Years of experience

RON Butler has been selling cars for 42 years, but it was a move to a new Yass Road dealership in Queanbeyan in 2009 that refreshed his enthusiasm for the industry.

A life-long Ford man, Mr Butler is now dealer principal at one of the biggest Isuzu dealerships in the country, selling the tough and reliable D-Max utes at a rapid rate.

He runs the third most successful Isuzu dealership in the country out of a total of 83, has sold over 600 D-Maxs in four years and is chairman of the Australian Isuzu Dealer Council.

His dealership -John McGrath Isuzu Ute- also stocks Kia and Great Wall vehicles, and services all other brands.

But it was the opportunity to run a new dealership with a new, high-end product that lured Mr Butler over the border to Queanbeyan.

“The strength of the Isuzu D-Max is that it’s built by a manufacturer with the legendary name of Isuzu, with the reputation of a truck that’s been a market leader in Australia for over 20 years,” he said.

“We’ve sold over 600 D-Maxs since opening in January 2009, and they’ve been purchased by tradesman and grey nomads who trust the efficiency and dependability of a vehicle renowned for its strength and towing capacity.”

The team started out on Yass Road with just three employees, but has since doubled to six.

The dealership has also recently gained development approval for an expansion at the site, and Mr Butler said that could result in a further ten jobs at the site.

He focuses on hiring younger employees and enjoys sharing his years of sales experience with the next generation.

“We have a youth policy. We like to employ younger people where possible who can gain from the experience that I’ve had,” Mr Butler said.

And it’s that interest and enjoyment of meeting and working with people that’s kept him in the industry for 42 years, he said.

“I like meeting new people and different people, and the repeat business, which is the biggest compliment you can get in this business.

“Over the years I’ve had people who’ve come back for the next generation of vehicles and they’ve had next generation children along with them, which is nice,” he said.

Visit John McGrath Isuzu Ute at 41 Yass Road, Queanbeyan (phone: 6166 1111).

John Mcgrath Isuzu dealer principal Ron Butler at his Yass Road dealership.

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‘Common sense’ policies

Dear Editor,

The people of Hume who believed theLiberal Party’s new poster boy was going to do great things for the electorategot a large dose of the truth recently when the Liberal candidate confirmed myprediction of a few weeks ago.

Sorry but because of Labor there will beno funds available for the foreseeable future.

We have seen what that means recently,with the election of Liberal governments in Queensland and NSW. Cuts toeducation and health and job losses in the public service and the selling offof any public assets that are left. That’s what you’ll get with a vote for theLiberal Party.

Over the past few weeks I have given theKatter’s Australian Party policy on coal seem gas (no fracking within threekilometres of any aquifer), the breaking up of the Coles/Woollies duopoly, ourscrap the carbon tax and introduce ethanol platform, our education policy, ourarbitrated price for farmers and the re-regulation for the dairy, egg and sugarindustries. We also support a ‘warning’ label on imported food that has notbeen grown or processed under our standards and a 10 per cent import duty onall imports to help give our farmers and manufacturers a chance of competing.

I have said, along with independentcandidate James Harker-Mortlock and Christian Democratic Party candidate AdrianVan Der Byl, that I will support and fight for the duplication of the BartonHighway.

I have many more common sense policiesto release in the New Year. I will be placing these in full on my webpage overthe coming weeks for you to view in full.

For now I would like to wish you all amerry Christmas and a happy and safe New Year.

Bruce Nicholson

Katter’s Australian Party candidate forHume

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Not for sale…yet

COUNCILLOR Judith Burfoot promised Queanbeyan residents that she’d ensure they would have a say in the sale of a block of community-owned land on McKeahnie St, Crestwood when the matter was raised at the last council meeting of the year on Wednesday night.

The on-again, off-again sale of the former childcare and community centre at 7-9 McKeahnie Street was flagged in May this year when council resolved to rezone the site as operational land, paving the way for a future sale.

At the time, mayor Tim Overall said the rezoning did not mean Council was committed to selling the land to developers, and would keep an “open mind” as to how the site could be best used if he was re-elected later in the year.

The matter turned up again on Wednesday night, tucked away at the back of the agenda in an information report prepared by council staff.

The report stated that “once the development applications to subdivide the…properties have been issued, it is intended that all land will be placed on the market and sold by public auction. This is currently proposed for the first quarter of 2013.”

That prompted Crestwood resident and local Greens member Katrina Willis to make a spirited argument for keeping the site in community hands, to be used as a community centre and public park in a presentation prior to the meeting.

She said Crestwood was the fastest-growing area in Queanbeyan and needed to retain its community facilities for a growing population.

“This is an area with a very high density that’s growing monthly,” Ms Willis said.

“We see very little investment in public and community facilities for all the Section 94 developer contributions that flow in to council from there.

“It’s extremely unfair…there’s very little community space in our part of Queanbeyan,” she said.

Ms Willis called for a deferral in any sale plans to allow for community consultation on the matter.

However deputy mayor Peter Bray said he wasn’t aware of any widespread community support for retaining the site.

“My recollection of this particular site in regard to its non-use…it’s my understanding that during that period of time there’s been no generation from the community for its increased use,” he said.

General Manager Gary Chapman then informed councillors that, despite an information report that stated council intended to put the land on the market early next year, the purpose of the report was to inform councillors of the successful reclassification of the land.

A final decision on its sale would be made by councillors at a meeting early next year, he said.

Cr Burfoot said she’d advocate for further community consultation on the sale when it appeared before council next year.

In a statement to the

Queanbeyan Age

on Thursday, Cr Overall reiterated no final decision had been made on the matter.

“7-9 McKeahnie has been reclassified in the new LEP to ‘Operational Land’ and Council has yet to determine its future.

“There was only one submission during the public consultation process on the Draft LEP and from the Queanbeyan-Monaro Greens. There are a number of options to be considered including the possibility of disposal. Katrina Willis, reasonably, has a self-interest position,” Cr Overall said.

Queanbeyan city councillors will decided the fate of this former community centre in McKeahnie Street early next year.

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Singleton’s top two

IT’S a long way from the small Mount Pleasant Primary School near Singleton to the heights of achievement in the 2012 Higher School Certificate (HSC).

A former student Eliza Harrison was named first in course for design and technology in this year’s HSC and if that was not enough she went on to score 99.05 in her Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR).

Eliza who completed her final three high school years at Barker College in Sydney, after attending Singleton High School for years 7 to 9, hopes to study a Bachelor Science with a Masters in Nutrition or a Bachelor of Science Advanced both at Sydney University.

For her major work in design and technology she designed and made a women’s suit – blazer, pants and skirt. The work has to be based on something that is genuinely needed and according to Eliza the suit was designed to be worn by younger female employees.

She said she would not pursue a life of design at this stage preferring to study a degree where employment was more readily available.

“Once I have a job I can then work on the creative side as an interest or hobby then I will probably enjoy it more,” she said.

“Without the pressure to find an income from design I think I will enjoy it a whole lot more.”

Another local high achiever in this year’s HSC was Branxton’s James Mohun who was named in the NSW Board of Studies All Round Achievers List.

He received band six results in all six of his subjects and scored an ATAR of 98.35. James’s family own the Wynyard Street general store in Singleton and he attended The Armidale School.

In 2013 James will be taking a gap year in England working at the Kings School in Wimbledon but he hopes to study something in the commerce or economic faculty the following year.

Hunter Valley Grammar School student Millie Sykes gained an ATAR of 97.45 and she will also be taking a gap year in 2013 before studying communications in film and media at either Sydney University or the University of Sydney Technology.

Singleton High School’s deputy principal Ian Skilton said he was thrilled with the solid results his students achieved in this year’s HSC.

Our school offers 57 subjects and this year we had a real spread of great results.

“We had a solid bunch of band fives and band sixes across various subjects including those in music and visual arts, “ he said.

Mr Skilton was particularly pleased with the results in hospitality and Personal Development Health and Physical Education.

“The results in hospitality are a testament to the concept of the trade training centre where students the three local high schools came to our school to use the facilities,” he said.

“Students from all these schools gained great results in this year’s exams.”

He described this year’s 12 students as being very community minded and this was borne out by their results.

At Catherine’s Catholic College, principal Brian Lacey said his students performed well in VET courses, maths and English.

A highlight for the school was the results among the legal studies students.

“What I would like to highlight to all our students and their parents is the importance of education – never just think you can get a job say in the mining industry, ” he said.

“In the future attaining a good job will mean having a good education and we have to value learning.

“Gaining good results comes down to hard work and valuing learning.”

FIRST IN COURSE: Eliza Harrison at the presentation of the NSW Board of Studies first in course awards for the 2012 HSC. Eliza gained first place in design and technology and gained at ATAR of 99.05.

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River fishers need to follow rules

After multiple offences were detected in recent weeks, fishers are being urged to follow the rules when fishing in the River Murray.

Since the beginning of December three local fishermen have been fined and anothercautioned for offences ranging from taking undersize fish to operating gear belonging toother people and fishing within 150 metres of a lock or weir.

With an increase in recreational fishing activity expected over coming weeks, PIRSAFisheries and Aquaculture senior fisheries officer Dave Grant is remindingfishers to brush up on their knowledge of river fishing rules.

“Whether you’re a local or a visitor, we all have a role to play in protecting thesustainability of our fisheries which involves complying with the rules and regulations forrecreational fishing,” Mr Grant said.

“In particular, river fishers need to be aware that fishing with any type of fishing gear ordevice is not permitted within 150 metres of a weir or lock.

“Size, bag and boat limits are in place for a number of freshwater species, withFreshwater Catfish, Murray River Crayfish, Silver Perch and South-east Crayfish fullyprotected.

“Unattended nets must also be clearly marked with the owner’s name and address on atag or the white buoy which must connected to the net and be at least 2L in volume.”

Fishers can contact FISHWATCH on 1800 065 522 or visit

for more information on River Murray fishing rules.

This includes unattended buoys must be tagged with the owner’s name and address;The Chowilla flood plain is closed to Murray Cod fishing year-round;The use of mesh nets, drum nets, set lines, long lines and illegal wire fish traps,commonly known as wireys or warratahs is prohibited;Female yabbies carrying eggs are totally protected and must be returned to thewater immediately.

It is illegal to lift any size Murray Cod out of the water.

Anyone can report suspicious or illegal fishing activity through the 24 hour FISHWATCHnumber on 1800 065 522. Callers can choose to remain anonymous.

A new Recreational Fishing Limits brochure can be downloaded at

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It’s a total adrenaline rush

Alison Adams Sky diving for christmas story on what to do in th holidaysI’M sitting in the open door of a small plane 14,000 feet in the air with a thousand conflicting thoughts flying through my head.

For the last five minutes I have been asking myself why on earth I thought that taking a tandem skydive out of a perfectly good plane was a nice way to spend a Sunday morning.

But then Phillipe, my tandem master, says it’s time to go and all thoughts of foolishness are banished as we drop into the sky.

Two hours earlier I had met my new best friend for the first time at the Simply Skydive office which is based at Penrith’s International Regatta Centre.

I was one of three taking the leap of faith.

After a safety briefing which was, well, brief, we were in the bus and off to Camden Airport.

The tandem trio were all experts who had clocked hundreds of flights between them.

Their sense of calm had the desired effect on my slightly anxious mood and by the time we arrived at the airport I was ready to take to the skies.

Harnesses were climbed into and the procedure explained once more.

Phillipe and I would be the first out of the plane.

Before I knew it Phillipe was telling me to put on my goggles as we were about to jump.

The noise was incredible as the door was slid up and then we were out of the plane for a 60-second free fall, the feeling of which is impossible to describe.

It’s not like falling and you are hardly aware that you are actually plummeting towards the ground at 200 km/h.

It’s what you imagine flying must feel like.

The noise of the wind and the sensations on your body are incredible and the minute seemed to pass in seconds.

It was, in short, a total adrenalin rush.

Then the parachute opened and all was quiet and calm and we were floating down to Earth.

A sense of joy and relief flooded through me.

All too soon we were nearing the ground and it was time to lift my legs into a sitting position and hope my landing was graceful. It was.

My sense of achievement and, let’s face it, pride in myself, was incredible.

The beauty of tandem skydiving is that you’re merely a passenger who can rely on the expertise of the person strapped to your back, relax and enjoy the view, then congratulate yourself on ticking one major experience off that bucket list.

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Hawkesbury International Sand Sculpting Championship

Hawkesbury International Sand Sculpting Championships. Pictures: Ben Rushton. Hawkesbury International Sand Sculpting Championships. Pictures: Ben Rushton.

Hawkesbury International Sand Sculpting Championships. Pictures: Ben Rushton.

Laura Kane, Troy Myers, Alan Eagle and Toni Ford Sand Sculptures HOH Head Quarters

TALENTED, creative and eager sand sculptors from around the world will descend on Windsor to construct their most innovative and realistic sand sculptures yet.

The sand sculptors will arrive on January 10 to vie for the top title in the second Hawkesbury International Sand Sculpting Championship.

Last year the competition attracted thousands of people from across Australia.

The sculptors come from countries around the world including The Netherlands, Czech Republic, Britain and the US, as well as from Tasmania, Victoria and NSW.

Between them, the sculptors have won many titles at competitions and championships.

Some have been carving for more than 30 years, while others are new to the world of sand sculpting and this will be their first experience in a competition.

Each sculptor in the competition will have 20 tonnes of sand to work with as they carve their interpretation of this year’s theme — Fairytales and Fables — over a period of four days starting on January 10.

The event will be open to the public from 10am to 7pm each day from January 10, providing the perfect opportunity to see these incredibly talented sculptors as they showcase their work.

Tickets: $14 for adults, $6 for children aged three to 12 (under 3 are free), $30 for a family (two adults and two children). There are also special rates for groups of 20 or more.

Details: 1300 362 874 or visit the website sandsculpting苏州美睫培训.au.

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Man in custody over fatal stabbing

Detectives are investigating the fatal stabbing of a woman in South Fremantle on Thursday night.

The 24-year-old woman was discovered by paramedics in the vicinity of Scott Street and Marine Parade, police were called to the scene about 9pm.

The woman was conveyed to Fremantle Hospital but died a short time later.

A 43-year-old man is currently assisting police with their inquiries.

Fremantle police and major crime detectives are investigating.

Anyone with information about the death is asked to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.Follow WAtoday on Twitter

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Scooter rider critical after crash

A teenager suffered life threatening injuries when he drove his scooter into a stationary vehicle on Thursday night.

The 18-year-old man is in a critical condition in hHospital after the serious crash about 11.20pm.

The man was riding a scooter north on Grand Promenade in Dianella when it struck the rear of a car parked on the verge, near Elsegood Street.

The man was believed to have been found unconscious at the scene.

The man remains in intensive care at Royal Perth Hospital.

If anyone can provide information about the crash they are asked to contact Crimes Stoppers on 1800 333 000.Follow WAtoday on Twitter

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50 towns in 50 days: New life in old Clunes

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NOT so long ago Clunes was a dying town.

Popular cafe/lolly shop Widow Twanky’s owner Tim Hayes recalls when he came to Clunes just over a decade ago most of Fraser Street had shut up shop in the former gold mining hamlet.

Fast forward a few years, and Clunes is a thriving township with most of its main street stores open for business and locals describing a relaxed and friendly community.

So what happened to rejuvenate the home of Victoria’s first official gold strike? In 2006, the very first Clunes Booktown helped put the town on the map.

Based on a European-style concept, Booktown is now Australia’s largest collection of rare, out-of-print, small press, second hand and collectable books.

Clunes has also since become an international Booktown and is described as a “vibrant, rural, cultural hub for book writing and ideas”.

Author Peter Merck also describes what attracted him to Clunes nine years ago.

Mr Merck came to finish writing a book and stayed for the peace and tranquility, plus the local fishing.

“You get to see all the beauty spots tourists don’t get to see, along the lower levels of the plain,” Mr Merck said.

Michael Spalding was also drawn to the town a few years ago and is now keen to set up a yoga retreat at nearby Durach.

“You can walk down the street and chat with people,” Mr Spalding said.

“And I love books. I’ve always loved books.”

The Basics

Municipality: Hepburn Shire

Population: 900

First settled: 1839

Main industries: Grazing, gold mining.

Claim to fame: Clunes was the sight of Victoria’s first official gold strike.

Five fast facts

1. Major Mitchell passed through Clunes in 1836 and pronounced it “good”.

2. Clunes is surrounded by rounded hills which are actually extinct volcanoes.

3. Clunes is one of the most intact 19th-century towns in the central goldfields.

4. The main street of Clunes, Fraser Street, has been the setting for many films, including Mad Max and Ned Kelly.

5. The first European settler was 21-year-old Donald Cameron, who named the town after his birthplace in Scotland, which means “a pleasant place” in Gaelic.

Five things to do

1. Head to the annual Booktown event, which brings together book sellers, writers and speakers from all over Australia and is staged right across the town.

2. The Mount Beckworth Nature Reserve was the site of bushranger Captain Moonlight’s hold-out and provides numerous walks, rides, climbs, camp spots, horse riding, rock climbing, bushwalking, bike riding, caving, bird watching and abseiling possibilities.

3. The Clunes Museum contains exhibits of life during the gold rush and early settlement, as well as maps, brochures and tourist information.

4. Mt Coghill, Mount Beckworth and Eastern Peake wineries are all located in the Clunes area.

5. Take a scenic drive or walk around the Port Phillip mine, the site of Australia’s first gold rush. There are plenty of plaques and old mining equipment to look at.

Clunes confectionary retailer Tim Hayes. PICTURE: JUSTIN WHITELOCK

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