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  • admin 19:52 on 04/25/2020  

    COCKSURE: James Chapman plays Odysseus Rex, who provides the audience with a rooster-eye view into human behaviour.COCK-FIGHTING is a sport that has been popular for centuries in rural communities because it gives people who might otherwise be ignored the chance to show their skills in training the birds used in the encounters, and although banned in most countries, it continues undercover in many places.
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    American playwright Olivia Dufault’s dark comedy Year of the Rooster, which looks at the role cockfighting plays in people’s lives, has been a hit in the United States since it premiered in New York in October, 2013. The month-long first season was such a success with audiences and reviewers, selling out in days, that an equally-popular return season took place.

    Year of the Rooster will have its n premiere at Newcastle’s intimate Royal Exchange Theatre in Bolton Street, with performances nightly at 8pm from January 31 to February 3. The play was written for staging in studio-style venues because they enable watchers to become close to the characters.

    James Chapman, a member of Knock and Run Theatre, which presents significant new works, read the play after seeing comments about it. He has been cast by director Allison Van Gaal as Odysseus Rex, referred to as Odie by his owner, Gil Pepper, a man in his early 20s. Odie, who wears feathered male attire and has some chookie colour, makes sharp and amusing remarks about the humans around him.

    Gil, played by Will Parker, has been troubled since his childhood. His father died when he was young and he’s had to care for his demanding mother, Lou (Jan Hunt), who is in her 70s and has to get around in a mobile chair. Gil, works at McDonald’s, enabling him to get Mcnuggets for Odie, while having to put up with the criticism of the 19-year-old assistant manager, Philipa (Stephanie Priest), who is irate because he rejected her advances. The story’s other character is Dickie Thimble (Carl Gregory), an aggressive businessman who sees himself as the town head and conducts the cock-fighting tourneys. A couple of the actors also play hens and roosters.

    Allison Van Gaal has set the story in an n town because the joking comments made by the characters have a very down-under sound.

    James Chapman sees the chicken characters as the story’s most sympathetic figures because they show feelings that the humans lack. And Will Parker, who is on stage for the story’s 90 minutes, with just an interval break in the middle, notes that Gil goes on a very interesting journey in search of himself. He gets to hear the comments of the people who come into the McDonald’s store and these often affect him.

    Tickets, $20, can be bought from stickytickets苏州夜总会招聘.au/60897.

    Continue reading TheatreRooster hatches a hit
  • admin 19:52 on 04/25/2020  

    “I think we will take the easier way today,” says my guide, Bernhard.
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    “That sounds like a good idea,” I reply.

    It’s not that I’m afraid of a little effort, but we’re about to embark on a cycling trip of the area surrounding Innsbruck, Austria, and some of that surrounding area looks, to put it mildly, a little steep.

    Innsbruck is nestled in the Inn valley between the Karwendel Alps in the north and the Patscherkofel and Serles ranges in the south. Although not as famous as Austria’s two largest cities, Vienna and Salzburg, it’s a tourist hotspot due to its central location. To the north is Germany’s Munich, to the south Italy (and just a couple of hours driving gets you to Venice) and to the west is the Swiss capital Zurich. As such, Innsbruck has become a popular spot for a stopover for tourists on driving holidays through Europe or on board the still-popular bus tours.

    Today though, we’ll be escaping the city, with its narrow streets and beautiful baroque and gothic architecture, and heading into the countryside.

    It doesn’t take long. A 10-minute drive gets us to the village of Mutta, just outside Innsbruck proper, where we ditch the car and switch to the bikes. Although we’re taking an easy route, we’re still going to be using e-bikes.

    Though not really a thing in , e-bikes have become huge in Austria and other parts of Europe. Once I saddle up and try mine out, it’s easy to see why. The e-bikes use an electric motor to assist your pedalling, and you can ramp up the level of assist, or tone it down, depending on your need. Got to climb up a steep dirt hill? Pump it up to “sport” mode and it will be a breeze. Coming down again is easy – the electronic assist automatically switches off when you don’t need it, and the bike also has regular gears you can use to control the amount of effort you need to put in.

    The popularity of e-bikes explains why so many people around Innsbruck use them for getting around. In town, the city is largely flat, making cycling a quick and easy way to get around, but the terrain becomes steep quickly once you hit the outskirts, where many of the population live.

    In fact, cycling is so popular the city opened a new bike park in mid-2017, which is now home to an annual bike festival featuring the extreme antics of the Crankworx World Tour (see crankworx苏州夜总会招聘). The mountains surrounding the city are also covered in dirt trails, which ambitious cyclists can pedal up to the peaks, and less ambitious ones can ride down after catching a funicular.

    As someone who regularly cycles at home, it feels like a bit of a cheat to be using the motor. On the other hand, we are riding heavy mountain bikes with thick tyres – the type you typically see mainly designed for downhill cycling. Getting one of these things up a hill unassisted would be challenging, to say the least.

    We start out on the paved roads of Mutta before heading off on to dirt tracks and making our way through the beautiful Stubai Valley. We pass small farm houses and barns, hikers and other cyclists and follow along the bright Ruetz river, flowing fast with ice melt in the spring sunshine.

    After about an hour we hit the village of Stubai itself, a small town that’s filled with newly constructed houses and apartments (though still in a fairly traditional style). As the limited flatlands of Innsbruck fill up, real estate prices have skyrocketed, forcing young families to move out to the surrounding villages (even so, their commute times would put those of ‘s major cities to shame).

    Here we turn around and climb further up the mountain, eventually entering a pretty meadow where we find a “hut”. It’s actually a large restaurant and farm where we stop for lunch.

    The rest of the journey back to Mutta is largely downhill and it’s a lot of fun to switch off the assist and let the weight of the bike build up speeds of more than 50km/h. The tracks remain wide and the corners gentle, which suits me fine at this speed.

    The city offers a wide range of cycling trails for all sorts of styles and skill levels. Much steeper, more challenging runs can be found on the other side of the valley. The truly game can also do tours in winter and ride on snow (trying this without the electric assist is almost impossible, Bernhard tells me). Given the ease and fun of today’s spring ride, I’m tempted to come back and give it a go. Trip Notes





    Various European carriers fly into Innsbruck from other European cities. ns can fly with several airlines into Zurich or Vienna and take a train to the city (three hours, 40 minutes from Zurich, four hours, 50 minutes from Vienna).


    Guided cycling tours of the Innsbruck region are offered by Hotel Seppl (you do not need to be a hotel guest to do a tour). See hotel-seppl.at/en for details.

    Craig Platt travelled as a guest of the Austrian National Tourist Organisation

    Continue reading The cycling city where e-bikes rule
  • admin 19:52 on 04/25/2020  

    Gordon Station on Tuesday evening. Photo: Supplied by James Beauchamp It took commuter?? Anita Thorsteinsson one hour and 45 minutes to get from Wynyard Station to Campsie – a trip she says normally takes about 25 minutes. Photo:?? Anita Thorsteinsson
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    Commuters were left fuming on Wednesday after massive delays and cancellations across the Sydney rail network on Tuesday evening left them stranded.

    Storm damage on Tuesday morning and a lack of staff led to long queues and overcrowding at major stations including Central, Wynyard and Town Hall. Commuters were advised to delay non-essential travel or take buses to ease pressure on the train network.

    One commuter, Anita Thorsteinsson, said her usual 25-minute trip from Wynyard to Campsie took one hour and 45 minutes on Tuesday night.

    “Yesterday was the worst, a few trains have been cancelled in the mornings and the afternoons; it seems every third or fourth one cancelled,” she said.

    “On the old timetable, there was a little bit more time between trains but less were cancelled.”

    While Ms Thorsteinsson said she initially thought the new train timetables looked good, the system seemed to collapse quickly when there was an issue.

    “Generally the only thing doing my head in is – when there is some sort of issue – the entire system breaks down, the entire thing falls apart. It just doesn’t make sense,” she said.

    Opposition Leader Luke Foley blamed Tuesday night’s “shambolic meltdown” on the new timetable, telling Seven News that six weeks into the new system these problems are not acceptable.

    “Dozens of train services are being cancelled. Look at the boards and, in some cases, you are told next train, on a particular line, is hours away. This has been a catastrophic meltdown,” he said.

    Another commuter, Erin Riley, said the timetable changes meant she has to leave from a different station, and spend about another hour commuting each day.

    “We live in Panania, and since the shift over to the new timetable, there’ve been huge cancellations – barely a week without one,” she said.

    Ms Riley said she and her partner had to race to get to their daughter’s childcare centre before 6pm to avoid the $1-a-minute after-hours fees – a fee they managed to avoid by just two minutes on Tuesday.

    “I left work even earlier than normal, got on a train that was 35 minutes late when I got on it, and I got lucky it didn’t stop,” she said.

    On Wednesday, some trains from Hornsby to Central, Central to Epping, Central to Gordon and Macarthur to Central were cancelled before 8am due to staff availability issues.

    Continue reading Sydney train commute took four times longer in ‘meltdown’
  • admin 19:52 on 04/25/2020  

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    Airbus A330-300, the biggest plane in the airline’s fleet. The A330-300, Island of Rotuma, is the only aircraft in the airline’s fleet to feature an economy quiet zone for customers aged 18 years and over.


    Sydney to Nadi.


    Tabua Club, Fiji Airways rewards program ($FJ499 a year), offers priority check-in, extra baggage allowance etc. Membership allows you entry to the Qantas lounge in n airports.


    Business, 3D


    The captain’s pre take-off estimate of three hours 37 minutes was spot on.


    Twice daily from Sydney. Fiji Airways also flies daily from Brisbane, five times a week from Melbourne and twice a week from Adelaide. The airline also has flights onwards to Los Angeles, San Francisco and Honolulu, making a Fijian stopover a viable option if you have business in the US. (It also recently launched flights to Tokyo.)


    The business cabin contains 24 seats in a 2-2-2 configuration. My leather-upholstered aisle seat with its ample pitch of 60 inches (152 centimetres), USB points and substantial storage was extremely comfortable, aided by the fact no one was occupying the neighbouring seat. Had there been a neighbour, I would have used the privacy screen had I found it (it comes out horizontally from the central panel, not vertically as I was expecting). The seat reclines into an eight-degree “lie-flat” bed – little used on a four-hour flight, but much more valuable on longer flights.


    Check-in baggage of 40 kilograms, two pieces of cabin luggage of seven kilogram or under, plus a laptop bag or case.


    There is an hour’s delay getting away from the gate. The captain explains the delay is out of his hands (a baggage-handling issue at Sydney), but says the cabin crew will do their best to make us comfortable. Meanwhile, the entertainment system is already working. I’m listening to Pink’s latest album when the flight attendant asks if I would like to try a pre-flight cocktail. Purely in the interests of research, I try a Laucala sour, one of the airline’s two alternating “signature” cocktails (Fijian rum liqueur, Fijian rum, honey, lemon syrup and apple juice – invented at Laucala Resort). And we haven’t even got to take-off yet.


    The 15.4-inch screen occupies most of the seat in front. At first, the options seem limited. The in-flight magazine lists just eight movies and a handful of TV series, though it does say there are more than 550 full-length albums across 12 musical categories. I only have time for one movie anyway so opt for Baby Driver (God, it’s weird seeing Kevin Spacey in a movie now). Only on landing do I discover the entertainment system actually contained far more movies and TV shows. This my one gripe: the airline would serve its passengers better by spelling out everything that is on offer (as the elite airlines do in their in-flight guides).


    According to the Fiji Sun, all airline employees are rewarded according to the airline’s profitability (and 2017 was a record year). That may account for the level of attention, but probably not. Fijians are naturally hospitable and patriotic – except when they are playing for the All Blacks or the Wallabies!

    The cabin staff were excellent (easily the equal of many international airlines much higher in the awards pecking order), but I’d also like to thank the flight crew.

    Too often – like railway station announcers or airline check-in staff – they leave you in the dark. On this flight, the captain explained in simple terms there was a problem with departure and that he would get back to us as soon as he had an update – which he did. I’d settle for that over a celebrity signature ice-cream any time.


    By the time you might fly, the menu will have changed. Robert Oliver, a “Kiwi celebrity chef” – yes, it sounds like an oxymoron – took over direction of the in-flight menu in January 2018. So I can’t vouch for it. My pre-Oliver lamb shank, however, was beautifully cooked and presented.

    Oliver’s influence was evident in Nadi International Airport’s new business class lounge which opened just before Christmas 2017 – easily the equal of Sydney Airport’s Qantas equivalent, particularly if you like curries, South Sea island food and Fiji street treats.


    You feel like you’ve already arrived in Fiji as soon as you slump into your seat. In my experience (mainly economy), the airline’s cabin crew is among the most welcoming in the skies.

    VERDICT 3.75/5.

    Steve Meacham travelled as a guest of Fiji Airways.

    Continue reading Flight Test: Fiji Airways business class
  • admin 19:52 on 04/25/2020  

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    What are your top travel trips for Bosnia and Herzegovina, of which Sarajevo is the capital? TIP OF THE WEEK

    After a walking trip in Slovenia with my wife a few years ago we were due to catch a Backroads tour in Dubrovnik several days later so, in the meantime, we flew from Slovenia to Sarajevo, where we spent three nights then hired a car and drove to Dubrovnik.

    I would highly recommend anyone with a few days to spare in this region to visit Sarajevo. The city has recovered largely from the three-year siege, although the scars are evident. Siege tours are interesting, as is the multi-religious aspect of the city with synagogue, mosque and church in the same block.

    We arrived there in Ramadan and the atmosphere in the old town at dusk was fantastic, as was the ambience of the newer sections where people sipped on a drink at the street-front cafes watching the passing fare. Between Dubrovnik and Sarajevo stop in Mostar and take in the old town and the fabulous bridge.

    If you are really keen drop in at Medjugorje for something different. Car hire was not expensive, even the fact that we dropped off in Dubrovnik after hiring in Sarajevo.

    Bill Higgins, Cammeray, NSWVALID COMMENT

    In regards to Michael Gebicki’s article about things you should know about ‘s passports (Traveller on Sunday, December 17), clearly passports need to be considerably more robust, resistant to damage, dampness or bending, which destroy their validity and require costly replacement.

    Once, damaged passports could be dried out and flattened to remain valid until expiry. Today it is vital to have complete passport security, so a microchip containing all of a passport-holder’s details should be embedded in a tiny, sealed waterproof corner location, unaffected by bending. The visual photograph and information should be permanently printed on a waterproof, flexible page (think n bank notes).

    Fergus Maclagan, Milsons Point, NSW KYOTO, WITH LOVE

    I enjoyed reading the interesting article “20 reasons to love ??? Kyoto” (Traveller on Sunday, October 29, 2017). My husband, who is French-n, lived in Japan in the 1970s and I am originally from Japan.

    We’ve travelled in Japan, including Kyoto, on many occasions yet despite that we didn’t know about the village of Miyama or the Murin-an Garden, both of which were mentioned in the article. As described, Miyama, with its community of thatched-roof houses, is certainly a best-kept secret.

    We’ve also enjoyed taking a long walk from Arashiyama up to Daikaku-ji and visiting various temples along the way, including Chikurin (bamboo forest) and Nenbutsu-ji. We also walked on the Philosopher’s Path from Ginkaku-ji to Nanzen-ji some years ago.

    In November for the first time, we visited Otagi-nenbutsu-ji, which has 1200 rakan statues and is not far from Nenbutsu-ji mentioned in the story.

    We also went to the mountain monastery of Hieizan-Enryaku-ji, which takes only 18 minutes by train from Kyoto to Hieizan-Sakamoto station and then a 30-minute walk to the funicular railway to Hieizan. Along the way, we visited various temples and gardens.

    Japan has become a popular travel destination and naturally Kyoto has become crowded with Japanese and non-Japanese tourists, particularly during its best seasons – spring and autumn.

    Kyoto residents have started to have some negative feelings about the crowding and about some badly-behaved tourists. Sadly, the problem of some tourists not respecting the places they visit is a worldwide one.

    Takiko Yalichev, Lavender Bay, NSWSOUTHERN COMFORT

    A recent letter to your weekly Tripologist column (Traveller on Sunday, December 10) requested suggestions for a travel agent for a trip to South America. I cannot recommend the Sydney-based Eclipse Travel enough.

    They cater for bespoke private itineraries and have three levels of accommodation which one can chop and change according to budget. We were met at the airports by a private guide/driver, transferred to our accommodation, pre-arranged tours organised.

    We met other tourists from one of the major travel agents on our train ride to Lake Titicaca, and on discussion our costs were about $4000 cheaper for much the same product, except of course for the size of the group.

    Eclipse travel consultants are highly trained and professional. We have now travelled twice with Eclipse, and each occasion the trip was organised promptly and efficiently.

    David and Kerrie Maitland. Baulkham Hills NSW

    Continue reading Things you should know about Chinan passports
  • admin 19:52 on 04/25/2020  

    Fremantle have ordered midfielder Harley Bennell to train away from the club for the next two months after he was involved in an incident at a local bar the night before pre-season training resumed in 2018.
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    The Dockers also imposed a $15,000 fine on their wayward star with $5000 to be suspended and expecthim to undergo counselling in an attempt to address his off-field issues.

    The alleged incident came to light after footage was aired on Channel Seven in Perth on Monday night and the Dockers moved quickly to imposetheir penalty on Tuesday.

    Harley Bennell is in trouble again. Photo: AAP

    Fremantle football manager Chris Bond said Bennell’s return to the club after theeight weeks would be dependent on him displaying the right attitude in his time away from the club.

    “Harley has not met our expected standards and also those of an elite AFL player,” Bond said.

    “In this instance, he consumed an excessive amount of alcohol the day before a training session.

    “In addition to a $15,000 fine, Harley will not train at the club for the next eight weeks and also continue ongoing counselling to assist him with making better decisions in off-field situations.

    “Harley will train with Peel during that period and will also be required to undertake and complete a separate training program set by our strength and conditioning staff.

    “Whilst we have set an eight-week time frame for when Harley can return to the club and train with his teammates, ultimately that will be determined by Harley’s future actions, how he responds to the measures we have put in place and whether he can consistently meet and display the standards expected by the club and the playing group.”

    It is the latest in long line of controversies surrounding the gifted footballer, who joined Gold Coast as pick No.2 at the 2010 national draft.

    He played 81 games with the Suns and was runner-up in the club’s best and fairest in 2012 but was traded at the end of 2015 to the Dockers on a three-year deal that expires at the end of 2018.

    The 25-year-old spent nearly two years on the sidelines battling a persistent calf problem before playing the final two games of last season.

    He has received constant public support from coach Ross Lyon throughout his time at the Dockers, with the coach living by his motto to support the player but challenge the behaviour.

    Midway through last year Fremantle ordered him to undergo counselling and fined him $10,000 –half of which was suspended –after bizarre behaviour while watching a WAFL game.

    The 24-year-old twice interrupted the three-quarter-time huddle of the match between Peel Thunder and Swan Districts to speak to his cousin Traye Bennell.

    Bennell was also kicked off a Gold Coast-bound flight before it departed in April because he was intoxicated.

    Before joining the Dockers, photos emerged of the then-Suns player allegedly using illicit drugs.

    With AAP

    Continue reading Fremantle suspends Harley Bennell after nightclub fracas
  • admin 19:52 on 04/25/2020  

    UNIQUE: Cameron Glen will offer the freedom and the independence of a retirement village with all the support of a traditional aged care facility.A new exciting concept in Seniors Living is coming to Newcastle.
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    It’s called Cameron Glen, and combinesthe three tiers of traditional Seniors Living:

    All with your own villa unit in one village. There is nothing like this in Newcastle.

    The advantages of such a village include:

    Couples stay together regardless of each individuals health care needsYou have your own home with a full kitchen and a community centre kitchen for mealsNo ACAT or means testing involved but you can obtain or bring your ACAT fundingYou choose and change the type and level of domestic and care services as you needOn-site Nursing staff available to provide care services 24 hours a day 7 days a weekThe village can cater for non-violent dementia and palliative careYou don’t have to move from one villa unit or village to another as your needs changeIt should only be necessary to pay a deferred management fee once in your lifeMeals will be available for lunch and dinner, 7 days a week in the Community Centre dining room at very affordable prices for residents who don’t wish to cook, and a fully catered morning tea will be served every day free of charge for all residents.

    The Community Centre is also used for resident activities like exercise classes, bingo, craft sessions, movie nights and visiting entertainers. There is a village bus for regular shopping trips and outings.

    The Nursing staff provide 24/7 care in the home of residents.

    Some residents won’t need any care. Some may only need help getting started in the morning with showering and dressing and medication supervision. Some may require high care.

    Residents live in their own fully self-contained villa unit.

    This can be either one, two or three bedrooms, with either one or two bathrooms.

    The units come fully equipped with all appliances. Each unit has its own sunny, private rear courtyard.

    Cameron Glen will be a fully accredited Approved Aged Care provider that can facilitate access to Government Funded Home Care packages for residents.

    The team behind Cameron Glenunderstand that seniors want to live as independently as possible but also feel they are independent, in control, maintain their dignityand self-worth.

    They want to live in their own home and receive all the domestic and care support they need.

    This is what Cameron Glen provides. This is what makes Cameron Glen unique.

    Cameron Glen is very different to any other Seniors’ Living complex.

    It offers the freedom and the independence of a retirement village with all the support of a traditional aged care facility.

    Call 4958 8880 today for your information pack.

    Continue reading Unique approach to Seniors Living
  • admin 19:52 on 04/25/2020  

    It is no secret that Kanye West has significant influence over his family’s aesthetic, but it was not known that his fashion directives were quite so… formal.
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    In Tuesday’s episode of Keeping Up with the Kardashians, Kim Kardashian revealed her husband, like a bridezilla attempting to save a buck by having her bridesmaids dress themselves but unwilling to let go of her big red button on the matter, sends her emails telling her what she can and cannot wear.

    Emails. They are married.

    “You cannot wear big glasses anymore. It’s all about tiny little glasses,” Kanye West reportedly wrote to wife, Kim Kardashian. Photo: Evan Agostini/Invision/AP

    “[Kanye] sent me a whole email like, ‘You cannot wear big glasses anymore. It’s all about tiny little glasses,'” Kardashian said, while wearing said tiny glasses. “He sent me, like, millions of ’90s photos with tiny little glasses like this.”

    (You can fault the guy for being a control freak, but you can’t fault him on his fashion advice: 2017 really was the year of the tiny specs.)

    Kardashian has previously spoken about her rapper and fashion designer husband dictating her dress.

    In a May 2015 interview on Live! With Kelly and Michael, she accredited her fashion style of strappy heels and bodycon dresses to West.

    “When we first started dating, he went through my closet, he put everything he thought wasn’t cool enough in a pile,” she said.

    Despite being reduced to tears by this controlling – and frankly kind of abusive? They’re just clothes, dude – behaviour, Kardashian said she ultimately appreciated her husband’s work, particularly given he entirely replaced her wardrobe.

    “It really helped me fall in love with fashion. I eventually did get rid of all that stuff, but at the time I couldn’t see it.”

    Daily Life

    Continue reading Kanye sends Kim Kardashian emails with fashion advice
  • admin 19:52 on 04/25/2020  

    Win a prize package to one of Tasmania’s premier food and wine events Festivale patrons relax and enjoy Launceston’s picturesque City Park. Picture: Scott Gelston
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    DELICIOUS: One of the salads created out of fresh Tasmanian produce by the Good Food Float . Picture: Christine Chandler

    Wine, oysters and laughs at Festivale. Picture: Chris Crerar

    PICTURESQUE: Festivale patrons enjoying the sunshine in Launceston’s historic City Park. Picture: Scott Gelston

    Festivale – held in the leafy surrounds of City Park – gives patrons the chance to meet the producers.

    Don’t forget dessert.

    Festivale’s guest chef for 2018 is Karen Martini.

    Patrons enjoying a glass of Tasmanian wine whilst soaking up the atmosphere. Picture: Chris Crerar

    A little fire never hurt anyone – Quartermasters Arms are the flame-grilled meat specialists.

    As the sun sets, things really heat up.

    Festivale allows patrons to meet and talk with producers directly. Picture: Chris Crerar

    Festivale allows patrons to meet and talk with producers directly. Picture: Chris Crerar

    Festivale allows patrons to meet and talk with producers directly. Picture: Chris Crerar

    Festivale – held in the leafy surrounds of Launceston’s City Park. Picture: Chris Crerar

    Leafy City Park hosts the event annually.

    A big part of Festivale is the music – live and loud.

    The sun sets on City Park.

    Bachelorette Georgia Love

    Stallholders come from across Tasmania.

    Stallholders and patrons come from across Tasmania.

    Stallholders and patrons come from across Tasmania.

    Stallholders and patrons come from across Tasmania.

    Stallholders and patrons come from across Tasmania.

    Roving street performers are just another highlight.

    Stallholders and patrons come from across Tasmania.

    Stallholders and patrons come from across Tasmania.

    Stallholders and patrons come from across Tasmania.

    Stallholders and patrons come from across Tasmania.

    TweetFacebookWe’ve got such a high focus on Tasmanian produce, and on the quality of items that stalls are serving

    Festivale chairman David DunnTo celebrate 2018, Fairfax ACM and Tourism Northern Tasmania is offering one lucky interstate guest to experience Festivale for themselvesRead the terms and conditions here

    Continue reading Festivale 2018: Tasmania’s food and wine heaven
  • admin 19:52 on 04/25/2020  

    I gawk at Celebrity Silhouette at its dock in Amsterdam as if I’m from the land of Lilliputians. It’s as if one of the small ships I’m more used to has been inflated with a bicycle pump by some avant-garde prankster. It’s my regular cruise experience upsized. I find myself as unnerved as a peasant among skyscrapers as I check in amid a happy hum of passengers. Can a ship really hold this many people?
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    Certainly it can; some cruise ships carry twice as many. With well-practised efficiency, Celebrity Silhouette absorbs 2886 passengers. True, a bit of a scrum forms around the lifts and a party seems to have erupted in the atrium, yet when I arrive on deck 10 the live music fades to a carpeted hush. Along the corridor, over the next two weeks, I encounter surprisingly few fellow passengers. Once in my cabin, I might as well be cocooned in a spaceship pod to Mars, so deep is the silence.

    This is only the start of the many ways in which Celebrity Silhouette disconcerts me during my two-week Baltic cruise. My first revelation is that here is a large ship that has many attributes of much smaller luxury vessels. The Solstice-class ship (Celebrity Eclipse, Equinox and Reflection share many of its features) is well-arranged and has an upmarket, sophisticated and stylish decor that never strays into the bling, lurid patterns and motel-like ambiance of many big ships. Occasionally the design has playful whimsy: video birds cheep in cages near the speciality restaurants; passengers can clamber into giant raised ”nests” in The Hideaway Lounge; and a living tree is suspended halfway up the vast atrium.

    I’ve been on luxury small ships whose artworks look as if they were purchased in a two-dollar shop. Silhouette’s offerings, however, prompt me to stop for a closer look as I wander corridors and stairwells. A portrait on deck seven is half supermodel photo, half Renaissance painting. Outside the lifts on deck 10, big art photos of junk-filled, back-room Versailles are curiously arresting. A striking corridor-long painting of birds and flowers is reflected in a huge metallic dish, where it morphs like a homage to Salvador Dali.

    Distinctive bars and lounges are another feature of small ships that on Silhouette seem achieved with just as much flair – and far more choice. In the Cafe al Bacio yellow armchairs face sexy black padded banquettes as if I’ve strayed into a designer hotel lobby in Milan. The Ensemble Lounge is swathed in purple velvety material and abstract art and looks like a Venetian boudoir. Its curtains are pulled over early, giving it a sultry, shadowy appeal for kisses over cocktails. In contrast, the Sky Observation Lounge is like a pale ice palace of white armchairs, floating white curtains and enormous sea views. Waiters in white at a white bar pour lurid green and pink drinks.

    Yet while Celebrity Silhouette has many small-ship assets, I quickly appreciate that a larger ship brings its own extra pleasures. On small luxury vessels bar-lounges can sometimes be dull places where the odd mummified passengers lurk in corners over nightcaps. With nearly 3000 people on board Silhouette, however, a lively evening out beckons if that’s what you’re after. The Martini Bar is fairly hopping with a rather youthful crowd. Bartenders juggle bottles and shakers to the approval of onlookers as ice glistens on the frozen bar counter. I could be in Stockholm’s trendy Sodermalm district.

    Evening entertainment in the theatre is impressive, too, ranging from a Beatles tribute band to virtuoso saxophonist and a hilarious comedy juggler who gets a standing ovation from a crowd that just doesn’t seem to want to go to bed.

    A bigger ships means more amusements, of course. As we sail around the Baltic I discover a lively, friendly ship with a comprehensive range of on-board activities. I could start the day at 7am – or so I’m told – with fitness and stretching at the Spa Club and not finish up until after midnight at Quasar nightclub, with its funky retro vibe and DJ pod in the centre of a silvery dance floor.

    In between, passengers only have themselves to blame for dull moments. My day at sea is a pleasant bustle from trivia competition to movie screening, lecture on the Vikings to live music in the atrium. Many passengers opt for paid additions, too, such as wine tasting classes, boot camps and lessons in iPad use.

    On the downside, a big ship has its passing moments of overcrowding. Ascending to my cabin on deck 10 can mean a stop at almost every floor to release fellow passengers. The Oceanview Cafe just before shore-excursion departure times is as raucous as a school canteen, and security queues to re-board the ship are sometimes lengthy.

    My fears of cruising in a never-ending hubbub are quite unfounded, however. I have no problem finding quiet spaces on this thoughtfully laid-out ship. The rather hidden deck 16 has seldom-busy sun loungers while The Hideaway lounge, buried in the middle of the ship, is an always tranquil space where passengers wanting downtime can tuck themselves into white pods or padded wall niches. You can look out over the multistorey atrium and its mesmerising march of lifts passing up and down: it makes you feel as if you’re in a giant ant colony whose busyness never intrudes into the lounge space.

    My favourite is the double-storey Library, where the glass ceiling allows views to scudding clouds, and where high-backed, white leather armchairs invite me to linger over a thriller. There are other places to kick back, too, including the expansive Canyon Ranch Spa Club with its relaxation room, solarium and relaxation chairs, and the cabanas on the open-deck Lawn Club – though it’s a shame these cabanas, on one of the ship’s most attractive areas, require an extra fee.

    Also tranquil is the indoor pool area known as the Solarium. It’s one of the best pool areas on any ship, with humid warmth beneath a triple-height, glassed-in atrium that makes me feel as if I’m in a glasshouse. A soothing water feature rumbles and gurgles, and the slow sloshing of water in the pool sends some guests to sleep on the jaunty orange deckchairs. Between here and the adjacent outdoor pool are a couple of giant suspended hammocks slung between four posts and draped in white gauze curtains. It’s another favourite spot of mine to while away an hour, and be tricked into believing I’m the only person on board. I’m feeling a bit guilty about my small mindedness, and find myself converted to the diverse pleasures of this large and impressive ship.






    Celebrity Silhouette cruises Europe between April and November and winters in the Caribbean. Example itineraries include a 14-night Scandinavia and Russia cruise departing July 21, 2018, from $5009, and a 14-night Western Mediterranean cruise departing September 9, 2018, from $4889 a person, twin share in an Oceanview stateroom, including Classic beverage package. Phone 1800 754 500. See celebritycruises苏州夜总会招聘.au

    Brian Johnston travelled as a guest of Celebrity Cruises.

    Continue reading What it’s like aboard a huge cruise ship
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