Page 1

10 April - 16 April 2012 – Issue: 407


Behind the communist curtain


Pam Ann touches down in London

SURF’S UP The very best surf spots on earth





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Australia and South Africa are engaged in a furious rivalry; not over oil or land or even sport, but for scientific prestige and the chance to host a machine so powerful it will be able to see back to the beginning of the Universe.

By Dan Swinhoe and Tim Martin AUSTRALIA and South Africa are competing to host a telescope so powerful it will be able to see traces of stellar activity in the moments after the Big Bang. The Square Kilometre Array (SKA) is a billion pound project that will form the most powerful telescope on Earth, one that will operate until at least 2050 in an initiative that will employ thousands. Both nations have been working on their bids since 2006 for the chance to become the world leader in astronomy, and the end is very close. The SKA board was expected to announce the winner of the bid when they met in Amsterdam last week. However, after several meetings to discuss the bids and advisory panel findings, the deliberations were so finely balanced that a final decision has now been delayed until May. The SKA will be 50 times more potent than its predecessors and will consist of 3,000 dishes (receptors) of three different types, with a total collecting area of over 1km2. The receptors will be arranged in five spiral arms from a central core, and if Australia wins the bid, that core will be at the Murchison Radio astronomy Observatory (MRO), approximately 315 km north east of Geraldton in Western Australia. The Shire of Murchison in the WA outback is roughly the size of The Netherlands and yet has a permanent population of approximately just 110 people. This low population density

In association with

AussieMite lands in the UK

A NEW Australian player has landed on UK shelves and it’s here to disrupt a taste duopoly that spans the entire world. AussieMite, “the caviar of savoury spreads, the newest kitchen essential in an expanding global fusion cuisine”, launched nationally around Britain this month and is hoping to steal some yeast spread market share from heavy competition. Up against local favourite, Marmite, and another Aussie import, Vegemite, the new brand is the brainchild of Australian sportsman, flier and entrepreneur Roger Ramsey. Already making waves in Australia, AussieMite now intends to capture the hearts and ‘cooking imaginations’ of Aussies living abroad. “We want to give Australians what they truly deserve,” Ramsey told Australian Times. “Australians deserve something made in their own backyard, by a company that invests back into Australia.”


Pete Murray back in business and back in London | P9

enables the strict radio-quietness requirements of the SKA to be met. If Australia were successful in its bid, this environment would be maintained for the future by a 260 km radius ‘Mid West Radio Quiet Zone’.

In essence, the SKA will attempt to answer big scientific questions about the beginnings and expansion of the Universe, the mysterious dark matter of space as well as Einstein’s theories on gravity. In a day it will generate

Go to:

enough raw data to fill 15 million 64GB iPods and in a week it will collect more information than the human race has measured in its entire history. ...continued on p3

2 | News

10 April - 16 April 2012

Australians are being robbed of an informed debate about global events n

Australia is restricted by its proximity to the major global powers. But is this an excuse to glean over the most important world news and the most crucial decisions being made by the world’s most powerful people?

Publisher: Bryce Lowry Editor: Tim Martin Production/Design: Jackie Lampard Australia Editor: Ashlea Maher Music Editor: Paul Judge Contributors: Bianca Soldani, Shannon Crane, Kate Ausburn, Sara Newman, Justin Ng, Phill Browne, Kristy Kenny, Carmen Allan, Mario Hannah, Amy Fallon, Rose Callaghan, Lesley Slade, Simon Kleinig, Kris

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the hard word > NATHAN MOTTON

BY DEFINITION the word ‘media’ refers to: the main means of mass communication. And while the very essence of communication has changed significantly over the past decade, the word ‘main’ is interesting. Is our ‘main’ access to news providing all that we, the consumer, demand? Or are we being shortchanged by a self-indulgent, inward looking fourth estate. After moving to London last year, The Hard Word discovered that the British public is deeply suspicious of its press. Added to that, the UK audience demands that its ‘main’ source of information is critical by nature and engaging in manner. The appetite here for news is, I believe, unparalleled in the world. Of course like anywhere, tabloid news rules and some ‘stories’ that are published here are ruthless and entirely pointless. But a paradigm shift in consumer habits following the fall-out from the News of the World phone-hacking saga has proved that people here refuse to be taken for a ride. This can only be positive for society. The ‘main’ source of information in Australia is determined by a high concentration of media owners, who insist on feeding the public a funnel of news largely confined to the nation’s shores. This can only be negative for the Australian people. But is this the fault of the

Your Say On: Julia Gillard and Bob Carr disagree on decriminalising drugs

THIS is not a drug problem – it’s a people problem, a societal discontent problem. I do not condone the use of drugs, however some of us are using pharmaceutical drugs every day that are killing us. Consider this seriously, see it for truth; drugs are drugs, whatever ‘form’ they take. Their effects are varied, but there’s more blame placed on recreational drugs when a large part of our suffering continues to thrive in the hands of companies like Pfizer who make a mint from keeping people ill enough to keep coming back to purchase their ‘remedy’, which is a bunch of misinformation and often far darker than what you might imagine ‘druglords’ to be selling on the sly. The real evil is right out in the open where it thinks it’s safe. The broader issue is not about narcotics, it’s a HUMAN PSYCHE problem. Freesia

? What’s your view

consumer or the media? I would argue that it’s both. The most reported stories in Australia last week according to Media Monitors were: the Queensland election with an overwhelming 19,000 mentions across all mediums, followed by the mining tax, Olympic swimming trials, the tragic death of Melbourne great Jim Stynes and the capture of Malcolm Naden with just over 9,000 mentions. In the UK in the same week, the Budget dominated the headlines according to Journalisted. com. The extraordinary story of Bolton midfielder Fabrice Muamba’s cardiac arrest during a football match was the next most reported story, followed by the Toulouse killings. Aside from very domestic budget stories, the next two were, I would argue significant global stories. Of course the death of Jim Stynes was in its own right an enormous national story Down Under, and the Queensland election was historic in so many ways. But one could be forgiven for thinking the blanket coverage of the others, and the far fewer reports on the Toulouse killings and Muamba’s incredible fight for his life makes complete sense, given Australia’s proximity to these countries. Not quite. It reveals an underlying problem with Australian news content, that its ‘main’ form of access to information is far too insular.

Since living and working in London I’ve found an enormous disparity between the news that is reported on in the UK and that in Australia. There is a much greater amount of content available to British journalists but, importantly, it is all reported on in great length. Last year the implications of the eurozone bailout were explored for each and every one of the UK’s taxpayers. The consequences of the US debt ceiling agreement, as the UK’s largest export partner, were reported on at great length. The phone-hacking scandal questioned the very fabric of the British press. The coverage of all these events and their link to UK shores has inevitably increased my appetite for news. They were largely overlooked by the Australian press. There is too much focus on Australian Rules Football, drinkdriving, petty crime and an obsession with d-list celebrities. So what have we learned? Australians are being robbed of an informed, global debate about world events. Of course the country is restricted by its proximity to the major global powers. But is this an excuse to glean over the most important world news, the most crucial decisions being made by the world’s most powerful people? The answer is most certainly not.

On: Living in London can be hard sometimes, especially for Aussies

On: One in six Aussies admit faking a sickie

I totally agree with the author of the post, although I’ve been living here just for 6 months and one may say that that is not enough. I’ve tried hard, but got the same experience with dinners/lunch cancelled because everyone is so busy here. I’m Italian and every friend of mind just told me the same thing. Whenever I try to start a conversation I can actually notice the slight feeling of shock behind the eyes of my interlocutor, except of course on Saturday night when they are all awfully drunk. Marghe

On: Melbourne’s Metlink needs a lesson from TfL

No, I haven’t had a run in - but I’ve used London and Hong Kong trains and they are reliable, easy and efficient. Maybe the author could aslo comment on why Victorians needed to invent, at huge public cost, our own ticketing system (MYKI) when both HK & London already have systems we could have replicated? Des

I admit it - I chuck a sickie when the International rugby comes to town...I thought that was a given and part of the Aussie culture...

On: Cold Chisel to play London’s Hyde Park for Hard Rock Calling

Blown away! This news had made my sunny weekend sunnier and Shepherd’s Bush Greener!! If that’s possible… Maureen entertainment

On: Cold Chisel to play London’s Hyde Park for Hard Rock Calling

I feel a bout of Aussiexpatitis coming on.. Leanne

Share your comments on these and more stories online:

News | 3

Space race decision up in the air for Oz


Continued from p1... The remote Murchison site boasts clear skies free from light pollution and radio interference, plus good infrastructure. The low population density across WA and inland Australia means that there is significant flexibility in the placement of remote array stations to achieve all SKA’s scientific objectives and Australia is well provided with high bandwidth optic-fibre networks. A view of the Southern sky that overlaps that of other scientifically important telescopes and excellent observational access to the centre of the Milky Way mean Australia may yet pip our African rivals whose main advantage is low-cost. In addition, ‘The Lucky Country’ offers political stability and has an established history of innovation and achievement radio astronomy. Winning SKA would be a massive boost to the country’s standing internationally, as the project has a good chance of winning Nobel prizes from the project’s groundbreaking research. Hosting the world’s most powerful telescope would also draw foreign investment to Australia and boost domestic business. While both Australia and South Africa remain in close contention, the final decision on the location of the project will be made by a panel of experts from five countries; China, Italy, the Netherlands, Britain and Canada. It was even muted last week that the project could see a compromise and be divided between both nations.

“The Members wished to move ahead with the site selection process, and recognised that it is desirable to maintain an inclusive approach to SKA,” a press statement read. “They noted that it is important to maximise the value from the investments made by both candidate host regions. They therefore agreed to set up a small scientific working group to explore possible implementation options that would achieve this.” However the Project Director for the Australian bid, Dr Brian Boyle, doesn’t necessarily support a compromised solution. “The ANZSCC (Australian New Zealand SKA Coordination Committee) does not favour a split site outcome that would have significant impact on the science outcomes of the project. We believe that a full-scale SKA as envisioned by the international community is both achievable and desirable,” Dr Boyle said. “We therefore look forward to a clear recommendation from the SKA Site Advisory Committee. If a site decision is made around maximising the science outcomes for the SKA, we stand ready to work with the international community to realise this full potential for the SKA – and deliver one of the world’s most ambitious and exciting science projects of the 21st century.” Should Australia be awarded the SKA project? Have your say on


1 3



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4 | Voices

10 April - 16 April 2012

London’s Royal Botanic Gardens are definitely worth it

Chocolaty goodness from the Easter splurge

n Spoilt rotten this Easter and left with a mountain of chocolate

There is no denying it any longer – spring eggs not even an army of toddlers could destroy? Don’t has sprung in London and with every sunny day despair! Our favourite Aussie chef has a few tips on how to people flock to the green spaces across the turn the eggs into tasty treats. capital to revel in the fresh(ish) air and sunshine. the cocoa bean found deep in the lush form part of our dessert, is the perfect tropical hills and coastline of Africa, kind for using in the kitchen. chris’s One green space that our London adventurer South America and Mexico. The This recipe below will hopefully kitchen cocoa bean undergoes fermentation introduce you to cooking with > CHRIS ARK hadn’t checked out was Kew Gardens, so she and a roasting process that tones chocolate and show you how simple its intense bitterness until all it is to use at home. grabbed the housemates and decided on a CHOCOLATE has been putting a down that is left is cocoa liquid. This is then It always pays to use good quality smile on people’s dials for hundreds blended with cocoa butter and sugars chocolate with a high percentage of ‘flat family Sunday outing’ to Richmond to tick of years. From birthdays and Easters to produce what we know today as cocoa solids. Look out for chocolate to everything in between, it’s a confectionary chocolate. with 65 to 75 per cent cocoa solid off #57 – the Royal Botanic Gardens. yummy crutch many people rely on Chocolate has become as range. Going that extra step when


and a product that almost everybody in the world loves. Heck, it’s even been responsible for patching up bad behaviour after a big night out (in fact, I think I have shares in Cadbury’s!). This delicious brown goodness is originally sourced and produced from

complicated as wine, with suppliers of cocoa beans offering single plantation or hill-side beans carefully roasted to produce the highest quality available. However the chocolate from the eggs we are going to watch melt today and

you’re confident working with chocolate will pay off with your mates. Here we go for this week’s chocolaty recipe – happy cooking and enjoy!

strawberry salad a th wi ts po e ffe co d an te ola oc ch Melted

bron in


HOME of the Royal Botanical Gardens and #57 on the London Top 100 list, you can find Kew Gardens tucked away out in the south west of the English capital near Richmond. If you happen to travel there by rail (which is much quicker than the tube) and you fill in a 2-4-1 pamphlet found at local rail stations, you are able to get in for half the price. Otherwise it is about £14 a pop. The 300 acre gardens sprawl daintily alongside the River Thames, which is a great place to wander as you take in the gardens. However if you are after more than just a stroll, there is plenty to look at along the way. For those who aren’t afraid of heights there is the tree top walk. Built high up so you can walk amongst the branches of different types of trees, the tree top walk way is a great way to see a sprawling view of the park.

One of my favourite places in the gardens was the Palm House which is one of three conservatories. It’s basically a giant greenhouse divided into different sections according to continents the plants are from. In the basement you can visit an aquarium and see all different kinds of weird and wacky fish. You can even take the winding staircase up to a mezzanine walkway to inspect the top of the tall palms and gaze down upon the plants. It’s not just plants and gardens you can see at the Royal Botanic - although the spring flowers are gorgeous. But where there is flora there is always fauna. From roosters and chickens crossing your path to squirrels chasing each other, don’t be surprised if you come across a variety of animals as you walk through. Like any other London attraction there is a café and restaurant nearby to rest your weary legs and to warm up in when the sun goes behind the clouds. It is the perfect way to recoup after a lot of walking! However we were after one more thing for our spring Sunday which was a pint and a roast. We wandered around the edge of the gardens and found the Rose and Crown pub nearby and settled in for an early evening roast and a rest. It was fun to explore the gardens and if it wasn’t for the expense of paying I would love to head back and take a picnic with me so I could just sit and enjoy the surroundings. If you decide to check it out make sure you make the most of it and go prepared!

What you need:

• 200ml double cream • 100gm of left over Easter eggs – chance to smash ‘em up • 50ml single cream • 2 large egg yolks at room temp • 35g castor sugar • 2 tbsp strong coffee, cooled

For the strawberry salad:

• 1 punnet of strawberries or other varieties • 2 sprigs of fresh mint • 1 tsp castor sugar

What to do:

• Warm up the oven to 170 degrees. • Heat the double cream to a simmer on the hob, add the chocolate and stir to blend together. • Remove and stir in the single cream and allow them to cool on the side. • In a large bowl whisk the egg yolks and sugar until pale and thick in colour. About five minutes should do it. • Fold in the chocolate cream and pour in the chilled coffee. • Divide the mixture into four or five small pots or coffee cups. Place them in

a deep tray and fill the try with hot water from the kettle. Place in the oven for 20-30 minutes until set around the edges. • Take out and allow them to cool for a few hours in the fridge. • For the salad use an electric blender and blend half the strawberries into a liquid. • Add the sugar and a squeeze of lemon juice. Quarter the remaining strawberries and fold them together. Toss in the fresh mint and serve with the chocolate pots. Enjoy.

Voices | 5

Friends are like family in the UK By Lisa Neale

ONE of the main reasons we decided to make the move from Australia to London revolved around our social network, or increasingly lack of it. We found we were getting to that stage in our lives where our friends were getting married, moving away for careers or starting families of their own, and those that lived nearby were caught up in their own busy lifestyles. Yes, we too, were at that stage of our lives – good jobs, looking to buy our first home and planning a wedding, but we

wanted more. Welcome to London, where everything changed! We knew just two people when we arrived. One of them moved back to Australia a week later, but not before introducing us to her friends and adopted UK family. Just one meeting with her friends and we found ourselves sharing Christmas with them. The other friend introduced us to her Aussie housemates and their friends, and then the social network began to grow. I thought making friends in

What I will miss most about Britain

By Joshua Lloyd AS I APPROACH my visa expiry date I realise I’m truly going to miss British pubs and British beer. Yes – the warm, brown, flat p*** the old blokes drink is nothing short of brilliant. It’s so nice to have a choice and try something new when you walk into a pub, rather than the choice between apples and apples that is the great New vs. VB debate. Give me a pint of Hobgoblin (5.2% ruby-coloured with a rich, nutty taste) over XXXX (3.5% cold urine) any day. But there’s much more that makes British watering holes exceptional when compared to their Australian counterparts. The soundtrack to British pub life is too varied to succinctly summarise. Oasis and The Stone Roses mixed with the sound of real ale being pumped into a pint glass is a good, if stereotypical, place to start.

The soundtrack to Australian pub life is the sound of some old bloke commenting on dogs chasing a stuffed rabbit, or a cacophony coming from another room which can only mean another small ‘victory’ on the pokies. Sure these things have their place, but that’s just it – they have THEIR place, not EVERY BLOODY place. In London particularly it seems if you look hard enough there’s a pub for every need. There are pubs that show sport and pubs that proudly boast they have no televisions. There are live music pubs and no-music pubs; wine bars and ale houses. There are pubs with modern, stainless-steel bars and blue lights (like all the almost-uniform pubs in Sydney) and there are hundreds with marble-topped wooden bars and centuries-old fittings. And there is everything in between. Best of all, pubs here survive because they prove themselves attractive to clientele, not because they rely on problem gamblers to prop up their income. Fruit Machine reforms would have little impact in England. So while I’m no wannabe Pom I’ll raise a warm beer in a handled pint glass to their glorious public houses and hope we can learn something about knocking a few back from Mother England. What would you miss? Tell us at

London would be tough – that we had to make a real effort to get out there and meet people. But I couldn’t be more wrong. In Australia, it felt like we were always making the effort and it wasn’t necessarily reciprocated. Here, it works both ways and being in such a fabulous city with such amazing opportunities also helps. We’ve also managed to re-kindle friendships with schoolmates, befriend housemates and reconnect with former work mates. Back home, when meeting someone for the first time, it’s hardly likely

you’ll be sharing a beer with them the following week, catching up like old mates. But over here it is staple. This is one of the reasons I love London. In the UK, people don’t need excuses to head out for a drink or coffee. They just do it. And it isn’t an effort to do so. Friends are like family here! Let’s hope our Aussie friends are just as welcoming when we eventually decide to head home.

6 | Entertainment

10 April - 16 April 2012

Musical conspiracy, icon remixed and farewell to a Little legend music from the

and he is truly an Australian music legend. Vale Jimmy, we will miss you.


Classical v Contemporary


Farewell to Jimmy Little

AUSTRALIAN music was in mourning last week with the news musician Jimmy Little had passed away at his home in Dubbo aged 75. Little enjoyed a career spanning over 50 years and was one of the first Aboriginal musicians to enjoy national success with his 1963 single ‘Royal Telephone’ topping the Australian charts. He followed this up releasing over 16 albums during the 60’s and 70’s. During the 1980’s Little was quieter on the music front dedicating himself to family and other projects. He returned to the mainstream music scene with the 1999 release Messenger, an album covering popular Australian artists including Paul Kelly, Crowded House and The Go-Betweens. Steve Kilbey, frontman of Aussie band The Church, said when he heard Little’s rendition of their song ‘Under the Milky Way’ it was like: “I was hearing the song for the first time.” Little was inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame in 1999 and continued to release albums right up until 2004, the same year when he was made a member of the Order of Australia. His soft, crooning voice often saw him referred to as the Australian Bing Crosby

The gloves are off in Australia with the news the classical music label Melba received $750,000 in Federal government funding last year yet only released three albums during that time. The small label has been receiving millions of dollars in government funding since 2004 and is now pointed at as an example of bias in government funding when it comes to the arts and music industries. The contemporary music industry, which receives little funding, is especially cheesed off with the level of taxpayer’s money spent on a small label in a niche market. SLAM (Save Live Australia’s Music) - a campaign aimed at preserving live music venues and opportunities released a statement saying they were ‘outraged one particular section of music receives such funding while contemporary music programs receive next to nothing’. Music from the Motherland, always one to pull a conspiracy out of thin air, notes ambassadors and backers of Melba include cultural heavyweights like Baz Lurhman and Dame Elisabeth Murdoch. There are also claims that Melba (with the help of influential friends) were able to bypass the Australia Council (the board responsible for Arts funding)

and go straight to the federal Treasurers office at the time they were applying for funding! Music, scandal, money, politicians - it’s got it all and we love it!

VB to the beat

With the heavy nature of these past stories we thought we’d leave you on an upbeat note, and it literally is. Some bedroom producer/DJ known only to us as Brendan B has taken one of our iconic national anthems and remixed it into a modern day floor filler. No, don’t be silly, we’re not talking about Advance Australia Affair! We are, of course, talking about the Victoria Bitter beer tune; that classic ad jingle that has been around for years. Normally we’d be fuming when someone takes a sacred song and puts a cheesy bass line to it (Crooker’s 1998 remix of ‘Thunderstruck’ springs to mind). This one, along with the montage of VB ad’s they put together, left us bopping at the computer and wanting to reach for an ice cold beer. And the best cold beer? Well, we think you know the answer. Listen and watch Brendan B’s VB tune remix video at RIP LITTLE FELLA: Australia farewelled a musical legend in Jimmy Little last week. The Aussie icon was one of the first Aboriginal Australians to enjoy national musical success.

Aussie tribute to Pink Floyd makes waves By Conor McGlone

THE APOLLO has seen the darker side of the moon. No I’m not talking about a rocket fuelled, NASAfunded space discovery mission. I am of course referring to the amazing Aussie tribute band, The Australian Pink Floyd Show (TAPFS), who have just wowed audiences at London’s Hammersmith Apollo. Mind you, there were plenty of spaced out moments to go around. TAPFS are prolific. They’ve been around since the early 80s and they have even played alongside the real Pink Floyd (at David Gilmour’s birthday). I spoke to founding member Jason Sawford earlier last month and he made some fearless claims. “I think we put on a bloody good show now. It’s a huge show; musically we try and get things note for note. I think a lot of people come out feeling that it sounds just like a Pink Floyd show which is what we aim to do.” As a Floyd fanatic, this guy from Adelaide was promising a lot. Talk about hype. TAPFS had a lot to live up to but, boy, did they deliver! Some people just know how to put on a show. Pink Floyd were not solely about the music. They were about the trippy laser beams, the psychedelic images, the some-poignant, some seemingly irrelevant videos and not to mention the impossibly imposing inflatables. But TAPFS didn’t miss a trick. The 10-foot tall inflatable kangaroo was a touch. And the huge productions and ridiculous all-encompassing extravaganzas Pink Floyd were so revered for, they were well emulated in West London by the Aussie tribute artists. As for the music, well, I can pretty

much remember all the famous solos note for note and this outfit barely strayed from one. It was electrifying. They played most of the classics from Wish You Were Here to The Wall (complete with a bunch of genuine, hyperactive looking, primary school kids) and they played them convincingly. The group, which first formed in Adelaide in 1988, has gone through numerous personnel changes over the years but to a member, each of them played out of their socks and they were having a contagiously great time. Alex McNamara is one of the latest additions to the crew and he is a more than worthy would-be Pink Floyd singer. Having appeared in the West End rock-opera We Will Rock You, his mysterious apparitions at the front of stage and powerful deliveries were a true homage to the Floyd. Ripping guitar solos and distinctive chord changes are what Pink Floyd are famous for and any tribute band needs to get that right. TAPFS certainly did. The youthful-looking David Domminney Fowler made his guitar cry and sing with an effortless grace, bending and manipulating the notes with perfect precision. Lorelei McBroom used to sing with the real Pink Floyd and this just goes to show the level of high-esteem at which this Aussie band is held in. She came on and blasted the audience with a soulful rendition of the classic Great Gig in the Sky. Words cannot express the beauty of this piece (literally) and the crowd was rapturous. All the guitarists sang the notes of the solos as they thrashed them out, a sign

of confidence and sure-footedness; a sign that this group truly love the Floyd music and that they know it inside out. The Aussies didn’t only play the classics. Pink Floyd have an extensive repertoire and that’s crucial for TAPFS. After the show the bass player and singer Colin Wilson told me that“ because we are touring every year, we try to mix it up a little bit”. He told me that a lot of fans come back to the see show again and again - that’s why TAPFS keep it moving. As well as being a peerless tribute band, the members here are still musicians and for them, being able to play the lesser-known material and putting their own signature on them is priceless. And that’s the charm. This group aren›t just a bunch of mimicking parrots, there is an aura about them, something substantial. They are the real deal and they enjoy making music. Long may The Australian Pink Floyd Show continue!

the secret’s out tour september 2012

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CSM-Artscom-The Australian Times and The South African-April2012.indd 1

04/04/2012 18:22

8 | Entertainment

10 April - 16 April 2012

Pam Ann tells London Aussies You F’Coffee n

Fasten your seatbelts and turn off all electric devices: Pam Ann has touched down in the UK and is ready to give London audiences the ride of their lives. Aussie Pam shares a couple nostalgic words about her homeland with BIANCA SOLDANI and explains the challenges involved in wowing her all too faithful London fans. AUSSIE comedian and airline know-it-all, Caroline Reid (aka Pam Ann) is getting “lubed up for London”. Back in town with her new show You F’Coffee, Pam says audiences will enjoy a completely new experience. “There’ll be a lot of topical stuff,” she laughs down the phone from New York in her special interview with Australian Times. “What’s going on with the airlines, right up to the minute sort of stuff! And then we’re going to have “Pam Cam”: we’ve got a little camera that I’m gonna take round into the audience, new ‘movies’, new set design and some of that new social media – Twitter is it? – people can tweet what row they’re in. It’s bloody exciting!” And just to make sure she’s appealing to all the expat Aussies, Pam conspiratorially told us: “Yes I do talk about Qantas quite a lot…and the cracks in their wings!” On making her triumphant return to the London stage, Pam says that the pressure that comes from her popularity here motivates her to be always coming up with something new and fresh. The keen eyes of her many UK fans meaning she’s never able to recycle old material. “In London, for me, there’s more pressure, because everyone’s like ‘It’s not new material!’” she says with a mimicked whine. “‘Why isn’t it new material!’” Test-running parts of her new show

in New York, Pam found American audiences harder to maintain but certainly easier to please. “In New York, I can do what the f*ck I like! “However, audiences in the Big Apple are pretty tough because they’ve seen everything. You gotta get ‘em in the first five seconds or else they’ll just go.” Although definitely enjoying the scene in the Big Apple, and the interaction with American audiences, Pam said with delicacy that in London, “the innuendo and irony is a lot more understood”. Having ridiculed and parodied the ins and outs of the airline industry for years, Pam unashamedly admits she’s a bit of a “plane geek”, and with a hearty laugh said her obsession with airlines and airplanes began with her desperate need to leave Australia. “I wanted to get out!” she laughs “I wanted to get off the island! I guess my fascination with planes started when I had to come up with an idea to get out. Tullamarine, get me the f*ck outta here!” Despite her somewhat scathing description of ‘The Lucky Country’, Pam says she does love going home and is getting geared up for her Down Under tour this August which will include, for the first time, a show in Darwin.

She pulls a Big Kev-like “I’m excited”, saying “I can’t wait to go to Darwin and get my didgeridoo out. I wanna take that f*cking ‘Sorry’ dress up there and see what they really think!” She says she still loves the “fantastic” Aussie comic scene because of the freedom it allows performers. “In Australia we can f*cking say what we like! “I think we’re harsher, I think Australians get away with being a little bit more racist. And I don’t mean I’m racist, but I’m just saying that everyone’s so far away, it’s like ‘Ah that’s alright!’” After living many years in the UK, and now residing in the States, Pam says she still calls Australia “65% home”. “It’s still home because I’ve got my family and everyone out there, and I love Australia but there’s a certain breed of Australians that need to move around – we’re like a virus.” Pam’s theory about Aussie travellers and expats is that “we give people a false sense of security. They all think we’re nice and down to earth, but really, we just want VISAs.” Don’t miss Pam Ann’s new show You F’Coffee at the Bloomsbury Theatre from the 17 April

Entertainment | 9

Pete Murray sees blue skies up ahead n

After a four year album hiatus, Pete Murray is back with a vengeance with a record every bit as good as his stellar debut, Feeler. WILL FITZGIBBON caught up with the laid back Aussie to talk London gigs, the lure of the music and half-time State of Origin pep talks.

IN CERTAIN circles of adult Australians, a mention of the name Pete Murray evokes strong memories: swooning before a stage at Splendour in the Grass music festival; a first love and how only Murray’s song ‘Feeler’ adequately captured your own thoughts; or lazy beachside holidays with friends. Murray’s music and his instantlyrecognisable vocal mellifluousness are, for many Australians, the soundtracks of an idyllic past. The balladeer from Byron Bay is conscious of his place. “When you’ve had a lot of airplay,” Murray tells Australian Times on the phone from Queensland, “the music takes the audience back to certain times in their lives.” Now, however, Murray is returning to the stage and back to the charts with his new album Blue Sky Blue and a potential new reservoir of memories. As part of

a global tour promoting his newest album, Murray will perform in London on 12 April. “I actually feel like I’m ready to get back into it,” Murray says. “It’s exciting being on the road and exciting to be playing to a room of people.” “Blue Skye Blue is as good as Feeler, if not better,” Murray says, referring to his 2003 debut album that topped the Australian charts and earnt him a number of ARIA nominations. Murray says the two words he would use to describe his newest album are “dynamic” and “electric”. This is both a technical description of Murray’s decision, contrary to past practice, to use an electric guitar as well as a description of the album’s style. For while Blue Sky Blue arose from the sullen earth of his marriage break-up in 2009, Murray agrees with the critical categorisation of “happy break-up album”. The triumphantly titled ‘Always a Winner’ which is the first single release of

the album, is additional proof of the compilation’s surprising jollity. In any case, Murray has been delighted by the positive responses to Blue Sky Blue from fans longhewn to his previous albums Feeler (2003), See the Sun (2005) and Summer at Eureka (2008). Yet Murray’s latest round of musical hyperactivity could easily have not been. The lures of a laidback Australian life were certainly strong; until recently, Murray had swapped the guitar soundboard for the surfboard and the nappy, preferring to enjoy his life in Byron Bay with his two young children. During the four year break, Murray would most often be found “surfing and hanging out” or dropping into the Queensland State of Origin dressing room as a half-time mentor. Eventually, however, the lure of

the bus and the band was too strong. This is not the first time Murray will have performed in London. During his numerous trips to The Old Dart’s capital, Murray has become fond of the pubs and the vibe. Years ago, Murray played before a throng of fans at the south London behemoth music venue Brixton Academy. This time, Murray will perform at Scala near King’s Cross. It’s a smaller venue and that is something Murray is looking forward to. “I kind of enjoy those small shows,” he said. “You can hear the crowd yelling something to you. It’s much more intimate.” Just like those memories that come with every Pete Murray tune. Pete Murray is performing at Scala, London, on 12 April

What we’re following #Samantha Brick @Number10cat

Dear Samantha Brick, you have an absurdly high opinion of yourself despite your obvious character flaws; have you considered politics?


James Blunt pressed to reveal whether song “You’re Beautiful” was inspired by Samantha Brick @Charles_HRH

Text from Samantha Brick: “Don’t cha wish your girlfriend was hot like me?”. Sod off. @LouboutinJools

Just been to Starbucks, when they asked my name and I told them Samantha Brick I was still asked to pay - WTF ? Check out what we’re following today on and follow us on Twitter @AustralianTimes

What’s On Boy & Bear 10 April @ The Borderline, Soho Pete Murray 12 April @ Scala, King’s Cross Matt Corby 17 April @ The Bowery Bic Runga 18 April @ Shepherd’s Bush Empire Cate Blanchett in Big & Small 13 - 29 April @ Barbican Centre Tracer 24 April @ Islington O2 Academy Midnight Youth 15 May @ The Borderline, Soho The Jezabels 17 May @ Electric Brixton DZ Deathrays 17 May @ Barfly, Camden Temper Trap 21-22 May @ KOKO, Camden Emma Louise 22 May @ London Electricity Showroom, Hoxton Cold Chisel 13 July @ Hard Rock Calling, Hyde Park

For full details... ...and more Aussie gigs go to:


10 | Travel

putting This week we’re ON THE MAP



10 April - 16 April 2012

Curious about communist Cuba n

With the tiny (and infamous) Caribbean nation of Cuba on the precipice of some historical change, MARK JONES wanted to explore ‘Castro’s Island’ before it disappeared forever. George dropped me off at my private room in Havana and on the way gave me a list of ‘what-to-do’ and ‘what-not-to-do’ in his city. The list of ‘what-not-to-do’ far outweighed its counterpart.

The city that time forgot

I DID NOT know what to expect from Cuba, which was the main reason I wanted to go. Of course, there are the fine handmade cigars, old bars and classic cars that people always want to know about, but I’d heard there was so much more to the country. A less educated tourist just heads to Varadero on the northern coast and parties on the Caribbean with like-minded tourists. But that is not the ‘real’ Cuba. As the Cubans themselves will tell you; “don’t go to Varadero, there are no Cubans there.

The ‘real’ Cuba

The ‘real’ Cuba is in the oldstyle cities scattered throughout this small but significant island. Meeting the people, smoking their cigars, walking their pebbled streets, drinking in their bars, eating their food and being driven in their cars is all a part of the ‘real’ Cuba. My first Cuban friend was George, a friendly university student with basically no expectations of succeeding in his chosen field of engineering as Cuba is not overly interested in rebuilding, restructuring or refurbishing. In fact, most university students are the same. Excluding lawyers and those in the medical profession, there are not many jobs worth studying for.

It’s true what they say about Havana, it is like going back in time to a city that never went through the popular-culture-altering era of the 60’s and 70’s. Yet, its people could easily cope and thrive if it were allowed to live in the present. It is highly recommended to visit this city now, because what it is today is all about to change (when Fidel Castro passes on and the Americans lift their embargo). One phrase I suspect has never been uttered in Havana is, “we better call the repair-man”. Everything is broken, and nothing gets fixed. The city is an unsafe rundown mess with few doors in doorways, exposed wires hanging everywhere and stairwells only half completed. And this was in the Presidential Palace! The rubble of a housing commission building that collapsed during a hurricane, killing two people and wounding several more is still evident despite the hurricane arriving years ago. That’s the nature of Havana. However, the streets are constantly full of people – they might be trying to sell things, sell themselves, playing baseball, talking about baseball or even selling you baseballs. They are smart, friendly and intuitive, but you cannot help but suspect this is because they’re trying to figure out another way to sell you things.

Mi Cuban amigos

Juan Carlos, 38, another friendly Cuban, lived with his mum and dad, two sisters and his daughter in a place which two people would struggle to cope with, even in a notorious London share house. Juan Carlos was an English professor, teaching the children of Cuba the language of the world - vital education for citizens of such a small country. He got paid $10 per month, which is the standard payment for 80% of the jobs in Cuba. It’s not a lot and at times the poverty is shocking, with cockroaches more like a household pet in Havana than a normal cat or dog. While you do get very well fed in the private houses of the Cuban capital, the house I was staying in was getting a bit weird. Santiago, my ‘housemate’, was

always trying to sell me things. If he had a daughter, she would have been the next item on sale. It was time to leave.

Honky tonk in Vinales

I took a bus ride to pretty Vinales, a town just outside where the Russians positioned the nuclear bomb that instigated the Cuban Missile Crisis. It is now the most laid back town in Cuba. If you are travelling to somewhere which should take 45 minutes, it will take about 2 ½ hours in Vinales. Horns also mean different things here too. In the busier cities back home and overseas, a horn is usually an aggravated insult. In Vinales, a horn means, “Good afternoon sir. I hope you, your wife, your children and your goat are well. Now, I hope you don’t mind, but I do need to overtake you now. I fully respect your 1957 Sigma, and the 43 people travelling within it, but I’m in a devil of a rush and need to get a move on.” Or maybe it is just the friendliness of the people that makes you assume that is what they are saying with every honk. In Vinales, I stayed with a family on their little farm with pigs, chickens and roosters as my roommates. They cooked me huge meals with heaps of meat. But I was a little sobered by the fact that everyday there was one animal less in the backyard.

Caribbean canoodling

Moving on from Vinales, the next stop was Trinidad, a beautiful little town on the Caribbean. Here it is possible to snorkel around the reef of Playa Ancon and at times, I literally had the beach to myself and was able to smoke a Romeo y Julieta hand-rolled cigar with my toes canoodling in the Caribbean. From Trinidad I ventured to Santa Clara, the town Che Guevara made famous by defeating an enormously equipped army with just a few supplies and a few soldiers. Seeing this site is a must for any visit to Cuba, but aside from that there is little to see in Santa Clara. It is interesting to hear Cubans speak about Guevara, and if you get friendly enough with the locals, you realise they do not really like him or consider him the hero that many do in the west. Cubans are not terribly fond of their way of life and Che Guevara was one who helped create it. However, they do believe he was sent to a die-or-die

Travel | 11

war in Bolivia in 1967 by Fidel Castro, so he is not the greater evil according to Cubans. To me, it seems the Che Guevara mystique is really just devised for the tourism dollar, a sort of capitalist venture from a communist government. He died at a good time when the revolution was well accepted, life was good in Cuba and he was still a hero. To Cubans, he was a good doctor and a great soldier but times have changed and the saga continues.

A Cuban future without communism?

It’s difficult what to make of Cuba and the social structure there, but it is certainly fascinating. It is such a different way of living; on one hand it is good that the government provides everything for its citizens, but unfortunately they have little say in the way their life is. In addition, they have no say in how they are depicted by other nations. In Havana, there are still cannons pointed at Miami. Such an iconic image says to a nation of over 300 million people, that they despise them, which couldn’t be further from the truth. Cubans as a whole are probably the only people left who will openly admit they like Americans. But Americans are not permitted to go to Cuba, so there is this huge false fence that separates the two populations. Some of the communist laws must also make the people feel insignificant. For example, you get a greater jail sentence for killing a cow than you do if you killed a person. It is a silly conundrum based on the notion that livestock are Fidel’s children.

Contagious Cubans

I will have very fond memories of Cuba, and especially of the Cubans. They are great people who are instantly likeable, intelligent, involved, intrigued and intuitive. They do not stop and say ‘hi’ to everyone they know, they stop and say ‘hi’ to everyone they see. I will remember their positive outlook on their situation - healthcare is free under communist rule, and they all swear by their doctors and dentistry, yet many Cubans have bad gall bladders and gold teeth. Cubans have their rum, their cigars and their contagious music, but not much else. Yet, they are still happy. Have you been to Cuba? Email your experiences to ed ito r @ A u s tr a lianTim e s .c

12 | Jobs & Money

10 April - 16 April 2012


Choosing a foreign exchange provider FIRSTLY, it is imperative that you explore the idea of using a specialist foreign exchange provider like UKForex. The bottom line is plain and simple - you will save large amounts of money by using a specialist provider over a bank. The next, and most fascinating part, is actually selecting the best provider for you. There are a load of players within this industry – all claiming to offer similar benefits!

Please do your research and look out for the following:

1. Regulation - are they authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority (FSA)? This ensures that all client funds are held in segregated accounts and are safeguarded should that company cease trading at any time. Beware of the difference. Being ‘FSA registered’ places very few requirements on a firm – for instance they are not required to operate segregated client accounts which means

if they go bust, you might not see your hard-earned cash again. ‘Authorised and Regulated’ by the FSA is very different. Authorised firms are subject to a far higher level of regulatory examination. Authorised firms like UKForex are required to segregate client money, maintain a defined level of capital at all times, and all owners, directors and senior managers are subject to the ‘fit and proper’ test. UKForex comply fully with all these requirements. You should not deal with a foreign exchange provider that cannot demonstrate they are fully regulated. 2. The history of the company – how long have they been around? Are there any press releases out there about them – good or bad? How well have they done over the past few years? 3. Do they have any significant investors? Who owns the company? 4. What are their unique selling points and do they stick to them, i.e. if they claim they provide the “best rates” or the “greatest service”, ensure they actually do! UKForex is authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority

(FRN: 521566) for the provision of payment services. UKForex is also regulated by HMRC (Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs as a Money Services Business (MSB): 12219180. UKForex is part of the OzForex Group, a strategic investment of Macquarie Bank, Accel Partners and the Carlyle Group. Since its launch in 1998, the Group has grown to become one of the world’s largest online foreign exchange providers, completing over 350,000 fund transfers every year on behalf of our 100,000+ transacting customers globally. This information is brought to you by UKForex Foreign Exchange Services. It is not intended to constitute financial advice of any kind.

Dollar Review

Aussie Dollar threatens to slump below Greenback THE AUSTRALIAN DOLLAR has enjoyed a strong performance over the last year, cruising above the 100 US cent level for most of this time. However, this star currency has seemed to be heading the other direction lately, having dropped by more than five cents in the past month. Many have enjoyed the bargain internet purchases and overseas holiday packages, but this might become considerably more expensive as the Aussie slides back towards parity with the Greenback. Robert Rennie, chief currency strategist at Westpac, was cited saying that: “The speed of decline over the past couple of weeks has us a bit concerned”, and that “I suspect we are going to see a dip below parity sooner rather than later.” Mr. Rennie also mentioned that

it would be unlikely for the Aussie to drop far below the key 100 US cent level, and that it should recover quickly. He expects April to be a difficult month for the currency, as the Chinese GDP data to be released on Friday the 13th is expected to be grim. Further drops in the Chinese economy could see a decrease for the Aussie, he said. At 7am AEST this morning, The Australian Dollar was seen trading at 102.70 US cents, moving down from 102.82 cents yesterday. AUD/ GBP: 0.645764 AUD/ EUR: 0.780888 AUD/ USD: 1.025999 AUD/ JPY: 84.712618 Exchange rates as of 11:11, 05 April 2012

Composed by Chad Frieslich: Note: The above exchange rates are based on “interbank” rates. If you want to transfer money to or from Australia then please register/login or call us for a live dealing rate.Make use of a Rate Notifier to send you alert when the Australian exchange rate reaches levels you are looking for.

Ask the Experts


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Spouse probation


You recently mentioned in your column that the probationary period for spouses is set to increase. Do you have any news on when this change is set to take place, as it might affect me? Yes, it seems that the rumours were indeed true. A leaked cabinet letter from the UK Home Secretary, Theresa May to Nick Clegg has revealed some stringent proposed immigration changes. In the letter, a new income of £25,700 per year is proposed for anyone looking to bring a spouse, partner or dependant to the UK from outside the EU, from June 2012. This income threshold is a drastic rise from the current threshold of £13,700. This minimum income threshold is also set to rise with every dependant brought in. It is further proposed in the letter that the current probation period for spouses and partners must be increased from 2 years to 5 years, before they can apply to live permanently in the UK. A higher level of English is also proposed. These changes are also to take effect in June 2012. BIC would like to advise all clients who want to make use of the family migration route, to do so as soon as possible in order to avoid these possible stringent new immigration measures.


Breytenbachs Immigration Contact: Teresa Tel: 07789952025 Email: Website:

JP Breytenbach

Director of Breytenbachs Immigration Consultants

Sport | 13

Calling the shots for AFL London Continued from p16...

that comes with a club, especially during the week, pre-season and post-season. But what’s stopping you hanging around for a beer after a match? Absolutely nothing! I got here six months before the last season. I wanted an authentic British/ European experience. I’d worked as an AFL journalist before crossing to teaching and thought I wanted to escape all things AFL for two years. Then the then president of West London Wildcats Ben Bond baled me up for a few beers. Next thing I was umpiring that weekend. Three months later and I was in it up to my eyeballs and loving it. After initial reluctance, I can now say becoming an umpire for AFL London has been one of my London highlights. Unfortunately, there are only a

handful of us in the umpires squad. There’s some handy coin available– a fair incentive in these lean London times and a few extra numbers next season would raise the standard of umpiring and therefore raise the standard of the competition. I can say from firsthand experience it’s enhanced my London experience and then some. As an ump, you call it how you see it and try to be fair. From where I sit, it’s fair to say that AFL London is in good shape. Why not do your bit to help it become better?

Looking 2 lose the Heathrow Injection & love Aussie Rules or Netball? Then the Putney Magpies Aussie Rules Football & Blackbirds Netball Club is the place to be in 2012.

All nationalities & abilities are welcomed! If interested please email the club at or contact 07869461175 Major Sponsors: THE LARRIK INN, FULHAM

If you are interested in becoming an umpire in the AFL London competition, email Umpires Manager Oscar Ayyadi on No experience necessary. The season starts on 12 May and runs until 18 August.

The countdown to London Rugby Sevens begins... IN JUST over a months’ time the world’s best men and women’s rugby sevens talent will be on show at Twickenham Stadium in the London Sevens Tournament on 12 13 May. Australia were the London champions in 2010 after beating South Africa in a thrilling final and will be hoping to back up that success with another victory in the English capital. This year will see thousands of fans in flowing flares and groovy afros embrace the 1970s ‘disco theme’, while enjoying the fast, expansive rugby at one of the top events in the London social calendar. Last year’s festival of rugby saw a world record 100,000 fans head through the London gates over the two days. And with almost 50,000 tickets already sold, the 2012 event is on course to be even bigger and better. The HSBC Sevens World Series pits the top international sevens teams against each other across nine different tournaments, every nation scoring points based on their finishing position in each competition. For the first time the London leg will be the

final event and the one which will see the HSBC Sevens World Series champions crowned. With teams from Argentina, Australia, Fiji, France, Kenya, New Zealand, Portugal, Russia, Samoa, Scotland, South Africa, Spain, Wales, USA and Zimbabwe bringing a feast of fast, flowing rugby to Twickenham’s hallowed turf, it’s always an exciting occasion. And for the first time ever in London, the IRB Women’s Sevens Challenge Cup tournament will run alongside the men’s tournament giving fans the chance to watch the world’s best Women’s players. 12 of the best international women’s sevens team will compete over the two-day tournament, including our very own world champions Australia. The teams competing in London will be: England, Australia, Canada, USA, Netherlands, Russia, Brazil, China, Kazakhstan, France, South Africa and Portugal. Rugby sevens makes its debut at the Olympic Games in Rio de

Sports Club cash back offer with Try Tag Rugby in London!

Janeiro in 2016, so the London Sevens is the perfect opportunity to see a future Olympic sport in London this summer. Get out in some groovy disco green and gold and support Australia at this year’s London Sevens. Come on Aussies, come on!

Olympian for a day By Melinda Edwards

THE THEME SONG to Chariots of Fire plays from the speakers, pushing me on. I must keep going; I’m almost there. I can see light at the end of the long tunnel I am running through and as I come into that light, thousands of people are cheering. I can’t help but smile and it’s now I realise how incredibly lucky I am to be here. My excitement grows tenfold as I approach the last 300 metres of my five-mile run in the new London Olympic Stadium. Despite being one of 5,000 runners chosen simply because my name was picked from a ballot, the feeling I’m experiencing is one of adrenalin, achievement and pride. This must be how the real athletes feel. Feeling, if only for a mere moment, what it must be like to cross the Olympic finish line is pretty special. I’ve just run on the very track where many talented sports people will be sprinting, urging and willing themselves across the finish line in four months’ time. In a bid to

make the most of my five minutes of “athlete” glory, I can now say I beat the 2012 athletes to the punch. The run itself was a fantastic insight into the Olympic Park for me and my cheering friends, and I’m sure many others, who won’t have the chance to get near the Games during the summer. To run past the iconic venues of this year’s Olympic and Paralympic Games in what was the first staged event to be held there, made me wish I had been born with enough talent to make it to the big time. Yet even living in the host city and knowing full well that I was about to embark on a run that over 40,000 people entered to take part in, I never really felt the connection to the Olympic Games. I’ve seen the hype on the tele, of Boris’ team ‘cleaning up’ London, the unveiling of the athlete’s kit and even had a sneak peek at the Park from the Stratford Westfield after many a shopping trip there. But after actually running in front of the cheering crowds and feeling inspired by what the athletes are going

to experience in front of a fully packed Stadium, I feel more excited about the Olympics now than I ever have, and probably ever will. The 2012 Games will be a great boost, not just for Aussie patriotism when our green and gold medal hopefuls land in the UK, but for British pride too - it’s inflated mine that is for sure. Look out London, Olympic fever has officially hit.


LONDON OLYMPICS 108 days to go

TOAST TO TAG: Tag Rugby’s social scene is just as important as the Tag Rugby itself.

By Phillip Browne IF YOU would like to raise money for your sports club this summer while keeping fit and having fun with your mates at the same time, then keep reading… Do one of your junior or senior teams need a new kit? Do you need to purchase some new sports equipment? Is one of your teams going on tour and you need to raise some funds? Would you like to raise up to £1,200 for your sports club this summer? If your answer is yes, then don’t miss out on the Try Tag Rugby summer 2012 cash back offer! How does the offer work? It’s simple, all you have to do is gather a group of people together (men and/or women) from your sports club and enter our Mixed, Men’s or Ladies summer Tag Rugby competitions. The more competitions and teams your club enters the more cash back your club will earn! Simple as that! All details can be found at If you’re curious about Tag Rugby and want to give it a go, Try Tag Rugby will be running two free taster sessions this month. These taster sessions will be run on 15 April (Tooting Bec Common) &

17 April (Hyde Park). How to register and start times are found on the website. All welcome to attend! A big attraction about Tag Rugby is the thriving social scene that goes with it and the many friendships and relationships made! The first big social function of the year will take place on Saturday evening (14 April) at No.1 Sports Bar in Old Street for the Try Tag Rugby summer season launch party. Entry is free and all players (or ‘thinking-about-playing’) are welcome. Meanwhile, registrations for the Early Summer Tag Rugby competitions starting from 30 April are now open. Leagues will take place at 14 venues across London as well as in Reading for the very first time. If you would like to get involved in one of the fastest growing sports in London, new team and individual registrations are welcome. To register for a Try Tag Rugby competition, go to www.trytagrugby. com or email for more details.

14 | Sport

10 April - 16 April 2012

Surfing: The best breaks in the world n Surfing has to be up there as one of the greatest things in the world to travel to. No matter where in the world you are - be it Europe, the Americas or back home Down Under - there’s bound to be a gnarly beach ‘nearby’ that is worth heading to. Whether it’s checking out some awesome barrels or just watching some wicked people shred the waves, the power of the ocean is…well, more than just a little bit bodacious.

Dropping in on Europe 6 of the best n OK, so it’s all well and good listing the best breaks in the world but unless your name is Taj or Parko, the standard Aussie surfer will probably struggle to save enough pennies to do just one of those epic breaks in a lifetime. So here’s a few sick surf spots that are not too far from your London base and will still give you a ride of your life.

Aileens, County Clare, Ireland: Top o’ the barrel

AILEENS is long, fast, heavy and only breaks when it is huge. The equation is simple. Take-off on the helpful foamy wash that comes from a rock out to sea, scoop into Aileen’s green belly, get spat out 150 metres down the line, cackle like a leprechaun, go to the pub, drink Guinness. Where: Aileens is a ten-minute drive from the west-coast town of Lahinch. The nearest airport is Shannon. The wave itself sits beneath the towering Cliffs of Moher, which are spectacular and famous in their own right. For what it is worth, Lahinch is a mecca for surfers, golfers and hen’s parties.

El Fronton, Gran Canaria, Canary Islands: Boogie. Board. Fiesta.

El Fronton is crazy. A pure slab that unloads waves of frightening power – it is a bodyboarder’s

paradise. Lefts and rights drain along the wedge-shaped reef and it can hold waves of 10ft and over. The Canaries are gaining a reputation as the Atlantic’s answer to Hawaii. These little Spanish-speaking islands house dozens of world-class waves. The food is good and the people are friendly – until you get into the surf. Expect to find the place overrun with high quality bodyboarders who defend their turf with classic Latino temperament.

Where: The Canary Islands. El Fronton, like a rabid dog, is not to be messed with. However, if you think you’ve got the minimals to keep her on the leash, you will find her underneath the cliffs at Gáldar.

Anchor Point, Taghazout, Morocco: Sheesh, what a ride!

The surf at Anchor Point draws reluctant, red-eyed surfers from the iniquity of their Marrakesh hashdens like a snake-charmer. Anchor is a less-crowded version of

Australia’s Lennox Point. Long, Atlantic Ocean walls wind their way down the point. When their balance returns, surfers can do more turns on a wave than they have ever done before. Morocco offers visitors the opportunity to sample the culture of the Arab world. It is seriously beautiful and totally foreign to most Westerners. The locals generally speak five or more languages and they use their linguistic prowess to hassle travellers into buying everything from henna-tattoos to hash-bricks. Where: Taghazout is a pretty little Berber fishing village north of the town of Agadir. You’ll find plenty of accommodating houses and hostels. Expect to haggle over the price. List compiled by Karl Mathiesen

Surf by day, party by night Continued from p16...

the European beach scene! With most beaches hosting more square inches of areola than lycra, you can perve and swerve by day, creep by night… If you’re keen to get wet with us, our Stoke Travel surf camp runs from late May until early October in San Sebastian, Spain. Basic packages start at 25€ a day, and the all inclusive (camping accommodation, three big meals, transfers, 2 hours daily surf lessons, 24

hour equipment hire, unlimited beer and sangria, and party nights) package will set you back a mere 50 big ones. So I guess we’ll be seeing you soon… *One of our earliest slogans. We’ve moved on to “if it wasn’t for booze we’d all still be virgins”, and, “we’re not the best, but we’re alright”. More info at

to get you wet

n KARL MATHIESEN has picked his six best surf breaks around the globe - so pack your passport and your surfboard and get paddling to catch that ultimate wave. Even if you can’t surf that well, check out our rad list and dare to dream. Enjoy!

Teahupoo, Tahiti: The best barrel

SURFING Tahiti’s Teahupoo (pronounced Cho-poo) is like getting a late-night kebab on Brunswick St – beautiful and dangerous. Without doubt the most perfect-barrelling, photogenic wave on the planet. Long swells marching uninterrupted from deep in the Southern Ocean surge onto Teahupoo’s shallow coral creating impossibly flawless waves. Jungle-covered mountains soar above surfers sitting in the bath-temperature water. It’s straight paradise, okay! Many people don’t realise that ‘Chopes’ does break small. It’s still a heavy, challenging wave but it does offer those of us who are less than superhuman a way to experience a true barrel. For the many who never get to surf here there is always the delightful schadenfreude that can be derived from YouTubing the poor bastards who don’t make it underneath the lip. Where: The name means literally “the end of the road”. Take the South Road from Papeete in Tahiti and keep going till you get there. “Le Truck” costs around $2. It should take a about an hour.

Chicama, Peru: The longest left

The surf at Chicama is not all that Peru has to offer. In a week in Peru you can

stand amid Incan ruins, Amazonian rainforest, vast sandy deserts, Andean mountains, party like a Peruvian… and surf one of the longest waves on the planet. The most common complaint from surfers at Chicama is that their legs turn to jelly halfway down the point from doing so many top-turns. This wave is not known for fearinspiring power, rather for the pure joy of being able to ride a single wave for longer that it takes to piss off the average llama (about 45 seconds). Where: Chicama is located in Northern Peru. Be prepared for South American distances, they are enormous. Bus rides of 20 hours are not uncommon. You’ll need to get yourself to Trujillo from Lima (about nine hours). Chicama village is another 100km further north and can be reached on the local buses.

Zicatella, Puerto Escondido, Mexico: Surfing’s the easy bit

Surfing the beachbreak at Puerto Escondido is hard. Zicatella’s magnificent waves are known for being some of the biggest and best in the world. They rear up so fast that even making it to the bottom is tricky. If you don’t make the drop then you will assuredly be feasting upon the sand below. It is scarier than most reefs and crowded with some of the most intense local surfers in the world. But that’s not what makes it difficult. Walking to and from the surf you are confronted by every reason to give up surfing forever and become a professional drinker. Thatched cabañas serve ice-cold beer and infectious/ annoying reggaeton beats even when the

Sport | 15

daily trade winds are howling offshore. The bars are filled with attractive people who have no interest in surfing and want you to drink with them all day. “Maybe I’ll just have a cheeky beer and watch it for a bit...” Where: Zicatella is located in the Southern Mexican state of Oaxaca (waha-ka). You can fly or bus from Mexico City straight to Puerto Escondido. Then ask the locals to take you to Zicatella on one of the trucks that race around town, loaded with people. Accommodation options range from hotels to hostels to home-stays. Everything is beachfront. Everything is cheap.

Pipeline, Oahu, Hawaii: Water warriors

Hawaii’s North Shore Pipeline deserves a place on every list of the world’s top surf spots. That is testament to its enduring status as the proving ground for the world’s best surfers. Pipe is scary, heavy and dangerous. The waves are not consistently the same. Every set throws up a mixture of rights, lefts, tubes, walls and air sections making it hard to read. The reef below is made of hardened lava and has many cracks and caves that boards and bodies can become trapped in. People die here – regularly. The North Shore is the Hollywood of surfing. The surf here is limited to the winter months. During these times, everyone who has ever held the faintest dream of surfing stardom flocks here to try and score that one wave that could make them famous. Hassling and dropping in is all too common and the locals protect their own. Many a blow-in has cut off the wrong surfer on a wave, only to realise that the whistles they can hear are not people cheering but the ominous cat-calls coming from the beachfront Volcom House. Boards and bones are often snapped for a misdemeanour. The best tip for enjoying the North Shore is to kick back and watch the action from the beach with a Millers Light. Just behind the Pipeline beach, the local Foodland is the best place for a cheap forage. Where: Oahu’s North Shore is a densely populated part of the world during winter and finding any accommodation at all can be tough. Book early or you will pay!

Ovahimba Point, Skeleton Coast, Namibia: Wet & Wild

Surfing in Nambia? The Skeleton Coast is a true, frontier surfing mission. Surfers who make the 4-wheel-drive journey to this lonely desert point find a left hand barrelling wave of almost surreal quality. Ovahimba (named after the local indigenous desert folk) has become an Internet darling over the past few years. Recent productivity surveys blame recent global recessions on desktop surfers, mesmerised by its interminable, spiralling ‘barrel porn’. However it is tricky to avoid onshore winds as the coast is incredibly exposed. This spot is wild. One local travel guide says: “There are lots of big sharks, not to mention jackals, hyenas and occasional lions on the beaches.” Where: The only way to get to Ovahimba Point is by four-wheel drive. It is in the middle of a desert. The closest settlement is a little tourist camp called Skeleton Coast Camp. This place is the real deal; no frills adventure.


Gnaraloo, Western Australia: Best of the west

Gnaraloo represents everything that is raw about Australian surf culture. It is VB to the Superbank’s espresso martini. There really is no bullshit here. Just red dirt, ocean and a bunch of hard-bitten desert dwellers that return here year after year. The wave is heavy and dangerous. It breaks left on an urchin-covered reef and chucks out life-changing barrels and lifechanging beatings in equal measure. This is a totally unique surfing experience. The Quobba Sheep Station, which owns the land, is bigger than most European countries. Most surfers spend weeks in the desert, waiting for the waves to turn on. With every onshore day they go slightly crazier. There are many weird and wonderful tales of pranks and generosity that come out of the Gnaraloo camp. This is frontier surfing. This is ‘Tombstone’. Where: The middle of nowhere - about an hour and a half north of the town of Carnarvon - 750kms from the nearest city. Don’t expect any kind of facilities here. Bring your own water, camping gear, food and beer – no one likes a scab. We most definitely have left a couple of gems off the list! Tell us which beach, break or wave is your favourite at

FOR THE BEST TIME RUNNING FROM THE BULLS DO IT WITH STOKE, NO BULLSHIT! We include more, our crowd is truly international and we have the biggest parties outside the festivals. Our camp is at the beach nearest to Pamplona, because we know that after a big night of partying, or a morning of running for your life, a swim, a surf and a sun bake is pretty bloody lovely.

50€ A DAY INCLUDES: Twin share camping accommodation with sleeping bag and mat Regular transfers to the centre of town Hot breakfasts every morning BBQ dinner every other night The biggest party outside the festival Unlimited beer and sangria

















Tag Rugby gets social before record summer P13

BLOWING THE WHISTLE ON WHITE MAGGOTS IN LONDON n With just a few weeks to go until AFL London kicks off in earnest, LEE CROSSLEY examines those at the centre of the Aussie game at London’s heart. WHO would be an Aussie Rules umpire? A pound for each time that question was asked would fund my travel itinerary for a decade. It’s hardly surprising that being an umpire isn’t at the top of people’s list when they come to London. After all, if you’ve got even a mild interest in Aussie Rules and drinking then you’re going to damn well play for an AFL London club instead of reffing them, aren’t you? Umpiring isn’t even popular in Australia, so if you’re not playing and your weekends are free then you’ll

most probably be off on your next travel jaunt rather than chasing the boys and the ball around the field. So what am I doing as a whistleblower then? I love my footy as much as the next bloke and I can run out a match. So why not play? If I could see properly, I’d be down at a club champing at the bit. Alas my sight is so poor I would struggle to hit Tony Lockett on a long searching lead from the goalsquare – post playing days! So umpiring is a good way for me to stay involved.

The AFL London competition is an unusual beast. On the surface it would appear as though the players are in it for a bit of ‘hit and giggle’ but don’t be deceived! Cross that white line and they’re as fair dinkum as any suburban competition as I’ve umpired or reported on. The standard can be hit and miss: that will happen when many players’ training regime consists of an hour’s trackwork to every three at the bar, thrown in with a trip to Europe every month just to stay fresh. But then along comes the odd WAFL, SANFL, VFL, VAFA , Ovens

and Murray or even ex-AFL player to keep the expats on their toes. Last year West London had former Richmond midfielder Craig Ednie play half a dozen games, while former Carlton Blue Anthony Raso held down centre half-forward for the South London Swans for a few years. But don’t umpires get abused? And what about the social scene? I’d be keen for a beer afterwards and the umps aren’t really up for that, right? True, you don’t get the team morale

SURF SPECIAL The best waves in Europe and the world | P13-14

...continued on p13

Stoked to be part of it By Wave Gravy

IT CAN come as a bit of a surprise to the travelling bogan that there are actually plenty of world-class waves in Europe. Even the most casual waxheads know of Hossegor, in France, and Mundaka, in Basque Country, or Supertubos in Portugal. But there is so much more to surfing on this most wonderful of continents! We, for example, spent the past winter shredding in Barcelona. You’d never guess it in summer, but in winter the Med lights up. And did y’all know you can surf in Denmark? Sweden? Germany? Well you can, and, on the odd occasion, the waves pump. Europe is still ripe for surf exploration. So, when Australian Times told us this week’s paper was going to be surf heavy (turn to pages 13-14 for some sick surf action) we almost had a wipeout in our sluggos. Because Stoke Travel is all about the surf, hence the name, dude. Surfing is the reason we started a humble little travel company all those years ago, and surfing is the only form of physical exercise we do, apart from the occasional run around a dance floor. We just love surfing and can’t get enough of the gnarly, tubular, wicked waves of Europe. The beauty of shredding in Europe is that you can mix biz with pleasure, water with wine, tubes with lube, and what have you. Like in Spain’s world famous party town of San Sebastian, where you can “surf by day and party by night*”. And we’d be amiss to not mention ...continued on p14

Australian Times weekly newspaper | 10 April 2012  

The weekly Australian Times newspaper: for, by and about Aussies in the UK.

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