Belated bag limit rise for Victorian duck season | Queensland Country Life


Bag limits for Victoria’s duck season have risen just months out from the season.

It will go some way to easing the outrage felt by hunters when daily bag limits were set at just two when the season was announced in February.

The hunting lobby said a season over 20 days with two birds per day was effectively a cancelled season.

They claimed the decision, made by the state’s Game Management Authority, flew in the face of the wet season enjoyed by the state and the promising state of the wetlands.

A new aerial survey has now found the state’s duck population was “much higher” than estimated.

The GMA today increased daily bag limits from two to five and removed shooting bans on the smaller teal ducks for the 2021 duck season.

The duck shooting season will still run for 20 days – from May 26 through to June 14.

Normally the season is held over 12 weeks.

The authority said a new aerial survey conducted in November found Victoria’s estimated game duck population was almost 2.5 million.

“This number is much higher than previous methodologies have indicated and means that the sustainable harvest level can be increased,” the GMA said.

Experienced wildlife consultants counted the number of game ducks in more than 650 waterbodies from a helicopter and used satellite imagery to access the amount of water in the landscape to reach the estimate.

Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party MP Jeff Bourman has been calling for the release of all the documentation used for decisions about the season.

“This announcement proves all along that the season should have been a full season with a full bag,” he said.

Duck hunting is also popular in South Australia and Tasmania as is the magpie goose season in the Northern Territory.

Last year’s season was curtailed by pandemic restrictions.

Good rain over the past two years had filled many wetlands and aerial duck counts had buoyed hopes of hunters for a return to a normal 12 week season.

South Australia had already announced a reduced duck hunting season from March 20 until June 27 with a bag limit of four per day.

Start times in Victoria have also been delayed to 8am for the first five days.

All licensed hunters must pass a Waterfowl Identification Test before being permitted to hunt ducks.

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The story Belated bag limit rise for Victorian duck season first appeared on Farm Online.



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Wall Street gains, Treasury yields rise as inflation picks up steam


FILE PHOTO: Traders work as a screen shows Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell's news conference after the U.S. Federal Reserve interest rates announcement on the floor of the  NYSE in New York
FILE PHOTO: Traders work, as a screen shows Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell’s news conference on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., October 30, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo

April 9, 2021

By Stephen Culp

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Wall Street gained ground on Friday after solid U.S. inflation data and an uptick in Treasury yields suggested the economic recovery from the pandemic recession was gaining momentum.

All three major U.S. stock indexes were on track to post weekly gains as upbeat economic data boosted risk appetite ahead of first-quarter earnings.

Transports, seen as a proxy for economic health, were on track for their 10th straight weekly advance.

“It’s a nice end to a good week,” said Ryan Detrick, senior market strategist at LPL Financial in Charlotte, North Carolina. “The rise in transports is a good sign that the economy is beginning to open up.”

A Labor Department report showed producer prices rose last month at twice the speed of February’s growth, reviving some inflation worries.

“No question we’re seeing prices increase at the producer level and the big question is when that transfer down to the consumer?” Detrick added. “The Fed has stressed from the very beginning these increases will be transitory.”

Indeed, U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell offered assurances on Thursday that the central bank is far more concerned about the recent uptick in COVID-19 infections than inflationary pressures.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 148.06 points, or 0.44%, to 33,651.63, the S&P 500 gained 12.84 points, or 0.31%, to 4,110.01 and the Nasdaq Composite added 9.11 points, or 0.07%, to 13,838.42.

European stocks ended nominally higher, but marked their longest winning streak since November 2019 on rising hopes of a rapid economic rebound.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index rose 0.08% and MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe gained 0.05%.

Emerging market stocks lost 1.02%. MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan closed 0.85% lower, while Japan’s Nikkei rose 0.20%.

U.S. Treasury yields rose in the wake of the PPI report, which provided further evidence that the world’s largest economy was on a stable road to recovery from the pandemic.

Benchmark 10-year notes last fell 10/32 in price to yield 1.6656%, from 1.632% late on Thursday.

The 30-year bond last fell 13/32 in price to yield 2.3418%, from 2.322% late on Thursday.

The dollar was up against a basket of world currencies as inflation date lifted bond yields, but the greenback appeared set for its softest week of the year on upbeat economic data and the dovish Fed.

The dollar index rose 0.11%, with the euro down 0.11% to $1.1899.

Graphic: Dollar set for worst week of the year https://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/mkt/yxmpjdobbpr/dollar0904.png

The Japanese yen weakened 0.38% versus the greenback at 109.68 per dollar, while Sterling was last trading at $1.3712, down 0.15% on the day.

Crude oil prices dipped on rising supply amid a mixed picture on demand recovery from the COVID slump.

U.S. crude dipped 0.47% to settle at $59.32 per barrel, while Brent crude settled at $62.95 per barrel, falling 0.4% on the day.

Gold withdrew from Thursday’s one-month peak, weighed down by a rebounding dollar and rising Treasury yields. Still, the safe-haven metal appears headed for its first weekly gain in three.

Spot gold dropped 0.8% to $1,742.08 an ounce.

(Reporting by Stephen Culp; additional reporting by Carolyn Cohn; Editing by David Gregorio)



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Wild fallow deer numbers on the rise




Recreational hunters are doing their part to reduce wild deer numbers. while awaiting a review into control measures. Luke Bowden reports.

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Domestic violence in Regional Australia on the rise




Domestic violence in Regional Australia is being called the ‘shadow pandemic’ and support services are struggling to cope. Manika Champ looks at how some organisations are trying to improve the situation.

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Huge Rise In Child Migrants Crossing Dangerous Panama Jungle: UN


The number of US-bound migrant children crossing the dangerous Darien jungle in Panama on foot has increased more than 15-fold in recent years and is likely to rise further during the pandemic, the UN children’s agency warned on Monday.

Children accounted for just two percent of these migrants in 2017 but that had risen to more than 25 percent in 2020, UNICEF said in a statement.

The Darien Gap jungle, the only land corridor between Colombia and Panama, is “one of the most dangerous routes in the world due to the mountainous terrain, wildlife and insects, as well as the presence of criminal organizations,” the agency added.

Crossing the vast, roadless Darien Gap rainforest is the only option for US-bound migrants traveling overland from South America. Most of those making the crossing are Haitians and Cubans, but there are also some Asians and Africans.

“I’ve seen women step out of the jungle carrying their babies in their arms after walking for more than seven days without water, food or any kind of protection,” said Jean Gough, UNICEF regional director for Latin America and the Caribbean.





A migrant carrying a baby crosses the Chucunaque river after walking for five days in the Darien Gap
 AFP / Luis ACOSTA

Over the past four years, more than 46,500 migrants, including 6,240 children and adolescents, have crossed the inhospitable jungle. The number of minors increased from 109 to 1,653 between 2017 and 2020, UNICEF said.

In 2019, a peak of nearly 4,000 children made the crossing. Half of them were under five years old and many arrive injured and with serious physical and psychological problems.

Experts believe more and more migrants are choosing to travel with their families, including young children and pregnant women, to avoid being deported to the different countries they pass through.

“These families are pushing their own limits and putting their lives in danger, often without realizing how much of a risk they are taking. Those who manage to eventually cross this perilous border are physically and mentally devastated,” Gough added.

Migration across the dangerous jungle is likely to increase in the next months due to the economic crisis and unemployment generated by the Covid-19 pandemic, coupled with violence and climate change, UNICEF said.



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Leigh Creek residents memorialise the rise and disappearance of the ‘extremely harsh’ mining town


Armed with a slide projector and a steely look of determination, Dean Ransom can sometimes be seen wandering the winding roads of Leigh Creek, a small outback town in South Australia’s far north.

This unique government-owned town with a dwindling population of just 120 people used to be a bustling hub that coalminers called home until Alinta Energy decided to close its coal mine in June 2015.

Now, Leigh Creek is undergoing significant changes, including reinvestment and the demolishing of houses — for a second time.

About 22-odd kilometres away is the site of the original township, now called “old” Leigh Creek.

The town was established in 1943 as a tent city, where people lived while they mined for coal, despite blistering temperatures.

“Coal was first discovered when they were digging a dam in Copley for the railways in 1888 and it wasn’t until after WWII, around 1940, that they began to mine coal there,” Mr Ransom said.

When the old Leigh Creek township was established, it was dubbed a “tent city”.(

Leigh Creek Old Town Project: Enid Blieschke

)

He said the conditions were “extremely harsh” for the miners and their families.

“They would work six-day weeks very hard in the mines and then come home to a tent that had no air conditioning, no electricity, limited water and even the food supplies were quite often unreliable,” Mr Ransom said.

“So, they all looked forward very much to getting a solid house and a yard and some shops and things that they could actually have a better quality of life.”

An aerial photograph of a brown landscape with a small cluster of buildings in the centre surrounded by mining operations.
An aerial photograph of the old Leigh Creek township taken about 1980.(

Leigh Creek Old Town Project: Rosalie Patterson

)

A disappearing history

All that is left of the old town is a large barren hole in the earth after it was abandoned in 1983, and a new town built elsewhere.

“In 1976, ETSA [Electricity Trust of South Australia] decided they were going to move the town,” Mr Ransom said.

Space to play or pause, M to mute, left and right arrows to seek, up and down arrows for volume.
Preserving old Leigh Creek’s history(ABC North and West: Georgia Roberts)
Download 15.8 MB

This was so that coal could be mined where the old town once stood.

“There was a very large consultation program with the community, and they were involved in actually planning the move and planning the new town,” he said.

A large number of white houses on scrublands.
The new Leigh Creek township.(

Supplied: Leigh Creek – Old Town Project/Rosalie Patterson

)

The new township was dubbed an outback “Hollywood” for its buildings and shiny exterior.

Loading

Mr Ransom, a member of the Leigh Creek Old Town Project group, is racing against time to save the old town’s legacy.

“A few of the Leigh Creek residents were concerned they had no way to take their children or their grandchildren back to where they grew up and show them,” he said.

“The only thing that’s left now for those people are stories and memories.

“So, a group of people got together and decided they wanted to collect those stories to make sure that they didn’t get lost to time.”

Mr Ransom’s job is to digitise photographs and documents and store them in an online database.

He mostly works behind the scenes, but sometimes visits peoples’ homes to convert old slides into a digital format.

Yellow and white boxes containing photo slides to be digitised.
Mr Ransom has visited multiple families to digitise their slides.(

Leigh Creek Old Town Project: Dean Ransom

)

Mr Ransom is pleading for people not to throw out their precious photographs and slides, but rather to share them with the group before it is too late.

A large white sign with red letters saying 'auction Leigh Creek township'.
When the town had to be moved, many of the buildings and infrastructure went to auction.(

Leigh Creek Old Town Project: Enid Blieschke

)

Town auctioned off

When the town moved from its original spot, buildings and other infrastructure were auctioned off in 1982.

Gweneth McCallum’s late husband Trevor McCallum bought a railway station for the price it now costs to almost fill the petrol tank of a small car.

A man and woman both with short white hair and glasses posing for a photograph.
Trevor with his wife Gweneth McCallum.(

Meridee Groves Photography: Gweneth McCallum

)

“We were a little surprised because each of them contained an air conditioner, a hot water service, lots of cupboards and the house had a rainwater tank and a clothesline.

“They were made of Besser brick, which was impossible to remove, but they took everything else: all the windows, the doors, the flooring, the framework, the ceilings, the iron off the top. Everything was rescued.”

The couple used a large truck to transport several loads from the old town to their farm, about 300km south of Leigh Creek.

A long line of grey dust from an explosion in a coal mine.
The blast of a 1 million cubic metres of sedimentary rock at the coal mine.(

Leigh Creek Old Town Project: Rosalie Patterson

)

Town’s third transition

In the year following the closure of the mine, the 2016 census showed there was a mass exodus as the population decreased by 55 per cent, which left many houses empty.

Since then, the state government has announced a major overhaul of the town and said it would budget $43.6 million for the project.

Local MP Dan van Holst Pellekaan said the state government planned to demolish empty or asbestos-filled buildings, but leave some standing so the town could still function as a service and tourism hub.

Two men holding signs saying 'abstain' and 'beer is best' sitting next to a pile of beer bottles and cans.
Two men and their old ‘tinnies’ visiting a well nearby Leigh Creek in 1965.(

Leigh Creek Old Town Project: Pat Howshild

)

“Approximately 200 houses will be demolished, and they are essentially the ones that are not in a good enough condition to retain anyway,” he said.

“We’re making sure that people who live in Leigh Creek now who currently rent houses will be at the front of the list for the opportunity to purchase them.

“It’s not only about the people who live there it’s actually an important service centre for the pastoral industry, the oil and gas industry, the tourism industry and for about eight smaller surrounding communities.”

The state government’s leases on some of the town’s properties end this year, but Mr van Holst Pellekaan says “if it’s appropriate to extend them again we’ll certainly do that”.

Table tennis champ’s call-out

Residents of Leigh Creek are trying to provide more activities for local children as the town enters its next phase.

Adnyamathanha man Clayton Cruse is a teacher at the Leigh Creek Area School after moving with his wife and two children to the town early last year.

An Aboriginal man with a moustache and beard wearing a black jumper smiles at the camera on a hill overlooking a valley.
Mr Cruse is a relatively new resident of Leigh Creek.(

Supplied: Clayton Cruse

)

He said his family moved for “an experience” and for his children to learn about the area and their heritage.

Mr Cruse also happens to be a table tennis champion. He began his career in primary school.

“I moved to Alice Springs around 2005,” he said.

“I was working up there and found out they had a table tennis club and joined that and started playing competitively.

“I’d just recovered from a broken collarbone, and the boy was good!”

A blue sign that says 'Leigh Creek Area School' in front of a cream-coloured building surrounded by trees.
Leigh Creek Area School teaches kids within and around the township.(

ABC North and West: Gary-Jon Lysaght

)

Mr Cruse is using his table tennis knowledge and championship status to create a table tennis space for the youth.

He posted a call-out on social media for donations of table tennis equipment.

“I was really overwhelmed with the response we got to that just within a matter of days,” he said.

He received donations from individuals, organisations and former Leigh Creek students.

Mr Cruse said there were not many physical activities for the children in the town and that table tennis would be good for their mental and physical health.

“We’ll keep the equipment here at the school, so we’d be able to use it after school hours for the community and during school as well.”

Hope for the future

The marketing manager for Leigh Creek Outback Resort, Emma Ruffles, was born in Leigh Creek and has seen the town change throughout her lifetime.

“It’s been heartbreaking,” she said.

“People that were always living there that I grew up with have left.”

A lady in a grey shirt with long blonde and brown hair wearing a tree of life necklace smiles at the camera.
Emma Ruffles was born in Leigh Creek.(

ABC North and West: Gary-Jon Lysaght

)

Despite this, Ms Ruffles is grateful for the government’s overhaul of the town.

“I think it needs to happen because there’s a lot of unused resources there and a lot of the houses are full of asbestos and they’re quite damaged,” she said.

“It can be turned into quite a nice community — without driving around as if you’re in a ghost town that’s just been abandoned.”

A black and white photograph of men tending to a BBQ on a metal plate on the ground.
A BBQ at Leigh Creek in the 1970s.(

Leigh Creek Old Town Project: Kevin Waters

)

Ms Ruffles said there had been some negative responses to the plans, but it was important to focus on the positives and the opportunities.

“They don’t realise that the government has worked pretty closely with the community to ensure their livelihoods remain.

“They have an opportunity to have houses to live in and that the town will be cleaned up.”

A large green truck carrying black coal with a man standing in front of the truck's massive tyre.
Many people who lived in the old Leigh Creek township mined for coal in the late 20th century.(

Leigh Creek Old Town Project: Rosalie and John Patterson

)

Later this year, Leigh Creek Energy hopes to construct an underground coal gasification plant.

It plans to heat under pressure the deep underground coal seams at the disused mine and use the extracted gases to make urea, the basic ingredient of fertiliser.

This is something that has been talked about for a long time and not necessarily too many outcomes or answers have been given.”

Leigh Creek Energy said it had been “progressing the project on time and as planned” and was beginning operational activities.

It expects commercial operations to begin in 2023, “which will be carbon neutral by 2023.”

Despite differing views on how Leigh Creek’s future will be safeguarded, the community will do all it can to prevent the outback Hollywood from disappearing for good.

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Full list of schools and roads closed as disastrous flood waters rise


Schools in flood-affected parts of the state have begun to reopen following days of closures, however more than 60 schools remain shut due to the disaster.

The latest information from the Department of Education lists 65 public and non-government schools currently shut for the fifth day in a row.

More than 23,000 people state-wide have been evacuated with thousands more still on alert.

A woman walks down a flooded Kurrajong Road as water levels begin to subside on March 25, 2021 in Richmond, Australia. s) (Getty)

Officials from the Department of Education said more than 50 other schools have been damaged so far, the majority sustaining damage from flooding and roof leaks, strong winds, fallen trees and debris. Repairs and clean-up has started where possible, to ensure that schools can be returned to normal operations as soon as possible.

“We are continuing to work closely with emergency services to ensure our school communities remain safe and fully informed about any disruption to schooling,” the NSW Education spokesperson said.

“Before leaving home, parents and carers should consider their local situation including any existing road closures, transport disruptions and forecast weather conditions. 

Premier Gladys Berejiklian said it may take some time before people are able to return to their homes and schools with the full extent of the damage yet to be determined.

“Life won’t be normal for a people of people for a long time and we have to face that,” Ms Berejiklian said.

“We have to accept we’re still going through the crisis itself … I’m not going to pretend the clean-up will be easy.”

Road into North Richmond underwater leaving residents stranded. (9News)

Students affected by the flood emergency will be able to learn from home, the department said.

Before and after school care services will not be available for schools that are closed.

Parents and carers should consider their location situation before leaving home, including any existing road closures, transport disruptions and forecast weather conditions.

  • Aldavilla Public School
  • Beechwood Public School
  • Bellbrook Public School
  • Boggabilla Central School
  • Brewongle Environmental Education Centre
  • Bullarah Public School
  • Cattai Public School
  • Colo High School
  • Comboyne Public School
  • Coopernook Public School
  • Cowper Public School
  • Crescent Head Public School
  • Elands Public School
  • Eungai Public School
  • Frederickton Public School
  • Gladstone Public School
  • Glossodia Public School
  • Green Hill Public School
  • Harwood Island Public School
  • Hawkesbury High School
  • Hopetown School
  • Huntingdon Public School
  • Kempsey East Public School
  • Kempsey High School
  • Kempsey South Public School
  • Kempsey West Public School
  • Kinchela Public School
  • Leeville Public School
  • Long Flat Public School
  • Longneck Lagoon Environmental Ed Centre
  • Macdonald Valley Public School
  • Mallawa Public School
  • Megalong Public School
  • Melville High School
  • Moree East Public School
  • Moree Public School
  • Moree Secondary College Albert St
  • Moree Secondary College Carol Ave
  • Orama Public School
  • Palmers Island Public School
  • Penrith Lakes Environmental Ed Centre
  • Pitt Town Public School
  • Rollands Plains Upper Public School
  • Rowena Public School
  • Smithtown Public School
  • South West Rocks Public School
  • Telegraph Point Public School
  • Toomelah Public School
  • Tucabia Public School
  • Wauchope High School
  • Wauchope Public School
  • Willawarrin Public School
  • Wisemans Ferry Public School
SES rescue Windsor residents as their homes become isolated and inundated as the Hawkesbury River floods across the region. (Nick Moir)

Independent and Catholic schools closed

  • Bede Polding College South Windsor
  • Chisholm Primary Bligh Park
  • Hunter Trade College
  • Kempsey Adventist School
  • Kuyper Christian School
  • McAuley Catholic College, Grafton
  • Moree Christian School
  • St Matthew’s Primary Windsor
  • St Monica’s Primary Richmond
  • St Paul’s College, Kempsey
  • St Philomena’s Central School, Moree
  • St Joseph’s Primary School, Kempsey
Flooding above South Creek bordering Windsor Downs. (Benjamin Johnson)
An aerial view of flooded farmland on the Colo river. (Jenny Evans/Getty)

Motorists and public transport passengers in flood affected areas of the state are advised to avoid non-essential travel and work from home again today.

Motorists needing to travel should take extreme care, be prepared for conditions to change quickly and never drive through floodwaters.

Public transport passengers who need to travel are also advised to allow plenty of extra travel time and take extreme care.

  • Between Narrabri and the Queensland border – the Newell Highway is closed
  • Between Moree and the Queensland border – the Carnarvon Highway is closed
  • The Gwydir Highway is closed east of Moree at Biniguy, and about 30km west of Moree near Mallawa Road
  • In Myrtle Creek – Summerland Way is closed at Elliotts Road
  • Between Glenthorne and Taree – Manning River Drive is closed over the Martin Bridge
  • Between Walcha and Gloucester – Thunderbolts Way has reopened
  • At Failford – Failford Road is closed between Bullocky Way and The Lakes Way
  • Walcha to Yarras – the Oxley Highway is closed in both directions
  • Between South Grafton and Townsend – Big River Way is closed
  • At Macksville – Giinagay Way is closed between Wedgewood Drive and Upper Warrell Creek Road
  • Between Thora and Dorrigo Mountain – Waterfall Way is closed
A man stands on the main Windsor Road whilst taking photos in the suburb of McGraths Hill on March 23, 2021 in Sydney, Australia. (David Gray)
  • In Albion Park Rail – the Illawarra Highway is closed between Tongarra Road and Croome Lane
  • At Bombala – Cathcart Road is closed across the Coolumbooka Bridge
  • Between Bemboka and Steeple Flat – the Snowy Mountains Highway has reopened
  • On the South Coast Line – buses are replacing trains between Wollongong and Dapto due to signal equipment repairs at Unanderra.
  • Between Ivanhoe and Wilcannia – The Cobb Highway is closed

In the state’s north west:

  • In Walgett – the Kamilaroi Highway is closed between the Castlereagh Highway and Cryon Road
  • Between Ivanhoe and Wilcannia – The Cobb Highway is closed
  • The Silver City Highway has reopened for Four-wheel-drives only between Packsaddle and Tibooburra, but is now closed to all vehicles between Tibooburra and the Queensland border

In the Hunter/Central Coast:

  • Between Cliftleigh and Gillieston Heights – Main Road/Cessnock Road is closed between Avery Lane and Russell Street
  • Between Nelson Bay and Anna Bay – Nelson Bay Road is closed between Salamander Way and Frost Road
  • On the Central Coast & Newcastle Line – buses are replacing trains between Newcastle Interchange and Fassifern due to flooding at Cockle Creek.
  • On the Hunter Line – buses are replacing trains between Newcastle Interchange, Maitland and Dungog/Scone due to flooding
Floodwaters reach the rooftops of buildings in Richmond. (9News)

In the State’s Central West and Riverina:

  • Between Wallendbeen and Temora – Burley Griffin Way is closed
  • Between Temora and West Wyalong – Goldfields Way is closed
  • Between Cowra and Young – the Olympic Highway has reopened

In Sydney’s North West and West:

  • Between Bell and Mount Tomah – Bells Line of Road is closed in both directions
  • At Windsor:
    • Windsor Bridge is closed between Macquarie Street and Wilberforce Road
    • Windsor Road is closed between Pitt Town Road and Court Street
    • Macquarie Street is closed between Brabyn Street and Bell Street
  • At North Richmond – North Richmond Bridge is closed
  • At Yarramundi – Yarramundi Bridge is closed
  • At Colo – Colo River Bridge is open to vehicles up to 15 tonnes
  • Hawkesbury Valley Way has reopened between Macquarie Street and Day Street in Windsor but is still closed between Moses Street and just west of Percival Street in Clarendon
  • At Pitt Town – Pitt Town Road is closed between Saunders Road and Glebe Road
  • At Riverstone – Garfield Road West is closed between West Parade and Carnarvon Road
  • At Wilberforce – Wilberforce Road is closed between Freemans Reach Road and Rose Street
  • Between Cattai and South Maroota – Wisemans Ferry Road is closed across the Cattai Creek Bridge between Mitchell Park Road and Sackville Ferry Road
  • At Glenorie – Cattai Ridge Road is closed in both directions at The Causeway
  • At Wallacia – Mulgoa Road is closed between Water Street and Roscrea Drive and Silverdale Road is closed across the Nepean River
  • At East Kurrajong – Putty Road is closed between East Kurrajong Road and Stannix Park Road
  • Selected Busways services in Penrith, Blacktown and surrounding areas are running
    • Busways services in the Hawkesbury are still not running
  • On the T1 Western Line and T5 Cumberland Line – buses are replacing trains between Schofields and Richmond due to flooding
    • The buses cannot access Vineyard, Mulgrave, Clarendon and East Richmond stations due to road closures caused by flooding.
  • Buses are replacing F3 ferries between Meadowbank, Rydalmere and Parramatta due to the Parramatta Weir overflowing at Parramatta and strong currents at Rydalmere

Motorists are advised to avoid any non-essential travel. Anyone who needs to travel, should exercise extreme caution, allow plenty of extra travel time and never drive through flood waters.

  • Between North Narrabeen and Oxford Falls – Wakehurst Parkway is closed
  • At Oxford Falls – Oxford Falls Road is closed between Wakehurst Parkway and Aroona Road
  • Audley Weir is closed in the Royal National Park
  • At Menangle Park – Menangle Road is closed over the Nepean River
  • At Douglas Park – Douglas Park Drive (causeway) is closed between Moreton Park Road and Mitchell Place

This article will be updated throughout the day.

There are also a number of other minor road closures. For a full list and the latest traffic information, visit www.livetraffic.com, download the Live Traffic NSW app or call 132 701.

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How much more will it cost to buy a house if prices rise as much as economists forecast?


House hunters could be forced to add hundreds of thousands of dollars to their budget by the end of the year or else make compromises, after new economist forecasts tipped home prices to reach staggering heights.

Auction floors around the country have sustained a stunning streak of results and high clearance rates, prompting ANZ to lift its national house price forecast to a 17 per cent annual gain across the capital cities.

The national median house price was $852,940 in the December quarter on Domain data, meaning if house prices did move in that order they would rise $145,000 by the end of the year to $997,940.

Economists’ predictions vary and forecasting is an inexact science — with the best available information experts tipped a 10 to 20 per cent property price drop at the height of the pandemic that never eventuated — but the prediction offers insight into the magnitude of the possible jump as interest rates stay low and buyers feel fear of missing out.

Possible rise in house prices under ANZ forecasts

Capital CityDec 2020 median price2021 growth (f)Dec 2021 median price (f)Dec 2021 20% deposit (f)
Sydney$1,211,48819%$1,441,671$288,334
Melbourne$936,07316%$1,085,845$217,619
Brisbane$616,38716%$715,009$143,002
Adelaide$574,26413%$648,918$129,784
Perth$563,21419%$670,225$134,045
Hobart$564,09118%$665,627$133,125
National$852,94017%$997,940$199,588
Source: Domain and ANZ. (f) = forecast.

Sydney

Sydney is expected to jump 19 per cent in 2021, which would cost house-buyers an extra $230,183 and take the median house price to $1,441,671.

It would leave buyers needing to save $288,334 for a 20 per cent deposit.

BresicWhitney head of sales and chief auctioneer Thomas McGlynn said these figures were not surprising given Sydney has recorded almost a three-month stretch of strong clearance rates and properties routinely smashing their reserves.

This unflappable demand for houses has left units out of favour seeing much smaller gains, which was likely to continue until buyers recognised the value in them, Mr McGlynn said.

“The difference between what an apartment would sell for compared to a house has widened. The value proposition is far greater than potentially stretching to buy a home,” he said.

“The farther away houses prices will get to apartments people will turn back to apartments simply because of the value that’s on offer.”

He expected many pockets of Sydney to rise beyond the projected 19 per cent with expensive lifestyle locations and properties in hot demand.

“Locations anywhere from Coogee to Bondi buyers are applying the same value that were attributed to harbour front properties,” he said.

“Buyers that would stereotypically look at the eastern suburbs — Vaucluse, Rose Bay, Bellevue Hill, Woollahra those affluent suburbs that are closer to the city than the beach — we’re seeing buyers there shift to the beach.”

The city has recorded massive price increases as fierce competition for lifestyle locations are playing out north of the bridge as well. North shore buyers cashing out of their properties and moving to the northern beaches to buy larger homes on larger blocks amid a backdrop of tight supply, he said.

The only factor that could put a dampener on price rises would be interest rates.

Melbourne

Melburnians will need to fork out an extra $149,772 under the predicted 16 per cent jump with the median house price reaching $1,085,845.

It will cost house buyers $217,619 to put together a 20 per cent deposit alone.

Buyers were reminded that forecasts were not always bang-on and that much of that growth had already been recorded in the first quarter of the year, according to Barry Plant chief executive Mike McCarthy.

“At best they’re an indication of where they’re heading. On that basis you have to take it with a grain of salt,” Mr McCarthy said. “Some of that 16 per cent over the year has already occurred.”

In January, the Barry Plant Group recorded an average property price of $663,000. By February, that had risen 8.6 per cent to $720,000, according to Mr McCarthy, who said more expensive homes traditionally sell at the start of the year.

“It underscores that prices are going up and we’ve already seen 8 percentage points — that’s a fair chunk of it already.”

He said a rise in prices would affect anyone hoping to stretch themselves to buy, prompting them to compromise.

“If someone is looking at a property that is about $700,000 now and that is their full capacity and their property goes up to $800,000 they’re still stuck at $700,000, that means yes they have to lower their expectation, look at a different suburb,” he said.

He said more homes were already being listed, which would not only give buyers more to choose from but also slow down the expected price growth for the remainder of the year.

Hobart

In Tasmania, house prices are expected to rise 18 per cent, which would add $101,536 to the median price costing buyers $665,627 by year’s end.

Buyers would need to save a 20 per cent deposit worth $133,125.

The market was already well on its way of recording double-digit price growth, according to Ray White Victoria and Tasmania chief executive Stephen Dullens.

“We’ve seen more investors come back to the market, which again is a category of buyers where 12 months ago they weren’t there,” Mr Dullens said.

“When you add back in first-home buyers and other buyers who weren’t on the radar, there is a lot of demand.”

With such limited supply to satisfy demand in Hobart, Mr Dullens said he saw little evidence of price growth slowing down by the end of the year.

Brisbane

Brisbane has also recorded strong growth in the first few months of 2021 and that is only expected to continue, with ANZ forecasting a 16 per cent rise by the end of the year, adding $98,623 to the median house price.

It would cost buyers $143,002 to save a 20 per cent deposit on the expected median house price of $715,009.

Perth

House prices in Perth are expected to rise 19 per cent, taking the median to $670,225.

Buyers would need to save $134,045 to put together a 20 per cent deposit by year’s end.

Adelaide

Adelaide’s housing market is usually steady and it offers an affordable alternative to some of the larger capitals, with a December 2020 median house price of $574,264.

But prices are forecast to rise a strong 13 per cent this year, which would take the median house price to $648,918.

To put together a 20 per cent deposit, buyers would need to save $129,784.

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Potentially fatal soil-borne melioidosis infections on the rise in Far North Queensland


Health authorities in far north Queensland say two people have died and four have required intensive care treatment after contracting the soil-borne disease melioidosis this year.

Rates of melioidosis infections are nearly twice the yearly average in the region, with 17 people having been admitted to hospital since the beginning of 2021.

Dr Annie Preston-Thomas of Tropical Public Health Services said cases of the potentially fatal soil-borne disease were not unusual during the wet-season but this year’s rate of infection was concerning.

“Some people can have skin infections or abscesses but most people actually develop pneumonia or an infection in the blood — septicaemia,” Dr Preston-Thomas said.

“That can make you more at risk and also becoming more unwell with it.”

Melioidosis is caused by the bacterium Burkholderia pseudomallei which lives in soil, entering the body through open cuts or sores most often on people’s legs and feet.

James Cook University molecular biologist Associate Professor Patrick Schaeffer said the bacteria was endemic to Australia’s tropical north and was not something that could ever be eradicated.

“These bacteria are very, very resistant and can lay dormant for decades in both soil and in animal hosts, including humans,” Professor Schaeffer said.

“When it’s dry they [the bacteria] are latent and sleeping in the soil, not developing.

“When it rains it’s like leaving bread outside in the humidity and you get fungi growing on it. The same happens in the soil when it gets humid and it gets wet, and the bacteria starts to grow.”

Dr Preston-Thomas said people walking in mud, muddy water, or wet soil should ideally wear shoes and cover any open areas of broken skin with waterproof bandages to reduce the risk of infection.

Professor Schaeffer said the resilience of Burkholderia pseudomallei bacterium meant it could be easily transported from one place to another, particularly during flood and heavy rainfall events.

“Conditions will make some areas more likeable to the bacteria to actually grow, and some areas will limit its growth.

“But we never know before we test the soil.” 

Dr Preston-Thomas said because the bacteria that causes melioidosis is so easily transported, gardeners needed to be mindful of the risk it presented around the home.

“Gardening is often a way that people may be exposed [to melioidosis],” she said.

“It’s important to wear gloves when you’re gardening and also then wash your hands with soap and water when you’ve done anything like that, and before you eat.”

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House prices could rise 17 per cent this year, locking some first-home hopefuls out: ANZ


Australian housing prices are set to soar 17 per cent this year across the capital cities, a sharp rise that could lock some aspiring first-home buyers out of the market, ANZ economists have warned.

Sydney and Perth housing prices are forecast to jump 19 per cent in 2021, followed by Hobart (18 per cent), Melbourne and Brisbane (16 per cent) and Adelaide (13 per cent), the research found. ANZ previously forecast a 9 per cent national rise this year.

With banks likely to make it easier to get a home loan, the bank regulator could step in later this year and restrict borrowers from taking on too much debt compared to their incomes, which would slow price growth to 6 per cent in 2022.

ANZ expects sharp gains in housing prices.
ANZ expects sharp gains in housing prices. Photo: CoreLogic, ANZ Research

The upgraded forecast comes amid a red-hot property market, with buyers offering huge sums at auction or making offers within days of homes being listed.

Ultra-low interest rates – and the expectation that rates will stay low for years – have enabled buyers to borrow more money and bid up prices.

Pent-up demand after last year’s lockdowns has fuelled the boom, with many residents looking for larger accommodation to work from home.

The latest forecast is in stark contrast to predictions made by economists this time last year that prices would fall between 10 and 20 per cent.

“What we’ve seen is a combination of quite strong demand and relatively low supply,” ANZ senior economist Felicity Emmett said.

“Clearly very low interest rates have more than offset the headwinds from higher unemployment and low population growth.

“We’ve seen housing finance really growing very strongly, very high auction clearance rates [and] very strong sentiment about house prices picking up over the next year or so and that has really pushed demand a lot higher.”

Housing finance.
Housing finance. Photo: ABS, ANZ Research

But the gains are uneven, with the unit rental market in Sydney and Melbourne remaining weak in the absence of overseas migration or a better jobs market for young workers.

Separate research from CoreLogic found the proportion of properties in the December quarter that changed hands at a profit rose to 89.9 per cent, above pre-COVID levels, but unit owners were more likely to sell at a loss than house vendors.

Only 4.4 per cent of Sydney houses sold at a loss, compared to 12.6 per cent of Sydney units.

In Melbourne, 2.5 per cent of houses sold at a loss, but 13.5 per cent of units lost money.

Pockets of the major cities recorded high levels of loss-making sales, at 31.3 per cent of all sales in Melbourne’s CBD and 21.9 per cent in Stonnington. In pockets of Sydney, such as Botany Bay, Strathfield and Parramatta, the share of sales at a loss was above 17 per cent.

Buyers have been flocking to larger houses instead of units after spending chunks of time at home last year. Owner-occupiers have driven the boom, with new loans up 80 per cent since May, although investor activity is starting to grow.

First-home buyers armed with stamp-duty discounts and cheap debt have surged into the market, reaching the highest levels since the GFC, but ANZ said policy supports were unlikely to keep pace with price gains over the medium term.

This raises the affordability problem, with first-time buyers now taking on near-peak levels of debt, and deposit affordability remaining an issue. The average first-home loan was $429,950 in January, about $1000 less than the 2019 peak but double the levels seen in 2004.

First-home owners are taking on more debt.
First-home owners are taking on more debt. Photo: ABS, ANZ Research

ANZ said the housing market had been helped by mortgage holidays and government stimulus payments, although a small number of borrowers had not returned to making repayments and a modest rise in arrears was likely.

With a low volume of homes for sale, buyers are feeling a fear of missing out, but ANZ said the first half of this year would be stronger than the second as fixed mortgage rates lift and government programs such as JobKeeper and HomeBuilder end.

Grattan Institute program director for household finances Brendan Coates said low interest rates were driving gains as buyers expected debt to stay cheap for some time.

The Reserve Bank has said it will keep the cash rate at an ultra-low 0.1 per cent until 2024 – despite the bank’s own research finding a permanent cut to rates of one percentage point could push house prices up 30 per cent over three years.

“Mortgage rates have fallen from 3.5 per cent to, often, 2.5 per cent for a lot of borrowers [which] means that people’s capacity to borrow has risen substantially,” Mr Coates said.

“People are more comfortable taking on more debt in the expectation they’ll be able to repay it.”

Domain senior research analyst Nicola Powell said a lack of homes for sale was sparking strong competition after last year’s lockdowns interrupted people’s plans to buy or sell.

“We have seen a rapid decline in total listings on the market – we just haven’t seen people list their homes as quickly as people are willing to purchase them,” Dr Powell said.

“This lack of stock, which is a trend across all of our cities, has created competition between buyers. They’re supported by low interest rates, leveraging more, and it’s ultimately driving up prices.”

More new listings have started to hit the market, but Dr Powell said she expected to see strong price growth until the number of homes for sale rose enough to meet the level of demand from buyers.

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