November 29, 2015


Don’t let the thought of snow and cold weather put you off travelling to New York City in winter, in fact, it’s a great time to visit this famous city that never sleeps. Hotels offer discounted rates and with less tourists, it’s easier to get around to see all the famous attractions.

A fun way to view some of the sights that may otherwise be overlooked is to take a film buffs tour with On Location Tours’ NYC TV & Movie Tour. Visit multiple locations from the silver screen and see over 40 sites from current and classic productions like Trainwreck, Spider-Man and When Harry Met Sally.

Spend a day channelling Holly Golightly, straight out of Breakfast at Tiffany’s, stroll through Central Park and visit the New York Public Library. Bring your morning danish to Tiffany & Co and gaze into their glittering display windows.


You can’t help but feel like a high roller, Gordon Gekko style, when you eat at Midtown’s 21 Club, then visit Christie’s and bid on something fancy, the way Samantha does in Sex and the City. Even if you don’t quite have the budget to engage in a bidding war, it’s worth visiting to see the vibrant Sol LeWitt mural and glimpse high society in action.

For those romantics, make yourself part of the most iconic shot from Manhattan, as you talk with someone special on a bench right beneath the Queensboro Bridge, where Sutton Square meets Riverview Terrace. Come in the early morning and you’ll feel like you have the City all to yourself.

Experience the magic of a glamorous night at the Metropolitan Opera like Nicholas Cage and Cher in Moonstruck. Feel resplendent dressed in your formal wear as you pass beneath the chandeliers and climb the majestic stairways.

Take a detour from Manhattan and swagger down to 86th Street in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn. Act like a disco don and enjoy two hot slices from Lenny’s Pizza, following John Travolta’s steps in Saturday Night Fever. The choice of wearing bell-bottoms is up to you.


The Staten Island Ferry is a great way to view the City’s skyline through the big picture windows. The ferry has enclosed seating, runs 24/7 and, best of all, it’s free.

You don’t have to stay at the Plaza Hotel to experience its extravagance. The palatial hotel’s restored Palm Court is open to all until midnight. Having a cocktail under the stained-glass ceiling gives you a taste of the high life. The opulent decor at Midtown’s Russian Tea Room, with its antique samovars, a golden tree with Venetian glass eggs and a nearly 20 foot bear-shaped aquarium, is another venue where you can experience the legend.

Shopping is a huge attraction for visitors to New York City. Saks Fifth Avenue’s monumental shoe department is so extensive, it has its own zip code (10022-SHOE). The couture displays will lure you into Bergdorf Goodman, Midtown’s landmark high-end department store and for more than a century, Macy’s in Herald Square has been synonymous with shopping. Their wooden escalators are a nod to that rich history and a 10% in-store discount for tourists is a reason to ride them.

Sandra Tiltman


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 7, 2013

Heather_credit Scott HoneMontreal based Cirque du Soleil shows have toured Australia over the last decade, bringing the joys of circus performance to a whole new audience.  Not forgetting Circus Oz and the more traditional circus troups which tour both town and country regions of Australia, such as Ashtons and Stardust, circus skills have become a popular artform.  Circus acts no longer perform only under “The Big Top” but can be found on stage in theatres, nightclubs and even cruise ships.

The National Institute of Circus Arts (NICA) is now inviting aspiring circus artists to submit their applications for entry into the 2014 Bachelor of Circus Arts course, with the opportunity to join the ranks of the acclaimed alumni who have passed through the Institute’s doors over the past 14 years.

If you see an Australian circus artist working today on the professional stage anywhere in the world, chances are they began their career by auditioning for the NICA Bachelor of Circus Arts course.

From 30 September 2013, NICA trainers will be holding auditions in Sydney for entry into the course in 2014.  Those with a flair for the physical and a desire for a challenge will have the opportunity to apply for this prestigious course.

The course is a great career opportunity for those with some background in physical training such as circus, sport, dance, physical theatre, gymnastics, acrobatics, martial arts, diving or trampoline and who dream of performing.

NICA is one of eight national arts training institutes and offers Australia’s only Bachelor of Circus Arts.  The course is accredited by Swinburne University and training takes place in custom-built circus facilities on its Prahran campus.  Over 100 young people currently study at NICA’s internationally-recognised facility in Melbourne, with a determination to graduate with a degree and a competitive advantage that will help them perform at an elite level.

Entry into the three year Bachelor of Circus Arts Degree course in 2014 is by audition, interview and physiotherapy assessment.  Applicants must have completed Year 12 or equivalent to be eligible for this program and are required to apply for an audition via the NICA website at or by contacting NICA’s Student Administrator by email or on 03 9214 6537.

Applications close on 9 September 2013 and NICA Sydney Auditions are to be held on 30 September 2013 at Aerialize, Canterbury.

Sandra Tiltman 


August 7, 2013
Cr Angela Vithoulkas, Sydney City Council, Gabrielle Upton, Member for Vaucluse with Rabbi Mendel Kastel CEO Jewish House

Cr Angela Vithoulkas, Sydney City Council, Gabrielle Upton, Member for Vaucluse with Rabbi Mendel Kastel CEO Jewish House

Veterinarian Dr Sam Kovac has launched Project HoPe, an exciting new initiative that aims to help the disadvantaged pets of the homeless, as part of Homeless Persons Week (5-11 August 2013).   Dr Kovac in collaboration with the Jewish House will be providing free vaccinations to Sydney’s homeless pets.

“I think many homeless people in Australia own pets because they make great, non-judgmental companions” said Dr Kovac, founder of Southern Cross Veterinary clinic in St Peters.

Project HoPe aims to vaccinate as many homeless pets as possible from common yet deadly diseases this winter.  Often these diseases can be prevented with a vaccine that costs less than $50.

“All of the diseases we will be vaccinating against are preventable.  The aim is simple, we would like to prevent these animals from becoming sick in the first place and avoid unnecessary angst and pain for both owner and animal.  I will be running the Project HoPe with help from Jewish House.  I will be administering the vaccinations myself.  It is just a small way that I can give back using my time, qualifications and skills” explains Dr Kovac.

Dr Kovac has set up the Southern Cross Compassionate Fund to ensure the financially disadvantaged do not have to bargain over the life of their companion.  All proceeds donated to the fund will go directly to helping the homeless and their pets.

For more information on Project HoPe or to contribute to the Southern Cross Compassionate Fund, please visit

Rabbi Mendel Kastel, CEO at Jewish House understands that for those on the street it can be very challenging to provide their pet with even basic needs such as food and shelter.  “It is important to show the homeless of Sydney that the community is there to support them.  As a front line worker at Jewish House, I have seen first hand how the companionship from a pet can provide comfort and relief to the homeless owner.  Project HoPe is a really positive initiative that offers hope and support to those living on the streets”.

The Jewish House is a safe haven open to any member of the public in need.  They assist in a wide range of circumstances, ranging from someone requiring a counselling session to someone requiring a bed and a roof over their head.  Whatever the case is, when a person is in need of help and on the edge of despair, the Jewish House is there to provide food, shelter, counselling, jobs searching and a 24/7 crisis line. The Jewish House is a leader in crisis management.  Its caring approach, whereby a number of services are combined in a unique way for each client, is admired by many organisations and its approach has ensured a very high success rate in assisting people to rebuild their lives after a major crisis.

Sandra Tiltman    PHOTO: 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


August 2, 2013


Sydney has so many tourist activities for the visitor and local residents, it’s often hard to choose between those not to be missed places to visit, especially when time is limited.

Apart from the “Visitor Must Do List” attractions of climbing the harbour bridge, exploring the Opera House, taking a ferry to Manly, visiting Taronga Park Zoo and a day away at the Blue Mountains, squeezing other events into a full itinerary proves to be a real dilemma when there are several places to choose from, each with their own merits as to why time and money should be spent to experience them.

For those visitors who are time poor and want to experience a unique and beautiful part of Sydney which they probably would not explore on their own, Sydney Coast Walks have put together a three hour tour which will showcase the true beauty of the Sydney Harbour foreshore up close and provide an interesting insight into the history of the Watsons Bay area, The Gap and South Head, the gateway to the harbour.

Visit Camp Cove beach where the Aboriginal Birrabirragal mob met the sailors of the First Fleet commanded by England’s Captain Arthur Phillip.  Local guides will share stories of South Head’s shipwrecks that led to one of Australia’s first lighthouses being built.

With no more than twelve guests in each tour, the walking pace allows plenty of time for discovery and photographs.  The tour commences at Sydney’s Circular Quay with a ferry ride across the harbour to Watsons Bay.  After departing the ferry wharf area with its famous beach side fish restaurants and a short walk past the historic wooden fisherman’s cottages, now all restored to luxurious splendour, the tour passes through the Sydney Harbour National Park where visitors will see fabulous views looking back towards the city before walking on to South Head and The Gap.

Whist on the tour, visitors may be lucky enough to see whales as they migrate along the coastline during June to October. The Gap is one of the best land vantage points to spot whales.

For those visitors who have a little bit more time, Sydney Coast Walks, which is a family owned business, also runs full day and overnight hiking tours through Sydney’s national parks.  On these tours, they supply and carry all the food and equipment, so the visitor can experience the beauty and diversity of the walking tours without the burden of a heavy pack.  Their knowledge of coastal areas means they can lead you off the beaten track to hidden and lesser known places.  The tour groups are small so you can benefit from the personalised attention.   Sandra Tiltman


August 2, 2013

Don_Pasquale_SW13_339Set in the Rome of the early 1950s, around the time of the enchanting film Roman Holiday, Opera Australia’s winter season production of Don Pasquale, Donizetti’s celebrated comic opera, is delightful.  With its lyrical arias, warm and bright Italian street scenes, beautiful costumes and elegant sets complete with the latest in ultra chic 1950s furnishings, this opera is a visual treat.

One of Donizetti’s last operas, Don Pasquale is directed by Australian Roger Hodgman with designer Richard Roberts and lighting whiz Matt Scott.  Distinguished bass Conal Coad, with his well‐honed comedy and renowned vocal artistry, drives the action in the title role.  The versatile ensemble stars soprano Rachelle Durkin, tenor Ji‐Min Park and baritone Andrew Jones.  Don Pasquale is conducted by Guillaume Tourniaire, the former chief conductor of Prague State Opera.

The comic plot centres on Don Pasquale, an elderly miser, who takes it into his head to disinherit his uppity nephew Ernesto (in love with Norina) by marrying and producing an heir.  He asks his doctor to find him a suitable match.  A marriage contract is hastily drawn up by the cunning Dr Malatesta between Don Pasquale and Malatesta’s ‘sister’ (the disguised Norina of course).  With the ink barely dry, the shy and demure bride begins to create so much havoc that the groom is only too happy to pay to get rid of her.

Much merriment and misadventure ensues until the eventual reversal of fortune when Don Pasquale gives the young couple his blessing.

Sung in Italian, with English surtitles, Don Pasquale is performed in the Joan Sutherland Theatre at Sydney Opera House until Thursday 15 August 2013.    Sandra Tiltman