It’s cool to be different


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Ollie’s Year 4 Robert Hardy Speech: It’s Cool to be Different.

Am so proud of my boy. Next year and the following, he’ll be in the OC class for Year 5 and Year 6 at his school. Opportunity Classes in NSW public schools are for gifted and talented children. It’s wonderful that Ollie’s school hosts this class in the region, and also wonderful that he got in!
Bravo Ollie!
How great to be able to celebrate something like this for our kids.

It’s Cool to be Different
13 Sep 2019

What if everyone in the world was exactly alike? What if everyone talked the same, acted the same, listened to the same music and watched the same TV programs? The world would be extremely dull!

In fact, we are all different from other people in our own ways. Thank goodness this is true. Differences are what make life interesting and fun!

It’s cool to be different because this allows you to be true to yourself.

We all have characteristics — physical, intellectual, emotional, etc — that make us different. Allowing ourselves to express these unique characteristics makes us feel good. Resisting our natural self does not.

I think the truth is that what makes you different, can become your superpower. You just need to learn how to harness that power. Instead of hiding your difference, you could learn how to use it. Your shyness, for example, might make you a better listener. Your awkward laugh might make you funny and appealing. Our quirks, when we master them, contain great power.

What makes you different makes you memorable. When you try to fit into somebody else’s mould, the results will be boring. People won’t remember the thing you did that everybody can do, but they will remember the thing you did that only you can do.

The world needs more realness. In a world where being the same as everyone else is the easiest option, being real is in high demand. Deep down everyone wants to be more real, but we are all afraid to be the first one. When you start living as your true self, differences and all, you give permission to those around you to do the same. We might not say it out loud, but everyone wants to see your honest self.

Every great creative breakthrough — artistic, musical, scientific, etc. — by definition is different, because it introduces a solution that requires a new way of thinking. Embracing your difference gives you a new perspective. Innovation does not happen when everyone thinks the same. Innovation happens when people challenge the status quo with different ideas.

Some people who try to hide their differences might do so out of fear of being lonely. But standing out will not make you lonely — far from it. By living honestly you will discover others who align with your difference. They will like you just the way you are. This will be your tribe.

When you stand up and live according to your purpose, you will find those who have stood up before you, and you will serve as inspiration for those who will stand up next.

Finally, in the words of Oscar Wilde:

“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.”

JAPAN Stories of love and war

24 marzo – 9 settembre 2018

Dal 24 marzo al 9 settembre 2018Palazzo Albergati di Bologna ospita una grande mostra dedicata al Giappone classico.

Attraverso una selezione di oltre 200 opere, il Mondo Fluttuante dell’ukiyo-e arriva per la prima volta a Bologna, un vero e proprio viaggio alla scoperta dell’elegante e raffinata atmosfera del periodo Edo, l’odierna Tokyo.

Geisha e samurai, donne bellissime ed eroi leggendari, attori kabuki, animali fantastici, mondi visionari e paesaggi bizzarri sono i protagonisti di Giappone. Storie d’amore e guerra.

Tra le opere presenti quelle de i più grandi artisti dell’Ottocento giapponese tra cui Hiroshige, UtamaroHokusai, Kuniyoshi, ma la mostra offre un panorama completo anche sulla vita dell’epoca in Giappone, con l’esposizione di vestiti di samurai, kimono, ventagli e fotografie.

Il percorso, sviluppato attraverso dieci sezioni, si snoda tra il suadente mondo femminile delle geisha e delle ōiran (le cortigiane d’alto rango) e il fascino dei leggendari guerrieri samurai, il racconto della nascita dell’ukiyo-e e le famose stampe shunga ricche di erotismo, le opere che ritraggono gli attori del teatro  e Kabuki accanto a quelle che rappresentano il mondo della natura in tutte le sue manifestazioni – fiori, uccelli e paesaggi.

Con il patrocinio del Comune di Bologna, del Consolato Generale del Giappone a Milano e della Fondazione Italia Giappone, la mostra è prodotta e organizzata dal Gruppo Arthemisia e curata da Pietro Gobbi grande studioso dell’arte giapponese.


March 24th – September 9th 2018

From March 24th to September 9th 2018 , Palazzo Albergati in Bologna hosts a major exhibition dedicated to classical Japan.

Through a selection of over 200 works , the Floating World of ukiyo-e arrives for the first time in Bologna, a real journey to discover the elegant and refined atmosphere of the Edo period, today’s Tokyo.

Geisha and samurai, beautiful women and legendary heroes, kabuki actors, fantastic animals, visionary worlds and bizarre landscapes are the protagonists of Japan. Stories of love and war .

Among the works present are those of the greatest Japanese artists of the nineteenth century including Hiroshige, Utamaro , Hokusai , Kuniyoshi , but the exhibition offers a complete panorama on the life of the era in Japan, with the exhibition of samurai clothes, kimono , fans and photographs.

The path, developed through ten sections, runs between the enticing female world of geisha and ōiran(high-ranking courtesans) and the charm of the legendary samurai warriors, the story of the birth of ukiyo-e and the famous shunga prints rich in eroticism, the works portraying the actors of the  and Kabuki theater alongside those that represent the world of nature in all its manifestations – flowers, birds and landscapes.

Under the patronage of the Municipality of Bologna , the General Consulate of Japan in Milan and the Italy Japan Foundation , the exhibition is produced and organized by the Arthemisia Group and curated by Pietro Gobbi, a great scholar of Japanese art.

Stuffed Zucchini Flowers

Recipe inspired by the Italian Food Safari of Haberfield, Sydney run by Maeve O’Mara’s Gourmet Safaris and the beautiful, fresh, seasonal produce found at Frank’s Fruit Market this time of year. What did I do? Ask my brilliant-cook cousin Sylvia, of course. Here follows Sylvia’s “there’s no recipe, you just” recipe for stuffed zucchini flowers.

23473106_10215036860574114_6030576303575935013_n (2).jpg

zucchini flowers

1 kg ricotta cheese

1 cup Parmesan cheese



Soda water batter

Self raising flour

Soda water



  1. Mix ricotta with Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper.
  2. Peel back the leaves, remove yellow stamen and stuff with ricotta mixture. Close leaves.
  3. Make a soda water batter (Self raising flour, soda water, salt), dip them and shallow fry in vegetable oil.
 Sylvia Christofis

Italian Gourmet Food Safari of Haberfield


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The description for the Italian Gourmet Food Safari of Haberfield reads:

Haberfield is a glorious Italian village full of small family businesses with all the ingredients for a feast. We start with a coffee and explore delicatessens full of olives, cheeses, small-goods, olive oil, aged vinegar, pasta and sauces; a bakery famous for crusty pane di casa bread; a fresh pasta maker; artisan cheese maker, some of the best Italian fruit and vegetables and a perfect handmade chocolate shop. We enjoy a generous lunch of homemade pasta, wood-fired pizza & salads including wine (of course!) and finish with a specialist liqueur shop. Magnifico!

Tour meets in Haberfield


  • The warmth of our Italian guides and hosts
  • Meeting passionate shop-owners and tasting many new flavours
  • Learning how to use key ingredients with our guide to a Cheat’s Italian Dinner Party
  • Lunch with pasta, pizza and wine
  • A visit to Italy from mid morning to mid afternoon



Arthur’s Place



Down a path through a neat front garden in the South Sydney suburb of Beaconsfield, community worker Julianne Szabo welcomes me into a home that is awash with sunshine yellow.

“They’re my favourite, how did you know?” she says kindly of the bouquet of jonquils I have brought as a token from a virtual stranger, intruding on a person’s grief.

It’s ten years and counting but Julianne Szabo says she still replays in her mind the sequence of events on the day that changed her life forever.

It was Good Friday and her 13-year-old son Arthur was on his Easter break from school. “He loved going to the Easter Show, and his mate’s mother had offered to take the boys together,” she says. “She suggested Arthur sleep over so they could get an early start.”

“If only I’d said no. If only. You don’t know how many times I’ve thought that,” she trails off, looking away.

Arthur was sleeping in a room on the top floor of his friend’s three storey terrace in Waterloo, when a molotov cocktail crashed through the kitchen back door. Within minutes the house was ablaze, with Arthur trapped upstairs.

Arthur eventually got out of the house but died in hospital from his injuries almost two months later. “The rest of the family were sleeping on the floor below and they all managed to get out ok. By the time they realised Arthur was still inside, it was too late,” she says, slowing shaking her head.

“I know my boy. Arthur was a heavy sleeper. He would have woken in a daze and made his way downstairs. They say he came out with no protection, on fire. He was wearing no shoes, no shirt – only his favourite blue denim jeans,” Ms Szabo says, closing her eyes against the horrific image recreated.

Having spoken to grief counsellors before meeting Ms Szabo, they were quick to point out that parental bereavement is different from other losses in that it is intensified and prolonged.

“It’s a heartbreak like no other,” says Anne Giljohann, manager of counselling and support services at the Australian Centre for Grief and Bereavement. “For parents who have experienced the death of a child there really is no more devastating loss,” she explains.

What makes this type of death particularly difficult to come to terms with is that the death of a child is a contradiction to everything that we believe to be true about life; a child’s death disrupts the normal order of life.

“There’s an unwritten law that a child should outlive their parents,” says Anne Neville, director of counselling and education services at Open Doors, a Christian based charity.

“There’s a lot of questioning and conflict with parents asking ‘Did I do something wrong?’ It’s one of the most difficult areas of grief because parents are trying to understand something that is just not supposed to happen,” she says.

While Ms Szabo goes to the kitchen to attend to a whistling kettle, seated at her dining table I more fully take in my immediate surrounds and realise I am sitting in what could be described as Arthur’s shrine.

On all the walls, the mantlepiece and sideboard, are a myriad of framed photos of Arthur at various stages of his short life. From Ms Szabo looking down at the bundle cradled in her arms, to the glee-filled blue eyes of a curly haired toddler being guided in his first steps and splashing in the shallows of the sea.

There are family gatherings, birthdays, school photos and holiday snaps. A large portrait dominates: Arthur with his arm around a younger boy, standing beside a Christmas tree. With one foot on a soccer ball, he looks so handsome and serious, soulful eyes this time, and is making the V peace sign.

“That was Arthur’s last Christmas,” says Ms Szabo returning with a tray of tea and cake. “He loved his younger cousins and with most of my family in Darwin, we would see them at Christmas. Usually it was just me and him and we were happy here. We kept pretty much to ourselves but Arthur was getting older and started wanting to spend more time with his friends.”

For Ms Szabo, grief at the loss of her only child is compounded by the fact she does not have the “closure” so often cited as necessary for healing. The person or persons responsible for deliberately lighting the fire that caused Arthur’s death have never been found.

Arthur’s young life was cut short senselessly, in what turned out to be a feud between neighbours that spread until until it divided an entire street. The Coroner’s Court inquest seven years ago into Arthur’s death heard that the feud in Walker Street, Waterloo began between Janine Masuda, the owner of the house Arthur was staying at, and her neighbour Fay Dwyer.

It allegedley spread to Mrs Dwyer’s sons and daughter Sharon and her defacto husband Greg Walker, who lived down the road, and a raft of others who lived on or regularly visited the street. But when residents and visitors to Walker Street were summonsed to explain the firebomb at the inquest, most chose not to name names.

“Everyone was scared and there were protection orders and threats made against witnesses, anyone who might speak up. People were worried about their kids, I can understand that. But Arthur was my family. He was the innocent one caught up in all that rot and now most of the families have moved away”, Ms Szabo says.

Police re-examined the Walker Street case four years ago in a bid to identify new witnesses, but said then that investigations had again been hampered by “several members of the local community reluctant to provide information.”

“The police have told me it will take a miracle for someone to come forward, now that it’s a ‘cold case’. I will never give up hope that we find the people responsible because for me all it takes is for someone to have a bit of heart,” Ms Szabo says.

Like many parents who have lost a child Ms Szabo has sought to create a lasting tribute to her son. Each year she holds a memorial service at the site of his memorial tree and plaque at Tobruk Reserve in Waterloo, the local park.

Arthur’s tree is a Kurrajong, or Illawarra Flame Tree, native to tropical regions on the east coast of Australia and famous for its spectacular red bell-shaped flowers.

She also continues to produce flyers calling for information from the community, reminding people on noticeboards of the $100,000 reward that has been offered for several years.

Ms Szabo works at Wyanga, an Aboriginal aged care program based in Redfern that provides home-based care to Indigenous elders. “We help with meals, cleaning, house maintenance and transport, so that our elders can stay in their homes as long as possible,” she says.

She also organises gatherings and outings and in the process, her own home has become a popular community gathering place. “But don’t go writing I’m some saint,” she says. “There have been plenty of dark times where I’ve been no good to anyone at all. I’ve battled with drink and feeling there’s no point in going on.”

“I thought about moving away too but I could never leave this house; it’s so full of memories. I had it all painted soon after Arthur passed away. He was the sunshine of my life,’’ she says, before warmly thanking me for my visit and wishing me well.


– Linda Daniele

*Submitted as part of Advanced Print Features unit for postgraduate journalism studies at UTS.

2009: On the Side

57198 Investigative Journalism

Warning: The information on this page is indicative. The subject outline for a particular session, location and mode of offering is the authoritative source of all information about the subject for that offering. Required texts, recommended texts and references in particular are likely to change. Students will be provided with a subject outline once they enrol in the subject.

Subject handbook information prior to 2018 is available in the Archives.

UTS: Communication: Journalism
Credit points: 8 cp
Result type: Grade and marks

There are course requisites for this subject. See access conditions.
Anti-requisite(s): 57161 Investigative Journalism


This subject introduces students to investigative reporting, a style of journalism which probes deeper than most daily news journalism. Students familiarise themselves with research techniques which have proved useful to journalists pursuing in-depth stories, analyse and learn from investigative reporting by others, and solve problems that arise in stories through group discussion. The subject emphasises a hypothesis-based approach to identifying and researching stories, with a focus on practical problem solving in developing stories from conception to finished product. The subject is designed to: demonstrate a wide variety of practical research techniques, especially the use of public records and data-driven reporting; to show the distinctiveness of investigative reporting; and to use students’ own problems and experience in researching their assignments as practical examples of applying investigative techniques.

Subject learning objectives (SLOs)

a. Differentiate investigative journalism from other forms of journalism
b. Identify ideas for investigative projects that include data-driven reporting
c. Produce compelling in-depth journalism using appropriate narrative and presentation techniques based on a wide range of interviewed sources
d. Explain the public right to know and the role of investigative journalism in a democratic society

Course intended learning outcomes (CILOs)

This subject engages with the following Course Intended Learning Outcomes (CILOs), which are tailored to the Graduate Attributes set for all graduates of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences:

  • Possess an advanced understanding of the professional skills and techniques in a range of contexts appropriate to contemporary journalism practice (1.1)
  • Apply a high-level of initiative to create content using multiple techniques and within industry accepted frameworks of accountability (1.2)
  • Understand the complex capabilities of computer-assisted learning, data and other numeric-based techniques for advanced academic inquiry (2.1)
  • Reflect critically on the theory and professional practice of contemporary journalism (2.2)
  • Plan and execute a substantial research-based project, demonstrating advanced communication and technical research skills (2.3)
  • Demonstrate advanced skills in engagement to enable effective communication with multiple stakeholders, using traditional and emerging techniques (6.1)
  • Harness multiple channels of communication, understanding the power and limitations of each as a tool to spread information and engage specific audiences and communities. (6.2)

Teaching and learning strategies

Face to face classes incorporate a range of teaching and learning strategies including student presentations on ideas for investigative projects.

Students will learn to differentiate investigative journalism from other forms of journalism by engaging with examples of investigative journalism each week prior to coming to class — and come to class prepared to discuss them. In class discussion of current examples and case studies of investigative journalism across a range of media,

Through a series of in-class exercises and student group work students will learn to produce compelling in-depth journalism. A Master Class in data-driven reporting will take place in the first half of the semester incorporating hands-on in-class exercises.

Students will debate the importance of the public right to know and the role of investigative journalism in democratic society in relation to current case studies.

Students receive formative feedback through in-class presentation of their proposed projects and Assessment item 1.

Content (topics)

Students will be introduced to a range of ideas relevant for the understanding of existing and new models of investigative reporting. They will exposed to the foundations of investigative reporting, develop via practical and scholarly means an understanding of what makes this form of journalism different from any other and gain an thorough appreciation of key concepts, such as public interest and public accountability. Instruction will be given on how to find, develop and executive investigative stories and how to understand the difference between a story and an issue. Students will develop through hands-on experience an appreciation of primary and secondary sources and be instructed on using public record research methods and data-driven reporting. They will use of social media as an investigative tool, develop methods of source protection and examine ways to guard themselves against conflicts of interest. The subject will be underpinned by journalism ethics.


Assessment task 1: Investigative Story Outline

Objective(s): b, c and d
Weight: 30%
Length: 1000 words
Criteria linkages:
Criteria Weight (%) SLOs CILOs
Strength of story idea/angle 20 b 1.2
Formulation of hypothesis 20 b 1.1
Identification of relevant sources 20 c 2.3
Depth of research 20 c 2.3
Salience of public interest in reporting of the story 20 d 2.2
SLOs: subject learning objectives
CILOs: course intended learning outcomes

Assessment task 2: Data-Driven Investigation

Objective(s): b and c
Weight: 30%
Length: 1000 words or equivalent.
Criteria linkages:
Criteria Weight (%) SLOs CILOs
Technical Proficiency 20 c 2.1
Depth of analysis 20 c 2.1
Accuracy of data used 20 c 1.1
Newsworthiness of story 20 b 1.2
Appropriateness of data visualisation to story 20 c 6.2
SLOs: subject learning objectives
CILOs: course intended learning outcomes

Assessment task 3: Investigative Reporting Project

Objective(s): a, b, c and d
Weight: 40%
Length: 1500 words (individual), 3000 words (pairs)
Criteria linkages:
Criteria Weight (%) SLOs CILOs
. Significance of reported information 25 a, b, d 1.2
Appropriateness of interviews and quotes 25 c 6.1
Strength of evidence 25 c 2.3
coherence of narrative structure 25 c 6.1
SLOs: subject learning objectives
CILOs: course intended learning outcomes

Minimum requirements

Attendance at tutorials and the master class is essential in this subject. Classes are based on a collaborative approach that involves essential work shopping and interchange of ideas with other students and the tutor. A roll will be taken at each class. Students who have more than two absences from class will be refused final assessment (see Rule 3.8).

It is essential to attempt all assessment tasks to pass the subject as each assessment meets unique subject learning objectives.

Graduate Diploma in Advanced Journalism

C06104v1 Graduate Diploma in Advanced Journalism

Award(s): Graduate Diploma in Advanced Journalism (GradDipAdvJour)
UAC code: 940521(Autumn session, Spring session)
CRICOS code: 092501F
Commonwealth supported place?: No
Load credit points: 48
Course EFTSL: 1
Location: City campus

Course aims
Career options
Course intended learning outcomes
Admission requirements
Course duration and attendance
Course structure
Course completion requirements
Course program
Articulation with UTS courses
Other information


The Graduate Diploma in Advanced Journalism equips students with the skills, knowledge and agility to build a career in today’s rapidly changing, multidiscipline and often highly disrupted digital media landscape.

Students gain hands-on experience in reporting, editing and related production and design skills in a wide variety of text, audio and visual mediums. There is an emphasis on storytelling with digital tools, exploring innovation and embracing entrepreneurship.

Students have the opportunity to use, experience and think about emerging journalistic practices across different areas, including drones, virtual reality and computer-assisted reporting.

This course is part of an articulated program of study and is suitable for anyone interested in learning how to fully harness the power of journalism.

Course aims

Graduates of the program:

  • have strong and flexible research, reporting and production skills and a critical understanding of contemporary media
  • are innovative practitioners and agile thinkers who are able to develop new ideas and practices across journalism and media
  • strive towards leadership positions that are grounded in ethical, professional and transparent practice
  • possess the ability to work across platforms, channels and disciplines in digital and emerging environments.

Career options

Career options include reporter, producer, presenter and editor across most types of public and private media, broadcast and publishing organisations.

Course intended learning outcomes

This course engages with the following Course Intended Learning Outcomes (CILOs), which are tailored to the Graduate Attributes set for all graduates of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences:

1.1 Possess an advanced understanding of the professional skills and techniques in one or more fields of contemporary journalism practice
1.2 Apply a high-level of initiative to create content using multiple techniques and within industry accepted frameworks of accountability
2.1 Understand the complex capabilities of computer-assisted learning, data and other numeric-based techniques for specialised academic inquiry
2.2 Reflect critically on the theory and professional practice of contemporary journalism
3.1 Ability to apply professional skills responsibly and respectfully in multiple cultural and ethno-centric contexts
4.1 Understand how journalism practice can advance story-telling, understanding and cohesion within and across Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities
5.1 Develop and maintain collaborative networks, contacts and linkages within industry bodies and across disciplines, while ensuring ethical practice and social responsibility at all times
6.1 Demonstrate skills in engagement to enable effective communication with multiple stakeholders, using traditional and emerging techniques
6.2 Harness multiple channels of communication, understanding the power and limitations of each as a tool to spread information and engage specific audiences and communities.

Admission requirements

Applicants must have completed a UTS recognised bachelor’s degree, or an equivalent or higher qualification, or submitted other evidence of general and professional qualifications that demonstrates potential to pursue graduate studies.

All applicants, except UTS undergraduate journalism graduates, need to submit the following:

  • a personal statement that outlines their interest in the course and demonstrates an understanding of the challenges and opportunities facing the media industry
  • a CV
  • an example of their professional work.

The English proficiency requirement for international students or local applicants with international qualifications is: Academic IELTS: 7.0 overall with a writing score of 6.5; or TOEFL: paper based: 584-609 overall, internet based: 94-101 overall with a writing score of 24; or AE6: Pass; or PTE: 65-72 overall with a writing score 58; or CAE: 185-190 with a writing score 176.

Eligibility for admission does not guarantee offer of a place.

International students

Visa requirement: To obtain a student visa to study in Australia, international students must enrol full time and on campus. Australian student visa regulations also require international students studying on student visas to complete the course within the standard full-time duration. Students can extend their courses only in exceptional circumstances.

Course duration and attendance

The course is one year of full-time or one-and-a-half years of part-time study.

Course structure

The course totals 48 credit points of study, made up of 32 credit points of core subjects and 16 credit points of electives.

Full-time students are required to undertake 24 credit points a session. Part-time students should undertake 8 or 16 credit points a session.

Course completion requirements

STM91175 Core subjects (Advanced Journalism) 32cp
CBK91222 Electives (Advanced Journalism) 16cp
Total 48cp


Course program

Typical course programs are shown below for full-time and part-time students, commencing in either Autumn or Spring session.

Autumn commencing, full time
Year 1
Autumn session
57083 Advanced Journalism 8cp
57085 From Broadcast to Mobile Journalism and Beyond 8cp
Select 8 credit points from the following: 8cp
CBK91222 Electives (Advanced Journalism) 16cp
Spring session
57088 Journalism Studies 8cp
57192 Defamation, Drones and Ethics: Media Accountability 8cp
Select 8 credit points from the following: 8cp
CBK91222 Electives (Advanced Journalism) 16cp
Autumn commencing, part time
Year 1
Autumn session
57083 Advanced Journalism 8cp
57085 From Broadcast to Mobile Journalism and Beyond 8cp
Spring session
57088 Journalism Studies 8cp
Select 8 credit points from the following: 8cp
CBK91222 Electives (Advanced Journalism) 16cp
Year 2
Autumn session
57192 Defamation, Drones and Ethics: Media Accountability 8cp
Select 8 credit points from the following: 8cp
CBK91222 Electives (Advanced Journalism) 16cp
Spring commencing, full time
Year 1
Spring session
57083 Advanced Journalism 8cp
57085 From Broadcast to Mobile Journalism and Beyond 8cp
Select 8 credit points from the following: 8cp
CBK91222 Electives (Advanced Journalism) 16cp
Year 2
Autumn session
57088 Journalism Studies 8cp
57192 Defamation, Drones and Ethics: Media Accountability 8cp
Select 8 credit points from the following: 8cp
CBK91222 Electives (Advanced Journalism) 16cp
Spring commencing, part time
Year 1
Spring session
57083 Advanced Journalism 8cp
57085 From Broadcast to Mobile Journalism and Beyond 8cp
Year 2
Autumn session
57088 Journalism Studies 8cp
Select 8 credit points from the following: 8cp
CBK91222 Electives (Advanced Journalism) 16cp
Spring session
57192 Defamation, Drones and Ethics: Media Accountability 8cp
Select 8 credit points from the following: 8cp
CBK91222 Electives (Advanced Journalism) 16cp

Articulation with UTS courses

This course forms part of an articulated program comprising the Graduate Diploma in Advanced Journalism and the Master of Advanced Journalism (C04321).

Other information

Further information is available from the UTS Student Centre on:

telephone 1300 ask UTS (1300 275 887)
or +61 2 9514 1222

Muri Beach Resort: Beautiful eco-friendly resort with wonderful staff in the best location

We stayed for 10 days in Rarotonga, Cook Islands at Muri Beach Resort, a beautiful smaller island-style resort with wonderfully friendly local staff, located right on stunning Muri Beach and lagoon.

We found Muri to be the best location to stay at in Rarotonga in terms of natural beauty and closeness to amenities, food options, tours and activities.

Description of the resort: Muri Beach Resort consists of only 20 self-contained villas, so this gives it a more intimate feel. It also has a “back to nature” feel, with the tropical gardens that are maintained by gardeners daily throughout. Having your own self-contained villa set amid these tropical gardens also provides the feeling of a lovely holiday home, rather than an anonymous hotel room.

Muri Beach Resort offers two levels of service, which I felt was a great, innovative and environmentally sustainable idea. The Premium Service includes daily room service and tropical breakfast (taken next door at the 4.5 star sister Nautilus Resort that is owned by the same family as Muri Beach Resort).

The second option is a Self Service option whereby clean towels and linen are available on an exchange basis as needed from the Muri Beach Resort reception during office hours, at no charge, and top-ups of in-room guest supplies are also available on a complimentary basis (upon request). Either way, a complimentary welcome tropical breakfast is provided to all guests.

Guests are not required to do any major cleaning or to launder towels or linen with the Self Service option but cleaning products and equipment is available for the guests to use, upon request, if required. We chose this Self Service option and thought it was a brilliant way to minimize unnecessary washing of linen/towels and help keep costs down for guests.

Separation of your rubbish is encouraged into household waste and recyclable products, with recycling bins provided for the various types of recyclable waste in the resort’s refuse area behind reception.

There is a guest laundry with automatic clothes washing machine in the resort that you can use and air dryers are provided for all the villas to hang and dry clothes on the verandahs of the villas.

Plenty of well-maintained kayaks, paddles, snorkels, masks and reef shoes are also made available for guests to use anytime, free of charge, so this was fantastic too.

IMG_0324Muri Beach Resort is fully solar powered with large solar panels on the villa roofs, but you would never know this from the level of power etc within the villas. Fans worked perfectly and the villa air-conditioning is strong and can be adjusted to whatever temperature is necessary. Water pressure in the bathroom’s shower is excellent too.

There is no need to worry about the water either. Drinkable UV treated, filtered water on tap is available throughout resort.

Ultimately, all of this adds up to a resort that has adopted a number of strategies for reducing its carbon footprint/impact on the environment and is not trying to make money out of you for every little thing.

The resort has a two-storey Deluxe Beachfront Villa with balcony that directly faces Muri Beach and lagoon, as well a row of single-level attached Lagoon View Villas that lead up to the beach and lagoon. The remainder of the villas are Poolside Villas or Garden Villas.

The resort’s pool is set back a little from the beach, in the centre of the resort. The Poolside Villas encircle and look onto the pool. The Garden Villas are set within the tropical gardens that are throughout the resort, a little further away from the pool and beach. There’s a Resort Map on the Muri Beach Resort website showing villa numbers and location that makes all of this perfectly clear.

Description of our villa: I stayed with my 7 year old in one of the Lagoon View Villas that have views of the lagoon if you look left from your balcony/verandah.

Our Lagoon View Villa (Number 14) was open plan with a kitchen, dining area, bedroom (double or queen size and single bed) and separate bathroom, with a powerful shower and the surprising, pleasant addition of a Jacuzzi spa bath.

The kitchen was fully stocked with kettle, toaster, full sized fridge, microwave, gas stove, sink, as well as sufficient kitchen utensils to actually prepare food if you wanted to (decent knives, chopping board, frypan, saucepans, bottle and can openers etc), as well as supplies including tea, coffee, sugar, and an initial long life milk that could be replenished on request. The bathroom was also fully stocked with guest supplies.

Most importantly, our Lagoon View Villa was bright and spotlessly clean, with updated bathroom and kitchen fittings.

I would definitely recommend a Lagoon View Villa, for the view from the balcony/verandah, but really, because this is a small resort, all of the villas are super close to the pool and beach. Not even a minute walk.

Staff and services: Muri Beach Resort offers an airport shuttle pick up/drop off and most likely your first encounter with Muri Beach Resort staff will be Margaret, the resort’s driver and all-round top ambassador for the welcoming vibe of Cook Islanders. She really is fantastic and an absolute gem. She’s friendly, energetic, warm and super funny. We loved her immediately. From the moment she puts that ei (Cook Islands floral neck garland) on you at the airport, deals with your luggage, then bundles you into her van and whisks you away to Muri Beach Resort, with music and her cool shades on, waving at everyone she knows, and great scenery for you to take in on your way – you’ll know you’re in great hands and in a great place.

Margaret and soon after, Sane in reception too, were our touchstones for anything and everything during our stay. Sane is just lovely. She arranged and booked all our tours and activities. Our pre-departure research on Trip Adviser proved excellent in this regard, so we knew we wanted to do the following and that they were all wonderfully accessible from Muri Beach:

  • Pununganui Cultural Market on Saturday
  • Cook Islands Community Church (CICC) Sunday service
  • Muri Night Market (food market): Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday
  • Koka Lagoon Cruise
  • Raro Buggy Tour and
  • Te Vara Nui Village – Cultural Village Tour and Over Water Night Show and Buffet Dinner
  • Pa’s Cross Island Trek
  • Tik-e tours Tuk Tuk tour

Muri Beach Resort reception has the maps for Rarotonga and all the brochures for tours, activities and services like car and scooter hire.  Sane knew all about the discounts that were available with vouchers on various maps, and ensured we utilised all of these. She prepared a daily itinerary that outlined details, cost, and dropped this off to us a little later, with further tips.

We were so lucky that Muri Beach Resort provides a complimentary shuttle on Saturdays to the markets and Sunday to church with the wonderful Margaret.

Location and amenities: Being right on Muri lagoon, the kayaks, paddles, snorkels, masks and reef shoes provided free of charge by Muri Beach Resort are perfectly suited to the location and all guests seemed to really appreciate this, ourselves included. Everything was well looked after and put away well. Reef shoes really are required for swimming at Muri Beach and snorkelling around Muri lagoon because of the rocks and coral that exists.   We had our own reef shoes (they were new) otherwise the ones at the resort would have been fine, there were plenty there. Likewise for snorkel masks.

You can take the kayaks out directly from the beach in front of Muri Beach Resort to the uninhabited islet that is opposite the resort in Muri lagoon, leave the kayak there and snorkel around the islet to your hearts’ content. This is a safe and highly enjoyable experience even for smaller children because the lagoon is calm, never too deep and snorkelling around the islet there is coral, many tropical fish and even blue starfish to see.

The deeper water, waves and reef don’t start until about 200-300 metres out from Muri Beach. In the evenings, small groups took stand up paddle boards out with lights under the boards that illuminated the lagoon and that looked like a stunning experience.  We were happy enough to kayak and snorkel almost every day, right up until the gentle pink sunsets.

Walks along the long stretch of Muri Beach are wonderful in the evenings too, or any time of day, since it’s never crowded and this allows you to see and access the other resorts and their restaurants that line the beach. From Nautilus Resort/Muri Beach Resort, these include Muri Beachcomber, Sails Restaurant, Pacific Resort, and Muri Beach Club Hotel and Silver Sands Restaurant.

The two lagoon cruise companies, Koka Lagoon Cruises and Captain Tama’s Lagoon Cruizes, also anchor and leave from here on Muri Beach, so Muri is the perfect location to be able to walk along the beach to access them.

Muri is a wonderful choice for food options too. Muri village has all that you could want. For breakfast, there’s LBV café and New Zealand. Then there’s world famous burger joint Vili’s, that is No 1 on Trip Adviser, and really is fabulous. And of course, the wonderful Muri Night Market is not to be missed for dinner. Held on Sundays, Tuesdays, Wednesday, Thursday, locals and visitors alike come together here for a delicious night of food and music. Further afield, the waffles from the Waffle Shack at the Saturday markets are amazing.

Muri is great too because it has the convenience of ATMs and mixed businesses and hooks into the local clockwise and anti-clockwise buses going around the island. Staying in Muri is a great option if you don’t want to hire a car. Getting to all tours and activities is super easy from here.

Things we liked best and least: Nautilus Resort next door is owned by the same family as Muri Beach Resort. It’s 4.5 star luxury, right on your doorstep at Muri Beach Resort.  Breakfast can be taken at the restaurant at Nautilus Resort and best of all, the Nautilus pool can be used by guests at Muri Beach Resort.

Now the thing is, the Nautilus pool is stunning! A gorgeous infinity pool right on Muri Lagoon. It’s not to be missed and can be enjoyed all day when staying at Muri Beach Resort. We loved this pool! This ended up being the thing we liked best about our stay – being able to enjoy the gorgeous Nautilus pool.

Aqua Bar and Restaurant near the pool in Muri Beach Resort is not open all hours of the day, so this can be seen as a negative, but was fine for us since gorgeous Nautilus pool and bar next door is also available to use. And use it we did. We loved it. Simply stunning.