Thursday, 30 June 2011

American Tourist Stranded on Great Barrier Reef

Michaelmas Cay
Another tourist has been left stranded on The Great Barrier Reef in Queensland Australia.  Ian Cole, aged 28, was on holidays from America and went on a snorkeling trip to Michaelmas Cay with the boat "Passions of Paradise". When he surfaced he found that his boat had left boat without him. Apparently the person doing the head count, a requirement for tour boat operators, had not done it correctly. Fortunately for Ian Cole, another boat operated by the same company was in the area. After initial panic Ian swam to them, and they radioed the Passions of Paradise who turned around and came back and picked him up.

The Great Barrier Reef
Ian said "I lifted my head up and I saw the boat had gone - it had left me. The adrenalin hit in and I had a moment of panic, which was the worst thing I could have done at that point. I was able to calm myself just a little bit because there was another boat still out there and I made my way to that vessel. Lucky it was there because otherwise I may have drowned, I did not handle the situation well and I was tired."

The Great Barrier Reef
This incident brought back memories of 1998 when the American couple Tom and Eileen Lonergan where left behind on a diving trip on The Great Barrier Reef near Port Douglas. It took two days before anyone noticed them missing, and it  is presumed they were taken by sharks or drowned. A movie “Open Water” was made of this incident.

These are very isolated incidents, and shouldn’t deter people enjoying holidays to The Great Barrier Reef. Thousands of tourists from around the world flock to The Great Barrier Reef off Queensland each year to enjoy snorkelling and diving. The Great Barrier Reef has over 3000 individual reef systems and coral cays, hundreds of picturesque tropical islands, and some of the worlds most beautiful sun-soaked, golden beaches. It is 2,600 kms (1,600 mi) long and covers an area of 344,400 sq kms (133,000 sq mi). It is larger than the Great Wall of China and the only living thing on earth visible from space. There are various websites which provide information on the natural wonders of this World Heritage site. Consider it for your next holiday, anytime of the year.

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

New High Speed Rail Opens in China between Beijing and Shanghai

China's much-anticipated high speed rail line between Beijing and Shanghai will commence tomorrow on Friday July 1 when trains go into commercial operation for the first time. A ceremony was held today, on June 30, to mark the opening of the new high-speed rail link.

The new link has taken less than 3 years to build, and has been operating on a trial basis since mid-May,

The high speed train will travel at a speed of 300kph (186mph)  The new link will cut the 820 mile journey between the two cities of Beijing and Shanghai in half to four hours and 45 minutes, which is two hours less than the present train journey. The new fast train is designed to carry 80 million passengers a year

The other alternative of travelling from Beijing to Shanghai is to fly, and this takes about two hours. However, travel to the airports is time-consuming, and the busy air route is often subject to weather and air traffic delays and cancellations. This makes the new high speed train travel an attractive option.

One-way ticket prices will range between 410 yuan and 1750 yuan ($61 and $259), vice rail minister Hu Yadong said last week, compared to about 193 yuan for a flight between the two cities. With its fully reclining airline-style business class seats,

He Huawu, the chief engineer of the Chinese Railway Ministry said China was in leading the world in the industry. "Countries that are currently building high speed railways can draw on the experience of China, such as its standards, construction ability and integration methods. The United States is also building its high speed railway network. We have signed the deal with them," he said.

Beijing’s South Railway Station is a remarkable new strcture, with a vaulting glass dome propped up on steel stilts that looks like a flying saucer has just landed from outer space

Here are some statistics about the new high speed rail link between Beijing and Shanghai:- 21 - tunnels on the line; 24 - stations en route; 288 – bridges;  I hope one day to travel on this remarkable new fast train in China so that I can write an article on my travel experience

Monday, 27 June 2011

China Experiences Severe Floods in June 2011

Jiangxi Province
China is unfortunate to be experiencing a series of severe floods in central and southern China. These floods have been caused by very heavy rainfalls and are affecting 36.5 million people across 13 provinces. According to the Ministry of Civil Affairs so far 1.64 million people have been displaced, more than 700 people have died as a result of the flooding and 347 people are missing.

Flooded street, Wuhan, Hubei Province
Landslides and mudslides have toppled homes, blocked roads and crushed parts of railway lines..Dikes breached and flooded many villages.More than 230 rivers in the country had seen water levels rise beyond warning points, with two dozen exceeding historic highs. The floods have inundated parts of the 13 provinces of Jiangxi, Zhejiang, Anhui, Fujian, Jiangxi, Hubei, Hunan, Guangdong, Guangxi, Chongqing, Sichuan, Guizhou and Yunan have been affected.

Mr Liu Ning, head of the country's flood control authority and vice-minister of water resources, hopes that this years fllods will not be as bad as those that occurred in the historic 1998 flooding on the Yangtze River. He said the annual rainy season would continue at least through August, and that more downpours were expected, further straining reservoirs and other water control projects, especially as the East Asian typhoon season has just begun."During this period there will be heavy rainfall and serious floods. The rainfall will continue," Mr Liu Ning said. .
Firefighters rescue people trapped by flood water at the Fuxing Wood Industry building  in Jiujiang, Jiangxi Province

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Summer in June in Berlin

Its the middle of winter in Muswellbrook, NSW Australia with cool days, cold nights, and heavy frosts in the mornings. Its is hard to comprehend that on the other side of the world it is summer Where could you spend a lovelier vacation to escape the winter of Muswellbrook than in the summer of Berlin in Germany? Where a 1.3 kilometer long sand beach is just a commuter rail ride away, where on one street corner you can buy Peruvian ice cream and on the other a classic Berlin drink: a hefeweizen beer with a shot of raspberry syrup. In Berlin, there are beach bars next to operetta stages, and the parks are transformed into dining rooms in the great outdoors. No one has to decide between nature and culture – often, both possibilities are just a few steps away from each other.


Vacation on the City Beach

“A villa in the green is such a treat, in front lies the Baltic, behind - old Friederich’s street” was how Berlin poet Kurt Tucholsky put it in 1927. He would probably be astounded how close the city has come to his ideal in the mean time. No other German metropolis has as many beach bars as Berlin – often lying on top of original Baltic sand. Not far from Friedrichstraße and Museum Island, for example, lies the Strandbar Mitte, which opened in 2002 as Germany’s first beach bar and continues to be one of the clear favorites. No matter in which part of Berlin you may find yourself, the beach is never far. In Friedrichshain, the Oststrand attracts its patrons with a view of the Spree River and reclining beach chairs on the deck of an old cargo ship. In the west lies the Ku’damm Beach with lounge furniture on an illuminated lake terrace. So much competition breeds creativity. It is no wonder, then, that Berlin is also home to the first “sky beach bar”. “Deck 5” is located on the top floor of a parking garage. Visitors can arrive by elevator or via a hidden side entrance and end up high above the roofs of Prenzlauer Berg. The spot where cars used to park has now been covered by the “open-air rebels” with eighty metric tons of sand and equipped with reclining beach chairs and umbrellas (


Shady Green Spots

Berlin is filled with tree-lined locations which, in summertime, tempt passersby to pause in the shade. Added to this, scattered across the entire city are numerous parks for picnics, barbecues, or simply the fine art of doing nothing. It is particularly idyllic in the Botanical Garden in Berlin-Dahlem. Between greenhouses filled with palm trees, man-made lakes, and blossoming wetland meadows are found isolated benches on which visitors can rest – surrounded by green. Directly next to the Botanical Garden is the “Königlicher Gartenakademie” [the “Royal Garden Academy”]. Not only can the brilliant display of flowers be enjoyed there, you can also learn more about cultivation and landscape architecture. The educational institution was founded by legendary Berlin garden designer Josef Lenné, and Gabriella Pape has now made it blossom again. During the summer, it offers courses and tours through the historical hothouses and the “living gardens” (

And things are also both living and lively in the other Berlin parks. Younger visitors and residents are drawn by the parks in the happening districts, such as the Volkspark Friedrichshain or the Mauerpark in Prenzlauer Berg. On the weekend, it’s best to get there early in order to stake out one of the few spots on the meadow. Or else you can stroll around and be amazed – because on sunny days, Berlin’s parks are transformed into playing fields for some exotic kinds of sports: jugglers practice next to capoeira dancers, while slackliners balance on lines strung between the trees. And on the rocks in the Volkspark Friedrichshain, climbers regularly train their muscles. Particularly good conditions for leisure-time athletes are offered by the Tempelhof Airport, the runways of which were transformed into a giant park in 2010. Where airplanes once dropped from or hurtled into the sky, rollerbladers and bicyclists now make their rounds. In the spring, a Segway rental is also scheduled to open there. The spacious area is located on a hill, so a light breeze is always blowing. That makes it especially pleasant during the summer, and it also offers the ideal conditions for kite surfing or just plain old kite flying.


Outdoor Culture and Dining

A map and a pair of sunglasses – you don’t need much more than that to spend a couple of relaxing summer days in Berlin. Life moves outside, chairs and tables line the wide sidewalks, and in the Mitte district of Berlin, the street becomes a big footpath. Anyone wishing to keep pace can be decked out in vintage sunglasses from the eyeglass agency Lunette. The owners have put together a huge stock of sunglass models from the sixties, seventies, and eighties, many of which have never been worn before, and have made sure that they have been equipped with lenses meeting the latest UV standards. In the shop on Marienburger Straße, there are classics from Ray Ban, unknown models that are reminiscent of Audrey Hepburn’s style in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”, and even a small independent collection that is inspired by retro models ( And then be sure to keep the shade-covered eyes open for “Yo’Munchy”. The pistachio-colored ice cream truck set off a virtually feverish hunt among Berliners in the summer of 2010. Operator Matthias Schwach regularly reveals his location in the city on Facebook. Anyone who finds him can be served exquisite frozen yoghurt with a whole variety of fruits, cereals, and syrups ( Probably the most exotic ice cream parlor is found in the Schöneberg district of Berlin. The owner of the Inka Café comes from Peru and specializes in Latin America ice cream. Instead of chocolate and vanilla, the flavors here are called algarrobina or chicha morada and taste like carob beans or blue corn (
Food in general plays a big role in summertime Berlin. With the first rays of sunshine, the entire city is transformed into one big dining room, and the scent of barbecues wafts through the parks. Grilling is allowed in designated areas in many public spaces, such as in the Tiergarten, at Tempelhof Airport, or in Kreuzberg’s Viktoriapark. These are used not only by large extended families, but also by students who enjoy passing a relaxing day there with friends. Anyone who wants to enjoy dining al fresco but doesn’t want to haul a grill along can make use of the Picnic Service of the Jewish Museum in Kreuzberg. With an order in advance, the museum’s restaurant Liebermanns will lovingly put together picnic baskets that include hummus and pomegranate tabouleh. They can be consumed in the spacious gardens of the museum that was designed by Daniel Libeskind ( When the heat lets up, residents and visitors to the city move into the city’s beer gardens and open air bars. The Pratergarten is a genuine classic – centrally located and yet hidden in a courtyard off of Kastanienallee. Berliner Weiße, the local hefeweizen, has been served here since as early as 1837 – accompanied by honky-tonk and march music. Today, the people from the cool scene mix with families from Prenzlauer Berg in the shade of the old chestnut trees ( Not far from the Pratergarten lie two of the loveliest open air bars in all of Berlin: the Mädcheninternat and the Mauersegler, in an idyllic setting in the middle of the metropolis, overgrown with plants, at the edge of the Mauerpark.


Party under the Stars

The nights in Berlin also do not necessarily need to be spent between four walls and a ceiling. Many of the trendy clubs have outdoor terraces where the party goes on under the starry skies. During the summer, the legendary Berghain is expanded by a beer garden. From the terrace of the Watergate Club, there is a spectacular view of the Spree River and the Oberbaumbrücke bridge. And the Sage Club on Köpenicker Straße even lures its guests with a pool and reclining beach chairs. Anyone looking for particularly original locations for partying should take a look at . With the motto “Berlin, Beats & Boats”, the organizers have chartered boats as swimming dance floors that bring party guests to remote beaches along the Spree River. The meeting point is the arena area in Treptow, home to two of the finest outdoor locations: the Restaurant Freischwimmer and the Badeschiff swimming pool ship.
The highpoints of the outdoor party culture are the music festivals. Every year on June 21, the Fête de la Musique transforms the city’s squares into stages. Last year, some 750 bands and DJs played before 90,000 audience members. And of course, free of charge: . June will also see the second edition of the “Berlin Summer Rave” in the hangars of Tempelhof Airport. Some of the groups that have already been announced include Westbam and the Berliner DJ Lützenkirchen, who wrote the Berlin hymn “Drei Tage wach” [“Up For Three Days”].


Open Air Events

Culture in Berlin does not go on vacation for the summer – quite the opposite. At least one major event takes place nearly every weekend, such as the Carnival of Cultures (June 10-13) or Christopher Street Day (June 25, 2011). Berliners take advantage of any opportunity to celebrate. For example, the 125th anniversary of the magnificent boulevard, the Kurfürstendamm. On September 3 and 4, the street known for shopping will be transformed for forty-two hours into a stage with concerts, fashion shows, and sporting events ( . And the FIFA Soccer Women’s World Cup, which gets underway on June 26 in Berlin, is a welcome occasion for fan parties and for watching games in public on the big screen.
No matter whether it’s culture or sports, with Berlin’s summer events the motto “outdoors and free” usually holds true. For example, the Street Theater Festival “Berlin lacht” [“Berlin Laughs”] take place around the Mariannenplatz in Kreuzberg in June and the Alexanderplatz in August ( And with the summer concerts in the English Garden (in the Tiergarten), entrance is traditionally free. Last year, a total of fifty bands and ensembles appeared over nine weekends. The program spans the spectrum from funk and jazz to klezmer and the sounds of the Balkans ( A good opportunity to get to know the new cool scene district of Neukölln in all its artistic facets is offered by the festival “48 Stunden Neukölln” [“48 Hours Neukölln”]. For 2011, the organizers have issued the motto “Luxus Neukölln” [“Luxury Neukölln”] – an incentive for artists to have a critical look at the gentrification in their district (June 17-19, 2011). Visitors can follow different routes to discover installations, projects, and performances – some of which may be found in hidden courtyards or private homes (


Built on the Water

The hottest day in Berlin in 2010 was measured at 36.9 degrees Celsius (98.4 degrees Fahrenheit) – an historical record. Fortunately, there are many cafes on banks or shores in the city, where a breeze from the water cools things off. Also not to be forgotten are the thirty-eight official swimming sites within the city limits. For instance, things are family-friendly and uncomplicated at the Strandbad Weißensee. During the day, little children splash around in the non-swimmer area, while their parents savor coffee under the palms in the “Überseebar”. After swimming hours, the bar also stays open in the evening, becoming the perfect place to stare at the water in peace and forget the hectic pace of the city. The Strandbad Wannsee exudes historical charm, with its 1.3 kilometer (3/4 mile) long sand beach and hooded wicker beach chairs. It was more than a hundred years ago that residents of the metropolis came here to relax by the clear water. After a complete renovation that was finished in 2007, the Strandbad is also becoming more and more popular as an event venue. The newest coup is a lake stage in the style of the Bregenz Festival, on which a spectacular production of Mozart’s The Magic Flute can be seen starting on August 11, 2011 (
Another way to cool off is tours on the water. Numerous excursion boots sail over the Spree River and the Landwehrkanal. They often provide delightful perspectives, such as of the architecture in the Government District or of houseboats that lie at anchor in the side canals. Anyone looking for something just a little different can rent a “grill boat”. On the circular electric boats complete with an umbrella and a grill, those on an excursion can sail over the water and grill their own meal at the same time. The orange-colored boots are moored at the Müggelsee, the Wannsee, and on the Spree River in Treptow ( Or else all gazes will be drawn to those who rent a raft and leisurely float around the Spree River just like Huckleberry Finn (


Seeing the City by bicycle

Bicycle tours offer the perfect combination of sightseeing and cooling off in Berlin. The city boasts a comfortable 950 kilometer (600 mile) long bike path network. Twelve signposted routes, including the European Bicycle Route R1, take cyclists off heavily trafficked streets and onto paths that run through the city’s green spaces, often past interesting sights and landmarks. One especially interesting route is the Mauerweg [Wall Trail], which runs along the former path of the Berlin Wall and conveys an impression of the formerly divided city. Organizers such as “Berlin on bike” or the Fahrradstation specialize in guided rides on themes such as architecture or the history of the city. Fat Tire Bikes and Berlin Insider have similar offerings that are specifically targeted at English-speaking visitors. Anyone wishing to get to know the city without a guide can also rent a bicycle for one or more days at most of these providers.

For tourist information on Berlin see the website:-

The 6th Meeting Place Berlin to Germany Next Month

Meeting Place Berlin will consist of 50 local providers, around 150 buyers from across the globe and a convention destination with countless opportunities. It is being staged for the sixth time by the Berlin Convention Office of visitBerlin.from 7 to 11 July 2011 in the highly diverse destination of Berlin. Decision-makers from the MICE industry.

In order to present Germany’s leading convention metropolis in a personal and individual fashion, participants will have an opportunity to chat to local providers on the “Meet Professionals Day”. Representatives of Berlin hotels, convention centres and unusual locations will be on hand to promote their special offerings.

The “Meet Berlin Day” in turn is completely devoted to the city on the river Spree. An impressive tour will enables all participants to experience first-hand the many different sides to the German capital. The focus here will be on art, culture and Berlin’s alternative scene.

The highlight of Meeting Place Berlin 2011 will be a visit to a concert at the Classic Open Air Festival on Gendarmenmarkt.

Meeting Place Berlin has been extended to include “Berlin Active”, a theme evening, for the first time. Participants will have an exclusive opportunity to visit the capital’s future main airport Berlin-Brandenburg shortly before it opens its doors to the public at large. “Meet Around” encompasses, alongside presentations, site inspections of venues in the German capital. Any participants interested in finding out more, can do this at the ensuing “Meet Facility” event.

Every two years the Berlin Convention Office extends an invitation to Meeting Place Berlin in order to attract new events to the German capital. The multi-day workshop is held in cooperation with BTM-Partnerhotels e.V. and Berlin Preferred Agencies. It has made a name for itself as a platform for decision-makers in the field of meetings, conventions and unusual locations.

Further information is available on the website

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Spider-Man Unveiled in Hong Kong

Spider-Man, the web slinging hero, has been unveiled at Madame Tussauds Hong Kong. Spider-Man teamed up with his new partner, Grasshopper the Hong Kong supreme trio band, to fight crime and combat evil forces.

Stan Lee and Steve Ditko created the superhero Spider Man in 1962, and has since appeared in a myriad of comic books, cartoons, television shows, movies, video games and musicals. He is part of the Avengers, an all-star line-up of the Earth’s Mightiest Heroes and is recognized as one of the most intelligent fictional characters.

Kelly Mak, General Manager of Madame Tussauds Hong Kong said, “Spider-Man is the very first superhero wax figure introduced to the attraction. We believe this will add to the fun our guests experience by meeting famous people, action heroes and cartoon characters while they embark on the star-studded journey here.”

On the unveiling day in April 2011, On the Grasshopper, the Cantopop supreme trio band, played the role of superheroes Grasshopper-Men. The trio dressed in glittery, glamorous suits and were joined by Ms. Mak to unveil the Spider-Man wax figure by wonder light swords. The wax figure is dressed in iconic red-and-blue costume and set on a spectacular Hong Kong cityscape backdrop. Guests can feel a sense of immense danger and excitement as if they are standing at the very edge of a skyscraper in Hong Kong with Spider-Man at their side.

“We are thrilled to bring Spider-Man out from the big screen to life so that his legions of fans here can enjoy a close personal encounter with their hero, while he does what he does best,” added Ms. Mak.
Grasshopper said, “We are really excited to officiate the launch of the Spider-Man wax figure. Come join us on an heroic adventure at the attraction.”

Spider-Man’s wax figure will be permanently displayed in the World Premiere zone at Madame Tussauds Hong Kong.

Friday, 24 June 2011

Aberdeen Highland Games - A Great Scottish Day

Aberdeen will come alive when The Aberdeen Highland Games will be held on Saturday 2nd July. Aberdeen (named after Aberdeen in Scotland) is a small town situated 12 km from Muuswelbrook in the Hunter Valley, New South Walesone This is the 12th year that thousands of people will come together for a bonnie weekend of fun and frivolit. The day starts with a grand parade of bands that leads to a Massed Band Salute and Chieftan's address. There will be displays of Scottish Highland and Country dancers.

The day will be full of Tartan Warriors of all colours battling for clan supremacy. Tug-o-wars, egg tosses, three-legged races and the famous Kilt Dash are all must-see events; and no Highland Games would be complete without the caber toss.

The Australian Defence Force will present the Federation Guard with their precision drill movements. There is a 'Best Dressed Laddie, Lassie, Bairn or Pet Competition'

Admission costs at the gate are $15 Adult, $10 Child/Concession, $35 Family.
Prepaid Tickets cost $12 Adult, $8 Child/Concession, $30 family

The Aberdeen Games full program consists of :-

Thursday, 30th June: A Robbie Burns Supper
This will celebrate the life and times of Scotland's best-known and best-loved bard, Robbie Burns. This event, hosted by St Andrews Muswellbrook Royal Arch Chapter will form the traditional Burn's Supper. The piping in of the haggis in a manner not normally seen is followed by a sumptuous meal. There will be singing, poetry and other items on the program. Bookings are essential as numbers are limited. Phone Charles Cooke on 6545 8141 or email

Friday, 1st July: Tartan Cancer Charity Golf Day.
This is to be hosted by the Aberdeen Ladies Golf. This is a Canadian Foursome Ladies or Mixed Pairs. Tartan dress is optional but highly recommended to get into the spirit of the day. To enter or to find out more please phone Helen Wheatley on 02 65437361.

Saturday, 2nd July: The Aberdeen Highland Games
9.00am Muster at Jefferson Park
9.30am Grand Parade – Harrison Oval
10.30am Opening Ceremony: Massed Band Salute, Inspection of Clans and Bands, Address by the Chieftain of the Day
11.00am- onwards Display by Federation Guard Highland & Country Dancing, Pipe Band Displays, Chris Duncan and Catherine Strutt – Celtic Fiddle Music, Tartan Warrior's Competition including Sheaf Toss and Caber Toss, Australian Tug of War Titles, Amateur Tug of War Competition and Novelty Events such as: Egg Toss, 3-legged Race, Best Dressed Laddie, Lassie, Bairn & Pet Competition, and the Rowan Tree Ensemble (Celtic Choir)
3.40pm Massed Pipe Bands
4.00pm Closing Ceremony: Presentation to Champion Band, Presentation of Trophies for National Tug of War Titles, Lone Piper

Saturday, 2nd July: Highland Golf Classic
This Individual Stroke Event is to be held at the Aberdeen Golf Course. Highland Classic Winner - Best Net Score Clan MacRae Shield Winner - Best Scratch Score Contact event organiser Duane Dowell for Tee Times on 0432 925 588

Saturday Evening, 2nd July: Ceilidh
A traditional Ceilidh (pronounced kay-lee)will be held at St Joseph's High School, Aberdeen commencing at 6:30pm, This is an informal social gathering, with songs, story-telling, music and dancing. It will feature the Fiddle Tunes Band, live dance music, full Haggis presentation and pipe music. The wonderful thing about a Ceilidh is that the dances are for everyone. Scottish or not, dancer or not. It's quite amazing how the music, atmosphere and energy will make it impossible for you to keep still. Included in the ticket cost will be a two-course meal and a light supper including tea and coffee provided by the Scone Scouts. Bookings are essential and can be made by contacting Lisa Bourke on 0419 289 719.

Saturday Evening, 2nd July: Free Scottish Entertainment The Aberdeen Sport & Recreation Club (Bowling Club) will be hosting a night of free Scottish entertainment starting at 6.30pm. A Chinese smorgasbord meal is available for purchase at $15 a head. Lots of fun to be had with pipe band music, displays of Scottish dancing and other Scottish themed entertainment. For more details or to book a meal please call the Club on 02 6543 7226

The Muswellbrook RSL Club will also be hosting a night of free Scottish entertainment. The club has a great bistro that will provide all needs Entertainment will be organised by the club. There will be pipe band music and other Scottish themed entertainment. For more details or to book a meal please call the Club on 02 6543 1700

Sunday, 3rd July: Kirkin of the Tartan
There will be a traditional Kirkin of the Tartan held at St Mark's Church, Aberdeen at 10:00am followed by a morning tea at the St Mark's Hall.

For further information see the website:-

Moran Prizes 2011

Libaries are known for books. That is true of the State Library of NSW in Sydney, but this Libray also has other attractions which make it well worth while visiting. When I was in Sydney today I dropped in to see the current exhibtions the Library has that are open to the public. I was fortunate to see The Moran Prizes 2011, or full title "The Goug Moran National Portrait Prize and Moran Contemporary Photographic Prize"

This year a life-like painting of filmmaker Baz Luhrmann has won Australia's richest portrait prize. "Off Screen" is a painting of Baz Luhrmann, the director of the movies "Moulin Rouge" and "Australia", in a vulnerable moment, with his head in his hands. This painting has won its artist Vincent Fantauzzo $150,000.

Vincent Fantauzzo said "Baz comes across as a very confident person and a confident artist ... I got to see him at a time when he is really vulnerable and his guard is down."

Baz Luhrmann said a number of photographs were taken of him to use as the basis of the portrait painting "but of course that would be the image that Vincent chose. I was under incredible creative stress at that time."

This year Jack Atley won the photographic prize with his photo of former cricketer Steve Waugh with three-year-old Sarah Walker, who suffers from a rare lung disease. The picture, taken on World Rare Disease Day, shows Waugh leaning towards the young girl with his hands outstretched.

Jack Atley says the portrait highlights an important issue and some of his $100,000 prize money will go towards the Steve Waugh Foundation, which is helping to support Sarah. "The picture is really special to me because it shows a different picture of Steve Waugh. As we all know he is a legendary Australian cricketer and a hero on the field, but he's a much bigger hero off it."

Steve Waugh said the photo was taken during a private moment with Sarah.
"I just started talking to her and I was showing her a couple of pictures on my phone of my dog at home. She started to like that and that was when he took the photo. She's an amazing girl, she's dependent on oxygen 24-7 and just an incredible little girl who motivates all the people around her."

The Moran Prizes, the wealthiest photgraphic and portrait prize in the World. had more than 122,000 entrants across both categories. There is only a few more days left for people to see the portrait paintings and photos, as the free exhibitions end on 26 June.

For more informations see the web site:-

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Hairspray the Hit Musical Opens Tonight

Hairspray, "The musical with a heart as big as a beehive", has its opening performance in Sydney tonight, Wednesday 22nd June 2011. When you walk about the streets of Central Sydeny you cant but notice all the large banners featuring the bright blue wigs hanging from the lightpoles.

In Hairspray, it's 1962, the '50s are out and change is in the air. Baltimore's Tracy Turnblad, a big girl with big hair and an even bigger heart, has only one passion - to dance. She wins a spot on the local TV dance programme, 'The Corny Collins Show' and, overnight, is transformed from outsider to irrepressible teen celebrity. But can a trendsetter in dance and fashion vanquish the programme's reigning princess, win the heart of heartthrob Link Larkin, and integrate a television show without denting her 'do? Only in Hairspray! Welcome to the '60s!

HAIRSPRAY is a rare treat: a musical with a message. It says something that's important but says it with joy, energy and humour. We are all special and we are all different. HAIRSPRAY celebrates the differences, it will lift your spirits and fill your heart... So, welcome to the 60s and the musical with a heart as big as a beehive!

This all-Australian production of the multi-award winning Broadway musical is conceived and directed by show business legend David Atkins OAM and uses breathtaking, cutting-edge technology to transport audiences to a visually astonishing world where anything seems possible. With electric choreography by Jason Coleman, HAIRSPRAY the Musical is the theatrical experience of 2011 that will have you up on your feet dancing and stay with you long after you leave the theatre.

Hairspray is has won 30 major awards including: Tony Award® for Best Musical (2003), Tony Award® for Best Original Score (2003), Olivier Award for Best New Musical (2008) and a Grammy Award® for Best Show Album (2002).

The musical features an original score by Marc Shaiman (who co-wrote the music and lyrics for the acclaimed animated musical, 'South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut') and Scott Wittman. Their songs take Tracy from the soundstage of a '60s-style dance show to the streets of Baltimore to a downtown rhythm and blues record shop.

Hairpsray will be at Sydney’s Lyric Theatre, Star City in Sydney for a limited time. For more information see he website:-

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

John Cleese to Star in Just For Laughs Sydney Comedy Festival

British comedian and python alumni John Cleese will host the upcoming Just for Laughs Festival in Sydney. The towering presence of comic superstar and master of the Silly Walk, John Cleese, in an all-too-rare appearance, will perform in Australia for the first time.

Established 29 years ago in Montreal, Just For Laughs has grown into the biggest live comedy franchise with spin-offs in Chicago, Toronto and St Albans, England. Gilbert Rozon, president and founder of Just For Laughs, said the Opera House was a natural choice of venue to build the festival around. "To start it will be a small festival but we will expand and gradually build our vocabulary," he told reporters in Sydney, adding that outdoor shows and TV coverage are part of future plans. "Sydney won't be like Montreal, the fun is doing something different that fits the city and is unique in the world."

For Further information see the web site

Monday, 20 June 2011

Top 10 Cities in World for 2011

The City of Cape Town has been voted the No 1 Best City in the WORLD! The City of Cape Town has been ranked the top destination in the world in the 2011 TripAdvisor Traveller's Choice Destination Awards. The top ten destinations in 2011 are:-

1. Cape Town, South Africa
With a choice of world class hotels and an International Convention Centre, Cape Town takes visitors by surprise offering great value for money, culture, scenic beauty, warm hospitality and unique experiences. Cape Town glistens at the southern toe of the African continent. Tourist brochure-views at Blaauwberg Beach and Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens are within easy driving distance of "The Mother City." The Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve provides sweeping sea vistas, hiking trails and wildlife encounters. On a more somber note, travelers can visit Robben Island, the prison where Nelson Mandela was held for 27 years

                                                       2. Sydney, Australia
City slickers, culture vultures and beach bums alike fall in love with Sydney. Hang ten at famed Bondi Beach or stroll the calmer sands of Coogee.  Cash burning a hole in your pocket? You’ll find great shopping in the Rocks district and along George and Pitt Streets. Climb to the top of the Harbour Bridge or take a skywalk on Sydney Tower for a 360-degree view of the city. But whatever you do, don’t leave town without cuddling the koalas in the Taronga Park Zoo—they’re ridiculously adorable.
3. Machu Picchu, Peru
It's no wonder Machu Picchu is Peru's most-visited site. Dating to the mid-1400s, it's a marvel of mortar-free limestone architecture perched on a high plateau deep in the Amazonian jungle. Get there via train from Cusco or, if you're not faint-hearted, make the trip on foot via a multi-day hiking trail—you'll travel through deep Andean gullies and enjoy stunning views.
4. Paris, France
Everyone who visits Paris for the first time probably has the same punchlist of major attractions to hit: The Louvre, Notre Dame, The Eiffel Tower, etc. Just make sure you leave some time to wander the city’s grand boulevards and eat in as many cafes, bistros and brasseries as possible. And don’t forget the shopping—whether your tastes run to Louis Vuitton or Les Puces (the flea market), you can find it here.

5. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Whether your curiosity is piqued by the International Olympic Committee’s selection for the 2016 Games, or you’re heeding the call of the famous twin beaches Copacabana and Ipanema, Rio offers more than you can imagine, and offers it at all hours. With breathtaking views from Corcovado Mountain and breathtaking deals in the city’s endless malls and markets, Rio de Janeiro is a vacation paradise, whatever it is you travel for.
6. New York City, United States
The first time you go to New York, go ahead and be a sight-seer—everyone should visit the Statue of Liberty, the Met, Times Square, etc. But on a return trip, pick a neighborhood and go deep. You’ll find hole-in-the-wall bars, great delis, quirky shops… exploring the non-touristy side of New York is an incredibly rewarding experience for a traveler.

7. Rome, Italy
It’s nicknamed the Eternal City for a reason. In Rome, you can drink from a street fountain fed by an ancient aqueduct. Or see the same profile on a statue in the Capitoline Museum and the guy making your cappuccino. (Which, of course, you know never to order after 11 am.) Rome is also a city of contrasts—what other place on earth could be home to both the Vatican and La Dolce Vita?
8. London, United Kingdom
There's so much to see and do in London, it's easy to be overwhelmed. Major sights like the Tower of London and Buckingham Palace are on most visitors' itineraries, but no matter what your interests, you'll probably find something here. Art lovers should make a beeline for the National Gallery and the Tate Modern. If military history's your thing, don't miss the Cabinet War Rooms. The restaurant scene here is fabulous.
9. Barcelona, Spain
Stroll Las Ramblas and enjoy Barcelona's unique blend of Catalan culture, distinctive architecture, lively nightlife and trendy, stylish hotels. You'll find Europe's best-preserved Gothic Quarter here, as well as amazing architectural works by Gaudi. La Sagrada Familia, considered Gaudi's masterpiece, is still under construction (your entrance fee helps to fund the project). Feel like a picnic? Look no further than the rambunctious La Boqueria market, where you can stock up on local delicacies.
10. Hong Kong, China
Hong Kong's a great city for an adventurous eater. Stop at a street vendor for fish balls on a stick or stinky tofu. Bakeries offer wife cake, pineapple buns and egg tarts. Or opt for as much dim sum as you can eat. If you're tired of local and regional Chinese specialties, check out upscale offerings from some of the world's top chefs, like Joel Robouchon and Alain Ducasse.

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Guangzhou Capital City of Guangdong Province in China

Guangdong Province is situated in the southernmost part of China's mainland, It has 3,368 kilometres of winding coastline, which is the longest in the country. Rivers from all over the province discharge into the South China Sea, forming the fertile Pearl River Delta, which is one of China's most densely cultivated areas. Its capital city, Guangzhou, formerly known as Canton to the western world, is located in the north of this river delta. Due to its special geographical position, Guangdong has for long served as a window of China to the world.

Guangzhou is the capital of Guangdong Province in southern China According to the 2010 census, it has a population of 12.7 million, making it the third largest city in mainland China after Shanghai and Beijing. It is adjacent to Hong Kong and Macau forming an urban tri-angle. In the era of tea clippers, Guangzhou was known in the West as "Canton". The food and the language of the area are still known as "Cantonese". The Cantonese are proud and hardworking people known throughout China and the world over for their famous cuisine and tack for business.

The city is famous for foreign trade and business, and holds China's largest trade fair, the Canton Fair. However, in between the seemingly endless skyscrapers, shopping malls and building sites there is a lot of culture and history. While Guangzhou is not usually high on the list of Asian tourist destinations, it is amazing how much the city actually has to offer.

The China Import & Export Fair Complex is known worldwide as a multi functional and comprehensive international exhibition complex. It has 13 exhibition halls on its first and second floors, with an exhibition area of 152,000 sq meters, with 130,000 sq meters indoors and 22,000 sq meters outdoors area. It is a modern, hi-tech and eco logically concerned complex. The hall height, floor loading capacity and electric power supply makes it suitable to hold exhibitions of small to very large displays.  China Import & Export Fair Pazhou Complex hosts a variety of exhibitions, trade shows and trade fairs each year.

“HOSFAIR Guangzhou”, or its full title “The 9th International Hospitality Equipment & Supplies Fair” will be held from the 30 June to 2 July 2011. HOSFAIR Guangzhou has been successfully held for 8 years with 30% rate of growth every year, The HOSFAIR Guangzhou 2010 had 42,000 sqm size, 928 global exhibitors, and nearly 10,000 kinds of exhibits..41022 visitors came from 57 countries and regions, in which overseas audiences amounted to 4,180. 

HOSFAIR is sponsored by Asia Pacific Hotel Supplies Association; GHM Hotel General Manager Association; Guangdong Cuisine Association;; China Western Food Culture Association; Specialty Coffee Association of China; and Guangzhou Huazhan Exhibition Co., Ltd.

For more information about HOSFAIR see the website

2,000 Readers Milestone of "The Holiday and Travel Magazine"

Even though "The Holiday and Travel Magazine" website has only been going for a few months, the 2,000th person has read this website at 11.44pm on Saturday 18th June 2011. 2,000 readers, amazing! Thanks to all those people who take the time to read about the tourism topics featured about Muswellbrook and other parts of the Upper Hunter Valley in N.S.W. Australia, or an overseas destination.

It took 5 months to reach the 1,000 readers milestone, and only 3 weeks to reach the second 1,000  milestone. The monthly readership has increased from 10 people in January to 150 in February, 149 in March, 260 in April, 539 in May and 892 so far in June up to  the 2,000 reader. 2,000 readers, amazing!

"The Holiday and Travel Magazine"  readers have not only come from Australia, but from countries around the world. The figures for each country are:- Australia 1,010, China 175, USA 293, New Zealand 86, Malaysia 72, Singapore 39, Germany 34, UK 32, Canada 20, Hong Kong 20, and from countries around the world such as Ecuador, Egypt, Macau, El Salvador, Spain, Taiwan, Thailand, Philippines, Vietnam, and Portugal.

I am still working on ways to improve "The Holiday and Travel Magazine", so would appreciate any feedback from readers with their ideas. I am still pondering the possibility of placing paid advertisements in the Magazine, just to offset some of its production costs. I hope to travel to selected destinations in Australia and Overseas in the second half of this year and next year so that I can write first-hand articles of hotels, flights, cities, conferences & expos, and tourist attractions.

Many thanks to everyone who has helped me produce "The Holiday and Travel Magazine" website, and to every reader who has taken the time to read it. I eagerly await the 3,000th reader!