Ice-cream offer by man sparks appeal

POLICE want to speak to a man who allegedly offered to buy two young children ice-cream in a random incident in the Mount Isa CBD.
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Acting Officer in Charge Mount Isa CPIU Senior Sergeant Aaron Baxter said police believed the incident was a ‘‘once off’’ but reminded the public to be aware of anyone approaching children.

“A male person approached a female and then he approached two children,” he said. “Police are seeking the assistance to identify a male person displaying concerning behaviour.

“The male approached the female and then two children at Brumby’s in West Street, Sunday, February 15, at 9.30am.

“The male offered to take the children to buy ice-cream.’’

The man police want to speak to is described as a 40-year-old caucasian with tanned skin and curly hair. He is about six foot tall and was last seen wearing a blue t-shirt, cargo shorts and a dark baseball cap.

“Parents should encourage children to speak to someone if they feel scared or unsafe,‘‘Senior Sergeant Aaron Baxter said. Any person with information can call Mount Isa Police or Crime stoppers 1300333000 or Police link 131444.

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Hunter unemployment rates reach double figures

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THE Hunter’s unemployment rates are in double figures and the highest they’ve been for a decade.

The state government cautions against reading too much into a single month’s figures, but Labor says the trend is clearly worsening.

The Newcastle and Lake Macquarie jobless rate for January was 10per cent, up from 8.2per cent in December and 5.2per cent in January 2014.

For the rest of the Hunter, the January rate was 11.4per cent, up from 6.5per cent in December and 7.1per cent in January 2014.

Across the Hunter, the number of unemployed had gone from an estimated 18,900 in January 2014 to 32,000 last month.

Opposition treasury spokesman Michael Daley said the Baird government TAFE cuts and Abbott government university fee-hikes were the wrong policies at a time of rising unemployment.

‘‘Some volatility in the month to month figures is expected but the trendlines are unmistakeable; unemployment in the Hunter and Newcastle continues to track significantly above the state average of 6.3per cent,’’ Mr Daley said.

Minister for the Hunter, Gladys Berejiklian, said the whole point of the Newcastle CBD rejuvenation and statewide infrastructure program was to create jobs.

‘‘We want people to be able to live and work in the Hunter,’’ Ms Berejiklian said.

‘‘We want families to raise their children knowing they will be able to study and find jobs without having to leave the region.’’

Ms Berejiklian said Mr Daley was wrong to say TAFE fees had been cut, arguing that spending on vocational education was at record levels.

Goldengirl shines in Oaks triumph

Geegees Goldengirl (outside), ridden by Siggy Carr, storms past her rivals to win the $100,000 Tasmanian Oaks at Mowbray yesterday. Picture: Greg MansfieldTHE Gee Gee roadshow rolled on at Mowbray yesterday when the state’s leading owners added the $100,000 Tasmanian Oaks to an array of feature-race wins over the summer carnival.
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Paul and Elizabeth Geard, of Broadmarsh, race top filly Geegees Goldengirl, who completed the three-year-old fillies’ feature double when she scored by just over a length.

The Stuart Gandy-trained filly, who is a half-sister to Tasmania’s top galloper, Geegees Blackflash, also won the $100,000 Strutt Stakes on Hobart Cup day.

The Geards won another two minor races yesterday with Geegees Soprano and Geegees Velvet, giving them 12 wins at the past five Tasmanian meetings.

Six of their wins have been in feature events, including the Hobart Cup and Tasmanian Derby.

Geegees Goldengirl was given a perfect run by Siggy Carr, racing in fourth spot until she joined the leaders turning for home.

The Wordsmith filly then found plenty under pressure to hold out Shayana, who came from near-last on the home turn, and dead-heaters Tralee Chorus and Monopole.

Stuart Gandy described the winner as “a ripper”.

“She’s just kept improving since she was an early two-year-old,” the trainer said.

“She’s always raced against the best and now she is the best.”

Gandy admitted to once sharing a popular belief that progeny of Wordsmith might not be able to run 2100 metres.

“But she’s proved everyone wrong and I don’t mind eating humble,” he said.

“She will go to the paddock now and have a good break.”

Carr said that Geegees Goldengirl’s performance was outstanding as she hadn’t been suited by a slow speed.

“She started to pull hard mid-race so I let her slide, and from then on she was fine,” the jockey said.

“‘But ideally she needs something to chase.”

Breaking duck

STOWPORT trainer Barry Niass won his first race when Incat caused a minor boilover in the Benchmark 62 Handicap.

Brendon McCoull got a rails run on the $15 chance to snatch victory in a three-way photo-finish.

Although he hadn’t won a race since August 2012, Incat probably wasn’t entitled to start at double-figure odds.

He had been only narrowly beaten by smart mare Wonzzee two starts earlier before contesting the weight-for-age Thomas Lyons.

Niass races Incat in partnership with prominent North-West businessman Robert Milne.

Patience pays

TRAINER Mark Ganderton earned high praise from the owners of six-year-old mare Tangerine Queen after her win in the Maiden Plate.

Raced by Don and Imelda Cameron, Tangerine Queen led all the way at only her 13th racetrack appearance.

Don Cameron, owner of the Mud Bar & Restaurant in Launceston, said he nearly retired Tangerine Queen three and a half years ago due to “bad knees.”

“Mark has done a fantastic job with her,” Cameron said.

“She’s really come good and hit a purple patch of form.”

Cameron said that he had raced several horses that had all managed to win one race.

“I’d really like one that can win two or three, and hopefully this might be it,” he said.

Set in stone

THREE-YEAR-OLD gelding Settler’s Stone finished in the second half of the field at his first seven starts.

Co-owner Peter Staples admits that led to a few grumbles from some of his partners in the horse.

They were quietened when the Troy Blacker-trained gelding won at odds of $65 on Hobart Cup day and completely silenced after he scored again at Mowbray yesterday.

After another copybook ride from Dean Yendall, Settler’s Stone finished strongly for a long-neck win in the Class 1 Plate.

Some of the gelding’s owners also race Settler’s Joy and are hoping their luck holds when she runs at Mowbray on Wednesday.

“The horse that we thought would be the hardest to beat (Rose Of Innocence) has been scratched, so we’re hoping for the best,” Staples said.

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Jake joins elite

CHAMP: Emerging Launceston star Jake Birtwhistle crosses the line first in Saturday’s Devonport Triathlon, becoming the Oceania and Australia standard distance champion. Picture: Jason Hollister.
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SATURDAY’S win in the Devonport Triathlon has wiped any doubt of Tasmanian star Jake Birtwhistle’s credentials to become a world champion.

With former Olympians Courtney Atkinson and New Zealander Ryan Sissons on the start line, Birtwhistle put in a polished performance to win his first elite title.

The 20-year-old from Launceston became just the second Tasmanian male to take out the Devonport Triathlon and just the third Tasmanian ever to achieve the feat in a time of 1:59.46.9.

Birtwhistle still qualifies for under 23, which meant he walked away with four titles on Saturday including the Oceanic and Australian standard distance champion.

However, a class field made life hard for the young Tasmanian, who was only able to break away in the last 800 metres of the run leg.

Right from the 1.5 kilometre swim leg, it was evident that the race wasn’t going to be easy.

A group of competitors including Birtwhistle, Sissons, Atkinson, Canberra’s Declan Wilson and Kenji Nener led for most of the race after exiting the swim.

Birtwhistle used his track running experience and kicked away from Wilson in the closing stages of the 10km run.

Sissons edged out Nener for third in a photo finish.

“It was a hard race, no doubt about that, the bike course with that hill,” Birtwhistle said.

“It was always going to be a tough race but I’m really happy with the result.

“I felt a bit off in the first part of the run. Thankfully I was able to pick it back up in the second part of the run and kick away in the last kilometre.”

Birtwhistle said the win was the biggest of his career after only just stepping out of juniors.

He will now tackle the Continental Cup in Wollongong on March 7.

Full triathlon coverage, Page 36.

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Safety of cyclists improved

THE state government has officially altered the road rules and will implement new signage, in an effort to improve the safety for cyclists and other road-users.
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Under the new law, motorists will now be allowed to cross continuous white lines to pass cyclists, when it is safe to do so.

House of Assembly Speaker Elise Archer announced the change last week, which was approved by cabinet earlier this month, and said it would ease some of the tension on roads.

Infrastructure Minister Rene Hidding yesterday said popular cycling routes would also feature new signs, which will be installed later this week.

One sign depicts a recommended passing distance of one metre for roads with speeds of up to and including 60km/h, and the other has a recommended passing distance of 1.5 metres for roads above 60km/h.

The signs also include a supplementary plate with the words “pass cyclists safely”.

The signs aim to increase driver awareness of the presence of bikes on roads popular with cyclists.

“The Liberal government is committed to improving the safety of vulnerable road users, including cyclists,” Mr Hidding said.

Road Safety Advisory Council chairman Jim Cox – who helped instigate the law change – described the decision as a step forward for Tasmania.

“I think it’s a good decision that gives cyclists a bit more freedom,” he said.

“It’s already created awareness in the community and people are a lot more aware of cyclists on our roads than they were six months ago.”

Bicycle Network Tasmania campaign manager Garry Bailey has also supported the decision.

“These signs are an important safety and education weapon in lowering the risk for all vulnerable road users,” he said.

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Cure adds silver to medal tally

Amy Cure
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THE amazing strike rate of winning medals for Amy Cure continued on Sunday morning when she collected silver in the women’s 10-kilometre scratch race at the Track World Championships in Paris.

Cure now has eight podium finishes from as many attempts over the course of her world championship career, with the West Pine cyclist adding to her gold from the team pursuit race and bronze in the individual pursuit at this event.

Yesterday’s result almost resulted in another gold, with Cure and the Netherlands rider Kirsten Wild staging an epic battle on the last lap of the race, with Wild just edging her out in the race to the line.

There were fears that Cure may struggle in the race due to a heavy workload on the opening days of the championship, but she showed no ill-effects and said she was simply beaten by the better rider.

“I was in good position coming into the final lap, but Kirsten is a great bike rider,” the 22-year-old said.

“[I] probably went a bit early and got ahead of myself, but I don’t think it mattered how late I left it I would have struggled to come over her.

“I went in pressure free, went in with a clear mindset wanting to have fun and I am really happy to bring home the silver medal.”

Cure is fast becoming one of the most adaptable cyclists, not just in Australia, but around the world, with success not only on the track, but the road as well.

She puts her success down to simple hard work.

“I have put everything into training, I put 100 per cent into everything I do, and [whether I’m] coming home with eight medal or no medals, I am happy with what I do if I give 100 per cent.”

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Missing but never forgotten

Shared sorrows: Andrew Williams, Daryl Floyd and Zee Meyer have all lost loved ones.Families struck by some of the country’s most infamous missing person cases shared their stories over a counter meal in a Bacchus Marsh pub on Sunday afternoon.
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“Hello, I’m Suzie Ratcliffe and my sister was kidnapped 42 years ago from the Adelaide Oval,” one family member introduced herself.

Ms Ratcliffe was the first to stand up from her chair at the end of the table in one of the hotel’s back rooms.

Her sister Joanne Ratcliffe, 11, and Kirste Gordon, 4, were snatched in 1973.

Daryl Floyd was next: “My name is Daryl Floyd and my brother was abducted in 1975.”

His brother Terry Floyd was 12 when he disappeared from the side of a highway at Avoca 40 years ago this year.

We moved down the table to Peter and Sheila MacDiarmid, whose daughter Sarah MacDiarmid, 22, disappeared in 1990 from Kananook train station.

There was also Lyn Ireland, who came in the name of her sister Maureen Braddy, who along with boyfriend Allan Whyte, went missing in 1968 in Bendigo.

“Missed is one word, but murdered is the other,” Ms Ireland said.

Then there were the relatives of missing persons whose cases are lesser known.

People like Andrew Williams, whose brother Matty Williams, 37, was missing for six days before he was found dead beside his car in Blackwood in December last year. His cause of death is unresolved.

Zee Meyer’s husband Warren Meyer disappeared on Easter Sunday, 2008, while walking in the Yarra Ranges. The disappearance of the father of two has just become a homicide probe.

“This is probably the most unique group of people that you will find in the country,” Mrs Meyer said as an aside before the formal introductions began.

“And we don’t have two heads; we’re normal people.”

Normal people with a horrible commonality.

“I look at all you beautiful people … you know exactly what I’m talking about and we have to make sure changes are here for the families of people that go missing in the future,” Mrs Meyer told the group.

These relatives of 14 missing people, led by the tireless Mr Floyd, called for the establishment of a police liaison officer to become the central contact for families.

Currently, families find themselves chasing police officers for information on their cases.

They call stations and find their investigator has moved units or even retired, taking crucial information with them.

“Part of the breakdown is you don’t know where your file sits. Is it a missing persons file? Is it a homicide? Or is it a cold case?” Mr Floyd said.

When Maureen Braddy and Allan Whyte’s inquest finished in December, their families were at a loss as to where to go.

“We left the inquest and nobody told us what happens next. We’re ordinary people and we have to find out what to do,” one of Maureen’s six relatives told the group.

Mr Floyd said a liaison officer within the force could not only help families navigate through the system, but provide updates on their cases, even if there were none.

“It doesn’t matter if there is no update,” Mr Floyd said.

“The way families feel is if you don’t have contact, they aren’t cared about.”

Mr Floyd, sitting alongside Ms Ratcliffe, tells her that his brother Terry would have been 52 on Saturday.

She tells him he could have had a few beers last night for his brother.

Mr Floyd agreed.

“I would’ve preferred to have been having a beer with him instead of being involved in all of this,” he said.

• A picture of Daryl Floyd that appeared in The Courier on Saturday was incorrectly captioned as Charlie Bezzina.

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Bluebelles bring home T20 premiership cup

CHAMPIONS: The Wynyard Bluebells will take home the cup after beating the Burnie Hurricanes in the Cricket North West women’s T20 grand final. Picture: Meg Windram.WYNYARD have upstaged pre-match favourites, the Burnie Hurricanes, to claim back-to-back Crowe Horwath CNW Female Twenty20 premierships.
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In a tight grand final at West Park the Bluebelles emerged victorious by 13 runs, with Emma Humphries winning her second player of the patch award.

The talented all-rounder compiled a mature 33 with the bat and made vital contributions with the ball and in the field.

The Bluebells won the toss and batted first, but lost Michelle Purton (0) in the second over.

After Melissa-Sue Allen and Taylah Purton fell, Wynyard were vulnerable at 3-35.

Cherie Hawkins joined Humphries at the crease and the pair gradually increased the scoring rate, with Hawkins the aggressor, racing to 19 from 21 balls before she skied a ball to Mel Scolyer.

Meagan Kiely joined Humphries, and the two young all-rounders controlled the second half of the innings.

The duo accelerated the scoring rate, taking 48 runs from the final five overs. Humphries played some glorious shots to finish with 33 not out from 44 balls, while Kiely punished anything on her legs to make 20 from 23 balls and Wynyard posted a very competitive total of 4-120 from 20 overs.

The pressure was on the Hurricanes to score at six runs per over right from ball one, and the job was made more difficult when Jane Riley was caught and bowled for seven.

Scolyer joined Brittany Gibson at the crease, and they started to build some momentum, batting through to the 14th over, and adding 64 runs for the second wicket before Hawkins claimed the vital wicket of Scolyer for 34.

The Hurricanes needed to score 41 runs from the final five overs, and with Gibson set at the crease, were in with a chance.

Unfortunately she mistimed a shot and was out for 33, leaving the Hurricanes needing 27 runs from the final 12 balls.

With Emma Humphries and Cherie Hawkins bowling beautifully at the death the home team couldn’t keep up with the required scoring rate and fell 13 runs short.

The Bluebells will now play Cricket North premiers Riverside in a Statewide Twenty20 semi-final at Wynyard Showgrounds next Sunday, with the winner progressing to the state final on Monday, March 9 at the Devonport Oval.

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Sharing the stage with a Chihuahua

Booking it in: Lyric Theatre’s Damon Scott is all smiles at the opening of Legally Blonde – The Musical. PICTURE: LACHLAN BENCEWHEN your co-star is a Chihuahua even the most professional actor could be forgiven for being a trifle nervous.
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But Jess Barlow is not the least bit concerned about it as she prepares to play Elle Woods in the Ballarat premiere of Legally Blonde – the Musical .

On the contrary, Barlow was fulsome in her praise of Chloe, a pure-bred Chihuahua who will play Bruiser in the Ballarat Lyric Theatre production at Her Majesty’s until March 8.

“Working with a Chihuahua? It’s great really,” Barlow said as she put the finishing touches on her outfit.

“Chloe’s such a good-natured dog really.”

Legally Blonde – the Musical, which opened on Friday night, has a cast of 24 humans and two dogs – Chloe and a British bulldog called Chester – and a crew of 45.

Barlow is no stranger playing a lead role in a stage production. She has been nominated six times for the Musical Theatre Guild Award for Best Leading Female, including performances as Millie Dillmount in Thoroughly Modern Millie, Audrey in Little Shop of Horrors and Julia Gulia in The Wedding Singer.

“It’s a huge role. There’s a lot of energy and you are on the stage all the time,” she said. “I did Milly years ago, which was similar.”

The 2015 production of Legally Blonde represents a big change for the Lyric Theatre from Phantom of the Opera in 2014.

Theatre president Michael Whitehead joked the company had run out of black paint last year so decided to use up some pink paint this time.

Either way, Ballarat Lyric Theatre patron Craig Revel-Horwood was excited about the prospect of a stage performance originally directed by his friend Jerry Mitchell, in Ballarat.

“Legally Blonde is very tongue-in-cheek, a bit light-hearted and a lot of fun,” he said.

“It is a romp through all the different styles of comedy, with some great singing.”

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High tea to showcase Coast’s fine produce

TEMPTING DELICACIES: Anvers cafe manager Jacqui Rockliff samples a selection of treats available for the Cradle Coast Tasting Trail High Tea during the Devonport Food and Wine Festival. Picture: Katrina Docking.
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IMAGINE the best produce from the North-West Coast turned into miniature delicacies and presented to you on a tiered stand.

The Cradle to Coast Tasting Trail High Tea at the House of Anvers will offer just that – a snapshot of the finest the region has to offer.

The high tea will be held every Wednesday during March, as part of the the Devonport Food and Wine Festival.

“Savoury delights include smoked salmon and cream cheese on mini baguettes, mini quiches, savoury cream puffs, mixed finger sandwiches, and savoury scones with sour cream topping,” marketing manager Todd Ashdown said.

“Sweet delights include banana and caramel tartlets, mini strawberry cheesecakes, mini mudcakes, cream puffs with raspberry mousse, mini red velvet cakes, Anvers fudge truffles and praline, and mini chocolate and lemon tartlets.”

The tasting trail provides a route for travellers and food lovers alike to journey on, experiencing some of the finest local producers and restaurants along the way.

Produce from many of these locations will be featured in the high tea.

Anvers chocolatier Igor VanGerwen is one of the founding members of the tasting trail and this reflects in the general cafe menu too, which always has a strong focus on highlighting local produce.

Anvers will also be involved in the annual Taste the Harvest on March 8 at Roundhouse Park in Devonport, where it will have an educational focus.

It will highlight the fascinating journey of making chocolate through an informative display and demonstrations.

The Cradle to Coast Tasting Trail High Tea will be held on March 4, 11, 18 and 25 from 10am until 4pm at House of Anvers, 9025 Bass Highway, Latrobe. For bookings call 6426 2958.

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