Fun in the sun as Cessnock’s Jungle Juice Cup moves to October

Sparkling day for Jungle Juice Cup | PHOTOS, VIDEO Sophie Stapleford, Bree Egan, Brodie Egan, Rachel Zaichenko, Kirsten Hugo, Elli Hugo and Libby Campbell at the Jungle Juice Cup at Cessnock Racecourse on October 13. Picture: Krystal Sellars
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A group of happy punters, celebrating Rob’s 50th birthday, at the Jungle Juice Cup at Cessnock Racecourse on October 13. Picture: Krystal Sellars

The Jungle Juice Cup at Cessnock Racecourse on October 13. Picture: Krystal Sellars

Hannah Rorke, of Belmont; with Alexander, Elizabeth and Sheldon Lindsay, of Toowoomba, at the Jungle Juice Cup at Cessnock Racecourse on October 13. Picture: Krystal Sellars

The Jungle Juice Cup at Cessnock Racecourse on October 13. Picture: Krystal Sellars

Dakota Wicks, of Seahampton, and Mick Higgins, of Minmi, at the Jungle Juice Cup at Cessnock Racecourse on October 13. Picture: Krystal Sellars

Daniel and Jane McConville, of Maryland, at the Jungle Juice Cup at Cessnock Racecourse on October 13. Picture: Krystal Sellars

Dylan Radford and Olivia Watson, of Cessnock, at the Jungle Juice Cup at Cessnock Racecourse on October 13. Picture: Krystal Sellars

Margaret Wilson and Jennifer Peel, of Cessnock, at the Jungle Juice Cup at Cessnock Racecourse on October 13. Picture: Krystal Sellars

Theresa Wallace, of Shortland; Tanya Milajew, of Maryland; Lynn Graham, of Cameron Park; Kim Gibson, of Cardiff; Lee Whiting, of Holmesville, and Natalie Watts, of Shortland, at the Jungle Juice Cup at Cessnock Racecourse on October 13. Picture: Krystal Sellars

The Jungle Juice Cup at Cessnock Racecourse on October 13. Picture: Krystal Sellars

The Jungle Juice Cup at Cessnock Racecourse on October 13. Picture: Krystal Sellars

Caitlyn Biscoe and Angela Priest, of Newcastle, at the Jungle Juice Cup at Cessnock Racecourse on October 13. Picture: Krystal Sellars

The Jungle Juice Cup at Cessnock Racecourse on October 13. Picture: Krystal Sellars

Steven Abel and Ellen Harley, of Cessnock, at the Jungle Juice Cup at Cessnock Racecourse on October 13. Picture: Krystal Sellars

Natanya Caban, of Bellbird; Zak Caban, of Bathurst, and Kate Jackson, of Abermain, at the Jungle Juice Cup at Cessnock Racecourse on October 13. Picture: Krystal Sellars

Casey Hutchinson, of Fletcher; Gemma Brown, of Gillieston Heights, and Kath Hounslow, of Thornton, at the Jungle Juice Cup at Cessnock Racecourse on October 13. Picture: Krystal Sellars

Joe and Sarah Baldwin at the Jungle Juice Cup at Cessnock Racecourse on October 13. Picture: Krystal Sellars

Whistle Dixie performed at the Jungle Juice Cup at Cessnock Racecourse on October 13. Picture: Krystal Sellars

Whistle Dixie performed at the Jungle Juice Cup at Cessnock Racecourse on October 13. Picture: Krystal Sellars

The Jungle Juice Cup at Cessnock Racecourse on October 13. Picture: Krystal Sellars

The crowd cheers on a race at the Jungle Juice Cup at Cessnock Racecourse on October 13. Picture: Krystal Sellars

Chris O’Brien brings Hammoon Boy back to scale after winning the 2017 Jungle Juice Cup at Cessnock Racecourse on October 13. Picture: Krystal Sellars

Chris O’Brien brings Hammoon Boy back to scale after winning the 2017 Jungle Juice Cup at Cessnock Racecourse on October 13. Picture: Krystal Sellars

Chris O’Brien brings Hammoon Boy back to scale after winning the 2017 Jungle Juice Cup at Cessnock Racecourse on October 13. Picture: Krystal Sellars

Newcastle Jockey Club director Robert Dan, Hammoon Boy’s owner Paul Frampton, winning jockey Chris O’Brien and Cessnock Leagues Club CEO Paul Cousins at the presentation for the Jungle Juice Cup at Cessnock Racecourse on October 13. Picture: Krystal Sellars

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An inconvenient truth: you’re paying less for your mortgage now than a decade ago

Record-low mortgage rates have made it easier to meet the payments on home loans than it has been in decades, despite record-high house prices, new figures show.
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Confounding talk of unaffordability, the Bureau of Statistics calculations show that as recently as 2005-06 it took an average household 19 per cent of its gross income to meet ongoing housing costs. By 2015-16, it had fallen to 16 per cent, the least in records going more than 20 years.

The average mortgaged household now spends less of its income on housing than it does on food, a turnaround from earlier surveys in which it spent more. Housing costs include mortgage payments and water and rate payments.

Adjusted for inflation, the average mortgaged household paid $434 per week in 2015-16, much the same as in 2005-06. But over the same period the average income of mortgaged households climbed from $2272 per week to $2759.

“Mortgage and property values have also increased in the last decade,” said Dean Adams, the Bureau’s director of household characteristics and social reporting. “Ten years ago, the real median dwelling value was $449,000, which climbed to $520,000.”

Mr Adams said the burden imposed on mortgaged households might be even lower than the survey suggested.

“Our survey measures what they chose to pay in mortgage costs, not what they had to pay,” he said. “As rates have come down, some will have spent more than they need to in order to get ahead on their loans.”

Canberra is the easiest city in which to pay off a mortgage, with monthly payments of 15 per cent of income, a near record low. Darwin is the most expensive, with monthly payments of 18 per cent. Sydney and Hobart have monthly payments of 17 per cent, and Melbourne, Brisbane Adelaide and Perth monthly payments of 16 per cent.

Housing costs have deteriorated for renters. The average cost for households renting privately is $350 per week, less than the $452 cost for mortgaged households, but as a record high of 21 per cent as a proportion of income, up from 19 per cent ten years earlier. Renters in public housing pay less again, $167 per week, but the cost also amounts to 21 per cent of household income.

Private renters are worst off in Hobart, paying 22 per cent of household income, and best-off in Darwin, paying 19 per cent. Sydney, Canberra and Adelaide renters pay 21 per cent, and Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth renters 20 per cent

The best-off ns are those who own outright who typically spend just $51 per week on housing; 3 per cent of their incomes.

The proportion of households renting privately has climbed to 25.7 per cent, the highest on record. Twenty years ago it was 19 per cent. The proportion renting public housing has slid from 6 per cent to 3.6 per cent, and the proportion owning or buying homes has slipped from 70.9 to 67.2 per cent.

Among home-owning households the proportion that have paid off their mortgages has fallen dramatically, from 42.8 per cent of all households to 31.4 per cent.

The proportion of older households still paying off mortgages has tripled in the past ten years, climbing from 7 per cent to 21 per cent.

Grattan Institute chief John Daley said the most important finding was that low-income households were increasingly stressed. The poorest were now spending 28 per cent of their income on housing, compared to 23 per cent ten years ago. Most middle earners there had seen little change.

Two out of every nine homeowners owned more than one property, either for use as a second home or for renting out. One in 14 owned more than three.

The number of people per home fell from 2.7 in 1995-96 to 2.5 in 2005-06, but has since climbed back to 2.6.

The number of bedrooms per household climbed from 3 to 3.2. Four out of every five homes have at least one bedroom to spare.


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From George Miller to an Egyptian mummy, Chinan Museum unveils 200 treasures

n Museum Director, Kim McKay, (second from left) with Gabi Hollows, Premier Gladys Berejiklian, George Miller and Ita Buttrose at the opening of the 200 Treasures exhibit at the n Museum in Sydney. 13th October 2017 Photo: Janie Barrett 200 Treasures of the n Museum Exhibition preview to open in October 2017. Included is a cape gifted to Captain James Cook. Seen pictured with it is Logan Metcalfe – Collections Officer Pacific at the museum. Photographed Thursday 29th August 2017. Photograph by James Brickwood. SMH NEWS 170829
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200 Treasures of the n Museum Exhibition preview to open in October 2017. Photographed Thursday 29th August 2017. Photograph by James Brickwood. SMH NEWS 170829

200 Treasures of the n Museum Exhibition preview to open in October 2017. Photographed Thursday 29th August 2017. Photograph by James Brickwood. SMH NEWS 170829

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – SEMPTEMBER 28: Kim McKay Director at the n Museum on SEMPTEMBER 28, 2017 in Sydney, . (Photo by Christopher Pearce/Fairfax Media)

200 Treasures of the n Museum Exhibition preview to open in October 2017. Photographed Thursday 29th August 2017. Photograph by James Brickwood. SMH NEWS 170829

200 Treasures of the n Museum Exhibition preview to open in October 2017. Photographed Thursday 29th August 2017. Photograph by James Brickwood. SMH NEWS 170829

200 Treasures of the n Museum Exhibition preview to open in October 2017. Included is a cape gifted to Captain James Cook. Photographed Thursday 29th August 2017. Photograph by James Brickwood. SMH NEWS 170829

200 Treasures of the n Museum Exhibition preview to open in October 2017. Included is a cape gifted to Captain James Cook. Photographed Thursday 29th August 2017. Photograph by James Brickwood. SMH NEWS 170829

Film director George Miller of Mad Max fame is used to viewing the world through a camera. But as one of the n Museum’s newly chosen 200 treasures – along with ‘s first female prime minister Julia Gillard, a 2800-year-old Egyptian mummy and a Tasmanian tiger pup – his image will shine brightly inside and outside the museum.

Mr Miller is one of 100 people living and dead – including Billy Hughes, Eddie Mabo, Cathy Freeman, Bob Hawke and Sir Donald Bradman – who the museum selected because they had shaped the nation through contributions to history, science and nature or culture.

Attending the launch in the newly restored Westpac Long Gallery, Mr Miller said the honour was surprising, especially as his mother attended the National School – which now forms part of the Museum – as a girl about 90 years ago.

“Today is a big Mum day because it goes back a long way,” said Dr Miller, who also made The Dismissal and Babe.

When the Long Gallery first opened at the n Museum in May 1857, nearly a quarter of Sydney’s 45,000 residents – equivalent to a million people today – visited within a week to see stuffed cabinets stuffed with jaw-dropping curiosities and lit by gas lamps.

On Saturday the refurbished gallery reopens, showcasing 200 of the museum’s 18 million treasures: 100 objects showcased in cabinets with related items that tell a story, and the stories of 100 people considered to be the nation’s brave and the bold. Images of the 200 people and things will be projected nightly in a Vivid-style light show from sunset from October 13 to 22.

Museum director Kim McKay hopes the quirky collection will pique visitors’ thirst for knowledge enough that they will come back again and again, and give the world’s fifth oldest natural science museum and ‘s first museum the stature she believes it deserves.

“We are ranked the 34th largest in the world, which is extraordinary given that it is newer [than most]. We have got this extraordinary collection, which is worth close to $1 billion, and it tells us so much who we are and where we came from,” she said. “We are using [the Long Gallery’s] incredible form and architecture combined with the collection to show people that the n museum sits beside the great museums of the world,” she said.

Chosen by guest curator and historian Peter Emmett, the 100 objects include a Hawaiian ‘ahu’ulaa red and yellow feathered cape which was given to Captain Cook in 1778 or 1779 by chief Kalani’opo’u who was regarded the English by the Hawaiians as a god. With yellow feathers plucked from the neck of tiny birds that had tufts of one or two feathers on each neck, it would have taken years to make. The 140cm wide cape was meant to give the wearer power, and provide spiritual and physical protection. Yet its mythic powers didn’t work for Cook, who died soon after in a fight with locals.

Other treasures from the collection – many which defeat attempts to give them a monetary value – include a Tasmanian Tiger female pup collected and pickled about 70 years before the last animal died in captivity in 1936; Papuan Asaro mud men masks with comic hungry tongues created last year; a family of Aboriginal toy dolls collected in Arnhem Land in 1948 made from shells wrapped in cloth; the paradise parrot, the only mainland bird to become extinct since the arrival of Europeans; and the night parrot, thought to be extinct but recently found to be alive.

“This is an n story,” said Dr Emmett. “Not a narrative of firsts and greats, but a unique and distinctive story of our entanglement with people, places, and animals and things.” Nearly every item was still the subject of current research.

When the original gallery was opened with its glass ceiling, money had run out before a stairway to the upper floor could be built. The $9 million refurbishment, split three ways between Westpac, the NSW government and n Museum’s Foundation, has let new light into the restored and updated gallery.

Ms McKay says museums are the ark of humanity, preserving the past and predicting the future. The top 59 museums, with the n Museum in 34th place, hold 90 per cent of the world’s natural and object specimens.

With her trademark enthusiasm, she showed off a tableau including a kangaroo nearly standing erect, a koala, and a cockatoo with a wing tag used in an ongoing study.

They sit under a large rug made from 75 platypus skins.

It was “quite the thing in the day to have one of those”, said Ms McKay.

“What we are looking at is a tableau about n conservation in the future, and the species that helped us define who we are as a nation. And yet our attitude to them has changed over the years so, and God forbid, there should ever be another Platypus rug in existence.”

Under Premier Mike Baird, the museum was asked to increase visitor numbers by 15 per cent by 2019, a goal that Ms McKay says the museum has exceeded with visitor numbers up 20 per cent. There were 440,000 visitors to the n Museum in 2016-17, 419,902 in 2015/16 and 392,927 in the previous financial year.

She is now lobbying for more funding to allow the museum to host more temporary visiting exhibitions, and didn’t miss a chance to call on the Premier and the Arts Minister at the launch on Friday for more funding to expand the floor space.

“We punch way above our weight in science and reputation, and I would just like to have this museum restored in such a way and funded in such a way that reflects that,” she said.

“Last year we discovered 199 new species in our collection and in the field, and that is over 1 per cent of all the new species found on the planet last year.

Only recently a group of visitors told her they hadn’t been to the museum since they were children. That’s something she wants to change.

But former n Museum director Des Griffin said the impact of repeated budget cuts had taken their toll.

“All the time we are told to do more with less, and the phrase, ‘We all have to feel some of the pain’,” he said.

“After 20 years there has been substantial pain, and what is the gain? If anything, the patient is less well than we started out,” said Mr Griffin.

He said governments needed to realise that museums were, more than anything else, places of ideas.

“There is not enough understanding of the contribution museums have made, or the gains they have made to the understanding of the environment, and what museum people have done with citizen science and expeditions,” he said.

“One of the things that used to gall me was people saying,’Oh museums, they are great halls of dead stuff’.

“That’s bloody rubbish.”

Opens October 14, 2017

n Museum, 1 William Street, Sydney

Free after general admission. Adults $15, kids are free


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Big business of change

It’s been all over the Hunter’s media – on the front page of this newspaper and on our television screens – that the new Anglican Dean of Newcastle wants her church to be a safe place, and that’s a heartwarming sentiment.
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What she means is that she is hoping the Anglican church in the Newcastle region will no longer be the hotbed of paedophilia that was exposed in the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, that Anglican clergy will no longer be free to sexually abuse children, that Anglican leaders will no longer protect the abusers or at the least turn a blind eye to their clergy preying on children.

Dean Katherine Bowyer’s hope is delivered with a smile, of course. As the city’s new Anglican Dean she uses all the right words: courage of the victims, respect, vulnerability, humbling, deeply sorry.

She tells us that the Anglican diocese is committed to changing the cultures that led to the paedophilia, and she and her church seem to expect that we should be thrilled about that.

But how long will it take to change the cultures?

The extraordinary outbreak of memory lapses among Anglican leaders at the royal commission hearings in Newcastle a year ago suggests that the culture of protection is alive and well.

The ugly fact is that the people the Very ReverendDean Bowyer will have to rely on to reassure us that the Anglican culture will change are the very same people who have supported the church and its culture.

Can any Anglican (or Catholic) clergy who enjoyed and helped preserve the culture that sanctioned paedophilia be blameless?

And those who supported the church, the churchgoers who believed that priests were too close to god to be doubted, who therefore helped protect the depravity, who therefore helped put the priests beyond the reach of the families of victims, should be more than a little uncomfortable.

They should have no doubt that the money they put on the plate on Sundays or otherwise contributed to the church rewarded men who preyed on children and the men who protected those who preyed on children.If there is a single reason priests in the Anglican and Catholic dioceses of the Hunter were able to thrive as predators of children, it is the mindless adulation of their devotees.

Can those devotees be blameless? No.Despite the smiling and virtuous reassurance of the Very ReverendDean Bowyer that the church is committed to changing its cultures, that there has been lots of work towards change and that she wants to build on that, why do we give this organisation any amount of time to change its ways?

We don’t give other businesses that prey on children time to change their cultures after their activities – on the dark web, say – have been exposed.

We don’t then have a smiling new director of these purveyors of paedophilia declaring in the media that they’re changing a few things to try to make their business a safe place for children, that, for example, they’re going to move into adult films.

The fact is that the church is a business, one that sells religious services.

Just as some businesses sell their products on the promise of status, as in car manufacturers, or good times, as in cruise ships, the church sells its services on the promise of forgiveness and eternal life.

For the clergy the attraction is a career that can climb the ladder of reverence from the reverend through the very reverend and the right reverend to the most reverend, with benefits that include the adulation of customers, channelling the word of god, being seen as unerringly godly and, until recently, beyond accusation. A free hand, and if things get a little too warm there’s a transfer to another parish.

Like any business, and like the businesses that peddle paedophilia on the web, the church was created for the benefit of those who created it and who manage it, the clergy.

Now the Very Reverend Dean Bowyer assures us that the Anglican diocese based in Newcastle is hoping to remove paedophilia as one of the benefits.Children would be safer sooner if the Anglican and Catholic dioceses in the Hunter closed up shop.


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Abbas’ return to Sydney will be emotional

Ali Abbas has never been afraid to spark a feud, but never before did that lead to complete isolation. At South Korean giants Pohang Steelers last season, he was sidelined completely from the first team and the club.
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A new coach had arrived and wanted to clear out every foreign player on the books but offered minimal severance packages instead of the contractual amount. Most accepted those deals simply to escape. The stubborn Abbas stood firm but soon found himself persona non-grata.

He trained alone, wasn’t allowed near the team and was effectively stranded in South Korea. He turned up to the training ground to find the Steelers went abroad for a training camp in Thailand without telling him, abandoning him at the club’s door step. As he recalls, it was part of their plan to bully him out of the club without paying out the remainder of his contract.

It left him a foreign country where he couldn’t speak the language and nobody by his side. Isolated, Abbas turned to the man who had been by him in his darkest hour of need; Sydney FC’s fitness coach Andrew Clarke. When the Iraqi international faced a potentially career-ending knee injury, Clarke helped rehabilitate him and over the course of that year, the pair formed a very close bond. That continued this year, on the other side of Asia, when Abbas was again in turmoil.

And, it’s relationships like this which make it so difficult for Abbas to face his former club, coaches and teammates. After eventually reaching an agreement with Pohang, the 31-year-old joined Wellington Phoenix and is now set to play against Sydney FC for the first time since his departure. Already, the feelings are stirring about the prospect of walking into the opposite change room at Allianz Stadium.

“I have mixed emotions,” he said. “I was there for four years and it will be good to be back at Allianz but obviously I’ll be playing against Sydney. I’ll have mixed emotions but I have to go there and do my job.”

A player facing a former club is nothing new in the A-League where the salary cap and cautious player recruitment has led to a merry-go-round of transfers. However, for Abbas, Sydney FC represent more than just a former employer. Three years ago, a crunching tackle from then Western Sydney Wanderers midfielder Iacopo La Rocca ruptured Abbas’ anterior cruciate ligament and medial collateral ligament. The Iraqi’s season was definitely over, so too his hopes of playing in the Asian Cup and his hopes of ever playing professionally hung by a thread. There were times he wanted to quit, but Sydney FC showed faith in seeing out his recovery. That, Abbas says, will never be forgotten.

“I had a difficult time at Sydney [with injuries] but I had the support from the fans and the club. They’ve done a really good job. I don’t know what it’s going to be like to play there but obviously I have to represent my new club and defend the jersey,” he said.

For months, Clarke would take Abbas to Bondi Beach at 7am to run fitness drills to help the winger regain strength in his knee. Physio Elias Boukarim remained by his side for the 405 days Abbas laboured through an often unclear path back to playing.

Clarke, in particular, remained his confidant through Abbas’ dark spell in South Korea and it’s that bond that will make Sunday’s game at Allianz Stadium an emotional one for the former fan-favourite.

“When I was in [South] Korea, I was actually always in touch with them,” Abbas said. “I’ll never forget what they’ve done for me … I’ll never forget that. I’ve never played against them and for the first time, there will be plenty of emotions. The everyday people who do good things for you, you can never forget that. They’ll always be close to my heart.”


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