On guard! Those hipsters have broken from the confines of Lonsdale Street, Braddon, and staged a southside invasion! Penny University threatens the supremacy of all those funky northside haunts, opening last week to an enthusiastic crowd of earnest young cool things in search of a masterful coffee and a green juice from a jar.
Located on Giles Street, just a few doors down from Me and Mrs Jones, Penny University is the first foray into the cut-throat world of hospitality by Canberra's Gen Y of café operators – 24-year-old Effie Kochinos (daughter of hospitality guru Socrates Kochinos), and 22-year-old Ellie Raymond.
Taking the name from the term used for 18th century coffee houses in England, where you got in for a penny and enjoyed newspapers, discussions and the company of like-minded coffee drinkers, the place is unspeakably cute.
It's got everything to make a hipster feel at home, from the vintage floral cushions atop the mandatory milk crates, to the hanging pots in the tiny courtyard and the murals on the exposed brick walls. A perfect spot to dissect postmodern middle class subculture, surely.
Meanwhile, the food is great – house-made and locally sourced where possible. So is the coffee, which they roast on the premises. And it's certainly spruced up that side of the otherwise tired shopping precinct. Is this just the start of a Kingston resurgence?
Maybe all this excitement started with the simple decision to restore the grass in Green Square. If you plant it they will come ...
Belconnen community festival for a cause
Tomorrow night is Belconnen's chance to be-bop and be charitable. In a wonderfully organized community celebration, music-lovers and families are invited to get into the Christmas spirit and raise money in support of the Cure For Life Foundation – accelerating treatments for brain cancer. Organised by Libby Oakes-Ash, founder of acapella group Shades of Monday, Loungin' By the Lake Outdoor Christmas Concert takes place on Sunday, December 8, at the Belconnen Arts Centre from 4.30 til 7pm.
It promises a lovely end to the weekend with plenty on offer for the kids, including face painting, balloon making, pizza and ice cream, while mum and dad recline in their chairs to soak up some smooth jazz.
Other musical acts have kindly come on board including the Canberra Chordsmen, Ginninderra Wind Orchestra, Last Minute Jazz and Canberra Swingkatz.
Libby's daughter-in-law was diagnosed with brain cancer mid-year. It has devastated the family.
"As one person I can do so little but as a community we can do a lot," Libby says of the need to support research into the disease that disproportionately affects young people.
Tickets for Loungin' by the Lake are available from www.trybooking.com/DWXG Adults cost $15, children $5, concessions $10, family tickets $35 and VIP tickets $35 (which include a chair, cheese platter and a drink).
Further enquiries can be directed to Libby 0404 625 677 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Morton does Inca style
She's a stylist to the most stylish Australian and international set, and Megan Morton has now worked her magic on the National Gallery. Morton, whose whimsical work has featured across glossies such as Vanity Fair and Elle magazine, has spent the week channelling her very best Peruvian native to come up with something inspirational for the Gold and Incas exhibition which kicked off yesterday.
Morton was given the task of transforming the Sculpture Garden Restaurant into something wondrous and distinctly South American. Her love of colour was given free rein and she gave us an insight into her creative thinking as she made the space over.
"I leaned on a mix of the Mario Testino Peru issue in French vogue, Instagram and John Gould's incredible bird prints which I love. The exhibition itself is so wonderful – all of the colour cues came from the curators' work, there is so much to take cues from."
We have not yet been, preferring, as always to avoid the crowds when a big exhibit opens at the NGA, but it's fair to say we'll be approaching the restaurant with almost as much anticipation as the ancient artefacts.
UC selfie goes viral
With 1.4 million Facebook likes, Mashable is a social media hub worth its weight in audience reach.
So well done to Inga Davis, University of Canberra marketing manager, who managed to get Vice-Chancellor Stephen Parker a selfie spot for "Giving Tuesday" – an American trend to think unselfishly after the rampant consumerism of the post-Thanksgiving sales.
By coincidence and design, UC launched its Foundation Christmas appeal on Giving Tuesday, encouraging donors to jump online and buy a textbook for a student.
"The cost of textbooks is overwhelmingly the most difficult study-related expense to afford for all student groups, and that a staggering 86% of full time undergraduates cannot afford course textbooks," according to the UC appeal.
In order to publicise it, Parker jotted down his message on a piece of paper and did the whole selfie thing, only it is technically an unselfie because not only did he not take it – Inga did – but it is all about spreading the message of unselfishness. Gettit?
They posted it online and lo and behold the Mashable editors chose it for the crop of 13 best unselfies from around the Western world. It's the only Aussie unselfie to make the back and UC has been surfing on a wave of happy tweets from students, members of the public and charities wishing them well. It's enough to give you the warm and (cyber) fuzzies. If you want to give back, on a Tuesday, or at any other time for that matter, go to the website.
The Hannah Cabinet draws a crowd
Due to popular demand and substantial interest by gallery patrons who have done nothing but ogle its intricately carved and impossibly shiny surfaces, the magnificent Hannah Cabinet will remain at Bungendore Wood Works Gallery through the New Year.
The cabinet was to be exhibited at the Ballina Regional Gallery in northern NSW from late November through December, but the Ballina crew have kindly allowed it to stay in situ where it continues to attract 30 per cent more traffic through the doors since it was first displayed in May.
It also affords the Wood Works Gallery more time to seek a permanent home for the cabinet in an institution or gallery in the Canberra region. A win-win all round. Plus it gives all those overworked, overscheduled Canberrans a chance to make a day trip out to Bungendore to join in the ogling.
The biggest loser for brain cancer
Self-confessed "fat bastard" Peter Nagel, meanwhile, has a more novel way of raising money for a cure for brain cancer, engaging in a very public diet for the cause.
The Canberra communications consultant's close friend Sarah Mamalai survived brain cancer, and is the driving force behind the upcoming Brain Storm For A Cure cocktail gala at the Institute of Sport on February 8.
Mr Nagel conducted his first weigh in a month ago in front of 200 people at his son's footy presentation day and he is asking sponsors to donate for each kilo lost by the gala day when he weighs in in front of hordes of frocked up party-goers.
He's up to $112.50 per kilo with a goal of hitting 100 kilos. At the time of writing he was down to 118.
Mr Nagel reasons that going public with his weight loss is a good motivation to stick to it, plus it raises money for a great cause. Two other dads from the Woden Weston Rams Rugby League Club footy Club have signed up and more are welcome. Go to www.brainstormforacure.com.au/donate.
Like Canberra? Love it
Like nine out of ten Canberrans confirming in an official government survey that local pride has increased this year, I too feel enormous love for my hometown. In fact, as we conclude our centenary celebrations, I get a little sentimental reflecting on the very big year that was.
I'm also exhausted. Barely a week has gone by when there has not been something to attend on the official centenary program, or just something new and exciting to try on the dining or entertainment front. It's like Canberra just downed a triple shot espresso or something. Things have just been, well, abuzz.
There has been so much it's hard to pick a winner but some personal highlights include pop-up picnic Dinner en Blanc, attracting massive crowds of fine diners all in white to the front of the National Library in March. For all its organisational criticism I loved the world's longest bubbly bar and delighted in seeing one of the city's finest musical exports, the Falling Joys, on stage at Commonwealth Park for the centenary birthday bash itself on March 12.
And finally, Fashfest, a Canberra fashion week featuring local models and clothes in May saw us reach new heights of glamour. It was brilliant – enough to bring a goosebump to the skin and a tear to the eye.
Meanwhile, every where you look a new café or shop is popping up, and our restaurants are getting rave reviews nationally. Yes, we're Confident. Bold. Ready. And I'm pretty confident we won't revert to Boring next year even when the $30 million birthday bash budget is all dried up. Just no one mention the Skywhale, OK?
- Anyone wishing to donate to the Crace Giving Tree can do so at the new Supabarn Crace or at the Christmas at Crace carols night on Thursday 12 December. Donations will go to local families supported by The Salvation Army and the Gungahlin Child & Family Centre.
- "A Captivating Keyboard Concert" will take place at the Albert Hall on Sunday December 8 and 2pm. Featuring Australia's internationally acclaimed Organist Tony Fenelon OAM playing the 1933 Compton Theatre Pipe Organ, the program will feature popular and light classics, music from movies, stage shows, jazz and great standards. Cost: Adults $28, Concession $25, Students $5, Groups of 10+ $20. Bookings: Online at www.trybooking.com/DPFT.
- 2013 Masterchef contestant Dan Churchill has a passion for health and fitness. He will launch his second cookbook, The Healthy Cook, at a book signing event at the Thr1ve Superfood Café in the Canberra Centre from 11.30 to 12.30pm on Thursday, 12 December.