Heaven on earth: sunshine, live music, seafood, a harbourside mansion. And endless glasses of wine in hand. This was a Sunday afternoon for a few dozen of the luckiest people in Sydney. It all came about when Cloudy Bay teamed up with Parlour for a popup gig, dubbed ‘Secret Sessions’.
To get to this free once-in-a-lifetime event as simple: just win tickets. The three dozen guests were told beforehand where to go (Elizabeth Bay) and what to wear (something nice), and that we’d be treated to some great music and food. But the exact venue was a total — and wonderful — surprise.
Our Uber dropped me and my fortunate +1 at Elizabeth Bay Road, where we quickly realised that Secret Sessions had done the impossible. They’d hired a historic 1867 sandstone mansion for the afternoon. The private home has a name (Tresco), a Wikipedia article. Its magnificent Moreton Bag Fig is even on the city’s register of significant trees. That’s what we were dealing with, people. And you haven’t even heard about the view.
The Victorian villa’s prime viewpoints stretch across the harbour. Sailboats and cruise ships sailed past on the azure waters, fluffy white clouds overhead. In the distance we could see Wine Island, where I’d been a few days prior. Talk about a heavenly experience!
Guests took it in turns to use the swing, set up on the famous fig tree. A vertiginous slope to the water was set with winding paths. One led to a flat grassy area, on which we spied pillows and blankets for the forthcoming music. But first: time for some wine.
A cute wooden bar was set up near the house. Having lived in New Zealand for a couple of years, I’ve visited Cloudy Bay’s Marlborough winery on a few occasions, and was excited to try their 2016 Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc. Rightly known for their Sav, the refreshingly cool vino warmed up to burst with fruity flavours.
Wine wasn’t all that was on the menu: fresh seafood was in abundance. My +1 and I got to try our hands at shucking fresh oysters. Surprisingly, it was fairly easy once I got the hang of it. Our teacher was right — shucking your own oysters does make them taste better.
Guests were ushered to take our seats on scatter pillows and blankets in the sun. Secret Sessions’ co-hosts, Parlour, curates a list of the top indie artists in Australia. Anyone can arrange to have them perform, anywhere they want. A mansion, a winery — even in your lounge room.
The first Secret Sessions event, in Melbourne, featured the band Fractures playing at artist colony Montsalvat. This time, Sydneysiders were treated to the musical stylings of Woodes. Her ethereal tones soared over the garden, no doubt keeping the neighbours just as entertained. I kept Shazam-ing her songs so I’d be able to download them afterwards.
We reclined and bathed in the beauty of the music, of the scenery, as our glasses were magically refilled. To keep the pinch-me-I’m-dreaming moments going, Secret Sessions then put on a seafood feast. Moreton bag bugs, mussels, and fresh pasta salads — just another aspect of the perfect afternoon.
What Cloudy Bay and Parlour are doing with Secret Sessions is simply unparalleled. I’ve never been to an event quite like it. From showcasing Australian talent to finding one-of-a-kind locations — not to mention pairing it with the exquisite food and drinks — they create magical experiences.
An afternoon with Secret Sessions is unforgettable.
Co-founder of The Plus Ones, Theresa’s had many pinch-me moments in Sydney. This was definitely one of them.
Book your own Parlour gig in your lounge room (or harbourside mansion) via www.parlourgigs.com or their Facebook.
Download Woodes’ new EP on www.www.woodesmusic.com.
Purchase Cloudy Bay‘s 2016 Sauvignon Blanc at any good retailer or venue.