History of Hunter rail line captured on NFSA video

It is easy to see whyJeff Wray fell in love with the sound of the steam train. The curator from theNational Film and Sound Archive of (NFSA) spent 10 years on the tracks as a signal man with the state rail.
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It was this interest in the train lines which helped kick-off a newdocumentary titledSteam on the Main North. The15-minute filmshowcases the history of the Hunter region as a major transport network. It has been released just in time for Hunter Valley Steamfest,which celebratesMaitland’s rich steam and industrial heritage.

“Steam has always been a strong magnet for rail enthusiasts,” MrWray said.

Video tells of Hunter’s steam train history TOOT TOOT: Steam engines of the Hunter. Picture: NATIONAL FILM AND SOUND ARCHIVE OF AUSTRALIA

TOOT TOOT: Steam engines of the Hunter. Picture: NATIONAL FILM AND SOUND ARCHIVE OF AUSTRALIA

TOOT TOOT: Steam engines of the Hunter. Picture: NATIONAL FILM AND SOUND ARCHIVE OF AUSTRALIA

TOOT TOOT: Steam engines of the Hunter. Picture: NATIONAL FILM AND SOUND ARCHIVE OF AUSTRALIA

TOOT TOOT: Steam engines of the Hunter. Picture: NATIONAL FILM AND SOUND ARCHIVE OF AUSTRALIA

TweetFacebookSteam on the Main Northis a fascinating snapshot of the region’s history, as many of the rural areas featured were heavily transformed by the suburban sprawl.

“The film also explores the wide variety of passenger and goods steam trains that undertook the journey along the Main North line, which was particularly unique for this era.”

As steam trains were being decommissioned across the country, in the Hunter Region they endured for much longer.By 1968regular use of steam engines had stopped in many parts of NSW, but not locally.

“Steam lingered on with force in the Hunter,” he said.

“They were closely linked with the coal mining industry, but were also being used in the late period of the steam era to transport passengers and also freight.

“There was a larger variety of engines in the Hunter at that time as well.”

The documentary features footage from the Hunter Region shot by transport enthusiast andcinematographer Roger McKenzie and his friend Bernie Kent in 1968.

It features footage from three locations around Maitland, Fassifern, Hawkmount (between Awaba and DoraCreek)and Thornton.

“I think the film really lets the trains do the talking,” Mr Wraysaid.

You can watch Steam on the Main Northat the top of thispage. Itis a sequel to Steam on the Harbourwhich was released in October 2016 (watch below).

The Burton Automotive Group Hunter Valley Steamfest is locked in for April 8 and 9 and organisers are hoping to match last year’s 30th anniversary crowd of 80,000 over the two days.

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Malcolm Turnbull accused of “dangerous” interference in Papua New Guinea politics

Malcolm Turnbull will travel to Papua New Guinea this weekend – but has already copped an extraordinary spray for the “insensitive” and “dangerous” timing of the trip ahead of local elections.
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PNG’s former prime minister Sir Mekere Morauta on Tuesday accused Mr Turnbull of interfering in the domestic politics of ‘s neighbour barely two weeks before the country’s caretaker period begins.

Mr Turnbull has not travelled to PNG since taking over the top job in 2015 and Mr Morauta said the government in Port Moresby would “spin” a visit so close to the election as an endorsement of Prime Minister Peter O’Neill.

“That is a very dangerous position for the n Prime Minister to put himself in, especially with the prospect of a new Government just around the corner,” Mr Morauta said in a statement.

Mr O’Neill – who struck a deal with to host the Manus Island detention centre for asylum seekers – has faced persistent claims of corruption while PNG’s economy has struggled.

Student protests against his government turned violent last year and Mr O’Neill later survived a motion of no-confidence in the local parliament.

“Mr O’Neill will use this visit to prop up his sagging image and boast to Papua New Guineans that he commands ‘s support,” Mr Morauta said.

Writs for elections are expected to be issued on April 20, with national ballot considered mostly likely to be held over two weeks in July.

has relied on PNG, along with Nauru, as part of the so-called “Pacific solution” for offshore processing refugee claims.

The supreme court in PNG last year ruled the Manus Island camp to be unconstitutional, but despite Mr O’Neill pledging to close the centre more than 800 asylum seekers remain on the island, with hopes a deal with the US will see some of the men resettled.

Mr Turnbull will also need to navigate a surprise request from PNG last month to transfer $550 million of n aid each year directly into the local budget coffers to fund local hospitals and education.

International Development Minister Concetta Fierravanti-Wells has already warned that ‘s “aid is not charity” and said the government would not honour the request.

Mr Morauta, a former governor of PNG’s reserve bank who stepped down from politics in 2012, has been a fierce critic of Mr O’Neill in recent years and flagged he may run for parliament again.

He said the two leaders had met in recently and at several international summits.

“What is so important that Mr Turnbull should be visiting now? What is so important that it cannot be conveyed to the incoming Government in a couple of months’ time?” Mr Morauta said.

“If Mr O’Neill happens to be the Prime Minister after the election, fine, visit him then. We would all accept that. But to visit now is inappropriate,” he said.

Both Mr Turnbull and Mr O’Neill have been asked for comment.

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Greedy Smith keen to live it up on Good Times tour

GOOD TIMES: Joe Camilleri, Vika and Linda Bull, Andrew “Greedy” Smith, Colin Hay and Deborah Conway will perform at Newcastle’s Civic Theatre on May 31. The APIA Good Times tour bus is about to hit the road with some of the biggest names in Aussie rockon board.
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Rock n Roll Music – Mental As AnythingThis year Colin Hay, Deborah Conway, Mental As Anything and The Black Sorrows are performing for audiences nationwide.It’s a rare opportunity to hear hits like Harley & Rose, Chained to the Wheel, Down Under, Who Can It Be Now?, Nips Are Getting Bigger, Live it Up, Too Many Times, It’s Only The BeginningandMan Overboard live, on the one stage, under the one roof.

Andrew “Greedy” Smith, singer and keyboardist with Mental As Anything, can’t wait. He hasn’t performed with Hay since he toured the US with Men At Work 35 years ago.

“In 1981 we had a hit in Canada with Too Many Times and wanted to tour there. A year later Men At Work were climbing the hit parade in the US and Colin very kindly offered us the support spot for their 80-date tour of US and Canada,” Smith tells Weekender.

“It was full on but fun so we signed up to do it all again in 1983.”

Mental As Anythingstarted offas students who put a band together to play blues, 1960s pop, rockabilly, country and their own original compositions to fill in time at art school in Sydney in the mid 1970s.

Their first gig was at Sydney’s Cellblock Theatre on August 16, 1977, followed by a year-long residency at the Unicorn Hotel where they usedthe pool table as their stage.

It was in 1978 at Sydney’s Civic Hotelthat they caught the attention of new independentlabel Regular Records who sold all 1300 copies in a fortnight of the three-track vinylMental As Anything Plays at Your Party.

“We would’ve remained an art school band playing dances and partiesif Cameron Allan and Martin Fabinyi hadn’t wanted to start an independent record label,” Smith explains.

“They needed someone to record and chose us. We were four competing songwriters and whatever new single was released sounded quite different to the last.”

In 1981 If You Leave Me Can I Come Too?was a hit and in 1985 Live It Up was the highest-selling n single.

If You Leave Me (Can I Come Too) – Mental As Anything“Live It Up was a hit in but we had no success with it in the UK and Europe until It was used in the film Crocodile Dundee,” Smith says.

“Our UK label then put the film poster on the single cover and re-released it to radio over there and it became a big hit. A few years later Yahoo Serious asked us to record Chuck Berry’s Rock’n’Roll Music for his first feature filmYoung Einstein. The movies have been kind to the Mentals.”

In 2009 Mental as Anything were inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame.

Live It Up – Mental As Anything“We’ve always been known as a singles band so it was a pleasant surprise to be inducted into the Hall Of Fame.We got to hang out with other bands and take stock of our musical past.”

And as for the nickname? The chicken nugget myth is actually fact.

”In our early days in 1977 we were setting up for a gigin a college hall and five or so metre-long cardboard boxes were delivered,” Smith explains.

“It turns out the boxes were full of KFC so I ate 16 pieces out of mine while we were playing. Reg Mombassa started calling meGreedyand I guess it stuck.”

The APIA Good Times Tour comes to Newcastle’s Civic Theatre on May 31. Tickets are on sale now. For your chance to win tickets, read Weekender on April 15.

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North offer GWS star nine-year $9m deal

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North Melbourne have made a Buddy Franklin, Tom Boyd-type nine-year $9 million contract offer for Greater Western Sydney midfielder Josh Kelly, according to former AFL club executive Brian Waldron. Fairfax Media has confirmed that there is a nine-year contract on the table for Kelly.

Kelly’s father, Phil, was a wingman who played 61 games for North in the mid-1980s. Josh grew up following North while living in Melbourne’s inner south.

It is understood St Kilda are also interested in the 22-year-old midfielder and have scope under their salary cap but not the inclination to do a nine-year deal.

Waldron, former St Kilda CEO and head of NRL club Melbourne Storm, said on SEN on Tuesday morning that North had made the extraordinary deal.

“North Melbourne have offered Josh Kelly nine million over nine years,” Waldron said.

“On the table. He has to take it ??? I also heard they offered Dustin Martin well over a million dollars a year for five years.

“Maybe a million a year in eight years’ time isn’t going to be much, but clearly it’s a huge, huge investment.”

Kelly’s manager, Paul Connors, refused to comment when contacted by Fairfax Media.

“I have not spoken to Paul, but I know an offer has been made.”

GWS are understood to be aware a long-term offer has been floated for Kelly, but not the specific terms or if a firm offer had actually been made.

North can also potentially draft elite teenager Nick Blakey, the son of John Blakey, in next year’s draft should he choose to wish to go to North.

Blakey is equally eligible for the Lions and the Swans. John played sufficient games for the Lions to be eligible there as father son also but the family has long now lived in Sydney where John is an assistant coach at the Swans.

Nick is a member of the Swans academy and is eligible to be recruited as a priority by the Swans.

Blakey is a talented rangy 193cm skinny midfielder who kicks the ball like his dad.

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Hey Ross, the rebuild (or whatever we’re calling it) must start now

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Fremantle should be headed for some in-season retirements if coach Ross Lyon is to truly launch his declared four-year revitalisation of an ailing playing list.

The besieged coach revealed intentions to inject youth from his under siege group immediately after Sunday’s embarrassing 89-point thumping from a born-again Port Adelaide in Adelaide.

It should ring deafening warning bells to out-of-sorts key defender Zac Dawson, ageing winger Danyle Pearce and nuggety utility Nick Suban.

Even highly popular key defender Michael Johnson will be under siege as Lyon and club powerbrokers swing into crisis mode in a bid to eradicate an alarming slide with team performances and attempt a rapid revival.

After 211 games Johnson, a serviceable veteran, should be a serious candidate to hang up his well-travelled boots after a disastrous start from Freo, with the 2013 runners-up and 2015 minor premiers lamenting at the bottom of the AFL ladder after successive thrashings from Geelong and Port.

Johnson was restricted to just four appearances last season as the big defender battled to overcome a nasty hamstring injury that required surgery.

Johnson, 32, Dawson, Pearce and Suban have been faithful servants to Lyon through a near-premiership winning campaign from 2012-15.

One obstacle with any early move from Pearce to step down after nothing his 250th game in Sunday’s clash against his old club is his absurd contract security.

The often-maligned midfielder, who turns 31 on Friday, signed an agreement last year through until the end of 2018.

At almost 26 and with 146 senior Dockers games under his belt, Suban still has time on his side.

But the type of roles the gritty utility plays in Lyon’s highly defensive game styles need refinement and are now more logically suited to younger and developing Dockers.

It’s well over time for a massive introduction of youth with clear confirmation that the changes will be nurtured and tolerated for well into the remainder of an already failed 2017 season.

Lyon controversially elected to start his warhorses with the league’s third oldest and third most games played average while trumpeting that a four-year rebuilding project is in full swing at Fremantle.

Loyalty to his aged warriors at the expense of a young brigade of Dockers to establish a foundation to planned future sustained success has backfired on Lyon.

Heading into his sixth season with the Dockers, Lyon has also failed to generate any apparent newfound playing style to stay in touch with a substantially swifter AFL game featuring high octane movement and scoring as a priority.

New ways now must be paved for an injection of younger talent with hopes they can regenerate flagging hopes of a return to finals anytime soon.

Promising recent draft picks Griffin Logue and Harley Balic as well as key forward Matt Taberner are non-negotiable call-ups to be educated in the harsh realities of an AFL playing cauldron as cornerstones in Fremantle’s long term plans.

Logue turns 19 this month and as the Dockers prized first pick at number eight in last November’s draft, he must be thrown into the firing line in a sweeping change in selection and development philosophy.

He is a raw and emerging big bodied, running defender.

Playing Logue to learn a craft of guarding key opposition forwards as well as using an innate athletic running capability to initiate Dockers attacking moves from backward of midfield is better development than perseverance with a lumbering Dawson in the dim twilight of his 166-game career.

Perennial fringe-dwellers Hayden Crozier and Tom Sheridan as well as key position defender Sam Collins must be re-tried and given extensive periods to confirm any significant value for long term retention in a rejuvenation or cast aside as new draftees are targeted in November.

Hopes of a return to finals calculations as the game continually evolves into a fast and furious heavy possessions and swift movement into scoring zones rest with a serious injection of youth.

Whatever Dockers recruiting specialists have perceived with recent draft inclusions must be examined on the big stage of AFL conflict for the remainder of this season to demonstrate if they are indeed the best suited to carry Fremantle’s future hopes for success and promise.

Lyon has seemed reluctant to swing his developing youngsters into his senior team with loyalty to the servants that bravely battled attrition and buffetings in his heavily defence-oriented game style through the Dockers’ four successive finals campaigns.

Reality hit in a shellacking from a slick Port when Lyon sent repeat offenders of poor foot disposal into battle for a second successive week.

There is now no logical future in continuing with servants that do not have long term value in any ambitious rebuilding project that Lyon says will take as much as four years.

The players that might be there as a four-year plan bears finals fruits should be blooded, taught and moulded from now.

Retirements will make that room.

There’s probably limited value in retaining some of the tried and tolerated foot soldiers sitting back at alignment unit Peel Thunder to assist fast-tracking project Dockers on Lyon’s senior list.

But, staying to be teachers at Peel is the only way Dawson, Pearce, Suban and company should be viewed for the remainder of what is shaping as an arduous and emotionally-draining 2017.

Any revitalisation is in desperate need of patience and nurturing with a senior list in serious transition from almost achieving an ultimate success to any eventual return to finals.

Lyon also goes on urgent notice to confirm he can actually revitalise a playing list at the conclusion of a serious premiership tilt with a far more mature group.

The four-times AFL Grand Finalist coach has not earned a reputation for developing a playing list from foundations.

He inherited a vastly mature and experienced St Kilda back in 2007 and refined a gifted list into genuine title contenders and again fine-tuned Fremantle into flag candidates after taking over in 2012 from former Essendon hard nut Mark Harvey.

Lyon’s Saints brigade included superstars in the ilk of dual Brownlow medallist Robert Harvey, Nick Riewoldt, Luke Ball, Fraser Gehrig and Brendon Goddard.

His takeover at Fremantle presented Dockers champion Matthew Pavlich, Luke McPharlin, Aaron Sandilands, Stephen Hill and an emerging gun Nat Fyfe.

That audacious shot at the title is ruthlessly over with Lyon confronted with a hefty and apparently long rejuvenation.

A savage assessment of failing service probably should have been initiated mid-way through last season when from minor premiers in 2015 to serious flag candidates to start last year before a dramatic tumble to losing the opening nine engagements of the home-and-away campaign.

As a matter of urgency and even if it’s a directive from chief executive and board of management level, the development program needs to happen now.

Up to six changes should be on the cards in Fremantle’s clash with a fast and slick moving reigning premiers Western Bulldogs in Perth on Saturday night.

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