Woodend Winter Arts festival


Get ready for two festival event weekends on 10-11 July and 7-8 August at woodend, Victoria. Events are organised and tickets are selling.

Woodend and the Macedon Ranges welcomes you back with a weekend of music, song, arts, film and conversation!

For the complete program and details, visit: Woodend Winter Arts Festival

Starlink in Australia: When do we get it?

What is Starlink?

Starlink is a satellite internet system owned by SpaceX that hopes to deliver high-speed internet across the globe by the end of the year. Starlink is being pitched toward areas where connectivity has been challenging, such as rural and regional Australia.

The major difference between Starlink satellite and traditional satellites is that they’re 60 times closer to Earth. This means Starlink can deliver faster, more responsive connectivity than you’d typically expect from a satellite internet service.

When will Starlink be available in Australia?

Starlink launched in “beta” in the US in October last year, and the telco is now accepting pre-orders for Australian addresses with the goal of delivering services in mid-to-late 2021. The company however notes that availability is limited, and orders will be fulfilled on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Starlink is already able to deliver service to Australians living in central Victoria and southern New South Wales, but says there is “limited supply”. The company says the service will expand across the country in the coming months.

At present, Starlink is only able to provide internet service to “low and remote density areas”. This covers the majority of Australia, with the exception of Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth, and the Gold Coast. It is however possible that Starlink could obtain a license to deliver internet to large cities too.

How much does Starlink cost in Australia?

Starlink plans will set you back $139 per month. You’ll also need to pay $709 in hardware fees, and $100 in shipping and handling. If you pre-order, you’ll need to put down a fully refundable deposit of $139. The telco notes that putting down a deposit won’t necessarily guarantee you a service.

At this stage, Starlink has just a single plan with unlimited data. In its FAQ, the company notes there the service currently has no data caps while in “beta”, but hasn’t clarified whether this will still be the case down the line.

How fast is Starlink?

During beta, Starlink is targeting download speeds of 50Mbps to 150Mbps, with latency of 20ms to 40ms. That’s potentially a bit faster than an NBN 100 plan, but with much higher latency. Most fixed line internet plans should be able to achieve latency of under 10ms. 20ms is roughly on par with a 4G mobile connection.

However, in a tweet, Musk said that Starlink speeds will increase to as fast as 300Mbps later this year. In addition, he’s hoping that latency will sit round 20ms more consistently, rather than blowing out toward 40ms.

What equipment do you need for Starlink?

Starlink orders include a Starlink dish, mounting tripod for ground level use, and a WiFi router. Notably, the Starlink dish can work from ground level without needing to be installed to your home’s roof. However, if you can’t find a clear field of view from ground level, you’ll want to consider a roof install. Roof mounts for the Starlink dish are sold separately.

What happens if I want to cancel my Starlink order?

If you’ve made a Starlink order and you’ve changed your mind, you can cancel it and get a refund through the Customer Account Portal.

If you get your Starlink kit and decide it’s not right for you, you can cancel your service and get a full refund if you do so within 30 days of shipment. After the 30 day period is up, you can cancel your plan, but you won’t get a refund on your plan fees or hardware.

Note that Starlink units are tied to a specific satellite, and as such, you can’t change address or move your unit without contacting the Starlink support team.

What is space junk? Why is it an issue?

Since the beginning of the space age in 1957, tonnes of rockets, spacecraft and instruments have been launched to space. Initially, there was no plan for what to do with them at the end of their lives. Since then, numbers have continued to increase and explosions and collisions in space have created hundreds of thousands of shards of dangerous debris.

“The biggest contributor to the current space debris problem is explosions in orbit, caused by left-over energy – fuel and batteries – onboard spacecraft and rockets. Despite measures being in place for years to prevent this, we see no decline in the number of such events.

The number of debris objects, their combined mass, and the total area they take up has been steadily increasing since the beginning of the space age. This is further fuelled by a large number of in-orbit break-ups of spacecraft and rocket stages.

The total area that space debris takes up is important as it is directly related to how many collisions we expect in the future. As things stand, collisions between debris and working satellites is predicted to overtake explosions as the dominant source of debris.

On average over the last two decades, 12 accidental ‘fragmentations’ have occured in space every year – and this trend is unfortunately increasing. Fragmentation events describe moments in which debris is created due to collisions, explosions, electrical problems and even just the detachment of objects due to the harsh conditions in space.

What now?

Systematic analysis of changing behaviours in space, when it comes to the adoption of debris mitigation measures, provides reasons to be cautiously optimistic – this was not the case a decade ago.

If adopted quickly, sustained investment in new technologies to passivate and dispose of missions will allow our environment to cope with the continued increase in space traffic and ever-more complex operations.

Excerpts published from:

Sydney-Melbourne route back among world’s busiest

A surge in flights between Sydney and Melbourne has seen the route climb back into the world’s 10 busiest, data shows.

Flight data analyst OAG ranks the world’s busiest routes by the number of seats available. In April, Sydney-Melbourne climbed to number seven on the top 10 list, with 598,779 seats.

As Australia’s airlines reduced domestic capacity in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak and state border closures last year, the Sydney-Melbourne route disappeared from the top 10.

Previously it was the second-busiest route in the world, behind only South Korea’s domestic route between Seoul and Jeju island. The latter route remains the world’s busiest now, with more than 1.4 million seats for April.

Travellers flying to Singapore can use IATA travel pass from May

IATA Travel Pass

Passengers travelling to Singapore by air will be able to use the International Air Transport Association (IATA) travel pass from May 1, as part of an ongoing collaboration between the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) and IATA. 

Passengers will be able to share their pre-departure COVID-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test results with their airline during check-in and on-arrival at the immigration checkpoints at Changi Airport, said CAAS and IATA on Monday (Apr 5). 

“This is part of an ongoing collaboration between CAAS and IATA to facilitate seamless and efficient travel through digital certificates of COVID-19 tests,” they said. 

The IATA travel pass is a mobile app that can be used by passengers to obtain and store their COVID-19 test results from accredited laboratories. 

Last month, Singapore Airlines (SIA) tested IATA’s travel pass on passengers travelling from Singapore to London between Mar 15 and Mar 28. The airline said the app was well received by their customers and noted that they were open to using the app for international travel in the future. 

Following SIA’s trials, CAAS and IATA said Singapore’s health and border control authorities will accept the travel pass as a valid form of presentation of COVID-19 pre-departure tests for entry into the country. 

“The information presented on the IATA travel pass will be in a format that satisfies Singapore’s prevailing COVID-19 pre-departure test requirements for entry into Singapore,” said the authorities, adding that they will be working on further enhancements to the travel pass. 

This includes enabling QR code scanning by immigration officers. Back-end transmission of health credentials from the travel pass to the airlines and immigration authorities’ systems for pre-boarding and pre-arrival clearance will be included, as well as including digital vaccination certificates on the travel pass. 

The travel pass will be available for download in the second half of April and is currently being trialled by more than 20 airlines, including SIA. 

Those who are travelling to Singapore and intend to use the travel pass should check with the airline they are travelling with for eligibility to use the travel pass, said CAAS and IATA. 

California’s Carlsbad Flower Fields welcome visitors with full blooms


Spring has arrived in many parts of the United States of America. While Cherry Blossom trees reach peak bloom in Washington, D.C., people in California are taking advantage of ‘The Flower Fields’ in Carlsbad.

People are taking pictures amid waist-high blossoms in every imaginable hue of orange, pink, yellow and purple at California’s famous Flower Fields in Carlsbad as it opened to the public.

The fields are made up of almost 50 acres of Giant Tecolote Ranunculus flowers.

The attraction was closed for most of 2020, due to pandemic-related restrictions, but plummeting coronavirus cases and California’s move to the orange tier of lockdown restrictions means the fields can once again welcome a limited number of visitors.

The fields, 34 miles (55 km) north of San Diego, showcase more than 70 million flowers, creating an annual spectacle when they bloom.

The Flower Fields, which are open to the public until May 9, are also a working farm that sells flowers, which end up at florists and supermarkets.

Marriott Docklands: Move over mundane

Marriott Meldl Bar

Melbourne’s growth as a premier destination for events and tourism is once again highlighted with the recent development of Marriott Docklands, part of the mixed-use Docklands project; District Docklands, a recent showcase of new waterside restaurants, bars and shopping.

Totem Group recently had the pleasure of scouring the luxury landmark courtesy of Marriott Docklands in an exclusive all-access pass, ushered through two petal shaped interlinked towers to a light infused foyer formed with graceful curves. The bold property is another lustrous design by DKO architecture, reflecting the tastes of the next generation of travellers.

Taking its design cues in a blend of inspiration from Australia’s fashion capital and the yachts moored on the docks, the first five star property to hit Docklands offers a reprieve from the visual noise of daily life. An innovative and sophisticated space awaits, detailed with the functionality of a modern traveller in mind, providing 189 contemporary fitted rooms with 24-hour room service and dedicated ‘M Club’ floors, a space away from the world, curated to unwind, refocus or work privately.

Sophistication throughout the property further expands to its meeting and event spaces, with the ‘promenade’, featuring floor to ceiling windows and cutting-edge technology, equipped with vertical sound absorbing partitioning system allowing 3 separate flexible spaces. Accommodating 200 people in theatre style and 96 in cabaret, with two adjoining rooms for up to five break-out spaces, making an ideal setting for small-mid sized groups.

More intimate and unique displays of fine features are enhanced in the meetings and events space with fairy lights installed in the ceiling and access to the outdoor terraces.

The real showstopper however can be found on level 15, wrapped around the curved building, the 20m wet edge resort-style infinity pool with adjoining bar and sky high views for group size of up to 80 guests, has you feeling a little less edgy Melbourne and a lot more Singaporean sleek. “It has an unparalleled feel to the property. For a moment it was almost as if I wasn’t in Australia” – Melissa Byron, Totem Group.

Tourism Australia launches $5 million week-long campaign

Tourism Australia

A week-long tourism advertising blitz will kick off across the country, aimed at getting Australians to book their next domestic holiday and boost visitation to those regions that need it the most.

The $5 million marketing push is the first major activation of Tourism Australia’s Holiday Here This Year campaign for 2021 and aims to inspire people to take a well-deserved break and provide much-needed support to tourism operators and communities around the country.

Tourism minister Dan Tehan says the campaign was part of the Morrison Government’s ongoing support for the tourism industry.

“We want Australians to get excited about holidaying in Australia,” Tehan says.

The campaign, which runs from January 31 to February 6 has been developed with Tourism Australia’s creative agency M&C Saatchi and media agency UM.

It is the latest burst of activity as part of Tourism Australia’s ongoing domestic marketing initiative Holiday Here This Year, which aims to stimulate demand throughout the sector by getting Australians travelling safely across the country and booking holiday experiences.

It will feature Australian destinations, tourism products and experiences, including areas impacted by last summer’s bushfires.

Tourism Australia chief marketing officer Susan Coghill says the campaign taps into strong consumer sentiment to travel domestically.

NGV Triennial brings AI & Machine Learning to Art

NGV Triennial 2020 Installation of Refik Anandol

Australia’s National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) has officially launched the “NGV Triennial” exhibition, showcasing artworks by more than 100 artists around the world.

To bring together more than 100 artists, designers and collectives from more than 30 countries, featuring 86 projects, in the era of COVID, was always going to be a tall ask. It has happened and it has a huge “wow” factor with a mixture of major household names as well as completely unexpected, quirky discoveries.

The Triennial 2020 is built around four broad themes with porous borders: Illumination, Reflection, Conservation and Speculation. Even after wading through the voluminous catalogue — more like a piece of bulky furniture than a read-in-bed book — the themes are more like general conceptual props than clear categories.

The concern is with the ability for art to challenge assumptions about the status quo, alert us to impending disasters, suggest alternatives, dazzle us with unexpected inventions and inspire us with wondrous creations of undreamt-of beauty.

Based in LA, Turkish digital artist Refik Anadol brings his signature style of AI and media-enriched works to explore the relationship between technology and art. His futuristic piece Quantum Memories draws upon a dataset of more than two hundred million nature-related images from the internet processed with quantum computing software, followed by machine learning algorithms.

The natural landscape is converted to a digitalized collective memory in an audio-visual form, where it presents an alternate dimension between generative algorithm and the natural world – exploiting the possibilities of art with AI soon by the transformation of rigid data into a flexible art piece with emotions.

Visit the NGV website to learn more. The “NGV Triennial” exhibition is on display until April 18, 2021.

Crown Towers Sydney – Redefining luxury

Crown Towers

Redefining bespoke luxury in the heart of the harbour, Crown Sydney has officially opened its doors. Crown Towers rises majestically above the vibrant Barangaroo precinct offering globally renowned service in an unparalleled harbour side location.

Take in the mesmerising panorama of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Opera House from the outdoor pool, bask in pure escapism at Crown Spa, and explore the many acclaimed restaurants, bars and luxury retail stores located within the unrivalled urban resort.

Australia’s most luxurious hotel, the 349-rooms (and 22-villa) Crown Sydney, lives up to all its six stars with glamour and aplomb.

As expected from a Crown property, fine food with exemplary aesthetics and theatrics, is at the forefront of the new Sydney branch.

The glittering, twirling facade looming high above the Barangaroo fold is so high it is officially Sydney’s tallest hotel. The Crown Towers Sydney is also the city’s first-ever six-star stay.

While the Crown Tower’s Villas and Level 26 venues are still experiencing final touches, the hotel is very much open for business, and creating vibes at that.

The wow-factor of the towers is apparent as soon as step inside — starting with a breath taking custom-made, six-storey chandelier in the lobby, featuring a coiling display of 396 crystals that put on a light show every night.

Already nine of 14 dining venues have launched — Californian export Nobu, of the wildly popular Japanese-fusion chain, is already booked up until April.

The hotel boasts 349 rooms, including 20 yet-to-open villas that come with a private butler.

Crown Towers Sydney villas and venues open by April, but there is no doubt the newest Crown offering has met the six-star brief. It is already the city’s hottest dining precincts and in a food scene like Sydney’s, that is hitting the brief out of the park.

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