Monthly Archives: May 2019
King Kong at Melbourne’s Regent Theatre.Nina Karnikowski sets the stage with this essential guide to Australia’s theatre capital.
It’s a truth universally acknowledged – except by many a proud Sydneysider – that Melbourne’s theatre scene is better than Sydney’s.
As the unofficial culture capital of Australia, Melbourne is our nearest equivalent to London’s West End.
Many of the major shows, from Wicked to Mary Poppins, Jersey Boys to King Kong, open in Melbourne, and while Sydney demolished most of its grand old theatres – Her Majesty’s in 1933, the Criterion in 1935, the Regent in 1970 – Melbourne managed to save its own from destruction.
“Melbourne’s older theatres are historic, they’re grand, they’re plush, they have the romance of harking back to the early history of Australia and they’re part of Melbourne’s identity,” says Tim Brinkman, executive of performing arts at the Arts Centre Melbourne.
So, even when their stages are empty, Melbourne’s majestic theatres are great places to visit.
For example, the Arts Centre’s Hamer Hall, which recently underwent multimillion-dollar renovations, offers tours around the venue so visitors can take a gander at the breathtaking interiors created by Oscar-winning set designer John Truscott, including gold-leaf ceilings, leather walls and kinetic light sculptures.
Brinkman says Melbourne’s historic theatre buildings help attract some of the more commercial productions, which are often created with the older venues in the northern hemisphere in mind.
He cites Hot Shoe Shuffle, which opens at Her Majesty’s Theatre in August, as an example of a production that tends to play well in an older theatre: “It has the perfect atmosphere for the golden era of tap.”
Melbourne also offers a particularly dynamic variety of theatre. With a smattering of independent theatres such as Carlton’s La Mama, seating just 50, the Melbourne scene can engage with small, intimate drama, middle-scale productions and mega-productions at venues including Southbank’s 2085-seat State Theatre, which has one of the biggest stages in the world.
191 Collins Street Since opening as a picture palace in 1929, the Regent survived fire, flood, 26 years in darkness and numerous threats to turn it into a car park or poker machine venue before property developer David Marriner came to the rescue. Saving the Regent, which reopened in 1996, was part of a revival movement for Melbourne’s performing arts theatres that Marriner established during 1991. Today’s Regent has the biggest orchestra pit in Australia, so it’s ideal for large-scale, blue-chip operas and musicals such as The Lion King and Love Never Dies.
What’s on Five years in the making, King Kong is on until July 14, as a Melbourne exclusive. Tickets from $70.
Insider tip Nab one of the ultra-comfy “lounge” chairs in the front eight rows of the dress circle.
Where to stay Westin Melbourne, 205 Collins Street, (03) 9635 2222. At the “Paris” end of Collins Street and just minutes from the Regent, rooms here have fabulous views out to the bustling inner city and “heavenly beds” that are reportedly just that. Prices start at $265 a night.
Where to eat Meatball and Wine Bar, 135 Flinders Lane, (03) 9654 7545. It’s meatballs a go-go at this bare-brick-walled, hipster-filled joint. All ingredients are locally sourced and the balls are rolled and fried by hand. Delish, as are the cocktails.
163 Spring Street This 1488-seat theatre was built in 1854, but when it was rebuilt in 1886 it featured the world’s first retractable ceiling, used to let cigarette smoke out. A century later, David Marriner bought the theatre after it had lain dormant for 20 years and spent $20 million lavishly restoring it.
What’s on This is the place for fun, high-energy musicals. Legally Blonde: the Musical is currently playing; tickets from $80.
Insider tip Keep an eye out for the ghost of Federici, a famous baritone of the late 1800s who died on stage in 1888.
Where to stay Hotel Windsor, 111 Spring Street, (03) 9633 6000. This 130-year-old, 180-room Melbourne institution is a step back into more gracious times. Perched conveniently in the centre of the arts precinct and facing the stately Parliament House, the Windsor is also the city’s go-to venue for an elegant high tea. From $225 a night.
Where to eat Melbourne Supper Club, 161 Spring Street, (03) 9654 6300. This wine bar and restaurant features a junk-shop-chic decor that’s typically Melburnian, an encyclopaedic wine list and fabulous suppers. The gooey croque-monsieur is perfection and ideal pre- or post-show.
240 Exhibition Street Don’t let the name deceive you: it’s not only stand-up comedy you’ll see at this 997-seat theatre, but musicals and theatrical shows. Built in 1928, the theatre maintains original features including the Spanish-influenced balcony seating and interior staircase, and the exterior, which is an elegant replica of a Florentine palace.
What’s on A hilarious adults-only pantomime about a 10-year-old orphan’s gender-reassignment surgery, Little Orphan trAshley opens on July 4. Tickets from $60. Slava’s Snowshow, a fusion of traditional and contemporary theatrical clowning arts, opens on July 17. Tickets from $69.
Insider tip To snap up tickets before they are offered for sale to the public, sign up to the Marriner Group at marrinergroup上海夜生活m.au.
Where to stay Park Hyatt, 1 Parliament Square, (03) 9224 1234. The rooms overlooking St Patrick’s Cathedral are particularly spectacular, as are the gorgeous indoor pool and day spa at this five-star. From $298 a night.
Where to eat Virginia Plain, 31 Flinders Lane, (03) 9290 0400. With a delicious seasonal menu, walls filled with Robert Doble paintings and a cocktail list arranged by music genre to match the venue’s enormous record collection, a taste and tipple at Virginia Plain is the perfect arty end to a night at the theatre.
Her Majesty’s Theatre
219 Exhibition Street The stunning art deco interiors at “The Maj” – as it’s affectionately known – are the drawcard here, as are the large-scale musicals, plays and pantomimes that show. The Maj originally opened in 1886, but in 1929 a fire forced closure for five years before a 1934 reopening.
What’s on One of the most popular musicals ever to be produced in Australia, Hot Shoe Shuffle opens on August 17; tickets from $65. See Jerry Hall smoulder as Mrs Robinson in The Graduate, running from September 24; tickets from $85.
Insider tip Explore the faded grandeur of Her Majesty’s interiors before you visit, by going on a virtual tour at hmt上海夜生活m.au.
Where to stay Hotel Lindrum, 26 Flinders Street, (03) 9668 1111. A 59-room boutique hotel that’s as renowned for its personal service as it is for its intimate, upmarket vibe. The front rooms with views of Federation Square are the pick of the bunch. From $245 a night.
Where to eat Chin Chin, 125 Flinders Lane, (03) 8663 2000. Casual-chic decor with kitschy fun accents lures a hip crowd to this Asian mash-up restaurant. Grab a crafty cocktail or a glass of vino from an informed Australian wine list, and don’t miss the delicious pork and salmon salad.
Arts Centre State Theatre
100 St Kilda Road, Southbank Sitting beneath its iconic 162-metre spire, the State Theatre boasts one of the largest stages in the world and a ceiling decorated with 75,000 tiny brass domes for incredible acoustics, making it the ideal venue for opera, ballet, musicals and big theatre shows.
What’s on Catch 16 hours of opera over four nights when Opera Australia presents The Melbourne Ring Cycle, with more than 350 singers, dancers, musicians, costume makers and technicians bringing Wagner’s masterwork to life from November 18. Tickets from $1000. Famous classical choreographer Alexei Ratmansky creates a brand-new Cinderella for The Australian Ballet, September 17-28. Tickets from $39.
Insider tip Grab a seat in the middle of the front row of the dress circle: you’ll feel like royalty and get a stellar view inside the orchestra pit, which was given a $4 million upgrade last year.
Where to stay Blackman Hotel, 452 St Kilda Road, (03) 9039 1444. Part of the Art Series hotel group and built within a historic mansion, this boutique hotel is colourful, contemporary and crammed full of works from famous Australian artist Charles Blackman. From $219 a night.
Where to eat Sake at Hamer Hall, Arts Centre Melbourne, 100 St Kilda Road, (03) 8687 0775. A contemporary Japanese eatery that combines polished concrete and honey-hued woods, swathes of embroidered kimono fabric and a cherry tree decorated with fairy lights. The tender prawn dumplings and wagyu beef tartare are delicious pre-theatre snacks.
113 Sturt Street, Southbank Built in 1892 as a brewing and malting facility in the Southbank Arts Precinct, the Malthouse was donated by Carlton and United Breweries in 1990 and is now one of the city’s leading contemporary theatre venues. It houses three theatres (the 500-seat Merlyn, the 175-seat Beckett and the 100-seat Tower), rehearsal studios and the Malthouse Cafe and Bar.
What’s onPersona, which re-imagines Ingmar Bergman’s iconic and disturbing 1966 film, is the most hotly anticipated play of the Malthouse year. Tickets from $59.
Insider tip You’ll want to spend at least five minutes pre-show marvelling, chardonnay in hand, at the old brewing equipment suspended from the lobby ceiling.
Where to stay The Langham, 1 Southgate Avenue, Southbank, 1800 858 662. You’d be hard-pressed to find a better view of Melbourne than those proffered by The Langham’s four terrace rooms overlooking the stunning Southbank riverside promenade. Expect elegance, charm and sumptuous interiors, including glittering chandeliers and a three-tier marble fountain, at this opulent 387-room hotel. From $290 a night.
Where to eat Moon Under Water, the Builders Arms Hotel, 211 Gertrude Street Fitzroy, (03) 9417 7700. Absolutely everything – including the flowers, floors and waiters’ outfits – is white as snow at this 40-seater in the recently reinvented Builders Arms Hotel. There is only a four-course set-menu available, but with Andrew McConnell of Cutler & Co and Cumulus Inc. fame at the helm, as well as a menu that changes each week, you won’t be leaving disappointed. $75 a head; $55 extra with wine.
King Kong vital stats
Opened Saturday June 15, Regent Theatre.
King Kong stands six metres tall and weighs 1.1 tonnes. It takes 10 puppeteers on stage and three behind the scenes to operate him for every performance.
The King Kong set, which includes more than 65 tonnes of steel, started arriving into the Regent Theatre in December last year, making it the longest pre-production period in Australian theatre history.
As well as its iconic leading silverback, the show has a cast of 50 and a crew of 76.
Kong’s facial expressions are created by 15 industrial “servo motors” (used in the NASA Mars rovers) and two hydraulic cylinders, all of which are controlled in real time by an off-stage puppet operator.
The stage area of the Regent had to be completely rebuilt to accommodate the production, including the relocation of the band room from the substage into a purpose-built studio six storeys up.
More information: Tourism Victoria, visitvictoria上海夜生活m.
Nina Karnikowski was a guest of Tourism Victoria.
The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Shanghai Night Net.
Sled dog challenge at Dinner Plain, Mount Hotham. Photo: Joe ArmaoRachael Oakes Ashe explains how to have a snow holiday without skiing.
I have a friend who simply hates to ski. Trouble is, her husband and 16-year-old son are addicted.
Lucky for her they like to ski in Europe on the slopes of Courchevel, where day spas, Michelin dining and five-star shopping provide plenty for her to fill the time between first and last lifts.
We may not have Prada and Ramsay by the sides of our slopes, but there are lots of activities designed for those looking for a snow holiday without the need to strap into skis or snowboard, or for families where some ski and others don’t.
Think snowy winters and roaring fires, with mulled wine or hot chocolate. Grab some marshmallows and a good book and settle in to while away some “me time” hours while everyone else is out freezing their tushes off on the slopes.
The Grand Mercure Chalet (mtbullerchalet上海夜生活m.au) at Mount Buller, the Astra Lodge (astralodge上海夜生活m.au) at Falls Creek, Peppers Rundells Lodge (rundells上海夜生活m.au) at Dinner Plain near Hotham, Adams Cocktail Bar at the Kosciusko Chalet (charlottepass上海夜生活m.au) at Charlotte’s Pass and Chalet Sonnenhof (sonnenhof上海夜生活m.au) at Perisher are all known for their big, warming open fires made from stone with big logs of chopped wood.
Lose yourself at the Onsen Retreat and Spa at Dinner Plain (onsen上海夜生活m.au). Start soaking in the purpose-built, hot spring-style rock pool then head to the day spa for some serious massage and beauty pampering.
You can follow up with more soaking and steaming in the gender-segregated steam and sauna retreat rooms.
Try the ski-in, spa-out White Spa Mountain Retreat at Hotham (whitespahotham上海夜生活m.au), the QT Spa Q (qtfallscreek上海夜生活m.au) at Falls Creek and Breathtaker (breathtaker上海夜生活m.au) at Mount Buller for similar spa days.
The boys from one-hat Three Blue Ducks (threeblueducks上海夜生活m) have settled in at Huski Lodge in Falls Creek.
Lake Crackenback Resort & Spa (lakecrackenback上海夜生活m.au) near Thredbo, welcomes highly regarded chef Steve Snow from Fins restaurant, which has been hatted every year for 16 years, for a one-off degustation dinner on August 10. Book ahead.
Brad Spalding is an icon in the Snowy Mountains of NSW. The ski instructor-turned-artist-turned-entrepreneur is the name behind Wildbrumby Schnapps (wildbrumby上海夜生活m), a uniquely Australian version of Germany’s favourite brew.
Head to the distillery on the Alpine Way for a tasting of Devil’s Tongue, Peach Nectar, Sour Apple and Raspberry, the Wildbrumby range of schnapps, some hearty Austrian fare in the cafe and a wild sculpture park.
Who says you need skis or a snowboard to enjoy the snow? Hire a toboggan, climb a hill and slide back down on dedicated tobogganing areas at all of Australia’s ski fields.
Perisher’s Tube Town offers purpose-built and groomed “tube lanes” so you can hitch a ride on an inflatable tube and ride it to the bottom of the hill before catching a rope tow lift back to do it again. Falls Creek and Mount Buller have their own versions of this fun snow play.
Hotham’s Snow-Stuff Fun Park goes one step further with new snow-play technology to try. The Zipfy is a mini luge toboggan of moulded plastic for first-time lugers. Test the Trikke or SkiRider “snow bikes” or the kids’ snow mobiles.
Night-time groomer tours are also offered at Perisher, Falls Creek, Hotham and Mount Buller. Climb aboard the resorts’ giant grooming machines and get a firsthand view of how the slopes are prepared each night. Or if you’d rather be a driver than a passenger, you can take a snow mobile tour through the vast Falls Creek back country and the slopes of Mount McKay.
Snowshoeing is a fun way to get out among the mountain air and in the snow. Simply strap your boots into specially-made snowshoes and start walking uphill in the snow. The shoes ensure you don’t sink into the snow and keep you on top.
Guided snowshoeing is offered at all the major resorts through the snow sports centres.
Australia’s ski fields are unique, with snow gums found nowhere else in the world and wild brumbies that gallop through the snow. Check them both out from above while you take a scenic helicopter flight over the Australian Alps. Alpine Helicopter Charter (alpineheli上海夜生活m.au) has scenic flights for $95 on Saturdays at Mount Buller in July and August. Scenic joy flights from Hotham or between Hotham and Falls Creek are also available, weather permitting, for $99 with Hotham’s Heli Link (hotham上海夜生活m.au).
Play with the puppies at Australian Sled Dog Tours (sleddogtours上海夜生活m.au) in Dinner Plain. Brett and Neisha Hadden’s team of rescue husky dogs take guests on sled tours of the surrounding bushland.
Visit on the weekend of August 10-11 for the Dinner Plain Sled Dog Challenge (sleddogchallenge上海夜生活m), when husky teams from around the country descend on Mount Hotham to test their canine mettle.
Mount Buller is home to Australia’s only alpine cinema, with latest release movies shown daily throughout winter. Visit on June 29 for a selection of adventure films and documentaries from the Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour.
Both Mount Buller and Thredbo also have ski museums documenting the history of skiing in Australia. The National Alpine Museum of Australia (nama上海夜生活.au) at Mount Buller features ski memorabilia, artefacts, photographs, publications and maps from years gone by in Mount Buller, Victoria and Australia.
The Thredbo Ski Museum (thredboskimuseum上海夜生活m) is run by the Thredbo Historical Society and documents Australian snow sport history with memorabilia, equipment, photos and documents. Admission is free with gold coin donations accepted.
Thredbo Alpine Village thredbo上海夜生活m.au.
Falls Creek fallscreek上海夜生活m.au.
Hotham Alpine Resort hotham上海夜生活m.au.
Mount Buller mtbuller上海夜生活m.au.
The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Shanghai Night Net.
Cool change: Falls Creek family fun. Thailand’s Cape Panwa Hotel.
From sun-filled sojourns to log fire retreats, Belinda Jackson reveals the hottest last-minute winter holidays.
How do you do winter? With hot chocolate and log fires surrounded by people called Sven? Or by migrating north in a quest for eternal sunshine?
Whether you like to escape or embrace the cold months, we have you covered with these 20 do-it-now bargains, subject to availability.
WHERE Petitenget, the hip strip of Seminyak, Bali.THE TRIP Check out of the office and into a week of surfing for an endorphin rush, yoga to fight stress, and spa sessions to detox at Salt Retreats, with cleansing organic menus by Pete Evans, from $1795 (saltretreats上海夜生活m).WHEN TO GO The seven-day getaways run weekly until the end of November, but with 30 degrees in July: why wait?GOOD FOR Toxic wage slaves and the vitamin D deficient.STRIP DOWN For a daily massage to detox your body.
WHERE The Yasawa Islands, eastern Fiji.
THE TRIP Visit remote islands and villages and some of the world’s best beaches on a seven-night cruise through the spectacular Mamanuca, Yasawa, Waya and Sacred islands, from $1676 a person (captaincook上海夜生活m.fj).
WHEN TO GO July and August.
GOOD FOR Explorers who enjoy five-star comfort.
STRIP DOWN Pack your diver’s card and the sunscreen for the back of the knees (the classic snorkeller’s plight).
WHERE Papeete, the capital of the country that invented the overwater bungalow, 10 hours via New Zealand.
THE TRIP Stay seven nights in an overwater bungalow at the Maitai Polynesia Bora Bora, taking four-wheel-drive safaris and exploring the depths on a glass-bottom boat costs from $4210 including flights with Air Tahiti Nui (airtahitinui上海夜生活m.au).
WHEN TO GO If you can hold out that long, September is Tahiti’s driest month, with temps of 28 degrees and the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup.
GOOD FOR Francophiles needing winter sun.
STRIP DOWN Sarongs and sun hats: there is no need for more.
WHERE Sheltered south-eastern Phuket.
THE TRIP Live it up with the A-listers in the new Absolute Suite, complete with yacht, butler and chauffeured Benz, from $1150 a night, or do just fine in the newly refurbished Cape Suites, from $220, at the Cape Panwa Hotel.
WHEN TO GO Phuket’s rain comes later than other regions, so winter’s just fine.
GOOD FOR All budgets: stay one day, get a second free. Stay two days, stay a month …
STRIP DOWN Pack a brolly and sunscreen: expect brief downpours from June to August (and subsequent good hotel offers), compensated by balmy 30-degree days.
WHERE The island of Oahu, from Waikiki and beyond.
THE TRIP There’s more to Hawaii than just Waikiki Beach: the self-drive Hawaii Drive-O tour gives you a car, GPS and six nights at the Waikiki Parc Hotel from $1172 a person, with plenty of drive ideas, such as the Diamond Head Crater hike or bodysurfing at Sandy Beach (creativeholidays上海夜生活m).
WHEN TO GO July sees festivals for ukulele music, hula and of course Independence Day on July 4.
GOOD FOR Hawaii old hands seeking new experiences.
STRIP DOWN Temperatures don’t vary much in Hawaii – July to September sees 31 degrees tops.
WHERE From Mandalay to Bagan in central Myanmar, the must-visit country for 2013.
THE TRIP Go slow and savour the ancient skyline dominated by spires. This seven-day cycling trip journeys past farmers, pilgrims and child monks, through markets and alongside the Irrawaddy River, from $US2450 ($2595) a person (spiceroads上海夜生活m).
WHEN TO GO Mandalay remains hot and dry, with temperatures in the mid-30s, while the beach resorts empty as the rainy season kicks in.
GOOD FOR Temple tragics and pedal pushers.
STRIP DOWN Go tight ‘n’ bright in gear that covers you up while keeping cool: expect to sweat.
WHERE Port Vila, Vanuatu, a three-hour flight from Sydney.
THE TRIP Seven days of lolling on white-sand beaches. Poppy’s on the Lagoon is on the beachfront. Get three free nights and two massages in self-catering accommodation from $784 a person, July 15-September 20 (poppys上海夜生活m.vu).
WHEN TO GO The cold, dry season runs May to October, where temperatures in the capital, Port Vila, hover around a delightful 24 degrees.
GOOD FOR Families wanting the beach at their doorstep (couples, there’s an adults-only pool, too).
STRIP DOWN Take a traditional outrigger canoe onto the lagoon.
WHERE Borneo and Kuala Lumpur.
THE TRIP Explore the wilds of the coral reefs and mangroves of Borneo, then fly to Kuala Lumpur for its big-city vibe and spectacular shopping. There’s no hardship involved: Gaya Island Resort and the Majestic Hotel Kuala Lumpur (www.gayaislandresort上海夜生活m).
WHEN TO GO Hit the sales, with the mega-sale carnival in July.
GOOD FOR Shoppers and floppers.
STRIP DOWN July in Malaysia is blissfully dry, with tops of 28 degrees in Borneo.
WHERE An hour’s flight north from Sydney.
THE TRIP Catch AFL’s Brisbane Lions at the Gabba or the Broncos at Suncorp Stadium. The new Punthill Brisbane serviced apartments start from $169 a night (punthill上海夜生活m.au).
WHEN TO GO July has perfect weather for riverside walks or a boat trip on the CityCat.
GOOD FOR Admirers of indigenous art: QAGOMA’s new contemporary indigenous art exhibition runs until October 7 (qagoma.qld.gov.au).
RUG UP Or strip down? Go a bit of both, with pleasant 20 degrees tops.
WHERE Palm Cove, 25 minutes north of Cairns.
THE TRIP Stay at the boutique Reef House, which has just opened five new beach house apartments, from $409 a night, standard brigadier room from $259 a night (www.reefhouse上海夜生活m.au).
WHEN TO GO There’s year-round swimming. Added bonus: July and August are also jellyfish free.
GOOD FOR Sun lovers who don’t want to pay for an international airfare.
STRIP DOWN Bikini, hat, sun cream: hey, it’s 25 degrees in winter!
WHERE Queenstown and Lake Wanaka.
THE TRIP NZ’s top snow city, Queenstown, lives for winter. The biannual Winter Games NZ take place from August 11 to 25. Check out accommodation packages with the Sofitel, MGallery, Novotel and Mercure from $119 a night (wintergamesnz上海夜生活m/travel).
WHEN TO GO Pundits say later in the season is better for a guarantee of top conditions, but Mother Nature is a hardened gambler.
GOOD FOR Ski bunnies, world-class snow athletes and those who like to watch.
RUG UP Time to flash your new-season snow gear, beautiful people.
WHERE Lake Jindabyne in the Snowy Mountains, five hours’ drive south of Sydney.
THE TRIP You can hit snow even on Christmas Day here: Moonbah stone huts are on a private lake brimming with brown, rainbow and brook trout. Four people can stay two nights from $390 (moonbahhut上海夜生活m).
WHEN TO GO Now, for snowshoeing, bushwalking and big log fires.
GOOD FOR Fly fishers, snow babies and The Man from Snowy River fans (snowymountains上海夜生活m.au).
RUG UP Forget thermals, warm up with a Wildbrumby schnapps at Thredbo Valley Distillery.
WHERE Sutton Forest, 90 minutes’ drive from Sydney, past Bowral.
THE TRIP The southern highlands goes crazy for Christmas in winter: we’re talking roast turkey, hams and plum pudding galore. Southern highlands retreats Peppers Manor House and Peppers Craigieburn are going Christmas-tastic from $335 a night (peppers上海夜生活m.au).
WHEN TO GO The whole month of July sees the highlands go completely Christmas-crazy.
GOOD FOR Mistletoe freaks and cash-strapped Euro-aficionados.
RUG UP Break out the reindeer knits and Santa hats: temps plummet to an 11 degrees average in July.
WHERE The Flinders Ranges National Park, five hours north of Adelaide.
THE TRIP A four-day bushwalk covering 45 kilometres takes you around Wilpena Pound, the Elder Range and through a private wilderness sanctuary. Add a touch of luxe with a night at the 1850s Rawnsley Park homestead, $2150 a person (arkabawalk上海夜生活m).
WHEN TO GO Winter is perfect walking weather.
GOOD FOR Painters and photographers and those keen to spot a rare yellow-footed rock wallaby.
RUG UP Pack your flannelette pyjamas for the frosty mornings when you’re climbing out of the swag.
WHERE The Yarra Valley, an hour east of Melbourne.
THE TRIP Drink top Australian pinot noir, ride the Puffing Billy steam train, spot a platypus at the Healesville Sanctuary or go tobogganing at Lake Mountain, Australia’s premier cross-country alpine resort. Stay at the Balgownie Estate Vineyard Resort and Spa, in Yarra Glen, from $150 a night until August 31.
WHEN TO GO Winter is top ballooning weather.
GOOD FOR Walkers on a post-Devonshire tea wander through Sassafras’ Sherbrooke Forest.
RUG UP Be sure to layer up for early morning ballooning: a worthy but chilly experience.
WHERE The high country ski resorts of Falls Creek and Hotham.
THE TRIP Good-value packages bundle lift passes and accommodation, such as the “Ultimate Savings” offer at the Ultima Apartments, priced from $414 a person for three nights (mthothamaccommodation上海夜生活m.au) while the new QT Falls Creek costs from $429 a night (qtfallscreek上海夜生活m.au). Check out the new two-resort Snow Pass (snowpass上海夜生活m.au).
WHEN TO GO Hotham’s Frosty Fruits gay ski week starts on July 26, Women’s Week runs from July 29. Beginners, catch a bargain in Learn to Ski weeks, June 15-21, 2013, and September 7-13, 2013.
GOOD FOR Snowman makers, tobogganists and dog sledders (as well as skiers and boarders).
RUG UP Beanie, long johns, muffler, fleece, thick socks … we’re talking single-digit temps.
WHERE St Kilda is Melbourne’s beachside and home to Luna Park.
THE TRIP Shoot pool in the Prince of Wales’ authentically grungy front bar, dine fine at the water’s edge at The Stokehouse or late-night fromagerie and wine bar Milk the Cow, then walk it off with the pooch. Four-star boutique dog-friendly stays across inner-city Melbourne start from $240. (boutiquestays上海夜生活m.au).
WHEN TO GO Now’s the time to experience the cosy side to Melbourne.
GOOD FOR Pet lovers who don’t want to leave a family member at home.
RUG UP Pack the parka and power-walk the pier with the pups.
Lord Howe Island
WHERE Two hours off the NSW coast.
THE TRIP Scramble, slide and go cave snorkelling on a Wilderness Challenge through rarely visited World Heritage-listed forests and beaches; or take a gentler Wilderness Retreat, focusing on the island’s unique ecosystems.
WHEN TO GO Two Wilderness Retreats run from July 15 to 19 and August 5-9 ($1415 a person), the Wilderness Challenge week runs October 14-18 ($1715 a person) (pinetrees上海夜生活m.au).
GOOD FOR Environmental explorers and back-country adventurers.
STRIP DOWN Pack hiking boots and binoculars for a very nice 22 degrees top.
WHERE Heading down south to Hobart.
THE TRIP Why do human beings create art? The answer is at The Red Queen, the newest exhibition at the Museum of Old and New Art (MONA). Stay five days at a four- or five-star hotel, cruise Bruny Island, drink Moorilla wine and visit the museum, from $660 a person (mona上海夜生活.au/create-your-stay).
WHEN TO GO The exhibition runs until April 2014.
GOOD FOR Lovers of dark arts.
RUG UP She’s a bit nippy: pack windproof and rainproof jackets and break out the pom-pom beanies.
WHERE Swansea, 1½ hours from Hobart or Launceston airports.
THE TRIP Pull up the hot tub and ease right on in: Rocky Hills Retreat, on 101 hectares, overlooks Maria Island and costs from $500 a night.
WHEN TO GO July is festival season in Tassie, celebrating everything from truffles to chocolate, pinot noir to the Festival of Voices (discovertasmania上海夜生活m).
GOOD FOR Painters, bushwalkers and pinot lovers everywhere.
RUG UP You don’t need a lot for the tub, but pack hiking boots and binoculars for everything else.
The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Shanghai Night Net.
The shadow campaign launched by Kevin Rudd last week moves to his Brisbane heartland on Sunday after continuing Labor leadership turmoil forced a key supporter of the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, to reaffirm his loyalty to her on the weekend.
Amid frenzied speculation caucus is poised to move on Ms Gillard’s leadership of the Labor Party when Parliament resumes on Monday in its last two weeks of sittings before the election, Mr Rudd is reminding Queenslanders he’s there to help.
The Prime Minister moved to hose down the leadership talk on Saturday saying she remained focused on important policy issues.
Following a week of campaigning in Sydney, Mr Rudd is spending the weekend in his home town before heading to Canberra for what is sure to be a fiery start to Parliament’s final two sitting weeks before the September election.
On Saturday the national secretary of the Australian Workers’ Union, Paul Howes, one of the so-called “faceless men” who brought down the Prime Ministership of Mr Rudd, was forced to publicly pledged his union’s loyalty.
Asked if Ms Gillard would lead Labor to the September poll, Mr Howes, replied: “Absolutely. She’s the right person to lead the party in September, and she will lead the party in September,” he said.
“What we want to see is the movement unite behind the leader of the movement, who has been confirmed as the leader of the movement numerous times, so we can take up the fight to Tony Abbott, and address the issues that really matter to working Australians.”
Mr Howes was responding to media reports that alleged the AWU had withdrawn its support for Ms Gillard.
In a week in which Mr Rudd campaigned in western Sydney and a rocky start for Ms Gillard when she copped flak for introducing abortion into the political discourse, the issue of leadership was rarely out of focus.
On Sunday, Mr Rudd will be attending the City2South fun run and walk in Brisbane, which ends in his electorate. On Friday Mr Rudd was mobbed while campaigning during a visit to a local school in an inner-Sydney electorate.
Ms Gillard dismissed the feverish speculation during a media conference in Adelaide on Saturday, addressing a News Ltd report that the MP for the Sydney seat of Reid, John Murphy, had publicly called for her to stand down.
“All of this across the week, we’ve got lots of rumour, lots of speculation, we’ve got Mr Murphy who’s had a continuing view for some time now,” the Prime Minister said.
“I don’t worry about any of that. I just get on with it.”
Fairfax Media has spoken to a number of opposition backbenchers and shadow ministers, with most expressing concern over Labor’s possible return to Mr Rudd.
One of Mr Abbott’s most senior frontbenchers said a return to Mr Rudd would be a significant game changer that would not necessarily be welcomed by the oOpposition.
“We know how he campaigns. He campaigns hard and, frankly, it is making some of us more than a little nervous,” the shadow minister said.
“Rudd knows how to work the marginal electorates and he did it so effectively in 2007.
“I observed him then somewhat in awe and my jaw has dropped open again these past couple of weeks watching him work the seats of his mates. The guy is good at it.”
The Labor leadership will be the focus of caucus members this week, with momentum building for a switch back to Mr Rudd.
He and his backers are adamant he won’t challenge for the job and Ms Gillard’s backers insist she will not step aside.
The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Shanghai Night Net.
Home: Asylum- seeker children at Lombrum Naval Base, Manus Island. Photo: Angela Wylie “We are suffering on Manus. It is a tortura for us.”: The caption on a 10 year old Iranian girl’s picture.
The number of asylum-seeker children held in closed immigration detention is at an all-time high – despite the Gillard government’s policy that they should not be held in detention centres.
Almost 2000 children are being held on Manus Island, Christmas and Cocos Islands and in other closed detention areas around the country, attracting criticism from advocacy groups and politicians.
The figures are even greater than when former immigration minister Chris Bowen said the aim was for the ‘‘majority’’ of children to be out of detention by June 2011.
Refugee Council of Australia president Phil Glendenning said the high number of children in detention represented ‘‘a fundamental failure of policy’’.
‘‘The needs of children have to be more important,’’ he said.
‘‘Both sides of politics have let the Australian people down and let children down. Detention is no place for children. We are not a country that incarcerates children.’’
Statistics released by the the Department of Immigration show that as of last Monday, the department was processing protection claims for 3235 children, 1383 of whom were in community detention.
The remaining 1852 children are in closed facilities including ‘‘alternative places of detention, immigration residential housing or immigration transit accommodation’’.
The immigration detention statistics summary report for April 30 shows there were 566 children on Christmas Island but the department did not say how many are on Manus or Cocos Islands.
GetUp! is running a campaign to get the children released. National director Sam McLean said their plight could not remain out of sight and out of mind. ‘‘Australians need to speak up about this issue. If you are not fighting the treatment of these children you are condoning that treatment.’’
Children are also being kept in some of Australia’s most remote areas including at the Curtin detention centre in the Kimberley region of Western Australia.
They are also at Leonora, in the Goldfields region of Western Australia, and Wickham Point, 35kilometres outside Darwin.
Immigration Minister Brendan O’Connor said: ‘‘People are initially detained so they can be processed for security, identity and health reasons. Once this is done they are released into the community as soon as possible, with children a priority. Special purpose-built family accommodation provides children with a secure environment, education, health and support services while this process takes place.
‘‘The government’s aim has been to accommodate the majority of children in community detention,’’ the minister said on Saturday.
‘‘There are no children on Cocos Island and only in purpose-built family accommodation in the other places mentioned,’’ he said.
Opposition spokesman on immigration Scott Morrison said the Gllard government had the worst record of any government when it came to children in detention.He said there were now more children in detention than when the government announced its policy change in 2010.
The revelations about the numbers come a decade after an inquiry by the Australian Human Rights Commission into children in immigration detention found children had suffered repeated breaches of their human rights.
Commission president Gillian Triggs has said she has serious concerns about families with children detained at the Wickham Point and Curtin detention facilities.
Commonwealth Ombudsman Colin Neave has determined lower-security detention continues to constitute ‘‘immigration detention under the act, and involves a restriction on the liberty and movement of the child.’’
The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Shanghai Night Net.