REVIEW: Neil Finn

RICH SOUNDS: Neil Finn can still draw an audience in. Picture: Simone De PeakI MUST admit to not having always been a Neil Finn fan. It was my husband who helped to soften my opinion, but it is has been through seeing Mr Finn perform over time that has totally transformed me.
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Having been in the music industry for more than 35 years, he has acquired a faithful following, a vast repertoire and some serious kudos.

His latest concert at the Civic as part of his Dizzy Heights Tour was further testament to an already distinguished career.

In a two hour-plus show, he reminded the audience (just in case they had forgotten) of his super talent as a singer-songwriter and his ability to captivate an audience.

It was full of energy and humour and, like wave-after-wave at the ocean he so loves swimming in when he comes to Newcastle, relentless playing of great tunes.

The show began with Finn on the piano and his seven-strong backing band jumping into Impressions and Flying in the Face of Love from the new album. With rich harmonies, contrasting rhythms and pleasant melodies, they were a good pair to begin the show with. An almost 3D-looking psychedelic background provided the set for the evening, changing colours to match the mood of the song being performed.

The energy went up a notch when the familiar chords of Distant Sun began, followed by Fall At Your Feet, bringing that lovely voice and those familiar feelings back into play. The full Neil Finn playbook was available and the audience was treated to offerings from The Finn Brothers (Only Talking Sense), Split Enz (One Step Ahead and a goosebump-inducing piano solo of Message To My Girl), Crowded House classics (Walking on the Spot, Don’t Dream It’s Over and Locked Out ) as well as solo Finn material (including the exceptional She Will Have Her Way).

He switched between his trademark red guitar, an acoustic guitar and the piano throughout the evening.

The new songs brought a variety of sounds: from the almost calypso rhythm of Better Than TV, to the bluesy sway of Animal vs Human.

An encore of History Never Repeats, Pony Ride and I Got You seemed the perfect way to end a huge show, but then a second encore captivated with Take The Weather With You, a surprising mash-up of The Kinks’ You Really Got Me and Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean, with the final song of the night the anthemic, Better Be Home Soon.

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Tina Arena starting afresh

Tina Arena photographed by Cybele Malinowski.Tina Arena 3 – Cr CYBELE MALINOWSKI.jpgTHERE is almost a sense of self-loathing in Tina Arena. It is not so much about where she’s at, but more about where she’s been.
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She says in many ways she has been “incredibly hard on myself”.

It is almost 40 years since she became a household name on Young Talent Time. She has since sold more than 8 million albums worldwide, performed at the opening ceremony of the Sydney Olympics, and was even called on to sing the national anthem on the Paris podium after Cadel Evans won the Tour de France in 2011.

Based in Paris since 2008, and now aged 46, she was awarded the Knighthood of the Order of National Merit in 2009 by one of her biggest fans, former French president Nicolas Sarkozy. These days she is foremost a mum, knows “a lot more about life”, has just recorded her first album in 12 years and is about to embark on her biggest tour of Australia, which will take in Newcastle in September.

“As I get older, I’m funnily enough and luckily enough, as somebody who’s been awfully hard on herself for a long time, I’m taking the time to be proud of what it is that has been written and what’s been documented, both lyrically and sonically,” she tells the Newcastle Herald as she talks about her new album, Reset.

“It’s the journey of a young woman who started as a little girl who didn’t really know where this life was going to take her.

“It’s shown me some beautiful things and equally some very difficult things as well, and a sensitivity that’s not always easy to carry. I think turning 40 is a beautiful revelation. I think the beautiful thing about getting into the 40s is that everything comes into perspective, like realising that a stupid mistake led me to this beautiful moment in my life.”

In the top drawer is enough material for three more records, Arena says, as she reflects on the past decade. There was a lot of time in Europe, a “disastrous marriage” to former manager Ralph Carr, the birth of son Gabriel in 2005, and a stint on television’s Dancing With the Stars.

“I just had to take the time to live for a while,” she says. “The industry can be really stifling and I think, as an artist and a creative, I needed distance, I needed time. I was really happy to take the time to focus on a relationship, which I’d never done previously.

“I needed to take the time to learn about love and give love a chance, which is what a lot of people in the industry don’t do, because they get seduced by the fantasy and then they get f- – – – – over by reality, which is what happened to me.

“Entertainment has played such a big role in my life, but at the end of the day, I’m a mum to Gabriel and I’m a partner to a man who I very deeply love and who’s taught me a lot about life. So I took the time to be a mum and to have a relationship.

“That’s probably what’s nourished me and given me the strength to want to go on, and to write about those things.”

Arena last played in Newcastle in 2002. She is self-funding the Reset Tour after admitting that handing control to others earned her little or nothing from previous tours.

“I’ve toured France for the last three or four years and played to rooms of up to 20,000 people and rooms of 1000 people.

“Going to the arse end of little towns and villages has been probably one of the most enriching experiences I’ve had as an artist.

“To get three years of standing ovations at shows in France and Belgium and a little bit of Switzerland, it’s what keeps me going. It’s not about the ego thing, it’s about the connection thing. I know my job is to connect with people through song.”

Despite her long absence, Newcastle’s “stunning” Civic Theatre remains a personal favourite for the six-time ARIA winner.

Rehearsals for the show start in July and it will predominantly feature songs from Reset, with a smattering of classics.

“It’s a big show and production is very different to what I’ve done before,” she said. “There’s always going to be a couple of golden oldies, but you know, you’ve got to move on; it’s not a greatest-hits tour. I’m travelling with a new body of work – that’s the theme of this tour.

“It’s about resetting. I’ve chosen to reset my life. This is it, without the smoke and mirrors.”

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Biodynamic duo real deal in Hunter wine

PASSIONATE: Ross and Derice McDonald, of Macquariedale Wines, use biodynamics on their farm. Picture: Marina NeilIT’S Australia’s oldest winegrowing region, and it’s right here in our own backyard.
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The Hunter Valley was first planted to vine in 1833 by the Godfather of Australian viticulture, James Busby. Busby planted the Hunter’s first vines on his property near Branxton, known as Kirkton Estate.

Nowadays there are more than 140 wineries and cellar doors to visit in the Hunter Valley, each with their own unique story to tell.

Macquariedale and Krinklewood are two such wineries that tell an alternative Hunter wine story, because of the unique way they farm their property in order to grow their wines. Both wineries are farmed biodynamically, which means they treat the whole property, including the vineyard, winery and anything else living on the farm as one interconnected organism.

‘‘Biodynamics follows a natural way of enhancing soil fertility by applying catalysts for soil bacteria and fungi to flourish and provide the plants all the necessary nutrients to grow the best fruit possible,’’ explains Ross McDonald, owner and winegrower at Macquariedale Wines in Rothbury.

‘‘We use biodynamics on our farm to obtain a better, more sustainable, and healthier end product,’’ says Rod Windrim, owner and winegrower at Krinklewood, situated near Broke.

‘‘It considers the farm in its entirety,’’ continues Rod. ‘‘The soil is seen as an organism in its own right and it is the most natural agricultural farming philosophy.’’

IN order to promote the health and fertility of their soils, Macquariedale and Krinklewood utilise various preparations associated with biodynamics, including Prep 500, which is cow manure that is packed into cow horns and buried over the winter to ferment and change from a sticky, smelly substance, into a soft colloidal, crumbly and sweet-smelling matter, full of active microbiological life.

The finished Prep 500 is sprayed underneath the vines, directly on to the soil and acts as a natural substitute to synthetic agrochemical fertilisers, which can be harmful to the environment and, over time, actually degrade soil health.

‘‘Chemical agriculture has developed shortcuts to quantity by adding water-soluble minerals to the soil,’’ Windrim explains. ‘‘The plants take these up via water, thus bypassing their natural ability to seek from the soil what is needed for health, vitality, and growth. The end result is deadened soil and artificially stimulated growth.’’

‘‘If the vines are healthy, you get less disease,’’ McDonald says. ‘‘By overfeeding the plant with a synthetic nitrogen fertiliser, you actually make it more susceptible to disease pressures. By using the natural methods of biodynamics, our vines are better able to resist such problems.’’

Biodynamics promotes biodiversity in the vineyard, establishing a vineyard specific ecosystem in which many species of plants and animals can live side by side.

‘‘We have a diversity of grass species which provide a natural habitat for bug life on the farm,’’ Windrim says.

‘‘When we mulch, we only ever do every second row so as to allow the bugs to live in their own little environment and not bother the vines. This also attracts natural predators, such as spiders and ladybugs, which helps create a natural balance in the vineyard. These natural predators will deter unwanted pests themselves, and through the unified force of the entire ecosystem.’’

2012 was a terrible vintage for red wine in the Hunter Valley. It rained almost non-stop leading up to harvest, and as a result many growers lost their entire crop.

‘‘In 2012, most of the red grapes in the Hunter Valley were lost to many forms of mildew and rot from the excessive and untimely rain,’’ McDonald says. ‘‘However, we managed to harvest about 80per cent of our balanced red grape crop, including our first ever pinot noir, which was a stand-out drop and sold out just three months after release.’’

Together, McDonald and Windrim believe that growing their wines biodynamically makes for more authentic wines with an inherent sense of place.

‘‘Great wines start in the vineyard,’’ McDonald says, ‘‘and biodynamics is a system that allows us to grow the best, most flavoursome fruit, which is a key ingredient to creating premium-quality wine.

‘‘Biodynamic wines are alive. A wine that is produced from biodynamically grown grapes and made with minimal intervention shows a clarity and intensity of flavour, and is able to best reflect the place that it comes from.’’

Windrim echoes the point: ‘‘The biodynamic processes allow us to create wines with a clean taste with greater fruit intensity. As biodynamic farmers, we are in search of quality, not quantity of wine … and any winemaking intervention is kept to a minimum to allow for the best possible expression of our place.’’

NESTLED at the base of the Brokenback range, Krinklewood was established in 1998, and, after a few years of organic trials, made the shift to organic and then biodynamic farming practices in 2000. Macquariedale first planted their shiraz vineyard in Rothbury in 1999, and in 2005 it became the first certified organic/biodynamic vineyard in the Hunter Valley. Krinklewood followed suit two years later, becoming certified in 2007.

‘‘Certification recognises that we operate within the standards set by the Biological Farmers Association,’’ Windrim says, ‘‘and we know there are consumers who give preference to products wearing the bud logo when comparing to conventional products claiming to be ‘green’ in some way.’’

‘‘Certification is important to our business,’’ McDonald says. ‘‘It takes at least four years to obtain and it underpins our integrity, which is a key part of our daily life. We use the bud logo to allow the consumer to make an informed purchasing decision about our wines.’’

Macquariedale and Krinklewood are the only two certified biodynamic wineries in the Hunter Valley.

‘‘Commitment to the biodynamic system can take many years to be fully realised, and it is very much a lifestyle choice,’’ McDonald says.

‘‘The interest [in biodynamics] is growing nationally and locally,’’ Windrim says, ‘‘and we would love to see more biodynamic vineyards in the Hunter Valley.’’

Daniel Honan is founder of thewineidealist南京夜网.

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Catches bode well for classic (28/3/14)

EVERYTHING is in place for the Twin Rivers Fishing Classic at Raymond Terrace this weekend, according to Junction Inn Fishing Club secretary Gerard Cunningham.
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WRIGHT ON: Corey Wrightson wins the Jarvis Walker tacklebox and Tsunami lure pack for this striped marlin caught last Saturday fishing with his old man, Craig, on ‘‘The Workshop’’. ‘‘We also got four tuna and a dolphin fish and at one point had a double hook-up with a black marlin,’’ Craig reported.

“This bit of rain is only going to help things,” Gerard said.

WRIGHT ON: Corey Wrightson wins the Jarvis Walker tacklebox and Tsunami lure pack for this striped marlin caught last Saturday fishing with his old man, Craig, on ‘‘The Workshop’’. ‘‘We also got four tuna and a dolphin fish and at one point had a double hook-up with a black marlin,’’ Craig reported.

“It should flush some of the bigger fish out of the tributaries.

“Guys fishing in kayaks west of Irrawang bridge got half a dozen flathead the other day, so that’s a good sign, and we’ve been seeing a few jewie and bream down in the harbour.

“My wife outfished me down there the other day . . . as usual.”

Competitors can register until 7.30 tonight at the Junction Inn Hotel at Raymond Terrace and can fish anywhere they like, from the junction of the Hunter-Paterson rivers near Morpeth down to the end of the Stockton-Nobbys breakwalls.

The only requirement is to be back for the weigh-in at 3pm on Sunday at the Junction Inn to be eligible for the prizes on offer. And of course there’s the free sausage sizzle for all registered warriors.

“We’ve encouraged it as a family affair over the years and there will be stacks of prizes and giveaways on offer for nippers and juniors,” Gerard said.

There will be a raffle tonight as well as the major prize giveaway on Sunday – a box trailer, valued at about $2000.

“This is our ninth year and over that time we’ve donated nearly $12,000 to the Westpac helicopter rescue service alone as well as other charities,” Gerard said.

Good-sized kingfish

BILLY “The Machine” Gillon reports plenty of big kingfish in close from Moon Island off Swansea down south towards Bird Island.

“Live yakkas are producing fish,” Billy said.

“I got smoked by a couple of monsters on Sunday. One I nearly had at the boat before I pulled the hooks.

“There is some nice squire and trag on the reefs in close around Catho.

“Up at the bay a few longtail are showing up at Tomaree and Broughton and the dollies are still going off at the FADs.”

Challenge results

MORE than 8500 anglers competed in the nationwide Pirtek Challenge last Sunday.

Organisers are judging the photos and will announce winners on the website (pirtekfishing南京夜网.au) on Tuesday, April 8.

This writer bumped into a competitor at the Wollombi pub and was told he had caught and released at least 60 bass in rivers and streams around Paxton up to the pub. Corey Malone and Chris Inglee managed a few nice bass at St Clair last week.

“The bite was a bit slow in the afternoon but about an hour before dark, the bass started taking surface lures hard and fast. Corey landed a nice bass that measured 45 centimetres among a few more smaller fish,” Corey said.

Club reels in crowds

BUDGEWOI Fishing Club had a good turnout for their monthly outing last Sunday.

Bill Ingram took out the estuary division. Rob Duff (deep sea), Rob Mainey (secret weight) and Cody Rappa (junior) were the other winners. Special mention to Steve Bott who hooked a 2.5-kilogram diamond trevally in Lake Macquarie, and Rob Duffy, who got some nice dolphin fish off Terrigal. The next fishing competition will be the combined fish-off against Wallarah Bay and Lake Munmorah on April 4 to 6.

Teams come up trumps

SWANSEA RSL Fishing Club held its annual teams event last weekend.

C Judd, G Cross and F Cox took honours with a mixed bag of tailor, bream, flathead, drummer and leather jackets. C Boyce, K Stanley, B Bridge finished runners-up with a similar bag. Daniel Grimma won the junior crown with his bag of flathead and leatherjackets.

Mel Rudzinski was ladies’ champ with a four-kilogram jew. However, special mention goes to her husband, Terry, for his salmon which, on closer inspection at weigh-in, turned out to be a lovely tailor, 1.5 kilograms cleaned.

“Should have gone to Specsavers, Terry,” club comedian Cameron Judd quipped.

Mixed success reported

“THE game fishing has continued to be patchy with the strong current out wide persisting, pushing the baitfish down south,” according to Newcastle Gamefishing Club secretary Scott Morris.

“Some of the Newcastle Gamefishing Club boats are having mixed success with a few marlin caught out wide and a few caught in the 40 to 60-fathom marks. There have been quite a lot of mahi mahi caught around the FADS and trap buoys. Most success is coming by flicking lightly weighted baits at them. Keep your eye out as there have been some small black marlin hanging around with them also.”

Meanwhile, NGFC performed well in its first showing at the NSW Interclub. It provided two tag and release teams.

Tycon was runner-up in the Champion Boat Capture division. Bailey Blance, fishing on Tycon, won most points tag and release for a small fry and tagged and released the most sharks.

Steve Norris, on Rocket, took out most other gamefish tagged and released day one, and Danny Curtis, on Ningaloo, took out most marlin tagged and released day three.

“All up, a fantastic result for our first ever representation for NGFC at the NSW Interclub,” Scott said.

Dust off your trailers

IT won’t be long before the Trailer Boat Fishing Tournament is upon us.

The huge family-oriented event will be held over the weekend of April 4 to 6 at Nelson Bay.

Register online at tbft南京夜网.au.

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TOPICS:Kurri Kurri, you got that longing feeling, video

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What do you think when someone mentions Kurri Kurri? Is it Bulldogs? Paul ‘‘Chief’’ Harragon? What about nostalgia?

This weekend (starting today) it’s the latter, as the town rolls out the 11th instalment of the annual nostalgia festival.

It makes sense when you think about it; every time Topics has been to the place we’ve felt nostalgic for the times we weren’t there.

Each year the festival attracts about 40,000 people to the town, and is a celebration of rock ’n’ roll, classic cars, hot rods, fashion and the 50s and 60s.

This year the main attraction is Cherry Dollface, a pin-up model and YouTube star who will be judging the festival’s best dressed competition.

Cherry, whose real name is Cherokee, will also be judging a pin-up throwdown competition at the Cambridge Hotel next Saturday.

Cherry’s big among the increasing scene of young people buying into rockabilly, particularly because of her hugely popular videos on achieving the pin-up ‘‘look’’.

The heavily-tattooed model is in Newcastle at the moment, and yesterday Topics caught up with her to talk about the benefits of peanut butter vs chocolate on a desert island, classic cars, and nostalgia.

There’s a video of our chat below which, aside from Cherry, features Topics doing our best impression of a TV journalist (We reckon we’ve got Nat Wallace covered, you may disagree).

Please enable Javascript to watch this videoCherry Dollface video

IN the war of words that followed the federal government’s decision to reinstate the titles of Knight and Dame to Australia’s honour system, it’s fair to say the Labor party have had the better running.

Senator Sam Dastyari’s ‘‘Game of Tones’’ speech, and opposition leader Bill Shorten’s alleged humming of Rule, Britannia in Parliament stand out in particular.

But the Hunter’s only Liberal MP, Bob Baldwin, got one back yesterday, delivering a region-specific zinger at some of his Hunter rivals on social media.

‘‘Very disappointed by Hunter ALP members speaking against the idea of knights,’’ Baldwin wrote. ‘‘Thought they would all be [Newcastle] Knights supporters’’.


Australia has a storied history of political barbs, most of them delivered by former Labor Prime Minister Paul Keating (one of our favourites is his remark to now-retired Liberal politician Wilson ‘‘Iron Bar’’ Tuckey: ‘‘You boxhead you wouldn’t know. You are flat out counting past 10.’’)

But we’re wondering, are there any politics tragics out there who can nominate a Hunter MP past or present with a particularly sharp tongue? Got some examples?

MORE dispatches from those suffering from the hilarious Newcastle/Newcastle Upon Tyne mix-up.

Reader Glen runs an Instagram page @newcastlelifestyle that posts photos from around our lovely city, and reckons people in the UK regularly tag his account in their photos.

So far he’s escaped mistaking Geordie Shore for Bar Beach, but does worry about looking like a ‘‘Newcastle newb’’ if he ever slips

Jess Hemmings and Cherry Dollface give Topics a taste of what Kurri Kurri has to offer. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

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Teens go deep for title shot

NCH SPORTSpear fishers Taylah Martindale, right, and Sam Morgan, left, train at The Forum in preparation for Inter Pacific Spear Fishing Championships in Tahiti in April. The Forum Gym, Callaghan.26th March 2014 NewcastleNCH SPORT PIC JONATHAN CARROLL Spearfishing Taylah Martindale
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THEY say if you’re not prepared to put the hard work in, you shouldn’t hold your breath waiting for success. But when it comes to spearfishing, nothing could be further from the truth.

Sixteen-year-olds Sam Morgan and Taylah Martindale know this well as they prepare for the prestigious Inter Pacific Spear Fishing Championships to be held in Tahiti in April.

The events require competitors to catch a designated list of fish species in a six-hour competition period.

Morgan booked a berth to the Polynesian paradise by winning the national junior spearfishing crown at the national titles at Kangaroo Island in January.

Martindale did likewise, defending her open ladies crown won in Sydney last year at the tender age of 15.

They fly out to Tahiti on April 4 to compete against divers from New Zealand, Guam, Hawaii, Tahiti and New Caledonia in what is considered one of the showcase spearfishing events in the southern hemisphere.

“I’ve been upping my training in the pool, doing 50-metre underwater laps,” says Morgan, brother of former Knight Anthony Quinn. “I can dive up to 25 metres [as can Taylah] but the pressure can be pretty uncomfortable.

“The rule of thumb is you should dive your age. Some of the Tahitians can dive up to 50 metres, and stay down a minute so they will be tough to beat. Plus they’ll have local knowledge on their side.”

A year 10 student at St Mary’s, Gateshead, Morgan has just completed a free diving course to improve his stamina.

Apart from the ability to hold your breath for upwards of three minutes, spearfishing requires great athleticism, composure and skill. It is recognised as one of the forms of fishing that has the least impact due to the selectivity of the kill and physical limitations involved. And there is an element of danger.

To win their national titles at Kangaroo Island, Morgan and Martindale, like all competitors, had to set off from the beach each morning, swim to where they figured their targets were, fishing in pairs for six hours each day, for three days in shark-infested waters.

Tragically, one of their mates whom they competed against, Sam Kellett, was taken by a great white shark a couple of weeks later on a club outing near Edithburgh.

Sea life is not the only enemy.

Competitors fish in pairs to guard against shallow water blackout, which occurs when blood supply starts running low on oxygen. In such conditions, oxygen will be drawn from the last reservoir in the body, the brain, and consequently, a diver can faint and drown.

“With competitive diving like this, you spend six hours in the water, you swim maybe three kilometres, you have to hydrate a lot and take your food, it’s tough,” Morgan says. “There’s pressure to get points, so you can’t relax.”

Upon arrival in Pape’ete, Morgan and Martindale will take another flight to a remote island where the competition will occur.

Local knowledge will be a big advantage.

“We’ve been given a list of the species to target, we don’t have a lot of those fish over here and when we get over there, we’ll have two days to scout the area and find where they live,” Morgan says.

Competitors will be diving in two regions; shallow (to about 20 metres) and deep (below 20 metres).

“The water over there will be clearer, which means you can dive deeper but that can put your shooting off too,” Morgan says. “You think the fish are much closer than they are and your spear tends to pull up short.”

Morgan is getting a new gun for Tahiti, which will have a “double wrap” (two rubber bands), extending his range to about eight metres. A normal spear is connected to the gun by line and powered by a single rubber band with a range of three to four metres.

Morgan will be hitting Tahiti in form having just won the South Coast Championship at Ulladulla a fortnight ago.

Martindale, who is in Year 11 at St Francis Xavier, is looking to defend her Inter Pacific Crown won with Kaylee Andrews last year in Gladstone.

“The world championships are in Peru this year, which I’ll probably miss, but one day I hope to contest them,” she said.

They will be heading to Tahiti with an Australian team including eight-time national champion Rob Torelli, whose company Diving Down Under is providing Sam and Taylah with wetsuits.

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REVIEW: A Day on the Green

MORE than a decade after A Day On The Green first started, crowds are as keen as ever for a taste of classic rock and a Hunter Valley drop.
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About 8000 people converged on Bimbadgen Estate for Saturday’s sold-out show, the final of the season.

Headlined by the irrepressible Jimmy Barnes, the line-up for the traditional “classic Aussie rock show” also included the likes of ’70s rock legends The Angels, Ian Moss, Richard Clapton and Daryl Braithwaite.

As a finale for a classic rock concert, Jimmy Barnes would rank highly on most wishlists, and he doesn’t disappoint. The 57-year-old has been performing long enough to know how to grab an audience’s attention and hold it, sprinkling in enough of the classics – When Your Love is Gone, Working Class Man, and enough of the scream, to keep casual fans interested through the less-well-known later work.

You’d be hard pressed to find a better setting for a concert – the rolling hills of the Valley mean natural ampitheatres are a dime a dozen, and the proximity of some of the country’s best winemakers means by the time things get under way at 3pm, many of the concert’s well-heeled ticket holders are in fantastic spirits.

And so it was through the early portion of Saturday’s show.

Between them, Braithwaite, Clapton and Moss were all workman-like without being particularly memorable – although Moss did start things with a bang when he appeared to break an amplifier after tripping into it during his opening song.

But that hardly mattered, go anywhere in Australia and classics like Horses and Girls on the Avenue are still greeted with spectacular enthusiasm, and as the afternoon progressed the wine and [mid-strength] beer flowed, the on-the-spot-shuffle dancing increased, and the lines for the toilet grew.

But as the sun went down it took The Angels to make the show feel less like a garden party and more like a rock concert.

With regular frontman Doc Neeson still in poor health, the Screaming Jets’ Dave Gleeson has done an admirable fill-in job, and manages to make songs written, in some cases almost 40 years ago, continue to feel fresh.

Am I Ever Going to See Your Face Again remains an Australian classic, but it’s the verve with which all the members continue to perform that continues to see them held as one of Australia’s best-ever rock bands.

NCH – NEWS – A Day on The Green at Bimbadgen Estate. The Angels perform. Photo by Marina Neil – 22nd March 2014.

NCH – NEWS – A Day on The Green at Bimbadgen Estate. Richard Clapton. Photo by Marina Neil – 22nd March 2014.

NCH – NEWS – A Day on The Green at Bimbadgen Estate. Ian Moss. Photo by Marina Neil – 22nd March 2014.

NCH – NEWS – A Day on The Green at Bimbadgen Estate. Jimmy Barnes. Photo by Marina Neil – 22nd March 2014.

NCH – NEWS – A Day on The Green at Bimbadgen Estate. Jimmy Barnes. Photo by Marina Neil – 22nd March 2014.

NCH – NEWS – A Day on The Green at Bimbadgen Estate. Photo by Marina Neil – 22nd March 2014.

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Flood of concerns for Noah

Darren Aronofsky (left) and Russell Crowe (right) in NOAH, from Paramount Pictures and Regency Enterprises. Noah NOAH. Russell Crowe © 2013 Paramount Pictures
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LONG before the high-profile film Noah was green-lit by the decision makers at Paramount Pictures to be what is known in the industry as a blockbuster tent-pole release, controversy began to develop.

Engaging the culture of religion and use of scripture as the basis of films is nothing new. Ben Hur and The Ten Commandments, both considered film classics, caused public outcry when they were released, with critics claiming they were not historically accurate.

Mel Gibson took heat by many and strange happenings occurred on set during his filming of The Passion of the Christ.

Lead actor Jim Caviezel suffered unexplained turmoil and sickness of various kinds during filming. Audiences became emotional to say the least, helping it to a huge amount of box-office money in 2004. It has since become a go-to movie for many believers.

Martin Scorsese’s 1988 drama, The Last Temptation of Christ, sat as a script on his desk for more than five years. Nobody wanted to make it because among other unbiblical things, the full-frontal nudity from Willem Dafoe playing a rugged, humanised Jesus was confronting.

Certain cinemas refused to play it and video rental stores en masse refused to stock copies. Scorsese recorded a personal introduction, which played on the tape for those who hired it.

There have been many other titles disowned by the Christian fraternity.

To a lesser extent, as a kid I remember walking past the heritage-listed State Theatre in Sydney, probably en route to the now defunct Pitt Centre cinema, and being caught up in picket lines and chanting groups holding placards.

It turns out the 1985 film Hail Mary from French auteur Jean-Luc Godard depicting a modern retelling of the virgin birth, was screening. There was a standoff of people harassing audiences from purchasing tickets, police cars were zooming down Market Street as I got out of there.

More recently, in 2006, The Da Vinci Code caused a minor furore, not just because of Tom Hanks sporting a mullet.

Noah was always going to be something different when the visionary director Darren Aronofsky was appointed to take the helm. He was always going to make an arty, eccentric and over-zealous production with little conformity.

The last ark-related film, Evan Almighty, should have been banned for lack of laughs. No stranger to controversy himself, Aronofsky is a calculated filmmaker whose second film Requiem to a Dream almost glorified cocaine, weight-loss pills and sexual experimentation, not in that order.

From his notorious Black Swan switching the delicate ballet Swan Lake to a psychological, sensual, double-identity crisis, to The Wrestler pitting at-the-time unwanted actor Mickey Rourke going raw in the real world of second-tier professional wrestling, Aronofsky does not shy from controversy.

Clearly the story of Noah is a straightforward tale of a man saving an animal kingdom from a flood by building a craft big enough to hold as many species as possible. Russell Crowe plays the gruff disciple chosen by “the Creator”, as he is known in this film, to undertake the rescue mission.

Noah has two visions, one artificially enhanced by some “special” tea served by Anthony Hopkins, both involve a terrible flood, apocalyptic in scope and his need to build what turns out to be a boxy wooden ship, not the commonly known curved ark.

Deviation from scripture involves a focus on ecological unrest, romantic involvement and family issues.

Lord of the Rings-style battle scenes and unique confrontations with fallen angels depicted as rocks talking in voices of such unusual choices as the great Nick Nolte and Frank Langella, are only part of the extended narrative.

Crowe has said himself the controversy was not unexpected, he did even try to take the film to the Vatican for an audience with the Pope, which was declined (and tweeted about).

Sensing rejection from various countries and an over-blowing budget also a concern, Paramount screened various rough-cut versions of the film without the permission or knowledge of Aronofsky.

Creative licence by Hollywood took its toll on secret test audiences. Resounding criticism of all kinds hit the comment cards: the film was described as slow, confusing, frightening and weak, and an abundance of religious discomfort emerged.

The studio relented and let Aronofsky complete his vision. As a film critic and by no means a Bible aficionado, I watched Noah as an adventure tale, for which it is magnificent.

Already barred from release in certain Muslim countries, if Noah is a global box office flop, it will certainly be a noble failure.

Filmed mostly on location in Iceland, the movie’s sets are amazing, while the spectacle of the vast lands turning into waterworld literally rising to the heavens and the round up of all animal kind, are cinematic wonders.

The movie doesn’t run aground but Noah remains an entity that won’t be smooth sailing for everyone.

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ART: Graceful by intuition

Brian Roberts: Bird Shirley Cameron-Roberts: Treading Carefully, Quoll
Nanjing Night Net

BRIAN Roberts and Shirley Cameron-Roberts have lived in the Hunter since 1991.

At Cessnock Regional Art Gallery until April 13 is a survey exhibition of the paintings and graphics made by these widely shown artists to mark 25 years since they first hung work at the von Bertouch Galleries.

Brian’s paintings of Nobbys are well known; its instantly recognisable fin dominating the horizon, with choppy eye-level waves in the foreground and the abstract forms of harbour markers another regular presence.

This conjunction of moody, animated paint with strict geometry has appeared so basic that a series of deft, closely observed portraits comes as a surprise. He is a painter who thinks in paint.

Shirley Cameron-Roberts also surprises with a series of large tinted drawings incorporating wildlife studies into detailed depictions of ferns, branches and forest floor.

A small, shy quoll explores a dominant clump of graceful ferns. A family of tawny frogmouths watches us watching them. Swathes of lines from the artist’s intuitive pen or pencil discover an image in contrast with earlier wide vistas.

The two artists have a further exhibition later in the year at ASW. Perhaps they will surprise us anew with works based on the human figure, for each of them a re-discovery.

IN November 2013, James Murphy lived through the bushfires south of Swansea.

His professionally presented photographs at Four Point Gallery until April 4 document the aftermath on a landscape shockingly transformed. The colours alter, with green becoming brown and forest floor now blackened or white with ash. Nature quickly starts the process of regeneration, but at the moment James Murphy was exploring newly revealed topography, open vistas and strange dumped discoveries in a lyrical visual essay.

ACROSS the Bank Corner intersection, C Studio is presenting graphic-based work by Linda Swinfield as its first solo exhibition.

In the past year, Linda has had increased time to expand her printmaking skills into new areas, moving out into the landscape and embracing photo collage in a series of evocative layered images. She is also developing the use of three-dimensional form, applying a printed surface to woodland timber cutouts.

Also on view in the gallery’s many spaces are works in various mediums by a truly eclectic line-up of artists.

ANYONE seeing Bliss Cavanagh’s fantasy sculpture environments is unlikely to forget her use of illuminated fake fur or the brightly coloured ceramic structures, like trees and flowers from an alternative universe. For the next few months, they are on view at Inner City Winemakers, lending to wine-tasting a psychedelic edge.

THE human face is compulsive viewing. At Maitland Regional Art Gallery, several exhibitions confirm its power.

Faces dominate the Showcase exhibition of art works from high schools in the Hunter. They also immediately attract the viewer in the Maitland International Salon of Photography, whose 101 works remind us that this is one of the major photographic forums in Australia, with entries from more than 50 countries. Both exhibitions close on April 6.

The human image is also the principal subject animating the large showing of extraordinary photographs by Mark Tedeschi at Maitland until April 27. He creates instantly involving but apparently unstaged images of people he meets on his travels, as well as at home in Sydney.

A multiracial group of boys happily confront us in an inner-city laneway. An Italian woman sits musing among her familiar kitchen objects. A black-clad old man waits stoically at a subway station in New York.

But perhaps most startling are the many pictures of lawyers in their robes of office indulging their spare-time pursuits. Raising geese and kids leads to some surreal conjunctions. What about a killer martial arts side kick in wig and gown?

Tedeschi, AM, QC, is himself a distinguished member of the legal profession who happens to take expressive professional photographs. Undoubtedly, an empathy with people of all kinds is an invaluable gift in both parts of his life.

In the gallery’s always tempting shop are sinuous silver brooches by Esther Belliss (1926-2002), a legendary sculptor of horses from the Upper Hunter.

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Weekend Planner: March 29, 2014

Nanjing Night Net

Kurri Kurri Nostalgia Festival promises a rollicking celebration of all things 1950s and 1960s, with three days of dancing, polished cars, hot rods, retro fashions and rock’n’roll music.

Highlights include international pin-up Cherry Dollface, pictured, appearing in Rotary Park today and tomorrow at 10am and judging the daily Best Dressed Competition at 3.30pm, a Doris Day tribute, a dance competition tomorrow and market stalls


Considered by many to be the best ventriloquist in the world, comedian David Strassman brings his new show, Careful What You Wish For, to the Hunter this week.

He will be joined by Chuck Wood, whose sharp-tongued, caustic, sarcastic humour has been cracking up audiences for years.

Toronto Workers Club April 1, Hexham Bowling Club April 2, Soldiers Point Bowling Club April 3, Belmont 16 Footers April 4, Wests New Lambton April 5 and 6.

Literary Art Exhibition Saturday. In conjunction with the upcoming Newcastle Writers Festival, Back to Back Galleries in Cooks Hill presents SUBTEXT, a unique exhibition that brings the printed word and visual arts together. Local artists such as Anne-Maree Hunter and Sue Stewart have taken books by Newcastle writers and used them as the inspiration for artwork. The exhibition, curated by Dr Margaret McBride, continues until April 13.

Afternoon with Dolls Saturday. Friends of Grossman House host this afternoon with Lin Fitz-Gibbon, an expert in vintage dolls and teddy bears. Brings yours along and hear about the history of dolls as well as receive advice on value and repairs. Bookings essential. 1pm to 4pm, $20 including refreshments or National Trust members $15, Brough House, 73 Church Street, Maitland.

Sunday Pastels Sunday. A workshop under the expert guidance of Jean Davies for beginners of all ages and those finetuning their craft. Free, 10am to 1pm, Muswellbrook Regional Arts Centre.

Newcastle Pregnancy Help’s 40th anniversary dinner Saturday. The agency has been supporting Hunter families for four decades, providing free pregnancy testing and counselling for women. Guest speaker Dr Simon McCaffrey, music by New Vine. 6pm, Belmont 16 Footers, tickets $65 including wine available from Bronwyn Melville, 0411 980 400.

Life and Death: A Concert for Celebration and Reflection Saturday and Sunday. Choir V and soloists will be supported by the Scots Kirk Baroque Band in presenting works by composers such as Purcell, Handel, Gibbons, Vittoria and Bach. Tickets $25 or $15 concession, available at the door. Saturday 2pm, Singleton Uniting Church, Sunday 2pm, St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, Laman Street, Newcastle.

Westfield Pop-Up Demonstrations Saturday. Live cooking demonstrations showcasing a variety of food available at Wests, with shoppers able to sample food prepared fresh. Free, 11am, Westfield Kotara.

Newcastle Charity Boot Camp Saturday. WellFit Personal Training will host its third annual outdoor group fitness to raise funds for the John Hunter Children’s Hospital. Local fitness professionals will be facilitating a range of fun-filled exercise stations in what will be a challenging two-hour workout for those who can last the distance. 8am to 10am, $17.50 per person, Newcastle Foreshore. Register online, newcastlecharitybootcamp南京夜网.au.

Art Zone Saturday. Trained tutors encourage participants to experiment with materials and learn skills in a fun environment. Ages 9 to 12 from 10.30am to 12.30pm. Ages 12 to 16 from 1.30pm to 3.30pm. $180 per term, First Street, Booragul.

Jam For Nanna book launch. Saturday. Join author Deborah Kelly as she celebrates the launch of her new picture book about a little girl’s bond with her grandmother. Drinks and nibbles, lucky door prizes and recipes to give away. Free, 10am, Belmont Library, bookings essential, 4945 4329.

Tallavera Grove Vineyard Tour Saturday and Sunday. Guided vineyard tour including wine tasting. 10.30am. Costs $12. Bookings essential, 4990 7535. Tallavera Grove, Mount View.

Wine and Chocolate Masterclass Saturday and Sunday. Be guided through wines from Wyndham Estate, matched with premium chocolate from Brix. $15 per person, 2pm, 700 Dalwood Road, Branxton. Bookings essential, 1800 677 366.

Seagrass Walk Sunday. Local coastal group Ocean & Coastal Care Initiatives will help participants discover the secrets of local seagrass. All participants must wear enclosed footwear and a hat and all children must be accompanied by an adult. Free, 3pm, Pelican foreshore, near Pelican Jetty, Lakeview Parade and Soldiers Road. Bookings essential. Contact Janet White 0487 501 782.

National Rugby League Sunday. Newcastle Knights vs Cronulla Sharks. 3pm, Hunter Stadium.

Adamstown Markets Sunday. 7am to noon. Corner of Glebe and Brunker roads, Adamstown.

Branxton Lions Club Markets Saturday. 10am to 3pm, Branxton Community Hall,

Hamilton Clock Tower Markets Saturday. 8am to 2pm. James St Plaza, Hamilton.

Rotary Community Markets Saturday. 8.30am to 1.30pm. New Lambton South Public School, New Lambton.

Maitland Harvest Markets Saturday. 8am to 1pm. Maitland Showground, Maitland.

Newcastle & Hunter Vietnam Veterans Inc Market Sunday. 7am to 1pm. Wickham Park, Islington.

Newcastle City Farmers Market Sunday. 8am to 1pm. Newcastle Showground, Broadmeadow.

Aftershocks The impact of the 1989 Newcastle earthquake, as recounted to writer Paul Brown and the Workers’ Cultural Action Committee by people caught in the destroyed Workers Club; moving and heartwarming. DAPA, at DAPA Theatre, Hamilton. Saturday, at 2pm and 7.30pm, Friday, April 4, at 11am, Saturday, April 5, at 2pm and 7.30pm. 4962 3270, 0416 252 446.

Art Systems Wickham White by Kelly-Ann Lees. To April 13.

Back to Back Galleries Subtext, exploring the links between literature and the visual arts. To April 13.

Cessnock Regional Art Gallery Reflections on The Hunter Brian Roberts and Shirley Cameron Roberts. To April 13.

Cooks Hill Galleries Preview of Master and Apprentices by Bruce Rowland and co-exhibitors Christine Harvison, Amber Carbury, John Maroney, Ellen Howell and Richard Kearney. April 4 to 28.

Lake Macquarie City Art Gallery Wood: Art, Design, Architecture. Your Collection: Charles Collin. Both to April 6.

Maitland Regional Art Gallery Shooting Around Corners by Mark Tedeschi, to April 27. Showcase 2014, April 6. International Salon of Photography, to April 6. The Moving Finger Paints by Tallulah Cunningham, to May 4, DomiKNIT by Brett Alexander to May 4. Groovin: The Story of Groovin the Moo to May 25.

Maitland Gaol Australian Museum of Clothing and Textiles All Tied Up, an exploration of ties and neck wear and the place they have played in social interaction and identity. To July 20.

Muswellbrook Regional Arts Centre 24th Muswellbrook Photographic Award. To April 20.

Newcastle Art Gallery Blue + White; Fully Figurative; Peter Maloney: A Focus. All to May 11. New To Video to April 27. Rrapture: Julie Rrap to April 27.

Newcastle Art School Works in Progress from the students of the Advanced Diploma Visual Arts. To April 11.

Newcastle Art Space On the Verge: Paintings by Lesley Instone and Dan Nelson. To April 13.

Port Stephens Community Arts Centre. Port Stephens Art Prize, to March 30.

Timeless Textiles American-born fibre artist Kerr Grabowski’s first Australian exhibition, Wearable Narratives, to April 13.

The University Gallery Shadowline: Contemporary Drawing by Nicole Chaffey, Anne Judell, Jennifer Keeler-Milne and Franc Hancock. Spiritlands photography and video by Cherie Johnson, Nicole Chaffey and Tara Standing. Both to April 17.

Watt Space Gallery Ceramics Showcase 2014 Ulterior Connection, Street Stories by Tim Buchano, The Mad Scientist Study by Emma Collins, Mixed Media by Natalie Engdahl. All to April 13.

Wollombi Cultural Centre Mirrabooka by Kevin Gavi Duncan. To March 30.

Argyle House Saturday, Argyle House First Birthday Party. Wednesday, Ramshackle featuring Neil Fleming.

Avon Valley Inn Saturday, XYZ.

Bar 121 Friday, Troy Kemp. Saturday, Incognito.

Bar Petite Saturday, Matt Purcell. Sunday, Crocq.

Belmore Hotel Saturday, Daley Holliday.

Blackbutt Hotel Saturday, DLove.

Cambridge Hotel Saturday, The Gooch Palms, Palms, The Sufferjets, Dog Beach. Wednesday, Iwrestledabearonce, Caulfield.

Catho Pub Saturday, Cash and Co. Sunday, Dirty Deeds The AC/DC Show.

CBD Hotel Saturday, House Party with DJs Jun-Wan, Salvia, Goldboxx, Thialh.

The Edwards Sunday, Soul Shakedown Party.

Exchange Hotel Saturday, Grand Theft Audio.

George Tavern Saturday, Mardmax. Sunday, Troy Kemp.

Great Northern Hotel Saturday, Mayhem 10, Divina, Pants Optional, Kang, Handball Deathmatch, Take Your Own, Driverside Airbag.

Grand Hotel Saturday, Anna Milat.

Grand Junction Hotel Saturday, Teej and the Fiends. Sunday, Lyle Dennis and the Moustache Rodeo.

Hamilton Station Hotel Saturday, Live it Up Karaoke, Razorhead, Unstuck, Necrologoy. Sunday, Jen Buxton, Jerk Lundie, Wil’s Rock trivia. Tuesday, Disturd, Insidious Process. Wednesday, Great Toad, Organik.

Kent Hotel Saturday, Rip It Up. Sunday, Dai Pritchard Blues Band. Wednesday, Trivia.

Lass O’Gowrie Saturday, Great Toad, Organik, The Way Out. Sunday, Ovarian Cancer Fundraiser with Coal Mouth Blues, Annie O’Dee and the Hot Shots, Walter Junior Band, Kingy’s 2NUR FM Blues Show.

Lizotte’s Newcastle Saturday, Ms Murphy. Sunday, Amber Lawrence and Jason Owen. Tuesday, In The Name Of Style with Sam and Jordi Woods.

Mark Hotel Saturday, Hayden Johns. Sunday, Hornet.

Museum Hotel Saturday, Paparazzi.

Pedens at Cessnock Saturday, Damnation: The Bon Scott Tribute.

Royal Federal Hotel Saturday, The Nick Raschke Duo.

Shinnies Hotel Boolaroo Sunday, Firewall.

Shoal Bay Resort Saturday, Russell Hull, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, Amy Fredes, Russell Hull. Sunday, Good Company, Kazzi Waters.

The Small Ballroom Saturday, Stonefield, Lurch, Chief. Sunday, Mi Casa Su Casa featuring Tales in Space, Yeo, Pierce Brothers.

The Stag and Hunter Hotel Saturday, Gleny Rae Virus and her Playboys.

Vues on the Bay Saturday, Troy Kemp.

Warners Bay Hotel Saturday, Shivoo. Sunday, Jungle Kings. Wednesday Trivia.

Wickham Park Hotel Saturday, Pat Capocci, Helen and Friends. Sunday, Fish Fry, Dave and The Demons.


The Lego Movie (PG) An ordinary Lego minifigure, mistakenly thought to be the extraordinary MasterBuilder, is recruited to join a quest to stop an evil Lego tyrant from gluing the universe together. (Event Cinemas Glendale)

Captain America: The Winter Soldier. (PG) After the cataclysmic events in New York with The Avengers, this film finds Steve Rogers, also known as Captain America, living quietly in Washington, D.C.

Muppets Most Wanted (G) The entire Muppets gang goes on a global tour, selling out grand theatres in some of Europe’s most exciting destinations, before they find themselves unwittingly entangled in an international crime caper. (Hoyts)


All Is Lost (M) Deep in the Indian Ocean, a determined solo sailor (Robert Redford) wakes to find a shipping container has violently crashed into his boat, severing his connection to the world.

Noah (M) Directed by visionary filmmaker Darren Aronofsky, this film stars Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Ray Winstone, Emma Watson, Logan Lerman and Anthony Hopkins.

Now Showing

300: Rise of an Empire After its victory over Leonidas’ 300, the Persian army under Xerxes marches to the Greek city states.

12 Years a Slave (MA 15+) Solomon Northup was kidnapped for slavery in 1841 despite being born a free man. Best Picture Oscar.

20 Feet From Stardom (M) Long-neglected back-up singers to musical legends like Bruce Springsteen, Mick Jagger and Sting take centre-stage in this music documentary. (Regal Cinema)

American Hustle (MA15+) An infectious tale set in the 1970s, this story of a con artist couple roped into a corruption crackdown is inspired by true events. All-star cast: Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence. (Regal Cinemas)

Are We Officially Dating? (MA15+) Jason (Zac Efron) and co-worker Daniel (Miles Teller) try to help friend Mikey (Michael B Jordan) after he discovers his wife has been cheating. (Hoyts)

Blue Jasmine (M) A socialite, deeply troubled and in denial, imposes on her sister. Oscar best actress, Cate Blanchett. (Avoca Beach Picture Theatre)

Bolshoi Ballet Lost Illusions. Based on French writer Honoré de Balzac’s novel, Lost Illusions is a new ballet, created in Moscow in 2011 by Alexei Ratmansky with dramaturgy reviewed by French actor, writer and director Guillaume Gallienne. Lucien, a young provincial and budding composer, sets to conquer the Parisian scene in search of glory.

Cuban Fury (M) Beneath Bruce Garrett’s shabby, overweight exterior, the passionate beating heart of a salsa king lays dormant. Only one woman can reignite his Latin fire.

Dallas Buyers Club (MA 15+) Oscar winner Matthew McConaughey plays Ron Woodroof.

Free Birds (G) Two turkeys from opposite sides of the tracks must team up to travel back in time to change history.(Event Glendale)

Ghost. (M) Stars Patrick Swayze, Demi Moore, Whoopi Goldberg. (Event Cinemas Newcastle)

The Great Beauty (M) Oscar winner: Best foreign language film. (Event Cinemas Newcastle)

I, Frankenstein (M) Dr. Frankenstein’s creature, Adam finds he has the key that could destroy man. (Nelson Bay Cinema Complex)

Jump ‘n’ Jive Party (G) Follow Little Charley Bear as he shows he’s no ordinary bear (Hoyts)

Le Weekend (M) A British couple return to Paris many years after their honeymoon.

Lone Survivor (MA 15 +) Based on a true story of heroism and survival about four Navy SEALs. (Reading Charlestown)

The Monuments Men (M) Stars George Clooney, Matt Damon, Bill Murray, Cate Blanchett and John Goodman.

Mr Peabody and Sherman (PG) The dazzlingly brilliant Mr. Peabody – who happens to be a dog – and his adopted boy Sherman go on a time travel adventure through the defining moments of history.

Nebraska (M) A father and son road trip, from Billings, Montana to Lincoln, Nebraska gets waylaid at a small town where the father grew up and has scores to settle. (Avoca Beach Picture Theatre)

Need for Speed (M) Framed for a crime he didn’t commit, muscle car mechanic and street racer Tobey (Aaron Paul) gets out of prison.

Peter Rabbit, The Tale of the Missing Egg (G) (Hoyts)

Philomena (M) Judi Dench delivers a note-perfect performance in a touching and often funny true story of grave injustice and a mother’s search for her son. (Nelson Bay Cinema Complex)

Pompeii (M) Set in the days leading up to the famous eruption of Mt Vesuvius, which destroyed the ancient city of Pompeii. Kit Harington stars as Milo, an enslaved gladiator, who must fight for his life in the arena every day.

Ride Along (M) Fast-talking security guard Ben joins his cop brother-in-law James on a 24-hour patrol of Atlanta in order to prove himself worthy of marrying Angela, James’ sister.

Tracks (M) Mia Wasikowska stars as Robyn Davidson, who made a solo trek from Alice Springs to Uluru and the Indian Ocean.

Vampire Academy: Blood Sisters (M) Rose Hathaway is a half-human half-vampire. Stars Zoey Deutch, Lucy Fry, Danila Kozlovsky.

The Wind Rises. (PG) Japanese voice cast: Hideaki Anno, Miori Takimoto, Hidetoshi Nishijima, Masahiko Nishimura, Stephen Alpert and Morio Kazama. (Event Cinemas Newcastle)

Wolf Creek 2 (MA 15+) The outback once more becomes a place of horror. (Hoyts)

The Wolf of Wall Street (R) Leonardo DiCaprio is the very picture of corporate recklessness and hard-partying lifestyle in this true story of greed and excess portrayed in grand, operatic, often darkly funny style. (Regal Cinema)

Less than one month remains to the seventh annual Sail Port Stephens, Australia’s fastest growing sailing regatta.

The event will kick off with a long weekend of racing on April 11, featuring three sailing events – the NSW IRC Championships and The Pantaenius Port Stephens Trophy from April 11 to 13, followed by the Pantaenius Commodores Cup from April 14 to 16.

“Whether you’re a skipper or crew member out on the water, or family or friends taking it all in from the many scenic vantage points, Port Stephens promises to deliver an exciting getaway with loads to do off the water, including coastal national parks, reserves, plenty of bushwalking, wildlife, marine life, beaches, restaurants, clubs and pubs,” said event co-ordinator Janelle Gardner.

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