December 4, 2018

Comments Off on Sky Blues strikers put Jets on alert

Sky Blues strikers put Jets on alert

Sydney striker Marc Janko is the A-League’s leading goal scorer.THE A-League’s hottest strike force arrives at Hunter Stadium on Friday night intent on applying the blowtorch to Newcastle’s new-found resilience.
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The Jets have defended grimly in consecutive draws with Western Sydney, Wellington and Central Coast, but statistics suggest the challenge of keeping Sydney contained will be a whole new ball game.

In their past four outings, the Sky Blues have scored 15 goals, only one fewer than Newcastle have netted in all 19 outings this season.

Marquee striker Marc Janko (12) is the A-League’s leading goal scorer and, after the departures of Joel Griffiths, Jeronimo and Kew Jaliens, he has scored more goals on his own than the remaining Newcastle players combined.

The Austrian sniper has formidable support up front in Alex Brosque, Bernie Ibini and Shane Smeltz, who came off the bench in last week’s 4-3 win against Western Sydney.

Jets coach Phil Stubbins sounded almost envious when he discussed ‘‘a bag of riches in the front third they can choose from’’, labelling Sydney strong contenders for the A-League premiership.

‘‘They’re a very good side at the moment, probably close to title favourites,’’ Stubbins said.

‘‘The goals that they’ve scored in the last few games would suggest that they’re right up there as one of the favourites for the comp … obviously they’ve got some pressure on them to go all the way. They’ve certainly got the cattle there.’’

After a seven-game winless streak earlier in the season, during which they went more than six hours without a goal, Sydney have surged to fifth with three wins and a draw from their past four starts.

They are one point behind second-placed Melbourne Victory, Adelaide and Wellington, four points behind leaders Perth, and appear to be timing their run into the play-offs to perfection.

With 34 goals this season, Sydney have found the net more than twice as many times as Newcastle (16).

The Jets also have the worst defence in the league, having leaked 40 goals.

Since the 7-0 drubbing from Adelaide on January 24, after which three members of Stubbins’ coaching staff were sacked, five players were disenfranchised and another demanded a release, the Jets have belied fears that they might spend the rest of the season as easybeats.

‘‘The back line’s been strong, there’s no doubt about that,’’ Stubbins said.

The Jets, who have not beaten Sydney in more than two years, will be skippered on Friday for the first time by goalkeeper Ben Kennedy, after two-game captaincy stints from Taylor Regan and Jacob Pepper.

‘‘We’re all right behind Ben,’’ Stubbins said.

‘‘Obviously he’s a guy who’s Newcastle through and through.

‘‘He had a fantastic game against Sydney last time and hopefully he can replicate that and keep a clean sheet.’’


December 4, 2018

Comments Off on ‘Cloak of secrecy’ claims before Mount Thorley mine decision

‘Cloak of secrecy’ claims before Mount Thorley mine decision

Mount Thorley mine.Bulga to continue fight against mine
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​THE Department of Planning has been accused of operating under a cloak of secrecy with bureaucrats working closely with a mining company to overturn the rejection of a coal mine expansion near Camberwell in the Upper Hunter.

Two senior Planning Department officials met counterparts from Yancoal Australia on February 9, 2012, weeks after the Planning Assessment Commission had rejected plans for its Ashton South East Open Cut expansion near Camberwell, according to a document obtained by resident Deidre Olofsson under freedom of information laws.

The business contact form reveals little detail of the topics discussed with Chinese-owned Yancoal, other than it was ‘‘considering’’ an appeal.

‘‘How do you keep [Planning] accountable for their actions when they are assessing major developments and they can’t keep records?’’ asked Ms Olofsson, who worked with the Environmental Defenders Office (EDO) to uncover how the government worked to secure the mine’s approval.

‘‘There’s no secrecy guideline,’’ she said. ‘‘Everyone can work in secret and make deals behind our backs.’’

A spokesman for Planning, though, said while the department was aware of Yancoal’s legal concerns, it did not work with company to reverse the mine’s rejection.

Even so, the scant details may prompt action by the State Records Authority, which is seeking more information about the disclosure of information.

An EDO letter containing the disclosed document and other material ‘‘raises potential issues related to the possible non-documentation of specific business meetings involving [Planning staff] and representatives of mining interests’’, said Geoff Hinchcliffe, director of State Records, in a missive obtained by Fairfax Media.

‘‘NSW State Records has requested additional information from a party in relation to allegations of a breach of the State Records Act 1998,’’ a spokeswoman for the authority said.

Twenty days after the meeting with Planning, Yancoal successfully appealed against the PAC rejection. The EDO said the practice of the Planning officials meeting with proponents to discuss legal strategies where the PAC is also represented by Planning’s lawyers in itself raises doubts about the commission’s independence in such circumstances.

‘‘On the face of it, such practice would give rise to a conflict of interest,’’ Sue Higginson, EDO NSW’s principal solicitor, said.

One basis for the appeal was the commission had not considered a new report on the mine’s water impact – submitted by Planning hours after the PAC refusal.

The Office of Water initially recommended against the expansion before reversing its stance after the Director-General of Planning paid for a report by its own expert.

NSW Health, though, maintained its advice against the project because of pollution concerns.

The commission re-examined the proposal and approved it in October 2012. Ms Olofsson, as a client of the EDO, has been trying ever since to get the government to reveal more about its workings with Yancoal.

A spokesman for Planning said it was ‘‘appropriate’’ for the department’s lawyers to represent the PAC as the commission was ‘‘the delegate of the minister in this case’’.

He also defended the department’s records of the February 2012 meeting: ‘‘The business contact form clearly indicates the topics and issues discussed and was provided to the EDO in response to its GIPA request. The form records all matters discussed at the meeting.’’

The spokesman said Planning made its determination on the GIPA request by November 15, 2012, so questions concerning the time taken by the Information Privacy Commissioner to review it ‘‘should be addressed to that organisation’’.

‘‘Ashton had several meetings with the Department of Planning and with the PAC and produced additional information and reports to demonstrate predictions on potential groundwater impacts and to demonstrate avoidance and mitigation mechanisms,’’ a Yancoal spokesman said. ‘‘Ultimately, the PAC, and NSW Office of Water, were satisfied.’’

Progress on the mine remains stalled, with Yancoal required to own all land in the lease area and one farmer refusing to sell.


December 4, 2018

Comments Off on A-League late mail for round 20

A-League late mail for round 20

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At Hunter Stadium, 7.40pm

Newcastle Jets: Ben Kantarovski returns from suspension as does Andrew Hoole who plays against the club he will join next season.

Likely team (4-3-3): Kennedy; Neville, Regan, Mullen, Gallagher; Kantarovski, Caravella, Pepper; Lee, Montano, Alivodic.

Sydney FC: Suspensions force a reshuffle with Terry Antonis starting in place of Mickael Tavares, while Alex Gersbach will be replaced by Matt Jurman.

Likely team (4-2-3-1): Janjetovic; Ryall, Calver, Petkovic, Jurman; Antonis, Dimitrijevic; Naumoff, Brosque, Ibini; Janko.



At Hutt Recreational Ground, 3pm (AEDT)

Wellington Phoenix: Manny Muscat is suspended for the match against Adelaide while Louis Fenton and Tom Doyle return.

Likely team (4-3-3): Moss; Fenton, Durante, Sigmund, Doyle; Reira, Bonevacia, Rodriguez; Burns, McGlinchey, Krishna

Adelaide United: The Reds will be strengthened by the return of Nigel Boogard and midfield maestro Isaias Sanchez for their trip across the Tasman.

Likely team (4-3-3): Galekovic; Marrone, Boogard, McGowan, Elrich; Jeggo, Isais, Carrusca; Cirio, Djite, Palanca.


At AAMI Park, 7.30pm

Melbourne Victory: Defender Adrian Leijer left the club for Chinese club Chonging Lifan midweek while forwards Andrew Nabbout and Connor Pain are promoted for the squad to play Perth.

Likely team: (4-2-3-1) Coe; Geria, Broxham, Ansell, Galloway; Valeri, Milligan; Barbarouses, Finkler, Khalfallah; Berisha.

Perth Glory: Midfield hardman Ruben Zadkovich returns to the squad alongside winger Sidnei Sciola for the top of the table match against Melbourne Victory.

Likely team: (4-2-3-1) Vukovic; Risdon, Thwaite, Djulbic, Jamieson; Marinkovic, Griffiths, Paljic; Harold, Keogh; De Silva.



At Central Coast Stadium, 3pm

Central Coast : Matt Sim has been dropped from the squad while Travis Major, Matt Simon and Eddy Bosnar could all return.

Likely team (4-1-2-1-2): Reddy; Roux, Anderson, Bosnar, Rose; Hutchinson; Trifiro, Ferreira; Caceres; Simon, Fitzgerald.

Melbourne City: New signing Harry Novillo is a chance to make his debut against the Mariners while Argentinian midfielder Jonatan Germano returns to the travelling squad.

Likely team (5-3-2): Velaphi; Baharudin, Chapman, Jaliens, Kisnorbo, Clisby; Murdocca, Paartalu, Mooy; Koren, Kennedy.


At Suncorp Stadium, 5pm (AEDT)

Brisbane Roar: Corey Brown is suspended for the match against the Wanderers while Steven Lustica, Jack Hingert and Shane Stefanutto are all promoted.

Likely team: (4-3-3): Theo; Polenz, North, Donachie; Hingert; McKay, Brattan, Broich; Borrello, Kaluderovic, Henrique

Western Sydney Wanderers: Mateo Poljak is back from suspension and likely to start in midfield while Matt Spiranovic comes in for the injured Brendan Hamill.

Likely team:  (4-2-3-1): Covic; Tanaka, Spiranovic, Topor-Stanley, Golec; Poljak, La Rocca; Castelen, Takahagi, Rukavytsya; Bulut.


December 4, 2018

Comments Off on Mardi Gras is all about the ‘f’ word this year

Mardi Gras is all about the ‘f’ word this year

Mardi Gras glam: For Justin Hill Mardi Gras is about about health and happiness.
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Mardi Gras glam: For Justin Hill Mardi Gras is about about health and happiness.

Mardi Gras glam: For Justin Hill Mardi Gras is about about health and happiness.

Mardi Gras glam: For Justin Hill Mardi Gras is about about health and happiness.

Fitness is the new glitter at this year’s Mardi Gras.

You can’t throw a Nike Free on Oxford Street without hitting someone chewing the fat about Paleo or discussing the benefits of HIIT (high intensity interval training) this week especially as Saturday night’s parade edges closer.

“This year it’s all about tone, definition and bulking, last year, not so much, there was more shredding I guess you could say,” Fitness First personal trainer manager Audrey Yuen says.

“We’ve seen an increase in short-term memberships for sure this year and that can be attributed to people getting ready for Mardi Gras, it’s great to see the other side of fitness like seeing clients preparing for an specific event. A lot of people have been training for this since before Christmas.”

For Justin Hill, Mardi Gras was impetus for a whole new lifestyle. The 31-year-old has lost 53 kilograms in four years and has been prepping for this weekend’s parade for four months.


“It’s gay Christmas,” the entertainment reporter for Southern Cross Austereo’s hit Scoopla radio show says.

“Gay men are very goal-oriented, we’re very committed and competitive so having a deadline works, especially for people like me,” he adds as Britney Spears’ aptly titled hit Work Bitch blares from the speakers inside the packed gym which is right in the heart of Mardi Gras Mecca in Darlinghurst at 2pm … on a work day.

“A few years ago I got sick of being the ‘fat, funny, gay guy’ and tired of looking in the mirror and seeing someone who didn’t look like how I felt on the inside, now I feel and look healthy and happy,” he says.

In the lead-up to this weekend’s parade and parties, Hill has been working with an ex-NRL player who devised a weekly training schedule that includes two 30-minute cardio sessions and four weights sessions.

“Last year the look was very thin, very British, very Harry Styles, which is really hard to attain. This year it’s about being healthy and for me, being the best version of myself,” he says as we work through one of his workouts. Me, bicep curling with measly 10 kilogram dumbbells, him with 26 kilograms, in what he calls “the big boy section of the gym”, as men everywhere are skipping, squatting and, like Hill, studying notes written by trainers a la Andy Murray.

As we move onto leg presses, a curious bystander heading for the treadmills chimes in to tell me the booty is huge this year, hence all the squatting and lunging. He says this is because the pop music charts have been dominated by Nicki Minaj, Beyonce and Iggy Azalea for the past 12 months.

“If you’re not building real muscle, you won’t make it through Mardi Gras season,” Hill, who has attended one event a week during this year’s Sydney month-long Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras festival, says.

“I used to be all about fast and convenience food, a treat for me now is a cup of tea with milk or Mexican food with dairy.”

His diet this week has been clean eating on steroids – eggs, salmon, sweet potato and salads.

“I try not to get into fads, kale being one of them,” he says.

“Justin has taken a longer-term approach to his goals, which is great,”  accredited wholefood dietician and nutrition writer Larina Robinson says of Hill’s regime. “People tend to go on crash diets leading up to events, drastically dropping calories, and exercising heavily for two to three weeks. This just shocks your body, increases your risk of injuries, and whilst you may drop a few kilos, you’re priming your metabolism to pile them back on once you relax after the event. It’s not a healthy, or sustainable way to trim down.

“Treats should always be for special occasions and not every day. If Justin enjoys a Mexican meal as his indulgence then that’s his choice, however, I don’t consider tea with milk a ‘treat’.”

As well as physical conditioning, Hill had his Mardi Gras ‘do cut two weeks out from the big night- “To let it settle” – and had Botox injections a week later. He then ‘man scaped’ three days out and will spray tan on Friday night.

Mardi Gras culminates on Saturday with an after-party headlined by Nick Jonas, Jessica Mauboy and, for the first time in 16 years, Dannii Minogue, who will take the stage at 2am on Sunday.


December 4, 2018

Comments Off on HOUSE OF THE WEEK: Bungalow’s modern touch

HOUSE OF THE WEEK: Bungalow’s modern touch

BATHED IN LIGHT: This California bungalow lets in natural light. Picture: Simone De Peak LARA Pinter and her client embrace each other like old friends, laughing and catching up.
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The pair met when the client enlisted Lara, of Yak & Yeti Interior Design, to help bring her traditional Californian bungalow into the current era, but the pair have forged a warm friendship since.

This mutual style and warmth has translated in the renovation of the client ‘s four-bedroom, two-bathroom home in Merewether.

The client originally moved there 17 years ago, and has spent the time slowly adding to the family home between bouts overseas.

BATHED IN LIGHT: This California bungalow lets in natural light. Picture: Simone De Peak

She approached Lara with the brief to redesign the floorspace of the eastern-facing living area’s main wet areas, the bathroom and laundry, early last year.

Lara’s stylish eye for design and the client’s proactivity meant the team were an unstoppable force, and a result is a light-filled contemporary laundry and bathroom with more than enough space for the five adults now living in the home.

The client worked with Andrew Parker, of A. E. Parker builders, in bringing the inspired bathroom and laundry space to life with Lara’s creative direction.

Using a colour palette of defined and refined grey and whites, the bathroom and laundry are lined with wall tiles with a soft grey vein, a nod to iconic Carrara marble.

BATHED IN LIGHT: This California bungalow lets in natural light. Picture: Simone De Peak

“I like things classic,” the client starts. “I wanted to keep the existing style of the home alive, and not go too modern …”

“She wanted the renovation to link to the existing elements but reflect some on-trend elements too,” Lara finishes, to the client’s ‘ agreement.

A custom-built vanity with stone benchtop was created by Lathams Kitchens, with a lengthy mirror reflecting the generous shower space behind.

BATHED IN LIGHT: This California bungalow lets in natural light. Picture: Simone De Peak

A freestanding Sheraton bath by Decina sits in one corner, while a recessed shelf with a hexagonal mosaic above providing an interesting point of difference in the tiling.

Ornate cast-iron handles are a bold feature throughout the bathroom and laundry, and carried through into the kitchen space, adorning the ivory cabinetry.

Space was also a consideration in the kitchen area, which experienced a peripheral renovation to foster the relationship between the new and old space.

“We completely redesigned the wet space which is working really well for my family,” the client says. “We ended up with a really big galley pantry out here too because we really needed space for feeding five mouths!”

BATHED IN LIGHT: This California bungalow lets in natural light. Picture: Simone De Peak

An earthy Newcastle cityscape artwork overlooks the timber eight-seater dining table, an original by Novocastrian artist Cheryl Cusick in licks of beige and cream tones.

A custom-made bookcase and matching sideboard created by French Patina also sit in the area, finished in a clean shade of white.

Although the home mostly maintains a neutral colour palette, there are pops of funky reds throughout the living area and outdoor living space – hints of the client’s vivacious personality.

BATHED IN LIGHT: This California bungalow lets in natural light. Picture: Simone De Peak

A bright floor rug known as Sani Ciri and created from hand-tufted blended wool and art silk lays underfoot, an exotic recreation of Susani & Ikat designs.

“I wanted something with a bit of colour,” the client says.

“Something a bit different,” Lara adds.

This punch of colour is carried forth on to the generous deck, which includes a sun-soaked lounge and coffee table area overlooking the lush greenery in the garden.

A charcoal retaining wall was used to differentiate the dual levels, with both levels lined with neat hedges, perfect for keeping the family dog curious and busy.

“It’s a beautiful home,” Lara remarks. “There’s something about Californian bungalows – they feel like home,” the client adds.


December 4, 2018

Comments Off on No Disney-themed showbags at Newcastle Show

No Disney-themed showbags at Newcastle Show

COLD SHOULDER: Gordon Richards and his Disney showbags won’t be at the Newcastle Show. Picture: Peter GleesonDISNEY showbags – including Frozen which is the country’s hottest bag – will be absent at this year’s Newcastle Show.
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Showbag Warehouse, which carries authentic Disney-themed showbags, is not part of this year’s show after negotiations with the society broke down.

Director Gordon Richards said families who wanted Disney bags would have to travel to the Royal Easter Show in Sydney.

He said the Newcastle Show Society failed to continue correspondence with them after January 5, and had “unfairly” raised the rent from $3300 to $6000 without offering any justification for the change.

He said the society wanted them to set up in a hall at the back of the grounds – where they would be tucked away from the crowds and a fair distance from other showbag providers – and they would have struggled to make a profit.

He wanted to return to the same site as last year.

“Nobody wanted to be down the back and we wouldn’t have got as much traffic there as the other operators who were in a pavilion together,” Mr Richards said.

Operations manager Dana Pichaloff did not reveal the cost to rent a space and accused Showbag Warehouse, which is based in Port Macquarie, of “intimidating” and “bullying” the society.

She said the company wanted to “dictate how much they would pay, which is next to nothing, and where they would go”.

“They wanted to go in a space that is unacceptable under occupational health and safety,” she said.

Ms Pichaloff did not proceed with negotiations and instead secured six showbag operators from Sydney, which will offer a range of confectionary and generic bags.

The showbags range from a few dollars to more than $20 and Rick Morris, who is assisting one of the operators, said families would benefit because the bags were cheaper than previous years.

He confirmed that Frozen and other Disney showbags would not be at the show because every company carried different lines.

“The bags here are generic but they are all full of stuff so they are value for money,” he said.

IT’S show time with a twist at this year’s Newcastle Show.

The show society has organised four new expos that will complement the event’s agricultural focus and provide something for the whole family.

There will be a food and wine display, featuring top quality produce from Hunter Valley farms and wineries, a health and lifestyle exhibition, a lego exhibition for the young and young at heart, as well as an automotive exhibition for car lovers.

Operations manager Dana Pichaloff said the event aimed to offer “old-fashioned fun that you can’t have with technology” and connect families through agriculture and interesting exhibits.

“We’ve got . . . pumpkins, cows, animals … and at the food and wine expo people will be fed and watered with food from around the world,’’ Ms Pichaloff said.

She urged anyone who has never been to the show to come along and experience “the electric atmosphere”.

The show opens at 9am on Friday, Saturday and Sunday at the showground near Newcastle Entertainment Centre.


December 4, 2018

Comments Off on BOOKS: Annemarie Fleming’s Bad Mothers Meetings

BOOKS: Annemarie Fleming’s Bad Mothers Meetings

PRESSURE OFF: Annemarie Fleming says all mothers just do what they can. Picture: Simone De Peak
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IT is 8.45 on a Monday morning when I meet with Annemarie Fleming, author of the hilarious The Collected Minutes of the Bad Mothers’ Meetings, and I sense it’s a relief for both of us to slide into the seats of the cafe and order soothing cups of tea after surviving another morning of breakfasts, school lunches, child wrangling and drop-offs in peak-hour traffic.

Fleming tells me her youngest, 13-year-old Will, has forgotten to take his pencil case and iPad to school.

“I thought about what I should do,” she muses. “But then I decided a day without them might make him remember to take them tomorrow.”

The calm mum of three teenagers admits part of her wanted to drop everything and hot tail it to the school with the forgotten items – so does her decision not to make her a “bad mother”?

“I’m not sure. It’s just the mother that I am; it’s me doing the best I can, what I think is the right thing for my child.”

The notion that all mothers are winging it, putting on a brave face and navigating the ups and downs of parenting as best they can is the pivot on which Fleming’s first book, a collection of anecdotes about mothering mishaps and make-dos, turns.

Written as minutes of Bad Mothers’ Meetings, you won’t find tips on keeping your linen closet organised or your Tupperware drawer in check here.

PRESSURE OFF: Annemarie Fleming says all mothers just do what they can. Picture: Simone De Peak

Instead, the book is a hilarious look at some of the over-the-top things mothers do to navigate what is increasingly becoming a competitive sport. Fleming touches on the mysteries of the “mother’s bag” – “I didn’t realise in the beginning you had to take extra clothes and nappies and things with you wherever you went until my newborn dirtied her nappy and outfit and I had to bring her home naked wrapped in a towel”; the trials of the mothers’ group and playgroup – “One of my kids was toilet training so I arrived carrying a potty because I thought that’s what you should do”; and school lunches – “Allergies are finally working in our favour. With more and more foods appearing on the banned list, it seems all children will be back to Vegemite sandwiches before you can say ‘ricotta and corn wrap’ “.

You’ll also find gems like the Bad Mothers’ pledge: “We acknowledge we are all bad mothers. We don’t organise play dates. We don’t chop food into small pieces and carry it around in case someone gets the munchies. We can’t find a lid to fit any container in the house. We don’t soak, fold or iron. We vacuum the bath. We acknowledge we are all bad mothers but we are doing our bloody best.”

Fleming, who says she has never felt she knew how to be a “proper” mother with all the bells and whistles, wrote the book after a series of the chapters were published over the past four years in The Sydney Morning Herald’s Heckler column.

“My Heckler columns always seem to touch a nerve so I knew people were reading them and relating to them,” she says.

“There is so much underlying competitiveness to motherhood. We all think good parenting requires us to be doing all this stuff that is completely over the top.

“I don’t think there are good and bad mothers, we all just do what we can. It is interesting though, most mums I speak to like to relate to the concept of being a bad mother,” she said. “They all like to say they are the ‘worst’ mother. Some mums just need to have a good laugh at themselves and take the pressure off. That’s why I wrote the book in a form that was easy to pick up, read a snippet, have a laugh and put it down again.”

Annemarie Fleming will launch The Collected Minutes of the Bad Mothers’ Meetings at the Newcastle Writers Festival on Saturday, March 21, at 10am. More details: newcastlewritersfestival上海龙凤


December 4, 2018

Comments Off on Evans ready to slot in as Eagles lose skipper to injury

Evans ready to slot in as Eagles lose skipper to injury

INJURY BLOW: Luke Walker.
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EDGEWORTH skipper Luke Walker has backed Josh Evans to step up and take over his role in this National Premier League campaign after the holding midfielder suffered a season-ending knee injury.

Walker was among the Eagles’ best last year and led the league’s player-of-the-year race mid-season before suspensions marred the end of his campaign.

Edgeworth slipped from league leaders mid-year to fifth and were casualties in the first of the finals as Walker sat on the sidelines.

The Eagles now face an entire season without the 28-year-old after he hurt his left knee while making a tackle in a trial against Dapto Fury.

It was the same knee he had reconstructed in 2013 while in Victoria. He will again need a reconstruction to get back on the field after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament.

New Edgeworth coach Damian Zane said the injury was a setback for his side, but he hoped the recent return of defender Dominic Bizzarri would bolster his options.

‘‘Remembering last year he was coming back from a knee operation, Luke was going to be even better this year, so it’s a blow for us,’’ Zane said.

‘‘He was looking really good, but there’s nothing we can do about it.’’

Bizzarri played at Edgeworth before spending time in Italian lower leagues last season.

While Bizzarri will give Zane depth in defence, he said centre back Evans could push forward and replace Walker in the screening role.

Walker said Evans would be an ideal replacement.

‘‘Joshy will do the job in there, he’s quality, so we’ll be right,’’ he said.

Walker said he was trying to remain positive and was keen to return to the field in 2016.

Broadmeadow Magic are also looking at their holding midfield options after a season-ending injury.

Alex Kantarovski went down in Magic’s 6-0 FFA Cup game win over Swansea at Lake Macquarie Regional Football Facility on Saturday and needs reconstructive surgery after damaging his meniscus and ACL.

Magic coach Robert Virgili said Kantarovski was ‘‘a big part of our season’’.

‘‘He was our holding midfielder and could easily slot in the back line for us,’’ he said.

‘‘He gave us options, but we have a couple of things up our sleeve in terms of young guys coming through.

‘‘For the morale of the squad, he is a popular guy in the sheds and the club in general, so it’s a blow but we’ll get around him and support him.’’


December 4, 2018

Comments Off on Gardening’s good for the earth . . . and soul

Gardening’s good for the earth . . . and soul

TREE CHANGE: Olivia and Dwayne gave up the corporate life to start anew at Heritage Gardens. They haven’t regretted it for one moment. GROWING up, there were two main topics of conversation around t he dinner table – gardening and rugby union.
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While I successfully tuned out to the male majority of the family discussing football (I still can’t tell you what a scrumhalf or lock is), the gardening talk wormed its way in; the long debates about the best variety of wisteria, the current state of black spot on roses. Fascinating.

There was no point resisting it – rugby I could escape, plants were everywhere. Certainly in the vast garden surrounding the house that needed constant maintenance, but also in the family business, Heritage Gardens nursery, that my parents founded on the outskirts of Maitland.

We lived and breathed gardens.

Pre-school I was allotted my first patch of earth, and had just as much fun planting vegies as I did creating fairy rings of stones around them. By primary school, I could correctly identify a good dozen flowers on spec. And before long I didn’t want to avoid them.

Just like my grandmother, who gardened well into her 90s, Mum would come in from an afternoon among the roses with spider webs in her hair, beaming.

“I couldn’t survive without a garden,” she would tell me.

It was more than a hobby, gardening was . . . life for us. Wellbeing.

While managing a large nursery wasn’t exactly a walk in the park for my parents, it was for those who visited.

“You’re so lucky to work here,” customers would often say during the times I worked there casually. Although I grumbled, they were right.

It wasn’t just a shop, it was a garden, a place of beauty and inspiration, an opportunity to wander aimlessly, breathing deep the myriad fragrances, letting the busy mind untangle and unwind. I was proud of them for creating this gift to the community.

However, when my sister and her husband decided to quit their jet-setting corporate jobs in Sydney to take over the business last year, my scepticism was not inconsequential.

This was a literal tree change of seismic proportions.

Still, a year on and swapping the Gucci heels for Blundstone boots seems to have suited Liv and Dwayne.

Although not without its challenges, Liv is surprised by how little she misses the high life.

“Once we had the opportunity to catch our breath, it has literally been a breath of fresh air.”

It’s great to see her young family thriving. While I’ve seen first hand the benefits of gardening on the mind, body and soul, it is only recently they are being more publicly lauded.

This weekend sees Beyond Blue teaming up with independent garden centres around Australia for a ‘Releaf’ event – raising awareness about the physical and mental benefits of gardening.

At Heritage Gardens there will be mini-gardener sessions for kids, blue cupcake decorating, blue lemonade stalls, face painting, bee hive demonstrations and free garden talks.

As well as a gold coin donation to Beyond Blue, 10 per cent of anything “blue” sold will go towards the cause.

If you can’t make the festivities, I encourage you to find a patch of garden and sink your hands deep into the earth.


December 4, 2018

Comments Off on Court hears of frenzied fatal attack on ‘best mate’

Court hears of frenzied fatal attack on ‘best mate’

A MAN who bashed his ‘‘best mate’’ to death in a Port Stephens home while drunk and drug affected tried to pick the bleeding man up by his arms and said, ‘‘You’re all right mate’’, when police threatened to force open the door, a court has heard.
Shanghai night field

Mathew Beattie has pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of Dennis O’Brien but is on trial in the Sydney Supreme Court after pleading not guilty to murder over the frenzied bashing in June 2013 at Mr O’Brien’s Corlette townhouse.

Mr O’Brien, 28, died days later in hospital, after undergoing surgery for internal abdominal bleeding.

In his opening address, Crown prosecutor Michael Barr told the jury Mr Beattie, his wife and Mr O’Brien’s mother had travelled from Campbelltown to Port Stephens to stay with Mr O’Brien and his partner.

Mr Beattie had taken amphetamines and prescription drugs, and he and Mr O’Brien later went out drinking for the night.

They were still on good terms when forced to leave the Nelson Bay Diggers, after becoming rowdy and abusing police.

But back at the home, tensions erupted in the early hours of June 30 when Mr Beattie accused Mr O’Brien of having set him up.

Both men had previously been charged with drug offences, but Mr O’Brien received a lighter sentence.

‘‘You did it, didn’t you,’’ Mr Beattie is alleged to have said before punching and headbutting his friend.

Mr O’Brien replied: ‘‘What are you doing bro?’’.

Mr O’Brien’s mother tried to stop Mr Beattie by hitting him with a child’s scooter, before she was dragged from the room by Mr Beattie’s wife, Mr Barr said.

The court was told she rang emergency services and said Mr Beattie had gone ‘‘absolutely mental’’ and ‘‘my son’s being bashed to a pulp’’, as Mr Beattie continued to kick and punch.

‘‘At no stage did [Mr O’Brien] ever hit back,’’ Mr Barr said.

When police arrived they could see Mr Beattie standing over Mr O’Brien, who was unconscious and bleeding.

Mr Beattie called to police ‘‘Come in and get me you dogs’’, headbutted the door then grabbed Mr O’Brien under his arms, saying ‘‘Get up you c – – t, you’re all right mate’’.

After police had used batons to restrain and remove him, he told them: ‘‘We’ve been best mates since school, why would I hurt him?’’

Mr Beattie’s lawyer, James Trevallion, told the jury the circumstances of the assault were not in dispute. The question for them to decide was whether Mr Beattie intended to seriously injure Mr O’Brien, in light of his significant drug and alcohol intake, he said.

The trial is continuing.