Rosie Batty – My Top 5 Places in Australia

Rosie Batty made Australia listen.

Her son, Luke aged 11, was with his father playing cricket in the park when his father walked over to him and killed him. Speaking quietly from the depths of her horror, Rosie said “ No matter how nice your house is, how intelligent you are, it can happen to anyone – and everyone.”

In expressing her personal grief, Rosie compelled us to see that family violence was our business. She made us see that the plight of thousands of women and children could one day be our plight, or that of someone close to us.

The numbers are indeed frightening: in Australia, two women are killed every week on average; almost 1,000 cases of child abuse are reported every day; one woman is hospitalised every 3 hours; and one in 3 women have experience physical and/or sexual violence.

Rosie has described family violence as an “epidemic”.

On what would have been his 13th birthday on 20 June, 2015, Rosie established the Luke Batty Never Alone Foundation to raise awareness, improve crisis services and advocate on behalf of the victims.

Earlier this year, Rosie joined the Aboriginal Alice Springs Town Camp in their Women’s March Against Domestic Violence.  “I’m very keen to support this group of women who are working in their community and ensuring the voices of Aboriginal women are heard.”

Rosie has spearheaded a public campaign and presented the Prime Minister, lawmakers, the police and judiciary with tens of thousands of signatures urging fundamental change in the way the system responds to family violence.

“The conversations around family violence are definitely occurring now, compared with previous generations. Those women had no-one to talk to or lean on. The attitude was ‘ you made your bed, now lie in it’. There is still much misunderstanding and victim blaming, but I am being told by women that they have more confidence to come forward,” said Rosie. “It will take time but I see it as the kind of generational change we need.”

Rosie worked closely with Fiona Richardson the first Victorian Minister for Family Violence Prevention, on the Royal Commission into Family Violence which delivered its report on March 2016. Ms. Richardson died recently and Rosie paid tribute to her as both a mentor and a friend.

“I wouldn’t be where I am now without her love and belief in me. And I wouldn’t have been able to do what I have been able to do without the practical support she made available to me in so many ways.”

Rosie & Luke Batty

In 2015, Rosie Batty was recognised as Australian of the Year.

“If I can be seen as a leader of women, even if I don’t feel it myself, as someone who can create change in their mid-50s, it’s what I want to do,” says Rosie.

In July this year, she delivered a statement to a parliamentary inquiry into family law and family violence. Her statement, which received 11,000 signatures in 7 days, decried the federal family law system for endangering children in particular.

“The family law system is another avenue for the abuse to continue,” insists Rosie. She condemns the practice of the courts to grant abusive parents access to the children. “The children are absolutely forced to have access visits and forced to continue relationships. Their mothers have to drag them to the car where they self harm and are suicidal. And the mother is threatened that if she doesn’t allow it she will lose (custody of) the child.…So she has to give them up and hope that each weekend they come home safe and are not killed like my son was.” [See the full video below of Rosie Batty’s appearance before the parliamentary inquiry].

Rosie came to Australia from England 30 years ago, not expecting to stay. She was shy and alone and she wanted to challenge herself through travel. One of her earliest memories is of being 16 and not wanting to get to 80 with regret for not doing things and “not pushing myself out of my comfort zone”.

Her grandmother, an incredibly strong woman who lived to 100, was her role model.

Rosie stayed in Australia after Luke’s death because “Australia has been supportive and kind to me.”

She is determined not to just sit and exist. Her mindset is to “live life to the fullest. There is still that sense of adventure and the unexpected ahead of me and I will keep doing that as long as I can.”

See Rosie’s choices of her favourite destinations in Australia.

Rosie’s Top 5 Places

 

Cape Tribulation, Queensland

Cape Tribulation Queensland

I was 24 years old when I first arrived in Australia from England. I back-packed up the east coast. When I got to Cape Tribulation, I worked as a cleaner in a hostel. Coming from England I couldn’t believe how remote and isolated it was. Really remote. It’s where unique, ancient rainforest meets reef. It’s difficult to find somewhere else in the world as stunningly beautiful as it is.

There were crocodiles and jellyfish, and you couldn’t put a toe in the water.

There were no sealed roads then, and 4-wheel drives and the ferry were the only way in or out. You didn’t have the comforts you take for granted, no electricity, just a generator.

It was incredibly humid. But if you go July – September it is the most beautiful weather – very comfortable, not humid. Even though the roads are sealed now, it is still remote.

I like lots of different types of holidays – the hustle and bustle of cities but also to be far away in nature, remote, tuned out, embracing the beauty.

Australia is incomparable in beauty and still so remote.

Larapinta Trail, Northern Territory

Larapinta Trail trek with Rosie Batty

In August, I led a dozen supporters on a six-day fundraising walk for the Luke Batty Never Alone Foundation, along Australia’s most iconic desert trek, the Larapinta Trail.  Already one of the 7 Great Walks of Australia, the Larapinta Trail recently joined the ranks of the top 10 walks in the entire world.

I think that the Australian Outback is quintessentially Australian in a way suburban and metro areas aren’t. It is amazing and beautiful. We live in a large continent and don’t take the time to explore and appreciate its beauty. It is so evident how old Australia is when you see the rocks. You get transported back in time.

I didn’t realise it until we started the Larapinta walk, but all the participants were all living with the impact of family violence – whether it was a family member, a friend, or their own personal experience. It was a deeply moving realisation. We felt confident to share our experiences and it was comforting.

The purpose of the walk was both to raise money for the Foundation and to give these people an opportunity to do something physically challenging, and something for themselves – to take time out to sit under the stars. I have done several treks, others on the walk hadn’t and it was very challenging.

The Larapinta walk came close to raising $30,000 for the Luke Batty Foundation and that’s a significant achievement.

Broome, West Australia

Cape Leveque Western Australia

Broome is a long way away, but you’re not doing it tough when you get there.

The restaurants and resorts are stunning, and I had some of the best meals I have ever tasted. You can sit having a drink while watching the sunset and the camels coming back along the beach. While there, I was shown footprints of dinosaurs.

Looking down from plane on the way to Cape Leveque  you see a vast expanse of untamed beaches. You see crocodiles, but you see no-one, just a beautiful uninhabited place, remote and untouched. You have to understand the terrain, it’s risks and dangers.

Compared to England which is small with nothing dangerous, and where you are always surrounded by people, in Australia everything is big and dangerous. You have a pioneering feeling, a feeling of adventure.

I love that in Australia we can go to so many vast places and have limited contact with people, where you are not queuing up, not milling around and surrounded.

 

Wilsons Promontory National Park, Victoria

Wilsons Promontory National Park, Victoria

My greatest memory was of spending a week there with my brother.

We camped and went on long walks every day, stunning walks. I love walking. We saw everything, stingrays, koalas, wombats, kangaroos.

If you go at dusk you are guaranteed to see as many kangaroos as you ever could see. And stunning beaches – it’s just such a beautiful place, one of those gems. And not too far from Melbourne.

 

Sydney, NSW

Sydney is a fabulous city – so vibrant and beautiful. On a sunny day, with blue skies and views of Sydney harbour and Opera House, it is hard to find a better or more stunning city. I have climbed the bridge 3 times. I always take relatives and visitors from overseas to Sydney. It’s just vibrant and busy – lots of lovely restaurants with harbour views. I love the Rocks, the setting is lovely.

Sydney Opera House and Harbour

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Rosie Batty’s statement to a parliamentary inquiry into family law and family violence – July 24th 2017

 

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We, the Matriarchs…

We, the Matriarchs… are the first generation in history of older, highly educated women to number in the tens of millions.

We are the first ever generation of older women who have spent decades in the workforce in professions and skilled employment, and not in the sweatshops and the fields.

We are the first ever generation of older women who have accumulated independent wealth and economic clout, despite discriminatory wage practices.

And we are the first ever generation of older women who can expect to live into their 90s.

But now we are entering the age of retirement.

What next? What does society expect of us?

Well, nothing really. We are the most invisible segment of the population. If they see us at all we are only seen as stereotypes – kindly grannies, old hags, frail spinsters or old biddies selfishly occupying homes that could better be used by young families. I went to a luncheon for International Women’s Day attended by over 400 women. So little was expected of this large congregation of women that the only sponsor was a funeral home.

The Last Frontier of Feminism

Over the last decades, feminists have addressed the issues in the life cycles of girls and women – contraception, abortion, education and workplace equality, child-care etc . But only now are we feminists of the ‘60s hitting our own 60s. Only now are we ourselves facing the problems of older women and experiencing the magnitude of the discrimination.

Women ageing is the last frontier of feminism.

A National Asset

Older women are seen as a national liability, whereas in fact, we are a national asset.

We are actually the fastest growing sector of the Australian population, we have significant spending power as a group, and remarkably we are a key driving force in the creation of start-up enterprises. More older women are creating new businesses in the US, England and Australia than cool young males.

We are society’s unlikely innovators. Creating new enterprises, re-inventing ourselves and re-defining how women age.

And we have had to take matters into our own hands and find our own way because there are no good roadmaps for women ageing in contemporary society. Society offers us few options. Thirty years is a long time to babysit the grandchildren, garden or play golf.

Instead, we see the coming years as a considerable period in our working lives uninterrupted by child bearing and rearing. Years in which to deploy a lifetime of experience and expertise. We enjoy using our highly developed talents and skills, but few employers are willing to give us work.

“Like kryptonite to Superman”, ageism is a huge barrier to female employment, notes the incomparable Kathy Lette.

Senior Women Entrepreneurs

Undaunted, many women over 50 have taken to the internet in mass numbers and are setting up our own enterprises. Astonishingly, baby boomers are expected to contribute an additional $11.9 billion to Australia’s GDP, specifically by starting online businesses. The numbers of male and female entrepreneurs are roughly equal at present, but Dr. Alex Maritz, Professor of Entrepreneurship LaTrobe University predicts a surge in women senior entrepreneurs.

Vulnerable Older Women

Older women continue to work, not only because we can and want to, but also out of necessity. We all know how precarious the situation is for many older women, particularly those in their sixties and older with limited or non-existent incomes.

We were the generation that worked decades before super was introduced. Then there are the cumulative effects of a lifetime of discrimination: lower pay than men because women were not “ the main breadwinner”; part-time work; lower paid professions and the exclusion from the top professional and business levels. Add to this, the years out of the workforce to have children and look after family members. Re-entry to the workforce then becoming either impossible or with reduced pay.

Since statistically, women live longer than men and only 15% will have their husband alive when they die, most women will lose the couples’ pension. Living on one pension with the government relentlessly chipping away at it, is forcing women to sell their homes.

With pensions cut and no jobs available for older women, not surprisingly, in the past five years, there has been a 44% increase in older women becoming homeless.

I am reminded of a film I saw about a Japanese man taking his ageing mother on his back up a mountain to leave her there to die. That was a traditional way of dealing with ageing women.

Older Womanpower

We must speak out against our government’s policy of impoverishing older women.

But we must not frame the discussion around older women solely in terms of helplessness and national liability.

We must provide opportunities for older women to earn an income in dignity and speak out against ageism in employment.

Not all women want to open up their own businesses, but the many that do must be given the legislative support, funding and incentives provided to the start-ups of younger people.

Australia has an enormous reserve of skilled womanpower that we cannot afford to waste.

And we older women, don’t want to live this part of our lives in the straitjacket of society’s expectations.

That is the mandate of WomanGoingPlaces. To showcase the older women of Oz in all our rich variety, wisdom, strength and accomplishments.

 

Photo – Professor Lyn Slater- accidental icon.com

Maureen Wheeler – My Top 5 Places In Australia

Maureen Wheeler AO is a pioneer of landmark enterprises in both travel and in the cultural life of Melbourne.

She was the co-founder, with her husband Tony, of Lonely Planet books – guides as indispensable to travellers as their backpacks and suitcases. Lonely Planet volumes, translated into many languages, significantly contributed to the popularisation of travel worldwide.

Maureen was also the co-founder of the Wheeler Centre in Melbourne. This centre for books, writing and ideas played a critical role in Melbourne achieving its status as a UNESCO designated City of Literature in 2008. And in less than a decade since it was established, the Wheeler Centre has become one of the most dynamic features of this city.

“We wanted to create something that didn’t exist before. We came up with the idea of lectures, talks, big events, most of it free,” says Maureen. Their endowment makes much of it free to the public. Acknowledging its staff Maureen says, “The Wheeler Centre really delivers for Melbourne. It’s like you filled a hole that you didn’t know existed.”

Lonely Planet 1975 South-East Asia on a Shoestring

Lonely Planet Publications began in the 1970s because Maureen and Tony, as a young couple, loved to travel but could not afford it. In working out ingenious ways of seeing the world on a shoestring, they built a publishing empire. Lonely Planet reached its apogee 40 years later when it had become the world’s largest independent guidebook publisher and was sold in 2011 to the BBC for $224 million.

Maureen, who was originally from Belfast, Ireland, says that when Lonely Planet started “it was like a hobby. We would travel and do a book, sell it, then travel and do another book. It was just Tony and I for the first 9 years. We worked out of our house. We did everything. So we learnt on the job. How to put a book together, how to sell it, invoice it, how to pack it and how to take it down to the docks and put it on the ships. I used to drive around town in a station wagon dropping off books in bookstores.”

 

The Wheelers travelled with their children Tashi and Kieran when they were small, but once they started school, Tony continued to travel while Maureen stayed with them and managed the business.  “By the time I realised I was a businesswoman, I had been one for a very long time. It’s a big learning process. It isn’t always that you get it right. You make mistakes. You work it out somehow.”

Lonely Planet grew very slowly in the 80s and that is when it went from being a hobby to being a business. “But it took another 10 years. In 1984 we had about 12 people. We moved to the United States and set up an office there which was an incredibly bold things to do because various Australian publishers had tried to make it in America but had failed. No one believed that a company with 12 people would succeed. And it was hard for a couple of years.” Then an office was opened in France and partnerships were developed around the world in different languages. By the 1990s, they had more than 700 staff around the world.

With the growing success of Lonely Planet, Maureen and Tony set up the Lonely Planet Foundation in 1987 to give 10% of their profits to NGOs in famine relief, maternal and child welfare, micro-financing for women’s groups, education, clean water and hospitals. Maureen ran the Foundation for 20 years until they sold Lonely Planet books. Then the Foundation became the Planet Wheeler Foundation. Her daughter Tashi has taken over day-to-day involvement with the projects, but Maureen still gets monthly reports and is involved in decision-making on which projects to fund.

Maureen is now in her second year as Chair of the Melbourne Festival. Planning the Festival presents a challenge because Melbourne has so many cultural events. “The idea is not to compete, but to bring things to Melbourne that are amazing, incredibly exciting and that people wouldn’t get to see otherwise. So it’s about finding those events that people will go ‘Wow’ and talk about years later,” she says.

The Melbourne Theatre Company, the Malthouse Theatre, and opera also occupy a lot of her time. And in addition, she and Tony continue to be involved in publishing as partners in award-winning Text Publishing, a Melbourne-based independent publisher.

In 2014, Maureen and Tony Wheeler were awarded the Order of Australia.

 

Maureen’s Top Places

When I think about what’s really special about Australia, I think of these three regions:

The Kimberley

Kimberely Coastal Camp

I love the Kimberley region. It’s not a particular place in the Kimberley region. I love that area, I think it’s beyond beautiful.

There’s a place up there, the Kimberley Coastal Camp which I love. The Kimberley region is quite large and you’re either driving, camping or flying, and staying in really lovely places. Not a lot of places to stay. I do like Broome. Broome’s rather an interesting town. The Kimberley area is so stunningly beautiful. The colour is amazing. There is amazing rock art. I feel stunned by the beauty.

Dinosaur Footprints Broome WA – australiasnorthwest.com

 

The Northern Territory

I like the Northern Territory. I was on the (NT Tourism) Board up there for a couple of years and I got to travel around quite a lot, and there are some amazing things to see there. There’s a place out of Katherine,  canyons, and you can’t get there except by helicopter, and it has the most amazing rock art. It’s a fascinating area.

Aboriginal rock art sites in Arnhem Land in Australia’s Northern Territory – Tony Wheeler

 

Turtles & Fish Aboriginal rock art sites in Arnhem Land in Australia’s Northern Territory – Tony Wheeler

The Northern Territory is a really interesting place. I’ve seen Darwin change over the years. It’s not an Australian town, it’s a Pacific town. It reminds me of all the towns on the Pacific islands, it’s got that feel to it. It doesn’t feel as if it belongs to the rest of Australia. It’s quite diverse. It’s been interesting over the years to see the diversity of the population increase. When I first went up there were nearly all white people and now there are a lot of Chinese and Indians, backpackers going through from everywhere. So Darwin is an interesting city and what interested me was that it was the wild frontier for quite a while.

The Northern Territory has the most stunning colour. It’s very vivid, very red. The Kimberley is more blues and greys and greens. And the Northern Territory is very stark, very red, very blue skies and so much emptiness. You feel that it’s empty. And of course it extends down to Alice Springs and Uluru and up towards Katherine. Kakadu in the wet season is just wonderful, it’s beautiful. So again its scenery, the landscape is fantastic.

Beswick Falls, Katherine, NT – australia.com

 

Tasmania

I love Tasmania. I first went to Tasmania back in the 70s, and we drove around. I was also on the Tasmanian (Tourist) Board for six years in the 90s. I went down seven times a year, and I got to see an awful lot of Tasmania. And then I kept going back. I love Tasmania, I think it’s fabulous. I even love flying in. It reminds me a bit of Ireland. I love travelling around Tasmania. It’s so beautiful and there is so much to see, and now that they’ve got MONA in Hobart, that’s even better. I love Stanley, a beautiful little village on the north-west. I’ve been there quite a few times.

Stanley Tasmania – exploreaustralia.net.au

 

I like the walks – I’ve done the Bay of Fires, and I’ve done the Overland Trek, and I’ve done the Maria Island Trek, and I’ve done the Freycinet Trek. And the area around Coles Bay is absolutely gorgeous. And I love Hobart, I think it’s a great little town. Out of Hobart you’ve got places like Richmond, it’s just very pretty. And I love Bruny Island, That’s a great place to really get away.  Tasmania has changed over the years but it hasn’t changed so much, and places like Hobart have changed for the better. I think it’s fabulous, just a great little island with everything. It’s pretty, nice little villages, wonderful walks, a very interesting town Hobart and the history too.

Richmond Tasmania – tasmania.australiafoteveryone.com.au

 

Melbourne

Melbourne is great. Sydney is very lovely, but Melbourne is probably much more dynamic than Sydney in terms of what’s offered culturally.

Melbourne skyline – David Zycher

 

Tips for Travellers:

Take very little luggage and a large credit card.

 

 

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Maestro Simone Young – My Top 5 Places in Australia

Maestro Simone Young AM is one of the world’s great opera and concert orchestra conductors. She has been called a ‘superconductor’, a conductor whose elegance and power, strength and sensitivity on the podium inspire her orchestra. She is a highly esteemed interpreter of the works of Wagner and Strauss, Mahler, Bruckner and Brahms, as well as those of contemporary composers.

It is easy to recall images of famous conductors, many of them legendary figures idolised by the public. But there were few women conductors in this array. When Simone Young took her place at the podium on the international stage “she forged a path where there was no path,” says Alondra de la Parra, one of a handful of rising women conductors.

Born in Sydney to what Simone Young describes as a non-musical family, the girl who “grew up on the beach in Manly ” was invited to conduct the most prestigious orchestras in the world and became an internationally acclaimed conductor.

Maestro Young’s accomplishments are extraordinary regardless of gender.

She studied composition at the Sydney Conservatorium at a time when she was the only woman in that faculty and made her conducting debut at the Sydney Opera House at the age of 24. By 25, she was conducting assistant to James Conlon at the Cologne Opera House and then became an assistant to Daniel Barenboim at the Berlin Opera and the Bayreuth Festival. Since then, she has conducted at all the world’s leading opera houses, including at the Metropolitan Opera in New York, the Vienna State Opera, the Royal Opera House Covent Garden in London, and the Opera National de Paris.

She was the first woman to conduct Wagner’s full Ring cycle. Her first full Ring was in Vienna in 1999, followed some years later by her own Ring cycle in Hamburg.

She was Artistic Director and Music Director of the Australian Opera from 2001 to 2003.

Maestro Simone Young - photo Klaus Lefebvre

Maestro Simone Young – photo Klaus Lefebvre

On the concert stage, Simone Young has conducted the world’s leading orchestras including the Vienna Philharmonic, the Berlin Philharmonic and the London Philharmonic.

Last year, Maestro Young completed a 10-year engagement at the helm of one of Germany’s pre-eminent cultural institutions where Tchaikovsky, Mahler and Klemperer had conducted. She held the dual appointment Artistic and Music Director of both the Hamburg State Opera and the Hamburg State Philharmonic Orchestra where she was responsible for 500 performances conducted in the Opera house, 50 new productions, and more than 30 different operas performed each year. She oversaw a workforce of 700 people, including an orchestra of 128 musicians, a 70-voice chorus, and an ensemble of 20 full-time singers plus guest artists. She was one of the longest serving directors of the 333 year-old organisation in the past century.

For Maestro Young, the issue of gender, of being a woman in the traditionally male preserve of conducting, was not decisive. It was only one of many challenges that face the “musician whose instrument is the entire orchestra.”

She believes that artistry, not gender is the key.  A conductor as an artist must be both strong and sensitive, and neither attribute should be assigned a gender. She prefers to see it as a union between the left and right sides of the brain.

“Gender, nationality, upbringing, sexual orientation, shoe size, are all completely immaterial – it’s all about music-making.”

“I don’t think my professional qualifications and achievements are in any way revalued because of my gender.

Maestro Young has built her career by focusing always on the music and not on the obstacles. “ If your assumption is that this is going to be so much harder for me, then it will be harder for you,” she said. “ If your assumption is that this is a great piece of music, and what a privilege it is now to be able to conduct this, you and the people you’re working with will have a good time.”

And she credits growing up in Australia with giving her the freedom to avoid the more stultifying aspects of European music culture – and for a spirit that dares to overcome conventional stereotypes.

Maestro Simone Young

Maestro Simone Young

Simone Young has recently begun a new phase of her brilliant career and gone freelance.

In great demand as a guest conductor, she has engagements with orchestras in Zurich, Vienna, Munich, Dresden and Berlin, and her calendar is booked for the next three years.

Since leaving Hamburg, Simone Young is based in the UK with her husband, Greg Condon, a teacher and literary expert, her two daughters and grandchild. She credits the full support of her husband and children for enabling her to manage an overwhelming schedule.

She is the recipient of many awards and honours since she won the Young Australian of the Year Award in 1986. These include a Member of the Order (AM), honorary doctorates from the University of New South Wales, Griffith University Queensland and Monash University Victoria, the French Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres, and the German Goethe Medal.

 

Simone’s Top 5 Places:

 

Anyone who knows me well, knows that I can’t stay away from water. I am drawn to the ocean, to rivers, to lakes in a way that can only be explained by a childhood in Manly. Picnics at Clontarf, walks along the Esplanade, paddling in the Queenscliff lagoon across from my grandparents’ home, secretly munching on fish cocktails (little pieces of battered fish for non-Sydney-siders) while waiting for piano lessons, and catching the ferry home from meeting my Dad in the city after school and lessons at the Conservatorium – this was my childhood, and how lucky and blessed I now know that it was!

I recently came to the shocking realisation that I have now lived more of my life in Europe than in Australia. I think such a moment is a turning point for us expats; I have yet to meet an Australian overseas who doesn’t want to go home “some time in the future”, but after more than half a lifetime away, I have now officially joined the ranks of the gypsies who have lives and families in two countries (or more) and who will never feel really whole in either one again. I fly to Oz as often as I can – a colleague recently suggested I just ask the orchestras I work with to transfer my fees to Qantas directly rather than to my bank account! – and when I do, there are always some must-see places that I try to visit, to find that sought-after feeling of “home”.

 

Manly beach, Sydney - australia.com

Manly beach, Sydney – australia.com

Manly Beach

I just love it. It’s sometimes down-at-heel, looks unloved in the rain, can be a bit dodgy late on a Saturday night, but when the sun’s out and there’s a light breeze over the beach, it is truly wonderful!

I recently arrived on a flight from Europe at a ridiculously early hour (all the passengers had that charming grey-tinge to their skin-colour that only 24hours on a plane can achieve!) and rather than wake up my elderly mother, I asked the driver to take me to Manly Beach. It was even too early for the café that caters to the early-morning swimmers, but just watching the sun slowly rise over the horizon, I found that my breathing relaxed, the stress and fatigue fell away and a meditative calm came over me. Soon the café was open, with obviously a faithful clientele of slightly shivering and surprisingly older surfers, who slung L.A-Story–style coffee orders around (just what exactly is a double skinny piccolo?), the day swung into life. The joggers gave way to business folk, running just that little bit late for the ferry and to school kids, jostling and comparing the latest instagrams, and I promised myself to return the next day to do the magical walk from South Steyne around to Fairy Bower. If you do it, don’t forget to look for the tiny metal figures of the local wildlife set into the rocks. Or better still, get your snorkelling gear on and go and look at some yourself! And after that exercise, fish and chips sitting on the beach wall, dangling your legs over the side, is the only way to go – but watch out for those seagulls, they’ll steal the chips out of your fingers!

 

Ningaloo Reef Western Australia

Ningaloo Reef Western Australia – womangoingplaces

Ningaloo Reef  Western Australia

The beach theme continues, but this time in a very different environment. It had been a tough season, encompassing many performances, almost as many farewell dinners (I was leaving Hamburg after 10 years running the opera and the philharmonic there) and then a massive move of the household from north Germany to the UK. If a teacher’s weakness is books (and my husband Greg was a teacher for more than 30 years) a musician’s is scores and CDs (and of course some old vinyl that I just couldn’t get rid of!) – oh, and a grand piano, a harp, violins in various sizes, a couple of flutes, guitars, etc – and then the rest of the household. I was in great need of some serious R & R before the annual tour of the Australian orchestras began, less than two weeks after the big move.

Where could I find beach, sun, some solitary, reflective time and a proximity to nature? I’ve had many wonderful holidays on the east coast of Australia, from the Whitsundays up to Port Douglas, and just about everywhere in between, but now it was the far less-known and wilder West Australian coast that caught my attention. I flew into Exmouth, smiling broadly at the tiny airport, climbed into my rental car, called ahead to my eco-camp/hotel and set off. Very soon I was in the only car I could see, the houses gave way to scrub and the welcome and familiar dry landscape opened out. Once in the national park, (entrance paid into an “honesty box” – another smile!) the only pedestrians were the odd kangaroo or pair of emus, until I arrived at my destination. Bags dropped, I was in the water in a matter of minutes, and already marvelling at the coral and marine life.

Whale Shark Ningaloo - australiancoralcoast

Whale Shark Ningaloo – australiancoralcoast

And yes, I swam with a whale-shark – an extraordinary experience that I will never forget. Swimming (quite vigorously – you’re on the open sea) next to one of these gentle giants of the sea is exhilarating and humbling.

I love the Great Barrier Reef, but Ningaloo is rather a hidden gem!

 

 

 

 

Bundanoon, Southern Highlands, NSW

Bundanoon, Southern Highlands, NSW – beautifulbundanoon.com.au

Bundanoon New South Wales

Ok, I must move away from the beach for a bit. In the early days of my marriage, when we were living in Sydney and a holiday meant throwing everything you might need in the car and just setting off west, we visited some wonderful places. Most of them have long been on my list to revisit, but I have rarely been able to do so. One place that I would love to see again, and is so close to Sydney as to be almost a day trip, is lovely Bundanoon.  Next time, I’ll do it in style, staying in one of the charming hotels with big open fires and gloriously indulgent menus. Last time, we did it as you do when young – we stayed at the YMCA and explored the National Park on a bicycle built for two. Very romantic.

The whole area of the Southern Highlands has a great deal to offer  – and the drive from Bowral to Kangaroo Valley is one of the loveliest I know – just look out for the speed cameras……

 

West region of NSW - David Gordon

West region of NSW – David Gordon

The West (of NSW, that is!)

My Dad was a teacher in his early years, and his first postings were to one-teacher schools in small towns in the West of NSW. As kids, we often piled into the old 1964 Ford and we would all set off towards “the West”. There was almost always a breakdown on the road up the Blue Mountains, and we had a number of near-misses on winding and steep dirt roads, but a love of the “dry country”, the gums and the wild flowers, was instilled in me for life. With the luxury of the beaches on our home doorstep near Manly, the wide horizons and constantly changing colours of the countryside beyond the tablelands was another kind of exoticism….. and the birdsong at dawn charmed my ears and engaged my developing musical mind.

Like a lot of girls of my generation, I married a man who greatly resembled my Dad – Greg was born in “the Bush”, moved to the Big Smoke at 8, and like my Dad, struck out for the dusty west at every opportunity. He prided himself at one point of having driven over every mapped road in the state – and I’ll swear we drove over plenty that weren’t mapped.

Wattle -redzaustralia.com

Wattle -redzaustralia.com

But it is the wildflower season, and the wattle in particular, that always grabbed us and made us come back again and again. There’s a stretch of dirt road (well, it was in 1982!!) between Yeoval and Cumnock where the wattles were astonishing. But if you don’t want to be laughed at by the locals, check the pronunciation of the local town names – Greg’s family still gives me a hard time about Ardlethan – which I mangled, not to mention the trouble you can get into with Tibbooburra……

 

Lavender Bay Ferry Wharf - pbase.com

Lavender Bay Ferry Wharf – pbase.com

Sydney NSW

Back to the water and back to Sydney – and to one of my favourite spots – McMahons Point. A place to be avoided at NYE or at any time when there’s an event on the harbour – but at all other times one of the best spots for looking at the magnificent view that is the Bridge and the Opera House.  I will often take a detour, when heading north over the Bridge from the City and just stop for a few minutes in the parking bay at the point, to take in that majestic sight. My daughters list it as one of their favourite places for munching on a steak sandwich, drinking a milkshake and watching the life on the Harbour. And if there’s no pressing appointment waiting, then a little meander around the tiny streets in the area, marvelling at the charming, historic houses that stand so close together here, does the soul good!  Or park somewhere and go for a walk down to the ferry wharf at Lavender Bay and picnic on the grass or on the wharf itself. Very busy during the day, it’s magic in the early evening, when the air is soft and the bells in the moored boats there in the Bay ring slowly as the tide moves them gently. Ah, I’m feeling homesick already……

 

Travel tips:

*  I always travel with my noise-reducing headphones – listening to classical music without them on a plane is almost impossible. I’m not a very social animal on long flights – my headphones, a couple of Sudoku puzzles or a cryptic crossword and a good book, and I’m set for the trip.

*  I invariably get to the airport way too early – but I’d rather work a bit airside than stress about getting through the ever-growing queues at security….

*  Everything I need for my first day’s work is in my hand-luggage – thank goodness they don’t usually weigh it! Added to a few toiletries and the obligatory spare undies are my laptop and a couple of orchestral scores and a long, narrow case with batons in it – which often leads to some amusing conversations at the security check-points….

*  I try to smile every time a passport officer reads “conductor” on my visa/entry card and says “Ha ha, on the buses, love?”. After nearly 30 years, it’s hard to make it look as though I’m hearing that joke for the first time…………..

****

For more information about Maestro Young and upcoming performances see SimoneYoung.com

 

 

 

Olivia Newton-John – My Top 5 Places in Australia

Olivia Newton-John is an internationally recognised superstar. But Australians have a special and enduring affection for Olivia not only for her talent, but also for her courage and commitment to a range of important issues.

Her extraordinary career as a singer, songwriter and actor spans several decades. She has sold 100 million records, topped the record charts multiple times, garnered four Grammy awards and starred in one of the most successful musical films of all time – Grease.

Her career continues with successful tours and appearances, recordings, TV and film roles.

Alongside her career, Olivia has championed environmental issues and animal rights, raised funds for humanitarian causes, and actively promoted health awareness. Since surviving breast cancer in 1992, she has played a prominent role in encouraging women in the early detection of breast cancer.

In Australia, she partnered with Austin Health and successfully raised millions of dollars to build the Olivia Newton-John Cancer and Wellness Centre in Melbourne which opened in June 2012. As part of her fundraising, she led a team of fellow cancer survivors, celebrities and Olympians on a three-week, 228 km. walk along the Great Wall of China. The Centre provides a comprehensive range of services and facilities for cancer treatment, education, training and research including a wellness center for the mind, body and spirit.

This holistic approach was also behind the multi award-winning Gaia Retreat and Spa in Byron Bay in New South Wales which she co-owns. The Gaia Retreat was honoured at the 2013 and 2014 World Travel Awards as Australia’s “Leading Boutique Hotel & Leading Spa Resort.”

Olivia has been inducted into the prestigious Australian Music Hall Of Fame. And in 2010, she was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia from Governor General Quentin Bryce.

 

To read more about Olivia go to her website: http://www.olivianewton-john.com

For more information on the Olivia Newton-John Cancer and Wellness Centre go to: http://www.oliviaappeal.com

For information on the Gaia Retreat and Spa go to: http://www.gaiaretreat.com.au

 

Olivia’s Top 5 Places:

Asking me to name my top 5 favorite places to visit in Australia is difficult as I love so many!

Gaia Retreat & Spa New South Wales

Gaia Retreat & Spa
New South Wales

Gaia Retreat & Spa

I have to say my number one favorite is Gaia Retreat and Spa – an amazing healing property in the hinterland of Byron Bay, of which I am a very proud co-owner. When I spend five or more days there with nurturing treatments, relaxation and great food, I feel completely restored. Five days there is equivalent to a month off! I am able to find my perfect balance and re-centre myself, especially during my busy touring schedules.

 

Mullock Heaps, Coober Pedy South Australia

Mullock Heaps, Coober Pedy
South Australia

Coober Pedy

Many years ago I did a TV special, filming all around Australia. One of the places that fascinated me and I really loved was Coober Pedy.  It is a unique and quirky place with many colourful characters, that are hard to forget.

 

Bondi to Bronte Walk Sydney

Bondi to Bronte Walk
Sydney

Bondi to Bronte Walk
Sydney

I absolutely love the Bondi to Bronte walk – it is simply stunning. I feel like a world away there. It has a great combination of beaches, parks and spectacular views which makes it one of my favorite walks along Australia’s coastline, another being Tallow Beach – Byron Bay.

 

Melbourne

Melbourne

Melbourne

My old home town Melbourne, still holds many fond memories for me especially as my mum lived there and most of my family still live there. I stay at the gorgeous Lyall Hotel, a warm cosy boutique hotel which is privately owned and offers grand hotel service and facilities on an intimate and personal scale.

 

Lizard Island Queensland

Lizard Island
Queensland

Lizard Island
Queensland

Last but not least is the tranquil Lizard Island in north Queensland right on the Great Barrier Reef.  It is one of my most cherished little Aussie islands, boasting powdery white beaches, and amazing snorkeling on beautiful fringe reefs. I can’t wait to take my husband John there, as it has all the elements he loves: stunning nature and Australia’s amazing botanicals, all surrounded by ocean.

 

Travel Tips:

* Moisturise and drink water often! Travel can dehydrate you inside and out – Gaia’s hydrating “Mist Refresh” from their certified organic skin care range “Retreatment” is a must!! www.gaiaretreat.com.au/about-gaia/exclusive-items-for-sale/mist-refresh

*I always have a warm scarf with me to keep my neck and chest warm and to cover my eyes in the plane for sleep.

 

 

 

Professor Marcia Langton – My Top 5 Places in Australia

Professor Marcia Langton AM is an anthropologist and geographer and holds the Foundation Chair of Australian Indigenous Studies at the University of Melbourne. This year she was appointed Associate Provost. In 1993 she was made a member of the Order of Australia for her work in anthropology and advocacy of Aboriginal rights.

Marcia Langton, a descendent of the fighting Yiman of Queensland, is a strong Indigenous leader with an unwavering commitment to achieve justice for her people.

She is a speaker and writer who has produced a large body of knowledge in the areas of political and legal anthropology, Indigenous agreements with the mining industry, and Indigenous culture and art.

Marcia Langton helps shape the public debate on Indigenous affairs by challenging entrenched views.

And she is a effective activist who lobbies and works with governments and mining companies to change the economic and legal discrimination governing the lives of Aborigines.

There are approximately 600,000 Indigenous people in Australia and 50% of them are young. In public forums, Professor Langton warns of an “impending tragedy” when those quarter of a million young Indigenous Australians will need jobs. Most are not trained, literate or numerate. The rising number of youth suicides and incarcerations show that “ we have no time for cowardice or compromise.”

Marcia Langton 1982 - National Portrait Gallery -photo Juno Gemes

Marcia Langton 1982 – National Portrait Gallery -photo Juno Gemes

Professor Langton identifies the twin problems of poverty and economic exclusion as being at the heart of all the health and socio-economic disadvantage of the indigenous population.

She created a flurry in the media when she advocated the need for Indigenous Australians to compete in the meritocracy and in the economy in the same way white Australians do. Disadvantage needs to be addressed in a more rigorous way, she argues, with properly targeted programs that meet needs, “ without trapping Indigenous people in the welfare ghetto.”

Professor Langton has been forthright in her support of Indigenous agreements with mining companies as a vital way of creating economic opportunities. She authored a book called ‘The Quiet Revolution: Indigenous People and the Resources Boom’.

She recalls that in a meeting she attended with Rio Tinto in 2001, it was argued that the company could not employ Aboriginal men because they had problems with alcohol and the police. She told them to employ Aboriginal women. They did. In the last decade, mining companies and ancillary services have employed Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islanders, men and women, in larger numbers than ever before in Australian history.

The Mabo case, the Native Title Act and engagement with the mining industry have    “ catapulted Aboriginal people engaged in the mining industry into the mainstream economy. I have worked at mine sites and witnessed this extraordinary change.” she says.

Professor Langton is one of the leaders in the campaign for Constitutional Recognition of Indigenous people. In October 1999 she was one of five Indigenous leaders who were granted an audience with the Queen in Buckingham Palace to discuss Recognition.

She also served with Noel Pearson on the  Expert Panel on Constitutional Recognition of Indigenous Australians set up by Prime Minister Julia Gillard. The Panel made recommendations for Constitutional Recognition and the abolition of the race provisions.

“The most crucial matter to understand about the Constitution is that when it was drafted in the 19th Century, it specifically excluded the Aboriginal people on grounds of race and it is this exclusion that lies at the heart of the state authorised discrimination that continues to this day.”

She argues that “ the Constitutional tradition of treating Aborigines as a race must be replaced with the idea of First Peoples.”

Despite intensive campaigning, Professor Langton and other Indigenous leaders are in a dilemma. The Australian Constitution is one of the most difficult in the world to change. If the referendum fails, she believes that no government in the near future will take up the cause. So the question is – might it not be better to delay the referendum for another generation?

Even if a decision is taken to delay, Marcia Langton will not cease in her fight to ensure Aboriginal people are accorded their rightful place in the nation.

Marcia’s Top 5 Places:

 

MONA, Tasmania

I have been twice, once during construction and once after it opened. This is one of the best art galleries in the world. The architecture is stunning. I don’t want to say much because the Museum of Old and New Art, the private gallery owned by David Walsh, is such a surprise. No spoilers.

 

The Great Barrier Reef, Queensland
Great Barrier Reef, Queensland

Great Barrier Reef, Queensland

The Great Barrier Reef is the most beautiful place in the world. However, the Reef is too big as a place – at over 2,000 kilometres long – to suggest as one place to visit: it is many. Unfortunately for travellers, it can be very expensive to see the most beautiful and biodiversity rich parts of the reef and the least expensive and accessible areas are impacted by too many visitors. That said, I have visited the reef at several places and the coral reef and its many life forms are always stunning and unforgettable. Green Island is easily accessible from Cairns, as are several other areas. I have also toured parts of the reef departing by boat or yacht from Townsville. I would love to visit Lizard Island.

 

The Daintree Rainforest, North Queensland
 
Daintree Rainforest, Queensland

Daintree Rainforest, Queensland

The rainforest covered mountains of north Queensland are heritage listed and there are many places to visit. The Daintree Rainforest is the most famous and because the rainforest meets the sea along this stretch of coastline, this area is magical. I have camped at Thornton’s Beach (many years ago) and, sitting on the beach, watched the ocean traffic in wonder. Pilot whales, dugong, schools of fish, and stingray passed by, while the beach itself is a peaceful and beautiful place to rest. The fire flies come out in the evening here, and the animals that create irridescent clouds float on the waves. A full moon night is the best time to sit on the beach here.

 

 Gariwerd, The Grampians, western Victoria
The Balconies, Grampians National Park, Victoria

The Balconies, Grampians National Park, Victoria

The ancient landforms in the Gariwerd Grampians National Park date from the Gondwana period and it shows. These mountains and valleys feel old. And they are old: hundreds of millions of years old. This is a unique place because of its geological history but it is rich in Aboriginal history and culture. I always go to the Brambuk Cultural Centre before heading off on a walk or a swim in a lake. The waterfalls are beautiful after rain. The forests and vegetation are endlessly fascinating and full of birdlife.

 

 Melbourne
The Ian Potter Centre National Gallery of Victoria

The Ian Potter Centre
National Gallery of Victoria

The NGVA and NGVI on opposite sides of the Yarra River in Melbourne CBD are my favourite home town haunts. These art galleries have great collections and the staff are friendly and accommodating. The restaurant and cafes are delightful. Parking is easy at the Federation Square parking station, but it’s an uphill walk to Collins Street to look in the designer shops. Fortunately, Movida is across the road and I can stop there for a wine and tapas.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Kathy Lette – My Top 5 Places In Australia

Kathy Lette epitomizes smart and sassy. Her razor sharp wit and incisive observations as a writer and commentator delight her many readers and admirers.

As a writer, her talent has been not only to amuse, but also to use humour and her ribald take on life to deal with subjects that seriously affect the lives of women. For example, her new novel Courting Trouble uses humour to talk about sexual violence, in particular the outrageous treatment the court system metes out to rape victims in Britain (and elsewhere). Kathy uses humour as a weapon because “poetic justice is a form of justice that is available to women — you can always impale enemies on the end of your pen.”

Her brilliant career began with co-authoring the cult classic novel Puberty Blues at the age of 17. Puberty Blues was subsequently made into a film and most recently, into a successful TV mini-series. She later worked as a newspaper columnist and television sitcom writer for Columbia Pictures in Los Angeles before writing international bestsellers including Foetal Attraction, Mad Cows, which was made into a film starring Joanna Lumley and Anna Friel, Nip ‘n’ Tuck, and How to Kill Your Husband and Other Handy Household Hints, from which an opera was adapted and premiered by the Victorian Opera, Australia. In The Boy Who Fell To Earth, a novel inspired by her son Julius, Kathy created a funny and moving account of bringing up a child with Asperger syndrome. Her books have been translated into 17 languages.

Kathy writes for the print media and also appears on television – see Getaway on Australia’s Nine Network – in both Britain and Australia.

As a feminist and champion of women’s issues, she is also an ambassador for Women and Children First, Plan International and the White Ribbon Alliance.

To learn more about her and for a full list of Kathy’s books go to her website www.kathylette.com or follow her on Twitter @kathylette.

 

Kathy’s Top 5 Places:

The joy of living in London is its proximity to everywhere else. What with book tours and travel pieces, I’ve been lucky enough to explore everywhere from Moscow to the Maldives. (Place-dropping, a new art form!) But of course, my favourite destination is a cosy little spot which goes by the name of “G”. But obviously I can’t give too many details about who takes me there and how often!

Kathy Lette & her sisters enjoying Gerringong

Kathy Lette & her sisters Jenny, Carolyn and Elizabeth enjoying Gerringong

 

South Coast of NSW

But my happiest holidays took place in my childhood , in my grandma’s beach side shack in Gerringong, a little town south of  Sydney. (Like many Australian place names, Gerringong is Aboriginal for “get lost white ratbags.”) Every school holiday my family would snake our way down the coast in our over-laden Chevy. Oh the joy we’d feel as we rounded the final bend and looked down at that sapphire blue lagoon and golden arc of sand, bookended by grassy headlands. My three sisters and I would explode from the car like champagne from a shaken bottle, squealing with delight as we raced for that beautiful beach.

As toddlers we lolled about in the lagoon, attempting to bridge the yawning chasm between us and buoyancy. Later, Dad taught us to body surf. The first time I followed my father into the swell the waves slapped my face repeatedly. I felt I was being interrogated by the Nazis. As a sheer cliff of green water reared up, (what my sisters and I called a “vomit comet”) I began to realize that “body surfing” is just a euphemism for “organ donor.” But my father simply picked me up and hurled me like a human javelin towards shore.  Before I had time to have a heart attack, I realised I was actually aloft on the crest. I kicked, arched, threw my arms in front, dug into the water and skittered down the face of the wave, whooping. It would have been a total triumph… if only my bikini bottoms hadn’t caught a different wave altogether.

At the end of each sun-drenched day, it was off to the fish and chip shop. We ate so many battered savs and pluto pups it’s a wonder Greenpeace didn’t mistake us for whales and push us back into the briny. With salt-encrusted eyebrows, we’d then play on the swings outside the pub while our parents had a leisurely pint.

Now that my sisters and I have children of our own, Gerringong is still our favourite destination. Every December for  26 years, I’ve uprooted my family and dragged them to the other side of the world, blinking like field mice as we emerge into the searing sunshine at Mascot. We then head straight down the coast. My English friends are only slightly more active than a pot plant. They get winded licking a stamp. But at Gerringong my sisters and I ride boogie boards all day, holding hand as we surf to shore like deranged Gidgets. We go rock-pooling and bush walking with the kids and eat mangos so succulent you have to be hosed down afterwards, then play charades all night. It’s hilarious, chaotic, sunburnt bliss and I wouldn’t miss it for the world

 

Bin along Bay, Tasmania

Binalong Bay, Tasmania

Tasmania

Tasmania is an ancient wilderness with unique and exotic wild life. (Errol Flynn was born here, after all.) The “Map of Tassie” is Oz slang for the female pudenda, because of its triangular shape. And if so, it’s totally unwaxed. Over 50% of Tassie is designated national park, meaning that there are  more animals than people.

Tasmania is the world’s best walking destination. There are over 1,200 miles of tracks in 18 national parks , through Jurassic Park-like forests and along pristine white beaches. Giant eucalyptus trees tower over platypuses playing in clear creeks where 10 foot tree ferns burst from a  bush teeming with pygmy possums, parakeets, quolls, wombats and wallabies.

Take the six hour hike around the Bay of Fires, named for the flint-sparked Aboriginal campfires spotted by the first Europeans to brave this isolated coastline. It’s an arduous walk, your kit on your back. As my attitude to exercise is “no pain, no pain”, I was sure I would lose the will to live by the first beach crescent (Come eco touring. Give morticians more employment!) But the Bay of Fires is so breathtakingly beautiful, I hardly noticed the distance. The wooded slopes and craggy cliffs, the lunar landscape of granite boulders, Jackson-Pollocked with orange, red and yellow lichens,  the rolling surf hissing onto your shoes, your only company the nonchalant kangaroos grazing amid the middens of oyster shells, discarded through thousands of years of Aboriginal feasts  – you begin to think Homo sapiens the endangered species.

 

Bowen, Whitsundays Photo courtesy of Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority

Bowen, Whitsundays
Photo courtesy of Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority

The Great Barrier Reef and Whitsunday Passage

Queensland’s Whitsunday Passage was named by Captain James Cook as he nosed his ship the Endeavour through it’s azure waters and coral reefs on Whit Sunday 1770.

The 74 Whitsunday islands are a national park, teeming with rainbow lorikeets, cockatoos, kookaburras, kingfishers, blue tiger butterflies and rock wallabies. When you first arrive, you find yourself talking in exclamation marks. “Wow! Amazing! This whole empty silica sanded beach is really all mine?!!!!!!!!”

My only rules re sport are – nothing involving water, balls, feet leaving the earth, or sweat. My preferred activity is reading, in which there is not much potential for death. If God had meant us to swim in the ocean, he would have given us shark proof metal cages. I mean, there must be a reason fish never look truly relaxed…. Could it be because something much, much bigger is always trying to devour them? But you simply cannot come to the Great Barrier Reef and not go into the water.

Coral Gardens - photo courtesy of Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority

Coral Gardens, Great Barrier Reef – photo courtesy of Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority

From the Whitsundays its only 15 minutes by boat to the Great Barrier Reef, the eighth wonder of the world. This 2,500 km coral ribbon, with its 600 atolls, islets and coral cays, 25 million years in the making and visible from outer space, is the largest living thing on the planet…besides Donald Trump’s ego. You enter a world that is hallucinogenic, kaleidoscopic, and completely enthralling, teeming as it is, with over 15,000 species of marine life.

And in the winter, it’s the perfect place to go whale watching. The sheltered Whitsunday waters are a favourite place for the humpbacks to give birth. Cruising about in a little boat, I was within patting distance of newly born calves frolicking with their barnacled parents in the briny. Heaven.

 

Kalgoorlie Super-Pit

Kalgoorlie Super-Pit

Kalgoorlie, West Australia

This mining town in WA is so hot the trees are positively whistling for dogs and the chooks lay hard-boiled eggs.  The “super pit” seems as vast and deep as the Grand Canyon. Gargantuan trucks, each wheel the size of a seaside bungalow,  labour, ant like, up and down the red earth slopes day in, day out. The seam of gold they mine is called “The Body” – conjuring up images  of a geological Elle McPherson, crawling with men. And, in a town with one female to every four blokes, it’s surely the women who are “sitting on a goldmine.”

But it’s full of characters and colourful stories. Make sure you visit the town’s most famous brothel,  “Langtrees” which runs family friendly “brothel tours” enabling tourists not to walk, but TIPTOE on the wild side. Although tough and rough, the town is surprisingly beautiful in many ways. The wide, expansive streets, built to accommodate a full bullock dray as it turned; the veranda-ed  pubs, fringed with iron lace….its Russell Drysdale, without the angst and poverty (apart from the dismal Aboriginal settlements, situated between two pits, the Super and the sewage.)  With the earth so red and sky so blue – it’s positively Dali-esque. You keep glancing around the landscape for a dripping clock on stilts.

 

Uluru (Ayers Rock) Australia - womangoingplaces.com.au

Uluru (Ayers Rock) Australia – womangoingplaces.com.au

Uluru

AND you must visit Uluru – Australia’s giant geological belly button smack bang in the middle of the continent.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(For more about Uluru read the WomanGoingPlaces  feature “Uluru – Overlooked Icon of Australia” womangoingplaces.com.au/uluru-ayers-rock-australia/ )

Travel Tips:

* Never eat anything from a road-side stand.

* When visiting the tropics, take a solar powered vibrator.

* And the best travelling companion? Books. No matter where you are, no matter how uncomfortable, you can always slip between the covers of something scintillating. (I highly recommend my latest novel, Courting Trouble, she says, modestly. Dropping your own name, now there’s an art form!)

 

 

 

 

Anna Goldsworthy – My Top 5 Places in Australia

Anna Goldsworthy  is an acclaimed solo pianist, memoirist, playwright, and librettist.

Anna has performed widely, particularly at festivals in Australia and throughout the world. As a chamber player, she is a founding member of the celebrated Seraphim Trio, notable for premiering works by Australian composers, and for its innovative programming and community outreach. The Seraphim Trio is now in its twenty-third year.

In 2009, Anna published her first book, a beautiful memoir Piano Lessons, which described her path to becoming a musician. It also depicted the remarkable relationship between a talented pupil and an inspiring, exacting and charismatic teacher, Eleanora Sivan. A best seller, Piano Lessons was shortlisted for numerous awards and won the 2010 Australian Book Industry Newcomer of the Year award. Anna has adapted it for the stage, performing on-stage as both an actor and pianist. Piano Lessons and is currently in development as a film.

Her second memoir, Welcome to Your New Life, a book inspired by becoming a mother, Anna’s warmth, humour and acute observations have won widespread acclaim. Anna has also written numerous selections for Best Australian Essays, and the Quarterly Essay Unfinished Business: Sex, Freedom and Misogyny. 

She was Artistic Director of the Port Fairy Spring Music Festival for 6 years.

To read more about Anna go to her website www.annagoldsworthy.com

Anna Goldsworthy rehearsing in Brasil – www.nicholaspurcellstudio.com

Anna’s Top 5 Places:

Flinders Ranges South Australia

Flinders Ranges South Australia – www.nicholaspurcellstudio.com

Flinders Ranges

The Flinders was the site of numerous childhood camping expeditions, and still strikes me as the most Australian place I know: the colour scheme; the silences and surprising soundtracks; the stars that go on forever.

Melbourne, CBD

Melbourne, CBD – www.nicholaspurcellstudio.com

Melbourne

Melbourne was home for seventeen years. It’s where I met my partner, Nicholas, and where our two sons were born. So I have a sentimental attachment to it, but it’s also an objectively wonderful city, ticking all the important boxes: great music, great coffee, great writing, great friends.

Port Fairy Victoria

Port Fairy Victoria- www.nicholaspurcellstudio.com

Port Fairy

I first fell in love with Port Fairy as a performer at the Port Fairy Spring Music Festival. It’s a jewel of a chamber music festival in a jewel of a town, voted the ‘world’s most liveable’ in 2012. Six years ago I became Artistic Director of the festival, a thrilling appointment for all sorts of reasons, not least because it meant Port Fairy could become a second home. I’m handing in the reins at the end of this year, but already cooking up new reasons to visit.

Noosa Queensland

Noosa Queensland- www.nicholaspurcellstudio.com

Noosa

Holidays have changed for us since we’ve had small children. Noosa would never previously have struck me an exciting destination, but we’ve had two great holidays now and are planning another. Last year, our visit coincided with the Noosa Long Weekend Festival, and we enjoyed both cabaret and the beach: a winning combination.

Epsom House Tasmania

Epsom House Tasmania – www.nicholaspurcellstudio.com

Epsom House, Pontville, Tasmania

We’ve been visiting Epsom House for years, enjoying concerts in the immaculately restored ballroom, which also happens to have one of the best acoustics in the country. The house is a time capsule from a more gracious era, and visits are invariably restorative – particularly now that proprietors Jacqui and Geoff Robertson have added two acres of English gardens.

 All photographs by Nicholas Purcell  www.nicholaspurcellstudio.com

Travel Tips:

*Turn off your device.

*Deploy an ‘out of office’ message whenever possible.

*Never get caught without a book.

*****

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Maggie Beer – My Top 5 Places in Australia

 Maggie Beer  is an outstanding figure on the Australian culinary scene and was recognised on a postage stamp of Australia Post Australian Legends. She is known for her beautiful and accessible cooking using fresh, seasonal produce sourced locally.

Long before seasonality and sustainability had entered the common language, these concepts were the driving force behind the family farm Maggie established with husband Colin in the Barossa Valley in 1973. They began by breeding pheasants and selling homemade paté at the farm gate.

People began flocking to the farm, not only to buy her home grown produce, but also to taste Maggie’s cooking at their much-acclaimed Pheasant Farm Restaurant.

Since then, she and Colin have moved on to achieve great success with their Farm Shop and Café and their production of niche foods for the gourmet market both in Australia and overseas.

Maggie’s warm and vibrant presence has been on our television screens through her hit ABC series, The Cook and The Chef and her popular appearances on Masterchef, as well as her own Christmas television special. She has written 9 cookbooks.

Maggie has received many honours and awards, including a Member of the Order of Australia (AM), for her outstanding contribution to tourism and hospitality and for making the Barossa region a desirable destination for lovers of good food as well as wine.

To read more about Maggie go to: www.maggiebeer.com.au

Maggie’s Top 5 Places:

Southern Ocean Lodge Kangaroo Island

Southern Ocean Lodge
Kangaroo Island

Kangaroo Island

One of my all-time favourite travel experiences was last February, in the height of summer in South Australia, whilst the mainland sweltered, we revelled in about 28°C as the very privileged guests of Southern Ocean Lodge on Kangaroo Island.

 The thing about Southern Ocean Lodge is that every part of the experience was more than I could have hoped for. The staff so friendly but professional; the food a really great experience and every bit of detail down to the welcoming mini lamingtons in the room in case you were peckish before dinner; the open bar with great South Australian wines and fabulous treatments if it took your fancy. Truly more than the sum of the parts and though definitely a special occasion for most of us I doubt that anyone would feel they had not had truly great value. How lucky we were!

 

Sydney Opera House

Sydney Opera House

Sydney

Sydney will always hold a special place for me, having grown up there, I love returning to some of my sentimental favourite spots like Rose Bay, or just taking time to wander along the beaches. And of course my love of music makes the Sydney Opera House incredibly emotive, I just love seeing it when I approach the harbour. The restaurants are wonderful too, I have to mention that, as you can imagine!

 

 

Desert Park Alice Springs

Desert Park Alice Springs

Alice Springs

A few years ago I was asked to visit Alice Springs during the Desert Festival to judge the Wild Foods Competition, I didn’t hesitate for a moment.  I had never had the chance to visit Alice Springs so it was the perfect opportunity to see more of my own country. The trip to Desert Park where I had the privilege of being shown around by two wonderful Aboriginal women, Veronica, an Elder, and Rayleen, a really good caterer with ‘Kangas can Cook’ who was a driving force in the wildfood competition.

Desert Park is almost too beautiful even to write about except to say I’ll never feel the same way about the Desert again.   Having the privilege of Veronica and Rayleen pointing out all the food and medicinal plants was more than I could have hoped for, but Colin, who simply was there as an independent tourist whilst I was busy, felt just as strongly about how wonderful the park was.  It’s something that every Australian should simply visit to find out for themselves.

 

Glenmore House garden produce

Glenmore House garden produce

Glenmore House,

New South Wales

A truly beautiful property, Glenmore House on the edge of Sydney, is a rambling collection of early colonial farm buildings surrounded by a superb garden, where it seems a determined passion outweighs the problems of regular water shortages, poor soil, high summer temperatures, severe winter frosts and merciless seasonal winds. Seeing such magnificent produce growing under these conditions has inspired me no end in my own garden. Seasonal and monthly courses are planned to include Simple Cookery from The Garden, Making Jams, Preserving Fruit & Vegetables, and Successful Composting and Biodynamic Principles.

 

Barossa Valley

Barossa Valley

Barossa Valley

I know it might sound trite, but the Barossa is still my favourite destination, and I’d love everyone to have a chance to experience the many reasons I love it. Even though I do travel quite a bit but always keep my overnight stays to a minimum so I can be at home as much as possible. It’s still my favourite place to refuel on every level.

 

Travel Tips:

To go with the flow and accept all aspects of relinquishing control.

Always bring music with you, for the plane, to create warmth in a hotel room, to set a soundtrack to all the memories you’ll be making on your trip.

 

 

 

Ajok – Women of Oz

 

My name is Ajok. I come from South Sudan (in 2005). Before I came from South Sudan, it was all Sudan, not separate. But we are separate now, we are South Sudan now. And when I came to Australia, I go to Khartoum first then to Egypt. And we do the process with my husband and my kids. I born two kids in Egypt, and we came to Australia.

How long did you have to spend in Egypt?

Three years. We do process three years in Egypt.

Was it dangerous leaving Sudan and can you describe the journey from Sudan to Egypt?

When we come from Sudan to Egypt we have war in Sudan. That’s why we come to Egypt, with my husband. Egypt is very good.

 

 

What was the hardest thing for you when you arrived ?

When we arrived here ( in Australia),  I don’t know the language very well. We have Dinka and we have Arabic in Sudan before. But when we come here, we don’t know English. I’m listening, but I didn’t talk. When I came here, I didn’t go to school. My husband went to school first and I stay with kids. It’s hard. When my husband go to school I will stay with my kids and when we don’t have something in my house, we wait until my husband coming back home.

You couldn’t go out and do the shopping?

Ah no. I have small kids, two or three, no-one with me. I’m waiting for my husband coming. My husband learn to drive and this is helping. We do everything together. And now we are happy. My husband finished school in 2010. When we coming from Sudan, he had three years in uni. And now he finished here – medical doctor. And now my children – the older one now is going to the uni, designer, and we are happy. And the second one now in year 11 and we are happy too. And the last one in year 1. I have six boys and one girl. And my husband and me we are happy in Australia.

Not all kids, but some kids, they don’t listen to us. They say these rules in Australia is good. But when they go out, they don’t do good things. Your Mum not there, your Dad not there, no older ones to say to you “Don’t do this, Don’t do this. ” That’s why they do crime, crime in the streets, crime everywhere. And then every white people they see black people and think they don’t do good things. But not all. This is not our culture. This is the rule for Australia culture.

 

Ajok in Wyndham Women of South Sudan 2017 calendar

 

How does it make you feel?

We feel no good. For us, when you see on the TV they say black people do this, they do this, you not feeling good. You feeling like tell your kid and your family to go back in your country. But not safe in our country. That’s why we are here. We don’t do anything.

When we come to Australia, the Australia rule say when your baby or child turning 18, they go out. But in our culture, no. You stay with your kid. Your boy – when they have married they stay in the house, not go outside. And girls too, when they are married they go with their husband (family). And here rule in Australia this is a bad rule in Australia, that when the kid is 18 and then they go out to take care of themselves.  This broke our hearts. And we sad for this one.

But now our kids not listen to us.

We want to talk with the Australian people. We are good people. We are not bad people. This is kids who take the rule here. This rule is not our rule.

This is my dream, I pray to God, all my kids to be good, not take the Australia rule and all this. They follow the school and they follow good things, not follow bad things. This is my dream.

Wyndham Women of South Sudan 2017 calendar

 

*The Wyndham Women of South Sudan group was set up to provide English literacy skills and to build a community. The English class produced a 2017 calendar which features some traditional Sudanese recipes.