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Imogen Wellford wrote a book called Tree Story ( admin posted on October 13th, 2019 )

Five-year-old girl publishes book TweetFacebook Imogen Wellford, author at age five. +5MORE GALLERIES


facebookSHAREtwitterTWEETemailwhatsappImogen Wellford has been a busy bee.

She’s only five andshe’s already published a book.

It’s true. Not only that, she could end up as a Guinness World Records holder for being the youngest published author.

Her book is about a tree in her backyard that was chopped down because it was blocking the plumbing system at her family’s Cooks Hill home.

Having paid $10,000 to fix the plumbing problem, the family decided the large African olive tree had to go. It came down in February.

Imogen took a twig from the tree to “show and tell” at her school, The Junction Public.

The other kindy kids loved thestory she told about the tree.

Imogen’s mum is an author. As such, Imogen was keen to write a book, too.

Now was her chance.

Her mum wrote her words down and, with few changes, they became the book’s story.

The book is titled Tree Story, which was being promoted as “a simple tale of life, death and renewal through the eyes of a child reflecting on the life cycle of a tree in her backyard”.

Imogen said she did lovethe tree. As such, she was keen to tell “everyone in the whole world my story –even people who don’t know me”.

Asked if she missed the tree, she said “yes and no”.

“I miss it because it had such beautiful leaves, but now [that it’s gone] we can see the stars at night,” she said.

As for that world record, there is a bit of controversy around the matter.

Guinness World Records lists the youngest commercially published author as Dorothy Straight.

Dorothy, of Washington DC, wrote thebook How the World Beganin 1962 at age four. However –this bit is crucial – she was six when the book was published.

Topics will be sure to keep an eye on the outcome.

The book is due for releaseon May 28. Itwill be available for purchase at selected bookstores in Newcastle, Canberra and Sydneyand online through opheliawest苏州美甲学校.

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A mountain lion was spotted at Jewells Wetland decades ago ( admin posted on October 13th, 2019 )

The tale of a mountain lion at Lake Macquarie in 1980 A marsupial lion.


TweetFacebook Mountain lions. +6MORE GALLERIES

facebookSHAREtwitterTWEETemailwhatsappA Lake Macquarie woman has revealed she once saw a mountain lion at Jewells Wetland.

Following our recent stories about black panthers, Judith told us her story by email.

“Australia doesn’t just have black cats, it has lions as well,” Judith said.

“I can vouch for this. I saw one at Jewells Wetlands in 1980. People say ‘it must have been a feral cat’.

“But definitely not. It moved like a lion, not a tabby. And I have seen a huge feral cat in almost the same place.

“This animal was bigger than a feral cat. It was a light colour, either fawn or cream. It was dusk so you couldn’t tell. It probably looked like a puma, but was smaller, perhaps only half the size.

“It was slimmer thana big cat.”

We’d reported previously that researcher Rex Gilroy believed some panther sightings were marsupial cats.

Judith agreed.

“I believe that it was a marsupial cat. Since then, I have talked to many people who have also seen a big cat ortracks of a big cat from here to Albany in Western Australia.

“I read an article once in which Aboriginals said there has always been cats in Australia.”

She’d heard a story about baby panther cubs playing near Blackbutt.

“I also heard that someone’s uncle used to talk about the lion in Blackbutt,” she said.

“There are pictures and reports on the internet of lions in Australia.”

Vaughan King, founder of the Australian Big Cat Research Group, doesn’t think they’re large marsupial cats.

But he believes the big cat species in Australia are the leopard, jaguar and mountain lion.

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Will he or won’t he: the Sutherland dilemma ? ( admin posted on October 13th, 2019 )

The AFL has made its first approach to teen dual-sports sensation Will Sutherland, holding talks with the schoolboy who recruiters believe could be taken as high as the top 10 in this year’s national draft.


And in the latest intriguing turn, Sutherland, who is the captain of the under-19 Australian cricket team, was due to meet with Cricket Victoria officials this week but cancelled due to school commitments.

It comes after Sutherland and his mother Heidi were approached by the AFL, with league representatives providing information regarding programs and pathways into the professional football.

The AFL development team reiterated to Sutherland that a place in the upcoming under-18 championships would not be put in jeopardy should he choose, as expected, not to play TAC Cup football. Either way, the league remains hopeful that the VCE student will represent Vic Metro in championships next month.

Not only is Sutherland’s father, James, the most senior cricket official in the country, but his mother is now a director on the board of AFL Victoria.

AFL Football operations boss Simon Lethlean and general counsel Andrew Dillon are also directors with AFL Victoria.

Despite having to reschedule the meeting to talk to Sutherland, Cricket Victoria remain committed to convincing him to stick with the bat and ball.

“We certainly believe he is a player who could play for Victoria for many years, and very possibly higher,” Victorian chairman of selectors Andrew Lynch told Fairfax Media.

“We want him and it sounds like footy wants him.”

Sutherland, a student at the prestigious private boys’ school Scotch College, is not only gifted at football and cricket, he is also highly academic, similar to his father and grandfather Ivan.

The AFL was clear to Sutherland that there is no pressure on him to make a decision soon, and it respected the fact he was keen to concentrate on his studies.

Sutherland was again listed in Scotch College’s best players after being tagged in their win over Geelong College on Saturday, a week after being best afield in their loss to Xavier College.

With Sutherland to decide in the coming months which sport he wants to pursue professionally, the situation can be likened to that of Pat McKenna in 2014.

Two months after leading the Australian under-19 cricket side to victory over Sri Lanka – as Sutherland has just achieved – McKenna nominated for the draft and was taken by Greater Western Sydney.

After failing to play a senior game in his two seasons in Sydney, he was traded to Melbourne in last year’s trade period and signed a two-year contract.

Sutherland is a key position size in football and can play in the midfield. Recruiters who have watched his two matches at school level have been impressed not only with his size and pace, but his extremely competitive nature. In cricket, he is a middle-order batsman who bowls first-change.

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‘This can’t be what education is about’: Students, teachers react to Naplan changes ( admin posted on October 13th, 2019 )

Schools are preparing for an “administrative mind-blowing exercise” as the final day of NAPLAN tests looms for the first cohort of year 9 students who require three band eights to qualify for their HSC.


Fewer than half of all year 9 students are expected to achieve this NAPLAN result and most will need to pass online tests in the following years to receive their HSC, under the NSW government’s new minimum literacy and numeracy standard announced last year.

The principal at Cerdon College in Merrylands, Patricia Baker, said schools have been left out of the consultation process and have received very little information about the follow-up online tests.

“We have no idea when these tests are going to be offered, how they’re going to be offered,” Mrs Baker said. “There are a lot of unknowns. I think it’s an administrative mind-blowing exercise because schools are being asked to do the heavy lifting.

“Just arranging times and supervision is going to mean time out of the normal teaching for students.”

The NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) confirmed that “the majority of students will be sitting at least one of the online tests starting in Year 10” and they will be given two chances per year to take the tests, in a letter published online a week before NAPLAN tests began.

Sonya Agius, a maths teacher at the school, said teaching practices would likely change as the online tests become a concern for senior students.

“I’m hoping this will be a positive change, but this can’t be what education is about. It has to be beyond [NAPLAN],” Ms Agius said.

“We just have to take it a step at a time and look at what the processes are after the results come out, how are we going to deal with it as a school, as a system.”

Mrs Baker said the pressure on teachers and students will increase as the HSC approaches.

“At that point, how are schools going to be able to remediate that deficit?” she asked. “It will place a lot of pressure.

“The concern we would have is that students will lose their confidence and feel they’re defined by a less than perfect mark.”

Mrs Baker said “the jury is still out” on the value of the minimum standard after the tertiary admissions body confirmed students who do not achieve the requirements will still be able to get an ATAR and go to university.

“We’ve tried to acknowledge it’s a high stakes prequalification for the HSC but it’s not the end of the world,” Mrs Baker said.

“They may not get the HSC but it is my belief the universities will still accept them because by that stage their literacy skills as tested by the HSC are going to be at the level that says they’re very capable, articulate men and women.”

Charlize D’Souza, a year 9 student at Cerdon College, said linking NAPLAN to the HSC is “not really fair”.

“By the time you get to the HSC you actually care about these things,” she said. “Right now we just have to learn and prepare for the future, it’s not our time yet I think.”

Rose Hanratty, 14, said: “It’s more of an inconvenience that you have to redo [the tests], but I think it’ll be fine. We are a bit of the guinea pigs, but someone’s got to be the first year. We just drew the short straw.

“It was a bit of a shock, but then I just sort of adjusted to it and went, ‘This is how it’s going to go’.”

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Treasurer steps in as China’s spending spree on Australian housing soars ( admin posted on October 13th, 2019 )

Blanchett’s mansion back on the market as Chinese buyer defaultsFederal Budget: Foreign buyers hit by vacancy tax, restrictionsChinese buying Australian real estate tops foreign investment


China’s crackdown on capital outflows into overseas property markets doesn’t appear to be working judging by the surge in investment from its shores into Australian real estate.

Chinese buyers led a 19 per cent jump in residential applications to 40,149, according to the Foreign Investment Review Board annual report, equating to a peak of proposed investment worth $72.4 billion for the 2015-16 financial year.

The surge in interest from China’s swelling investor class isn’t lost on Treasurer Scott Morrison, with foreign buyers again being slugged with steeper charges on purchases and new fees on property left vacant for six months or more announced in Tuesday’s federal budget.

“If anything I would say the investment coming from China has increased, not decreased, since China’s crackdown was launched,” said joint principal of SydneySlice Buyers’ Agent, Steve Smith.

“My sources are suggesting that the government is actually amending the foreign capital restrictions, which could make it easier for foreign investors, and if that’s the case we will see local activity increasing, not decreasing.”

Craig Pontey, director of Ray White Double Bay in Sydney, said buyer interest from China wasn’t just increasing, but “substantially increasing” in both sales and buyer inquiry from China.

“The buyers who dominated sales three and four years ago are being joined by their friends and colleagues from China, and they are finding ways to filter their money out of China to do so,” said Mr Pontey.

A year ago China started forcing its state-owned banks to delay or block large sums of money going overseas, and has more recently moved to block money transfers through Macau.

The issue was brought home to Sydneysiders last August when the Hunters Hill trophy home of Cate Blanchett and her husband Andrew Upton was returned to the market after the $19.8 million buyer was forced to default on the sale given problems getting their funds out of China.

By law, individuals in China are restricted to moving the equivalent of $US50,000 ($68,000) out of the country each year.

McGrath’s Michael Coombs said the continued strength in buyer interest from China was typified by the current campaign underway to sell the Alex Popov-designed trophy home in Northbridge of hedge fund manager David Curtis and his wife Joan for $15 million. Of 142 enquiries, at least 40 per cent came from China, he said.

“Without the current curbs on foreign buyers in place we would have double the number of sales to overseas owners, because the demand for local real estate is just growing,” said Mr Coombs.

Simon Platt, who left Kinsale Property Group late last year to join Unique Estates, said: “There was a lot of media attention and talk about the capital controls impacting on our local market, but we haven’t seen any real impact or change in demand.”

Sydney’s trophy home market has proved largely immune to capital controls, although the market does see sporadic bursts of activity from China, according to Ken Jacobs, of Christie’s International.

“At the top end buyers have a reason for being here – whether that be for schooling or business – rather than just being straight investors, and they have their residency and other sources for funds, so at that end of the market we are not seeing any real change in demand,” Mr Jacobs said.

In May last year, Australian banks started clamping down on loans obtained based on overseas income.

However, ???Meriton Group’s owner Harry Triguboff told The Australian Financial Reviewthis week he has started financing about $200 million of the $1.4 billion worth of apartment sales he expects to make this year to help Chinese buyers struggling with the tougher currency controls.

CBRE director, residential projects Murray Wood, said concerns about the ability of foreign buyers to settle on their purchases prompted some of their developer clients to opt to sell only a small percentage of stock to non-residents, and others have chosen not to canvas offshore buyers at all.

One of the standout measures introduced in Tuesday’s federal budget will be an annual charge aimed at encouraging foreign buyers to rent out their vacant Australian real estate. Any purchase after May 9 will be slugged with an annual charge equal to their foreign investment application fee – starting at $5000 for property valued at $1 million or less – if they leave the property vacant.

The budget also introduces measures to deny foreign tax residents access to capital gains tax exemptions from Tuesday, and those already purchased will have those exemptions grandfathered until June 2019.

For the third year in a row China was the largest source of approved investment across all sectors, staking a claim to 72 per cent of all approvals.

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Budget housing affordability measures a ‘help’ to East Maitland first home buyers, but calls for reduction in stamp duty. ( admin posted on September 27th, 2019 )

Every bit helps.


That was the verdictfrom Hunter first home buyers on Wednesday, as they welcomednews they will be able to access tax breaks to help them save for a deposit.

SAVINGS MOUNTAIN: East Maitland couple Codie Ellicott and Tae Rowsell are struggling to meet the costs of a first home deposit. They say it will be ‘tricky’, even with the tax breaks announced in the budget. Picture: Perry Duffin

But forCodie Ellicott and Tae Rowsell, pulling together the funds to buy in their hometown of East Maitland remainsa daunting prospect.

“I’ve been working full time for three years and my partner for six or seven years,” Ms Ellicott said. “We’ve been saving throughout, but it’s really hard…the investors can usually offer a higher bid than you.”

Under changes announced in the federal budget, from July first home buyers will be able to salary sacrifice up to $30,000 into super for a deposit.

They will be able to withdraw the money from July 2018.

Retirees will be able to divert up to $300,000 from the sale of their family home to superannuation, encouraging them to downsize. Those incentives will come into effect from July 2018.

Agent Chad Dunn of Century 21 Novocastrian said the changes could result in “decent” savings for young buyers, particularly those in the highest marginal tax bracket.

He predicted there could be a short-term cooling in the market while they took advantage of the changes.

“I had 50 groups through a home on Saturday and easily half of those were first home buyers,” he said.

“I think you will see first home buyers go out of the market and stockpile more funds through this system, and probably come back next year.”

Mr Dunn said the changes for retirees could be a “gamechanger”by bringing a surgeof new stock to the market. But he believes it would have been preferableto introduce the changes immediately, rather than waiting for 12 months.

“Right now we have a really limited amount of stock on the market…those stock levels will certainly change next year when that ruling takes place.”

However according to Mr Dunn, one of the biggest pressures on young buyers was overlooked.

“I still believe stamp duty is tipping the scale,” he said. “They’re missing the third prong.”

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What first home buyers should know before investing in Scott Morrison’s scheme ( admin posted on September 27th, 2019 )



After missing out on a free education, tax-free property windfalls and the chance to pour tens of thousands of dollars into super almost tax-free, young Australians have finally been thrown a tax break bone.

Sure, it’s more chicken wing than femur. But it’s worth considering for anyone looking to buy a home in coming years.

The First Home Super Saver Scheme unveiled on Tuesday night is expected to deliver first home savers a total tax break of $50 million in the coming financial year, rising to an annual break worth $70 million in four years.

A first home saver who earns $60,000 a year and ploughs $10,000 a year into the scheme for three years will be about $6000 better off than if they’d simply put their money into a bank deposit – the typical first home buyer strategy.

If that doesn’t sound like much moolah to you, you’re probably wasting too much money on smashed avo.

The scheme is unlikely to have a noticeable impact on boosting home ownership rates. By putting more money into borrower’s pockets without also increasing supply, the measure will likely add to home price pressures.

But compared to recent price movements, it’s just a drop in the ocean.

Sydney median dwelling prices jumped $120,000 over the year ended April to $860,000 – a weekly increase of about $2300 a week. Melbourne prices also leapt $100,000 over the year to $650,000 – a little under $2000 a week.

By topping up first time buyer accounts by about $2000 a year, ScoMo’s FHSSS keeps them ahead of the Sydney and Melbourne property markets by about a week.

Still, $6000 is $6000.

So how can first home savers get a bit of that action?

From 1 July 2017, first home savers can instruct their employer to deposit money from their pre-tax income into their super account, where it will be taxed at just 15 per cent instead of the usual marginal tax rates that would apply, currently at 19, 32, 37 and 45 per cent (plus the Medicare levy).

For someone earning between $80,001 and $180,000 on the 37 cent marginal rate, they get a tax saving of 22 cents in the dollar. Instead of pocketing just $6300 in after-tax income from the last $10,000 they earn, they’ll get to keep $8500 and put it into super.


Earnings generated on this money while in the super account will also be taxed at the low rate of 15 per cent, compared to paying the full whack of marginal tax on interest earned on bank savings.

The scheme maxes out at a total of $30,000 in contributions per individual and the maximum that can be salary sacrificed in any year is $15,000.

When the time comes to live out the great Aussie dream and buy a home, savers will pay tax on their withdrawal amount at their marginal rate, less 30 percentage points. For a person on the 37 cent rate, they pay just 7 cents. That’s not quite the tax-free withdrawals enjoyed by over 60s from super, but it ain’t bad.

All up, a person earning $100,000 a year who puts $10,000 a year into the scheme for three years would end up with $24,777 to put towards their home deposit, versus just $18,586 if they put their money in a bank deposit. They’d end up paying an average tax rate of 17 per cent, versus 38 per cent.

On the face of it, that’s worth doing.

But there are several things to consider first.

First, and obviously, you have to have the cash to spare. While for higher income earners, this may be a good forced-savings method, low income earners are less likely to have the spare cash. If they do, however, it will be worthwhile, their contributions being essentially tax-free thanks to the low income super tax offset.

Second, you may not be able to squirrel away as much as you think. Importantly, the usual caps on concessional contributions to super apply. From 1 July this year, that’s a maximum of $25,000 in contributions a year – both voluntary and compulsory – which attract the low tax rates. Anyone earning $106,000 or above will already have compulsory contributions of $10,000 and more a year, meaning they can put in less than the scheme maximum of $15,000 a year.

Another kink is that if you earn more than $250,000 you pay an extra 15 cents on your contributions, bringing tax to 30 cents. I know. Cry me a river.

It’s also important to know that, once in, your money can’t be withdrawn for other purposes. If you do not ever buy a home, the money has to sit there until you reach retirement age. If you do decide to buy, however, you can access the funds after a year.

It’s not entirely clear, however, how this will work.

While super funds hold your money, the scheme is administered by the Tax Office, which must calculate how much you can withdraw. How will this work? Will buyers need to show the ATO proof of purchase before accessing funds? If so, how can they get approved for a loan?

A final kink in the scheme is the fixed rate of return savers will get on their money.

To provide certainty, and to save super funds the hassle of calculating actual individual returns, money put into the scheme will be deemed to have returned 3 per cent plus the 90 day bank bill rate each year. Currently, that’s around 4.78 per cent.

If your super fund returns more than that, that excess will just have to stay in your retirement nest egg.

If your super fund performs worse, or even shrinks, the extra amount needed to pay out the deemed rate will be deducted from your retirement nest egg – possibly at a time of depressed values which is exactly when you should leave the money there to recover.

Investing in shares, which super funds do, is best done over the long run, and savers risk falling foul in the short term.

Overall, however, history suggests savers should enjoy a higher average returns on their money in super than a typical bank deposit rate.

Worth considering.

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Living green in the city ( admin posted on September 27th, 2019 )

House of the Week | Newcastle | Photos TweetFacebook House of the Week | Newcastle | Gallery One man’s inner-city tree house. Photos: Chris Brown+12One man’s inner-city tree house. Photos: Chris BrownMORE GALLERIES


facebookSHAREtwitterTWEETemailwhatsappChris Brown admits: “I have a bit of a plant problem”.

He first moved into what he and his friends have dubbed “the tree house” two years ago when he learned another friend was moving out.

“I instantly pounced on the opportunity,” Brown, 30, says of the space.

“I’m still here because my indoor plants all grow so well.”

The artist and permaculture enthusiast is a born and bred Novocastrian. He’s an active citizen in Newcastle. He works in community service and regularly volunteers, getting his hands dirty in community gardens.

His apartment, which he shares with a housemate, is in Cliff Towers in Newcastle’sChurch Street. The art deco building was built in 1935. He believes the apartments once served as accommodation for doctors who worked at Royal Newcastle Hospital.

The two-bedroom apartment is brimming with natural light and interesting things. It is undoubtedly the space of creative individuals.

From the jars of homemade kombucha being brewed above the fridge to the colourful milk crates, op-shop crocheted blankets and a variety of plants, this is a home that welcomes without pretension.

“I don’t like bare walls,” he says.

“I like to fill every nook and cranny and I’m constantly rearranging. If I get a new piece of art or plant I completely rearrange.”

Outside his kitchen is the fire escape, which also happens to have a peaceful view of the harbour.

His lounge room is the space he speaks most about. It’s a room with a sweeping view through the treetops in Church Walk Park.

His thriving plants are an indicator of just how much sunlight the west-facing room enjoys.

Brown is interested in the relationships between people and plants and how people engage with them.

For him, plants are an art form. Many of his plants have a backstory, and Brown’s passion for permaculture and gardening is personal.

“It all started when I was a child. I learned about gardening from my mother. We would grow snapdragons, petunias and geraniums. She passed away when I was 11, and I forgot about it,” Brown says.

Later, when he was at uni, he found a house with a large backyard full of similar flowers and a big orange tree. All the memories came flooding back and a love for plants was immediately rekindled.

Now, in his home, some of the plants are living memories.

When Brown’s grandfather passed away, he dug up some soil from his backyard and potted and watered it. The soil grew into a fairy grass plant and has thrived ever since. Brown says the plant even reminds him of his grandfather’s white wiry beard. There’s a similar story in a plant cutting he took from his mother’s home after she passed away. Since then, it’s grown into its own and thrives as a reminder of her.

A long, thin cactus spreads across a wall, creating a wild desert vibe within the plant haven. Many of his plants were originally cuttings he received from friends, and much of the artwork in the house was given to him, including paintings from his grandmother.

He doesn’t like to buy things new. His decor in the home is mainly from second-hand shops or gifts from friends. Most of the furniture in the lounge room was found on the side of the road.

“I don’t find new things interesting. I like things that are old and damaged and quirky,” he says.

While Brown doesn’t own any land himself, he says he will always find ways to grow. He coordinated the Habitat In Harmony community garden in Belmont, and he volunteers there regularly. His partner and brother live nearby, and he believes he’ll live in Newcastle forever. He feels deeply invested in the community. He’s clearly dedicated to his creative space at home too.

From each plant’s story to the intense sunlight and the interesting op shop odds and ends, what the tree house lacks in sophistication it makes up for in personality. Its natural quirky style is unforgettable.

Have a home that could feature in Weekender? We’d love to see it. [email protected]苏州美甲学校苏州美甲学校网.

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World Rugby toughen eligibility laws but Tongan Thor free to play ( admin posted on September 27th, 2019 )

World Rugby has announced players across the globe will now have to serve a five-year eligibility period before they can represent a national side. But a delay in its implementation until 2020 will allow Queensland Reds prop Taniela Tupou – known as the “Tongan Thor” – to be eligible for Wallabies selection this year.


World Rugby executives met in Tokyo to discuss the Regulation 8 guidelines that relate to player eligibility.

A decision to extend the residency requirement from 36 months to 60 months was made with the intention of “protecting the integrity and sanctity of international rugby in the modern elite environment”.

It means players will find it significantly tougher to switch allegiances, however the increase to five years will not come into effect until December 31, 2020.

“This extension to the residency period within a forward-thinking reform package will ensure a close, credible and established link between a union and players, which is good for rugby and good for fans,” said World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont.

Australian Rugby Union chief executive Bill Pulver was opposed to the change as recently as last year, saying he felt the tweak would leave rugby vulnerable to having players poached by a code such as rugby league that did not have complicated international eligibility rules.

But Pulver changed his tune this year, stressing the move from three years to five would have little impact on the Wallabies.

“At a World Rugby level, what we’re trying to do is to preserve the integrity of national teams,” Pulver said in February. “Frankly, if you are a Fijian that lives in Fiji, you should play for Fiji … you shouldn’t play for any other country. Same in Tonga, same in Samoa, same right around the world. It’s very important we preserve that.

“We support this change. It is a very healthy international change. Of the last 90 players that have used the residency rule to play for Australia, only two have used the 36-month residency rule.”

The two players are Fijian born Sefa Naivalu, who made his debut off the bench last year in Pretoria against South Africa, and 11-Test winger Henry Speight from the Brumbies.

As for 20-year-old rising star Tupou, he will not be affected by the changes but will still have to serve the mandatory three-year requirement.

Tupou is eligible for Wallabies selection later this year after being picked on the spring tour at the end of 2016 as a development player.

For some time, France and Argentina have pushed for five-year eligibility requirements in the hope of preventing national sides from plucking players from other nations and getting them into their systems quickly.

Argentina were the only side at the 2015 World Cup with an entire squad of locally-born players.

World Rugby vice-chairman Agustin Pichot, who hails from Argentina, lauded the decision on Wednesday.

“This is an historic moment for the sport and a great step towards protecting the integrity, ethos and stature of international rugby,” Pichot said. “National team representation is the reward for devoting your career, your rugby life, to your nation and these amendments will ensure that the international arena is full of players devoted to their nation, who got there on merit.”

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Where did the name Bulls Garden Road come from ( admin posted on September 27th, 2019 )

EXOTIC: Visitors to Mr Bull’s Gardens pose for this 19th century Lake Macquarie Library photo. Photo: history.lakemac苏州美甲学校苏州美甲学校网BULLS Garden Road near Charlestown is very familiar to most Lake Macquarie people. But what’s the real story behind it?


Believe it or not, more than 100 years ago this road going south, off Dudley Road, went to Mr Bull’s famous exotic gardens, hidden in bush.

Today, this major tourist attraction has long disappeared. The road winds for about two kilometres from near Whitebridge Cemetery to link with Oakdale Road at Gateshead.

Best known as a traffic shortcut, it’s also the road where the landmark O’Malleys aquariums does business.

What is normally forgotten these days is that around 1860 Edmund Bull bought a 60-acre plot here, in what is now Whitebridge, to gradually create a botanical paradise.

Eight of his children worked on rotation in the gardens initially. Two brothers at a time, as young as 14 years, were left alone in the bush for a fortnight, clearing the land.

Here, they lived on corn beef, tea, flour and sugar supplemented by what they could catch, such as possums, pigeons, parrots and bandicoots.

At night, there were the haunting cries of dingoes stalking their young cattle, some of which by morning would be without their tails.

Gradually, over decades, the cleared bush developed into some of the finest gardens in Australia. Now, after land changes, only the name Bulls Garden Road stands as a reminder of past glories.

Some of the garden splendour, however, survived until at least 1936.

Lake Macquarie City librarians today believe Mr Bull’s Gardens were located east of Whitebridge’s present Bulls Garden Road. Part of the road though outlines the boundary of the original land grant.

A gully of running water once cut through the land, creating a large rock pool, or miniature lake, leading to a waterfall. On the hills, an orchard was planted to obtain a livelihood, but the rest was moulded into a ‘hobby’ scenic garden.

Many seeds and plants largely unknown then in Australiawere planted. There were seeds from America and Java and bulbs from Holland, plus 24 varieties of camellia from Japan.

The cool gully full of palms, big ferns, staghorns and fat clumps of cane was beautifully landscaped, terraced by tiers of stonewalls. Rockpools and a row of fishponds under a great coral tree completed the picture.

Both Edmund and his second wife, Mary, were later buried at nearby Whitebridge Cemetery, in 1899 and 1903 respectively.

But it was a son, Sid Bull, who did much to create the legend as we know it today. Sid, who took over management of the attraction in 1904,allowed free public access to the gardens where his family lived on site and made a good living supplying refreshments, flowers and fruit to visitors.

People caught the train to then nearby Whitebridge station. Hundreds of people flocked to the gardens each weekend or on holidays.

There were once as many as 200 horse-carriages at a time pulled up on the grass outside.

Masters of sailing ships anchored in Newcastle Harbour who had heard of the beauty of the gardens hired buggies to make a special trip to the area.

Here, beside the waterfall was a small mine from which the Bull family collected coal.

Visiting the site in 1947, Herald writer Ian Healy reported only remnants of the gardens remained between plots of sub-divided land. He then heard tales of ships’ captains who once liked to creep into the mine, with picks, to chip off small pieces “which they treasured like gold”.

One of the greatest threats to the site were occasional bush fires. Early model cars then bought visitors in bigger numbers to the gardens and thefts of flowers and fruit increased.

Mr Bull’s gardens, which had once grown all tropical fruit from paw paws, pineapples and mangoes to tulips and violets, closed in the 1930s after about 70 years.

Sidney Bull and his wife then relocated from Whitebridge to Wallsend in 1937.

His father, pioneer Edmund Bull who had come to NSW in 1837, was from a long line of gardeners who had cultivated plants in Scotland and the Isle of Wight for several hundred years.

At first he lived at Folly Park, Mayfield, in 1854 before the industries came. Bull Street was named after him.

Sidney Bull said later that his father had grown the first bananas in Newcastle, but “nobody would buy them . . . the majority of people were suspicious of their taste and worth”.

The family then eventually moved to remote Whitebridge and the rest is history.

Linking the pastWELL, well. It’s not often you learn something new about local history.

It all started when author Doug Saxon, of Fishing Point, dropped me a note recently.

FORGOTTEN FIGURE: Michael Scott, pictured around 1940.

“I’m emailing you to let you know that, after three years of research, my book, Michael Scott. An Artistic Life, has finally been printed,” he wrote.

“The final product is 162 pages (A4) with some 90 photographs.

“You’re probably never heard of Michael Scott, but in the 1950s and 1960s he was well known throughout Australia, particularly as the founder of the Blake Prize for religious art.

“He also had strong connections to the Hunter – his father was medical superintendent at the Morisset Hospital and his uncle and benefactor was AA Rankin after whom Rankin Park Hospital and the adjoining suburb are named.”

According to Saxon, Scott was also a significant figure in changing Australian church architecture in the late 1950s and 1960s.

It turns out that Scott was also a newspaper columnist, radio broadcaster and lecturer on both religious art and church architecture while holding office in a number of church, government and community organisations.

In 1946, Scott was the first public figure to call for state aid for Catholic schools.

Author Saxon’s interest in Scott began after being appointed principal of Bonnells Bay Primary School (formerly Morisset East Public) on the western shore of Lake Macquarie, in January 1983.

Here, he received a letter from Michael Scott of Dublin, Ireland, seeking information about the school he attended from 1915 to 1917.

Michael Scott planned to write an account of his “incredibly happy days in the little (Morisset) bush school”.

Then in 2012, when Saxon set out to write the school’s centenary history, he found the letter sent to him 30 years earlier.

Saxon’s follow-up research uncovered that Scott had become orphaned at age 12 and had later become a Catholic priest.

At age 17, he gave up the opportunity to be a lawyer to become a Jesuit instead, fuelled by a sense of obligation to help those who’d helped his family. Intrigued, Saxon set out on the path to discover more.

This included that in 1968, Michael Scott became the first Australian Jesuit to leave to marry a woman he’d met in Dublin and fallen in love with almost 40 years earlier.

Saxon’s self-funded book ($30) is being launched on Saturday, May 13, at Adamstown Uniting Church.

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