Photos – “Golden Ball”, the cruise dinner dance organised by University of Colombo Alumni Association of NSW – Photos thanks to RoyGrafix

“Golden Ball”, the cruise dinner dance organised by University of Colombo Alumni Association of NSW was held on the 21st of September on board stunning “Starship Sydney”. The 5-hour cruise started off from Darling Harbour and toured around Sydney Harbour with the beautiful Opera House and Harbour Bridge as the backdrop.

The spectacular night to remember hosted by Senani Gunasekera kicked off with the promise to offer guests an unforgettable line up of entertainment with the best entertainers in town. King of Baila Desmond de Silva with Nimal Punchihewa, Kushni and their band and DJ Shehan complemented each other with their music to rock boat on this perfect night.

The event started off with drinks and canapés accompanied by light music. It was a warm welcome to the 335 guests from Sydney and who flew across from other States.

The Vice Chancellor of University of Colombo made a special visit to this event to support the Scholarship Drive, a fundraiser to support the financially challenged students of University of Colombo.

An array of tantalizing dishes complimented by mouth-watering desserts from Dish Catering created the perfect feast for our guests. Stunning table decor, floral chandeliers from Nayoma’s Flower Arrangements added glamour and sophistication to this Black-Tie event.

The 2019 Golden Ball unfolded with a flashback to our roots, the gift of free education and how the guests can be a part of the future generations of University of Colombo students by generously donating to the self-sustaining Scholarship Fund.

The evening ended with a lucky draw with airline tickets and tour packages as prices dance competitions. The silent auction on board raised money for the Tele-School Project of Royal Institute of Deaf and Blind Children, Australia.

Enjoy the fond memories candidly documented by the team of Professional photographers from RoyGrafix at the UCAANSW Golden Ball. 

Click here or on the photos below to view the full album on eLanka Facebook page.

Golden Ball- cruise dinner dance organised by University of Colombo Alumni Association of NSW Golden Ball- cruise dinner dance organised by University of Colombo Alumni Association of NSW Golden Ball- cruise dinner dance organised by University of Colombo Alumni Association of NSW Golden Ball- cruise dinner dance organised by University of Colombo Alumni Association of NSW Golden Ball- cruise dinner dance organised by University of Colombo Alumni Association of NSW Golden Ball- cruise dinner dance organised by University of Colombo Alumni Association of NSW Golden Ball- cruise dinner dance organised by University of Colombo Alumni Association of NSW Golden Ball- cruise dinner dance organised by University of Colombo Alumni Association of NSW

Golden Ball- cruise dinner dance organised by University of Colombo Alumni Association of NSW Golden Ball- cruise dinner dance organised by University of Colombo Alumni Association of NSW Golden Ball- cruise dinner dance organised by University of Colombo Alumni Association of NSW Golden Ball- cruise dinner dance organised by University of Colombo Alumni Association of NSW Golden Ball- cruise dinner dance organised by University of Colombo Alumni Association of NSW Golden Ball- cruise dinner dance organised by University of Colombo Alumni Association of NSW

RoyGrafix Photography

Click here or on the photos above to view the full album on eLanka Facebook page.

Advertisers of the event

Lanka Holiday Destinations - Golden Ball Sponsor

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Renowned restaurateur Manjula Fernando’s product launch

  • Reporting from the event desk – Photos thanks to Lakshan Sangakkara of framelabs.

350 guests, friends and well-wishers converged at the Don Moore Community Centre, North Rocks with one thing in common; the love of Sri Lankan food and who better to tantalize their taste buds  but renowned Sydney Chef Manjula Fernando. The night represented the unveiling of this dynamic restaurateur’s “ALL IN ONE CURRY MIXES” and the congruous promotion of his tour venture Sri Lankan Travels.

Amidst the buzz of heightened conversations and entrees emcee extraordinaire Duke Ramachandran warmly welcomed the attendees and in true Sri Lankan style the night got underway with the traditional lighting of the lamp by distinguished guests. Flanked by legendary Sri Lankan singer Desmond De Silva it was his wife Phyllis who took to the mike and warmly acknowledge Manjula’s dedication to his profession and his selfless service to the community at large. Her words struck a chord with many who applauded heartily. Usually clad in his chef garb and overseeing all culinary matters that goes with being a top notch professional, our master chef was smartly attired in a suit and cut a perfect figure! When he came up to speak and thank everyone for attending, the raptures were galore. So what promoted Manjula to launch this wonderful range of easy to use spice mixes?  Well that romantic perception of individual spices tenderly roasted and pulverized in the mortar and pestle does still have its pride of place, especially among the older generation but a product such as this offers the convenience we are all seeking today. Manjula’s extensive experience blending spices is what inspired him with this latest offering to the local community. Based on authentic, family and industry recipes the hand-roasted and ground spices are bound to be a hit in a day and age when we crave quality food with minimal fuss.  Through the delicate blending of various spices he wants his customers to enjoy the natural flavours. Proper balance means no need for excessive amounts of salt, sugar and artificial ingredients. These spices are full of anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial compounds and full of antioxidants. Fielding a question from the audience he happily stated these products are proudly manufactured under his endorsement in Sri Lanka.

No Sri Lankan event of this measure is complete without entertainment to compliment the delicious buffet offering of the night. The students of Manjula’s wife Vidusha who runs a dance school impressed the audience with beautiful dance routines in their striking outfits and looks.  Maestro Roger Menzies during his preamble gave the audience a taste of what was to come musically with his wide array of song selections. Socialite Walter Seneviratne did not disappoint either with a few old favourites and when Desmond De Silva took to the stage, the audience in turn took to the floor! Having completed over 50 years in the music industry Desmond continues to prove why he is still regarded as one of Sri Lankan’s finest entertainers.      

To those who missed out on this eventful night, do not despair. Discover the range of flavours of Manjula’s no fuss, easy to use curry mixes at leading spice shops around Sydney/Melbourne. 

A selection of photos attached courtesy Lakshan Sangakkara of framelabs.

Click here or on the photo below to view the full Album on eLanka facebook page

Launch of Manjula’s Curry Mixes and Sri Lankan Travels  Launch of Manjula’s Curry Mixes and Sri Lankan Travels    Launch of Manjula’s Curry Mixes and Sri Lankan Travels Launch of Manjula’s Curry Mixes and Sri Lankan Travels Launch of Manjula’s Curry Mixes and Sri Lankan Travels Launch of Manjula’s Curry Mixes and Sri Lankan Travels Launch of Manjula’s Curry Mixes and Sri Lankan Travels Launch of Manjula’s Curry Mixes and Sri Lankan Travels

  Launch of Manjula’s Curry Mixes and Sri Lankan Travels Launch of Manjula’s Curry Mixes and Sri Lankan Travels

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Sandra Jackson – Memories are made of this – FROM TREVINE RODRIGO IN MELBOURNE


If memories are measured by those hurriedly departing this world for heavenly refuge, the consequence from the untimely demise of Sandra Jackson has not registered this yet in the hearts, minds and perspective of many. A year has lapsed, and many of us are yet in shock and denial that the Queen of Sri Lanka’s music scene in Australia has left us forever, and baffling as it is, she’s left a void that will sadly, never be filled.

Yes, its already a year since Sandra Jackson took her earthly presence away from this world to join the choir of angels in Heaven but her memory lingers on although the reality and her lack of physical presence is now slowly sinking in.

The much-loved singer/ entertainer left a lingering image of a larrikin performer for her sexy overtures and flamboyance on stage, enhanced by a powerful and well-balanced voice that was often likened to legendary Tina Turner for her sassy delivery.

On that fateful day, June 29, 2018 the life of a marvelous personality, not just a musician, came to a tragic end leaving behind a distraught hubby, Esric, daughters Candice and Tatum son-0in-laws Toufic and Richard, and grandchildren Mischa, Cruz, Makai and Brooklyn and countless friends who were unprepared for the events that unfolded so quickly.

Although ailing with pulmonary Fibrosis for a while, the extent and potential outcome of Sandra’s illness was not fully comprehended by her family due to the brave front put up by her to shield them from worry and distress.

Undoubtedly the best in her multi-faceted vocal delivery, Sandra left an indelible mark not just on the music scene here and in many other countries, but on her fellow musicians whom she pushed and encouraged to excellence, which was an integral part of her own makeup, which she was fiercely proud of in her own outstanding ability. Yet, her demeanor was one of simplicity, empathy and humility and the self-confidence she exuded was almost infectious.
Much like her carefully thought out, and meticulously executed magical performances on stage, Sandra Jackson exited it similarly, on her own terms, leaving everyone oblivious to the pain and suffering she was enduring in silence as she battled through those final years with pulmonary fibrosis which was slowly but surely eroding her health before finally taking her away from her doting family and countless friends.

Gone, but will never be forgotten, Sandra Jackson has left behind a rich legacy, especially in music, with daughters Candice and Tatum, (and granddaughter Mischa), proving to be as talented as their proud mum.

Together with Esric, her husband of forty-three years, they juggled a fabulous musical career spanning over four decades and bringing up two beautiful daughters who not only blossomed with their good looks, but not surprisingly complemented it with a similar ability in music to their parents.

Her musical journey began with the Pioneers in Sri Lanka where, as a budding talent she announced herself in no uncertain terms. The band which included husband Esric and included legends such as Raj Dissanayake (Band leader) went places in the Sri Lanka music scene until she migrated to Australia. It wasn’t long after that their romance blossomed, and they eventually wed in Australia.

In Australia, Sandra, Grant Smith and Esric formed one of the best bands in Melbourne, ‘Replay 6’. The band was fortunate to have had multiple contracts at some of the leading venues in Melbourne such as the Swagman whereby they supported local and overseas artistes including “The Village People”, “Dr. Hook”, “Smokey”, Gloria Loring, with a 32-piece orchestra, Marcia Hines, Ricky May, Jade Hurley and Kahmal to name a few.

Throughout the band’s illustrious career they had a wide array of talented musicians which included Grant Smith, Jesse Jansz, Arnold Joseph, Gordon Gunn, Chris Mant, Cameron Colombage, David Trower, Lindsay Guillemain, Dallas Achilles, Derek Stewart, Horace Walker, to name a few. The current set up with later members Alex Sonny Boy Cajili , Darrel Jansz, Fernand Poupinel De Valence, Pamela David and Enrico Hipolito have picked up the mantel and plan to carry on with the band for Sandra who was so loved and was an integral part of. There is also the band ‘No Limit’ consisting of Ryan Watts, Angelo Vardon, Ryan Vardon, Jordan Vardon, Whitney Pereira and Cameron Colombege who Sandra adopted a few years ago to complement Esric and her love for country music. There are few outfits around that can perform at the level of this young and very talented setup.

The band she and Esric commandeered for many decades have performed alongside some of the best musicians in the world and. The legends Sandra and Esric have rubbed shoulders with are too numerous to mention during a fabulous team-oriented career in which they complemented each other for nearly 50 years. There are few top venues in Melbourne that they have not performed in.

Esric and Sandra have recorded many CD’s ensuring that their fabulous musical talent lives on. Sandra’s CD, ‘At Last’ dedicated to the memory of her mum Esther, dad Rex and sister Rebecca shows off her wonderful talent encouraged by Esric and recorded by highly professional Stan Azzopardi of Premier sound recording studios. In it she also acknowledges Rob Foenander, Desmond De Silva, Cameron Colombege, Esric and daughters Candice and Tatum for their part in making the CD a massive hit.

If there was a sadness about the timing of her passing, it was leaving this world without seeing her grandkids develop. Her whole world revolved around them and her depression at leaving them as the end neared was ever so obvious. She was a responsible family focused wife and mum and a fiercely loyal friend outside of her musical profession. And a consummate professional at other matters.

Anne and I have shared some wonderful times with Sandra and Esric and although our friendship does not stretch as far as many others, the bond we had and the fun times we enjoyed travelling overseas together will live in our memories forever. Like so many others, we also belonged to that ‘phone conversation club’ Sandra shared with Heather Jordan, Michael and Suzette Prins, Audrey and Brinsley Rosairo, Mazar and Melanie Rauff, Adrian and Monica Jordan, Desmond and Phyllis De Silva, Ruwanal and Philomena and several others making her time management skills better than most outside her numerous other activities.

The tribute to Sandra organized by Esric will see a galaxy of some of the best musicians from here in Australia and some travelling from Sri Lanka who have been an integral part of her musical journey, many voluntarily offering to perform as a mark of respect to one so dear that has left an indelible mark on the music industry. And there are some such as legendary Desmond Kelly who sent his heartfelt condolences and asked to be excused due to his inability to attend because of his current limited physical activity. Des had known Sandra since she was a little girl and in fact knew her family hailing from the cooler climes of Diyatalawa in Sri Lanka.

Among the massive lineup of musician who have volunteered their time for the night to pay tribute to Sandra are Willie Rezel from England, Donald Peiries, Benjy Ranabahu,and Marlon Amarasekera from the band Mirage in Sri Lanka, Dalreen Suby, Shafi from the band Gravity, Melantha Perera from Riversheen School of music in Sri Lanka, Desmond De Silva from Sydney, Malcolm De Kauwe from Perth, and from Melbourne, Chris Mant from Cloud 9, Cameron Colombege from No Limit, Andrea Marr, Rob Foenander, Kerrigan Labrooy, Dallas Achilles, David and Tilarni Senn, Des White, Derrick J, Lozaine Paul, Kelvin and Vanessa Speldewinde, Conrad De Silva, Eddie James, Shehera Rodrigo, Ash and Allison Jayasina, Elmo Wells Jansz, Raj Dassanayake and daughter Tatum.

Tributes from family and friends.

From daughters Candice, and Tatum;

When the time came to say goodbye to mum, we tried to express how much we loved her through lumpy throats and streams of tears. We told her that we thought she was the best mum ever, to which she replied, “I know I am”. In that moment we all giggled, and upon reflection, that in a nutshell was the nature of our relationship- immense love, fierce loyalty and a tad bit of silliness all rolled into just over 30 years.
In the grand scheme of life, being adored by your mother for a little over 30 years may not seem like much. But the sheer fact that we had Mum as our mother means that we were blessed beyond our wildest dreams.

Mum accomplished so many wonderful things in her short 64 years, however, there was never a doubt that we were, by far, her greatest achievement. She always made us feel safe no matter where we were at different times of our lives growing up. She was our rock and taught5 us everything we know from parenting to cooking, to how to tell a good lie so that Dad would not pick up on us being out so late at night.

Having lost a parent herself in her early twenties, Mum always told us that when the time came and she was no longer here, it would be tough, but life goes on. She didn’t however tell us how tough it would be. Not a day goes by where we do not think of her or share stories with her precious grandkids. She lived and breathed her family and that was the only thing that mattered to her. To many of you, she was the rock star on stage but to us she was just a loving mum that would have done anything to still be here with us.

One year has passed and it still feels like she is going to walk back through the door with groceries in her hand or a new outfit to wear on stage, talking about something random. We know that she will never leave us because she promised to watch over us and keep us safe. This is a bittersweet day because it is a day the heavens gained an angel, but also a day where we both lost our best friend. Holding onto her hand as she took her final breath and passed away so peacefully with us by her side, leaves a feeling of comfort in our hearts. Our precious mum left this earth knowing that she was very much loved and will never be forgotten.

A reproduction of most of Sandra’s Eulogy compiled by grandson Damian Jordan;

On behalf of my mother, Heather Jordan, I have the privilege and absolute honour of saying a few words about her best friend and my Godmother, Sandra Jackson. As we are still coming to terms with Sandra’s sudden passing.

At 10 years of age, Sandra arrived at Presbyterian Girls school in Sri Lanka where she instantly formed a special friendship with my mum through their mutual love of Athletics and Netball. This was the beginning of many visits back and forth from each other’s houses and plenty of fun times together, getting up to all sorts of mischief. I’m told that right from a very young age, Sandra had a very special gift as a profound connector of people. This was an innate quality and when I look around now, it couldn’t be more obvious. There are many different co-horts of communities here, whether it be through music or various circles of friends thus showcasing Sandra’s ability to bring people together and her immense popularity.

Sandra migrated to Australia in 1974, one year after mum had arrived to marry Roger Jordan and they continues their close friendship in Australia. Sandra was chosen as a bridesmaid at mum’s wedding and once Esric married Sandra, the four of them were inseparable did absolutely everything together with numerous interstate trips, especially to Sydney. It was common for the four of them on Sandra’a instigation, to act on impulse and suddenly decide to go on a road trip with no planning in advance, such was their carefree nature and zest for life in their younger years.

Once all of us kids were born, both families would continually visit each other’s houses and loved to party together. The Jackson residence became a welcoming and comforting place for all the kids to muck around and share countless memories that will never be forgotten.

Our families would go to every dance, not just to support Sandra, Esric and the entire band, but mainly because we loved to hear her beautiful singing. She was an entertainer and known by all for her Tina Turner voice that put a smile on everyone’s face and for being life of the party. She was also quirky, witty and even wore a fake bum when performing at a dance one night to make her bum look bigger. The fake bum was a very short lived experiment, as, believe it or not , Sandra accidentally dropped it down the toilet. Sher had a great sense of humour and enjoyed a good laugh even sometimes at her own expense.

Sandra was a very caring person and never once missed mum’s birthday, regardless of whether mum was having a party. Sandra would call mum mostly every night for a long chat (even during the footy show much to mum’s dismay), and they would tell each other absolutely everything and talk for hours.
Even over the last couple of days whilst Sandra became extremely ill, she was insistent on knowing how mum was getting home and making sure she was safe, typifying her selflessness and how much she cared for others. Sandra loved talking to mum about Candice and Tatum and then, in the years later, her beautiful grandkids. She was always showing pictures on her phone of her kids and grandkids and was an incredibly proud mother and grandmother that loved nothing more than spending quality time with her family. Her sense of humour, generosity and family-oriented approach to life has left an indelible mark on all of us.

I’d like to finish off by reading directly from what my mumhas written about her best mate:

“You fought hard to keep going for everyone and our only comfort is knowing that you are finally free and surrounded by all our love. I will miss hearing your voice on the other end of the line and our long chats at night. Sandra, it is a great privilege to call you my best friend and I will cherish all our memories and will miss you every single day”.

From Desmond Kelly;

She was someone I knew as a “toddler” in Diyatalawa, living with her mum and dad, Rex Rode, who was a member of the Royal Ceylon Airforce, and a good friend of mine.

Like so many others, Sandra and her family migrated to Australia, and because of work commitments we lost touch until, much later, I heard that Sandra was now involved in “Showbiz and had formed her own band, Replay 6.

Sandra then married Esric Jackson, and not much later, Sandra and Replay 6 became one of the best-known bands in Melbourne.
To Esric and and all the rest of the family, on behalf of eLanka, and the Lanka Times, I send our deepest sympathy.

Goodbye, Sandra Jackson. May the good Lord bless and keep you. All your many friends will miss you, especially “on stage”. Rest in peace now.
Desmond Kelly.

From David Trower:

“Music was Sandra’s passion and drove her as an individual, molding her identity. Sandra’s immediate and extended family were her life’s dedication, her pride and her joy.

Her Passion and involvement with music included her family and friends and made her “Complete”. Sandra always loved her clothes and shoes and looking her best. She never lost her smile and gentle loving demeanor – even through the thickest life threw at her.

She never changed or faltered as an individual- she always remained the same caring, empathetic, gentle, softly spoken and lovely person.

In all the 40 plus years I had known Sandra, she never had a bad word to say about anybody.

Sandra was a big part of my life and had always been there for me and my family when times were challenging. We shared so much of our musical journey that included and broadened our circle of friends and fun we had along the way.

Sandra your legacy lives on in all of us. I will never forget you.

Rest in Peace”.

From Beverly De Neise (in New York);

Dearest Sandy,
I always thought I would look back on our friendship and laugh, but I never thought I would look back on our friendship and cry- on this first anniversary of your death.

I always thought we would grow old together – I really did, you and me, in our old age, laughing and talking about the good old days growing up in Sri Lanka, but that was not to be. I still remember the little girl who came to school in the 5th grade- with your father, Uncle Rex, who looked so much younger than mine. Yes, I have known you from 5th grade.

As the years passed, we became good friends. For a short while you lived down the same lane as me, and I would visit you and I almost became a daughter to your wonderful parents. Your mum, always so beautiful and stylish too. I was good friends with your uncles and aunties, especially uncle Brian, aunty Anne.

Sport, especially netball, bound us together, where you were the Goal shoot, and I was Goal attack all those years on the school team. Then later, you were the games Captain of Tweed House and me of DE Clerk House and boy they were stiff, yet friendly competition. I still remember those wool Gollywogs we used to make as mascots – yours in Red for Tweed House and mine in pale Blue for De Clerk. I hope you are looking down and smiling as you read this.
Singing also bound us together. I will never forget, “Red river Valley”, “The lightening express”, Swanee river” among the many songs we would sing in harmony during our school breaks surrounded by our classmates. I still remember “Elasto” Radio show finals where we came second, as though it was yesterday.

Then Australia beckoned and you married your Knight in shining armour, Esric, who I called “Aiya”, and I was your bridesmaid. I will always be grateful for your friendship and your generosity- I was at your house every weekend, before and after you married, where your mum used to conjure up amazing breakfasts for us, with a smile-always welcoming me like a daughter. I remember enjoying my 21st birthday party at your house. Those were the good old days.

In Australia- those night Netball tournaments where you were the big organizer were so much fun. And then I left for the USA. You would think that the miles that separated us would sever our friendship, but we never lost touch. In all those 28 years of being apart, we still managed to keep our friendship going, even though telephone calls expensive. There was no free WhatsApp then.

I was always scared to tell you that I liked Love cake and Rich cake at Christmas time, because I would find it on my doorstep the next week.

And just six months before you passed away, you came to New York and we had so much fun, buying makeup at Sephora, shopping and having dinner at Sigiri, and we laughed and laughed, and you promised to come back the following year. Little did I know that when we said goodbye, it would be the last time I would see you. You were gone before I knew it, my dear friend. Kind, gentle, Sandy who never had a bad word for anyone. So sad.
I hope you are running free with the wild horses in Heaven and one day I promise, we will meet and laugh again.

Au revoir my friend.


From Desmond and Phyllis De Silva:

“We consider Esric and Sandy as family. We became very close to them each time we visit Melbourne and enjoyed their warm hospitality. Sandy’s warm smile was ever present the moment we walked in the door. We had a close and silent understanding between each other. We even had a key to the front door… and we still do.

“Sandy’s bubbly and easy nature was quickly demonstrated to me when I was introduced to both Esric and herself 16 years ago at the Airport in Auckland, New Zealand. They were with Des to meet me off a flight and to be introduced”.

We clicked immediately and I will never forget that day! Des went off to practice and Esric, Sandy and I went to check out the shops in the city. Esric had hired a car and off we went with Sandy the Navigator! What a hoot. We had no Google maps back then. Sandy had a map which she spread out wide in the front seat and peered at it as she gave Esric instructions. I sat at the back watching her turn the map right way up then upside down! Never worrying for a moment how distracting it was for the driver. This went on for a couple of hours as we became hopelessly lost. Ever cool Esric managed to keep his cool as we drove in circles with Sandy promising that she had ‘got it right this time’, only to find us passing and repassing the same landscape! We finally decided to flag down a taxi and pay him to lead us back to the hotel!

Since that day Sandy and I bonded and our bond with each other became so close that we considered each other sisters. I had so much joy going shopping with Sandy! We enjoyed our late night chats and we shared many confidences. She knew she could count on me as I always knew I could count on her.
“Sandy was strong and feisty. She was fiercely loyal and protective. Sandy was a true professional. She was a delight to work with…I really enjoyed being on stage with her… her support and sense of fun was always refreshing as she sang with a gifted voice”, says Des.

She was hardworking, loving and had a cheeky sense of humour. She was a winner- she played to win and yet although she bravely fought every step of the way, she lost her final battle.

We have found it difficult to accept her loss. “Our Sandy girl” will always stay close in our hearts”.

From Cameron Colombege;

In 24 years of knowing Sandra and Esric as a member of the band Replay 6 my respect and love for them as friend and family has been unshaken.

Sandra Jackson was undoubtedly a unique talent among Sri Lanka’s wide array of limitless female vocalists and in my experience rated as one of the best I have ever heard. She had a powerful yet well balanced style that stood out from the rest and was much loved in the music industry for her encouraging and giving ways.

My cherished memories of Sandra were her selflessness, particularly when hosting visiting bands from Sri Lanka, always giving up the limelight to them and choosing to remain in the background in a supporting role. Many top bands will testify to this. She had a heart of gold.

To me and my family our friendship with Sandra and Esric did not stop as just band members, we bonded more like a family and Sandra’s warm hospitality quickly springs to mind where after gigs or practices she would whip up a meal or Kiribath and curries to feed the band.

I was privileged to sing duets with her and what bonded us together was the rare trip to Sri Lanka in 2012 where Replay 6 was invited to bring in the New Year at the Galadari Hotel in Colombo by General Manager Sampath Siriwardene alongside resident band Mirage.

I will miss Sandra Jackson, a wonderful loving person, and a true friend who made music a joy to be part of during my time with Replay 6.

From Grant Smith;

Having known Sandra for 40 years was to have to know one of life’s treasures, a truly loving person and one of the kindest ever.

Sandra was always a happy and fun person to be around and without a cross word to be said about anyone. Sandra loved and was truly loved by everyone that knew her.

And as we all know Sandra was an amazing singer who just loved to put on a new outfit to perform and perform, she did with all her heart and soul. What a voice.

We had some amazing fun times working together with Esric, over 20 years of wonderful memories.

And to top it all, a wonderful mother, wife and exceptional cook to boot.

Thanks for the wonderful memories Sandra.

Gone, way, way, way too soon.

Love from Grant.

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Hopper Night at Toongabbie DISH

When Chef Manjula Fernando decided to close down DISH Restaurant in Toongabbie to concentrate on his thriving Glebe restaurant, the Sri Lankan community that patronized this cosy and homely eatery quickly went into action; calls, email and sms messages along with whatsapp notifications went rampant to secure table bookings for the final clout of the famous “All you can eat hopper feed”.  Large table bookings were made well in advance and the typical “last minute” diners were placed on a waiting list and some, regrettably missed out entirely.  It was a sell-out night and the entire restaurant was packed to capacity. Manjula and his very courteous staff lived up to expectation and did not disappoint the loyal diners who converged for this last hurrah. 

“A lot of people had been asking me to open in the city,” said Manjula. “Sri Lankans can more easily bring their friends to Glebe. They would tell me there was no proper place to take their friends to try real Sri Lankan food”.  With several restaurants already operating in the western suburbs (mostly kaddai style with a couple of exceptions) the restaurant which he opened in Glebe two years ago has proved to be a success with its open-kitchen layout. 

It was a sad day in many ways for the faithful diners and staff alike at Toongabbie. Having occupied these premises for 4 years, the ‘last supper’ on May 17th was a fitting way to bring the curtain down with a fine selection of accompaniments for the hopper obsessed patrons!

Maestro guitarist and singer Roger Menzies was in attendance fittingly supported by well-known Sri Lankan personality, the ageless and bouncing with energy Walter Seneviratne and the golden voice of Guy Varley. Well known music personality, Desmond De Silva a diner that night kindly obliged   with a cameo appearance and when saxophonist extraordinaire Loxly Attan stepped up to the plate, it was sheer musical delight ; a section of the restaurant quickly transformed into a dance floor to burn off the calories of a delightful dinner.

Sri Lankan Consul General Mr. Lal Wickrematunge graced this occasion and very kindly made a presentation acknowledging the tremendous work Manjula, his wife and staff have rendered towards the Sri Lankan community at large.   

We thank the loyal staff at Toongabbie DISH for their services over the years and wish Mangula and his team the best of luck at Glebe – DISH Restaurant is situated at 381 Glebe Point Rd, Glebe, NSW

(Open for Lunch & dinner, closed Tuesdays)

Click here or on the photos below to view the full album on eLanka Facebook page

Hopper Night - Toongabbie DISH Hopper Night - Toongabbie DISH Hopper Night - Toongabbie DISH Hopper Night - Toongabbie DISH Hopper Night - Toongabbie DISH Hopper Night - Toongabbie DISH Hopper Night - Toongabbie DISH


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Debonair Desmond De Silva continues to command the stage in his own inimitable style – BY TREVINE RODRIGO IN MELBOURNE
Desmond De Silva

Desmond De Silva

  Desmond De Silva

Desmond De Silva

Desmond De Silva


Desmond De Silva



“Yanna rata wate” is one of Desmond De Silva’s favorite Sinhala hits that has plucked at the heartstrings of his numerous fans and endeared him over the decades, and although the rest of the lyrics has a decidedly different message, this could not be more profound in describing this tireless travelling globe trotter whose performances around the world continues unabated.

 For many years Desmond De Silva has personified an image like no other and the magnetism of his performances has seen him conquer frontiers that many others of his vintage fear to tread. His passion as a singer/ entertainer in this respect finds few parallels in versatility and continuity at a high level as consistently as he does.

 Possessing a down-to-earth demeanor is one of the weapons he has in his multi-faceted amoury for success. Capturing the audience with his clever choice of music and delivering it to perfection to fit the occasion is the other.

 Just this year he would complete nearly 30 gigs not just in Australia but around the world, shuttling from Toronto, Vancouver and Calgary in Canada to Melbourne, on to London, several cities in USA, Sri Lanka, Sydney, Canberra and on it goes in a program that would give most mere mortals a dizzy head spin.

 What takes his audiences by surprise is the fact that he has been around the traps for a considerable length of time and you would expect that most would have tired of him. Not so in his case because every Desmond De Silva performance is laced with the unknown and an energy that is mind boggling. Such is the versatility and creative genius of this aging icon of Sri Lankan music. His repertoire, which is unlimited, is a case in point as he continually challenges himself to stay abreast with the changing trends in music and appreciates it.

 His uncanny ability to just step in and perform with any band is a characteristic that stumps most, mainly if it is a young band unnerved by the chance to back an icon of his nature. He breaks down barriers by encouraging the new breed using his vast experience to blend in seamlessly.

 From Ballads, to Rock -and- roll he can transcend to Raggae, Mowtown and Country making him one outstanding performer in any category. His prowess in Sri Lanka’s favourite Bailas is legendary and although dropping off the pace in his own new compositions at present, has produced enough culturally meaningful Sinhala hits that has and will live through Sri Lankan culture for many more decades to come.

 Just recently he was in Sri Lanka taking the hill country capital Kandy, by storm in what was described by producer Damayantha Kuruppu as one of the best events he has witnessed in his many years of productions. He had the Kandyans in a frenzy as he reeled out most of his Sinhala hits which has been etched in the minds of many generations.

 Evidence of his impact through Sinhala music could not have been demonstrated better than a recent incident at our residence when a young CCTV installer recognized him and was all agog revealing that he was a big fan who listened to his old hits at home every day. The young man then added to his story by saying that his three-year-old daughter was also a big follower of his hits going on to bring her back and getting her to perform in front of her idol, much to Desmond’s delight.

 Though the years roll on there is no sign of the popular singer’s demand waning and he says that he is blessed by the almighty to have been able to command the stage for as long as he has.

 Already indications are that he has a full calendar for 2019 as his limitless musical journey continues on its merry way.

 A summary of the hectic year was compiled and sent to me on request from wife Phyllis and it gives ample indication of Desmond De Silva’s brilliance as one of Sri Lanka’s best ever singer/entertainers and his continuing demand from adoring fans.

 > Year in Review for Desmond De Silva 2018.
> 12th January – in Vennuppuwe dance singalong for approx 650 pax

> 14th January – Concert at BMICH  to celebrate 100 concert events  produced by Damayantha Kuruppu

> 3rd March – Ananda/Nalanda big match SSC Cricket grounds in Sri Lanka – specially invited to perform at the Ananda College stand – had the crowd especially the younger crowd singing and dancing.

> March – 17th March St Paul’s Millagiriya dinner/dance in Sydney was a great success and tickets were sold out.  It was viewed as the best dance that SPM have ever had and Des was invited to perform for SPM Melbourne & London both engagements he could not accept due to clashes in his diary.
> April – 8th – Sinhala/Tamil New Year celebrations – Open Air Concert in Dandenong, Melbourne.  Amazing attendance and audience participation and appreciation.
> 21st April. – Joy Club inaugural Dance & Singalong at the Dutch Club Sydney.

> 24th April – Dinner Dance in Canberra on the eve of ANZAC Day was also another SOLD OUT event that had the Deputy High Commissioner  for Sri Lanka as Chief Guest.
> 5th May –  St Thomas College dance celebrating 150 years in Toronto Canada.  Tickets were sold out well in advance and the dance exceeded all expectations.  Reviews after the dance declared the entertainment provided by Desmond to be simply the best…..he gets better with age was the comment made by a guest.
> 12th May – Museaus College Dance in Melbourne
> 2nd June – Issipatana Dinner Dance in Melbourne.
> 13th July – recorded Ma Nowana Mame – a celebration of old Desmond’s favourites of songs by CT Fernando, Mohideen Baig, Dharmadasa Walpola and & Eddie Jayamana which went to air on 10th August on Derana TV and can been viewed on uTube.  Desmond received many accolades for giving these songs a new lease in life and introducing them to the younger generation.
> 14th July – Sing-along & Dance at Pegasus Hotel Sri Lanka
> >
> 21st July –  ‘Those were the days “Concert at BMICH.  Bringing back the music of the 60/70’s era with Mignonne Fernando, Noelene Honter, Conrad de Silva, Mariazelle Goonetilleke, Annesley Malawana, Maxi Rosairo, Priya Pieris and Desmond that had the audience entertained and asking for more.  By popular demand there will be part 2 of the concert lined up in 2019.
> 28th July – St Peter’s College dinner dance in Sydney – EVENT WAS SOLD OUT 3 MONTHS AHEAD.
> 4th August – EX- SERVICE & POLICE ASSOCIATION Dinner dance in Melbourne.
> 2nd Sept – ‘Yesterday Once More’ Singalong & Dance at the Golden Crown Hotel Kandy, Sri Lanka


> 7th Sept – Retro party at the Restaurant BMICH


> 8th sept – MAS Concert BMICH – backed by Mahesh Dennipitiya Orchestra


> 22nd Sept – Mahanama Dinner Dance Melbourne
> 6th Oct – Hantana Night – Desmond & his band the Impressions.
> 13th Oct – Invited to perform at Coyles Dinner Dance  (Chamber of Young Lankan Entrepreneurs)an exclusive event at the new 7 star Shangri La Hotel Colombo.
> 14th Oct – Fantasia Concert – Ave Maria Auditorium Negombo backed by Mahesh Dennipitiya Orchestra
> 20th October – Vancouver Canada

> 27th October – Calgary, Canada
> 3rd November – St Sylvester College Dance in Melbourne
> 24th November – St Peter’s College Dance in London
> 13th December – Clarence Wijewardene Commemoration Concert at Nelum Pokuna Sri Lanka
> 29th December – Dinner Dance in Sydney.
> 31st December – New Year’s Eve in Brisbane.
> >
> That’s year 2018 in in a nutshell  for Desmond De Silva!!!
> 2019 is shaping up to be an excitingly busy year too!  Des’s wife Phyllis has a full programme schedule in celebration of Desmond’s significant milestone birthday. Named DESMOND DE SILVA…..HIS JOURNEY is scheduled in July, followed by an Free Open Air concert in his hometown Matara.  A Gala concert at the BMICH will follow and an After Party Singalong Dance Meet, Greet & Celebrate with Desmond De Silva also planned for next year.  Celebrations will continue at venues around the world during the second half of 2019.

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Sandra Jackson plucked away in her prime –

Trevine_RodrigoPlucked away in the prime of her life through a cruel twist of fate, the power packed voice of Sandra Jackson will resonate no more.
Lead singer of Melbourne’s top band Replay 6 and leader of the band for many decades, Sandra Jackson left this world suddenly after a short battle with lung issues later compounded by the discovery of blockages to her arteries which left the medical staff at the Alfred Hospital in Melbourne with no recourse to save her life.

Her sudden passing has sent shockwaves through the music industry in Australia, Sri Lanka and throughout the world of musicians who knew of her fantastic talent and endeared her for it and her ever availability to nurture and promote aspiring artistes.

The overwhelming response of shock and grief expressed at her passing on social media is enough testament to the massive following, love and respect she has generated over the years among music lovers in Australia and many other parts of the world.

The warmth and caring nature she personified is universally acknowledged by the thousands of friends and fans that had the pleasure of getting to know her.

Sandra and husband Esric have been in the forefront of the Melbourne music scene for many decades since migrating to Australia from Sri Lanka where their careers in music began.

Since beginning her career as a singer with a band named the Pioneers in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Sandra’s exceptional talent and explosive vocals soon had music fans clamoring to watch her perform everywhere the band played in Sri Lanka until she took wing to Australia in 1975. She wed Esric Jackson in 1976 and their partnership in love and their mutual passion for music soon saw them establish themselves in several bands for the past four decades and more gathering thousands of fans along the way.

Mixing their love for music with family life and raising two beautiful daughters was a challenging period for the singing Jackson’s but they carefully negotiated the challenge with great aplomb.

Sandra and Esric have matched it with the best in the music industry during their long stint rubbing shoulders with such wonderful world artistes as Smokey, Dr. Hook, The Village People, Marsha Hines, Ricky May, Jade Hurley and Allison Durban to name a few, most recently sharing the stage with legendary Frank Ifield at Alston Koch’s launch of the movie “According to Matthew”.

Although a star in her own right, Sandra has always acknowledged that she was blessed to share the stage with some of Sri Lanka’s legends of music such as Desmond Kelly, Desmond De Silva, Conrad De Silva, Cliff Foenander, Kamahl, Malcolm De Kauwe, Dalreen Suby, Mignonne Fernando, Noeline Honter, Alston Koch, Arthur Speldewinde and Arden Forster to name a few. Such was her humble disposition.

Esric and Sandra and the band Replay 6 have been featured at some of the best venues in Melbourne, Sydney and even travelled to Sri Lanka for a New Year’s gig in 2012 where they performed at the Galadari Hotel in Colombo alongside Mirage. Their popularity and versatility has seen them perform at most school dances from Sri Lanka and a wide spectrum of other events throughout the years.

What set Sandra Jackson as a standout from the rest was her uncanny ability to perform many genres of music from Rock, to Pop, Raggae, Country and she even gave the Bailas a go. She was indeed the consummate and complete entertainer. Replay 6 will never be the same without both of their well-known frontline singers who have complemented each other over such a long period of time.

Dubbed Sri Lanka’s answer to legendary Tina Turner whose hits she reeled off to near perfection, her rendition of “Simply the best” was so authentic that she was often compared to the great American wonder.

Among the plethora of achievements as a singer/ entertainer was the numerous CD’s she and Esric have recorded and sold with the proceeds mostly going to a worthy charity. They will surely be treasured memories of a fantastic performer taken too soon.

She leaves behind Esric and two devastated daughters Candice, hubby Toufic and Tatum and her husband Richard, and four grandkids she doted on, Mischa, Cruz, Makai and Brooklyn who are in shock at her sudden demise. Incidentally, both Candice and Tatum take after their parents possessing superbly talented voices.

May the stage that she commanded with pride and strode on so majestically lay lightly on her.

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