Entries from October, 2019

Encouraging graduates to stay in the region

CHOICES: University of Newcastle students Olivia Cook and Kristy Mullen, weighing up their workforce choices once they finish their studies. Picture: Jonathan Carroll.A DECADE ago, at the height of the mining boom, much was made of the “two-speed economy” of the time, in which the mining sector flourished, while the rest of the nation stagnated under the weight of the global financial crisis.
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Today, it can be argued that we still have a two-speed economy, but the division this time around is between the capital cities and regional Australia.

Here in the Hunter, we might only be a few hours’ drive from Sydney, but a host of economic indicators show that we are very much a regional economy.

This is no bad thing in itself: most of us live here very happily, and would not swap the lifestyles we have for the congested scramble of our southern neighbour.

But in the two decades since the closure of the steelworks in 1999, we have seen an acceleration of a trend that was already under way back then: the closures of the regional branch offices of major corporations that had traditionally been a source of stable, well-paying Newcastle jobs.

Unfortunately, the decentralisation that was promised by the arrival of the internet and the digital age does not seem to have eventuated to any real degree. Perhaps more tech firms will move here once the NBN is fully up and running. Butfor the time being at least, relatively few employers seeminterested in making the journey up the M1, despite the promise of cheap land and a captive workforce.

For young people –especially university graduates –who don’t want a career in the mining industry, the relative lack of higher-tier white collar jobs means that many will find themselves turning to Sydney, more by necessity than desire, to find work.

Some may eventually return to the region, but the more our best and brightest areforced to look elsewhere for the fruits of their education, the more that we as a society lose. It is fair to say that our civic leaders are aware of this problem. It’s an answer to the brain-drain that eludes us.

With the Newcastle CBD in the midst of a once-in-a-century makeover, conditions have probably never been better when it comes to attracting big, white-collar employers. And if the coal industry is the dying beast that an increasing number of thought leaders believe it is, then there has probably never been a more urgent time for this region to put real effort into really competing with Sydney.

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How Ronaldinho shaped football for Generation Y

I can still remember rushing home from school in June 2002 to watch England take on Brazil. Twelve years old and deeply immersed in the World Cup for the first time in my life, it was 1-1 at half-time after Rivaldo had cancelled out Michael Owen’s opener.
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And then it happened. Brazil were awarded a free kick on the right-hand side of the field, some 40 yards from goal. A young Ronaldinho stands over the ball as his teammates position themselves on the edge of the area, waiting expectantly for a cross that would never come.

He does the unthinkable – he shoots. Nobody sees it coming, certainly not goalkeeper David Seaman, who meekly stumbles backwards as the perfectly placed ball sails over his head and into the back of the net, just inside the left post.

Did he mean it? Was that a shot?

To this day, people argue about it but, in retrospect, when you consider the brilliance that the Brazilian would go on to achieve, there can be little doubt of his intent in that moment.

Ronaldinho was a relative unknown at that point, plying his trade for a pre-billionaire backed Paris St Germain in France. My only knowledge of him was as a competitor on Nike’s ad campaign “The Secret Tournament”, teamed up with his countryman Denilson and South Korea’s Seol Ki-hyeon.

But after that day in Shizuoka, everybody would know the name of the man who would come to dominate the sport, in on-field ability and off-field personality, for years to come.

Before there was Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, and after Zinedine Zidane and Ronaldo, there was only Ronaldinho. You couldn’t make a case for anyone else being the most popular player in the world in the time that he was at Barcelona: the face of virtually every Nike Football campaign, the cover star of the video game series FIFAin 2004, and then again from 2006 to 2009. He was everywhere.

From a statistical viewpoint, his numbers don’t jump off the page. In the modern arms race between Messi and Ronaldo, goals have been recorded at such a rate that virtually any other player in any other era seems profligate by comparison. But where Messi is slight and reserved, and Ronaldo often derided for on-field petulance, everything about Ronaldinho was just … cool.

His long flowing hair, that permanent, extra-toothy smile and the usually over-sized, untucked shirt: everything about his on-field persona was captivating. He would attempt flicks, dribbles and shots that few would contemplate. You can still type the words “Ronaldinho skills” into YouTube and be fixated for hours.

At training, we’d try rabonas, backheels, roulette turns and countless other tricks because he made them look so easy. They weren’t.

But that was the beauty of him as a player. Football, at its core, is supposed to be a simple game, and it’s supposed to be fun. He, more than any other player, embodied that ideal.

After starring in Barcelona’s Champions League-La Liga double-winning team of 2005-06 and winning the Ballon d’Or, awarded to the best player on the planet, the decline was swift. He would leave Barcelona in 2008 to join Italian powerhouse AC Milan but never again reached the dizzying heights that he did in Catalonia. And although he officially announced his retirement today, he hadn’t played since 2015.

Even if the peak of his career was shorter than most, few, if any, could say their’s was more entertaining or memorable. Even in 2017, when he travelled to the NBA’s All-Star game, a cavalcade of the world’s best basketballers lined up to have photos and exchange jerseys with him.

Here’s to you, Ronaldinho. Waking up, bleary-eyed at 4.45am to watch you in the Champions League was a privilege, and we may never see another player like you again.

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Families grieve for young couple killed in crash

Hannah Ferguson had just spent six wonderful days at her family’s farm with boyfriend Reagen??? Skinner when the pair made the fateful decision to travel to Dubbo so Reagen could catch a train home.
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As the pair sat in a queue of six vehicles at roadworks just 20 kilometres from their destination, a prime mover careered into them.

Hannah and Reagen, both aged 19, were killed in the crash that also injured 10 people.

“Wrong place at the wrong time,” Hannah’s devastated father, Ian Ferguson, told the Herald.

The pair, who had been seeing each other for eight months after meeting at Charles Sturt University’s campus at Bathurst, had spent almost a week together at Hannah’s family property at Gulargambone.

The pair set off on Tuesday morning on the 110-kilometre trip so Reagen could catch the XPT at Dubbo.

Hannah, who had graduated from Dubbo Christian School and was about to start her second year studying a business degree at Bathurst, was staying behind to keep her summer job in Dubbo.

The young couple were in one of four cars that had stopped behind a utility and a B-double in the southbound lanes when tragedy struck about 12.30pm.

The driver of the prime mover, a 50-year-old man, suffered leg fractures and suspected internal injuries and was flown to Westmead Hospital.

He is yet to speak to crash investigators in charge of discovering how the tragedy occurred.

As the families of Hannah and Reagen grapple with the randomness of their deaths, relatives and friends of an 18-year-old man are questioning how he survived.

He was in another of the cars that were crushed between the two trucks.

His vehicle ended up under the semi-trailer, completely crushed except for a small pocket between a back wheel and the engine bay.

Somehow, he ended up in the pocket.

He was trapped for more than three hours before being flown to Concord Hospital’s specialist burns unit for treatment to burns to his back.

In a third car were the driver, a 43-year-old woman who suffered a broken arm, and two passengers, a 52-year-old woman and 25-year-old man who suffered minor injuries. They were taken to Dubbo Base Hospital and later discharged.

In a fourth car were the driver, a 26-year-old woman who suffered facial injuries and was taken to Dubbo Base Hospital, a 24-year-woman who was taken to Royal North Shore Hospital with a suspected spinal injury, a two-year-old girl and a 19-year-old man, her uncle, who were taken to Dubbo Base Hospital with minor injuries.

The girl and her uncle have also been discharged.

The driver of a utility, a 39-year-old man, and the driver of the B-double, a 27-year-old man, suffered minor injuries and were also taken to Dubbo Base Hospital.

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Hunter Street ‘nasties’ won’t change light rail cost: government

Hunter Street ‘nasties’ won’t change light rail cost: government TweetFacebookNewcastle Herald that he was not aware of coal tar being found but the air “absolutely stank of tar” in the first two or three days of work outside his store this month.
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He said he had seen a black, wet substance in the material dug up outside his shop and had felt slightly nauseous at the end of each day.

Unions NSW spokesman Peter McPherson said the discovery of far more “nasties” than predicted had prompted fresh negotiations between head contractor Downer EDI and the state government over the cost of the light rail project.

Buta Transport for NSW spokesperson denied that an excess of contaminants had brought Downer and the government back to the bargaining table.

The spokesperson said the discovery of coal tar had been “expected” and had not affected the 2.7km light rail’s price tag, which stands at $290 million, not including $200 million to shut down and repurpose Newcastle’s heavy rail corridor.

RMS websiteHerald with aphotograph of what he identified as viscous coal tar dripping off a slabof excavated concrete in Hunter Street.

A substance transport engineer Ron Brown says is viscous coal tar on a chunk of concrete in Hunter Street.

He said coal tar was still visible in the street on Wednesday.

The NSW Roads and Maritime Services website says coal tar “may still exist as a road surface layer but is more commonly found as a discreet subsurface layer overlaid by more modern bitumen asphalt”.

“The most obvious way most Roads and Maritime workers identify the presence of coal tar asphalt, as distinct from bitumen, is the distinctive odour it gives off when heated,” it says.

“This odour occurs when the coal tar asphalt is milled and the friction heat from the milling machine releases coal tar fumes.

“Cancer risk can be managed with appropriate work processes and personal protective equipment.”

The RMS says the chemicals that make up coal tar have been found to cause serious skin irritation and photosensitisation, increasing the risk of sunburn,if protective equipment is not used.

The agency, after a risk assessment in 2007, decided that excavated coal tar must be taken to a licensed landfill and not re-used for any purpose, although the risk to the public when coal tar was re-used in road construction was “negligible”.

The website directs workers to stop work immediately if they find coal tar, wash exposed skin, apply sunscreen and wear overalls, impervious gloves, safety glasses and respirators.

The magic of little-known place en route to Antarctica

A trip to Antarctica is a gamble. Everything hinges on one almighty, uncontrollable, unfathomable factor – the weather.
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It is not the cold. It’s not the rain and not the snow. It is the wind that is your master. The wind decides whether it’s safe to disembark the ship and board a Zodiac to go ashore, where the wildlife awaits amid the spectacular majesty of landscapes that exist nowhere else on the planet.

And so it was that after more than a year of anticipation and many days at sea, the first two stops on my 18-day voyage to the Antarctic Peninsula, via the Falkland Islands and South Georgia, were scratched.

“Sorry folks,” came the morning call over the Ocean Endeavour’s public address system, “but Carcass Island is not in our future.” Then, later the same day, what had been considered the more likely and accessible of the two Falkland Island wildlife stops, West Point Beach, was out as well. Too windy. Too much swell. Ouch.

Suddenly all the expectation that grew from fairytale imaginings was irrevocably punctured. I would never see all those little rockhopper penguins that I had pictured going about their penguin business in what had become my once-again-childlike sense of longing.

I felt utterly deflated.

So many on the ship were downcast. Not angry. Just quietly miserable and sombre.

Then came some hope – literally, as it turns out, because that was her name. Esperanza, Spanish for hope, was the ship’s doctor. We sat together one night at dinner. When the conversation turned to our abandoned landings, she told me something that threw everything into stark relief.

She had been on one journey where the passengers were able to disembark for only one day and a half. That was it. On a week-long voyage, it was safe to disembark for 36 hours. The rest of the time the passengers were, in effect, prisoners on the ship.

Suddenly having missed those two landings did not seem so bad. We had been on terra firma a few times by then, done some cruising in the Zodiacs, seen Magellanic penguins in the Falklands and king penguins and fur seals in South Georgia, and albatross and petrels and dolphins and so much more.

I asked her what her favourite place was on this particular itinerary, and she said Gold Harbour, in the South Georgia Islands. We had not yet stopped there and I wondered what was so special about it. “It’s magical,” she said, simply, because there are animals everywhere.

On shore at 6am, it was an early start for Gold Harbour, so much so that I contemplated staying in my warm bed. A lot of passengers did exactly that but I dragged myself up, donned my layers and waterproofs and went ashore. I wanted to see what was so magical about this place, with its many species and a spectacular Bertrab Glacier as its backdrop. My expectations were dulled at this point, because I know that one person’s paradise isn’t necessarily the next person’s, but I wanted to see for myself.

I walked ashore, removing my lifejacket as I went and then taking all the things I would need out of my waterproof bag so they were accessible. I wasn’t really looking around me as I concentrated on my preparations. But as it turns out, there were some baby elephant seals – about a month old and just weaned – concentrating on me.

I looked down to see three of of them approaching me at speed, flubbering their big fat bodies along the ground, with one making definite and determined eyes at my knee.

The weaners, with their giant, shiny, wide brown eyes, were in search of milk, and apparently I looked a likely candidate.

I stepped back, conscious of the repeated instructions we had had to maintain distance from the animals at all times. Then Shane, the expedition leader called out, “They won’t hurt you”.

I’m not worried about them hurting me, I said, I’m worried about the rules. Turns out if the animal comes to you, it’s different. It’s OK when they breach the five-metre rule.

In fact, it’s not just OK. It really is magical.

And as the others on shore walked away to marvel at the raucous king penguin colony further along the beach, I stayed put. The elephant seals gathered around my feet, looking up at me hopefully, clearly missing the warm milk their mothers were now withholding.

I crouched down on the shore and let the seals come to me, as much and as close as they liked. They did. One was in my lap, a totally wild animal, utterly trusting of another species, without a suggestion of fear or even caution. There are very few places in the world where that is even conceivable. Here, it is normal. But for some reason, only at the beach in Gold Harbour.

Eventually I picked myself up off the black sand and trudged up the beach to see what we had come here to witness: Nesting adult king penguins and last year’s chicks, spread out as far as the eye can see, in the shadow of a magnificent glacier and intermingled with egg-thieving skuas, gentoo penguins, every vista was crammed with fearless animals.

It truly was wonderful and like so many other stops on the journey, which took us to parts of the Antarctic Peninsula where there were macaroni penguins and Adelies and chinstraps and leopard seals and kilometres-long icebergs, it was breathtaking.

But the magic of that moment, when a wild animal has total trust in you, was unimaginably special and utterly unforgettable. TRIP NOTESMORE

traveller苏州美甲学校419论坛/antarctica

Peregrine AdventuresFLY

LATAM and Qantas offer direct flights from Melbourne and Sydney to Santiago, Chile, and from there, connections are available through a number of airlines. See latam苏州美甲学校, qantas苏州美甲学校. Air New Zealand has a non-stop flight from Auckland to Buenos Aires. See airnewzealand苏州美甲学校419论坛TOUR

Peregrine Adventures runs a number of tours to Antarctica. The 20-day Falklands (Malvinas), South Georgia and Antarctica tour, departs from and returns to Buenos Aires, and includes full-board accommodation onboard the Ocean Endeavour. Extras include cross-country skiing, mountain climbing, stand-up paddle-boarding, ice camping and a range of other activities, at an additional cost. Not all activities are offered on all departures. Prices start from $16,520 per person. See peregrineadventures苏州美甲学校/antarctica/ocean-endeavour

The writer travelled at her own expense.