Marie Pietersz

Another first for Camberwell’s coffee roaster and cafe ‘1961 Street’

By Marie Pietersz

CoffeeHead, popular coffee roaster and cafe, has added another dimension to the already multicultural dining feast available for eating out in Camberwell, Victoria’s beautiful inner-east suburb – Street Food cuisine from around the world – now available here in the City of Boroondara, and all under the one roof.

CoffeeHead has opened for breakfast and lunch for the past six years. Now a new liquor licensee, it is offering Camberwell and surrounding suburbs something different in the evenings. With a clientele of office workers looking for some ‘time out’ on a lazy Friday evening and a place to whet their whistle and appetite and still have change in their pockets, owners Shiroma and Ash Nathan are offering ‘Around the World in Street Food’ themed dining in addition to their already popular Friday night Happy Hour.

Read More →

The Race that Stops the Nation – will you be there?

Story and pictures by Marie Pietersz

Marie Pietersz



The Melbourne Cup – The Race!

The Melbourne Cup – The Race!

Melbourne Cup Grand Stand

Melbourne Cup jockeys

Melbourne Cup mounting yard

Melbourne Cup the big screen

The AFL and NRL finals have been played and won and our distracted sporting minds now turn to the next activity on the social calendar, the Spring Racing Carnival. We drag our attention away from the fierce barracking for our favourite teams and players to following the best horses vying for a place in the unmissable event, the world famous Melbourne Cup, run on the second Tuesday of November each year.

Punter or not, you will be affected by the excitement of it all and no doubt have a a bet on the day, based on form, a tip, a name, a number, a jockey, a trainer, whatever reason you have for wanting to pick a horse to win. Then, for a few minutes in the afternoon of 7th November 2017, as the world looks on, some 100,000 people will watch live the running of 24 or so of the best Australian and international stayers in a race run over 3,200 metres for the biggest prize money in Australian sport, the A$6.2 million Emirates Melbourne Cup, the winner claiming a 18ct solid gold trophy valued at A$175,000.

Most of the rest of us who don’t make it to the track will find a way of celebrating this holiday our own way, attending back yard parties or club luncheons to have a flutter on a sweep and enter the race day dress competitions. But when the 7th race is run, for three-and-a-half minutes, the country will grind to a halt. Some may dare not to watch it, but they will dare not turn away. As long as there is an audio or visual device, be it a smart phone, tablet, computer, radio, or, television, I dare say everybody will stop whatever they are doing, wherever they are, to watch this iconic race and history in the making.

For those of you who have never been to Flemington, take your house parties to the races this year and join in the explosion of colour, action, excitement and celebration which is all part of the Melbourne Cup – smell the roses, walk (or sit) on the hallowed turf, watch the bands, spot the celebrities, be amused at the outrageous dressing or be wowed by the fashions on the field. There is nothing like hearing the thunder of the hooves as the stayers race past the winning post, and then the erupting of the cheer as it goes up and can be heard for miles around. The unique sights and sounds will stay with you for ever.

Get rid of your race anxieties – don’t blame the transport, the costs, the time or the clothes for not going there. What once upon a time may have been problems preventing you from being track side, now isn’t – they are just myths which can be dispelled.

On race day, most all roads lead to Flemington and public transport services provide seamless travel. Train commuters will be able to get off at the track, or you can travel by car, limousine, charter, taxi, bus, helicopter, boat or cruise ship and arrive at the race course. The entrance cost is more reasonable than you expect and the rest of the spend is your choice, whether you bet a little or bet a lot or bet nothing at all. You don’t need to get frocked up either – outrageous is ‘in’ and your choice of dress is all part of fashions on the field. Food and drink are in plentiful. International chefs will turn out their delicacies if you are lucky enough to be in one of the corporate tents or birdcages, but, hey, there is plenty of hunger and thirst quenchers to be bought around the track if you feel like leaving your picnic baskets at home.

A day on the track at this iconic event is a unique chance to watch history in the making. There is something about being part of the action as it unfolds and join the champagne drinking, hors d’ueuvre nibbling, head turning, fist thumping, nail biting, seat gripping, cheer raising crowd and making new memories with family and friends . Some people have it on their bucket list to do, and you have it right here in Melbourne. Get to Flemington, it’s easy and it’s a ‘must do sometime’ thing, so just do it. Life – be active!

Read More →

Sri Lanka and India take out main titles in first-ever Miss South Asia Australia Pageant

Marie Pietersz

Sri Lanka and India take out main titles in first-ever Miss South Asia Australia Pageant
24 September 2017
Marie Pietersz

A dazzling spectacle of couture and beauty vied for prominence at the first ever crowning of Miss, Mr, Ms and Mrs South Asia Australia at the Box Hill Town Hall, in Victoria. The National outfits worn by contestants from the countries of Sri Lanka, India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nepal represented a colourful fusion of traditions. The theme for the Sri Lankan designs was red and gold, by designer house, Savish.

Miss Rita Kukreja representing India took out the prestigious title of Miss South Asia Australia 2017 from other outstanding contestants at this inaugural ceremony. Mr South Asia Australia 2017 was won by Mr Vaibhav Sharma, representing India. The Sri Lankan winners took out the other two main titles – Mrs Gihani Gunaratne Coenraed crowned Mrs South Asia Australia 2017 and Ms Archana Kandasamy crowned Ms South Asia Australia 2017.

Through pageants such as this, Managing Director Dilkie Perera has kept pushing to extend the platform she provides for young adults to showcase their South Asian heritage in a multicultural Australia and have a voice for community issues. This year the pageant supported raising awareness of domestic violence.

“First the Miss Sri Lanka Australia Pageant, which has been running consecutively for four years, and now the Miss South Asia Australia Pageant brings this platform for young ambassadors to fruition,” said Dilkie.
Proceedings commenced with the traditional lighting of the oil lamp by dignitaries and community leaders from all participating countries. Many local community leaders, supporters of the pageant, were also present and included the wife of the Consul-General for Sri Lanka in Melbourne, Mrs Nirosha Prasanna, Vice-President of the Ethnic Communities Council of Victoria, Marion Law, and Liz Beattie, former Member of Parliament.
The Bangladeshi Community leader, Mustafa Yousef’s advice to contestants was that the biggest and longest journeys start with a single step and he therefore wished contestants starting for the first time good luck for a tremendous future.
Mr Bandu Dissanayake, Chairman of SAPAC, endorsed the event as one in which youth could showcase their talent and get involved in community events while enhancing their image and confidence and integrating into the Australian mainstream society.
“It is a very impressive endeavour and I would like to see it go from strength to strength,” Mr Dissanayake said.
Designers didn’t disappoint with their attention to detail in dressing participants in elaborate traditional, contemporary formal and casual wear for the three judging categories. Participants took to the runway to introduce designer showstoppers by Sav Perera-Jainudeen (Savish Bridal Collection) for Sri Lanka, Sonalika Pradhan (Vitamin by Sonalika) for India, Usha Karki (A to Z boutique) for Nepal and Nowrin Jalil for Bangladesh.

The prestigious panel of international and interstate Judges for the event comprised:
Bollywood actor – Vishwajeet Pradhan (Head Judge)
Director – Ms/Mrs Globe Australia Pageant in Victoria, Kylie Tee
Director – Miss/Mr/Mrs India Australia Pageant in NSW, Reena Koak
Director – Miss/Mr Nepal Oceania Pageant in NSW, Sunita Limbu
Director – Miss/Mr/Mrs/Teen Mr/Teen Miss Sri Lanka Australia Pageant in Victoria, Sav Perera-Jainudeen
International Runway Model, Emily Thomas.
The young contestants were not only a feast for the eyes, but a feast for the ears, as they wowed guests not only with their professional achievements but declarations of their passion for creativity and involvement in community causes.
In the Question and Answer judging category, contestants spoke about their strong views on domestic violence, why it is most prevalent in South Asian countries, how education can help with raising awareness and ways of helping victims of this previously private, but now public, social problem.
Dr Majula O’Connor, activist and Executive Director of the Australasian Centre for Human Rights and Health, provided an overview of domestic violence statistics and said how impressed she was with responses given by the contestants to the questions they were asked on the subject.
Regular singer at the pageant, Malith Perera (Mr Sri Lanka Australia 2014), entertained with a rendition of his own composition title, Venus, and Purple Rain (a Prince tribute).
A fitting finale was the crowning ceremony of the 2017 and first ever winners of each category and South Asian country represented:
Miss South Asia Australia 2017
Winner – Ritu Kukreja (India)
1st runner up – Susan Ahmadi (Afghanistan)
2nd runner up – Nishani Seniveratne (Sri Lanka)

Mr South Asia Australia 2017
Winner – Vaibhav Sharma (India)
1st runner up – Dilshan Nanayakkara (Sri Lanka)
2nd runner up – Sam Vaid (India)

Ms South Asia Australia 2017
Winner -Archana Kandasamy (Sri Lanka)
1st runner up – Hasnat Mohua (Bangaladesh)

Mrs South Asia Australia 2017
Winner – Gihani Gunaratne Coenraad (Sri Lanka)
1st Runner Up – Manisha Isaacs (India)
2nd Runner Up – Sidra Jutt (Pakistan)

Country Winners 2017
Sri Lanka
Miss – Jenanie Jeyanesha
Mr – Malan Mudalige
Mrs – Zeenath Zareen

Miss – Kaur Dhaliwal
Miss 1st runner up – Chetana Subramanium
Mrs – Moira Furtado
Mrs 1st runner up – Pawandeep Kaur
Mrs 2nd runner up – Sangita Raichaat

Miss – Susan Ahmadi

Mrs – Naomi D-Rozairo

Mrs – Sidra Jutt

Mr – Manish Adhikari
Mrs – Oshin
The culmination of this 2017 pageant and its support of domestic violence awareness means that there are many new and young ambassadors who, through this platform, will work to educate the community about this social issue and help to break down the cultures and traditions that may be contributing factors to its prevalence.
Sri Lankan winners in the pageant have already began their duties with an official meeting with the Consul-General for Sri Lanka in Victoria / Tasmania / South Australia, Mr W G S Prasanna and Mrs Nirosha Prasanna.
Pageant credits:
Managing Director: Dilkie Perera
Executive: Sav Perera-Jainudeen
Operations producer: Vishni Perera-Jainudeen
Sponsor: Savish Corporation / Bridal Collection – visit


Read More →


Story and photography by Marie Pietersz (Melbourne)




It’s Springtime again, when grand old Dame Melbourne sheds her

It’s Springtime again, when grand old Dame Melbourne sheds her winter woollies and gets ready to celebrate the warmer weather. And, boy, it’s been a cold Melbourne winter this year. Brrr!

Melbourne, the event capital of Australia in Spring is home to big ticket items such as the AFL Grand Final, Royal Melbourne Show, Fashion Week, Spring Racing Carnival, Melbourne Fringe Festivals, and the Melbourne Cup. There is something for everybody.

Read More →


Story and photography by Marie Pietersz (Melbourne)

Loretta Koch, former singing sensation of one of Sri Lanka’s most popular bands of the 1960s, jetted into Melbourne this month to perform at the much-talked about event, ‘Alston Koch’s 50 Years in Showbiz’, at The Grand Receptions, on 9 September.

Loretta, the Jetliner’s answer to ABBA’s Agnetha Faltskog, came out of retirement after 45 years for her “first and last public performing foray”, according to her. After years of declining invitations to perform publicly at reunion concerts both in Sri Lanka and Australia, she teamed up with cousin Alston Koch and international entertainers to show her fans that she still has what it takes. “Alston twisted my arm,” she said. “He convinced me to perform with him and get a crack at reliving the nostalgia and getting that adrenalin pumping again like we used to when we performed together on stage. I had a long, hard think about it, and found myself saying yes. I had to pinch myself to see if I was dreaming. I couldn’t believe I had just accepted his offer.”

Loretta didn’t disappoint and gave guests a glimpse into her singing heyday in Sri Lanka, performing her solo hits, Those were the Days and Nobody’s Child, among others dedicated to her family. She also showed off some of her old ‘moves’ that fans used to love, accessorizing her performance and getting rousing cheers from guests. Loretta’s first solo track was Summer Wine recorded in 1968, along with another favourite Rose Garden. She shared the stage on 9 September with other Australian international singers Frank Ifield, John St Peeters and Donny Sutherland invited to perform at Alston’s celebratory event.

Loretta hails from a musical family, her father Fred Koch was a comedian and entertainer extraordinaire, mother Pam played the piano, younger brother Roger sang with the group, Justinians, and together with sister Pauline, Loretta took part in the Maliban Talent Quest, the talent show of the day in the 1960s. Her home was constantly filled with music and dancing, so it was no mistake that she was inspired and destined for the stage and singing. Her musical story continued and her star continued to grow brighter until she quit the Jetliners and her successful singing career in Sri Lanka for Australia.

Loretta migrated to Melbourne with her parents in 1971, married, and then emigrated to settle in the UK, where she raised her family of two children, Amanda and Steven, with former Lipton Tea Group executive husband, Ivor Davies. Now a grandmother to two grandchildren, Jack and Olivia, she chose to chase the European sun and these days resides in Marbella, in southern Spain, with partner George Fisher, enjoying the warm weather along with many other expatriates from cold and wet England, with no regrets, her singing days far away in the distant horizon.

But that was until her change of heart to perform in Australia. Her fans who flocked to see her at the Grand on Princes were in the majority regular visitors to Sunday nights at the Galle Face Hotel’s nightclub, the Coconut Grove, the rocking hotspot where Loretta performed as a singing duo with Mignonne Fernando and other well-known Sri Lankan crooners such as Alston Koch, Conrad de Silva and Sohan Peiris backed by the many talented musicians of the Jetliners band, cutting many vinyls, singles and LPs. The group also performed in Singapore and Indian nightclubs, making a name for themselves in the Asian entertainment world under the management of Jetliner’s Manager, Tony Fernando.

Her fans are hopeful that Loretta’s singing drought has broken and that they will get to see her perform again, with offers already in from Sri Lanka and England.

Loretta, poster girl in Sri Lanka (1960s)



The Jetliners in performance (1960s)

The attraction at the Coconut Grove (1960s)


Frank Ifield watches Loretta perform (2017)

Loretta performs in Melbourne (2017)


Read More →

Rashmi Wijesekara, Miss Sri Lanka Australia 2017 and Face of Savish, Bridal Collection House

Story by Marie Pietersz (Melbourne)

Pictures courtesy of MSLA

Rashmi, a rising star…

Rashmi Wijesekara is the holder of the prestigious title, Miss Sri Lanka Australia 2017, winning it from other entrants in the annual Miss Sri Lanka Australia Pageant, which attracts participants from all Australian states.

A High School student from Glen Waverley, Rashmi was born in Sri Lanka and moved to New Zealand when she was three years old, settling in Australia in 2013.

Rashmi has always been very keen to participate in the Miss Sri Lankan Australia Pageant and has followed it since it commenced. She finally decided to take part in 2017 and does not regret starting this journey.

Read More →

South Asia Australia Pageant 2017 Launch – Miss, Mr and Mrs/Ms

Story by Marie Pietersz (Pictures by MSLA)

Marie Pietersz

Savish Corporation, organiser of the Miss Sri Lanka Australia pageant for the fourth year running, launched the first South Asia Australia Pageant in Australia at a cocktail event on 6 August 2017. The Pageant, another first of its kind, will be held on 24 September 2017 at the Box Hill Town Hall.

The Pageant will offer to young Australians of South Asian heritage an opportunity to develop as young leaders, showcase and integrate through fashion and beauty their country’s culture into the fabric of multicultural Australia, and empower them to engage in pivotal community roles and provide a voice in shaping Australia’s society of tomorrow.

The Pageant will be theme based and participants will help to create awareness of domestic violence, a major issue in South Asian countries.

Read More →

THE LEGACY LIVES ON – Story and pictures by Marie Pietersz, Melbourne
Marie Pietersz



Sixteen-year-old Nisal Sri Jayamaha, older son of  Dandenong residents Yasas and Pradeepa Jayamaha, took away the coveted second placing in the KATA Martial Arts category at the recent 2017 IKA  (Independent Kyokushin Alliance) National Championships in Canberra in July. 

Nisal started learning the sport of martial arts at the tender age of six at the BJ Kyokushin dojo in Dandenong (Victoria) under the guidance of Sensei Z uz.   He has competed and won many trophies and medals throughout his years of training in karate. He is currently a Brown Belt with a Black Tag.

Nisal is the grandson of famous Sri Lankan boxer S.P Jayasuriya, Bronze Medallist in the Flyweight category at the Fourth Asian Games, Jakarta, 1962.  

Nisal dedicated his accomplishment to his grandfather who passed away before the Nationals and couldn’t see his grandson compete and win. Jayasuriya was a well-known athlete and boxer. In 2010 Jayasuriya was felicitated by the Sri Lankan Sports Ministry when he was presented with a Gold Medal by the former President Mahinda Rajapakse for bringing honour, pride and glory to Sri Lanka through his athletic and boxing prowess both locally and internationally.

Nisal hopes to take his karate skills all the way to the top with ambitions to win national and international titles, following in his famous grandfather’s footsteps.

Story and pictures by Marie Pietersz, Melbourne

Read More →

CULTURAL EVENTS EMPOWER YOUTH FOR AUSTRALIA – Story and photography by Marie Pietersz
Marie Pietersz

Click on the photos below to view the Photos on eLanka Facebook page

MSLA female winners

MSLA Miss winner                                        MSLA for Leader

MSLA judges

MSLA Winners


MSLA teen winners

CULTURAL EVENTS EMPOWER YOUTH FOR AUSTRALIA – Story and photography by Marie Pietersz

The 2017 Miss Sri Lanka Australia national and state titles were awarded to winners of the categories of Miss, Mr, Mrs, Ms and Teen at this year’s pageant and crowning ceremony held at the Box Hill Town Hall (Victoria) on 6 August. The glamourous event presented by Melbourne-based bridal collection house, Savish Corporation,  was patronised by about 350 guests and dignitaries, which included Victorian politicians and local and international community leaders, long-time supporters of this pageant, whose aim is to: foster the development of young persons with Sri Lankan heritage, encourage recognition of their cultural and its integration into the fabric of multicultural Australia, and empower them with confidence to engage in pivotal community roles and provide a voice in shaping Australia’s society of tomorrow.

Savish Corporation, major sponsor of the pageant took the opportunity to launch the first South East Asia Australia Pageant 2017 to be held on 24 September. The Pageant will be another first of its kind in Australia and will extend the offer to young Australians of other South East Asian heritages to be part of this opportunity. Sav Jainudeen said, “Organising South East Asian Bridal Shows and seeing the amazing costume fusion, made me decide we had to do this”. Participants will be dressed by designers from their own countries and will vie for the titles of Miss, Mr, Mrs and Ms. South East Asian Australia 2017. Community Leaders from Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal and Pakistan were present to light the traditional oil lamp to herald the inauguration. Special cultural dancing to bless the event was followed by a cocktail party and official photographs. Only a few spots are available to participate in this pageant.

For more information contact Pageant Director, Dilki Perera on 0414 437 903.

2017 winners

Mr SL Aust – Damsara Menuwara

Mr SL Aust Runner-up – Niral Kalunhendiwala

Mr SL Aust Victoria – Kanila Senadheera

Mr SL Aust Runner-up Victoria – Janeesh Nilanka

Miss SL Aust – Rashmi Wijesekara

Miss SL Aust Runner Up – Hashini Boyagama

Miss SL Aust Queensland – Yashani Algama

Miss SL Aust Victoria – Devorah Oliver

Mr Teen SL Aust – Benjamin de Silva

Miss Teen SL Aust – Tarini Lewke

Mrs SL Aust Victoria – Poorni Bandara

Mr SL Aust Confident – Priyadarshana Bandara

Miss SL Aust Confident – Sarugia Baskaratha

Mr SL Aust Top Model –     Kenan Munasinghe

Mr SL Aust All Rounder – Lakshitha Liyanage

Miss SL Aust All Rounder – Yashodhi Wickrema Gedera

Story and photography by Marie Pietersz

Miss Sri Lanka Australia Pageant media and promotions


Read More →