August 11, 2013


Tourism will be the big winner following the announcement of the global premiere to be held in Sydney of “Strictly Ballroom The Musical”.

At Sydney Town Hall, in front of an audience of assembled media, New South Wales Premier, Barry O’Farrell, launched the forthcoming global premiere of Strictly Ballroom The Musical, along with co-writer and creator Baz Luhrmann.

“Sydney will host one on the most anticipated musicals in recent times.  Baz Luhrmann will undoubtedly dazzle our State’s theatre goers and generate more than $20 million in visitor expenditure for New South Wales over a six month run.  There are plenty of cities around the world that wanted to premiere Strictly Ballroom The Musical and I am very proud that Sydney was chosen over the likes of London and New York.  It’s a clear vote of confidence in Sydney as an events destination from Baz Luhrmann and producers Carmen Pavlovic and Gerry Ryan of Global Creatures” said Mr O’Farrell.

NSW Premier, Barry O'Farrell with Baz Luhrmann

NSW Premier, Barry O’Farrell with Baz Luhrmann

Strictly Ballroom The Musical will be produced in Australia by Global Creatures and Bazmark together with the support of Destination NSW, the NSW Government’s tourism and major events agency and the City of Sydney.

Carmen Pavlovic, CEO, Global Creatures said “We believe that Sydney is the rightful beginning for Strictly Ballroom’s journey back to the stage and to ensure the international success and recognition it deserves.”

Minister for Tourism and Major Events, George Souris, commented “Strictly Ballroom The Musical has huge appeal and will attract audiences from all over Australia and across the globe.  We are committed to securing the best musicals and live performances to attract visitors to our state.  For each six month run of a first run musical about 7,000 overseas visitors and 26,000 interstate visitors come to Sydney.”

Originating as a stage play that Baz Luhrmann devised with a group of students at the National Institute of Dramatic Art in 1984, Strictly Ballroom The Musical is the inspiring story of a championship ballroom dancer who defies all the rules to follow his heart.

The new theatrical production will bring this iconic story to life on stage and will feature numbers from the film, Love is in the Air, Perhaps Perhaps Perhaps and Time After Time as well as newly composed songs.

DSC_1330Based on the much loved Australian film, Strictly Ballroom The Musical will dance its way onto the stage with the original creative team behind the classic 1992 film, including director and co-writer Baz Luhrmann, set and costume designer, Academy Award Winner, Catherine Martin, choreographer John “Cha Cha” O’Connell and co-writer Craig Pearce.

An announcement of cast and the rest of the creative team will be made in the near future

The story that inspired the world to dance, Strictly Ballroom The Musical, will hold its opening night at Sydney’s Lyric Theatre on 12 April 2014.  Previews will run from 25 March 2014.     Sandra Tiltman  

Photos:  John Pond



August 3, 2013
Vineyards Orange District

Vineyards Orange District

Three country regions within New South Wales that have become famous for their fine quality local produce will be showcasing their wares at specialised Food Fairs in the next few months.

The food and wine producers of these regions have well deserved reputations not only within Australia but world wide.

Taste Orange @ Sydney will kick off in the of heart of Sydney’s CBD, Martin Place, on 21 & 22August, giving Sydney siders the chance to taste some of the Orange region’s finest food and wine, cultivated in their cool climate and high altitude.

This two day event offers both day and night festivities, participate with “a trip to Orange in your lunchbreak” between 11.30am to 2.30pm plus a Pop Up Wine Bar from 5pm to 8pm.

In true country hospitality style, chef Kate Bracks will be just one of the friendly local faces to chat to, plus winemakers, tourist representatives, businesses and industry, all eager to share their love and pride for this historic region.

Black Duck Brewery's Alistair OwenTaste Orange @ Sydney has something for everyone, with free entry, wine and food tastings, giveaways, cooking demonstrations, live music & entertainment and 22 of the Orange and District region’s finest wineries, with wines on show from Borrodell Vineyard, Cargo Road, Charles Sturt University, Cumulus, Heifer Station and Logan amongst others.

The Southern Highlands Food & Wine Festival 2013 will be held in Bowral at the Bong Bong Picnic Race Course over the weekend of 21 & 22 September.  Visitors will be able to taste local food and fresh produce from the market stalls, plus sample wines by the glass, while listening to live music.  There will also be cooking demonstrations by local chefs.

The cool climate and rich soil of the Southern Highlands produce excellent fresh food and superb local wines of exceptional quality.

After the success of last year’s inaugural festival, this year’s event will welcome back many of the stall holders plus new producers, retailers, restauranteurs, chefs and wine makers.

The Festival runs from 10 am to 4 pm with $10 per person entry and free for children under 15.  Free shuttle buses from Bowral Train Station will transport visitors to the venue in Kangaloon Road.

Showcasing the region’s delectable food and wine, local produce, arts & crafts and retail outlets plus Chefs from the local restaurants will share their knowledge during live cooking demonstrations.  Some of the region’s wines, including riesling, pinot gris, sauvignon blanc, shiraz and cabernet sauvignon varietals, will be available for tasting and purchase.

Just 90 minutes drive south from Sydney, visitors can visit the festival as a day trip or stay overnight at one of the region’s hotels, inns or bed and breakfast establishments.

Breakfast In The Beds

Breakfast In The Beds

Port Macquarie is having a month long festival in October to celebrate the passion, creativity, bounty and variety from its farmers, vignerons, brewers, entertainers and artists.

The SBS Feast Tastings on Hastings food and wine festival commences 6 October with Breakfast in the Beds at Near River Organic Farm and concludes on 27 October with a huge free outdoor festival held throughout the Port Macquarie town centre and riverfront on Town Green, featuring more than 100 exhibitors who grow, bake and make the specialties of this fertile food bowl

To recognise the festival’s growth and commitment to sustainability, this year’s theme is ‘Green and Growing’.

The SBS Feast Cooking Demonstration Arena will feature Luke Nguyen, Gabriele Gate and Patrick Friese alongside local chefs, plus live music, children’s entertainment and wandering musicians.

Port Macquarie is a four hour drive north from Sydney or a one hour flight.

Explore their thriving foodie culture during October or anytime throughout the year. There are winery tours, tastings at boutique brewers, farmers markets and dining at award winning restaurants and cafes.   Sandra Tiltman


May 12, 2013

Pyrmont Festival of Food Wine & Art sm

The Pyrmont Festival of Wine, Food and Art is back again for a third year, running from 17 to 26 May 2013.

The Festival is a collaboration between the Pyrmont Ultimo Chamber of Commerce, City of Sydney and the Mudgee Region Tourism and Wine industry.  It provides a unique opportunity for Pyrmont, just 2km from the CBD, to demonstrate its diversity as a dining and lifestyle precinct with events at art galleries, Pyrmont Wharf, Pirrama Park, TAFE NSW, The Star and bottle shops, as well as restaurants, bars and cafes.

Commencing with an outdoor breakfast on Friday 17 May at Pyrmont Bay’s Doltone House, followed at 12.30 pm by lunch at Flying Fish, the program offers plenty of choice.  Another unique experience to be held on 22 May is The Apprentice at Tafe NSW Wine Dinner.

The free outdoor event, ‘Wine, Food and Art’, which this year has expanded into two days, will be held in Pirrama Park on Saturday 18 and Sunday 19 May, from 11am to 5pm.  Come and meet around 30 of Mudgee’s premium winemakers and taste from a selection of over 150 Mudgee wines, see the 7th Annual Pyrmont Art Prize, as well as enjoying all the food and entertainment, sounds like fun for the whole family.

For the first time, iconic Ultimo-Pyrmont cultural institutions will join in the celebrations, with events at the Australian National Maritime Museum, Powerhouse Museum and Sydney Heritage Fleet where one of the Festival’s concluding events of a wine and classical music concert ‘Music in the Sail’s’, will be held.

Other new events include Mudgee Region artists showcasing large works in a sculpture garden.

Pyrmont Festival's Huntington Estate breakfast at Dolton HousePyrmont chefs will team up with Mudgee Region winemakers with events at Café Morso with Bunnamagoo wines, Bar Zini with Cooks Lot wines, Pyrama with Vinifera Wines and Quilty Wines, and Blue Eye Dragon with Botobolar and Gooree Park.

Mudgee wine tastings will also be held at Fisherman’s Fine Wines at the Sydney Fish Markets, Porters Liquor and Red Bottle.

The Mudgee Region is 3.5 hours drive from Sydney and is one of the State’s first established wine regions.  It is renowned for its food and wine with around 40 family run boutique wineries, as well as excellent art, music, nature and history experiences.

After visiting the Festival and sampling some of the fantastic produce that the Mudgee region has to offer, I am sure that many people will be inspired to travel to Mudgee for a either a short break or a long weekend. Sandra Tiltman 



April 17, 2013
Auctioning Parched March Artwork

Auctioning Parched March Artwork

Sydney’s month long bar odyssey, Parched March, has come to an end for 2013. What better way to celebrate than having a huge event at The Lawn on the second level of The Ivy where guests enjoyed delicious cocktails, wines and canapés.

Amy Cooper, founder of Parched March, gave a speech thanking everyone involved before Simon Mercier, owner of a participating Parched March venue, Name This Bar, jumped on stage to auction off artworks created as part of Parched March. These included the Mambo Surfboard, Nacho Pop’s ‘Elephant’ artwork and Wade Osborne’s ‘Doggie Style’ artwork.  All money raised was donated to Animal Welfare League NSW.

“Parched March helps raise money for Animal Welfare League NSW by encouraging people to enjoy our city’s bars responsibly.  It proves that doing good doesn’t always mean depriving yourself.  It’s now become a much anticipated event on the Sydney social calendar, bringing friends and colleagues together as well as showcasing this city’s brilliant bar culture”, said Amy Cooper.

DSC_0635More than 60 Sydney bars mixed up special cocktails throughout March.  The annual “Good Times for a Good Cause” has been the biggest year yet with over $40,000 raised in total over the month, a new record and double of what Parched March raised last year.

Animal Welfare League protects animals through regulatory work with various Government bodies and helps to enforce legislation with a team of Inspectors who are on the ground every day. For pets in need, the Animal Welfare League provides customized care through a foster care and branch network, three shelters and veterinary hospital, working to find loving forever homes for animals in their care.

What a great series of events and I’m really looking forward for next year’s Parched March.  It makes March the most exciting month of the year.  Sandra Tiltman   Photos:  John  Pond


March 25, 2013
Del Kathryn Barton with her winning portrait

Del Kathryn Barton with her winning portrait

Del Kathryn Barton was named as this year’s winner of the 2013 Archibald Prize for her portrait entitled “hugo”, and receives a prize of $75,000.

Selected from 868 entries, the winning portrait of Sydney actor Hugo Weaving, was announced at the Art Gallery of New South Wales on Friday, 22 March.

Abdul Abdullah with his portrait of Boxer, Anthony Mundine "The Man"

Abdul Abdullah with his portrait of Boxer, Anthony Mundine “The Man”

First awarded in 1921 and now in its 92nd year, the Archibald Prize is judged by the Trustees of the Art Gallery of New South Wales.

Awarded annually to the best portrait, J.F. Archibald established the prize to foster portraiture and to perpetuate the memory of great Australians, distinguished in art, letters, science or politics and painted by any artist resident in Australasia.

Visitors to the Art Gallery of New South Wales can enter the “People’s Choice” competition, where they can nominate their favourite Archibald painting.  The winner will be announced on 16 May 2013.

The finalists will be on display at the Gallery until 2 June 2013.  They will then begin a regional tour of New South Wales and Victoria from 8 June 2013 to 29 June 2014.

Words & Photos:   Sandra Tiltman ©



March 12, 2013
Jamie Durie & Friend

Jamie Durie & Friend

The Animal Welfare League NSW will benefit again this year from Parched March, Sydney’s month long bar odyssey which is back again for the fourth year running.

Launched at The Loft on King Street Wharf by animal lover Jamie Durie and vet Dr Katrina Warren, the annual Good Times for a Good Cause is set to be the biggest yet, with more than 60 Sydney bars mixing up special cocktails throughout the month of March.  Every time you buy one of these cocktails at the participating bars, the venue will donate a portion of the price to the cause.  By taking on one of the Parched March challenges such as 30 Bars In 30 Days or Furry Friday Rescue, money can also be raised for the animals.

Founder Amy Cooper created the campaign, which celebrates sensible drinking and Sydney’s fabulous array of world-class bars.

“Parched March helps raise money for Animal Welfare League NSW by encouraging people to enjoy our city’s bars responsibly. It proves that doing good doesn’t always mean depriving yourself,” says Parched March Director, Amy Cooper.  “It’s now become a much-anticipated event on the Sydney social calendar, bringing friends and colleagues together as well as showcasing this city’s brilliant bar culture.”

Amy Cooper, Parched March Founder

Amy Cooper, Parched March Founder

The Animal Welfare League NSW is reliant on donations and is a dynamic organisation that works to save and improve the lives of pets that have been surrendered, neglected or abandoned.  They protect animals through regulatory work with various Government bodies and help to enforce legislation with a team of Inspectors who are on the ground every day. For pets in need, they provide customised care through a foster care and branch network, three shelters and veterinary hospital, while working to find loving forever homes for animals in their care.

To find out more and take up a Parched March challenge, visit      Sandra Tiltman.   Photos:  John Pond







July 7, 2012

The recent opening of “Chiswick”, co-owned and operated by Matt Moran and Peter Sullivan is a welcome addition to Sydney’s dining scene.  Diners in the Eastern Suburbs are glad to see Chiswick Gardens, the picturesque small park on Ocean Street Woollahra, is once again home to a restaurant.

I thought it would be just the place to take my partner John, to celebrate his birthday.  We both loved the light filled interior and as we were sitting beside the window we had beautiful views over the park.  The casual atmosphere was very pleasant and it was fun to look into the open kitchen where we could watch the chefs preparing and cooking the meals.

I particularly enjoyed my entrée of char grilled scallops.  My main of battered flathead fillets left me barely enough room to squeeze in dessert of rhubarb éclair, but I did manage to finish it off.

A pleasant surprise was having Matt Moran come to our table and chat for a few minutes.

Most of the beef and lamb served at Chiswick is sourced from the Moran Family Farm on the Central Tablelands in Rockley, New South Wales.  When not available from the farm, the meat is supplied by local butchers, Victor Churchill in Woollahra.  The on site garden provides many of the vegetables and herbs used by the chefs.

Several decades ago, Chiswick Gardens was the location of Pruniers, one of Sydney’s most well known restaurants.   Sandra T.   Photo:  John Pond