Blue Mountains rockslide: National Parks contractor killed, two others airlifted

Police rescue officers near the site where a bushwalking track has collapsed. Photo: Wolter PeetersA 36-year-old National Parks contractor was killed and two of his colleagues seriously injured when a rockslide at a Blue Mountains walking track fell from a 10-metre height on Wednesday.
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The three National Parks and Wildlife Service contractors were working to improve the safety of the National Pass walking track when they were hit, in an area which has been closed since August 31 “due to an identified risk of unstable sections of rock”.

The 36-year-old man died at the scene, where a crime scene has been established and where he will remain under police guard until his body can be recovered.

A report will be prepared for the coroner.

The two survivors, aged 26 and 27 were airlifted to hospital with multiple fractures on Wednesday afternoon, following a sensitive extraction.

In a statement the National Parks and Wildlife Service said “experienced contractors” were working to make safe the walking track between Valley of the Waters and Slack Stairs.

“Our condolences go to the family of the contractor who was killed and our thoughts are with the other members of the crew who were injured,” NPWS said.

Emergency services first responded to reports of people injured in the rock fall around 11.40am, with critical care paramedics winched in to assess the patients and rescue teams from police and fire and rescue also on scene.

Officers from Blue Mountains Local Area Command, police rescue, Polair and National Parks and Wildlife Service were at the scene. Photo: Wolter Peeters

“It took about one hour for emergency responders to access the site,” said Superintendent Darryl Jobson on Wednesday afternoon.

Fifteen ambulance crews, three rescue helicopters and three Fire and Rescue crews responded to the incident, while a command post was established at the end of Falls Road.

One witness, Mike Burgess, told the ABC he was bushwalking below the remote walking track when he heard a “big explosion” that sounded “like dynamite going off”.

“But I knew it wouldn’t be dynamite, it would be a big slab,” he said.

“We heard all the blooming rocks smash down through the bush – right after that I heard a bloke scream. I’d say there were some pretty bad injuries down there.”

A man has died and two others are trapped after an accident at Wentworth Falls. Photo: Seven News

National Parks director David Crust said the matter was now under investigation, describing it as “a tragic event.”

SafeWork NSW has been notified about the incident.

Large rocks previously fell on the National Pass walking track at Wentworth Falls in November last year.

The track, a popular attraction for 90,000 visitors every year, was then closed on August 31.

The closure was prompted by further signs of increasing instability, which were revealed in an assessment by geo-technical engineers that identified a “dangerous, unstable section of rock above the walking track”.

“Falls of this nature occur throughout the park and the procedures are to help ensure the safety of everyone,” NPWS Blue Mountains acting area manager Arthur Henry said at the time.

Police asked members of the public to avoid the area. Photo: AAP

Federal Court workers walk off the job in Newcastle, call for more money, better conditons

CPSU: MP Sharon Claydon talking to staff outside the Commonwealth Law Courts in Bolton St. Workers walked off the job for half an hour over fair pay and conditions. Picture: Simone De PeakNewcastle’s Federal Court staff stopped work on Wednesday, in protectedindustrial action seeking more money and better conditions.
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Staff walked off the job for the first time in decades, after69 per centof workers rejectedthe most recent enterprise agreement.

Outside theCommonwealth Law Courts in Bolton Street head organiser for the courts for the Community and Public Sector Union, Bronwyn Parris, said the strong rejection vote was a huge achievement.

“It has forced the courts into conciliation and that is a huge achievement, “ she said.

“We are hopeful now, with the assistance of the Fair Work Commission, we can move toward a fairer settlement.”

According to the CPSUthe current offer fails to deliver equity across the courts and cuts existing rights and conditions.

Federal Member for Newcastle Sharon Claydon, whohas backed the CPSU,attended the strike in Newcastle on Wednesday.

Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) members met with Federal Member for Newcastle @SharonClaydon outside the Commonwealth Law Courts to outline the conditions that have led to them taking strike action for the first time in decades. pic.twitter苏州夜总会招聘/eFxvO62b5D

— Newcastle Herald (@newcastleherald) November 29, 2017

“These workers have been pushed to the brink,” she said.

“They haven’t had a pay rise in four years and were recently asked to accept a pitiful one per cent increase and cuts to their working conditions.

“The fact that this workforce, which hasn’t taken industrial action in 25 years, is now being forced to strike shows just how serious the situation is.”

CPSU Deputy National President Rupert Evans said previous industrial action had alreadycaused significant disruption in the courts, with registries closed and hearings adjourned as a result of our members striking.

“It’s well and truly past time for the bosses to wake up to reality and work with us on a just outcome,” he said.

“The Federal Courts is one of very few agencies where bargaining remains in such a frustrating deadlock.

“We’re calling for Attorney-General George Brandis to step in and advise courts management to follow the lead set by other Commonwealth agencies that have successfully brokered agreements after belatedly recognising that retaining existing rights and conditions is the key to settlement.”

A spokesperson for the Office of the Attorney-General said “the federal courts are responsible for their own operation and management, including in relation to enterprise bargaining matters and therefore it would not be appropriate to comment.”

HistoryHunter’s lost churchesMike Scanlon

COMMUNITY CONCERN: Camberwell resident Deidre Olofsson outside St Clement’s in 2013.FEW things seem sadder in the Hunter Valley than a closed and apparently deserted church building.
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Over the years, with shifting populations, especially those following work in the coal industry, some prominent churches have shut their doors forever.

Then the inevitable happened. Some people remember a once busy church being closed at Greta, then being demolished, while others remember a similar solid Methodist church at Morpeth being torn down in the early 1970s.

But sometimes there is life after death, if you’ll pardon the pun.

A landmark Mayfield Anglican church dating from 1860 was also demolished, probably in the 1960s, and its graveyard also disappeared. In this case, however, a new church was built there to replace it.

But there’s not always a happy ending to old, deconsecrated church buildings.

New life: This striking former historic Presbyterian church in Minmi has been reinvented as a Coptic Orthodox Church.

I was reminded of the sorry sight of another ‘lost church’ while motoring up past Singleton recently. It was the fleeting glance caught from the highway of an historic and imposing church building almost hidden away on the slope of a hill.

I’d spied the former church of St Clement’s, just past the village of Camberwell, about 13 kilometres north west of Singleton.

It stood below where the New England Highway intersects with Glennies Creek Road and I went off to investigate because in such a relatively young nation as , this was reputed to be almost 160 years old, or maybe 170 years, when it was formally deconsecrated in 2013.

The sign at the gate on the drive down the dirt road to the former Anglican church of St Clement’s stated 1841/1842, indicating the adjoining cemetery may precede the church.

So, what’s the story behind it shutting forever? An arson attack forced the church’s closure in 2008. It was the beginning of a sorry saga of changing times and priorities

St Clement’s was then reputed to be the Hunter’s second oldest church. Officially it was built in 1843/1844, but only consecrated in 1855. Rather oddly, the earliest tombstones date from around 1860, but a lot more are from 20 to 30 years later. Perhaps the earliest burials are in now unmarked graves, or elsewhere.

For the nearby village of Camberwell – said to be named after a district of the same name in London – must have been a long way from anywhere in colonial times.

St Clement’s church was a real community cornerstone, as former Herald colleague Matthew Kelly discovered in May 2013 when the news broke that the church could soon be deconsecrated.

Kelly reported that nearby residents believed the church had then become a symbol of defiance of mining industry expansion, which threatened to swallow the village in the next decade.

Camberwell resident Deidre Olofsson (pictured) told the Herald at the time that local residents had been robbed of their spiritual home.

“It’s not just a place of worship, it’s an icon of what our community spirit is about,”

Parishioners said they had paid the church’s insurance premiums for many years and had fought to have it restored and reopened for regular services.

The Anglican diocese, however, argued the $375,000 insurance payout would not cover the repair costs plus other likely unforeseen costs. The money should be spent instead on other churches in the Singleton area.

Historic artefacts from the church were to be relocated and a trust fund set up to maintain St Clement’s as an historic site and keepthe cemetery open to the public.

But St Clement’s former parishioners remained angry right up to the church’s being deconsecrated in early July 2013.

The Herald reported that resident Wendy Noble, who had five generations of her family buried in the church cemetery as being “absolutely disgusted with what’s happened”.

Former St Clement’s warden Graeme Cheetham also said the decision was a disgrace. Earlier, he said. “We’re tried everything but they (the diocese) control the funds. It’s a beautiful old church that’s going to be left to rot. That’s the sin of it.”

Former parishioners also feared more local churches might suffer the same fate as St Clement’s as their congregations dwindled.

When Weekender visited the church site recently everything appeared neat externally but big, heavy metal bars had been installed to deter vandals. The church appeared empty, but a magnificent stained glass window could be glimpsed inside.

On the other side of the coin,at least two impressive former 19th century Minmi churches have been given a new lease of life. The small mining town west of Newcastle was like a ghost town for years after the area’s last mine abruptly closed in 1924.

The exodus of mining families, however, had begun in Minmi much earlier, in 1909 when the Maitland Coalfields opened.

As churches closed, St Andrews Presbyterian Church then seemed to become Minmi’s sole survivor. Today the church structure remains, but it’s now the St Mary and St George Coptic Orthodox Church (pictured).

Not far away, the historic former 1883 St John’s Church of England building hasbeen reinvented as a romantic getaway, oozing old world charm (plus in-ground pool), all for $185 a night.

But closer to Newcastle, there once was a building which underwent a more dramatic and unexpected role change.

Older Kotara South residents are likely to remember a disused Catholic church on the corner of Vista Parade and Greyson Avenue. In March 1978, this landmark church building had been vacant for 15 months.

The Newcastle Sunreported that the solid, but plain, church building with its high glass wall of 1960s-style coloured glass squares, was for sale for $30,000. It was a real bargain in anyone’s language. Part of its apparent value – besides the church building itself – was its huge land area.

At the time, the site couldn’t be developed for residential use because of its then land-zoning, which specified church use. There was talk of it becoming a church hall, although none of the other churches seemed interested in buying it.

The church land was the equivalent of about four residential building blocks. The property’s zoning must have eventually changed because homes cover the site today.

The solid brick church, however, had only a short life span of 13 years. It was used until the end of 1976 when services moved to a new $160,000 church nearby. The familiar Kotara South landmark was originally builtas a bathhouse for mineworkers at the local Crofton Colliery in 1952. It wasconverted to a church in 1963.

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Labor questions compensation for clubs while stadium built

Supplied renderings of proposed stadiums.Premier Gladys Berejiklian today announced Allianz and ANZ stadiums will be rebuilt and transformed into world-class facilities, keeping NRL Grand Finals in Sydney for at least the next 25 years.?? Ms Berejiklian said the investment would ensure NSW remains the number one destination for major sporting and entertainment events.NSW Labor is demanding to know how much taxpayer funding has been promised to three sporting clubs based at Moore Park to compensate them while a new stadium is built.
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The Berejiklian government announced last week that it would spend about $2 billion to replace Allianz Stadium at Moore Park and ANZ Stadium at Sydney Olympic Park.

Eighteen months ago, the three clubs – the Roosters (rugby league), Sydney FC (A-League soccer) and NSW Waratahs (rugby union) – warned loudly that being without a home stadium for years would have a disastrous impact on their business.

But the three clubs last week all welcomed the decision to build a new stadium at Moore Park, even though this would dislocate them for two or more years.

The change of heart by the clubs has prompted questions about how much taxpayers’ support they have been promised.

“The NSW government should reveal how much they’re compensating these clubs and if there’s more to come,” said NSW Opposition Leader Luke Foley, who is also a Roosters fan.

“The Berejiklian government has opened up the pot of gold for these clubs because of their ineptitude at unnecessarily upgrading both stadiums at the same time,” Mr Foley said.

“That’s less money for desperately needed schools and hospitals,” said the Labor leader, who has been campaigning on the issue at schools.

Last year, Waratahs chairman Roger Davis put the compensation bill for the three tenants at Allianz Stadium at up to $150 million if they were to be moved during construction.

“You’re talking about $600 million on a new stadium many would say you don’t need, then you’re talking about $100-$150 million in compensation,” Mr Davis toldThe n in March (paywall).

Mr Davis said the Waratahs had compensation clauses in their lease with the Sydney Cricket & Sports Ground Trust.

“We have a lease with the Trust for 16 years,” he said. “Why you would sign it for 16 if you’re going to be gone for four is a different issue.”

The three clubs said in a joint statement in April last year they would require “major levels of compensation” if their stadium was out of action for up to four years.

After the three clubs endorsed the stadium plan announced last week, The Sydney Morning Herald asked them about potential compensation.

In an email, a spokesman for Sydney FC said: “Compensation was discussed and will be worked through in the fullness of time.”

Other than that, the clubs have not addressed the issue.

The Herald asked Sports Minister Stuart Ayres whether any compensation for the three clubs would come on top of the $705 million allocated for the construction of the new stadium at Moore Park.

A spokeswoman for Mr Ayres said: “Fixtures for content displaced during the construction of both ANZ and Allianz Stadium will be determined by clubs and codes as is currently the case during the construction of the Western Sydney Stadium.”

One source said compensation for the affected tenants at Allianz could come via favourable future venue-hire agreements with the SCG Trust.

Another option might be government support to establish “high performance centres” in the nearby Entertainment Quarter.

The neighbouring Centennial and Moore Park Trust is running an expression of interest for the operation of the Hordern Pavilion and Royal Hall of Industries.

Chairman of the SCG Trust Tony Shepherd has said he would be “be happy to see the Swans or Roosters use the Hordern (or RHI), but that decision is up to other authorities.”

The Swans play at the adjacent Sydney Cricket Ground.

The n Institute of Architects, meanwhile, has criticised the proposal for two new stadiums.

“To demolish, rather than refurbish, seems like an extraordinary waste,” NSW chapter president Andrew Nimmo said.

McCartney appointed GWS list manager

Former Western Bulldogs list manager Jason McCartney has joined the Greater Western Sydney Giants.
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McCartney replaces Craig Cameron as list manager at the Giants. Cameron recently departed GWS to join the Gold Coast Suns.

“We are excited to have Jason join us,” GWS footy boss Wayne Campbell said.

“The work he and his team have done at the Bulldogs has been outstanding and we feel his character, work ethic and willingness to immerse himself in the Giants will make him a valuable addition to our club.”

McCartney thanked the Bulldogs for their support.

“It has been a great experience, and I’ve made some strong friendships over the last six years,” he said in a statement.

“An exciting opportunity has presented at Greater Western Sydney for my family and I, and I’m now looking forward to the next chapter of my career.”

There had been speculation about friction between McCartney and Bulldogs recruiting chief Simon Dalrymple, particularly as the Bulldogs’ premiership defence faltered and they missed finals.

Dalrymple is contracted until the end of 2019 but McCartney came off-contract after the draft.

The Bulldogs had split the roles of list management and recruiting, which other clubs have one person in charge, sparking speculation the pair have clashed over individual players and overall recruiting philosophy.

Chris Grant, the Bulldogs’ director of football, told Fairfax Media in September that the pair had “had their disagreements and difference of opinion over the years” but were “completely fine” when working together.

“On behalf of the club, I’d like to thank Jason for his valuable contribution to the Bulldogs over an extended period of time,” Grant said.

“We understand the role is a great opportunity for Jason and his family, we are very supportive of the decision he has made, and we wish him all the best for the next phase of his career.”

Landmark or eyesore? Queen’s Wharf Tower demolition exposes mixed views in Newcastle

Tower demolition call exposes mixed views LANDMARK OR EYESORE: An aerial photograph from 1991 showing Queen’s Wharf, which won an architectural award three years earlier. The wharf’s observation tower will be dismantled in the middle of next year.
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FADING: Mist shrouds the tower as a kayaker paddles by on Newcastle harbour.

FIRST DRAFT: An early model of the Queen’s Wharf design by Newcastle architect Kevin Snell.

MOVING FORWARD: A race car drives past the Queen’s Wharf Tower on Saturday during the Newcastle 500. Picture: Simone De Peak

CLEARING THE AIR: An artist’s rendering of how the wharf would look without the tower. Picture: Newcastle City Council

Before and after images of Queen’s Wharf with and without the tower. Image courtesy of Newcastle City Council

An artist’s rendering of how the tower-less wharf could look. Image courtesy of Newcastle City Council

TweetFacebookNewcastle Herald reported on Wednesday that the 40-metre observation tower would come down in the middle of next year after the council received a forecast maintenance bill of $1.6 million for the next four years, including $1.2 million to repaint it.

The news prompted a flood of memes, ribald jokes, poetry and even a rap song on social media as the city celebrated and mourned the loss of the phallus-shaped structure.

One Facebook follower suggested the city could celebrate the same-sex marriage “yes” vote by retaining the tower and erecting another one next to it.

A Herald online poll suggested the community was divided over the issue as 54per cent called for the tower to be retained and 46 per cent wanted it gone.

But lawmakers on different sides of politics said the time was right for the tower to be levelled.

Cr John MackenzieHerald readerscommented online that the tower was an “eyesore”, smelled like a toilet and was rarely used.

Others argued it was part of Newcastle’s culture and offered excellent views of the city and water.

Another suggested removing the building’s bulbous top to make it less evocative.

Bali volcano: Major eruption possible

Indonesian authorities are preparing to evacuate residents by force as Bali’s Mount Agung volcano threatens to erupt and ash-laden skies left hundreds of thousands of holidaymakers in limbo.
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The number of affected visitors on Wednesday totalled 120,000 as experts warned earlier that a major eruption was “imminent” and authorities closed Bali’s Ngurah Rai International Airport until Thursday morning.

Increased activity detected inside Mount Agung overnight suggests an eruption is likely, with volcanic rocks the size of fists reported at villages four kilometres from the summit on Tuesday afternoon.

Volcanic ash has also been detected up to seven kilometres in the skies above the summit of Mount Agung which is 72 kilometres from the popular holiday destination of Kuta.

The code red warning for air travel was downgraded, however, to orange – the second highest level – after initially being issued on Monday.

Indonesian authorities said they were preparing to evacuate some 60,000 residents by force after more than 100,000 residents within a 10-kilometre exclusion zone were ordered to evacuate on Monday.

Only 40,000 Balinese in the exclusion zone have heeded warnings.

Increased seismic activity was detected at the volcano overnight following reports on Tuesday evening of a 30-minute tremor inside the crater after a series of small eruptions that began last week.

Thousands of travellers, including many on schoolies trips, remain stranded in Bali with all flights in and out of Ngurah Rai International Airport grounded until further notice.

Victorian schoolies Jesse Williams and Connor Harvey said they were worried about not being able to come home but wouldn’t let the volcano spoil their holiday plans.

“We’re a bit worry about the volcano erupting, about our flight back, not about our safety here,” Harvey said.

“We’re fine here. We’re just gonna hang around Kuta, Seminyak.”

Qantas, Jetstar and Virgin advised passengers on Wednesday that all flights were cancelled for the day.

Ash from the volcano has blanketed the airport as well as local roads and buildings. Fifteen assembly points have been prepared around Bali in the event of a major eruption.

Mount Agung towers over eastern Bali at a height of just over 3000 metres and last erupted in 1963, killing more than 1000 people and razing several villages.

Bali, famous for its surf, beaches and temples, attracted nearly five million visitors last year but business has slumped in areas around the volcano since September when Agung’s volcanic tremors began to increase.

Many stranded n travellers say they are running out of funds and are missing important events back home.

One Perth family said they were missing their daughter’s primary school graduation and had spent hours at Ngurah Rai International Airport on Monday waiting for answers.

“Our Air Asia flight to Perth been cancelled today so we’ve been on the line close to three hours now. Ella just graduated from Year 6, so we’re trying to get to that.” Due to the significant volcanic ash and current weather conditions, Denpasar Airport is currently closed. As a result we have cancelled all flights between Bali and today and Thursday 30 November. More info is available on our Travel Alerts page. https://t苏州夜场招聘/LD8rC5LZdZ??? Virgin (@Virgin) November 28, 2017

Hunter Catholic staff to stop work over right to arbitration

HUNTER Catholic teachers and support staff will stop work for four hours next week, vowing to fight for their right to arbitration even if it means missing out on backpay of up to $2250before Christmas.
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NSW and ACT Independent Education Union branch assistant secretary Mark Northam saidmembersfrom 51 of the Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle’s 57 schools were expected toparticipate in the protected industrial action. “In a sense this has become a history-making dispute,” Mr Northam said.”No Catholic employer has ever put to votea non union endorsed agreement. This situation is due to their failure to get around a table and negotiate an outcome.”

Mr Northam said membersfrom most schools would stop work for four hours from the commencement of duties on Monday. They will attend meetings at Mayfield Bowling Club and Aberdeen Bowling Club. Membersfrom St Pius X Adamstown, St Peter’s Maitland, St Therese’s New Lambton, St Joseph’s Merriwa andSt Paul’s Gateshead will stop work on Tuesday. Membersfrom Holy NameForster will stop work on Wednesday.

Director of Schools Michael Slattery said he was “disappointed” about the action,but assured parents all children at affected schools will be supervised.

As previously reported, the IEU andCatholic Commission for Employment Relations (CCER) started negotiating late last year over a new three year enterprise agreement to start in 2017.

The IEU wanted a clause that allowed staff to seek arbitration in the Fair Work Commission over disputes.

The CCER has said there is no need to include arbitration in the agreement. It said the current process in place for the past seven years has resolved every dispute andis consistent with the Fair Work Act.”Iffor some reason it does stop working throughout the life of the new enterprise agreement, the CSO will be happy to work with the union to find ways to improve it,” Mr Slattery said. He encouraged staff to vote yes on the proposed agreement in its current formon December 5 and leavethe IEU and CCER to continue negotiations on the arbitration clause in 2018. “This way staff at Catholic schools can receive the financial benefit of the negotiated 2.5 per centincrease in remuneration and their back pay as soon as possible. The 11 dioceses have decided that we will not wait until the Fair Work Commission formally approves the enterprise agreement before we process pay increases, as this could take an extended period of time.”

Mr Northam saidmembers were “incited by what’s been offered to them and [the idea] that you can resolve a dispute by putting money into people’s hands or pockets”.

NRL: Newcastle Knights incorporate ‘yin’ yoga into pre-season training routinephotos

Knights stretching limits with yoga BEND AND STRETCH: Newcastle Knights players, including Nathan Ross, Jamie Buhrer and Daniel Saifiti, doing yoga at Balance City on Wednesday morning as part of pre-season training. Picture: Simone De Peak
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FLEXIBLE: Knights recruit Jacob Lillyman. Picture: Simone De Peak

POISE: Premiership-winner Slade Griffin. Picture: Simone De Peak

TweetFacebook“It means there’s a different voice delivering messages that we try to get across every week, trying to teach them how to stretch on top of our own techniques at training.

“I also like the discipline of yoga… not taking short cuts.

“This hopefully translates into other areas of their work and helps them to become more professional in their overall approach.”

Kenny-Dowall, who travelled to the “home of yoga” in the Indian Himalayan regionduring the off-season, was grateful for theWednesday morning addition having previously sought itout individually in a bid to continue his professional rugby league career.

“I tried to incorporate it [yoga] in my programs outside of the training I was doing and have probably done it for the last five years,” Kenny-Dowall said.

“I took it upon myself because I had a few injuries at the time and was looking for alternative methods to prolong my career.

“I really found yoga gave me a mental focus as well as a physical balance and realignment.

“I recently went over there [to India] and did a few classes and learned a lot off some masters which was a really good experience.

“So it’s amazing that Tony [Ayoub] and the Knights’ performance staff have been able to incorporate it into our training because it’s not another thing we have to doand it’salready helping the boys along.”

Danny Buderus Medal recipientBarnett, recovering from recentshoulder surgery, haslessexperience with yoga butwithin a month noticed the difference.

“I struggle a lot more with the old yoga because of my flexibility, but it has improved over the last four weeks,” Barnettsaid.

Meanwhile, the Knights are expected to announceon Thursdaythat they will play an NRL trial game at the redeveloped Maitland Sportsground in February.

SIGNINGS: Knights say room for Pearce and Lamb

NO SHOW: Cessnock recruit Carter misses court appearance

JAG: West Newcastle swoop on former internationalFrank Paul Nu’uausala

QUICK SINGLES: Triple headers part of revamped T20 program in Newcastle

RUNS: Wallsend’s Jacob Montgomery playing T20 last season. Picture: Jonathan CarrollTRIPLEheaders will be part of the revamped T20 program in Newcastle this summer.
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With the official launch imminent for the new competition, no longer featuringpremiership points, district clubs have been informed of the proposed format.

There aretwo pools of six teams with five preliminary rounds set acrossJanuary and February. This includesa mid-week match and two lots of back-to-back-to-back Sunday fixtures with three sides at one venue. Semi-finals and the decider will be played on the same day.

ROUND 8 FIXTURES: Wests v Cardiff, City v Toronto, Merewether v Wallsend, Hamwicks v Charlestown, Belmont v Waratah, University v Stockton.

* MASTERScompetition returned last week with a tie recorded between old rivals Charlestown (9-136) and Belmont (8-136).

The two clubs dominated first grade proceedings in Newcastlefor more than a decade from 1980-1981 and they sparked memories of those fierce battles at Kahibah Oval on Wednesday afternoon.

Hamwicks, Merewether, City and Toronto were the other first-round winners of the five-week competition.

* STREAKERS stole the show for a while at Wallsend Oval on Saturday.

A few young men dumped their bikes andstripped bare before running across the ground as the Tigers held on to defeat Stockton.

* JED Dickson will captain Charlestown in their upcoming round-eight encounter away against Hamwicks with regular leader Steve Mace unavailable.

* NEWCASTLE representative skipper Mark Littlewood not only returned home with the NSW Country Championships trophy after Sunday’s victory but also the Mark Curry Medal for player of the final after top scoring with 59.