September 16, 2013
Tribute Artist, Damian Mullin

Tribute Artist, Damian Mullin

The legend of Elvis lives on.

Johnny Welsh, who put on last year’s fantastic three night Elvis Cruise on board Royal Caribbean’s “Rhapsody Of The Seas”, where 15 Elvis tribute artists kept the passengers entertained night and day, brought Elvis back to Sydney for one day only.

Sandra Tiltman with "Elvis", Mark Andrew.

Sandra Tiltman with “Elvis”, Mark Andrew.

Recently Johnny Welsh’s Music Themes Australia organised a four hour cruise around Sydney Harbour, where fans were entertained by not one, but two Elvis tribute artists, Mark Andrew and Damian Mullin.  During their performances, both artists gave us different versions of Elvis throughout his career, with their costume changes and song choices.

Fans of all ages enjoyed the afternoon cruise, which also included lunch, and will be sure to return for the next Elvis Sydney HarbourCruise on 3 November which will feature Pete Storm from the UK and Australia’s very own Allan Wright and Elias Jamhour.

To book tickets, call Margot on 0418 166 436.

Sandra Tiltman.

Photos:  John Pond


September 16, 2013
Keukenhof Gardens, Holland

Keukenhof Gardens, Holland

After visiting the splendid Australian Garden Show Sydney in Centennial Park earlier this month and being inspired by the variety of gardens on display, plus the huge array of beautiful plants and flowers, it made me think of visiting some of the world’s landmark gardens and famous floral festivals, such as London’s Chelsea Flower Show and Holland’s Keukenhof Gardens.

Many of the world renown gardens are located in Europe, where it’s easy to travel around using the river systems, sailing on the Rhine, Danube, Seine and Douro, to name a few.

At certain times of the year, river cruise companies offer tailor made itineraries to visit famous garden landmarks when they are at their peak, such as Holland’s Keukenhof Gardens in Lisse, which are only open from 20 March to 18 May.

Tour Escort, Horticulturist Judy Horton

Tour Escort, Horticulturist Judy Horton

Several companies specialise in garden and horticulture tourism, taking groups on unique tours to view such once a year events as Cherry Blossom Time in Japan.

Botanica World Discoveries, an APT company, offers botanically themed river and small ship cruises and tours to iconic destinations. Garden lovers are able to combine their passion for history, gardens and travel beyond the garden gate, with a botanical expert. Botanica cruises and garden tours of Europe are designed for gardening and gourmet enthusiasts who enjoy taking in ancient castles, magnificent chateaux and stunning landscaped gardens with iconic sights.

Botanica has tours of various lengths ranging from 16,15,12 or 8 days taking in both European and Asian destinations of South Korea, Japan, Vietnam and Cambodia

Some of their popular tours are their 15 Day Gardens, History & Landscapes of the Mediterranean Cruise and the 11 Day British Isles Gardens, History & Birdlife tour taking in gardens, castles, birdlife and stunning scenery, all combined with personalised small ship cruising.

For those with limited time, the 5 Day Private Gardens of Inland Scotland would be ideal.

Botanica also offers tours in the USA, with their 19 day tour that cruises through the rivers, lakes and fjords of the northwest, travelling from New York to Montreal, as the autumn season paints a picturesque backdrop.  This tour will be escorted by Judy Horton, a Horticulturist who works as a garden adviser for Yates.  Judy is responsible for the regular updating of Yates Garden Guide, the best selling Australian gardening book.

Judy is one of the weekend regulars who answers garden questions on ABC 702 “Weekends with Simon Marnie” program.  She also has a regular spot on 2UE on Thursday afternoons and takes part in interviews on a number of other radio stations.  Judy has filled in for both Graham Ross and Don Burke on their respective shows and is a popular guest speaker at garden shows, such as Canberra’s Floriade, as well as garden clubs.  More details, contact your travel agent or APT.

Sandra Tiltman   PHOTOS:  John Pond


September 16, 2013
Sandra Tiltman with hanging basket

Sandra Tiltman with hanging basket

After the huge success of the inaugural Australian Garden Show Sydney, held in Centennial Park recently, Event Director Anthony Bastic has announced that it will return again next year.  “The Australian Garden Show Sydney will be back at Centennial Park in the first week of spring in 2014. We’ve been overwhelmed by the positive feedback from both the public and those participating in the event” said Anthony.

In just twelve days leading up to the event, thirteen display gardens were built within the seven acre site.

Over a hundred exhibitors offered everything from water features, decking, outdoor sculptures and furniture, to flower bouquets, books, party décor, rare plants and landscaping supplies.

The People’s Choice Award was presented to Brendan Moar, who had earlier been awarded Best In Show, for his Inspirational garden “Suspended”.

“As a first time event, this show has really impressed the gardening world at large. The quality of the gardens, exhibitors and presenters has been outstanding” said NGHA UK Garden Designer of the Year and Chelsea Flower Show judge, Andrew Fisher Tomlin.

One of my favourite activities at the show was in the Lindeman’s Garden where I had so much fun getting my hands dirty while making a hanging basket.  After choosing two flowering plants and a herb from the selection available, all for no charge, it was time to scoop the potting mix into the basket and arrange the plants as artistically as I could. Once completed, I was able to take it home to remind me of the show. I hope this will be included again next year.

Sandra Tiltman      Photo:  John Pond


September 16, 2013
Noumea's Anse Vata Bay - Perfect for Sailing

Noumea’s Anse Vata Bay – Perfect for Sailing

This year’s Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race will again see Jean Luc Esplaas and his New Caledonian crew taking part when the yachts leave Sydney on 26 December headed for Tasmania.

The crew of 41 SUD has participated several times in this famous blue water classic. They gained a third place in their category in 1998, which was the worst year in terms of dangerous conditions and loss of lives since the inauguration of the race.

Recently 41 SUD was the only New Caledonian yacht to take part in the Noumea Sail 2012 race.  In a race that was hampered by extremely difficult navigational conditions, 41 SUD crossed the line in second place.

41 SUD is a 12 metre Archambault 40, designed for regattas and races with difficult navigational conditions. Its 9/10 tapered mast is very balanced, with rigid sails and handles both fair weather and strong winds with ease. 41 SUD is also equipped with a carbon tiller and telescopic stick for dispatch of large sails.

New Caledonia with its tourquoise waters and warm sunny climate is the perfect place for 41 SUD’s crew to get in some practice before coming to Sydney to compete in the famous race.

Located in the South Pacific and only 2½ hours flying time from Sydney, New Caledonia is home to 245,580 inhabitants and boasts the largest lagoon in the world, listed as a World Heritage Site in 2008 by Unesco. The main island or “Mainland” is 400 kilometres long with the Isle of Pines in the south, the Belep archipel to the north and the Loyalty Islands of Lifou, Mare and Ouvea to the east.

Sounds like 41 SUD will be offering a serious challenge this year.

Sandra Tiltman    PHOTO:  John Pond