Lara Pitt at the ASTRA Awards, Carriageworks, Sydney.

Lara Pitt at the ASTRA Awards, Carriageworks, Sydney. Photo: Tamara Dean TKD

Melbourne

On Thursday morning, just near the stables at Caulfield Racecourse, Relaxed Racing was launched; a seven-week summer-autumn showpiece with 21 feature race days to be enjoyed with lawn passes, picnic baskets and perhaps a fedora instead of a fascinator. Melbourne Storm's Billy Slater, with his wife Nicole and kids Tyla and Jake, are Relaxed Racing ambassadors. Billy made his entrance on the back of Maldivian.

Nadia Bartel (nee Coppolino) brought two families together last weekend, marrying long-time love Jimmy Bartel. Wedding talk was verboten - there's an exclusive deal with New Idea - but cooking, family cooking, is stressing the new bride. “Everyone thinks I can cook because I'm Italian; they're expecting this amazing lasagne and bolognaise and I'm like, 'Ahh, no.'”

Nikki Phillips at the Thomas Sabo 'Karma Beads' Collection launch. Click for more photos

Celebrity events wrap-up

Nikki Phillips at the Thomas Sabo 'Karma Beads' Collection launch. Photo: Ashleigh Bonner

On Monday evening, audiences at Village Cinemas Jam Factory were granted a preview of the film Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom. The film tries to capture a man whose life was even greater, and more complicated, than his great and complicated achievements.

On Monday morning all was business, with a little brekkie, as those seeking higher knowledge climbed higher stairs, to Cumulus Up on Flinders Lane, for the Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival program briefing.

Sydney

The 12th annual ASTRA nominees were announced at Carriageworks in Eveleigh, for its March ceremony. It will be hosted by former Olympian Matt Shirvington and Virgin host Shaynna Blaze, the interior designer-slash-jazz singer from popular Foxtel show Selling Houses Australia. "I'm totally over the moon, I'm used to performing on stage but this is mindblowing," the Melbourne-based designer, who also appears on The Block, beamed. Meanwhile Australia's Next Top Model judge Alex Perry – himself up for favourite male personality – joked that his competitor Andrew Winter (from Selling Houses Australia) was unbeatable in the category, having accepted the top gong a gazillion times.

The Thomas Sabo Karma Beads Collection Launch was held at the O Lounge, Waitan, Haymarket. The internationally renowned German jewellery brand radiates cool, with Georgia May Jagger and formula one driver Nico Rosberg as its global faces. Local fans who gathered for lunchtime Peking duck pancakes washed down with a combo of jasmine cocktails and green tea also copped a faceful of sweat and twisted body bits as yoga masters standing on their heads and splitting their legs in contortionist positions provided an interesting backdrop. Strangely enough it worked.

In Paddington, a 150-crowd strong audience delighted in a sneak preview of the first two webisodes of Plonk, ahead of their online launch on Monday. The filmed series follows a feckless television crew as they travel through NSW trying to produce a credible wine program. Plonk, which has the support of Destination NSW and the wine industry, stars Chris Taylor, Nathan Earl and Joshua Tyler as caricatures of themselves, with cameos from Pete Evans, Matt Moran, Bruce Tyrell and Stuart MacGill.

The Hilton's famous Zeta bar was transformed into an Arabian oasis complete with belly dancers, sheesha pipes and Sinbad guards to launch its new Friday night concept. Having just come back from a week in Dubai with her dad Jimmy, hubby Nick and daughter Ruby, singer Mahalia Barnes felt right at home. "Dad [Jimmy Barnes] was playing at the golf classic pro and we played an acoustic show there," she said.

The 5th Annual Rolling Stone Music Awards were held at Beach Road Hotel in Bondi. Plenty of tequila shots were thrown back at the magazine's annual music awards, which celebrated the best in Australian entertainment, with highlights including The Preatures winning music video of the year, and best new talent going to Lorde.