keep going to spot wild koalas near Kennett River, kayak with seals at Apollo Bay and see the awe-inspiring Twelve Apostles sea stacks and Loch Ard Gorge near Port Campbell.
Where Bells at Killcare, Central Coast, Australia
Cuisine Modern Italian
What's the inspiration for your cooking?
Often our vegetable gardens, or a stroll through the markets – be they fish or produce – provides inspiration but mostly it’s the regional dishes of Italy and my travels to those regions, provinces and towns.
Favourite ingredient right now?
I've just received a few jars of caper leaves preserved in vinegar. They are from the western shores of Lake Garda in northern Italy (close to where I was born). They are relatively unknown outside their terrain and I’m very excited to start using them in soups, vitello tonnato and seafood dishes.
I’m not a big breakfast sort of person. All I need is good espresso, made properly, and a perfect, just-made croissant. I love Pioik Bakery and café because it’s close by where I live and Shady Wasef is a consummate baker.
Where do you like to eat out?
I’ve been eating a lot of pizza lately because I’m working on opening a pizzeria later this year. A few days ago I had a wonderful pizza at Gigi’s in Newtown.
Noosa, on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, is a must-see destination with its mild temperatures in and out of the water – even in Australia’s winter – and its crystal-clear ocean. There is loads to do, too, from surfing the waves to stand-up paddle boarding on the river, and hikes and running trails through the National Park.
I also love Cable Beach in Broome – you can witness a spectacular sunset over the ocean while riding on a camel along the sand. It’s a wonderful experience and truly unique to Western Australia. Mr & Mrs Smith favourite Pinctada Cable Beach has a spa and smart dining just a stroll from the sea; for camel treks, try Ships of the Desert. While in Broome, visit Matso’s brewery and sample their desert lime and wild ginger cider.