Calling all writers! Passionate about all that is local, natural, sensory, traditional and slow in  your hometown of Sydney or Brisbane? Affirm Press wants to hear from you.

In 2013, we’ll be publishing new editions of The Slow Guide to Sydney and The Slow Guide to Brisbane, and we’re keen to find some new writing talent for the refashioned, refreshed and fully recharged series.

All interested writers are invited to get in touch with us by May 31, via email at [email protected]. Please send through a one-page CV and three relevant samples of your writing. Previous experience writing for guidebooks/lifestyle publications is preferred but not a requisite. Passion and enthusiasm are our key criterion, so please reflect your interest in the slow movement in your email cover letter.

Some samples from previous editions can be found below, so you can get a flavour of the books. Enjoy!

Affirm Press’s bestselling Slow Guides series have been providing salve for the soul since 2007, with the publication of The Slow Guide to Melbourne and The Slow Guide to Sydney. In 2010, we took the series overseas, co-publishing with Hardie Grant guides for the fair cities of London and Dublin.  An alternative to guidebooks, the Slow Guides celebrate all that’s unique, local, natural, traditional and sensory in our own great cities. It’s about being unhurried and appreciating the good things around us, counting blessings we’re normally too distracted to notice. In 2013, we’ll re-edition Slow Melbourne and Slow Sydney, and will publish for the first time The Slow Guide to Brisbane.

Designed for locals, Slow Guides inspire you to rise up – in your own time, of course – against the culture of speed and uniformity. Tune into the seasons, buy greens from a farmer, holiday at home, meet local artisans, explore a cove, forage for fungi, muck in with the community, cycle the backstreets, and do, for goodness sake, slow down and smell the roses – or the wattles.

Slow Guide Melbourne

Nature. Knowing our Place

Parks & Gardens

The city’s green spaces offer instant relief from the travails of busy days. Connecting with nature is effortless exercise; just being in it is enough to help healing, manage stress, gain perspective, become calmer, see possibilities, feel integrated, focus better, sleep comfortably and even become more neighbourly. All that for just propping in a park or strolling in a garden. From tranquil, idyllic English-style plantings to ragged, unruly bush settings and the living-museum environments of botanic gardens, there’s one to match every mood.

Hugging the superb Royal Exhibition Building, the Carlton Gardens retain the original landscaping designed for the 1880 Melbourne International Exhibition. A lake, majestic tree-lined avenues, statuary and fountains told the world we were the bee’s knees. Beneath the Moreton Bay Fig trees was a traditional Aboriginal meeting place, a function now supported with some park benches, upon which Archie Roach is reported to have composed a few songs. The patch of bitumen built as a car park for the 1956 Olympics was dug up and picked over by archaeologists in 2009 and something like the original German Garden is being reinstated at the Royal Exhibition Building’s western forecourt.

Gather. Shopping with Soul

Things & Stuff

Some of it is practical, some of it frivolous, but all of the following places reclaim  retail from bland, fluro-lit malls by providing genuine service, supreme product and insights about what they have on offer.

In print…

Finding a fitting home among Gertrude Street’s eateries and food stores, Books for Cooks (; 233–235 Gertrude St, Fitzroy) is so good you could eat it. Its two rooms stretch way back. The walls are wallpapered in new and second-hand titles, a cinnamon smell permeates the place, and nooks with leather chairs and coffee tables are so comforting you could spend the day here.

There’s no such thing as a quick trip to Metropolis (; lvl 3, Curtin House, 252 Swanston St, City). And it’s not because you have to climb to the third floor of Curtin House to get there. With their extensive collection of specialist arts and cultural publications, you’ll easily find yourself browsing for hours.

Slow Guide Sydney

Nature. Knowing our Place

Best places to…

Wait for a cool change:

• The dark relief of a cinema: old favourite the Randwick Ritz, the beautifully restored Cremorne Orpheum, the oh-so-hip Dendy at Circular Quay and the trendy Verona or Academy Twin at Paddington.

• With your skates on at the Canterbury Olympic Ice Rink. There used to be skating rinks all over Sydney, but they’re now an endangered species. Make the most of them.

• The Art Gallery of NSW – the Asian Wing is a particularly tranquil and calming part of the gallery.

• Aboard the Manly ferry – it’s the easiest way to catch the sea breeze. Take your bathers with you, and head to Shelly Beach, that lovely little cove past the southern end of Manly.

Watch spectacular electrical storms:

• The Icebergs Club House at Bondi Beach (or the Icebergs Dining Room and Bar if you’re feeling extravagant and in the mood to be part of a scene).

• The Gap – stormy weather just adds to the general spookiness of the place.

• The northern foyer of the Opera House. If you’re lucky, you can time it for interval of an uplifting concert and really have all your senses bombarded.

• Shark or Clark Island – be prepared to get absolutely soaked to the skin, but it’s worth it to watch the weather come in across the harbour, and to see how the various types of boats deal with it.

• Drink in hand at the Blu Horizon bar on the 36th floor of the Shangri-La Hotel in the Rocks.

Touch. Feel Good

Beaches & Coves

Nowhere appeals to our sense of touch quite like the beach, and there’s no better way of escaping into fantasies of childish adventures than exploring your own ‘secret’ cove.

Point the compass north towards Manly and the protected western shore of North Head. Paradoxically, today’s escape is home to a Quarantine Station that was used for more than 150 years from 1828 to contain travellers deemed temporarily unfit to mingle with the general population. So there’s kind of an eerie, historic feel to it. You can imagine the poor buggers holed up here for weeks and sometimes months, quarantined for influenza and other infectious disease. But at least they had a view…

…Much of the land here is covered by scrub, woodland and open forest that runs down to the rocky foreshores; you’ll also see the last significant beds of sea grass in Sydney Harbour. You’ll have to brush past the twigs and branches of native bush on a track to the eastern side of North Head to get to Spring Cove although you can also get here by kayak (, which involves the delicious splash of salt water across your skin.

At the north end of the cove, you’ll find Collins Beach and, in between Collins and Quarantine Beach, to the south, Store Beach. Get to the last by a rugged rock climb and, no doubt, a couple of scrapes on your knees and elbows, from Collins Beach. Once you’re there, sink your teeth into a home-made cheese-and-pickle sandwich and down some old-fashioned lemonade, while you dig your toes into the crunchy sand and enjoy the solitude. And be grateful you’re not interred in the quarantine station!…

…In the south, the 30km Coast Track from Bundeena to Otford leads you to a gem of a cove and camping area. It runs the length of the Royal National Park’s coastline, passing through Little Marley and Marley Beach, Wattamolla, Burning Palms and Garie, and the view is all native bush and smashing coastlines. The whole trek will take you about two days, but two hours in you can reach Little Marley and Marley Beach, pitch a tent, boil your billy and practise your whittling. You did bring the Swiss army knife didn’t you?

Or take it easy on the sands of Cronulla, a stretch made famous in Kathy Lette’s Puberty Blues. It and Bondi Beach are tops for studying Australian life, with displays as elaborate and competitive as any wildlife doco.

Narabeen Beach is name-checked by the Beach Boys and is one of the best places to feel the wax of a surf board beneath your feet and the crush of waves against your body. Champions like Mark Warren, Damien Hardman and Simon Anderson have let the waves lick their toes here, and you, too, can feel the thundering caress of a tube on the shores of this northern beaches hangout.

For Jacques Cousteau–style marine adventure, head to family-friendly Shelley Beach in Manly. Australia’s only west-facing beach on the east coast, it’s filled with eastern blue groper, weedy sea dragon and gloomy octopus. You can snorkel or scuba dive and get a great view of the ‘locals’ because the water is so clear and shallow. You can also rent a kayak at Manly, an almost old-fashioned seaside resort that accepts all-comers. No ’tude – just sun, surf and a smoothie to chill you from inside out.

Martin Hughes is publisher at Affirm Press and former editor of The Big Issue. He is founded the Slow Guides series in 2008, with the bestselling The Slow Guide to Melbourne.