July 30, 2016


Gap Creek Falls - Watagans S

Wanting a getaway not too far from Sydney, Lake Macquarie has an inspiring array of outdoor activities and winter is the ideal time to enjoy the natural beauty of the area. Take advantage of smaller crowds and make the most of sunny winter days with brisk hikes, brilliant birdwatching, fabulous fishing and coastal cycling, then retire to cosy accommodation to enjoy regional wines and local cuisine on a wonderful wintry break by the lake.

Winter days are made for exploring on foot and Lake Macquarie is bursting with bushwalks ideal for every ability, from strolling through to heavy-duty hiking. Enjoy diverse scenery including lush rainforests, rugged headlands, pristine beaches and the lovely lakefront.

Kids on water

The Belmont Lagoon Walk, set between ocean and lake, is a 5 kilomtre return trail that teems with wildlife, especially during winter mornings and late afternoons when birdlife is at its most active.

Nestled deep within the Watagan Mountains, the lush 1.7km Gap Creek Falls Trail features red cedars and strangler figs as it winds its way to one of the Hunter region’s most spectacular waterfalls.

For those who love to cycle, you’ll find cycling paths galore. From winding coastal roads, pretty villages, stunning lakeside scenery, dense forests and heaps of heritage, there’s a cycling adventure suitable for everyone. There’s no need to even bring your bike along as there are plenty of places to hire one.

The Warners Bay Foreshore is the ideal path for beginners, with the track following the lake via the elevated Redbluff Boardwalk. With rides from 500 metres to two kilometres long, the Wangi Wangi area is renowned for its bushland and gorgeous lake views. The Fernleigh Track is an intriguing 16km path that follows an original restored heritage railway corridor, taking in stunning wetlands and an iconic bush landscape between Lake Macquarie and Newcastle.

For those who love to fish, the tranquil waters of massive Lake Macquarie are teeming with bream, mullet, tailor and garfish galore, especially during winter.

Caves Beach S

Lake Macquarie offers a wide range of cosy accommodation from mountain hideaways to lakeside retreats. The newly renovated Esplanade Motel, Warners Bay is close to the boutiques and restaurants, just a short stroll to the northern end of the lake.

Bluebell Retreat, which accommodates up to six, on the eastern shore of the Lake, is the ultimate relaxation retreat. Enjoy the expansive bushland setting and water views to watch the winter sun set at this eco-award winning house.

Selby Cottage is a turn of the century charming blue weatherboard, self-contained private cottage, surrounded by luscious gardens with water lapping the verandah. Nestled on the banks of Lake Macquarie, it is the perfect place to relax and unwind.

Sandra Tiltman


July 30, 2016
Louise Hearman's "Barry"

Louise Hearman’s “Barry”

The announcement of the winners of the Archibald, Wynne and Sulman Prizes is one of the most exciting and eagerly awaited events in the Art Gallery of New South Wales’ calendar.

This year’s exhibition features 51 portraits of fascinating Australian personalities from George Calombaris, Toni Zeltzer, Linda Jackson, Garry McDonald, Peter Weiss AO and Wendy Whiteley plus 34 works for the Wynne Prize and 25 works for the Sulman Prize.

Ester Stewart's Sulman Prize winning "Flatland Dreaming"

Ester Stewart’s Sulman Prize winning “Flatland Dreaming”

Each year, the trustees of the Art Gallery of NSW judge the Archibald & Wynne, but invite an artist to judge the Sulman.

Women artists have taken all three awards this year, with Melbourne artist Louise Hearman winning the 2016 Archibald Prize for ‘Barry’, her portrait of iconic Australian Barry Humphries. The Ken Family Collaborative (Tjungkara Ken, Yaritji Young, Maringka Tunkin, Freda Brady and Sandra Ken) won the Wynne Prize for ‘Seven Sisters’ and Esther Stewart the Sulman Prize for ‘Flatland Dreaming’.

Michael Brand, Art Gallery of New South Wales Director, said this is the first time that all three prizes have been won by women artists only. Of the 51 finalists in this year’s Archibald Prize, 25 were women artists. Lucy Culliton actually had works in each of the Archibald, Wynne and Sulman Prizes.

First awarded in 1921, the Archibald Prize for the best portrait painting, is perhaps Australia’s best known and most prestigious art award. From politicians to celebrities, sporting heroes to artists and anyone else in between, the portrait subjects are a who’s who of Australian culture.


The Wynne Prize is awarded to the best landscape painting of Australian scenery or figure sculpture while the Sulman Prize is awarded to the best subject painting, genre painting or mural project in oil, acrylic, watercolour or mixed media.

A week prior to these announcements, Melbourne artist Betina Fauvel-Ogden, with her portrait of renowned chef, restaurateur and MasterChef Australia judge George Calombaris, won the Packing Room Prize. This prize is awarded to the best entry in the Archibald Prize, as judged by the gallery staff who receive, unpack and hang the entries. The head of the Art Gallery of New South Wales packing room, Steve Peters, with 51% of the vote, gets the final say.

On display at the Art Gallery of New South Wales until 9 Oct 2016.

Sandra Tiltman      Photos: John Pond


July 23, 2016


Blazing Baroque creative CRH 1080w x 450h

The Australian Brandenburg Orchestra’s latest production of “Blazing Baroque” features stunning concertos, rare combinations of instruments and powerful masterpieces all performed by today’s baroque stars, at the City Recital Hall in Angel Place, Sydney.

With a program that includes music by Vivaldi, Telemann, Sammartini and Fasch, the audience will experience the passion, intensity and drama the performers bring to the stage. Modern and edgy in their time, these compositions are brought to life by the stars of the Brandenburg, with their unique flair, dynamic playing and exciting and challenging exploration of period music, the musicians are modern baroque stars. They bring a vibrant energy to the stage, engaging the audience with an intimacy as if they were in the salon of a great house in the 18th century. This is a celebration of the orchestra and the music.

Artistic Director and Conductor, Paul Dyer AO said “Sometimes ABO audiences just want the Brandenburg. They are devoted to the players and they love pure baroque music with a passion.  This is the perfect program for our loyal and cherished fans.”

This is a wonderful opportunity to hear stunning baroque concertos in rare combinations of instruments.

The spotlight will also be on the musicians as they take turns as soloist.

Blazing Baroque will be performing at City Recital Hall, 2 Angel Place Sydney from 27 & 29 July and 3, 5 & 6 August at 7 pm
 with a Matinee on 6 August at 2 pm.

Sandra Tiltman


July 23, 2016


Bondi Beach recently attracted interested onlookers who came to view a ‘see through loo’, which was located on the promenade beside the iconic Bathing Pavilion.

The ‘see through loo’ was on display to raise awareness for the global sanitation crisis and the sad fact that 1 in 3 women worldwide don’t have access to a toilet. Because these women don’t have access to a toilet, they are forced to go out in the open where they risk attack, shame, rape and deadly disease.

DSC09475 (1)Quick to draw a crowd, this ‘see through loo’ gave those who were interested, the opportunity to experience what life would be like without the clean bathrooms we have become accustomed to.

Domestos has partnered with UNICEF and pledge to globally help 25 million people get access to a clean and safe toilet by 2020. Women are particularly vulnerable to the sanitation crisis, as the lack of access to a safe toilet exposes them to the risk of violence and harassment, plus it affects school attendance, thereby perpetuating cycles of inequality. Women and girls living without a toilet spend 97 billion hours each year looking for a private place to go. Time that could be much better utilised.

Krstina Nicolai, Domestos Brand Manager said “Domestos is passionate about supporting this campaign as we know how vital toilets are in empowering women and giving them a better future. We are urging all Australians to take notice and take action. We have committed to build toilets in communities where they are needed and every bottle of Domestos sold makes a contribution”.

Felicity Wever, Head of International Programs at UNICEF Australia added “The partnership is enabling UNICEF to reach vulnerable girls, women and families around the world to provide access to proper sanitation facilities to reduce the spread of disease and improve education outcomes”.

Every specially marked bottle of Domestos sold from July to December 2016 contributes directly to tackling the global sanitation crisis.

Sandra Tiltman     Photos: John Pond

Girls gather outside a school after attending a Participatory learning and action session at a school in village Ghadoli, Mirzapur, Uttar Pradesh.


July 19, 2016


No season would be complete at Sydney’s Genesian Theatre in Kent Street without presenting one of Agatha Christie’s gripping tales. “Appointment With Death” is this year’s chosen production and it will have you guessing, right from the very start, which member of the cast is to be “killed off” and which one “did it”.

posterAll the action happens in the rose red city of Petra, where the characters or “suspects” are holidaying in an exotic hotel. Set in the hotel foyer, we meet each of the cast and immediately start looking for clues as we get to know their personalities. Mrs Boynton stands out as being particularly horrible, amongst a group of equally nasty characters, all with a motive to cause trouble. Once the murder has occurred, the clues all come to light, as the audience trys to play detective. Naturally every character seems to have a motive and with plenty of red herrings, we are left to the very end trying to guess who the guilty one is.

Directed by Barry Nielsen, with costumes designed by Susan Carveth and lighting by Michael Schell, the scene is set for the actors to draw the audience into the mystery. The set designed by Owen Gimblett gives the production a genuine atmosphere of being in the old mysterious Middle East. I loved the elevator in the hotel foyer, a clever touch.

“Appointment With Death” is currently playing at The Genesian Theatre until 20 August 2016 on Friday and Saturday nights at 8pm
 with a Sunday matinée at 4.30pm. The performance runs for two and a half hours with an interval.

Sandra Tiltman    


July 11, 2016

IMG_9457 (1)

One of the most exciting events in the Art Gallery of New South Wales calendar is the announcement of the Packing Room Prize winner. The cash prize of $1500 is awarded to the best entry in the Archibald Prize, as judged by the gallery staff who receive, unpack and hang the entries. The head of the Art Gallery of New South Wales packing room, Steve Peters, with 51% of the vote, gets the final say.

Bettina Fauvel-Ogden with George Calombaris

Bettina Fauvel-Ogden with George Calombaris

The 2016 winning portrait of renowned chef, restaurateur and MasterChef Australia judge, George Calombaris is by Adelaide-born Melbourne artist, Betina Fauvel-Ogden. It is the first time that Betina, who paints urban landscapes and occasionally portraits, has entered the Archibald Prize.

Last year she set her sights on a portrait of Calombaris, despite at that stage never having met him. Betina said “I was always interested in

Steve Peters, Head of Packing Room

Steve Peters, Head of Packing Room

George Calombaris as a subject as I felt there was an intensity to his character and after eight months pursuing him, George gave up his valuable time to allow me three sittings. I wanted to paint him in his chef’s white jacket and black apron. In choosing the pose, George felt most comfortable with his hands on his hips. I kept the lighting simple and focused on capturing the determination in his eyes. I had always envisaged a vibrant yellow background for the portrait. When George gave me his cookbook ‘Greek’ with its bold yellow cover, as a gift at the first sitting, that clinched it”.

Sandra Tiltman     Photos: John Pond



July 9, 2016

Cirque du Soleil_KOOZA_Charivari_Photos Matt Beard Costumes Marie-Chantale Vaillancourt 2012 Cirque du Soleil LR

Cirque du Soleil will arrive in Australia next month to present Kooza, a death defying, colourful homage to the traditions of circus. The national tour will begin in Sydney on 25 August 2016, where Kooza will be performed under the famous blue and yellow Big Top at The Showring in the Entertainment Quarter, Moore Park.

Since its premiere in Montreal in 2007, Kooza has been seen by over 7 million people around the world and is currently delighting audiences in Santiago, Chile, where the season will wrap up on 31 July. The tonnes of equipment and over 1,000 costume pieces will then be loaded onto two 747s to make their way to Australia.

Cirque du Soleil_KOOZA_Photos Matt Beard Costumes Marie-Chantale Vaillancourt 2012 Cirque du Soleil_TeeterBoard_068_LRIn this eighth Big Top show to tour Australia, Cirque du Soleil rediscovers its origins with a return to the intimate and fundamental human elements of circus, combining thrilling acrobatic performances with the art of clowning. We follow “The Innocent” as he takes a journey of self-discovery through a comic kingdom of eccentric characters, electrifying thrills and out of the box surprises. Presented in a colorful mélange, Kooza springs open like a bejeweled toy box to capture the audience’s imagination.

The international cast of 50 acrobats, musicians, singers and actors will present heart stopping feats and laugh out loud antics to a live soundtrack fusion of jazz, funk and Bollywood beats.

Kooza’s cast and crew represent twenty nationalities: Australia, Belarus, Brazil, Canada, China, Chile, Colombia, France, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Moldova, Mongolia, Netherlands, Russia, Spain, Trinidad & Tobago, United States of America and United Kingdom.

From its beginnings in 1984 with a group of 20 street performers, Cirque du Soleil has grown into a major organisation based in Québec that provides high quality artistic entertainment. The company has close to 4,000 employees, including 1,300 artists from more than 50 different countries.

Kooza is a show the whole family will enjoy.

Sandra Tiltman

Cirque du Soleil_KOOZA_Photos Matt Beard Costumes Marie-Chantale Vaillancourt 2012 Cirque du Soleil_03_Charivari_138_LR