Andrew de Silva at his Prince Extravaganza tribute show –
Video, Thanks to Marie Pietersz


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My Fair Lady turns 95 – By Marie Pietersz: Melbourne


My Fair Lady turns 95: by Marie Pietersz

 Gwen Pietersz (nee Bertus), the matriach of the Pietersz family, celebrated her 95th milestone birthday recently, choosing a private party in Ringwood to share with her heritage of four generations of Pieterszs. Her cake was a tribute to her long life and relationship with her family, the message reading, Queen Gwen, 95 Years Loved.

 Gwendoline Amelia Bertus  was born in Colombo (Ceylon) on 27 October 1922 to parents Llewellyn (Lula) Bertus and Emma James. Gwen is the oldest sibling of a family of eight children, Pam Koch (dec), Cynthia Pereira (dec), Herbert Bertus (dec), Dickie Bertus (dec), Ron Bertus (dec), Dulcie Namasiyavan (dec) and Bernard Bertus.

 Growing up in Sri Lanka, Gwen attended St Matthew’s College, Baseline Road, Borella, and on completing her education worked as a stenographer in legal firms until this quiet, demure lady met and fell in love with Lloyd Pietersz, a dashing, swashbuckling young policeman, much to the surprise of her family. 

 They say opposites attract and after a whirlwind courtship they were married in 30 October 1943 at Holy Cross Church, Slave Island. Husband, Inspector Lloyd Pietersz, was stationed at the Kalutara Police Training School and the family lived in Kalutara where Gwen brought up her family of five boys and one girl, Randy, Cheryl, Tregartha, Desmond, Geoffrey and Glenn. 

In later years when Lloyd secured the prestigious job of Bodyguard to the former Prime Minister of Sri Lanka, Mrs Sirimavo Bandaranaike, the family moved to Colombo and lived in Police accommodation opposite Parliament House (where the Intercontinental Hotel now stands).

 Gwen and Lloyd migrated to Melbourne in 1974 and lived for many years in Bayswater in a staff bungalow when Lloyd found employment in security at Fibremakers Bayswater, and then moved to Ringwood when they purchased their home. 

While she didn’t work in the corporate world in Melbourne, Gwen had the reputation of being a gracious host, busy with house duties, keeping a nice home for her husband, unmarried sons and mother. She always had food on hand when family or friends dropped by and nobody left hungry without a taste of her delicious Sri Lankan home cooked meals or hidden treats for grandchildren. She would wake up early each morning before the household stirred to cook meals for “whoever may visit”, she used to say, and by the end of the day, that food had disappeared because she would have fed so many family members or friends who visited. 

 A pint-sized lady, she ruled her male dominated household with a firm but fair hand – a much-loved mother, mother-in-law, grandmother and later great–grandmother. In the tradition of old, one could always find her dressed immaculately – nothing casual with how she presented herself to the world, whether in the home or in public. Every occasion was an excuse to buy a new outfit, do her hair and paint her nails, and everybody knew this and indulged her, the end result being that there was always a beautiful ‘my fair lady’ at the parties she attended.

Even as she grew older and her family expanded, she maintained her position as matriarch and the pivotal point of contact for her family – one could always be sure to find a visitor at the meeting place, her home. Her family Christmases was, and still are, big and extra special events when furniture has to be moved  to make room for the new generations who do not want (or dare) to miss their mum/nana/gran-gran’s Christmas Eve family celebrations. 

 When the modern way appears to be to give combined presents or reduce present-giving at Christmastime, even at her ripe old age, she makes it a point to shop herself (in later years with the help of her daughter) for a present for each and every child, grandchild and great-grandchild, and even close friends who come to her home on 24th December. She loves Christmas and still keeps the traditions of old, giving everybody and her Australian-born family,  an insight into how Christmas was celebrated in Sri Lanka, or Ceylon, as she wants to remember it by.

 When she could no longer live in the family home on her own, Gwen moved to live with her daughter in Ringwood and now resides with a son in Wantirna, still sharp of mind, still able to laugh heartily at a jokes her sons make of her funny traditions, and still busy watching old western movies, completing crosswords (and winning) in magazines like That’s Life, buying Tattslotto without fail each week (and winning) and always playing the machines at the pokies (and winning). 

 The family’s long-standing mirthful recollections which bring a hearty laugh from Gwen is when they remind her of her ability to forget her aches and pains and difficulty moving fast the minute she gets an offer from a son or friend to go to the pokies. Her speed automically picks up and she is virtually jumping into the car, with her departing laughing comment ” have car, will travel” and off to the pokies goes this winner to come back with a heavier handbag than the one she set off with.

 Gwen’s one desire it to reach the grand old age of one hundred, just so she can get a letter from the Queen (she is such a die-hard Royalist) and everyone wishes her this heart’s desire. The family laugh that the congratulatory letter might be from King Charles, to which Gwen smiles knowingly. We know she’s thinking “who cares” as long as it is from Royalty. 

 Family, friends and in-laws wish Gwen a happy and healthy life and her dream to be one hundred.  God bless this much loved lady!



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Danielle de Niese, international soprano – a personal reflection 

“Danielle’s wonderful voice was a gift from God,” : Johnny Young (The Observer)

– By Marie Pietersz: Melbourne

Marie Pietersz

Melbourne has been agog with excitement at the return of Melbourne-born, internationally recognised Danielle de Niese (Danni to friends) for her Australian debut to star in the lead role of The Merry Widow.  Huge street posters, some gracing Federation Square, Glen Waverley (near her  former Melbourne home) and Keysborough, and banners lining St Kilda Road near the Arts Centre, Melbourne, are testimony to the welcome home Opera Australia  had for this diva who left Melbourne as a little girl and returned home as an adult and international star, described by some as the opera world’s answer to Beyonce.

Poster advertising The Merry Widow

Danielle didn’t disappoint and delivered the results Opera Australia and her Australian fans wanted and expected. She slipped into her part with a talented Australian cast with ease and received encore after encore for her own inflection to the lead role. Her bubbly and effervescent personality connected well with the character’s, making her morph into The Merry Widow a smooth transition. A witty show of dance and song, full of extravagant art deco mise en scene and costumes, The Merry Widow transports the audience to the Parisian scene and the famous Maxim’s of Paris, regarded as one of the most famous restaurants in the world, to a period of elegant couture and clandestine amours.

Scene from The Merry Widow

Danielle grew up in Melbourne and our families spent a lot of time together. Over these early years, I watched this little girl with the big voice and big ambitions grow up and supported her parents’ aspirations and big dreams for their daughter as they recognised there was something special about the talent she possessed. The catalyst for change came when Danielle, at the age of nine, won the Young Talent Time Talent Discovery competition in 1988 singing a Whitney Houston medley. 

 In 1990, realising the time had come when raw ambitions needed redirection, Danielle’s parents decided to leave Melbourne for California with Danielle and brother, Andrew,  to seek the voice training and musical recognition they believed their young daughter deserved, and their decision paid off.  Before long, there was no stopping Danielle’s rising star. Their decision to dare to dream in the City of Angels struck gold. 

 The family lived in Hollywood for many years, and although called the ‘boulevard of broken dreams’ by some, Danielle found her feet on the ladder of fame, negotiating each step carefully onward and upward on the way to success. One of her very early achievements was winning an Emmy for TV Presenting at the young age of sixteen before she went on to perform in many starring roles.

 In 2005 Danni was chosen to sing Cleopatra in a production in Glyndebourne in Sussex, England, where she met the owner and heir to the Glyndebourne Opera, Gus Christie. In 2009 Danielle married her Englishman and now lives in London, mistress of the famous Glyndebourne Manor House, venue of the Glyndebourne Festival Opera, with husband Gus and their son, Bacchus (Bax), 2.

 Danielle is the daughter of Christoper and Beverly (nee Anderson) de Niese, known in Sri Lankan and Melbourne communities, who now reside in New York.   Danielle hails from musical stock on both sides of the family.

 Mother Beverly travelled from New York to support Danielle on her special Melbourne debut tour in November. On this occasion father Chris and husband Gus were unable to attend, but son Bax was there to accompany his famous mother. 

 Encore Encore Encore

“Family means everything to me, said Danielle, when asked about her close family ties. Danielle found time after performances to mingle with her Australian cousins, relatives and friends who thronged to see her.  Witnessing her ability to switch off from public figure to private person when interacting with family and fans, public opinion was clear that here was a girl with her feet planted firmly on the ground, so refreshingly unspoiled and lovable. 

 I asked Danielle what it was that touched her the most about her visit to Melbourne and she said, “It’s the welcome home I received and the realisation that I had come a full circle – I started singing at six, left Melbourne, was nurtured along the way and now I have returned home to the open arms of the country that gave me so much. “

 Johnny Young and staff of the Bartuccio Dance School were reportedly among Danielle’s former Australian mentors and teachers who came to watch their former pupil, now as the star of the show. And so did we, up close and personal, not wanting to miss seeing the little girl we used to know who has changed the way the world sees opera singers – sultry, sexy and physically toned – perform.

If you missed the Melbourne season dates 15 to 25 November, Danielle performs at the Opera House, Sydney, from 31 December 2017 to 3 February 2018. For details and how to book, go to

Welcome home Danielle, and do return again, soon! The reviews have been great!

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THE LEGACY LIVES ON – Story and pictures by Marie Pietersz, Melbourne
Marie Pietersz



Sixteen-year-old Nisal Sri Jayamaha, older son of  Dandenong residents Yasas and Pradeepa Jayamaha, took away the coveted second placing in the KATA Martial Arts category at the recent 2017 IKA  (Independent Kyokushin Alliance) National Championships in Canberra in July. 

Nisal started learning the sport of martial arts at the tender age of six at the BJ Kyokushin dojo in Dandenong (Victoria) under the guidance of Sensei Z uz.   He has competed and won many trophies and medals throughout his years of training in karate. He is currently a Brown Belt with a Black Tag.

Nisal is the grandson of famous Sri Lankan boxer S.P Jayasuriya, Bronze Medallist in the Flyweight category at the Fourth Asian Games, Jakarta, 1962.  

Nisal dedicated his accomplishment to his grandfather who passed away before the Nationals and couldn’t see his grandson compete and win. Jayasuriya was a well-known athlete and boxer. In 2010 Jayasuriya was felicitated by the Sri Lankan Sports Ministry when he was presented with a Gold Medal by the former President Mahinda Rajapakse for bringing honour, pride and glory to Sri Lanka through his athletic and boxing prowess both locally and internationally.

Nisal hopes to take his karate skills all the way to the top with ambitions to win national and international titles, following in his famous grandfather’s footsteps.

Story and pictures by Marie Pietersz, Melbourne

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CULTURAL EVENTS EMPOWER YOUTH FOR AUSTRALIA – Story and photography by Marie Pietersz
Marie Pietersz

Click on the photos below to view the Photos on eLanka Facebook page

MSLA female winners

MSLA Miss winner                                        MSLA for Leader

MSLA judges

MSLA Winners


MSLA teen winners

CULTURAL EVENTS EMPOWER YOUTH FOR AUSTRALIA – Story and photography by Marie Pietersz

The 2017 Miss Sri Lanka Australia national and state titles were awarded to winners of the categories of Miss, Mr, Mrs, Ms and Teen at this year’s pageant and crowning ceremony held at the Box Hill Town Hall (Victoria) on 6 August. The glamourous event presented by Melbourne-based bridal collection house, Savish Corporation,  was patronised by about 350 guests and dignitaries, which included Victorian politicians and local and international community leaders, long-time supporters of this pageant, whose aim is to: foster the development of young persons with Sri Lankan heritage, encourage recognition of their cultural and its integration into the fabric of multicultural Australia, and empower them with confidence to engage in pivotal community roles and provide a voice in shaping Australia’s society of tomorrow.

Savish Corporation, major sponsor of the pageant took the opportunity to launch the first South East Asia Australia Pageant 2017 to be held on 24 September. The Pageant will be another first of its kind in Australia and will extend the offer to young Australians of other South East Asian heritages to be part of this opportunity. Sav Jainudeen said, “Organising South East Asian Bridal Shows and seeing the amazing costume fusion, made me decide we had to do this”. Participants will be dressed by designers from their own countries and will vie for the titles of Miss, Mr, Mrs and Ms. South East Asian Australia 2017. Community Leaders from Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal and Pakistan were present to light the traditional oil lamp to herald the inauguration. Special cultural dancing to bless the event was followed by a cocktail party and official photographs. Only a few spots are available to participate in this pageant.

For more information contact Pageant Director, Dilki Perera on 0414 437 903.

2017 winners

Mr SL Aust – Damsara Menuwara

Mr SL Aust Runner-up – Niral Kalunhendiwala

Mr SL Aust Victoria – Kanila Senadheera

Mr SL Aust Runner-up Victoria – Janeesh Nilanka

Miss SL Aust – Rashmi Wijesekara

Miss SL Aust Runner Up – Hashini Boyagama

Miss SL Aust Queensland – Yashani Algama

Miss SL Aust Victoria – Devorah Oliver

Mr Teen SL Aust – Benjamin de Silva

Miss Teen SL Aust – Tarini Lewke

Mrs SL Aust Victoria – Poorni Bandara

Mr SL Aust Confident – Priyadarshana Bandara

Miss SL Aust Confident – Sarugia Baskaratha

Mr SL Aust Top Model –     Kenan Munasinghe

Mr SL Aust All Rounder – Lakshitha Liyanage

Miss SL Aust All Rounder – Yashodhi Wickrema Gedera

Story and photography by Marie Pietersz

Miss Sri Lanka Australia Pageant media and promotions


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Black Betty by 1961 now serving in Canterbury…

Story and pictures by Marie Pietersz

Marie Pietersz

You can now indulge your caffeine hit and stimulate your senses at the same time at Black Betty’s coffee house, among the exotic foliage and blooms of Scintilla Flowers, in the beautiful precinct of Canterbury’s grand old charm.

Black Betty is the entrepreneurial venture of co-owners Ash and Shiroma Nathan and Glen and Simonne Couthino, opening its doors for business on 10 February at 180 Canterbury Road. Nestled among the tranquil leafy glades of Melbourne’s east, Black Betty is the place to visit if you are looking for a coffee experience with a difference, with extras to boot.

The name Black Betty honours the pretty barmaid who worked in the famous coffee house in Covent Garden, London, in 1720. This dedicated coffee house/retail store, cafe and florist serves exquisite coffee, scrumptious food, beautiful bouquets, and offers free wifi. The owners are confident that your stop at their coffee shop will reward you with a different experience. They promise “the coffee will always maintain its superior quality, unlike the weather changes”.

“We want customers to have a total experience, enjoying our specialty coffees, served by dedicated and friendly staff, in beautiful retro surrounds. And it doesn’t stop there – you can also enjoy a stroll through Canterbury Park next door or shop in iconic Maling Road if you wish to turn your visit into a social outing,” Shiroma says.

The idea of mixing beans to make his Black Betty blend comes from co-owner Ash’s love of mixing ingredients as a chef and his background of growing up in a family of coffee makers in the coffee plantations of Sri Lanka. He is driven by his passion to cater for a special segment of the coffee market here in Australia. While he uses the finest beans from around the world, he hopes that soon he will be able to give back to his sages in Sri Lanka their own coffee plantation so he can have a new supply of coffee beans to use in yet another unique blend he plans to concoct.

Co-owner Glen, Director of R T Edgar Real Estate, better known as The Block auctioneer, has been a customer of CoffeeHead Camberwell for the past five years. “I love the coffee and I love the ambience the place provides for my business meetings or relaxing after a busy day of auctioneering. I recognised that Ash and Shiroma shared my same values of service to their staff and customers. So together, we put our plan to work and Black Betty, Canterbury, was born”.

Already clever and subtle marketing by Glen has seen Black Betty’s recognition grow beyond the local clientele. Attending any of Glen’s auctions means you will be served Black Betty coffee brewed on site in the Buzz Mobile Cafe, while proud new home owners receive beautiful flowers from Simonne of Scintilla Flowers.

Black Betty has a lot going for it, and its and passionate young owners with lots of awards on their business boards have plans for more. Popular among the locals, a visit there is highly recommended.

Visit the web page, Facebook page Black Betty by 1961, or simply call (03) 9882 6441.
Story and pictures by Marie Pietersz

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Marie Pietersz

Marie_Christmas_lunch-2015 Dance_duo_R_and_M_Paulines_dance_2014

I have always been interested in community work and as an English tutor I have worked with many migrant adults and students. Then an opportunity came along when I was approached to teach dancing to seniors. I thought what a wonderful way it would be for my interests as a dancer, tutor and community worker to come together.

Before long I was feeling good about the opportunity to help seniors learn lifelong skills through dancing, one of the best exercises one could claim for everybody, and for seniors to help with memory, fitness, flexibility, freedom of movement and exercises for bone density, through gentle cardio workouts.

I have been teaching dancing to seniors now for about 10 years. My voluntary classes at the University of the Third Age have grown, sometimes with a waiting list of over a year to get in. It cannot believe the interest it has generated.

It is a huge commitment for a part-time worker like me, but when I see how happy it makes seniors, my fleeting thoughts about wanting to give it up flies right out the door. In fact community houses have opened their doors to me to cater for dancers in other suburbs. My oldest class member is 92 years of age and I am very proud she belongs to my class and she is always a model I hold up to others that age is just a number, not a restriction. 

My passion has been for not only teaching seniors dancing, but providing them with the opportunity to showcase their accomplishments and prowess through demonstrations and thereby gain public confidence. A vehicle I use for this is participation in Seniors’ Week activities and other community festivals, social outings, dancing balls, theme classes such as the Footy Colours class, and also publishing their dancing on YouTube and Their dedication in practising to make perfect blows my mind away. 

It gives me great pleasure to see seniors taking responsibility for their own health and wellbeing by being ‘sports doers’ than ‘sports watchers’.  Dancing classes also provide social outings and build friendships, which can only be good for seniors.

I think while this passion is alive in my senior students, I will also be passionate about teaching them. Seeing their faces light up with enthusiasm when they have mastered a dance routine and have surprised themselves with their movements, is a rewarding thing and gives me so much joy.  

For details of my classes, contact 0412 296 827 or visit my youtube channel to check out class dance videos. ‘Nuline with Marie’ will be performing at Federation Square on the opening day of Seniors’ Week on 2 October at 1.40 pm. Come along and check us out.

Life, be in it!

Story and photos by Marie Pietersz, Melbourne

The Victorian Seniors Festival – 2-9 October 2016

 The festival, held in October each year at various locations around the CBD, is organised by the Victorian Department of Health & Human Services to honour and encourage Victorian seniors to get out there and participate in and enjoy a wide range of more than 1,300 activities; all generally free or low-cost.

There’s a plethora of entertainment, adventure and fun activities at this year’s week-long festival. Browse musical performances, art exhibitions, cultural activities, food tours, health, nutrition and fitness workshops, and across Victoria concerts, dances, theatre shows, celebratory morning teas, tours, a host of indoor and outdoor recreation activities and much more.

Seniors, this is your week, so get out there and make the most of all the free and low-cost events the State Government has organised for you. They include:

Free public transport for the 8 days of the festival for Victorian Seniors Card holders in metropolitan and regional Victoria and 5 days of free V/Line travel between 3-6 October and on Saturday 8 October.

Free festival events-
Celebration Day at Federation Square: 2 October between 10.30am to 4pm
Festival Hub at Melbourne Town Hall: Daily from 3-7 October between 10am to 4.30pm
Come and Dance!, Melbourne Town Hall: 3 October between 12.30pm to 4pm
Festival at the Edge, Deakin Edge at Federation Square: 3-4 October between 11am – 3.30pm
Organ Concert at Melbourne Town Hall: 5 October between 1pm to 2pm

Popular musicians and bands will perform and entertain guests. So why not show off your younger side and dance to some of the great tunes of yesteryear, take part in many activities and participate in various workshops held during the festival, or why not catch a one of the classic films. You can enjoy a multitude of interactive activities; such as dancing, aerobics, strength training and tai chi.

Events can also be found all over Victoria with local councils and community groups running hundreds of other fabulous events. You can pick up a copy of the festival program from any town hall or community centre near you. You can also visit  to browse through the festival event calendar.

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by Marie Pietersz


Gordon Senn celebrated his octogenarian birthday at the trendy Braeside function centre, Okie Dokie, on Saturday 16 July.

Friends and well-wishers packed the venue for a rock ‘n’ roll night, a fitting theme for Gordon who loves music and dancing and can be seen ‘tripping the light fantastic’ with wife Joyce at Sri Lankan socials and dances each weekend for as long as one could remember.

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Celebrating or entertaining at home? We have a ‘chef on the run’ for you!

Cinnamon’s cater for all occasions − from finger food to elegant buffets at your chosen location. Or we offer two venues with 200 and 150 seating capacity respectively for in-house functions with no additional venue hire fees. We also offer a variety of food in the form of take-away platters that will feed 10-12 people each. Email your requirements to or call 03 9574 9686 or mobile 0415 185 558 for worry-free events.


Friday night eat-outs? We’ve got the perfect venue and price for you!

Hoppers, Kottu, Dosa, Goat Biryani, Lamb Rogan Josh, Mint Chutney, Eggplant Moju, Butter Chicken, Devilled Calamari, Fried Noodles, Fried Fish, Lemon Chicken, Fish Ambul Thiyal, Steamed Rice, Bitter Melon Salad, and many more options including an array of vegetarian dishes and desserts.

All you can eat Buffet @ $25 per adult at Cinnamon’s Cafe & Kitchen, 187-189 Coleman Parade, Glen Waverley and 474 St Kilda Road, Albert Park. Live music on Friday nights. Licensed/BYO. Ring us on 03 9574 9686 or mobile 0415 185 558 should you wish to book a table, or email your requirements to Walk-ins also welcome if tables available.


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