Monthly Archives: September 2019

Needle in banana found in child’s lunchbox at St Paul’s Gateshead, parents told to cut up fruit

FOUND: The needle was hidden inside a banana. Picture: Andrew Quilty. A CHILD at a Newcastle primary school hasdiscovered a needle inside a banana packed in their lunchbox.


The studentfrom St Paul’s Gateshead luckily discovered the fruit was contaminated before biting into it. The child alerted teachers and police were called.

Detectives from Lake Macquarie LAC were sent to the school to investigate the incident and have removed the banana for further tests.

“The school is sending a message to all parents to tell them what has happened,” a spokesman from the Diocese of Maitland Newcastle said.

“The student is okay and police have been called.

“We will be trying to get parents to cut up all fruit before it is sent to school.

“At this point it is the sensible thing to do.”

The discovery follows the widespread contamination, which started two weeks ago when a Queensland man found a sewing needle in a strawberry.

On Saturday the contamination reached the Hunter Region when ayoung Woodville girl found a needle in a punnetof Wallace Road Berries strawberries from Coles Green Hills.

Police are warning the public of the serious penalties associated with deliberate fruit contamination.In NSW, the maximum penalty for the offence is 10 years imprisonment.

An investigation, which is now being led by Queensland Health, was launched on Wednesday September 12.

Inquiries to date indicate the contamination affects three brands ofstrawberries– “Berry Obsession”, “Berry Licious” and “Donnybrook” – which were sold across Australia, including NSW. These three brands have since been recalled.

While police have received reports of potential contamination impacting otherstrawberrybrands, consumers are advised they are believed to be safe to eat, but to be sure, cut the fruit before consuming.

So far, NSW Police Force has received more than 20 reports of contaminatedstrawberries, which have been seized for forensic examination.

Police are urging anyone who has purchased contaminated product to take the punnet to their local police station immediately for triage and forensic examination.

If any member of the community is concerned about the integrity of the product they’ve purchased, it may be returned to the point of sale.

All relevant information is being collated in each state and provided to Queensland authorities to assist with their ongoing investigation.

Police have also received reports of contamination of other types of fruit, including another banana and an apple, which are being treated as isolated incidents.

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Ciraldo set to coach Panthers in 2019 NRL

Penrith look set to install Cameron Ciraldo as head coach for next year but they club continues to be linked to Ivan Cleary.


Panthers boss Phil Gould on Wednesday suggested that Ciraldo would remain in charge of the club for the 2019 NRL season after guiding the side through the final six weeks as caretaker coach.

The 33-year-old was handed the reins after Anthony Griffin’s sacking four weeks out from the finals and Gould said the club had no reason to bring in anyone else.

However speculation that Cleary could make a sudden exit from the Wests Tigers to return to the foot of the mountain won’t die down.

“I don’t see any need to change anything we’ve been doing for the last five or six weeks,” Gould said on the ‘Six Tackles with Gus’ podcast.

“I’ve been very impressed with Cameron Ciraldo and the academy staff and we threw everything in our academy at the NRL preparation.

“They did an outstanding job, I was really impressed with them.”

Ciraldo has a contract to be on the club’s coaching staff for next season and it was reported on Wednesday that the board had rubber-stamped him taking on the top job on a fulltime basis.

The club’s move to oust Griffin so late in the season resulted in speculation Cleary was set to exit the Wests Tigers, with two years still to run on his contract.

Cleary subsequently stated his promise to “honour” his deal with the joint venture, however, has since refused to answer questions.

It was also reported that the Panthers are readying to offer Cleary the role for 2021 – which is viewed by many as an attempt by Penrith to force the Tigers’ hand to release him.

Tigers CEO Justin Pascoe did not return AAP’s calls though the club has, until this point, flatly refused to entertain the idea of Cleary leaving early.

NRL clubs are not allowed to negotiate with players more than 12 months before their contract expires.

The NRL said that chief operating officer Nick Weeks was set to examine a request from some clubs to alter the laws governing coaching negotiations so that they be brought in line with those that regulate player rules.

Gould denied knowledge of any negotiations between Cleary and his club.

A return to the Penrith job, from which he was axed in 2015, would allow Cleary to team up with his son Nathan, who is expected to sign a rich multi-year contract extension.

The NSW playmaker has reportedly been offered a lucrative deal until the end of 2023.

“No confirmation but I’m confident we’ll get a deal done and he’ll be at Panthers for a fair while,” Gould said of Nathan Cleary.

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Circa 1876 and Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley win major regional awards

The Hunter Region fared well at this year’s NSW Savour Australia Restaurant & Catering HOSTPLUS Awards for Excellence.


TOP OF THE CLASS: Circa 1876 executive chef Trent Barrett.

The winners were announced at a gala dinner at Sydney’s Luna Park on Tuesday.

Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley took out a major award, being named theregional NSW winner of the caterer of the year category.

Circa 1876, of Pokolbin, was named regional restaurant of the year. To put that in perspective, the Sydney winner wasTetsuya’s.

In the NSW Regional Restaurant Awards,Newcastle’s Nagisa Japanese Restaurant won the Asian restaurant category and Circa 1876 took home the contemporary Australian restaurant (formal) award.

Il Cacciatore Restaurant at Pokolbin was named best Italian restaurant andBaumé, also at Pokolbin, was named best new restaurant.

Esca Bimbadgen Restaurant was best restaurant in a winery and best tourism restaurant and the now-closed Barcito, of Hamilton, took home the specialty restaurant award.

Table 1 Espresso won the NSW regionalconsumer vote and honourable mentions went to Sandgate’s Caterforce (small caterer) and Lovedale Bar at Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley (beer cafe/wine bar).

The national winners in some categories will be announced next month.

Restaurant & Catering Australia chief executive Juliana Payne congratulated the individuals and businesses recognised as part of the Awards and praised their contribution to the NSW hospitality industry.

“The quality of all entries to this year’s Awards for Excellence was outstanding and we are disappointed that we can’t acknowledge more businesses for the feats of culinary excellence that they have displayed,” she says.

“It’s fantastic to see the enormous passion of all business-owners as well as their staff whose daily hard work and dedication goes into producing an unforgettable culinary experience.

“This sense of passion and pride is what truly makes the hospitality sector in NSW stand out and makes the Awards for Excellence a special event.”

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It’s time the public claimed National Park as green, open space

HIGH-RISE CITY: “In less than a decade there’ll be a crying need for some green open space within short walking distance of all these soon-to-be city homes,” the author says. Picture: Simone De Peak .Have there ever been so many cranes swinging across Newcastle’s skyline?


The place is booming with residential developments.

There are apartments everywhere, and the city’s West End is no exception.

There are apartments already on top of Marketown Shopping Centre.

Nearby, there are blocks going up next to the Travelodge and others planned for next door to Central Plaza (the old, expanded Latec House).

There are more slated for the Wickham end of Honeysuckle and around what some of us used to call the Bank Corner.

There will be hundreds of apartments, individual dwellings without the sniff of a back yard or a street in which to play.

Nowhere to lie under the shade of a tree or feel the grass between your toes.

In less than a decade there will be a crying need for some green open space within short walking distance of all these soon-to-be city homes, and about the only place left is National Park.

The part of the park closest to these developments is the north-west corner, bounded by National Park, Parry and Smith streets, just north of the athletics track and the croquet courts.

It covers 19,500 square metres, or almost 2 hectares (5 acres in the old money), and presently it isa disgrace to the city.

The lease on the National Park Street tennis courts ran out years ago, and there’s now more than an acre of abandoned asphalt, a club house frequented by the graffiti crowd and a couple of old blokes sleeping rough.

Even worse is the Smith Street side, with the burnt-out shell of the old Life Without Barriers building, abandoned sheds and other structures, and, of course, the inevitable asphalt.

The graffiti boys have been busy there too.

Then there’s the overgrown, dilapidated and fenced-off eyesore that is the former sensory garden at the corner of Parry and Smith.

The only part of this whole area still apparently in use, but under a lease, is Wal Young House, the present home of the District Bowls Association.

I say “apparently in use” because a walk-by this week suggests it might have been abandoned too.

A huge grassed parking area for a few bowls officials.

Just over two years ago, our city council distributed the glossy brochure National Park Development Lease, complete with artists’ impressions (haven’t we seen a lot of those lately?) of huge paved areas with people mysteriously walking dogs and kicking balls.

And more buildings whose purpose is far from obvious.

The council doesn’t seem to have been overwhelmed with proposals or interest in the intervening years, and there’s an obvious reason.

The land is community land and is zoned RE1: public recreation, and nothing else.

It can’t be sold, and can’t be leasedfor very long either.

Isn’t it high time this very valuable (some would say priceless) piece of the city was finally put to the use for which it was intended?

That isas green open space for use by all the public, and particularly the new residents who will soon call the West End home?

Some of these new residents might even have kids.

The Americans have a saying: “You can’t fight city hall”.

Well 34 years ago, I and a group of supporters did.

I sued the City in the Land and Environment Court over the asphalting of too much of National Park, mainly for netball courts.

Residents from the neighbourhood and across the city joined the campaign and kicked the tin in the hope of preserving a morsel of green space in the inner city.

It settled with the city’s promise of no more asphalt.

The future use of National Park ought to be a no-brainer: transformingthis precious part of the city for passive recreation and green, open space.

Carl BoydCarl Boyd is an inner-city resident with a long standing interest in environmental issues. He was the Plaintiff in Boyd v Newcastle City Council and Newcastle Netball Association, NSW Land and Environment Court, 1984. Continue reading

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TiNA’s into its third decade, but it’s lost none of its edge

Out of the ordinary: Crack X director Mel O’Dell says the call-out was for new ideas, new performances. Picture: Jonathan CarrollThis Is Not Art (TiNA) will bring the vibrant energy of the national emerging arts scene back to the heart of Newcastle for its 21st year.


The festival kicks off on Thursday, September 27, and runs through Sunday, September 30.

The early years of the festival, originally directed by Marcus Westbury, founder of Renew Newcastle, were developed within the walls of squats and long-forgotten buildings such as the Performing Arts Newcastle (PAN) building on Auckland Street. The festival name was taken from a piece of graffiti on the side of Latec House on Hunter Street, which at the time was the tallest building in Newcastle.

In those formative years, TiNA had a distinct renegade energy that reflected the local DIY scene of the late ’90s. It was intent on celebrating the ideas and work of artistic communities that weren’t accepted into the wider Australian arts institutions or festivals.

Now entering into its third decade, TiNA has become one of the leading emerging arts festivals in Australia. Produced by Octapod in partnership with longstanding co-presenters National Young Writers’ Festival (NYWF), Crack X Festival and Critical Animals, the festival has become a space to experience new experimental performance, engage in critical discussion, and connect with emerging arts practitioners.

Octapod director Christina Robberds says that as a festival intent on injecting culture into cityscapes, development of TiNA has been in direct response to the changes in Newcastle’s cultural and physical landscape. As Newcastle changes, so does TiNA – forever responding to its urban environment.

“I’ve been involved with TiNA for a number of years now and it’s been exciting to watch the local and national arts ecology develop. I love that TiNA has ‘grown up’ alongside the city’s revitalisation,” Robberds says.

“One thing that never changes though is the diversity of voices involved. The programming is always fresh and at the forefront of the emerging arts scene,”Robberds says.

More music: WE DON’T DANCE co-producer Sebastian Phelan.

CIVIC PARK PRECINCTOne notable difference this year is the smaller footprint. The festival will be centred on the Civic Park precinct, having developed new relationships withNewcastle Art Gallery, Newcastle City Library and Watt Space Gallery. There will also beevents hosted further afieldat The Lock-Up, Softys in Islingtonand Newcastle Beach.

Despite having “grown up”, TiNA still promises to pack a dynamic punch. The 2018 program is filled to the brim with the usual unexpected delights. Visitors might discover an installation in the Christ Church Cathedral cemetery, slip into a late night reading at Newcastle City Library (Thursday and Friday) or explore “ultra-positivity” through an interactive performance at Watt Space Gallery.

Local artist and Crack X Festival director Mel O’Dell says their programming has maintained a focus on experimentation.

“This year Crack X asked for new performances and new ideas. Applicants could be an established artist trying something new or an emerging artist trying something for the first time.”O’Dell says.

This year TiNA will also be joined by special guests WE DON’T DANCE, a Newcastle-based music and collaborative arts collective. WE DON’T DANCE co-producer Bastian Phelan says they are excited to be reintroducing a healthy does of local music to the festival, which hasn’t seen a music stream since the departure of Electrofringe and Sound Summit.

“I’ve been attending the festival since 2004. I’m a musician and writer. I missed being able to see really interesting music at TiNA and the sense of community that going to gigs creates,” Phelan says.

Phelan also explains that music has been a great medium to engage the local creative community.

“One of the main reasons we formed was to create an opportunity for more local representation in TiNA. Newcastle has such a strong music scene, with collectives such as Banshee and the Y Project putting on regular gigs, this felt like a good way to include more Novocastrians,” Phelan says.

“We want locals to feel like TiNA is their festival. As well as being an opportunity to work with and meet artists from all around Australia.

“For me it’s always been a super fun exciting weekend to meet and make friends with other artists. In the art world those friendships are really important.”

Program highlights Diversity is ever present: Octapod director Christina Robberds.

Other program highlights include the Last Fridays – TiNA Takeover at the Newcastle Art Gallery on September 28.Co-presenters Critical AnimalsandCrack X,alongside special guests WE DON’T DANCE, will be filling the gallery with installation art, poetry performances and live music. National Young Writers’ Festivalwill also be presenting events nextdoor at the NewcastleLibrary.

Another offering, ART HOUSE, sees Crack X join forces with Softys, a home turned maker space in Islington (20 Maitland Road), to curate an evening of circus, poetry, music and performance.

As a longstanding breeding ground where Australian artists are able flex their creative selves in front of a supportive and engaged audience,festival alumni include names such as Benjamin Law, Clementine Ford, John Saffran, and The Herd. You just never know who you might get to see at the beginning of their bright career.

Sneak peekSeventeen. Art House (Softys, 20 Maitland Road, Islington), Sept 29, 7-8.15pm. Swimming carnivals. Blue light discos. Messy buns. Legs and shorts and sun. It’s the aftermath of high school, it’s the relationships you made, and how they fall apart in the decade afterwards. Expect puberty. Expect poetry. Expect to be reminded of everyone. The showis fiction and distils two years of writing, thinking, and feeling after a terrible real-world event in which ahigh school friends was murdered by another friend.A 15 minute performance of poetry and music by Eleanor Malbon and Hannah Lord.The Best Book I (N)ever Read. Newcastle Library. Sept 27. 5-6pm. Four writers (Rafeif Ismail, Dan Hogan, Rebecca Jessen, Alexandra Neill) have a confession to make. Tolstoy? Haven’t read it. Infinite Jest? Nope. The collected works of the Brontes? Not them either. Four writers dust off their to-be-read stack and discuss the classic books they’ve never read.Full program at

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