December 16, 2015
200th Birthday Patron, His Excellency General The Honourable David Hurley AC DSC (Ret’d), Governor of New South Wales

200th Birthday Patron, His Excellency General The Honourable David Hurley AC DSC (Ret’d), Governor of New South Wales

Lion Gate Lodge in Mrs Macquaries Road was the setting for Sydney’s Royal Botanic Garden to launch the celebrations for their 200th Birthday Programme in 2016 and showcasing the year long plans they have in store for this historic milestone through events, projects and a range of new opportunities for the community to enjoy.

200th Birthday Patron, His Excellency General The Honourable David Hurley AC DSC (Ret’d), Governor of New South Wales gave an informative speech, detailing the history of the Royal Botanic Garden through to future plans that will enhance both visitor numbers and scientific usage.

The Garden is already among the top ten tourist destinations in Australia and is recognised as one of the top ten most beautiful botanic gardens in the world. In 2016 everyone will be encouraged to come and discover what makes the Garden such an iconic destination.


As Australia’s oldest continuously operating scientific institution, the Garden has been at the heart of Sydney’s horticultural, cultural, educational and scientific life for 200 years.

Naturalist Charles Darwin visited the Garden in 1836, 23 years before his ground breaking book, “On The Origin Of Species” was published. Darwin maintained a long distance working relationship with Charles Moore, Director of the Royal Botanic Garden. A signed first edition of Darwin’s book is stored at the Garden today.

The Garden was also home to Sydney’s first zoo, which opened in 1862. Monkeys, an anteater and a Chinese deer were among the many exotic animals on display. The zoo relocated to Moore Park in 1883.

In 1901 a Herbarium was added to the Garden which today stores over 1.2 million preserved specimens and has samples from Sir Joseph Banks and Dr Daniel Solander’s collections, dating back to 1770.

Before the advent of DNA research, archives from plants and seeds kept at the Garden famously helped NSW Police crack the Graeme Thorne kidnapping/murder case of the 1960’s, amongst other crimes.

DSC07709Kim Ellis, Executive Director, Botanic Gardens & Centennial Parklands advised that celebrations will start with a special surprise during the Sydney New Year’s Eve fireworks, then will move into the award winning Tomato Festival, the fantastic Treecycle exhibition and the prestigious Florilegium. The Garden will be lit up during Vivid and will bring the International Garden Photographer of the Year exhibition to Sydney.

The key legacy of the 200th Birthday programme will be the opening of The Calyx, an engaging and inspirational living art gallery with state of the art, rotating botanical interactive exhibitions that will excite and educate. This new world class attraction will be the first of its kind in Australia and will feature the largest indoor green wall in Australia.

The 200th Birthday programme will also see the Garden leap into the 21st century digitally, with a cutting edge new website, social platforms, blog and an extension of its eLearning programs that will enable regional communities to benefit from the Garden’s expertise through eConference facilities that have delivered education programs into China.

Sandra Tiltman Photos: John Pond 



December 16, 2015

Willows 09 Cast A1549 LO RES

Kenneth Grahame’s immortal story of life on the riverbank, “The Wind in the Willows”, is returning to the beautiful surrounds of the Royal Botanic Garden, Sydney, continuing its well loved summer tradition as a favourite family entertainment.

Playing from Wednesday 6 January to Saturday 23 January 2016, this rollicking yet gentle adventure, starring the pompous, arrogant, vain, hilarious Toad, is a favourite with children everywhere.  Toad, along with his better behaved friends, Ratty, Mole, Otter and Badger, as well as the rascally Weasel, have come to life every summer for the past 14 years providing enchanting and lively entertainment for all the family.

This critically acclaimed outdoor theatre production delivers music, songs and laughs. There is fun for young and old as the Head Chief Rabbit transforms the audience into rabbits with a waggle of the ears and a wiggle of the nose. The young ‘rabbits’ are encouraged to get involved in the action, and are given every opportunity to scream out loud, sing along and become part of the adventure. With laughs and surprises for children and adults, this is interactive theatre at its best.

Pack a picnic, pack the kids and head on down to the riverbank at 10.30am & 6pm Wednesday to Saturday (no show 10.30am on 6 Jan, no 6pm on Sat 9 Jan). Single Tickets $25, Family of Four $90.

Sandra Tiltman


December 16, 2015
Abby Earl - Flickerfest's "Marilyn"

Abby Earl – Flickerfest’s “Marilyn”

FLiCKERFEST, Australia’s only Academy® accredited and BAFTA recognised short film festival, recently held their official launch event to kick off the summer film festival season for 2016.

Celebrating its 25th year, the launch was held at Icebergs Dining Room & Bar, overlooking Bondi Beach where Festival Director, Bronwyn Kidd, who continues to be the driving force behind FLiCKERFEST, spoke to the crowd about the sensational year to come. Once again, Bronwyn and the selection committee have received record numbers of film submissions (over 2,400 this year) and will tailor the 2016 programme to showcase the very best 100 films to audiences across Australia from January until May.

Those present enjoyed a night of entertainment, including world premiers of the official FLiCKERFEST trailer as well as a witty and moving short film developed and produced through The Exchange program, an initiative of Screen Australia’s Indigenous department.

Guests were treated to a world premier screening of the witty and moving, drama, “Nan And A Whole Lot Of Trouble” produced by Lois Randall, written by Sue McPherson and directed by Dena Curtis. Starring Noeleen Shearer, Pamela Young and Amba-Rose Atkinson, I really enjoyed watching this story which was told with warmth and humour. The film tackles cultural taboos around death and grief, highlighting the complexities and tensions that arise around culture, traditional and identity in a modern multicultural community, even within one family.
Another exciting part of the evening was watching the official FLiCKERFEST trailer which was unveiled for the very first time. Written and directed by talented Flickerfest alumni DSC07859Kacie Anning, the trailer sees a glamorous Marilyn Monroe (played by the gorgeous Abby Earl) descend upon Bondi Beach. The play on ‘Marilyn comes to Bondi’ culminates in Marilyn singing a very well deserved ‘happy birthday to Flickerfest’. Abby Earl leads a star-studded cast with additional appearances from Callan McAuliffe (The Great Gatsby, Flipped, I Am Number Four), Bruce ‘Hoppo’ Hopkins (Bondi Rescue) and Roy Billing (Underbelly – A Tale Of Two Cities).

FLiCKERFEST is second to none on the Australian short film festival circuit with loyal patrons of the event continuing to support the much loved and respected fixture on Sydney’s summer calendar. A selection of the festival’s fans who made it along to the launch included Alyssa McClelland, Anna Bamford, Abby Earl, Matt Day, Adrienne Pickering, Damian Walshe-Howling and Roy Billing to name a few.

Playing at the Bondi Pavilion, Bondi Beach from 8 January until 17 January 2016, FLiCKERFEST will run for ten days before taking the rest of the country by storm. The festival will screen at 50+ venues across Australia between January and May.

Tickets on sale and full programme released on 18 December 2015. Go to FLiCKERFEST website for all the details.

Sandra Tiltman   


December 16, 2015


The Australian curators of Vivid Sydney’s famous Light Walk and Sydney’s Lights of Christmas, AGB Events, will share their creative expertise with the city of Boston, Massachusetts, delivering a Holiday Season lighting spectacular in conjunction with local organisation Luminartz.

Anthony Bastic, Director of AGB Events and Curator of Vivid Light as part of Vivid Sydney said “We are thrilled to be sharing our creativity and celebrating the magic of the Holiday Season with Boston.” 
AGB Events are experts in large scale holiday lighting, providing Sydney-siders with the hugely popular Lights of Christmas at St Mary’s Cathedral for the past five years. The Lights of Christmas draws large annual crowds, cementing the event as a modern Christmas tradition in Sydney.

The façade of the Boston Public Library in Copley Square will be brilliantly illuminated with 3D digital animation this December.
 Forming part of Boston’s Holiday Season celebrations and kicking off a new festive tradition for the city, Mayor of Boston, Marty Walsh said; “I am pleased to welcome Anthony Bastic of AGB Events and a taste of Vivid Sydney to Boston. All who choose to come to Boston to celebrate will boost support for local businesses and secure the longevity of our most cherished traditions.”

AGB Events have also been responsible for other international offerings including the original iLight Marina Bay in Singapore and a stunning projection show in New Delhi, India as part of the OzFest showcase.

Sandra Tiltman     PHOTO: Anthony Bastic