杭州龙凤 22/08/2019

Mobsters Inc.

Big hitters: Paul McCarthy and Amanda Bishop. Photo: ABC TVFrom its opening frames, it is clear there is something very, very different about Ray Donovan (Showcase, Tuesday, 8.30pm). The writing is meticulous, but so is the writing on so many shows. As viewers, eating freely from a buffet that includes Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones and Dexter, brilliant writing is almost passe. It shouldn’t be, but in the midst of such an embarrassment of riches, it’s easy to be … meh.
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Liev Schreiber – it’s pronounced Lee-ev, in case you were wondering – is Ray Donovan, a ”fixer” for the rich and famous in Los Angeles. And for a moment it looks like Ray Donovan – the show, not the man – might be another one of those almost intriguing but ultimately shallow wrapped-up-in-itself LA stories. Entourage, anyone?

But then we meet Ray Donovan – the man, not the show – and things start to get interesting. This is one deeply, deeply flawed guy. So flawed he makes Don Draper look like St Peter. His siblings, Terry (Eddie Marsan) and Bunchy (Dash Mihok), seem so impossibly damaged, each in their own way, that they wrap elder brother Ray in ever more intriguing layers of complexity.

And then, onto that, writer Ann Biderman drops Jon Voight as Mickey, Ray’s dad, whose return to the family has all the cold discomfort of a Mafia don’s final kiss. This is a family who will be forever altered by the sins of the father, and the resulting rage of the son.

In that sense, we might be looking at the first show to properly inherit the mantle of The Sopranos, the crime drama that is perhaps HBO’s greatest contribution to the genre, Sex and the City and crimes against fashion notwithstanding. Ray Donovan isn’t a pure crime show, however, and The Sopranos has left mighty big concrete shoes to fill.

Seemingly worlds away – change of continent, change of accent, change of genre, change of tone – is the ABC’s new foray into political satire, Wednesday Night Fever (ABC1, Wednesday, 9.30pm). Sketch comedy is the bastard child of sitcom, so this sits less easily on the national mantle.

The first episode was given a hasty rewrite at the 11th hour because of the tectonic shift in the political landscape, so much of the action was driven by Paul McCarthy as Kevin Rudd and Amanda Bishop as Julia Gillard. Both deliver accomplished studies of their targets.

Some of the impersonations were a little less entire, notably Kim Kardashian and Ruby Rose, but both are ripe targets for satire. Taking potshots at Shane Warne is lazier, and depends on a mostly outdated suite of characteristics. The parody of Clive Palmer seemed like much more fun.

”Downton Abbott” might have been the debut episode’s finest moment, or even the sight of Dave Eastgate pushed into leather pants and a decidedly

heavy-metal motif, had it all not been followed by a Julia Gillard rendition of I Dreamed a Dream, the anthem from the musical Les Miserables, performed by Bishop. ”But the factions come at night,” she warbled, ”with the Murdoch press behind them.”

Sketch is a perfidious genre. It is often criticised for only getting it half right, an assessment that often ignores the fact that even the very best sketch comedies only get it half right. French & Saunders and The Fast Show were on the money only half the time.

Ditto Fast Forward and The Naked Vicar Show, Australia’s top shelf of older sketch shows. What is clear, though, is that Australia’s political establishment has turned itself into a national joke. And anyone brave enough to kick it deserves a round of applause.

Ruth Ritchie is on leave.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Shanghai Night Net.

杭州龙凤 22/08/2019

Deals of the week: hanging on Hayman

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Hayman, a luxury private island resort in the Great Barrier Reef, is offering four nights for the price of three for two people in a Pool Room, with daily buffet breakfast in the Azure restaurant, paddle-skiing, windsurfing and catamaran sailing, use of the gym, sauna and steam room, tennis, squash, golf-putting and driving, croquet and island walks.

For sale until August 31 for travel to December 20. Transfers are not included; subject to availability. Phone (07) 4940 1838; see hayman上海夜生活m.au.


Safari company &Beyond’s six-day South Africa big cat adventure includes two nights at historic Kirkman’s Kamp in the Sabi Sand Game Reserve, famed for its leopard encounters, or two nights at &Beyond Ngala Private Game Reserve. Sharing unfenced borders with Kruger National Park, Ngala is known for regular sightings of large lion prides. The tour ends with three nights at one of four safari lodges at &Beyond Phinda Private Game Reserve, known for its cheetah viewing.

Until December 31, the adventure is priced from $2672 a person and includes five nights’ accommodation, all meals, house alcohol and beverages, and game drives. See andbeyond上海夜生活m.


Peregrine’s 2014 Arctic brochure has just been released, and the company is offering up to 25 per cent off 2014 voyages when they are booked before July 31. A popular polar trip is the 11-day Spitsbergen Explorer, a cruise around Norway’s Svalbard archipelago with plenty of wildlife on the way. New trips are also on offer. See peregrineadventures上海夜生活m/arctic-2014-offer.


Travel Associates has a five-night holiday to Hong Kong with accommodation at the 4½-star Kowloon Hotel that includes private airport transfers, breakfast daily and a free upgrade to a Harbour View Room.

Also included is a Central and Sheung Wan Foodie Tour that explores six family-run hospitality and food-producing establishments, where participants sample the city’s distinct flavours.

The package is priced from $769 a person. For an extra $75 a person, a one-day Hong Kong Disneyland Park ticket can be added, or for an extra $80 a person, take a Lei Yue Mum Seafood Village Dinner Cruise.

The Kowloon Hotel is in the heart of Kowloon’s shopping district on Nathan Road and minutes from Victoria Harbour, the Star Ferry terminal and Hong Kong Cultural Centre.

The price is valid for travel November 18-December 20 and January 20-March 6, and for sale until September 30, unless sold out prior. Land only.

Phone 1800 044 066; see travel-associates上海夜生活m.au.


This Fiji holiday package includes more than $1500 of extras: unlimited golf, a full-day cruise to South Sea Island and to one of four other islands, return airport transfers, a nightly two-course dinner or a $FJ1000 ($580) Wine, Dine and Spa credit a room.

The Fijian island escape with My Fiji costs from $1790 a person, twin share (ex-Sydney, $1890 ex-Melbourne), and includes return economy airfares and seven nights’ accommodation in an Ocean View Room at the Westin Denarau Island Resort & Spa, as well as a buffet breakfast daily. Phone 1300 003 454; see myholidaycentre上海夜生活m.au/Fiji.


Stay at the 4½-star Lake Weyba Cottages Noosa , with lake views, in-room spa and wood fire, and receive a breakfast hamper, wine and chocolates, Wi-Fi and use of canoes and mountain bikes.

The price – from $269 a night for two – is a saving of 23 per cent. The offer is valid for two-night minimum stays until the end of October, or until sold out.

Phone 1300 887 979; see wotif上海夜生活m/hotelW8820.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Shanghai Night Net.

杭州龙凤 22/08/2019

Letters: Insurers won’t come to the party

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It is ironic that many retirees reach that time in their lives when they can most afford to travel overseas about the same time as they begin to accumulate pre-existing medical conditions that insurance companies will not cover. As a result, I suspect large numbers of retirees simply do not travel overseas and this must add up to a considerable amount of lost business to travel agents, tour providers, airlines, etc. Rather than lose this business, would it not be worth the travel industry promoting travel insurance where these pre-existing conditions can be covered for an appropriate premium that allows for the greater risk?

-Ken Thurgood


Thanks to this publication, my husband and I have just returned from the most amazing holiday in Europe, which was booked through Outdoor Travel after seeing an ad for its Bike and Barge holidays in Europe. We are in our 60s, in good general health but not particularly fit. However, we were able to cycle about 30 to 50 kilometres each day, travelling from Bruges to Amsterdam. We also visited various places of interest including a flower market, working windmills, museums, a cheese farm, strawberry farms and countless cafes, bars and restaurants. Our accommodation was on a refurbished Dutch working barge, the Iris. The food was excellent and the guide, boat owner and staff all went out of their way to make sure our holiday was very special. We had so much fun and both have such a sense of achievement from doing this.

-Sue Grant


I sympathise with Lorna Donaldson (Letters, July 6-7). Two weeks ago on a flight from Dubai, the aircraft was filled to capacity. The amount of on-board baggage was incredible. On approaching Kuala Lumpur, a man became agitated as he could not find all of his on-board luggage. After creating a scene and being abusive to the purser, it was finally located. Between his wife and himself there were five pieces of hand luggage, plus two duty-free bags. This is unfair to passengers who abide by the rules and have trouble placing their one piece of hand luggage in the overhead lockers.

-Ken Johnston


Our cruising friends were not keen to visit Kuta or the southern parts of Bali on a day shore excursion. As a keen visitor to Bali, I suggested a taxi trip from the port to Ubud. Afterwards, my friend told me they had indeed visited Ubud and the Monkey Forest and they’d videoed the monkeys eating bananas, doing somersaults and landing in the water … an amusing sight. My friends sent the short video to Australia’s Funniest Home Videos at the behest of grandchildren and were suitably surprised and rewarded with a $500 prize! It pays to listen to others’ suggestions!

-Alison Watts


We travel several times a year to Perth with Qantas and wish to congratulate them on the introduction of seats that only recline a small amount in economy class. Too many times have we been subjected to the selfishness of people who recline their seats to only a few centimetres from our faces, making a four- to five-hour journey very uncomfortable.

-Valerie Dyball

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Shanghai Night Net.

杭州龙凤 22/08/2019

Weekend Away: Torquay

Torquay is the gateway to the Great Ocean Road. The RACV Torquay Resort.
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Jane Reddy tees up for a relaxing stay at the new RACV resort in TORQUAY.


The Royal Automobile Club of Victoria’s spanking new resort is at the start of Great Ocean Road, the winding stretch best known for the 12 Apostles, Bells Beach and the world’s longest-running professional surf event, the Rip Curl Pro. It’s the RACV’s sixth Australian resort and ideal for exploring one of Victoria’s top attractions (pulling about 7.2 million visitors a year).


Wood Marsh Architecture has been at the helm of the $115 million resort. The five-floor rammed-earth structure, described as an elongated sequence of concave, convex and converging curves, is striking, with an ironbark fascia designed to form part of the coastal landscape. Overlooking the Ogilvy Clayton 18-hole traditional coastal links golf course, home to the Torquay Golf Club, it’s a vast space tempered with open fires, lounges, American oak floors, wool carpets and works from the Ian Potter Museum of Art. One of RACV’s first patrol cars, a yellow 1937 Austin 7 Coupe utility, is a reminder of the club’s history. Spend an afternoon fireside with a tipple from surrounding wineries, watching golfers on the course and ocean swell beyond.


It has everything: indoor 25-metre pool with separate spa, children’s paddle pool and sauna, gym with 40 pieces of cardio equipment, resistance training machines and free weights. After a spell in the quiet hammam at One Spa with reclining lounges in bubbling pools, rain showers and marble steam chambers with the scent of citrus and cinnamon, your locker combination will be a vague memory.


In each of the 92 rooms there’s little danger of cabin fever, with three-metre-high ceilings and, on the upper levels, true ocean views, not glimpses, through big picture windows and slider doors.

Bathrooms are similarly spacious, with separate showers and deep baths. Four ocean spa suites have separate bedrooms and for families there are interconnecting rooms. Curtains are a shimmering shade of the sea, upstaged only by underwater photographs on the walls by local artist Stephen Wickham.


Local produce stars at Number One Restaurant, including Kennedys Creek Beef, Western Plains pigs and L’Artisan Cheese Timboon. Affable Frenchman and food and beverage manager Andre Smaniotto is known in the area for his macaroons and his grandmother’s recipe using Portarlington mussels, a house specialty, is served in the White’s Paddock bar and bistro.


Take the 1.2-kilometre walk or cycle to the patrolled Torquay and Jan Juc beaches.


Standout accommodation, dining and recreation in one place. A space to rejuvenate before striking out along the Great Ocean Road.


It’s a 90-minute drive from Melbourne’s city centre, 80 minutes from Melbourne Airport, 45 minutes from Avalon Airport, 20 minutes from Geelong railway station and 45 minutes from the Queenscliff Sorrento Ferry Service.


1 Great Ocean Road, Torquay, Victoria, 3228. Phone (03) 5261 1600; see racv上海夜生活m.au.

Members (RACV, NRMA and affiliated motoring clubs across Australia and New Zealand): Golf view, ocean view from $195 a night; premium ocean view $235; ocean spa suite $335. Buffet breakfast is included for two adults.

For a family booking (children under 14), the second interconnecting room is half-price (golf and ocean view rooms).

Non-members: Golf view, ocean view from $260 a night; premium ocean view $314; ocean spa suite $447.

The writer stayed courtesy of RACV Torquay Resort.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Shanghai Night Net.

杭州龙凤 22/08/2019

Ah, that’s more like it

Inner balance: yoga on the beach.Sue Williams relishes the relaxation offered by a no-longer militant health retreat.
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A woman stands crying and shaking with fear on a remote hilltop in the Gold Coast hinterland.

Terrified of heights, she’s about to take a turn on the longest flying fox in Australia. Why? Because she decided to visit one of the country’s oldest health retreats for a tranquil, relaxing, healthy break – and hadn’t factored in one of the personal challenge features on offer.

Ten minutes later, after leaping off the hillside with a harness and an exceptionally loud shriek, she says she’s very glad she did it.

“I never imagined I’d ever do anything like that in my life,” she says, with a grin. “But it was an incredible experience, and I think it’s definitely changed my view of myself.”

And that, after all, is what the Eden Health Retreat is all about.

One of the first health retreats to open in Australia, 29 years ago, as Camp Eden, back then it just had a different way of going about it.

In its early days, the hideaway in the lush rainforest of the Currumbin Valley was a strict, puritanical regime where guests would stay in rough bunk beds, four to a hut, eat only vegetarian food, be threatened with a bucket of cold water if they failed to rise at 5.30am for the obligatory exercise, would be sent home if discovered in possession of alcohol, chocolate or magazines, and were compelled to take part in every activity – or else. The physical “challenges” were an integral part of the boot camp-like program. Nearing its 30th anniversary, it’s been remodelled as simply Eden and, after a $7 million revamp, the accommodation nestled among the hills and trees is luxurious, there’s even fish and meat on the menu and all activities are optional.

The extensive range of spa treatments now have top billing, there are lessons with a life coach, the early-morning exercise is only if you feel like it, and contraband (these days updated to include mobile phones and laptops) is discouraged, but no one is sent home in disgrace for possession.

Some things, however, remain the same. Eden remains the only retreat in Australia that offers a full program of activities all day, every day, from 6am to 8pm (although they’re now elective), there’s the same great pool and spa, and those “challenges” remain for those who want them.

“That’s a unique part of our program,” general manager Stuart Bell says. “It’s about challenging yourself and building your confidence. Some people don’t want to do them, and that’s fine, but others like to try something they’ve never tried before, or maybe never even considered. They can end up on such an emotional high as a result; they’re doing cartwheels for the rest of the week.”

The rest of the retreat is a great deal more tranquil. While, by 6am each morning, most are being led through a qigong session – a mix of gentle exercise, stretches and deep breathing – by the infectiously jovial Frank, a 67-year-old bundle of good humour and extraordinary flexibility, others are having a lie-in.

A brisk walk follows along one of the paths through the rainforest and then everyone piles into the shared dining room for a wholesome breakfast, the first of the five excellent meals and snacks of the day, with portion control for those wanting to lose weight.

Spa sessions are decided at the start of the week and are scheduled into everyone’s personal daily rundown, provided the night before. These range from the signature facial, which includes a back massage and an aromatic

hot-oil hair and foot treatment, to peels, anti-ageing collagen treatments, wraps, scrubs and a Chinese health assessment with acupuncture.

The massage menu is also vast, with the retreat’s headline Kahuna bodywork one of its most popular: a sublimely slippery Hawaiian experience that really does transport you to another world with an almost magical mix of massage and stretch performed rhythmically to music.

The day’s activities are varied, with exercise, walks, a bike ride, meditation and every which type of yoga. “Laughter yoga” was a new one on me – a session of pulling funny faces and playing silly games that left everyone in hysterics and exercised, we were reliably informed, all our internal organs, as well as the funny bone.

And as a postscript, everyone’s encouraged to write themselves a letter home that arrives two weeks later, reminding them of what they’ve learnt. So, where’s the nearest flying fox?

The writer was a guest of the Eden Health Retreat.



Fly to the Gold Coast or Brisbane airports or catch a train to Varsity Lakes, where transfer vehicles will be waiting, or drive yourself. It’s 30 minutes from the Gold Coast Airport.


The minimum stay is five days; maximum … there is no maximum. A five-night stay starts at $2690 twin share, which includes the choice of one of two treatments, and goes up to $3390 for single occupancy of a deluxe king room. Seven nights from $3090 to $4400.



The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Shanghai Night Net.