Festival fires up the west

Sydney Festival■ Archie Roach
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Archie Roach is celebrated as one of Australia’s most gifted artists. Since his 1990 debut he has released more albums and toured with the likes of Bob Dylan, Billy Bragg and Patti Smith. At the festival, Roach will perform songs from his new album Into The Bloodstream and will be accompanied by a 13-piece music ensemble and a 10-voice Gospel choir. Date: Australia Day, at The Parade Ground at Old King’s. Cost: Free.

■ Briefs

A disorderly line-up of Australia’s finest performers and mischief-makers in a circus-infused variety show for the not-so-faint- hearted. Date: From January 18 to 27 at the Salon Perdu Spiegeltent, in Prince Alfred Park, Parramatta. Cost: $40.

■ Lah-Lah

Lovable characters Buzz the Bandleader, Lola the dancing double bass, Tom Tom the drums, Mister Saxophone and Squeezy Sneezy the accordion join their ring leader Lah-Lah in a musical spectacular that kids will love. Date: Australia Day, January 26, from 7pm, at The Parade Ground at Old King’s. Cost: Free.

■ Leah Flanagan

Leah Flanagan will sing a collection of songs from her latest album Midnight Muses. The album was inspire by poet Sam Wagan Watson’s award-winning work Smoke Encrypted Whispers. Date: January 20 at the Salon Perdu Spiegeltent. Cost: $30.

■ Lianne La Havas

Londoner Lianne La Havas will perform her neo soul teamed with folk-pop hits which feature off her Mercury Prize-nominated album, Is Your Love Big Enough?. Date: January 22 and January 23, at 7pm, at the Salon Perdu Spiegeltent.

Cost: $35.

■ The New Mendicants

Norman Blake and Joe Pernice, who make up The New Mendicants will have you in awe when they perform new material.

Date: January 26 at 7pm and 27 at 5pm, at Salon Perdu Spiegeltent. Cost: $35.

■ Parra Opening Party

The heart of Parramatta will be transformed into an extravaganza. Bring the kids and enjoy an afternoon of music and activities in and around Riverside Theatres. Explore The Megaphone Project along Church Street; listen to a symphony of car stereos by composer Matthew Timmis in Car-Cophony and visit Prince Alfred Park. Date: January 19.

Cost: Free.

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Past graces and haunts historical sites in district

Elizabeth Farm Norine Collins and Trevor Patrick at Hambledon Cottage, Rosehill. Picture: Gene Ramirez
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St Bartholomews Church, Prospect. The church contains the tomb of explorer, William Lawson. Picture: Peter Rae

Elizabeth Farm

WESTERN Sydney is home to many historical sites for residents and tourists to enjoy its heritage, arts and culture in buildings and open spaces.

A great place to start is the Blacktown Arts Centre and the Visitor Information and Heritage Centre in Flushcombe Road.

People are directed to the Alroy Tavern at Rooty Hill Road, Plumpton; the Battle of Vinegar Hill Monument at Windsor Road, Rouse Hill, the Blacksmith Shed at Nurragingy Reserve in Doonside; Minchinbury Place at Great Western Highway in Minchinbury; Prospect Reservoir, Rouse Hill House and Farm in Rouse Hill; St Bartholomew’s Church at Prospect, The Manse at Mt Druitt; and The Royal Cricketers Arms Inn at Prospect.

One of the historical highlights is a hair-raising ghost tour on New Year’s Eve at Blacktown’s historic Saint Bartholomew’s Church from 6pm. A guide will take people through St Bartholomew’s Church graveyard which is home to the graves of many early settlers, most famously William Lawson, one of the first group of Europeans to cross the Blue Mountains, and Thomas Willmot, the first shire president of Blacktown.

The night starts at 6pm and costs $35 a person. Dinner at the church is at 6.30pm, followed by the ghost tour and to finish just before the fireworks at midnight to welcome in the new year.

You can spend a beautiful night out at St Bartholomew’s, and if it’s a clear night, you may see the spectacular fireworks display over Sydney Harbour and the Parramatta River.

Ghost tours are conducted by The Guides of St Bartholomew’s. Bookings are essential. For more information or bookings contact 9839 6000.

The best introduction to Parramatta’s heritage sites and stories is at the Heritage Centre at 346A Church Street Parramatta.

You will find information about area’s history explained through photos, stories and artefacts. There is a local studies library, a gallery space, activities, workshops, and a visitor information centre providing maps, guide books and advice.

■Experiment Farm Cottage stands on the site of the first land grant in Australia, made in 1789 by Governor Phillip to James Ruse.

■Elizabeth Farm is a rare example of an early Australian colonial bungalow built in 1793 for John and Elizabeth Macarthur, pioneers of the Australian wool industry.

■Hambledon Cottage was built by John Macarthur in 1824 as a second house on his Elizabeth Farm Estate.

Its many early occupants include Sir Edward Macarthur, Archdeacon Thomas Hobbes Scott and Dr Matthew Anderson.

■Step back 190 years in time, to when Governor Lachlan Macquarie was governor and visit historic Lancer Barracks . Lancer Barracks has been home to the 1/15th Royal NSW Lancers for well over 100 years, giving rise to their nickname, he Parramatta Lancers

The Lancers is Australia’s oldest surviving and most decorated regiment.

For more information, call 9635 8149, during business hours or 0416 026 816 after hours .

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Ferry ride secret’s out

Great family outing: Brett Dunne (right) and partner Julie Sloan take their boys Clancy (front) and Sam on a tour of the Parramatta River. Picture: Gene RamirezWORD is starting to spread with tourists that a ride on the Parramatta Ferry is one of Sydney’s best-kept secrets.
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Until recently tourist guide books ignored the Parramatta River service in favour of more popular ferry journeys to Manly or Balmain.

But attitudes towards the Parramatta River are changing thanks to a big clean-up and tourist numbers are growing with people wanting to cross the city in a more leisurely manner.

One family keen to get off the beaten track was Cobar couple Brett Dunne and his partner Julie Sloan.

The pair took their children to Sydney for the first time in December with their youngest son Sam needing an operation at Westmead Children’s Hospital.

Following the advice of a hospital nurse Mr Dunne decided to take a different route on their way back to city.

“It’s a great way to see the city and get away from the busy roads and train lines,” Mr Dunne said.

“Coming from country NSW we enjoy a bit of water because we’re so used to seeing fields of red dirt.”

Hopping on at Parramatta Charles Street interchange, the Dunne family lapped up the warm boating weather on their one and a half hour journey to Circular Quay.

Mr Dunne said the ferry let his family escape the busy crowded streets and sail under the Sydney Harbour Bridge for some essential tourist photos.

“I drive a road-train back home and my partner is a full-time waitress so it’s nice to relax and unwind a bit,” Mr Dunne said. “My boys Sam and Clancy seem to like it.”

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Looking for something to do: here’s what’s on this weekend

Friday
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Lunchtime Recital: The F-Sharps – Pat Frank on piano, Greg Frank on recorder, Susan Agland and Rob Doyle on vocals, performing solo items and singalong with a Christmas flavour, Glasshouse, 12.30pm, free

Bounty Hunters: Laurieton Hotel, 8pm, free

Ham Raffle: Port Macquarie Golf Club, 6pm

Crank: Port Macquarie Golf Club, 7pm, free

Ham Raffle: Wauchope Country Club, 7pm

Ham Raffle: Laurieton United Services Club, 6.30pm

DJ Bobby Dazzler: Port Macquarie Hotel, Town Green, 9pm, free

Russell Churcher: Paws Lounge, Port Macquarie Panthers, 7.30pm, free

Benjalu: Finnian’s Irish Tavern, 8.30pm, free

Gotcha Covered: Riverview Tavern, 7.30pm, free

The Roys: Port City Bowling Club,8pm, free

Riff Raff: Tacking Point Tavern, 8pm, free

Photographic Exhibit: SunsetGallery, until January 6, 2/11 Murray Street, free

Hastings Valley Fine Arts Gallery: 1a Murray Street, Port Macquarie, Summer exhibit Thursday to Sunday, 10am until 4pm, free

Diversity Exhibit: Blue Poles Gallery & Cafe, 1086 Comboyne Road, Byabarra, until January 30

Glasshouse Gallery: Light Sensitive Material – Works from the Verghis Collection – photographic, light and digital media, until January 20, 2013. B is for Bird – contemporary art inspired by birds; 2012 Ranamok Glass Prize; both until February 3, 2013. Hours – Friday 10am until 5pm, Saturday

and Sunday 10am until 4pm, free

It’s Friday I’m in Love: Tasty Tunes at Zebu Bar + Grill, 5pm, $8 cocktail, $4 domestic beer, $10 tasting plates

Party with DJ Sav: Down-

Under Nite Club, free entry early

Saturday

Combined Sing Australia Carolers: High Street, Wauchope, 11am

Hastings Farmers’ Markets: Wauchope Showground, 8am until noon.

Young Family Carnival: Westport

Park, 6pm until 10pm, untilJanuary 26

Carols at the Racecourse: Port Macquarie Racecourse, gates open 5pm for kids’ fun and stalls, carols from 6.30pm, free

OMG!: Finnian’s Irish Tavern, 8.30pm, free

Glen Crosby: Wauchope Country Club, 7pm

Skateboard Workshop: Laurieton Skateboard Park, 9am until

11am, free

The Shuffle Boys: Paws

Lounge, Port Macquarie Panthers, 7.30pm, free

Gotcha Covered: Port City Bowling Club, 7.30pm, free

All Soul’d Out: With DJ Ollie Brook and special guests, Zebu Bar + Grill, 8pm, cocktails $10

St James Cottage Crafts: Opposite Blue Poles Cafe & Art Gallery, Comboyne Road, 9.30am until 2pm

Sunday

Young Family Carnival: Westport Park, 6.30 nightly until January 26

Coastside Carols: Coastside Church lawn, 6pm,

kids’ fun, Santa and carols and fireworks, free

Hussy’s Hicks: Laurieton Hotel, 3pm, free

The Blackbirds: Tacking Point Tavern, 3pm until 7pm, free

Sunday Ham Raffles: Port Macquarie Panthers at noon, The Westport Club at 4pm, $1 for five tickets

Playing for Change: Scampis Seafood Bar & Grill, 1pm until 3pm, free

Port Macquarie Art Society Market Bazaar: Hamilton House, 198 Hastings River Drive, 8am until 1pm

The carols are on at the port Macquarie Race Course this Saturday.

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The secret life of a fashion blogger

Fashion fanatic Kate Lawrence is happy with her blog achievement for 2012. Photo: AMY MCINTYREIT is a credit to the original form of social media that it has been able to survive and flourish amid the advent of platforms like Facebook and Twitter.
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Blogs, online journals readily available on the web for unlimited use, remain in heavy competition against sources much more instantaneous in its information.

But while a program like Instagram is now at the wrath of its users for imposing on the freedoms of using it, the blog is continuing to flourish.

Dubbo teacher Kate Lawrence found herself interested in blogs first as an outlet for documenting travels.

In 2012 she wanted to take her blogging experience further, and her wish to combine loves of fashion and writing led to her blog One Day Dress.

“The idea was that every day of the academic year I would wear a different outfit,” she said.

Also inspired by her students’ previous comments on her clothes, it formed into something of a fun challenge for Miss Lawrence.

“It was something I wanted to do intentionally… and I managed for 200 days,” she said.

Miss Lawrence could wear an item more than once if necessary but never in the same way.

Her style was never the same; her wardrobe largely stocked from a range of purchases online and in stores during travels.

“I don’t follow anything, I have a mish mash of patterns, lots of polka dots, I love my prints,” Miss Lawrence said.

“I dress based on my emotions a lot – I wear colour because I know everyone else will be in black and grey.”

Her favourite outfits overall were worn in the first half of the challenge, which utilised a mix of floaty dresses and bright pink tights.

The reaction to her blog throughout the year was better than she expected, gaining support from fellow fashion bloggers as well as general readers.

The help of newer media platform Pinterest to share her photos also helped spread the word about the blog, something Miss Lawrence was grateful for.

However, challenges very quickly reared their head as winter rolled around, where there were days more worthy of trackpants and ugg boots.

There was also a case of unwarranted negative feedback that affected Miss Lawrence towards the end of the year, but took it in her stride and continued as normal.

“There were days where I had nothing fashion-related to write, so I would write personal stories, or anecdotes,” Miss Lawrence said.

“Some days I just didn’t feel like writing anything.

“My social life is very important to me, so there would be three or four days’ worth not done and I would have to catch up.”

With weekends free to dress how she liked, Miss Lawrence always had enough time off to regroup and get back into the spirit of the task.

“At least the boys in one of my classes were avidly commenting in the end, saying they had seen it before, so I had funny reactions,” she said.

Actually managing to change the contents of her wardrobe every day to a different tune ultimately left an overwhelming sense of satisfaction.

Speaking to Miss Lawrence a week after having completed her year-long journey, she felt relieved but excited for having stuck out the experience.

“It’s nice that I’m at the end… I feel like my life’s missing something now,” she said.

But would she do a blog like this again?

“I don’t have the funds (for clothes) to justify it,” she laughed.

“I do have a couple of projects I want to take on though.”

To see Kate Lawrence’s 2012 adventure, visit onedaydress.wordpress南京夜网.

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A little bit of Christmas cheer falls to the strength of song

PARKES, in company with a few other towns throughout Australia, has found a way to keep its shoppers happy in the days before Christmas.
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Loudspeakers around the central business district have been playing Christmas carols.

The sounds have encouraged shoppers to embrace the Christmas spirit.

Whether they spent more was, no doubt, a side issue, but it’s an idea that other country towns might think of embracing, if they haven’t done so already.

I have in my file of useless information an old newspaper clipping regarding a Jewish man’s unsuccessful attempt to stop a school Christmas concert which featured carols.

Carols can be sung at times other than Christmas.

The word can be traced to the Greek choraules, with choros representing dance and aulos meaning flute, or reed instrument.

Carole moved into English in 1300 to represent dancing, with the dancers singing to the music.

Often the dancers formed circles, holding hands, leading some etymologists to suggest a historical connection with the Latin word corolla, meaning little crown or garland. Others dispute this interpretation.

The Oxford Dictionary defines carol as a ring dance with song, hence a song usually with joyous strain, a song or hymn of joy.

It dates the Christmas carol from 1502.

Early Christmas carols were sung in English or Latin and frequently in a mixture of both.

Jingle Bells is one of the better known Christmas songs, but it was not written for Christmas.

It was written to be sung for Thanksgiving.

Medford Historical Society in Massachusetts says it was written by James Lord Pierpont in 1850 in High Street, Medford, under the title of One Horse Open Sleigh.

The society says it was inspired by sleigh races, described in some places as “drag racing”, conducted in Medford in the 1800s.

Part of the first verse is:

Dashing through the snow

In a one-horse open sleigh

O’er the fields we go

Laughing all the way.

Part of another verse says:

A day or two ago

I thought I’d take a ride

And soon, Miss Fanny Bright

Was seated by my side.

Pierpont later became music director of the Unitarian Church in Savannah, Georgia.

A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens, was published for the first time on December 19, 1843.

In 1939 Bob May, an employee of the Chicago-based mail order firm of Montgomery Ward, was asked to create a lovable character for a children’s Christmas book and, despite his personal problems with a terminally ill wife, he came up with Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer.

Johnny Marks wrote the words of the song in 1949 and Gene Autry made it famous.

Silent Night, Holy Night came about after mice had eaten away part of the bellows at a church in Oberndorf, Austria, in 1818, on the day of the Christmas Eve mass.

Father Josef Mohn asked schoolteacher Franz Gruber to set to music a poem he had written on the theme of Christmas, but it had to be ready for that night.

The two performed the carol that night as a duet with their own guitar accompaniment.

Many quotes exist about Christmas.

Comedian Jay Leno commented that Washington DC didn’t have a nativity scene because “they couldn’t find three wise men and a virgin”.

Did you send Christmas cards this year?

Reports from the United States said the White House sent out 6 million cards.

Regardless of religious affiliation, we should all be able to come together at Christmas and share the goodwill that is so evident in our Christmas carols.

Rejoicing in the beliefs of one group of people does not have to represent an attempt to destroy another group’s beliefs.

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Antarctic adventurer passes peacefully

DAVID Osmond Keyser died peacefully at his Northam home onThursday, November 22, after a short battle with brain tumours.
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He and his wife Barbara moved to town nine years ago and investedin local commercial property.

David had a huge range of interests and so did not have timeto make a large circle of local friends.

The result is that not many were aware of his fascinating,even heroic, history.

His crowning achievement was being a radio operator with the1959 and 1961 expeditions to the Australian Antarctic Territory at MacquarieIsland and Mawson bases.

Previously he had been in the navy, in radio communications,and a flight service officer with the then-Department of Civil Aviation.

Little wonder he was snapped up for Antarctic service.

Most of David’s exploration work was done from Mawson base.

He travelled with three significant field trips coveringalmost 3000 kilometres by dog sled over a total period of more than six months.

He was one of a four-man, two-dog sled team which completedthe first 920 kilometres return trip to Cape Boothby.

He was also one of a five-man, two-dog sled team toundertake the emperor penguin count at Auster Rookery about 30km off theAntarctic coast.

His major journey, frommid-November 1961 to January 27, 1962,was a geological reconnaissance of theSouthern Prince Charles Mountains.

The party of, with two sleds and 12 dogs, made the only landcrossing of the Fischer Glacier, made the only ascent of Mount Menzies, thehighest peak in the eastern Australian Antarctic Territory, Mount Fischer andachieved the first geological survey of both the Mount Menzies and MountBayliss massifs.

It was an unassisted return field trip of around 1750kilometres without any contact except for David’s nightly “skeds” and was thelongest unsupported dog-sled journey in Australian history.

David, born in Harvey in 1934, grew up in Mullewa in whatwere tough times.

Aged 17 he joined the navy – and hated it, deeply wounded bythe cruelty meted out to him as a lad from the bush.

But he did see Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra and coastal partsof Papua-New Guinea as well as gaining radio communications skills.

After leaving the navy he joined the Department of CivilAviation (DCA) as a flight service officer.

He met Barbara in Melbourne, after his second Antarcticstint, and they married after a whirlwind romance.

After living in Perth, David took a DCA job in Papua-NewGuinea for eight years and the couple , now with their daughter Yolanthe, livedin Lae, Madang and Port Moresby.

David was an avid reader and collector.

He collected cars – Alfa Romeo, MG, Peugeot, Wolsley,Daimler, Jaguar and Rover.

Cooking was another of his skills – green lamingtons onMacquarie Island, through to Moroccan, Argentinian and Indian dishes.

He had an eclectic record collection and was an astute real-estateinvestor.

Negotiations are now almost concluded to allow David’s ashesto be scattered in the area he worked in Antarctica.

David Keyser at a reunion of Antarctic staff.

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Nigel Parker has returned to Lithgow High after 40 years

SHARING our life stories and being positive rolemodels can inspire young people at the mostcrucial time of their lives.
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These were the words and wishes from NigelParker when he returned to Lithgow High anddelivered an enthusiastic speech to Year 10 and11 studentsduring an informal assembly.

He spoke openly and candidly about hishumble upbringing and his time and memoriesat Lithgow High School.

His aim was to inspire students to becomebetter citizens and he used his own personalexperiences as inspiration.

Mr Parker talked with reference to how eachday is a new day and how everyone of has theability to change their passion and paths in life.

He also spoke about working hard to achievegoals and realising nothing is ever just handedto you without hard work.

It can help young people gain insight intotheir own purpose, passion and path in life, onething absent for many people contemplatingtheir post-school options is contact with peoplewho have already been there.

“The educational needs of young people aremore diverse and complex than ever before,” MrParker said.

Mr Parker spent his infant and primary yearsat Cooerwull Primary School as he and his familyresided close to there before he enteredLithgow High School and graduated from 6thform (now Year 12) in 1972, 40 years ago almostto the day.

In graduating from this high school Mr Parkermatriculated to the then three universities inSydney and the Australian National University.

After he selected the University of NSW andcompleted a Bachelor of Commerce degree andsubsequently a Master of Commerce degreefrom the same university Mr Parker also becamea Fellow of The Institute of CharteredAccountants in Australia.

Over the past 40 years Mr Parker has spentmost of this time internationally in many countries:the Middle East, Thailand, China, SriLanka, USA and now in Papua New Guinea forthe second time.

RETURN: Nigel Parker, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer Ok Tedi Mining was welcomed Back to Lithgow High School for the day and is pictured with vice captain Bridget Cama and Joycelyn Kuban.

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Youngsters wowed them at concert

LA BELLE School of Dancing recently performedin their annual concert at the Mary MacKillop ofthe Cross Hall at St Patrick’s School.
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The students were eager to show everyone whattalents they have (and they have many).

The hall was packed with family and friendseager to watch the talented young performers andthey weren’t disappointed.

The talented performers included BreeanaJenkins, returning from her tour of the UnitedStates with the Australian Institute of PerformingArts.

The students have had a fantastic year performingat St Patrick’s School Fete, the Lithgow Show,Lithgow Public School Fete, Gulgong Eisteddfod,Orange Eisteddfod, Bathurst Eisteddfod andWellington Eisteddfod.

Notable mentions include Georgina Wills whonot only won over 18 firsts at Bathurst but took outthe Junior Tap, Ballet and Jazz Championships aswell as the Age Scolarship.

Jessika Ray was placed second in the the SeniorTap Championship as well as many awards in hersections.

Teoni Schleibs, Leah Edwards, Brenner andBrooklin Jenkins, Montana Morgan, Mia Healey,Lucy Duggan, Jessica-Rose Lutschini and AlaquaTaylor have also brought home a swag of medalsbetween them.

Miss Gwen’s Senior Tap Troupe, who performedat the concert, won the Senior Tap Troupe sectionsat Bathurst and Orange gaining over 90 marks.

The most improved dancers of the school arethe Junior Jazz Group who not only performed forthe first time in a competition but came away withglowing reports from the adjudicator and the firstprize for their Jazz Group Section, literally bringingthe house down.

A big congratulations to all students and teachersfor the hard work they have put in throughoutthe year.

JUST DANCE JAZZ GROUP: Lily Hazell, Tayliah Collins, Tiarna Wright, Zoe Walsh, Alaqua Taylor, Isabella McIntyre, Brooklin Jenkins and Kiera Gray.

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Engineering gets boost

Fast tracked: Megan Kirk, Chris Jenkins, Laura Kirk and Josh Crawford with the model car that will take them to the national titles of the F1 in Schools competition. Picture: Jane DysonBUDDING engineers will get hands-on experience in their chosen field at a new design and engineering centre at Engadine High School.
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Kaye Denham, the head of the school’s technology and applied studies department, said the school offered engineering from years 9 to 12 and had invested heavily in students’ learning.

The school’s investment in the engineering course is already paying dividends. A number of former students were building successful careers in the industry which was suffering a shortage of workers.

The school has been involved in the F1 in Schools program for several years.

The program aims to change the perception of engineering, science and technology as careers through Formula One racing, with teams charged with designing and building a model racing car.

The school has fielded four teams since 2008. One of those, Rapid Motion, recently went to Abu Dhabi for the world titles of the F1 in Schools competition, where they came fourth overall, fifth in the engineering category and first for their team collaboration with a German team.

Motion Racing recently won the state title and will compete at the national titles in February.

Ms Denham said the school had been supportive of the technology and applied studies department, which takes in engineering, design and technology, and industrial technology, including metal and wood technology.

The school recently bought a $28,000 router and a $25,000 laser cutter.

Ms Denham said the school received support from Re-Engineering Australia, a body set up to entice more people into engineering careers, as well as companies and mentors who worked with students.

School principal Joanne Jarvis said the old engineering lab was in desperate need of a facelift.

“The design and technology part of the school is probably the most expensive to upgrade,” she said.

Where design and technology was once about “developing skills for the future of manufacturing and trade” it was now about “innovations and creativity and solving problems”.

She said schools generally had not kept up with the changes. Engadine High School had taken matters into its own hands, knocking down a wall between the old engineering lab and the computer lab.

The new space will be finished by the middle of 2013 to coincide with a spike in the number of students studying engineering.

“We had 27 students in year 9 doing engineering in 2012. I will need to run two classes in 2013 to keep up with demand,” Ms Jarvis said.

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Matt Maloney’s summer playlist

Summer is here – sort of – and it’s time to whip out some classic summer tunes.
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X-Static team members have each selected five of their favourite summer-flavoured songs for you to download on your iPod to get in the mood for good times in the sun.

Reporter MATT MALONEY this week leads the charge with some classic and some questionable choices:

A good deal of time this summer will be spent on my deck, cranking my ever-growing monster music library from late morning to late evening – with the old 3am blast too.

Any enthusiastic music dilettante has a song for every occasion and might even have their funeral playlist sequenced.

Determined not to die this summer, here are a few songs you might expect to hear if I’m lounging around outside.

Higher Than The Sun – Primal Scream:

Having just seen this Scottish institution play in Melbourne recently, I’d say put all of their albums on this summer.

If you don’t have access to the extensive back catalogue, make sure you track down this song, off the 1991 breakthrough album Screamadelica.

Amongst the feelgood tracks, and downers, on that amazing release is this drifting house song about tripping out.

I challenge you not to be filled with warmth listening to this track.

“My soul’s an oasis higher than the sun”

Wild In The Streets – the Circle Jerks:

Keith Morris is a freaking legend and any album by this group can start a party.

Their songs were high-octane, energetic and frenetic and no song makes you want to guzzle a stubby – or start a riot – more than the song, Wild In The Streets.

“64 valiant, hand full of Valiums, couple of beers really do me right.”

Santeria – Sublime:

Like Primal Scream, every Sublime song works over summer.

A Sublime fan never grows tired of this song, particularly because it was the first single to be released after frontman Brad Nowell died.

If you are going to play this song this summer, you should probably just play the entire self-titled album – the band’s major label debut and swan song.

“What I really want to say I can’t define, well, it’s love that I need.”

Surfin Dead – The Cramps:

There aren’t too many weeks when I don’t want to listen to The Cramps.

Over summer, the psychobilly band is in high rotation.

This song was a one-off track recorded for classic 80s film, Return Of The Living Dead, and has a beautifully off-beat sound suited perfectly for summer.

The opening line is classic Cramps too:

“Ah, my favourite brain soup – cream of nowhere”

Summer Rain – Belinda Carlisle:

For friends who already know my Xanadu obsession, this will come as no surprise: I love the 80s girl group, the Go Gos.

This song, performed when Belinda Carlisle went solo, is – to quote a colleague – “epic mega”.

Summer Rain is not played in pubs or at parties enough these days.

Please unearth it.

“Somewhere in my heart I’m always dancing with you in the summer rain.”

WARNING: Some videos contain coarse language.

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Samurai-sword wielding Christmas tree grower

Keng Tan, the Christmas Tree man, demonstrates the unusual way he prunes his Christmas trees – with a samurai sword!Christmas is a big deal in our home, so, earlier this month when it was decided that the relatives would be pulling bon bons at our house this year, Mrs Yowie Man decided an extra effort had to be made.
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The first casualty of our pre- Christmas spruce-up was the dilapidated old plastic tree that for most of the year props up cobwebs in the attic. This year, it was to be replaced by a real Christmas tree.

Now, this presented a significant challenge for me. Not because the plastic tree was a sentimental heirloom (although I’ve still got the Kmart box it came in if anyone wants it), and not because I’m averse to the distinctive aroma of freshly cut pine, rather because I am prone to excessive bouts of procrastination.

What tree should I choose? To make matters worse, the relatives are from the United States, where the real Christmas tree is a much bigger tradition than here in Australia. In fact, for some Americans, having the best-decorated tree is almost as big as Christmas itself, So last weekend, armed with an explicit brief to bring back a tree ‘‘that everyone would be impressed by’’, I made the short journey up the Federal Highway to Keng’s Christmas Tree Farm at Bywong.

I’d read that Keng’s supplies the trees for many of Canberra’s more prestigious customers, including Parliament House. If the trees at this place were good enough for Julia and Tony to stick their presents under then surely it would meet the approval of the most discerning of relatives?

As I pull up at the farm gate, I’m met by the likeable owner, Keng Tan. Wanting to make sure I’m well versed in the history of any tree I choose here (a good Christmas lunch topic to impress the in-laws) I enthusiastically enquire about the origins of Keng’s trees. It’s soon obvious that Keng knows his trees.

‘‘I’ve chosen the provenances that are best suited for Christmas trees,’’ explains the now retired public servant, whose career included a lengthy stint at CSIRO Forestry. I further quiz Keng as to what makes a good tree. ‘‘Both colour and shape,’’ he replies before claiming, with a smirk on his face, that he hand prunes and shapes each tree with … a samurai sword!

‘‘It’s a tribute to my maternal grandmother who is Japanese and has one of the 36 samurai surnames (hers being Kato),’’ deadpans Keng.

He continues to entertain me with stories about the farm’s origins. ‘‘Nine years ago, I stocked my three dams with 400 Murray cod, 200 golden perch and 100 silver perch and planted thousands of pines trees,’’ Keng says.

‘‘My retirement plan was to spend my days catching fish and watching the trees go.’’ Keng’s piscatorial prowess hasn’t proved too successful, confessing that he has only caught two fish from his dams.

‘‘Can you believe that! Only two fish out of all those fish,’’ he mutters, shaking his head in disbelief, just as a cormorant with a suspiciously large belly dives into one of his dams.

As for the trees? Well they’ve done a lot better, and despite the prolonged drought, recent rains have his current stock of about 5000 trees looking in good nick.

But which one to chose? And what colour stand should I buy to complement the tree? Red? Or green? There’s too much choice.

By now, it’s 4pm and Keng has other (less demanding) customers to deal with. He hands me a handsaw (you get to cut your own tree here if you like) and wishes me luck. I head off, wandering aimlessly through the trees, saw at the ready,

Will that one be okay, will that one look better? I can’t decide. Each tree I look at is either too small, too tall, or is too bushy,

Will Sarah (my three-year-old) like it? What about the mother-in-law – she needs to reach the top of the tree to put the angel on. That one looks nice, but will it fit all the decorations?

After three hours and with the rain pouring down again, I trudge back, empty-handed, to the gate.

Sensing my predicament, Keng explains that, ‘‘some customers take just a minute or two to choose a tree and then they’re off, whereas others make a trip of it, bring a picnic and the whole family walk around the farm before deciding which tree they want.’’ I explain to Keng that I must return with ‘‘a tree to impress’’ and almost as a joke, he responds by pointing towards the gatehouse that he and his wife run as a farm stay.

Under the circumstances, it’s an offer I can’t refuse.

‘‘We have many tourists who stay in our Christmas Tree Cottage, but you are the only person who has stayed here while trying to decide on a tree,’’ teases Keng as he hands me the keys for the night. Ten minutes later, sitting on the deck watching the rain tumble over the trees, I eventually conjure up know that my tree-buying exercise is going to take, well, a little longer than I thought.

Not surprisingly, I’m delivered an ultimatum – ‘‘be home by 8am with a tree, or not at all.’’ It’s almost dark now; I grab my torch (usually reserved for more professional nocturnal pursuits such as animal spotlighting) and Driza-Bone and creep through the head-high stands of radiate.

The light reflects off tiny droplets of water on the tips of the pine needles – twinkling, almost as if they are fairy lights. Finally, at around 9.30pm I find the perfect tree. It ticks all the boxes. I gleefully mark it with some ribbons so to easily identify it next morning and scurry back to the cottage.

To the sound of rain tumbling on the roof I try to sleep.

Normally this would be a comforting sound, but it merely adds to my procrastination-induced insomnia as I toss and turn, still wondering if I’ve chosen the right tree.

In the morning, still wiping sleep from my eyes (I did eventually catch a few hours, although I did have a dream that Keng overzealously pruned my tree in the dead of the night), I make a dash to the tree I’d marked the evening before.

Phew! It’s still there.

The rain hasn’t affected it, and more importantly Keng hasn’t taken to it in some secret midnight samurai pruning rage. In fact it looks just as it did last night. Just perfect.

With 8am fast approaching, I pull out the saw and hack away at its trunk and with a triumphant thud it crashes into the grass.

Yippee, I’ve done it! I load it up in the back of my Jeep and finally, about 16 hours after first arriving, head for home. Just as I cross the border, I realise I’ve forgotten to buy a stand for the tree. Somehow, I don’t think I’ll be given the job of going back for it.

Keng’s Christmas Tree Farm: 242 Shingle Hill Way, Bywong (about 20 minutes north of Civic). Phone: 6236 9689. For directions: www.christmastreekeng南京夜网.au Trees $50 each (no EFTPOS) and stands are $35 (green) and $45 (red). Open 9am – 5pm weekends, and 10am – 6pm weekdays.

Please note: This is an updated version of a story that first appeared in hard copy-only in The Canberra Times in December 2010.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Motorcycle champ fails licence test

Marcus Ambrose has had a strong year in Nascar despite a rich-list slide.Testing times
Nanjing Night Net

Former motorcycle world champion Wayne Gardner this week tweeted to his followers news that will give hope to anyone who has failed their driving test. It seems Gardner, who won the 1987 500cc world championship on two wheels and was pretty handy on four (he took pole at Bathurst in 2000), may not quite have got the hang of driving on the right-hand side of the road in his new digs on the Continent.

”Not a good start to our Christmas holidays as I just failed my first driving test in Spain. Santa please bring me a licence for Chrissy!” Gardner obviously got one of the few driving instructors in Spain who isn’t nuts about Moto GP.

Creative accounting?

AUSTRALIAN Nascar driver Marcos Ambrose has either got himself a great accountant or a lousy manager since the last BRW rich list for Australian sports people was compiled. Last year, Ambrose ranked sixth on the annual list with an estimated income of $4.5 million, up from $4.2 million in 2010 and down from $5.4 million in 2009.

This year, according to BRW, he slid down the ranks to 39th, with earnings of just $1.5 million. Now we know the Aussie dollar has been strong against the greenback, but we’re scratching our heads as to how he can make less money while winning the same amount of prizemoney. This year, he racked up $US4.7 million in prizemoney, with one win, three top fives and eight top-10 finishes. A quick scout around US sites suggests that he could collect as much as 45 per cent of those winnings, plus potential bonuses for top-five and top-10 finishes. Then there are personal endorsements and sponsorships to throw into the mix.

Perhaps the discrepancy has less to do with Ambrose’s accountant and more to do with BRW’s understanding of motor sport. They describe the Australian as ”V8 Supercar Series Rookie of the Year in 2001”. Would ”two-time V8 Supercar champion” be a better description perhaps?

Rolling in it

Ever felt jealous of a Rolls-Royce owner? Well, here’s a story that might even have you feeling sorry for one. Clayton Bespoke Rose Bay, a high-end car dealer in one of Sydney’s poshest suburbs, has a 2010 Rolls-Royce Phantom Coupe advertised for the princely sum of $478,000. Well, princely if you’re looking to buy it, but pitiful if you happened to buy it new.

The RRP on a 2010 Phantom when it was released was $1.26 million. The car in question has just 13,000 kilometres on the clock, which is what the average motorist might clock up in a year. A quick play on the calculator spits out some pretty frightening depreciation statistics for the big Rolls. If $60-a-kilometre doesn’t make your eyes water, how about a conservative estimate of about $1000 a day? You might be better off commuting by helicopter.

A new leaf

And speaking of helicopters, or rather helicopter pilot-entrepreneurs, we received an email after our recent article about electric car sales tanking in Australia. The email, from a Mr Smith, a Nissan Leaf owner, read: ”I noticed your comments about the very low sales of the Nissan Leaf. I must be one of the few who purchased one. It is simply the best car I have ever had. I am presently installing some solar cells so I won’t be driving around with a misleading sticker on it – it presently says ”zero emissions”, but of course it’s plugged into a coal-powered generating station. It is incredibly quiet and quite a fantastic car. Again, it’s the best I have ever had. We will have the solar power unit installed this weekend … I am now waiting for a solar-powered helicopter.”

We notice Mr Smith, first name Dick, didn’t float the idea of an electric helicopter – now that would take range anxiety to new heights.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.