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Tim Richards
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Feature Articles

Venturing into the imaginary town of Twin Peaks
The Post, 7 April 2024

"The words of Special Agent Dale Cooper pass through my mind as we head out of Seattle on a tour devoted to the legendary television series Twin Peaks. At the wheel of the vehicle is tour guide David Israel, echoing Cooper in the outfit of an FBI agent. To our surprised delight he’s accompanied by James Grixoni, a young actor who appeared in the third season of the show and who sometimes leads these tours. My wife Narrelle and I are in the back seat, looking forward to visiting the locations of the quirky drama..."

Exploring filming locations associated with Twin Peaks in the hills east of Seattle, USA

[Read the full article here]

Must do: the Art Deco guided history walk in Innisfail
Explore, 3 October 2023

"Standing inside Innisfail's historic Shire Hall, I'm haunted by two ghosts from the past - and their names are Geoff and Paul. Geoff is dressed in the outfit of a sugar cane cutter from the era when it was all done by hand: a khaki shirt, brown trousers and broad-brimmed hat. Paul, by contrast, is the epitome of a 1920s townie: striped shirt, bow-tie and rakish cap. Members of the local historical society, they host a new walking tour which explores the history of this tropical Queensland town, including its surprising wealth of art deco architecture. As they explain, there's a reason for that glamorous heritage..."

Learning about the Art Deco heritage of Innisfail, Queensland, Australia

[Read the full article here]

It's elementary, Meiringen
The Senior, March 2023

"When Dr Watson journeyed to Switzerland's Reichenbach Falls in the company of Sherlock Holmes, he was in a grim mood. But fair enough: he and Holmes were on the run from Professor Moriarty, their determined arch-enemy. As I'm not being pursued by a vengeful villain, however, I'm in the right state of mind to enjoy the scenery. It's a beautiful sunny day and I'm taking the funicular railway to the top of those same falls..."

Following in the footsteps of Sherlock Holmes in Meiringen, Switzerland

Brand-new US attractions, only one flight away from New Zealand
Stuff, 8 February 2023

"In October 2021 a marvellous new live show started treading the boards at the intimate Club Fugazi in the city’s popular North Beach district: Dear San Francisco. Intended as a love letter to the City by the Bay, this show combines circus skills with theatre, music and song, with scenes illustrating aspects of the city’s history from the gold rush days to the tech revolution. A highlight is the sequence involving the Chinese yo-yo, an hourglass-shaped object that’s tossed into the air and caught on a cord attached to two handles..."

Outlining a series of new attractions in seven cities across the USA

[Read the full article here]

Discovering the Hidden Murals of Montreal
Traveller, 16 September 2022

"There are times when it's better to be loitering in an alleyway behind a popular music venue than standing at its entrance, and one of those times is now. That's because it's the middle of the day when no gig is scheduled, and there's a fabulous piece of art to see at the rear of Montreal's Club Soda. As we peer at the brickwork, it seems to be covered with random splotches of colour. But our guide, Thomas, patiently points out the form of a musician playing a cello. Who knew? Now he's opened my eyes, I can see other musicians among the colours..."

Viewing vivid artworks in the streets of Montreal, Canada.

[Read the full article here]

Grains, Trains and a Stack of Fine Art Soaring into the Sky
Senior Traveller, August 2022

"Melbourne's busy Southern Cross Station is a railway terminus with a thoroughly 21st century appearance, its high roof undulating like a pod of blue whales. So it's quite a contrast to arrive here on a Friday night and hear the whistle of a steam locomotive. That loco, City of Melbourne, was built in Glasgow in 1951 and is a welcome phantom from the past. I'm about to board the train; it's hauling a collection of heritage carriages collectively known as the Grainlander. The cheekily derivative name hints at its destination - the lightly populated Mallee and Wimmera regions of western Victoria..."

Taking a heritage train to see the Silo Art Trail of western Victoria, Australia

[Read the full article here]

A Walking Tour Unearths a Story of War, Disaster, and Survival
Sunday Life, 3 April 2022

"Darwin was eventually founded as Palmerston in 1869, then renamed in 1911, and its development has been far from plain sailing. 'Darwin has been destroyed four times in its history,' John tells us. 'Three times by cyclones, and once by wartime bombing.' Those disasters account partly for the CBD's very modern appearance, dotted with bland apartment buildings and office blocks. But they make up for their lack of distinctiveness with artistic opportunity, and many bear large commissioned murals..."

Admiring art and history on the streets of Darwin, Australia.

[Read the full article here]

Six and the City
Traveller, 29 January 2022

"After dinner, step along Market Street to a spiral staircase which descends to the W's remarkable subterranean bar, Curious, with its intricate and striking ceiling of timber beams. The inventive cocktail list includes "You're So Melbourne" (a twist on the Boulevardier) and Smoke on the Runway, a bubble-topped drink that pops with a burst of apple and lemongrass smoke..."

Enjoying the food and drink delights of Melbourne, Australia, as part of a set of six themed itineraries.

[Read the full article here]

Hipster and Street Art Tour Shows the Cool Side of North Queensland City
Traveller, 3 January 2022

"Peter has a tough sell ahead of him on this warm day, as we stand near lush foliage in the city's Shields Street mall. He's just told me Cairns is the second-most hipster city in Australia (the first is apparently the Gold Coast!). Thinking of my inner-city Melbourne 'hood, populated with black-clad beard-wearing tattooed barista types, I can feel my lip curling and my eyebrows rising. What is this man talking about? There isn't a hipster in sight in this tropical paradise."

Taking a walking tour of hipster-friendly shops and art in Cairns, Australia.

[Read the full article here]

The James Bond Brunch in Switzerland will Thrill 007 Fans
Escape, 6 October 2021

"It’s taken me four cable cars via Mürren and Birg to reach the revolving restaurant, Piz Gloria, at 2970m above sea level. On a clear day from the summit, there’s a view of numerous mountains including the Eiger, Mönch, and Jungfrau. Today, however, I’m immersed in a whited-out world of swirling snow. No matter, because I’m really here to see Bond World, the permanent exhibition devoted to the making of OHMSS. First, however, it’s time for a late breakfast in the revolving restaurant; or more precisely, the James Bond Brunch..."

Ascending to an exhibition devoted to Agent 007, in the lofty mountains of Switzerland

[Read the full article here]

Raising the Bar
Traveller, 30 August 2021

"This is one of the biggest street art hubs in Perth,' says Adie, and there are some great examples on the walls around us. On the side of a bar is a prancing figure which, on closer look, is Red Riding Hood dressed as a wolf. On another wall is a beautifully rendered ringtail possum by famous Belgian artist ROA. Our final bar would be easy to miss. Hidden below street level, Alfred's Pizzeria is a grungy no-nonsense place open to midnight every night, serving pizza, craft beer and cocktails..."

Taking in street art and small bars on a memorable walking tour in Perth, Australia.

[Read the full article here]

Culture – With a Twist
The New Daily, 10 July 2021

"I’m looking up at a vast white terraced Buddhist stupa framed by trees. Its top has a golden glint, and the path to its base leads past decorative lanterns and statues illustrating stories from Buddhism and other faiths. It’s a memorable scene which reminds me of visits to Asia; but I’m just outside Bendigo, and the building is the Great Stupa of Universal Compassion. It’s just one of Bendigo’s interesting cultural institutions that have links to other places or times..."

Visiting three unconventional cultural venues in Bendigo, Victoria

[Read the full article here]

The Melbourne Blockbuster Exhibition Your Kids Will Love
Australian Traveller, 11 June 2021

"There’s no need to take things too seriously, after all, at this fun new show at Melbourne’s ACMI which features a colourful collection of original sketches and rare artworks. Ahead, through the doors, is a wall-sized projection of Mickey in his first-ever appearance in the 1928 cartoon Steamboat Willie – a big deal as this was one of the earliest animated films with sound..."

Describing the delights of the new Disney exhibition at ACMI, Melbourne, Australia

[Read the full article here]

Launceston's Best Food and Cultural Attractions
, 13 March 2020

"'I want to be King of Tasmania!' shouts the oafish Ubu, a huge puppet and the the central character of the outlandish satirical play King Ubu, staged at Launceston's Cataract Gorge. I think, 'Don't we all?' Or at least to visit it. Since the opening of Hobart's Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) in 2011, Tasmania has become a highly desirable destination; and climate change only adds to its cool charms, in more ways than one..."

Outlining the many arts and food-related attractions of Launceston, Tasmania.

[Read the full article here]

Ex-industrial Buildings Give Art and Culture a Home in Zürich
, 26 February 2020

"I don't know who Frau Gerold is, but she knows how to throw a garden party. Frau Gerold's Garden in the Zürich West district of Switzerland's largest city is a very cool space, an urban oasis lined by bars and shops. In the open area next to the shops are shrubs, trees and  garden seating, filled with locals having a beer on this sunny day. If you have a vision of Zürich as an uptight, over-regulated place, the laid-back charm of Zürich West will knock that on the head..."

Investigating a former industrial district of Zürich, Switzerland, now a home to bars and art.

[Read the full article here]

Forget the West End
, 28 January 2020

"It's a warm summer evening and happy people swarm along the footpaths of this London neighbourhood, on their way to food and entertainment. On St Paul's Road I pass Brewhouse and Kitchen, a microbrewery with a beer garden that's doing a roaring trade. I'm tempted to stop for a pint, but I have a date on the opposite corner in a pub called the Hen and Chickens. It seems somewhat old-school compared to its funky brewery rival, but this pub has an extra element that's very Islington: a theatre devoted to live comedy..."

Enjoying the lively theatre and comedy venues of the Islington district of London, UK.

[Read the full article here]

The Queen's Diamond Jubilee Galleries' Most Interesting Exhibits
, 12 November 2019

"It's remarkable to be standing so close to a historic wooden effigy of Queen Mary I. Crafted after her death in 1558, it was carved and painted to closely resemble her, and displayed on top of her coffin. It's surrounded by several other royal effigies including that of King Edward III, its plaster face supposedly based on his death mask. To my mind, these funeral effigies are the most interesting exhibits in the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Galleries..."

Exploring a new gallery of historic curios within Westminster Abbey in London, UK.

[Read the full article here]

How Does a Hobbit Garden Grow?
, 10 November 2019

"There’s a beekeeper’s house with pots of honey and bumblebees buzzing among the flowers. Another garden has stacked barrels of fruit wine, and another has a table with a chess board and pieces. Add in the scented smoke that rises from the occasional chimney and it’s easy to believe this place is inhabited. Best not to peek behind the open door of the artist’s house, however, which reveals an empty unfinished space of rubble and timber planks – the cruel truth behind the Hollywood magic..."

Enjoying a tour through the fantasy-filled grounds of Hobbiton Movie Set, New Zealand.

A Tiny Museum That Holds Royalty's Prized and Strange Possessions
, 27 September 2019

"There's a saying in Australia: 'This is going straight to the pool room!' Lifted from the popular film The Castle, it's heard when someone is presented with an extremely special item. For The Castle's main character, Darryl Kerrigan, his pride of place was the pool room; for the princes of Liechtenstein, it's the Treasure Chamber. This tiny museum in the capital Vaduz is the repository for gifts to the royal family from kings and emperors as well as interesting knick-knacks donated by local collectors..."

Admiring exhibits held within the Treasure Chamber in Vaduz, Liechtenstein.

[Read the full article here]

The Cool Street Art of Newtown
19 June 2019

"On a wall in Sydney’s inner-city suburb of Newtown is a vast mural, featuring the face of Dr Martin Luther King Junior above his famous words, 'I have a dream.' To the left is a painting of the world as seen from space, while beneath is the black, red and gold design of the Aboriginal flag. On a wall facing the mural is a more recent piece of Aboriginal art. The text here expands on Dr King’s statement by adding, 'We have the Dreaming'..."

Taking a tour of the diverse street art of Newtown, Sydney.

[Read the full article here]

Visiting Seven Stories in the Ouseburn Valley
, 5 March 2019

"Seven Stories is housed within a Victorian-era flour mill in the Ouseburn Valley, a former industrial area east of the city centre in Newcastle upon Tyne. Its seven levels are dedicated to kids' books, with regular storytelling sessions in the Harry Potter-themed attic. Of most interest to adult visitors are the changing exhibitions. They're pitched at a level that works for any age, sparking nostalgia in grown-ups as well as delight..."

Investigating the attractions of the Ouseburn Valley district in Newcastle upon Tyne, UK.

[Read the full article here]

A Magical Mystery Tour of Hamburg
, 12 February 2019

"'There's nowhere in the world the Beatles played more than here,' says tour guide Stefanie Hempel, as we stand in Hamburg's Beatles Platz. 'Here the foundation stone was laid for their career.' That may be so, but that doesn't explain the ukulele. For Hempel, a musician herself, is toting the diminutive stringed instrument as we set out on her tour of the band's Hamburg hangouts. However, its purpose soon becomes clear, as Hempel performs the song In My Life..."

Taking an unconventional Beatles tour in Hamburg, Germany.

[Read the full article here]

From the Sex Pistols to The Smiths
, 6 December 2018

"The Sex Pistols' loss of face was Manchester's gain, for what happened next was an extraordinary surge of musical activity that stretched through the 1980s and 1990s. At the heart of the late 1980s 'Madchester' era was the Hacienda, a nightclub owned by Factory Records and housed in a dilapidated old warehouse on the Rochdale Canal. It's that fabled club that inspires The Hacienda Years walking tour..."

Taking a walking tour through the lively musical past of Manchester, UK.

[Read the full article here]

Silo Art Trail: Australia's Biggest Permanent Outdoor Gallery
, 22 August 2018

"I'd expected to enjoy the art, but only now realise how important is the setting. The people depicted at each site are from the area, the silos from its farming heritage, and they're set against the broad green landscape which has been here forever. Add in the chilly breeze, and it's a completely different experience from standing within the tame walls of a gallery. These huge murals are worthy of a grand setting, and in the plains of the Wimmera they have it..."

Joining a tour of the Silo Art Trail in western Victoria, Australia.

[Read the full article here]

Lonely Planet: Everyday Adventures
(section on Melbourne street art)

July 2018

"As I stand on Flinders Street, I’m surrounded by major landmarks. Federation Square is behind me, Flinders Street Station to the left, the Melbourne Cricket Ground to my right. But I’m looking for something grittier: Melbourne’s famous street art. Its epicentre is Hosier Lane, the cobblestone laneway in front of me. There are always tourists walking its length, photographing the splendour on its walls..."

Taking a self-guided tour of Melbourne's street art for this book on self-discovery.

[Find the book here]

The Surprising Stories Behind Vancouver's Murals
, 29 May 2018

"The dire wolf leaps at me, its snarling mouth revealing terrifying long fangs. Its shiny blue coat is offset by flying shards of red, yellow and white, and its eyes glow an otherworldly yellow. It's a piece of street art, but a fiendishly dynamic one; part of a set of wolves that were painted by artist Ben Tour for the first Vancouver Mural Festival in 2016. Lurking behind bins, they stand ready to surprise the passer-by..."

Exploring the murals created by a street art festival in Vancouver, Canada.

[Read the full article here]

Here's What's in the Koorie Heritage Trust
, 4 January 2018

"On top is a wooden shield carved with a big goanna against a red background. It's the creation of Aboriginal artist Richard Mullett, and was crafted in 1998. But here, directly below it, is the impressive artefact that's easy to overlook. It's a wooden club, a long slender object with a tapering head, delicately indented with dots and zig-zag lines. This was carved by William Barak over a century before the shield, in 1897. That the two objects sit in close proximity says volumes about the philosophy of the Trust..."

Exploring the collection of this Aboriginal cultural centre threatened with demolition in Federation Square, Melbourne.

[Read the full article here]

LA's Enthralling Museum of Confusion
, 30 December 2017

"Having paid my entry fee, I'm soon in a warm and stuffy interior packed with displays. But what, precisely, does this museum exhibit? An audiovisual introduction traces the role of the museum back to Noah's Ark and the displays of relics in medieval churches. There's also a suggested link to the 17th-century wunderkammers. This concept of 'wonder rooms' is, I think, a key to understanding the MJT. For what I find as I walk through its cramped chambers is a collection of disconnected but intriguing exhibits..."

Deciphering the curious collection of a mysterious museum in Los Angeles, USA.

[Read the full article here]

On the Trail of Sherlock Holmes' London
, 16 November 2017

"Like the disguised King of Bohemia in the Sherlock Holmes short story A Scandal in Bohemia, I've installed myself at the elegant Langham Hotel. But I'm bypassing its pleasures and hitting the streets on the trail of the Great Detective. It's 125 years since the first collection of Holmes short stories was published, and I'm seeking sites connected with the master sleuth..."

Roaming the London streets, searching for Sherlock Holmes as portrayed on screen, in print - and in wax.

[Read the full article here]

[Also listen to me talking about Sherlock Holmes' London on the Talking Lifestyle radio show]

Eat Streets, Art Streets
10 November 2017

"Huge, colourful images of geishas line a brick wall off Adelaide’s Rundle Street, and they’re far more glamorous than the alley they overlook. A fine example of the street art to be found scattered through the city’s Central Business District, they’re attached to the wall of a nightclub called Sugar. Which seems appropriate, as the next stop on the Adelaide Feast tour is a chocolate shop. Or more elegantly, a chocolatier..."

Enjoying food and street art on a walking tour through Adelaide, South Australia.

[Read the full article here]

Wild at Art
The Sunday Telegraph, 11 June 2017

"In an empty old office on Los Angeles' Spring Street, a saxophone is playing while a man in a red shirt belts out a love poem. He's succeeded by a sinuous barefoot dancer who writhes around the room, inviting onlookers to join her as she passes beneath framed photographs of dancers. Though this mishmash of artforms seems a bit wild there's a lot of goodwill in the room, and onlookers are happily caught up in the energy on this warm weeknight..."

Enjoying the Downtown Art Walk, a monthly cultural event in Los Angeles, USA.

The Real Westeros (and Beyond)
The Sunday Age

 7 May

"The spectacular settings in Game of Thrones are shot at locations across two continents. Seek these out on your next overseas quest...." (This was originally a text box as part of a longer article in print.)
Listing European filming locations of scenes in the popular fantasy TV series
Game of Thrones.

[Read the full article here]

Game of Fans
The Sunday Age

 7 May

"'Winter is coming.' That's true for Melbourne at this time of year, and also for the fantasy land of Westeros. We'll have to wait until July to see the next instalment in the power struggle for the Iron Throne and the threat of the demonic White Walkers. In the meantime, Melbourne's Game of Thrones devotees are staving off our own impending winter by attending a convention devoted to the series: ThronesCon..."

Previewing a fan convention devoted to the popular fantasy TV series
Game of Thrones.

[Read the full article here]

Welcome to Twin Peaks
lonelyplanet.com, 25 April 2017

"This may be the Golden Age of Television, but such gilded eras must start somewhere – and that somewhere might be Twin Peaks. Co-created by David Lynch, this cult-classic drama series of the 1990s blended crime, mystery, philosophy and humor in a fictional Washington town populated by quirky characters. With a new season airing this year, here’s how to visit key filming locations..."

Visiting the real-life locations of the classic TV series in the hills east of Seattle, USA

[Read the full article here]

Masters on the Menu
Traveller (The Age & Sydney Morning Herald),
4 February

"I'm standing in front of The Tower of Babel, a crazed wedding cake of a building. Constructed of tapering layers, broken open on one side, this ancient skyscraper dwarfs the port city lying below it. Though this 1563 painting by Bruegel​ may resemble a mighty structure from Game of Thrones, it's outdone by the architecture within which it hangs. For I'm viewing it within the Kunsthistorisches​ (Art History) Museum, Vienna's greatest repository of art..."

Dining within a great cultural institution in Vienna, Austria

[Read the full article here]

Walk the Line
Tiger Tales
, February-March 2017

"'Art is an interesting thing inside a prison,' says guide Janine Della Bosca. 'Is the prison supposed to be punishing you or rehabilitating you? There’s a tension between the two when it comes to art.' That tension was never greater than in the early 1990s, when Fremantle Prison was about to close. But a glimmer of light broke through into the dark, cramped cells in those final days..."

Joining a tour of art created by inmates at the former Fremantle Prison, in Western Australia.

[Read the full article here]

It'll be White on the Night
, 1 January 2017

"'Ballarat is a logical place to do this,' says White Night artistic director David Atkins. 'It has a fantastic history, it's the home of the southern hemisphere's longest running Eisteddfod, Her Majesty's Theatre has been going for 150 years. There are a range of things that put Ballarat into the box seat.' The box seat on this occasion is for White Night Ballarat..."

Previewing an all-night arts event in the Victorian regional city

[Read the full article here]

Top 10: Comedy Clubs Around the World
, 7 October 2016

"Melbourne has long been a hotbed of comedy; not only does the Melbourne International Comedy Festival occupy multiple venues in autumn, but there are regular comedy nights across the city year-round. One of the best places to catch the gags is this comedy club in North Melbourne. On stage nightly are a hand-picked repertoire of performers, from newcomers to seasoned professionals..."

Listing great comedy venues in the USA
, Canada, UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Singapore.

[Read the full article here]

Lights! Camera! Oahu!
28 September 2016

"'The stuff that goes on in making movies? They ought to make a movie about it,' says veteran film scout Randy Spangler. And he should know. Spangler’s been working in Hawaii’s busy film industry since the 1970s, when he got his start finding locations for the TV series Hawaii Five-O. So many productions have been filmed on the most populous island, Oahu, that I wonder why it’s so attractive to Hollywood and television studios..."

Exploring television and movie locations in Hawaii, USA.

Artist's Haunt Paints a Picture
Traveller (The Sun-Herald
26 June

"I like using local laundromats when I travel. There's something soothing about taking time out of the sightseeing routine, and you inevitably get to meet locals. In this case, I meet up with an unforgettable local, though one who's been dead for 70 years: Emily Carr. The Emily Carr House, a museum devoted to an apparently well-loved local artist of whom I've never heard, is located a block away from where I'm sitting. So after the tumble dryer's done its work, I head there to learn more..."

Visiting the former home of a great artist in the James Bay district of Victoria, Canada

[Read the full article here]

So Far, So Noir
The Age
, 25 June 2016

"'There are 16 months in Denmark – and five of them are November,' says Christine, my guide on this Nordic Noir tour of central Copenhagen. As our small group huddles outside Vesterport train station, her observation seems particularly apt. This spring afternoon is as unwelcoming as a late-autumn day, the sky spitting drizzle and an icy wind swirling in every direction..."

Joining a tour devoted to 'Scandi noir' television series The Killing and The Bridge, in Copenhagen, Denmark.

[Read the full article here]

Modern Day Myth Makers
The Sunday Age

29 May

"'I wanted to create a superhero for my son,' says Ryan Griffen, the creator of upcoming ABC TV series Cleverman. 'A hero that was based on Aboriginal culture. When I was growing up, I would always tell people I was an Aboriginal, and would get into fights because of it. My son's nine now. He's very proud and calls himself a blackfella, and talks about his Aboriginal culture, but there'll be a point where people question that. So that was seeded into the growth of the character as well...'"

Previewing the TV series Cleverman and looking at Aboriginal superheroes of the past

[Read the full article here]

Beyond Melbourne, Victoria's Arty Regional Centres
, 12 April 2016

"In decades past, art was a conservative experience in rural Australia. While most locals focused on sport as entertainment, art snobs could view old landscapes in dusty municipal galleries. Times have changed dramatically, nowhere more so than Victoria. In the 21st century, the cultural energy of the state capital Melbourne has flowed to regional cities, creating numerous cutting-edge cultural hubs..."

Experiencing a street art festival in Benalla, and detailing other art attractions in Victoria, Australia.

[Read the full article here]

In the Footsteps of Agent Cooper
The Age
, 13 February 2016

"'I have no idea where this will lead us, but I have a definite feeling it will be a place both wonderful and strange.' Special Agent Dale Cooper, the quirky FBI agent of cult TV series Twin Peaks, uttered these words within the fictional town's mysterious Owl Cave. I'm feeling much the same about the road from Seattle to Snoqualmie, a tiny locale in the leafy hills east of the city. It was here that Twin Peaks was shot, granting the surrounding forests a sinister, whispering screen presence..."

Visiting the filming locations of the TV program Twin Peaks, in Snoqualmie, USA

[Read the full article here]

Lights! Camera! Los Angeles
lonelyplanet.com, 13 January 2016

"Hooray for Hollywood! America’s movie industry is synonymous with this neighbourhood of Los Angeles, and the area is dotted with film-related attractions: from actors’ handprints outside the Chinese Theatre, to stars honoring movie greats along the Hollywood Walk of Fame. If you’re really interested in the art of film-making however, you should join a tour operated by one of the big movie studios..."

Investigating four tours of major movie studios in Los Angeles, USA

[Read the full article here]

Walking to the Beat
The Age
, 12 December 2015

"'It's the bridge that counts,' recites Ryan Russo, reading from Jack Kerouac's​ Desolation Angels. 'The coming-into-San Francisco on that Oakland Bay Bridge, over waters which are faintly ruffled by oceangoing​ Orient ships, over waters that are like taking you to some other shore.' The 'flower power' hippies of the '60s, the strip club scene, the gay people looking for a place to be themselves — each added another layer of counter-culture to San Francisco, on the foundation laid by the Beat Generation..."

Joining a walking tour of the Beat poets' neighbourhood in San Francisco, USA

[Read the full article here]

Afterlife of the Hollywood Stars
The Sun-Herald
, 19 July 2015

"'People are drawn to stars who die young,' says Karie Bible, guide on the Cemetery of the Stars Tour. 'They never grow old, or lose their looks, or make bad movies.' Her point is illustrated by the crypt we're standing next to: that of Rodolfo Guglielmi Valentino, 1895-1926. Better known as Rudolf Valentino, he was the first great Hollywood star of the silent movie era. For years after he died, a mysterious woman in black visited his crypt here at the Hollywood Forever cemetery, placing a single red rose..."

Touring a cemetery of the stars in Hollywood, Los Angeles, USA.

[Read the full article here]

The Hills Are a Bit Damp
The Age
, 30 May 2015

"'The plan was for six weeks' location shooting,' says David, our British guide on The Sound of Music bus tour. 'The weather had different ideas.' He's referring to the location filming of the 50-year-old cinematic favourite, but he might as well be talking about today's weather in Salzburg. The hills are alive above the picturesque Austrian city, but it's more with a steady drizzle than music on this cold, wet day..."

Taking a bus tour dedicated to The Sound of Music in Salzburg, Austria

[Read the full article here]

Edgy Art Captivates Asia
The Age
, 2 May 2015

"'When I was at school I didn't have the option of art history,' says Audrey Yeo, owner of Singapore contemporary art gallery Yeo Workshop. 'So for my generation, it's something we're all catching up on very quickly. We love it, obviously, and the Singaporean public is hungry for it, but it's not something that I had the option to do when I was a kid.' Yeo's experience encapsulates the rapidly growing popularity of contemporary art in East and South-East Asia..."

Surveying the contemporary art scene in Singapore

[Read the full article here]

Art Hits the Wall
The Sun-Herald
, 15 March 2015

"High  above a sea of tags is a vast painting of a fruit bat, its head emerging from an abstract structure of green and white. Because it's so high above ground level, the fruit bat is unlikely to be painted over by other street artists; but that also means it can only be seen from this car park. That, in a nutshell, is Melbourne's famous street art scene: balanced precariously between legal and illegal, on open display but hidden from view..."

Following a walking tour exploring the vibrant street art of Melbourne, Australia.

[Read the full article here]

In the Heat of the Night
The Sun-Herald
, 1 February 2015

"I hadn't thought to pack a suit jacket for a destination where the daily maximum routinely passes 40 degrees in summer. In these temperatures, shorts and T-shirts were what I had in mind. However, it's a jacket I must find, if I'm to enter the Royal Opera House Muscat for tonight's performance. Opened in 2011, this cultural institution was a personal project of Oman's ruler, Sultan Qaboos bin Said Al Said..."

Attending a night of noisy entertainment at the Royal Opera House Muscat, Oman.

[Read the full article here]

Bar-hopping Through NYC's Literary History
The Sunday Age
, 14 December 2014

"'I hold a beast, an angel, and a madman in me,' recites tour guide Eric Chase, quoting Dylan Thomas. The Welsh poet was notorious in the 1950s for hitting New York on reading tours whenever his cash was running low, then boozing it up in Greenwich Village bars by night. One of his favourite haunts was the White Horse Tavern, where we're sitting at the start of the Greenwich Village Literary Pub Crawl. Opened in 1880, it was a hub of literary greatness for many years..."

Discovering literary heritage and beer on an entertaining tour in New York, USA

[Read the full article here]

Taking it to the Streets
The Age, 1 November 2014

"'With street art, people think first of tags. Dogs marking their territory.' It's an opinion that rings true in Melbourne, where the public argument about the worthiness of street art centres on its appeal to the passer-by. Big, decorative illustrations earn the accolade of 'art', while obscure statements of the artist's identity are dismissed as 'tags'. Ben, our New Zealander guide on the Alternative Berlin Street Art Tour, is having none of this. 'Graffiti isn't made for the general public to enjoy...'"

Joining a tour of street art through the suburbs of Berlin, Germany

[Read the full article here]

Mind the Gap
November 2014

"Darius stepped away from the crack in the floor, now visibly expanding and contracting like a hungry mouth. He looked away from the sphere and caught Kovary’s eye. She appeared as mystified as he. Then, turning back, he saw that something was forming slowly within the golden light. It was vaguely humanoid, though it was almost three metres tall. There was something… animal… about the shape of its head."

My SF/fantasy thriller novel, Mind the Gap, was published by Harper Collins in 2014 and is available for purchase via Amazon.com and other outlets. For more details, visit the book's promotional website.

A Crash Course in Modern Art
The Sunday Age
, 26 October 2014

"On the top floor of Cologne's Museum Ludwig, I discover a little secret. If you push through the glass doors next to the loos on this level, you end up on an empty brick-paved terrace with an excellent view of Cologne Cathedral. Somehow this seems fitting. The vast medieval cathedral is the city's pride and joy, and Germany's most visited attraction; while the museum houses an extensive modern art collection. Together they neatly bookend the city's art history, from the 13th century to the present day..."

Viewing the impressive modern art collection of a museum in Cologne, Germany

[Read the full article here]

Best Literary Walking Tours
Lonely Planet's Best in Travel 2015

"There’s no better way to pay tribute to your favourite author or characters than to follow in their footsteps via these entertaining tours..."

Listing ten distinctive literary walking tours in locales across the world, including the UK, USA, Sweden, Ireland, France, Romania, China, and Melbourne, Australia.

This book can be purchased online from Amazon.com.

[Read the full article here]

Design Landmark Bends the Rules
The Age
, 21 June 2014

"'Zaha Hadid is famous for her irregularly shaped buildings,' says Helen, my South Korean guide to Seoul’s new Dongdaemun Design Plaza. 'She likes to emancipate buildings from right angles and T-squares.' She certainly does. As I gaze up at the new centrepiece of this UNESCO City of Design, there’s not an angle to be seen in the British architect’s extraordinary creation. The vast lip of the building curves above us, like a slowly breaking wave or a strange metallic tongue..."

Exploring a stunning new design precinct in Seoul, South Korea.

[Read the full article here]

Postcard: Starr of the Show
The Sun-Herald, 20 April 2014

"He's so very pink. The drummer is often the least flashy member of a band, but you couldn't say that about Ringo Starr on the cover of the Beatles' Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. There he is, sandwiched between John and Paul in the most lurid pink uniform you could ever imagine. And the suit really is that colour, I discover, as I gaze in wonder into its case at Los Angeles' Grammy Museum..."

Learning about a famous drummer at the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles, USA

[Read the full article here]

Raising the Bar
The Sun-Herald, 6 April 2014

"Guitarist Christian Aubin suddenly appears onstage. He's a confident, energetic presence, and we lean forward for his first number. It's Cat Stevens' Wild World. Sung in English. Quelle surprise. With Cat disposed of, however, Aubin belts out a Quebecois favourite, then alternates between French and English-language songs for the rest of the evening. This is good fun, and one of the great Quebec City experiences..."

Visiting a popular chanson bar in Quebec City, Canada

[Read the full article here]

Art on Automatic in Mildura
The Sunday Age
, 30 March 2014

"I slip a coin into the slot of the shiny vending machine in the foyer of the Mildura Arts Centre. The Art-o-mat is an arresting lime green, with strips of wood veneer. The handle turns, an item drops, and I fetch a little cardboard box from the tray below. Forgive me, I'm indulging my craving - for art. The first Art-o-mat was created by American artist Clark Whittington in 1997. Now there are dozens of the repurposed cigarette machines around the world..."

Exploring the art attractions of Mildura, Australia.

[Read the full article here]

What's So Funny About Melbourne?
Tiger Tales, March-April 2014

"Over the decades, the festival has attracted the talents of a vast array of comedians, even those used to larger audiences via radio and TV. One of these is Dave O’Neil. Why does he think Melbourne is the natural home of comedy? 'It’s the weather!' he says. 'It keeps people indoors. People in Sydney are outdoors on their rollerblades in bike shorts, whereas in Melbourne you’re sometimes forced to go indoors. That’s why good music and comedy comes out of Melbourne...'"

Previewing the 2014 Melbourne International Comedy Festival.

Yesterday's Stars
The Sunday Age
, 2 February 2014

"Above me are glittering chandeliers, heavy red curtains, painted columns, delicately curved iron lace and moulded plasterwork. It looks like one of Europe's over-the-top baroque palaces. But it's an old cinema, in downtown Los Angeles. "It's like it was modelled on the Palace of Versailles," I murmur, craning my head to take it all in. Later, I find out it was. The Los Angeles Theatre was completed in 1931, hosting the premiere of Charlie Chaplin's latest flick, City Lights..."

Strolling past the beautiful facades of early cinemas on Broadway, Los Angeles, USA.

[Read the full article here]

Sussing out Melbourne’s Mysterious Rules of Busking
Issimo Magazine, 29 January 2014

"The process by which buskers are allowed onto Melbourne’s streets seems a bit of a mystery.  I liked to imagine a scenario something like that in the famous beer ad modelled on the movie Flashdance. You know the sort of thing: singers belting out tunes, dancers flinging themselves about, human statues doing nothing much, while a primly-dressed panel sits at one end of a huge audition hall and scratches notes..."

Examing how the City of Melbourne applies rules and regulations to street performers.

[Read the full article here]

Why Doctor Who Will Last Forever
Issimo Magazine,
9 November 2013

"The basic conceit of the show – a ship’s crew travelling to distant lands full of strange and wonderful creatures – is an age-old concept, employed by Homer in The Odyssey. This resemblance was particularly apt during the tenure of the First Doctor, played by William Hartnell, who kidnapped his first travelling companions and had no control over where his space-time vessel, the TARDIS, would take them..."

Exploring literary and other cultural connections of the TV show Doctor Who on its 50th anniversary.

Drumming to a Common Beat
The Age
, 26 October 2013

"By the time I arrive it's a big, noisy gathering. In the centre of the beats, by the statue, is a melange of vigorous drummers. A central cluster is playing in time with each other, while a few individuals further out bang on smaller hand-held drums or, in the case of one middle-aged woman, an empty coffee can. But there's more to Tam Tam than the drumming. The event spreads out in layers of activity, a huge hive intelligence moving lazily in time to the beat..."

Soaking up the vibe of Tam Tam drums and Piknic electronic music in Montreal, Canada

[Read the full article here]

How to Grasp Guilt – Literally
Issimo Magazine, 16 October 2013

"Oscar Wilde only wrote one novel, but The Picture of Dorian Gray is a cracking yarn. 'The book is a ‘deal with the devil’ story, where he never ages and never has to  confront his sins or his guilt,' says Room of Regret co-creator and director Emma Valente. 'It’s all manifested in an external object, as his sins get greater and greater until they peak. We’ve taken that idea and really tried to physicalise it...'"

Previewing Room of Regret, a theatrical interpretation of Wilde's novel in the 2013 Melbourne Festival.

Hidden Passions
Issimo Magazine, 2 October 2013

"Art imitating life is one thing, but art imitating art is quite another. In the case of the Melbourne Festival production Brief Encounter, it’s actually a matter of art imitating art imitating art. This play about star-crossed married lovers in 1930s Britain is based on David Lean’s 1945 film of the same name, which was itself inspired by Noel Coward’s play Still Life..."

Previewing Brief Encounter, a theatrical interpretation of a classic film in the 2013 Melbourne Festival.

Dive into Literary Dublin
Lonely Planet: Great Escapes
October 2013

A guide to the literary highlights of the Irish capital, within this book profiling a variety of travel escapes around the world.

This book can be purchased online from Amazon.com.

A Virtual World in Darkness
Issimo Magazine, 20 September 2013

"If you’ve ever sworn under your breath at fellow audience members fiddling with their smartphones during a live arts performance, you’ll be shocked by Blindscape. Not only does the team behind this Melbourne Fringe Festival show want you to have your devices out, they’re distributing them. 'It’s a circus show, and it’s a circus in the dark,' explains creator Skye Gellmann. 'It’s the audience who lights the performance...'"

Previewing Blindscape, an unconventional circus show in the 2013 Melbourne Fringe Festival.

Mr Minutiae
Issimo Magazine, 17 September 2013

"In 2011, Martin staged Tony Martin Reads Stuff Out at Trades Hall. 'Because the stories had so much dialogue in them and I had to jump through all the voices, it was like watching a one man radio play,' he says. 'And after I did that season I had a lot of people mention The Yeti, asking me to read that one.' So Martin bowed to popular demand, crafting that short story into a new show - tall tales about living in the boarding house..."

Previewing Tony Martin's show for the 2013 Melbourne Fringe Festival, The Yeti.

Viva La Revelation
The Age
, 14 September 2013

"On October 9, 1932, in front of a crowd of celebrities, artists and reporters, América Tropical was unveiled. As expected, it featured the ruins of an Aztec temple, set prominently against a lush jungle background. But in the centre of the composition was the crucified body of an indigenous Mexican, head lolling lifelessly to one side. Above the body perched an American eagle, its wings spread triumphantly..."

Visiting the once controversial América Tropical
mural in Los Angeles, USA.

[Read the full article here]

Painting a Future
The Sunday Age
, 21 April 2013

"On the side of a Belfast housing block is a vast painting of sailing ships with decorative prows, approaching a shore. On a rock above the beach is a severed, bleeding hand. As the story goes, this mythical red hand was cut off and thrown to the shore by the mythical Labraid to win a boat race and become monarch of the ancient Irish kingdom of Ulster. Ever since then the Red Hand has been an emblem of the north. There are many such murals across the small city..."

Taking a black cab tour through the sectarian past of Belfast, Northern Ireland.

[Read the full article here]

Between Rocks and a Holy Place
The Age, 20 April 2013

"Like Moses, I'm standing atop Mount Nebo, hoping for a glimpse of the Promised Land. Though he never reached it, at least the prophet had good viewing weather: according to the Bible, he saw 'the whole land... as far as the Mediterranean Sea'. From the lookout, all I can see are dry, stony hills and a dusty horizon. So I step inside the adjacent museum, an attractive structure of rough stone walls, next to a church built around the remains of a 6th-century Byzantine basilica..."

Musing on the intersection of art and archaeology in Madaba, Jordan.

[Read the full article here]

The Tour with the Dragon Tattoo: Stieg Larsson's Stockholm
NineMSN Travel, April 2013

"Plunging into a well-groomed residential quarter, we pass the beautiful St Catherine's Church and admire the flash apartment building bought into by Salander after she fleeced a dodgy businessman of his billions. Descending hillside steps to the square in front of Slussen Metro station, I feel the memorable scenes of the Millennium novels have been vividly filled out in my mind by the colours, sounds and smells of Södermalm's real-life streets..."

Following in  the footsteps of the characters from a crime novel series set in Stockholm, Sweden.

Pulling Punchlines
The Sunday Age
, 24 March 2013

"Ronny Chieng has been on a mission to make being Chinese cool again. And he hasn't felt the need to sweet-talk his audiences along the way. When the Chinese-Malaysian comedian takes to the stage, he radiates a world-weary attitude, leaning louchely against the mike stand while bemoaning the geeky, uptight Western stereotype of Chinese people. He pines for the lost era of Bruce Lee, he says, when being of Chinese extraction was undeniably, globally cool..."

Interviewing up-and-coming comedian Ronny Chieng.

[Read the full article here]

We All Say Thank You for the Music
Escape, 21 October 2012
(News Ltd's Sunday travel section)

"In less time than it takes to say, 'I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do', I find myself signed up for the tour and standing under the lone oak tree in the courtyard of the Stockholm City Hall, alongside other ABBA fans. We're in the hands of guide Eva Palmqvist, who smiles and flips up a photo of the pop-tastic quartet at their youthful height, arms splayed and dressed in denim, with the dour brick bulk of the City Hall in the background..."

Joining the ABBA City Walk through the centre of Stockholm, Sweden.

[Read the full article here]

On the Trail of a Legend
Escape, 21 October 2012
(News Ltd's Sunday travel section)

"It takes a bit of deductive brainpower to find Speedy's Cafe. As it's north of busy Euston Road, with its drab modern office buildings and heavy traffic, I have to put in some fancy footwork to avoid getting run down by a red bus. Safely on the other side, I tap The Game is On on my phone and pick up my walking pace as the music plays. The signature tune from the recent hit BBC TV series Sherlock is a lively, action-packed number, and I'm getting into the mood for investigation..."

Deducing the London of Sherlock Holmes, both classic and contemporary incarnations.

[Read the full article here]

Australia's Edgiest Arts Venues
Medical Observer, 14 September 2012

"Melbourne is renowned for its active performing arts scene, from the regular events at the city’s sprawling Arts Centre to the big-budget commercial productions within its grand 19th century theatres. However, one vibrant element of the city’s culture often missed by visitors by is its lively independent theatre scene. Across Melbourne, small venues present drama, comedy, cabaret and music..."

Exploring cutting-edge arts venues & companies in Melbourne, Sydney, Hobart & Alice Springs.

City of Literature
Medical Observer, 24 August 2012

"'We call him "the prick with the stick",' says tour guide Pat Liddy, cheekily referring to a statue of the writer James Joyce which stands proudly in O’Connell Street. It's all in good fun though, he adds, smiling as he returns to his pint of Guinness in an atmospheric old pub which is a former haunt of Joyce’s. It seems somehow fitting that we should be on a literary walk that’s immediately ended up at the pub, given the central role of such establishments in Ireland’s social and cultural life..."

Walking in the footsteps of the great writers of Dublin, Ireland.

Escape for Artists in Morocco Retreat
The Age, 22 May 2012

"While popular uprisings have shaken the Middle East over the past year, the relatively unaffected North African kingdom of Morocco has remained a destination for Western travellers. It's in this country's remote desert hinterland that Melbourne woman Karen Hadfield has established an artists' retreat, within the village of Tissardmine near the Algerian border..."

Interviewing the creator of a remote artists' retreat in Saharan Morocco.

Four Men in a Boat: Talking Masculinity at World's End
The Age, 19 May 2012

"These stakes are raised in the theatre's new work, Liberate Yourself from My Vice-like Grip!!!. This time there are four men, and they're in a unique setting - within the hull of the last ship on earth as it cruises the endless ocean created by climate change. 'It's at the end of our planet's life,' says McCarthy, 'At the point of apocalypse - a progression from where we're headed at the moment...'"

Previewing a play about four men in a boat at the end of the world.

[Read the full article here]

Unexpected Glimpse of Revolution
The Age, 3 April 2012

"Akmal Saleh is facing the stand-up comic's equivalent of that tricky second novel - the need to move on to new verbal territory in step with one's advancing age. 'The thing is, I'm old now,' he says. 'I'm 48. I can't get away with just doing jokes any more. I really feel that I want to say something that I believe in, or moves me, without being pretentious...'"

Interviewing comedian Akmal Saleh about his comedy and the revolution in Egypt.

[Read the full article here]

Rebuilding Rome for Modern-day Audiences
The Age, 3 April 2012

"Rome wasn’t built in a day and all roads lead there; both well-worn sayings fit neatly with the Ancient Rome exhibition at Docklands. There have been plenty of visiting exhibitions of antiquity but this is more an art installation than a museum display. It’s a collection of painstakingly crafted replicas and models of ancient Roman items, including war machines, catapults, mosaics and board games..."

Previewing an exhibition of recreated antiquity in Melbourne, Australia.

Wits Get Bit on the Side
The Age, 24 March 2012

"To stage one Comedy Festival show may be regarded as a challenge; to stage two looks like recklessness. At least, that's what Oscar Wilde might say if he was around to peruse the program of the 2012 Melbourne International Comedy Festival. In culmination of a growing trend, several well-known comics are staging more specialised shows in addition to their main solo acts..."

Previewing several shows in the Melbourne International Comedy Festival.

[Read the full article here]

Factory of Stars in Cultural Cameo
The Age, 22 March 2012

"The former Wertheim factory site on Richmond's Bendigo Street has lived an interesting life - it started out in 1908 as a piano factory, then became a Heinz factory before being transformed into the headquarters of Channel Nine. This month, however, there's been a spark of life in the old dream factory as it's been temporarily reinvented as the Richmond Weekender, hosting a cafe, cinema and market..."

Profiling a pop-up attraction in a suburb of Melbourne, Australia.

[Read the full article here]

Intimate Backstreet Venue a Perfect Fit for Jazz Maestro
The Age, 20 March 2012

"As the mosquito drone of the grand prix engines faded from the air outside the InterContinental Melbourne at The Rialto last Friday evening, jazz legend James Morrison was about to fill its Market Lane Bar with more melodious sounds. With the musician tucked into one end of the room along with a band, the compact space of wood-lined walls and low lounges took on a hint of backstreet jazz club..."

Outlining a series of jazz gigs in central Melbourne, Australia.

[Read the full article here]

Sunset at Toszek
Plum Lines, Spring 2012

"So I return to the bench to sit in the light drizzle, looking up at the windows and imagining Plum looking back at me - we are, after all, separated not by space but only by the trifling matter of seven decades. If I could somehow pierce that veil of time and shout up to him from the roadway, what would I say? “Don’t do the broadcasts!” comes to mind. If he’d listen, it would save everyone a lot of heartache..."

Visiting the town in Poland where author PG Wodehouse was once held prisoner.

Stone the Crows
The Age, 26 November 2011

"I've only recently watched the movie Rise of the Planet of the Apes, so I'm understandably unnerved to discover a giant bust of a chimpanzee in bushland on the edge of Melbourne's suburban sprawl. A minute before, I was strolling across neat lawns behind the McClelland Gallery, admiring a gold-faced statue of Dame Joan Sutherland. Now I'm following a narrow track through native trees and things have taken a more primal turn..."

Investigating a sculpture park on the outskirts of Melbourne, Victoria.

[Read the full article here]

Little League
The Sunday Age, 23 October 2011

"Thanks to animators over the years, the leprechaun has become a well-known figure; we can all recall his buckled hat, beard, pipe, beguiling accent and pot of gold. 'Everyone who comes in here gives the same description,' says Mark. But he’s here to put me straight on the little people and their many other mythical colleagues. Despite the name, it’s actually a museum devoted to all of the island nation’s rich folklore..."

Taking a trip through the National Leprechaun Museum in Dublin, Ireland.

Gritty Tale of St Kilda Life Inspires Tour
The Age, 2 September 2011

"Private investigator Felix Baker recently walked the streets of St Kilda, talking to homeless people and sex workers in an attempt to find a young runaway called Becky. Just another sad tale of a disadvantaged kid becoming entangled in a shadowy world of drugs, prostitution and sleeping rough, you might think. Except that both Felix and Becky are fictional, the lead characters within a new audio tour of St Kilda entitled Looking for a Girl?..."

Profiling an audio tour of Melbourne's beachside suburb which draws on real life.

A Trip to Gallifrey, Calling in the UK
Escape, 21 August 2011
(News Ltd's Sunday travel section)

"It looks like the end. I’m trapped in a small room with a bunch of other people off the street, feeling a jolt of fear as three Daleks close in around us. The metal villains from the popular BBC science fiction series Doctor Who are convinced we’re in league with their enemy the Doctor, and before we can react, their trademark cry of “EXTERMINATE!” rings out..."

Battling Daleks and other aliens at the Doctor Who Experience in London.

A Man of His Crimes
The Age, 13 August 2011

"Genet was brought up on the wrong side of the Parisian tracks, the son of a prostitute, then turned to theft before joining the Foreign Legion. As a poet, novelist and playwright, he became friends with the likes of Jean Cocteau, Jean-Paul Sartre and Pablo Picasso, who helped keep him out of prison. This colourful back story gave him plenty to draw upon in his work; and The Maids is one of his more memorable creations..."

Previewing The Maids, a play of maids and murderous desires by Jean Genet.

[Read the full article here]

Chapter and Verse
The Age, 7 May 2011

"The poem, set after the arcade closes at night, has a bunch of ornaments breaking out of fashion boutique Corky St Clair and running the length of the underpass. It's an amusing poetic romp, a light-hearted urban fairytale that provokes chuckles at the antics of the newly animated objects and their very Melbourne artiness..."

Following a downloadable DIY poetry tour through downtown Melbourne, Victoria.

[Read the full article here]

Selling Spirituality with Silkscreens
The Age, 3 May 2011

"'GET WITH THE ACTION'. It’s the type of advertising slogan whipped up by the 1960s ad men from Mad Men. In Sister Mary Corita Kent’s 1966 artwork For Emergency Use Soft Shoulder, however, it’s been cheekily appropriated to sell spirituality. For the artistic nun who created the work, the product on offer was God..."

Previewing the first-ever Melbourne exhibition of the art of Sister Corita Kent.

[Read the full article here]

Montreal - with a Twist
NineMSN Travel, May 2011

"'What’s funny about the cabaret now is that more straight people than gay people come to see our shows. We have boys, girls, groups doing their bachelor parties and birthdays, straight couples coming to see the drag queens, it’s so amaaazing!' It’s easy to be swept up in the enthusiasm of Mado Lamotte, drag queen extraordinaire, as she sits in front of her dressing room mirror in a leopard-print dressing gown and prepares for an evening on stage..."

Uncovering the coolest and quirkiest attractions of Montreal, Canada.

Putting It All Online as Comedians Sell Their Soul for a Laugh
The Age, 11 April 2011

"Anyone who's strolled past the Melbourne Town Hall on a sunny April day knows what it's like to be the centre of attention. Passers-by are assailed by Comedy Festival performers bearing leaflets, a publicity strategy known as 'flyering'. They're more entertaining than charity muggers, but there's no mistaking the scent of desperation in the air..."

Discovering how performers at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival attract publicity in the 21st century.

[Read the full article here]

On the Creative Trail
The Age, 19 March 2011

"'Hal's Wigs, Merrylight Wigs, Di'Napoli Men's Hair Pieces,' I murmur, reading the labels on a column of cardboard boxes that reaches from floor to ceiling. Each title is stencilled in an old-fashioned font that suggests a commercial enterprise of the 1950s or '60s. I catch myself reaching up to check the status of my own hairline, as the artist might have expected me to do..."

Joining an art gallery walking tour through the centre of Melbourne, Victoria.

[Read the full article here]

Making a Scene
Virgin Blue Voyeur, March 2011

"There are many big events on the Melbourne calendar, so much so that it has become an attraction itself. In March you can choose between (or combine) the Grand Prix, the Fashion Festival, the Food and Wine Festival, the Queer Film Festival, the International Comedy Festival, the International Flower and Garden Show, and the decades-old Moomba Festival. However, one exciting element of the city’s cultural offerings that often eludes visitors is its vibrant independent theatre scene..."

Discovering the gems of Melbourne's thriving independent theatre scene.
Not available for republication.

[Read the full article here] (jump to p82)

Funny Bones
Jetstar Magazine, March 2011

"'Nothing succeeds like success,' goes the old saying, and it could well work as the
motto for the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. Since its inception in 1987, the festival has become one of Australia’s biggest arts events - with over 400,000 tickets sold last year. Now the Comedy Festival is turning 25. What accounts for its extraordinary success?"

Revealing the highlights of the 25th Melbourne International Comedy Festival.

Licence to Stroll
The Sunday Age, 16 January 2011

"'St James for the gentlemen, Mayfair for the ladies,' says tour guide Simon Rodway. The dapper tour guide brandishing a silver-topped cane is leading us on his London of James Bond walking tour, the first of three tours I’m taking in connection with 20th century British fictional characters. He’s right on the money as he recites the old expression about these neighbouring London locales..."

Joining three walking tours about fictional characters in London, UK.

Out Cast Theatre Preview
The Age, 13 January 2011

"There's an unwritten rule in contemporary theatre - that you can include as much sex and nudity as you like, as long as it's tastefully understated. This is not, however, a view shared by Steven Dawson. Since 1997, Dawson has been writing plays that exploit the sheer cut-through marketing power of titles such as Big Dicks on Stage, Filthy Pervert Seeks Same and Naked."

Preview of Mr Braithwaite Has a New Boy, a play by gay theatre company Out Cast.

[Read the full article here]

The Older Kids on the Block
The Age, 8 January 2011

"IT manager Ryan McNaught has a novel way of filling his out-of-office hours: he builds models out of Lego, the popular interlocking building bricks patented by Danish toy company owner Godtfred Christiansen in 1958. They're not, however, comparable to the simple misshapen houses you constructed as a kid. McNaught's creations are sizeable constructions, meticulously planned and involving hundreds of bricks."

Preview of Brickvention, a convention for adult fans of Lego.

[Read the full article here]

Unleashing the Inner Beast
The Age, 30 November 2010

"Which do you prefer: Mickey Mouse or Daffy Duck? The good-natured animated animal characters from the Disney stable, or the sassier gang from Warner Brothers? It’s the sort of question that might be exercising the minds of furry fans as they gather in Melbourne for the 12th Midfur convention. Furries are devotees of anthropomorphic art, which features humanoid forms with animal characteristics."

Preview of Midfur, an annual convention celebrating anthropomorphic art.

[Read the full article here]

A Necktie a Day Keeps the Portrait Artist at Play
The Age, 5 November 2010

"No matter how you look at it, the suit gets a bad rap: ‘suits’ as a derisive term for corporate warriors, ‘men in suits’ to hint at masculine bias in the boardroom. Luckily the suit does have one true friend: the tie. This humble piece of neckwear has been allowed to be the one free and easy item in men’s power uniform, lending it the ability to mitigate the suit’s conformist look."

Profile of The Tie Project, a blog featuring an artist wearing a different tie each day.

[Read the full article here]

Go Figure
The Age, 21 August 2010

"I’m sitting on a low red brick wall within a decaying factory complex in Wroclaw, Poland. Beyond artist Tomasz Moczek, perched on his rickety bar stool, I can see the doorway to his studio, a cool cavernous chamber within this defunct brewery. It’s a beautiful day filled with warm sunshine, and beers are passed around as I chat with Moczek and his friends Marcin and Kuba. The topic of conversation is gnomes."

A letter from Wrocław, Poland, investigating its intriguing gnome statues.

Sex, Sport and Power Plays
The Age, 13 August 2010

"Despite the progress made in achieving equality between men and women over the past half-century, the abuse of sexual power by sportsmen keeps raising its head. Now it's inpired a new documentary play about sexual violence and football, This Kind of Ruckus. Drawing on rugby’s sex scandals of recent years, the production starkly examines the psychology of sex and consent in both the sporting arena and the wider world."

Preview of This Kind of Ruckus, a theatre work about sport and sexual violence.

[Read the full article here]

The World's Smallest Joke is Big in the Apple Isle
The Age, 23 July 2010

"Stop me if you've heard this one - 683 punters walk into a Hobart bar to watch a comedy gig, and call it a comedy festival. In 2002 it seemed pretty funny, according to Hobart Comedy Festival producer Craig Wellington. 'We put on a stage show over summer, and called it "The Hobart Comedy Festival (The World’s Smallest Cultural Event)" as a joke.' But it turned out to not be a passing gag..."

A preview of the Hobart Comedy Festival, with quotes from comedian Hannah Gadsby.

[Read the full article here]

Freo by the Book
The Sunday Age, 25 April 2010

"Beyond the revelry, Fremantle has always attracted writers. From big-name bestsellers like Tim Winton to Miles Franklin Award winners such as Xavier Herbert, there’s apparently something about the narrow streets and salt air that sparks creativity. 'It has its own culture, its own feel,' says Silvey. 'It feels a little bit spiritual, and it's a really vibrant, caring community. Artists tend to cluster around these sort of places.'"

Strolling along the Writers Walk in Fremantle, Western Australia.

Thespis Wakes from Slumber
The Age, 12 April 2010

"Whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad. But what happens when the gods move beyond wrath and manipulation, and simply become tired, worn out, and in need of a cup of tea and a good lie-down? They hire temps, of course, a group of actors who can fill in on Mount Olympus until they feel like returning to their heavenly abode. That’s the plot, in any case, of Gilbert and Sullivan’s Thespis."

A preview of the Australian premiere of Thespis, Gilbert and Sullivan's first-ever collaboration.

[Read the full article here]

After Utopia Goes Bust
The Sun-Herald, 14 March 2010

"There’s a deliberately raw look to many of the statues, as if they’ve been part-hewn out of stone but never quite finished – presumably the intention was to show strength and power. However there’s also a dull sameness about most of them, as if one artist in a Moscow garret did the lot – which was also the idea, I suppose."

Exploring a gallery of defunct communist art in Kozłówka, Poland.

Pot-Pourri of Opera Comes Alive Under the Stars
The Age, 6 March 2010

"Picture this... it’s Brunswick in the 1980s, well before gentrification swept across the suburb. A baritone walks into a dingy jazz club, accompanied by a female soprano. He exchanges a brief nod with the barman, who’s rumoured to keep a gun under the bar, and the duo ascends the stage."

A preview of operatic musical group Pot-Pourri's show From Opera to Broadway... Under the Stars.

[Read the full article here]

Life off the West End
The West Australian, 6 February 2010

"Even though it’s very Off West End, I still have the common London experience of going to the theatre and realising I’ve seen some of the actors on the telly or at the cinema. Outside on the wet streets, people are bustling through the rain toward Kilburn Tube station, or stepping into the welcoming pub opposite. There’s something both very British but very international about the scene."

Stepping outside London's theatrical mainstream to go 'Off West End'.

Hooray for Hollywoodge
The Sunday Age, 31 January 2010

"'Roman Polanski used to sit right there between classes.' Professor Andrzej Bednarek points to a stairwell within Poland’s National Film School. We gaze at the stairs together, he in fond reflection and I in moderate reverence. It’s not everyday you encounter a renowned director’s favourite spot for a smoko. And as Lodz is pronounced 'woodge' in Polish, there’s been no end of puns about 'Hollywoodge'."

Exploring the cinematic attractions of Łódź, Poland's film hub.

A Three-Legged Dragon
The Age, 30 January 2010

"If a nerd like Lawrence Leung could revive the Rubik’s Cube in his TV series Choose Your Own Adventure, the time must be ripe for a geek-chic makeover of the 12-sided dice. Enter musical comedy trio Tripod, whose latest production is an exaltation of that epic pre-console time-waster: the role-playing game known as Dungeons and Dragons."

A preview of comedy trio Tripod's upcoming show, Tripod vs the Dragon.

For Those About to Rock
The Age, 16 January 2010

"Morgan takes us past landmarks illustrating his life in Freo: his primary school; the former Caledonian Hall where he learned to play the bagpipes; and the old Fremantle Prison which he once passed through en route to a juvenile correctional institution. So he was a bit of a bad boy, and he famously liked the ladies. 'His Mum still lives in a nearby suburb,' says Morgan. 'She was the only woman in Perth that he didn't sleep with.'"

Seeing Fremantle, Western Australia through the eyes of AC/DC's Bon Scott.

[Read the full article here]

The Age, 12 December 2009

"What would Christmas be without nuts? Or indeed, without The Nutcracker? This fairytale ballet by Tchaikovsky is the perfect way to introduce kids to dance, though adults will also be enchanted by the adventures of our heroine, Marie, and the toys she encounters along the way. 'Is there a magical transformation and a handsome prince?' I hear you ask. How could there not be? Sugar plum fairies included."

A guide to Melbourne's performing arts highlights in the summer of 2009-2010.

London Inspiration
Medical Observer, 26 August 2009

"Shad Thames is a curious laneway running parallel with the Thames, between a set of large brick warehouses. Above the street a series of walkways runs back and forth between the buildings. It’s an atmospheric sight; and it’s also, I remember, where Daleks were seen to roam when it was a dilapidated, rain-drenched strip in the 1980s. Which just goes to show - even metallic alien invaders can’t stop gentrification."

Taking three walking tours based on fictional characters in London.

Art Sets Poles Apart
The Courier-Mail, 15 August 2009

"I’m on my way into a pub when I’m stopped by a dangerous revolutionary. With one fist raised in protest and the other support a flying banner, he looks up at me with clear disdain. But perhaps I’m overstating my peril. For a start, he’s looking up at me because he’s only 50 centimetres high. And he’s made of stone. And he’s a gnome."

An investigation of the quirky gnome statues of Wrocław, Poland.
Art for Thought's Sake on a Pub Wall
The Age, 16 May 2009

"Though the satirical illustration has been around since the 18th century, and the cartoon is still a fixture on newspapers' editorial pages, they've had a bumpy transition to the Internet, where users click to specific stories rather than view entire pages. Enter a new medium - the wall of a popular inner-city music venue. But why decide to feature cartoon and comic strip art in the first place?"

Talking to the creators of Strip Billboard, a street art project in Melbourne, Australia.

[Read the full article here]

For Your Spies Only
Herald Sun, 5 December 2008

"The power, the power! I’m standing at a computer console in London, selecting missions undertaken by a well-known secret agent. As I touch each icon, an impressive digital globe rotates on the giant screen above me, indicating the locations in James Bond’s adventures. Yes, I am a Bond villain and I hold the fate of Agent 007 in my very hands. Nyah-ha-ha!"

On the London trail of James Bond 007, and his creator Ian Fleming.

London Off West End
Medical Observer, 17 October 2008

"Dodging part of a fast-moving actor’s costume is not one of the usual rituals of going to the theatre. But I’m at the Globe Theatre, and here the rules are quite different. There’s no real danger of losing an eye, of course - the actors know exactly where they’re treading - but there’s a great sense of energy and excitement when they wheel in your direction to spout Shakespeare’s famous lines."

Taking in the entertainment at London's more stimulating theatrical venues.
A Cool Night Out
The Age, 2 January 2008

"Tired of Hollywood fare? Had enough of third-rate sequels involving comic book characters and bad computer-generated effects? Getting a headache from lurid multiplex carpets and overconsumption of popcorn? ... This late night offering is sure to get you pondering, even if it’s only along the lines of 'What were they thinking?'"

Casting a cinematic eye over Melbourne's quirkiest movie venues.

[Read the full article here]

Cultural Pilgrimage
The Age, 9 January 2007

"Riddle me this: what do you get when you cross a cow up a tree, a giant eagle, and a bridge that looks like a Slinky? Find out on the Docklands Art Journey, a walk through the strange and stimulating public art of the former port area..."

A look at 20 great cultural experiences in Melbourne, from galleries to public art.

[Read the full article here]

Death of a TV Anomaly
The Age, 15 June 2006

"When Six Feet Under finally expires from natural causes after its final episode next Monday, it'll be the end of a long and intense emotional journey for its fans. But the drama about the lives of a family running a Los Angeles funeral home was never going to go quietly..."

A farewell to the cult favourite TV program about a family running a funeral home.

[Read the full article here]

From Myth to Manga
The Age, 8 November 2005

"The future is taking shape in a sunlit studio high above Flinders Lane. Shepherd’s workspace is located in the Nicholas Building, a grand office block from 1926 and home to a community of artists and artisans. Like the building, the CybaFaeries studio is cluttered with reminders of the past. But the latest technology is also present, as Shepherd works on his current project, crafting robots as pieces of art that will move and see."

A profile of a man who makes 'fine art robots' in his studio in Melbourne's city centre.

[Read the full article here]

Whatever They Wanted, Lola Gave Them
The Age, 2 October 2005

"Bendigo had never seen a night at the theatre quite like it. On the evening of 2 April 1856, residents of the thriving gold mining town had paid five shillings to see a performance of Asmodeus, or The Little Devil. It wasn’t the play they were interested in, but its star, Lola Montez. Celebrated and condemned in the world’s media, she was a magnet for scandal and gossip. However, she was about to be upstaged..."

The story of the scandalous Lola Montez and her 1855 tour of Melbourne and the goldfields.

RedPlanet Revisited
The Age, 5 September 2005

"Like Another Planet, Redletter aimed to provide a voice to marginalised groups. It also established its own campaigns, usually addressing causes outside mainstream politics. The result was a steady stream of big, bold posters exposing new ideas and events to the world. They were a godsend to cash-strapped grassroots organisations, and activists hoping to insert a new viewpoint into the heads of unsuspecting passers-by."

The history of Melbourne's famous anti-establishment poster presses.

[Read the full article here]

A Flick Through Britain
The West Australian, 12 August 2004

"There’s more than one way to skin a cat. Or indeed, to visit Britain. The Romans came to conquer the place, the Vikings to plunder, and most modern visitors have images of castles, pomp and pageantry whirling in their heads. But some of the best English language TV and film has come out of the UK, and an increasing number of tourists make a different kind of pilgrimage – to the location of their favourite Brit flick."

Guide to travelling through the UK in search of TV and film locations.
Log-on Laughs
Herald Sun, 26 April 2004

"There’s nothing funny about technology. Just think about it: spam, pop-ups, incompatible hardware and help files poorly translated from Japanese. Worst of all, computer crashes. There’s nothing remotely funny about your hard drive crashing..."

Examines a number of Comedy Festival shows focusing on the funny side of technology. 

Ghosts of Futures Past
The West Australian, 3 April 2004

"Nostradamus had enough sense to keep it vague. His mysterious predictions kept the punters guessing well past his death. If only his descendants had learned from his wisdom. Time and again, 20th century prognosticators set their books, films and TV series in a specific year of the future. In many cases, these years have now actually passed, enabling us to check the accuracy of their predictions."

Nostalgia piece about TV shows set in a future year which has now passed.

Reviews & Previews

I've reviewed and previewed a broad range of productions, including theatre, cabaret and comedy, for the following publications:
Examples are available on request.

This page contains examples of my writing about the arts, both in Australia and internationally. Each entry includes a sample paragraph, and a link to the original article where available.

If you'd like to republish one of these pieces, or would like a new arts piece, please get in touch via the contacts below:

All articles in this archive are available for republication (fee to be negotiated). Articles can be rewritten to meet your style or length requirements. Please contact me by email with your query.

articles by subject:



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