No result as rain puts dampener on Launceston’s BBL show

Melbourne Stars and Perth Scorchers were left to share the BBL points in Launceston on Wednesday night after rain, which initially raised hopes of a shortened run chase for the Stars, eventually snuffed out the entire match.

After an entertaining first innings where Perth accumulated 6-158 from 17 overs as Melbourne negotiated the absence of leggie Adam Zampa, a long delay caused by persistent rain in the Apple Isle and some hasty calculations left the Stars with a total of 76 to chase from six overs.

Joe Clarke of the Scorchers bats against the Melbourne Stars before rain ended the match.Credit:Getty Images

Openers Andre Fletcher and Marcus Stoinis got the chase off to the right tone with 10 runs from the solitary Joel Paris over. First ball of the second over from Jhye Richardson, however, caught Stoinis unawares and he was out LBW for four, doing little for this average.

That dismissal was met with more rain, growing steadily, before the umpires reconvened and decided that attempts to finish the match and achieve a result were futile.

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Launceston’s Nepali cricket team finds a home ground

Five years after Launceston’s Nepalese community formed its own cricket club, the team now finally feels at “home”.

Mowbray and Newnham, which are about 10 minutes from central Launceston, are the city’s fastest growing multicultural suburbs, with many people relocating from Nepal and Bhutan.

According to the 2011 census, there were only 59 Nepalese-born residents living at Mowbray.

Now it is estimated there are 2,000 Nepalese living in Launceston’s northern suburbs, and that figure is continuing to grow.

It is in the suburbs of Mowbray and Newnham where the Launceston Nepali Cricket Club formed in 2015.

The club, which currently has 35 players, hopes to eventually have multiple teams playing in the Tasmanian Cricket League roster, including a junior team.

Up until this year, the team had been using a ground at Exeter, 40 minutes away on the other side of the Tamar River, making it hard for many players to train and play.

Ram Kumar Shrestha (right) with Nisha Shrestha, Ronisha Shrestha (3). He says the new home-ground makes it easier for the family to watch the game.(ABC News: Manika Champ)

Now, the northern suburbs’ main high school, Brooks High in Newnham, has opened its oval for the team to use as its home ground.

It is the first time the club has had its own home ground in its local community.

“I just want to bring the tent and sleep over everyday, I feel like I’m in my house — I’m home,” club vice-president Sulabh Maskey said.

Club a source of pride

The club first formed to create community comradery.

“We started to play with the Indian community, just like a friendly match and then one day I heard about the TCL [the Tasmanian Cricket League],” Mr Maskey said.

The league welcomed the club into its 2019-20 roster in B-grade division. It came third and this season it is fielding a team on the A-grade roster.

Members of a cricket team huddle over a table to discuss a game plan
Launceston Nepali Cricket Club members go over a game plan.(ABC News: Manika Champ)

“I wasn’t expecting that he [the league president] would give us a break,” Mr Maskey said.

“But when we were having a conversation he realised that we were really, really hungry and trying to represent our nation, our community, to the local community.

“The opponents’ teams are very, very experienced and we’re learning and we’re making really good friendships.

Club secretary Maheshwar Parajuli moved to Launceston from Sydney in 2018.

“I was interested in playing cricket but I hadn’t got any good chances there, and once I came here I found a few boys playing,” Mr Parajuli said.

A Nepalese man in blue and orange cricket uniform
Maheshwar Parajuli joined the Launceston Nepali Cricket Club in 2018.(ABC News: Manika Champ)

Mr Parajuli, who is a self-confessed “good bowler”, said now the home ground was close to where he lived, it helped create a work-sport balance.

“You can come here from your shift break, so you can take a break, like half an hour, so it’s so good to be here,” Mr Parajuli said.

“The guys are working hard, so hopefully we’ll get the best result this year. In our home-ground games, we expect more people to come and cheer for us.”

Bringing families together

Young Nepalese children in a cricket net
Cricket stars of the future? These kids are keen to get involved with the game.(ABC News: Manika Champ)

The move also means many of those now able to cheer from the sidelines are the players’ families.

Nisha Shrestha said it was previously hard “to manage the time” to watch her husband play home games when they had to travel so far with a three-year-old child.

The new home ground had made that easier.

“I feel good to watch the cricket, it’s really close to my home,” she said.

“My mother-in-law has come to support them.”

People from Nepal in cricket gear sit on the grass with family members
Home games have now become an outing for most Nepalese families.(ABC News: Manika Champ)

Saru Aryal felt the same.

“I have two kids and they are both very excited to see the cricket,” Ms Aryal said.

“It’s a proud moment for us, so feeling pretty excited, happy, proud — it’s a mixed feeling.”

A Nepalese woman in a cap with two young children at a cricket ground
Saru Aryal and her two children Aaryav and Ananda watching their husband and dad play at the new home ground.(ABC News: Manika Champ)

COVID-19 fails to deter arrivals

Ella Dixon, chief executive officer of Launceston’s Migrant Resource Centre, said that even with the need for quarantine, the northern suburbs’ Nepalese community had continued to increase during the coronavirus pandemic.

A woman with brown hair smiles
Ella Dixon says cricket has helped break down barriers in the community.(ABC Northern Tasmania: Fred Hooper)

“Pre-COVID there was a regular number of people arriving under the humanitarian program,” she said.

“The restriction on international borders has certainly put a stop on people arriving, but in the COVID era we’ve seen quite a number of Nepalese moving from interstate.

“There’s been a bit of movement within Australia of people following pathways to employment and permanent residency.”

Ms Dixon said the community was fast making its mark on the regional city.

“Even things like the foods in the supermarkets, the type of shops that are in the main street of Mowbray now reflect the changing demographic of the northern suburbs.”

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‘Freezing’ performances and a ‘ghost in the theatre’: Launceston’s Princess Theatre celebrates colourful history

Internationally renowned dancer and choreographer Janet Vernon danced at the Princess Theatre in Launceston when it opened for live performances 50 years ago.

She graced the stage as a member of the Australian Ballet during the opening gala ceremony.

“I can’t believe it’s 50 years ago, I was so young then but it’s like the blink of an eye,” she said.

“I certainly remember performing in the theatre and we’ve come back many, many times since then with Sydney Dance Company and it’s just a beautiful theatre to work in.”

Vernon has returned, as a creative associate of the latest dance performance at the venue, to help the theatre celebrate 50 years of live performance.

The Australian Ballet performed at the opening of the Princess Theatre.(Supplied)

She said not all her memories of the venue were fond ones.

“Freezing, there wasn’t heating, I remember being so cold waiting in the wings to go on,” she said.

“Coming into theatres like this that you’ve been a part of for so long it always feels like coming home.”

Beginnings as a picture palace

The iconic Launceston theatre was designed and built by Hobart man Marino Lucas.

It opened in 1911 and was originally intended as a home for live theatre.

Unfortunately the backstage area was still incomplete when the theatre opened.

A group of people stand in front of a car in a street in the 1970s. It is night time
Than governor-general Paul Hasluck (third from left) attended the 1970 opening.(Supplied)

Theatre North program manager Stuart Loone said the owner found an alternative to live theatre.

“In his entrepreneurial way he threw on a film and that proved so popular it remained a picture palace right through to 1970.”

On November 16, 1970, a large gala event was held as the theatre opened its doors for live performances.

The invitees included governor-general Sir Paul Hasluck, British ballet dancer Dame Peggy van Praagh, the premier and the mayor, who watched three works from the Australian Ballet.

At the time the governor-general praised the theatre, saying he “expressed great confidence that it is going to play a significant part in the artistic life of Australia”.

Roy Orbison, Leo Sayer and Slim Dusty among acts

The theatre has hosted a wide range of acts over the last 50 years.

“Everyone from Roy Orbison through to Dame Margot Fonteyn, who performed in the Merry Widow in 1977,” Mr Loone said.

“Also in the 70s we attracted the original production of Hair, [and] the original production of Jesus Christ Superstar with John English in it.”

A wall covered with colourful old theatres posters from the 1970s onwards.
The theatre has hosted a wide variety of acts over the years.(ABC News: Damian McIntyre)

Other notable performers include Slim Dusty, Dame Kiri Te Kanawa and Harry Secombe.

Stephen Grieve worked backstage at the theatre for more than 50 years.

He’s got fond memories of many performances over that time.

He was there when the Australian Ballet performed with an orchestra on the opening night.

A band plays outside the Princess Theatre in Launceston in a photo from the 1970s
Entertainment wasn’t limited to inside the Princess Theatre on its opening night.(Supplied)

“The next show was either a country and western or a hillbilly show because I can remember the stark contrast between the two audiences,” he said.

“Leo Sayer was one of the greatest shows we’ve had there.

“He really produced a great show with his songs, he was very popular at the time.

“Little River Band, before they went to America, they had one of the greatest shows there.

He also has fond memories off-stage.

“[Pianist] Winifred Atwell, her husband was a great beer drinker and two of us had to go down to the Launceston Hotel and get two cartons of cans, so that was different.”

Year-long celebration

Janet Vernon’s husband, internationally renowned dancer and artistic director Graeme Murphy, is the choreographer of the performance 7 Deadly Sins, which is currently being performed at the theatre.

A woman puts her arms around her husband's waist as they pose for a photo on a theatre stage
Dancers and choreographers Janet Vernon and Graeme Murphy are also married.(ABC News: Damian McIntyre)

Murphy, from Mole Creek in Tasmania’s north, spent decades working with the Sydney Dance Company and internationally, and is a frequent visitor back home.

“It’s extraordinary. I did my first tentative dance steps in Launceston,” he said.

“We long for theatres of this vintage, we perform in a lot of modern theatres, sometimes they’re cement boxes.

“What we want more than anything is a feeling of atmosphere because I think that sets the moods for the performers and for the audience.

“It’s an iconic building, it’s a wonderful community asset and it’s a real privilege for Theatre North to have custodianship of it on behalf of Launceston’s theatre community,” Mr Loone said.

A broader public celebration of the 50th milestone will be rolled out over the course of next year.

The exterior of an art-deco looking theatre.
The theatre’s exterior is just as grand today.(ABC News: Damian McIntyre)

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Launceston’s Chloe Duncan turns 109, celebrates in her aged care home under COVID-19 restrictions

One of Tasmania’s oldest residents has celebrated her 109th birthday, but not in the way she could have expected.

With coronavirus restrictions in place around the country, Launceston’s Chloe Duncan could only have a small gathering of nursing staff, along with two family members, inside her aged care room on Wednesday for the big celebration.

“My brother Tony and I were able to go see her, and she does have quite a few bunches of flowers — we all sent her some.”

Chloe celebrating her birthday with nursing staff at her Launceston aged care home.(Supplied: Audette Groenewold)

Mrs Duncan was born in 1911 and is now living through her second pandemic.

She endured the Spanish Flu in 1918 and as a young girl survived two world wars, the Great Depression and the 1929 Tasmanian floods.

“She used to talk about the Spanish Flu,” Mrs Finch said.

“Papers and bread and things used to be passed through a tiny gap in the window — they were only allowed to open it so high, and they’d have to reach out through the window.

“They got through it.”

She always liked her vegetables

Joy Fitch
Joy Fitch said her mother was strict, but a “great mum” growing up.(ABC Northern Tasmania: April McLennan)

Mrs Finch said her mother’s secret to living a long life came down to diet.

“She’s always liked her vegetables and loves spending time in the garden,” she said.

“It’s a bit hard now but she used to get out there a lot.”

Mrs Duncan used to be ballerina and also had a passion for knitting.

“Mum used to make a lot of our clothes when we were young,” Mrs Finch said.

Too many grandchildren to count

Mrs Finch is the second eldest of Mrs Duncan’s 11 children and says this birthday for her mother has been tough without a lot of family around.

“We’ve lost count of how many grandchildren and great-grandchildren she has — there’s so many in Sydney and Queensland,” she said.

“You need proof of a recent flu shot before entering the aged care facility, along with a temperature check.”

Once the restrictions ease, Mrs Finch said she was excited to see her family from interstate come to visit.

“I’m excited to see my children come down from Queensland — that’s what I’m looking forward to most,” she said.

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