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Remote indigenous towns fear trauma and dislocation as bulldozers roll in

Gone: Abandoned chair in avenue of trees in Oombulgurri. David Ryder: A former Oombulgurri resident and elder. Photo: Marieke Ceranna
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Community gone: Abandoned buildings in Oombulgurri.

Gone: Abandoned chair in avenue of trees in Oombulgurri.

Gone: Abandoned chair in avenue of trees in Oombulgurri.

Gone: Abandoned chair in avenue of trees in Oombulgurri.

Indigenous leaders call for PM to intervene

The front line in the battle for survival of remote indigenous communities in Australia is a half-hour boat ride up the Forrest River from Wyndham in the East Kimberley.  In the community of Oombulgurri, once an Anglican mission, wild horses roam streets lined with baobab trees.

Last month, the horses were joined by a bulldozer that had arrived to demolish most of community’s houses. By the end of next week, the West Australian government expects the demolition to be complete. Some old stone structures from the mission days, a few houses and community buildings will remain to support “non-residential future use”.

Oombulgurri is not a typical remote indigenous community. It is a place with a dark history.

In 1926, it was the site of a massacre of Aboriginal people by law enforcement following the killing of a pastoralist. More recently, it has been known for child neglect, sexual abuse, domestic violence and alcohol-related harm.

The WA government took the decision to close the community in 2011 in response to a coronial inquiry into five deaths in the community, including four suicides, over a 12-month period.

The coroner concluded that “many millions of dollars had been spent in propping up and perpetuating a community which in many respects on any objective criteria was a disgrace”.

No one disputes the existence of grave social problems in Oombulgurri but views differ on whether closing down the community was the right response. And many fear the large-scale trauma and dislocation that followed Oombulgurri’s closure may soon be repeated across the nation.

For half a century, since the 1967 referendum gave the Commonwealth the power to make laws for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, the federal government has funded the delivery of essential services to remote indigenous communities. This was a recognition that without private property ownership, rates could not be collected to fund local government. In recent years Labor and Coalition governments have sought unsuccessfully to have states and territories take over this responsibility. In September, Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion announced a breakthrough, an “historic” deal in which West Australia, Queensland, Victoria and Tasmania would agree to deliver essential services such as power and water to indigenous communities in their states.

Earlier this month, WA Premier Colin Barnett announced  the state could not afford to service as many as 150 of the state’s 274 remote communities. These “unviable” communities would have to close. The South Australian government, which had rejected Scullion’s offer of $10 million in transitional funding, said the Commonwealth’s withdrawal of funding for remote communities placed 60 communities, home to more than 4000 Aboriginal South Australians, at risk of closure.

Speaking in Parliament, Barnett said many communities were not just unviable in a financial sense but because of social dysfunction, child abuse and neglect, poor education and a lack of opportunities.

Cissy Gore-Birch, who grew up at Oombulgurri, admits the community had very serious problems, including with mismanagement, alcohol, violence and sexual abuse.  But she insists addressing those issues did not have to mean the death of the community.

“I don’t think closing the community was the way to deal with it,” she says.

She says the Oombulgurri she lived in as a child functioned well.  She remembers a community without alcohol or police, where elders had authority, children were safe and fresh food was plentiful.

Ms Gore-Birch, the chairwoman of the Balanggarra Aboriginal Corporation, says the WA government failed to consider alternatives to closing Oombulgurri, and says relocating people to towns such as Wyndham and Kununurra without adequate support services had transferred some problems from one place to another and created new ones. While some demountable cabins were provided for transitional housing in Wyndham, and some former Oombulgurri residents moved in with family, exacerbating overcrowding, others camped on the oval at Kununurra or on the marshes on the fringe of Wyndham.  Liz O’Brien, the director of Kimberley Community Legal Services, says three years after the closure, some remain homeless. She says some residents have lost benefits because they could not receive Centrelink correspondence and the shortage of appropriate housing has meant many former Oombulgurri children are not attending school regularly.

David Ryder, a former Oombulgurri resident and elder, said many former Oombulgurri residents were drinking more due to the ready access to alcohol in town and were attracting police attention. Now sharing a house in Wyndham with family, Mr Ryder says he misses hunting goannas and catching barramundi in traps made of leaves and stakes. “It was a land of milk and honey,” he says.

Tammy Solonec, the Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Manager at Amnesty International Australia, which campaigned to stop the demolition of Oombulgurri, said the community’s story was a case study in how not to close a community, because there was no effective strategy to integrate former Oombulgurri residents in their new homes, and they were not properly consulted.

“Each one of them is a human being and they all have their own story and they all have a right to be heard. That didn’t happen, they were tarred with the same brush, and punished for the actions of a few,” she said.

“When you push Aboriginal people off their homelands, it’s going to create trauma… and the trauma that it creates is not trauma that can be overcome easily. It’s trauma that becomes intergenerational, that you’re then going to have to deal with through social consequences for years later.”

WA Aboriginal Affairs Minister Peter Collier said he remained convinced that thedecision to close Oombulgurri community was “the right thing to do”. Mr Collier said at the time of the closure, most residents had left voluntarily and there was an average population of fewer  than 30 people. He said the Amnesty campaign was “ill-informed and appears to have little support from those directly involved”, and the demolition works were necessary to reduce vandalism and theft and make the site safe for future non-residential use.

Ms Solonec said the Amnesty campaign had been informed by a visit to the Kimberley in September when  she met 25 community members.

“The testimonies we gathered universally tell not of voluntary departure but of forced eviction – indirectly due to the closure of essential health, education and police services, or to follow children removed by government agencies, and directly when the last remaining residents were forcibly evicted by the WA government,” she said.

Barnett has said his government will consult communities before deciding which to cut services to. He says just 507 people live in the state’s smallest 115 communities and, in one community, the cost of providing essential services runs to $85,000 per person per year. Indigenous leader Pat Dodson has called for creative solutions to service isolated communities, such as making greater use of solar power and the School of the Air.

Scullion said the threat of community closures was a matter for Western Australia and South Australia and had nothing to do with the Commonwealth’s decision to transition responsibility for essential services delivery to the states. He said Western Australia had for many years been discussing the closure of remote indigenous communities.

“Any state suggesting municipal and essential services arrangements are behind closures is simply looking for an excuse and a distraction,” he said.

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Chinese dancers mimic willow in the wind in sweltering heat

Beauty and bliss: Dancer Alison He says being part of a dancing group feels like family. Photo: Nic Walker Leaning back: Alison He performing in Mary Street, Surry Hills. Photo: Nic Walker
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Beauty and bliss: Dancer Alison He says being part of a dancing group feels like family. Photo: Nic Walker

Beauty and bliss: Dancer Alison He says being part of a dancing group feels like family. Photo: Nic Walker

Beauty and bliss: Dancer Alison He says being part of a dancing group feels like family. Photo: Nic Walker

It’s the dance that opens doors and fans, especially on a sweltering Friday in Surry Hills.

In a small rehearsal room every week, a group of 15 women practise traditional Chinese dances such as the Dance of the Willow. It’s a coquettish performance. Fans with long red tassels are flayed and closed to mimic the swing of the willow in the wind. Fans are often positioned in a girlish way across the five dancers’ faces.

Fuelled by traditional custard tarts and boiled eggs, around 15 svelte women aged 24 to 60 practise for a growing number of performances around Sydney.The group performed at 70 events this year, said Maggie Wu, the vice-president of the Australian Chinese Community Association of NSW and the dance group’s manager.

“Now we’re becoming popular,” she said, noting that the women’s performance often provided a calm change after the explosions of traditional dragon dances.

Unlike Chinese audiences, who often chatted through performances, Westerners were quiet, she said. “They are very respectful, they don’t talk, they don’t eat and they want to know later where they can get our costumes,” Ms Wu said.

Jackie Seow, of Strathfield, said the dancing made her “very happy”,  a word repeated by different dancers.  “It’s very happy, very flowing movement,” she said of the willow dance. It shows the elegance of the ladies,” Ms Seow said.  “The swaying of the body represents the romantic, it represents the unlimited love of the lady.”

Alison He, at 24 the youngest of the group by 20 years, did belly dancing when she lived in China. Now finishing a masters of finance at the University of Western Sydney, she started Chinese dancing in Sydney. “I love dancing very much … it is like a big family, I feel very warm here. We are very happy. Happiness is very important when we dance, ” she said. 

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Queensland Tourism Award winners 2014

Fun Over Fifty took out gold for Best Tour. A room at Brisbane’s Emporium Hotel.
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Woodford Folk Festival.

It appears seniors are getting the best holidays with tour company Fun Over Fifty taking out gold at the Queensland Tourism Awards for Best Tour or Transport Operator.

As the name suggests, the company takes adventure seekers over 50-years-old on its diverse scenic tours, travelling anywhere from outback Queensland to the Mediterranean region.

Fun Over Fifty also won silver for Heritage and Cultural Tourism at the awards, falling behind gold-winner The Workshops Rail Museum.

Another notable success was the Emporium Hotel’s, winning a gold award for Luxury Accommodation and induction to the category’s Hall of Fame.

TAFE Queensland Brisbane was one more local champion, winning gold for Tourism Education and Training.

The 30th anniversary of the awards presentation recognised local industry contributors over 32 award categories, hosted by the Queensland Tourism Industry Council (QTIC).

Altogether, Brisbane tourism operators were recognised with 17 accolades.

“The Queensland Tourism Awards give businesses and individuals an opportunity to take pride in their contributions to the industry, raise the standard of quality tourism experiences throughout the state and strive for ongoing improvements to achieve our tourism goals,” said QTIC Chief Executive Daniel Gschwind.

“Since 1985, the Queensland Tourism Awards have served to highlight tourism’s powerful role in driving Queensland’s economic and community development.”

Queensland’s iconic XXXX Brewery won the tourism in wineries, distilleries and breweries award.

Woodford Folk Festival won the major festivals and events award, pushing Brisbane’s Gallery of Modern Art into second place for its popular exhibition ‘Cai Guo-Qiang: Falling Back to Earth’.

Jann Stuckey, the Minister for Tourism, said the awards are a benchmark for industry excellence.

“Operators who strive to find something extra, and give tourists an experience they will never forget should be congratulated,” she said.

Gold winners from the business categories will gain automatic entry into the Qantas Australian Tourism Awards held in April next year.

The tourism industry employs over 235,000 Queenslanders.

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Is the Trunkster concept the future face of luggage?

Sexy and lightweight: The Trunkster suitcase. Photo: kickstarter南京夜网 Sexy and lightweight: The Trunkster suitcase. Photo: kickstarter南京夜网
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Sexy and lightweight: The Trunkster suitcase. Photo: kickstarter南京夜网

Sexy and lightweight: The Trunkster suitcase. Photo: kickstarter南京夜网

At the moment, Trunkster luggage is a Kickstarter project awaiting a sizeable capital injection by way of crowdfunding to get it off the ground and into shops, but it represents a radical rethink in luggage design.

Proposed as carry-on and suitcase versions, Trunkster bags feature zipperless entry, a removable battery with a USB port and a digital scale that weighs the case. They’re also GPS enabled, allowing the case to be tracked via any connected device and they come with a five-year warranty.

Construction is a polycarbonate skin over an aluminium frame, a proven formula for durability and light weight. Trunkster bags open like a rolltop desk, via a concertina door that slides down the entire face of the bag. A TSA-approved combination lock provides security. The handle extends from one side of the bag to the other, claimed to offer enhanced manoeuvreability.

All that techno-punch comes with a weight penalty. The carry-on has a projected weight of 3.6 kg. For the checked bag it’s 4.5 kg. That’s a bite out of the permitted weight especially in the case of the 7 kg that is the common maximum carry-on weight.

The concept for the Trunkster comes from the real-world experience of two passionate travellers, born of frustration with existing designs. The aim is to build “a well-crafted suitcase that prioritises utility and versatility in a minimalist style.” If the Trunkster becomes a reality, expect to see at least some of its features copied by major players in the game.

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Low-ball Calliden takeover in trouble as opposition mounts

Stephen Atkinson, of Adam Smith Investments, has doubts over the Calliden dealInstitutional investor opposition to the sale of insurer Calliden is hardening, with mounting indications the bid by Steadfast may be in trouble, as a shareholder vote on the proposal looms.
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Fund manager Adam Smith Asset Management has gone public with its opposition to the offer, which it deems to be too low. It joined NAOS Asset Management, which earlier expressed the view that the offer on the table for the company “arguably undervalues the company”.

Steadfast is offering 41.5¢ cash a share for insurer Calliden, with shareholders also to receive a 5¢-a-share special dividend.

The offer, via a scheme of arrangement, can be defeated if 25 per cent of the shares vote against it at a shareholder meeting on December 8.

Indicating the poor value of the bid for Calliden shareholders is the fact that Steadfast’s share price has rallied on the bid move, fund managers said.

“We feel Steadfast can  – and should – be paying more this with or without a competing bid,” Adam Smith director Stephen Atkinson said.

“At 46.5¢, the independent expert has ‘low-balled’ the bid.”

The independent expert has assessed the full underlying value of the shares to be in the range of 45.7¢ to 51.1¢, so the 46.5¢ payment per share is at the low end of the range.

However, Calliden has significant franking credits and substantial tax losses that Adam Smith feels have been undervalued. Additionally, the expert valuation has attached a low figure to the worth of Calliden’s insurance underwriting unit as well as undervaluing its insurance broking arm

“We don’t feel Steadfast is paying a very full price for the business,” Adam Smith’s Mr Atkinson said.

Others, such as activist investor Sandon Capital, are also unhappy with the bid price.

“We haven’t made a decision” whether to support the bid, Sandon’s Gabriel Radzyminski said.

“We’ll probably wait until the very end to see if there is a change to the offer.

“It’s a very good price for Steadfast.”

At its December 31 balance date, Calliden had in hand $26 million of franking credits, which will still be sizeable after paying the planned 5¢-a-share special dividend and 1¢ interim payout that will chew an estimated half of this balance.

Since the Steadfast offer was disclosed, Calliden shares have regularly traded 0.5¢ above the imputed value of the offer, although usually with only small volumes traded at the higher price.

This occurred again just over a week ago when a small parcel was traded at 47¢, slightly higher than the theoretical value of 46.5¢.

Under a scheme of arrangement, the proposal could fail if more than 25 per cent of shares vote to oppose the deal. Calliden has a handful of shareholders with large stakes.

Australian Unity holds 13 per cent, with a range of other fund managers such as First Samuel, NAOS, Greencape and Challenger holding  6 to 8 per cent.

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Australia’s detention of refugees is forbidden by international law: UN Committee Against Torture

Sri Lanka arrests returned asylum seekersDetainee: I was raped on Nauru
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Geneva: Australia’s detention of refugees, including children, is ‘cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment’ forbidden by international law, a United Nations report has found.

The report released on Friday in Geneva by the UN Committee Against Torture called on Australia to stop putting asylum seekers into mandatory detention, and to make sure that asylum seekers on Manus Island and Nauru are treated more humanely, and their claims are promptly and properly assessed.

“The combination of … harsh conditions, the protracted periods of closed detention and uncertainty about the future reportedly creates serious physical and mental pain and suffering,” the report said.

In written observations the committee said Australia should repeal the laws that send all ‘irregular’ arrivals into mandatory detention.

Under the Convention Against Torture, Australia must prevent torture and other acts of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment when people are imprisoned or detained.

Claudio Grossman, chair of the ten-person committee and the “rapporteur” who investigated Australia’s treatment of asylum seekers, told Fairfax that during his investigation Australia had not provided him with evidence of its compliance with this convention.

He said Australia had failed to show that it was not sending asylum seekers back to countries where they faced a “substantial risk of torture”.

He added it was clear that Australia had “effective control” over the detention centres in PNG and Nauru, and so it was responsible for ensuring that they complied with Australia’s obligations under the convention.

“When there is mandatory detention of undocumented immigrants and children, that runs counter to our interpretation of the convention,” he said.

The committee said it was “concerned that detention continues to be mandatory for all unauthorised arrivals, including for children,” in the report compiled after hearing evidence from human rights groups as well as the Australian government.

“Detention should be only applied as a last resort,” the report said, only when “strictly necessary” in each individual case, and should be for as short a time as possible.

It said it was concerned at Australia’s policy of transferring asylum seekers to processing centres in Papua New Guinea and Nauru, “despite reports on the harsh conditions prevailing in these centres, including … overcrowding, inadequate health care and even allegations of sexual abuse and ill-treatment”.

The Committee was concerned “in particular [about] the policy of intercepting and turning back boats, without due consideration of [Australia’s] obligations” under international law.

Anyone who arrives or attempts to arrive in Australia seeking asylum or protection should be guaranteed that their claims are thoroughly examined, and be able to challenge any adverse decision.

“[Australia] should continue and redouble its efforts” to find an alternative to closed immigration detention.

Mr Grossman said the committee was also concerned by the high proportion of indigenous people in jails, and the situation of women in detention facilities, particularly indigenous women.

The committee also welcomed the Royal Commission into child sexual abuse, however it said it was “concerned” as to “whether the outcome of its work will result in criminal investigations, prosecutions and compensation for victims”.

It also: – criticised the treatment of inmates at Roebourne Regional Prison- recommended the Australian government consider abolishing the use of tasers- expressed its ‘concern’ over Australia’s counter-terrorism legislation, including the “broad” definition of a terrorist act, and the detention powers of ASIO.

Fairfax asked if an Australian government spokesperson was available to respond to the committee’s report, but has not yet received a reply.

In its appearance before the committee earlier this month, Australia’s delegation said it “takes its obligations under the Convention very seriously. Since ratifying the Convention in 1989, Australia has worked to ensure Australia’s laws, policies and practices are consistent with our international obligations.”

Australia’s permanent representative to the UN John Quinn told the committee that the government had “striven to improve the design and procedures of its migration programmes to enhance fairness, accountability and integrity.

“A robust returns process for dealing with those found not to be in need of protection is fundamental to the integrity of status determination processes.”

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Well-meaning advice on weight loss does a fat lot of good

Zip it: Well-intended advice can make an obesity battle worse. Photo: Supplied
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Zip it: Well-intended advice can make an obesity battle worse. Photo: Supplied

Zip it: Well-intended advice can make an obesity battle worse. Photo: Supplied

Tempted to tell an overweight friend, lover or family member to think twice about eating another piece of cake? New research suggests you would be doing more harm than good.

Overweight Australians regularly encounter unhelpful stigmas (often well intended) which, it is suspected, exacerbate weight gain.

A recent study of 46 overweight and obese people found that most experience negative treatment related to their weight on a daily basis, such as being laughed at or having a doctor blame an unrelated problem on their size.

The most frequent perpetrators of what has been called “the last socially acceptable form of discrimination” were strangers, spouses or partners, friends, parents and the media.

The research, led by the University of New South Wales and published in the Journal of Contextual Behavioural Science, suggests many overweight and obese people are in a negative environmental cycle that discourages them from losing weight to improve their health.

Previous studies have shown that media coverage presenting negative portrayals of obese people as lazy or overindulgent can encourage unhealthy behaviour. One study found that overweight women who watched stigmatising media portrayals in a video ate more snacks compared to overweight women who watched a control video.

Research has also shown that overweight and obese people face discrimination in the workplace, health care facilities and the dating scene.

Most participants in one survey said they would prefer to date a recovering drug addict, mentally ill person, or someone with a sexually transmitted disease than an overweight person. Another study found employers viewed overweight job candidates as less qualified, less effective, and less trustworthy than their slimmer counterparts.

Public health campaigns aimed at reducing obesity have also used stigmatising images on the premise that if it were sufficiently unpleasant to be obese, overweight people would be motivated to change their behaviour and lose weight.

But UNSW psychologist Dr Lenny Vartanian, who conducted the recent study on 46 people in Sydney, said there was growing evidence this was not the case. He said stigma could cause low self-esteem and depression, and make people feel less motivated to diet and more likely to binge eat.

If people want to help loved ones lose weight, Dr Vartanian said they could propose constructive ideas such as joint exercise or cooking healthier meals together.

“If you look at your partner across the table and say ‘Don’t you think your arse is fat enough?’ That is not going to help. If you’re trying to support people you care about, treat them with dignity and respect and be supportive and encouraging. Help them in their goals rather than thinking you will do any good by demeaning them,” he said.

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Ferguson signifies sad end of the age of Obama

Some time before midnight on Tuesday, a peaceful but tense crowd protested before a line of police and National Guard in front of the Ferguson police station.
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It was cold, just on freezing, and the two parties had been facing off since sunset. While most in the crowd were calling for peace, some wanted confrontation, and they were getting bored.

Overhead a police chopper described lazy circles in the sky and it soon became clear its spotlight was fixed on a nearby location.

The result was predictable but grimly fascinating to watch nevertheless.

A few young men broke away and headed off to find the light. Others followed in twos and threes and then, as though drawn by surface tension, the crowd moved, its front ranks breaking from march to canter to run as they turned a corner. It was like a drop of water gathering bulk and pace as it found its way down a windowpane.

In front of the Ferguson City Hall the frontrunners joined a smaller group that had set upon a police car. They shattered its windows with thudding kicks and stones torn from the border of a garden bed. They lifted it on to its side and stepped back before it fell with a sprinkling thud on to its wheels again.

After long seconds police in squad cars and National Guard in armoured personnel carriers arrived and formed ranks marching forward, some spraying mace at those too slow to flee.

The town hall, with its Christmas dioramas silhouetted behind floor-to-ceiling windows, was saved.

This week you could rack a moment like that up as a success for police in Ferguson, but you don’t have to look hard for the metaphor.

The violence followed the police spotlight. Rallying point

It wasn’t meant to be this way. There had been hope that the United States’ election of a black president signalled the beginning of the end of the racial division that has tormented the nation since its creation.

Instead, the president’s race became a rallying point for the most extreme of his opponents, who appeared to believe it rendered him ineligible for office.

For years Barack Obama has ignored the race baiting of elements of the far right, in public referring to it only in jest.

“Let’s face it, Fox, you will miss me when I’m gone,” he said at the last White House Correspondents’ Association dinner. “It will be harder to convince the American people that Hillary was born in Kenya.”

Laughable as they are, the birth conspiracies and the racism they reflect have cast a shadow over Obama’s presidency.

Soon after coming into office he was to realise that far from helping the US overcome racial tension, his presence had the capacity to inflame it.

This became clear to the world after the killing of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed African American boy who was shot dead near his father’s home by neighbourhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman.

Martin’s killing by Zimmerman provoked nationwide protest among African Americans, not so much for the shooting but for the fact police did not even charge Zimmerman with a crime for six weeks, presuming that under Florida’s “shoot first” self-defence laws he had committed no crime. In the end Zimmerman was charged and found not guilty, a result that prompted outrage and protest, though not riots.

When the President eventually discussed the case, he observed: “I can only imagine what these parents are going through, and when I think about this boy I think about my own kids, and I think every parent in America should be able to understand why it is absolutely imperative that we investigate every aspect of this and that everybody pulls together, federal, state and local, to figure out how this tragedy happened.”

And he added: “You know, if I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon.”

The observation infuriated many conservative Americans. In a comment typical of the tone Newt Gingrich, then a presidential candidate, thundered, “Is the President suggesting that if it had been a white who had been shot, that would be okay because it wouldn’t look like him?”

Obama must have already known that his expression of empathy for the parents of a dead black child would provoke anger in some.

In the first year of his presidency race had exploded as an issue for the White House in the most unlikely of ways.

The famed African American Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates jnr had just arrived home and found his front door jammed when a local police sergeant, James Crowley, came across him. Rather than helping him open the door, Crowley suspected Gates of being a burglar and arrested him.

In the ensuing controversy Obama remarked that the arrest was “stupid”. The comment became the first serious blow to his presidency. The outrage that Obama might side with an African American arrested by a white cop was so prolonged and intense that the White House finally tried to end it with a so-called “beer summit” – an excruciatingly awkward meeting between Obama, the cop and the professor at the White House over a beer.

“My hope is that as a consequence of this event this ends up being what’s called a ‘teachable moment’, where all of us, instead of pumping up the volume, spend a little more time listening to each other and try to focus on how we can generally improve relations between police officers and minority communities, and that instead of flinging accusations we can all be a little more reflective in terms of what we can do to contribute to more unity,” Obama said.

It was a teachable moment too, though perhaps not in the way the president had hoped. Obama learnt to discuss race very rarely and very delicately – he barely touched on it again until Martin was shot dead. African Americans learnt that just because there was a black man living in the White House they should not expect rapid change.

Asked about Obama during riots in Ferguson in August, one young man on the street told Fairfax Media: “‘I ain’t got no thoughts on him. Where he at? Where he at?

“Get him the f**k out of here. I still ain’t got insurance. F**k that nigger.” Racial divide

The racial divide in the US is perhaps most easily quantifiable in the criminal justice system.

African Americans are incarcerated at six times the rate of whites and make up 1 million of the US’s 2.3 million incarcerated. Obviously the factors that can lead a person into prison are myriad, but one thing is clear – blacks are far more likely than other citizens to come into contact with police.

Over the past decade New York police pursued a strategy of “stop and frisk” to crack down on crime. The policy has been discredited and is winding down rapidly. At its height though the NYPD stopped and searched 500,000 people on the street without cause each year. About 12 per cent of them were white.

Many police forces around the country adopted similar tactics, though not always as systematically.

The impact of the policy on crime is contested, though crime rates across the country have been falling steadily since 1990.

What is clear though is that the constant searches have intensified the fear and mistrust many African Americans, particularly young black men, have for authorities.

In this toxic and hostile environment the explosion of violence after the unarmed teen Michael Brown was shot dead by a white police officer in Ferguson, and again after it was decided the officer would not face charges, is not surprising.

In Ferguson on Wednesday morning Tiffany and Ronald Singleton were standing in the snow across the road from a beauty supply shop that had been burnt to the ground in riots two nights before.

Police watched from the corner as the couple described what a typical stop is like.

“As soon as they get out of their cop cars they are reaching for their handcuffs and they cuff you while they question you and they don’t read you your rights,” Tiffany Singleton, 41, said. “They let you stand there, they call back to the police station and then they might let you go, depending on if you have a warrant or not, depending on if someone at the station wants you.”

Ronald, 34, estimated he was stopped twice a month and he smiled and shook his head in wonder when a reporter told him he couldn’t remember ever being stopped by a police officer as an adult.

Like many in Ferguson, Ronald does not believe Wilson had any cause to stop Brown the day the officer shot him, though evidence shows he recognised him as fitting the description of a young man who minutes earlier had stolen cigarillos from a liquor store.

And the couple believed Brown’s reaction to the stop – apparently one of aggression – was the right one.

Asked what the correct response to an officer in Ferguson was, Tiffany explained: “[You say] ‘f**k you’ and keep walking.”

Roland said: “What Mike did, he did the right motherf**king thing, cos I would have done the same motherf**king thing my damn self. Me being a black American, that’s the right thing.”

During the days of protest and violence after Brown was shot, and again after Monday’s grand jury decision, many observers tried to distinguish between “the real” protesters, who according to this line of reasoning were local and non-violent, and “the trouble-makers”, who had come to town to incite violence for the atavistic joy of it.

That distinction was not made so commonly on the streets.

On the fringe of a rally on Tuesday night Darnell Singleton, a documentary maker who lives in Ferguson and has been protesting and filming since the shooting, explained in front of the police station that everyone in the chanting crowd before us was angry, just that some were more mature than others.

“When you twist the pitch fork in their heart, some of these young men are going to lash out,” he said.

Others said the violence was spurred as much by hopelessness as anger.

“It’s one thing if he [officer Wilson] went to trial and they said he was innocent, but saying you don’t even have to have a trial for shooting a black man, that’s another thing,” student Jashyra Robinson, 22, said. “That’s what hurts me the most.”

The day after the riots and fires in Ferguson the protests spread across the nation. This was no accident. Ever since Brown was shot dozens of protest groups have been gathering and organising under various umbrella groups. Many organisers do not see the movement as simply a reaction to the shooting, but as the next chapter of the ongoing civil rights movement.

Their slogans and evolving tactics reflect that. The crowds still chant “Hands up, don’t shoot”, but as they block the roads in Ferguson they are as likely to be yelling at police, “Who shuts shit down? We shut shit down”. Across the country protesters have begun blocking roads as an act of civil disobedience.

Some see hope in the idea of a new generation taking up the civil rights movement, but that optimism is limited.

Professor Cornel West, a leading African American activist and trenchant critic of Obama, was asked his view by CNN this week.

“Ferguson signifies the end of the age of Obama,” he replied. “It’s a very sad end. We began with tremendous hope and we end with great despair.”

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Surfing on: Little to fear from shark catches

Peter Huggins, at Bondi, sees no cause for alarm over sharks. Photo: Peter Rae Peter Huggins, at Bondi, sees no cause for alarm over sharks. Photo: Peter Rae
Nanjing Night Net

Peter Huggins, at Bondi, sees no cause for alarm over sharks. Photo: Peter Rae

Peter Huggins, at Bondi, sees no cause for alarm over sharks. Photo: Peter Rae

Peter Huggins, one of only a couple of surfers braving Bondi waves early one morning this week, says he isn’t spooked by recent sightings of sharks or the discovery of a couple of great whites in nets off the popular beach.

“I’m sure there are plenty of sharks out there,” Mr Huggins, a regular surfer at Bondi, said. “If I did see one, it would probably give me a bit of a shock.”

Another remarkably warm spring has drawn beachgoers to the state’s coast earlier than usual. Sydneysiders can expect another few balmy days after Saturday’s forecast top of 25 degrees – with a trio of days of about 30 degrees to follow.

The Bureau of Meteorology says odds also favour a hotter than normal summer for virtually the whole country, with the eastern two-thirds also likely to be relatively dry.

As summer beckons, though, expect regular bouts of media frenzy stirred by images of great whites and beach-clearing episodes when a shark is spotted.

The recent discovery of two great whites in Bondi nets was “a complete coincidence”, said Vic Peddemors, a shark biologist with the Department of Primary Industries, adding, “the chance of encountering a shark is extremely slim.”

Five or six great whites are caught each year in what Dr Peddemors calls “fishery forts”, protecting parts of beaches from Stockton, north of Newcastle, down to Wollongong.

“The shark net catch is only about 100 sharks of all species per year and a commercial fisher catches that in a night,” he said. “The white shark catch this year is no higher than any other year.”

Great white sharks have been protected off NSW since the mid-1990s as numbers dived.

“You’d expect to see some recovery but the jury’s still out,” Dr Peddemors said. “These animals are long-lived, slow reproducing, so it takes a long time for shark populations to recover from over-exploitation.”

Little is known about the movements and abundance of many marine species. The use of new tagging devices, including for sharks, will give researchers a better grasp of how changing oceanic conditions, including from global warming, are affecting marine life, Dr Peddemors said.

Immediate conditions are certainly on the warm side. Almost the entire east Australian coast is at least 0.5 degrees above normal, with waters off Sydney 1-2 degrees balmier.

“At 21-22 degrees, it’s almost as warm as Sydney gets on average,” said Ed Couriel, principal engineer at Manly Hydraulics Laboratory.

Mr Couriel, as it happens, is also a regular surfer at Manly, with a keen interest in sharks of late.

Two months ago, his 13 year-old daughter Katelyn was bitten on the hand by a shark while surfing at Town Beach at Port Macquarie.

The bite, possibly by a whaler or a wobbegong, required five stitches. It hasn’t put Katelyn off surfing, even if the family is more wary than before.

“We put it down to a rare event, and she bought it,” Mr Couriel said.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Hot 2015

Hungary, Budapest, Budapest, Central Europe, View on the Parliament over Danube River.
Nanjing Night Net

Hungary, Budapest, Budapest, Central Europe, View on the Parliament over Danube River.

Hungary, Budapest, Budapest, Central Europe, View on the Parliament over Danube River.

Hungary, Budapest, Budapest, Central Europe, View on the Parliament over Danube River.

HOT 2015

PORTLAND, OREGON

Why here: With its craft distilleries, nano- and microbreweries, food trucks and skateboard- and bike-friendly streets, Portland has already hit every hipster’s travel radar. In 2015, two Hollywood films will shine a light on the liberal-minded city and the ruggedly beautiful state. Wild chronicles Portland author Cheryl Strayed’s trek along the West Coast’s Pacific Crest Trail. Instead of faking it, filmmakers rolled their cameras in locations throughout Oregon, including Bend, east of Eugene, and Portland’s Hotel deLuxe. Starring Reese Witherspoon, Wild opens in Australia in January. Fifty Shades of Grey opens here in time for Valentine’s Day. In the book, Ana and Christian’s first liaison unfolds at Portland’s Heathman Hotel. Naturally, there’s a Fifty Shades of Oregon package that rolls the Heathman, coastal and mountain stays, tub dining, beach bonfire, wine/aphrodisiac pairings, town-car transfers and more into a six-night $US7500 romp.

Don’t miss: Powell’s City of Books covers an entire downtown block. With more than a million new and used books, and intriguing staff reviews peppering the shelves, it’s possible to spend days in here.

Insider tips: Tourists flock to Voodoo Doughnut but Blue Star Donuts’ more sophisticated creations include blueberry, bourbon and basil, banana walnut fritter, real maple and bacon, and dulce de leche and hazelnut. Oregon is also home to the largest collection of covered bridges in the US West; most of the 50-plus bridges are in the Willamette Valley south of Portland.

Details traveloregon南京夜网, hoteldeluxeportland南京夜网, heathmanportland南京夜网, powells南京夜网, bluestardonuts南京夜网, covered-bridges.org.

The writer was a guest of Travel Oregon.

SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA

Why here: Long seen as crowded, corporate and a bit dull, South Korea’s capital has thrown off its over-earnest stereotype to reveal a city with a sense of style and fun.

Its identity as a UNESCO City of Design was underlined in 2014 with the opening of the Dongdaemun Design Plaza, a spectacular building resembling a vast silver spaceship. Containing a museum, a design market and restaurants on the site of a former baseball park and historic fort, it’s a compelling destination for both locals and visitors.

Another recent cultural addition is the city campus of the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, next to an ancient palace and showcasing the imaginative work of local artists. Though undeniably up-to-date in execution, its art incorporates many elements of Korea’s culture and history: here a hint of Buddhism, there an echo of the division between north and south.

Seoul’s food also reflects this creative tension between old and new. Though its classic dishes are plentifully available in places such as the busy Gwangjang Market, chefs are also experimenting with modern expressions of traditional cuisine. In the Insadong district, for example, the restaurant Si Wha Dam serves playfully arranged dishes that mimic the appearance of Western staples such as pasta, while retaining a distinctly Korean flavour.

This traditionally tea-drinking nation has also embraced the international passion for coffee. You’ll find home-grown cafes in every corner of the city, even the heritage neighbourhood of Bukchon with its traditional Korean homes and their distinctive peaked roofs.

For more of the modern, hit the Hongdae district next to Hongik University. A hotbed of shops, cafes, bars and nightclubs, it’s an energetic expression of young creative Seoul. It’s the place to hang out at a cat cafe by day, before taking in a live K-pop band by night.

Don’t miss: On May 16, Buddha’s birth will be marked by the annual Lotus Lantern Parade through Seoul.

Insider tip: Don’t miss out on a visit to a jjimjilbang, the traditional bathhouse. Found all over the city, they offer a distinctly Korean cultural experience that’s also supremely relaxing.

The details ddp.or.kr, mmca.go.kr, siwhadam南京夜网, bukchon.seoul.go.kr, llf.or.kr, visitseoul.net, visitkorea.or.kr

Tim Richards

The writer was as a guest of the Korea Tourism Organisation.

KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA

Why here: No city suffered more than Kuala Lumpur after  this year’s two Malaysian airlines disasters and its population’s response demonstrated its character.  Buddhists, Muslims, Catholics, Malays, Indians, Chinese and Tamils all grieved together in this city of blurred ethnicity, where different communities have grown up and live together in relative harmony.

Like Istanbul on Europe’s fringes, Kuala Lumpur  straddles Islamic and Western  sensibilities, but in a way that is “truly Asian”, to coin Tourism Malaysia’s catchphrase. This not only makes Kuala Lumpur an absorbing place to visit, with its fusion of influences and architecture styles, but also an important example of how people from different creeds can happily co-exist. DJ Calvin Harris’s first ever Malaysian gig, shortly after MH370’s disappearance, showed the unity, with groups of mixed ethnicity strolling arm in arm, Muslim girls in headscarves and “party responsibly” T-shirts strutting their dance moves and little sign of drugs or drunkenness.

With Bangkok recently beset by political unrest, Kuala Lumpur’s diverse culture and food makes it an inspiring alternative destination, with endless shopping possibilities in the malls of its central Golden Triangle district.   Luxury hotel brands are backing KL’s potential. A St Regis opens next year, new Four Seasons and W properties are due in 2017 and Harrods is developing its first, seven-star, hotel in the city. 2015 is Tourism Malaysia’s “Year of Festivals” so the focus will be on the city’s multicultural celebrations, including post-Ramadan Hari Raya festivities (September) and the Hindu Deepavali light festival (November).

Don’t miss: Petronas Towers, illuminated at night, viewed from the Sky Bar on the 33rd floor of Traders Hotel. shangri-la南京夜网/kualalumpur/traders/dining/bars-lounges/sky-bar/

Insider tip: For authentic local food take the “Off the Eaten Track” tour with foodtourmalaysia南京夜网

The details tourismmalaysia南京夜网.au/destinations/kuala-lumpur

Daniel Scott

The writer was a guest  Tourism Malaysia

SYDNEY

Why here: The high-rise cranes and street-level hoardings radiating from Darling Harbour are a clue that something big is going on (and up). Connect the construction sites and you’ll find Sydney is busy building a multi-billion-dollar “cultural ribbon” that will curve from Broadway to Barangaroo. Among the first attractions to open will be the 250-metre-long Goods Line North, a pedestrian-friendly corridor with elevated spaces running from Ultimo to the Powerhouse Museum (a southern half will connect to Central Station’s Railway Square). The northern end is due for completion in early 2015, coinciding with the opening of “starchitect” Frank Gehry’s first building down under – the University of Technology Sydney’s Dr Chau Chak Wing Business School. The 11-storey brick creation, which resembles a crumpled brown-paper bag, is already dividing critics. In May, as part of Vivid Sydney, a 500-seat theatre built from shipping containers will pop up in Barangaroo to host Here Lies Love, a disco musical from former Talking Heads frontman David Byrne and DJ Fatboy Slim about the colourful life of former Philippines’ First Lady, Imelda Marcos. The theatre will sit just south of six-hectare Headland Park, which opens in July at the northern end of Barangaroo near the Walsh Bay theatre district.

The former wharf’s concrete edge has been ripped out and replaced with 6500 sandstone blocks that hark back to the natural shoreline of pre-colonial times. Overlooking the radical overhaul is The Langham Sydney, which had its own revamp this year. Thirty million dollars later, the luxury hotel in The Rocks will reopen on December 2.

Don’t miss: Boat tours on the second Friday of each month offer a duck’s-eye view of the transformation of Sydney CBD’s western edge. The 30-minute tours include commentary from Barangaroo Delivery Authority staff.

Insider tip: Sydney Architecture Walks also explores the CBD’s rapidly changing western edge through its Three Suburbs Central architect-led bike tour (the next tour is January 31).

Details uts.edu.au, barangaroo南京夜网, sydneyarchitecture.org, sydney.langhamhotels南京夜网.au.

Katrina Lobley

DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA

Why here: Finally, LA has a centre. With pedestrian and cycle-friendly tree-lined streets, and hip residents moving into once-boarded-up warehouses, the revitalisation of Downtown Los Angeles is in full effect. At the Ace Downtown LA hotel, big name bands pull up to check in and check out the rooftop bar, complete with pool and DJs as well as the craft coffee roaster downstairs. Next door, the Theatre at Downtown Ace, once the United Artists silent movie house and a televangelist’s tabernacle hosts only the coolest events like An Evening with Patti Smith (Jan 29 – 30, 2015). Up the street, Jay-Z has brought his Made in America music festival to the once-seedy Grand Park.

The rejuvenated century-old Regent Theatre is another former movie palace cum concert venue in the Old Bank District that has just opened its doors with the attached Prufrock Pizzeria and a bar called The Love Song, a dual nod to T.S. Eliot. Nearby, the Tex Mex at Bar Ama and Italian fare at Bottega Louis has those in the know queuing for tables.

Admittedly, the new arrival of wellness store, The Springs, offering yoga, reiki and organic juices with an in-house horticulturalist who sings to the fig trees and palms might be a step too far but among the Banksy artworks and giant H&Ms and Zaras, remnants of the past gladly remain. The 97-year-old Grand Central Market opened 10 new food concepts in the past year and expanded to dinner hours Thursday to Saturday. Potion shop Farmacia y Botanica Million Dollar still sells charms, candles and oils to stave off jealousy, legal troubles and poverty. Now is the time to check out this quickly transitioning area before the big brand flagships well and truly take over.

Don’t miss: The Broad Museum, with an adjacent architecturally designed public green space plaza is set to open in Autumn 2015. Holding contemporary artwork from philanthropists Eli and Edythe Broad’s private collection, the museum will feature more than 2,000 individual works by approximately 200 artists. Admission is free, with a charge for temporary special exhibitions.

Insider tip: Be sure to visit the Los Angeles Public Library in the Goodhue Building on Flower Street. You can walk in and take a one-hour tour of the magnificent building with its sphinxes, rooftop pyramid, and eight-storey chandeliered atrium. Renowned writer, Susan Orlean is currently writing a tome dedicated to it. Book and vinyl record lovers should also visit The Last Book Store, a spectacular room selling piles of books and records from a dollar each.

The details  acehotel南京夜网/losangeles, visitcalifornia南京夜网.au, www.thebroad.org.

Andrea Black

The writer travelled as a guest of Visit California.

SANTIAGO, CHILE

Why here: Ay, caramba! This South American gateway, for Australian travellers at least, is often overlooked in the gallop to Peru, Rio, the Andes or Buenos Aires, but if safe, lively, likeable and fantastic value feature in your holiday wish list, the Chilean capital is an essential stopover. As well as a distinguished heritage of Spanish colonial churches, neo-Renaissance banks and public buildings, Santiago brings an artsy vibrance to the traveller’s table, but you need to pick with care from the city’s 32 comunas. Tiny Bellavista is where Santiago wears its skinny ripped jeans, a colourful collage of hipster boutiques, cool cafes, sassy bars  and galleries of avant-garde artworks, and also the former residence of Nobel poet Pablo Neruda, whose home still commands homage. Don’t miss the barrio’s cite with its rows of painted houses arranged along narrow alleyways. Bellavista is also a promising nightlife zone, whatever your taste might be. Barrio Lastarria is an emergent coolzone, populated with students from the surrounding universities and home to cafes that spill across the pavements, and some of the city’s grandest public art galleries, with a sprinkling of fine boutique hotels in the blend. You’re mixing it with dog walkers in elegant Vitacura, and a leisurely class whose primary aim is to be thin and wear the right accessories, but its tree-shaded boulevards and gardens are prime territory for a Saturday stroll.

Don’t miss: The flea market held every weekend in Plaza Mulato Gil de Castro, off Merced Boulevard, Barrio Lastarria.

Insider tip: Emporio La Rosa, ice cream made by angels, in multiple locations. Vanilla with rose, spicy chocolate and mango with green tea are standouts.

The details southamericatourism南京夜网

Michael Gebicki

The writer was a guest of LAN Airlines and the South America Tourism Office.

BREAKOUTS

VALPARAISO, CHILE

Sprawled across a half-Colosseum of leaping hills that rise from Chile’s Pacific shore, frisked by a sea breeze, Valparaiso has become the country’s cultural cauldron, a hubble-bubble of creative energy, vitality, and itchy spirits out to bend the rules. It feels like a Latino Berlin, with sunshine. Temperamentally as well as topographically, there are two Valpos, as residents style their city. El Plano is the plank of the city surrounding the port, a rough-and-tumble neighbourhood better left to its own devices. Rising steeply from El Plano is Cerros, 45 hills that are accessed via ascensores, clanking, creaking, Victorian-era funiculars that hoist passengers from the grid of streets on the city’s ground floor. Where they leave the well-informed visitor is the writhing streets of Cerro Alegre and Cerro Concepcion, furnished with a mad and chaotic tangle of Frenchified manor houses, Swiss-style cottages, turreted mansions and creaking iron shanties with Romeo-and-Juliet balconies. Built when Valparaiso was a key player in the maritime trade of the Americas, these were once the houses of merchants, entrepreneurs, shipwrights and mariners. Many constructed their houses from corrugated iron carried as ships’ ballast, tacked onto timber frames, with fanciful touches as their imagination dictated, and painted in Popsicle colours. Chromium yellow, turquoise, pink, lime – no colour was too outlandish. Hard times came Valpo’s way when an earthquake flattened the city in 1906, closely followed by the opening of the Panama Canal, effectively short-circuiting Valparaiso’s importance as a port. Anyone who could left town, but cheap housing, a sunny climate and the louche, anything-goes style of the portenos proved a magnet for writers, artists and musicians. Among them was Chile’s Nobel-winning poet, Pablo Neruda, who celebrated its mad, dishevelled spirit in his Ode to Valparaiso, and whose former hillside residence, La Sebastiana, is now one of the city’s prime attractions. However it is only over the past few years when rehabilitation funds have poured in and the city notched up a World Heritage listing that Valpo has undergone a rags-to-recherche renaissance. Signs of urban renewal are everywhere. The outrageously florid Palacio Baburizza, an art nouveau pile built by a Croatian immigrant made good, has now become the Fine Arts Museum.  Nearby, the French-colonial Palacio Astoreca, teaming a lipstick red facade with white-rimmed window frames, cuts a fashionable figure in the smart hotel lists. The city’s former prison has been repurposed as a cultural centre in an edgy design by marquee Santiago architects HLPS. Threaded through the cultural landmarks is a piquant, raffish assembly of galleries, restaurants, boutiques and bars with the international boho arts brigade a prominent feature. Some of these artists have taken their brushes to the streetscapes, decorating the houses with huge murals that celebrate, criticise, inflame and entertain. A distinctive South American voice emerges in the narrative works that spread wings as they abandon mundane reality – magic realism transported from print to walls, paint instead of pen.

Don’t miss: Evening cocktails on the terrace of the Palacio Astoreca Hotel.

Insider tip: Take a walking tour with Valpo Street Art Tours for an intimate, expert view, conducted by former street kids.

The details southamericatourism南京夜网,

valpostreetart南京夜网

MICHAEL GEBICKI

The writer was a guest of LAN Airlines and the South America Tourism Office

BUDAPEST, HUNGARY

When I first came here during the fading days of Communism, Budapest was weary, dirty and dilapidated. Over two decades of repeat visits, I’ve watched this sleeping beauty awaken as its soot-scarred buildings are cleaned, squares are planted with flowers and trees, and residents emerge in newfound energy and the latest fashions. With luxe hotels sprouting like mushrooms, river-cruise ships invading the quays, restaurants at every two paces and budget airlines flying in, visitors numbers have soared.

Budapest has turned itself into one of Europe’s most impressive capitals, confident and ever-changing. The city is abuzz with fashion shows and film festivals, always-evolving boutiques and a seeming over-supply of cafes and eateries; some have garnered Michelin stars for their contemporary reinventions of Hungarian cuisine. Hungarian wine is on the improve too, with city wine bars now providing chic tasting spaces. Lively ‘ruin pubs’ – the Budapest version of pop-up bars – are invigorating disused spaces and derelict buildings.

The improvements keep on coming: the city’s just-launched public bicycle system (bkk.hu) now allows locals and visitors alike to pedal around on green bikes for free, or for a minimal fee if it takes more than a half-hour to get from one bike station to another.

What I also like about Budapest is that the dividing Danube River gives you two cities in one. Hilly Buda has history and disgorges tour groups for sweeping views and looks at the cathedral and royal palace. The painted pastel facades of the old town are lovely. Across the river, flat Pest is the pulsating heart of the contemporary city. It’s also the flamboyant showcase of the former Austro-Hungarian Empire. Budapest is the epitome of a grand fin-de-siecle European city, topped by Hapsburg eagles and Greek muses, knitted together by iron bridges, graced with neo-Gothic spires like the set of a light opera. It seems a fitting setting for séances and anarchists, carriages and crinolines.

Pest’s buildings are a marvel of neo-classical and Art Nouveau glory, its public baths and cream-cake cafes a wonder of flamboyant Victoriana. Rattling yellow trams make me think of Freud. The curlicue, red-silk, gilt-gaudy opera house is magnificent. In October, the prestigious Liszt Ferenc Academy of Music (lfze.hu) reopened after a two-year overhaul that has seen its lovely Art Nouveau architecture and interior re-emerge, and a new concert hall added. Budapest has always been music mad.

Budapest is a multi-layered city and it isn’t all waltzes and hazelnut cakes. The haunting Jewish neighbourhood has never recovered from WWII, though reconstructed Dohany Synagogue (Europe’s largest) is wonderful, and lately Jewish cuisine has seen a revival in the trendy restaurants of the Seventh District. There isn’t much left from the Communist era except shuffling suburban babushkas, left behind by the new Hungary. But there are interesting exhibits on Communist times in the Hungarian National Museum (hnm.hu). Memento Park (mementopark.hu) is a photographer’s joy: a knacker’s yard of colossal Soviet-era busts and statues removed from around the city.

Don’t miss: Overlooked terrace gardens studded with ornate pavilions and arcades have always tumbled down the hillside from royal palace to river. Now Varkert Bazar has been sumptuously renovated; cultural spaces, shops and cafés are moving in. See varkertbazar.hu

Insider tip: Been before? Then venture away from the city centre into the Eighth District, a former no-go area whose scrubbed-up aristocratic buildings are being transformed with cafes, art galleries and great bars, well away from weekend stag-party crowds.

The details budapest南京夜网

BRIAN JOHNSTON

The writer travelled as a guest of Viking River Cruises.

POINTER

View all the cities – and the rest of the Hot List – from the November 22 edition on traveller南京夜网.au.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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