Bendigo turns it on for events  all year round 

WHEN Bendigo hosts events, it hosts them well.
Nanjing Night Net

As someone who attended the Bendigo Easter Festival for the first time on Saturday and Sunday I was amazed by the huge turnout and the number of people eager to take part in the parade.

Event organisers often exaggerate the crowds at such gatherings.

But this was truly a massive turnout that showed the city in the best light possible.

I’ve attended plenty of events in regional areas where there is perhaps a few thousand people, but nothing quite of this scale.

The city was packed from Rosalind Park to the Chinese precinct, and all the way along the streets where the parade was held.

Getting even a small glimpse of the 60-plus floats and countless participants was a challenge as people staked out the best vantage points from the early hours of the morning.

The attendees must have been spurned on by the impressive visuals on display during the parade, with a wide variety of groups displaying their talents.

And far from being a conservative march, the parade included a young band on the back of a trailer playing heavy music among the colourful costumes and soaring dragons.

Spirits were high for those in the parade and the thousands watching on.

To say the event was a huge success would be an understatement.

Those involved can be proud to have put on such an impressive event without a hitch.

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Reports to shed light on region’s councils 

A CLEARER picture of the long-term financial sustainability of the region’s councils and their infrastructure backlogs is expected to emerge soon, as two key reports the state government commissioned are released.
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Treasury Corporation, known as T-Corp, has been analysing the financial sustainability of each NSW council, and is to report this month to the independent local government review panel.

T-Corp has been considering and comparing councils’ financial forecasts, three most recent years of audited accounts and future sustainability.

It was to also conduct a ‘‘detailed review’’ of each council’s 10-year financial forecasts.

Some councils have come under scrutiny after asking for support via the state government’s local infrastructure renewal scheme.

The government helps councils meet the cost of borrowing to fund works by providing councils with a subsidy in interest costs so they can take out bank loans.

Labor local government spokeswoman Sophie Cotsis questioned the robustness of the assessments and whether all 64 councils approved under the scheme could afford to service loans without future rate rises.

A spokesman for Local Government minister Don Page said only those councils that had a positive assessment from T-Corp received a subsidy.

A separate infrastructure audit of councils is almost done. Hunter councils have infrastructure backlogs worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

Local Government minister Don Page.

Anglers hooked on Easter competition

A HEFTY-SIZED bream wasn’t the only thing young Ruben Swan hooked this weekend.
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The young Dennington angler also landed himself a new fishing rod after taking out the junior section of the annual Warrnambool Angling Club Easter fishing competition.

More than 100 people wet a line over the two-day competition, with fish caught in the Curdies, Hopkins and Merri rivers eligible for weigh-in.

Angling club spokesman Colin Hurford said 76 seniors and 44 juniors had entered. He said most of the fish seemed to have been caught in the Merri or Curdies rivers.

“It’s been a good weekend and the most important thing is we have raised a bit of money for the hospital,” he said.

Eight-year-old Ruben landed his 936-gram bream on Saturday night on the Hopkins River, only half-an-hour before his father Mick Bickers reeled in his 1.023kg bream, which took out the senior section.

Mr Bickers landed the fish just after 6pm, using crab meat as bait and earning a new flat-screen TV for his efforts.

As for what young Ruben likes about fishing, the answer is simple: “Catching them,” he said.

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Warrnambool, Moyne council pay rises get ratepayer OK

IT seems Warrnambool and Moyne ratepayers are happy to have their mayor paid a $69,325 allowance and councillors $22,405.
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Warrnambool City councillors unanimously voted their approval last Monday night after there were no official objections from the public when the proposed updated payments were advertised in January.

Moyne also approved the allowances with a unanimous vote at the January meeting.

On top of the pay scale set by the state government they will receive nine per cent superannuation during their four-year tenure.

The payments represent a 10.9 per cent rise on the 2008 allowances.

City councillor Peter Hulin said it was always a contentious issue, but he regarded the payments as small compared with the large amount of time and commitment given to the community by councillors.

“The amount you get in return does in no way cover the amount of time needed to carry out your duties as a councillor,” he said.

However, he said the mayoral allowance could be considered generous if the mayor had another job.

Mayor Michael Neoh replied, saying he had scaled down his normal full-time job to part-time to dedicate as much time as needed to the mayoral position.

Cr Brian Kelson did not attend the meeting.

Colac Otway, Corangamite and Glenelg shires are also in the same pay bracket while Southern Grampians is at a lower level.

Corangamite councillors voted in December to reject the recommended rise and leave the councillor allowance at $21,859 and the mayoral pay at $62,393, while Colac Otway councillors voted to cut the mayor’s pay by $554 to $65,000 and councillor allowances by $372 to $21,480.

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Toronto ‘packed to the rafters’ for Boatfest

MORE than 15,000 people attended Lake Macquarie Classic Boatfest at Toronto at the weekend.
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About 100 boats were on show, including restored classic craft, wooden dinghies, steam-powered vessels, yachts and motor cruisers.

‘‘We’ve had record numbers,’’ event co-ordinator Nicole Charlesworth said.

Malcolm Newbiggin, a founding member of the event committee, said the event was becoming ‘‘very important to the area’’.

‘‘Toronto has gained a lot out of this,’’ Mr Newbiggin said.

‘‘As you walk up the main street, there’s heaps of people sitting around the boulevard eating and drinking at the coffee shops.

‘‘Everyone’s having a good time.’’

Mr Newbiggin said the committee was ‘‘very passionate about promoting classic boats’’.

Ms Charlesworth said the foreshore was ‘‘packed to the rafters’’ on Sundayafternoon, with people watching the event’s iconic ‘‘quick and dirty’’ boatbuilding competition.

Participants were given timber and glue to build a boat in 2 hours.

Usually at least one boat sinks, but this year every boat finished the race.

CLASSIC: Brad Cox and his daughter, Siena, 3, at the Lake Macquarie Classic Boatfest. Picture: Marina Neil

Bowled over by absurdity of split sites

The Editorial
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The Daily Advertiser made a mistake last week.

In our initial report about the multi-million dollar revamp of the Bolton Park complex, we said that five basketball/netball courts were to be built in the all new stadium instead of two.

Perhaps that was just wishful thinking, because that’s exactly what should be happening.

If the new multi purpose stadium had five courts, then it would be big enough to be able to be transformed into a convention centre – and that’s exactly what this city needs.

But that said we don’t need a white elephant.

So once again this city has lost a golden opportunity to capitalise on what limited resources we have.

Surely having a multi-purpose stadium, which could cater for large crowds would be the way to go.

It could be used for sport or conventions and given our central location to the vast majority of the Australian population it would provide ideal for both.

But no, council in its wisdom has decided to split the funding, and build a second three court indoor stadium at Equex.

Just how ridiculous is that!

Once again it’s neither one thing nor the other.

If Equex was going to be the premier sporting venue in this city – then everything should have gone out there.

The Oasis, Robertson Oval, the new stadium – it all should be at Equex …a mini Olympic Park if you like.

Instead the limited funding has been split and we will now have two half-baked sporting centres in our city.

It’s often said council is an easy target, but honestly, when will they ever learn.

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Message in season of new direction

NEWCASTLE parish priest Monsignor Allan Hart chose Easter Sunday to commemorate the new Pope and new direction for the Catholic church.
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Monsignor Hart told the 750-strong congregation at Sacred Heart Cathedral at Hamilton that Catholics must now follow Pope Francis’s lead and support the poor and marginalised.

‘‘We have to walk with the poorest of the poor. We have to build and restore our faith again in light of the Royal Commission like Christ restored his faith,’’ Monsignor Hart said.

‘‘We must encourage each other to have hope and trust. If we work together and walk together, the church will once gain move forward.’’

Pope Francis has already attracted criticism from some church traditionalists after he washed and kissed the feet of a dozen inmates, including two young women, at a juvenile detention centre in Rome last week.

It was a surprising departure from church rules that restrict the Holy Thursday ritual to men.

Some church leaders such as Monsignor Hart believe the move symbolised that Pope Francis was ready for change.

While Good Friday church services are sombre, recalling the death of Jesus, Easter Sunday services have a more celebratory air marking his victory over death. Both services tend to mark the busiest times of the year with capacity attendances.

Hundreds of Anglican residents attended the morning service at Christ Church Cathedral, which also included messages about new beginnings.

Charlestown-based church God’s House, which has 500 members, opted for a more contemporary service featuring live music and children’s games at Hunter Theatre Broadmeadow.

Monsignor Allan Hart. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Friend’s collection fuels passion for petrol brand

THE King was in Warrnambool yesterday, along with a few Hobbits and Doctor Spock.
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Everything from Elvis Presley memorabilia, model aircraft, science fiction figurines and movie posters were taken out of lounge rooms and sheds and put on public display as part of the annual Collecta-bool Easter Fair at the Wannon Rooms.

Koroit’s Jerome Fitzgerald had his Shell service station-themed collection on show, including a bowser from the 1960s that has been converted into a fridge. Mr Fitzgerald said he started accumulating Shell items about three years ago after seeing a friend’s Golden Fleece collections.

“I was really interested in it, so rather than going into competition with him, I decided to collect Shell,” he said.

“Most of the items come from swap meets and word of mouth. People find something that’s got the Shell logo on it and give me a call.”

His collection includes an array of embossed oil cans and bottles, badges, maps, uniforms. But the prize piece is a service station attendant’s cap, which dates back to the late 1940s and early ’50s.

“I’ve got some signs that used to go out the front of the service stations at home as well. They were a bit too big to bring,” he said.

Collecta-bool organiser Rick Bayne said 35 exhibitors had their prized collections on display, some selling items and others there simply to show them off.

“We’ve had more than 500 people through the door and they have seemed to enjoy the variety of collections on display,” Mr Bayne said.

Proceeds from the day will be donated to WRAD.

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Foxhow Road upgraded, but Corangamite mayor says more needs to be done

WORK has begun to widen the dangerous Foxhow Road north of Camperdown, which is a popular “short cut” between Warrnambool and Melbourne.
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Corangamite mayor Chris O’Connor welcomed the upgrade, but said more narrow sections of the road needed to be widened.

Cr O’Connor said that even when the project was completed, motorists would still face problems on other narrow sections from stones thrown up by passing traffic.

The north-eastern section of the road runs on a narrow strip of land between lakes Gnarpurt and Corangamite and is sometimes covered by wind-blown sediment from the two lakes when water levels are low.

The road tapers to a single lane in sections and is not designed for heavy traffic.

Motorists have to drive off the road on the narrow sections to make way for trucks.

VicRoads south-west director William Tieppo said the work on the road would include realigning and widening a 1.2-kilometre section of the road from the bridge over Gnarkeet Chain of Ponds Creek to south of Collins Lane.

That section is at the northern end of the section of Foxhow Road that runs between the two lakes.

Mr Tieppo said the work would include improvements to the Collins Lane and Robertson Street intersection near Foxhow Road and some widening and realignment of Robertson Street.

Mr Tieppo said because the roadwork would be close to Lake Gnarpurt and Lake Corangamite and a number of cultural heritage sites, VicRoads had undertaken extensive studies and designs to ensure that environmental and cultural values were protected and retained.

The work is expected to be completed in late 2013, but that timeline is dependent on favourable weather.

The VicRoads-managed road links traffic between the Princes Highway at Camperdown and Berrybank on the Hamilton Highway. Most motorists turn off the road to access the highway nearer Cressy.

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Private landing strip leads to false alarm: police search for plane

POLICE have asked a Mt Clear man to check in with them next time he takes off in his small ultralight plane from a private airstrip behind his house.
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Paramedics, firefighters and police searched for more than an hour following reports around 6.30pm of a plane going down over Damascus College and failing to come back up.

However, Ballarat police Acting Sergeant Chris Taylor said the pilot had landed on a private air strip behind his house.”All is safe and well,” Acting Sergeant Taylor said.

“He has his own private airstrip behind his house.”We have spoken to the gentleman and he will contact the police in the future before flying in or out so we are aware.”

A Sebastopol man said he was sitting in his living room watching televsion programs of air crashes when he saw the plane.

“It was flying just above the trees and then it dived down out of sight,” the man said.”It didn’t come up again.

“I was waiting for smoke but nothing happened but then rang the police just to be sure.”Acting Sergeant Chris Taylor said the witness observed a plane travelling west from Geelong Road towards Albert Street.

“It was observed to go down towards the ground and failed to come back up in the vicinity of the sewerage treatment plant,” Acting Sergeant Taylor said.

Emergency crew on the hunt of the plane said to have crashed in Mt Clear. PICTURE: JUSTIN WHITELOCK

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