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Hating Alison Ashley is a 2005 Australian comedy film based upon the 1984 novel of the same name produced by Elizabeth Howatt-Jackman and directed by Geoff Bennett. It was filmed in Kinglake West,Victoria, Australia and Docklands Studios Melbourne.The film stars Saskia Burmeister, as Erica “Yuk” Yurken, an adolescent brunette who fantasises about a better life and stardom; and Delta Goodrem as her school rival Alison Ashley. At school, Erica is not very popular. She sits alone in class, but when Alison arrives, it all changes. Erica at first is desperate to be Alison’s friend but soon changes her mind, and they then become rivals. However, when a school camp comes up, Erica realises Alison doesn’t have the perfect life as she imagined. Erica house was filmed at 46 Leslie Street Richmond.

Knowing is a 2009 science fiction thriller directed by Alex Proyas and starring Nicolas Cage. The project was originally attached to a number of directors under Columbia Pictures, but it was placed in turnaround and eventually picked up by Escape Artists. Production was financially backed by Summit Entertainment. Knowing was filmed in Docklands Studios Melbourne, Australia, using various locations to represent the film’s Boston-area setting. The film was released on March 20, 2009, in the United States. The DVD and Blu-ray media were released on July 7, 2009. Knowing met with mixed reviews, with praise towards the acting performances, visual style and atmosphere, but had criticism over the implausibilities. In the final scenes as the world is exploding Nicolas Cage returns to his parents house at Medley Hall, 48 Drummond St, Carlton.

On this day …….. 21st of April 1970

The Hutt River Province Principality is a large farming property about 595 km north of Perth, Western Australia, and is about 75 square km in size. It was founded on 21 April 1970 by farmer Leonard George Casley when he and his family and associates proclaimed their secession from Western Australia. The year 1969 saw the climax of a long-running dispute between Casley and the Western Australian government over what Casley believed to be unreasonable wheat quotas which would spell ruin for his farm, family and business. Casley resorted to an apparent provision in British common law which he felt allowed him to secede and declare independence from the Commonwealth of Australia. Casley was elected administrator of the new “sovereign state” by his family and later became the self-styled His Royal Highness Prince Leonard of Hutt. Exports of the principality include wildflowers, agricultural produce, stamps and coins, while tourism is also important to its economy. Although actual residents are very few, it claims to have a world-wide citizenship of 13,000. Neither Australia nor any other nation has acknowledged recognition of the Province publicly.

 

Animal Kingdom is a 2010 Australian crime drama film written and directed by David Michôd, and shot on location in Melbourne with a budget of A$5 million from Screen Australia, Film Victoria, Screen NSW and Showtime Australia.  The film premiered at the 26th Sundance Film Festival on the 22nd of January 2010. 

Michôd’s script was inspired by events which involved the Pettingill criminal family  of Melbourne, Australia. In 1991, two brothers Trevor Pettingill and Victor Pierce (along with two other men: Anthony Leigh Farrell and Peter David McEvoy) were acquitted in the 1988 shooting murder of two Victorian police officers.

After his mother overdoses, 17-year-old Joshua “J” Cody (James Frecheville) asks his estranged grandmother, Janine “Smurf” Cody (Jacki Weaver), for help, and she invites him to move in with her.

Smurf is the affectionate matriarch of a Melbourne Crime family that uses her home as a base. Her home is also being watched by cops who are looking for the oldest son, Andrew “Pope” Cody (Ben Mendelsohn), who is in hiding. The volatile middle brother, Craig (Sullivan Stapleton), deals drugs successfully enough to have bought the house for his mother.

The youngest brother, Darren (Luke Ford), follows the lead of his siblings, while family friend “Baz” leads the gang, which specializes in armed robbery. Craig takes J along to meet with a crooked cop from the drug squad, who tells him that renegade cops on the armed robbery squad are on the look out for all of them.

Later, Baz goes to meet Pope at a shopping centre, where they discuss quitting crime and going straight. As Baz gets in his car to leave, police approach and shoot him dead. Angry and distraught, Pope and Craig want revenge, and ask J to steal a Commodore and bring it to Darren’s place.

The car is then planted in the middle of a night-time street as a lure. Two policemen are soon drawn to the scene, where they are ambushed and shot dead by Pope and Craig. The next day, Pope, Darren and J are taken in for questioning, where J meets Detective Senior Sergeant Nathan Leckie who also leads the armed robbery squad. Leckie, one of the few non-corrupt police officers, recognizes J’s predicament and begins to lean on him. The three are later released from custody, but J returns with his girlfriend Nicky to her parents’ home.

Craig, who has avoided being picked up by the police, Pope, Darren and Smurf meet at a diner, where they recognize J as the weak link. When told by Smurf to give himself up for questioning, Craig panics, and meets a friend in rural Bendigo. He learns that the house is already being monitored, and as the police arrive tries to flee through a field but is gunned down.

Pope and Darren take J to meet their solicitor Ezra. He coaches him to not tell the police anything and pressure him to break up with Nicky, which he does. Leckie takes J into custody again, where he proposes that J be moved to witness protection, but J turns down the offer. Meanwhile, Nicky, unsure what to do, shows up at Smurf’s home, where Pope gives her heroin, questions her, then smothers her to death to keep her silent.

When J returns to Smurf’s house the next morning he discovers Nicky’s bracelet outside the house. He calls Nicky’s phone, and realising something is not right, flees to Nicky’s parents’ house. Pope gets Nicky’s address from Darren and arrives in time to intercept J. J flees on foot and is taken into a safe house. With Craig and Baz dead, Pope and Darren imprisoned, and J potentially being the star witness for the prosecution, Smurf decides, “J needs to go”.

Smurf uses her connections to procure J’s address, and persuades the corrupt cop to help her. Police from the drug squad then raid the safe house. J jumps a fence and returns to Smurf’s house, saying he wishes to help free Pope and Darren from jail. To do this, the family’s barrister then coaches J’s answers.

After his day in court, Leckie sees J before his departure from the safe hotel, and asks him if he has found his place in the world (a reference to Leckie’s animal kingdom metaphor for J’s predicament). Pope, Darren and Smurf celebrate with champagne while being interviewed after their controversial acquittal. Smurf later sees Leckie in the supermarket and taunts him. Later again, J returns to Smurf’s home asking to stay, before going to his room.

Pope enters and begins to talk to him, but is cut off when J shoots him in the head. In the final scene, J returns to the living room and embraces a now silenced Smurf.

Animal Kingdom received 18 nominations for the 2010 Australian Film Institute Awards, across all major feature film categories – a record achievement. On the 11th of December 2010, Animal Kingdom won a record 10 awards.

The film received several other film awards to Jacki Weaver who was nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress. Weaver was also nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. It was also named one of the Top Independent Films of 2010 at the National Board of Review Awards.  All up the film received 36 awards and 39 nominations. 

Quentin Tarantino listed Animal Kingdom as his third favourite film of 2010, behind Toy Story 3 and The Social Network. 

ABBA: The Movie is a documentary cult film about the Swedish pop group ABBA’s, Anni Frid Lyngstad, Bjorn Ulvaeus, Benny Andersson and Agnatha Fältskog Australian tour in 1977. Directed by Lasse Hallström, who directed most of the group’s videos. Its release coincided with the release of ABBA: The Album, the group’s fifth studio album, and features many songs from that album as well as many of their earlier hits, and one, “Get on the Carousel”, unavailable anywhere else.

The film has a very thin plot which is no more than a vehicle to link together the concert footage. Hallström indicated that the film’s script and plot concept was conceived on the plane on the way to Australia.

The plot centres around the adventures of Ashley Wallace (Robert Hughes), a DJ on a Sydney Radio station 2TW, who normally presents a through-the-night country and western-themed show. In spite of this, he is sent by the station’s boss (Bruce Barry) to get an in-depth interview (“Not an interview, a dialogue”, demands his boss) with the group, which is to be aired on the day ABBA leave Australia. Ashley, who has never done an interview before, singularly fails, mainly because he has forgotten to pack his press card, and is also unable to buy a concert tickets. Armed with his trusty reel to reel tape recorder, Ashley is forced to follow the group all over Australia, beginning in Sydney, and then travelling, in order, to Perth, Adelaide, and Melbourne, experiencing repeated run-ins with the group’s very protective bodyguard (Tom Oliver). For authenticity during filming, the members of ABBA were not told of the storyline involving a journalist Ashley (Robert Hughes) seeking an interview. ABBA believed that the reporter was a real newsman trying to get a scoop.

Eventually, Ashley has an unbelievably lucky chance encounter with Stig Anderson, the group’s manager, in the foyer of The Old Melbourne Motor Inn, 17 Flemington Rd, North Melbourne, where ABBA was staying, who agrees to arrange an interview, and gives him tickets to that evening’s concert. But Ashley sleeps in and misses the appointed interview time. Just as Ashley has given up, a miracle occurs: he steps into an elevator and finds himself face-to-face with ABBA. They agree to give him an interview there and then in room 604, and he leaves Melbourne just in time to meet the deadline for the radio show to go out on-air. He puts together the final edit in the back of a taxi on the way back from the airport, as ABBA depart Australia for Europe. With only minutes to go, Ashley makes it back to the radio station where, having set the tape up on the studio’s playback machine, he relaxes at his control desk to listen as the interview is broadcast.

The production shoot went for six weeks and encompassed ABBA’s 1977 Australian tour and included their live concerts, press conferences, private downtime, public receptions, meeting fans and traveling time. Mostly filmed in Australia, however additional filming was done during the of Summer 1977 in ABBA’s home country of Sweden after their concert tour of Australia had been completed. This filming included “The Name Of The Game” dream sequence and filming on streets in Sweden, doubling, ironically, for the streets of Melbourne and Sydney. Actors Tom Oliver and Robert Hughes had to fly to Sweden for these shoot. Noticeably different from Australia are the street signs and the traffic flowing on the right hand side.

Most of the concert footage used for this film came from their five Perth concerts in Western Australia. This was because the concert venue there, the Perth Entertainment Centre, was the only indoors stadium on the tour, and the conditions there were best suited for acoustic recording and would not be affected by any bad weather elements. In these screens Agnatha Fältskog was frequently filmed above the neck in close-ups due to disguise the fact that she was pregnant at the time. There is a brief scene shot at the Parmelia Hotel in Perth where a photographer asks for a smile, ABBA at the time was surrounded by various International stars that happened to be in Perth at that time of filming. They include Gerry and the Pacemakers, The Searchers, The Dubliners, Alice Cooper, Stephane Grappelli and British actor Robin Nedwell.

The film had three simultaneous World Premieres all held in Australia on 14 December 1977, in Paramatta and Sydney New South Wales and Melbourne, Victoria. At the time of this film’s theatrical release, Stig Anderson said ABBA’s enormous popularity in Australia, where this concert movie was filmed: “Australia is still the biggest market in the world for ABBA. People in the music industry all over the world have been stunned with what has happened here.” The film was also released Scandinavia and several Eastern Blotic Nations, including the Soviet Union where it was screened at two movie houses in Moscow.

In 2003, The Swedish Film Institute restored the film to its original soundtrack after the original stereo sound had been lost for years. The film was premiered in its new version on the 2nd of December 2003, at Stockholm’s Film House with Bjorn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson attending. Bjorn said of this film: “They wanted us to make a film in Australia, but quite honestly I don’t think that films with pop stars work very well. Of course The Beatles are an exception and Tommy (1975) was a big hit but there have been lots of other pop films that have sunk without trace. Seeing the film came as a bit of a shock. It’s hard to recognize yourself up there on a giant screen in Panavision. But then we’ve had many moments when it has been hard to accept the things that have been happening to us.”

A theatrical re-release of the film occurred across Europe during July and August 2008 in the UK, Ireland, The Netherlands, Norway, Germany, and Austria.

ON THIS DAY…… 25th November 1789

Bennelong, the Aborigine, is captured, to be used as an intermediary between the Aboriginal and white cultures.

The Aborigine Bennelong was a senior man of the Eora, a Koori, people of the Port Jackson area, when the First Fleet arrived in Australia, in 1788. He was captured on 25 November 1789, for the purpose of being used as a mediary between the white and Aboriginal cultures. The Governor of New South Wales, Captain Arthur Phillip, wished to learn about the language and customs of the indigenous people. Bennelong willingly liaised between the cultures, and adopted European dress and other ways. His intervention was crucial when Phillip was speared by local Aborigines as, by persuading the Governor that the attack was caused by a misunderstanding, further violence was avoided. While Governor Phillip’s intentions were honourable, the Aborigines were not people to be captured and used for white purposes. Bennelong travelled with Phillip to England in 1792, and returned to Australia in 1795. Ultimately, he suffered ostracism from the Aborigines when he found it too difficult to integrate into the European culture, and sought to return to his own people. He died on 3 January 1813.

ON THIS DAY…… 24th November 1642

Dutch explorer Abel Tasman

On the 24th of November 1642, Dutch explorer Abel Tasman discovered a previously unknown island on his voyage past the “Great South Land”, or “New Holland”, as the Dutch called Australia. He named it Van Diemen’s Land after the governor of Batavia. The Dutch, however, did not settle New Holland and Van Diemen’s Land. The First Fleet, which arrived in Port Jackson, New South Wales, in 1788 comprised eleven British ships carrying officers and convicts from England.

ON THIS DAY…… 14th November 1939

The world’s oldest dog on record dies – Blue Heeler named ‘Bluey – aged 29

The Blue Heeler is a hardy breed of dog developed in Australia. Also known as the Australian Cattle dog, the Blue Heeler was developed by colonists in the 1800s by crossing Dingo-blue merle Collies to Dalmatians and black and tan Kelpies. This produced an excellent working dog, capable of driving large herds of cattle through the harsh conditions of the outback. According to Guinness World Records, the world’s oldest known dog was a Blue Heeler, appropriately named “Bluey”, owned by Les Hall of Rochester in the Australian state of Victoria. Born on 7 June 1910, Bluey died on 14 November 1939 at the age of twenty-nine years, five months, and seven days.

ON THIS DAY…… 11th November 1880

Ned Kelly execution

Ned Kelly, Australia’s most famous bushranger, was born in December 1854 in Victoria, Australia. Kelly was twelve when his father died, and he was subsequently required to leave school to take on the new position as head of the family. Shortly after this, the Kellys moved to Glenrowan. As a teenager, Ned became involved in petty crimes, regularly targetting the wealthy landowners. He gradually progressed to crimes of increasing seriousness and violence, including bank robbery and murder, soon becoming a hunted man. Many of Ned Kelly’s peers held him in high regard for his stand of usually only ambushing wealthy landowners, and helped to keep his whereabouts from the police, despite the high reward posted for his capture. However, he was betrayed to the police whilst holding dozens of people hostage in the Glenrowan Inn in June, 1880. Wearing their famous armour, the Kelly brothers held a shootout with police. Gang members Dan Kelly, Steve Hart and Joe Byrne were killed, and Ned was shot twenty-eight times in the legs, which were unprotected by the armour. He survived to stand trial, and was sentenced to death by hanging, by Judge Redmond Barry on 29 October 1880. Ned Kelly was hanged in Melbourne on 11 November 1880.

ON THIS DAY…… 1st November 2012

Toilet people are dying to use

The town of Millaa Millaa, in Queensland, Australia, came up with a killer idea for national coverage and tourist attraction at their town cemetery. A new toilet was needed at the graveyard and the council was quoted more than $80,000. Not to be killed in their tracks the local Chamber of Commerce decided to just build one themselves. Undertaking the gravely task their build a coffin shape toilet “crap crypt”. Problem is, now that this eternal restroom has been built, some townsfolk are dying of embarrassment. “You have to be careful, not everyone is going to have our macabre sense of humour,” Chamber president Pat Reynolds told the Herald Sun newspaper. “But we did it with good intentions. It’s for firstly, the cemetery, and secondly, maybe a few more people will notice Millaa Millaa now.” The builders made sure not to do a crappy job on the toilet, providing a septic system, solid cement foundation, and strong walls, one of which bears a cross and the letters RIP, according to the Courier-Mail newspaper. Not everyone likes the idea. Brian Norton was dead set against the tombstone toilet and wrote a letter to officials expressing his grave concerns. “Imagine if they had a funeral there,” he said. “I don’t think it’s going to go over very well, especially if people are there from out of town. They’ll think, ‘What sort of place is this?'”

On this day …….. 31st of October 1894

Opening on 26 September 1855, the New South Wales railway, Australia, was the first government-owned railway in the British Empire. The first line ran the 22km from Sydney to Parramatta. By 1862, the western line had reached Penrith. The railway continued to expand, reaching Albury in 1881, Glen Innes in 1884 and far west New South Wales at Bourke in 1886. On 31 October 1894, a country train bound for Goulburn, New South Wales, was hit at Redfern, Sydney, by a suburban train heading from Strathfield to the city. Two engine crew and twelve passengers from the suburban train were killed, and twenty-seven people were injured. The accident was caused by an incorrectly set signal. Among those killed were Edward Lloyd Jones, Chairman of David Jones & Co and son of the founder of the David Jones department store chain. Also killed was Father Callaghan McCarthy, Dean of St Mary’s Cathedral.