Elton John kicks off regional tour with Mackay show

Sir Elton will play tonight in Mackay and next Saturday in Cairns, with performances in Wollongong and Hobart in between.

The four dates are the 70-year-old singer's only public shows on his Australian tour, which is largely sold out but now has limited tickets in some locations.

Fifteen thousand visitors are expected at tonight's Mackay performance, with 5,000 of that number travelling from outside the region, including 200 from overseas.

Big boost for local economy

Mother's picture of 2-year-old daughter photobombed by massive brown snake

Bianca Dickinson and two of her children had been waiting at the bottom of the family's one-kilometre long driveway, in Kaniva near the Wimmera region in western Victoria, for her eldest children to arrive on the school bus.

They were there for 15 minutes, playing and taking photos.

"I was looking through my camera lens and was looking at my daughter. I saw something move in the corner of my eye and actually thought it was bark coming off the tree — yesterday in Victoria it was quite windy — I then looked up to see where the bark had gone," Ms Dickinson told ABC.

Loxton Mardi Gras, Australia's oldest, celebrates its 60th year

That makes it one of the longest-running festivals in Australia and possibly the oldest festival in South Australia.

The Loxton Mardi Gras will be held this weekend and while "Mardi Gras" has become synonymous with the LGBTQI community, organisers of the Loxton festival hold firmly to the religious meaning behind the name.

"Mardi means Tuesday and Gras means grand," said one of the festival's organisers, Peter Magarey.

"It's a family religious festival to eat up big before the austerity of Lent."

Peace, goodwill, and family: Refugees celebrate their first Australian Christmas

Zainabu and her son Abdul-Aziz are from Congo, but have spent the last six years in a refugee camp in Uganda.

"This will be the first Christmas I can enjoy with my son," she said.

"In Africa I was not safe. I couldn't care about Christmas. If you are not safe, how can you enjoy it? Christmas was always too sad.

"But now I am here. I am happy, and able to enjoy Christmas for the first time in a very long time."