NSW police make last-minute plea before thousands expected at ‘Invasion Day’ rally


Police and health authorities in NSW have made a last-minute plea for people not to attend a Sydney Invasion Day protest planned for Tuesday, saying those who attend face fines and imprisonment. 

Over 6,000 people have clicked “attending” on social media for the rally in Sydney to mark “Invasion Day” on 26 January. 

Current Sydney coronavirus restrictions set outdoor gathering limits to a maximum of 500 people and NSW Police have promised to enforce the restrictions. 

“Do not come in and be part of that public gathering. Find another way to express your views and opinions,” NSW Police Assistant Commissioner Mick Willing said. 

“We are all aware that these are sensitive issues and they are very important issues to a lot of people but we are still in the middle of a global pandemic and we’re asking people to abide by those health orders.”

Breaches of public health orders can result in up to six months’ jail or fines of up to $11,000.

Police are also able to issue on-the-spot-fines from $1,000.

Organisers of the rally in Sydney have vowed to go ahead despite the police warnings and say their event would be COVID-safe. They say the government has stonewalled their efforts to agree on a safety plan.

An “Invasion Day” march in Redfern on January 26, 2018.

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“Organisers have a detailed COVID-safety plan that they have given the NSW government. But there has been no response from the NSW government, no response from NSW Health, no response from the NSW Police other than the threats of violence through the police minister,” Greens MP David Shoebridge said on Monday afternoon.

Mr Shoebridge has published the six-page plan, which was sent to Health Minister Brad Hazzard on Friday.

He said in a statement that it was “every bit as stringent” as the plan governing the recent Test match at the Sydney Cricket Ground and “more detailed than that used by shopping malls in NSW”.

The plan includes compulsory mask wearing, over 85 marshals, pre-registration by QR code, hand sanitiser and social distancing.

Mr Shoebridge said it would be a “political crime” not to grant an exemption to the rally when the government has suggested it will lift restrictions later this week.

Earlier on Monday, Premier Gladys Berejiklian urged people to express their opinions without mass gatherings. 

“Our strong preference is that people stay home or use other methods to demonstrate their strength of feeling on issues,” she said.

“The police will be there to make sure the health orders are preserved.”

NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard labelled the planned rally as “problematic” and implored protesters to convene in groups of 500, rather than in one large mass.

Police said a “highly visible and mobile” operation would be in place on Tuesday for outdoor revellers.

Sydney’s Circular Quay will be closed to the public by 6pm on Tuesday, with exemptions for those with bookings at restaurant or other venues.

NSW residents are being told to prepare for sweltering conditions with temperatures of up to 40C forecast.

Around the country

Large rallies to mark “Invasion Day” are set to be held in major cities throughout Australia on Tuesday. 

Protests are scheduled to be held in Brisbane, Canberra, Adelaide, Darwin, Hobart and Perth. 

In Melbourne, over 3,500 people clicked “attending” on a Facebook event for the rally. 

Victorian protest organisers said the crowd would be split into groups of 100 people, the current outdoor gathering limit in the state, and that everyone would have to wear a face mask. 

But that didn’t stop Premier Daniel Andrews from urging people not to attend, despite the streak of zero community coronavirus cases recorded in recent weeks. 

“This will be a different Australia Day; we’re in the midst of a global pandemic,” Mr Andrews said. 

“It’s no time to be protesting, it just isn’t. We’ve built something precious and unique, Victorians have, through their sacrifice and their commitment and their compassion for each other and we have to safeguard that,” he added. 

People in Australia must stay at least 1.5 metres away from others. Check your jurisdiction’s restrictions on gathering limits. If you are experiencing cold or flu symptoms, stay home and arrange a test by calling your doctor or contact the Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080. News and information is available in 63 languages at sbs.com.au/coronavirus

Please check the relevant guidelines for your state or territory: NSW, Victoria, Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia, Northern Territory, ACT, Tasmania

With AAP



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Israel approves hundreds of settlement homes in last-minute push


“By promoting hundreds of settlement units, Prime Minister Netanyahu is once again putting his personal political interests over those of the country,” the group said. “Not only will this settlement activity erode the possibility for a conflict-ending resolution with the Palestinians in the long-term, but in the short-term it needlessly sets Israel on a collision course with the incoming Biden administration.”

Netanyahu’s office said last week he would seek approvals for the latest construction projects. They include 100 homes in Tal Menashe, a settlement where an Israeli woman was killed last month in an attack for which a Palestinian man has been charged.

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The Palestinians claim all of the West Bank, captured by Israel in the 1967 Mid-east war, as part of a future independent state. They say the growing settler population, approaching some 500,000 people, makes it increasingly difficult to achieve their dream of independence.

Nabil Abu Rdeneh, spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, said Sunday’s decision marked a “pre-emptive attempt by the Israeli government to undermine any effort that the US President-elect Joe Biden’s administration might make to relaunch the stalled peace process.”

Jordan, which borders the West Bank, and the European Union also condemned the Israeli announcement. The EU said it is “contrary to international law and further undermines the prospects of a viable two-state solution”.

A string of US administrations, along with the rest of the international community, opposed settlement construction. But Trump, surrounded by a team of advisers with close ties to the settler movement, took a different approach. His administration did not criticise Israeli settlement announcements, and in a landmark decision, announced in 2018 that it did not consider settlements to be illegal under international law.

As a result, Israel approved plans for over 27,000 settler homes during Trump’s four-year term, more than 2.5 times the number approved during the Obama administration’s second term, according to Peace Now.

Biden is expected to return to the traditional US position of opposing settlements, setting the stage for a possible clash with Netanyahu.

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Britain and European Union strike last-minute post-Brexit trade deal


LONDON — With just days until the deadline, the United Kingdom and European Union agreed to a post-Brexit trade deal Thursday, signaling the end of a four-year saga that engulfed British politics and exposed a deep cultural divide that shows no signs of healing.

“A deal is done,” a U.K. government spokesperson said in a statement, which was quickly followed by a triumphant tweet from Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

“This agreement allows the beginning of a new relationship between the U.K. and the E.U.,” the spokesperson said, labeling the pact “one that we have always wanted — a thriving trading and economic relationship between a sovereign U.K. and our European partners and friends.”

Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, the E.U.’s executive branch, said at a news conference: “It was a long and winding road but we have got a good deal to show for it.”

She said rather than joy she merely felt “satisfaction and relief,” telling the British that “parting is such sweet sorrow” and urging the rest of Europe, “it is time to leave Brexit behind.”

Both sides presented the deal as a political win, saving the U.K. and remaining 27 E.U. members from the threat of a “no-deal” Brexit — widely regarded as a nightmare scenario that would damage economies on both sides.

In reality however, this deal is what experts call a “hard Brexit” free trade agreement. It focuses largely on quotas and tariffs but does not avoid regulatory checks on goods at the border, something that experts have warned could cause disruption at ports, meaning price rises and even shortages.

Image: Anti-Brexit demonstrators (Han Yan / Xinhua News Agency/Getty Images)

The U.K. voted to leave the E.U. in 2016 and after years of tortuous politicking finally exited on Jan. 31 this year. Until Dec. 31 it is in a “transition period” with the remaining 27 E.U. countries, keeping the same rules while trying to negotiate a deal.

Negotiators have been shuttling between London and Brussels for months. For most of that time it seemed as though they would be unable to break the deadlock, which centered around how to stop Britain gaining an unfair advantage on its newly estranged neighbors, and fishing rights — an economically tiny but nonetheless symbolic sector of the British economy.

Now that it’s been agreed by negotiators, the deal will need to be approved by E.U. leaders, who have been consulted constantly throughout the trade talks, and British lawmakers in the House of Commons, where Johnson holds a strong majority and the opposition Labour Party is not expected to stand in his way.

The initial Brexit vote was decided 52 percent to 48 but polls now consistently show that more people than not believe it was a mistake.

Brexit does still have millions of supporters. They see it as a way to break free from Europe’s shared rules, allowing Britain to strike its own trade deals and control its borders — usually a euphemism for tighter controls on immigration.

But independent economists are almost united in agreeing any form of Brexit will damage the U.K. economically, an unavoidable consequence of leaving the world’s largest political and economic club — not to mention its largest trading partner.

This year Covid-19 triggered the worst British recession in 300 years; the pain wrought by Brexit is forecast to be even worse, according to the government’s Office for Budget Responsibility.

The British government’s own estimates say even an ambitious trade deal between the U.K. and United States would not be enough to offset this damage.

Meanwhile political critics worry that in a world where Washington, Beijing and Brussels are vying for hegemonic influence, Britain leaving the E.U. will reduce it to a midranking outsider.

Then there’s the impact on the unity of the U.K. itself. The Brexit agreement means that there will be a controversial trade border between Northern Ireland, which is part of the U.K., and the rest of the country.

This means it will be easier for Northern Ireland to do trade with the Irish Republic, which is a separate country, at a time when some polls suggest growing support for Irish reunification.

Similarly, Brexit has coincided with growing support for an independent Scotland, where most people voted to stay in the E.U. but were outnumbered by the sheer weight of English voters.

“There is no deal that will ever make up for what Brexit takes away from us,” Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who leads Scotland’s devolved government, wrote on Twitter. She said it was time for Scotland to “chart our own future as an independent, European nation.”





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EU-UK negotiations – Brexit talks inch towards a last-minute deal—but it is not done yet | Britain


THE GOVERNMENT is urging businesses to step up preparations for the end of Britain’s transition out of the European Union on December 31st. This week Michael Gove, the cabinet office minister, announced the setting up of a new border operations centre, adding that significant change was coming with or without a trade deal. Yet many companies retorted that uncertainty over the negotiations made proper preparation all but impossible.

This week’s talks in London have made some progress, yet the old gaps remain over fisheries and a level playing-field for competition. Officials suggest Boris Johnson now needs to intervene to seal a deal. The prime minister is under pressure, especially after a big backbench Tory revolt on December 1st against his new covid-19 tier system. But Mujtaba Rahman of the Eurasia Group, a consultancy, sees little sign of early readiness to give more ground to the EU. And the mooted inclusion of more unilateral (and illegal) changes to the Northern Ireland provisions of the withdrawal treaty in next week’s finance bill could upset the applecart again.

As repeated Brexit deadlines come and go, the timetable for ratifying a trade treaty that runs to some 800 pages (plus annexes) becomes ever tighter. Getting a deal through Westminster should not be hard even with another revolt by hardline Tories, because the Labour opposition is unlikely to vote it down if the alternative is no deal. But rushed approval by the EU is a lot more problematic.

All national governments must agree. Some may jib if there is not enough time for full legal scrutiny and translation. In a few countries, such as Finland, parliamentary approval is needed before a government signs. Some parliaments may also demand a say if the deal is “mixed”, meaning it includes issues such as airline regulation or social security that fall within national not EU competence. But Georgina Wright of the Institute for Government, a think-tank, says lawyers in Brussels may still argue that the deal needs only EU approval. She also points to precedents for provisional application of trade deals pending any national ratifications later deemed necessary.

That is harder with the European Parliament, since its approval has always preceded a trade deal taking effect. Next week sees its last planned plenary meeting of the year. Two committees normally scrutinise and report on trade deals before they are voted on. Yet MEPs are well briefed on the Brexit trade talks, and are anxious not to be seen as an obstacle to a deal. They have already planned a remote session with a vote in the week of December 28th just in case.

Brexit’s potential cost is becoming clearer. The government tried unsuccessfully to head off this week’s backbench revolt by publishing a hasty economic-impact assessment of its covid-19 tiers. Yet Mr Johnson still refuses to offer a similar assessment of any Brexit trade deal (or of no deal). Fortunately the independent Office of Budget Responsibility has now done the job. It predicts a 4% long-term loss of output with a deal, and an extra cut in GDP of 2% next year with no deal. This echoes other forecasts and the Bank of England’s conclusion that Brexit will cost more than the pandemic. And it will come on top of a poor outcome in 2020. The OECD has just downgraded its forecasts, putting Britain second-to-last among leading members, with an expected fall in GDP this year of 11.2%. That is an unhappy position in which to inflict further disruption.

This article appeared in the Britain section of the print edition under the headline “How late it was, how late”

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5 Last-Minute Ideas for a Successful Small Business Saturday


It’s not too late to make this Small Business Saturday a success for your business.


4 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


Small Business Saturday is an American shopping holiday that celebrates small businesses and it happens every year on the last Saturday of November. Founded in 2010 by American Express, Small Business Saturday is a great way to promote your small business because unlike other popular shopping days like Black Friday and Cyber Monday, you don’t have to compete with the big guys. 

So, it’s important that you take advantage of Small Business Saturday this year if you want to attract more shoppers to your business and generate more sales. But, how can you stand out on Small Business Saturday and grab the attention of shoppers?

Check out these 5 ideas for a successful Small Business Saturday. 

1. Put up signage

If you want to have a successful Small Business Saturday this year, first you need to remind your customers of the shopping holiday. So, be sure to put up signage in your small business weeks before the big day to inform shoppers and get them excited about the event. 

American Express even offers customizable free signage and marketing materials like decals and posters you can use to promote Small Business Saturday to your customers.  

If your business doesn’t have a physical location, you can “put up signage” on your website. Make sure to display your Small Business Saturday promotions prominently on your homepage and consider creating a dedicated landing page for Small Business Saturday deals. 

2. Create an email marketing campaign

Email is one of the best ways to stay in touch with your customers—and it’s one of the best ways to promote your Small Business Saturday deals too. With email marketing, you can send your subscribers an invitation to your Small Business Saturday event straight to their inboxes. In the email, tell customers how much they can expect to save, and use words that create urgency like “don’t wait,” “one day only” and “don’t miss it.”

3. Use social media and relevant hashtags

Your audience is on social media. In fact, according to Oberlo, 90.4 percent of Millenials, 77.5 percent of Generation X and 48.2 percent of Baby Boomers are active social media users. So, if you want to have a successful Small Business Saturday you need to be on social media too.

Start creating and sharing Small Business Saturday posts on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. To widen your reach, be sure to use relevant hashtags like #SmallBusinessSaturday, #SmallBizSat, #ShopSmall and #ShopLocal. 

4. Run a giveaway

A great way to get shoppers excited about Small Business Saturday is by running a giveaway. Everyone loves winning a prize or getting a free gift so running a giveaway will give shoppers a little extra incentive to shop at your business on the last Saturday of November. 

Your business could hold an online giveaway where users have to share your post in order to enter. This will help get the word out about your Small Business Saturday promotions faster. You could also run a simple raffle at your business or give away a free gift to the first 25 people that make a purchase. A giveaway is a great way to stir up excitement and turn casual shoppers into lifelong fans of your business. 

5. Share the story of your business 

Lastly, because Small Business Saturday is all about supporting local, small businesses, you should share your story. Sharing the story of your business will help you make connections and build meaningful relationships with your customers. 

So, let your customers know how you started your business and why you started it. You can share your story via signage, social media posts, in your email newsletter and so on. Sharing your story will help your customers get to know the person behind the company and show them why they should support your business.  

Make Small Business Saturday your own

Get ready to have the most successful Small Business Saturday yet. With these tips, you can attract plenty of people that are interested in shopping at and supporting small businesses like yours. 



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Last-minute ideas for throwing a great virtual Thanksgiving



The coronavirus pandemic is making Thanksgiving a little different for many families.

The CDC has warned that “postponing travel and staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others this year.” But staying home doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t share the holiday with family and friends.

Thanks to video chat technology, you can virtually share a meal (or watch the day’s televised football games and movies) from across town or across the country. Zoom has announced it’s lifting its usual 40-minute call limit on free accounts for the holiday, and other video chat tools, such as Google Hangouts and Apple FaceTime, can also work well for connecting for Thanksgiving.

The good thing about virtual Thanksgiving is that you can plan it super last-minute. But you do have a few decisions to make. You might want to preplan how and when you’re going to have your virtual guests connect. Decide whether you want to have relatives digitally join you for the meal or afterward. And if you want everyone to have the same cocktail for a Thanksgiving toast, you might want to send out a recipe and a list of ingredients for people to source as soon as you can.

There are a few technical considerations as well. Think about which equipment you’ll use (you might want to consider using a larger-screen computer or even connecting your device to a big-screen TV). Figure out where in the house you’ll put the necessary devices, and make sure you have a good way to plug them in so you don’t lose power during the festivities. Check that everything is close enough to your Wi-Fi router or hooked up to a wired Ethernet cable so you can get a good internet connection. You might even consider doing a dry run with less tech-savvy family members in advance to make sure your grandfather is familiar with the apps you’re going to be using, has them installed, and knows how to work the mute button.

Even if you’re pulling things together last minute, you can send out a quick invitation with instructions that you can email, text, or share on social media with the people you’re inviting. And maybe take the opportunity to lay out some ground rules: Zoom calls can get exhausting if they go on too long, so what’s your time frame? Do you need to disconnect at a certain time to put the kids to bed? And perhaps most importantly: Do you want to gently request that your digital companions not talk about the election?

And then, there’s the fun stuff. Think about any activities you want to enjoy with your family besides virtually breaking bread at the same time. There’s a ton of ways to have fun virtually with trivia, karaoke, and more experimental digital games that you can play via Zoom. Beyond simply going around the virtual room talking about what you’re thankful for, perhaps encourage everyone to share an image or two from their year in quarantine. You can even watch TV or movies while hanging out on video chat once the conversation inevitably dies down.

This Thanksgiving will go down in the history books for depressing reasons. But these last-minute ideas can help make your virtual celebration a memory that everyone can look back on fondly when you’re finally back together in person.





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Britons make last-minute dash to leave the country before lockdown



The Prime Minister is being urged to provide sector support for the travel industry, as England moves into another nationwide lockdown.

Manuel Cortes, The General Secretary of the Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association (TSSA) said:

“Doubtless you will be aware that this normally vibrant sector of the economy has taken a massive hit in recent months, with close to 100,000 jobs lost.

“Deep fears remain across the industry over further redundancies in coming weeks, not least as lockdown advice for November states that ‘holidays abroad and in the UK…will not be allowed’ – essentially a complete shutdown of the travel sector.  

“The truth of the matter is your government to date has ignored the clarion calls for help from our travel trade; the buck has been passed from Business Department to the Department for Transport and back again. Meanwhile no effective action has been forthcoming.  

“Now, as lockdown approaches, many businesses across our travel trade need substantive, long-term, sector specific economic support.  

“There would also be a real benefit in creating a post of travel minister, so that travel no longer falls between the cracks but has the dedicated champion our industry needs on a daily basis.  

“I urge you to consider these measures without delay, hundreds of thousands of livelihoods depend on it.”





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Australian holiday hot-spots are booking out as travel is allowed again. Why not try these last-minute destinations instead?


As we approach the end of a year defined by the words “social isolation”, you may find yourself struggling with a chronic case of cabin fever.

The good news is, with coronavirus restrictions easing and the summer holidays almost upon us (yes, really), many Australians are now looking to leave the house and explore their own backyard.

But with more would-be travellers out and about and reservations hard to come by, you may need to consider the road less travelled.

So, if you’re looking to escape the city but can’t seem to get a booking in the usual spots, why not consider some of these last-minute alternatives?

(It’s worth keeping in mind that some border restrictions are still in place — you can read more here on where you can and can’t travel).

I want to find a destination in…

New South Wales

Finding accommodation within driving distance of Sydney that has availability over summer may seem almost impossible.

And it’s not just the usual tourist spots that are fully booked; smaller inland towns are running out of rooms, too.

“People are just climbing over each other to get out of Sydney — people have gone a bit nuts and they can’t wait to get out,” said Kristy Mayhew, tourism marketing specialist from Shoalhaven City Council.

But if you know where to look, there are some last-minute options.

Mid-North Coast

If you’re hoping to head to the Mid-North Coast, you could try somewhere a bit different to the usual tourist destinations like Port Macquarie and Coffs Harbour and check out the small seaside town of Urunga.

The charming town, where the Bellinger and Kalang rivers meet, is primed to welcome new visitors.

If you’re hoping to head to the Mid-North Coast, check out the small seaside town of Urunga.(Supplied: ILoveBelloShire)

Rebecca Beaton manages the Riverside Holiday Resort and says they still have availability either side of Christmas as border closures have kept many regulars away.

“We would love people to get off the main highways … there’s so many hidden little coastal destinations that they don’t even know about,” she said.

“Urunga has got that quiet old-school charm … it’s a nature’s paradise, it’s such a beautiful part of the world.”

Rebecca Beaton manages the Riverside Holiday Resort.
Rebecca Beaton manages the Riverside Holiday Resort and says they still have availability either side of Christmas as border closures have kept many regulars away.(Supplied: ILoveBelloShire)

South Coast

Prefer the South Coast? Look past crowd favourites Jervis Bay and Mollymook and try the small coastal hamlet of Bawley Point instead.

Like Jervis Bay, it has pristine beaches, but is a lot more tranquil.

Sharon Gadaleta owns Bawley Point Bungalows and has availability over summer as many of her regulars also didn’t rebook.

Racecourse Beach at Bawley Point offers spectacular views.
Racecourse Beach at Bawley Point offers spectacular views.(Supplied: Visit NSW)

“They were traumatised last year from the bushfires in the area; we were trapped for new year so they are probably still recovering,” she said.

Ms Gadaleta is also relying on new guests and hopes the border closures will work in her favour.

“It’s great people are moving around more regionally this year. We have a somewhat captured audience due to border closures, they can’t get to all other states,” she said.

“Bawley Point is perfect for people who want to disconnect and kick back and relax. Mobile service can be a challenge but that means you can get away from it all.

“But we’re only 30 minutes from Ulladulla and Mollymook and all their fine dining.”

Victoria

There’s still a lot of uncertainty around what the summer holidays will look like in Victoria.

But with Premier Daniel Andrews saying the border between metropolitan Melbourne and regional Victoria will “definitely” come down by Christmas, you can bet there’ll be a mass exodus of Melburnians booking getaways after months in lockdown.

The view from Mt Leura in Camperdown, in south-west Victoria.
The view from Mt Leura in Camperdown, in south-west Victoria.(Supplied: Andrew Stubbings)

Great Ocean Road Regional Tourism general manager Liz Price says some accommodation, such as caravan parks, may need to limit bookings in order to meet social distancing requirements.

But with all that still up in the air, and the possibility interstate travel may still be off the table to some Victorians, you might want to get onto booking your accommodation sooner rather than later.

Great Ocean Road

The eastern end of the Great Ocean Road is always popular over summer due to its close proximity to Melbourne, and popular holiday spots including Torquay, Lorne and the Bellarine Peninsula are often booked out long in advance as visitors return each year.

Ms Price recommends looking further west if you find you’re struggling to get a beachside bed.

“There are towns like Port Campbell, Warrnambool, Port Fairy and Apollo Bay that often have international visitation over the summer that will be absent this year and may see accommodation not as busy as previous years,” she said.

Cobden is a perfect base for daytrips, meaning you can easily access both the coast and hinterland.
Cobden is a perfect base for daytrips, meaning you can easily access both the coast and hinterland.(Supplied: Andrew Stubbings)

“And towns surrounding Port Campbell, like Cobden, may also be a little quieter.”

Kathryn Stubbings runs Heytesbury House, a bed and breakfast in a 116-year-old Edwardian house in Cobden. The team have spent the COVID-19 lockdown renovating their four suites, which are usually filled with predominantly international and interstate visitors.

She hopes Victorian travellers, particularly those from Melbourne, will visit the region this summer.

“We’re 30 minutes inland from the 12 Apostles … in the middle of the lakes and craters district and it’s just beautiful. The countryside is stunning at the moment,” she said.

Andrew and Kathryn Stubbings run Heytesbury House, a luxury bed and breakfast in a 116-year-old Edwardian house in Cobden.
Andrew and Kathryn Stubbings run Heytesbury House, a luxury bed and breakfast in a 116-year-old Edwardian house in Cobden.(Supplied: Kathryn Stubbings)

“What we find is most Melburnians will get on the Great Ocean Road and do it as a day trip and get back late at night exhausted and they miss out on the most beautiful hinterland region and it’s a real shame.

“Get out and do the Great Ocean Road, but do it and enjoy the region and cruise back. It’s a long drive. Why come for just one night? Why do it for the day?”

Rutherglen

If the Great Ocean Road isn’t your thing, there are plenty of hidden gems waiting to be discovered further north.

Located between Yarrawonga and Wodonga, just 10 kilometres from the Murray River and the border town of Wahgunyah, Rutherglen combines historical charm with a burgeoning food and wine scene.

Walk or cycle the Rutherglen Rail Trail, a nine-kilometre track that offers many scenic and culinary pit stops.
Walk or cycle the Rutherglen Rail Trail, a nine-kilometre track that offers many scenic and culinary pit stops.(explorerutherglen.com.au)

With its roots in agriculture, the district was one of Victoria’s first to established itself as a wine producing districts. These days, there are almost 20 wineries located within a short drive from the town centre.

If you’re looking for more of an outdoor adventure, try walking or cycling the Rutherglen Rail Trail, a nine-kilometre track that offers many scenic and culinary pit stops.

The Murray River winds along the track and the tranquil one-way route — which is shared with pedestrians — provides spectacular views of the granite landscape, local gold mining history and surrounding countryside.

Queensland

If you live in the Sunshine State, the message is clear: Queensland is open for business.

But while the return of holidaymakers is welcome news for traders, it means you may need to consider some alternative destinations.

Coolum

With few interstate options currently available to Queenslanders, the Sunshine Coast in the state’s south-east is bustling with people wanting a beachside break.

Noosa Heads has long sold itself as a luxury destination, and often books out well in advance thanks to southern visitors, particularly from Melbourne.

The Sunshine Coast in the state's south-east is bustling with those wanting a beachside break.
With so few interstate options still available to Queenslanders, the Sunshine Coast in the state’s south-east is bustling with those wanting a beachside break.(Supplied: Visit Sunshine Coast)

At the other end of the Sunshine Coast is the more casual beachside town of Caloundra, a favourite of Brisbane holidaymakers due to its proximity to the city and price point.

Both are likely to be fully booked ahead of the Christmas break, and would-be visitors might be scrambling for an alternative.

Visit Sunshine Coast interim chief executive Craig Davidson said Coolum — which sits between both destinations — is not exactly a secret hideaway, but travellers may have more luck finding a room during peak season.

Gaye Williams from The Shop Coolum has lived in the area for 40 years, and says it “still has the beautiful surfing village atmosphere”.

“It’s like a little country town, but happens to be on a great beach — that’s the way we look at it,” she said.

She said the township was like a “sleeping giant”, being woken by those wanting a new place to visit.

A lady in front of shelves at a cash register
Gaye Williams from The Shop Coolum has lived in the area for 40 years, and says it “still has the beautiful surfing village atmosphere”.(ABC News: Sally Rafferty)

“We’ve got so many people from all over Queensland coming here because Noosa is either booked out or too expensive and Caloundra is booked out,” she said.

“Kids everywhere — kids laughing, mums and dads, grandpas and grandmas, it’s great.”

Gold Coast

There’s a fair chance that when you think of the Gold Coast, Surfers Paradise quickly comes to mind.

But have you even heard of that “other” paradise on the Coast — Paradise Point?

Chris Deery says the area is the complete package with spectacular views, fishing, beaches and restaurants.
Chris Deery says the area is the complete package with spectacular views, fishing, beaches and restaurants.(ABC News: Andrew Arthur)

Unlike Surfers, Broadbeach and Burleigh it’s not a tourist mecca, and that’s just how locals like it.

Former policeman Chris Deery says the area is a complete package with spectacular views, fishing, beaches and restaurants — no nightclubs or theme parks.

Dianne Zougras moved to Paradise Point from Sydney after her sister raved about her quality of life there.

It now takes Dianne just three minutes to move her new kayak from her home to the Broadwater.

It only takes Dianne three minutes to take her newly acquired kayak from home to the Broadwater.
It only takes Dianne three minutes to take her newly acquired kayak from home to the Broadwater.(ABC News: Andrew Arthur)

South Australia

From the city to the sea, South Australia offers an eclectic mix of destinations just waiting to be explored.

And while you’re sure to be spoiled for choice, as summer temperatures soar into the 40s, you may find yourself being drawn to the coast.

Fleurieu Peninsula

The Fleurieu Peninsula on South Australia’s south coast is just an hour’s drive from Adelaide — and is proving a popular destination.

“This summer is busier than it’s ever been, it’s out of control,” said Sam Forde from Harcourts South Coast.

The Fleurieu Peninsula on South Australia's south coast is just an hour drive from Adelaide.
The Fleurieu Peninsula on South Australia’s south coast is just an hour drive from Adelaide.(Supplied: Sam Forde)

Harcourts leases 300 holiday houses all over the Fleurieu Peninsula, from Encounter Bay to Hindmarsh Island, all of which are completely booked out over Christmas and New Year.

“We have started getting interstate bookings from NSW, Queensland … we even had some from Victoria, which I thought was a bit hopeful,” Ms Forde said.

“People are so full of anticipation … if they think they can travel, they’re desperate to get away.”

With a rugged coastline, pristine waters and family-friendly atmosphere, Ms Forde credits the peninsula’s popularity to its natural beauty and proximity to Adelaide.

“The serenity of the coastline is magical … there’s everything here… from fishing, art galleries, great markets, walking trails, and accommodation to suit all budgets,” she said.

Kangaroo Island

Just off the Fleurieu Peninsula lies Kangaroo Island, which is recovering after it was ravaged by last summer’s bushfires.

The deputy chair of the Kangaroo Island Tourism Association, Pierre Gregor, said there are plenty of options for unorganised holidaymakers, who can access the island by ferry or plane.

“The council-run campsites don’t actually accept bookings ahead of time, so people can just turn up and find a spot,” Mr Gregor said.

Check out the American River campsite on Kangaroo Island.
Check out the American River campsite on Kangaroo Island.(Supplied: South Australian Tourism Commission)

“If one campsite happens to be full, it’s usually only a short distance to the next one.

“American River is a nice little campsite on the water’s edge, it’s a nice fishing hamlet, you can get fresh oysters there.

“Nearby you have Browns Beach, which is slightly smaller, but very picturesque … it’s on a headland and only 15 minutes’ drive from Penneshaw, where the ferry docks.”

Mr Gregor said tourism was an important part of the island’s recovery process, not only from the bushfires but COVID-19 as well.

Tasmania

With Tasmania reopening its borders to (almost) everyone, why not beat the heat down south?

While the Apple Isle may be smaller in size compared to its mainland counterparts, it means you’re never too far from your next destination.

Boat Harbour Beach

Sitting beneath pink granite mountains, the seaside holiday village of Coles Bay, on the state’s east coast, is a tourist hotspot.

A 2.5-hour drive from Hobart, the quaint community is often used as a gateway to explore the nearby Freycinet National Park — a popular wildlife haven.

If that’s piqued your interest but the crowds have got you down, look no further than Boat Harbour.

Boat Harbour is renowned for its white sands, clear water and captivating views.
Boat Harbour is renowned for its white sands, clear water and captivating views.(Facebook: Boat Harbour Beach Holiday Park)

Just 30 minutes from Burnie on Tassie’s north-west coast, the bay is renowned for its white sands, clear water and captivating views.

While you’re there, be sure to explore the Rocky Cape National Park, which is just a stone’s throw away.

Orford

If you’re in need of a sea-change but the thought of a longer road trip is already making you carsick, include Orford in your itinerary.

About an hour’s drive north of Hobart, the coastal township offers everything from fishing and diving, to wine and whisky tasting.

Though it has grown in popularity over the years, if you’re worried about the crowds, tourism authorities insist Orford “has enough eateries and accommodation to please everyone from beach lovers to happy campers”.

Orford offers everything from fishing and diving, to wine and whisky tasting.
Orford offers everything from fishing and diving, to wine and whisky tasting.(Facebook: Tasmania)

Northern Territory

With Australia’s northern capital heading into its typical low season, the hot, sticky weather and monsoonal rains of “the wet” would normally keep tourists away and drive locals south for a reprieve.

But in light of the global pandemic, the local tourism industry thinks more Territorians are set to holiday locally this year.

Kakadu

The NT Government has offered cash incentives for locals and interstate tourists to holiday in the territory over the coming months.

Kakadu Tourism’s Peter Hook says it’s already driving numbers up when they would usually be heading down.

Looking down from the top of Gunlom Falls in the Northern Territory.
Looking down from the top of Gunlom Falls in the Northern Territory.(ABC Open Contributor Heath Whiley)

“I think that Territorians are thinking, ‘Well, Kakadu is on our doorstep, let’s get there before the interstate and international tourists come back’,” he said.

“Last year we had access to international business, we had access to interstate business.

Better, but still lower than peak season, Mr Hook said occupancy rates at the crocodile-shaped Cooinda Lodge in the heart of Kakadu were still below 50 per cent for much of the summer.

That’s the angle being worked in the government’s advertising campaign — the fact that many of the Northern Territory’s most popular spots will be near-empty for those willing to brave the at-times wild weather.

“People come to Kakadu particularly to see waterfalls, the rock holes and things like that; they want nature to be spectacular and this is the most spectacular time of year,” Mr Hook said.

View of Twin Falls at Kakadu National Park.
View of Twin Falls at Kakadu National Park.(AAP: Tara Ravens)

Western Australia

Still boasting the toughest border restrictions in the country, Western Australia is unlikely to be a go-to for interstate travellers this year.

But that shouldn’t stop our resident sandgropers from hitting the road, with travel throughout most of regional WA now allowed.

Augusta

Just over 40 kilometres south of the marquee tourist town of Margaret River is the quaint coastal town of Augusta.

The town itself is flanked by the Southern and Indian Oceans with the Blackwood River cutting a lazy path along its eastern permitter. Completing the picture is the Cape Leeuwin lighthouse which has served as sentinel to marine traffic since 1895.

The Cape Leeuwin lighthouse has served as sentinel to marine traffic since 1895.
The Cape Leeuwin lighthouse has served as sentinel to marine traffic since 1895.(ABC News: Anthony Pancia)

Often overlooked due to its proximity to the internationally recognised tourist hotspot, Augusta locals say they’ve already benefitted from the border closures with strong indicators Christmas will be a holiday season unlike any other.

Store owner Alexis Taylor said she’s noted an influx of visitors who had simply never bothered to drive the extra 40 minutes south prior to WA’s hard border closure.

“There’s a lot of people travelling from Perth who hadn’t been further south than Margaret River and have found Augusta to be quite a pleasant surprise,” she said.

Store owner Alexis Taylor said she'd noted an influx of visitors.
Store owner Alexis Taylor said she’d noted an influx of visitors who had simply never bothered to drive the extra 40 minutes south prior to WA’s hard border closure.(ABC News: Anthony Pancia)

Andrea Lindsay acts as accommodation manager for 25 properties in Augusta.

“We are already booked solid for the fortnight over Christmas and occupancy rates prior to that have increased from previous years,” Ms Lindsay said.

“It’s been a flow-on from visitors coming earlier in the year who were unable to find accommodation in Margaret River. They came here, loved it and are coming back for Christmas. Most have said they’ve discovered a new holiday destination.”

Augusta’s tourism operators are also gearing up for a busy season ahead.

“Weekends are already busy on a consistent basis and it hasn’t been like that for a while,” said cruise boat operator Graeme Challis. “We’re all pretty happy with how it’s played out, it could have gone either way really.”

Cruise boat operator Graeme Challis said weekends had been busy on a consistent basis.
Cruise boat operator Graeme Challis said weekends had been busy on a consistent basis.(ABC News: Anthony Pancia)

Australian Capital Territory

When you think of the ACT, there’s a good chance two things come to mind: Parliament House and that school trip you did that one time.

But there’s much more to the nation’s capital than the usual cliches — and plenty of last-minute destinations for travellers prepared to take the plunge.

The Canberra District

Rather than joining scores of Sydneysiders for a wine tasting weekend around the Hunter Valley, why not take a trip to Canberra’s wine district instead?

There are a few reasons why — and the quality of the wine is top of the list.

Lots of people stand around a bar, tasting wine.
Rather than joining scores of Sydneysiders for a wine tasting weekend around the Hunter Valley, why not take a trip to Canberra’s wine district instead?(ABC News: Kate Midena)

“The Canberra District is relatively small in terms of the number of producers and the quantity of grapes they grow, but the wines they produce are highly regarded in the Wine Shows calendar and are largely admired by wine writers, sommeliers and critics,” said Geoff Burton, president of the Canberra District Wine Industry Association.

Part of the region’s success is thanks to the weather. The Canberra District has what is considered a cool climate, which means the wines produced — from shiraz and merlot to riesling and chardonnay — are “quite different in taste and style to the wines coming from warmer regions”, Mr Burton said.

Critics agree. Eight Canberra District wines scored a gold rating at the 2020 New South Wales Wine Awards, from Shaw Wines in Murrumbateman down to Mount Majura Vineyard and out to Lerida Estate in Collector, whose 2019 Canberra District Shiraz won the coveted Trophy for Best Dry Red in Show.

These wineries are just a taste of more than 40 spread across the region, all easily accessible thanks to the countryside’s geographical closeness.

A row or wooden barrels in a warehouse with pinot noir written on their front.
The Canberra District Wine Industry has an interactive trip planner on its website.(ABC News: Kate Midena)

The Canberra District Wine Industry has an interactive trip planner on its website so you can sketch out which cellar doors to visit, or you can book in to one of the many wine tours on offer.

“All of our wineries and cellar doors are different to each other, not only in terms of the wines they make, but the experiences they offer the visiting tourist,” Mr Burton said.

Murrumbidgee River

There’s nothing better than diving into cool water on a hot summer’s day, but if you want to avoid crowded beaches and busy coastal towns, why not turn your attention inland?

Bordered by gum trees and rocks and quieter than the NSW coastline, there are half a dozen natural swimming spots across Canberra — perfect for an afternoon dip.

“The Murrumbidgee River is probably the pinnacle location to cool off on a hot summer day,” said Brett McNamara, manager at ACT Parks & Conservation Service.

“One of the great things about living in the bush capital is the fact that we have so much natural environment on our doorstep.”

Murrumbidgee River
The Murrumbidgee River is the pinnacle location to cool off on a hot summer day.(ABC Radio Canberra: Penny Travers)

The Cotter Avenue recreation area in Canberra’s west has walking tracks to the Cotter Dam and river, a campground, and the family-friendly Casuarina Sands — a grassed area with BBQ facilities, picnic tables, playground equipment, parking, toilets, and, of course, swimming.

If you’re after somewhere dog-friendly and a bit more spacious, the multiple river pools at Uriarra Crossing in Canberra’s north-west might suit you better.

But if you want something a little more central, hire a paddle boat and take a spin around the shores of Lake Burley Griffin, or head on over to Canberra’s Aqua Park — a giant inflatable obstacle course of ladders, slides and a jumping pillow, also on Lake Burley Griffin.

People relax by and swim in Lake Burley Griffin, while others kayak, during a summer heatwave.
People swim and relax at Black Mountain peninsula beach, one of the places where swimming is encouraged in Lake Burley Griffin.(ABC News: Clare Sibthorpe)



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Melbourne and Adelaide community television stations C31 and C44 granted last-minute reprieve


Community television stations in Melbourne, Geelong and Adelaide have been handed a last-minute reprieve by the Federal Government, with Communications Minister Paul Fletcher announcing their free-to-air licences would be extended for 12 months.

After months of unsuccessful appeals for extensions, it appeared transmission of Melbourne’s C31 and Adelaide’s C44 would cease at 11:59pm on Tuesday.

However on Monday night, Mr Fletcher said the stations would be permitted to continue on-air for another year but the expectation was they would eventually only operate online.

“It’s been our policy since 2014 that these community television stations should move to operating in a digital mode. And both Channel 31 in Melbourne and Channel 44 in Adelaide have several times said yes, they’re going to make that transition,” Mr Fletcher told the ABC’s Q+A.

“I’ve agreed now and we’ll be announcing it [on Tuesday] to extend for a further 12 months.”

The C31 and C44 stations are built on the hard work of volunteers, who create diverse and locally-produced content.

They also has been the breeding ground for entertainers who have gone on to have mainstream success.

In recent years, their sister stations in Sydney, Brisbane and Perth have closed.

Monday’s announcement was a case of deja vu for C31 and C44, who have been thrown lifelines from the government in previous years just before they were about to be switched off.

‘We found out on Q+A’

C44 general manager Lauren Hillman said she only found out late last night that her station would be able to continue transmitting beyond Tuesday.

“We found out on Q+A,” she told ABC Radio Adelaide.

“To find out 24 hours before is really exciting but also it’s been really tough.

“This has been six years of us going through this.

Ms Hillman said short-term licence extensions had been “really damaging” to volunteers’ morale.

The manager of the Melbourne station, Shane Dunlop, has previously said a shift to an online-only model would likely lead to insolvency.

Victorian Government provides grant

A man in a pink sparkly jacket smiles at the camera with his finger pointed from a home TV studio
Channel 31 presenter Lance DeBoyle hosts a show for Victoria’s LGBTI community.(ABC Ballarat: Sarah Jane Bell)

On Tuesday, the Victorian Government said it would award a $120,000 grant to assist Channel 31 transition to an online model, and would provide further advertising support.

“Community television is an important and highly valued service, particularly for members of Victoria’s diverse multicultural, disability and LGBTIQ communities,” Victorian Creative Industries Minister Martin Foley said.

“As we continue to face the impacts of coronavirus and life with restrictions, access to information and home-based entertainment is more important than ever — especially for vulnerable Victorians.”

This week, the Federal Government announced it would provide $50 million for regional newspapers and broadcasters affected by the pandemic, but Mr Fletcher would not say whether funding would also go to C31 or C44.

“We will be using this period to work through with them what needs to happen for them to successfully transition to digital operations so that we can still have community TV as a great place where people can work and make programs, [and] be responsive to the community,” he said.



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14 great last-minute Father’s Day gifts


This story is part of Father’s Day Gift Guide 2020, featuring our top picks for dads who love tech.

Father’s Day comes around on the third Sunday in June every year. So why are we always so woefully unprepared for it? I have a theory: After triggering the reward center of our brains by getting a great gift for Mother’s Day, we feel such a sense of accomplishment that we wait too long to get something for Pop. And so here we are, yet again, with Dad’s Day coming up this weekend. This year, though, I’ve collected a handful of great gift ideas that have the advantage of being in stock and able to be delivered in time for the big day. Can you be a hero on both Mom’s and Dad’s Day? Yes, you can.

Angela Lang/CNET

Amazon has lowered the price of the 40mm Apple Watch Series 5 back to its all-time low — just $300. That’s $100 off, making it a practical option if you’re looking for a gift Dad will really remember. The Series 5, of course, is the first model with an always-on display. If you think your dad can live without that, you should keep in mind that you can get the Apple Watch Series 3 for $229.

Read our Apple Watch Series 5 review.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

What’s more convenient than a puck-shaped Echo Dot? How about an Echo Dot with an LED clock display? This handy little gadget is back to its lowest-ever price, so you can save $25 while easing Dad into the 21st century.

Read our Echo Dot with clock (3rd gen) review.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The WF-1000XM3 earbuds list for $230, but priced at $178, they’re undoubtedly the best value in wireless earbuds. To sweeten the deal, the WF-1000XM3 features active noise cancellation technology to reduce ambient noise.

Read our Sony WF-1000XM3 review.

Sony

The WF-XB700 is in the company’s Extra Bass line and lists for $130. As ther name suggests, these are the true wireless earbuds you should consider if you like a thick bass sound in your music.

Read our Sony WF-XB700 Extra Bass first take.

David Carnoy/CNET

The  WF-SP800N is Sony’s take on true wireless noise-canceling sports earbuds. They offer very good sound, solid noise canceling, water resistance and good call quality.

Read our Sony WF-SP800N review.

Topgolf

Entertainment complexes — from your standard Dave & Buster’s to miniature golf courses to Disney Land — were hit hard by the coronavirus and the need for social distancing. As recreation centers start to tentatively reopen, one has “dad” written all over it: Topgolf, which features high-tech virtual golf games that you can pair with its full-service food and beverage menu. Now through Father’s Day, if you buy a $50 gift card, Topgolf will add an additional $10 to the card for free. 

Amazon’s Echo Studio is, hands-down, the company’s best smart speaker, but it’s a hard sell at $200. How would you feel about $170 — and getting a free Philips Hue smart bulb for your trouble?

Read Amazon Echo Studio review.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Amazon’s Fire TV Cube  lets you control power, sources and volume on your TV, sound bar or AV receiver hands-free from across the room, using only voice commands. It’s a superb alternative to a standard universal remote, and right now it’s within $10 of its all-time lowest price.

Read our Amazon Fire TV Cube review.

Bose

The Bose QuietComfort 35 II is on sale for as low as $236 in rose gold, which is close to its all-time low price for that color. You can also get the headphones in black and silver, though those models are priced at $50 off.

Read our Bose QuietComfort 35 II review.

Bose

The Bose SoundSport Free is a set of true wireless earbuds that offer richer sound than Apple’s AirPods and a more secure fit. The buds are water-resistant and durable, battery life is decent and a charging case provides two extra charges on the go.

Read our Bose Soundsport Free review.

Home Chef

Is your dad the one who preps most of the meals in his home? If so, he might be getting a little tired of the dinner sitch that’s forced virtually every meal to be made and eaten at home. Why not lighten his dinner load by starting him on a meal-kit delivery service? Through Father’s Day, one of the best deals around is from Home Chef, where you can save $45 — that’s $15 per box for the first three deliveries. 

Read about Home Chef in our roundup of 5 meal-kit delivery services.

Bose

Bose’s first portable Wi-Fi and Bluetooth speaker goes head-to-head with the Sonos Move. If Dad has other Bose Home Wi-Fi speakers, he can combine this to create a multiroom audio setup.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The Bose Home Speaker 300 offers a choice of Alexa or Google Assistant. It’s able to play quite loud and still register voice commands. The Bose Home Speaker 300 is a flexible smart speaker with excellent voice assistant performance.

Read our Bose Home Speaker 300 review.


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