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Near misses by pedestrians on railway lines: video

A man narrowly avoids being struck by a speeding train at Warnervale. Pic: TrainLink NSWNEWCASTLE is the proud owner of regional NSW’s most dangerous rail crossing, according to state transit figures.
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NSW TrainLink reveals that Hamilton station had eight recorded crossing trespasses last financial year, making it the worst rail crossing in the state outside of Sydney.

Last year the Hunter and Central Coast boasted three of the worst five crossings in the state, with Wickham and Woy Woy also at the top. Each recorded five incidents, the majority caused by pedestrians not following the safety signals.

WATCH three of the worst near-misses below:

Please enable Javascript to watch this videoNSW TrainLink chief executive Rob Mason said the consequences of rail trespass ‘‘can be deadly’’.

“It takes up to 570metres for a passenger train travelling at 100kilometres an hour to stop – that’s the length of more than three football fields. A train cannot simply swerve to miss a pedestrian on a level crossing,’’ he said.

In 2010 the Beaumont Street crossing was named the third worst in the state, and little has changed.

In 2007 the state government spent $18.5million on Newcastle crossings, which it said reduced waiting times.

Motorists caught disobeying signals at a level crossing will receive three demerit points and a $405 fine.

The figures were released as part of rail safety week, which brings together rail operators from Australia and New Zealand to raise awareness about rail safety for one week every year.

“We are urging pedestrians, cyclists and motorists to take care and remain alert when approaching level crossings,’’ Mr Mason said.

Warrnambool junior footballers aim for state school titles

St Joseph’s Primary School boys are aiming for back-to-back School Sport Victoria titles. Their next step is quarter-finals.SCHOOL footballers from across Warrnambool will attempt to keep their state title hopes alive in Ballarat this week.
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The coastal city will be represented at primary, year 7, year 8 and intermediate levels at the School Sport Victoria quarter-finals.

The fixtures start with Warrnambool College taking on Maribyrnong Sports Academy at year 7 boys’ level today.

St Joseph’s Primary School will carry the flag in the primary mixed and primary girls’ matches tomorrow.

The Joeys meet Clairvaux Catholic in the mixed clash, the latest step in their bid to claim back-to-back state crowns.

The girls take on Ballarat Grammar and should they win, Christian College Geelong. Fielding a girls’ side is a first for the school.

Emmanuel College’s year 8 boys and intermediate boys are also in action tomorrow.

The year 8s take on Essendon Keilor College while the intermediate boys play Maribyrnong Sports Academy.

St Joseph’s PS sports co-ordinator Mark Gercovich said the mixed side booked its spot by winning at greater western region level on Friday.

The school defeated Ararat West PS, Pleasant Street PS and St Francis Xavier PS.

“They’re a good team. They’re quite capable of matching it with last year’s team (which won the state title),” he said.

“I know we’ve got a couple of injuries and absentees which might not help but I’m sure they’ll give a good account of themselves.”

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Craig answers call of the pipes

WHEN commercial lawyer Craig Doherty was considering moving from Hobart last year, one of the big factors that influenced his decision to practise in Warrnambool was it’s plethora of piped organs.
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Warrnambool Organ Festival chairman, and pipe organ enthusiast, Craig Doherty in St John’s Presbyterian Church, one of the venues to be used. 140808RG18 Picture: ROB GUNSTONE

Apart from his legal work, Mr Doherty was also director of music and organist at the Hobart’s St David’s Anglican Cathedral and regularly gave its large three-bay organ a robust workout.

Mr Doherty, 45, has been a church organist since he was a teenager and said he was drawn to the pipe organ by its power, grandeur and variety of sounds.

Mr Doherty will show his talent with the instrument when he performs with other local organists and international performer and tutor Brendon Lukin of Geelong as part of Warrnambool’s inaugural organ festival in October.

The festival will highlight not only the growing local interest in the pipe organ but showcase the different instruments Warrnambool has, with concerts in St Joseph’s, St John’s and Christ Church.

Mr Doherty will be among those to play at St John’s on the night of Friday, October 17, and at an afternoon concert at Christ Church on Saturday, October 18.

He said the Christ Church organ lent itself to baroque and classical music and the concert there would will include a piece by Mozart for both organ and strings and work by Johann Sebastian Bach, a favourite of Mr Doherty’s.

A concert at St Joseph’s with its mighty organ on the evening of Saturday, October 18, will round out the festival.

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Boy, 10, describes teacher’s “weird” touching

Crown prosecutor Patrick Bourke yesterday recounted evidence by the complainant during final addresses in the trial of Hamilton mother-of-eight Diane Marie Brimble, 47.A 10-year-old boy has described physical contact with a female teacher accused of committing indecent acts with a child under 16 as “weird”.
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Crown prosecutor Patrick Bourke yesterday recounted evidence by the complainant — given in a closed court — during final addresses in the trial of Hamilton mother-of-eight Diane Marie Brimble, 47.

Ms Brimble has pleaded not guilty in the Warrnambool County Court to six charges, including five counts of committing an indecent act with a child aged under 16 years and one count of using a telecommunications device to groom a child.

Mr Bourke went through each of the charges and claimed Ms Brimble told the boy she loved him, called him her boyfriend, said she wanted to sleep with the boy and have sex with him, offered him vodka, showed him a suitcase which contained sex toys and exposed her breast to him.

He said the boy claimed Ms Brimble changed her behaviour towards him and he didn’t like her as much because she was saying “weird things”.

The prosecutor said the boy had withstood cross-examination and was adamant he was telling the truth and Ms Brimble was lying.

Mr Bourke said there was other evidence indicated that Ms Brimble had feelings or an infatuation for the boy.

The evidence included a tattoo Ms Brimble had designed and got which said “Love for …”, the boy’s name with an infinity symbol. She also wrote letters, poetry and sent other messages to him.

The prosecutor said Ms Brimble had a framed photograph of the boy on her bedside table, his image was her mobile phone screen saver, there were three photos of the boy in her wallet, more than 20 photos of him on her mobile phone and she had a photo of the boy in a locket.

Mr Bourke said Ms Brimble told police she wore a pipe cleaner ring given to her by the boy and that she took it off but decided to put it back on because she couldn’t leave it off. The prosecutor said all that evidence, including the tattoo, was “pretty extreme stuff” and when the boy moved schools Ms Brimble tried to enrol her own children there.

Barrister Jennifer Clark said Ms Brimble denied doing anything indecent or sexual and explained her client had taken on a mothering role to assist the boy when he was upset by his family’s issues.

Ms Clark will continue her closing address today before Judge Mark Taft gives his charge and the jury retires to consider a verdict.

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Talented Koroit teen Jarrod Korewha chosen for AFL Academy

The future looks brighter for young Koroit footballer Jarrod Korewha, who has been chosen to join the AFL Academy. The 16-year-old earned his chance to be fast tracked as a potential AFL player with an encouraging performance at the national under 16 championships. JARROD Korewha’s hopes of becoming an AFL player are about to be turbocharged.
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The Koroit teenager is one of 25 juniors chosen in the AFL Academy, a program which grooms youngsters for careers at the highest level.

Jarrod, who represented Victoria Country at the national under 16 championships earlier this year, was lost for words when North Ballarat Rebels talent manager Phil Partington called.

“Parto rang me after school and said to me ‘I’ve got some news that will change your life’,” he said.

“I was thinking hopefully it’s something pretty good … it turned out to be pretty good.

“It still hasn’t kicked in that I’m in it. It won’t until we get right into it. I’m pretty honoured.”

Jarrod finds out more about the academy in Melbourne tomorrow. He knows those lucky enough to be included in it have an increased chance of being drafted.

“My whole life, since I was eight, all I have wanted to do is play AFL,” he said.

“Since then I’ve tried to dedicate my life to trying to get there and do what I can to get there. This is a good step.”

The 16-year-old’s dedication to his sport is unwavering.

In a bid to learn more about the game, he became a water boy for Koroit in 2012. Every match he would run drinks to the players in each of the under 18s, reserves and senior matches and then play under 16s the following day. His elevation to the under 18½s this season, plus two senior matches, ended his days as a water carrier.

“I got to watch the game pretty closely from on the ground,” he said.

That learning will be ramped up with the AFL Academy.

He will be exposed to specialist training, experience life at AFL clubs and in April next year attend a training camp in New Zealand where he will play in a curtain-raiser match to the Anzac Day clash involving St Kilda.

Jarrod, whose father is from New Zealand, is a St Kilda fan.

Greater Western Sydney Giants’ Dartmoor recruit Jeremy Cameron and Terang Mortlake’s Lewis Taylor, now at Brisbane, were members of the academy before being drafted.

Jarrod is keen to further his football education this season with Koroit. After making his senior debut against North Warrnambool Eagles in round 14, he played against Warrnambool in round 15 before returning to the under 18½s last Saturday.

“I want to try and keep my spot but obviously the seniors is a pretty good team,” he said.

Partington said Jarrod’s effort to make the Vic Country under 16 team and play well at the national championships had been significant, let alone win selection in the AFL Academy.

“It’s a great achievement,” he said.

“It doesn’t guarantee a boy will get drafted but it gives them a very good grounding. The AFL is trying to give these kids the tools to make it to the AFL.”

Partington said Jarrod was expected to be part of the Rebels’ under 18 TAC Cup squad next year.

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Man on damage charges bailed to see doctor

Billy-Jo Heard, 35, of Elizabeth Street, appeared in Warrnambool Magistrates Court yesterday on charges of criminal damage and committing an indictable offence while on bail. A PORT Fairy man who terrorised his partner and smeared blood on a police officer has been given a day’s bail.
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Billy-Jo Heard, 35, of Elizabeth Street, appeared in Warrnambool Magistrates Court yesterday on charges of criminal damage and committing an indictable offence while on bail.

The court heard that on June 7 about 12.20am Heard was arguing with his partner at their Port Fairy home when he stormed out of the house and allegedly threw a concrete ornament through a window.

On August 4 the couple had another argument, this time over tobacco, when it’s alleged he punched a hole in the wall and used a child’s scooter to crack the windshield of the victim’s car.

While at the Warrnambool police station cells, Mr Heard kicked a police officer in the leg and smeared the officer with blood from a cut on his hands.

Police had to use bolt cutters to remove the damaged handcuffs.

Magistrate John Lesser granted bail to the accused to see a liver specialist, with the condition that he report to police today.

Mr Lesser also issued Mr Heard with a family violence intervention order.

Mr Heard will reappear in the magistrates court today.

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Allansford, Merrivale earn WDFNL finals hosting rights

ALLANSFORD and Merrivale have earned hosting rights for week one of the Warrnambool and District league finals series.
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Allansford Recreation Reserve will host the qualifying final on Saturday, the second time in three years the league has used the ground for a final.

Dennington features in both the senior football and A grade netball. The Dogs meet Merrivale on the grass and Panmure on the court.

Merrivale Recreation Reserve is the venue for elimination final day on Sunday — the same fixture the ground hosted in 2013.

Allansford takes on Old Collegians in the senior football and Merrivale has home-court advantage against Kolora-Noorat in the A grade netball.

Power coach Glenice Justin said playing the Tigers on their own court was not ideal but would not be an issue for her players.

“I see there are 12 games (of netball) played. It’s difficult, somebody is going to be playing on their home court,” she said.

“In a beautiful, ideal world it’d be great if we could play on a neutral ground but it can’t happen. We don’t have the grounds to choose from.”

Justin said Kolora-Noorat had already experienced playing at Merrivale this season, losing to the Tigers by 11 goals in round 12.

She also noted the Power would have a home-court advantage in other grades should the second semi-final be at Noorat Recreation Reserve.

“It might end up one of our teams get to play a final on their home court. It goes around,” she said.

WDFNL general manager Dianne Membrey said the league applied to have the elimination final at Reid Oval as its first preference.

But Warrnambool City Council put the ground off limits in a bid to give the playing surface a break.

Incomplete works in the netball change rooms development also shaped the decision.

“They wanted to give it a spell because otherwise it won’t have a spell and the netball change rooms aren’t ready,” Membrey said.

“There’s really no point going there if we still don’t have access to the change rooms when we can go to a venue that does have change rooms.

“We’re happy to go down to Merrivale, that’s fine.”

Meanwhile, Old Collegians have requested an investigation into an incident during the Warriors’ under 17½ match against Merrivale on Saturday.

The WDFNL yesterday confirmed investigations officer Chris Asenjo would look into the first-quarter incident.

A second investigation, requested by Deakin University and relating to its round 16 senior match against South Rovers, is also under way.

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Lost tiger’s tale reappears – in Scotland

TEN years ago, Scottish author Tony Black was working as a journalist at The Warrnambool Standard when he stumbled on the seed that would grow into his best-selling novel to date.
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Former The Standard journalist and Scottish author Tony Black.

That seed was in the shape of a Tasmanian tiger (or thylacine) and came via a researcher who was keen to talk to a reporter about recent sightings of the officially extinct animal.

“I remember being handed this story by the chief of staff and I guess he was just happy to get this one off his hands because on the surface it was a non-starter,” Black said.

“It turned out to be the best yarn I’d ever had.

“So many people called up the next day to confirm they’d seen Tasmanian tigers in the district.

“One guy said he hit one with his ute and went out to help but it snarled and showed this massive set of jaws and he just let it drag itself off into the scrub.”

A decade later, these interviews have inadvertently led to The Last Tiger, Black’s latest novel, which tells the story of a family of Lithuanian refugees who re-settle in Tasmania during the early 20th century.

While the patriarch of the family Petras becomes a “tiger man” who shoots the creatures in order to protect the island’s sheep and collect a bounty, his son Myko is drawn to the creatures and is struck by their plight as they near extinction.

Black said he was struck by the “very sad story” of the thylacine’s demise — “a tale of bloodlust and how man’s insatiable greed for land tramples everything in its way” — and soon set about writing the novel.

“The first draft of The Last Tiger was written in Warrnambool but my then-agent didn’t like it much,” he said.

“Publishing tends to like to launch new authors with really conservative stuff, potentially big-hitting genre fiction, so I had to get ten or so of those under my belt until someone took a chance on The Last Tiger.

“Ironically, it’s been by far my biggest seller to date and has been shortlisted for a major prize in the UK.

“The time was certainly right when it landed on my current publisher’s desk because he just adored it.”

Those “ten or so” books have predominantly been Scottish crime novels, aka “tartan noir” — he has a couple of crime series under his belt that have led iconic Scots author Irvine Welsh (Trainspotting) to call Black “my favourite British crime writer”.

“It’s hard to describe how big (tartan noir) is at home to another country,” Black explained.

“I’d say most of the books sold in the UK are crime fiction of one sort or another right now.

“It’s been that way for a few years and publishing is a very safe industry, they don’t like risks, so they tend to run on rails.

“I wrote loads of novels, probably five or six, before I was told to write tartan noir by an old agent.

“You could say it wasn’t a natural discovery for me.

“The Last Tiger, and a few other books I wrote then — and will carry on writing — are much more closely related to what I like to write, where I’m at with it all.”

With its shortlisting in The Guardian’s Not The Booker Prize, some strong reviews, and the best sales of his career to date, Black might find himself writing fewer crime thrillers and more books like The Last Tiger in the future.

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Investors to sue blue gum advisers

INVESTORS caught out by the failure of failed forestry group Timbercorp are planning to sue financial advisers who steered them towards the managed investment scheme.
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The move comes as Timbercorp liquidator KordaMentha ramps up the pressure to recover loans taken out to finance their investments.

Financial planners reaped $92 million in commissions after advising their clients to invest in the company, which was one of the main companies behind blue gum plantations in the south-west.

The investors received substantial tax breaks to invest in the scheme.

Mike Smith, chief executive of Timbercorp’s financier the ANZ Bank, told The Standard investors were offered a 15 per cent discount to settle their loans.

“Many accepted that offer but some have held out,” Mr Smith said.

“We’re now trying to recover the loans that are still outstanding.”

ANZ lent the money to Timbercorp’s finance arm, Timbercorp Finance, which in turn lent it to investors, many of whom were attracted by a generous tax deduction.

KordaMentha has launched a flurry of legal action in the Victorian Supreme Court to recover loans.

Since April, when the High Court upheld the validity of the loans after a failed class action, KordaMentha has lodged at least 49 lawsuits against investors, five of which were settled before reaching court.

In just three days at the end of last month the receiver lodged 11 lawsuits against investors, claiming a total of almost $4.8 million.

Fairfax Media has seen loan application forms filled in by clients who used financial planners that have blank spaces where the investor’s assets and liabilities are supposed to be disclosed.

Slater & Gordon lawyer Mark Walter said his firm was “starting to be retained by growers who are being sued”.

KordaMentha partner Mark Korda defended the lawsuits and said any benefits would flow through to Timbercorp’s unsecured creditors, not ANZ.

“After four or five years of legal issues these loans are due and payable,” Mr Korda said.

“We’re taking a selective group and we’re putting them through the court process.

“We expect some of them will settle.”

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Parks group opposes hiker lodges in Grampians

A PROPOSAL for privately-operated hiker lodges in the Grampians would threaten the pristine environment and affect existing accommodation providers, the Victorian National Parks Association has warned.
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Up to seven lodges could be built within the national park and two outside under a masterplan for the Grampians Peaks Trail, which would cover 144 kilometres from Mount Zero to Dunkeld.

A number of hiker camps would also be established.

Under the proposal 99-year lease agreements could be offered for commercial development of lodges.

The association is concerned the “higher-yield” market would compromise the park’s future and does not accept the need or desirability for commercial development of built facilities inside the park.

According to the masterplan, the walk is expected to generate 32,000 visitor nights in 2015, increasing to more than 80,000 visitors by 2025, while the total number of walkers using the trail is expected to increase from 13,800 next year to more than 34,000 people by 2025.

“On-walk accommodation is central to the experience of an iconic multi-day walk such as the Grampians Peaks Trail,” the masterplan says.

“Default accommodation for the entire length of the trail will be hiker camps (provided by Parks Victoria), with camping on designated tent platforms.

“On-walk hiker lodges will be provided by the private sector — these are roofed structures which may include showers, toilet and kitchen facilities.

“They will cater for a higher-yield market and be used by guided walkers.”

Environment Minister Ryan Smith said the trail would open up the national park for more people, while Grampians Tourism Board chief executive Will Flamsteed said private lodges would provide hikers with a world-class nature experience and were just some of the investment opportunities.

“It’s not just about lodges in a national park,” he told the ABC.

Parks Victoria district manager Graham Parks said the trail should proceed, with or without the lodges.

The first stage between Halls Gap and Borough Huts is nearing completion.

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