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Posts Tagged ‘Opera House’

”]One DirectionCelebs from all across the world have flocked to Sydney in recent months.

The lovely Leo DiCaprio set up home over the summer to film scenes for The Great Gatsby.

In recent weeks Will.i.am and Paris Hilton were in town for the opening of Marquee, the city’s newest nightclub.

And this week we’ve been spoilt with Rihanna, Zac Efron and the latest boyband on the block One Direction all flying in for a visit.

Too much effort

It used to be the case that Sydney, as with all of Australia, didn’t get much of a look-in when it came to promotional touring or A-list attendance at events.

For a country of 20 million people and around a day’s travel time from the US or the UK, it was always easy for Aussies to be pushed off the list of important crowds to please – versus the effort, cost and time required.

Reading the celebrity pages of the newspapers and magazines when I first arrived here in 2010 I was struck by how distant everything showbiz seemed from this place. The duopoly of the UK and the US in terms of the celebrity world became so much more apparent since I wasn’t in either of those places, but rather somewhere else, looking over.

Giving the thumbs up

But now, the shift is happening.

Zac Efron – here for the world premiere of his new film (yes, a world premiere in Sydney!) gushed to breakfast TV on Tuesday morning about the surfing, the laid back lifestyle and his love for Australia. Rihanna was spotted taking snaps of the Opera House from her hotel bedroom. And those One Direction boys have been spending their days off cruising on the Harbour and this weekend plan on doing the infamous Bridge Climb.

And Aussies love this. They love that when the celebrities come to Australia they aren’t just hiding in the hotel room, but are checking the place out, just like a regular tourist. They are flattered and proud when an A-lister – in fact any visitor – chooses to come here and gives the thumbs up to everything that they find.

Australia can’t be ignored

So why has the shift taken place?

  • The rise of social media has no doubt had its impact. No longer can you ignore the Australian fans when that fanbase is so actively demanding attention through the likes of facebook and twitter. According to a Nielsen study last year, Aussies are topping the list of social media users in the developed world, meaning that a higher proportion of the population are speaking out via these mediums.
  • Celebrities who do come over get greater cut-through and exposure across all media platforms as there’s much less competition for coverage. I doubt there’s an Australian who doesn’t know about One Direction right now. Amongst everything else, they headlined the 7pm news here tonight and were interviewed at prime time on every breakfast show, both radio and TV.
  • Businesses and key influencers are doing everything they can to use their positions of power to bring celebrities to Australia. Australian tourism was hit hard in the last few years because of the strong Aussie dollar discouraging overseas visitors and because of natural disasters in key markets such as Queensland. Oprah back in 2011 was a highlight for Tourism Australia, and set the benchmark for others who know they need to do their bit. Australian Director Scott Hicks’ insistence that the world premiere of The Lucky One took place Sydney last week is another testament to that.
  • On the flip side, the economic crisis has not hit Australia as it has done in Europe. Those key markets for filmmakers and pop starlets are not quite as lucrative as they once were. Australia in comparison is doing very well. We’re now seen as the opportunity to fill the income gap for the music and film industry.

And finally. Let’s just state the obvious. Australia’s a beautiful place to visit with citizens who love making visitors feel welcome.  Maybe it’s not that complicated a reason after all. Maybe it’s just that the celebrity world is finally getting it.

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St George Open Air cinema

St George Open Air cinema

A beautiful evening in Sydney last night to watch the film ‘Carnage’ at the St George Open Air cinema in Sydney.

The recent heavy rain had us worried that we’d have to forfeit our tickets (the cinema doesn’t refund for bad weather). But with mostly clear skies, perhaps someone should have told us to watch out for the other liquid falling from the sky – bat poo!

The Open Air cinema, temporarily established during summer in Sydney’s Domain, is home to a huge number of ‘flying foxes’, large bats weighing up to 1kg. According to the Royal Botanical Gardens and Domain Trust website:

They sleep during the day and feed on pollen, nectar and fruit at night. In the wild they are important pollinators and seed dispersers of native trees. Seeds are discarded in the faeces or fall where the fruit is being eaten. These seeds germinate when conditions are suitable and ensure that dispersal occurs in a wide area.”

And ‘disperse’ they did, with hundreds of pellet-shaped poo drops being missile-launched onto the unprepared crowd as night fell. The most under-attack seats are at the back of the auditorium, under the trees, as the bats settle in the branches above. Within a 15 minute gap whilst we bought drinks before the show, our seats became covered in their droppings. Thankfully, this gave us time to move to safer ground at the front of the auditorium. The intermittent yelps from (mostly females) indicated that a lot of people hadn’t been so lucky to escape the poo. When you consider that a single bat can disperse up to 60,000 seeds in just one night, this isn’t a surprise!

Bat circle the Domain

A view of the bats circling overhead as they descend at nightfall in The Domain

The bats provided more amusement during the film, from time to time flying through the vision of the projector screen, adding an eerie touch to visuals and a random and unwanted ‘extra’ to the scenes of the film.

Great film by the way – ‘Carnage’ is based on a play and tells the story of two sets of parents who meet to deal with a fight which has taken place between their sons. Starring Jodie Foster, Kate Winslet, Christoph Waltz and John C. Reilly, it’s a great comedy which is unusually set in mostly one room for the entire duration and features just the four main characters and a couple of extras.

St George Open Air cinema is one of the highlights of the summer season in Sydney, with gorgeous views overlooking the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House. Doors open early and you can sip champagne as the sun sets over the city. 

Just remember to choose your show seats carefully – and watch out for the ‘Domain rain.’

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Bondi Open Air cinema screen

Bondi Open Air cinema screen

Yesterday was opening night of Bondi Open Air cinema 2012.

Held on a grassy bank overlooking the beach, the Open Air cinema is scheduled through until early March, taking advantage of the warm summer evenings and everyone’s inclination to get outside as much as possible.

We watched Bill Cunningham New York, the story of New York Times fashion photographer Bill and the life he has dedicated to his work. It’s one of the best documentaries I’ve ever seen; I knew nothing of Bill before I sat down to watch the film last night and left feeling like I’d known him for years and heart-warmed by the passion he has for what he does.

Ben and Jerry's ice cream, a picnic blanket and biscuits...

Ben and Jerry's ice cream, a picnic blanket and biscuits...

We were given free Ben and Jerry’s ice cream for the movie, along with a goodie bag to take away filled with Sonoma muesli, Aesop body balm and the latest Time Out Sydney magazine. Not bad for a $12 ticket!

There was also live music prior to the film and a random magician act which was a bit pointless as by the time he came on it was dark and no one could see anything!

Okay, there were a few technical hitches with the sound and the lighting, but there’s plenty of time for this to all be ironed out over the next few weeks.

It’s a different story for the wet weather Sydney is currently experiencing as this now looks set to play havoc with the success of the Open Air cinema. Even last night, a few people left the film because of the blowing wind, before crowds got up to exit several minutes before the end when the rain did finally come. Films will go ahead in the rain, so it’s best to be prepared unless you’re happy to leave without a refund.

By the time summer is over I will have experienced all three of the main Sydney outdoor cinemas: this one at Bondi, along with the Moonlight Cinema in Centennial Park and finally the most popular – St George Open Air cinema in the Domain where the screen rises from the water and the audience overlooks the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House. What better way to watch a film!

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“So”, my boyfriend asked, “are you going to see her again?”

I’d just got in from meeting up with Liz, a 28-year-old from England, that I’d spoken with only on email and had never met before.

I was set-up on this ‘blind friend-date’ by a friend of a friend at home in London, who knew that as I was fairly new to Sydney, I was keen to widen my social circle and make new friends.

So I’d emailed Liz, explained who I was, and arranged to meet her for a drink at the Opera Bar. I found myself walking a little nervously down Circular Quay, ready to look for the girl wearing blue trousers and a frilly top.

A jug of pimms and two hours later, we were getting on well.

But a blind friend-date has all the same potential for disaster as a real date. You might have nothing at all in common, or the other person just isn’t someone you’d want to spend time with.

My friend Claire for example, found this out on her friend-date last month. “Things were going really well,” she said, “until we moved from the bar we’d met in, to a birthday party for a girl she knew.

“She completely ditched me the moment we got in there, I didn’t know another soul at the party, and to top things off the birthday girl then came and demanded to know who I was because she thought I had gatecrashed!”

Claire hasn’t been on another friend-date since, and to be honest I don’t blame her.

In my case, I guess I was lucky. We chatted about missing home, favourite places in Sydney and all the usual small talk you would normally make with a person you’d never met before.

Sometimes, moving to a new city is all about putting yourself out of your comfort zone, taking the opportunity to meet new friends whenever you can, and the process of creating the new life that ultimately you came here for.

If that means some slightly random, slightly awkward friend-dates, then so what.

And yes, I think I will see her again.

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