Multicultural: 8 quirky outings to 8 countries -- in Australia

Multicultural: 8 quirky outings to 8 countries -- in Australia

Asia, Europe, Africa, the Middle East and America await within a country that acts like the world

When people come to Australia they're looking for stereotypes, right? Bronzed Aussies riding surfboards, girls in bikinis and country folk speaking in drawls.

But there's so much more to Australian stereotypes: you can also smoke an Arabic pipe, dance like a Bollywood star, be served by Peggy Sue or practice feng shui.

In fact, Australia has enough multicultural activities to fill any traveler's diary.

Here are eight multicultural quirks that make Down Under all the more intriguing.

French: Bonjour France at The Cheese Making Workshop

The Cheese Making WorkshopA six-hour class to introduce you to the French art of cheese making.It may not be in the Loire valley or set against the backdrop of the Eiffel Tower, but this wheel of Camembert will be handmade by you, and (hopefully) be edible, too.

It’s impossible not to like the French, even though they're good at that themselves.

But to save Francophiles on airline ticket purchases, The Cheese Making Workshop grants an insight into France’s most treasured gastronomic activity: inhaling cheese and crackers.

Here, aprons are your best friends and a bottle of wine is likely to be on your mind. A six-hour class acquaints you with a family of cheeses -- feta, haloumi, ricotta, quark or mascarpone -- by learning how to make them.

A warning: you might find yourself respecting bacteria a lot more than you normally would, but remember, it’s all in the name of cheese.

The Cheese Making Workshop, 62 Lake Russel Drive, Coffs Harbour, +61 (0)2 9958 0909, cost starts at $150 per person,



Russian: Vodka at The Coachmen

The CoachmenPick your Russian vodka at The Coachmen.The rugged, sandstone architecture of The Coachmen speaks of its history: it was built by convicts more than 150 years ago.

The moment you walk through the iron gates of this Russian restaurant, you know it’s a serious Russian affair.

The intricate detailing and decor of the bar is proof in itself on how seriously this community takes its alcohol. Gigantic stone sculptures, mirrored glass shelves and a significantly large selection of vodka. Lots of vodka.

A pre-dinner vodka tasting session is equivalent to a palette cleanse for the Russians. It's everywhere -- even the steak can be infused with honey and pepper vodka.

From fruit selections to hardcore throat-burning variety, if you’re a vodka enthusiast or a connoisseur, this Russian offering could be on your speed dial.

The Coachmen: Russian Restaurant and Bar, 763 Bourke St., Surry Hills, +61 (0)2 9319 7705, open Tuesday-Saturday, 6 p.m.-11:30 p.m.,  




Indian: Bollywood at Abhinay School of Performing Arts

Abhinay School of Performing ArtsLearn the traditions behind Bollywood.Colourful song sequences, irrational attire changes and flamboyant weddings: that’s Bollywood.

But when you step aside from the glitz and glamour, Indian Cinema has a lot more to offer than a typical love triangle.

The Abhinay School of Performing Arts focuses on dialogue delivery, speech analysis and body language -- this acting school comes only with a pinch of Indian spice.

While others are learning how to outdo Bollywood’s topmost actor, this highly accomplished team is concentrating on street plays, theatre dramas and folk performances.

But don't worry: opulent hip-thrusting moves haven’t been forgotten. In fact they have been combined with a list of classical Indian dances like Kathak, Bhangra, Garba and Bharatnatyam.

The Abhinay School of Performing Arts, 2 Short St., Carlton, +61(0)4 8820 0222,

Japanese: Big Echo Karaoke bar

Big Echo KaraokeSing Japanese or English tunes (but make sure you're good).Forget "I Will Survive" and "Bohemian Rhapsody;" this musical encounter bows its way into the land of kimonos and full-fringed pop stars.

At Big Echo Karaoke, it’s not about socializing over cup noodles or wasabi-flavoured soft drinks, it’s about real music.

The Japanese take a vocal chords workout very seriously and often expect you to do the same. But don’t freak out if it all sounds Japanese to you, because chances are it probably is.

Taking pride in its wide range of Asian beats, this 17-room Japanese franchise is perfect to submerge yourself in Japan’s music scene.

Those not fluent in the language can sigh with relief, as one in five songs comes with English subtitles.

Big Echo Karaoke, 104 Bathurst St., +61 (0)2 9283 2666, open noon–late,  costs: Monday - Thursday $12 per person for three hours including drinks), Friday - Saturday room charge applies,    

Chinese: Feng Shui Living

Feng ShuiFeng shui compass.If the space under your bed is currently a permanent home to all your household clutter, then chances are you haven’t embraced feng shui yet.

So it goes, that everything in universe is made of energy, both negative and positive. By feng shui’ing the surroundings, your way of living will get a drastic makeover –- all towards the positive end.

Feng Shui Living is one such business that has mastered out all the complicated aspects and is now equipped to feng shui your life, your home and even your car.

A Chinese astrologer will delve into your personal life decisions and provide practical advice on quality of living. Irrespective of whether you believe in universal powers or not, spiritual experience.

Such prophets of life advocate universal powers and promise a spiritual experience. Once your chi is balanced and your Luck Pillars are sketched out, there's plenty of native trees in suburban Epping to hug for positive energy -- or consultants around the country to give you a spiritual top-up on your travels.

Elizabeth Wiggins, Feng Shui Living, Epping, +61 (0)4 1143 4696, 

African: Drumming Africa

Drumming AfricaSenegalese drummers teach you their ancestors' secrets.Are the rhythmic beats of the bongo enough to make you break into a sweat?

Kai fech -– "come and dance" -- is responsible for heralding Africa’s vibrant music and dance culture into Sydney. A community that considers music as a portal to every soul has now taken ownership of making this city feel its own heartbeat.

After inheriting a cluster of knowledge from their ancestors in Senegal, these drummers and dancers are now on a self-proclaimed mission of cultural enrichment.

They offer African drumming and dance workshops of frenetic beats and percussive brilliance.

Whether it’s school workshops or wedding receptions, you get to shake like Shakira. Or Beyoncé, for that matter.

Drumming Africa, 10 Close St., Canterbury Bowling Club, Canterbury, +61 (0)4 1469 6344, Cost $25 (per class) or $120 (six classes, paid in advance),

Lebanese: Arguileh at Leytani Lebanese Café

Leytani Lebanese CafePass the pipe: Arguileh accompanies Lebanese cuisine.Egyptians call it Shisha, in English it’s Hookah; South Africans refer to it as Hubbly Bubbly, but in Lebanon, it’s proudly called the Arguileh.

When a bubbling noise is closely followed by a sweet-scented waft of vanilla, apple and smoke, you know you’re at a Lebanese gathering.

Leytani Lebanese Café is authentic enough for dining etiquette to be shoved out the window and carefree fun to be injected in every patron.

It’s known for its authentic ambiance and food, but it’s the royal smoke stand on every table that gets the most attention.

Available in almost every flavour under the sun: musk, rose, watermelon, papaya and more.

You don’t even have to travel too far to get lost amongst Middle Eastern culture -- just make your way to Sydney’s western suburbs and smoke the pipe.

Leytani Lebanese Cafe, 372-374 Liverpool Road Strathfield South, +61 (0)2 8118 0477, open Monday - Sunday, 10 a.m.–midnight,   



American: Jazz City Diner

Jazz City DinerBe served by a near-authentic Peggy Sue.Smack in the heart of the food sanctuary that is Darlinghurst stands a culinary outpost that is pure Americana.

This monochrome-tiled space is an authentic American dining experience. It almost feels like you’re part of the "Archie" comics as waitresses, immaculate in pink and white uniforms, walk around the retro-styled furniture. Film footage of American jazz legends is ongoing.

If your eccentric tastebuds would like to taste chicken and waffles on the same plate, you know which door to knock.

The bottomless cup of coffee is a bonus. Should you tip like you're in New York or Sydney?

Jazz City Diner, 238 Crown St., Darlinghurst, +61 (0)2 9332 2903, open Tuesday - Friday noon-2:30 p.m., Wednesday-Saturday, 6 p.m.-10 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., closed Sunday - Monday,