December 12th, 2018

Olympic shooting gold-medallist Michael Diamond given AVO to protect wife

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Michael Diamond outside Raymond Terrace Courthouse in a file photo. Photo: Simone De PeakPolice have taken out an interim apprehended domestic violence order against former Olympic champion Michael Diamond to protect his wife, Cathy.
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Diamond, 45, a trap gold medallist at the Atlanta and Sydney Olympics, was ruled ineligible for the n team for last year’s Rio Olympics after he was charged with firearms and drink-driving offences.

He haschallenged a subsequent 10-year ban on having a gun licencein an effort to return to the international shooting circuit.

However, his latest brush with the law threatens to leave his career in tatters once and for all.

In May, he was found guilty of several offences including being in possession of a firearm while intoxicated.

The magistrate, Caleb Franklin, then issued Diamond with a good behaviour bond and warned him that, if he reoffended, he could be sent to jail.

Michael Diamond in action. Photo: Pat Scala

Under the AVO application, Diamond has been ordered not to assault, threaten, stalk, harass or intimidate his wife nor intentionally or recklessly destroy or damage any of her property.

He was also ordered not to approach her for at least 12 hours after drinking alcohol or taking illicit drugs.

Diamond was not in court on Monday when the order was made and the matter is listed again for Raymond Terrace Local Court near Newcastle on Tuesday.

Asked whether he would contest the AVO, Diamond said on Monday: “None of your business, mate.”

Diamond, the sport’s most decorated performer, hadfronted the board of the n Olympic Committee last yearin an ultimately unsuccessful bid to be cleared for Rio and become only the second n to compete in seven Olympics.

His sport’s governing body, Shooting , decided not to nominate him but, in May, vowed to stand by him after his conviction.

“We will not turn our backs on someone who has been such a great servant of our sport and our country in the past,” a Shooting spokesman said at the time.

December 12th, 2018

REVIEW: Japandroids, Small Ballroom, Saturday July 15

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When Japandroids attacked TweetFacebookCelebration Rock, knows Japandroids are a sonic assault. A sledgehammer of force to your ear drums and heart. Nothing is done half-arsed.
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For those unfamiliar with their style, imagine what Bruce Springsteen might have sounded like if he’d grown up in the same neighbourhood asCBGBs, rather than across the Hudson River in New Jersey.

The good news is Japandroids lived up to their lofty reputation when guitarist Brian King and drummer David Prowse made their Newcastle debut on Saturday night at Islington’s Small Ballroom.

While Japandroids deserved far better than a three-quarter full Small Ballroom, the venue did provide an in-your-faceintimacy forthe mostly male audience.

In a week when unsubstantiated claims have been made on blogs about bands avoiding Newcastle due to violentcrowds, Japandroids’ fans were nothing but respectful.

There was little banter or small talk. These Vancouver lads were about business.

King dressed in tight black jeans and a 7thSt Entry t-shirt quickly whipped himself into a sweaty mess of intensity as he belted out the openerNear to the Wild Heart of Life, the title track of their latest album.

Other new songs like the terrificNorth East South West, Arc Of Bar and I’m Sorry(For Not Finding You Sooner) showed off Japandroids’ latest exploration inAmericana and synths, but predominantly the performance stayed anchored in the realm of hard and gritty garage rock.

Neither King orProwse attempted to wow their audience with acts of virtuosity. Their currency of tradeis intensity.

Kingstrangled the neck of his guitar and thrashed away in a distorted fuzz of power chords. Riffs and solos were not required.

King also spat out the lyrics like he believed every word. When he sang lines like “Whoring my heart/On the wings of a western night/Busting my guts/On a riot dose of paradise” onAdrenaline Nightshiftyou believed it too.

Prowse’s drumming was simplistic, but effective. It was fast, frenetic and served the needs of the songs. He even took vocal duties on several tracks, including Midnight To Moving.

Long-term fans of Japandroids weren’t left disappointed. King and Prowse dusted off frantic renditions of Heart Sweats and Young Hearts Spark Fire.

What everyone wanted, however, was the anthemicThe House That Heaven Built, a song which basically serves as a Japandroids’ mission statement. The song was the 17thand final song of the evening and worth the wait.

The crowd sang in unison through the chorus of “If they try to slow you down/tell them all to go to hell.”

Hopefully Japandroids don’t slow down because this band has all the elements of great rock’n’roll –passion, intensity, and most importantly, terrific tunes.

December 12th, 2018

The Adventures of Bella and Cliffy. the Mudgee version of Milo and Otis

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Bella and Cliffy weren’t friends before the adventure, but now they are always together.Most dogs have heard the call to the wild a few times in their life, darting off down the road, or out the front gate, to chase cars or simply just see what’s out in the world beyond the fence.
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Not many decide that they want to spend their day long journey with a lamb.

In an adventure that conjures thoughts of the 1989 movie The Adventures of Milo and Otis, Susan Lampough’s kelpie dog decided that a stroll with her lamb companion would be the best way to spend an afternoon.

Susan, who lives in Turill, was going about her daily routine of feeding the horses and making sure that everything on the farm was fine when Bella and the newest member of the farm, the little lamb Cliffy, disappeared.

At first Susan suspected that Bella had “gone to play with the boys”, meaning that she had wandered over to her neighbour’s house to play with the other dogs that were living there.

When time stretched on however, she began to believe that they had run away.

“Normally what happens is that we have a little routine and Bella the dog and the little lamb would go out with me and we would go out to the feed shed and we’d get a few biscuits of hay and feed the horses,” Susan explained.

“Normally the lamb sits in the sun on the verandah and Bella will sit somewhere else – they’ve never really been buddies, but I went outside and they weren’t there.”

Bella the dog and Cliffy the lamb went on a day long adventure in the outback.

“I went and fed the horses and came back expecting to see them sitting there and they still weren’t there, so instantly I was concerned.”

It was a farm-wide man-hunt after Susan realised that the dog and the lamb weren’t at her neighbour’s house, and between Susan and her helpful neighbours they covered almost five hundred acres looking for the escapist duo.

“Bella goes and visits my neighbours’ dogs – “Bella’s gone to hang out with the boys again” – and so I rang Janet, my neighbour, and left a message to say I was going to have a look for them.

“I had a look across the last 25 acres of my property but they weren’t there, so it occurred to me that Bella might actually be missing,” Susan said.

“When she leaves she wanders back normally, so we rang the radio station and started searching wider and searching down roads.

After five hours, Susan turned to social media, where she posted a missing notice on the Mudgee community page.

“They’d been gone for five hours, but when I came back to the house my daughter called me all the way from Bathurst and told me that a lady on the page had found them together,” Susan said.

The adventurous pair were found out on Cliffdale Road, nearly three kilometers as the crow flies, Susan explained.

“I’m one kilometer off the road, and Cliffdale is another two kilometers away so they had to travel all that distance to end up where they did,” she said.

After having both of the animals for just under a year, Susan was so relieved to have them back home with her.

The lamb had joined her in her family just a month before, adopted from Wellington, while Bella had been adopted a year before.

“I know it sounds really cliche, but I really think it’s a miracle. It’s a miracle that they stayed together and that they were found – unhurt – by really lovely people,” Susan said.

“I don’t understand why Bella ended up where they were, so whether it was the dog leading the lamb or the lamb leading the dog, we may never know.”

Mudgee Guardian

September 14th, 2019

Proteas to stay away from tampering sledge

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Captain Faf du Plessis says there’ll be no ball tampering sledging of in their ODI series.South African captain Faf du Plessis says his team won’t sledge about ball tampering during the Proteas’ ODI tour, and he hopes his players get booed by hostile crowds.

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Du Plessis insists there’s no bad blood between the two sides despite n cricket plunging to its lowest depths during last year’s doomed Test tour of South Africa.

Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft were all handed lengthy bans after being found guilty of ball tampering on that tour.

South African broadcasters were tipped off that n players were tampering, and they eventually caught Bancroft using sandpaper to alter the state of the ball.

Bancroft then shoved the sandpaper down his pants to try to hide the evidence.

Du Plessis knows what it’s like to be under the microscope after twice being found guilty of ball tampering in the past.

One of those occasions came during a Test tour of in 2016, when he was accused of using sugary saliva from a sweet to change the condition of the ball.

Du Plessis controversially avoided a ban over that incident, and the n home crowd were ruthless on the star batsman during the next Test when he made a fighting pink-ball century in Adelaide.

The 34-year-old says it’s not in his team’s character to sledge, especially about something as serious as ‘s ball-tampering controversy.

“I don’t think us as a team would go there,” du Plessis said ahead of the opening ODI against on November 4 in Perth.

“Similar to, I suppose, the ‘mint gate’ (that I was involved in).

“Even when I played against a team, there was nothing like that (sledging). It’s got nothing to do with the cricket – it’s in the past.

“In terms of what happened in Newlands, that’s in the past for us. For us, it’s business as usual.”

With the 2019 World Cup in England just seven months away, South Africa will use the tour of to experiment with their squad.

And du Plessis hopes his players will cop the wrath from local crowds.

“I just go back to Adelaide when I walked out to bat in that night Test match and there were 60,000 people booing,” du Plessis said.

“That’s what makes home teams so challenging to tour – when you get to a place where the crowd is intimidating.

“That’s something that youngsters will take a great deal of learning from.

“It tests your character. And if you get through it, you show yourself more than anyone else what you’re capable of.

“I’m hoping that it’s there for us as a team just to get used to that difference, especially when you go to a World Cup.”

September 14th, 2019

Invictus Games gives US agent new hope

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Former US Special Forces agent George Vera was gunned down in Afghanistan and paralysed.US Special Forces agent George Vera was working quickly to secure a small base in Afghanistan stormed by insurgents wearing suicide vests and thought the area was safe.

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But less than 40 feet away a pair of fighters had waited for nearly two hours, hidden under a vehicle.

“The worst part was I knew my best friend was dead, but we’re taught do what you need to do and we knew we needed to take back the gate otherwise more would get through and detonate their suicide vests,” George Vera told AAP.

His best friend had just led a small patrol group to secure the base in Kabul when he was gunned down.

“At that moment training kicks in until either they’re eliminated or you’re no longer in the fight.”

His troop were searching the vehicles, edging closer to the hidden insurgents. When his back was turned they opened fire, hitting him four times – in the ankle, the knee, and twice in the back, shattering his spine.

As he was airlifted by a helicopter to Germany he was brought back to life twice by an Austrian medic.

Following the attack in 2015 months of rehab and after-care saved his life, but he’s been paralysed from the waist down ever since.

During the onslaught he exposed himself to pull wounded comrades from the field; for this he would later be awarded the Silver Star, one of the highest honours in US military, as well as other medals.

Before his injuries Mr Vera worked out about four times a day. Training first for the 2018 Warrior Games and most recently Sydney’s Invictus Games gave him a reason to hit the gym once again.

“George practicing for these sports doesn’t only help him, by helping himself it’s also helping me and my daughter,” his wife, Angela Vera, told AAP.

“Coming here meeting a lot of people and thinking oh my gosh how are they doing it, it’s another way to see the light, and it’s a good way, and we are learning together every single day. “

Travelling from Tampa in Florida, Angela and their daughter have accompanied George at the Sydney Invictus Games.

“It’s good for my daughter to be here because it shows her she can do anything,” Mr Vera said.

After competing in multiple athletics events on Thursday, Mr Vera said the competition was extremely tough, but he’s quietly confident his wheelchair basketball team are in with a winning chance.

On Friday morning the US wheelchair basketball team dominated one of the first pool matches of the day, beating New Zealand 31 – 11.

They are scheduled to battle it out again on Friday evening against Canada for a spot in the finals on Saturday.

September 14th, 2019

$23.3M for centre in Heatherbrae as Sentinel extend Hunter portfolio

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BIG PURCHASE: Sentinel has secured the Bunnings-anchored homemaker centre at Heatherbrae for $23.3 million.Sentinel Property Group has purchased a Bunnings-anchored homemaker centre in a high exposure location at Heatherbrae for $23.3 million.

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The facility on a 4.57 hectare site with a lettable area of 17,181 square metresat8 Griffin Street will be the third addition to the Sentinel Homemaker (Open Ended) Trust, which also includes City West Plaza at Sunshine in Victoria and the Geraldton Homemaker Centre in Western .

Bunnings, which took over the Heatherbrae tenancy last year from its failed former rival Masters, occupies 77 per cent of the property and generates 66 per cent of its passing income. Other high-quality national tenants in the complex include BCF and PETstock.

The Heatherbrae complex, which is in the Port Stephens local government area close to Newcastle Airport, enjoys a weighted average lease expiry (WALE) of 3.65 years, with a passing yield of 7.94 per cent and passing income of approximately $1.8495 per annum. The property has frontage to the Pacific Highway.

Sentinel Managing Director Warren Ebert said it was the Group’s third acquisition in the Hunter region. Sentinel also own an industrial facility at Mayfield and an office building in Argyle Street in the Newcastle CBD.

Mr Ebert said Sentinel was excited about the potential in Newcastle with the city undergoing major renewal withinfrastructure projects such as the light rail, the new CBD University of Newcastle campus and also the Hunter region’s proximity to Sydney all major attractions.

“I think Newcastle has a fantastic future and we like to buy in locations that mainstream investors aren’t targeting,” he said.

“A recent commitment from the Port of Newcastle to develop a world-class container terminal will also help boost jobs and business opportunities in the Hunter region.”

Established in 2010, Brisbane-based Sentinel has a total national portfolio of more than 40 retail, industrial, office, land, tourism infrastructure and agribusiness assets in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, Western , the n Capital Territory and the Northern Territory with a total value in excess of $1.1 billion.

September 14th, 2019

AFLW should have full season: Kearney

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AFLW players want to be taken seriously, says Emma Kearney.Reigning AFLW best and fairest Emma Kearney believes the league needs a full-length season so players can better develop their skills.

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The league on Friday unveiled the make-up of its controversial two-conference format, along with the 2019 draw.

Newcomers Geelong and North Melbourne are in separate five-team conferences for the seven-round competition that begins on February 2.

While the women’s league has expanded to 10 clubs, the regular season hasn’t grown meaning not all teams will play each other.

Melbourne star Daisy Pearce has lashed the season’s length as gimmicky, with Kearney – who has transferred from Western Bulldogs to North Melbourne – saying many players were left frustrated.

“Daisy was certainly not the lone wolf in that,” Kearney said in Hobart.

“As AFLW players we want to be taken seriously and we want the competition to be taken seriously.

“The more games you play at a higher level, the quicker it is to develop players.”

North Melbourne is in Conference A with Western Bulldogs, Melbourne, Adelaide and Fremantle, with Brisbane Lions, Greater Western Sydney, Collingwood, Carlton and Geelong in Conference B.

They’ll play home games in Melbourne, Hobart and Launceston, with training to be split between Tasmania and the mainland.

Kearney said it will be a challenge to gel a new squad, about half of which is yet to play AFLW.

“I like helping out young people. I’m a teacher by trade,” she said.

Geelong host Collingwood in a Saturday night season opener, with the league ditching the Magpies-Carlton match-up from its first two years.

Premiers Western Bulldogs meet Brisbane in round four in a grand final rematch.

Teams in each conference play each other, plus three ‘cross-over’ matches against sides from the other conference.

The top two teams in each group qualify for preliminary finals.

“We know that the conference system may take a bit of time for people to get used to,” Head of Women’s Football, Nicole Livingstone, told reporters.

“We also know that it’s going to create excitement and discussion throughout our season.”

Entry remains free in the competition’s third year.

The grand final will be held on March 30 or 31.

September 14th, 2019

Robert Dillon: Sporting Declaration

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OLD AND TIRED: The Newcastle basketball stadium at Broadmeadow is much loved, but it was built more than 50 years ago. In recent times, the roof has been known to leak when it rains. NO sport in has as much potential for rapid growth as basketball.

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Just consider the plight of its rival codes.

n cricket, in terms of on-field performances at least, is at its lowest ebb since the mid-1980s. The men in Baggy Greens nonetheless look like world-beaters compared to the Wallabies.

Rugby league has never been so commercially secure, yet precious little seems to filter down to the grassroots level. And its TV ratings, crowd figures and participation numbersare apparently flat-lining.

AFL isa juggernaut across the Murray River, yet remains a non-entity in every other corner of the world.

Soccer is desperately hoping expansion will prove a panacea for the A-League, even though at least two of the existing clubs are struggling to remain viable.

Netball will always be strong domestically, but only New Zealand and England provide half-decent opposition internationally.

Then we come backto basketball, which in so many ways appears a sleeping giant.

This year a record 10 ns are involvedin America’s NBA competition, including former Newcastle Hunters junior Ben Simmons, who after just one full season is being compared with some of the all-time greats.

In less than two years, will send men’s and women’s teams to the Tokyo Olympics with realistic prospects of taking on the Yanks in their respective gold-medal games.

The n men’s NBL, which has at various times resembled a shot duck, is enjoying a resurgence in popularity, aided largely by the coup of luring superstar Andrew Bogut back from America.

The women’s national league is one of the world’s best, albeit not as financially rewarding as America or some parts of Europe.

And in terms of juniors, many of whom are no doubt aspiring to emulatethe deeds of Simmons and company in the NBA, the numbers are multiplying at an exponential rate.

By every measure, the game appearson the verge of booming. Everywhere, that is, except in Newcastle.

Basketball in this city should be thriving. In June I reported that registered players have grown from 2200 to 3500 in the space oftwo years, earningNewcastleBasketball accolades for being the state’s top association in 2017andalso the No.1 “Sporting Schools”program in .

The Newcastle Hunters men’s team finished the recent Waratah League season as champions.

Yet Newcastle will never be able to realise its true potential until it has the facilities it deserves.

Newcastle Basketball currently has six courts at theBroadmeadow premises it has called home for more than50 years, plus another two it hires from Hunter Sports High.

It’s barely enough to service the region’s kids and social players, let alone entertain any thoughts of entering a team, or teams, at national-league level.

Two years ago, the state government provided apparent salvation when itannounced $5 million in funding for a new complex at Broadmeadow, including a 2000-seat show court.

Construction was delayed by an Awabakal land-rights claim, and in the interim Newcastle Basketball started having second thoughts. The new facility, they felt, would not be big enough.

Rather than proceed as planned, they put the project on hold and started exploring other options.

Eventually came this week’s announcement that Lake Macquarie Council will meet on Monday to consider setting aside a 6.7-hectare parcel of land at Hillsborough, which –should Newcastle Basketball secure an estimated $20 million in funding –would potentially accommodate 10 basketball courts, including a centre court capable of seating up to 4000 spectators.

Moreover, there would be enough land for further courts to be added in future, should the need arise.

All this went down like a lead balloon with Newcastle City Council Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes, who believes basketball should remain atBroadmeadow and featurein the proposed District Park sporting precinct.

That makes sense to me – providing the complex on offer isat least of the same standardas what is being proposed for Hillsborough.

If that can’t be guaranteed, it’s pretty much a no-brainer for Newcastle Basketball. Their priority is to enshrine the long-term future of their sport and providethe best possible amenities for their junior players.

If Lake Macquarie Council can offer a viablesolution, in the shortest possible time frame, then Newcastle Basketball are duty bound to at least investigateit.

Any friction between the two councils is not really an issue for the basketball officials, nor the youngsters who just want to play.

It’s notas if Newcastle Basketball would be relocating interstate. Hillsborough is less than 10 kilometresfrom Broadmeadow.

In saying that, Broadmeadow is well serviced by public transport, and in an ideal world, abasketball stadium would sit snugly alongside all the other grand plans for the much-vaunted sporting precinct.

As things stand, it would seem the ball is in Newcastle City Council’scourt, andthe shot clock is ticking. They need to make a play to stay in the game.

August 14th, 2019

Dog helped Afghanistan sergeant recover

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Ben Seekell of the USA competed in several events in the Sydney Invictus Games, including shot put.When US Master Sergeant Benjamin Seekell was blown into the air by a landmine in Afghanistan his first thought was of his team and Charlie, his dog.

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Seekell was a military working dog handler conducting a patrol with Charlie outside the airfield when they took the near-fatal step, which would result in him losing his leg.

Charlie survived the shrapnel wounds and burst ear drums and upon retirement went to live with his former handler.

“Charlie was the best partner I ever had,” Seekell told AAP.

“Him being there for my recovery was great. We obviously couldn’t talk about it but I would talk to him, and he’d just kind of look at me but I knew, he knew.”

The US Athletics team captain won bronze in the 1500m and long jump at Sydney’s Invictus Games and competed in volleyball, shot put, discus, cycling and more.

Seekell says just as his relationship with Charlie was crucial to his recovery, he believes animals can help others in their journey.

“They sense things that we can’t, they don’t judge, they don’t talk back, they are just there,” he said.

Seekell’s wife Meagan said when Charlie was alive he shared the same affection for her husband.

“Anytime Ben left he would lay by that door, I could bring him food, water, his dog bed over, he would not lay on it or have anything to do with it until he got home,” she told AAP.

“He was a completely different dog once Ben walked in the door.”

Seekell added the Invictus experience is just as vital for families as it is for the athletes.

“We all go home go back to our jobs, our kids – there’s no flags waving, there’s no people cheering – it’s just them. They lift us up, they carry us, having them here’s it’s a small token so we can show our appreciation for everything they do for us,” he said.

For Mrs Seekell it offers her an opportunity to share stories her other friends might not understand.

“I have a good friend whose husband is also participating and we get to tell stories about tripping over legs,” she joked.

August 14th, 2019

Surfest surf school trailer found in Medowie

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TRAILER RECOVERED: Surfest Surf School’s trailer was returned to the school on Friday afternoon. Picture: SUPPLIEDA missing trailerfilled withsurfboards and wetsuits has beenreturned to a Nobbys Beach surf school, after it was recoveredfrom bushland near Medowie on Friday morning.

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Police have charged aman fromBateau Bayin relation to the incident.

Dean Smith, the owner of Surfest Surf School, said he picked up thevanon Friday afternoon.

“Driving on the way backwith thetrailer you could hear people cheering andbeeping at us,” he said.

Mr Smithsaid he was grateful for the public’s support in finding the van.Posts on social mediaabout the vehicle’s disappearance were widely shared.

“The community came together to help out and we’ve come out with a victory,”he said.

Raymond Terrace police officerssaid they were able to locate the vehicle because of tip-offs from the public.

Police saw the vehicle being driven into bushland behind Pacific Dunes in Medowie at 6am on Friday.

Police have charged a36-year-old man from Bateau Bay for the theft of the vehicle.

He will appear at Raymond Terrace Local Court on November 12.

The Surfesttrailerwent missing from oppositeNobbys Beach Surf Life Saving Club on Shortland Esplanade on Wednesday night.

“The instructors went to thebeach to run a school lesson andthe trailer was gone,” Mr Smithsaid.

Classes at the surf school were cancelled on Thursday and Friday.

Mr Smith said he was relieved the van, filled with the school’s equipment, had been returned beforethe weekend.

“It was just in time for our program tomorrow,” he said.

“Wehave 100 girls coming for ourdemo day, and it’sgreatnews we will still be able to run the lesson.”

Related stories:

Newcastle Council rejects call to scrap skate bowl on South Newcastle beach

August 14th, 2019

Pucovski has cricket break due to illness

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Victorian rising star Will Pucovski is out of cricket indefinitely because of a mental health issue.

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The 20-year-old was rested from Victoria’s current Sheffield Shield match against NSW because of illness.

Late on Friday, team management said Pucovski was receiving treatment for a mental health-related illness.

“Will is a terrific young player and we need to do what’s best for him at this time,” Cricket Victoria manager Shaun Graf said in a statement.

“We’ll continue to work with our medical staff to determine the best training and preparation plan to support Will at this time.”

The shock news comes a week after Pucovski’s 243 in the Bushrangers’ innings win over WA.

He is one of only nine players, including Sir Donald Bradman and Ricky Ponting, to score a Shield double century before turning 21.

Pucovski has impressed throughout his career and the double ton had heightened speculation about when he might make his Test debut.

But Pucovski has also suffered concussion problems, including three incidents last summer.

“Will’s health remains our highest priority and Cricket Victoria’s medical staff will continue to provide support to Will during this time,” team doctor Trefor James said.

Pucovski made his first-class debut in February last year.

He has played seven first-class games, scoring 520 runs at an average of 52 with two centuries.

Victorian teammate Marcus Harris is confident Pucovski will recover from his latest health setback.

“‘Puc’ is a great kid and it’s unfortunate for him,” Harris said.

“I felt sorry for him, because he’s done so well.

“He’s worn a few on the head and now he has these other issues.

“But he’s a great kid, he’ll have good people around him and he’ll be right – he’s only young.”

August 14th, 2019

Monster bash makes a Gold Coast splash

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A New Generation 3301 Swagman Motor Home on location on a sound stage on the Gold Coast.Two of the silver screen’s heaviest hitters, Godzilla and King Kong, are set to square off in Godzilla vs. Kong, the latest blockbuster to film on the Gold Coast.

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Big Little Lies’ Alexander Skarsgard is the latest star slated to join cast members Millie Bobby Brown, Danai Gurira, Kyle Chandler, Julian Dennison, Brian Tyree Henry and Demian Bichir in the motion picture, directed by Adam Wingard.

“Godzilla vs. Kong is the biggest blockbuster that we have seen for a long time which will be filmed on the Gold Coast,” says Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk.

As the title suggests, the film pits Godzilla against the great ape as part of Warner Bros’ MonsterVerse cinematic universe. Cameras roll in November, after the completion of a big-screen version of Dora the Explorer.

Godzilla vs. Kong and Dora may not share a demographic, but they’re among a new wave of event pictures to be shot in south-east Queensland.

The knock-on effect is a boost to local businesses, some of which have carved out a niche catering to the Hollywood crowd.

“Queensland has become the go-to location for film production in ,” says Swagman Motorhomes CEO Dave Suttor,

“And the Gold Coast, in particular, has evolved to meet the needs of those productions.”

Swagman supplies purpose-built mobile vehicles to film productions. Suttor moved his company from NSW to the Gold Coast in 1994 to meet the rising demands of the film industry there.

“The biggest change in the time I’ve been here is government support, particularly the local government. They’ve made it clear the Gold Coast is open for business, and as a result, we’ve become not just an economic hub, but a film production powerhouse.”

Dave Kertesz, sales and leasing executive at commercial property firm Cushman & Wakefield, says the studios have very particular needs.

“The big productions need a lot of warehouse space, so we source industrial estates to cater for the new influx of blockbusters. It’s become a great recurring business over the last two or three years.”

For local lessors looking for a short-term tenant, that influx has been a goldmine.

“The films get what they need, and the landlords make their properties work for them in a unique way,” he says.

“It’s something we wouldn’t have thought possible even just a few years ago.”

Meanwhile, the No Name Lane cafe at Broadbeach has turned an endorsement into an expansion. The Shallows star Blake Lively dropped in for a cup of cold-drip coffee during filming and subsequently claimed it was the best she’d ever had.

“She started ordering it by the batch after that,” says Bec Gaebel, the No Name Lane’s manager.

“With Peppers upstairs, we get more than a few celebrity customers, I think because we’re a good place to relax and no one bothers them,” she says.

Originally a hole in the wall on the street, the No Name Lane has expanded to encompass the whole corner.

“The word of mouth has helped business. And the quality of the coffee, of course.”

Suttor says the reasons for the Gold Coast’s appeal to visiting productions are obvious: “We’ve got the location, the climate, the hospitality of the locals, the facilities, and the government support on both state and federal levels.”

The government’s $50 million Production Attraction Strategy has provided funding certainty to secure back-to-back productions, including The Shallows, Thor: Ragnarok, and the upcoming superhero outing Aquaman.

“We’ve been trying to lure some of the biggest movie makers for years with Queensland’s amazing production facilities, film locations and our attraction fund,” Palaszczuk says.

The Federal Government has also recognised the importance of attracting big-budget filmmakers to , increasing its Location Offset from 16.5 per cent to 30 per cent nationally.

“We want to see a permanent film industry created here with permanent jobs, and to keep providing a boost to our economy,” Palaszczuk says.

“Now that we’ve secured the increase to the tax offset, we’ll be doing all we can to continue to lure the big name productions that will continue to put Queensland on the map.”

Godzilla vs. Kong will hit screens – and each other – in May 2020.

This feature has been produced in collaboration with the City of Gold Coast

August 14th, 2019

Sydney FC ready for busy three-game week

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They face three games in six days but Sydney FC coach Steve Corica reckons his troops are up to it.Confronting the prospect of three games in six days, it’s understandable why Sydney FC coach Steve Corica would prefer the FFA Cup was completed in pre-season.

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Corica and Adelaide United coach Marco Kurz, whose sides meet in the cup final on Tuesday night, have both made it clear they wish the competition was over before the start of the A-League season.

The Reds host Newcastle on Friday night then Sydney FC before travelling to face Central Coast on Sunday.

Sydney FC’s schedule is even more congested.

They tackle Western Sydney in an SCG derby on Saturday night, seek to go back to back in the FFA Cup then confront Melbourne City at AAMI Park on Friday night.

“There’s opportunities to have it before the season starts but it is what it is,” Corica told reporters.

“They put it on that date, we’ve got to get on with it.

“Our players know that. They’re focused. Obviously we’ve got a big week ahead of us, three games in six days, but we’ve been training towards this.”

Corica noted “it looks that way”, when asked if teams were disadvantaged in the A-League by progressing deep in the FFA Cup but added “there’s a trophy up for grabs and we want to win it”.

“Adelaide get the extra day of rest but the boys are fit,” he said.

“The boys have had three and a half months in pre-season, so they’re raring to go.”

Corica, who forecast few changes this weekend after a 1-1 draw with Adelaide in the A-League season opener, faces a tough job managing the minutes of the club’s best players during two high-profile games.

“We do take it into account but we want to win against the Wanderers. That’s the main focus,” he said, when asked about the quick turnaround.

“But also … back to back would be great for the club as well. It’s on our mind.”

Danny De Silva is set to return from a hamstring injury on Saturday but Corica noted the youngster won’t be ready to start in that game or the cup final.