Monthly Archives: January 2019


January 5, 2019

Comments Off on PARENTING: Enjoy the cute baby phase

PARENTING: Enjoy the cute baby phase

THERE is a biological reason babies are cute. Their heavenly little features, button noses, chubby fingers and cheeky smiles are essential for their survival. They have to be. Many a blunder is forgiven when you look like a cherub.
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If I threw my food on the floor one piece of cheese/toast/fruit/vegetable at a time – and paused to watch each item land – I am sure I would get more than an exasperated ‘‘tsk, tsk’’ in response.

If I attempted to eat the dead bug I found under the lounge instead, I might be left to it. If I arched my back and squealed and thrashed about while someone helped me into my car seat, Iam certain I’d cop a karate chop to the solar plexus.

And if I waited until I was sitting in said car seat and the driver started reversing out of the driveway before I put a concentrated, grunting effort into pushing out a pungent mess that leached into my clothes, I am positive I’d just be left behind with a hose and a curious labrador sniffing at my rear.

Thanks to an unsettled baby, the first night of a recent ‘‘relaxing’’ mini-break yielded about two to three hours’ sleep in total.

Cue the bickering parents. I wished for an ‘‘opt out’’ button. I wanted to unsubscribe from the relentless responsibility of parenting. I understood why some animals eat their young. Completely.

But then I woke up to giggles, and that feeling of being watched.

Opening my eyes to see my little one standing in his port-a-cot sporting an ecstatic dimpled grin at our proximity eased the fury I was clinging to from the night before. With a cuddle, the red mist of rage dissipated.

I tell you, kids, it’s lucky you are cute. Enjoy it while it lasts. Because once you are of a certain age, farting when someone holds you close is no longer considered so adorable.


January 5, 2019

Comments Off on Aussie snapper’s $25.5m Hawaiian paradise for sale

Aussie snapper’s $25.5m Hawaiian paradise for sale

Peter Lik’s Maui island retreat. Photo: Dino Tassara. Aussie snapper Peter Lik. Photo: Bagima at wikipedia
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Peter Lik’s record-breaking image, “Phantom” which sold for US$6.5 million last year. Photo: Peter Lik

Aussie photographer Peter Lik has listed his Hawaiian estate for $US19.8 million ($25.5 million).

The Melbourne-born 55-year-old bought the idyllic 2.6-hectare site in 2013 for $US9.7 million from tech-industry entrepreneur Bill Nguyen.

On a west Maui island promontory in the Kapalua Resort, the sprawling 370-square-metre home is laid out in three pavilions. It overlooks Mokuleia Bay and the surf break at Honolua Bay.

Mr Lik has since spent about $US3 million in updating the Olson Kundig Architects-designed home which features sliding cedar and rammed earth walls and cedar ceilings.

It has three bedrooms and three bathrooms. Living areas feature hydraulically operated glass panels designed to allow easy indoor-outdoor living.

Mr Lik moved from Australia to Las Vegas in 1994. He bought in the Kapalua Resort as a getaway, for its access to golf courses and its serenity but has decided to sell, citing frequent travel commitments.

According to his Sotheby’s International listing agents, Mr Lik will miss the privacy, natural ambience and the sound of whales breaching the water.

“You [just] want to have a glass of wine with your mate,” on the property, he said.

Last year the acclaimed landscape photographer made news when his black and white photograph, Phantom, sold for $US6.5 million – a world record for photography. The image was taken in a subterranean canyon in Arizona, one of his favourite sites.

Mr Lik took his first photograph in 1967 using a Kodak Brownie box camera – a birthday present from his Czech-born parents. He travelled across America during 1984 and developed his passion for panoramic landscape photography.

He opened his first gallery in Cairns in 1997 and his first US gallery in Hawaii in 2003. He now has galleries across the US, including ones in Caesars Palace, Las Vegas, and the Plaza Hotel in Manhattan.

His business has developed to include coffee-table photography books, postcards and calendars.

In 2010, Mr Lik made news when he sold one of his works, One, for $US1 million.

It comes as no surprise that Mr Lik provided most of the images of his house for the real estate marketing.


January 5, 2019

Comments Off on HUNTER HERO: Stephanie Bortkevich, netball volunteer

HUNTER HERO: Stephanie Bortkevich, netball volunteer

VOLUNTEER: Stephanie Bortkevitch is the secretary of the Wests Netball Club. Picture: Phil HearneMANY might assume that playing netball is as simple as rocking up to the courts, popping a bib on, and getting on with the game.
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And for some, it is.

But it is the people behind the scenes – volunteers like Stephanie Bortkevitch – who really make it all happen. They are the ones who organise all of the paperwork. The ones who put the teams together. The ones who sacrifice their own time to make sure the players can just get on with the business of having fun on the court.

Ms Bortkevitch became involved with Wests Netball Club when her children started playing 35 years ago.

‘‘I played netball when I was younger myself, in the Newcastle competition,’’ the club secretary said.

‘‘I have grandchildren playing now. You go along with the children for so many years, and you just end up involved.

‘‘All of our clubs are run on a volunteer basis, so we need parents to help out.’’

March is typically a very busy time of year for people like Ms Bortkevitch. If you have ever attended a sport registration day, you might appreciate how hectic it can be.

They are the calm among the chaos.

‘‘At this time of the year we have a really big, big job because we have all of the registrations to organise,’’ she said.

‘‘There are two full days of registrations, and then it’s all about compiling the teams.

‘‘We usually have about 60 teams, with about 10 people in a team, so we cater for about 600 people playing in the Lambton and New Lambton area.’’

Many people probably don’t realise how much work goes on behind the scenes to get the teams on the court.

‘‘All the paperwork takes a lot of time,’’ she said.

‘‘You have to be so careful these days. You have to have all of your members insured. It gets harder. Itshould get easier, but it doesn’t. But I do really enjoy doing it all.

‘‘I was raised in a very sporty family, so it’s just something I’ve always been happy to be involved in.’’

Ms Bortkevitch is also on the committee for Newcastle Netball Association. Of a Saturday afternoon, she also coaches a People With Disabilities (PWD) team for Wests.

‘‘We have one PWD team and they play in the Newcastle competition, and there are about six teams involved in that,’’ she said.

‘‘I am their coach, but we don’t really train – they are very busy and always out and about. But it is a very rewarding job.

‘‘I’ve probably had this same team for about 15 years now. They don’t really worry too much if they miss a goal or a pass because they are just playing and having a good time.’’

Ms Bortkevitch attends the Wests Netball clubhouse at least four nights a week. She makes sure the clubhouse and the toilets are open, answers questions, and provides any first aid if it is needed.

‘‘It is a lot of work, but after all the hours you put in you can see what you’ve achieved, that you have done something towards helping these girls all play netball.’’

VOLUNTEER: Stephanie Bortkevitch is the secretary of the Wests Netball Club. Picture: Phil Hearne


January 5, 2019

Comments Off on OBITUARY: TerryFearnley, rugby league coach, player

OBITUARY: TerryFearnley, rugby league coach, player

QUIET RESOLVE: Terry Fearnley helped drag rugby league into the modern era. TERRY FEARNLEY,
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TERRY Fearnley’s calm exterior masked a steely resolve within, and his quiet and gentlemanly nature determined he would never receive the full acclaim he deserved on his sporting arena of choice – rugby league. He spent many seasons in the company of this fiercest of games, as player, ground-breaking coach, wise thinker and mentor, although never nailing the ‘‘great and elusive dream’’ of winning a first-grade premiership.

In rugby league memory this quiet, bespectacled man warrants a high historical ranking, having been a change agent in unearthing a ‘‘new way’’ – one that effectively dragged an old suburban weekend game into its modern, professional era.

It was one of many accomplishments, which included being the first coach to lead NSW to a series victory over Queensland in State of Origin football (1985) after taking Parramatta to its first premiership grand final (1976) – and repeating the achievement the following year (against St George). The Eels came away narrow losers both times, but with new respect. The battle against Saints produced the game’s first grand final draw.

Fearnley also coached Australia to series victories at his two attempts: the World Cup tournament of 1977 and a Test campaign against New Zealand (1985), in which, handed a poisoned chalice as Australian coach in the midst of a bitter Origin series, he infuriated the entire State of Queensland (it seemed) by dropping four Maroon players for the final Test.

It was Fearnley’s quality of genuineness that convinced reluctant bush champions such asPeter Sterling (Wagga) and Michael Cronin (Gerringong) to come to the ‘‘big smoke’’ – to everlasting fame and, perhaps, ahint of fortune. In his 1989 autobiography Sterling wrote: ‘‘Icame to Sydney and the Parramatta club because of Terry Fearnley. It’s as simple as that.’’

Terence Colin Fearnley was born in Sydney on July 21, 1933, one of three children of Jack and Edith Fearnley. Jack had come to Australia from Yorkshire aged 15 in 1924 with his brother, emigrating under the Dreadnought Scheme, and they were assigned to work at the historic property Coombing Park, at Carcoar. The little town and its beautiful surrounds captured the young Terry’s heart from the first time he travelled there on the overnight steam train as a four or five-year old. It never loosened its grip.

Fearnley would recall those ‘‘some of the most enjoyable experiences of my life’’, and went back time and again to enjoy the countryside and to mix with Fearnley relatives. Among them in more recent years was his second cousin, Kurt Fearnley, Australia’s greatest male Paralympian.

Terry, elder brother Ron and younger sister Judith grew up in turn at Earlwood, Marrickville and then the Eastern Suburbs as Jack worked in the wool mills in Marrickville.

Fearnley’s first connection with rugby league came in pick-up games after school.

‘‘My brother was one of the leaders … and I was just skinny little Terry,’’ he remembered.

‘‘I’d be last one picked every time … and they’d never pass me the ball. It made me a bit more aggressive, and in the end I guess I did show ’em!’’

His education was largely of the ‘‘university of common-sense and life’’ variety. His memoirs note: ‘‘My parents Jack and Edith came through the Depression and strongly believed that I should get a position with the Public Service. I could then start paying board.’’

There was no encouragement for him to press on at Sydney Tech High and get his Leaving Certificate.

He went instead, at 15, to a job of some drudgery, as a $6.20-a-week clerk with the Department of Motor Transport. In a diverse working life he would graduate to senior positions – inthe car industry and in professional rugby league – and tokey advertising roles with Australian Consolidated Press, particularly so at Rugby League Week magazine, where ‘‘The Coach’’ was a popular guiding hand and companion to all. Later, he worked as a legal registration clerk.

In 1957, Fearnley married Betty Rogers and they had four children. In December 2001 he married Patricia Stemp and with working days (and football) largely behind him, his life-long curiosity intensified, leading him to new and diverse interests – to gardening, movies, bird watching, writing his memoirs and extensive travels.

Family always ranked highly, with 11 grandchildren to keep him on the hop. He became a regular attendee at State Library lectures, on a rich variety of subjects. Active sport sustained its place through his life, with skiing, tennis and golf high on the list, until fading health dictated otherwise. In such a ‘‘sporting life’’, two weeks as a member of the AOC-media team at the Sydney Olympics of 2000 remained a cherished memory.

Terry Fearnley is survived by Pat, and his children with Betty: Karen, Kim, Tracey and Scott, and their families.


January 5, 2019

Comments Off on OPINION: Public funds not handouts for developers

OPINION: Public funds not handouts for developers

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MINE subsidence is a major constraint to Newcastle’s revitalisation, but the state government should not be undermining our public infrastructure fund by giving handouts to private developers, as they have recently announced.

We need a sustainable, equitable and long-term solution, which addresses the size of the problem and the cost to fill the ‘‘honeycomb’’ of mines under our city.

Grouting the mine workings is expensive and usually extends well beyond the footprint of individual sites, under public space and adjacent sites.

There is no grouting cost sharing mechanism that incentivises development in Newcastle.

The financial viability of commercial and residential redevelopments in the city is constrained by this market failure.

But the proposal by the Liberal government to take money from the infrastructure fund and give it to developers is depleting money that should be spent on much-needed public infrastructure like public schools and health facilities.

The Liberal government has missed the opportunity to provide a sustainable long-term solution for mine subsidence in Newcastle.

They have missed the principle that public funds should only be used for public purposes and not channelled to a select few developers.

And they have missed the point by ignoring the inequity between adjacent landowners and the public space. In 2009, I pushed successfully for Newcastle Council to establish a Mine Subsidence Working Group, which would investigate, among other things, funding arrangements for a sustainable long-term solution.

During the 2011 election campaign, the then Labor government announced they would take over the working party under the Department of Premier and Cabinet, where it languished until the recent announcement during this election.

The only sustainable, equitable and long-term solution is to establish a Mine Subsidence Revolving Fund, so that the grouting of each city block can be done in one hit, with the state government recovering its investment equitably from the landowners.

The fund would be topped up by the private beneficiaries as developments are approved and Newcastle would not have to rely on half-baked promises, made during elections.

Real estate valuers will say that the Newcastle mine subsidence disincentive has already been factored into the price of the city’s development sites.

However, the Sydney-centric government needs to recognise that their failure to recoup money from the coal companies who caused the problem and their inaction over the years to develop a sustainable solution has compounded the problem. Newcastle needs a sustainable, equitable solution to the ‘‘honeycomb’’ of mines under our city, not half-baked promises made during elections.

Michael Osborne is a civil engineer, a Greens councillor on Newcastle City Council and a Greens candidate in the upcoming state election