Hikers lost at Mt Beauty

POLICE have warned hikers to be far better prepared after several groups of hikers went missing in the Falls Creek area at the weekend.

One group of 10 hikers — including five children aged seven to 14 — was not found until 6pm yesterday.

Police had to search for another group of six hikers — who weren’t carrying any equipment — and two single walkers on Saturday night.

“It’s obviously tied up police resources for two days now,” said acting Sgt Peter Johns, of Mount Beauty police.

Sgt Johns said the weekend’s incidents showed people really needed to have some sort of backup plan.

“Until we have a debrief with these people to find out exactly what went wrong, I would have thought if they’re to tackle a hike like that — especially with children — they would obviously have had some equipment but not everything they require,” he said.

“There always needs to a be a plan B.”

The group of 10 found late yesterday started its hike on Saturday afternoon.

“They set off a place called Langford West to go to Youngs Hut and then to McNamara’s Hut,” Sgt Johns said.

“Somewhere in between the huts they’ve lost sight of the track when the weather was deteriorating. The track wasn’t well marked.”

The group called police on Saturday night about 6.30pm.

“Everybody was well, there were no injuries and no one was sick and so they decided to camp for the night,” Sgt Johns said

“They had sufficient gear to do that and hoped they would be able to backtrack their way this morning, but they couldn’t pick up the track.

“Since then we’ve been in contact with them via a third person.”

Police trail bikes, the Falls Creek State Emergency Service unit and Parks Victoria were searching the tracks yesterday afternoon.

Sgt Johns said the other three searches were on Mount Bogong, on different tracks.

A Wodonga woman was reported lost at 5pm when she got caught in fog that reduced visibility to 10 metres, but eventually found her way out.

The group of six hikers from Melbourne were reported missing on Saturday at 8pm, while another single hiker, from Sydney, also got lost that night.

Sgt Johns said it was a very popular weekend for walkers.

“With the good knowledge of the local police making the right contact numbers and going to the right places they were all found relatively quickly,” he said.

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Carpenter in doubt after hamstring twinge

WANGARATTA Rovers ace Sam Carpenter could miss this week’s clash with Wodonga.

Hawks’ coach Mick Caruso said the club would take no risks with its star recruit, who came off with hamstring tightness during Saturday’s 71-point win over Wodonga Raiders.

Carpenter, who signed with the Hawks over the summer, came off late in the second quarter and played no role in the match after half-time.

Caruso said there was no point risking their new star ball-winner so early in the season.

“We’ll just see how it goes this week,” Caruso said.

“If he’s still feeling a bit of tightness we won’t risk him.

“He was just tight in the hamstring and we didn’t want to risk it.

“We still had two very fresh players on the bench.”

Last year’s preliminary finalist had little trouble accounting for a depleted Raiders’ side playing its first game under coach Ken Stevenson.

Ryan Stone was the star of the show, booting five goals for the Hawks, while midfielders Jamie Sheahan and Sam Caruso also played prominent roles in the win.

But coach Caruso was far from happy with the Hawks’ performance.

“We’ll certainly take the four points,” Caruso said.

“But there’s a lot of areas we need to improve on. We showed a lack of respect at times and zoned off.

“There was a real lack of protection, too.

“Guys kept getting ahead of themselves and were always asking for the ball and wanted to get their hands on the ball but forgot about the real basics.

“I just think we needed a bit more run and carry through midfield.”

Caruso said Saturday’s standard would not hold up against competition heavyweights Albury and Yarrawonga.

“They’d make us pay big time,” he said.

“That’s no disrespect to Wodonga Raiders but we’ve just got to be better at executing our skills.”

Raiders’ coach Stevenson revealed he had made a mistake in playing star forward Dean Limbach, who finished with three goals and showed enough to suggest he’ll trouble defenders this year.

“We shouldn’t have played him, really,” Stevenson said.

“He got a bad cork two weeks ago and we were hopefully he’d be at least 80 per cent.

“But in hindsight, he was probably only 60.

“That’s my mistake.”

Dean Heta made a surprise appearance for the Raiders and was their best player in defeat.

However, he’s no certainty to play for the club again, despite cancelling a clearance to the VAFA during the week.

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That’s as bad as we’ll play, says Aker


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NORTH Albury coach Jason Akermanis has slammed his side’s disposal, labelling it the worst he has seen since he’s been at the club.

The Brownlow medallist started his coaching career with a narrow 24-point win against Myrtleford at McNamara Reserve yesterday but was far from pleased with the round 1 triumph.

The bruising encounter left the Hoppers with no bench after serious injuries to Kade Brown (knee), Rory Feltwell (jaw) and Kyle Lieschke (bruised ribs).

Akermanis, who said he didn’t expect to play, laid some of the blame on a brutal training load.

“We are a really good kicking side and execution today was the worst I’ve seen it for five months,” he said.

“I have a feeling that will be as bad as we play and I have a feeling it will be as unfortunate as we can get.

“Three players going down, no one on the bench. It’s just one of those days.

“We certainly played nowhere near our best.”

In front of nearly 3000 fans, St Kilda discard Jason Gram showed his class with a five-star performance on debut for the Hoppers.

The 28-year-old, who said he was the fittest he had ever been, controlled the midfield for the Hoppers and drifted forward to cause headaches for the Saints defenders.

Jason Akermanis talks to his troops. Picture: PETER MERKESTEYN

Myrtleford booted the first three goals of the last quarter to give the vocal home crowd a sniff of victory but couldn’t get over the line in Luke Chapman’s 200th game.

The Saints are expected to welcome back Matt Spencer for their round 2 clash away to Wodonga Raiders on April 13, the former Geelong tall missing the game to attend a wedding in Western Australia.

North Albury will be hoping to have Adam Prior and Brian Durbidge, who ran water, cleared for their home clash against premier Yarrawonga next week.

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Video: Music puts Bryce on new levels

SOMETIMES Dave and Susan Ackerly think their son Bryce isn’t taking in anything in at all, then he’ll surprise them with a moment of genius.

Bryce, 9, might have managed to memorise a full television weather forecast or calculated in 20 seconds how many puzzle pieces were in the puzzle his brother was working on.

They’ll be left standing there wondering just how he’s done it, while Byrce is off again — engrossed in his own world.

Click play to meet Bryce and his parents.

The Aspect Riverina School student, who lives at Thurgoona, was diagnosed with autism at three years old, soon after it was realised he had a love for music.

Mrs Ackerly said that as a young boy Bryce wouldn’t respond to their calls to come inside the house, but they found they could lure him in by turning on the radio.

“It was any music, he’d just love to listen to it,” she said.

“He’d come near so he could hear it, so you could get him to eat something or take a bath or whatever.”

At school, his teacher would often observe Bryce moving his fingers as if playing a piece of music.

His piano teacher, Jacqui Dainer, believes her student has exceptional talent.

In September, NSW children’s charity Variety bought him a new piano on which he happily practises every day.

In the time it would take most children to complete a music book from the Australian Music Examination Board, Bryce has finished three.

Music encourages him to spend time with people, an important breakthrough for a student who lacks the social skills to play team sport or join a scout group like his older brother, Kurtis.

His mother said Bryce can get upset when someone disrupts his routines and patterns and sometimes he hasn’t hesitated to tell off a taxi driver for going a different way to school.

Byrce is among an estimated one in 100 Australians on the autism spectrum.

Tomorrow is World Autism Awareness Day, celebrating achievements of people with autism, recognising their families’ experience and generally lifting public awareness of what it all means.

Bryce Ackerly, 9, loves playing his new piano at his Thurgoona home. Picture: DAVID THORPE.

People can support the day by dressing in blue.

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You all had to bee happy

Falun Dafa Association dancers and musicians were a glittering feature of the Golden Horseshoes Festival parade in Ford Street.Festival abuss A massive crowd attended the festival.

Beechworth Honey owner Steven Goldsworthy in the mega bee enclosure. Pictures: BEN EYLES

BEECHWORTH was truly a hive of activity at the weekend with 20,000 bees among the thousands of people at the Golden Horseshoes Festival.

A mega-size glass bee enclosure was an addition to the festival, giving people an up-close look at how the insects make honey.

“People have been putting their hands all over the glass hive,” beekeeper and Beechworth Honey owner Steven Goldsworthy said.

“You don’t get the opportunity to do that anywhere without getting stung.”

Soraya Halge, of Melbourne, said her two-year-old son was fascinated by the bee enclosure.

“We get lots of bees in the backyard, but he hasn’t seen how they make honey,” she said.

The crowd was five deep on Ford Street for the grand parade on Saturday afternoon.

Festival co-chairwoman Jodie Goldsworthy said about 15,000 people had watched the Easter Saturday parade.

More than 20,000 people had attended the three-day event.

“We are actually photographing the crowd this year,” she said.

“It will give us a better idea of the crowd size.”

Mike Orton led the parade on his horse in a re-creation of Daniel Cameron’s legendary ride through Beechworth in 1855.

Cameron made such a large discovery of gold that he had his horse shod with shoes of gold.

The 40-minute parade was a sea of floats and dancers, including a Chinese contingent of Falun Dafa dancers and musicians .

Beechworth Ghost Tours’ Andrew Osborne was getting into the spirit of things as he and his crew danced to Gangnam Style.

The sound of African drumming had on-lookers mesmerised as they marched through the centre of town.

Nicole Metcalfe, of Lavington, said the drummers were her favourite in the parade.

“The kids are having a ball — there’s so much to see and do here,” she said.

Further down the street there were roving musicians, people making lotus flowers and others learning to play drums.

Other favourites were the annual fun run, a family bike ride and the Easter egg hunt.

Children also enjoyed the Beechworth Honey Kids Corner with art competitions and face-painting.

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