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Pictures of the Carnavon Gorge, Central Highlands, Queensland, Australia
Pictures of the Carnavon Gorge, Central Highlands, Queensland, Australia

Pictures of Roma, Queensland, and Surrounding Towns
Pictures of Roma, Queensland, and surrounding towns

Aboriginal Australia

Frog and Toad's Aboriginal Australia

Frog and Toad's Aboriginal Australia

Aboriginal Languages

Aboriginal Languages

I HAVE TO ADMIT THAT FOR SOMEONE WHO GENERALLY FINDS GAMBLING POINTLESS AND BORING, A NUMBER OF SIGNIFICANT MOMENTS IN MY LIFE HAVE TAKEN PLACE INSIDE SYDNEY'S STAR CITY CASINO. Of course, living in Australia it is hard to avoid gambling even if you loathe it -- every bar is packed with slot machines, and loving a punt is considered a healthy aspect of the Australian nature. My first really meaningful Star City experience happened at the end of 1997 or perhaps early 1998 -- I don't know quite how it happened but I ended up getting invited on a date there by a bold Korean girl called Hyo-Jin (or Hyo-Jun or possibly Enis?). Hyo-Jun had moved into my ramshackle Balmain home, which had started as a Doof! techno pad but mutated, in the dying days of 1997, into a virtual Korean backpacker's hostel of particularly low repute. The kitchen now stank of pickled kim'chi, but the meals were pretty cool when one of the Koreans cooked for us, and I was always willing to sit down and share a traditional Korean breakfast or other rice-based meal. It was a short-lived Utopia -- about a month or so later the owner decided to renovate the house and we all got kicked out. At the very end of the project, for a week or so, it was just me living there, which was kind of surreal because it was such a big house and so ramshackled and supposedly haunted as well. Just me and the ghosts of the past. Hyo-Jun fled, finding a new roost in Bondi. But after she had moved out she called me at work, and invited me to go with her to Star City Casino, which had only recently opened. You could call it a date.

When I met her that night near the casino she was wearing a pure white Vietnamese Ao Dai dress, which looked pretty exotic. I don't know why I didn't try to score with her that night, it probably would have been easy to bang her, and in retrospect I see it as a missed opportunity! I guess I was a wuss back then -- I didn't seize the opportunities which were offered me! Nonetheless, we had a good night cruising the casino, despite the fact that I was a wuss. Hyo-Jun and I hit the tables and I remember losing some money on blackjack. It was interesting watching all the games going on (basically variations on people losing money.) In particular, there were some strange Chinese and Vietnamese games there, as well as the more fair dinkum Two-Up. Come to think of it, the place seemed packed with Asians, and Hyo-Jun in her Vietnamese Ao Dai was in her element, perfectly...

There could be a casino soon on Phu Quoc Island... click here. If I could go to North Africa, this is the place I would go: http://www.sandmonkey.org/2011/02/06/the-way-forward/ Now, it is worth mentioning that Star City is New South Wales' only casino and according to its operators, "it is Sydney's premier 24 hour entertainment facility." Star City has a huge TAB lounge and sports bar, Star Keno and 200 gaming tables featuring popular games such as Blackjack, Roulette, Craps, Mini Baccarat, Sic Bo (one of those strange Asian games I was talking about before), Big Wheel, Caribbean Stud Poker, Pai Gow and Pontoon. In my Sydney years I always associated the place with corporate greed and corruption. The time I visited the joint with Hyo-Jun there was a Vietnamese guy outside the front door busking with a flute. I wondered whether he had lost all his money inside, and was saving enough for another crack at making his fortune...

MY SECOND SIGNIFICANT STAR CITY EXEPERIENCE CAME NEAR THE END OF MY SYDNEY YEARS, IN THE MIDDLE OF THE YEAR 2000 IF I REMEMBER CORRECTLY. Back in those days I was working as a hack reporter for Cumberland Newspapers, and was based mostly in western Sydney. I had one moment of triumph when my newspaper (THE BLACKTOWN ADVOCATE) was shortlisted as one of the finalists in the Newspaper of the Year awards in 2000. The connection with this story was that the award ceremony was to be held at Star City Casino. I was to join editor Nini Laxamana and other reporters at the Star City ceremony.

Star City has some great facilities, and I enjoyed them all on the night. I got drunk. I listened to plenty of speeches. After all the minor awards had been handed out came the time to announce the Newspaper of the Year. The MC opened the envelope, there was a reasonably hushed period of silence -- and then the winner was announced. It was us! The Blacktown Advocate had won! This was a shock to me although I had a strange sense we were going to win, and I began to stumble towards the stage, along with Nini and Scott the gay sub-editor, and other Blacktown staff. I had recently begun putting on weight, however, and after the succulent Star City courses, I was feeling a little tight in the waist department. As I stepped on stage, as the camera flashes flashed, and my journalism career peaked at its highest zenith, suddenly I felt the button of my trousers pop, and my pants began sliding down my legs! That's right -- my pants fell down, right on stage at the Suburban Newspapers Award Ceremony! What a great night it was! That was one truly classic moment, and lots of laughs to me still.

On to a more serious point, Star City Casino boasts a luxury hotel conveniently located right in the heart of Sydney (at 80 Pyrmont Street, Pyrmont.) All rooms include 24 hour room service, fully contained kitchen, internal laundry, individually controlled air-conditioning and central heating, marble bathrooms, balcony, alarm clock, colour TV with cable TV channels, pay per view movies, International Direct Dial phone, personalised voice mail, separate fax/data line, mini bar, refrigerator, tea & coffee making facilities and hair dryer. Non-smoking rooms and floors available.

It is within the confines of the luxury Star City Hotel that my next major Magic Moment is destined to take place. In two week's time (late October 2005) will be returning to Australia with my new consort Chie, to attend my brother's wedding on Sydney Harbour. As part of the deal, we will be getting two nights' accommodation at the luxury hotel. I am hoping to replicate the high-class adventures I recently encountered with another eager beauty at a Japanese love hotel (Hotel Venus, Shinjuku.) And yes, I might even try my hand on the slot machines and roulette wheel -- even though I generally regard gambling as a waste of money and time.

STAR CITY SYDNEY IS LOCATED AT 80 PYRMONT ST, PYRMONT. For more information contact Ozhorizons on (07/4124 9943 or (international) 61 7/4124 9943.


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