By John Pond    For all those that want to see and hear this great Hollywood film star, martial artist, bodybuilding champion, screenwriter, film producer and director you will be pleased to know Jean-Claude Van Damme will be appearing in Sydney and Melbourne in August.

A must see – “An Evening With Jean-Claude Van Damme – Unplugged & Unscripted” is selling out fast. “The Muscles from Brussels” will talk to his audience as he reflects on his great career, his life and his views on fitness and health. There will be a Q&A session during which all his audience, including this writer will be eagerly awaiting.

Van Damme Jean-Claude.JPG

Jean-Claude Van Damme was born Jean-Claude Van Varenberg, on 18 October 1960, in Brussels, Belgium which earned him the nickname The Muscles from Brussels. He began martial arts at the age of ten and earned his black belt at 18. He started lifting weights to improve his physique, which led to a Mr. Belgium bodybuilding title and numerous Martial Arts Championship titles. In 1982 Jean-Claude moved to the US with the objective of becoming a movie star. He was cast as an extra in the film, Breakin’ but an impromptu demonstration of his splits for Hollywood producer Menahem Golan in a chance meeting outside an LA Restaurant earned him a contract with Cannon Films. His breakout film was Bloodsport, it became a U.S. box-office hit in 1988 and followed up with massive hits in the home video market with Cyborg, Kickboxer and Wrong Bet.

jean-claude-van-damme-splits-volvo.jpgBy 1990 the big Hollywood studios then came knocking and he headlined big budget action movies Double Impact, Universal Soldier, Hard Target, Street Fighter, Time Cop, Sudden Death and more. He returned to the big screen in 2008 with JCVD and again in 2012 as the lead villain in Expendables 2.

It should be noted that we have to thank Goran Kurkioski of Melbourne company Fast Track Events. He has worked tirelessly to get JCVD to Australia over the last 10 months, apart from the numerous personal phone calls with Jean he flew to meet him in England last year and met with him in Los Angeles earlier this year.  Next week he will be meeting with JCVD on the set of his latest movie that is currently filming in Thailand.

Shows are Wednesday 24th August at The Star, Sydney and Sunday 28th August at the Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre.

Tickets are available at




Words and photos: John Pond

The new pool fence legislation comes into effect at the end of April in NSW and at various times throughout Australia and other states. Pools should be fenced and certified at that time.



#1 Legislation is definitely going ahead

#2 Now for a sale the owner has to get a certifier in … BUT they can sell with a “Certificate of Non-Compliance” which gives the new owner the opportunity to upgrade the pool as they want.

I have spent a great deal of time reading legislation and trying to determine what type of fencing I should use and how to make my fencing fit into the landscape and design of my pool and house.

If you have a simple pool stuck in the backyard, then your fencing and design can be simple, but my pool is against the front of my home and most fencing will destroy the overall look I wanted when building the pool.


Personally I believe many of the rules are complete overkill and if I was younger and richer I would fight them in the Land and Environment Court, but as I am neither I initially took advice from 3 pool builders that I received quotes from.

Council was no help and my calls went unanswered. I don’t believe they are fully aware of the legislation.

I found the quotes from pool fencers for the same work varied by up to $2000. Their knowledge on the codes was not great, bearing in mind that each council may have different rules. Eventually I found a very good pool fence builder at a reasonable price. The company is called Ausglass Fencing and the owner Andrew Lorch did a first class and very tidy job, nothing was a problem and the construction was completed in a day. His mobile number is 0406 888413

Prior to construction and after many sleepless nights, I discovered, by accident on the internet, the name of some registered independent pool safety and certification inspectors.


I discovered that Mark Dodgson, in his role as a pool fence builder and with his additional knowledge as a certifier, was able to give my proposed pool fence the once over, he picked up some non-compliant items, let the builder know what they needed to do to make it compliant and all was OK. He also builds pool fences, that one may assume would be perfectly compliant.

There are reasonable charges for this service, but they are very modest and assure everything is up to code.

As a Certification Inspector, Mark Dodgson can be reached at Inspections NSW phone: 1800 256 225.


His company, Inspections NSW, offers both certification and pre-certification advice. Remember 95% of pools fail inspections (sometimes on simple things) and therefore need upgrading to current standards at greatly increased expense to the homeowner. This is why I strongly recommend a pre-certification advice. His company also do work for contractors who want their own work checked before they leave a site (because it’s easier to fix while they’re on site). I find this a useful service as any minor changes, can be done during construction, saving both the homeowner and pool fencer time and money.

I strongly recommend the services of a consultant before building unless you have the most simple pool. For example some existing fences may qualify as a boundary without needing more pool fencing in that area.

I asked Mark Dodgson, of Inspections NSW, a few questions related to pool certification.

John Pond – Question: Why have the Government introduced these rules?

Answer Mark Dodgson: Statistically a disproportionate number of children 5 yrs and younger are drowning in pools, so these rules are designed to keep determined 5 year olds out of the pool.

Q: I hear that there are different rules for different pools is that correct?

A: Yes in NSW there are 3 different Australian Standards that your pool could be assessed under. The logic is that if you built your pool in a compliant manner originally then you should be able to keep your pool in its original state.

Q: Are there big differences between the different Standards?

A: Yes there certainly are. If you have a compliant pool commenced before 1st September 2008 then your boundary walls can be lower than 1800mm.

NOTE: In my work as a builder, I see incorrectly assessed pools under later Australian Standards, causing boundary fences to be unnecessarily pushed up to 1800mm. This can hugely affect the openness & vegetation in ones back yard, not to mention the cost!

Q: Are there any exceptions to these rules?

A: There are both legislated exemptions and the ability to apply for site-specific exemptions. We make full use of both for our clients.

Q: Are all Certifiers the same?

A: Of course I would say not … but that is also the reality because many Certifiers do not understand the intent of the law or the detail of the law and that means very few will apply for site-specific exemptions, which can save our clients thousands of dollars.

Also it’s worth noting that Council “Certifiers” do not need to have any formal training and Queensland trained Certifiers can work in NSW under reciprocal agreements.

I have seen some completely incorrect assessments and the poor customer will find that they have to completely re-do their pool fencing when they are re-assessed in the future.

Q: When do the latest certification rules come into effect:

A: Key Date in NSW: 29th April. You will not be able to lease your property without a Pool Compliance Certificate after this date

and if you want to sell you will need to have a Certifier issue either a Compliance Notice or a Non-Compliance notice (which gives the new owner the opportunity to implement the requirements as they wish.

Details may vary state to state.

Give Mark a call for more information on 1800 256 225 or email him at:



Get at least 2 quotes and don’t necessarily go with the lowest.

Have pre-building advice.


I was very satisfied with the final build and inspection report.

Sinatra The Facts on Siege by John Pond





Cute film, pity about the facts, says John Pond, the man who was at the epicentre of the Frank Sinatra black ban crisis in 1974, the event that gave birth to the new Australian film, The Night We Called It A Day. Andrew L. Urban reports.
“It’s a cute film, and it’s technically good, the acting’s pretty good …. But the story’s sh**house,” says John Pond. “If I was Sinatra, I’d be rolling in my grave. They’ve made him the opposite of what he was…” and Pond should know: he was the marketing manager of the Boulevard Hotel when Sinatra stayed there, and he spent hours with ol’ blue eyes every day. He even had a friend build a self contained kitchen in the suite adjoining Sinatra’s so the crooner could cook up a meal for his friends.

“Fans wept”

And Sinatra changed Pond’s life.

But first things first: The Night We Called It A Day is a film that takes as its premise the 1974 Sinatra tour, when Sinatra famously referred to journalists as two-bit hookers, or words to that effect. The nation was outraged. The unions black banned his tour. Shows were cancelled. Fans wept.

That much is true. The details shown in the film are not, he says.

In the film (opens August 14, 2003 in Australia), a young 1970s Australian rock promoter, Rod Blue (Joel Edgerton) works hard to secure the act of his so far so-so career: Frank Sinatra (Dennis Hopper) is coming to Australia and will set him up with kudos and cash. But when Sinatra’s private plane lands in Sydney with ol’ blue eyes and his girlfriend Barbara Marx (Melanie Griffith), the waiting press manage to provoke an outburst in which he insults the media, which triggers a union black ban on the Sinatra entourage. Rod’s blues have just begun, as he and his new assistant – and possibly new girlfriend – Audrey (Rose Byrne) do everything they can to resolve the crisis, even persuading the national leader of the union movement, Bob Hawke (David Field) to help negotiate a solution. Tom Burlinson stands in as Sinatra’s singing voice, and the film is directed by Paul Goldman, produced by Emile Sherman, Nik Powell, Peter Clifton, from a screenplay by Peter Clifton and Michael Thomas.

“None of the characters were like the ones in the film … Barbara Marx was a classy lady,” says Pond. In the screenplay, Melanie Griffith gets to disparage her first husband Chico Marx as being lousy in bed, and then to boast about Sinatra being “110 pounds of you know what” to the promoter’s assistant/girlfriend, played by Rose Byrne.

Mickey Rudin, who according to Pond is “played like a little yes man in the film,” by David Hemmings, was in fact a wealthy, hot shot attorney, one of Hollywood’s greatest, with a client list that stretched from Marilyn Monroe to Liza Minelli and included Sinatra.

“a total fabrication”

“And his lifelong friend Rizzo wasn’t a heavy – he never thumped anyone,” says Pond, referring to the film’s portrayal of Sinatra’s bodyguard. As for the promoter, played in the film by Joel Edgerton, “it’s a total fabrication,” says Pond.

The Sinatra tour was in fact promoted by three men: the famous and successful promoter of many entertainers, Cyril Smith, a man called Danny Donovan and Robert Raymond, who some years later bought the film rights to Tom Keneally’s Schindler’s Ark, and sold them to Steven Spielberg, getting an associate producer credit on the film.

John Pond was in the room when, as the black ban put paid to most of the live concerts, Sinatra told the three despondent promoters, “Guys, stop worrying; you don’t have to pay me the full fee.” And it was John Pond who negotiated the historic live telecast of Sinatra’s final concert with Channel 9.

“Sinatra came up to me and asked whether a tv station would telecast his last show, if Equity agreed – because in those days, artists couldn’t tour here doing live shows AND televised concerts. Sinatra said he wanted to give a free tv show to make it up to all the fans who missed out.”

The telecast is in the film, but the tapes of the telecast concert were not whisked away by Sinatra’s man as the film has it, says Pond. “Those two inch tapes they used in the 70s were worth a lot of money, something like $500 or $1,000 each, and they were always re-used. That’s what I think happened to them, either accidentally or intentionally – or it may even have been in the contract with Sinatra to delete the concert. They certainly weren’t taken away.”

“it was too late to change the script”

It was also Pond who set up the meetings with then union boss, ACTU President and later Australian Prime Minister, Bob Hawke, which led to the resolution of the dispute, with a form of words that satisfied the hurt pride of the two-bit hookers in the media, the unions in general and Sinatra himself.

Considering all this – and more – John Pond is “a little bit pissed off, actually” at how the real story was ignored. “I thought they’d contact me earlier, but when the producer and director got hold of me and came over for a coffee, it was just a month before filming and they said ‘we wish we’d spoken to you a year ago!’ But it was too late to change the script. Anyway, it was a love story, they said, and the Sinatra story was secondary…the film’s target audience wouldn’t know who Sinatra was. But I don’t buy that – why then use the incident with him at all as the trigger?”

At the very least, says Pond, the film should have a big disclaimer “everywhere, saying it’s all made up. People who see it and don’t know the truth will believe it all, and it wasn’t like that. “Sinatra in my experience never raised his voice, he was always charming and everyone around him worshipped the ground he walked on.”

And how did Sinatra change John Pond’s life? “He was very appreciative of the help we had given him, and he invited me to fly back to the US with him in his private plane – which, incidentally wasn’t like the small corporate jet in the film. It was a big plane, and it was owned by the casino chain of Harrah’s.”

“Ol’ Blue Eyes Is Black”

Sinatra flew on to Monaco for his annual charity performance in front of the Monaco Royals, and Pond was feted by Harrah’s in Nevada. He was put up in a suite at Ceasar’s Palace, Sinatra’s performance home in Las Vegas, and “treated like a king”. A friend from Sydney joined him, and the two lads painted the town red, white and blue. Back in sometime later Sydney, Harrah’s called him up again and invited him over, and Pond soon ended up with the offer of running Harrah’s then planned Australian casino operations. He spent three years training for it, but the plan was shelved. Nevertheless, it set Pond on a new path in his life; in all, he spent 12 years in the casino business in America. (Prior to marketing at the Boulevard Hotel, he had been Head of Production in Australia for Columbia Pictures, and prior to that a producer at Channel 7.)

John Pond continues to link his professional experiences as a marketing consultant, a film and television lecturer – and the best informed man about Sinatra’s Australian tour; the tour that might have been called Ol’ Blue Eyes Is Black.

Published August 7, 2003

Frank Sinatra Siege Sydney Morning Herald5 Dec 2015

Frank Sinatra Down Under see Sydney Morning Herald 5 Dec 2015


The centenary of Frank Sinatra’s birth on December 12 is a time of recollection of his Australian connection: seven tours across 36 years, and enough broads, brawling and brilliance to guarantee posterity. Neil McMahon traces the history of Sinatra Down Under through the eyes of those who were there.

“We’ve been having a marvellous time being chased around the country for three days. I don’t care what you think about anybody, any press in the world – I say they’re bums … every one of them.”Frank Sinatra, July 1974.

All or nothing at all. There was rarely any in-between with Frank Sinatra and it was all there on stage that night in Melbourne, being perhaps the most Sinatra-like he would ever be, anywhere. Charming and churlish, scandalous in the moment and triumphant in the musical memory: knocking heads, calling journos hookers and bums, singing like a dream. It started something – our greatest showbiz scandal, no less – and looked like the end of something, too: the end of the road for Sinatra and Australia.

The fans were aghast. Ken Wolfe, a Frank loyalist since age 15 in 1943 when he first heard him on the radio, was in the audience. “After that,” says Wolfe, now 87, “I didn’t think we’d ever see him again.” A young Tom Burlinson, later to find post-Man from Snowy River success as a Frank-approved Sinatra vocal clone, was at the follow-up show in Sydney. “Well, what a lovely bunch of coconuts we have this week,” Sinatra said, a very Sinatra way of describing the ballyhoo that followed his “hookers” and “bums” remarks. The unions grounded him – in his hotel, at the airport – until he apologised. He refused, but a peace brokered by Bob Hawke allowed him to get home. “He swore he’d never come back,” Burlinson recalls.


Frank Sinatra. Photo: Gjon Mili/The LIFE Picture Collection

But he did, eventually. That famous fight was not the furious last goodbye. Indeed, it marked only the mid-point of an affair that had almost 20 years to run before it ended – in tears, of course. This was in keeping with the man. His love life was often impetuous, his furies impulsive, his messy adventures incongruous for a man emblematic of musical elegance. He made a career and a legend of it. So it was with Sinatra and Australia.

Local Sinatra oracle Paul Jennings, the comedian who in his spare time travelled the world watching Sinatra sing – 21 shows in all – says: “He just loved Australia, and the people, because they come out of themselves: ‘Good on you, Frank.’ ‘Hey Frankie, how ’bout singing Chicago?’ He loved the Australian people.”

The people loved him back.


  • Frank Sinatra arrives in Sydney with his daughter Nancy in January 1955. Photo: K. Redshaw

Ken Wolfe was an Australian rules umpire when he first saw Sinatra sing in 1955: “I can remember this bloke with a funny name, and when he sings all the girls go crazy.” Promoter Michael Chugg fell under his spell as a tyke in Tasmania, “when I was a couple of years old, I reckon”. Forty years later, Chugg would bring his hero out on his penultimate tour.

For Tom Burlinson, it began as a child, enchanted by the fellow pictured on his mother’s albums: “The man in the hat.” Decades later, Burlinson wrote a song called just that, a fan’s tribute that revealed a singing voice so eerie in its echo of the Sinatra tone that a teary Tina Sinatra hired Burlinson to re-create her father’s early hits for a TV mini-series.

The common thread: Sinatra is for life. Another common refrain: to note the influence he had beyond the affection he inspired. We can safely take musician Paul Kelly’s word for it as he waxes lyrical about the intensity of the connection. “His singing,” Kelly tells Good Weekend, “is still a deep mystery to me.”


  • At Melbourne airport, 1955. Photo: George Lipman

A deep mystery. With that, Kelly perhaps explains the loyalty of the bond and the endurance of our fascination – that even after all these years, we’re still trying to work Sinatra out. God knows, we spent enough time trying.


“Hello, and welcome to Melbourne, Frank Sinatra.”


In the limo in Sydney, 1961.

“Thank you, and I’m very happy to be here.”

Bob Horsfall can add this to the many feathers in his cap: the media man who did the first and possibly last relaxed and civil interview with Frank Sinatra in Australia. His first question: “Were your parents musical?” Sinatra: “Actually, no.” A pioneering showbiz reporter for Melbourne radio, Horsfall cottoned on quickly: if you asked Sinatra about the work rather than, say, the wives, he was putty in your hands. “He was bloody great. He was like we are now, just chatting. But keep away from asking a question about himself, he didn’t like it. But we talked about music all the time.”

For Horsfall, and many others, it was thrilling. This was Robert Menzies’ Australia: dull, isolated, insecure. Ken Wolfe recalls, “It was incredible just that he was here. In those days, nobody like that came.”


  • Ava Gardner in On the Beach.

Sinatra was then 39, in fine form on stage and friendly form off it. “We were great mates from the start,” says Horsfall, whose musical rapport had roots in his own talents as founder of the band the Tune Twisters, who would tour and play with Sinatra on his third tour, six years later. But in 1955, it was enough to meet and greet and see the man live. Ken Wolfe was at the first concert, too: West Melbourne Stadium, January 17, 1955. “Amazing. Frank Sinatra, here. He was like a god appearing before us. Just magnificent.”


“He walked me to the door and he kissed me on the cheek and when the press asked … I answered truthfully: that he kissed me goodnight. Boy, that was a mistake. It was, ‘Sinatra loves an Australian girl better than he loves Ava Gardner.’ I was 18. I was like, ‘What?’ Knocked off my feet.”Diana Trask


  • Frank Sinatra with Bob Horsfall in 1955. Photo: Courtesy of Bob Horsfall


Trask was the world’s least likely Sinatra siren.

A Melbourne-raised, convent-educated 18-year-old trying to launch a singing career, she was hired as a support act for Sinatra’s 1959 tour. And what a tour it was. For Trask, it was the turning point that set her on the path to international fame. For Sinatra, it was the best of times, and sometimes the worst. The purists reckon his April 1 show in Melbourne was perhaps the best he did – anywhere, ever. But the papers were concerned only about Ava.

Frank’s former wife but renewed paramour, screen goddess Gardner was filming On the Beach in Melbourne. It was no coincidence Sinatra was in Australia, too. He had booked dates for his second tour to keep her company off set.

The many legends attached to that visit could fill a book – and indeed have. The one that will never die: that Gardner called Melbourne a perfect place to make a film about the end of the world. She never said it (years later, film critic Neil Jillett confessed he’d made it up, though he insisted she surely felt something like it.) To many, and to the media, there were signs all was not well with the lovers. Bob Horsfall, by then a budding actor, was an On the Beach extra. “I think she was pissed a lot,” he says.

Diana Trask tells Good Weekend she sensed the demons that haunted Sinatra all his life were very present on that tour. “I know he was very depressed and he and Mr Jack Daniels knew each other quite well at that time. For me, it seemed he just wanted to submerge himself in his work. I dunno what pain he’d been through – but it helped the songs.”

In her memoirs, Gardner denied they were at war in Melbourne, but her front-row presence at his first concert seemed to fuel both sides of the story. He certainly didn’t sound low, romping through the show that has become part of Sinatra lore. Among the classics: The Lady Is a Tramp. Did he look Ava in the eye and sing a stinging version straight to her? Paul Jennings, at his first Sinatra show, says: “There’s a lot of stories that she got up and walked out. That’s wrong. I waited outside the front door to greet him on the way out. I said, ‘Good on you, Frank.’ He said, ‘Thank you’. At least I could always say that I talked with Frank Sinatra.”

Jennings watched as he got into the car for the short drive to Brunswick. Ava had gone ahead and was waiting for him at Mario’s restaurant. It was a Sinatra tour tradition – after good shows and bad, broken heart or no, a plate of spaghetti.

Frank Sinatra wouldn’t set foot in Melbourne again for 15 years.


“I got the world on a string. Sitting on a rainbow. Got the string around my finger.” Frank Sinatra, Sydney Stadium.


  • Frank Sinatra arrives in Sydney for his 1961 tour.

If ever there was a time to kick off with I’ve Got the World on a String, it was at the end of 1961 – a very good year indeed for Frank Sinatra, who arrived in Sydney in the final week of Robert Menzies’ fight to retain the Lodge. Menzies won by a single seat, entering his 13th year as prime minister, but it was a close call deciding who was the most powerful man in Australia that December. This was the Sinatra of political as well as musical history books.

He’d begun the year on a far more glamorous stage, taking his place at the seat of world power as organiser of JFK’s inauguration gala in January. No surprise, then, that when Sinatra founded his own record label, Reprise, a month later, the “Chairman of the Board” nickname stuck – for good.

But in Sydney there were no Chairman of the Board antics, just four stellar shows and the thrill of a lifetime for the young players in Bob Horsfall’s Tune Twisters. To this day, Horsfall struggles to reconcile the temper-prone Sinatra of legend with the man who took “the kids” under his wing.

“He was extremely good with the kids – he always called us the kids because we started so bloody young,” Horsfall recalls. “He said, ‘What are the kids doing after the show?’ And I said, ‘Back to the hotel, I s’pose.’ He said, ‘No you won’t. There’s a party back in Double Bay.’ So we went. He walks across the dance floor, sits down with us and stays with us all night.”

There was no Ava this time, just the most powerful entertainer in the world swapping the White House for the back booth at a Sydney nightclub. “He was killing them that tour. They were calling out, ‘Encore, encore’. He walks past me, and he says, ‘Bobby, it’s sure great when you win.’ ”


“The car was new, it was Italian, it was a super car. I had special plates made: FS. Mr Sinatra saw the car and he and Barbara got in the back seat and I drove off to Festival Hall. That’s when the fun started.”Frank Sinatra’s Melbourne driver, Tony Stephens.


  • Sinatra on his way to rehearsal at Melbourne’s Festival Hall on the ill-fated 1974 tour. Photo: Geoff Ampt


Stephens is rolling his eyes when he calls it fun. “The disaster” is his preferred way to describe the storm the morning after Sinatra’s on-stage attack on the press, including the most notorious line: “The women who work in the press are the hookers of the press. I might offer them a buck and a half, I’m not sure.”

BOOM. Well, boom went the Biros of the reporters covering the concert, anyway. They’d been literally on his heels all afternoon, with raw TV footage, since salvaged and posted on YouTube, showing obnoxious harassment. Stephens, driving the car being chased in that vision, was appalled – and the first witness to Sinatra’s simmering anger. “What the hell is going on here?” the singer barked from the back seat. Stephens planted his foot, surviving the dicey drive to Festival Hall only to find there was no plan to get Sinatra safely inside.

“The press scrum was there big time and there was absolutely no security, not one person – no wonder the man was frustrated,” Stephens recalls. Cameras captured the agitated superstar scurrying to find a stage door, a TV reporter in pursuit: “Can we speak to you, Mr Sinatra.”

Sinatra: “No, ma’am.”

If only he’d left it at “No, ma’am”. Instead, still furious on stage that night, he used “hookers”. In the crowd, reporter Rex Lopez got it all down and filed for The Sun News-Pictorial. “SINATRA ON THE ATTACK,” the paper declared. Everyone was stunned – even people who’d been right there on stage the night before. Sinatra’s Australian trombonist Ed Wilson heard Sinatra say it, but as he tells Good Weekend: “We never went, ‘Aw, gee, what’s he done?’ It was just a throwaway line. We never thought anything of it till the next day, when the shit hit the fan.”

Paul Jennings was in the audience. “Everyone laughed. Then all hell broke loose.”

There is much to savour in all that happened next: union leaders primly demanding an apology to “Australian womanhood”; Bob Hawke, at that time the head of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, urging another of history’s greatest egos that humility was in order; Sinatra managing to escape Melbourne, only to find the siege had moved to Sydney, where his concerts were cancelled; John Pond, the marketing boss at Sydney’s Boulevard Hotel, going to the very top for help to get his guest out of the country. But Gough Whitlam didn’t want a bar of it. “Gough said, ‘John, there’s not much I can do. There’s really only one man who can help you and that’s Bob Hawke.'”

So Hawke came, cajoled and emerged the conciliating hero. Sinatra didn’t actually say sorry; “regret” was as much as his lawyer would allow. As a gesture, however, he did a Sydney concert for those fans who’d missed out. And then he was gone.

“A funny thing happened in Australia,” he later told an audience in New York. “I made a mistake and got off the plane.”

That, it appeared, was that.


“I had been Sinatra’s No. 1 fan almost my entire life. If he actually turned up, and the press was already predicting that he wouldn’t, I might get a few words out of him. He hadn’t said anything to anybody for so long that if he told me to go away it would count as a scoop.”Clive James.

James got his scoop, and Australia got Frank back. And my, how we carried on. The media, on Sinatra Watch before he arrived, fed the theory that after his last disgrace, he might not show. And if he did, why was he coming like this: paid $1 million by controversial property developer Mike Gore, he of the white-shoe brigade and much else that was tacky about the 1980s, to sing at the opening of Sanctuary Cove? The media fretted over an apology for 1974. They didn’t get it. He flew in, sang for an hour, and left again, though he did spare five minutes for James, who wrote in his memoirs, “It would have been easier to approach Colonel Gaddafi.”

The two men sat cheek-by-jowl in the dressing room, and James opened by dissing the local press on Frank’s behalf. “I don’t see why you should forgive and forget,” James advised. Sinatra: “Oh, I don’t know. I think, 24 hours later it’s all over. It’s just gone in 24 hours.” Wisely, James left it at that and moved on to music: “Do you still love to sing?” Sinatra was happily off and running. As Bob Horsfall had learnt 30 years earlier, that was the way to get Frank talking: stick to the work and he was a pussycat.


“Who knows what Frank liked in the end. But you don’t come back that many times if you don’t like the place”concert promoter Michael Chugg.


  • Sinatra on stage in Sydney with Sammy Davis jnr and Liza Minnelli. Photo: Getty Images

Modesty was pointless by this time in Sinatra’s life, and with Liza Minnelli and Sammy Davis jnr on the same bill, the name of this tour – The Ultimate Event – was not entirely out of place. The highest-priced tickets in Australian concert history added lustre to the occasion; Chugg realised he could have charged $1000 for front-row seats and still sold out. So far, so good. And Chugg was determined to have a scandal-free tour, code for “Remember 1974”. “A C-grade promoter f…ed that up,” says Chugg.

That 1989 was going to be very different was clear on the night Sinatra landed in Sydney, when – as with a visiting monarch – traffic had been stopped and the lights cleared for a non-stop drive to the InterContinental Hotel, accompanied by two police outriders. “I’d never seen that before,” says Chugg.

Australia was a more worldly place. We’d grown up. And Sinatra? He was, effortlessly, still Sinatra. “Grumpy old prick,” was Chugg’s assessment in his memoirs, but he is kinder today. “Sure he was grumpy, but he delivered – that’s for sure.” The one near-disaster was a Sinatra explosion over a review handing stage honours to Davis: “Sammy steals the show”. Miffed, Frank threatened to quit the tour. Chugg told Sinatra to go to bed – there were no planes at that late hour anyway. It had blown over by morning, and the tour continued.

Other Chugg memories are sweeter. When Barbara, Sinatra’s fourth wife, wanted to see a kangaroo, she didn’t go to the zoo; the kangaroo came to the hotel. Zoos were for mortals and Sinatra lived on some other plane by then – except on stage, where he sometimes looked all too human, with both his voice and memory showing wear.

On stage, Minnelli and Davis treated him with a blend of deference and hints of concern. If he lost his way, they were going to save him. You felt they, like the crowd, were willing him to keep the fire burning just a little longer. He did. Chugg had his triumph, courtesy of his childhood musical hero. Nothing before or since compares. “It was once in a lifetime,” he says. “The only other performers who would mean as much would be Elvis and the Beatles.”

It’s a handy comparison. Elvis never set foot here, the Beatles just once. As he approached 74, Sinatra had done it six times, a remarkable Australian record for a singer of his stature and era. But was it the end?

No, but it was near. He came back for one final curtain.

03|91: GOODBYE

“Sinatra came along as I became more aware of my singing, trying to get better at it. It struck me that anyone wanting to get serious about their singing needs to study him.” Paul Kelly.


  • The final concert at Melbourne’s National Tennis Centre. Photo: Neil Newitt

The final Australian show was in Melbourne on March 6, 1991. It was declared an occasion, his band joined by the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra with his son, Frank jnr, conducting. The ABC broadcast it as The Final Concert. The performance only confirmed that this was wise.

Trevor Jones was playing in the MSO that night. A fan, he was awestruck. “You could tell he was ailing. But the artistry was there – all his classic phrasing and breath control and all of those amazing skills. There was an aura about him that was quite overpowering.”

He opened with I’ve Got the World on a String and closed, inevitably, with My Way: “Regrets, I’ve had a few.” He sure had, some of them right here, but none of it mattered by then. The fans – by now spanning three or four generations – had come for the moment. Sinatra could have come out and read the phone book. He did his best with what he had, basked in the applause, and took his leave. Strolling off, no need for encores, he was gone, an old master departing stage right, fading from sight like a dimming light.

And that was definitely that. He died seven years later, at 82, as mysterious and confounding in death as he was in life. To repeat Paul Kelly: “His singing is still a deep mystery to me.” Kelly has listened to a lot of Sinatra, trying to work it out. “He sings with a beautiful, long, relaxed breath, influenced by what instruments – strings and horns – do. But at the same time he manages to sound like he’s talking to you. Though every word is precisely articulated, he still sounds conversational. As if it’s only you he’s talking to. It’s this combination of great technical artistry with plain speaking that’s so powerful. His singing sounds so effortless. But try singing like him and you realise how hard it is.”

Hard it is, turning storytelling into an art form. And hard it is, making art from your life to tell your own story, but Sinatra did that, too, taking the world along for the ride. In Australia, we were luckier than most. We saw him turning the pages right in front of our eyes, had an ear to the tale until the very last chapter.

On his 100th birthday on December 12, many will raise a glass to those memories. A toast: thanks for coming, Chairman, and cheers on the ton.

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The young guns may not understand the meaning of this, but you should!
THE END OF AN ERA…….The Roy Rogers Museum in Branson, MO has closed its doors forever. The contents of the museum were sold at a public auction. Roy Rogers told his son, if the museum ever operates at a loss, close it, and sell the contents. He complied.


The young guns may not understand the meaning of this, but you should!
THE END OF AN ERA…….The Roy Rogers Museum in Branson, MO has closed its doors forever. The contents of the museum were sold at a public auction. Roy Rogers told his son, if the museum ever operates at a loss, close it, and sell the contents. He complied.

Note the follow-on article truly the end of an era. Here is a partial listing of some of the items that were sold at auction… Roy’s 1964 Bonneville sold for $254,500. It was estimated to sell between 100 and 150 thousand dollars.

His script book from the January 14,1953 episode of This Is Your Life sold for $10,000 (EST. $800-$1,000).

A collection of signed baseballs (Pete Rose, Duke Snyder, and other greats) sold for $3,750.

A collection of signed bats (Yogi Berra, Enos Slaughter, Bob Feller, and others) sold for $2,750.


Trigger ‘s saddle and bridle sold for $386,500 (EST. 100-150 K).
One set of boot spurs sold for $10,625.
(He never used a set of spurs on Trigger).

A life size shooting gallery sold for $27,500.
Roy’s first Boots


A signed photograph by Don Larsen taken during his perfect game in the world series against the Dodgers
On Oct. 8, 1953, along with a signed baseball to Roy from Don, sold for $2,500.
image005Two fabulous limited edition BB guns in their original boxes with Numerous photos of Roy, Dale, Gabby, and Pat sold for $3,750.

A collection of memorabilia from his shows entertaining the troops in Vietnam sold for $938.

His flight jacket sold for $7,500.
His set of dinnerware plates and silverware sold for $11,875.

The Bible they used at the dinner table every night sold for $8,750.

One of several of his guitars sold for $27,500.

Untitled attachment 000407Nellybelle sold for $116,500.

A fabulous painting of Roy, Dale, Pat, Buttermilk, Trigger, and Bullet sold for $10,625.

One of several sets of movie posters sold for $18,750.

A black and white photograph of Gene Autry with a touching inscription From Gene to Roy sold for $17,500.

A Republic Productions Poster bearing many autographs of the People that played in Roy’s movies sold for $11,875.

Untitled attachment 000469Dale’s horse, Buttermilk (whose history is very interesting) sold below the presale estimate for $25,000. (EST. 30-40 K).

Bullet sold for $35,000 (EST. 10-15 K). He was their real pet.

Dale’s parade saddle, estimated to sell between 20-30 K, sold for $104,500.

One of many pairs of Roy’s boots sold for $21,250.

Trigger sold for $266,500.
Do you remember the 1938 movie The Adventures of Robin hood, With Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland?  Well, Olivia rode Trigger in that movie.

Trigger was bred on a farm co-owned by Bing Crosby. Roy bought Trigger on a time payment plan for $2,500.

Roy and Trigger made 188 movies together.

Untitled attachment 0004910Trigger even outdid Bob Hope by winning an Oscar in the movie Son of Paleface in 1953.

It is extremely sad to see this era lost forever. Despite the fact that Gene and Roy’s movies, as well as those of other great characters, can be bought or rented for viewing, today’s kids would rather spend their time playing video games.

Today it takes a very special pair of parents to raise their kids with the right values and morals.

These were the great heroes of our childhood, and they did teach us right from wrong, and how to have and show respect for each other and the animals that share this earth.

You and I were born at the right time.

We were able to grow up with these great people even if we never met them.

Untitled attachment 0005211In their own way they taught us patriotism and honour. We learned that lying and cheating were bad, and that sex wasn’t as important as love.

We learned how to suffer through disappointment and failure and work through it.

Our lives were drug free. So it’s good-bye to Roy and Dale, Gene and Hoppy, the Lone Ranger, and Tonto.

Farewell to Sky King and Superman and Sgt. Friday. Thanks to Capt. Kangaroo, Mr. Rogers, and Capt. Noah and all those people whose lives touched ours, and made them better.
It was a great ride through childhood.


Not to be read by anyone under 50… as they won’t understand or care!

John Pond Travel Camera 2 Oct 2015 – Carnival

John Pond Travel Camera  Spectator Group 2 Oct 2015

Ann Sherry and Diamond Princess Chef Nilo Palma

Carnival Australia Record Summer Cruise Season

The country’s largest cruise operator Carnival Australia has launched Australia’s biggest ever summer cruise season, with the Sydney arrival of Princess Cruises’ Diamond Princess today.

Over the coming months, Carnival Australia will have an unprecedented 22 ships from its seven cruise lines sailing in local waters, including more than 170 calls to Australia’s cruising gateway, Sydney. Speaking at Circular Quay this week, Carnival Australia CEO Ann Sherry said the ships represented nearly a quarter of Carnival Corporation’s worldwide fleet.

Diamond PrincessBetween them, the 22 ships will carry more than 530,000 cruisers – more than the population of Tasmania – over the summer period. In total the ships will make 538 turnaround and transit calls to Australian ports from today through to the end of April 2016 – 21 per cent more than in 2014-15 – adding significantly to the industry’s estimated $4 billion economic contribution.

“In 2005-2006, we heralded a bumper cruise season with 10 ships from across our fleets sailing locally and making 141 calls to Australian ports. A decade on the number of ships has more than doubled and the number of local calls has more than tripled.”

The 22 ships sailing in Australian waters represents a 10 per cent increase on last year’s summer season and includes P&O Cruises’ latest ships, Pacific Aria and Pacific Eden, which will join the cruise line’s existing three ships in November; six Princess Cruises’ ships, including Golden Princess on its maiden Australian deployment, and two Carnival Cruise Line ships.

Meanwhile, three Holland America Line ships will sail here over summer including Noordam on its maiden visit, along with world voyage visits by all three Cunard Queens, two ships from P&O Cruises World Cruising and one Seabourn vessel.

Ms Sherry said one of the standout features of cruise season was the vast quantities of Australian primary produce that Carnival Australia’s brands purchase including around 1.5 million kilograms of beef annually. “The huge quantities we purchase in a typical year making the local agriculture sector one of the big winners from cruising,” Ms Sherry said. 

Celebrity Solstice  - Eugene Tan 150Celebrity Solstice Here Soon  In just a few weeks time “Australia’s Best Cruise Ship 2015”, Celebrity Solstice, will sail into Sydney Harbour to start her summer season. She brings with her a modern, premium luxury cruise experience, Australia’s only Lawn Club at sea and cuisine, design and service that will add a little something extra to your cruise holiday.

Celebrity Airs Rugby World Cup  Rugby Union fans rejoice! Celebrity Cruises has announced it will air the next six weeks of the Rugby World Cup across its fleet worldwide, so fans won’t miss a second of all the action live from England. As teams battle it out for the William Webb Ellis Cup, Australian passengers will have the opportunity to enjoy the highly anticipated preliminary finals, semi-finals and grand final onboard Celebrity Solstice, famous for her half-acre of lawn, as she makes her way to Australia from Honolulu and kicks off her local cruise season on October 21, 2015.

Scenic Aura_SuiteScenic Launches River Brochure  Scenic has launched its first South East Asia River Cruising brochure which features its full collection of Mekong and Irrawaddy river cruises including a number of new Enrich experiences and Freechoice activities, three new extensions in Vietnam plus a new tour for 2017.

The 2016/2017 program signals the inaugural sailing season for Scenic Spirit which will launch on the Mekong in January 2016 – travelling over eight days between Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) and Siem Reap, and Scenic Aura; launching in September 2016 on the Irrawaddy and travelling over 11 days between the cities of Mandalay and Pyay.

Both ships provide a boutique and intimate environment with all balcony suites – 34 suites on Scenic Spirit and 22 suites on Scenic Aura. All suites feature separate bedroom, living room and balcony and range in size from Scenic Aura’s 24sqm Balcony Suite complete with Scenic Sun Lounge up to Scenic Spirit’s impressive 80sqm Royal Panorama Suite which is the largest suite on the Mekong. Scenic Spirit and Scenic Aura also boast a choice of dining venues from a la carte to casual dining, a resort style pool deck and bar area, spacious bar and lounge, Sun Deck with open air cinema, complimentary beverages, butler service for all guests plus a guest laundry. With an almost 1:1 guest­-to-­staff ratio, these ships bring an unprecedented level of luxury to the region. The program sees the launch of a number of new Freechoice activities including a Red Bridge cooking class in Hoi An; a cycle journey around Hanoi’s West Lake; art tour of Saigon; and tour of Dong Ha Hiep Island by sampan. In 2017, guests can also enjoy new Enrich events in Siem Reap including themed gala dinner and Apsara dance performance, and a tethered balloon ride over Angor Wat at sunrise.

P&O New Restaurants  P&O Cruises has unveiled the menus for its two new restaurants, Angelo’s and Dragon Lady, which will add an international flavour to its latest ships, Pacific Aria and Pacific Eden, when they join the cruise line’s fleet in November.

Dragon Lady Restaurant onboard Pacific Aria and Pacific Eden- email

With their Italian and pan-Asian offerings, the two new dining options will bring a relaxed sophistication to the contemporary cuisine served onboard the ships, which have been heralded as game changers for the local cruise industry.

All offers subject to availability. Terms and conditions may apply. Not responsible for errors or omissions.

PHOTOS: Ann Sherry Carnival CEO, Diamond Princess, Celebrity Solstice, Scenic Aura Suite, P&O New Restaurants


LUXPERIENCE Final Day 9 Sept 2015





John Pond Travel Camera 11 Sept. 2015


AZAMARA _Atrium1AZAMAZING APP!  Azamara Club Cruises launches its App boasting a cruise industry first by featuring a series of 360-degree virtual reality video experiences.  The video series, known as Azamara 3di and featured on the dedicated website, uses virtual reality technology to help immerse future guests in what it’s like to be onboard Azamara Journey via ship tours and to experience destination excursions in South and Central Ame rican ports of call.

From touring the onboard amenities of Azamara Journey or escaping to destinations like Costa Rica for zip lining or Cartagena, Colombia for a midnight carriage ride, the new Azamara App helps guests get a flavour of what the line offers. Known for its destination immersive experiences, ensuring guests have longer stays in port, more overnights and night touring on all voyages, Azamara developed its Azamara 3di programming to help guests be as close to “being there” as possible. “We didn’t want to launch an App just to have an App.  When perfecting our first App, providing this sensory journey was not negotiable,” says Larry Pimentel, President and CEO of Azamara Club Cruises. “As we continue to redefine the luxury cruise experience for the next generation, we need to reach them in meaningful ways and provide information to them where they are looking for it.  Having an App is important, but more important is the content it provides.” For further information visit,

Murray Princess & Cliffs

Murray River Loxton Cruise  Captain Cook Cruises has announced the dates for its popular seven nights Loxton to Mannum cruises onboard the small ship paddle-wheeler, PS Murray Princess.

The Loxton to Mannum cruise will depart Loxton at 4.30pm on Friday 4 December and disembark in Mannum at 9am on Friday 11 December, 2015. This historic 339km voyage between Loxton to Mannum, South Australia only operates every two years and follows in the wake of great 19th century pioneers on a unique journey through three Locks.

The Loxton cruise visits Katarapko, Cobdogla Creek, Overland Corner, Old Distillery, Morgan, Sunnydale and Piggy Flat/Coolcha for overnight stops with shore excursions along the way.

There’s a food and wine trail that enables tastings at a rustic cellar door and an Aussie-style campfire barbecue dinner to be enjoyed on the river bank. The seven night Loxton to Mannum cruise is priced from $1888 per person twin share including accommodation, all meals, guided nature walks, eco-excursions, onboard presentations, the Captain’s Dinner and Cocktail Party, live entertainment, use of ship’s facilities including a sauna, spa, sun deck, bar, two lounges, restaurant and mini gymnasium and complimentary scenic coach transfers pre cruise from Adelaide to Loxton and post cruise Mannum to Adelaide. For further information visit

QM2 email.jpg

QM2 from Sydney & Melbourne  Cunard has announced its majestic flagship Queen Mary 2 will sail on two historic cruises from Sydney and Melbourne in 2017, giving Australians an opportunity to experience the liner’s legendary style as she makes her maiden visits to Tasmania and South Australia’s Kangaroo Island.

Releasing details of its latest world voyage program, Cunard revealed that Queen Victoria will also make history in 2017, claiming the title of the largest ship ever to sail on the mighty Amazon River, with a five-night cruise on the famous waterway as part of her global circumnavigation.

Cunard’s trio of Queens will all visit Australia during their 2017 world cruises, with Queen Mary 2 set to embark on two regional jaunts in Australian waters.


The Ultimate Greek Island Adventure  Peter Sommer Travels is offering the ultimate island-hopping adventure in Greece next year – a two-week cruise among some of the most spectacular isles and ancient sites of the Aegean Sea.

Cruising to the Cyclades departs April 30, 2016, and travels aboard a magnificent wooden yacht to world-renowned destinations like Santorini as well as hidden treasures like remote Astypalaia and tiny Anafi. Hosted by archaeologists and historians Heinrich Hall and Anthi Dipla, the itinerary combines a fascinating historical insight with an opportunity to relax amid the clear turquoise waters and stunning island scenery of the Dodecanese and Cyclades archipelagos. Travelling with no more than 18 guests, the expedition avoids the crowded tourist trails to explore secluded coves and unspoilt locations as well as the picturesque and historic harbours, while at the same time enjoying superb traditional food and wine served onboard by a private chef.

It includes more than a dozen islands in all, with archaeological sites ranging from Bronze Age cities to classical temples, Roman towns, Byzantine monasteries and crusader castles. Cruising to the Cyclades (April 30 to May 14, 2016) departs from the Turkish port of Bodrum and is priced from £3775 per person (approx A$8180) including all transport, accommodation, most meals, crew and guide services, and all entrance fees and tips on excursions (airfares additional). Contact Peter Sommer Travels in the UK on 0011 44 1600 888 220, email or visit

Hydro Majestic 01Raise a Stein for Oktoberfest  At the original Blue Mountains party palace, the Hydro Majestic Hotel, for Oktoberfest and dip into an often overlooked part of the history of one of the world’s most famous hotels. The inaugural festival celebrating the golden draft will be held at the Hydro Majestic at Medlow Bath in the Blue Mountains on the October 3 and 4 weekend.

All offers subject to availability. Terms and conditions may apply. Not responsible for errors or omissions.





I had the great pleasure of getting to know the great Frank Sinatra very well. We met during his “infamous” 1974 tour of Australia when he was declared “black” by the unions. I negotiated on his behalf with the then head of the ACTU, Bob Hawke and the rest is history. They even made a feature film on the incident that was based more on fantasy than fact!

Screen Shot 2015-06-04 at 1.17.07 PM

I had the great pleasure of getting to know the great Frank Sinatra very well. We met during his “infamous” 1974 tour of Australia when he was declared “black” by the unions. I negotiated on his behalf with the then head of the ACTU, Bob Hawke and the rest is history. They even made a feature film on the incident that was based more on fantasy than fact!

JP Har. Jet American Samoa 1974Mr Sinatra took me to the United States on his private jet as a thank you. I finished up staying over ten years and we became good friends.

Now we celebrate his birth,100 years ago.

If you are a Sinatra – Big Band fan, don’t miss The Tommy Dorsey Orchestra direct from the USA, the band that made Frank Sinatra a star, in their first trip ever to Australia, will be performing at venues throughout Australia.

*TDO_140712_003The concert under Music Director Terry Myers features one of America’s finest singers from the Frank Sinatra Songbook, Bryan Anthony along with 20 musicians, singers and dancers performing all The Tommy Dorsey Orchestra’s Hits and more, a sentimental journey down memory lane.

*TDO - Music Director TERRY MYERSOn seeing the Tommy Dorsey band in 1937 it’s a known fact that Frank Sinatra told his wife Nancy” “See the singer guy? One day I’ll be sitting where he’s sitting”. It is widely accepted that Frank Sinatra learned a lot from Tommy Dorsey, especially the technique of breathing. Another thing Frank Sinatra learned from Tommy Dorsey was focusing on the words. Both Sinatra and Dorsey went on to record lots of beautiful songs like “The Sky Fell Down”, “Too Romantic”, “I’ll Be Seeing You”, “Polka Dots And Moonbeams”, “Fools Rush In”, “I’ll Never Smile Again”, “I’m Getting Sentimental Over You”, “Stardust”, “Oh Look At Me Now”, “Without A Song” and many more. Frank Sinatra made 80 recordings from 1940 to 1942. Frank Sinatra’s career blossomed with Tommy Dorsey, and with Sinatra’s vocals, the band became more successful than ever.

Not to be missed by Frank Sinatra lovers, or anyone who appreciates the great music of the Big Bands.  Saturday 12th September, 2015 – STATE THEATRE, SYDNEY – Bookings: Ticketmaster 1300 139 588 and at other locations throughout Australia.


When I was a teenager, Glenn Miller music was all the go at the many dances I frequented, so I’m glad to see the music still lives on. If you love the music of the 40s, this is a must see.

The Glenn Miller Orchestra-00045 October 11, 2012_-2

When I was a teenager, Glenn Miller music was all the go at the many dances I frequented, so I’m glad to see the music still lives on. If you love the music of the 40s, this is a must see.

The World famous Glenn Miller Orchestra features 25 Musicians, Singers and Dancers – a  presentation that highlights the great ‘Big Band’ hits, the original Glenn Miller arrangements, the music of The Andrews Sisters, Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra and the romantic World War II melodies made famous by Vera Lynn – music which captivated millions of people worldwide- are all brought together on stage in a nostalgic concert spectacular.

The Glenn Miller musical arrangements are unique; even after 78 years, they are still heard worldwide; timeless icons of American culture such as Chattanooga Choo-Choo, In the Mood, Tuxedo Junction, A String of Pearls, Moonlight Serenade, Little Brown Jug and Pennsylvania 6- 5000….music hits which captivated millions of people. “The Glenn Miller Orchestra is a colourful and flamboyant evening filled with fun and nostalgia of the 30s and 40s. Our unique jazz sound is sought all around the world and in addition to recreating the golden era of swing, we bring to life the colour, costumes and spirit. Having travelled across the globe, The Glenn Miller Orchestra is delighted to be bringing iconic tunes such as In The Mood and Moonlight Serenade to Australia and salute the Centenary of the ANZAC”, said Musical Director Rick Gerber.



Saturday 20th June – STATE THEATRE, SYDNEY



Saturday 27th June – CANBERRA THEATRE