Even pumpkins aren’t safe from rural crime

Gooloogong farmer John Nelligan and Detective Sean Beckett from the Canobolas Rural Crime Unit discuss rural crime at the Cowra Saleyards, with Detective Beckett enouraging any victims of theft to report it.Rural theft was the topic of conversation at Cowra Saleyards last week, with Detective Sean Beckett from the Canobolas Rural Crime Unit making a routine appearance.
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Covering everything from illegal hunting and animal cruelty to machinery and stock theft, Detective Beckett said rural crime is on the rise.

“Rural crime is rife; people will steal anything they can get their hands on,” he said.

From quad bikes and tractors to chemicals and seed, Detective Beckett said nothing’s safe.

“In the drought we had a lot of water thefts from dams and tanks. People steal chemicals, tractors, seed; they’ll just go into machinery sheds and take anything they can,” he said.

“A lot of cockies won’t report it but they should.”

Detective Beckett said illegal hunting and animal cruelty are also on their radar.

“People sometimes have these pig dogs that they use to steal stock and are treated cruelly so we’re targeting that, along with illegal hunting,” he said.

While large-scale livestock theft rarely goes unreported, Detective Beckett encouraged all incidents to be officially documented.

“Someone will steal a few lambs and they go sell them to their mates and they’ll go get them butchered and then they’ll do it again. These need to be reported,” he said.

Having had everything from tractors, chemical, generators and seed stolen over the years, Gooloogong farmer John Nelligan said one act was a particularly low blow.

“They came in and stole a whole paddocks worth of pumpkins- my oath, they’ll steal whatever they can,” he said.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Local joins Australia’s climate leaders

With global warming and renewable energy back in the news here and abroad, Alastair Fleming of Mount Macedon was thrilled to have joined more than 500 like-minded people in Melbourne last week, to receive personal training from former US Vice President, Al Gore.
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Now trained as a climate leader with Mr Gore’s Climate Reality Project, Alastair is looking forward to presenting and discussing the issues relating to climate change with the Macedon Ranges and neighbouring communities.

Al Gore presents in Melbourne – Climate Reality | ACF | www.jamesthomasphoto南京夜网

Alastair Fleming of Mount Macedon has been trained to become a climate leader with Al Gore’s Climate Reality Project. Photo: Lucy Fleming

“My journey began more than 25 years ago, whenTimemagazine named the ‘endangered Earth’ its Planet of the Year, and called for ‘a universal crusade to save the planet’,” Alastair said.

“In the ensuing years, as I learned more about the issues, I felt that, although climate change was a global threat, it was distant in time and place, affecting other places and people on the planet and at some point way off in the future.”

“WatchingAn Inconvenient Truthin 2007 changed my view and brought the climate crisis into the here and now for me,” Alastair said.

“Although the damaging effects of climate change are being felt elsewhere on the planet, their effect on the beautiful Macedon Ranges will have an impact before we know it.

“On every continent, extreme weather is severely disrupting peoples lives, and this is likely to happen in the Macedon Ranges as the pattern of more frequent and more severe heatwaves and bushfire conditions intensifies.”

The Climate Reality Project is Mr Gore’s climate change leadership program. In partnership with the Australian Conservation Foundation, TCRP’s mission is to educate the public about the harmful effects of global warming and to work toward solutions at a grassroots level worldwide.

“As part of the training, presentations from a number of experts have helped to build on my knowledge of the issues and I now have access to a worldwide resource of the most up-to-date information and data about man-made climate change, its effects and consequences,” Alastair said.

“Armed with this, I hope to encourage and help people better understand that it is possible to take effective action, and through the choices we make, we are in a position to do it now.”

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Bus depot opens

The new Castlemaine Bus Lines depot on the Pyrenees Highway in Chewton has officially been opened.
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Joint owners, Geoff Hansford and Cheryl Parsons, did the honours in front of about 50 people last Friday.

The new depot will allow the company to expand in future years, with two new school buses already in the yard and a third school bus planned to arrive later this year.

Geoff Hansford and Cheryl Parsons outside the new Castlemaine Bus Lines depot in Chewton.

“Both of the school buses have seat belts – one can accommodate 71 students and the other 57 students,” Mr Hansford said.

“We are also looking at getting another town bus next year.”

The company has provided transport services in Castlemaine and surrounding towns for more than 50 years and was previously based in the old brick building on the corner of Forest and Barker streets.

It was originally built in 1951 by Alf Bentley, who operated Bentley Motors, and the name of the business was changed to Castlemaine Bus Lines some time later.

Alan and Joyce Hansford and their parents, the Hamilys, bought the business in 1966 and the company continued to grow through the 1970s until a tragic car accident claimed Alan’s life.

A short while later, Joyce Hansford took over the reigns of the company and she managed it until shortly before she passed away in 2006. Her son, Geoff, then took over as managing director.

The company grew from just six buses in the early days to having 24 buses on the road now. It also added an extra depot near the Castlemaine site and purchased Baileys Motor Service in Maldon to house the growing fleet.

The new Chewton depot is packed with environmental features including LED lighting, a 150,000-litre water tank and a 20,000-litre, above-ground fuel tank.

“We want to keep our carbon footprint as low as possible,” Mr Hansford said. “We will be fitting solar panels on the roof in the near future and we are aiming for the new depot to be energy neutral by the end of the year.”

The original Castlemaine Bus Lines sign was recently removed from the front of the old building, the letters were restored and then erected on the new depot.

The old depot was sold earlier this year to a Melbourne couple for an undisclosed sum and according to a planning application lodged with Mount Alexander Shire Council it is destined to be converted into a new home for five restaurants.

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Pamplona’s annual bull-run attracts massive crowds of fun-seekers

A red-and-white sea of revellers soaked each other with wine in a packed Pamplona square on Sunday to kick off Spain’s most famous fiesta, the San Fermin bull-running festival.
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A shout from the City Hall balcony of “Viva San Fermin!” and the lighting of a firecracker known as the “chupinazo” at noon (1000 GMT) set off the bedlam, which marks the official start of the nine-day street party.

Masses of fun-seekers from around the world squeezed into the square under an overcast sky cheered, danced and sprayed each other with sangria and cheap wine, tuning white shirts to pink.

The crowds dressed in traditional white outfits and red neck scarves passed large yellow and white inflatable balls over their heads as scores looked down from crowded apartment balconies.

Sam Madden, a 26-year-old electrician, came from London with a friend to take part in a bull run.

“We don’t know what to expect, if we are going to die or what. It’s cool, it’s going to be crazy. We know it can be dangerous but we have to do it for a bit of adrenaline,” he said.

The festival in honour of Saint Fermin, the first bishop of Pamplona, dates back to medieval times and it features religious processions, folk dancing, concerts and round-the-clock drinking.

But the highlight is a bracing, daily test of courage against a thundering pack of half-tonne fighting bulls through the city’s cobbled streets.

Each day at 8:00 am hundreds of people race with six huge bulls, charging along a winding, 848.6-metre (more than half a mile) course through the narrow streets to the city’s bull ring, where the animals will be killed in a bullfight.

The first bull run, which traditionally draws the largest number of participants, is on Monday. A run takes on average just under four minutes.

Last year 50 people were taken to hospital at the festival’s eight runs, including an Australian woman who was gored by a bull.

Several hundred more were treated for minor injuries at the scene, emergency services said.

Most of the injuries are not caused by bull horns but by runners falling or getting knocked over or trampled by the animals.

Fifteen people have been killed in the bull runs since records started in 1911.


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AirAsia X’s expansion means more cheap international flights are on the way

With the launch of AirAsia X’s first regional “satellite” carrier last month, a new wave of long-haul low-cost travel options are just around the corner for Australians.
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And, for the first time in 2015, we are likely to see long-haul low-cost-carriers going head-to-head on popular international holiday routes.

Piggybacking on its AirAsia flagship, which runs well-established local airlines in Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand, AirAsia X last month launched long-haul services from Bangkok under the brand Thai AirAsia X, initially with two 377-seat Airbus A330-300s flying to Seoul, Tokyo and Osaka.

According to chief executive Azran Osman-Rani, who I spoke to last week during a visit to Perth, Thai AirAsia X will get three more planes in 2015, when flights from Bangkok to AirAsia X’s existing Australian destinations, Sydney Melbourne, Gold Coast, Adelaide and Perth, will be on the agenda.

In the meantime, AirAsia X has an A330 in Jakarta undergoing certification for its Indonesian airline licence and, provided that process goes to plan, Indonesian AirAsia X will be launched before the end of 2014.

And, says Osman-Rani, instead of a single-hub strategy, the airline intends to base aircraft in both Jakarta and Denpasar, Bali.

“Bali works well for us,” Osman-Rani says.”It works well with our profile of targeting Australia and north Asia, primarily leisure tourists” in markets that are dominated by full-service carriers.

This is where the competitive landscape becomes very interesting.

Low-cost carriers, including the long-haul variety, were invented to enter markets dominated by high-cost airlines. Their lower costs mean lower fares so more people are able to travel.

But one thing low-cost-carriers have always been reluctant to do is go head-to-head with other low-cost-carriers using the same strategy. In that respect, Australia is unique in the world, hosting two low-cost-carriers (Jetstar and Tigerair) competing for the same bums on seats as subsidiaries of two major competitors (Qantas and Virgin Australia).

But, with its lower costs courtesy of its Asian base, AirAsia X has no such apprehension about putting its A330s up against Jetstar’s Boeing 787 Dreamliners.

When I asked Osman-Rani if he’s interested in going head-to-head with Garuda, Jetstar and Virgin on Australian routes, he says: “The short answer is ‘yes’.”

That means 2015 is shaping up as the start of a bargain era for travel between Australia and Southeast Asia – and even Northeast Asia, as Osman-Rani points out that his airline, like Singapore Airlines and Malaysia Airlines, trans-ships many passengers via Kuala Lumpur between Australia and destinations in China, Japan and Korea.

One of the by-products of setting up new bases in Indonesia is that those one-stop journeys will be more direct.

In the back of the minds of Australians, however, is the possibility of going all the way from Australia to Europe with a low-cost-carrier.

Until 2012, AirAsia X flew to both Paris and London from Kuala Lumpur with return fares from Australia falling to less than $1000 return at some times of the year.

But the airline was losing money on the services, partly due to high taxes and charges at the European end, and decided it would be better to concentrate on more profitable markets in Asia.

AirAsia founder Tony Fernandes put a cat among the pigeons in December last year when he said AirAsia X would return to London this year.

That’s because the new Bangkok base is within range of Europe with its A330s, whereas higher-cost four-engined A340s had to be bought especially to run the flights from Kuala Lumpur to London and Paris.

AirAsia X is playing down the possibility. “Nothing imminent,” says a spokesman for the airline this morning, “and I believe it would be some time off with the next generation aircraft.

“Azran’s never ruled out returning to Europe but it won’t be in the near future.”

In the meantime, put even more competition and a likely price war between the Australian east coast and Bali in your diary for 2015, with the strong likelihood of cheap flights to Bangkok as well.

Of all the options for international travel, low-cost-carriers attract only about 14 per cent of the international travellers to and from Australia. Where do they rate in your book? 

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.