Malith Perera performs at the Lankan Fest 2018 in Melbourne – Video thanks to Marie Pietersz
Marie Pietersz has been teaching line dancing for over fifteen years at many venues in the eastern and south-eastern suburbs of Melbourne.
She teaches Nuline dancing, a gentler form of line dancing incorporating ballroom and Latin moves and steps as a fun and fitness cardio exercise. Nuline dancing caters for a wider age group ranging from children to seniors and is danced to many genres of music including contemporary and pop music.
The original American ‘boot scooting’ form of line dancing was generally danced to country and western music and was harder on the knees and legs and therefore limited the age group of dancers.
Marie’s classes are very popular and held most days of the week catering for ultra-beginners, beginners, improvers and intermediate. A dedicated and experienced teacher, choreographer and demonstrator, she specialised in teaching beginners and is passionate about keeping senior members of the community fit and learning new life skills.
You will find Marie’s dance groups performing at Victorian events such as the Seniors Week celebration day, Whitehorse Spring Carnival and at charity events for clubs and fundraisers. She holds themed dance classes to celebrate the variety of cultural backgrounds of her dancers and to promote multicultural inclusivity. Social outings are also part of the fun.
Looking at enrolling in an activity to enhance your life post full-time work, lose weight, get fitter, or find friends and enjoy social interaction? Then you should a Nuline with Marie dance class. Dancing is one of the best forms of exercise and when you are exercising to your favourite music with others of like mind, it beats hard ‘yakka’ at a gym. You don’t need a partner and there is no age barrier.
Marie and her dancers are also available for demonstrate, teach and perform at events. Call 0412 296 827 top ask how you can join a class or book an event. LiveLifeLearn.
A 1948 model Rolls-Royce turns 70! – story and pics by Marie Pietersz
The 70th birthday party of Gavin Angus Rodie held at the Walawwe (The Bungalow) Restaurant and Bar, Noble Park, on 10 February was a specially memorable night because not often does one get to celebrate the milestone birthday of a son of Sri Lanka, born in British Ceylon, who served under the flag of his country of adoption, Australia, in a foreign land (Vietnam). Guests included family, friends from his youth and a contingent of his former Army comrades from Perth, Adelaide and Queensland, all drafted into national service in 1968 and all turning 70 this year.
Party entertainment included music by Elmo Wells-Jansz, guest singers Everard Hoffman and Reg Bartholomeusz, Trinity College song, Waltzing Matilda nationalist ballad and Army singalong, Rugby ditties by Bumpy Jayasekera and Reg, and speeches by Everard Schoorman, Glen Vanlangenberg, Peter Valchou and Keith Molyneux. In his response speech, Gavin thanked everyone for the memories!
Gavin was born in Colombo, Sri Lanka, on 11 February 1948, the middle child of parents John and Primrose (nee Krasse) Rodie, with an older brother John and younger sister Alison.
Gavin started his schooling at Methodist Ladies’ College, along with a number of other male toddlers, when it was quite the norm in Ceylon for male toddlers to go to girls’ schools until Year 4. He moved to a boys’ primary school, St Thomas’ Preparatory, then St Thomas’ College, Mt Lavinia, and finally Trinity College, Kandy, where he was boarded in a school master’s home. Gavin took part in rugby, cricket and athletics for his senior school.
Gavin was a 17-year-old teenager when he migrated to Australia in 1965, settling in WA and calling it home until he turned 67. He started his first job as a banker with National Australia Bank where he rapidly escalated within the ranks to manager.
Competing with his employment escalation was his social popularity and no wonder, with one of his Army mates describing him as “a debonair bloke, always the best smelling, best dressed amongst us. He always wore a cravat, smoked gold pack Benson & Hedges and had that look of sophistication with those large, black-rimmed glasses. A polished sportsman (he played rugby for the Australian Army XV), and socially, in an era of no political correctness, Gavin was always the winner at pulling a sheila”.
In 1968, at the age of 20, just as his banking and social careers were reaching dizzy heights, a marble with Gavin’s date of birth was drawn by the ‘powers that were’ and, as a British subject, he was drafted into the Australian Army as a National Serviceman to support Australia’s SEATO commitment to Vietnam. He commenced recruit training at Puckapunyul and in January 1969 was posted to 7 Battalion at Holsworthy, NSW.
In the Army, Gavin’s military leadership potential surfaced and he was chosen as a member of the jungle training team responsible for putting his Battalion through the jungle course at Canungra in QLD. While in Vietnam, Gavin was also chosen to lead a cadre of South Vietnamese soldiers and was a section commander in 5 Platoon on many field operations.
In October 1970, Gavin returned to Australia and Perth and rejoined the National Australia Bank, but not for long. Boredom set in and Gavin left to explore Europe for a while. On his return, Gavin threw his hand into selling real estate, setting up his own agency, Rodie Realty, which gained prominence in Perth’s northern suburbs.
You could say Gavin’s life in Perth, post-Vietnam, was a full hand – he had landed a Royal Flush in the game of cards – jobs, parties, holidays, businesses – he even found time for romance – and in 1989 Gavin’s full life was made even fuller when wife Wendy presented him with a beautiful daughter, Hillary.
Then Gavin turned 40 – the age of reason – and allowed himself to indulge in a pet distraction – a 1500 cc custom Harley Davidson motorbike, which he lovingly decorated with every fancy accessory, and formed a Bikers’ Club – the reason given; so he and his mates had a forum where they could be “free”.
In 2005 Gavin changed his single status to matrimony again when he married Russian-born Marina. Then, in 2015, Gavin acted on his strong belief that the greatest gift we have is a helping hand, and responded to a family crisis, moving permanently to Melbourne to take on the role of caring for his ailing mother, which he does to this day.
At 70, Gavin has lost nothing of his charm, gentlemanly ways and dress sense, standing out in a crowd. He can be seen around Melbourne helping out his ‘senior’ friends when braun and muscle are required, a trend that has continued from his youth when school mates turned to him as ‘protector’ when needing to be rescued in schoolyard spats. Gavin has resumed his role of social aficionado, enjoying organising reunions with Sri Lankan friends of his youth and they happy to have their stalwart friend back in their lives.
Nevertheless, Gavin is determined that his birthday celebrations will continue with plans to be part of the celebrations of his Army mates also turning 70 this year. No doubt he is looking forward to being among some of his dearest friends and partying like old times because he has been instrumental in organising a Battalion Reunion Cruise which will take place in March.
“Gavin is a helluva kind, extremely thoughtful, generous guy, a loyal and true friend,” says his Army mate, Peter, and so say all of us. Happy 70th birthday Gavin and enjoy the ride through the decade.
Sri Lankan Business and Investment Promotion in Melbourne: Story by Marie Pietersz, Melbourne
The Minister for Trade and Investment, Innovation & Digital Economy, Small Business and International Education, Hon Philip Didakis, MLC, in association with the Aus-Lanka Business Council, hosted Sri Lankan and Australian business representatives to a trade and investment promotion at the Investment Centre of Victoria, ANZ Tower, 55 Collins Street, Melbourne, on 23 February.
Minister Didakis is due to visit Sri Lanka in March to build on the strong trade relationships the two countries already have and to encourage further investment by Sri Lankan businesses into Victoria and vice versa.
About 150 invitees attended and included senior Government officials of the Victorian Government, Consul General of Sri Lanka for Victoria, Consul (Commercial) of the Consulate-General in Sydney, present and former Victorian MPs, members of local Councils , Committee members of the Aus-Lanka Business Council, and business leaders from the Sri Lankan community in Victoria. Exhibitors of Sri Lankan products in Australia were also present.
Invitees were greeted by winners of the Miss Sri Lanka-Australia and Miss South Asia-Australia Pageants and treated to an engaging cultural performance comprising Sri Lankan dancers and drummers.
The Hon. Frank McGuire, MP, Parliamentary Secretary for Small Business and Innovation, representing the Minister, formally announced the Minister’s impending visit to Sri Lanka with the Trade Commissioner for South Asia, Ms Michelle Wade.
Mr McGuire’s speech highlighted the longstanding and mutually beneficial relationship between Victoria and Sri Lanka and stated that the Victorian Government is focusing on business/investment opportunities between Victoria and Sri Lanka in key areas such as education, agriculture, infrastructure and tourism.
Delivering his remarks at the event, Mr. W.G.S. Prasanna, Consul General for Sri Lanka in Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania, conveyed the appreciation of the Government of Sri Lanka to the Victorian Government for hosting the event, underlining the important aspects of the enduring partnership between Sri Lanka and Australia. He highlighted potential areas for trade and investment in Sri Lanka and invited the Victorian business community to invest in Sri Lanka.
“Sri Lanka and Australia share an enduring partnership,” the Consul General said. “I feel that the Dictionary definition of ‘partnership’ is a bit uninteresting and narrow and not appropriate to describe the way I think about the relationship between Australia and Sri Lanka, which is marked by its historical ties, diversity, dialogue and, perhaps most importantly, the shared understanding and engagement between people across many fields. And simply put, the bedrock of this relationship is not just dependent on those popular 3 Cs: curry, cricket and Commonwealth. But I do not mean to say that they are any less important.”
Sri Lanka and Australia celebrated 70 years of formal diplomatic relations last year, marked by official visits by the Heads of each country.
The Consul General said bilateral cooperation between Australia and Sri Lanka had surged to a record level of A$1.3 in 2016-17, up by more than 27 per cent compared to the previous financial year and extended from trade and investment, sports, education, tourism, defence, maritime and regional security, to science and technology.
He singled out Education as the most steadily growing aspect of the economic relationship, with “more than 9500 enrolments of Sri Lankan students in Australia each year and thousands more pursuing Australian-affiliated studies domestically in Sri Lanka. More than half of those students studying in Sri Lanka eventually enrol in Universities and other Institutions in Melbourne,” he said.
Other significant figures announced by the Consul General included the rapid growth in Australian tourists visiting Sri Lanka (up by almost 10 per cent for the last year) resulting in Sri Lanka’s services exports to Australia grow by more than 36 per cent.
The Consul General said he wished to place on record his sincere appreciation to the State Government of Victoria for the launch of Sri Lanka Airlines’ recommencement of direct flights between Colombo and Melbourne, which is anticipated will provide continued trade growth in the years to come.
Ms. Dilkie Perera, National President of the Aus-Lanka Business Council also addressed the gathering, reiterating the strong trade growth between Victoria and Sri Lanka and highlighting the achievements of the Council in the initiatives.
The event provided a forum for invitees to interact and discuss trade, business and investment opportunities. Mr. Abdul Raheem, Consul (Commercial) of the Consulate General of Sri Lanka in Sydney was on hand to assist invitees with information on trade and investment opportunities available in Sri Lanka.
|Felix and Mavo|
|Felix and cake|
Cycling veteran turns 80! – Story and pics by Marie Pietersz. Melbourne
Felix George de Jong (affectionately known as Filo) celebrated his 80th birthday recently with a luncheon for family and friends at the Walawwe (The Bungalow) Restaurant and Bar, Noble Park.
Felix was born in Kirillapone, Sri Lanka, to parents Victor and Rachel (nee Misso) de Jong, tenth in line and sole survivor of eleven children. He married in 1970 and has a daughter, Sabrina, with wife Genevieve, and two grandchildren, William and Ivy.
Felix’s reputation preceded him when he migrated to Melbourne in 1971. The Sri Lankan community in Melbourne remembered him as dashing, debonair and fast on the pedals. He was none other than one of Ceylon’s finest cyclists of his era and a member of the Winged Wheel Cycle Club, perhaps the only reputed cycling club in Sri Lanka at that time.
Educated in St Thomas’ College, Kotte, Felix took to sports rather late in his academic career, nevertheless achieving significant results as a all-round sportsman. He was Vice Captain of the Second XII College team, graduating to opening bowler and batsman of the First XII for three consecutive years.
You could say Felix’s cricket style was unorthodox and is yet to be named and recorded in a cricket coaching manual and, in fact, may never, unfortunately, unlike Murali’s. Cover drives and late cuts were never heard of. It was ‘pol adi’ all the way, really confusing opposing team captains who were at their wit’s end to try and set up a field for him. Felix remembers one special incident at an inter-school match when he hit the opposing opening bowler for a six over extra cover. In that ‘Big Match’ against Christian College, he scored an opening stand of 90 runs with Maurice Gunasekera and captured four wickets for 36 runs, winning the all-rounder’s prize.
Felix’s sporting prowess extended to athletics, earning him the title of College champion for his performances in the 100 and 200 metres sprints and long jump.
Leaving school, Felix took to cycling in 1954 and became a member of the Winged Wheel Cycle club, cycling mostly for fun, nevertheless etching a few marks on the scoreboard along the way.
He won the very first two-stage race in Ceylon organised by the Club – the first stage a fifty-mile road from Colombo to Labugama and back, and the second stage a time trial from Colombo to Moratuwa.
In the Nugegoda Grand Prix he came second to David Manger, who Felix rates as “the finest cyclist of his era”, others included Maurice Coomarawel, Archibald Keil, Sam Keil, Hamilton Van Twest, Anthony Symons, Chandra Perera, Placidus Schroter and Trevor Newman.
Felix recalls that the only race he did some serious training for was the Tour-de-Ceylon, coming third place behind Chandra Perera and MSM Lariff, and for very good reason – he had a flat tyre and had to wait for delivery of a spare bike – nevertheless, going on to win the Tangalle to Colombo leg of the same race on a replacement bike.
At the Novices Championship at the time, Felix came second behind Allan Brace who went on to be selected to represent Sri Lanka at the 1958 Empire Games in Cardif, Wales, but Felix shied away from taking his cycling skills to the professional heights he was capable of.
Loving his hobby and the sport of cycling, Felix analyses how far the sport has progressed in Sri Lanka. He acknowledges that there is keen interest, especially from riders outside Colombo, but regrets that cycling in Sri Lanka still lacks proper training, coaching facilities, equipment and regular track races to build strength and stamina. “Most importantly,” says the cycling maestro, “crash helmets for all cyclists must be introduced and they must start to be properly trained and mentored from the age of ten or eleven years if they are to reach the top in the sport.” He is emotional when he compares young Sri Lankan riders to young riders in Australia who have the best training opportunities and the latest model cycles. “The cycles in Sri Lanka are like museum pieces in comparison,” Felix said.
Felix gave up cycling for about four years to take up a tea-planting post at Kandapola. However, he was persuaded to make a comeback and participated in his second Tour-de-Lanka organised by Associated Newspapers of Ceylon Ltd. His training included riding once a week to Kandy, Nuwara-Eliya and Bandarawela, covering between 500-600 miles on each trip. However, he took part in the Amateur Class of the event, just wanting to race for the sheer love of the sport.
In Melbourne, this professional cyclist chose to slow down his speed and settled for an administrative post as Pay Officer in the former Tramways Board where he worked until 1978, retiring due to ill-health . He kept a beautiful home and garden and had a reputation for good looks, driving fine cars, a good dresser and an irrepressible joke teller and entertainer. His passion for cycling changed to a passion for gardening and again he chose not to go professional with this hobby, even though his garden was good enough to compete in a garden competition.
In Melbourne, he took up yet another sport, this time it was Golf, playing with a handicap of 9, winning tournaments organised by the Australia-Ceylon Fellowship and later championships as a member of the Wattle Park Golf Club.
This eligible bachelor concentrated on caring for his daughter and his beloved pets until in 2002 he married Mavourneen Ludekens at a ceremony in his beautiful garden. Both homebirds, yet loving socialising and dancing, their home is often the venue where friends gather for regular parties and Felix is a kind and generous host when it comes to opening his home to special occasion events for Mav’s (his pet name for her) large family. He has three step-children and seven step-grandchildren who adore him.
Felix’s happy-go-lucky demeanour continues to punch well above his peddling speed these days, and his jokes and entertaining has not slowed down any, continuing to make anybody smile who comes into contact with him. Almost equally people get to see the softer side of him as he is well known for often getting emotional at special occasions.
Happy 80th birthday Felix and don’t hold back. Enjoy the ‘ride’ through the decade.
Photos courtesy of Band
This year the Papare Band made an appearance at the Australia Day parade in Melbourne at the invitation of the Consular General of Sri Lanka for Victoria, W.G.S. Prasanna. The Sri Lankan community sees the band as a significant part of the Sri Lankan culture in sport and this has now extended to other Australian events.
The Papare Band Melbourne is a well-known feature of sideline entertainment at Australian cricket matches. They now have a presence in the Australian sporting calendar, performing at AFL and Soccer League games and in demand by Councils for community events.
Dihan Nammuni Dewage is the leader of the Band and has this to say on how it started:
“I first took the trumpet to the MCG but security wouldn’t let me take it in because there was a policy of no instruments in the stadium. They said I could leave the instrument with them and collect it on my way out. So I did, and when outside I decided I would play it on my way to the train station. I played one of the most popular Sri Lankan bailas, Surangani. A crowd followed me and started to dance. We stopped at the car park and I played a few more songs. That’s when we thought of forming the band, having found five instrument players (trumpeter, saxophonist, two drummers and a cymbalist). Now we have grown to twenty players and we get invited to entertain at many public events. We also perform at private events, like parties and weddings. We do encourage anyone with talent and passion to come and join us.”
The Papare Band Melbourne has Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts for those who would like to get in touch with them and see what they are doing. The contact is Dihan on 0432 027 704. The band profile brochure is attached.
Organisers of the Miss South Asia-Australia 2017 Pageant are proud to announce the achievements of Moira Furtado from Adelaide, South Australia. Moira is the Mrs India winner in the Country Winners 2017 category of the Pageant. She has been very active within her community and a great ambassador for the values of the Pageant. The Pageant provides a platform and supports young adults to launch their careers and through community activities showcase their South Asian heritage in multicultural Australia. Some of Moira’s adventures include speaking at the Share the Dignity program alongside Mrs Australia-World, Love Kareer, and at the recent Liberal Women’s Council meeting. Congratulations to Moira for securing the role of Campaigns Manager for Liberal Party candidate for Taylor, Sarika Sharma, in the upcoming SA State elections. Moira is also a Justice of the Peace and is making a significant contribution to the local community. Well done, Moira, a worthy Pageant ambassador!
Participants of the Miss Sri Lanka-Australia Pageant (MSLA) and Miss South Asia-Australia Pageant (MSAA) 2017 provided a splash of colour when they marched in the Australia Day Parade on 26 January 2018 as a post-Pageant activity.
Wearing Kandyan sarees and Nilame suits (Mul Anduma), crowns and sashes, the Sri Lankan winners showcased Sri Lankan culture, walking for the fourth consecutive year under the Sinhalese Cultural Association banner, and greeting people with the traditional “Ayubowan”.
It was a new experience for the Miss South Asia-Australia Pageant winners in the first year of this Pageant. Winners with Indian and Bangladeshi heritage walked with their respective groups.
The contingent of walkers included eight contestants, male and female, dressed and styled by Savish Traditional, managed and photographed by Vishni Perera-Jainudeen and led by Savindi Perera-Jainudeen, Pageant Executive, carrying the Sri Lankan flag. Nilame costumes represented the Australian flag colours of red, blue and white.
Dilkie Perera, Director of both Pageants, thanked the President and Committee of the Sinhalese Cultural Association, Directors of “Ramon helps”, Mr & Mrs Rakesh, and the Bangaladeshi Cultural Group, for the opportunity to participate. “It was quite an experience and proud moment,” Dilkie said.
The team included:
Dilkie Perera (Director, Pageants)
Savindi Perera-Jainudeen (Executive, Pageants)
Vishni Perera-Jainudeen (Marketing, Pageants)
Rashmi Wijesekere (Miss winner, MSLA)
Harshini Boyagama (Miss runner-up, MSLA)
Devoral Oliver (Miss Victoria, MSLA)
Jen Jayaseelan (Miss Sri Lanka, MSAA)
Damsara Menuwara (Mr Sri Lanka, MSLA)
Kanila Senadhera (Mr Victoria, MSLA)
Nioral Kaluhendiwela (Mr Sri Lanka runner-up, MSLA)
Dilshan Nanayakkara (Mr winner, MSAA)
National Independence Day celebrations included Miss Sri Lanka-Australia Pageant 2017 winners greeting guests at the 70th anniversary of the Independence of Sri Lanka 2018 celebrations held in Victoria.
Dressed in sarees and sarongs, and with families in attendance, they assisted the Consulate Office with guest management activities for the fourth consecutive year.
The Miss Sri Lanka-Australia Pageant provides participants of Sri Lankan heritage the opportunity to understand the history and culture of Sri Lanka, mingle with fellow citizens, VIPs and community heads and, as future leaders, participate in official events to get a first-hand experience of the responsibilities of leaders.
Participants included Savindhi and Vishni Perera-Jainudeen, Nishi Mangan, Yashodi Wickrama, Poorni Bandara, Rashmi Wijesekare, Harshini Boyagama, Jen Jayaseelan, Damsara Menuwara, Kanila Senadhera, Malan Mudalige, Dilshan Nanayakkara, Niral Kauhendiwela, Tarini Lewke and Benjamin de Silva.
Applications will open on 1 March 2018 for the two Pageants in the categories of:
Miss/Mr/Mrs/Teen Miss/Mr Sri Lanka-Australia
Miss/Mr/Ms/Mrs South Asia-Australia (calling contestants from Sri Lanka, India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh and Afghanistan).
Contact Pageants Director on 0414 437 903.