National Premier League play-offs: Edgeworth Eagles thrash Canberra Olympic to press claims for home run

EDGEWORTH are potentiallyone win away from hosting the National Premier League play-off grand final

ON FIRE: Veteran Daniel McBreen scored a double in Edgeworth’s 4-1 win over Canberra Olympic on Saturday night. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

The Eagles disposed of Canberra Olympic 4-1 at Deakin Stadium on Saturday night and will now meet the Brisbane Strikers at Jack McLaughlan Oval next weekend. Brisbane accounted for South Hobart 4-2 in Tasmania.

The three-time Northern NSW NPLchampions made it to the national finale last year, which they lost away to Sydney United 58, after wins on the road against Victorian winners Bentleigh Greens and Perth FC.

Match hosts are decided on a points system. A win in normal time is worth three points, away goals four points and home goals three points. A point is deducted for each goal conceded and per yellow card. A red card incurs a three-point penalty.

Kieran Sanders put Edgeworth ahead in the 15th minutes after a nod on from Daniel McBreen.His goal was cancelled out by Jordan Tsekenis in the 26th minute beforeJosh Evans put the visitors back in front with a crisp header onhalf-time.

“We deserved the second goalandwas an important moment to be honest,” Edgeworth coach Damian Zane said

The second half was all Edgeworth. McBreen produced a quality finish in the 75thminute before icing the win late.Edgeworth collected 18 points forthe 4-1 win.

APIA Leichhardt, who are in the other group,collected five points from their 1-0 win over Adelaide City. Heidelberg United beat Bayswater FC 2-1 in Perth in the second game on that side of the draw.

“On our side of the draw, we are probably one win off hosting a final,” Zane said. “APIAonly got five points for their win so we are sitting pretty.”

Edgeworth traveled to Canberra with an aggressive game plan and it paid dividends.

“It could have been more but had you offered me a 4-1 win I would have taken it,” Zane said. “We played pretty open and expansive because we wanted some goals and we got them. It was noce for Macca to score a couple.Once he gets up and about, he helps motivate the group. He was quite elusive tonight. People were saying how quick is he?”

OpinionOn trail of another ecotourism winner

Increasingly, walking trails, cycling trails, ecotourism trails and, in some cases, commuting links are appearing along the disused railway lines snaking across .

Railroads, with their gentle slopes, make ideal cycling or walking trails for locals and tourists.The Hunter has the Fernleigh track as ashining example of a completed active travel trail and the Richmond Vale Rail Trail (RVRT) as a work in progress.The conversion of the disused rail line from Hexham to Richmond Vale has been a long-term dream of many since the last steam train made its spectacular exit by blockading the line on Hexham Swamps in 1987.

The RVRT traverses three LGAs and the councils of Cessnock, Lake Macquarie and Newcastle have plans now underway to bring it to the shovel ready stage.The RVRT will connect Shortland to Hexham along the old water pipeline, then Hexham across Hunter Wetland National Park, Pambalong Nature Reserve, Stockrington State Conservation Area, via tunnels and bridges through the Werakata State Conservation Area to Richmond Vale. The RVRT will become one of the Hunter’s iconic trails linking Newcastle to the vineyards, and bringing access along the way to a wide variety of ecosystems from wetlands to red gum forests and an abundance of bird life.

We need public support to ensure this important project for our region is completed.

At the TFIwe have organised, with the generous support of the Donaldson Conservation Trust, an exciting array of expert speakers for a free conference Active Transport: The Richmond Vale Rail Trail on September 27 at the University of Newcastle’s Callaghan Campus. The book Towards the Richmond Vale Rail Trailalso will be launched at the conference.

Join us for a memorable day.

Professor Tim Roberts is the director of the Tom Farrell Institute for the Environment, University of Newcastle

A NSW judge has slammed the running of a Port Stephens Council legal case

Wet and Wild Prolonged: Lagoons Estate owner David Vitnell at the lagoon area that gives the Nelson Bay development its name. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers.

Legals: Mr Vitnell on his proposed stage three of the Lagoons Estate.

Wet: a photo showing water settling on the Lagoons Estate after heavy rain.

Beautiful: Home owners who have built large, established homes at the Lagoons Estate because of the beauty of the lagoon. Residents say excessive water entering the site has caused extensive damage.

Angry: Lagoons Estate property owners (from left) Bill Park, George Pagacs, Gloria Grayson, Randall Grayson, Ron Ricketts and Roy Johnson.

TweetFacebookThe conduct of the proceedings does not reflect well on the legalrepresentatives or their clients. It has certainly not been in the interests of the parties or in the interests of justice. The current dispute has all the hallmarks of an attitude on both sides which is both myopic and pedantic. There has been an excessive focus on formality and minutiae, at the expense of the real issues in dispute.

NSW Supreme Court Justice Michael Pembroke

Mr Vitnell isseeking a court declaration that the council has not complied with a 2006 NSW Court of Appeal decision ordering it to complete millions of dollars in drainage works near the Lagoons Estate, after Justice Roger Giles in 2006 strongly criticised the council and found it had not acted“in good faith”.

The 2006 decision came after decades of complaints from two owners of the Lagoons Estate, after the council approved a neighbouring housing development in the 1970s and carried out road drainage works which included water dischargesdirectly onto the Lagoons Estate.

In the 1990s the council carried out further roadworks that increased the amount of discharge to the Lagoons Estate, and failed to carry out mitigation works despite writtencommitmentsto do the work.

In 2002 new owner BrienCornwell,of Melaleuca Estate Pty Ltd, took legal action to force the council to stop the stormwater discharges, and spent $3.5 million on an internal drainage system as part of a council approval for the first two stages of the Lagoons Estate housing development. Port Stephens Council spent about $1.3 million to reduce water entering the Lagoons Estate.

Mr Cornwell won the2006 court case, and Justice Giles blasted the council for showing “a signal disregard” of Mr Cornwell’s rights, after the council argued it had the right to “carry off water, mud and filth” from public roads, “collect and concentrate” it and put it on the estate.

Justice Giles ordered the council to undertake significant drainage work to stop stormwater “in excess of natural flow” from entering Lagoons Estate and the lagoon system that gives it its name, with an 18-month deadline.

Mr Vitnell bought the estate after Mr Cornwell’s companies went into liquidation, and launched action against the council in 2015 arguing it had not complied with the 2006 order.

Civil engineer and water engineering expert Geoff O’Loughlin, who was appointed by the court with the consent of Mr Vitnell and the council, was required to answer what Justice Pembroke described as “two relatively straightforward questions” relating to stormwater on the Lagoons Estate.

In a decision on September 8 Justice Pembroke listed the 14 dates the matter hadreturned to court since May, 2016, including an appearance in which he blasted the council for taking two months to concede it could not rely on a 2007confidential agreement with Mr Cornwell to stop Mr Vitnell’s case.

The council paid Mr Cornwell $750,000 in 2007 –and approved paying $750,000 more – as “insurance” to stop him taking further legal action against itover the Lagoons Estate saga.

The “insurance” failed –and ratepayers officially wasted $750,000 –because it only applied as long as the estate wasn’t sold.

“Why would you wait to come to court and incur the costs of four barristers to have an argument about something blindly obvious?” Justice Pembroke asked a barrister for the council, before ruling an agreement with Mr Cornwell had no force against Mr Vitnell.

On September 12 Justice Pembroke set down a May, 2018 hearing date.

Mr Vitnell said the council had clearly not been happy with the court-appointed expert’s report. He expressed serious concern about the millions of dollars the case had cost so far, and future potential costs once the matter is finalised.

If the case ends in MrVitnell’s favour the council couldbe forced to pay two lots of legal expenses, with the likelihood of damages because of the five years Mr Vitnell has not been able to proceed with the third stage of the estate. If Mr Vitnell wins the council will also be forced to complete drainage works required under the 2006 order. The council in 2006 received estimates of up to $36 million to appropriately drain the area.

Mr Vitnell said he did not believe Port Stephens councillors, except for outspoken councillor Geoff Dingle, had been fully aware of the strength of the case against it.

Council general manager Wayne Wallis said it was not appropriate for the council to comment while the matter is before the courts.

“What I can say is that councillors have been fully briefed on this matter, and have been throughout the entire process,” Mr Wallis said.

UFOs in the sky above Cessnock and Singleton weren’t from another planet

UFO mystery in the Hunter solved | VIDEO, PHOTOS, POLL Night Lights: Dozens of lights were spotted in the sky, south-west of Cessnock.

TweetFacebookDid he think they were UFOs?

“The first thing my wife said was ‘they’re UFOs’, but I don’t really believe in UFOs.”

He thought they could possibly bemilitary drones.

He wondered if someone could help identify the craft.

“I’m curious because it’s an odd thing and I don’t have an explanation,” the man said.

“I’m one of those people that likes to have an answer to these things. Maybe somebody else saw it. If a number of people saw it, there could be different perspectives on it.

“Someone in the aeronautics industry might recognise the lights and know what kind of craft it is.”

Topics posted the man’s story on Reddit and YouTube.

Thankfully someone out there in internet land was able to solve the mystery.

A postunder the name HydraMonkey, said the lights came from“regional link flights placed into holding whilst waiting to land”at Sydney Airport.

“The article says the flights started at about 8pm. At that time there were three flights in holding just south of the Singleton Military Area with a Virgin flight just breaking from holding and moving south.

“To the west threelarger jets are moving to final approach for Sydney.”

But why did the man not hear any sound coming from the planes?

“There was a very strong westerly blowing wind on Thursday that went as far to affect normal flights at Sydney,” HydraMonkey said.

“Depending on where he was, the wind might have been moving sound away from him.”

If anyone has a UFO story to share, let us know at [email protected]苏州夜网.au.

AFL: Geelong Cats beat Sydney Swans in semi-final knockout

Cats conjure up a ninth life with big win over the Swans Happy returns: Daniel Menzel celebrates a major score as Geelong captain Joel Selwood (left) looks on.

TweetFacebookPictures: AAPIn this season of nonplus, this might have been the most confounding twist yet. At one end of the MCG, the great Buddy Franklin, playing in his usual position, was double-teamed, and halved as a force, contributing not a single goal, and usually innovative Sydney could do nothing about it.

On one leg, Franklin sported what may have been a wad of padding, or a floatie. Either way, he played as if marooned, drowning not waving.

At the other, the great Paddy Dangerfield, playing out of position, was double-teamed, and yet somehow redoubled as a force, kicking four first-half goals, and so did those around him, and sometimes proxying for him, profit, and the usually enterprising Sydney could do nothing about that, either. He kicked no more after half-time; he had no need.

So did the Cats, down in estimation, confidence and personnel, and having lost TomLonergan, Buddy’s notional opponent, before the game, summon up one of the great counter-intuitive finals wins. So on they go, to Adelaide and a preliminary final, and even with a little in reserve after sitting out the final quarter, which was played as if in ceasefire mode.

Geelong had and used the double chance. Sydney has been on its last chance for months, and finally it expired. It was one thing for them to give the competition a six-game head-start, another to give Cats six goals head-start in a do-or-die final. So out they go.

The solution to the riddle of this night’s result was manifest at each end, but the working-out was up the ground. There, the Cats won all the contests, strategic, mental and physical. They broke even at clearances, the Swans’ patent strength, this despite sacrificing Dangerfield to the forward line detail. In this enterprise, Mitch Duncan was outstanding, and Sam Menegola, surplus to requirements last week, no less.

Geelong monopolised the ball, with the dual effect of denying it to Sydney and taking the usual manic finals burr out of the game. This was control, but the Swans prefer, would you believe, chaos. And they were helpless to manufacture it. Here was a page from the playbook of Hawthorn, the only team to beat Sydney since April, until now. This was apart from anything else a finely worked coaching triumph. Captain Joel Selwood said coach Chris Scott was the three-voter this night.

And slowly it dawned on you that well as the Swans had done even to be here this season, the Cats were always hereabouts, and resilient as Sydney has been this last decade or so, the Cats have always been thereabouts, too. They have their pride, and it showed, glinting like an Anzac Day medal.

Quiet night: Sydney’s Lance Franklin failed to make an impact. Photo: Wayne Ludbey

In prospect, this was the calm after the storm created by Richmond the previous Friday night. Both teams were from out of town. Geelong generally misses home, Sydney makes itself at home wherever it goes. Hence the apprehension.

A day of drenching rain added to the dampening. “The platforms are wet, because of the rain,” said the Met man on Jolimont station, and you knew then that it was going to be a night of trying too hard. The crowd dribbled in, finally reckoning up at just more 55,000.

But the rain did have the effect of making the MCG and everything in it sparkle as if sporting a new coat of paint. That charm will have been lost on Sydney.

The last thing Geelong could afford Sydney was the flying start that has been a feature of their recent meetings. Artfully, they moved the game into a lower key than is usual for finals, and usual for Sydney, which thrives on a more frenetic beat.

The conditions helped, affecting handling and footing. After Dangerfield kicked two early goals, the Swans were forced to order a man back as rearguard, The overall effect was further muffling. Meantime, the Cats set a swarm on Franklin, outnumbering him so completely that the umpires might have called for a count. Tactically, this was to be expected.

The surprise was that Sydney had no counter.Sydney, such a self-assured team these last four months, were befuddled. And duly the Geelong goals rained, six in a row, 11 of 13 until the game was asleep and the counting could stop.

If you were to single out a goal as symbolic, it was the one kicked by Duncan from a 50-metre penalty against Franklin, who if he made any movement off the line, it can only have been a sideways glance. The Swans might have guessed then that this was not to be their night.

Reports of Sydney’s death in April turned out to be greatly exaggerated. Reports of Geelong’s death last week turned out to be even more exaggerated. The Cats did, and the Swans died.

Man with cerebral palsy lashes out at Devonport taxi company

Damian McCoy has spent hislifegrappling withthe everyday challenges caused by two tragic events in his childhood: a car accident that left him with cerebral palsyand his mother’s death.

But all the strength Mr McCoy has built up in the 40 years since those events melted after a trip to Brisbane ended with him locked out of Devonport Airport in the freezing night air, wondering what had happened to the taxi he’d booked an hour earlier.

“Theairport was closed, I’m waiting in the dark, my phone hadrun out of battery so I couldn’t call anyone and I’m there with a disability waiting for a taxi,” he said.

Seeing airline staff leavein a Maxi Taxi reserved for them onlyadded insult to injury.

“When they all drove offI felt utterlydejected, lost, isolated andangry,” he said.

Mr McCoy has lashed out atTaxi Combined Devonport, which did pick him up after half an hour.

Qantas staff bookedthe taxi for him shortlyafter his connecting flight from Melbourne took off.

DEJECTED: Damian McCoy, who has cerebral palsy, has blasted a Devonport taxi company that left him waiting outside Devonport Airport. Picture: Lachlan Bennett

Mr McCoy wanted to use a differenttaxi company because of past bad experiences but said he wastold Taxi Combined Devonport was the only service that could be booked.

Devonport Airport general managerDave Racesaid the airport didn’t have an exclusive contract with Taxi Combined Devonport that would prevent another company being booked.

“In order to provide the best possible service to its customers, Devonport Airport uses two local taxi companies,” Mr Race said.

“Customers with concerns about their taxi service should discuss the matter with the taxi company.”

The manager of Taxi Combined Devonport was unavailable for comment.

Mr McCoy is trying to move past the incident as he prepares to move to Brisbane for medical treatment.

But he worries others may face the same situation.

“What if someone with a severe disability gets out there and it happens to them?,” he said.

“It’s not about me. It’s about people who required services out there and they aren’t there, they are not being met.”

The Advocate

A potent mix of alcohol, crime and stereotyping

A year ago at Katherine in the Northern Territory I went into a liquor store, which won’t surprise you, and said hello as I walked around the copper standing in front of the aisles. Maybe there’d been trouble, I thought, as I collected a six-pack, and while paying I saw him checking the ID of an Aboriginal fellow.

A day or two later in the same bottleshop Istepped around a queue of Aboriginal people standing before another copper, and as I paid I asked the store’s staff member what was with the copper and the queue. Everyone, he explained, had to show ID before they could buy alcohol, and he shrugged when I said that I hadn’t.

So, the third time in the bottle shop (I was there for a week!) I stood in line and when I reached the police officer, a woman this time, I asked why we had to show ID. She was friendly and said it was part of a program to reduce violence and crime in Aboriginal communities, and yes, she replied when I asked, it did work.

What was she looking for when she checked ID? That the person was not banned from buying alcohol, as some people were because they’d been involved in alcohol-fuelled crime, and that they had a permanent abode nearby to drink the alcohol. When I pointed out that I didn’t have a permanent abode nearby, she smiled and said police could exercise discretion.

I had been stereotyped.

This week on the ABC I heard a white Northern Territory woman say she had never been stopped by police in a bottle shop and her partner, an Aboriginal man, say that he had never not been stopped.

Both were stereotyped.

Were we stereotyped fairly or unfairly?

Fairly, I say, because the problem that warrants this direct police intervention is in Aboriginal communities, and in Katherine, Tennant Creek, Alice Springs and other Territory towns it is serious and tragic problem. Being checked by police in liquor stores is a burden the ABC’s Aboriginal man, a high school teacher, will know is a burden he carries for the well-being of his people.

But at the beginning of this month the checking system changed, which was the reason for the ABC report. Now all Territorians and all visitors, in all parts of the Northern Territory, will have to show photo ID as they seek to buy take-away alcohol and those on the Banned Drinker Register will be sent packing. A person on the register may have been referred by such as a GP, family support agencies or family members, and the checking will be throughout the Territory, not just in certain areas, and it will apply to everyone, even to apparently respectable thimble drinkers like my sanctimonious self.

It is, of course, a stereotyping of the people of the Northern Territory, and just as white people now share the stereotyping burden of Aboriginal people in the Territory, why shouldn’t all ns in every liquor store share the burden carried by every Territorian!

I’d be happy to show ID whenever I bought booze to take away, unless I was on the banned list of course. We would be reinforcing the world’s stereotyping of ns as drunkard louts, and given the behaviour of many n travellers overseas we deserve every bit of that. Stereotyping is inevitable and necessary.

You may recall that in the aftermath of the World Trade Centre calamity opposition to stereotyping became the rage, an outcry against airport security measures directed mainly at Muslims and people with a Middle Eastern background. That outcry has subsided in recent years and I wonder if it is that Muslims and people with a Middle Eastern background who are boarding a plane are relieved to see stereotyping in practice.

I see the PC rejection of stereotyping in action whenever my wife and I are preparing to board a plane at an n international airport. She has an artificial knee that sends the detectors into alarm mode and the staff into mock alarm mode, mock because they know that the problem is my wife’s metal knee. And while they’re swarming over her they’re not directing that time and energy towards a person who more closely fits the stereotype of a terrorist than a 1.5m-high 60-something woman who the intelligence on the screen should tell them has never been in a mosque or threatened anyone other than her husband.

We all see this nod to the rejection of stereotyping in the random check for explosives traces as we head through an n airport. Random! Every sixth person through the gate! If checking every sixth airline passenger for traces of explosives makes us safer, not checking the other five must put us at risk.

I’m happy to show ID when buying alcohol and to be checked for explosives at airports, but unless we check everyone we must surely rely on stereotypes.

I sure hope there’s a great deal of stereotyping behind the scenes at airports.

Britain’s national terror threat level raised to critical after Parsons Green terror attack

UK Prime Minister Theresa May has raised the British national terror threat level to critical, meaning another attack may be imminent, following an explosion on a packed commuter train in London on Friday morning.

At least 29 people were injured after theimprovised bomb exploded on therush-hour trainin whatpolice say wasthe fifth terrorist attack in Britain this year.

May said in a televised statement that armed police and members of the military would be seen on the streets in the coming days.

“For this period, military personnel will replace police officers on guard duties at certain protected sites that are not accessible to the public,” she said.

Passengers on board the train heading into the capital fled as fire engulfed a carriage at Parsons Green underground station in West London after the explosion at 8.20am local time (5.20pmAEST).

Some suffered burns while others were injured in a stampede to escape. The National Health Service said the injured had been taken to various London hospitals. None were thought to be in a serious condition, the ambulance service said.

“We now assess that this was a detonation of an improvised explosive device,” Britain’s top counter-terrorism officer Assistant CommissionerMark Rowley told reporters.

He said most of the injuries were thought to be flash burns.

Assist. CommissionerRowley declined to answer whether the authorities knew who was responsible or if the suspected bomber had been on the train.

An earlier tweet by US President Donald Trump appeared to suggest those responsible wereknown toLondon’s Metropolitan Police Service. However ScotlandYardissued a statement saying the President’scomments were “pure speculation, given we don’t know who’s involved. Any speculation is unhelpful”.

Pictures taken at the scene showed a white bucket with a supermarket freezer bag on the floor of one train carriage. The bucket was in flames and there appeared to be wires coming out of the top.

British Prime Minister Theresa May confirmed theexplosionwas being treated as a terrorist attack.

​”Clearly this was a device which was intended to cause significant harm,” she said.

“My thoughts are with those injured at Parsons Green and emergency services who are responding bravely to this terrorist incident.”

RELATED: Live coverage: Reports of an explosion at Parsons Green

The threat level in the UKwas last raised to ‘critical’ following the Manchester Arena bombing in May, when 23 people, including the attacker, were killed as they exited a concert by USpopstarAriana Grande.

“The public should go about their daily lives but remain vigilant,” Mrs May said. “The threat of terrorism we face is severe but by working together we will defeat them.”

Asked about Mr Trump’scomment that the attack was committed by “people who were in the sights of Scotland Yard”, Mrs May repeated the official line from the MetropolitanPolice:”I never think it’s helpful for anyone to speculate on an ongoing situation,” she said.

The Prime Minister chaired a meeting of the government’s Cobra emergency committee on Friday afternoon.

n Hayden Locke was on board the “packed” train at the time of the explosion.

The 35-year-old father-of-two who has been living in London for the past three years was heading into London for meetings when people started stampeding from the back of the train as the train pulled into Parsons Green station.

“People kept yelling there was a bomb. People are really on edge here,” he told Fairfax Media.

“All I could see was a little smoke, I just thought it was an electrical fire but people just started running. More people have been hurt by the rush.”

RELATED:At least 22 people injured by London Tube ‘bucket bomb’

Locke, who works in the mining industry, said hundreds of people fled the train with many being injured trying to flee the train and the underground station.

“I saw one woman whose hair was all burnt and another woman had hurt her back after being caught up trying to get out of the station,” he said.

Due to traffic and public transport disruptions he now has to ride a bike the remaining seven kilometres into London to start his work day. His wife and young children came to the station to meet him after the incident.

“My kids are still too young to ride the tube, thank God,” he said.

The container which reportedly exploded on board a packer London train during peak hour on Friday morning.

The federal government was urgently trying to find out if any other ns had been caught up in the explosion.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has been in contact with UK High Commissioner Alexander Downer, a Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade spokeswoman said.

“The n High Commission in London is making urgent inquiries to determine whether any ns have been affected by an explosion aboard a commuter train at Parsons Green Station, London,” she said.

Parsons Green station was closed and paramedics arrived at the scene in under five minutes. Fire crews from Fulham, Wandsworth, Chelsea, Hammersmith and other surrounding fire stations attended.

Armed police were patrolling at the station, and all trainservices between Earl’s Court and Wimbledon were cancelled. Police were advising people to avoid the area.

BBC reporter Riz Lateefwas at Parsons Green, and described the panic as people tried to flee.

“There was panic as people rushed from the train, hearing what appeared to be an explosion,” she said.

“People were left with cuts and grazes from trying to flee the scene.There was lots of panic.”

A witness told the BBC he was coming towards the station then “suddenly everyone came running down the stairs … lots of people shocked and tearful and screaming.”

Another woman told the reporter she had been on the train, heard a bang and then saw flames. People in front of her shielded her from the flames, she said.

At least one person was taken bystretcherto an ambulance. She was conscious but her legs and face were burnt, according to reports.

The carriages would have been “like sardines” at that time of rush hour, regular commuters on the line said.

Another witness told the BBC he saw scenes of desperate panic as people fled the scene.

There were “hordes of people trying to get out as quickly as they could”, he said. “People were falling and tumbling on top of each other … crying and really shaken up”.

With AAP

Longreach via Spirit of the Outback: Into the wild, wild west

Spirit of the Outback departs Brisbane for Longreach twice weekly.”We’d left Longreach on a sunny day. In the two and a half hours to Barcaldine, there was a huge rainstorm. The creeks flooded, we could go neither forward nor back, and we were stuck there for two and a half days.”

Anyone doubting the Outback still offers adventure should talk to Mark Lawrence, service technician aboard the Spirit of the Outback train linking Brisbane to Longreach.

As we sit in the Shearers Rest, the train’s first class bar car, Lawrence recounts his most memorable journey aboard the train.

“It was an adventure,” he continues. “Everyone had a great old time! We had plenty of food and drink, and plenty of frivolity. And they had a karaoke machine in the pub across the road. It was the best fun.”

It sounds like a great travel yarn you could spin out forever. Though it’s not one I’m likely to experience myself, given the drought that’s been gripping Longreach for the past few years.

Every cloud – or lack of cloud – has a silver lining, however. The parched weather has forced the owners of cattle stations to diversify into tourism, resulting in some great experiences for travellers.

That’s all down the line, though, as we traverse more than 1300 kilometres from Brisbane along a railway that opened up the Outback in the 19th century; first north to Rockhampton, then west to the wide open grasslands.

It takes 25 hours to reach Longreach by rail, but the Spirit of the Outback is a memorable way to do it.

My first class sleeper cabin is compact but comfortable. During daylight hours it contains an armchair, concealed at night beneath a single bed which faces the direction of travel.

Though tight, the space is well-organised: in addition to the chair and bed there’s a drop-down sink, a narrow wardrobe, a luggage rack and a small cupboard.

As with a cruise, social interaction is a key part of a long-distance train journey, and the bar car’s alcoves aid conversation between fellow passengers. The colour scheme here is simple: brown and bone and black, with a sepia image of horsemen at one end.

The adjoining Tuckerbox restaurant car is similarly colour-coded, but more eccentrically decorated. The dividers between table booths are each topped by metal frames containing livestock brands of famous cattle and sheep stations, such as Bowen Downs, Wellshot and Isis Downs.

First class sleeper on the Spirit of the Outback Train.

Above the tables there’s a curve of corrugated iron, a reminder of rural ‘s favourite building material. The effect is that of a quirky Outback-themed eatery. Tacky or fun? I’m going with the latter.

The onboard menu is constructed from locally-sourced ingredients as far as possible, and it’s capably presented fare that resembles the output of a decent pub.

There’s a vegetarian option for dinner (a fairly bland cheese tortellini), but otherwise it’s a meaty selection: beef, lamb or pork. The standouts are the desserts, particularly the mango and macadamia panna cotta – combining two great Queensland products and attractively presented in a tall glass.

Tuckerbox dining car, on the Spirit of the Outback Train. Photo: Picasa

After a reasonably good sleep, I wake early to use the carriage’s communal shower before a queue develops. Then, after breakfast, I sit in my cabin’s chair and watch the landscape slip by.

We’ve left the coast well behind and have begun our westward trek. Out the window it’s greens and reddish-browns against a bright blue sky: with stands of gum trees in dry-looking soil, and off to the south the lofty Blacktown Tableland.

The hours slip by, and about noon we start to ascend the Drummond Range. The railway was particularly difficult to construct through this landscape, winding up slopes and through gaps. The train slows down to navigate this stretch, creaking and groaning dramatically as it makes the grade.

The Stockman’s Hall of Fame. Photo: Tourism and Events Queensland

Late in the afternoon the train reaches Barcaldine, the town where the train was once so memorably stranded. No such luck today, but there’s sufficient time here for passengers to visit the prime local attraction: the Tree of Knowledge.

This ghost gum in front of the station was the open-air headquarters of the 1891 shearers’ strike, and became an icon of the n trade union movement. Though the tree died in 2006, its trunk has been preserved and a huge memorial canopy erected above it. It’s a particularly impressive sight after dark, when it’s lit by green lights.

Also in Barcaldine is the n Workers Heritage Centre, a museum dedicated to everyday people’s working lives; and the Red Shed, a creative hub which sells artwork by local Aboriginal people. Outside the town, the Lara Wetlands is a beautiful place in which to picnic and bathe in hot artesian water.

Longreach sunsets are a sight to behold. Photo: Tourism and Events Queensland

But for the moment it’s onward by rail to Longreach, which we reach just as the sunlight is fading on the horizon.

The next morning, I switch to transport of a bumpier type: a stagecoach. The Kinnon family, owner of Nogo station, has branched out into accommodation and tourist attractions, and this is its star act.

After clambering into a pair of replica stagecoaches, we’re taken along the original Cobb & Co mail route in the direction of Windorah. As we travel, we’re told the story of Freeman Cobb and his pioneering public transport.

Cobb and Co stagecoach in full flight.

The ride includes a moment of play-acting between the drivers of the two coaches. Their conversation about an approaching storm is the prompt for a short gallop back towards the town.

Rather than being a touch Disney, it’s an excellent experience that gives passengers a taste of what it must have been like to ride in these contrivances – except we only have to put up with the dusty, bumpy ride for 45 minutes, not days.

Another dose of Outback showmanship is the regular morning show at the n Stockman’s Hall of Fame, on the edge of town near the aviation-themed Qantas Founders Museum.

Beyond the main building with its exhibitions of ranching life, stockman Lachie Cossor expertly clowns around with horses, dogs and sheep, performing riding tricks and singing songs, before emerging with guitar on the back of a gigantic bullock.

The day is rounded out by the Drover’s Sunset Cruise along the Thomson River aboard the MV Explorer. This slow-flowing, broad expanse of water sometimes breaks its banks to spread across the surrounding flood plain and threaten the town.

Tonight it’s simply looking picturesque, as we sit on deck spotting whistling kites above and turtles in the water below.

After the cruise, we disembark to have dinner in a clearing containing tables, a bar and a stage with a corrugated iron roof. As we eat our barbecued beef or fish, a musician with a stockman’s hat prepares to play.

It’s a great atmosphere. At the end of a long hot Outback day, it’s relaxing to be sitting with a drink in hand as the air cools down, the guitarist strikes up and the Southern Cross appears in the sky above us.

TRIP NOTESMOREtraveller苏州夜网.au/queensland


RAILThe Spirit of the Outback departs Brisbane for Longreach twice weekly, seequeenslandrailtravel苏州夜网.au. Sleeper from $427 one-way.

STAYKinnon Homestead Stables, Longreach,outbackpioneers苏州夜网.au. From $180 a night.

North Gregory Hotel, Winton,northgregoryhotel苏州夜网. From $120 a night.

Country Motor Inn, Barcaldine,barcaldinecountrymotorinn苏州夜网.au. From $120 a night.

SEECobb & Co Stagecoach Experience, seeoutbackpioneers苏州夜网.au. Adult ticket $99, includes ride, morning tea and entertainment.

Outback Aussie Tours, seeoutbackaussietours苏州夜网.au.Offers many tours including the Drover’s Sunset Cruise (adult ticket $99, includes dinner and entertainment).

Red Dirt Tours, seereddirttours苏州夜网.au.Based in Winton, takes day tours to attractions in the region. From $75-$160.

n Stockman’s Hall of Fame, seeoutbackheritage苏州夜网.au. Museum and show $50.

Qantas Founders Museum, seeqfom苏州夜网.au. Entry $28.

Tim Richards travelled courtesy of Outback Queensland and Queensland Rail Travel.

THE WAY TO WINTONTwo hours north-west of Longreach by road, the town of Winton has its own Outback appeal. Here are five reasons to visit.

WALTZING MATILDAAlthough the town’s Waltzing Matilda Centre was destroyed by fire in 2015, there are ways to celebrate the famous song while waiting for it to be rebuilt. On the main street is a statue of composer Banjo Paterson, standing proudly in front of a curved sheet of corrugated iron bearing his lyrics.matildacentre苏州夜网.au

THE NORTH GREGORY HOTELThis retro-themed pub is whereWaltzing Matildawas first performed. A piano and plaque in the lobby marks the spot.northgregoryhotel苏州夜网

QANTILDA MUSEUMTaking its name from local legends Qantas andWaltzing Matilda, this history museum contains a vast number of artefacts from Aboriginal grinding stones to a relocated train station.experiencewinton苏州夜网.au

AUSTRALIAN AGE OF DINOSAURSThe land around Winton was once the bed of a prehistoric sea, and is now the source of numerous dinosaur fossils. The best place to learn about them is this institution outside town. Seeaustralianageofdinosaurs苏州夜网

LARK QUARRYA vast canopy covers a set of carefully uncovered prehistoric tracks, the only example in the world of a dinosaur stampede.dinosaurtrackways苏州夜网.au

CARISBROOKE STATIONTours can be taken of this working sheep and cattle station, with spectacular views from mesas (known locally as ”jump-ups”). Seereddirttours苏州夜网.au

WHISTLE STOPSFIVE MORE MEMORABLE TOWNS SERVED BY THE SPIRIT OF THE OUTBACK TRAINEMERALDHome to an elegant train station of timber and iron lace, and the gateway to Carnarvon National Park.

ANAKIELocated within the Sapphire Gemfields.

ALPHAA series of murals around this small town depicts its pioneering history.

JERICHOHosts ‘s smallest drive-in movie theatre, which can hold 36 cars.

ILFRACOMBEDotted with historical buildings including the Wellshot Hotel, a classic Outback pub which was moved here by bullock cart when the railway reached the town in 1891.

Warabrook mum doing Sydney marathon to raise awareness for organ donation

It started as something for herself:atime to think, reflect, “stomp out the anger” and cry.

But now Angela Cairns is running for her family.

When she lines up for the start of the Sydney Running Festival’s marathon on Sunday it will be with the aim of not only realisinga personal achievement but to also raise awareness of organ donation.

The husband of the Warabrook mother of four and two of her children have heart conditions.

Her 14-year-old daughter Luka-Angel had a heart transplant within the past 18 months.

Eleven-year-old son Jazz and husband Lucas will both need one in the future.

“My husband has Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy. He was diagnosed at 17 and he couldn’t do exercise and it meant eventual heart transplant,” Ms Cairns said.

Their eldest child Elijah, 16, was born perfectly healthy, but eight years ago Jazz and Luka-Angel were both diagnosed on the same day withRestrictive Cardiomyopathy.

“Jazz was in and out of hospital with pneumonias and he was just really susceptible with a low immunity,” she said.

“It was just in one of the check-ups that a paediatrician picked up a third and fourth heart sound. Normal sounds are one and two, there’s two heart sounds, so he explained that we needed to go on a list to see a paediatric cardiologist.”

It was at that visit that a third sound was also detected in Luka-Angel’s heart.

“At that stage we hadn’t heard of cardiomyopathy. For them that means a small, stiff heart andno exercise,” Ms Cairns said.

“We could then recognise that they weren’t toddlers that ran. They were very short of breath all the time. Luka-Angel would say she had sore legs so I would carry her everywhere.

“It changed our life, obviously, but I would piggy-back them everywhere so we would still go on bushwalks and I would rotate piggy-backing them. Then when my eldest son got older he would push them along on the scooter.”

Ms Cairns, who along with her husband are youth and children’s co-ordinators with the Salvation Army in Newcastle, had been a keen runner as a child but only took it up again shortly after her children werediagnosed.

“It definitely rocked my worldand, really, the way I began to cope was to run,” the 42-year-old said.

“Being alone was very rare, so running became my thing. But I would run and cry, so I’d wear my sunglasses and my hat.

“It became a real therapy for me. It became a time of processing, of dealing with stuff, of praying, reflecting. It became more about mental health in the end.

“Running became my saving grace, just to run and process and stomp out the anger on the beach up in Tweed Heads and the footpath here.”

The Cairns family relocated to Newcastle six years ago.

She continued to run, five to seven kilometres three times a week, and ran a couple of half marathons (21.1km).

“I never thought Iwould do a marathon [42.2km], not in my wildest dreams,” Ms Cairns said.

“It was probably something tucked away that I would love to do but it wasn’t until a conversation with my son which kicked that off.

“I started to inviteJazz to come on my runs. He would come for a bike ride and I would just push him along while I was running.

“He just said to me one day, ‘I want to live my life the very best I can mum’, then he went on to say,‘If you could do anything you wanted, what would you do?’.”

She replied she had always thought about a marathon but was “too scared”.

“He shot me down straight away. He said, ‘You need to do that mum’,” Ms Cairns said.

“Then he started to think I couldwin it and I had to say that was not even on my radar.I just want to make it to the end in a reasonable time, so then I started training.”

Her program has not just been about making sure she can make the distance. It has been a personal journey.

“I realised I want to learn more skills in perseverance because I’ve got some pretty tricky stuff ahead,” she said.

“One of the things that has stood out in my training has been to set my eyes firmly on the goal and keep them there, whether the rain is beating against me or the wind is beating against me I can press on.”

It is a lesson she says she is already applying and on race day her motivation will be seeing the smile on her children’s faces at the end.

“I’ve very determined and I’m nervous but I’m really excited,” she said.

“It’s definitely achieving a dream and I really wouldn’t have done it without Jazz’s conversation because I was letting fear of failure get in the way.”

Driving her through the run will also be her mission to spread awareness of organ donation. Emblazoned on the back of her shirt will be the words: “My daughter’s life was saved by a transplant”.

Watching the changes in her daughter since the transplant has been“amazing”.

“She would dance for 30 seconds then would end up with her head down on the lounge while her body recovered,” she said.

“Now she dances repetitively. She can do more than one cartwheel in a row without getting short of breath and that is just amazing to see.”

And so she is “so very gratefulto the anonymous family who gave to us in their time of terrible grief and loss”.

Warabrook mum taking one step at a time INSPIRED: Angela Cairns is raising awareness for organ donation by taking part in the Sydney Running Festival’s marathon on Sunday. Picture: Simone de Peak

Angela Cairns is grateful to the anonymous family of the donor who helped save her daughter’s life through a heart transplant. Picture: Simone de Peak

TweetFacebookIt became a real therapy for me. It became a time of processing, of dealing with stuff, of praying, reflecting. It became more about mental health in the end.

Angela Cairns