Wangi RSL jetty falling apart

Wangi jetty in ruins PATCHY: Wangi RSL Club’s treasurer Ross Ahrens on the jetty that he says is in a poor state of repair and is in dire need of replacing for the benefit of the broader community. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

BLOCKED OFF: Part of the Wangi RSL Club jetty that can no longer be used because of damaged and decaying decking. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

BROKEN: A floating concrete finger wharf at the Wangi RSL Club jetty that has been taped off because it is damaged. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

Wangi RSL Club treasurer Ross Ahrens on the damaged and decaying jetty. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers.

Part of the damaged Wangi RSL Club jetty. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

A gap in the decking on the Wangi RSL Club jetty.

Wangi RSL Club treasurer Ross Ahrens on the damaged and decaying jetty. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers.

TweetFacebookHerald along the jetty, he pointed out it was a walk through damage and decay. Wooden sheets covered gaps in the deck. A walker recently had a plank give way beneath him, Mr Ahrens said. Cleats had been torn from kick rails, and most of thefinger wharves had been blocked off, because they were too dangerous to use. Only a fewboats remained in berths that were deemed usable.

“It’s sad, totally sad, Mr Ahrens said as he surveyed the jetty.

The club has had plans into Lake Macquarie City Councilto extend and upgrade the jetty. The council has given approval for work on the existing jetty, but Mr Ahrens said “it’s gone beyond repair”.

“You’ve got to rip the whole thing out and do it again,” he said.

Wangi RSL is grappling with how to pay for a new jetty. MrAhrens estimatedit would cost between $1 million and$1.2million to build it.Theclub has had some lean years, and it doesn’t have the moneyto replace it, so it has been looking at other funding options. It has considered the possibility of an external developer and manager to lease the facility. Anotheroptionis government funding through the NSWBoating Now program, which the club is applying for.

But Ross Ahrens said under that funding arrangement, the club would have to come up with 25 per cent, or about $250,000. Which is why he has proposed an accompanying option: to sell the land the sailing club occupies.

The sailing club, which has been abase of Olympic gold medallistsNathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen and the venue for many national regattas, has a 99-year ‘peppercorn’ lease with the RSL, with about 73 years to run.Mr Borgert said the sailing club would like to further secure its future by buying the block, if it became available.

“We’d be looking at it favourably,” he said. “We are in a position [to buy], subject to the price.”

The sailing club is also keen to see the RSL’s jetty replaced. The club’s coaching and rescue boat is berthed there, and the jetty’s finger wharf is heavily used during regattas.

“If the RSL didn’t have a jetty, we’d have to put in temporary berthing,” Mr Borgert said.

Although it was the club’s responsibility to maintain the jetty, it was a community asset, Mr Ahrens said. Boats from all over the lake frequently used it to access the nearby shopping area. However, the income from the jetty, by leasing overnight berths, brought in only about $15,000 annually for the club.

“Is there an equivalent for a single club standing alone and doing it all for a community wharf?,” Mr Ahrens asked.

He said the club had asked Lake Macquarie City Council for financial support, “but the answer was they could not justify three wharves in the one area”. There is a jetty on thesouthern shore, at Dobell Park, and another in front ofWangi Workers Club, at the head of the bay.

A spokeswoman for the council said it did not provide funding for the improvement of assets it did not own. However, she said the council had advised Wangi RSL on potential funding opportunitiesand would assist by providing a letter of support for the club’s application to the NSWgovernment.

Julian Borgert argued the council should be more supportive, given how much the general public usedthe RSL jetty.

“They [the council] can sit back and say it’s an asset of the RSL, but it’s not a private marina with security gate access to it,” he said.“We struggle big time to get anything funded [by the council] down here.”

Ross Ahrens said the club would most likely have to close off the main part of the jetty by the end of March.It would also have to spend about $20,000 to repair an adjoining wharf, so that the boating community still had some access to the shore.

“I think it’s a detriment now, more than an asset,” Mr Ahrens said.

Please explain: ABC says Pauline Hanson’s One Nation election night lockout threatens democracy

An ABC journalist is locked out of the One Nation after party tonight and is forced to file his stories from the bowling green.Pic:Tony McDonough . Saturday 11th March 2017 Photo: Tony McDonoughThe ABC has demanded an explanation from Pauline Hanson’s One Nation Party after its reporters were blocked from attending election celebrations on Saturday, describing the move as an attack on independent media.

ABC reporters were locked out of a West n election night event in Perth, as a controversial preference deal with the Liberal Party and Senator Hanson’s comments on vaccinations and praise for Russian president Vladimir Putin saw One Nation’s message all but drowned out.

Other journalists, including a reporter from Fairfax Media, were allowed to attend the event, prompting ABC editorial director Alan Sunderland to ask why his staff had been singled out.

In a statement on Tuesday, Mr Sunderland said party officials had claimed all media had been treated appropriately, with a pool camera arrangement for TV crews in place inside the function.

“Other media representatives from a range of organisations attended on the night without any prior arrangements or permission being required,” Mr Sunderland said.

“Those other media representatives, who included broadcasters, agencies and newspaper reporters from inside and outside Western , were granted immediate access to the event.

“The ABC was denied access, and was treated differently to all other media.”

One Nation officials did not respond to requests for comment.

Mr Sunderland defended the ABC’s coverage during the election campaign, describing it as “accurate, impartial and independent”.

“If the ABC has been denied normal access to political events for simply doing its job, then that is an attack not just on the public broadcaster but on the fundamental role of the media in a democracy,” he said.

“We will continue, as we always have, to report without fear or favour.”

One Nation’s projected vote in the state reached just 4.8 per cent in the lower house, well short of earlier predictions of a 13 per cent vote. Despite the disappointment, Senator Hanson declared the result to be “fantastic” on Monday.

She blamed Labor for spooking voters over the Liberal preference deal.

Labor recorded a landslide win over Colin Barnett’s Liberals, with new premier Mark McGowan expected to be sworn in this week.

On Twitter, One Nation Queensland senator Malcolm Roberts said the ABC’s coverage was unbalanced.

“ABC refuses our party right of reply so we refuse your right of entry,” he said.

Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance chief executive officer Paul Murphy said in a statement denying the ABC normal access to political events was an attack on the public broadcaster and the role of the media.

“There has been understandable outrage at the Trump administration’s vendetta against CNN, The New York Times and several other outlets in the US, and what happened in Perth on Saturday night shows we must be just as vigilant about press freedom here in .”

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Celebrity Solstice cruises into Newcastle harbourphotos

Celebrity Solstice cruises into the harbour | photos, video INSTA @princesskim88 @celebritycruises arriving into Newcastle Harbour this morning. #celebritysolstice #celebritycruises #cruiseship #newcastlensw

Celebrity Solstice from 2000 feet, sailing out of storm into port. Picture: Tim Bohlsen

Picture: Gordon Laffan

Picture: Gordon Laffan

INSTA @princesskim88 The #celebritysolstice coming to Newcastle past #nobbyslighthouse this morning. @celebritycruises @nobbyslighthouse @newcastlenowbia #newcastlensw #cruiseship #celebritycruises #celebritysolstice #visitnewcastle #newcastlensw #newcastlenow

INSTA @illshootya Celebrity Solstice cruising into Newcastle as dawn breaks #celebritysolstice #newcastlensw #myabcphoto #newcastlelive #newcastlemirage #smartartistpromotions #cruise #cruiseship #nikon #dawn #surfboat #rowing #mynewcastle #australia

INSTA @oceansoulsanctum Harbour view 🚢⚓️ #newcastlensw

INSTA @kmackayphotography The amazing Celebrity Solstice coming into Newcastle this morning! #CelebritySolstice #Newcastle #NewcastleNSW #Newcastlelifestyle #Queenswharfhotel #Cathedral

Ruth and David Johnson of Redhead watch cruise ship The World arrive in Newcastle. Picture by Peter Stoop

Radiance of the Seas in Newcastle on January 14 2015. Picture by Peter Stoop

The Shortland ferry passes Rhapsody of the Seas in Newcastle on February 18 2015. Picture by Phil Hearne

Celebrity Solstice entering the port of Newcastle on March 9 2014: Picture by Darren Pateman

Celebrity Solstice visiting Newcastle in March 2014. Picture by Darren Pateman

The view from inside Celebrity Solstice, which was the biggest cruise ship to visit Newcastle when it arrived in March 2014. Picture by Simone De Peak

The Celebrity Solstice’s main dining hall. Picture by Simone De Peak

Staff water the Lawn Club atop Celebrity Solstice in March 2014. Picture by Simone De Peak

An adults-only solarium aboard the Celebrity Solstice. Picture by Simone De Peak

Onlookers farewell Celebrity Solstice as it leaves Newcastle on March 9 2014. Picture by Eddie O’Reilly

Coal ship Ocean Dragon enters Newcastle harbour, where Radiance of the Seas (top left) is docked on January 14 2015. Picture by Peter Stoop

Celebrity Solstice in Newcastle harbour on its second visit to the city on March 13 2015. Picture by Ryan Osland

The Pacific Sun docked in Carrington in February 2012. Picture by Darren Pateman

Spirit of Adventure leaves Newcastle in December 2011. Picture by Phil Hearne

Spirit of Adventure off Nobbys in December 2011. Picture by Phil Hearne

Pacific Sun leaving Newcastle on October 28 2010. Picture by Jonathan Carroll

Arcadia Vale’s Tony Armstrong and Tighes Hill’s Sharon Oakley watch Crystal Serenity coast out of Newcastle in February 2012. Picture by Peter Stoop

The Dawn Princess passes Stockton on March 7 2010. Picture by Jonathan Carroll

Lani and Sasha Holz and Gabrielle and Amelie Bourke, all of Merewether, farewell the Seven Seas Mariner on March 27 2009. Picture by Natalie Grono

Onlookers at a cafe outside the cruise terminal on September 8 2010. Picture by Stuart Quinn.

Sun Princess leaves Nobbys on October 18 2009. Picture by Jonathan Carroll

The Pacific Sun off Nobbys in September 2010. Picture by Darren Pateman

Silver Shadow in Port Stephens in 2006. Picture by Kitty Hill

Pacific Sun at Dyke Point shortly before dawn on September 8 2010. Picture by Darren Pateman

Kurri Kurri’s Ji Forbes, 7, fishes as the cruise ship Millennium departs in 2009. Picture by Ryan Osland

The Silver Whisper laves Newcastle in January 2009. Picture by Darren Pateman

Cruise ship Mercury leaves Newcastle on December 21 2007. Picture by Dean Osland

Cruise ship Mercury leaves Newcastle on December 21 2007. Picture by Dean Osland

Cruise ship Mercury leaves Newcastle on December 21 2007. Picture by Dean Osland

Cruise ship Mercury leaves Newcastle on December 21 2007. Picture by Dean Osland

The Pacific Sun leaves Newcastle harbour on September 8 2010. Picture: Stuart Quinn

Pacific Star passes Nobbys on November 27 2007. Picture by David Wicks

Millennium leaves Newcastle harbour in January 2009. Picture by Ryan Osland

The Sun Princess, as seen from Carrington on October 18 2009. Picture by Kitty Hill

Millennium leaves Newcastle in January 2009. Picture by Ryan Osland

Onlookers watch The World arrive in Newcastle harbour. Picture by Peter Stoop

Cruise ship Mercury arrives. Picture by David Wicks

Pacific Star visits Newcastle in 2007. Picture by David Wicks

Cruise ship The World enters Newcastle on September 13 2006. Picture by David Wicks

The World’s captain Daj Saevic on the bridge as The World visits Newcastle in March 2003. Picture by Peter Stoop

Volendam in Newcastle harbour in March 2010. Picture by Anita Jones

The Silver Whisper leaves Newcastle in January 2009. Picture by Darren Pateman

Silver Shadow in Newcastle harbour on February 19 2004. Picture by Ryan Osland

Rhapsody of the Seas in February 2013. Picture by Peter Stoop

The Pacific Sun sneaks into Newcastle Harbour at dawn in September 2010. Picture by Darren Pateman

The Pacific Sun arrives in September 2010. Picture by Darren Pateman

The Radiance of the Seas leaves Newcastle in October 2013. Picture by Simone De Peak

TweetFacebook Cruising in the harbourThe cruise ship season is well and truly underway in Newcastle harbour.

Everyone’s eyes were on the Celebrity Solstice on Tuesday morning as she cruised in at 8am.

The ship, with nearly 3000 on board, will depart the city at 5pm.

Have a photo of the Celebrity Solstice? Share it with us on Instagram or email [email protected]苏州夜网.au.

Hunter writer’s first novel set in dystopian rainforest

IMAGINED WORLDS: Author Thoraiya Dyer, now living in Sydney and published in New York but still a proud Novocastrian at heart. Picture: Cat Sparks
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AS a child, Thoraiya Dyer says she was always writing stories.

Thoraiya DyerCrossroads of Canopy –Dyer had more than two dozen stories in print.

Along the way, she picked up various gongs for her science-fiction and fantasy work, winning four Aurealis Awards and three Ditmar Awards.

Most of her stories were publishedin small specialist titles, and as she writes in the acknowledgements accompanying Crossroads of Canopy, she has followed a “tortuous path” to this point, including a move to Sydney in 2015.

“Who would have guessed that the were-platypus [as in werewolf] novel would be buried by another 10 full novel manuscripts as well as various detritus left by the raising of actual children,” Dyer says.

But she was always aiming high.

“It was always my goal to be published in the US, not only because it’s a much bigger audience, but because I would like to see possums and koalas and n plants and trees in print as much as we see American wildlife,” Dyer says.

Crossroads of Canopy, the first installment ofa contracted trilogy, is published by Tor Books, a New York imprint that is part of the venerable Macmillan Publishing Group.

Fantasy is not my normal reading choice, but Dyer’s imagined dystopian future, of battling tribes struggling to survive in a massive, multi-storey rainforest, got me in from the start. She describes it as “drawing inspiration from Western and Eastern traditions, including the Nepalese incarnated goddess, Kumari, in a monsoonal rainforest with arboreal fighting”.

There are basic similarities with the blockbuster Avatar,but Canopy’s feminist sympathies are a long way away from the “white savior” undertones that Dyer’s sees in the James Cameronfilm.

Most authors dream of seeing their fiction expressed on screen and Dyer is no exception, with an agent in the US scouting for the deal that could break her into the big time.

In the meantime, she is coming home this weekend, to launch Crossroads of Canopy at MacLean’s Booksellers in Beaumont Street, Hamilton, from 4pm to 6pm on Saturday, March 18.

TheatreDark reality of DreamtimeKen Longworth

WHEN Maitland actor and director Zac Smith read the American play Dreamtime he was surprised initially to see that it had mentions of truckers with kangaroo heads and other n references.
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But as he got further into the play he found that two of the main characters, 17-year-old boys in their final year at a United States high school, dream of going to and living a more exciting life as they explore its mountains and oceans.

They come up with a plan to finance their escape by stealing money from homes. However, when they go into the house of husband-and-wife university professors, they are discovered by the occupants and kill them while escaping. The escape, though, is just physical. The boys keep dreaming about meeting the couple they killed. And their dreams also include references to the belief of n Aboriginals that the world was created by their spirit ancestors in the Dreamtime.

Maitland Repertory’s Reamus Youth Theatre is staging the n premiere of Dreamtime at a two-weekend season from Friday, March 24, with Zac Smith making his debut as a sole director. While researching the play, he made contact with its US writer, Maura Campbell, who based the story on a real crime that occurred near her Vermont home in 2001, with teens Jimmy Parker and Robert Tulloch murdering Dartmouth University professors Susanne and Half Zantop. Campbell had worked with the father of one of the boys and had encountered both the teens. And she had been an exchange student in for a year in the 1970s and had personal experience of the landscapes the boys wanted to escape to. Campbell has stressed that she didn’t write Dreamtime to exploit the real-life events, but to examine them.

The youths in Dreamtime are Noah (played by Robert Lewis) and Willy (Conagh Punch), with Alastair Anderberg and Millie Chorlton as professors Joerg and Greta. Alex Simpson and Emma Ure, billed as Actor 1 and Actor 2, each play about 10 characters. The play’s action keeps moving between the reality of the people’s lives and their dreams of what they’d like life to be. Ironically, the female professor here is an expert on Russian literature and is marking student papers on Dostoyevsky’s novel Crime and Punishment when she and her husband encounter the boys.

Dreamtime is being staged in the round at Maitland Repertory Theatre, with platforms used for scenes of rock-climbing, the boys’ houses and the professors’ home.The play runs from March 24 to April 1, with performances on Friday and Saturday at 8pm and at 2pm on March 26. Tickets: $17. Bookings: 4931 2800; maitlandticketing苏州夜总会招聘.au.

SURREAL: Robert Lewis and Conagh Punch as Noah and Willy in Dreamtime, being staged by Maitland Repertory’s Reamus Youth Theatre.

NRL: Dane Gagai confident Newcastle Knights moving in right direction ahead of South Sydney clash

UP AND AWAY: Dane Gagai leaps out of a tackle against the Gold Coast. The star centre is confident the win over the Titans is just the start for the Knights. Picture: Getty Images
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DANE Gagai could see what Knights coach Nathan Brown was aiming to achieve.

It was the reason the Queensland Origin star resisted overtures to rejoin the Broncos and their all-star cast and stick with Newcastle.

It has taken 12 months of hard slog –and disappointment –but Gagai is adamant the Knights are finally headed in the right direction.

The breakthrough 34-26 triumph over the Titans on Saturday ended a club record 19-straight losses for the 20015-16wooden-spooners.

“It obviously meant a lot,”Gagai said on the win.

“Last year and the year before were obviously tough ones.The boys trained well through the pre-season and leading into round one I knew we were building something special. I wanted to be a part of that.I have been at this club for a number of years now, and this club is definitely moving in a forward direction. I didn’t look at it as though we had lost 19 straight. We have lost one game this year and won one.It was great to get the win, but there is room for improvement and we are going to keep working and hopefully string together a few more.”

Next is South Sydney at home on Saturday, and another chance to end a drought.The Knights have lost seven straight games to the Rabbitohs, the past four by an average scoreline of 46-8.

“Wehave a lot of depth in the club now which is something we didn’t have much of last year,” Gagai said.“With injuries we had to play a lot of young fellas. Now we have people competing for jerseys. We have a good squad and boys who genuinely want to be here and want to win.”

Newcastle were embarrassed 48-6 by a Souths side without Adam Reynolds in round two last season.

Gagai, Trent Hodkinson, Danny Levi, and Daniel and Jacob Saifiti are theonly players from that match in the 17 named for Saturday.

The heavy defeatwas only the Saifitibrothers second game in the NRL. Daniel now has 20 appearances and Jacob 18.They have both added at least six kilograms of muscle.It is a similar story for a number of last season’s rookies.

“The key is to be better than last week and keep improving,” Gagai said.

“We have a lot more depth, and the squad we have now is a lot different to the one we had last year.

“I believe in thisteam. It comes down to us. We can’t control what they are going to do, what they are going to throw at us. But we can do the best we can defensively and in attack to put us in a position to come away with twopoints.”

Gagai, after a relatively quiet performance in the 26-22 loss to the Warriors in the season opener, was strong against the Titans and carried the ball a game-high 168 metres.

“Round one, I could have been a lot better,” he said.“Round, two I picked my game up and was a lot happier with my performance.”

The 26-year-old with 113 gamesis part of new right edge alongside rookie five-eighth Brock Lamb and recent arrivalsJamie Buhrer (second row) and Ken Sio (winger).

Most of the Knights triesin the opening two games have come down the left side. Winger Nathan Ross has four and centre Peter Mata’utia two.

Gagai said thecombination on the right“feels good” and had plenty of “strike power”.

“Kenny is a good strong ball runner,” he said.“It depends on the flow of attack.If I can get a quick play the ball and it goes to the left and they score, then I class that as a win for the right edge. It is about giving players around us an opportunity to do well. Obviously it is nice getting tries, but if I can play a hand in setting them up it is just as rewarding. I’d like to score one before the end of the year but it is a team sport.It is not about seeing who can score the most tries, it is about winning games.”

Blood-scribbled messages cover walls of Sydney unit where mother and son found dead

Detectives and uniformed police examine the Hillsdale apartment where the bodies of a woman and child were discovered. Photo: Michele MossopBarely decipherable words scribbled in blood near the bodies of a mother and child inside a Sydney eastern suburbs unit.
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That is what confronted police when they busted into a Hillsdale apartment on Monday afternoon following the deaths of mother and son, Stacey Docherty and four-year-old Seth.

Twenty-four hours after the grim discovery, police say they are still keeping an open mind as to whether a third person was involved or if it was a case of murder-suicide.

Stacey Docherty and her son, Seth, were found dead in a Hillsdale apartment on Monday afternoon. Photo: Facebook

Fairfax Media understands that rambling messages were written over the walls, some of which appeared to be in blood, when emergency services found the pair at 1.20pm on Monday.

Ms Docherty’s ex-partner and the father of her son is believed to have raised the alarm when he knocked on the door and no one answered.

He took to Facebook on Tuesday to express his grief.

Forensic officers combed the apartment on Monday afternoon. Photo: Michele Mossop

“I’m going through some gnarly process but will get through this,” he said.

“I will post some pics of me and my son for those (many) who never had the pleasure of seeing him. I feel grateful for a brief time I got to be a father to a beautiful little boy.

“Vale Seth Bon Docherty.”

It is unclear how the mother and son had died with police ruling out gas as the cause.

Police are keeping an “open mind” about the involvement of others in the two deaths. Photo: Facebook

The mother-of-one listed her job on Facebook as a nursing manager from Christchurch, New Zealand, and filled her social media feed with photos of her son.

She posted numerous pictures of the pair at beaches and playgrounds as well as a photo of her fresh tattoo, a quote that says: “bad things happen when good people stand back”.

Stacey Docherty and her son, Seth. Photo: Facebook

In one post, she described her then two-year old son as a “gentle, smart boy”.

On Tuesday morning, a police spokeswoman said it was still unclear what happened to the pair.

She said police were still investigating whether it was a murder-suicide or if another person was involved in the deaths.

“It’s still very much under investigation,” she said.

Ms Docherty was known to police after officers attended the street last year when she smashed three of her neighbours’ cars with a bat following a dispute over parking.

“My dad’s van was parked here, and she smashed the front and back window,” one neighbour, Odysseus, said.

“I was at the local park and then [a neighbour] came and told me that she was going crazy here, and I came back and we all tried to stop her.

“She started swinging at my dad and saying racist stuff about Assyrian people, that we’re all terrorists and that. Then police came and stopped her.”

Though there were initial reports of a strong smell of gas in the apartment complex, police have since ruled that out as contributing to the mother and son’s death.

Government shelved Testers Hollow upgrades in 2015

Testers Hollow after the January 2016 storm.The state government decided it wasn’t necessary to flood-proof Testers Hollow three months before the April super storm, documents show.
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The opposition has renewed calls for the government to find a solution to flood problems atthe troubled spot. Meanwhile, the government says its investigation into the problems is ongoing.

Internal Transport for NSW and Roads and Maritime Services documents, obtained by Labor under freedom of information laws, show that the Roads and Freight Minister at the time Duncan Gay approved a request to shelve flood mitigation at Testers Hollow in January, 2015.

In an internal memo to Mr Gay, the then RMS chief executive Peter Duncan argued against flood mitigation work at the site because the cost would have outweighed the benefit of three options put forward byfirm Worley Parsons.

The options included raising the road for about $7.3 million to provide protection from a one in 12 year flood, $8.6 million to guard against a one in 20 year inundation or $18 million to stave off a one in 100 year incident.

“If Main Road 195 (Cessnock Road) is closed at Testers Hollow due to flooding, the Hunter Expressway provides a flood-free route for motorists travelling from Kurri Kurri to Maitland,” the memo noted.

Testers Hollow left high and dry | PHOTOS OVERDUE: Great-granddaughter of William Tester June Hirst believes the flooding problem should have been fixed long ago. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

FRUSTRATION: Cliftleigh resident Sonia Warby and daughter Kirra-lea after the January 2016 storm closed Testers Hollow for almost five days.

Testers Hollow was blocked for almost five days in January 2016. Picture: Nick Bielby

Testers Hollow was blocked for almost five days in January 2016. Picture: Nick Bielby

Testers Hollow was closed from April 21 to May 7, 2015 due to flooding. Photo: Sage Swinton

Testers Hollow was closed from April 21 to May 7, 2015 due to flooding. Photo: Sage Swinton

Cars contend with flood waters as Testers Hollow rises during the April storm. Photo: Sonia Warby.

Boat crews help send supplies to Gillieston Heights, which was cut off by floodwater on both sides in April 2015. Photo: Sonia Warby.

Boat crews help send supplies to Gillieston Heights, which was cut off by floodwater on both sides in April 2015. Photo: Sonia Warby.

Testers Hollow was closed from April 21 to May 7, 2015 due to flooding. Photo: Sonia Warby.

Testers Hollow was closed from April 21 to May 7, 2015 due to flooding. Photo: Sonia Warby.

Boat crews help send supplies to Gillieston Heights, which was cut off by floodwater on both sides in April 2015. Photo: Sonia Warby.

Testers Hollow was closed from April 21 to May 7, 2015 due to flooding. Photo: Sonia Warby.

A bus trapped in floodwater at Testers Hollow in 1929.

A bus trapped in floodwater at Testers Hollow in 1929.

Passengers from the stranded bus were rowed to dry land.

Testers Hollow

East Maitland, across from golf course. Picture by Charles Willacy

Morpeth. Picture by Charles Willacy

No through road, Morpeth. Picture by Charles Willacy

Morpeth park. Picture by Charles Willacy

Horseshoe Bend, Maitland. Picture by Charles Willacy

Morpeth. Picture by Charles Willacy

East Maitland. Picture by Charles Willacy

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‘Claire’ wrongly blamed for ‘paleo pear and banana bread’ line

Senator James Patterson during a meeting with representatives of volunteer firefighters at Parliament House in Canberra on Monday 10 October 2016. fedpol Photo: Alex Ellinghausen Photo: Alex EllinghausenA junior public servant who was mocked for talking about “paleo pear and banana bread” in a widely ridiculed government recruitment ad was wrongly blamed by her boss for inventing the line.
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The Department of Finance video, which was slammed as cringeworthy and atrocious after it went viral earlier this month, features a group of real-life staff members spruiking the exciting benefits of the department’s graduate program.

In one memorable exchange, a young woman named Claire has a chat to colleagues: “Hey guys, I’m just heading downstairs for my paleo pear and banana bread. Would you like to join me?”

Her offer was rebuffed by an older colleague, who said the delicacy was “a little bit fancy for me”.

The jarring line became a symbol of the awkwardly-scripted video, and even became the subject of discussion at a Senate estimates hearing at Parliament House. Liberal senator James Paterson said the line “stood out to me and struck me as perhaps a little trivial” and asked Department of Finance officials for an explanation.

“I understand the reasons you would be doing this, but it seems a bit trivial for a serious agency of government … to be joking about paleo pear and banana bread,” he said.

David Fredericks, a deputy secretary of the department who also makes a wooden cameo in the video, jumped in.

“I can tell you a small back story on that,” he offered.

“That was a change made in the script at the time of the filming. It was actually made at the request of the graduate. It was basically accepted because we took the view, and I think the agency took the view, that we are possibly not the best people to know and understand how best to communicate to a young generation of graduates. So this graduate, with a bit of innovation, wanted to change the script.”

Senator Paterson responded: “Right. So you are exonerating the agency for having written that line?”

Mr Fredericks replied “yes”.

But Claire never asked for the line to be included and Fairfax Media understands Mr Frederick’s claim did not go down well inside the department.

He has now written to the Senate committee correcting his evidence, noting he has “since been advised that a member of the production crew suggested this change to the script”.

The cafe inside the department’s plush building doesn’t even have paleo pear and banana bread on its menu.

Government tenders show the Department of Finance is spending $37,400 with ad agency Together Creative, which describes itself as a “famously good creative agency” that develops “head-turning campaigns”. The ad cost $4000 to produce.

A spokesperson for the department declined to say whether Claire had received an apology.

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This working class boy is a changed man

TELL ALL: Jimmy Barnes brings his Working Class Boy show to the Civic Theatre on March 23. Want to win tickets? Enter today’s giveaway. Picture: Stephanie BarnesIt takes a brave man to face his fears. But to bare yourheart and soul and talk publicly about your deepest, darkest secretsin an attempt to help others? That takes real guts.
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Jimmy Barnes made the decision to be that man. And it saved his life.

The much-loved singer’scareer,both as a solo performer and as the lead vocalist of Cold Chisel, has made him oneof the most successful artists inn music history. But all his life Barnes had been battling the demons of his childhood.

Writing Working Class Boy was a form of therapy for Barnes. A sorely needed one at that. This is a man who, over many years, almost drank himself to death in a desperateattempt to forget his past.

“Alot of the issues I hadn’t spoken about to anybody, not even my siblings. I’d tried to block them out,” he tells Weekender.

“They say it’s a memoir but in a way I’ve been running from this shit my whole life.

“The stuff I wasn’t addressing was killing me. That was what had been making me drink myself to death, you know? It was damaging me in so many different ways.”

His Stories & Songs shows, based on the book, are a distinct change of pace.Barnes is joined onstageby children Mahalia and Jackie, and son-in-law Ben Rodgers, and shares the stories and memories that made him the man he is today.

Working Class Boy closed a chapter of his life, opened a new one and uncovered some life-changing footnotes along the way.

“I knew I had to write it. So I sat down and every time I’d write a chapter I’d feel a weight lift off my shoulders,” Barnes says.

“It was great buttowards the end of the book I thought ‘You know what? As soon as I finish it I could tear it up’. Delete it. It had done its job.

“It was only when I finished the book that I realisedthere were probably a lot of people who had been through something similar and hadn’t dealt with it.

“And I knew there werea lot of people still living in themiddle of it. Alot of people living in poverty, a lot of people living with domestic violence, a lot of people living with alcoholism and abuse.

“Iput it out there and thought Icould start a conversation because people really do need to talk about it. Especially domestic violence. I don’t have the solution but it can only help to shine the light on it.”

The story of how James Swan became Jimmy Barnes traces his life from his earliest Glasgow recollections of trauma, alcoholism and violence to the beginnings of Cold Chisel in 1974 when he was 17 and left the family home.

“I don’t blame my parents, you know, for how my life was,” Barnessays.

“I know what they went through. It’s not about blame, it’sabout acknowledging what effect something has had on you, and letting go of that.”

Barnes investigatedall aspects of eachmemory, fromall sides, to discover how the story really panned out.The sometimes painful revelations answered a lot of questions, and joined many dots, for his family.

“It gave them another insight into why I am who I am. For 50 years I was trying to drink myself to death and they couldn’t work out why,” Barnes says.

“It’s been really therapeutic, really cathartic,for my family.

“There has to be a point in life where you break the cycle. My father started to try to do it, my stepfather helped, but I had more opportunity to do it. So I took it.”

Barnes gave up drinking for 10 years and now “drinks a little but not much”.

“From thetime Iwas a young fella until not so long back, whenever I drank it was to get hammered. I didn’t drink for taste. Now instead of a bottle or two I have a sip of whisky,” he says.

“I’m just enjoying life now, you know? I’ve still got issues and problems but I’ve dealt with most of them and it’s opened up the door to deal with the rest of it.”

When asked if these thoughts, feelings and memories could have been expressed by him in song, Barnes pauses.

“You know what? They could be now. But not while I was still blocking them out. The big issues didn’t come out in the lyrics of my songs but the fear and the guilt, the anger and the love –those emotions came out in everything I have sung since the day I started singing.”

And people felt a connection?

“That’s because I was reaching out in those songs. I needed to talk to someone, anyone, and it came out in the way I sang,” Barnes explains.

“Songs can allow you to show that you’re vulnerable, to show that you’re on the edge. Music gives you a lot of avenues to express emotions where you don’t have to talk.

“People think it’s a sign of weakness to show that they’re vulnerable when in fact it becomes a strength. Everything I wrote in this book, it empowered me. Idon’t feel vulnerable any more.”

Jimmy Barnes is at the Civic Theatre on March 23.

Sydney weather: Commuters set for damp journey to work

Commuting is likely to be a damp affair on Wednesday morning, after steady showers settled over Sydney on Tuesday.
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Parts of the city’s west including Baulkham Hills, Prospect and Blacktown copped more than 50mm from 9am to 6pm, causing flash flooding, while Mt Boyce in the Blue Mountains was drenched with 72mm of rain in the same period.

The Bureau of Meteorology is predicting rain and thunderstorms to linger in Sydney for the rest of the week. Up to 15mm of rain is expected in the city on Wednesday, with conditions expected to improve throughout the day.

Thunderstorms threatened the city on Tuesday morning, with heavy falls earlier in the day over an arc stretching from Gosford in the north around to Blacktown and Penrith in Sydney’s west.

The Bureau of Meteorology cancelled its warning of severe thunderstorms for Sydney and the Hunter regions, but left it in place for northern parts of the state around Narrabri.

The threat in the north remained for large hailstones and heavy rainfall that may lead to flash flooding and damaging winds, with locations likely to be affected including Gunnedah, Moree, Walgett, Coonamble and Lightning Ridge.

Jacob Cronje, a senior meteorologist with Weatherzone, said the nature of the weather set-up involving an upper-level cut-off low pressure explained the relatively broad and long-lasting warning from the bureau through much of Tuesday.

“These systems behave in complex way with surface features,” such as moisture streaming in from offshore, Mr Cronje said. “That makes it very difficult to pinpoint the areas of most-persistent rainfall” and storms.

While Observatory Hill had been mostly dry for the past couple of days, the site was forecast to receive 10-25 millimetres of rain by the day’s end.

Some of the heaviest falls on Tuesday were Horsley Park, with 47 mm and Badgerys Creek with 41 mm.

John Keeble, a resident of Bilpin in the Blue Mountains, said his spot had collected 122 mm of rain since 7 am, and was the “heaviest rain I’ve ever seen up here”.

“We also don’t have any power at the moment, I’m running on [a] generator,” Mr Keeble said. “Maybe the lightning this morning knocked something out.

Showers should be a feature of every day until at least next Monday, the bureau said, with Friday’s 10-25 mm looking likely to be the wettest at this point.

Weatherzone: Sydney radar

Weatherzone is owned by Fairfax Media, publisher of this website.

The true meaning of music is blowing in the wind, says this one man bandVIDEOS

The word “troubadour” has become a common, and dare I say it cliche, way to describe musicians doing what musicians tend to do –travel from place to place to share their stories.
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UNIQUE: Singer and songwriter Archer does things his way. He plays in Maitland and Newcastle later this month.

Archer, however, is the real deal. This “old-time sing-song man”, as he is described, has no fixed address and tends to do whathe pleases until he decides it’s time to record a song or play a gig.

When Weekender calls on the eve of the release of his latest single, he is somewhere in regional Victoria where he has been working on a farm, doing odd jobs. Mobile phone reception is sketchy so Archer sprints down the street to find a “sweet spot”.

This is a man who jumps on and off the grid when it pleases him, and one gets the feeling he is more comfortable off than on.

“I can’t spend all day with a phone up my butt, it becomes uncomfortable. Especiallythose modern ones – they’re huge,” he says.

“We’re all following some peculiar course to the grim end, that’s for sure.”

When I make a reference to the Terminator movies, where machines take over the world, he is stumped for a moment. Archer doesn’t spend a lot of time watching television.

“Oh, you mean the one withthe robots? Yeah, oh definitely,” he replies.

“It’s only a matter of time.But maybe the robots will do a better job, you know?”

For a modern-day drifterArcher has played in some impressive venues –andin esteemed company. He has toured Canada, and New Zealand and shared the stage with the likes of Martha Wainwright and C.W. Stoneking.

His music is grounded in blues but is uniquely his own. And he doesn’t care much for trends or expectations. He just does what he does. Writes what he sees and feels.

Archer’s latest single, My Little Sweet Aussie Sweetheart, is a coverofMike O’Malley’s little-known original ballad from the 1950s.It’s a deceptively simple but timeless love song that suits Archer’s haunting voice.The track was engineered byAlex Bennett (C.W. Stoneking) and recorded straight to tape, resulting in that lo-fi feel.

ArcherMy Little Sweet Aussie Sweetheart – Archer“I visited my mate Kenny Joe Blake and his son was singing the songa lot and I guess it just got in my head,” Archers explains, typically understated.

“But there is somethingabout it. I feel like it’s a beautiful song so I thought I’d record it. It’s going to be good to hit the road and leave all the chores behind.

“My base changes, you know? I’ve been working on this farm from time to time and I’ve just been in New Zealandfor a month doing a hitchhiking tour with my friendFlora, which was pretty good.Like any country it’s got a natural beauty about it but it has been less humanly dominated.”

Jesus Was A Man – ArcherFor a manwho reveres nature and animals and is scornful of mankind’s obsession with “shiny, plastic things”, Archer is showing a softer side on this national tour and offering free admission to his shows to all women over the age of65. He will also be stopping off at nursing homes and retirement villages for free shows along the way (“The nursing homes are gold mines. Older people have so muchto teach us.”).

Archer’s definition of music and what it means to him borders on the philosophical. In its pure form, he says, it’s “valuable” in a way that material possessions are not.

Garden – Archer“Music is pretty elemental stuff, I think. You can have a human being singing a song or you can have the wind making its way over the plains. I feel like it’s the same thing. Music is everything, really,” he says.

“Iguess it could also be a career or an economic thing but that’s kind of bullshit stuff. You don’t need that much in life. You can’t take it with you when you go.

“I certainly don’t have a lot of concrete ideas about anything because I’m lost, but not in an alarming way. Life is a hard video game to figure out. But no one really has a place they need to be, do they?We’re all kind of stumbling around.Having said that, there’s potential at least. We’ve got potential.

“I don’t live in a world where people are saying you need to do this or that. You’ve just got to carve out your own path. Make yourself happy and maybe make some other people happy on the way.”

Archer will perform at The Grand Junction in Maitland on March 30, and at The Stag & Hunter in Newcastle on March 31. Entry is free.

Give kids a go, says Postecoglou

Adelaide United’s teenage sensation Riley McGree has retained his place in Ange Postecoglou’s squad for the crucial World Cup qualifiers against Iraq and the UAE – an example of selection boldness that the national team coach would like to see replicated by A-League bosses whenever possible.
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The youngster, who only turned 18 last November, avoided the axe as Postecoglou trimmed his party from the provisional 30 he named last week to the 23 who will make the trip to Tehran. That is where the game against Iraq will take place on March 23 before the squad returns to Sydney for the game against the UAE five days later.

If the teenager can get some game time he will join an illustrious group of young internationals, headed by perhaps ‘s greatest star, Harry Kewell, who made his first appearance at 17 years and seven months. McGree would be nine months older if he was given a debut in the next fortnight, a remarkable rise for a midfielder who has only played a handful of games for his struggling A-League club.

And Postecoglou says that if he shows he is good enough, then there is no reason why McGree could not play some part in either of these matches.

“We haven’t had too many teenagers even getting a run these days. I thought he looked exciting from the moment he broke into the team. I like the way he has adjusted playing in an unfamiliar position against some pretty good opponents.

“This is a good time for me to have a look at him,” Postecoglou said on Tuesday morning, stressing he is always keen to bring in anyone he feels ” has got something”.

The national team coach only wishes that A-League managers were a little bolder in their selection choices and put their faith in younger players, who tend to approach the game with less fear and a sense that anything is possible.

“We have waited too long in the past maybe with some of our young players … as an 18 year old he has stepped in and looked the part. He is exciting when he runs with the ball.

“As a young player coming into our league he has already made an impression. From that perspective I would like to have a closer look at him. He’s there to contribute, if he does well at training he could play.”

In an ideal world, says Postecoglou, the A-League would produce half a dozen exciting youngsters every year, although he acknowledges that we live in a far from ideal world.

Coaches the world over are under pressure to get results, however, and there is often a reluctance to blood fresh talent, hence the small numbers of players like McGree coming through the system.

“Part of the excitement of football worldwide is young players breaking through. We haven’t had much of that … maybe in the case of some young players we wait too long.

“If a young players comes in and shows something special I am not going to wait too long to put him in the national team.”

Postecoglou has been adventurous where McGree is concerned, and has also called up Mustafa Amini, a bright talent who had dropped off the radar somewhat when in Germany but has restated his case now he is playing with Aarhus in Denmark.

James Jeggo, once of Melbourne Victory and Adelaide United, is also given a chance to earn his first cap having impressed the coach with his displays in the Austrian league for Sturm Graz.

But he has left out other promising younger players such as Craig Goodwin, now playing in Holland’s Eredivisie, and Awer Mabil, another former Adelaide youngster who is now also playing in Denmark.

They are on standby, along with the other five players left out of the provisional squad – Nathan Burns, Alex Gersbach, Chris Ikonomidis, Ryan Edwards and Matt McKay, the Brisbane Roar veteran.

Including McGree there are six A-League players in the squad – Tim Cahill (Melbourne City), Rhyan Grant (Sydney FC), James Troisi (Melbourne Victory), Daniel Vukovic (Sydney FC) and Rhys Williams (Perth Glory).

Grant’s selection is due to his excellent season at league leaders Sydney, where his drive and determination from right back has impressed everyone who has seen him play, while Vukovic has also had an excellent campaign back in his home city following his up and down year last season with Melbourne Victory.

Troisi and the often injured Williams are back from the wilderness after figuring prominently earlier in their careers while the evergreen Cahill remains a vital weapon off the bench.

Postecoglou is likely to make several changes between both games, given the timeframe and travel involved, but will look to use Cahill as a pinch hitter should the need arise. He is not too worried that he has not been starting for Melbourne City.

“It’s not the first time we have brought him in with limited game time … its more about the impact he can make in the two games, he has proven that in the past. I don’t expect him to play 90 minutes.”

The squad also includes regulars Mile Jedinak, Aaron Mooy, Mat Ryan, Mathew Leckie, Massimo Luongo, Robbie Kruse, Trent Sainsbury and Mark Milligan, while Aziz Behich and goalkeeper Mitch Langerak return to the international scene.

“We’ve come up with a good strong squad that has a mix of experience, form and players who are playing regular football,” Postecoglou said. “I was pleased with the collective game time the squad got through over the weekend and come into camp playing well.

“We face two important games in five days and it’s good to welcome back some guys who have been out of the squad for different lengths of time for various reasons and I’m confident the group we’ve selected will be ready to hit the ground running.”