Indonesia and Singapore, 1994

In October 1994, our years 10 and 11 Indonesian language classes went on a school trip to Indonesia and Singapore. As I was born in May, I found myself in between the two age groups, but mostly ended up hanging out with the older kids because they were allowed to drink.

We had been fundraising for the previous year by cooking Indonesian dishes and various other means. Our Indonesian teacher was very passionate and knowledgeable about the country and it was her drive that enabled the trip in the first place.

She wanted us to experience the traditional cultural Indonesia away from the tacky tourist spots, so our first stop was the island of Lombok. The hotel had a fresh water pool and we went for a jungle walk to a Hindu temple shrine. In the evening, we had a traditional Indonesian dancing lesson.

We went to Senggigi Beach and stayed in a resort where I saw my first pool bar. The boys climbed trees for coconuts and we ate in a restaurant on the beach. We visited a primary school where all the kids loved orange and blonde hair as it was unusual to them and they wanted to touch it. We also visited Purbasari weaving village and a pottery village.

From there, we caught the hydro foil to Bali. I got hassled to get my hair plaited at Kuta Beach to the point of tears- lesson learned- the less touristy Lombok was better that Bali.

We travelled to Yogyakarta, Java and saw the king’s throne at the Kraton. The city itself was busy and full of becaks (also known as rickshaws). We visited a silver factory, a batik weaving factory and a shadow puppet making and mask factory.

The epic Ramayana night play at Prambanan Temple was as long as expected and watched on uncomfortable stone seats which made it seem even longer. We visited the magnificent Borobudur Temple- I had never been to a temple so big before even after visiting dozens of them with my parents in other parts of Asia.

We went to the lovely little village of Bukit Lawang, Sumatra and stayed in huts that were separated from the town by a bridge over the river. We went swimming and I remember eating a whole bag of Kopiko’s while everyone else played volley ball.

One of the girls got invited to a wedding being held in the village by a local boy and our teacher encouraged her to go an experience first-hand something that most tourists would not get to see.

The highlight of the trip for me was visiting the Orangutans at the Tanjung Puting Rehabilitation Centre, Kalimantan. We also went to caves with bats and saw rubber trees.

On the way back to Australia, we stopped in Singapore. My friend Selina and I took the cable car to Sentosa Island, an artificial island with palm trees planted in a line two metres apart. We went on an enchanted grove dragon walk which had lots of dragon statues. We visited the maritime museum, the butterfly park and saw a costume show at the Asian village which encompassed East Asia and had a Philippine village that looked like Europe.

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By special request…

When I was a teenager, all my friends wanted to go to the Big Day Out and I just wanted to see a Janet Jackson concert.

When I started to go out, I got right into dance music and I had all the Ministry of Sound albums. I danced for hours at the Krafty Kuts show and went to music festivals like Good Vibrations and Harbourlife.

My entire CD collection was stolen while I was at university, which probably doesn’t sound so bad in these days of iTunes technology, but at the time it was devastating. Even after replacing many albums, my collection has never been the same.

Working in grass roots events early on in my career, I found myself driving all day with a packed car to places like Parkes and Gunnedah. My CD’s were my friends on these drives- they would pass the time, keep me awake and exercise my vocal chords.

In melancholy moods I listen to The Cranberries, Portishead or Dido. In more upbeat times I favour Texas, Fat Boy Slim or Black Eyed Peas. I have always liked Sheryl Crow and her wonderful lyrics.

But my all-time favourite band is Garbage. My friend Sarah introduced me to their debut album in 1997 and I have been a fan ever since. After not releasing an album for seven years, “Not Your Kind of People” hit the shelves in 2012 and I was lucky enough to catch their accompanying live show in Sydney.

My mum first took me to a musical when I was younger and I have been addicted to show tickets ever since.

I will go to pretty much anything by Shakespeare and have dragged my husband to The Complete Works of William Shakespeare and Romeo and Juliet.

I love watching the ballet at the Sydney Opera House and have been lucky enough to see The Nutcracker at Christmas time and most recently, Cinderella.

Of course, my obsession with vampires has led me to see more than one show at Dracula’s.

I like to catch a show while travelling and have seen Lady Salsa on the Gold Coast, Cirque Du Soleil in Las Vegas, the Lion King in London and Avenue Q in New York.

Recent musicals that I have enjoyed are Strictly Ballroom for the Spanish dancing, Legally Blonde for American cheese and Priscilla Queen of the Desert for the fabulous costumes.

But my favourite musical so far is Chicago which I saw after a bottle of wine with my bestie on a Melbourne girl’s trip. The question is- was it the wine, the company or the show? Perhaps a combination of all three.

Thanks to all my theatre buddies past and present- you know who you are! I hope you have enjoyed the show as much as I have.

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USA, 1990

All I remember about our family trip to Los Angeles, California in 1990 is Universal Studios and Disneyland.

At Universal, we got attacked by Jaws and King Kong and then caught in a flood. We were greeted personally by name by ETon a cutting edge computer bike ride; saw the Blues Brothers, animal actors and Harry and the Henderson’s shows and met KITT and the scientist from Back to the Future.

I relived my childhood on the Matterhorn bobsleds in Disneyland. We walked down Main Street, USA to Sleeping Beauty Castle and visited New Orleans Square. We rode the Mark Twain Riverboat, the cable car and went mad in It’s a Small World.

Only mum would brave a second day at Disneyland, while Dad opted to stay at the Thunderbird Motel. My favourite ride was the Splash Mountain log ride themed with Brer Rabbit and Brer Bear. Even though it was new and had the biggest line, I went on it three times.

We left LA for Lake Henshaw and a drive through the Anza- Borrego Desert in our dark blue hire car. We visited the small town and church of Santa Ysabel and Julian with its weird pioneer museum featuring a stuffed raccoon.

In San Diego, we stayed with my parents friends Teri and Steve. They had two young boys who I enjoyed watching The Little Mermaid movie with and going to their favourite park on the harbour. It was the 75th Anniversary of San Diego Zoo when we visited and I remember the iconic flamingos at the entrance.

I loved Sea World San Diegowhere I petted a dolphin and saw the famous Shamu killer whale show. Mum pointed out the dolphin prams that they used for me last time I was there as a toddler and I got my photo taken with the Shamu in a costume.

Leaving San Diego, we drove through the Mojave desert to Yosemite National Park. I remember seeing Half Dome and driving right through the middle of a large redwood tree in the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias.

We drove past mountains with white windmills, Mono Lake and stayed in a Tee Pee in the desert. I remember visiting the eerie Bodie ghost town where you could look inside the empty buildings.

Ending our road trip in San Francisco, my dad wanted to visit the hippy mecca Haight- Ashbury. I remember the pink Palace of Fine Arts theatre on a Lake. We caught a cable car up a steep hill, went to Golden Gate Park and visited Seal Rocks.

We flew home through Honolulu, Oahu in Hawaii where I got my picture taken with a macaw. Mum and I went shopping at the very cheap Waikiki, while my dad sat by the surfer statue on the beach. I remember going to the white Pearl Harbour Memorial and driving to Diamond Head. We went to Iolani Palace, Waimea Bay, Hanauma Bay and Pali lookout. We saw a hula dancer show and dad went windsurfing at Kailua.

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TV Replays and Movie Marathons

When I was younger, Berry did not get commercial television. I used to rush home from school every day to watch Sesame Street, Postman Pat and Mr Squiggle. My punishment for being naughty was not being grounded, but being grounded from television.

When I went to visit my cousins in Canada as a teenager I was amazed at the number and channels and the variety of shows that they had. They introduced me to Beverly Hills 90210 and I was already a fan by the time it aired in Australia. I grew up with the show through high school and used to write plot summaries and buy the magazine. I also watched the spin off, Melrose Place.

Anyone who was invited to my thirtieth birthday party knows that my all-time favourite show is Buffy the Vampire Slayer. After having watched the original movie dozens of times, I was very happy when the TV series started and then came Angel as the spin off, Kindred: the Embraced and now The Vampire Diaries and the spin off The Originals.

I liked the strong women element in Buffy, so I also enjoyed Charmed, Sex and the City and the spin off Lipstick Jungle.

I dreamed of American college life in great cities and got right into Felicityset in New York, Party of Five set in San Francisco and Hellcats about competitive college cheer leading.

When reality television came out I thought it would never last. Thank god for re-released box sets and the revamping of the old nineties hits into the new 90210 and the new Melrose Place to fill the void.

But I eventually got hooked on Temptation Island, The Bachelor and The Amazing Race just like everyone else.

My mum loves the movies and got me hooked on movie marathons as a teenager.

My top movie marathons by genre from classic to new are:

  • American just for entertainment fluffy films- Clueless or My Best Friend’s Wedding, followed by Bring It On or The Sweetest Thing, finish with a visit to the cinema to watch The Other Woman
  • Supernatural- Dracula or The Craft, followed by Underworld and then Red Riding Hood- one of the more recent movies cleverly based on the darker side of fairy tales
  • Tragic love stories- Romeo and Juliet or Chasing Amy, followed by Closer, finish with a visit to the cinema to watch of a French film for a dose of reality and relationships
  • Comedy cult movies- Ferris Bueller’s Day Off or Van Wilder: Party Liaison, followed by Hitch and then The Hangover
  • Action films- Point Break, Charlie’s Angels and Layer Cake
  • Scary, but not really scary films- Scream, I Know What You Did Last Summer and Final Destination- scary films these days are too real for me
  • Reese Witherspoon- Cruel Intentions, Legally Blonde and Sweet Home Alabama
  • Kate Hudson- How to Lose a Guy in 10 days, Le Divorce and Bride Wars
  • Jennifer Anniston- Along Came Polly, The Break Up (Vince Vaughn is also hilarious) and Just Go With It.

Happy watching!

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Canada, 1990

In 1990, we visited my dad’s brother in Canada and my obsession with Vancouver Aquarium began. l fell in love with the sea otters, marvelled at the white beluga whales and was impressed with the killer whale tank that was there at the time.

My uncle and aunt lived in the Vancouver suburb of Richmond, BC with their three children and beloved pet- Holly the Dalmatian. My parents and I slept in the brown pop top campervan parked out the front of their house.

I ate lucky charms for the first time for breakfast and my aunt made us bagels with salmon and cream cheese for lunches on our day trips in the family car- a wood panelled station wagon named “The Woody.”

My cousin Jay had a paper route and I remember riding around on a bike following him as he completed his drop.

The first time I realised that people drive on the other side of the road on the other side of the world was when my cousin Kate got on the back of motorbike with my dad who tried to pull out on the main road on the wrong side of the road. They were chased by my yelling uncle, concerned for his daughter’s safety.

Our grandparents visited from England and we all went to Steveston wharf- a cute little fishing village not far from Richmond. On the way back we went to the European village at Fantasy Gardens where my aunt had been an extra in a movie.

One of my favourite parts of Vancouver was Stanley Parkwith its totem poles of different animals carved by First Nations people. We also went to the bizarre steam clock in Gastown. Another favourite to visit was Lynn Canyon suspension bridge.

I first discovered that Canada is famous for its natural wonders when we travelled to Manning Park which is famous for its wildlife and wildflowers. I remember seeing a lot of Canada Geese.

We then went to Whistler out of the ski season where grandpa saw a black bear going through a bin behind a hotel and a ranger had to come and shoot a flare gun to scare him back up the mountain. We caught a cable car to the top of the mountain and saw Shannon Falls on way back to Vancouver on the sea to sky highway.

The ferry trip to Vancouver Island became an adventure in dolphin and killer whale spotting as we made our way through the labyrinth of islands. We landed at the provincial legislative buildings of Victoria and saw a parade with dragons in Chinatown for Chinese New Year.

Lastly, we drove through the Okanagan to Oysoyoos Lake on the US border where my cousins holidayed every summer in their campervan and went on a boat trip on the lake.

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