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Tony Robinson makes history in Newcastle

HERE’S TO YOU MR ROBINSON: Tony Robinson at Nobbys Beach yesterday filming for his new series Time Walks. – Pictures by Jonathan CarrollTO many he is Baldrick of Blackadder fame, to some he is children’s favourite Fat Tulip and to others he is that documentary-maker from the History Channel.
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British television presenter Tony Robinson was filming in Newcastle yesterday for an episode in his next series Tony Robinson’s Time Walks.

In the ten-part series Robinson will uncover the hidden histories, characters and untold stories of some of Australia’s oldest cities, including Newcastle, while walking its streets.

For more pictures of Tony Robinson in Newcastle, click on the image below.

Robinson expects to be in town until Wednesday.

They have already been to Hobart, Woolloomooloo, St Kilda, Carlton, The Lanes, Bendigo and in the new year will visit Brisbane, Adelaide and Fremantle.

The series follows Robinson’s hugely successful Tony Robinson Explores Australia.

Robinson said he had always been intrigued by Newcastle and how it compared to its British namesake.

‘‘I know it’s a coal town but the idea of a Newcastle with a beach did not quite compute,’’ he said.

‘‘When a town is known for one thing there are other histories buried away in there. That’s what I wanted to learn.’’

Robinson said he hoped to teach Novocastrians about their past for example, that a convict wrote Australia’s first dictionary in Newcastle.

‘‘I do know Captain Cook, when he got here found Nobbys but totally missed the magnificent harbour behind it.’’

He said there were similarities with Newcastle, England.

‘‘It’s got the same sense of grittiness about it,’’ he said.

More than 20 years since cult hit Blackadder finished Robinson said people still called out lines to him, which was nice because the show established his career.

People also asked him about his documentaries and the ABC hit archaeological series Time Team, which created demand for his work Down Under.

Crews would also be talking to people on Newcastle’s streets, he said.

‘‘So, if they do see me please do not sneak away.’’

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Van Egmond considers tactical switch for Jets

BATTLING AWAY: Francis Jeffers contests possession with Pascal Bosschaart. — Picture by DARREN PATEMANJETS coach Gary van Egmond admits a formation change could be required to get the best out of English striker Francis Jeffers after Saturday’s demoralising 2-1 loss to Sydney FC at Ausgrid Stadium.
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After opening the scoring with a stunning Jeremy Brockie volley and dominating the first half, the Jets conceded soft goals in the 59th and 84th minutes to suffer their second defeat in as many weeks.

For pictures of the weekend’s game, click on the image below.

Adding to Newcastle’s woes, skipper Jobe Wheelhouse was sent off in the 85th minute for a second bookable offence and now faces a mandatory one-match suspension.

Van Egmond has favoured a 4-2-3-1 formation since he assumed the reins this season but now appears likely to revert to a 4-4-2 line-up.

‘‘What we’re going to have to do, and it’s more so my fault, we’re going to have to get someone up there to play alongside him,’’ van Egmond said.

‘‘As much as I love playing a certain system, I don’t think we probably might have the players here right at this moment, so we may change that … it’s more what we have to do for Francis to try and help him within the game, and that’s having more people in contact with him.’’

Asked who was likely to partner Jeffers up front, van Egmond replied: ‘‘We’ve got a number of players.

‘‘We’ve got Brockie, obviously, we’ve got Marko [Jesic] who can play in behind, you’ve got Ali [Abbas] who can play in behind, you’ve got Labinot [Haliti] up there, you’ve got Chris Payne, you’ve got Ryan [Griffiths].

‘‘There’s obviously a number of options.’’

Jeffers, the former Everton, Arsenal and Sheffield Wednesday target man, had a talismanic influence when he joined the Jets on a guest stint last season, inspiring them to a seven-game unbeaten run.

But this season he is yet to find his feet. He has played 343 minutes in six games without producing a goal or an assist and missed a one-on-one chance on Saturday night.

Van Egmond felt the 30-year-old played ‘‘quite well’’ against Sydney before being replaced in the 59th minute and was not restricted by a groin injury that sidelined him recently.

‘‘He’s getting through training,’’ van Egmond said. ‘‘He’s working well. By his own admission, he feels a lot fitter than what he did last year.’’

Van Egmond said his players paid the price for being ‘‘lackadaisical’’ in the second half and allowing Sydney to seize the momentum.

‘‘There’s times we just play how individuals decide they want to play a little bit and you just can’t afford to do that with the type of game we’re looking to play … if certain players decide they want to play a certain way then it’s going to hurt you if you turn the ball over,’’ he said.

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Stockton Beach Tourist Park set for revamp

IMPROVED: Grace Edwards, 5, with brother Harper, 3, check out the new cabins; the Stockton ferry terminal, below. Picture by Jonathan CarrollNEW tourist cabins to be unveiled today at Stockton Beach Tourist Park are set to be the first in a host of overhauls planned for the town’s waterfront.
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The $2.3million project involved building 11 cabins at the park’s northern end.

The accommodation will be available for holiday hire from Friday, and bookings have already been taken for the busy Christmas and new year period.

Newcastle City Council commercial enterprise services manager Daniel Ballantyne said the cabins were built in response to demand.

‘‘There’s a shortage of quality tourism accommodation in Newcastle,’’ he said.

Revenue raised at Stockton would be invested into coastal revitalisation. Stage two of the development, comprising 15 cabins, is to come in 2012.

Extensions to the park are also envisaged in a new planning document that will go before the council tomorrow.

The draft South Stockton Reserves Public Domain Plan suggests extending the park east around the nearby public swimming pool.

This area could accommodate up to 25 cabins, with the potential to raise $1.2million a year, which would be invested in to the coastline.

The public domain plan proposes a cafe, community centre and library in Griffith Park, near the ferry terminal.

A playground and viewing platform, angled towards Newcastle’s Queens Wharf tower and Christ Church Cathedral, were other possible additions.

Timed parking is suggested in part of the ferry terminal car park, with all-day parking catered for around the perimeter.

The draft plan also suggests improvements to the Ballast Ground boat ramp, paths aligned with Bathers Way around all the reserves and tree planting.

Councillors will decide tomorrow whether to put the plan on public exhibition.

It forms part of a broader coastal revitalisation planning process for the Newcastle waterfront between Stockton and Merewether.

The Plan

The draft South Stockton Reserves Public Domain Plan

Pitt Street Reserve

■Stockton Beach Tourist Park expansion

■Remove and replace skate park, pending tourist park expansion

■Widen entry to northern breakwater

■Restrict vehicle access on the edge of the Pitt Street Reserve

■Shared pathway extension, north of King Street and adjacent to tourist park to connect to surf club and beyond

Lion Park


■Seating and tree planting

■Remove informal car park and return to open space

Griffith Park

■Cafe, community centre and library near ferry terminal

■Playground with cycle track, climbing structure, sand pit, swings, barbecue and picnic area

■Viewing platform angled towards Newcastle

■Timed parking.

Ballast Ground

(Including Stockton boat ramp)

Improvements to:

■trailer parking


■remove amenities block near Clyde Street

General (all reserves)


■Align paths with Bathers Way

■Markers highlighting historic sites and points of interest

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Santorum ready for tough campaign against Romney

Senator Rick Santorum during a campaign stop in New Hampshire.NEW HAMPSHIRE – Republican White House candidate Rick Santorum has come within eight votes of winning Iowa, but faces an uphill battle against frontrunner Mitt Romney next week in New Hampshire.
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Fresh off his strong finish in Iowa, Mr Santorum, a staunch Christian conservative, was greeted by a large crowd at a town hall in New Hampshire, reflecting his new-found attention from voters and media.

He said campaign contributions were pouring in, and his campaign headquarters said phones were ringing off the hook with supporters eager to volunteer for the former Pennsylvania senator.

But Mr Santorum faces a tough battle in New Hampshire, where support for Mr Romney runs high and where he will have to convince more moderate voters that he can defeat President Barack Obama in the November presidential election.

”A lot of folks are trying to tell you there is this guy who is going to win,” Mr Santorum said, referring to MR Romney, who holds a commanding lead in opinion polls.

”Do not pay attention to what the polls and pundits say. Don’t trust them, trust yourself,” he said.

He is likely to get some help from former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who blamed attack ads by Romney allies for his fourth-place Iowa finish.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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Azarenka looming as a majordanger to Stosur

Victoria AzarenkaSYDNEY – She’s flying under the radar but world No. 3 Victoria Azarenka looms as one of Samantha Stosur’s biggest Australian Open hurdles.
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Long touted as a major winner in waiting, Azarenka has arrived in Australia with a career-high ranking and quietly confident of finally breaking her grand slam duck at Melbourne Park.

“I really want it bad,” Azarenka said yesterday.

“Winning a slam is definitely one of the goals this year. I’m working hard to achieve this.”

The Belarusian has been knocking louder and louder on the grand slam door, losing to the eventual champion in six majors over the past two years, including to Serena Williams back-to-back at Melbourne Park in 2009-10.

But after collecting three titles and charging to the Wimbledon semi-finals in 2011, Azarenka says she’s ready to take the next step.

The 22-year-old is drawing inspiration from Stosur, Petra Kvitova and Li Na, who joined the grand slam winners’ club last year.

“Oh, I’m ready,” Azarenka said. “It’s the little things – just a little bit more belief. I need to be more demanding in those big matches, and also sometimes a little bit of luck is good.

“But I’ve had great experiences. I’m really lucky and happy that I went through those tough moments so that next time I face it, I can learn from those experiences.”

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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Sex killer back behind bars

SYDNEY – Sex killer Trent Jennings, caught in a northern New South Wales beachside town after five days on the run, is behind bars after a court denied his bid to return to a psychiatric hospital.
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Jennings was caught sleeping in an allegedly stolen car in Byron Bay on Wednesday after going missing from Morisset Psychiatric Hospital near Newcastle.

The 26-year-old did not appear in Lismore Local Court yesterday to face charges of detaining a person for advantage, car theft, robbery and gaining a financial benefit by deception.

The charges relate to an incident in Sydney’s south on December 29, while Jennings was on day leave from the hospital where he had been committed in 2005 for killing his gay lover during a drug-fuelled sex romp.

Jennings’s Legal Aid solicitor, Rita Mula, asked the court yesterday for her client to be returned to the Morisset hospital to undergo psychiatric assessment. But registrar Mark Bromhead refused the application, saying it was now a police matter and Jennings could not go back into the mental health system at this stage.

Earlier yesterday, the NSW chief psychiatrist rejected calls for jail security to be called whenever mental ward inmates failed to return from day release.

NSW Opposition Leader John Robertson has called for Corrective Services to be put in charge of monitoring day-release inmates.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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Geigeron mounts surprise comeback

PADDOCK BLUES: Veteran Geigeron will trial for trainer Steve Hodge at Broadmeadow today. – Picture by Jenny EvansA STABLE at Broadmeadow racecourse truly is home sweet home for the veteran Geigeron.
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The 11-year old just did not take to the quiet lifestyle that came with retirement.

He has shown clearly that he prefers the hustle and bustle of a stable environment.

Geigeron had a distinguished career.

But it was decided after he finished fourth of seven at Taree in an Open over 1250metres on August 22, 2010, that his racing days were over.

Today he starts on an unexpected comeback.

He runs in the opening trial at 8.30am at Newcastle over 1200m on the course proper.

If he shows to trainer Steve Hodge that he is still up to it and wants to race then Geigeron will return to racing.

That will be a far cry from what Hodge saw when he visited Geigeron during his days of retirement.

Hodge said owners Barry and Linda Pont asked him to have a look at him because they were concerned he was not doing too well in the paddock.

‘‘He was sulking and just moping about and he was wasting away,’’ Hodge said.

‘‘It was clear he wasn’t happy so I told the Ponts I would take him back to where he was used to.’’

That meant going home to Hodge’s stables at Broadmeadow racecourse precinct.

Geigeron had lived in the same stall since he first went into work as a two-year-old.

It was from this base that he proved himself as more than just a handy performer.

From 67 starts he won 13 races and was placed another 19 times for $360,000 in prizemoney.

Hodge took him to Sydney to show his wares. He won on five occasions in 2004 and 2005.

But it was in the bush where he excelled being the country cups king of his time.

His last win was in the Inverell Cup in June 2010 – the second time he had won that race.

He also won the Moree Cup, the Denman Cup at Muswellbrook and the Spring Cup at Quirindi in 2009.

‘‘When we got him home there was no thought of him racing again but just to feed him up,’’ Hodge said.

‘‘My apprentice, Alex Stokes, came to me one day and said she was amazed how good the old horse looked.

‘‘He was having a good time so we just started to work him a bit, bringing him along slowly with a lot swimming.’’

Geigeron really has taken to his old routine.

‘‘He is loving it,’’ Hodge said.

‘‘So he is now up to the stage where he can trial.

‘‘But what happens from here is up to Geigeron.

‘‘If he shows he is keen in the trial then I will just keep him going and maybe he will race again.

‘‘I mean John McNair has Mustard still racing and he is 14.

‘‘But if at any stage Geigeron shows that racing may harm him then I will stop.

‘‘He can just hang around the stables for as long at it makes him happy.’’

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New stage of career awaits Cashion at NIDA

Charlotte Cashion, of Pipers River, has been accepted into NIDA. Picture: PHILLIP BIGGSA LAST minute application to the National Institute of Dramatic Art has marked a promising career start for Charlotte Cashion.
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After taking to the stage just four years ago and applying to the institute on the final day of acceptance, the Pipers River 21-year-old has proved she has a natural talent.

At the end of the month she will join 14 others from across the country to undertake a three-year theatre course at Australia’s most prestigious theatre institute.

But becoming an actress wasn’t always Cashion’s intention.

“I went to college wanting to be a nurse,” she said yesterday.

“Then my mother suggested that I do drama.

“I tried it and fell in love with it – I knew then that’s what my ultimate direction was.”

Cashion’s first staring role was as Ms Darbus in Launceston College’s 2007 production of High School Musical.

She has since appeared in numerous Launceston College shows and productions with Mudlark Theatre and Encore Theatre Company.

The NIDA audition marked a first for Cashion and the acceptance letter she received mid-December was something she never expected.

“I came back to Tassie after living in Melbourne working in bars for a year, and applied on the day the applications closed,” she said.

“It was something I always wanted to do but I didn’t have the confidence.

“It’s just crazy, I never thought that I would get this far – I’m still trying to come to terms with it.”

Cashion performed three monologues at her audition: one taken from The Seed, by Kate Mulvany, the second, Act 3 Scene 2 from William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet and the third, a monologue from Three Sisters, by Anton Chekhov.

Cashion’s former drama teacher Liz Bennett said from the very first day she met Cashion, she knew she would go far. “I remember about three weeks in, we were doing an Australian drama unit and Nicole (another Launceston College drama teacher) and I looked at each other and went: that is the most talented student we’ve seen,” Ms Bennett said. “Charlie could be the next Cate Blanchett.”

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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The Hunter’s GP shortage

MOST Hunter residents will know from first-hand experience how difficult it can be to get an early appointment with a general practitioner.
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Many practices have closed their books to new clients and even existing clients of long standing can wait days or weeks to see their preferred doctor.

It’s a problem that seems certain to get worse, for reasons that have been well-recognised for a number of years.

In a nutshell, the average age of the Hunter’s general practice workforce is rising. As older GPs retire they are not being replaced by a sufficient number of new doctors able to pick up the full workload. This trend is exacerbated by the fact that many new GPs only work part-time and may take extended periods of leave for family reasons.

The population is growing too, making it even harder to match community needs with GP numbers.

And although Australians like to boast about the safety net provided by Medicare rebates, the reality is that the mismatch between supply and demand for doctors means the gap between the rebates and actual charges at the surgery is growing.

This means that, in effect, many Hunter people are slipping back to the predicament so common before Medicare where a visit to a doctor means economic sacrifice in some other important part of the household budget.

Hunter doctors have an established record of designing and lobbying for improved service delivery models.

Co-operative after-hours clinics, for example, have shown their worth to both doctors and patients, spreading the load of anti-social shifts and ensuring better availability of care outside regular business hours.

Even so, the Hunter Valley Research Foundation has reported that rising medical costs mean one in five residents either put off seeing a doctor, delay some other necessary household purchase, travel a long distance to find one of the handful of remaining bulk-billing practices or borrow money to pay for care.

Given the Hunter’s socio-economic status and high rate of welfare dependency, this shouldn’t be surprising.

It is, however, very troubling and demands more creative thinking by doctors and governments to find solutions, before significant portions of the population become unable to access good-quality primary medical care.

History on show

NEWCASTLE’S amazing history is too often unsung. Most Hunter children learn more at school about the causes of European wars or the doings of the ancient Egyptians than they do about their own city’s remarkable place in the making of Australia.

It is gratifying that popular television history presenter Tony Robinson – having researched the city’s past – is set to bring some of his discoveries to light for the benefit of a wide audience.

As anybody who has spent even a short time investigating Novocastrian history will agree, the film-maker has an extensive menu of fascinating stories to choose from.

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UNSUNG HERO: A driving force for the needy

CONNECTING: Aub Hewston has been delivering for Meals on Wheels for almost 20 years and enjoys a laugh and a chat along the way.AUB Hewston is a quiet achiever who shies away from the limelight and gets about his work with unwavering enthusiasm.
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The 86-year-old from Gateshead has been working with Charlestown Meals on Wheels for the best part of the last two decades and doesn’t look like stopping any time soon.

Mr Hewston may be the driver who delivers meals, but his role is much more than that.

He regularly chats and jokes with those he delivers meals to.

‘‘I work there probably about once or twice a week,’’ he said.

‘‘To me it’s satisfying, if you’re in a position to help people it’s worth it.

‘‘Meeting new people and making friends is all part of it.’’

Mr Hewston speaks fondly of his workmates, describing them as ‘‘characters’’ who are ‘‘a great bunch of people’’.

It is clear he loves what he does and won’t be stopping any time soon.

He has worked as a volunteer ever since his retirement from Caltex and has also helped out at the Mater Hospital.

He volunteered at the hospital as a driver, picking up patients from their homes and taking them to see a doctor.

He was a reassuring voice for many patients before and after their appointments.

He no longer works at the Mater but he still makes an effort to visit various hospitals and have a chat with patients.

‘‘Some of them I know, some of them I don’t,’’ Mr Hewston said.

‘‘I’ll go along if I hear someone [I know] has gone into hospital and if I see someone in a ward by themselves I’ll go have a chat to them.’’

Whether he shares a joke or just says ‘‘g’day’’ and pops his head around the corner, the gesture is much appreciated by the patients he visits.

Co-ordinator of Charlestown Meals on Wheels, Leanne Rodwell, said Mr Hewston was much-loved around the workplace.

‘‘He’s an extremely reliable man and one of the nicest gentlemen I’ve ever met,’’ she said.

‘‘He puts people before himself all the time and is very quiet about it, too.’’

Charlestown Meals on Wheels has about 170 volunteers who prepare, cook and deliver more than 10,000 meals every four months to more than 250 people.

Charlestown MP Andrew Cornwall spent a day working with Mr Hewston earlier in the month and was full of praise for the many workers at Meals on Wheels.

‘‘I saw that Meals and Wheels is more than serving food,’’ he said.

‘‘It is lending an ear and a joke between old friends, which is an invaluable part of people’s weekly routines.’’

Mr Hewston loves what he is doing and said that he had no need for any hobbies.

‘‘No, not really, I’ve made what I’m doing my hobby,’’ he said.

‘‘As long as I can get in that car I’ll keep on going.”

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