Ararat Rats ready for Wimmera elimination clash

Ararat forward Tyler Cronin kicked a game high three goals last weekend against Stawell and will be important to the Rats’ fortunes in Sunday’s elimination final.THE Ararat Rats will compete in Sunday’s do or die clash at Horsham City Oval against the team which helped them qualify for their first Wimmera Football League finals’ series in four years.
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Minyip/Murtoa’s win over reigning premier Dimboola in the final round of the home and away season opened the door to the top five for the Rats and they completed the final piece of the puzzle with a hard fought 10-point victory over rival Stawell.

Joint-coach David Hosking said after 16 rounds of highs and low it is a relief to be featuring in week one of the finals.

“We left it to the absolute last moment and had to rely on other results just to get there, so yes relief is a good word,” he said.

“Given the club has had a lean spell in the last couple of years it is good to make the finals and it is an achievement, but at the end of the day there is no point being there to just make up the numbers.”

That ‘lean spell’ of finals’ appearances stretches back more than 10 years, with only skipper Alan Batchelor and Jake Williamson the remaining senior players of the team that lost the 2010 elimination match.

When it comes to senior finals’ campaigns the Rats have been part of the September action on just three occasions over the past decade 2006, 2008 and 2010 for a return of zero wins, five losses.

To notch up a victory you have to flick back through the record books to the first semi-final of season 2003, where the side smashed Horsham United before falling short of a grand final berth the following week by just two points to arch rival Stawell.

“It is time we improved that record,” Hosking said.

“That is pretty poor when you consider that we are a club from the second biggest town in the league, to have that as our recent finals’ record, is not good enough in anyone’s eyes.”

With only a handful of players in Ararat’s line-up experiencing senior finals football, Hosking said those players will need to lead the way.

However, he is also adamant that the only way his team will defeat the Burras is with 21 contributors.

“The obvious ones are the players that have done it before, the likes of Cosson, Mendes, Batchelor, Williamson and Searle — they know what is required,” he said.

“They are players that I guess have a bit of an X-factor. They also have this type of experience and know what needs to be done.

“What I’d also add to that is that we have some blokes who I reckon have got a real ability to have a major impact in games like this too. Guys like Liam Cavanagh and Brady Miller can perform in big games.”

Burras’ leading scorer Clinton Midgely is coming off the back of an eight goal haul last weekend against Dimboola, however in round 11 Miller held the full forward to just one major.

Hosking believes this match-up will be one of the most important to Ararat’s fortunes on Sunday.

“Anyone who can kick eight goals in a game is obviously pretty dangerous, so if Brady can keep him quiet it is going to go a long way to winning us the game,” he said.

“What it is also going to come down to is how well they restrict our delivery into the forwards and how well we restrict their ability to deliver it into their forwards.

“Whichever team has a midfield that is able and prepared to work hard defensively will have the advantage.”

Ararat and Minyip/Murtoa share one win each for the two previous encounters this season.

The Rats claimed the first scalp in round four with a 19-point win, before the Burras turned the tables seven rounds later with a 58-point victory.

Missing from the round 11 clash was Cavanagh and Beau Cosson to VicCountry duties, while injury/illness struck Mick Fratin and Batchelor early in the contest.

Three out of those four players are fit and firing for Sunday’s match.

“I’m not sure the result would have been different in the second game, but it certainly would have been closer if we had have had all those guys available,” Hosking said.

“I take some comfort from the fact that I know we can beat them, we have done that this season and you hang your hat on that a little bit. We were certainly minus a few key players in the second encounter, so that didn’t help our cause, but we didn’t help it either by kicking ourselves out of the match early with six behinds.”

Hosking said he and Andrew Louder have spent this week drumming into their players the need for intensity from the opening bounce.

If the Rats can replicate their early season form and produce a four quarter effort there is no reason the side can’t progress into week two of the finals.

“Expect the same, but at a higher intensity — that is the point we have made to them during the week, that the basics remain the same,” Hosking said.

“To win in finals you have to be at your best for longer.

“They have just got to go out there and play footy the way Andrew and I know they can.

“They’ve got to be true to themselves, that’s it. Don’t try to be anything you’re not.”

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$971k facelift for Capalaba College

CAPALABA State College will undergo a major spruce up after receiving $971,407 from the state government for school maintenance projects.
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Capalaba MP Steve Davies says Capalaba State College will receive $971,000 for repairs and maintenance programs.

It was the largest one-off allocation under the final round of the three-year School Maintenance Backlog grants scheme.

In the first round, the school received $160,000 and $390,000 in the second round.

The total for all Capalaba electorate schools this round is about $1.6million.

Capalaba MP Steve Davies said the money would be used to give the school a much-needed facelift and denied it was pork-barrelling in the lead up to next year’s state election.

He said the college was earmarked for increases to maintenance funding before the 2012 election.

“Of the final $100million under this program, Capalaba State College received nearly $1million – so it’s a great outcome for the school which desperately needed repair work,” he said.

The college will use the money to fix broken doors, windows, drains, downpipes,paint rooms, and make the school safer.

The Newman Government allocated $300million to the school maintenance program when it took office in 2012 and so far $200million has been spent.

Alexandra Hills State High School will get $294,409, Alexandra Hills State School $52,376, Birkdale South State School: $52514; Birkdale State School: $51,405; Coolnwynpin State School: $51,238; Hilliards State School: $53585 and Vienna Woods State School: $48,770.

In the electorate of Redlands, seven schools will share in $591,454 to repair footpaths, replace carpet and repaint.

Victoria Point State High School received $243,400, the largest slice of the funding.

Redlands MP Peter Dowling said the money allowed schools to use local tradespeople to carry out the maintenance.

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Students’ art then, now and beyond

Aris Ioannou-Marsh and other students from Elonera Montessori High School will show works in the Then, Now, Beyond exhibition. Picture: CHRISTOPHER CHAN Young artist Aris Ioannou-Marsh has learned a lot about art in the last two years.
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The fruits of the year 12 student’s labour will be clear to see in Then, Now, Beyond – a student exhibition at Red Point Gallery in Port Kembla, showcasing work from Elonera Montessori High School.

A candidate for the visual arts course in the International Baccalaureate Diploma Program, Ioannou-Marsh is required to curate an exhibition of artwork produced in his senior years which allows him to experience the processes of art-making, exhibiting and to become actively involved in the art world.

This led to Then, Now, Beyond – which opens on Friday, August 29, from 6.30pm at Red Point’s premises at 100 Wentworth Street, Port Kembla, and runs until September 5.

Ioannou-Marsh’s work on display includes watercolours, photography and video.

“I have really enjoyed the process of creating a large body of work over the past two years, which explores themes concerning the self and sense of place,” he said.

“Working freely with these themes has allowed me to experiment with various techniques and materials and create a multi-dimensional and multi-thematic collection of works.”

Selected works from other high school students will be exhibited along with exceptional works by year 11 visual art students Miles Myjavec and Marianne Gillespie.

The students have been working under the instruction of Sharon Loney and Kathryn Orton.

Art teacher Ms Orton said the school in Mount Ousley was tremendously proud of this inaugural event.

“The range of processes on display in the exhibition include drawing, collage, papier mache, mixed media, digital arts and multi-media films show the students’ inventive explorations into art making and self-expression. Everyone is welcome to come and see this exciting, creative beginning,” she said.

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It’s all or nothing: Heelers

IT’S what local rugby dreams are made of.
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Tomorrow, at Highbrook Park, neighbouring clubs Muswellbrook Heelers and Singleton Bulls go head-to head in not one, but two, major semi-finals.

The fierce arch rivals meet in the first and second grade encounters, with the winners moving through to the 2014 deciders in a fortnight’s time.

As a sidebar, the Wanderers and Cessnock face off in an 11.50am Hunter Cup curtain-raiser.

“We are proud that we’ve been selected to host the major semi,” Heelers president Tim Pike said.

“And, having three games of rugby, it does not get much better.

“I invite everyone up to Highbrook Park tomorrow to cheer on the Heelers.

“The canteen and the bar in the clubhouse will be opened.”

Muswellbrook’s first grade outfit finished the season in top spot, defending its 2013 minor premiership, while the seconds were just behind Singleton on the ladder.

“Unfortunately, due to a couple of forfeits at the end of the year, we were robbed of the chance to get the club championship,” Pike said.

“Both clubs have been very competitive this season with only a few points separating them.”

Going into tomorrow’s feature clash, Muswellbrook and Singleton share the spoils with each boasting two triumphs.

However, in the last outing, the Bulls prevailed.

“This was only after the Heelers gave away too many penalties and had players sent to the sin bin,” Pike explained.

“We’ll have to get our discipline under control if we’re to not only win but move straight into the grand final.

“The lead-up to the semi hasn’t been ideal either.

“Our last game was forfeited, giving the first grade team only one match in the past three weeks.”

Pike is confident some handy reinforcements will boost the Heelers.

“The return of hard-hitting Isaac Scholes to the forwards, after a stint overseas, will strengthen the pack,” he said.

“He’ll be ably supported by his brother Caleb and Matt Gallagher.

“Allan Johnson, at halfback, will lead the backline which is full of fast runners and finishers such as Lewyn Rapana and Pana Ravouvou.

“This will be a good, entraining game.”

Pike expects to witness another close encounter in second grade.

“We’ll have to produce our best form as Singleton has one extra win on us,” he told the Chronicle.

“The Bulls boast an older and experienced pack, so Heelers’ players like Scotty Almond and Alex Whylie will need to contain their forwards.

“Pat Kirkwood, playing arguably his best rugby, should dominate at the breakdown.

“We’ll also be relying on Edwin McTaggart, who has scored tries in his past three games.

“If Muswellbrook can get a fair share of ball, and get it to the backline, that is where we can win the match.

“Ethan Cridland and his brother Nathan have both shown a clean pair of heels on their way to the tryline this season.”

BIG OCCASION: Muswellbrook Rugby Club president Tim Pike (second from right) with Heelers, from left, Ben Hoffman, Brad Smith and Will Harvey, who are primed for tomorrow’s major semi-final at Highbrook Park.

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The rain falls ahead of spring

Gunnedah district farmers can look forward to a promising harvest after the heavens opened to dump up to 95mm of rain in some areas.
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It was perfect timing after an earlier fall 10 days ago, when growers received a much-needed 20-40mm.

The biggest downpour on Tuesday and Wednesday this week was around Goolhi where there was up to 95mm of rain and some hail, while parts near Boggabri recorded 55mm.

Areas around Emerald Hill saw falls of more than 30mm, Gunnedah 28.4mm, Carroll 15.5mm, Tambar Springs 15mm and Breeza 13mm.

Warren Hobson recorded 90mm on the property “Quia”, between Boggabri and Mullaley on the Gunnedah side of Grain Valley Road. It was very patchy, with the house gauge showing 57mm just 2.5km away.

“It’s real handy,” Warren said.

“It will give everything a big lift.

“Most of the crops received a big drink out of it and we’ve certainly got the base there now for a crop this year.”

Closer to Gunnedah, the Loveridges at Emerald Hill received 35mm.

“It was quite a surprise,” Peter Loveridge said.

“It will delay us irrigating [durum wheat] for a few weeks and save us some time and money in the short term.”

On the NVI Facebook page, Geoff Dawson wrote: “33mm at the Skinny Lizard Longhorn Ranch at Emerald Hill”. Susanne Riley recorded 55mm just out of Boggabri on the Gunnedah side, while Phil Glover posted he had 32mm out on Orange Grove Road.

Areas on the Liverpool Plains like Bundella and Premer looked to have missed out on the big falls – unable to snatch a mere 10mm.

The downpour, however, arrived just in time to boost crops like wheat, barely and canola that in some cases were beginning to show signs of stress.

“It’s perfect rain. The crops have definitely turned a corner,” Gunnedah Pursehouse agronomist Matt Roseby said.

“It’s going to mean we’re going to get at least average yields now.

“A lot of paddocks were looking at not achieving average yields or even getting the header out so hopefully we’ll get some more follow-up rain.”

With spring arriving on Monday and the weather starting to warm up, the rain could not have been better timed.

“As it’s warming up, the crops will begin to mature and they are going through a high water use phase,” Mr Roseby said.

“As they’re maturing they’re looking for moisture so it’s ideal rain for that.

“We’ve got legumes and canola that’s starting to fill grain so it’s perfect for that.”

Those farmers that received around 90mm should now make it through to harvest, while others that recorded 30-40mm or less would benefit from more follow-up rain in 10 days time.

This week’s falls will be a definite boost for the soil moisture profile for farmers looking to plant summer crops like sunflowers and corn in the next 3-4 weeks.

While growers are rejoicing, the rain hasn’t really had an impact on bushfire conditions in the lead-up to the summer season.

The bushfire danger period will still come into force on Monday.

“It will hold things back for a few weeks which in some ways is good, but in other ways it is holding back our hazard reduction burns as well,” Liverpool Range Zone Rural Fire Service (RFS) Operations Officer, Mark Murphy said.

“We’ll never knock the rain back where we can get it, but we really haven’t had enough to help with groundwater. There’s still very short supplies.”

The RFS is still trying to carry out hazard reduction burns before the bushfire danger season start on Monday and could even go into October if the conditions are right.

Landholders are also being reminded that they can still burn but will need a permit from next week.

The Bureau of Meteorology is forecasting a slight chance of a shower for Gunnedah next Tuesday. The longer term outlook for spring is there are equal chances of getting above or below average rainfall.

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Las Vegas-like Christmas light and sound show headed to The Hills

DA concept design from ChasClarkson.The Hills Council will spend about $500,000 on a Las Vegas-like light and sound show over Castle Hill Main Street this Christmas.
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Inspired by the Fremont Street Experience in Las Vegas, the Sydney Hills Christmas Light and Sound Spectacular will combine a visual lights show with audio recordings of student performances from local music schools.

In the council report it says ChasClarkson won the tender for $464,672.

A 40m x 10m LED light canopy will be installed on Main Street during December to enhance the Christmas experience and attract thousands of visitors

Mayor Dr Michelle Byrne said she is very excited about the concept.

‘‘This is a unique experience that won’t be found anywhere else in Sydney and will draw thousands of visitors to our shire,’’ Cr Byrne said.

‘‘It’s about celebrating Christmas, celebrating the end of the year and providing a memorable experience for our residents — one they won’t have to travel into the Sydney CBD for.’’

Main Street will be closed for a few hours every night so that residents and visitors can walk under the canopy and enjoy the show and atmosphere.

‘‘We’re still working out the finer details of this concept but I’m really excited about it and I think it will be something the community will love,’’ she said.

Very conservative estimates suggest the light and sound show could provide a $750,000 boost to the local economy.

“We think this is something that people from all over Sydney will travel to The Hills for and that’s great news for Main Street restaurants, cafes and retailers,’’ she said.

‘‘The fact that the show runs each night will help enhance the already busy night time economy.’’

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Supporters will lift Denman Devils

TOUGH-as-teak Denman Devils forward Ben Hagan believes a big support base will lift the side in Sunday’s Hunter Valley Group 21 grand final.
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Although the first grade decider against the Greta Branxton Colts is being played at Greta Central Oval, Hagan said the ground held no fears for his team-mates.

“We’ve beaten them there once this season,” he told the Chronicle.

“We’ll have a massive crowd behind us too – I think you’ll see just as much, if not more, purple among the spectators this weekend.

“With our under-18s also playing on the day, it’s great for the club.”

After a shaky start to the season, the defending premiers have flown under the radar in recent weeks.

“No-one expected us to do too much against Muswellbrook in the minor semi,” Hagan admitted.

“Then we sent Scone packing.

“But, the boys believe in themselves.

“We’re coming together at the right time.

“We lost captain-coach Dean Amos and a number of players this year, so it took some time for everyone to gel.

“We struggled to get guys to training, due to work rosters.

“However, things have changed the past six weeks.

“Everyone’s made a commitment and training numbers have been good.

“I’m pretty confident about Sunday; I think we can win it.”

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Ararat SES presents annual awards

SES regional manager Stephen Warren presents Steven Stacpoole with his 15 year National Medal.AT the Ararat unit of the State Emergency Service annual dinner a number of awards were presented to dedicated members including long service awards.
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Former controller Russell Graham was awarded for 35 years of service with regional manager Mid West Region Stephen Warren presenting him with a 35 year medal, while Steven Stacpoole was awarded his National Medal for 15 years service by Mr Warren.

Margaret Dunmore, Jan Rilloraza and Gwenda Allgood all received their five year certificates.

At the annual awards presentation Steve Stacpoole was also awarded Member of the Year.

The 2014 SES award winners Jade Collins Junior Member of the Year, Tina Collins Recruit of the Year, Frank Connellan Encouragement Award and Member of the Year Steve Stacpoole.

Controller Donna Dunmore said Mr Stacpoole is a long serving member who over the last 12 months has assisted with extensive training of the unit’s new members in particular.

“He is always available for working bees, and is always a reliable member to assist anyone in need, he is very good at seeing what needs doing and just getting it done,” Ms Dunmore said.

Jade Collins was awarded Junior Member of the Year.

“Jade joined the SES in early October last year and since then has thrown himself into training, attended a number of training weekends including the regional training weekend that is held annually in Halls Gap, and is always around to assist with Driver Reviver and PR events when required,” Ms Dunmore said.

Russell Graham (centre) was acknowledged for his 35 years of service by John Casey director of corporate services and SES regional manager Stephen Warren. Pictures: PETER PICKERING

The SES awarded Recruit of the Year to Tina Collins, who joined with her two sons in October and has since made herself available for most training nights, Driver Reviver, working bees, joined the training committee and completed a Community Educator Facilitation course as well as attending the usual call outs when available.

This year the unit also presented an encouragement award, to new member Frank Connellan.

“Frank has only been a member of our Unit since October. During December he broke his toe while rock climbing and spent three months back at his home in Melbourne,” Ms Dunmore said.

“During this time he persisted with what training he could do and attended training sessions in Melbourne that he was able to, and since being back he has worked really hard to be trained up in time to complete his General Rescue and is currently part of our next group to be trained in Vertical Rescue.”

Seven members were awarded for completing their General Rescue which is one of the main competencies that members require to be able to proceed with most other more specific courses available.

The members who completed this qualification included Tina Collins, Tameeka Cann, Frank Connellan, David Smith, Jade Collins, Chloe Dunmore and Joel Hughes.

Margaret Dunmore, Jan Rilloraza and Gwenda Allgood with their five year Certificates of Service

Daniel Benson, Sally Bond and Jan Rilloraza were also recognised for becoming the unit’s newly accredited vertical rescue team, trained by Geoff Dunmore.

“We are very lucky in Ararat to have Geoff to teach interested members their Vertical Rescue as there are only three SES instructors in our State, with only five SES units in the State that have a Vertical Rescue team,” Ms Dunmore said.

The Ararat unit is also fortunate to have a number of new junior members since the junior age limit was reduced to 15 years.

New members include Tameeka Cann, Jade Collins, Chloe Dunmore, Joel Hughes and Mitch Richards.

Tina Collins, Tamika Cann, Frank Connellan, David Smith, Jade Collins, Chloe Dunmore and Joel Hughes completed their General Rescue Assessment

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Rachel Coverdale covets hard slog on hills training

Rachel Coverdale.
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A MORE aggressive attitude to training rewarded fitness instructor Rachel Coverdale with a satisfying win in the five kilometre David O Jones Stawell Mitre 10 Handicap at Stawell last Saturday.

From her back mark, she could see the entire field stretched out in front of her as she began one of the steadier climbs through the Ironbarks.

She had momentum on her side and gradually picked off the front markers one by one to have the race in control for the last kilometres.

Sven O’Flynn, still not fully fit, showed courage to edge out Robert Freeland for second place in a desperate drive for the line with Rhonda Rice showing improved form by battling into fourth place.

Coverdale lacks little in fitness, conducting eight group training sessions per week at Stawell YMCA as well as putting a number of her personal training clients through their paces.

Her race times with the Stawell Amateur Athletic Club had stagnated until she began challenging herself at Stawell’s Big Hill every Wednesday with waif-like clubmate Meggy Boan whose work ethic is relentless.

“I’m fitter, I’m stronger and have a lot more stamina since I’ve been running the Big Hill,” Coverdale said.

“To run hills effectively you have to train on them. It’s given me confidence and I’m able to finish off my races with more strength than I have before.”

She plans to run in the Stawell Hospital half-marathon on October 3 and is hopeful of a personal best from her third attempt at the 21km.

Horsham’s Nitschke brothers made a worthwhile trip down the highway for a one kilometre dash in the sub juniors races with Jordan prevailing to win bragging rights over Jay Jay and Lily O’Flynn splitting the pair.

A tougher challenge awaits in the eight kilometre Stawell Toyota Handicap at Stawell tomorrow with race distances building towards the 16 kilometre Hyperno Marathon warm up on September 13.

Fun runners are welcome.

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Is Tatyoon the new premiership favourite?

TATYOON’S display on Saturday against a hapless Hawkesdale/Macarthur was awesome.
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Tatyoon won by 132 points after taking the foot off the pedal in the third quarter. It was clearly preservation football from then on as the Hawks looked forward to this week’s encounter with Moyston/Willaura.

Tatyoon is now the short priced favourite to win the premiership.

The Southern Eagles were decimated by injury and will struggle to be able to come back from the loss, but that does not take away from the Hawks’ display.

It was an even team contribution, but it was the new kids on the block who stood up and were outstanding Mitch Cronin and Arthur Armstrong were the standouts.

For these two players the world’s their oyster and it will be interesting to follow their football careers.

In the elimination final conditions were wet and made handling the greasy ball difficult, but in the end Penshurst was too good for Lismore/Derrinallum.

Even though they only won by eleven points the potential was there for the Bombers to win by a lot more.

In the reserves Wickliffe/Lake Bolac overcame SM&W Rovers, with Chris Hillet a very handy inclusion in the Pies’ team.

The cat was set amongst the pigeons when Pies’ legends Brian McInnes and Pat Hoey were seen in the team rooms, with a few people wondering if they were going to play.

Finals times has everyone on their toes.

Tatyoon beat Lismore/Derrinallum in the other reserves’ match, with that result being the reverse of the U16.5 game.

Moyston/Willaura beat Hawkesdale Macarthur in the U16.5 elimination final.

Tomorrow is the second semi final, where the all conquering Tatyoon take on the rested Moyston/Willaura in what should be the grand final preview.

Pumas beware because after last week’s performance the Hawks seem unstoppable.

The Pumas need to play at their best and this is not beyond them as they have played well all year, however a moment’s lapse could be costly.

The loser will be destined to play Penshurst who take on Hawkesdale/Macarthur in the first semi. Injuries have dampened the Southern Hawks’ chances.

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The ‘new’ Roving Eyes can announce that this year’s Mininera and District Football League grand final will be played at Glenthompson.

It is the first time since 2006 that this venue has been used to stage the main event.

The preliminary final venue is yet to be announced and will be dependant on this weekend’s results. Keep an eye out in next week’s Over The Fence for that announcement.

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This week’s ‘Kiss of Death’ tips, which were not very good last week are…

Second Semi Final – Tatyoon (seniors), Tatyoon (reserves), Ararat Eagles (U16.5)

First Semi Final – Penshurst (seniors), Wickliffe/Lake Bolac (reserves), Tatyoon (U16.5)

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One unusual sight at the qualifying final at Caramut was an aeroplane in a trailer!

Obviously a project in the making, but it was a real talking point.

I suspected Caramut was making a statement about the very good condition of the oval.

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Another interesting on-looker at Sunday’s game was long time coach of VFL team the North Ballarat Roosters, Gerald Fitzgerald, whose son plays with Lismore/Derrinallum.

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Congratulations to ex-SM&W Rovers’ player and current Springbank footballer Luke Fisher who won the Central Highlands Football League best and fairest on Monday night.

The 23-year-old won the Geoff Taylor Medal by a convincing seven votes.

Luke, who is also an MDFL Lewis Medal winner, had nine best on ground votes and recorded the equal highest tally for the medal.

Congratulations also to Stacey Rea, wife of ex-Pumas’ coach Matt Rea, who was equal runner-up in the Central Highlands’ A grade netball B&F the same night.

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Good luck to all teams playing this weekend and go and watch the netball.

There were some very close games last weekend and it shows how tight a competition it is.

In the words of Wolfgang Riebe: “Never be afraid to try something new. Remember, amateurs built the ark. Professionals built the Titanic.”

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Tractor Trek for the kids is on again

PETER and Bill Henry with the restored veteran tractor that has been returned to service as a charity fund raiser.
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OUT of the paddocks and onto the country roads — the Camp Quality Tractor Trek is set to get under way again next month.

And again Lithgow will be well represented.

The Trek resembles a charity ‘bash rally’ except the participants travel by vintage tractor.

Funds raised through sponsorship go to Camp Quality, the organisation that supports children with life threatening illness.

In its inaugural year in 2012 the Trek raised $80,000.

Last year this more than doubled to $180,000 with the biggest individual fund raiser being an entry by Henrys Plant Hire, of Lithgow.

The old tractor was driven by Peter Henry who said the support from the Lithgow district and outside sponsors had been tremendous.

Mr Henry and the trusty tractor will be back on the road from September 18 to 20 with his fellow trekkers helping support the 3500 children registered with Camp Quality.

Each year the participants also visit schools along the route providing a puppet show with an anti bullying theme.

More than 40 tractors are expected to take part when the Trek sets out from Borenore on September 18 to proceed through Cudal, Murga, Forbes, Eugowra, Gooloogong and Canowindra before finishing back in Borenore

As part of the Lithgow district fundraiser the Donnybrook Hotel Fishing Club has organised an auction night at the hotel this Saturday night with lots of memorabilia and other items up for grabs.

Proceedings get under way at seven o’clock.

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Guitar theft victim speaks outvideo

Merv French, the owner of 14 signed guitars stolen in the past week, is not letting the theft affect his love of country music. Photo by Stephen Jeffery.THE OWNER of 14 stolen guitars signed by some of rock’s biggest names says the thieves left behind the most treasured instrument in his collection.
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Detectives are investigating the theft of the collector guitars from a shed at the back of Merv French’s property in Manly West, on Brisbane’s bayside.

The instruments, which Mr French purchased from a friend two years ago, are worth an estimated $30,000 and were signed by rock luminaries including the Eagles, Kiss, Jimmy Barnes, Ian Moss and The Choirboys.

However, the culprits left behind all of the acoustic guitars, including the most valuable instrument in the collection; one signed by country music stars Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings and Slim Dusty.

“If someone wanted to buy it I would take $6000 for it, nothing less,” he said.

“It’s a beautiful old Fender; I’ve seen Slim playing it on videos.”

Mr French, a country music aficionado who cites Dusty as his favourite artist, turned to guitar playing six years ago as a way to cope with the death of his wife.

The 81-year-old continues to host friends for jam sessions at the makeshift studio in his Berrimilla Street house.

While Mr French said he’d have “a few words” to say to the thieves if he ever met them, he asked that they either return the instruments to him or forfeit them to police.

Merv French points out some of the guitars left behind in his collection after a burglary this week. Photo by Stephen Jeffery.

“They’re not going to be any good to them, because anyone who knows guitars [won’t touch them],” he said.

Officers from Cleveland CIB have informed local pawnbrokers about the theft, and are searching websites such as Gumtree and eBay for the stolen goods.

Anyone with information about the burglary can contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

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Rare guitars stolen from Manly West

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Narromine granted over four thousand for Heritage Grants

Narormine Shire has been granted $4500 from the NSW government Heritage Grants Program.
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The Shire is one of four in the Dubbo electorate who recieved funding.

Member for Dubbo Troy Grant said the heritage of the electorate would benefit from the $35,000 investment in the program.

“I’m delighted these grants have been awarded for valued heritage services in the local area,” Mr Grant said.

Along with Narromine Shire, Dubbo City Council received $12,000, Forbes Shire received $11,000 and Parkes received $7500.

The grant funding represents eight of 181 heritage grants being announced across NSW.

“The NSW Heritage Grants program is designed to provide direct financial assistance to private owners, councils and community-based organisations to maintain and improve their heritage assets,” Mr Grant said.

Minister for Heritage, Robert Stokes said $1.46 million for 181 new projects would protect heritage places and conserve historic places for future generations.

“The NSW government is committed to caring for places of heritage significance and supporting projects which protect our heritage while adapting sites for new uses,” he said.

“New heritage projects can also boost tourism and employment opportunities, particularly in rural and regional communities.”

Funding has also been provided for a wide range of conservation, interpretation, community youth and seniors heritage projects.

Local governments are receiving funding assistance for heritage studies, advice and networking events designed to better protect their local heritage places.

A full list of projects funded under the 2014/15 NSW Heritage Grants program can be found at

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