Neighbours TV show: Airbnb to give fans chance to sleep on set

Story on The Neighbours Bus Tour that takes tourists to the street in Glen Waverley where Neighbours is filmed , to go with story on Kylie Minogue being diagnosed with breast cancer. Pictured is Christine Alexander , Operations Manager of The Neighbours Bus Tour. Picture by Pat Scala pds Wednesday the 18th of May 2005. AGE NEWS RAMSAY STREET NEIGHBOURS SPECIALX RAMSAYST Photo: Pat Scala

Enjoy a stay at the Willis household from Neighbours.

Guest will spend the night on the Neighbours set.

Story on The Neighbours Bus Tour that takes tourists to the street in Glen Waverley where Neighbours is filmed , to go with story on Kylie Minogue being diagnosed with breast cancer. Pictured is Christine Alexander , Operations Manager of The Neighbours Bus Tour. Picture by Pat Scala pds Wednesday the 18th of May 2005. AGE NEWS RAMSAY STREET NEIGHBOURS SPECIALX RAMSAYST Photo: Pat Scala

Story on The Neighbours Bus Tour that takes tourists to the street in Glen Waverley where Neighbours is filmed , to go with story on Kylie Minogue being diagnosed with breast cancer. Pictured is Christine Alexander , Operations Manager of The Neighbours Bus Tour. Picture by Pat Scala pds Wednesday the 18th of May 2005. AGE NEWS RAMSAY STREET NEIGHBOURS SPECIALX RAMSAYST Photo: Pat Scala

For years Neighbours fans have flocked to Pin Oak Court, in Melbourne’s Vermont South, the real-life street that plays the role of Ramsay Street in the long-running soap opera.

Now, for the first time, they can get even closer by spending the night inside one of the characters’ homes.

A special Airbnb listing offers the opportunity for fans to stay in Ramsay St and enjoy the hospitality of the famous neighbours themselves in early September.

Guests will be hosted by Alan Fletcher (Dr Karl Kennedy) and Chris Milligan (handyman Kyle Canning), as well as visiting Harold’s Store, The Waterhole and Lassiter’s Lake.

They’ll then enjoy dinner with Alan and Chris at the Willis family house, before bedding in for the night on set at the studios in Nunawading.

While it’s not an actual house on Pin Oak Court, it’s as close as the fans will get to sleeping in the actual (fictional) homes of the characters.

For a chance sleep on the Neighbours set, hopefuls need to enter on the website and say why they’d like to stay on Ramsay Street in 25 words or less by August 28.

For those that miss out, there are always the popular Neighbours tours that take fans to Pin Oak Court or to the sets.  See also: Airbnb: The blind dating of travel

Buy as a home, a business – or both


Expressions of interest

Address: 10 Doree Place.

House: Mini Orb and Colorbond on 936square metres.

Inspect: Today 11am to 11.30am.

Closing date: Friday, October 16.

Price guide: Around $900,000.

Agent: McGrath Warners Bay, David Westerman, 0428482767 and Hannah McInerney, 0424233876.

LOCATED in a cul-de-sac overlooking the waterfront and offered to market for the first time, this beautiful home was conceived with the aim of designing a building which could be many things, including an architectural billboard for Mason Architects.

Positioned between the medical centre and the heritage-listed circa 1898 Parker house, John Mason’s own brief was to have a landmark home which could also accommodate the practice, as well as a bed and breakfast business.

The unusual design mirrors the heights of both adjacent buildings, ensuring that it is sited beautifully, and lightweight construction materials such as a two-way ribbed floating concrete floor have been used to minimise its impact on the landscape.

The timber frame has been clad externally with horizontal corrugated Colorbond and feature points in vertical Mini Orb, complemented by cedar-framed windows with double glazing to the south and on the higher level to minimise heat loss in winter.

Soundcheck plasterboard lines both interior and exterior faces with two layers to the interior. Spread over two levels, the upper level comprises a large living area, beautiful kitchen and a deck overlooking the water. There is a main bathroom on this level with a large bedroom and a walk-in robe.

On ground level are three bedrooms, two of which have en suites and a living area with a bar, CCTV and deck behind overlooking the private north-facing backyard, which has a pergola and a shed.

Also on the ground level is a large office which connects to the third bedroom and its en suite.

The double remote garage has parking for six cars and accesses a large internal laundry.

In a stand-out position within easy travel distance from Newcastle and Sydney, this house could suit a family, someone who wants a work-from-home proposition or who balances their time between the two cities but needs good access to local services.

In the heart of the commercial precinct with its shops, train station and facilities, this lakeside position offers both lifestyle and convenience in one cleverly designed package.

Where to eat in Tasmania: Chef Hugh Whitehouse

High Whitehouse showcases the best of Tasmania’s offerings. Photo: Supplied

High Whitehouse showcases the best of Tasmania’s offerings. Photo: Supplied

High Whitehouse showcases the best of Tasmania’s offerings. Photo: Supplied

NSW country-born Hugh Whitehouse studied classic French cooking in Europe before heading Sydney restaurants Milsons and Jaspers. Whitehouse took Darley’s at Lilianfels​ in the Blue Mountains to a two-hat level and to a Best Regional Restaurant of the Year award. At Saffire Freycinet, he creates an acclaimed dining experience using seasonal and local produce. See saffire-freycinet杭州夜网


Sitting at the bench in full view of the kitchen at Franklin, Hobart.  I love to watch the chefs prepare and cook amazing food.  It’s one of the best dining experiences I’ve enjoyed in recent times. See franklinhobart杭州夜网


One of the team here at Saffire has a chestnut orchard and beehives on the family farm. After sampling their orgasmic chestnut flower honey, I have created a dessert around this amazing product, featuring locally grown persimmons and almonds.


My own kitchen. Living in Coles Bay, there’s nowhere else to dine. I often have friends and family stay and I enjoy cooking with them and showcasing the best of Tasmania’s offerings.


The big smoke. The last few years have seen Hobart secure itself as a great food and wine destination with new venues opening regularly. Some a little quirky, the food and personalities really defining Tasmania’s style. I love Willing Brothers wine bar in West Hobart. See facebook杭州夜网m/willingbros.


Right now, it has to be Tasmanian black truffles. With the oldest truffle farms in Australia on our doorstep, there’s nothing I’d rather top my breakfast eggs with. We buy ours from Truffles of Tasmania near Deloraine. See greatwesterntiers杭州夜网.au/food-and-wine/deloraine/truffles-tasmania.


Anything in a pie warmer and restaurants serving fish from Asia.


Not much, it’s the middle of winter. However, enjoying a Tasmanian single malt whisky by the fireplace at Saffire is where you’ll find me on a cold winter’s day.

Quickflix shares in trading halt amid takeover speculation

Quickflix said it planned to release an update regarding a potential corporate transaction with an international party. Australian streaming and DVD rental business Quickflix has ignited rumours of a takeover after entering a trading halt on Thursday ahead of a potential acquisition.
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The struggling Perth-based business last traded at 0.002¢ after requesting a trading halt “pending release of an update regarding a potential corporate transaction with an international party which may result in an acquisition”.

Stephen Langsford, the company’s founder and chief executive, did not return calls.

The release does not specify if the potential acquisition would be made by Quickflix or whether the international party would purchase part, or all of the local streaming company.

However, with little cash in the bank, speculation is rife that Quickflix will be the subject of a takeover bid.

At its last quarter update in April, Quickflix had just $1.26 million in the bank, down from $2.4 million at the beginning of calendar 2015. In May, it raised a further $775,000 with the identity of the “professional” investors undisclosed.

Any sale of Quickflix may be complicated thanks to a warrant held by Nine Entertainment after it acquired around 8 per cent, or 83.3 million shares, of the business from HBO for $1 million, which entitles the broadcaster to a $10.5 million payout in the event of a merger on sale, on top of the shares in owns.

Quickflix has a market capitalisation of $4.4 million.

Quickflix has had just 123,553 million paying customers in the last quarter. However, the company does not comprehensively break down its streaming and DVD customers. Rather it states that 75 per cent of its customers have “access to streaming”.

In May, Quickflix brokered a deal to become a reseller of content for Presto, a joint venture streaming service between Seven West Media and Foxtel. It kept its pay-per-view and DVD businesses.

The local player, which listed on the Australian Securities Exchange in 2005 has struggled with the entry of new players into the subscription video on-demand space.

Dominated by US-based Netflix, 2015 has seen streaming services grow rapidly in popularity. Stan, which is a 50-50 venture between Nine Entertainment and Fairfax Media – publisher of The Australian Financial Review, and Presto are thought to hold the second and third positions in the streaming hierarchy.

While none of the three providers publish subscriber numbers, estimates put the total figure at 2 million.

Ashes 2015: Australia must ‘find a way’ in England and quickly, says Chris Rogers

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BIRMINGHAM: To see Chris Rogers in action at Edgbaston was a bit like watching a multilingual, worldly tour guide try to lead a bunch of wide-eyed Australian backpackers around some ancient ruins when all they are thinking about is the pub crawl later that night.

There is much knowledge inside the head of the 37-year-old opener in spite of the knocks he has copped to it of late. And with England now certain to prepare replica tracks to the one on which Australia were bowled out for 136 on Wednesday for the final two Tests, Rogers’ fellow batsmen would do well to listen up and try to follow his lead.

Australia’s struggles against the moving ball are nothing new – they had the same dramas on their last tour here two years ago – but he believes they must work out a way to adapt, and urgently.

“I don’t think the focus [of the batsmen] is wrong,” Rogers insisted after making 52, the only score north of 16 in Australia’s miserable first innings.

“I think everyone is desperate to do well. Finding a way, that is possibly a concern. Particularly in these conditions, which are a little bit foreign to guys. You’ve got to find a method and we’ve got to find it quickly, because I wouldn’t be surprised if we get a few more of these kind of conditions.”

Rogers’ 50, the ninth in his past 11 innings, was a characteristically gritty number made in challenging conditions that suited a rampant James Anderson, in particular, like the WACA suits Mitchell Johnson. In the face of that the Australians collapsed, only Rogers hanging in there and threatening to hold his bat until his own demise, lbw to Stuart Broad, on Wednesday afternoon. Not to make light of his on-field collapse at Lord’s, a real scare that had him in doubt for this match, but you couldn’t blame him if he was left dizzied as one after another, his colleagues departed.

On afternoons like this – the marathon partnership of Rogers and Steve Smith at Lord’s a distant memory – one can come to the assumption that the scrapping Australian innings of old is no more. Rogers, however, believes that is not fair.

“It’s hard to know. You can’t just look at it from today and that’s it,” he said. “Or just in England. I’ve been so fortunate to have a lot of experience over here, so maybe that counts for a lot and the other guys probably just don’t know the conditions as well.

“There’s been tough times when we’ve had to fight in Australia or wherever and they’ve managed to do it well. So I don’t think you can just look at today and say, no, the fight has gone, because I’m sure it hasn’t.”

Rogers also brushed off suggestions that the Australians had got ahead of themselves after their 405-run thrashing of England in the second Test.

“I don’t think so. I think we respect England and particularly their attack,” he said. ” A lot has been made of that second Test win and a lot was made of the first Test win. It’s one game, one game at a time.

“As cricketers you know the momentum can change so quickly. So I don’t think we got ahead of ourselves at all. I read a lot where people thought it was almost game over, but there’s no way you disrespect the opposition. Particularly when you get conditions like this.”

If it wasn’t already clear, Rogers’ one-out performance again reinforced a need for selectors to convince him to continue on past this series and not retire as he has indicated he would.

With captain Michael Clarke continuing to battle – if he can’t get out of his rut by the end of this series his career must be on the line – and fellow thirtysomething Adam Voges’ immediate future clouded by another poor stroke on day one, the prospect of losing Rogers is a worrying one.

He’s been asked repeatedly about the subject on this tour and is still not giving much away.

“I don’t know. It’s still a long way away,” he said. “I’m just enjoying what’s happening and I will weigh that up when we come to it.”

Hugh Bowman and Chris Waller to receive more gongs as Australian Turf Club celebrates premiership winners

WInners: Hugh Bowman and Chris Waller will be lauded for their superb seasons at Rosehill on Saturday. Photo: Tertius PickardThe Australian Turf Club will honour premiership winners and Jockeys Celebration Day as part of the opening meeting of the season at Rosehill on Saturday. Chris Waller will be presented with an award for his fifth consecutive premiership, while Hugh Bowman will be acknowledged in his absence, as he will be riding in Darwin. There will be a prayer and minute’s silence held between race four and five to acknowledge fallen jockeys, and the colours of the National Jockeys Trust will be carried in every race.
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Gerald Ryan could make the perfect start to the new season with favoured runners in the opening two races at Rosehill but he is making no predictions after the spate of heavy tracks. Ryan will have either the highly touted King’s Troop or debut winner Shacked Up in the opening race of the season. “One of them will run, which will be decided later in the week. You don’t want to run two Arrowfield horses against each other,” Ryan said. “King’s Troop was good on debut despite getting run down, while Shacked Up won at Hawkesbury but other than this race there isn’t that much for her.” Land’s End, another of Ryan’s which was produced to score on his first visit to the races, has a fair bit of upside and the trainer will use Saturday as a guide to the future. “He is a nice horse that hasn’t raced for a month but he has had a trial in the meanwhile. We will probably find out where he stands after Saturday,” he said.


Racing minister Troy Grant has announced a change in the race-field fee regulation to bring NSW into line with Victoria and Queensland from the start of the new season. The maximum fee will rise up to a four per cent fee on turnover from totalisator derived odds and up to 2.5 per cent on all other odds from a maximum of two per cent under the old provision. The change could pump millions of dollars into all three codes of racing. Racing NSW chief executive Peter V’landys welcomed the move. “This change provides room within the regulation for Racing NSW to make effective commercial decisions, including the need to keep pace with other states who may have higher fees than NSW and for any increases to be able to be absorbed by wagering operators,” V’landys said. “Totalisator derived odds means odds derived from or contingent on totalisators operated by the various TABs. Other wagering operators using these odds [rather than generating their own odds] will attract the higher fee.”

MH370: Which conspiracy theories can be ruled in and out?

Possible MH370 debris has washed up on the shore of Reunion, a French island in the Indian Ocean. Photo: Video still from ReutersWhat we know after debris foundBB670 key to unlocking mysteryFamilies face agonising waitTimeline to tragedySearch for MH370: full coverage
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Aviation experts say it is likely that a large object that washed up on the shore of Reunion, a French island in the Indian Ocean, is wreckage from the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 that vanished more than a year ago.

In the information vacuum that surrounded the plane’s disappearance in March 2014, speculation and theories abounded about what might have happened to the aircraft and all 239 people who were on board when it dropped off the radar.

Those theories ranged from the seemingly plausible, to the downright farcical.

In light of the potential breakthrough, we revisit the theories proposed at the time by experts and online sleuths to see whether their ideas could still hold true.

1. The plane was hijacked and flown to an airport in Kazakhstan. FALSE

Jeff Wise, a science journalist and author who researched the disappearance of MH370, released an e-book this year outlining his theory that the plane was hijacked on Russian President Vladimir Putin’s instruction and flown to an airport in Kazakhstan.

Wise argued that the flight’s data could have been tampered with by hijackers, and claimed to have found a place where the plane could have landed – an airstrip called Yubileyniy, part of the Baikonur Cosmodrome.

Some who examined Wise’s hypothesis regarded it as fanciful – which would seem an accurate assessment if the wreckage found overnight is confirmed as coming from MH370.

2 – Pilot suicide. POSSIBLE

While no evidence has emerged that the captain of the MH370, Zaharie Ahmad Shah or co-pilot Fariq Abdul Hamid died by suicide, the idea has been included in possible theories.

At least seven fatal incidents are believed to have been intentionally caused by pilots since 1982, including the Germanwings loss, which investigators believe happened when co-pilot Andreas Lubitz crashed the Airbus A320 after locking his captain out of the cockpit. Lubitz was later found to have been mentally unstable and undergoing medical treatment for depression.

3 – A catastrophic mechanical failure occurred – POSSIBLE

Some have suggested that there was a catastrophic mechanical failure on board the plane, causing it to disintegrate in mid-flight.

“The fact that we are unable to find any debris so far appears to indicate that the aircraft is likely to have disintegrated at around 35,000 feet,” a source involved in the investigations in Malaysia said at the time.

However, one aviation expert told the South China Morning Post at the time that it was mysterious that even if the plane had disintegrated, debris had not been detected on air traffic control radar.

The theory echoes the 2009 Air France tragedy when the plane disappeared over the Atlantic after it flew into turbulence en route to Paris.

It took five days for rescue teams to find the first bits of wreckage and another two years to find the bulk of the destroyed plane.

4 – The plane was shot down in a military exercise. UNLIKELY

One theory suggested the plane was accidentally shot down during a joint US-Thai military exercise in the South China Sea. It was proposed in a book called Flight MH370: The Mystery, by Nigel Cawthorne.

“The drill was to involve mock warfare on land, in water and in the air, and would include live-fire exercises,” Cawthorne wrote in his book.

However, the wreckage that washed up overnight was thousands of kilometres away.

5 – Plane was shot down while heading to US military base

In December, Marc Dugain, the former head of a French regional airline, suggested the plane had been shot down by the US because it was heading towards its military base on the island of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean.

Reunion and Diego Garcia are about 2400 kilometres apart in the Indian Ocean, but there is no evidence to suggest this theory is correct.

6 – Terrorist hijacking – POSSIBLE

The plane turned wildly off course, its communications systems were “deliberately” disconnected and it carried on flying south over the Indian Ocean on the day it disappeared, leading some to speculate that the plane had been hijacked.

Authorities have found no motive nor any evidence to say definitively that the plane was hijacked.

7 – Plane caught on fire soon after take off – UNLIKELY

New Zealander Mike McKay had been working on the Songa Mercur oil rig in the South China Sea when he saw an “orange light” in the sky on the day MH370 disappeared.

His initial statement described what he believed to be an aircraft on fire at a high altitude.

The fire burned itself out in about 10 to 15 seconds and he gave an exact location based on his position on the oil rig platform.

However, his sighting could be discounted due to the distance from Reunion, where the wreckage washed up.

Queensland Reds re-sign Japan international Hendrik Tui

Hendrik Tui in action for Japan against the All Blacks. Photo: Toru HanaiThe Queensland Reds have retained one of their marquee recruits from this season, with Japan international Hendrik Tui re-signing for 2016.
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Tui had limited game time for the Reds this season, arriving from Suntory Sungoliath, playing just the final two Super Rugby games after breaking his leg with the Japanese club.

The Auckland-born number eight has 28 Japan caps after a decade-long stint in Tokyo, arriving in the Japanese capital as a 19-year-old.

His retention is a boon for the Reds, after former All Black flanker Adam Thomson signed with the Rebels.

That move is believed to be leaving the door open for an international flyhalf search, despite young 10s Jake McIntyre and Sam Greene committing on Wednesday.

With Cooper now gone, first to Toulon, then reportedly for an Olympic sevens tilt and now at the centre of an ongoing contract saga, the Reds are likely to look abroad for an experienced 10 to take the pressure off their youngsters.

Queensland are in the market for a foreign number 10, with their foreign marquee spot open following Thomson’s departure and former France International Frederic Michalak has reportedly been discussed.

Former Waratahs lock Kane Douglas is yet to be announced as a 2016 signing but is likely to be heading for the Reds and a possible Wallabies spot.

This time last year Queensland were on the verge of announcing the recruiting coups of James O’Connor and Karmichael Hunt at their annual gala dinner, a time that seems far removed from their present state of flux.

Reds coach Richard Graham said it was good to have Tui signed for next season.

“He made it very clear he wanted to return to Ballymore and be involved with the squad moving forward,” he said.

“With the expansion of Super Rugby (to Japan and Argentina) and other options available, it says a lot about his character.”

Go Back To Where You Came From cast shown rape footage in dramatic episode

Jodi, 33, changed her mind about refugees coming by boat after meeting two Rohingya refugees who had witnessed rapes. The young Rohingya refugee who escaped human traffickers just weeks before.
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The mother of two previously said Australia was being “invaded” by refugees.

Go Back To Where You Came From cast ‘at risk’ in Syria’The truth hurts, but not as much as we hurt asylum seekers’

Go Back To Where You Came From took a dramatic turn on Wednesday night when the cast of the award-winning SBS program were shown video of a refugee woman being raped.

The documentary series which explores Australia’s asylum seeker debate premiered this week and has already drawn headlines with the controversial views of some of the participants who fear Australia is being “invaded” by refugees.

On Wednesday night’s episode, cast members were taken to Thailand where they learnt about Rohingya refugees who are taken hostage by human traffickers as they make their way over the Malaysian border.

Adelaide woman Jodi, 33, has been vocal on the program about her intolerance toward refugees “invading Australia”.

She broke down after being shown a video of a Rohingya refugee woman being raped by three men.

Jodi, her sister Renee and former refugee Davy were also introduced to two teenage Rohingya refugees who had escaped the human traffickers just weeks before.

The two boys told Jodi, Renee and Davy about the deaths and rapes they had witnessed in the jungle camp, that they were planning funerals for the refugees who had perished, and how they had no family.

“I’m just so upset. I can’t believe that we were listening to a 16-year-old talking about what he’s seen, seeing people raped and killed in front of him,” Jodi said, crying.

“I have two 16-year-olds and it’s just devastating that he’s had to go through that.

“I can’t imagine them having 500 people here in this jungle. I can’t imagine being in that situation, but if I was, I would try to escape. Even if it meant getting on a boat. It’s just digusting.”

Later, the mother of two admitted she had changed her views on refugees, and said she didn’t know why traffickers would do that to other humans.

The other three Go Back To Where You Came From cast members were sent to Syria where they witnessed the large refugee camps in Jordan.

The show’s producers were slammed for placing the cast at “substantial risk” by allowing them to come within 1km of Islamic State insurgents.

“There was substantial risk associated with the deployment,” former Army officer and consultant Justin Bowden told Fairfax.

The final episode in the three-part series airs at 8.30pm on SBS on Thursday night.

Homegrown NASA scientist wants Australia in the space race

Australian NASA astrobiologist Abigail Allwood, pictured at her alma mater QUT, wants Australia to invest more into space exploration. Photo: Michelle SmithThe Brisbane astrobiologist at the forefront of NASA’s next mission to Mars has one regret in her stellar career – that she could not lead the charge to discover evidence of extraterrestrial life from her own country.
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Abigail Allwood, the co-leader of the coming Mars 2020 rover mission, said Australia would continue to lose its best and brightest minds if it did not embrace one of the most awe-inspiring of scientific fields.

“It’s a little bit sad, for me, to see that when I finished my degree here in Australia, I couldn’t pursue the kind of things I wanted to do in Australia at all,” she said.

“There’s very little involvement in space exploration.

“We don’t have a formal space agency, which makes it very difficult for us to participate in opportunities like this and, to me, it belies our capability.

“We produce so many bright graduates. We have a fantastic education system producing engineering, science technology and mathematics graduates and the sorts of things that really inspire them, like space exploration, is not possible to do here in Australia.”

Dr Allwood, who was at the Queensland University of Technology on Thursday to accept an outstanding alumnus award from the science and engineering faculty, said Australia had the capability to be a leader in space exploration.

But the nation’s involvement in humanity’s great exploratory frontier was “less than it could be”.

“There are some incredible Australian scientists overseas who want to come back and work here, if they had the similar opportunities back here that they do overseas,” Dr Allwood said.

“I’d be one of them.”

Dr Allwood, who has been based at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena since 2006, is the Mars 2020 mission’s principal investigator for the Planetary Instrument for X-ray Lithochemistry.

The sophisticated instrument was one of seven chosen by NASA to be packed on to the Mars 2020 rover, which was similar to the Curiosity rover already on the Martian surface.

“The difference between Curiosity and the Mars 2020 rover is the science payload and the science objective,” Dr Allwood said.

“This rover has a suite of seven instruments – PIXL is one of them; we’re out on the arm – and the payload is selected especially to achieve the science objective of the mission.

“The primary goal is to search for evidence of ancient life on Mars.”

PIXL will be able to check the chemistry of Martian rocks, to grains as tiny as 100 microns, or 100 millionths of a metre.

“If you’re going to look for microbial life, you have to look at the scale of microbes,” Dr Allwood said.

“And that’s what this instrument does.”

Ultimately, the Mars 2020 rover will collect targeted physical samples with the aim of bringing them back to Earth.

“Contrary to some popular belief, we’ve never returned samples from Mars,” Dr Allwood said.

“We’ve never returned samples from any planet.

“We’ve had samples from asteroids and solar wind particles, but we’ve never, ever gone anywhere and actually deliberately, intelligently, selected a suite of samples and brought them back to Earth.

“That’s really important and it’s very different to a grab-and-go situation, where you grab samples from whatever you happen to find, because the context around the samples we collect is absolutely critical.”

Dr Allwood said getting those samples back to Earth would not be easy.

“(Samples) will be deposited on the surface of Mars by this mission and, if it’s decided by the science community, the public and so forth that it’s compelling enough to bring these samples back, then another mission would go and collect them,” she said.

“They would send a fetch rover to pick up the samples, put them in what’s called a Mars Ascent Vehicle – a MAV – and then launch the cache into orbit around Mars.

“A separate mission will then need to then bring those samples back to Earth from Martian orbit.

“So, it’s a complex series of steps.”

Dr Allwood said that complexity demonstrated how difficult getting humans on to the surface of the red planet would actually be.

“The number of miracles needed to bring samples back is such that it’s too much to put into one mission – it’s divided into three missions – so the technology to get humans to Mars and get them back safely is much, much larger,” she said.

“There’s so many more miracles that will need to be achieved.”

But if the work discovered there was once life on Mars, Dr Allwood said the cost and the effort would all be worth it.

“Understanding whether or not we’re alone in the universe, understanding whether life ever arose separately somewhere else other than Earth, that’s culture-changing and mind-changing stuff,” she said.

New hotel in Darling Harbour convention centre to be Sydney’s largest

Investor Dr Jerry Schwartz is pictured with his son Dane aged 4. Photo: Jerry Schwartz Investor Dr Jerry Schwartz is pictured with his son Dane aged 4. Photo: Jerry Schwartz
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Foundations are laid for the Sofitel Hotel project in Darling Harbour. Photo: Peter Rae

Investor Dr Jerry Schwartz is pictured with his son Dane aged 4. Photo: Jerry Schwartz

Investor Dr Jerry Schwartz is pictured with his son Dane aged 4. Photo: Jerry Schwartz

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It’s a race between two tycoons across a one-kilometre stretch of Sydney Harbour for the title of owner of Sydney’s grandest hotel.

Eccentric cosmetic surgery-cum-hotel king Jerry Schwartz may have stolen a march on James Packer on Thursday as he made a show of laying the foundation stone of a new $350 million hotel development.

Mr Schwartz was promising a cracking pace. “We’ll be [erecting] one floor every 10 days,” he said.

The project will be Sydney’s first newly built five-star hotel in nearly two decades and is part of the broader $3.5 billion redevelopment of the Darling Harbour convention centre precinct.

The 600-room, 35-storey tower is being billed as Sydney’s largest.

It can hold that title without contest so long as James Packer’s $2-billion hotel and apartment complex winds its way through a complicated planning process. Mr Packer’s plans allow for only 350 rooms but promises “six star” luxury and more than twice the floors.

The Barangaroo south development is fighting its way  through complicated planning and legal battles, including a dispute between developer Lend Lease and the state government.

The $2 billion plan is yet to secure major government approvals but Crown Resorts is attempting to push ahead with laying the project groundwork.

Should the project be knocked back, the company will be left holding a costly bill for early earth moving and foundation work, plans for which are on display until the end of next month.

Mr Schwartz says his hotel’s proximity to the convention centre will give him an edge with business guests, who have previously had to make do with the three-and-a-half star Ibis on Darling Harbour.

In addition to a ballroom Mr Schwartz is hoping a helipad will be an extra lure for business travellers.

“It’s something no one in their right minds would object to,” he said. “It’s 35 storeys high, who’s going to complain, the neighbours?”

(A 2012 proposal for a nearby floating heliport on Darling Harbour was shot down amid outcry over fears plans were approved without due concern for noise pollution).

The government is yet to be presented with an application for the helipad.

LED lights will be built into the hotel’s framework. “We’ll be able to write things on the building – like ‘Happy [New Year] 2018’,” he said.

The hotel will be complete in the latter half of 2017.

Under an arrangement with construction firm Lend Lease, Mr Schwartz will buy the building after it is complete and subcontract its operation to Sofitel and Accor.

Lend Lease also has the contract for developing the convention centre and Barangaroo south.

Tourism Minister Stuart Ayres said the development was proof Sydney “was a city that belongs on the world stage”.

The hotel has been granted a 99-year lease as part of the public-private partnership designed to reinvigorate Darling Harbour.

Five elephants were slain while the world mourns Cecil the lion

Shot dead: Cecil the lion Photo: ALDFDentist Walter Palmer writes apology letter to patientsCecil’s killing unleashes calls for ban on trophy hunting
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​Nairobi: While the world mourned Cecil, the 13-year-old lion that was allegedly shot by a American hunter, dentist Walter Palmer, in Zimbabwe, another devastating poaching incident was quietly carried out in Kenya.

Poachers killed five elephants in Tsavo West National Park on Monday night. The carcasses were recovered by rangers on Tuesday morning — what appeared to be an adult female and her four offspring, their tusks hacked off.

While the killing of the lion in Zimbabwe has attracted the world’s attention, the death of the five elephants has received almost no coverage, even though elephants are under a far greater threat from poachers than lions. Their tusks can be sold in Asia for more than $US1000 ($1360) per pound.

“It’s just devastating,” said Paul Gathitu, a spokesman for Kenya Wildlife Service. “It took us completely by surprise.”

Kenyan investigators say the poachers crossed the border from neighbouring Tanzania, slaughtered the elephants and then quickly returned to their base, making them difficult to track. Tsavo stretches along the border for more than 50 miles.

Rangers heard gunshots ring out on Monday evening. They searched all night through the vast park and discovered the carnage the next morning. There was blood and loose skin where the tusks were cut off. Kenyan authorities say the poachers escaped on motorcycles, carrying their loot.

In recent years, the poaching of elephants has increased exponentially because of the demand for ivory in Asia, where it’s used for unproven medicinal purposes. Between 2010 and 2012, poachers killed more than 100,000 African elephants — a level of destruction that put the species on the road to extinction. Unlike many other animals, elephants mourn the death of their brethren, wrapping their trunks around the bones or carcasses of the deceased.

While the African lion population is also under threat, it is largely because their habitats are being destroyed by farmers and developers, not because the animals are hunted.

Kenyan authorities say they were making progress in the fight against poachers before the recent killing at Tsavo. Last year, the government deployed 550 new rangers. Advances in technology have allowed researchers to monitor herds using GPS trackers, gauging when they might be under threat based on their movement and speed.

“We’ve increased our intelligence and our operations. We were having success,” Gathitu said. “That’s why we’re so surprised.”

In Tsavo, investigators are searching for the men who killed the five elephants. Two suspects have been arrested. Security officials found a bloodstained ax and a hacksaw in one of their homes.

It’s not just Kenya where mass elephant killings occur. In Congo, 30 elephants were killed in 15 days earlier this year in Garamba National Park. The illegal wildlife trade is valued at $US7 billion to $US10 billion annually.

“We are in an elephant crisis right now,” Iain Douglas-Hamilton, the founder of Save the Elephants, a non-governmental organisation, told The Post recently.

Just two days before the Tsavo elephants were killed, President Obama announced during a visit to Kenya that he would introduce more restrictions in the United States to diminish the market for ivory there. The regulation would prevent the sale of ivory from African elephants across state lines.

But the United States makes up only a fraction of the international ivory market, and regulations in Asia remain loosely enforced.

Washington Post

Immunity boosters for kids

Shivering our way through the colder months of the year is guaranteed – much like the colds, flu and viruses that it brings to our families.
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But while us adults can nurse ourselves back to health relatively quickly, it often hits our children harder.

There are no guaranteed ways to avoid these dreaded lurgies completely, but there are ways we can boost our children’s immunity.

This can mean they are less susceptible to illness in the first place, and help them recover in the instances when they do get sick.

Here are some of the best immunity boosting tips.


Maintaining a balanced and nutritious diet is one of the best ways that you can ensure that your child’s immune system and health remains strong.

Fruit and vegetables such as carrots, green beans, oranges and strawberries are good examples of foods that contain immunity boosting phytonutrients.

These phytonutrients can assist in increasing the body’s production of white blood cells and antibodies that help to block out viruses.

‘Superfoods’ in particular contain high levels of phytonutrients, and many also offer additional health and immune boosting benefits.

Colourful vegetables offer a good source of antioxidants, and green vegetables provide folic acid, zinc and vitamins.

Yoghurt is full of probiotics, while garlic and onions help fight bacteria in the stomach, and fish offers the benefits of omega 3.

Vitamins and supplements

While a balanced diet will provide a sufficient level of vitamins for your child, additional supplements may be beneficial during sickness, cold and flu season, or in the instance that your child is a picky eater.

Vitamin C is one of the most essential vitamins for children due to its antioxidant properties that help ward off sickness. Vitamin C is found naturally in foods such as oranges, berries, citrus fruits, tomatoes and broccoli.

Vitamin D is another important vitamin for children and is obtained from both food and sun exposure.

Much research has linked vitamin D to healthy immune systems, and recommendations state that children should have safe sun exposure for 20-30 minutes a day to boost their levels.

In instances where this is not possible, a supplement may be beneficial.

Other immunity boosting vitamins and supplements include zinc, Echinacea, and probiotics.

Cutting out sugar

While the occasional cake, chocolate or biscuit is fine, a regular diet laden with sugar is not.

Sugar has been linked with the dampening of children’s immune systems, and sugar overloads can trigger a dip in immune functioning for up to six hours.

Try to avoid obvious sugar laden foods wherever possible and be aware of hidden sugars in processed foods.


One of the most natural ways to boost your child’s immunity is by ensuring that they are getting adequate hours of sleep.

If your child is sleep deprived, their immune system is negatively impacted and their body’s ability to fight off infection is low.

Ongoing sleep deficiency can mean your child may have trouble fighting off even the smallest of infections.

Recommended hours of sleep for children are: Children 1-2 years: 11 to 14 hoursPreschoolers 3-5 years: 11 to 13 hoursSchool children 6-13 years: 9 to 11 hours


Research has shown that regular and moderate exercise may help improve your child’s immunity as it increases white blood cell activity and its circulation throughout the body.

On the flipside, too much exercise can have a negative effect as a child will become overtired and their immune system overworked.

According to government guidelines, children aged between 1-5 should be physically active every day for at least three hours, spread throughout the day.

Children aged between 5-17 should accumulate at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity every day.