From Vacant Rooftop to Designer Urban Paradise

From Vacant Rooftop to Designer Urban Paradise

Interview with the creator of Notel. The inspiring tale of how his passion for Melbourne collided with his creative vision and resulted in a unique place where people can experience and ponder.


Jasmin Pedretti – Journalist

After walking up the staircase with walls dripping in pink paint, and then stepping onto the Notel rooftop, we were excited and intrigued. 

Somehow, we were totally immersed in Melbourne but secluded from it at the same time. 

But just like the delightful surprises awaiting us, James Fry, the owner of Notel met us with genuine warmth and enthusiasm. A rooftop of quirk awaited us. 

The rooftop was not always so beautiful. For years, it was a vacant lot that could only be accessed via a ladder. After 10 years of running the carpark underneath, James decided to utilize the space with alternative accommodation.

Struck by the sleek look of airstream trailers, he decided they were the way to go. The rooftop is now a trendy, colourful oasis where people are offered the unique opportunity to stay in original 1970’s airstream trailers from America.

It’s an experience, a journey. 


JP: What was it like to see your vision come to life? 

JF: Incredible. I was very confident Melbournians would embrace it. For that to actually transpire and for people to enjoy it and come up here and ask questions, it was very rewarding. 

JP: At Ponderings, we are all about celebrating ideas and the courage to put them into action to create something wonderfully unique. What advice would you give someone with a cool idea, who might be hesitant to act on it out of fear of failure?

JF: My advice is to give it a crack. Particularly here in Melbourne. What better place could there be to trial something unique? Melbournians particularly love and embrace ‘different’. 

JP: Speaking of Melbourne, what is your favourite thing about the city?

JF: The laneways, has to be. The coffee culture, the street art, the hidden gems, the diversity. We’ve got every cuisine, it’s so multicultural. You can walk down Flinders lane and cover 90% of what’s in Melbourne. You’ve got boutique clothing, fine dining restaurants, casual catering. Yeah, we’ve got everything.

JP: I can hear the passion in your voice! What has been your proudest moment since opening Notel? 

JF: I think the proudest moment was day one when I could go, yep, we got here. It was a really difficult push to get it to the opening date that we’d set. I also sometimes stand up here to greet guests but don’t tell them I’m the owner. Watching their reaction when they first walk through the door and they’re like holy moly this is different, it always gives me a great feeling. 

JP: Who has been the coolest or most interesting guest at Notel?

JF: I don’t know if I’ve got a favourite guest. We had the Hart sisters (Jessica and Ash hart), we had Hugh Sheridan up here, with his band California Crooners.

JP: When it comes to comfort and luxury, a trailer generally does not come to mind, what makes your trailers worth lashing out for? 

JF: The general rule of a caravan is to pack the entire house into a tiny little space. Which is exactly what I didn’t want here. We have stripped the interior completely and made it into a luxurious oasis. We have a full height, beautiful shower and a very comfortable bed, all within a caravan. 

What should people know about Notel before deciding to book? 

That we are not a hotel. We are an experienced-based accommodation. You’ll have a lot of fun, and gaining entry to the hotel is not straight forward. 

I see…

You want to know more, don’t you? The experience starts from the moment you book. You’re required to download an app, and then the key is sent to your smartphone. We send you a text message on the day of your arrival to remind you that not all roller doors roll. It might look like a roller door but doesn’t act like one. It’s a challenge. 


JP: What kind of feedback do you generally receive from guests? 

JF: The overwhelming majority is that they love it. It’s so different, and they love the experience. However, occasionally, people don’t get us. We were too far off a hotel stay for what they were wanting, and I love that. Because we are not for everyone. We are for people who are after an experience, celebrating something special and have got a bit of adventure about them. If all you want is a bed to sleep in, stay somewhere else. We are not for you. 

While talking to James, I could not wipe the smile off my face. I was captivated by his genuine passion for the city, which is reflected in the space he has created. He took the quirky charm of Melbourne and put it on a rooftop. His enthusiasm for adventure was infectious, and after talking to him, I felt a renewed sense of passion for life and taking a chance. Our team fell in love with Notel, and if you are looking for a city adventure, here is a great start! 

Hey Sis, What’s the Tea? Make Your Own!

Hey Sis, What’s the Tea? Make Your Own!

All the reasons why you should grow your own tea. Ideal herbs to use and their specific medicinal health benefits.


Jasmine Pedretti 

Journalist | Wordsmith

There is nothing more soothing for the soul than the perfect, hot, cuppa’.

What if I told you that you could grow your own tea? In a fast-paced world that prefers convenience, we often miss out on life’s little wonders. Yes, you could buy the tea from the shop. But using freshly grown herbs from your own garden is far more special. Let me tell you why. 

First of all, our planet would thank you. We are far more waste conscious these days, however, unbeknownst to many, some brands actually make and fasten their tea bags with plastic. Therefore, by growing your own tea, you are helping to lift your eco-footprint, one glorious herb at a time. 

Gardening is also a wonderful stress reliever because it can distract you from all-consuming anxieties. In fact, a new study has discovered that regular exposure to plants and green spaces is beneficial to mental and physical health.

Nourished Life Ad

 If you are going to grow your own- tip: make sure you aren’t using pesticides or chemical sprays and be sure to wash them thoroughly before use. Our Ponderings Produce Wash recipe helps to remove any nasties from your fresh herbs and produce. Fill a large bowl with water, put a healthy dash of organic APVinegar into the water, place herbs in (water should cover) and leave for 15 minutes. Rinse. (Awesome right?)

 Perfect brew:  Infuse in hot water at 90°c (194°F) to 95°c (203°F) for 2 to 4 minutes for the first and second brewing. Tear the leaves to bruise and release the goodies. Leave for 5 + minutes depending on the intensity you like your brew. 

Like all herbs you should check with a medical expert first before using as they may have drug/herbal contraindications. 

Making your own tea from the herbs you have cared for and helped prosper is also far more rewarding than buying it dried and in a bag.


Not only this, fresh herbs are full of goodies that benefit your health. Using fresh herbs that have not been poisoned by harsh chemicals or sat in a box for who knows how long, means you get the most from their medicinal potential. 

 Unsure of what herbs to start with? Here is a rundown of some great options, along with a few of their health remedies:


Pot Marigold

Botanical name: Calendula officinalis

Season to grow: all year round.

  • Contains significantly powerful flavonoids that shield cells from free radical damage and may aid menstrual cramps.  Quercetin and isorhamnetin are the two most common. These two are shown in countless medical journals to help protect the body from free radicals and helping to savenge potentially damaging toxins reducing inflammation. 
  • Calendula species have been used traditionally as culinary and medicinal herbs for centuries
  • Calendula oil is still used medicinally. The oil of C. officinalis is as a remedy for healing wounds.
  • May help prevent and relax muscle spasms. A study conducted by the Department of Biological and Biomedical Sciences found that calendula relaxed spontaneous muscle contractions. 


Botanical name: Mentha balsamea Wild

Season to grow: Spring or summer but can be grown indoors on a windowsill over Winter. 


  • Great for indigestion and bloating as it may relax the muscles in the stomach and intestine.
  • Peppermint has significant antimicrobial and antiviral activities, strong antioxidant and antitumor actions, and some antiallergenic potential.
  • May decongest and soothe sore throats because of the menthol.
  • May lower blood sugar and blood pressure.
  • Contains several flavonoids, primarily eriocitrin, luteolin and hesperidin, rich in carotines and Vit. C
  • Beautiful on its own or as a complimentary taste. 
  • Caution has been urged for peppermint oil therapy in patients with GI reflux, hiatal hernia or kidney stones.

Pineapple Sage 

Latin name: Salvia elegans

Season to grow: Spring, however, can tolerate Winter if grown in sandy or sharply-drained soil. 


  • A  study showed pineapple sage could act as an anti-depressing agent. 
  • Aids digestion and is good for settling an upset stomach and has a calming effect.
  • Our resident Naturopath tells us too much can dry you out, so go easy, it has been used for centuries for drying up mother’s milk. 
  • Full of antioxidants and flavonoids this is a powerful herb.
  • It tastes just like pineapple, which is delicious as a cold tea infused tea too!
  • Use the flowers to garnish, they are edible and make the perfect edition to a salad top.

 Lemon Verbena

Latin name: Aloysia citrodora

Season to grow: Spring but can be grown indoors during the colder months. Do not be alarmed when it loses its leaves during Winter, they will return. 


  • Rare power to strengthen muscles due to the high amount of antioxidants.
  • May reduce inflammation and joint pain caused by arthritis.
  • May boost immunity because it increases white blood cells.
  • Lemony deliciousness, the aroma is next level
  • Full of phytochechemicals such as- neral, geranial, limonene, nerol, geraniol, terpineol, caryophyllene, curcumene, isovalerianic acid, eupafolin, hispidulin, eupatorin, salvigenin, apigenin, luteolin, geraniol, flavonoids
  • Considered safe but be sure to check with a medical expert first before using this herb as it may have drug/herbal contraindications. 


Latin name: Lavandula

Season to grow: Spring but can be planted in Autumn using bigger plants to ensure survival over Winter.


  • A study found that lavender tea increases the percentage of deep slow-wave sleep; the restorative sleep phase. 
  • Contains substantial amounts of antioxidants and antibacterial compounds such as vitamin C, calcium, and magnesium.
  • May detoxify the body of harmful free radicals caused by pollution, heavy drinking and smoking.
  • Lavender extracts contain flavonoids from group of apigenin, luteolin and quercetin. Higher amounts of luteolin diglucuronide are also found in the stalks, so don’t throw them away!

There is no greater time to start growing those aromatic, health restoring plants. If you grow them already, then put them to good use and brew a glorious elixir to heal the body, mind and soul. Check out our Ponderings Herbal picks of the month.

Ponderings Leaderboard Herbal tea Shopping


Socks and Sandals To Help The Homeless

Socks and Sandals To Help The Homeless

Underworks has partnered with the Salvation Army, who together are on a mission to provide socks to those experiencing homelessness. #igiveasock is trending around Australia and its exciting to see an family business doing their bit. 


Jasmin Pedretti

Jasmin Pedretti


Socks and thongs are a combo NOT made in heaven and neither is being displaced or homeless. 

This month, Australian family business Underworks is encouraging us to embrace this fashion faux pas to bring awareness to homelessness. They have partnered with the Salvation Army to provide a pair of warm, comfy socks to those that need it most. The mission is to help the thousands of homeless Australians who do not have access to this simple necessity that we may take for granted.  

All you need to do is upload a photo of yourself posing in socks n’ thongs (or sandals) to Instagram, along with the hashtag #igiveasock and the tag @underworksaustralia. 

With every post, a pair of socks will be donated to someone who needs it. The goal is to deliver 20,000 pairs of socks, which is almost half of Australia’s youth homelessness and a fifth of Australia’s total homeless population (2018 Census). 

Socks might not seem like much, but they are incredibly important. In fact, they are the most requested item by local shelters and least donated. Wet socks breed bacteria which causes infection. Not only this but wearing socks with holes decreases a person’s self-confidence, feeling of self-worth and motivation to seek employment. 


The Salvation Army Major, Brendan Nottle says that there is an increasing number of people who do not have access to clean socks. 

“In our experience working on the streets, we have seen an increasing number of people with serious foot diseases. Even worse, we have seen people lose their feet and, in some cases, lose their lives because they cannot access clean socks” says Brendan. 

A donated pair of socks will help keep people warm this winter, improve hygiene and health, and ultimately save lives. We think its worth posting a quirky pic for. 

Underworks has been keeping our tootsies warm and stylish with quality socks since 1999. They are one of Australia’s largest sock companies with a reputation for excellence.  

For this cause, they will be distributing a one-size-fits-all pair of socks made from premium excess yarns with a unique design to protect the feet from the elements.

Plus, Underworks have ensured minimised fabric waste, so the earth does not suffer. These brand-new socks have been specifically designed for the cause. 

Underworks founder and CEO Sam Todaro says:

“I Give A Sock is all about giving and offering some warmth to those who need it most. We’re proud to help make a difference.” 

You can help make a difference too. Instead of your usual selfie post, show that you give a sock and post something that will have a significant impact on someone’s life. The quirkier, the better!


Let us all embrace our inner bogan, put on our finest pair of socks n’ thongs and wear them with pride.


This is the perfect excuse to shake the dust off those rainbow-striped toe socks you have hiding in your drawer and give them the chance to shine for an unbelievable cause.       


You can track how many socks have been donated so far, here

Libby Trickett, the Woman Behind the Hero

Libby Trickett, the Woman Behind the Hero

As one of Australia’s great Olympic champions, we have seen Libby Trickett battle it out in the pool. What we have not seen are the battles with depression that have led her to become an ambassador for Beyond Blue and R U OK?

Behind her beaming smile and warm personality, is a woman who has suffered feelings of severe hopelessness.

However, there is so much more to her narrative. This interview unravels Libby’s quirks and complexities and the wisdom she has learnt from the challenges she has faced and overcome.

You lead your life by example, and it is such a positive one for young women. If you could give your 18-year-old self one piece of golden positive wisdom, what would it be?

It’s probably quite cliché, but I would say you are enough. You don’t need to impress or be something that other people might want you to be. Being yourself is worthy enough. All the things you’ve worked through and achieved mean something. They’re all for a purpose, and although maybe you don’t see it at that time, it all turns out for the best in the long run. 

What are your secret indulgences? 

Ok, this is my dirty little secret. I’m obsessed with true crime. To the point where I’m getting concerned about myself. Anything I can find. Whether it’s on Netflix or a podcast. 

Who is the coolest person you have ever met? 

Meeting Prince William was very exciting and terrifying, I completely muffled my greeting. All you’re supposed to say is “it’s lovely to meet you Your Royal Highness”. I had verbal diarrhoea. The words just fell out of my mouth in no particular order, and then I laughed awkwardly. He was lovely about it, which made me feel less idiotic. I mean he wouldn’t remember me from a bar of soap.

What has been the funniest moment in your swimming career?

When I was about 15, I was standing on the block, and there was a bee buzzing around my head. I tried to swat at it but lost my footing and ended up slipping in such a way that I ended up falling sideways and found myself straddling the lane rope. Not funny at all at the time but it’s quite hilarious looking back on it. The whole squad was there laughing.

On a more serious note, you have struggled with your own mental health over the years. What helped you recover? 

Talking about it has been an essential part of my healing process, especially after post-natal depression. I consider myself strong and independent, but I recognised that motherhood is inherently hard. Regardless if you have a unicorn baby that sleeps 12 hours a night, the different challenges and guilt that comes with parenting is difficult. 

For me, as soon as I started talking about it, the response I received was amazing. Without talking about it, you can feel isolated because you don’t see how many other people are struggling and you wonder why you’re the only one not coping. That’s why if you look at my Instagram, most of it’s just poking fun at parenthood. 

I think it’s important to show that truth and realness because that’s part of the beauty of life as well. It’s not all perfectly curated Instagram accounts, it’s the rawness and the realness that makes life textured and layered and colourful. Social media can be such a terrible thing in terms of creating low self-esteem. 

But on the flip-side, there are these wonderful communities that can be so positive, and I certainly feel lucky with my Instagram, because I’ve received nothing but kindness from people that I may never meet physically in person. 

How has your experience with depression affected your relationships? 

They’ve become stronger. I know that the relationship with my husband Luke has just gone from strength to strength because we communicate. We talk about our fears.


When someone with depression reaches out, it can be hard to know what the right thing to say is. What do you recommend? 


That’s part of the reason why I’ve been part of Beyond Blue and R U Ok? They have incredible resources. Don’t underestimate asking ‘are you okay’? Maybe the person isn’t ready to talk, but simply showing that you’re there and that you care, is incredibly powerful for the person that might be struggling. Equally as important is listening unconditionally. Not trying to fix them, just listening to what they’re experiencing. The next thing you can do is follow up. Often, we’re like, ‘ok I’ve asked, tick, they said they were fine, they must be fine’.

If you ask again, they might be ready to talk. 

Do you know someone who might need to talk or perhaps you are experiencing feelings you are unsure about or that are creating anxiety in your life. Click HERE TO CONTACT BEYOND BLUE and HERE TO RUOK. 

The Healthy Happy Guide To Self Care by Kim Morrison

Seriously next level, Kim Morrison founder of organic Aromatherapy company Twenty8, unpacks the seceret to self care and it is anything but typical.

Join our other 22,000+ Ponderers and discover the real stories and voices of us. Subscribe today and get your Free Copy.



  • You get a copy of Ponderings Magazine Anthology featuring the year’s best stories and features delivered to your door in December. 


  • Weekly Discounts and Special Codes from our affiliated advertisers. Each article delivered to your Inbox exclusively. 


  • Access to Ponderings Radio- launching in August, with audio versions of our stories.


  • You support the publishing of free media and it’s the best feeling being part of something with purpose.


  • You become a member of a genuine community with rewards from those that believe in what we are doing. 


Get your free copy and all of this for $24.95 a year, YES PLEASE! 



Independent Media is critical; it means no large media giant is pulling our strings or dictating what we write. Ponderings provides an alternative to networked media, producing stories about issues of social justice and humanity; that might not otherwise be told. Some you will need no introduction and some you will be uplifted to find out about and be inspired by. This year, in particular, our lineup is going to delight and surprise you.


Yes I want to support Ponderings and subscribe

$24.95 AU per year

%d bloggers like this: