HOT: Toruk – The First Flight by Cirque du Soleil, Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne & Olympic Parks, Olympic Blvd, Melbourne


Cirque du Soleil‘s latest production, Toruk – The First Flight, is another unforgettable, magical experience that has to be seen to be believed. I was invited to opening night and highly recommend you get tickets for the show’s limited 2 week run in Melbourne. 

Inspired by James Cameron’s AVATAR, Toruk – The First Flight is set on the world of Pandora 3,000 years before the events of the film. The production combines puppetry, state-of-the-art visuals and lighting, incredible stagecraft and Cirque du Soleil‘s trademark acrobatic brilliance to tell the story of Ralu and Entu, two Na’vi teens who must unite their people’s tribes and save Pandora from destruction.

It’s hard to know who deserves the most acclaim – the performers, the puppeteers, the costume and set designers, or the lighting and multimedia engineers. That’s doubtless a significant part of Cirque du Soleil‘s success since its beginnings in Quebec in 1984 – each element of each show is flawless and contributes equally to the end result.

People who are more familiar with Cirque du Soleil‘s more traditional shows such as Alegria may come to this show expecting a more obvious focus on the acrobats and performers. But, just as the production honours the Na’vi’s co-existence with nature, Toruk – The First Flight also honours the relationship between performers and the sets they inhabit, the costumes they wear and the light that brings their skill to life. 

At times it’s impossible to believe that Pandora is an imaginary world, particularly when stars and swirling constellations flood the arena or pulsing waves of virtual water lap at the audience’s feet. It’s a truly immersive experience, from the enormous trunk of the HomeTree to the lifelike movement of Toruk and other creations. The show also has an app to apparently enhance the interactive experience, though many people missed the announcement about this at the beginning of the performance. 

Cirque du Soleil‘s productions are always special, but Toruk – The First Flight is stunningly executed, honouring its film inspiration but adding to the mythology at the same time. If you get the chance to go, don’t miss out.

HOT Tips:

  • Download the Toruk app before the performance to make the experience even more immersive;
  • To ensure your experience at Rod Laver Arena is an enjoyable one, plan for extra travel and entrance time to the event;
  • As a standard condition of entry into Rod Laver Arena, patrons will be subject to searches, wanding and ticket check;
  • Public transport is the quickest and easiest way to get to and from an event at Melbourne & Olympic Parks, with train, tram and bus options;
  • Due to current works, one city-bound lane and one footpath (Rod Laver Arena side) of the Swan Street Bridge has been closed.  This will cause significant delays for those travelling by car; drivers should allow up to 20 minutes extra travel time.
  • Limited parking is available in the Eastern Plaza car park via Olympic Boulevard
  • show goes for approx 2 hours with one interval.

Toruk – The First Flight by Cirque du Soleil, Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne & Olympic Parks, Olympic Blvd, Melbourne

2-12 November
Tickets from $76.35

Tesselaar Tulip Festival 2017 – Giveaway!

The annual Tesselaar Tulip Festival is returning to Melbourne’s magical Dandenong Ranges from Thursday 14 September until Tuesday 10 October 2017. Bring your cameras and your gumboots!

Stroll through 25 acres of gardens and enjoy a spectacular display of more than 900,000 flowering tulips, showcasing 130 different varieties.

While the tulips are undoubtedly the stars of the show, every day different activities and events are happening including children’s activities, live entertainment, delicious food and market stalls.

September 15 – 17 Turkish Weekend

September 18 – 21 Over the Rainbow Week

September 22 – 24 Dutch Weekend

September 25 – Oct 5 Children’s Weeks

September 29 – Oct 1 Food, Wine & Jazz Weekend

October 6 – 8 Irish Weekend


I have 5 x double passes to give away (children under 12 years get in free) for use anytime during the period of the festival.

To win just follow the instructions below. The competition closes midnight Monday 11 September and winners will be notified by email within 24 hours. Open to Australian residents only. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

HOT: Small Graces, 57 Byron St, Footscray

Small Graces is a bright and cosy Footscray cafe by chef/owner and Footscray local Diego and his partner Bec.

Small Graces‘s menu focuses on seasonal and wholesome food, with a few Colombian flourishes harking to Diego’s heritage. Diego uses ingredients that are ethically sourced with minimal processing. Vegetables feature heavily and dishes can be adjusted for vegan diets or food allergies.

Minimal sugar is used to sweeten dishes. Case in point is the sweet potato waffles ($16) which are accompanied by naturally sweet caramelised banana and not syrup. If you’re concerned the sweet potato flavour is not evident at all – instead the root vegetable gives a solidity and crispness to the waffles. I love the addition of black sesame ice cream too (my favourite ice cream flavour).

Another sweet option from the all day menu is the porridge made with quinoa, tapioca, coconut milk, puffed wild rice, rhubarb and mint ($14). It’s warming and filling, like a hug for your insides, and very pretty to boot.

I’m told by the friendly staff that next time that I should try the house made nut and seed granola. 

The glass cabinet contains daily salads and fresh sandwiches that you can take away. They can also provide catering. 

The bread is by Seddon’s Sourdough Kitchen, eggs come from happy Burd Eggs and coffee is by Kensington’s . Not being a coffee drinker I recommend the Raja chai latte made from real brewed tea and spices ($4.50) and served in custom-made cups by Lisa of Asaka Ceramics. 

And remember if you BYO cup you’ll get a 50c discount on your take away coffee.

Small Graces is a welcome addition to Footscray CBD, which is filled to the brim with restaurants but not very many good quality cafes. 

For other Footscray CBD cafes try Rudimentary.

Small Graces, 57 Byron St, Footscray
M-F 7am–4pm
Saturday 7.30am-4pm
Sunday 8am-4pm

HOT: The House of Dior: Seventy Years of Haute Couture, NGV


Fashionistas will absolutely swoon over the National Gallery of Victoria’s newest exhibition –  The House of Dior: Seventy Years of Haute Couture.

The Melbourne-exclusive exhibition and world premiere is a celebration of the 70th anniversary of the House of Dior,  one of the most prestigious couture houses in the world.

The exhibition features an exquisite display of over 140 garments from Christian Dior Couture designed 1947 to 2017. They have been sourced from the House of Dior archive in Paris, the NGV Collection and other international borrowings from museums such as The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and Les Arts Decoratifs in Paris.

The iconic New Look outfit introduces the show at the entrance…


…which then moves to different thematic rooms including works by the seven designers who have played key roles in shaping Dior’s renowned fashionable silhouette: Christian Dior, Yves Saint Laurent, Marc Bohan, Gianfranco Ferré, John Galliano, Raf Simons and Maria Grazia Chiuri.

Highlights include examples from Christian Dior’s iconic Spring 1947 ‘New Look’ collection which revolutionised women’s fashion in the 1950s…

….magnificent displays of Dior’s signature ballgowns and evening dresses…

… and current contemporary designs from the House’s first female head designer, Maria Grazia Chiuri.

Interspersed within the exhibition are accessories (including headwear by Stephen Jones and shoes by Roger Vivier), sketches, photographs, haute couture toiles, multimedia and archival material.


In one room for the opening and closing weekends you can watch craftswomen from the Dior atelier in Paris work on their garments.

The exhibition closes with artefacts that explore Dior’s relationship with Australia, including the historic Spring 1948 fashion parade at David Jones, Sydney. Fifty original creations by Christian Dior were paraded, the first time a complete Dior collection was shown outside of Paris.


The House of Dior: Seventy Years of Haute Couture is accompanied by a scholarly publication and a program of talks, tours and events and the curated NGV Friday Nights program, featuring live music, food and performances.

Don’t miss this exhibition, the likes of which are unlikely to be seen again in Australia in the near future.

The House of Dior: Seventy Years of Haute Couture, NGV International, 180 St Kilda Road, Melbourne

Sunday 27 August to 7 November 2017

Adult $26 | Concession $23.50 | Child (5–15 years) $10 | Family (2 adults + 3 children) $65.

Tickets are on sale now from NGV.MELBOURNE

HOT: Winter Solstice Light Show, Light House, 888 Collins St, Melbourne

Light House is a 15 storey residential building in Victoria Harbour, at the junction of Bourke and Collins St. Its most notable feature is the light installation which displays real-time weather information in an abstract light display.

To celebrate the shortest day of the year Light House is showing a spectacular festive light display for Winter Solstice.

For five evenings in winter from Tuesday 20 June to Sunday 25 June, a light show will run for 10 minutes each hour, on the hour, from 5pm to midnight.

Light House is best viewed from Buluk Park in front of Library at the Dock at 894 – 910 Collins St, Docklands.

Winter Solstice Light Show, Light House, 888 Collins St, Melbourne

Tue 20 June – Sun 25 June

Daily from 5pm to midnight


What’s On – Friday 23 June to Thursday 29 June 2017



  • Winter Solstice Courtyard Immigration Museum (Fri 23 Jun) – live music from polyrhythmic future-soul artist Nai Palm, lead performer of Hiatus Kaiyote. Share winter warmers with friends, including mulled wine, whisky, and spiced chocolate.
  • Winter Solstice Light Show (Fri 23 Jun – Sun 25 Jun) – For five evenings in winter, Melbourne’s newest icon – 888 Collins Street – will come to life in a spectacular festive light display in celebration of Winter Solstice.
  • Circus Oz Birrarung Marr (Fri 23 Jun – Sun 16 Jul) – high-voltage acrobatics and explosive aerial antics.
  • Queen Street Plaza (Sat 24 Jun – Sun 25 Jun) – A place to sit, eat, have a drink and enjoy free family entertainment right in the heart of the city.
  • Winter Solstice: Festival of Welcome (Sat 24 Jun) – performances, unique stalls, enjoy beautiful light installations and sample a range of traditional international foods.
  • City Library Book Sale (Sat 24 Jun) – Grab yourself a bargain on some fabulous pre-loved books.
  • NGV Unplugged (Sun 25 Jun) – Each Sunday afternoon for six weeks, Jae Laffer (The Panics) will host a session in the exhibition space with a live performance by local musicians.
  • Melbourne Design Market (Sun 25 Jun) – Melbourne original design market happens twice a year.
  • Slide, Skate and Chill (Fri 23 Jun – Thu 31 Aug) – undercover riverside ice rink and toboggan slide. Full review.
  • Winter Night Market Queen Victoria Market (Wed 28 Jun – Wed 30 Aug) -crackling fires, mulled wine and a revolving line-up of roving entertainers and live music, over 30 street vendors and designer and artisan stalls. READ THE REVIEW.





  • MAP 57 St Kilda (Fri 23 Jun – Sun 30 Jul) – St Kilda’s favourite “triangle” will be converted into a glittering entertainment venue this winter, playing host to a pop up ice rink, comedy, theatre, music, food stalls, carnival rides and more.
  • Hank Marvin Market (Sat 24 Jun) – weekly Saturday market with awesome playground at Alma Park.
  • Matariki Dandenong Market (Sun 25 Jun) – Performances, Ta moko face painting. NZ Street Food.



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