August 14, 2016


Sydney seems to have a huge selection of bars, but hey, there’s always room for one more, especially at Circular Quay.

Inspired by the grand plantation architecture of Cuba and mixed with the luxury modern vintage hotels of 1950’s Miami, “Hacienda” is located in the Pullman Quay Grand Sydney Harbour. With fabulous views of the Harbour Bridge and cruise ships docked at the Overseas Passenger Terminal, plus the many ferries darting around the harbour, Hacienda is a great place to relax with a cocktail, day or evening.


Sandra Tiltman enjoying a cocktail

I tried two of Hacienda’s signature cocktails during my recent visit, but I still can’t make up my mind as to which was my favourite. The “Bottled Mojito” of Blanco rum, crème de menthe, lime, mint, falernum, orange bitters and “Old Presidente” made from aged rum, orange curacao, house spiced raspberry syrup & Angostura bitters served in a smoked rocks glass had me wanting more. Both had my vote as being up there with some of the best cocktails I have tasted. Glad I had my designated driver by my side.

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Great drinks are not all that’s on offer at Hacienda. Award winning Executive Chef Stefan Brademann is at the helm of the kitchen, with a menu inspired by Cuba’s traditional trading partners and their local, abundant ingredients, to create dishes unique to Hacienda. With Latin and American delights such as blackened rice crisps topped with crab & finger lime, scallop ceviche, Yucca fries with red pepper sauce, Cajun spiced grilled prawns and Hacienda’s signature Cuban Reuben of Cuban spiced homemade pastrami, smokey cheese & Marrickville pickles, Hacienada is a foodie venue as well as a bar.

Hacienda prides itself on sharp service, a stylish drinks selection and delicious food in a truly unique Sydney setting.

Sandra Tiltman      Photos: John Pond


November 18, 2015

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New hotel openings are always cause for celebration and much excitement. As 2015 draws to a close, Sydney will be feeling the glamour, when one of the finest examples of art deco chic will be returned to the city, with the opening of the 5 star Primus Hotel Sydney.

Breathtaking in its scope and scale, the extraordinary interior of this 1930’s heritage listed building, which once housed The Sydney Water Board head office, is unique to the city. Having laid concealed for over 60 years, the building has been faithfully and intricately restored to its former glory and now presents an unparalleled sense of grandeur and elegance. After two years of construction, the Primus Hotel Sydney features a striking staircase, eight metre high rare scagliola columns and deco era timber panelling.

Australia’s leading global architecture and design practice, Woods Bagot, were appointed to lead the refit, protecting and showcasing the building’s landmark heritage values. The intimate atmosphere developed through the use of green terracing and indoor/outdoor spaces will be ideal for relaxing and escaping the lively street level environment and guests will be treated to the city’s most impressive urban resort at the rooftop pool and bar.

Located near the Sydney Town Hall, close to Hyde Park, theatres and the city’s shopping heart, the 172 room Primus Hotel Sydney will offer guests international five star standards and personal service, plus a blend of traditional and contemporary touches that define the modern hotel.

The hotel will offer a collection of high-end dining and experience offerings, including a restaurant helmed by emerging and recently awarded Head Chef, Ryan Hong, whose menu reflects produce driven contemporary cuisine, with an Asian twist. The lobby bar will form part of the hotel’s central sanctum and like the grand European hotels, will be the perfect place to sit and people watch while relaxing with a cocktail or glass of wine.

The remarkable public lobby with its towering ceilings, Presidential Suite and a ballroom fit for the highest of occasions, will see the hotel placed amongst the city’s most prestigious accommodation offerings.

The hotel marks the grand entrance of Greenland International Hotels Group into Australia. The creation of a new laneway will connect Primus Hotel Sydney with its neighboring Greenland Centre, which once completed, will stand as the tallest residential building ever to grace the Sydney skyline.

Sandra Tiltman


November 18, 2015


Photographer Lisa Tomasetti’s latest exhibition titled “The Australian Ballet on the International Stage” is running from 18-25 November at M Contemporary, 37 Ocean St Woollahra. Lisa is an award winning stills photographer and visual artist since 1990.

The exhibit features stunning photos of the Australian Ballet on their international tours in Paris, Tokyo and New York. In this series, the dancers are removed from the highly controlled interior environment of the stage and taken outside to the streets of multiple city locations. The images capture the energy, grace and passion for movement, embodied by the dancers and juxtapose the classical form with the gritty urban landscape of these iconic cities.


As well as an opening reception there will be a special celebration with champagne and cupcakes on Sunday 22 November, with dancers from the Australian Ballet and David Graeme McAllister AM, Artistic Director of The Australian Ballet in attendance.

Sandra Tiltman


December 6, 2014
Where MSC Orchestra’s Grand Voyage Begins

Where MSC Orchestra’s Grand Voyage Begins

While cruising the Mediterranean, from Athens to Venice, at the height of this year’s European Summer, it seemed like every port we visited there was always one of MSC’s large white elegant ships already docked. Not surprising really, as MSC is synonymous with the Mediterranean.

Their modern luxury cruise ship fleet exudes Italian style and comfort, so no matter which one of their twelve ships you choose to sail on, the experience will be one to remember.

From Italy, Spain, the Greek Islands, Turkey, Croatia, France, Greece and Northern Africa they have the Mediterranean covered and with their flexible embarkation ports, joining a cruise could not be easier.

MSC funnelMSC also sail further afield with their programme of Grand Voyages, allowing passengers to enjoy such regions as the Caribbean, South America and Africa. Now it’s Australia’s turn to welcome MSC to our shores.

MSC Orchestra will embark on her maiden voyage to Australia when she sets sail from Dubai on 21 February 2015. The 33 night Grand Voyage will visit many exciting ports such as Mumbai and Cochin in India, followed by Colombo, Phuket and Langkawi before arriving in Singapore, where there will be an overnight stay, giving passengers plenty of time to explore this ever changing city. Benoa, on the Indonesian island of Bali, will be the final Asian port before cruising on to Australia.

Cairns is the first Australian port of the Grand Voyage, with MSC Orchestra due to arrive on 13 March 2015. From Cairns she will begin a partial circumnavigation of the Australian Coast. After visiting Brisbane, it’s Sydney’s turn to greet her and where she will make another overnight stay prior to visiting Melbourne, Adelaide and finally Fremantle on 26 March 2015.

Sophia Loren, MSC Orchestra's Godmother

Sophia Loren, MSC Orchestra’s Godmother

Lynne Clarke, Managing Director of MSC Cruises Australia and New Zealand said “We are thrilled to be bringing MSC Orchestra to Australian waters. We will be equally excited for our loyal passengers to have the chance to see the cruise ship in their home waters.”

MSC Orchestra was launched on 14 May 2007, the second of the ‘Musica-class’ line of cruise ships that offer a blend of design, comfort and safety, along with MSC Cruises’ signature Italian style. In tune with the musical theme, her decks are named after the instruments in an orchestra such as Mandolino, Clarinetto, Saxofono and Violino.

Passengers will be spoilt for choice with so many dining options. The two main restaurants, L’Ibiscus and Villa Borghese, serve a selection of fresh produce, ranging from traditional and tasty Mediterranean fare to the most refined international dishes. La Piazzetta buffet restaurant also offers a large variety of Italian and international cuisine. The speciality Shanghai Chinese Restaurant serves Szechuan style food from the spicy northern region as well as Cantonese, the sweeter fare of the south. Mid-morning Dim Sum specialties from every region of China are also available.

Kids are not forgotten with their very own Jungle Adventure playroom and teens can meet in the Teen’s Club.

Sandra Tiltman    Photos: John Pond


November 21, 2013


Australians are known the world over for their quirky senses of humour and I can’t imagine any other country except Australia celebrating their national holiday, held to honour their land, with dunny races.

The celebration of the old Australian outdoor toilet is held each year on Australia Day, at the wonderfully crooked structure that is the Ettamogah Pub.  Other events held in previous years have included keg lifting and mullet tossing, but political correctness appears to have crept into the fun and in 2014 these events have been replaced by a tug of war and vintage car expo. The Ettamogah Pub is based on the cartoon creation of Ken Maynard which was regularly published in the now defunct Australasian Post.

GFF Festival 2012_046The Ettamogah Pub is located at Aussie World, a theme park featuring more than 30 rides and games in the Sunshine Coast suburb of Palmview.

Queensland’s Sunshine Coast has plenty to offer and entice visitors this summer.  With both Sunshine Coast Airport and Brisbane Airport providing easy access to coastal and Hinterland attractions, the region is an ideal holiday destination for short or long stays.

Although famous for having some of Australia’s finest beaches, that’s just the start of what’s available.

If festivals are what you enjoy, visitors can experience an eclectic mix of memorable holiday fun, less than 30 minutes drive from the coast, including the legendary Woodford Folk Festival running from 27 December to 1 January, the Ginger Flower & Food Festival from 17-19 January and on 26 January, the famous Australia Day Dunny Races at Ettamogah Pub.

The Woodford Folk Festival offers a range of ticket options so that holidaymakers can combine earthy folk with a traditional beach holiday. This year’s Festival features over 500 acts spread across 28 venues and six days. Highlights from the musical portion of the bill include Beth Orton, Tim Finn, Clare Bowditch, and Julian Marley. In addition, the GREENhouse venue will host environmental workshops, information sessions and debates, while The Parlour and the Bazaar will feature theatrical presentations including Hot Brown Honey Burlesque, sideshow stunt performers The Dirty Brothers, one-man murder mystery Birdmann, and Woodford’s annual game show the Festival of Fortune.

The Ginger Flower & Food Festival in January highlights one of the world’s most versatile plants. Ginger or ginger root is consumed as a delicacy, medicine or spice and the Sunshine Coast’s Ginger Factory located at Yandina, will be showcasing the plant’s remarkable role as both an essential ingredient to food and as a beautiful flower. There will be specialist workshops, demonstrations and tastings.  Children will enjoy it as much as their parents, with rides and entertainment plus a tasty array of ginger-infused smoothies, cordials and gingerbread men.

Just a short walk from the Ginger Factory is Nutworks & the Chocolate Factory that holds hands-on chocolate workshops throughout the holidays.

The Spirit House, also at Yandina, set in lush tropical gardens nestled around a tranquil pond, bubbling waterfalls and the sounds of nature, offers hands-on cooking classes and award winning contemporary Asian food throughout the summer break.

Sandra Tiltman 


October 13, 2013

IMG_2100Melbourne medical student Olivia Wells, who was recently crowned Miss Universe Australia 2013, is studying a Bachelor of Medicine & Surgery at Monash University and has hopes of assisting underprivileged countries that require medical assistance.

Miss Universe Australia is a national beauty pageant of Australia that selects the representative to the Miss Universe pageant.

Olivia will soon be heading to Russia, where she will be Australia’s representative at Donald Trump’s International Pageant, to be held in Moscow on 9 November 2013, where hopefully she will win the coveted crown.

Miss Universe Australia in conjunction with Face of Australia Cosmetics staged the “Face of Australia Cosmetics National Costume Competition” for emerging designers to create and design the Australian National Costume to be paraded by Olivia in Moscow.  Queensland Designer, Jason Chectcuti, was announced as the winner with a design that was inspired by the curves of the female form, the blue incorporating our beach culture and the feathers on the dress representing Australia’s wildlife.  Jason studied in Paris and has worked on Project Runway Australia.

The National Costume Launch Presented by Face of Australia Cosmetics held an exclusive Runway Show in Sydney recently at L’Aqua, which showcased a sneak preview of Jason’s winning design, which was paraded by Olivia Wells.

The runway show also featured Adelaide designer Paolo Sebastian’s beautiful handcrafted evening gown that Olivia will wear in the contest.  The parade also included a collection of dresses that will Olivia will take with her to Moscow as part of her wardrobe.

Miss Universe is the second most watched event in the world with over 3 billion viewers, following the World Cup.

Sandra Tiltman  PHOTO:  John Pond  



October 13, 2013

Coast S6Neil Oliver, historian, archaeologist and presenter of acclaimed BBC TV series such as Coast, Vikings and A History of Ancient Britain, is coming to Sydney for a fascinating live show at the State Theatre on Wednesday, 4 December at 8 pm, presented by Lateral Events and BBC Worldwide Australia & New Zealand (ANZ). Neil Oliver – History in the Making will coincide with the broadcast of Oliver’s new series Coast Australia on Foxtel in December.

In History in the Making, Neil will bring British and Australian history to life and will give a unique insight into the intriguing and turbulent Dark Ages era in Britain, when King Arthur was rumoured to have held court and the Saxons and Vikings invaded.

“For me, the characters and events of the past are every bit as exciting as breaking news today. I want everyone to feel the same excitement about these stories as I do, even a sense of personal connection to them, so I am very much looking forward to presenting History in the Making live on stage in Sydney and Melbourne,” said Neil Oliver. “We’ll be evoking some of the most exciting periods of history and bringing them to life. If you’ll excuse the pun this will be a ground breaking experience!”

Neil will also discuss his new series Coast Australia, in which he has gathered stories, amazing facts and revelations about Australia’s own history, people, archaeology, geography and marine life. Neil has recently completed filming Coast Australia for The History Channel which starts Monday, 2 December at 7.30 pm.

Trained as an archaeologist and journalist, Neil made his television debut in the BBC’s Two Men in a Trench which featured Neil and close friend Tony Pollard visiting historic battlefields and recreating the battle situations using state of the art archaeological techniques.

Sandra Tiltman