≡ Menu

Japanese block prints are an unlikely connection between Sea Zen and the bombshell 2017 Van Gogh exhibition in Melbourne.

Many thousands of Melbournians have been blown away by the colour and vibrancy of Van Gogh’s paintings. The last 3 years of his life was an explosion of creativity. He painted one masterpiece a day, each a frenetic outpouring of colour and emotion.

window 600

Van Gogh, Cottage 1888

 

Tree trunks

Van Gogh, Tree trunks 1890

His work resonated so strongly with Melbournians it became the fastest selling exhibition in the NGV’s history, with opening extended to 12 July 2017 for 15 hours a day!

We discovered that Japanese prints are a strong common theme between Van Gogh’s art and our design ethic at Sea Zen.

Van Gogh’s Japanese prints

While the pathway to Van Gogh’s genius is troubled and complex, there were several critical steps along the way.  One was his discovery of the Impressionists’ bold use of colour to represent the light of outdoors which lead to his frenetic pace of work and his sweeping splashes of colour, often applied directly from the paint tube.

Another step several years earlier was his collection of 500 Japanese prints, some of which are displayed in the Melbourne exhibition.

Why were these prints important?

[click to continue…]

hygge fire picAh, the crisp wind is in the air at Wye River. Autumn is in full throttle and winter not far behind. So what’s special about Sea Zen at this time of year?

We recently found out the Danes are the happiest people in the world. And ‘Hygge” has a lot to do with it.

The Danish idea of  ‘hygge’ (pronounced hoo-ga), means ‘coziness’ or ‘happy relaxing ambience’. In their freezing winter Danes love to stay inside, relax, eat good food, munch on their famous cinnamon buns, be with friends and family, read books and be cozy.

cinnamon-rollsSea Zen is ‘hygge’ to the max. A small but warm cozy space with wood heater, massive spa and a warming aromatherapy steam shower in the ensuite. Add to that our Foxtel TV, lovely selection of books, magazines and movies. And the fluffy thick bath robes and huge bath towels…and the coffee machine for lattes and cappuccinos.

There’s the Sea Zen giant comfy bed. And perhaps best of all, the relaxing and alluring day bed, where you can sit and gaze out to the sea for hours on end. Or what else to do when it’s cold outside? Sit with your favorite drink and read. “Hygge, hygge.”

read books take naps2And if you do want to venture out it’s a short 60m to a spectacular bracing walk along our beautiful beach (you’ll probably be the only people on it and that’s ‘hygge’ too.)

Book now for your winter ‘hygge’ holiday retreat at Sea Zen.

Yellow tailed Black Cockatoos can often be seen around Sea Zen in small flocks. Photo Birdlife Aust.

Yellow tailed Black Cockatoos can often be seen around Sea Zen in small flocks. Photo Birdlife Aust.

Bird watching is one of the things most of our guests love about staying at Sea Zen. And for us living here at Wye River  & Separation Creek it is a joy every day. But now a study from the Uni of Exeter has found that it’s more than just fun.
Research found that people who can readily see birds, trees and greenery were less likely to suffer from depression, anxiety and stress. In fact they found the number of birds people could see in the afternoon was associated with better mental health.

“This study starts to unpick the role that some key components of nature play for our mental well being,” the author Dr Daniel Cox, says. “Birds around the home, and nature in general, show great promise in preventative health care, making cities healthier, happier places to live.”

It seems each week there is a new study on the role of nature in our mental health telling us things we already know and feel. A break away from the stress of the “concrete jungle” is great for anyone and spending time watching the birds of the Otways and Great Ocean Road certainly does that.

For more scientific evidence on the benefits of nature to our wellbeing read here.

Delicious Persian Eggs - the ideal brunch on the Sea Zen balcony. Ready made spice mix for you and fresh herbs in the garden.

Delicious Persian Eggs – the ideal brunch on the Sea Zen balcony. Ready made spice mix for you and fresh herbs in the garden.

One of our favorite brunches of all times is the exotic dish of Persian eggs. Exotic, but easy to make, especially now that Sea Zen has two lush growing pots of parsley and thyme on the back porch and we’ve popped the special spice mix into the Sea Zen pantry for all guests to try out.
We heard Stephanie Alexander talk about this years ago and have been cooking it for our Sunday brunches regularly ever since.
And how fabulous to enjoy this on the Sea Zen balcony now that summer is here, with the ocean in front of you and a King Parrot or two for company.
ENJOY

Parsley and Thyme now in pots on the back porch.

Parsley and Thyme now in pots on the back porch.

RECIPE
Grab as many  eggs as you want, whisk up and add 1 teaspoon of the Persian Egg Spice mix from the pantry. Scramble in some olive oil and add a small handful of herbs from the pots out on the back balcony – thyme and parsley.
Add salt and pepper to taste. VOILA.
PS. The spices are freshly roasted and ground cumin, coriander and cinnamon.

Save

Save

Wye River beautiful beach.

Wye River beautiful beach. The town has been voted in the “Top 10 Most Charming Beach towns in Australia.” (Photo Stitches/Flickr).

You can say we are biased, or maybe not. Last week travel industry folks confirmed what we’ve known all along when they voted Wye River in the “Top 10 Most Charming Beach Town in Australia”.

Online Travel Magazine invited over 50 folks whose job it is to get around our great wide, beautiful land – travel writers, photographers and selected professionals- to vote on the places they thought the most appealing. And Wye River is in the Top 10!

“Nestled along one of the most spectacular sections of the Great Ocean Road that runs along the south-eastern coast of Australia, this small coastal town provides a superb end point to one of the world’s great road trips. Once here, you’ll find the landscape is a scenic mix of rugged cliffs and verdant mountain foliage while the main sandy beach is surrounded by rock pools and reefs that attract fishing lovers and intrepid explorers all year round.”

And that’s not to mention our wildlife, birds, koalas, whales. Our yummy coffee at the gorgeous General Store Cafe and the most delicious Fish ‘n Chips with the best ocean view in the entire country at the Wye Beach Pub.

We’re also chuffed that nearby towns Lorne (lots of cafes and art galleries) and Apollo Bay (fishing fleet and marina) were included too.

Thanks to the folks at Travel Magazine, we couldn’t agree more, a stay at Wye River is something absolutely special.

 

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

The Spotted Pardalote, first time we ever saw one.

The Spotted Pardalote, first time we ever saw one.

We love birds, our guests love birds and our whole community loves the birds. And why not? The native birds of Wye River and Separation Creek are among the area’s greatest natural features. They are so beautiful to look at and keep us entertained with their antics around our towns. And we have over 150 species in the Otways and along the Great ocean Road.

Last month we decided to have an entire day of Bird watching for our community. Over 30 people came and listened to Simon Starr, an ornithologist and bird expert who has been running his Firetail Bird Watching tours around the state for 20 years. First we spent a few hours looking at his slides and sharing stories of our experiences. Then, along with our picnic lunches we went out for a day of spotting.

Simon Starr, bird expert showing us rare Hooded Plover.

Simon Starr, bird expert showing us rare Hooded Plover.

And boy did we spot. A beautiful sunny day gave us the backdrop to sights of a Satin Bower Bird’s bower, the endangered Hooded Plover on the beach, the usual cacophony of King Parrots and Rosellas, the gorgeous Superb Fairy Wren and a cute little thing most of us had no idea about, the Spotted Pardalote. Rex and I have had almost twenty years in this area without seeing a bower or a Pardalote but now we know how to do both!

Hooded Plover, rare and endangered are near our towns.

Hooded Plover, rare and endangered are near our towns.

Simon introduced us to a whole new way of looking at our birds, gave us some fabulous little secrets and heaps of information.

We have been inspired by the whole experience and have started on our own Sea Zen Insiders ‘Bird Spotting Guide’.  It will have all those insights and tips that we gleaned from Simon.  20 years of questions answered in a concise 10 page guide.  Stay tuned for progress!

At Sea Zen we know many of our guests love the bird experience too so we have provided basic information on our feathered friends, books and dvds. And of course we provide natural wild bird seed for the ultimate guest experience.

Join us at Sea Zen to experience the beautiful birds of our region. When you come back to Sea Zen you’ll find more bird info than ever before. Perhaps you can get close to some new species you’ve never seen before too.

Surperb Fairy Wren.

Superb Fairy Wren.

The magical bower of the Satin Bower bird, a collection of blue items to woo the female.

The magical bower of the Satin Bower bird, a collection of blue items to woo the female.

Save

At Sea Zen we are often asked for our recommendations on places to visit, and Bespoke Harvest at Forrest is right up at the top.

The old Guesthouse hides an amazing food experience inside.

Bespoke Harvest restaurant and owners

Bespoke Harvest restaurant and owners. Pics from Bespoke Harvest Facebook page

There is a set menu of about 6 courses, all from amazing seasonal local produce.

Some local veggies

Some local veggies

The menu can change from week to week over the seasons as the local products are at their best.  You never know what you will get, but after many visits we are yet to be disappointed.  The amazing chef [click to continue…]

sz happy world day

Oops, did you miss it? August 26 was World Dog Day!

But then again, every day at Sea Zen is dog day!
Why?   After looking for somewhere nice to bring our dogs while on our holidays and often finding it difficult, we made sure Sea Zen dog is pet friendly for others on holiday!

But don’t forget the working dogs!

Old photo sled dogs

Sled dogs Greenland, pic hotel Arctic

A few weeks ago we met some working sled dogs in Greenland, where dogs are so vital for the local fishermen that until recently dogs outnumbered people in the beautiful town of Ilulissat. There it is a tough life, inspiring but brutal. Puppies are free to roam, but stay close to their mother, for one tough reason. Here is the story about where modern meets tradition and tradition lives on, one of our most fascinating dog experiences!

 

Riley
Closer to home, here is Riley the working Truffle dog.  He’s not relaxing, he’s pointing out a Truffle here in the Otways.

Back at Sea Zen, it’s a good life for dogs and their owners. Here to celebrate World Dog Day are just a few past dog pics from our Facebook page.

cosy at Sea Zen

Cosy, warm fire

bird watching

Bird watching

Freedom on the beach

Freedom on the beach

Maybe now is a good time to book that holiday with your dog at Sea Zen again! Calendar is here.

We are often asked how things are recovering after the December bushfire. I’m happy to say, really well! Already all fire affected properties have been cleared up. The Sep Ck bridge now has a footbridge and … Paddys Path, the vital link between Wye and Separation Ck, has reopened. Yess!!

Over 40 landowners and their families joined a community working bee, and now hundreds of seedlings welcome you at each end of Paddys Path.

planting600

Bird nesting boxes are starting to appear in local trees.

There is a back story about how this happened. Told here for the first time.

Book Sea Zen now

It all sounds so simple, but as permanent residents Sibylle and I decided after the fire that we had two choices – we could be victims or we could be part of the solution. We decided to work behind the scenes to make things happen, and Paddy’s Path and the planting are some that we had a part in.

[click to continue…]

Roderick explaining how truffles grow under ground under the oaks on his farm.

Roderick explaining how truffles grow under ground under the oaks on his farm.

Roderick Poole’s Truffle hunt and Truffle degustation meal was a highlight of our year so far and a life ambition realised for both of us.  It seemed an impossible dream to actually see how truffles are grown and harvested, and Roderick delivered it beautifully (without us having to get onto a plane and fly to France).

About 25 locals and visitors gathered in the kitchen of Roderick’s homely Wongarrra farm, half way between Wye River and Apollo Bay for a welcoming truffle on soft boiled egg, a cup of coffee and a talk by the amazing Michelin star French chef, Romu.

Romu has worked in Paris but is now sharing his skills and passion for French food in Australia. He has published a truffle book so is the right man for today. His explanation of how truffles are best used in a variety of dishes was wonderful and inspiring. Later we had his full seven course degustation meal, wow,  to die for.

Romu explaining how to cook with truffles. We had 7 small courses including ice cream with truffles.

Romu explaining how to cook with truffles. We had 7 small courses including ice cream with truffles.

But first we joined Roderick in the Oak grove seeing how truffles are harvested.  Riley, the clever rescue Border collie who has been trained for truffle hunting did a magnificent job. He  sniffed around and and then suddenly would drop with his paws showing the exact truffle location and sure enough, there it was, the black lump (often called Black Diamonds because they are expensive) with the enticing aroma.  Within a few hours Roderick had unearthed several kilos ranging from as small as a pea to a whopper the size of a potato, weighing almost 200gm!

Riley the truffle hunting dog

Riley the truffle hunting dog

After the hunt we had a tour of the farm, a model of healthy food production and a panoramic view of the coastline.

Back at the long festive table, we indulged in course after delicate course based on Truffle created by Romu.  Our favourite was the 6 hour slow cooked beef cheek.  The Pinot Noir from the local Gosling Ck winery was a perfect complement.  We followed our noses through the 7 course guide complete with recipes and and at a whim we could visit Romu in the kitchen at the other end of the big space and watch him in action, focused, and with a sense of humor for the observers.

Wongarra Farm oak trees with truffles underneath

Wongarra Farm oak trees with truffles underneath

Roderick is planning to make these regular winter events but we lucked in to be at the inaugural Truffle hunt and meal.  5 stars Roderick and Romu!

Roderick is offering weekly Truffle hunts on the farm each Sunday at the moment, check here for info – http://wongarrafarm.com.au/truffes-a-la-ferme/

 

Book Sea Zen now

Save