So bad, it’s good: The worst waxworks museum in the world

The waxworks museum in Niagara Falls is open late. And that’s excellent news, because by far the best time to experience it is after a fair few drinks in the gaudy bars of the Canadian Vegas.
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It is at this time that meeting a waxwork that looks a bit like one of the Bee Gees, but turns out to be one-dimensional action star Jason Statham, invites guffaws of laughter rather than puzzlement.

Similarly, when Michael J Fox has gone so far into the future he could pass for Angela Merkel, it’s downright hilarious. Other people may be trawling through, nodding earnestly and the weird approximations of C-Grade celebrities, but emboldened with the effects of neon-coloured cocktails, the whole museum takes on a different dimension. Michael J. Fox, purportedly.” src=”http://www.smh苏州夜总会招聘.au/content/dam/images/g/y/t/e/3/c/image.imgtype.articleLeadwide.620×349.png/1507002697245.png” title=”” width=”100%”>

Michael J. Fox, purportedly.

Wax museums are odd places, and an absolute staple on lists of tourist traps not worth the money. But they are undeniably popular. The Madame Tussauds brand, in particular, has managed to worm its way around the world. It may be inexcusably naff, it may be eye-wateringly expensive, and there may be several dozen better things to do in town, yet somehow Tussauds will keep coining it in.

The original Madame was Marie Tussaud, who at the age of six moved from her native France to Bern in Switzerland. Her mother worked there as a housekeeper for local doctor Philippe Curtius.

But Curtius had another string to his bow – he was skilled in making wax figures, an art that had been going since the Middle Ages.

Back in medieval times, waxworks weren’t made so that people could coo at celebrity likenesses – they were made for royalty to form part of their funeral procession.

The effigy would be made, then clothed in the deceased royal’s own clothes, and carried on top of the coffin during the funeral procession. The waxworks replaced the actual corpses – a few unfortunate experiences in hot weather made the funeral planners think twice about carrying rotting dead bodies on top of the coffin.

The waxworks also had the benefit of surviving the funeral, so they were often put on display. It turned out that people were willing to pay to see them, and thus an industry was born.

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Curtius later moved to Paris to open a waxworks gallery, and his talents were noticed by the French royal court, to which he became the semi-official waxwork maker. He also spotted that young Marie had a eye for it, and taught her the skills of the trade.

The prot??g?? soon became the master. Tussaud’s first model was of Voltaire, and then she proceeded to churn out other big names of the day. But she was perceived as a royal sympathiser, and faced the guillotine after the French Revolution. She was saved after an intervention from dramatist Jean-Marie Collot d’Herbois, and then earned a crust by making death masks for the prominent victims of the revolution.

She later ended up touring Britain for 33 years before opening her first permanent waxwork exhibition, and the rest is history.

The Tussaud name is above the waxwork museum in Niagara Falls. But it is Louis Tussaud’s, rather than Madame Tussauds. And Louis, bless him, hasn’t left quite the same legacy.

Louis was Marie’s great-grandson, and worked as a wax-sculptor at her famous London museum. But his brother was appointed chief artist and manager, so Louis left in a huff to set up on his own. His first effort burned to the ground within six months, so he moved to northern seaside resort Blackpool. The Louis Tussaud’s there is now a Madame Tussauds after being taken over. And the outpost in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, regularly dubbed the home of the world’s worst waxworks, closed in 2012.

So it is left to Niagara Falls to carry this dubious torch, and boy are some of the waxworks a bit special. Queen Victoria has the ham-faced look of former British PM David Cameron, Beyonce looks suspiciously white and closer to Ivanka Trump than Mrs Z, while Bruce Willis comes across as a snooker player.

Nicole Kidman and Halle Berry have a peculiar robotic quality to them, Daniel Craig looks more like former Liverpool and England footballer Steven Gerrard than James Bond, while Tom Cruise is James McEvoy after eating cheese for three days straight and suffering the cheese-sweat consequences.

But while the pop and movie stars are bad, the politicians and royals are worse. Sniggering breaks into outright howling when Prince William and Kate come into view. The latter is seemingly modelled on Today presenter Lisa Wilkinson.

Suddenly, the appeal of paying well over the odds to see waxworks becomes clear. Many tourist attractions give you insight, or the wow factor, but few make you laugh quite so hard???

Entry to Louis Tussaud’s in Niagara Falls costs $C13.99 ($A13.72). Sufficient alcohol to find it enjoyable is not included in the price. See ripleys苏州夜总会招聘/niagarafalls/wax.

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See also: Ten signs the restaurant you’ve chosen is terribleLISTEN: Flight of Fancy – the Traveller苏州夜总会招聘.au podcast with Ben Groundwater

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business feature: Insulation Industries

LOYALTY: Much of the ongoing success of Insulation Industries is down to the fantastic staff who represent the company everyday.On October 31, 1967, Insulation Industries opened its doors for the first time. Fifty years on and the family run business is still thriving, growing to a team of over forty loyal staff. There’s few firms that can boast 50 years of service, a top 10 of its longest serving staff banking over 300 years of tenure, and a client base that reaches from Port Stephens to the Sydney and beyond.
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Originally the contracting division of Bradford Insulation, itwas taken over by Donald Gillies and Eric Noack, when Bradfords decided to close their Rockwool manufacturing plant at Clyde Street in Hamilton North. In the beginning Insulation Industries serviced industrial and commercial projects such as BHP Steelworks, Sulphide Corp, Carrington Slipways, vineyards, abattoirs and dairies.

As time passed and the business continued to grow, insulation became a mandatory part of the building code which led to the servicing of the new home and building industry and the development of new types of insulation worldwide.

As the industry expanded so too did the company’s product range, now encompassing roof ventilators ,acoustic products , air conditioning ducting and grilles , translucent roofing products, structural insulated panels and polystyrene sheets.

With a burgeoning sales division they are the local distributors for CSR Bradford Insulation , Edmonds Ventilators , Kingspan Insulation , Versiclad, & Pyrotek Acoustics products.

With a fully equipped workshop, their sheet metal tradesmen are regularly sought out for their ability to make just about anything.

Servicing Newcastle, Maitland, Hunter Valley,Port Stephens,the Central Coast as well as providing specialty products wide, General Manager Mark Gillies comments on the last fifty years.

“We are very proud that we are still locally owned and managed ,we excel in giving customers the correct guidance and recommendations for their projects with friendly staff to answers the most difficult enquiries , we pride ourselves on customer service and repeat business.

“We are also very proud of the 50 year journey we have been on and wish to thank our loyal band of customers who have travelled and grown with us ,without them we would never have been as successful as we are.”

Mark Gillies

Former Rio Tinto CEO Tom Albanese charged with fraud

RIO TINTO AFR PHOTOGRAPH BY GLENN HUNT 10052012.NEWS- L-R, CEO Tom Albanese and Chairman Jan du Plessis at the Rio Tinto AGM in Brisbane.The US sharemarket regulator has charged Anglo-n mining giant Rio Tinto and two of its former top executives with fraud for allegedly inflating the value of Mozambique coal assets acquired in 2011 for $US3.7 billion ($4.65 billion) and sold just three years later for only $US50 million.
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The complaint by the Securities and Exchange Commission, filed in federal court in Manhattan on Tuesday, alleges that Rio Tinto, its former chief executive Tom Albanese, and its former chief financial officer Guy Elliott failed to follow accounting standards and company policies to accurately value and record its assets.

“Instead, as the project began to suffer one setback after another resulting in the rapid decline of the value of the coal assets, they sought to hide or delay disclosure of the nature and extent of the adverse developments” from Rio’s board, audit committee, independent auditors and investors, the SEC complaint alleges.

“Rio Tinto and its top executives allegedly failed to come clean about an unsuccessful deal that was made under their watch,” said Steven Pelkin, co-director of the watchdog’s enforcement division, in a statement. “They tried to save their own careers at the expense of investors by hiding the truth.”

The SEC said it seeks permanent injunctions, returns of “allegedly ill-gotten gains plus interest” and civil penalties from all defendants, and wants to bar Mr Albanese and Mr Elliott from serving as public company officers or directors.

“As alleged in our complaint, Rio Tinto’s top executives allegedly breached their disclosure obligations and corporate duties by hiding from their board, auditor, and investors the crucial fact that a multi-billion dollar transaction was a failure,” said Stephanie Avakian, another co-director of the SEC’s enforcement division.

The SEC statement says Rio Tinto’s London-based company, Rio Tinto in , Mr Albanese and Mr Elliott were all “charged with violating the anti-fraud, reporting, books and records and internal controls provisions of the federal securities laws”.

The SEC alleges that the Mozambique project “suffered setbacks almost immediately, as Rio Tinto, Albanese, and Elliott learned that there was less coal and of lower quality than expected, and that Mozambique had rejected its barge application. The complaint alleges that the drop in quantity and quality of coal, coupled with the lack of infrastructure to transport it, significantly eroded the value of the acquisition.”

The explosive SEC complaint detailing the allegations said “showstopping risks to barging” had actually emerged within months of the 2011 acquisition, “and it became clear that constraints on barging volumes would have a measurable and materially negative effect on RTCM’s valuation”.

The complaint reveals that a Rio Tinto executive became an internal whistleblower in late 2012, after he “became increasingly concerned about the extent to which the Board of Directors had been made aware of Rio Tinto Coal Mozambique’s negative valuation. As a result, he bypassed Albanese and Elliott and spoke directly with the Chairman of Rio Tinto’s Board about [the] negative valuation”.

After an investigation requested by the Rio chairman, the value of the assets were revised down to $US611 million at a meeting in January 2013. “This constituted a write-down of more than 80 percent of RTCM’s value within two years of acquisition. Moreover, at the time, there was considerable discussion with Rio Tinto’s independent auditors about whether the write-down should be even larger,” the SEC’s complaint said.

Rio said in a statement that it “intends to vigorously defend itself against these allegations”.

Mr Albanese and Mr Elliott declared they would fight the charges levelled against them.

Mr Albanese, an American citizen, said: “There is no truth in any of these charges. I echo Rio Tinto’s confidence that these will be proved baseless in court.”

A spokesperson for Mr Elliott said: “Guy also fully refutes these charges and will be vigorously contesting them.”

Rio Tinto said it believed that the SEC’s case was “unwarranted and that, when all the facts are considered by the court, or if necessary by a jury, the SEC’s claims will be rejected”.

Rio explained that the timing of the impairment of Rio Tinto Coal Mozambique had been reflected in the company’s 2012 end-of-year accounts.

The miner added it had reached a settlement in relation to the timing of the impairment of its Mozambique coal investment with the United Kingdom’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

“The FCA determined that Rio Tinto should have carried out an impairment review in relation to RTCM (Rio Tinto Coal Mozambique) for its 2012 interim results and, if it had done so, those results published in August 2012 would have reflected the impairment it recorded six months later,” Rio said.

The British corporate watchdog determined that Rio Tinto had breached disclosure and transparency rules and hit the miner with a ??27,385,400 ($36.4 million) penalty. The miner said that case was now closed, and the FCA had made “no findings of fraud, or of any systemic or widespread failure by Rio Tinto”.

In , the n Securities and Investments Commission is also conducting a review of the impairment of Rio’s Mozambique coal assets. Rio said it would update the market as required.

The SEC alleges that after impairing Alcan twice, Mr Albanese, Mr Elliott and Rio all knew that publicly disclosing the “rapidly declining” value of the Mozambique assets “would call into question their ability to pursue the core of Rio Tinto’s business model to identify and develop long-term, low-cost, and highly-profitable mining assets”. ‘Misleading financial statements’

So instead, the SEC alleges, “they concealed the adverse developments, allowing Rio Tinto to release misleading financial statements days before a series of US debt offerings.”

The SEC said the miner raised $US5.5 billion from American investors, with about $US3 billion of it being “raised after May 2012, when executives at Rio Tinto Coal Mozambique had already told Albanese and Elliott that the subsidiary was likely worth negative $US680 million”.

The complaint alleges Albanese then repeated and reinforced the false outlook for the project in public statements.

The SEC’s statement also said “the alleged fraud continued until January 2013,” when another Rio executive “discovered that the coal assets were being carried at an inflated value on Rio Tinto’s financial statements. After an internal review allegedly triggered by the executive’s report to Rio Tinto’s chairman, Rio Tinto announced that Albanese had resigned and the company reduced the value of the coal assets by more than $US3 billion, or more than 80 per cent.

Nine boss let Wilkinson walk due to multiple contracts

Lisa Wilkinson leaves her Neutral Bay house. She has just left Channel Nine (9) for Channel Ten (10). Pic by Nick Moir 17 oct 2017
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The head of Channel Nine has reportedly blamed Lisa Wilkinson’s “multiple commercial contracts” for her stunning departure from the network, saying she spread herself too thin across rival media platforms whereas co-host Karl Stefanovic is wholly owned by Nine.

Wilkinson sensationally quit the Today Show on Monday after drawn-out contract negotiations with her employer broke down.

The 57-year-old journalist was demanding “parity” with her co-anchor Karl Stefanovic, who was widely reported to have signed a $2 million per annum, three-year deal, with Nine.

As Fairfax Media reported on Tuesday, Nine refused to pay her as much as Stefanovic, partly because he has other roles as a presenter on 60 Minutes and host of successful prime time show This Time Next Year.

The amount being offered to Wilkinson was almost at the $2 million mark and included a special “package” crafted for her which incorporated potentially new lucrative endorsement deals via Nine’s sales department.

There were also other incentives to contribute to Nine’s own digital offering, rather than her current deal to write for the n edition of US-based website HuffPost.

Nine chief executive Hugh Marks told the Daily Telegraph that he let Wilkinson go because she was spreading herself too thin with other media contracts, such as her role as editor-at-large of Huffpost . Wilkinson refused to give them up.

“The reason we walked away from Lisa is because we are not able to secure those rights [across all areas] with her,” Marks told The Daily Telegraph.

“She has a number of commercial rights with other parties. Her arrangement with the Huffington Post restricts our ability to engage with her digitally… We are restricted from engaging with her also on social media.

“I hate the fact we have to compare her with Karl but with him we have all those rights. With Lisa we do not.”

The newspaper reported that Nine was frustrated when Wilkinson filed exclusive stories for HuffPost – such as her story about breaking her arm on holidays – instead of Nine’s lifestyle sites.

Marks also revealed that Wilkinson was asking for $2.3 million and that he went to “an incredible amount of trouble” to build a $1.8 million package for her.

“It wasn’t a $200,000 shortfall to [Stefanovic’s] $2 million magic number. It was $500,000,” he said.

Confirming Fairfax’s report that Nine’s executives were weighing up the prospect or paying Wilkinson more or saving 10 jobs, Marks said he could “invest that money in junior journalists coming into the business”.

It’s understood Wilkinson had grown frustrated at the lack of prime time opportunities on Nine, and that she was often overlooked to handle the “big” stories.

Nine management is also known to have grown weary of her pursuit of personal publicity in recent months but the final proverbial straw came on Sunday when sensitive details about her contract negotiations with Nine were leaked in the Murdoch press, seen by many as a strategy to increase pressure on Marks to meet Wilkinson’s terms.

Soon after the bombshell news broke on Tuesday, Wilkinson took to social media to announce she was joining Channel Ten’s youth-focused news show The Project in the new year, an odd move according to some industry observers given the show’s demographics.

Disclosure: The Huffington Post, now known as HuffPost, launched in in partnership with Fairfax Media

[email protected]: ASX in cool down mode after hot streak

The information of stocks that lost in prices are displayed on an electronic board inside the n Securities Exchange, operated by ASX Ltd., in Sydney, , on Friday, July 24, 2015. The n dollar slumped last week as a gauge of Chinese manufacturing unexpectedly contracted, aggravating the impact of declines in copper and iron ore prices. Photographer: Brendon Thorne/Bloomberg MARKETS. 7 JUNE 2011. AFR PIC BY PETER BRAIG. STOCK EXCHANGE, SYDNEY, STOCKS. GENERIC PIC. ASX. STOCKMARKET. MARKET.
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Stock information is displayed on an electronic board inside the n Securities Exchange, operated by ASX Ltd., in Sydney, , on Friday, July 24, 2015. The n dollar slumped last week as a gauge of Chinese manufacturing unexpectedly contracted, aggravating the impact of declines in copper and iron ore prices. Photographer: Brendon Thorne/Bloomberg

Futures suggest that the n share market will open lower on Wednesday, snapping the hot streak it had over the past eight trading sessions. Wall Street struggled to get excited overnight even as the Dow hit 23,000 for the first time, and leads from overseas markets look fairly lacklustre.

The local share price futures index was down six points, or 0.1 per cent, at 5,865. But there are some interesting themes to contend with. The long and short of itSPI futures down 6 points or 0.1% to 5865AUD -0.1% to 78.44 US centsOn Wall St: Dow +0.2%, S&P 500 +0.1%, Nasdaq flatIn New York, BHP -0.5% Rio -0.5%In Europe: Stoxx 50 flat, FTSE -0.1%, CAC flat, DAX -0.1%Spot gold -0.7% to $US1287.18 an ounceBrent crude -0.1% to $US57.74 a barrelUS oil -0.3% to $US51.72 a barrelIron ore to -0.3% to $US62.72 a tonneDalian iron ore +1.1% to 462 yuanLME aluminium +0.2% to $US2140 a tonneLME copper -1.5% to $US7027 a tonne10-year bond yield: US 2.30%, Germany -0.36%, 2.76%

This column was produced in commercial partnership between Fairfax Media and IG

Solo: Star Wars spin-off finally gets a name

The planned spin-off to the Star Wars franchise featuring the rogue smuggler Han Solo finally has a name.
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The film, which will be released in 2018, has been named Solo: A Star Wars Story.

As the second “standalone” Star Wars feature, it follows the style of the first, which was titled Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

Han Solo as played in the original Star Wars films by actor Harrison Ford. Photo: supplied

In a break with the tradition of Star Wars movies, the “standalone” features do not feature the Star Wars theme by John Williams, or the franchise’s iconic “opening crawl”.

The film’s director Ron Howard announced the new title on social media.

Howard also confirmed the film had wrapped production.

Howard joined the production late in its life; he replaced directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller who were let go after creative differences with Lucasfilm head Kathleen Kennedy and Lawrence Kasdan.

The film will star Alden Ehrenreich as Solo, Donald Glover as Lando Calrissian and Joonas Suotamo as Chewbacca.

The film is an “origin story” for the character, focusing on the beginning of Solo’s career as a smuggler.

When film audiences met in him in 1977’s Star Wars, he was an established smuggler whose claim to fame was that his ship, the Millennium Falcon, could “make the Kessel run in 12 parsecs”.

He was played in the original Star Wars films by actor Harrison Ford.

The script for the project has been written by Lawrence Kasdan and Jon Kasdan.

The 66-year-old Lawrence Kasdan was the co-writer of the second and third original Star Wars trilogy films, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi.

In the infancy of the Star Wars movie franchise, the character of Han Solo was given a spin-off treatment in three novels written by author Brian Daley in 1979 and 1980: Han Solo at Star’s End, Han Solo’s Revenge and Han Solo and the Lost Legacy.

The books, along with a fourth book, Splinter of the Mind’s Eye, published in 1978, were the first novel spin-offs to the Star Wars saga.

Solo: A Star Wars Story will be released on May 25, 2018.

Secrets of China’s Special Forces revealed in exhibition

Special Operations Command (SOCOMD) has supported the n War memorial in the launch of the Special Forces exhibition “From the shadows”- more than 660 objects, including uniforms, equipment and gallantry awards from ??????s elite and secretive regiments.Karl James, senior historian and exhibition curator (right) and Danielle Cassar, co-curator.?? Photo by Karleen Minney Special Operations Command (SOCOMD) has supported the n War memorial in the launch of the Special Forces exhibition “From the shadows”- more than 660 objects, including uniforms, equipment and gallantry awards from ??????s elite and secretive regiments.
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When Trooper Jason Brown was mortally wounded in a hail of bullets in Afghanistan seven years ago, the soldier who dragged him to safety was not named.

Known only as “Sergeant D”, he took fire himself as he went back for Brown, and was shot at least six times before he rose to his feet and killed the machine gunner.

His story was kept secret, even to his own family. But now, for the first time, Sergeant D’s actions, along with those of hundreds of his fellow Special Forces soldiers, are being brought out of the shadows in a “groundbreaking” new exhibition at the n War Memorial.

It is a feat more than a year in the making, director of the memorial Dr Brendan Nelson said, and the first time a collection has been gathered among the “Five Eyes” special forces communities of , New Zealand, the United States, Canada and Britain.

The memorial was granted unprecedented access into the records and lives of ‘s elite Special Operations Command, whose missions and names are kept secret. Historians travelled around the country to training barracks and to interview veterans and their families as they gathered 660 relics, uniforms, weapons and medals for display. Many were loaned personally by soldiers.

Special Forces are highly trained and can be inserted into any environment undetected by land, sea or sky. They’ve sunk Japanese warships in the dead of night and hunted bombmakers through the Afghanistan desert.

Since 9/11, they’ve seen “unprecedented” growth in their ranks. But, beyond casualties and medals, Dr Nelson said the n public had no idea what these soldiers faced on the frontlines of the Middle East and elsewhere around the world. In Afghanistan, fighting was often as intense as the battles of the Vietnam war.

“Because I have been ‘s minister for defence I have had the privilege to see very close hand what they do, and what they have to deal with,” Dr Nelson said.

“So the argument I put to [Special Forces Command] was their…men are returning to a country that has absolutely no idea what they have been doing…and in order for us to help them come to terms with it, we need to tell their story and we need to tell it now.”

Dr Nelson said it was a sensitive project but curators had gone “as close to the edge” as possible without breaching security.

“Getting stuff out of Special Operations Command is more than tough, it’s bloody pulling teeth.”

Dr Nelson officially opened the exhibition on Tuesday night, but joked the first faces through its doors had to be pixelated, with special forces commanders and their families arriving to privately view the collection.

“These are not emotional people but there has been a lot of emotion revealed as they’ve quietly walked through these galleries,” he said.

“Some of them of course have said to me ‘I never thought I would end up in a museum..and if I did then I’d be dead’.

“They’re very proud of it, they can’t tell their story, but we can.”

Historian and curator Dr Karl James described the collection as the memorial’s “largest and probably our most ambitious” to date.

“We had to build up a lot of trust with [Special Forces Command],” he said.

Belonging to the country’s most secretive regiment took a toll on family life, Dr James said, with soldiers often away from home six months out of the year.

“Anecdotally it seems to be once you’re in, you’re in – for a long time.”

In Afghanistan in particular, Dr James said n Special Forces had “punched above their weight”, sending the third largest contingent of trained soldiers behind the United States and Britain.

While they were now called upon to fight in direct combat more often, he said their training had remained remarkably similar in the years since WWII, from parachuting to raiding.

But the world has dramatically changed and Dr Nelson said keeping operations secret was increasingly difficult for platoons in the age of social media.

He called on the public to reserve their judgement of soldiers in Afghanistan until viewing the exhibition.

“We can’t as a nation send these young men, highly trained, highly skilled, repeatedly into operations and expect that everything will always go according to plan,” he said.

In a video featured in the exhibition, one soldier speaks with emotion of the intensity of battle and the prospect of failure as worse than death.

“You don’t let your mates down,” he said.

Dr Nelson said there was bravery of the kind that won medals, but there was also the courage of soldiers travelling behind enemy lines, over and over again, knowing at any moment they could be discovered and killed.

“I think the public response to this exhibition will play a significant role in the culture of Special Operations Command going forward and the access that it provides to the broader public,” he said.

From the Shadows: ‘s special forces will run for a year at the n War Memorial.

Break and enter ends in Newline Road car crash at Raymond Terrace

A Hunter resident who was sleeping in his car awoke to find trespassers on his property in the early hours ofWednesday morning.
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Raymond Terrace police said the man was on high alert after being the victim of a previous break and enter,so had taken to sleeping in his vehicle on his Newline Road property.

The man told police he heard noises coming from a shipping container on his property.When the he investigated the noise, he found two other men anda silver Nissan X-Trail.

The resident immediately started his car and used it to blockthe driveway and main access point to his property, trapping the Nissan X-Trail in his grounds,before calling police about 1.40am.A short time later police arrived on scene to find the silver X-Trail being driven erratically around the property.

The vehicle then busted through a fence and accelerated off along Newline Road.

Officers followed the trail of destruction left by the vehicle andfound the Nissan about 200 metres down the road, where it had crashed into anembankment.

A 38-year-old manwas still insidethe vehicle when police arrived at the scene.Hesuffered serious injuries during the crash, including a collapsed lung and possible fractured skull. He was taken to John Hunter Hospital where he remains in a stable condition.

The alleged passenger of the vehicle, a 29-year-old man, fled into the nearby bushland.Police gave chase and he was arrested at the scene. During a search of the man’s bag, police allegedly found a folding knife.

The 38-year-old man wascharged with eight offences including trespass, aggravated break and enter in company, possess house breaking implements, commit a serious and indictable offence, reckless driving anddrive whilst disqualified.

He was refused bail to appear in Newcastle Local Court on Friday.

The 29-year-old was charged with four offences including trespass, carry a weapon on apprehension, break and enter and aggravated break and enter in company.

He was refused bail to appear to Raymond Terrace Local Court on November 6.

Last Sydney suburb breaks $500,000 price barrier

Sydney has surpassed another affordability milestone. There are now no suburbs with a median house price under $500,000.
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Five years ago, Sydney was home to 159 suburbs with median house prices of less than half a million dollars.

But these have been dropping off at ever-increasing rates, Domain Group data shows.

In March there were four suburbs with a median price below $500,000. And by June, there was one suburb left: Willmot, with a median of $485,000.

But now, not a single suburb remains.

The closest to this price point is Tregear where the median house price is $510,000 – followed by Willmot, with a $515,000 median price. Both suburbs are more than 40 kilometres west of the Sydney CBD, September quarter data shows.

In Tregear, a typical three-bedroom house on 580 square metres aimed at first-home buyers and investors, sold for $515,000 in July.

As this is the “median” price – the middle sale of everything sold in a measured time period – this means there would be some homes available under this value.

But it’s a stark reminder of how unaffordable Sydney has become for entry-level buyers, Domain Group chief economist Andrew Wilson said.

Prices at the lower end of property market were continuing to climb, despite Sydney’s overall median price declining in the September quarter.

“There will always be pressure from the bottom prices upwards, even as the market slows, as many people are still scrambling to buy in.”

Suburbs with a median house price under $600,000 are also in short supply – with 17 suburbs in this category out of hundreds in the Greater Sydney basin.

This includes the cheapest suburb Tregear, but also neighbouring Willmot, Blackett and Mount Druitt – all western suburbs within the Blacktown area.

“Sydney has now waved goodbye to the half-a-million dollar mark, and it’s possible a surge in first-home buyers is behind this,” Dr Wilson said.

First-home buyer data released in August by the n Bureau of Statistics saw an uptick in NSW entry-level buyers, likely on the back of stamp duty concessions introduced in July.

This has likely pushed the single remaining suburb under $500,000 up above the mark, as well as increasing the median price in surrounding Blacktown area locations, First Home Buyers of co-founder Taj Singh said.

Investment activity has also continued in these lower-priced areas, despite signs of an easing in activity with lower auction clearance rates.

For young buyers unwilling to consider suburbs more than 40 kilometres from the CBD, the alternative is apartments in the middle-ring for $600,000 to $700,000, Mr Singh said.

“There is a concern that entry-level housing may even exceed the stamp duty exemption level as demand for these areas grows,” he said.

This demand was making it “harder and harder” for those trying to get a foot on the ladder, Compass Economics chief economist Hans Kunnen said.

As a result, first-home buyers were likely to heavily rely on parents and relatives for assistance, and to consider regional or interstate locations.

Others were buying investment properties instead, he said.

But whether droves would move interstate to seek out affordable markets was less clear.

“Sydney is still where many jobs are but Melbourne and Brisbane are making a strong case in terms of job creation,” he said.

Botanic Gardens director spills on Sydney’s best kept secret

Kim Ellis, executive director at Sydney’s Botanic Gardens and Centennial Parklands, gives us his hot tips and takes on Sydney.
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First memory of Sydney?

I grew up in Oyster Bay in the Sutherland Shire and on my grandparents’ experimental farm at West Pennant Hills. My earliest memories are of endless hours of unsupervised play on the banks of the Georges River, among the mangrove forests and oyster leases; and with the sheep and horses on the [long-gone] farmlands around the Hills district.

Best thing about living in Sydney?

Enjoying the incredible foresight of our leaders in preserving the green spaces that give this city its character.

Worst thing?

The endless construction and development, but it is also one of the best things. We are playing catch-up on the development of the essential infrastructure required to make the city work and, without it, Sydney would just go backwards.

Sydney’s best kept secret?

The Blue Mountains Botanic Garden at Mount Tomah.

Sydney’s most underrated suburbs?

Cowan, Berowra Waters and Brooklyn. These are stunning areas, on the edge of the Hawkesbury River and the national parks and accessible to the city by rail and road.

Best takeaway?

Japanese from Tamagawa in Balgowlah. Try the chicken katsu don, or the udon noodles, but everything is great.

Guilty pleasure?

Sneaking off at 6am on my 1984 BMW motorcycle to ride the Old Pacific Highway in the early morning light and mist. No one to bother me, the air clean and cold, the thrill of the chase.

Best beach?

This must be Manly. It is a stunning stretch of ocean beach with access to the coffee shops and the friendly urban strip of The Corso. Manly has good rideable surf in the early mornings and safe swimming between the flags for the rest of the day.

Favourite building?

The Calyx in the Royal Botanic Garden. This award-winning horticultural display centre sits perfectly in the centre of the garden, bringing together the original arc, designed by Ken Woolley with a new structure designed by PTW Architects.

Most recent discovery?

The Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre. What an amazing facility: the adaptive reuse of a 1970s ‘pocket PowerStation’ into a vibrant arts centre, with a railway station next door.

Describe Sydney in three words.

Varied, vibrant, vivid.

For details of programs and events in Sydney’s Botanic Gardens and Centennial Parklands see www.centennialparklands苏州夜总会招聘.au.