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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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…………..

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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

Anna’s Top 5 Places:

Flinders Ranges South Australia

Flinders Ranges
South Australia

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

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

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

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

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.

 Photographs by Nicholas Purcell

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.

 

 

 

Anne Summers – My Top 5 Places in Australia

Anne Summers AO can be described as someone who is always in the vanguard as a feminist, journalist, author, editor and publisher.

Now that the issue of domestic violence is on the national agenda, we recall that 41 years ago, Anne Summers lead the charge into an abandoned building in Sydney and co-founded Elsie, the first women’s refuge in Australia.

She again led the way in her revelatory and now classic book Damned Whores and God’s Police, which was published in 1975. It showed how the Madonna or Whore polarity in attitudes toward women, derived from Australia’s colonial past, had become entrenched and influenced Australia’s subsequent political and social culture.

Anne was given an official leadership role when she ran the federal Office of the Status of Women (now Office for Women) from 1983 to 1986 when Bob Hawke was Prime Minister, and she was an advisor to Prime Minister Paul Keating.

Anne Summers Australian Legends Stamp

Anne Summers Australian Legends Stamp

For her distinctive role in advancing women’s equality, she was presented with the Australian Legends Award for 2011 and joined the exclusive ranks of great Australians to appear on a special Post Office stamp.

In 1989, Anne was made an Officer in the Order of Australia for her services to women and to journalism.

As a journalist and columnist, her work included being Canberra bureau chief for the Australian Financial Review and the paper’s North American editor. She was editor-in-chief of Ms. magazine in New York in 1987. She now writes a regular opinion column for the Sydney Morning Herald.

Three years ago, Anne created Anne Summers Reports www.annesummers.com.au. As its editor and publisher she is now part of a new trend of women publishing online magazines. ASR is a high quality digital magazine that covers a wide range of topics. The August issue highlighted the world-wide practice of female genital mutilation and Nimco Ali’s campaign against it.

Anne is the author of 8 books. Her latest book The Misogyny Factor looks at the sexism and misogyny that continues to deny women inclusion, equality and respect. For her previous books see: www.annesummers.com.au/products/books/

In September 2013 she began her series of very popular Anne Summers Conversations http://www.annesummers.com.au/conversations  with former Prime Minister Julia Gillard at sell-out events in the Sydney Opera House and the Melbourne Town Hall.

 

Anne’s Top 5 Places:

 

Bouddi National Park - Bulimah Spur track - photo John Yurasek

Bouddi National Park – Bulimah Spur track – photo John Yurasek

Wagstaffe and the Bouddi peninsula

On the New South Wales Central Coast. A tiny laid back and undeveloped settlement with just a handful of houses looking out over the bay, with the Bouddi National Park for backdrop and birdlife like you’ve never seen. You want kookaburras to join you on the deck for cocktails? Just pop the cork.

 

 

 

Palm Cove

Palm Cove

Palm Cove

Situated about 30kms north of Cairns in Far North Queensland, Palm Cove is the kind of old-fashioned place that gives resorts a good name. A place where buildings are not allowed to be higher than the ancient Melaleucas which Captain Cook is supposed to have admired when he stopped their briefly to replenish his water supply. And it has city-quality restaurants (unfortunately with city level prices). You can’t swim most of the year because of the stingers but you can’t beat a walk on the beach at any time of the day or night.

 

Sydney - photo Hamilton Lund

Sydney – photo Hamilton Lund

Sydney

I first came to this dazzling city forty years ago and I kept coming back even after stints living in places like New York.  Sydney is a vibrant and physically stunning place with a diverse and (mostly) tolerant population where anything is possible. Bad stuff happens here (as in any big city) but the good far outweighs it. And physically it is unbeatable, with a surprising, and usually stunning, piece of landscape seemingly around every corner and over every horizon.

 

Port Arthur guards 1866 - ALMFA,SLT

Port Arthur guards 1866 – ALMFA,SLT

Port Arthur

The dark heart of our history, the site of an unimaginably cruel penal colony during the convict era and of Australia’s worse modern day mass shooting in 1996.  Much of the prison and its associated buildings, including the chilling prison chapel (designed so convicts could not look at each other during the service) are remarkably intact.

 

 

 

Port Arthur, Tasmania - photo Giovanni Portelli

Port Arthur, Tasmania – photo Giovanni Portelli

Yet Port Arthur is also a remarkably beautiful, green and lush place, nestled beside tranquil water.  Nowhere else in Australia does the phrase ‘her beauty and her terror’ from Dorothea Mackellar’s My Country resonate in quite the way it does here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Australian War Memorial

The Australian War Memorial

Canberra

Our national capital, whose landscape is unlike that of any other Australian city,  and the home of our national monuments, Canberra is a very special place. At least once in their lives everyone should visit the National Gallery of Australia, the National Portrait Gallery, the National Library of Australia, the Museum of Australia, the Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House and the Australian War Memorial. These are not just a bunch of stodgy institutions. Between them, they contain so much of our history and our culture that they are the very heart of our country.

 

Travel tips:

*  Always have a long and engrossing book in your bag as you never know when – or for how long – you might be delayed. And batteries don’t run out on books.

*  Pack lightly.  You really don’t need many clothes when you travel and dragging heavy bags is a sure fire recipe for a bad back and an even worse temper. I once travelled round the world for three weeks with just a small carry on roller bag.

*  Travel should be fun so don’t stress out. Get to the airport in time for a coffee or a cocktail.  And once you get out of Australia, airports in many cities are wonderful places to spend time in. Schiphol, Amsterdam’s airport, even has treasures from the RijksMuseum on display.

*  Look like a jetsetter not a bogan.  Wear smart but comfortable clothes (no trackie dacks please) and even if you are in cattle class just remember that even a 24 hour flight is a helluva lot better than the months’ long sea voyages our ancestors had to endure to go anywhere.

 

Polixeni Papapetrou – My Top 5 Places in Australia

When photographic artist Polixeni Papapetrou chooses her 5 favourite places to visit in Australia, they are not just travel destinations. The landscapes that have captured her imagination and love have also been transformed into her art. Dramatically beautiful, they are insightful and unsettling works.

Her art provides us with a unique perspective on these landscapes.

Polixeni has said that in her work, landscape is another protagonist in the narrative.

Polixeni’s parents immigrated to Australia from Greece, and she was born and raised in Melbourne. She qualified and practised as a lawyer. But it was her intense and singular vision as a photographic artist that won acclaim and forged for her an Australian and international career replete with grants, exhibitions and awards. Her works have featured in over 50 solo exhibitions, and over 90 group exhibitions in Australia, the United States, Asia and Europe. They are held in private and institutional collections in leading galleries here and abroad, including the National Gallery of Australia, the National Gallery of Victoria, and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney.

Polixeni and Lexi by Robert Nelson

Polixeni’s art has evolved through a series of themes.

Earlier works depicted the construction of identities through photographs of drag queens, body builders, clowns, circus performers, and Marilyn Monroe and Elvis Presley impersonators.

Subsequently and most notably, Polixeni created the series on childhood and its shifting meaning. Featuring her own children, Olympia and Solomon as they grew into adolescence, the series uniquely combined reality and imagination, nature and theatre, the benign emblems of childhood story-telling with an underlying sense of menace.

In later works, Between Worlds, (2009), The Dreamkeepers (2012), and The Ghillies (2013) masks and costumes worn by the children allow them to transgress boundaries – young to old, human to animal – and transform them into disruptive and unsettling figures in picture-perfect landscapes. As Polixeni describes it: “ I have these characters in my mind and like to find the habitat for them and then photograph them. For me it is about reconciling my inner world, possibly the unconscious to the real world.”

It was her son’s interest in the camouflage outfits named after Scottish gamekeepers and used in computer games and by the military, that inspired the stunning images of The Ghillies. Polixeni photographed Solomon wrapped in camouflage in the landscape. But in this series, instead of being hidden in the landscape, he seems to grow out of it.

Despite serious illness in recent years, Polixeni has continued to create new series of works with the continued enthusiastic participation of her children and her husband, art critic and academic Robert Nelson. She lives happily in inner Melbourne with her husband, her children and her two greyhounds.

Current and upcoming exhibitions:

In June, Polixeni attended the opening of an exhibition of her works at the Benaki Museum in Athens.  And 10 new works that she has created in her ‘Eden’ series will be shown in forthcoming exhibitions in Australia.

WomanGoingPlaces is privileged to publish 4 works in the ‘Eden’ series. See below.

Polixeni’s Top 5 Places:

Polixeni_Papapetrou_The_Loners_2009

Polixeni Papapetrou The Loners 2009

Flinders, Mornington Peninsula, Victoria 

When friends invited us to their holiday home in the coastal town of Merricks, on the Mornington Peninsula in Victoria I was eager to go. I knew about the town as it is the home of the popular 1920s- built Merricks General Store and Stonier’s and Merricks Estate wineries (two of my favourite reds). I was enchanted with a site in Flinders, known as Bush Rangers Bay. The contrast of rural and the wild coastal terrain of Bass Strait makes for breathtaking landscape.

 

Polixeni Papapetrou The Shell Collectors 2009

Polixeni Papapetrou The Shell Collectors 2009

I have made numerous pictures at this location such as The Loners, portraying two elderly rabbits walking along the coast line framed by basalt cliffs, another of two horses enjoying the violin, three industrious pigs gathering straw at the site of the old quarry and a mother and son collecting shells on the coast. When making The Shell Collectors we were caught out by a rapidly changing tide and while the children scurried away in a flash, I had to gather my camera equipment before the encroaching waters carried it away to sea!  Nearby is the formidable Flinders Blowhole where if you dare you can walk on the rocks or even walk to the spectacular Cape Schank.

 

Polixeni_Papapetrou_Study_for_Hattah_Man_and_Hattah Woman_2013

Polixeni Papapetrou Study for Hattah Man and Hattah Woman 2013

The Mallee region 

VIC and NSW 

Mildura is a short plane trip from Melbourne, but I find the six hour long scenic journey by car one of the most relaxing drives in Victoria. As we progress through the drive, I love seeing the earth change colour turn from brown to a rich red. That is the signal that we have arrived in Mallee country, on which the beautiful stunted mallee tree grows. Before we reach our destination in Mildura to spend time with family friends, the         De Pieris who run the acclaimed Stefano’s restaurant and Mildura Brewery, we stop off at various locations to make work.

The semi-arid Murray-Sunset National Park is a must stop for me. The landscape is virtually untouched other than the site of the Raak Plain, an old gypsum mine which looks like an apocalyptic landscape. I made the picture called Study for Hattah Man and Hattah Woman on the Raak plains.

Polixeni Papapetrou Salt Man 2013

Polixeni Papapetrou Salt Man 2013

The landscape has a mysterious and ancient mood that I wanted to capture. I also love the Pink Lakes in the same park which change colour throughout the year. During Spring the lakes turn a deep pink colour and you can walk across them. I made the picture Salt Man on the Pink Lakes. The gorgeous pink coloured salt we have on our table at home is produced by the Murray River Red Salt Farm.

A short distance further from Mildura crossing the Murray River into New South Wales brings you to the town of Wentworth and the spectacular ancient site of the Perry Sand Hills. It was once a camping and hunting ground for Aboriginal people. As a result of the Ice Age, the area turned into sand dunes sculpted by wind erosion over thousands of years. As far as the eye can see, the area feels like a scene from another planet, acres and acres of shifting orange coloured sand dunes. I have visited this site a number of times to make photographs.

 

Polixeni_Papapetrou_Wild_World_2008

Polixeni Papapetrou Wild World 2008

Lake Mungo, NSW  

Another favourite destination is Lake Mungo, a significant ancient Aboriginal site, which was once  an Aboriginal fishing, hunting and camping ground. During the last Ice Age the water levels dropped and the lake dried up. Subsequent erosion of the land revealed human and animal remains as well as tools. The most spectacular discovery were 40,000 year old skeletal remains known as ‘Mungo Man’ and ‘Mungo Woman’. Walking on the dried lake has a moon-like eeriness about it.  The small museum on the site and the old woolshed are added attractions. Many visitors camp on the grounds, but as I can’t wear my heels camping we stay in the Lake Mungo Lodge.

 

Polixeni_Papapetrou_Hanging_Rock_1900_2006

Polixeni Papapetrou Hanging Rock 1900_2006

Hanging Rock, Macedon Ranges, Victoria 

As a teenager in the 1970s I was captivated by Peter Weir’s film, Picnic at Hanging Rock. Set on Valentine’s Day in 1900, a party of schoolgirls ventured out for a school excursion at Hanging Rock. Three of the party set out on a walk on the rock and were not seen again. The story of the three missing schoolgirls has become embedded in Australia’s cultural imagination to the point where people are surprised to learn that the account is a fiction. When I discovered that Hanging Rock was just outside of Melbourne, I hopped to and immersed myself in its mysterious history.

Polixeni_Papapetrou_The_Lantern_ Keeper_2012

Polixeni Papapetrou The Lantern Keeper 2012

The site itself is one of the world’s most extraordinary and significant geological formations. The Rock is a former volcano and is shaped into pinnacles created over 6 million years ago when lava rose through the earth’s crust. The magma that rose to the surface is only found in two or three other places in the world. It is a ghostly place, wild and chaotic and is a perfect backdrop to set the scene for my work portraying the ancient, spiritual wilderness of Australia.

I was moved to make a photograph about the three missing schoolgirls at Hanging Rock as well as making Magma Man and The Lantern Keeper as I could imagine my invented characters living there, hiding in the Rock’s many nooks and crannies.

 

Polixeni Papapetrou The Visitor 2012

Polixeni Papapetrou The Visitor 2012

The Victorian High Country (Mt Buller) 

When you mention Mount Buller, in Victoria’s high county, you immediately conjure up images of snow and skiing. I love to visit the mountain in the warmer months of the year, as working on-location is more comfortable and easier. The stunning snow gums at Mount Buller are also fully expressed in the warmer months and create pockets of natural beauty set against these spectacular mountains.

When we made The Wanderer, we arrived the day before and were surprised by sudden overcast conditions, a thunderstorm and a blackened sky. I despaired and thought that I would not be able to take photographs as planned on the following day. I resigned myself to having a holiday, but plans were once again changed when we woke up to a brilliant blue sky the following morning.

Polixeni_Papapetrou_The_Philosopher_2012

Polixeni Papapetrou The Philosopher 2012

Similarly when I made The Visitor during the Spring, a dampness descended on the mountain, which was atmospheric. I thought that I’d have days of this perfect photographic backdrop, but once again we woke to a clear sunny sky the following day.

 

I also made The Philospher at this location. The image reflects a person alone on the top of a mountain. It symbolizes the solitude of thought where the vastness of the landscape is the counterpoint to the intimacy of an internal world. It is an internal/external that we all struggle with. I love the way that the landscape in the High Country plays tricks on me.  We also love to visit the nearby town of Mirimbah, eat at the café, walk in Mirimbah Park and jump into the lake when it is hot enough.

 

Images in Eden Series

Travel Tips:

* If you are friendly with your neighbours, let them know that you will be away. Otherwise leave home in the dead of night! And don’t forget to put the dogs in kennels.

* Research the history of the areas that you are visiting. And take maps. Intuiting your way across foreign terrain is only great if you enjoy becoming seriously lost.

* Pack as lightly as possible as you always accumulate things along the way. Kidding yourself if you say that you won’t.  But always take plenty of water.

* A book goes a long way to relieving the boredom of travel.  Yes holidays can be a bit boring, but you can always attempt an interesting conversation too.

For more information about Polixeni Papapetrou see:http://www.polixenipapapetrou.net

Exhibitions

• MAMA Art Foundation Photography Prize, Murray Art Museum, NSW, 21 May – 7 August 2016

• Timelapse, Gippsland Art Gallery, Victoria, 24 May – 24 July 2016

•European Month of PhotographyAthens, Benaki Museum, Athens, 9 June – 26 July 2016

•Spring 1883, Windsor, Kalli Rolfe Contemporary, 17-21 August 2016

•Eden, Stills Gallery, Sydney, 31 August – 5 October 2016

•European Month of Photography, Berlin, 1-31 October 2016

•Beyond Eden, Monash Gallery of Art, Melbourne, 22 October – 2 December  2016

 

Photo of Polixeni Papapetrou by Robert Nelson