community, news, taralga, naval, Australia, reunion, remembrance day
Remembrance Day on November 11 is of great significance to all Australians. It is a day where we remember and commemorate all of the service men and women who gave their lives through two world wars and various military conflicts throughout the years. READ ALSO: Exhibition delves into city’s early connection with explorers It is also a very significant time for 15 women, all former members of the Women’s Royal Australian Naval Service (WRANS). Throughout our period of service we became good friends, as we served in various naval establishments. There were many good times and lots of laughs. However, as our terms of service were coming to an end, we decided to hold a reunion every year on November 11. Being Remembrance Day we felt that as we got older, surely we couldn’t forget that date. CHECK OUT: Aussie cricket great calls on fellow farmers to get skin checked regularly Our first reunion was in 1970, this year will be our fiftieth reunion. During the years there have been some fun times but also some sad times. Some of the girls have lost their husbands and two of the girls have lost a child. Through the good and the sad times we have supported each other and as the years have passed the bonds of friendship have become even stronger. READ MORE: Save Our Voices: we hear you, says regional minister I have been very fortunate to be able to attend each of our reunions, even through a period of illness. This year our fiftieth reunion, due to COVID-19 our interstate members are unable to be with us, however seven of us will be attending the Remembrance Day service at Taralga. The other girls will get together in Queensland and Western Australia.
Remembrance Day on November 11 is of great significance to all Australians. It is a day where we remember and commemorate all of the service men and women who gave their lives through two world wars and various military conflicts throughout the years.
It is also a very significant time for 15 women, all former members of the Women’s Royal Australian Naval Service (WRANS).
Throughout our period of service we became good friends, as we served in various naval establishments. There were many good times and lots of laughs.
However, as our terms of service were coming to an end, we decided to hold a reunion every year on November 11. Being Remembrance Day we felt that as we got older, surely we couldn’t forget that date.
Our first reunion was in 1970, this year will be our fiftieth reunion. During the years there have been some fun times but also some sad times. Some of the girls have lost their husbands and two of the girls have lost a child.
Through the good and the sad times we have supported each other and as the years have passed the bonds of friendship have become even stronger.
I have been very fortunate to be able to attend each of our reunions, even through a period of illness. This year our fiftieth reunion, due to COVID-19 our interstate members are unable to be with us, however seven of us will be attending the Remembrance Day service at Taralga. The other girls will get together in Queensland and Western Australia.
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The AFL great, who remains beloved to this day for his incredible marking ability over his 165-game career at Adelaide and Fremantle, is about to find a whole new audience.
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It appears an Australian WWE wrestler, previously known to the US audience as Brendan Vink, has been rechristened under a new moniker – Tony Modra.
The 31-year-old, who grew up in Adelaide and is a big footy fan, tweeted the news on Monday morning.
That came a day after internet sleuths discovered WWE had trademarked his new name, as they often do for incoming wrestlers. Other names that weren’t inspired by footy greats included Akeem Young, Ivy Nile, Xyon Quinn and Odyssey Jones.
Modra – the wrestler – signed with WWE in early 2019, reporting to the company’s developmental NXT brand and Performance Centre training base in Orlando, Florida.
He appeared on the NXT TV show for the first time in March this year, also featuring on the company’s flagship Monday Night Raw program in April and May, including a surprising pinfall win.
He previously spent a decade wrestling in local Australian promotions as Elliot Sexton, being signed at the same time as the fellow Adelaide-born grappler now known as Bronson Reed.
We assume Modra will be unbeatable in ladder matches, because no-one can fly as high as him.
SYDNEY, NSW, Australia – A 45-year-old Sydney man has been charged for allegedly importing approximately 144 kilograms of cocaine hidden in hydraulic cylinders.
Operation Tethys began earlier this month following an Australian Border Force (ABF) detection of drugs hidden in a consignment of hydraulic cylinders, arriving from South Africa into Brisbane, in the northern Australian state of Queensland, on 1 October 2020.
ABF officers say they identified anomalies within the pistons of the two hydraulic cylinders. Inside the large pistons was a total of six metal drums, each concealing 24 blocks of white powder. A presumptive test of the powder returned a positive result for cocaine.
The detection was reported to the Australian Federal Police (AFP) for investigation.
AFP Crime Scene Investigators removed the cocaine blocks from the hydraulic cylinders and substituted them with an inert substance for a controlled delivery of the consignment to a warehouse in the Sydney suburb of Botany, in the Australian state of New South Wales.
The total approximate weight of the cocaine was determined to be 144 kilograms, which has an estimated street value of $64.8 million.
AFP officers executed search warrants at two warehouses on Friday in Botany.
Police allege the 45-year-old Sydney man took delivery of the consignment at a Botany warehouse and spent a significant amount of time on Wednesday and Thursday pulling apart the cylinders and accessing the hidden consignment.
The man was arrested at a Botany warehouse and charged with offences that carry a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.
It will be alleged the man facilitated the importation and was to play a significant role in onward distribution of it. Further enquiries, the AFP says, are ongoing into the source of the cocaine, and into other intended recipients in Australia.
During the search warrants, AFP officers seized a number of items, including sums of U.S. currency, gold bullions and silver ingots.
AFP Detective Superintendent Ben McQuillan said the AFP is continuing its enquiries domestically and with its international law enforcement partners to identify this organised crime group looking to profit from the high demand for illicit drugs in Australia.
“We believe further investigation of this matter will reveal significant links to organised criminal elements. We suspect this because of the money involved in purchasing 144kg of cocaine in source countries, and the cost of obtaining the industrial machinery to conceal it and then ship it more than halfway around the world,” he said Sunday.
“It is unfortunate that organised crime groups and cocaine users ignore the misery caused by this drug. The production of cocaine causes deforestation in source countries, toxic chemicals used to extract and processes cocaine from coca leaf are often dumped into vital waterways, and the organisations who oversee this basically enslave entire generations of families who live in farming and production areas.”
Australian Border Force (ABF) Regional Commander for Queensland, Chris Waters, said the initial detection highlighted the tireless work of ABF officers at the border.
“Our officers are highly trained to detect even the most sophisticated attempts to conceal the attempted illegal import of prohibited substances. Drugs such as these exact a terrible toll on the Australian community and we will continue to work closely with law enforcement partners like the AFP to combat this abhorrent crime,” Commander Waters said Sunday.
The man appeared in a Western Suburbs court, the Parramatta Local Court, on Saturday and was refused bail. He is next due in Sydney Central Local Court on 17 December 2020.
Australian academic Kylie Moore-Gilbert has reportedly been moved from Iran’s notorious Qarchak prison to an unknown location.
A friend of Kylie Moore-Gilbert said it is “very concerning not to know where she is”
DFAT will not confirm if reports Dr Moore-Gilbert has been moved from Qarchak prison are correct
The University of Melbourne lecturer was arrested in Tehran in 2018 for alleged espionage
Friends of Dr Moore-Gilbert said contacts in Iran told them she had been taken somewhere else with all her belongings over the weekend.
Similar reports had been issued by the Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) in Iran.
Jessie Moritz, who is a friend of Dr Moore-Gilbert’s, said they were worried about what has happened to her.
“It is very concerning not to know where she is,” she told the ABC.
“We are probably not going to know for another couple of days which is going to be a stressful period of just waiting and hoping.”
Dr Moore-Gilbert, who was a lecturer at the University of Melbourne, was arrested in Tehran in September 2018.
She was sentenced to 10 years in prison for espionage, charges she and the Australian Government reject.
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) will not confirm if the reports are correct.
The ABC put specific questions about Dr Moore-Gilbert’s whereabouts to DFAT but a spokeswoman instead issued a generic statement.
“The Government’s continuing efforts to secure Dr Moore-Gilbert’s release are an absolute priority,” the statement said.
“Our Ambassador in Tehran has regular consular access to Dr Moore-Gilbert.”
Ms Moritz has urged DFAT to shed some light on the situation.
“Regular consular access can mean once every couple of months, it does not mean every day or every week, it is not particularly specific,” she said.
“I understand there is a need for secrecy around these types of cases to an extent but I would really call on the Australian Government to ensure that she is safe and that they do have access to her at this time.”
The Australian Director of Human Rights Watch Elaine Pearson said there are too many unknowns.
“One hopes that the move from that prison is good news but we don’t know where she has been moved to and we don’t know why,” Ms Pearson said.
“We know from her letters that she has suffered and endured quite a lot in prison.
“We know that the conditions with COVID are very bad in Iran.”
The year 1996 was one of those ‘best of times, worst of times’ for Angus Cerini. In perhaps its defining moment, he was beaten up on a train by a group of young men after intervening when they harassed a couple of older women.
A first-year creative arts student at Melbourne University, he’d stopped smoking weed in order to get his head together to play a war criminal in a Student Union production of Daniel Keene’s Because You Are Mine, about the civil war and ethnic cleansing in former Yugoslavia — ongoing at the time.
“I thought ‘I’m going to get off the bongs and really do this play well’. And it was when I got off the bongs that I think everything I’d been blocking out came in,” he says.
A confluence of the physical trauma of being beaten up and the withdrawals — Cerini had what he describes as a “psychotic” episode: “I looped out, it was pretty bad,” he says.
And then while he was recovering in hospital, something fateful happened. Friends — young men — who came to visit him shared their own experiences of violence.
“They started telling me these stories; and the stories were quite full on.”
He wrote some of these down, and that became Recidivist — his first play — which debuted at the university’s Muddy Shorts festival in 1997. That’s how Cerini met playwright Lally Katz, who also had a work in the festival — and they’ve been friends (and sometime-colleagues) ever since.
“I’d been unwell for years, but undiagnosed, and then I got bashed — and [in this theatre scene] I was allowed to be who and what I was, or could be, in an environment that was full of odd and amazing and brilliant people.
“You know, what good is a Bachelor of Creative Arts? It doesn’t really do anything — you can’t be an engineer. But for me, it sort of saved me, right? If I hadn’t had that, I don’t know where I would have ended up, and what that would have cost society,” he says.
Eventually, and after many other plays, that creative arts degree gave rise to Cerini’s 2014 play The Bleeding Tree, a startlingly poetic revenge drama about domestic violence and murder in a “bone-dry” small-town country community.
It contained one of the best sequences in recent Australian theatre history, delivered by a middle-aged wife and mother, and her two daughters:
MOTHER: Girls, I think your father’s dead. DAUGHTER 1: I knocked his knees out. DAUGHTER 2: I conked his head. MOTHER: I shot that house-clown in the neck.
The Bleeding Tree won the 2014 Griffin Award for new Australian plays, and premiered at Griffin Theatre Company in 2015. It went on to win the Helpmann Award for best play, the NSW Premier’s Literary Award, two Australian Writers’ Guild Awards, a Sydney Theatre Award and a Green Room Award.
And it was picked up by Sydney Theatre Company for its 2017 season — which is where Hugo Weaving saw it, and decided he’d like to be in a Cerini play.
Dogs, dingoes and dead bodies
Weaving is currently performing in Sydney Theatre Company’s production of Cerini’s newest play, Wonnangatta, at the Roslyn Packer Theatre in Walsh Bay (STC’s first production since the pandemic-induced Australia-wide theatre shutdown in March).
“It’s a classic piece, already,” Weaving told The Stage Show the week after the show opened.
Wonnangatta is a two-hander set in Victoria’s alpine high country in early 1918. Weaving co-stars with Wayne Blair; the two play middle-aged men Harry and Riggall — who, as the play opens, have arrived at the remote cattle station of Wonnangatta to see what has happened to its manager, Jim Barclay, who is missing.
Barclay’s dog is starving and neglected; the station cook, a man named Bamford, is nowhere to be seen; the dingoes are howling outside.
Wonnangatta is inspired by a real life double homicide that was never solved; Weaving’s character is based on a close friend of Jim Barclay’s who found the body: Harry Smith.
Blair’s character is a composite of several real people, and named after William Riggall, who helped Smith raise the alarm when Barclay went missing.
Jessica Arthur, directing Sydney Theatre Company’s production of Wonnangatta, writes in her program note: “It seems to me that if The Bleeding Tree dramatises the outcome of the brutalising way we socialise men in this country, then Wonnangatta shows us the root of that process.”
For while Cerini’s play is ostensibly about two blokes hunting a missing person and a murderer in the bush, the greater threat is nature itself.
As Harry and Riggall grapple against the dense scrub, vertiginous terrain and wild weather, they are transformed.
In the dark of the Roslyn Packer Theatre, Weaving and Blair’s heads often seem to float mid-air, suspended in darkness — thanks to Nick Schlieper’s lighting design.
Combined with Jacob Nash’s austere production design (a single, crescent-shaped wafer of metal, corrugated like tin, on which the men stand), and a reduced, socially-distanced audience, there’s the sense of ‘campfire ghost story’ to the occasion.
The actors flip between telling the story to the audience and being ‘in character’; when in character, sometimes the two men are having a conversation — but other times they appear stuck in their own heads, processing the action as it unfolds.
As in The Bleeding Tree, Cerini writes in a poetic vernacular; Harry and Riggall’s expressions are authentically ‘country Australia’, but their words are arranged with a rhythm and rhyme that is like verse.
HARRY: Note still scrawled in chalk on the door. RIGGALL: Mail sitting unopened just like before. HARRY: Two days difficult ride and the homestead untouched, just like before. RIGGALL: “Home tonight’ HARRY: Is what it reads. RIGGALL: Same as before? HARRY: Same as before.
The two actors are on stage for about 90 minutes, talking almost non-stop — and tasked with hitting the rhythm and cadence of the script.
“It’s been a very complex, very challenging process of getting on top of the text — but a thrilling one,” said Weaving.
Blair said every show is “a mini grand final”.
“It’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever done!” he told The Stage Show.
‘A love story to Australia’
The alpine high country depicted in Wonnangatta is close to Cerini’s heart: growing up, he spent a lot of time in the north-east of Victoria, and “most school holidays [and] every second weekend at least” in the town of Jamieson, where his family had an old miner’s shack.
“That’s where I would have first heard the story of the Wonnangatta mystery,” Cerini says.
He and his three siblings played by the Jamieson River, and went on long bushwalks with their father.
During one of these, he had an experience that remains vivid in his memory — and inspired a climactic scene in Wonnangatta.
“I was only I think in about grade 4 or 5, and we went to a place called Lake Tali Karng, a natural lake deep in the high country. As we were bushwalking, the weather was nice — and then within a couple of hours, it was snowing, and so foggy I couldn’t see my hand in front of my face — it was quite terrifying. We ended up in this cattleman’s hut.”
With hindsight, he says, perhaps he was more scared than he needed to be — but his child’s perspective of awe at the natural environment has remained.
“What I love is the power of that environment,” he says.
“Soldier-settlers were told after the war [World War I], if you take this land and clear it — chop down everything and start being productive — we’ll give it to you. But if you don’t chop the trees down, you’ve gotta give it back. So you see this environmental savagery on an enormous scale — on a continent-wide scale.”
He feels that between droughts, floods, bushfires and the pandemic, nature’s dominance is more evident now than ever.
“It doesn’t matter whether we think climate change is real or not, or whether we think we should do more backburning or more tree clearing to change bushfire behaviour — all of that’s kind of irrelevant, because at the end of the day, we persistently refuse to accept that the planet, and nature, will do whatever the f*** she wants,” says Cerini.
And in his play, nature does indeed seem to fight back.
“It’s maybe a little bit of a love story to Australia.”
‘Difficult second album’
In 2017, Cerini was living in Victoria’s high country — on his remote property in Strathbogie Ranges, north of Melbourne.
“I live on 50 acres at the end of a no-through road, surrounded by bush and paddocks, with the closest house over a kilometre away,” he says.
He moved there because it was affordable, and he is working on developing it into a garlic farm — with the dream of a reliable income flow. But it also seems to suit him temperamentally.
“I literally see no-one, and that’s how I like it,” he says.
When STC came calling for a follow-up to The Bleeding Tree, it was gratifying — but Cerini quickly found himself in “difficult second album” territory, and slightly gobsmacked by Weaving’s interest.
Then his father, who had moved to the Strathbogie Ranges at the age of 60, got sick.
“We started talking, and I borrowed one of his books — Cattlemen and Huts of the High Plains, by Harry Stephenson — and it was then that I read, again, about the Wonnangatta murders,” he recalls.
He dug deeper into that niche, buying books, researching further.
In August 2018, something clicked into place: “In half an hour, I wrote the first 30 pages”.
STC’s literary manager, Polly Rowe, was keen, and Cerini proposed using the development-funding portion of the David Williamson Prize, which he had won in 2016 for The Bleeding Tree, towards getting the play up at STC.
Rowe came on as dramaturg, helping to shape the script with Cerini, and across two years, three ‘developments’ of the work occurred; Arthur was attached to direct, then Weaving to star, followed by Blair.
(He’d never seen either actor perform live before).
“At one point, I just stayed in Sydney in this weird, awful hotel room — those environments are great to write in, because it’s just brown. And so I punched out a complete draft.”
While Cerini was writing, his father died, and he moved back in with his mum, in Melbourne.
“It was a weird time,” he says.
Whereas the first draft of The Bleeding Tree had been — astoundingly — written in a few hours (in bed one morning, no less), Wonnangatta has been “the hardest thing I’ve done,” says Cerini.
Ballet and Aussie blokes
Cerini made his name with works about violent young men — from Recidivist in 1997 and its follow-ups Dennis is Dead and Fuckwit (1998), to the award-winning Wretch (2009).
Most of his works have in one way or another put the darker aspects of male behaviour under the lens, from child abuse (Saving Henry) to the particularly male urges that fuel trade in sex, drugs and guns (Resplendence).
And then there was The Bleeding Tree, in which a community comes together around the murder of a wife-beater.
To watch these plays, or listen to him talk, you wouldn’t suspect that Cerini studied ballet from age 6 to 16 — or that he advocates government funding for classical ballet and opera (not so much for Shakespeare, however).
He grew up the youngest of four kids, none of them into sport. His older sister wanted to do ballet — and then his older brothers felt they should be included. At six, Cerini was signed up by default.
The incident on the train, in 1996, was clearly a catalyst to him writing — and writing about violence, and men.
But he’d also done a lot of living between ballet at 16 and the creative arts degree in 1996.
Here’s how he summarises those in-between years: “I just smoked a lot of bongs, got into quite a bit of trouble, and then went to uni [an arts degree at Monash] and lasted a semester, and then flipped steaks for three years, and smoked a lot more bongs.”
He laughs through this checklist, but also speaks with seriousness about the intersection of mental health issues and drugs in young people: “We [need to] say to people hey listen, if you have history in your family of mental illness, maybe be careful smashing cones — because you’ve got a propensity.”
Once he discovered theatre and writing, and once he opened the pandora’s box of male violence, it proved a rich seam: homophobic violence, sexual violence, self-violence.
I ask him why he keeps turning a lens on the worst parts of men’s behaviour, and he says: “Maybe we want to be better. Maybe I want to be better.”
Poetry and masculinity
Growing up in the outer-Melbourne suburb of Vermont (right at the edge of the city, where the map turns from grey to a green expanse) Cerini says he felt outside ‘Australian masculinity’ — as one might imagine of someone into ballet, not sport.
“But I also know that I have at times been in that masculinity,” he adds.
This inside/outside-ness is writ large in the characters of Harry and Riggall: one is a capable, confident country bloke who is all about action and taking control and getting on with it; the other is more circumspect, less sure — more wary of danger, and more questioning.
These two modes of masculinity rub up against each other, not always comfortably — and shape the action of Wonnangatta.
“And maybe these two [characters] are trying to articulate a way of communicating.”
For Weaving and Blair, one of the biggest acts of magic Cerini has undertaken is to give voice — literally — to these men.
Weaving describes Harry as a “man who doesn’t really need much other than himself; he relies on his own wits, and he relies on his own experience, and he’d rather not talk … [but] we do talk a lot, we talk endlessly [in the play].”
He compares Cerini’s use of language to bush poets like Banjo Patterson and C.J. Dennis.
“There’s a real beauty in the zen Aussie man, when he gets to express what he feels — and I think Angus taps into that really beautifully, and that’s the thrilling aspect of this — the poetry that’s inside these fairly [withheld men].”
A different kind of theatre
Ballet has been crucial to how Cerini makes and writes theatre; even when he’s not on stage performing, it’s somehow embedded in the words he is writing.
“I’m really into dance — I love it. In many ways I prefer it to plays,” he admits.
“Dance gives you this thing to figure out yourself … it’s not definite, it could mean lots of things, and that’s what’s beautiful about it … the physicality is the thing. Whereas in a play, you’ve got a whole lot of stipulations so you know exactly what’s going on — they’re telling you everything.”
“That’s quite prescriptive — you don’t get that chance to really dream or imagine, as you do in dance.”
In 2011, he parlayed his dissatisfaction with main-stage theatre into the play Save for Crying, which he describes as an experiment.
He explains: “I see a lot of plays that are people chatting on stage in a lounge room — and to me, that’s the death of art … It doesn’t embrace performance, right? It may as well be on TV.
“So I set about trying to create language that would be specifically for the live performance. So in that way, it’s a bit of a dance and a bit of theatre … you’re kind of enjoying the words for the qualities of the words, not just what they mean.”
If Save for Crying was an experiment, it seems to have been successful. Cerini’s next play was The Bleeding Tree.
The show must go on
The year 2020 has been another of those ‘best and worst of times’ for Cerini: he missed attending the biggest opening night of his career, due to COVID-19 travel restrictions and quarantine procedures.
He lost income from productions of The Bleeding Tree that were scheduled and then cancelled in Adelaide and Hobart (although at time of writing, a production was in rehearsals and preparing to open at Hobart’s Theatre Royal, and Adelaide’s Theatre Republic are set to open their production in December — both later than scheduled).
But he also opened the biggest show of his career, on one of the biggest theatre stages, with one of the country’s premier theatre companies, with Hugo Weaving and Wayne Blair.
“What do you do after that?” he says, incredulous. “It’s big. It’s awesome. It’s gobsmacking.”
“My mother is very proud.”
Wonnangatta is at Roslyn Packer Theatre, Sydney, until October 31.
The Bleeding Tree is at Hobart’s Theatre Royal from November 12-28; and Tandanya National Aboriginal Cultural Institute (Adelaide) from December 9-19.
Franco Morbidelli produced a masterclass to keep the Suzuki duo of Alex Rins and Joan Mir at bay and claim his second MotoGP win of the season with victory at the Teruel Grand Prix.
For Australia’s hopeful, Jack Miller, though, there was nothing but disappointment as he was involved in a collision on just the second turn of the race with American Brad Binder. Both, though, were able to walk away unhurt.
Rins finished second behind the Italian, while championship leader Mir, who has yet to win a race this season, was third, extending his lead to 14 points over Morbidelli’s team mate Fabio Quartararo, who finished eighth.
Polesitter Takaaki Nakagami, who became the first Japanese rider in 16 years to clinch a premier-class pole, endured heartbreak when he also crashed on the opening lap while the LCR Honda rider was in the lead.
“When I had clean air in front of me, I decided to give everything I had in every single lap,” Morbidelli, who started second on the grid, said in the post-race interview.
“We adjusted the bike very well to be fast throughout the race so I could ride with precision and aggression the whole time.”
Morbidelli’s victory moved him up to fourth in the championship standings behind Yamaha’s Maverick Vinales, who finished seventh.
Rins said the wear on his soft front tyre prevented him from challenging Morbidelli towards the end of the race and decided to play it safe to secure Suzuki’s double podium while Mir said a podium was “like a victory” after starting 12th on the grid.
“Today, to give a bit more was a bit too much,” Mir said after his sixth podium in eight races.
“The guys in front of me were a bit far at the beginning and I couldn’t recover the distance. I couldn’t be faster today (but) another podium is an amazing result from 12th on the grid.”
Pol Espargaro and Miguel Oliveira finished fourth and sixth for their respective KTM teams, with Johann Zarco the lone Ducati in the top five sandwiched between the two.
Andrea Dovizioso’s title challenge also began to fade as the Italian Ducati rider slipped to fifth in the championship standings — 28 points behind Mir — after a 13th-placed finish.
CANBERRA, Oct. 23 (Xinhua) — Leaders of seven of Australia’s eight states and territories have agreed in principle to a plan to open their borders by the end of this year.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Friday chaired a meeting of the National Cabinet at which the local leaders, with the exception of West Australian Premier Mark McGowan, agreed to open up the country by Christmas on Dec. 25.
“We agreed in principle, again, – with the exception of Western Australia and their reservations were outlined on a previous occasion – with the reopening framework for Australia by Christmas,” Morrison said at a press conference in Canberra.
He also stressed the importance of the plan, saying it not only details the opening of various activities in economy, community and society, but also includes the necessary actions in public health response to support the plan.
However, McGowan has agreed to increase the state’s intake of recently returned travellers into hotel quarantine by 140 in November.
“So we continue to make good progress towards returning Australians home,” said Morrison. “And we want to do that as effectively and quickly, as safely as possible. And we’ll continue to work with all state and territory jurisdictions to facilitate that wherever we can.”
As of Friday afternoon there had been 27,484 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Australia, and the number of new cases in last 24 hours was 18, according to the latest figures from the federal health ministry.
“So we’re doing remarkably well. In the last seven days, only 109 new cases, of those, almost 80 percent are actually overseas acquired,” Acting Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly said at the same press conference.
Victoria, Australia’s hardest-hit state, reported one new case on Friday.
“In fact, the 14-day rolling average now in Victoria is continuing to decrease. It’s now 5.8 cases per day and 3.1 cases per day in New South Wales. And that’s stable and no other locally acquired cases elsewhere in the country,” said Kelly.
It is a spectacular view most people would be content just to look at.
A cultural exchange camp for Aboriginal youths and ADF personnel is in its third year
Campers undertake activities designed to help them understand courage, anxiety and fear
Defence says the program has been an eye opener for military personnel
But teenager Zeke Edwards just abseiled 80 metres solo off the edge of this windswept sea cliff, with the help of soldiers.
“I was leaning back and then I slipped and then I was hanging upside down for a bit,” he said.
“But then I got the hang of it.”
The activity at the Exercise Thura Yura camp is meant to do just that — help soldiers and Indigenous youth from South Australia’s Spencer Gulf work through anxiety and fear.
“It harnesses it, it harnesses your fear or something,” Zeke said.
But the camp does more than that.
Now expanded and in its third year, the three-day programme at Whaler’s Way on South Australia’s Eyre Peninsula aims to flip the script and get local Aboriginal communities teaching Australian Defence Force personnel about their country and culture.
Adnyamathanha Kokatha woman Darralee Gibson, who came with Zeke and others from Whyalla, said the young people loved being listened to.
“Knowing that [soldiers] are learning from them as well, you know, they’re pretty overwhelmed about it,” she said.
“They’re excited. You can see they are.
“Some of our kids suffer anxiety wicked and this is just a first step for them, to meet these guys and actually to do the activities.”
Ms Gibson said the camp allowed kids to experience something they never had living in Whyalla, a regional city that has undergone years of industrial decline and high unemployment.
“There was a lot of young criminal offences happening, so we’re just trying to keep the kids off the street and keep them safe,” she said.
Barngarla woman Vera Richards said the programme was a win-win for the community and the army.
“It’s helping me because we’ve been disconnected from our country because of all the oppression that’s been placed upon our people,” she said.
She said it was not just post-colonial Aboriginal history discussed at the camp, but Dreamtime stories connected to land used by Defence, including twin rock islands beneath the Whaler’s Way cliffs.
“It’s to do with our Dreamtime story of Boolyalana — he’s the lightning man — and his two wives. They’re set in stone at the base of the cliffs,” she said.
Major Dominic Lopez, who helped organise the camp, said it was opening defence personnel’s eyes to things they did not know.
“It’s obviously a spiritual experience for these [Indigenous] people,” he said.
“They have a real connection to the stories that are behind what I’m looking at. I don’t possess that knowledge.
“I see a beautiful geological feature that inspires me, but not to the same extent.
“We do a lot of our activities on the Eyre Peninsula and in Port Augusta, so getting to know Indigenous communities in the area, we can form positive, mutually beneficial relationships with those communities.”
He said the white-knuckle activities also helped to equalise the group.
“Everyone is scared doing what they’re doing, both my soldiers and the kids,” he said.
“But learning to overcome those initial reactions and knowing that you can overcome them and achieve success, I think that’s one of the benefits we can provide the kids.”
After years of drought, the Port of Brisbane is once again receiving train loads of grain from Queensland paddocks, which signals an end to eastern Australia’s reliance on wheat imports from Western Australia.
Since 2017, almost five million tonnes of grain has been shipped from WA to the east coast, with most of it arriving in Queensland to feed cattle, pigs, and chickens — markets which would usually be filled with local grain.
Graincorp Northern Supply Chain Manager, Josh Connell said this year was the first chance for most farmers in southern Queensland to grow a crop since 2016 so it was exciting to see just under 2,000 tonnes of grain, ideal for breadmakers, come from its Thallon site.
“The quality has been awesome. We are seeing a lot more protein than what everyone expected, so that’s been fantastic,” he said.
“We will be accumulating it for a number of vessels, but most likely it will be heading to South-East Asia.”
While quality had been impressive. The size of the Queensland crop was not.
“Unfortunately, Queensland is not to the level that we had hoped. There was a really promising start at the beginning of the season [and] unfortunately there was no follow-up, in crop, rain,” Mr Connell said.
Western Australian grain the saviour during drought, but at a price
During the drought years, the Graincorp’s Port of Brisbane site was kept busy handling grain imports from Western Australia.
Chief Economist at the Australian Export Grains Innovation Centre, Professor Ross Kingwell, said, at times, the east coast took up to 20 per cent of WA’s crop.
“The domestic market for grain became the main market for the export of grain out of WA,” he said.
It meant wheat that would normally go to countries like Indonesia, the Philippines, Japan, Korea, and China, instead went to the east coast of Australia.
“When you have severe drought in eastern Australia, and there are attractive prices on offer then a large volume of the grain from WA heads east,” Professor Kingwell said.
“In some of those years, the prices WA grain growers received meant that the rates of return to capital were the highest they had received in the last 20 years.”
Domestic shipping costs double that of international routes
Professor Kingwell said the cost of coastal shipping [sending ships domestically] added to the high grain cost for New South Wales and Queensland.
“If I had to move a container of grain from the port of Fremantle in WA, I could send that container of grain to Rotterdam in the Netherlands for $40 a tonne.
“I could send the same container of grain from Fremantle via coastal shipping to Sydney, and it would cost me $75 a tonne.”
Unloading grain at export facility posed challenges
The Graincorp site on Fisherman’s Island at the Port of Brisbane does not usually handle imports of bulk grain.
Port operations manager, Jason Hare said special equipment had to be hired to get the WA wheat off the bulk carriers.
“We engaged some contractors who brought, onto the port, hydraulic bucket grabs that lift the wheat out of the ships’ compartments and crane it into hoppers,” he said.
“Semitrailer trucks then fill with the grain from the hopper and move it to our terminal where it is then stored until it is put onto more trucks and sent to the market.”
Mr Hare said at the peak of operations, Graincorp loaded more than 200 trucks a day to send in all directions across Queensland and NSW.
“The team did a fantastic job of learning how to reverse a supply chain and do it efficiently.”
In September, ABARES predicted the Queensland grain harvest to be around 1.7 million tonnes, which is 4 per cent below the 10-year average to 2019–20.