Two Greek Actresses Leading in Luhrmann’s Musical “Strictly Ballroom” in Australia – Phoebe Panaretos and Sophia Katos

Source: strictlyballroomthemusical.com

Phoebe Panaretos

PHOEBE PANARETOS – FRAN

Phoebe grew up in Sydney and went to Newtown School of Performing Arts and graduated topping the State in drama. She moved to Melbourne and was an inaugural 2011 Musical Theatre graduate of the Victorian College of the Arts where she awarded the Encouragement Award from the Friends of the VCA. In her final year she played the role of Anita in West Side Story Directed by Martin Croft.

Phoebe originally made her professional debut in Cameron Mackintosh’s production of Oliver when she was 11 years old playing the role of Rose. Other credits include touring Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide with the Simpsons Tour and singing at the Premier’s Concert in Sydney at the Entertainment Centre.

Since graduating Phoebe was cast in a role in the Television series Mr and Mrs Murder. In 2012 she toured to both Singapore and Hong Kong with Smile Live Entertainment production of Thomas And The Hidden Treasure. Earlier this year Phoebe was very excited to be part of The Production Company’s 2013 season of Singing in the Rain.

Phoebe would like to thank her family, teachers and Ian White Management for their support and guidance in getting her to this wonderful opportunity to play Fran – one of the most iconic film roles in Australian Films. Phoebe is extremely excited and honoured to be playing Fran and working with the amazing Baz Luhrmann.

With the full cast of the highly anticipated Global Creatures next major production Strictly Ballroom the musical finally announced, Aussie Theatre’s David Allen recently caught up with the shows two young stars Thomas Lacey and Phoebe Panaretos to talk about playing two iconic characters, growing up with the movie and being directed by Baz Luhrmann.

Thomas Lacey and Phoebe Panaretos

Thomas Lacey and Phoebe Panaretos

Thomas Lacey and Phoebe Panaretos may have just been cast in one of the biggest music theatre ventures in Australian history, but there’s no evidence of star ego here. Their enthusiasm and excitement is palpable as we talk. They’re both absolutely psyched to be standing where they are – the stars of a new Baz Luhrmann stage musical – and yet even after the intensive rehearsals and auditions, there’s still a sense of wonderment. I did it? I got the part? Whoa!

“I’m still processing it,” says Thomas Lacey as we talk in Sydney one balmy afternoon. “It’s so weird to think about it after everything that has happened. We’re lucky though to be working with Baz – he’s just very personable and disarming. It’s really helped all through auditions. You just knew he wanted to know you more and to work with you and bring out your best.”

Phoebe Panaretos is the actress to play the coveted role of Fran in the new Strictly Ballroom stage adaptation, and though she is clearly a dancer’s dancer, there is something friendly and effortless about her that makes her seem like a natural fit for the role. Unlike Luhrmann’s last leading lady, Daisy Buchanan in his epic screen adaptation of The Great Gatsby, there is no frivolity of pretension about Phoebe or Fran – this is a young actress ready to get to work. Thomas Lacey, her co-star and leading man in the role of Scott Hastings, has a very similar vibe. Talking to them is like chatting with a pair of mates, they’re so comfortable together.

“We met one day early on during auditions,” said Phoebe as we go on.

“We both managed to arrive an hour early one day and so we sat down next to each other and got chatting. Then around April in 2013 we did a read through together and at the time we laughed and said ‘wouldn’t it be great if we ended up the leads together’. And now here we are!”

They both laugh and we move on to the million dollar question. Though there are many famous and successful Australian directors working in the mainstream entertainment industry, love him or hate him, no one has inspired the same level of interest and discussion as Baz Luhrmann. Though most notable for his film work, it’s not that long ago that his production of La Boheme wowed audiences on Broadway. What is it like then working with one of Australia’s most sought after creative minds?

“I was nervous meeting him the first time,” Phoebe confesses.

“There’s something to be said for casting unestablished talent, for taking that risk, and we can only thank Baz for making it possible”

“I was so excited just even being there, and then he walked in and I think it took him about ten minutes to make everyone there completely comfortable. He just knows how to get you to relax and draw your best work out of you.”

“The best part of it,” adds Thomas, “is that you’re in the room with Baz. You’re not working with ‘Baz Luhrmann’. He’s easy and fun to work with. Just a lot of fun, there’s lots of jokes – he really does just get how to put you at your ease while you work with him.”

Strictly Ballroom is, of course, one of the most iconic Australian movies ever made. A resounding smash hit when it was first released in 1992 starring Paul Mercurio and Tara Morice, it has since gone on to be a cult favourite amongst Australian audiences and around the world. The announcement of the stage adaptation presented by Global Creatures and directed again by Baz Luhrmann has gone on to generate a great deal of excitement.

“I first saw the movie when I was fifteen,” Thomas laughs, “I wasn’t born even I think when the movie was released. I watched it a lot though this year. It’s a movie that it’s really easy to obsess over actually.”

“I watched it taped on a VHS off the TV with my grandma,” adds Phoebe, “it was a while ago now.”

Thomas laughs as he admits, “I actually thought when my agent first sent me the casting brief last year that I was auditioning for a movie! I read through it quickly and thought: ‘Baz Luhrmann’ – ok it must be a movie. I was talking to my sister about it later on and she absolutely tore into me about it and told me how important this was and she told me all about the story and the character and she’s really been my go-to person about it since.”

About the iconic role of Fran, Phoebe Panaretos is bright and optimistic.

“I knew when I first read the casting brief that this is a part I could play. I’m very new to music theatre and I entered into the audition process with no expectations. I think that actually helped because it meant from the beginning I could see myself as a ‘Fran’ in many ways. I was off exploring a new part of myself just like she does in the show.”

“It really is great that such young performers have been cast,” adds Thomas.

“Casting directors so often go for the same people – the people they know and have worked with before. We’re both complete unknowns and at the end of this big international search for our characters… the fact that Baz and Global Creatures have taken such a bold decision to cast us, it’s just so humbling.”

“We can only hope,” says Phoebe, “that this can pave the way for other producers casting the big shows to do the same. There’s something to be said for casting unestablished talent, for taking that risk, and we can only thank Baz for making it possible.”

I ask what the two young leads are both looking forward to the most about the show. Their answer tumbles out almost simultaneously as they both laugh and shout out: “Staring rehearsals!”

“I have to admit though,” says Thomas, “that I’m looking forward to doing the big slide in the final dance number. I can’t wait to do that on stage – it’s just going to be epic and I can’t wait to see what we do with that.”

“Phoebe and I got to workshop the Milk Bar scene from the show” – aficionados of the movie: start your engines! Others: start your DVD players! Seriously, you need to see this movie – “and we worked together for about twenty minutes each time. It was such a full on acting journey. Each time we ran it, it ended up being completely different, and Baz just knows exactly what to say and just what questions to ask to open your mind to the scene and the characters. I think Phoebe and I are going to be a more intimate Scott and Fran on stage. I’m really looking forward to discovering these characters and growing in rehearsals, and what a show to be able to do that in!”

Strictly Ballroom the musical will commence previews at Sydney’s Lyric Theatre on Tuesday, March 25.

 

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SA teen Thanasi Kokkinakis battles through to win his first Australian Open match

Source: HeraldSun

Thanasi Kokkinakis serves in his first round match against Igor Sijsling of the Netherlands during day two of the 2014 Austra...

Thanasi Kokkinakis serves in his first round match against Igor Sijsling of the Netherlands during day two of the 2014 Australian Open. Picture: Michael Dodge. Source: Getty Images

AS the elder statesman bid farewell, the future of Australian tennis was arriving in the form of Thanasi Kokkinakis just a couple of courts away.

While Lleyton Hewitt’s Australian Open ended on Rod Laver Arena, across the way on show court 3 the 17-year-old South Australian was producing a Hewitt-like performance to register a remarkable career breakthrough.

Battling cramp for most of the final set, Kokkinakis fought through the pain to defeat Dutchman Igor Sijsling 7-6 (4) 0-6 7-6 (3) 6-2.

His victory completed a landmark day for the new generation with his good friend Nick Kyrgios also progressing after a hard-fought victory over Germany’s Benjamin Becker.

Kokkinakis, a wildcard entrant and the youngest player in the men’s field, was only playing the second top level match of his career.

His first was in Brisbane a fortnight ago where he won a spot in the main draw through qualifying and was then defeated in the opening round by Hewitt.

Sijsling started an overwhelming favourite in the match given he is ranked No. 73 in the world but he couldn’t capitalise even when his younger opponent was hurting.

Kokkinakis started to experience problems with his calf early in the fourth set and he could barely move at times yet somehow raced to a 3-0 lead.

The cramp started to move further up his leg later in the set but Kokkinankis held his nerve and easily broke Sijsling’s serve to take out the victory in just over three hours.

The South Australian teen said he enjoyed the support from friends and Aussie tennis fans.

“I’m very excited. I had a fair few of my close mates all around,” he said.

“I was trying to pick them out. When I kind of high fived my mates everyone else had their hand out, so I went around with it. It was good fun.”

He admitted that he just managed to “hang in there” when the cramp set in.

“I don’t actually know (how I got through) because, I mean, I started to feel it really early, maybe 5 6 in the third set,” he said.

“I was like, ‘Oh, this ain’t going to end too well’. I just tried to make returns.

“I think he got a little tighter thinking what’s down the other end.

“I was trying to hang in there and try to find the cheap points.

“I was shortening the points as much as I could, because when it was going for a while I wasn’t having much success.

“I broke him early in the fourth, which he should have won that game. Somehow I came up with it. Kind of just tried to keep my serve.”

He said he was sorry that some Aussies bowed out on day two but was optimistic about the state of the game.

“It’s good for Australian tennis to have me and Nick (Kyrgios) through. Unfortunately Lleyton and Bernie obviously didn’t get up.

“But, I mean, Matty (Ebden) is still in. James (Duckworth) I felt put in a good effort against Federer.

“So I think Australian tennis is on the up. Yeah, I know, it’s exciting stuff.”

Australian Nick Kyrgios beats Benjamin Becker in round one at the Australian Open

Source: SMH

Australian Open 2013 Boys Final Kyrgios vs Kokkinakis

A four-set win to Nick Kyrgios (AUS) against Benjamin Becker (GER) 6-3 6-7 6-2 7-6.

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Aus Open Day 3: Players set for a scorcher

Tennis writers Peter Hanlon and Linda Pearce preview Day 3 of the Australian Open with the mercury set to rise to 40 degrees. How will the players cope?

While Lleyton Hewitt laboured in vain on centre court, the Aussie teenagers slated to replace him withstood the microwave conditions, some injury concerns and their tender years to win their first matches at the Australian Open.

Nick Kyrgios and his friend Thanasi Kokkinakis emphatically redeemed the Australian effort on a Tuesday when others were either being swatted like flies – as in James Duckworth v Roger Federer – were shaded in the heat like Hewitt and Storm Sanders (beaten in a tight three-setter by Italian Camila Giorgi), or melting down like Marinko Matosevic.

Kyrgios rallied following a medical timeout for his shoulder and outlasted plucky German veteran Benjamin Becker 6-3, 6-7 (5-7), 6-2, 7-6 (7-2), while Kokkinakis likewise recovered from the twin setbacks of losing the second set 6-0 and leg problems that he later said were cramps to overcome Dutchman Igor Sijsling in four sets 7-6 (7-4), 0-6, 7-6 (7-3), 6-2.

Nick Kyrgios keeps his eyes on the ball during his match against Benjamin Becker on Tuesday.Nick Kyrgios keeps his eyes on the ball during his match against Benjamin Becker on Tuesday. Photo: Pat Scala

The teenage pair – described by Davis Cup coach Josh Eagle as the most capable twosome this country has produced in a decade – beat players ranked 81 (Becker) and 73 (Sijsling) in results that suggest that the long dormant men’s division of Australian tennis could be on the turn, and that Bernard Tomic – fortunately – is far from the only hope of the side.

That the emerging teenage pair managed to overcome ailments and that Tomic forfeited his mismatch, invites further harsh comparisons. Kokkinakis will play Tomic’s opponent, world No. 1 Rafael Nadal, on Thursday.

Kyrgios, a Canberra product who won the Australian Open juniors this time last year, showed both his formidable arsenal – particularly a frightening serve – and a willingness to scrap. At various stages, the 18-year-old seemed close to crumbling, under the burdens of the heat and a shoulder that saw him call for the trainer when down a break early in the fourth set. He had missed the lead-in events in Brisbane and Sydney due to shoulder soreness.

Andreas Seppi celebrates his win over Lleyton Hewitt during Day 2 of the Australian Open.

Australian Open Tennis Day 2

Andreas Seppi celebrates his win over Lleyton Hewitt during Day 2 of the Australian Open. Photo: Pat Scala

Kokkinakis, just 17 and from Adelaide, recovered brilliantly from the second-set rout and, like Kyrgios, showed a fair measure of mettle and self-confidence in the key moments – such as the decisive third-set tie-breaker. Both kids enjoyed their victories on the same showcourt three, with Kokkinakis, who played the late match, completing a lap of the court in which he high-fived the whole front row.

Whereas Kyrgios played before a crowd of 300-400 that had been muted by the intensity of the sun, the numbers swelled somewhat for Kokkinakis – a belated bandwagon materialising as the ferocious sun set.

Kokkinakis’ victory was a case of winning the points that mattered; he won two tie-breakers, broke serve three times from a mere five opportunities, while saving five of the nine break points he faced. If he did not win as many ”free” points on serve as his doubles partner Kyrgios, he fared better in the rallies.

Kyrgios sent down 34 aces and won more than 90 per cent of the points when he landed the first serve – peak velocity of 215km/h. He converted six of his eight break points.

Kyrgios appeared to be both in some pain and at pains to avoid a fifth set, which might have favoured the seasoned Becker – a 178-centimetre veteran clearly not related to booming Boris. The Aussie teenager’s serve had been slowing, along with his legs, but late in the fourth set he resolved to attack and attempt a quick kill. ”I thought it would be smart to get it worked on,” said Kyrgios of his shoulder.

He viewed this victory as more satisfying than his first-round win at the French Open against Radek Stepanek.

The shoulder, he added, should be fine for his second-round encounter with 27th seed Benoit Paire, of France.

Kyrgios was impressive when breaking back at 5-6 in that fourth set and then by routing Becker in the tie-breaker.

Standing 193 centimetres, Kyrgios’ arsenal includes a forehand that can be pretty potent and a two-handed backhand.

It’s unclear how quickly he covers the court, since no one was moving too quickly in mid to late afternoon, but he has the loose limbs of a basketballer. His volley was seldom seen.

The Kyrgios/Kokkinakis combination of Greek heritage, large or very large serves and height has drawn comparisons with Mark Philippoussis, long seen as a great under-achiever, but in view of our struggles to penetrate the top 30, would be celebrated as a success today.

Whether they come up short or surpass Philippoussis, the teenager pair have undoubtedly given Australian tennis a timely fillip.

Multicultural Affairs Minister Nicholas Kotsiras to retire as Matthew Guy set to bid for seat

Source: heraldsun.com.au

Member for Bulleen, Nicholas Kotsiras has announced he will not contest his seat at the next election.

The Member for Bulleen, Nicholas Kotsiras has announced he will not contest his seat at the next election. Source: HeraldSun

VICTORIAN Energy Minister Nicholas Kotsiras’s retirement at this year’s state election will allow aspiring state Liberal leader Matthew Guy to contest the safe Lower House seat of Bulleen.

But a stoush over the seat of Kew is brewing, with supporters of former Stonnington mayor Tim Smith questioning why Bulleen wasn’t made available to Community Services Minister Mary Wooldridge.

Ms Wooldridge, whose seat of Doncaster lies next to Bulleen but will be abolished at the next election, has opted to push for preselection in Kew instead, with the support of Premier Denis Napthine.

Mr Smith’s supporters say he intends to nominate for preselection against Ms Wooldridge, because of strong local support and anger about what they say looks like political manoeuvring “out of a Labor Party playbook”.

Mr Guy’s move from the Legislative Council to the Legislative Assembly will increase his chances of becoming a Liberal leader in the future.

He said Bulleen was a good fit for his family and he had strong connections with the nearby area.

“I grew up just across the Yarra River from Bulleen in Montmorency and currently represent the Northern Metropolitan Region. I have spent my life in Melbourne’s north and northeast,” Mr Guy said.

“This is where my wife and I chose to raise our three sons, so it is a great privilege to put my name forward as a candidate for Liberal Party preselection for the electorate of Bulleen.”

Mr Kotsiras, who has held the seat for 14 years, said recent health issues and a desire to recover lost time absent from family were the main reasons behind his retirement in November.

He made the announcement at the site where his parents first arrived in Melbourne from Greece half a century ago.

Matthew Guy will nominate for preselection in Bulleen.

Matthew Guy will nominate for preselection in Bulleen.

“Fifty years ago, my parents landed at Station Pier, so it’s symbolic I announce my retirement today,” an emotional Mr Kotsiras, 54, said.

“Family is very important and I have missed my children growing up.”

Dr Napthine paid tribute to Mr Kotsiras’s role as a champion of multiculturalism and his work in the energy portfolio.

“Nick is the epitome of achievement for somebody who arrived here a young person, who worked hard, and has really reached the pinnacle in our democratic institution,” Dr Napthine said.

Dr Napthine said he and Deputy Premier Peter Ryan would determine the shape of the ministry when preselections were done.

Other Coalition MPs were expected to announce retirements in the coming days.

Mr Kotsiras endorsed Mr Guy to run for the Bulleen seat, a position the Premier supported.

“I have known Matthew Guy for a number of years and I again think he is an outstanding young talent in the Liberal Party,” Dr Napthine said.

“But if Matthew chooses to stand for Bulleen I think that will be again a great positive decision for the Liberal Party.”

Mr Kotsiras’s wife, Angela, will also retire from work.

The couple plans to spend time with their four grandchildren to help their children pursue their careers.

Mr Kotsiras said his greatest achievement was helping Victoria become “the most harmonious state in Australia”.

Mr Kotsiras, a servant of the Bulleen electorate for 14 years, said recent health issues and a desire to recover lost time absent from family as the reasons behind his retirement.

He made the announcement at the site where his parents first arrived in Melbourne from Greece half a century ago.

“50 years ago my parents landed at Station Pier, so it’s symbolic I announce my retirement today,” an emotion Mr Kotsiras said.

“Family is very important and I have missed my children growing up.”

THE Victorian government is expected to undergo a cabinet reshuffle ahead of the November state election, after two senior MPs announced they will not contest the poll.

The latest is beleaguered ­Victorian parliamentary Speaker Ken Smith who announced he will not re-contest the next election, citing family ­reasons.

“Over the past 25 years I am proud to have served as a member of the Liberal Party in the Legislative Council and ­Legislative Assembly under the leadership of premiers Jeff Kennett, Ted Baillieu and Denis Napthine,” Mr Smith said in a statement on Monday.

He did not say if he would continue in his role as Speaker, which has recently been plagued by controversy.

Mr Smith was responsible for ­referring rogue Frankston MP Geoff Shaw to the Parliamentary Privileges Committee over alleged misuse of his parliamentary vehicle.

Victoria Police cleared Mr Shaw of all charges last month.

Mr Smith came under fire last year when Mr Shaw, who holds the balance of power in the Lower House, accused the Speaker of not doing enough to ­protect him from protesters outside Parliament House.

Opposition Leader Daniel Andrews accused Mr Smith of bias and has called for him to step down immediately and be replaced by Deputy Speaker ­Christine Fyffe.

It was revealed last week that Mr Smith was facing a challenge in his safe Liberal seat of Bass from 27-year-old Aaron Brown.

Mr Brown is an agricultural scientist and son of former Liberal state leader Alan Brown.

Monash University professor Nick Economou said the Victorian coalition didn’t resemble a first term government with the high number of departing senior members. “The amount of ­resignations shows the government is disintegrating and this puts voters off,” Dr Economou said.

“It’s an electoral risk to undertake, what they are calling a renewal of the party in your first term as government. The number of incumbent candidates for the party is not a good look in the eyes of the electorate and usually the large number of resignations before an election is because they think the party is going to be defeated.”

On Sunday, Energy Minister ­Nicholas Kotsiras announced he would resign from his safe Liberal seat, paving the way for Planning Minister Matthew Guy to move to the Lower House.

This follows former minister Andrew McIntosh and Liberal power broker Philip Davis both announcing their resignations last year.

Dr Napthine said he would meet with the deputy premier and leader of the Nationals, Peter Ryan, once the party’s preselections had concluded before a decision was made on reshuffling the cabinet.

Cadillac likely to fill Holden’s luxury-car void in Australia in 2018

Source: News.com.au

Elvis

All shook up… Elvis was such a fan of the Cadillac that he wanted to give them away to strangers.

ELVIS Presley used to sing about them – and give them away to friends and strangers – but Australians could soon discover what the fuss over Cadillac cars is all about.

General Motors’ iconic US luxury brand is poised to return to Australia after 50 years to the fill the void when Commodore models disappear from Australian showrooms in 2018.

The marketing boss of Cadillac, Uwe Ellinghaus, told News Corp Australia at the Detroit motor show overnight “we want to turn Cadillac into a global brand” and confirmed Australia is “part of our globe”.

“Yes there are plans for right-hand-drive cars … but I can’t confirm timing and models and who will get them first,” he said.

The former BMW marketing executive indicated the return of Cadillac would be at least three to four years away because “we already have so much growth potential … we should not enter too many markets simultaneously and lose the plot”.

The most likely scenario is that Cadillac will arrive in Australia with a full model line-up in 2018, the year after Holden closes its car factory.

But it will be a case of third-time lucky for the brand Down Under.

Cadillac

Driving sales… Cadillac has won critical acclaim in the US for its new ATS sedan – similar in size to the Mercedes-Benz C-Class.

Cadillac was due in Australia at the end of 2008 – for the first time since 1969 – but those plans were scrapped in the grip of the Global Financial Crisis, even though the first shipment of cars had arrived and dealers had been appointed.

Meanwhile, the dealer network is still bruised after last year’s sudden withdrawal of General Motors’ European brand Opel from the Australian market after less than 12 months.

But Mr Ellinghaus believes Australian dealers will give Cadillac another chance.

“If they see a chance to sell these cars profitably, they will forgive us for all of our sins of the past,” said Mr Ellinghaus. “They see the future and the business opportunity, not the promises we didn’t live up to in the past.”

There was no chance that Cadillacs could be rebadged as Holdens, he said. “Cadillac will not be successful if we do ‘badge engineering’. Customers want authentic cars, not cars they find under (another) name elsewhere.”

The boss of Holden, Mike Devereux, was not at this year’s Detroit motor show. But at the same event last year he told Australian media: “Our team is talking to the global Cadillac group about if and when it would make sense to properly, 100 per cent, both feet in, launch that brand (in Australia).

Cadillac

Plan stallled… Cadillac was due in Australia at the end of 2008 – for the first time since 1969 – but those plans were scrapped in the grip of the Global Financial Crisis.

“But we would not do that until the conditions were absolutely rock-solidly perfect. You would have to have a full right-hand drive portfolio of the line-up.”

Cadillac has won critical acclaim in the US for its new ATS sedan – similar in size to the Mercedes-Benz C-Class, the third most popular mid-size car in Australia behind the Toyota Camry and Mazda6, despite its luxury price tag.

The Cadillac ATS is also available as a coupe and, according to US reports, will eventually be available as a convertible and a wagon.

Cadillac also has a full range of SUVs that General Motors believes would be popular in Australia, given the continued sales surge of luxury SUVs.

Australian saltwater crocodiles filmed in slow motion like you’ve never seen before

Showing off for the camera.

Showing off for the camera. Source: YouTube

THIS is the saltwater crocodile, like you’ve never seen before.

Captivating footage of the giant aquatic reptiles have been captured in slow motion as they sway, spin, whirl and twirl, almost as if they are gold medallist synchronised swimmers.

 

Fishing for crocodiles

Captured by Irishman Allan Dixon, who won the role of Outback Adventurer for Tourism Australia’s Best Job in the World competition, the video features the crocs jumping and diving for food, exposing every armoured scale, every detail of their incredibly agile bodies.

“It was amazing getting so close to the crocs,” Dixon told news.com.au.

“You can really feel the power of their jaws. They are like machines of nature … lean, mean killer machines.”

Those are some serious chompers.

Those are some serious chompers. Source: YouTube

Saltwater crocodiles are notorious for being the largest and most aggressive of the crocodile family. It basically preys on anything with a pulse.

The short video was filmed at Crocosaurus Cove in Darwin, where visitors can feed and swim with the family of crocs. Most notable is the ‘Cage of Death’, where brave adventurers are lowered into a croc pen for an “up close and personal” experience with the crocs.

Eek. We’ll pass, thanks.

We would probably react in the same way. Aah!

We would probably react in the same way. Aah! Source: YouTube

Paramedics will struggle to cope as Victoria, South Australia hit with heatwave

Source: News.com.au

PARTS of Australia are in the midst of an extreme heatwave with Western Australia reeling from bushfires as NSW, South Australia and Victoria swelter and prepare for more dangerous conditions.

Adelaide has suffered through its fourth scorching day in a row, as the temperature hit 45.1 degrees yesterday. As the heat peaks, fires are raging across the southern state.

Flames and smoke rise above the trees at McCrae. Picture: Twitter/ @kateinkew

Flames and smoke rise above the trees at McCrae. Picture: Twitter/ @kateinkew Source: HeraldSun

By Thursday, the City of Churches is expected to hit 46 degrees. Sydney is expected to peak in the high 30s today, with Melbourne entering its second day in a week-long heatwave.Other capital cities are enjoying warm but less extreme temperatures.

More: Australians vent their heatwave horrors

The bureau of meterology has for the first time defined a heatwave, saying they are three or more days of unusually high maximum and minimum temperatures in any area, ABC reported.

In the last 200 years, they have taken more Aussie lives than any other form of natural disaster.

BoM.

BoM. Source: HeraldSun

The BoM has also started tracking heatwaves with a new mapping system.

It measures severe heatwaves and extreme heatwaves for today and the next four days.

A similar heatwave struck before the 2009 Black Saturday fires, Australia’s worst natural disaster of the modern era in terms of casualties. An estimated 374 people died during the preceding heatwave, with another 173 fatalities in the firestorm itself.

Smoke billows from the Little River fire.

Smoke billows from the Little River fire. Source: HeraldSun

Capital city temperatures

Melbourne – top of 41C

Adelaide – top of 45C

Canberra – top of 40C

Hobart – top of 26C

Brisbane – top of 30C

Perth – top of 26C

Darwin – top of 28C

Sydney – top of 30C

The heat is on in NSW

Most of Sydney will dodge the force of the heatwave today due to sea breezes, with temperatures staying between a mild-in-comparison 29 to 31 degrees on the coast. In the west, the mercury will rise higher – with temps smashing 37 today and peaking on Friday at an expected 39 degrees.

Sydney gets hit by the heat.

Sydney gets hit by the heat. Source: News Limited

Maximum temperatures in greater Sydney will probably remain in the high 30s until Saturday afternoon when a southerly moves across the city, a BoM forecaster told AAP.

Extreme heat is also in store for large parts of the rest of NSW, the forecaster said, with the town of Deniliquin, in the Riverina, tipped to cop a number of 44C days this week.

The heatwave is the result of a “very slow moving, high-pressure system sitting in the Tasman sea”, according to the bureau.

“It’s been directing steady northerly streams for a number of days now, so it’s been building a lot of heat in the interior of the continent,” she said.

Victorian paramedics are struggling to cope with the influx of heat-related patients despite recalling all available staff for this week’s heatwave.

 

41C at Torquay

Victoria temperatures rising quickly

Melbourne swelters through a day of temperatures in the early 40s. Federation Square.

Melbournians are set to endure the second day of the longest heatwave in 100 years.

The city reached 42.8C on Tuesday and is now set to endure four days in a row of above-40 temperatures after the bureau upgraded today’s forecast to 41C.

Firefighters tackle blazes.

Firefighters tackle blazes. Source: HeraldSun

It’ll be the first time the city has endured such a heatwave since 1908, when there was a five-day streak above 40C.

People still enjoy beaches along Port Phillip Bay between St Kilda and Port Melbourne at sunset.

People still enjoy beaches along Port Phillip Bay between St Kilda and Port Melbourne at sunset. Source: News Limited

At the Australian Open in Melbourne Park, the heat was too much for one ball boy who collapsed in a heap.

A ballboy faints in the heat, as Melbourne heads towards 43 degrees celsius.

A ballboy faints in the heat, as Melbourne heads towards 43 degrees celsius. Source: Getty Images

Ambulance Victoria operations manager Paul Holman urged those without medical emergencies to think ahead and seek alternative treatment.

“We will be stretched, there’s no two ways about it,” Mr Holman said today.

Victoria faces also some of its most challenging fire conditions since 2009’s Black Saturday, Acting Premier Peter Ryan said.

 

Melbourne

Temperatures are threatening to peak above 40C for the next four days, with wind gusts of up to 100km/h.

People are being cautioned to think before leaving pets and children in cars during the soaring temperatures.

The Bureau of Meteorology says today’s temperatures are rising quickly and would hit 40C in Melbourne just after midday, The Herald Sun reports.

Dangerous fire conditions are expected for the rest of the week with temperatures remaining above 40C tomorrow and Friday. Across the state, the heat was expected to hit 45 degrees.

Lightning off Portsea last night.

Lightning off Portsea last night. Source: HeraldSun

After a stinking hot night, electical storms hit causing chaos for emergency services.

From 5pm to 12am, fire crews responded to 256 fires, CFA state duty officer Scott Purdy told 3AW radio.

They worked throughout the night extinguishing hundreds of fires in the driest parts of Victoria sparked by dry lightning from electrical storms.

Adelaide heats up

In South Australia residents are in day three of a five-day heatwave, with Adelaide expecting 45C again today with the heat rising over the next few days.

Severe fire danger ratings have been declared across the state.

Information: South Australian heatwave and bushfires

Most fires were sparked by lightning strikes and at least 14 grassfires are still burning today.

Adelaide sweltered through 45C on Tuesday, just one degree short of its all-time high of 46.1C set on January 12, 1939.

A large blaze at Krondorf in the Barossa Valley. Picture: Roy Vandervegt

A large blaze at Krondorf in the Barossa Valley. Picture: Roy Vandervegt Source: AdelaideNow

A woman is in hospital with burns after her house was destroyed in one of about 350 bushfires across South Australia during the state’s extreme temperatures.

Last night, the woman was taken to hospital after being burnt while trying to save her home at Rockleigh, near Monarto Zoo, south-east of Adelaide.

The fire at Rockleigh, near Monarto Zoo, is still out of control and has burned an estimated 4500ha of scrub, Adelaide Now reported.

Firefighters near the Point Boston blaze on the Eyre Peninsula.

Firefighters near the Point Boston blaze on the Eyre Peninsula. Source: AdelaideNow

Leigh Miller from the CFS said firefighters were stretched, with hundreds of fires burning at one stage.

“We have not really seen the worst of the weather yet,” he told ABC Radio.

Friday was a potentially very bad day, with significant winds predicted in very high temperatures.

The CFS is at a number of fires, including one at Flaxmans Valley Road, Wilton in the Barossa Valley.

A bushfire near Point Boston on the Eyre Peninsula caused concern for emergency crews as the mercury soared.

A bushfire near Point Boston on the Eyre Peninsula caused concern for emergency crews as the mercury soared. Source: Supplied

The fire is now contained, but a large number of burning trees might pose a risk of the fire escaping control lines.

Other fires are burning on the southern Fleurieu Peninsula near Delamere, while the Rockleigh fire is still out of control.

Cyclist Frank Schleck cooling off in the new Victoria Square fountain in Adelaide.

Cyclist Frank Schleck cooling off in the new Victoria Square fountain in Adelaide. Source: News Limited

Perth ravaged by bushfires

In Western Australia, fire authorities say a devastating bushfire in the Perth hills that destroyed more than 50 properties was probably sparked by a power pole on private land.

Stephanie Bock, 27, walks past her burnt out neighbour's house with a bag of her personal belongings. Picture:...

Stephanie Bock, 27, walks past her burnt out neighbour’s house with a bag of her personal belongings. Picture: Colin Murty. Source: PerthNow

Residents have returned to inspect the devastation caused by Sunday’s inferno in the Perth Hills, Perth Now reported.

Firefighters battle against the devastating bushfire in Perth's Hills. Picture: Department of Fire and Emerge...

Firefighters battle against the devastating bushfire in Perth’s Hills. Picture: Department of Fire and Emergency Services. Source: PerthNow

As firefighters continue to mop up in Stoneville, Parkerville and Mt Helena, authorities have confirmed the toll of properties lost at 52, with more than $13 million in damage already reported by insurers.

A fire in Stoneville has led to evacuations and loss of property. A house on Narla Retreat is lost to the flames.

A fire in Stoneville has led to evacuations and loss of property. A house on Narla Retreat is lost to the flames. Source: PerthNow

The fire is also being blamed for the death of one man, 62-year-old Ron Shaw, who collapsed as he stood on the roof of his Hovea home to prepare for the arrival of the flames.

The blaze, which tore through 650ha in the Shire of Mundaring on Sunday, is now contained.

The aftermath of a bushfire is pictured in Perth's hills on January 13.

The aftermath of a bushfire is pictured in Perth’s hills on January 13. Source: Getty Images

Power remains out for about 450 homes in the region, the Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) said.DFES said residents in the “zone where home have been lost” would be prevented from returning to the area today because it was “hazardous due to damaged infrastructure, downed powerlines and the risk of falling tree limbs”.

“People outside this zone are allowed to start returning to their homes, however they are required to register for a permit and access will be restricted,” DFES added in a statement.

Pregnant resident Sian Musgrove, 31, doesn't know if her family house of 50 years is still standing. Picture...

Pregnant resident Sian Musgrove, 31, doesn’t know if her family house of 50 years is still standing. Picture: Colin Murty Source: PerthNow

The agency said a watch and act alert remained in place for the eastern part of the Parkerville, Stoneville and Mount Helena. “Firefighters will continue to strengthen containment lines and ensure the area is 100 per cent blacked out throughout,” DFES said. Counselling services have been made available to the dozens of people whose homes were razed in the fire.

Fire authorities have confirmed the blaze was most likely sparked by a fallen power pole on private property.