In honour of Gallipoli and the close ties that bind New Zealand and Australia, 'Living' asked Herald cartoonist and ex-Queenslander Rod Emmerson for his favourite places across the ditch.

"Boooooooo." It was loud, in unison, and reverberated around a packed Mt Smart stadium like some bone-chilling anthem at a Roman colosseum.

Joe Walsh from The Eagles was on stage, and had just made the deliberate faux pas of mentioning Australia in his banter with the crowd.

Walsh is all too aware of the argy-bargy between both nations and knew the fish would take the bait the moment the line hit water. He laughs, as do we Australians in the audience, but the intensity of the response is a reminder that you are living behind enemy lines.

What brought me here 11 years ago was my passion for cartooning. What I left behind, besides family, friends and my north Queensland accent, was an overflowing lifeboat of New Zealanders back on the West Island. What I was met by was a surprising population of expat Australians who have happily made New Zealand their home.


Those numbers, if you believe Wikipedia, put the card-carrying Aussie population in New Zealand at 70,000. All happily assimilated and, for the paranoid among us, living as one heavily disguised sleeper cell, waiting for a signal from Channel 9's breakfast Today host and renowned juvenile Kiwi-baiter Karl Stefanovic to seize power.

Stefanovic used to live here and, mostly, his occasional schoolyard prods are aimed squarely at Kiwi workmates off camera. But agreed, a small number of us may be of questionable character and dubious heritage.

However, like Kiwis in Australia, we have surreptitiously infiltrated all levels of the social biosphere. Our forward scout, Michael Joseph Savage, proved how vulnerable security arrangements were here by washing ashore in the dead of night in 1907 and becoming Prime Minister within hours and New Zealander of the Century within days.

Sadly, the mean-spirited changes to transtasman immigration means the reverse could never happen. You may, however, marry the Australian Prime Minister.

What is the glue that binds us? The brotherhood existed long before Gallipoli, with a constant cross-pollination of the Tasman since early colonial times. Anthropology isn't one of my favourite subjects and I'm happy to be fried in a social-media firestorm, but you would have to state the bleeding obvious and suggest that geographical isolation and the all-encompassing anglosphere were no doubt the breeding ground for this symbiotic relationship.

Looking back across the Ditch like a gannet perched atop the wind-swept cliffs of Muriwai, I would be hard pressed to remember a time when there wasn't a handful of Kiwis in my social or work circle.

It never bothered me or anyone else. We are all from somewhere else and we all managed to party long and hard. The common thread that bound us in those early days, was a love of Queensland sun, surf and beach life.

I have fond memories of being woken in the wee hours in my beachside flat in Yeppoon by the faint sound of movement in my lounge room. Wearing my best jocks and my worst face, I swung open the bedroom door and hit the lights - ready to physically engage whoever it was who had the intestinal fortitude to invade my personal space. Instead, sitting cross-legged in the middle of my lounge was my mad mate from Dunedin, with more than 20 teddy bears carefully placed in a circle around a slab of beer, wishing me a happy birthday.


I do venture back to the West Island regularly, to check the pulse on relatives and maintain friendships. Most of my Australian mates are increasingly concerned I've moved to the "dark side", by happily maintaining a life here.

The truth is most of them have visited me over the years and there's a definite envy of the Kiwi lifestyle. New Zealanders do it very well, and we Australians know it.

But enough backslapping. I shall now part with a few of my favourite places to visit in Oz. Most aren't on the tourist trail and if I know Kiwis well enough, these are the sort of places they would hunt out.

1. My favourite place to stay in Sydney is the Russell Hotel at the Rocks. Built in 1886, its creaky floorboards, cosy rooms and small courtyards are a great escape from the mayhem of Circular Quay.

The Russell Hotel at the Rocks in Sydney. Photo / Supplied
The Russell Hotel at the Rocks in Sydney. Photo / Supplied

The hotel's The Push Bar has serious history. The Push was a bohemian movement in Sydney before the cultural revolution of the late 60s and 70s took hold. Members included Clive James, Germaine Greer and a host of Australian musicians, artists and leftwing protagonists, who frequented a handful of pubs in the inner city. It's also directly across the road from the Museum of Contemporary Art.

2. Heron Island remains my all-time favourite Australian destination.
Smack-bang in the middle of the Great Barrier Reef, within a stone's throw of the Tropic of Capricorn, this drop-dead-gorgeous coral cay is home to thousands of seabirds, has teeming coral sealife and is the birthplace of thousands of turtles.

Any time spent here is a fabulous escape from the world. Accommodation comes courtesy of a world-class environmentally friendly resort, complete with its own marine biologist for reef walks.

This is a bucket-list holiday and surprisingly affordable. Do it.

Read more: Heron Island: Circle of life spins on the reef
3. Two galleries well worth a visit that have significant historical links to Australian art and culture are Brett Whiteley's gallery in Surry Hills and Norman Lindsay's in the Blue Mountains. I wrote about them in a Herald review back in 2011.

Taste Australian art and culture at Norman Lindsay Gallery. Photo / Supplied
Taste Australian art and culture at Norman Lindsay Gallery. Photo / Supplied



Clovelly Beach

is a great spot for a quick swim. This is a naturally formed rock cove, complete with steps and ladders and, on a good day, the best place to escape a packed Bondi.

For a quick escape from the city, try Clovelly Beach. Photo / Supplied
For a quick escape from the city, try Clovelly Beach. Photo / Supplied

Try the nearby Seasalt Cafe for a coffee and lunch. You can bus directly from the city. The bus stops outside the cafe and surf club.

5. Brisbane. Apart from the standard escapes of the Sunshine and Gold Coasts, one place is much closer - and very much off the tourist trail - Pt Lookout at North Stradbroke Island. "Straddy" is essentially one enormous white sand dune on the outer reaches of Moreton Bay that stretches all the way down to the top of the Gold Coast, where it breaks off and becomes South Stradbroke Island. The southern tail of this finishes just short of Sea World at Southport.

The only hurdle is access by car ferry from Redland Bay to Dunwich. It's then a 20-minute drive across the island to Pt Lookout, on a journey that is well rewarded. All main island roads are sealed, so you won't need a four-wheel-drive. Pt Lookout and surrounds boast the best beaches and, by far, are the best for a laid-back beach lifestyle.

The stunning Frenchman's Beach, Pt Lookout, Stradbroke Island. Photo / File
The stunning Frenchman's Beach, Pt Lookout, Stradbroke Island. Photo / File

For those who love turquoise waters and any aspect of beach culture - except towering resorts and busy shopping malls - this is your place. It has no less than five big beaches to choose from, two rock gorges and a blowhole. This is where I spent my teenage weekends. Some beaches are patrolled and the main beach has the Pt Lookout Surf Club.

Plenty of local accommodation, a terrific pub with a view to die for, scenic cliff walks and plenty of swimming spots to suit all water conditions: you'll love it. Bring the entire family and your surfboard. And if Mother Nature throws up heavy seas, just head inland to the Blue and Brown Lakes.

6. As to watering-holes with killer views, do you like to kick back on a hot day and watch that great expanse of Pacific Ocean, while grazing on a surf'n'turf lunch chased down by a favourite ale?

The Eimeo pub in Mackay, The Stradbroke Island Beach Hotel and the Noosa Heads Surf Club are my picks.

Looking northeast from Eimeo Hotel. Photo / File
Looking northeast from Eimeo Hotel. Photo / File