Australian Author Andy Griffiths coming to the Netherlands

Australian author Andy Griffiths is touring the Netherlands later this month to share his new book, the 104-Storey Treehouse.


My daughters are 9 & 11 and have read a few of his books in Dutch already – here they are called the “Waanzinnige Boomhut”.


We are raising our children bilingually here in the Netherlands, so it’s a great excuse to encourage them to read more – and am very pleased that offer both the Dutch and English language versions.   I’ve just ordered a few English versions for them – and I’m going to have a read too!

Andy Griffiths will be at several locations throughout the Netherlands, including Assen, Delft, The Hague, Rotterdam check here for the list:

We will be going to meet him in Delft!

It seems he’s a regular in the Netherlands, I found a video promoting a visit last year:

Have your children (or you?) read any of Andy’s books?  Please share your thoughts in a comment below, or come and discuss in the Dutch Australian Community Facebook group. 

Renee 🙂



Australian circus-cabaret LIMBO in Amsterdam this summer

The Australian circus-cabaret LIMBO plays hard and fast in Amsterdam this summer. Having sold out London, Sydney, Melbourne and Munich seasons LIMBO now brings it’s thrilling live band with over 50 instruments to accompany jaw dropping contortion, gut-churning aerial acrobatics, nail-biting stunts and staggering illusions. For 7 weeks the theater on the Rozengracht is transformed into a circus and cabaret space with the stage in the center of the venue so the audience can be close to the action. With only 350 seats, this intimate venue is the best place to see this big show.

LIMBO’s stellar international cast includes Coney Island’s fire-breathing, sword-swallowing vintage beauty Heather Holliday, Europe’s gravity-defying Chinese pole master and beat boxer Mikael Bres,  the aerial grace of Canadian acrobat Evelyne Allard, alongside Australia’s tap dancing sensation Hilton Denis.

Music is one of the driving forces in LIMBO, created by New York’s Sxip Shirey. Sxip has created a musical genre called JANK; constantly surprising, always funky and very sexy Shirey describes the music as “a New York brass band marching through New Orleans on its way to an all-night party in Berlin. It’s brass, electronics, surprising sounds, hip-hop and club beats.”

LIMBOS Melbourne based Creator and Director Scott Maidment (Tom Tom Crew, Cantina, Blanc de Blanc)  of Strut & Fret Production House can’t wait.  “We are over the moon that the award winning sensation LIMBO is finally coming to delight Dutch audiences,” said Mr Maidment.  “Since the start in Adelaide in 2013, the show has since traveled non-stop around the world and I’m really excited to finally get the opportunity to present LIMBO in Amsterdam for the first time.”

Buy your tickets here: 

The show lasts 1 hours and 35 minutes, including intermission

‘Jan Vennik: the Dutchman at Eureka’ – written by Yvon Davis

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A piece of Dutch/Australian history: ‘Jan Vennik: the Dutchman at Eureka’ – written by Yvon Davis

Jan Vennik: the Dutchman at Eureka tells the story of a Dutchman who was present in the vicinity of the Eureka Stockade on 3 December 1854, before he was arrested and charged with Treason together with 12 others.

Former SBS Radio broadcaster Yvon Davis provides new insights into the story of Eureka by researching public records and interpreting the contents of eye witness accounts published in local and overseas newspaper articles.

Follow the story of Jan Vennik’s life on the goldfields of Central Victoria, before and after the Eureka Rebellion, in this beautifully in Ballarat designed and produced 48 page book, includes full colour photos and illustrations.

Book plus postage within Australia $20. Please email:


1629 Mutiny on the Batavia by Henry Van Zanden

1629 Mutiny on the Batvia

Mutiny on the Batavia is one of the world’s greatest stories. If it were fiction, people would complain that it was just too unbelievable. It’s not just the story of the shipwreck itself, but the lead up to the shipwreck that is fascinating. To really understand the characters, it was necessary to look at their world and how it influenced their subsequent actions after the shipwreck. In particular, how an extreme religious sect influenced Jeronimus Cornelisz, a man who did not believe in Satan but if he did exist, then it was surely Cornelisz.

Initially I wrote the book as a history but that has already been done extremely well by Mike Dash in his book, Batavia’s Graveyard. I also realised that there were a lot of gaps in the narrative. However, these gaps could only be filled if I wrote the book as a historical fiction.

Reading everything I possibly could on each part of the narrative, I wrote everything down in chronological order so that I could make better sense of what really happened. Slowly I added some meat to the characters either through dialogue or a more detailed description of their involvement in events. Previously the minor characters were just names attached to events. I have endeavoured to bring some of these characters to life.

I differed from some historians in the treatment of Commander Pelsaert,whose journal about the Batavia shipwreck was written in third person in 1647. I suspected that Pelsaert was not always truthful in his account. He was keen to avoid any blame and therefore attempted to blacken Captain Ariaen Jacobsz’s name.

Few historians have written about what was happening in the city of Batavia (Jakarta) at the time of the departure and shipwreck of the Batavia. The soldiers aboard the ship and other ships in the fleet, were being urgently sent as reinforcements to the Batavia Castle, the city fortress under siege by 20,000 men. At the same time, a very tragic love story was unfolding. The events and the tragic love story eventually unite with the survivors of the shipwreck after their arrival in Batavia. Both plots intersect with the final action delivering a fascinating conclusion with a remarkable and unexpected twist.

Although it has been written as a historical fiction, every attempt has been made to create a story as historically accurate as possible.
1629 Mutiny on the Batavia was written with the aim of bringing the story to the cinemas. If it is expertly produced and directed, it will become one of the greatest movies ever made.

“If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.”
― Rudyard Kipling, The Collected Works

Although the story by itself is enough to capture the reader’s imagination, it is also a story of absolute evil corrupting the good. If Satan did exist, he would have personified himself as Jeronimus Cornelisz.

It is a story of a struggle to retain our human dignity, our decency when the temptations of greed, lust, power and ultimately, a choice between a life as a murderer or death, are put to the test. Readers will ask themselves whether it is better to die an honourable death or live a dishonourable life as a murderer.

For the author it was a horrific journey: “I had to ‘live’ the evil that festered in the minds of maniacal men as well as ‘feel’ the terror of the helpless victims. I had to enter into a dark place, a place that I had never been before to engage in the most unspeakable evil and commit, in my mind, the most despicable and depraved acts of barbarism.” This is not a book for the very young or the faint hearted.

The book asks some uncomfortable questions, such as: How much evil would you be prepared to commit in order to stay alive? How many people would you kill before you stop?

“If only it were all so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?”

― Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago 1918-1956

Henry Van Zanden

Learn more about Henry and and buy his previous book, “The Lost White Tribes of Australia: Part One 1656 The First Settlement of Australia,” at

Buy a copy of 1629 Mutiny on the Batavia via

2016 Eurovision Song Contest

The Eurovision song contest is always fun.  Here’s the entry from the Netherlands from Douwe Bob, which has made it through to Saturday night’s final:

Australia gets to be an honorary European country and is competing with Dami Im: Sound of Silence:

You can find the official Eurovision website here:

And more the Wikipedia entry here:

Will you be watching?  Who will you be supporting/voting for?






Gods of Egypt Movie Review


Last week, I went out for dinner in The Hague with 3 friends.  We’re all mothers of young children and left them at home with their papas to enjoy yum cha in the Chinatown area.  Afterwards, about to head home, one friend had a crazy idea for busy working mothers on a Thursday night.  “Why don’t we go see a movie?”  I can’t remember the last time I spontaneously walked into a cinema, with no idea what was playing.   We ended up choosing “Gods of Egypt” mostly because the time slot suited the best.  It was the 3D IMAX and we spend the next two hours immersed in a fantastical world.  It wasn’t until later when reading up on the Wikipedia entry for Gods of Egypt I learned that it was filmed in Australia!

Directed by Australian Alex Proyas, I recognised Australian Geoffrey Rush as the Sun God Ra but didn’t realise that the beautiful young “mortal” couple at the centre of the action – Brenton Thwaites and Courtney Eaton are also Aussies.   Other recognisable (non Aussie) cast members include Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (that every Game of Thrones fan will know in a second), Rufus Sewell and Gerard Butler.  Bryan Brown is also in there – you may spot him as Osiris but chances are you won’t recognise him as Anubis:

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Wikipedia reports that the filming began in March 2014 at Fox Studios in Sydney, with one of the main temples being set at Centennial Park.  Tax credits offered in Australia was one of the attractions to film there, with Melbourne being first choice initially but Dockland Studios were full.

The official trailer #1 pretty much covers the plot:

One of my favourite things was that the Gods bleed gold.  When there is so much gore in action films like this, it was a pretty alternative to the usual red!

Another image I loved but can’t (yet) seem to find an image of online was the multi-coloured wings of the first wife of Set (Nephthys I think).

Critics seem to vary in their reviews, I like this one by Matt Zoller Seitz, he made me laugh with this spot-on summary: “Gods of Egypt” is an adventure in what used to be called the “swords and sandals” genre. Every brawny chest is waxed, every bosom heaving.  Many reviews I’ve read refer to Indiana Jones in some way, as did my friend “It’s pretty much a high-tech modern Indiana Jones”.  The “bad” reviews complain about awkward acting and “trying too hard” humour, but even still admit that if you go into it with the right mindset it’s still very entertaining.

Personally, I simply enjoyed it for what it was – an opulent visual feast, essentially retelling the oldest basic story of all time – good verses evil.  I’ll let you guess who wins.  It’s definitely set up for a sequel.

As a marketing lecturer, one thing that struck me was that this was a classic case of differentiation.  I rarely go to the movies any more, with two young children, and a busy life, I don’t often take time out and pay 15 euros or so to watch something when I have Netflix.  However a movie like this, shown in 3D IMAX, with beautiful effects of an amazing world we will never see, is pure escapism at its best.  You just can’t get that immersed in a movie at home.  My dreams that night were filled with the vivid colours from the film, and the mood of epic battles has lingered with me

If you’re going for plot or to gain an understanding of Ancient Egypt folklore, don’t bother.  However if you have a couple of hours to indulge in a kaleidoscope of colour and fantasy – go for it!

Here’s trailer #2:

The official website (just as flashy as the movie) is here:

You can find the full list of cast on IMDb