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North Melbourne coach says staging hurts Lindsay Thomas’s reputation

Posted on 16/08/2018 by

North Melbourne coach Brad Scott has admitted forward Lindsay Thomas’s reputation in the football world doesn’t match his performance because of his staging for free kicks.

Scott said that while Thomas had worked hard to eradicate staging from his game, he would again confront his player about the issue after an incident in the Roos’ loss to Geelong on Saturday night.

Late in the third quarter, Thomas won a free kick against his opponent, James Kelly for a push in the back, from which he goalled. While contact was made, Thomas threw himself forward to exaggerate the force of the push, earning criticism from his coach.

“I wasn’t happy with that,” Scott said. “Whether it was a free kick or not, just play the ball, mark the ball, and if you get infringed the umpire will pay it.

“We’ve worked on that, and I think he’s improved over the last three, four or five years in that stuff. And it’s pretty clear. I’ve said to Lindsay: ‘If you keep doing that, the umpire will assume you’re doing it all the time even when it is a free kick’. So I’ll speak to him about that again.”

Thomas was North Melbourne’s most effective forward, with three goals in the 32-point loss to Geelong. But Scott conceded that Thomas’s reputation as a diver had coloured judgments of his performances.

“I’d like some people to go and compare his output over the last three years against other players in other teams who play similar positions, and I think he’d come up pretty favourably,” Scott said. “But he probably isn’t spoken about in the same glowing terms because of these things, and I think that’s important.

“But more important than that is the fact I’d hate to see Lindsay not getting a free kick when he’s genuinely infringed because there’s a perception that he plays for it. So we don’t condone it, and he’s got to stop doing it. I think he’s been better, but he relapsed on one occasion tonight.”

Players can be cited for staging by the AFL Match Review Panel, with Essendon’s Leroy Jetta and Carlton’s Jarrad Waite having been reprimanded previously.

Scott also lamented “15 minutes of madness” from his team in the second quarter, when a series of off-the-ball infringements, two involving veteran Brent Harvey and another involving Majak Daw, led to a series of Geelong goals, to leave the Roos suddenly trailing by 22 points, a deficit from which they could not regain the lead.

But he also noted that the tight control umpires enforced in the first half of the game hadn’t extended to the second half, pondering whether the umpires had been spoken to at half-time.

“People make mistakes, umpires make mistakes, and we’ve got to try to keep our composure and players have got to try to get control back of the game, and we lost control of the game for whatever reason,” he said.

“We are brutal on undisciplined rubbish and it costs the team. But I found it really hard from the vision I had in the box to identify whether players needed to be disciplined for it. I know we didn’t have any [off the ball free kicks] paid in the second half, and neither did Geelong, so probably the question that should be asked is what was said to the umpires at half-time.”

Scott’s twin, Chris, meanwhile, said that while Geelong still needed to improve to mix it with the teams above it on the ladder, the solid five-goal win had been a step forward.

“I thought we were better in a lot of areas tonight than we have been for a lot of the year,” the Geelong coach said. “We’ve still got some things that we need to work on, but … we’re starting to build and we’re starting to get some players back that hadn’t had much of a pre-season.”

He lauded the contribution of the Cats’ runners like Allen Christensen, Steven Motlop, Mitch Duncan and Josh Caddy.

“Some of our young players with speed on the outside make us a different team, particularly at Etihad, to the one we’ve been. At the moment, it’s only one game, but they’re complementing our guys who are pretty good on the inside.”

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

Hey Joe, this isn’t working

Posted on 16/08/2018 by

Rebecca Bennett, 22, calls and emails 10 businesses a fortnight. Photo: Meredith O’SheaIn the bakery, down from the pub, a woman makes a tomato and cheese sandwich and  says she hasn’t been sleeping. A man reading a newspaper doesn’t look up but says: “Nobody is.”

Why is that? “The world is stressed.”

There are six people in the bakery, two of them behind the counter – and this appears to be the busiest spot in Station Street.

There’s a bustle in the supermarket carpark down and around the corner, but here, in what was traditionally the centre of downtown Seymour, a feeling of abandonment holds sway. The other shops appear empty or in a quiet state of waiting. One of them boldly proclaims: “EMPLOYMENT”.

It’s a labour hire business, Netgain. The reception area is empty, the walls are undecorated, and certainly bare of jobs on offer. One of the two office workers says there’s not a lot going, mainly cleaning, hospitality and “a bit of driving”.

Most of the cleaning jobs are out at the Puckapunyal army base, and you have to be an Australian citizen to work there. The worker sees “a lot of downcast kids coming in” and going away even more so.

Lisa Wemyss, 51, grew up in Seymour, population 6360 (2011 census). For this township, stress means a lack of opportunity. Lisa Wemyss remembers the railway jobs that went in the `80s, the Buttercup factory, the dye factory that followed soon after. Where once there were jobs aplenty in Seymour, during the past 30 years most of the work, meaningful or at least sustaining, has died.

“The kids either go away for work or they languish,” she says.

Her grown children left town to be educated and found good jobs. One of her sons, a plumber, announced he was coming home recently. She told him he had to find a local job first. “I’d rather burn my couch than have the kids lie on it,” she says.

Seymour, an hour up the highway from Melbourne’s northern suburbs, has a higher-than-average unemployment rate – 7.6 per cent according to 2011 Australian Bureau of Statistics figures. Youth unemployment sits at 17.5 per cent, according to the Brotherhood of St Laurence’s analysis of bureau figures published in February.

The several hundred people who make up these statistics in Seymour would have to apply for 40 jobs a month under the federal government’s plan to get the jobless off welfare. The government is back-pedalling on the plan because of a backlash flavoured with ridicule.

But consider this: Rebecca Bennett, 22, already calls and emails 10 businesses a fortnight, or 20 a month, fulfilling a requirement to make these “job contacts”  to qualify for her Newstart allowance of $519 a fortnight. In a year Rebecca contacts the same businesses again and again, asking if they have “anything at all.”

In recalling how she’s heard the words “no” and “sorry” so many times, Rebecca sounds a little dazed, as if she’s walked into a wall – which is precisely the case. She is one of those “downcast kids” who came asking for a cleaning job at Netgain, but was “told I wasn’t suitable”.

Although Rebecca holds onto a dream of working in the law – she dares not say the word “lawyer” – she pursued another love, and completed a certificate in early childhood development. That was two years ago, and she’s been looking for a job in childcare in the district ever since.

You might helpfully suggest: What about work experience? That’s what she’s been doing for the past two years: working for free, two days a week at a local centre. She tells you this in a voice that holds no defensive tone, no bitterness. She loves the kids, she holds on to hope.

What about commuting to Melbourne? A return train ticket, concession, is $14. Rebecca pays $180 of her allowance to her mother, Sarah, by way of bed and board. Sarah hasn’t worked for 14 years and was shocked to hear that in Joe Hockey’s Budget, Rebecca will be paid the Newstart allowance for only six months of the year.

“We’d struggle,” she says, as if struggling was something new.

Another Abbott government initiative will have Rebecca working 25 hours a week for the dole.

What this means in practical terms, no one really knows. Working for the dole is being tried throughout the country and, contrary to widespread belief, isn’t a fully operational strategy. It gets confused with “Centrelink participants” who do volunteer work for charity groups, either to “pay back” something to the community or to gain some work training.

For example, St Vincent de Paul opportunity shops are often staffed by dole-recipient volunteers seeking retail experience. At the little shop in Hamilton – in the state’s west, where two hotels have been left standing empty and a number of shops recently closed – eight volunteers are hoping their in-house training will get them a job. Shop manager, Sue, said one person recently got a job, which was seen as a big win.

Hazel Maynard, who runs the Victorian volunteer program for St Vinnies says the shop in Dandenong, a suburb in which 5000 to 6000 people are unemployed, has a large roster of Centrelink participants hoping to get a break in the wider world.

“Many of the older people stay on, because they like it,” said Ms Maynard. “But the younger ones are all hoping to move on and find work.”

While the Centrelink participation scheme provides some basic training and gives participants a small chance of getting a mainstream job, working for the dole, on the face of it, is more an exercise of dragging so-called bludgers off their hard-rubbish couches. It is an exercise steeped in paperwork, requiring reporting and supervision similar to that provided by community groups, such as the Salvation Army, which  help with community-based orders. Hold that thought.

There are positions vacant at the local club for experienced gaming staff, advertised on the lighted billboard that also advertises meal specials. Online at seek南京夜网.au, there’s a job for an employment consultant with one of the four Job Services Australia franchises in Seymour. One wonders if the recently departed consultant died of heartache.

Jobs Services Australia is a federal government initiative that finds work and education “pathways” for disadvantaged job seekers, including the mentally ill and homeless – and notably people in country towns. The actual work is tendered out to labour hire companies and non-profit organisations.

The Sunday Age met a JSA consultant in Seymour, a man who looks eternally weary in a Jesus fashion, who said he wasn’t allowed to talk to the media, but did so anyway.

“Unemployment is very lonely,” he said. “It’s lonely if you have family to look after. It’s lonely if you’re on your own.”

He said the people he sees – several dozen, once a fortnight – all bring their own special sack of problems, all requiring individual attention. He tells the story of a local boy who wanted to learn a trade but couldn’t get into the TAFE course without a job. The consultant found another type of college where the boy was able to “end up with better qualifications than an apprentice”. This may not have necessarily got the lad a job, but it got him somewhere.

Work for the dole may achieve that for some people, the consultant said, but for many of his clients “I’m going to have to say, ‘Look, make this as happy and comfortable as we can, while we keeping looking for a job.’ ”

In other words, people at the coalface will largely regard working for the dole as something that requires going through the motions, with no great expectation that it achieves anything. More than that, it will simply add to the workload.

“And who is going to administer it?” he said. “The local football club might welcome a dozen people helping out, but they’re not going to fund supervision. The reporting side of my job is … not insignificant.”

Seymour, he said, has a courthouse that sends a certain number of people to the local Salvation Army to do their penance in the form of community-based orders. Can the Salvos take on the 200 to 200 unemployed locals and set them to work painting fences?

Dr Bruce Redman is the Salvation Army’s territorial media relations director. He says: “Of course not … there’s a lot of effort in getting people organised and mobilised, and the paperwork aspect is substantial

“We’d like to be part of the consulting process, because we have experience in this area. But there’s been no indication of that.”

Dr Redman also voiced an opinion that’s already been shouted out loud: “A one-size-fits-all solution to unemployment just isn’t going to work.”

What does Rebecca Bennett think about working for the dole? She doesn’t say much at all, as if this is one more thing beyond her agency. “I’d like to move from here … but I’m worried about my little sister [aged 13]. What’s going to happen to her when she leaves school.

“But, you know, if they say I have to work for the dole, I’ll do it. What is it they want me to do?”

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

Autism and schools – there’s a long way to go

Posted on 16/08/2018 by

Tim Chan has severe autism and cannot speak or write. He uses an electronic voice-output device to communicate and write poetry. Photo: Getty/Paul JeffersPoet and activist Tim Chan sits in the front room of his family home in Kew, his mother resting her hand gently on his shoulder. Mr Chan has severe autism and cannot speak or write, so he uses an electronic voice-output device to talk about the Australian school system, typing words that the machine reads aloud.

“The most important thing is people and their attitudes of acceptance, and treating us as people first and special needs second,” he said. “The educational policies are inclusive but often practice may not be ideal.”

Mr Chan was diagnosed with autism at three and his mother, Sarah, a psychologist, immediately got him started on an intensive early-intervention program.

He attended a school for autistic children, but Mrs Chan said it was not intellectually or socially challenging enough for him, so he moved into the mainstream system after two years.

Primary school went well for the young Tim, but Mrs Chan describes his experience of secondary school as “hellish” – the school initially tried to ban him from using his voice-output device, leaving him without a means of communication, and he struggled to make friends.

School administrators need to rethink how they accommodate children with high needs, she said. “Instead of saying what he can’t do, you [should] ask what does he need to succeed.”

According to information released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics in June, 86 per cent of children with autism who attend school, either in the mainstream or special education system, reported having difficulties. Most said they had problems fitting in socially, learning and communicating.

British expert Rita Jordan will give a workshop in Melbourne this week on autism and schools as part of the Victorian Autism Conference held every two years. She said Australia had lagged behind Britain in creating inclusive school environments for autistic students, but she hoped they could learn from mistakes made in British schools.

Mr Chan benefited from the help of integration aides throughout his schooling, but Professor Jordan said too often integration aides were creating a barrier to inclusion. “No self-respecting kid is going to play with someone who comes with their own adult,” she said.

She said aides should instead be taught to observe where the child is struggling and develop support structures, including among their peers, to help them succeed.

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

Families thrown into medical marijuana wrangle

Posted on 16/08/2018 by

Alison Meadows at her Montmorency home. Photo: Patrick Scala/Getty ImagesA knock at the door of a home in Melbourne’s outer suburbs last month threw three parents, all with children who suffer debilitating epilepsy, into the centre of a political debate about legalising medicinal marijuana in Australia.

Mernda couple Cassie Batten and Rhett Wallace had recently appeared on national television talking about giving their toddler a cannabis tincture oil to stop his life-threatening seizures.

The man standing at their front door was Epping Sexual Offences and Child Abuse Detective Sergeant Brett Meadows, who had been tasked with investigating the couple after a report about Cooper’s welfare was made to police.

But Detective Sergeant Meadows knew better than most what the couple were facing.  His eldest daughter has undergone three brain surgeries to stop life-threatening seizures and if they hadn’t worked, his wife says they don’t know what they would have turned to.

“We’ve got a pretty good understanding of how life-threatening it can be,” Detective Sergeant Meadow’s wife Allison Ryan said, adding that their son also suffers from seizures.

“We were fortunate enough that surgery was an option for us and ended up going down that path but our daughter was also on, at that stage, four different medications or anticonvulsant medications and still having seizures breakthrough.”

If surgery had not worked Mrs Ryan said they might have considered cannabis oil, but while it remained illegal and unregulated in Victoria she would still have had serious concerns about what they were giving their child.

“I don’t know how it’s made, I don’t know what they’re making it from, I don’t know if it’s the same product I’m getting every time.

“People like this family are obviously desperate to get some relief for their son and if it does give them that relief then surely whoever needs to look into it, needs to.”

Ms Batten and her husband were asked to hand their oil to police and go into the station to answer some questions.  They arrived with a crew from Channel Seven’s Sunday Night program and a lawyer, supplied by the program.

The dark oily substance they had been giving little Cooper in his milk was sent off to be tested.

When the program went to air, Detective Sergeant Meadows’ business card was broadcast, in a move that Mrs Ryan said had unfairly singled out her husband in a “one-sided report” that was deeply critical of the police for launching an investigation.

Detective Sergeant Meadows and the Epping team have since received a barrage of abusive emails, calls and social media attacks.

While researchers struggle to attract funding and obtain the drug for trials, the potential side-effects and benefits remain untested, and police committed to protecting children find themselves in a difficult situation.

“It is an illegal drug and everyone knows that,” Mrs Ryan said.  “Brett was following the law, he was doing his job, he did it with respect and he did it with an understanding of those parents’ situation.

“If there’s a complaint and if they didn’t follow up on it and something did happen to this child as a result of using the cannabis, they were going to be in trouble for not acting on it.  They needed to see what this product was.”

Detective Sergeant Meadows refused to be interviewed, but said he was aware his wife had spoken to Fairfax Media.

Ms Batten said she and her husband “have never faulted the police for any part of it”.  “They were as compassionate as they could be considering the situation,” she said.

The changes in their son’s condition after they started using the oil were remarkable but how it had helped him remained a mystery, she said.

“He now says mum and dad, he rolls, he eats, he drinks, he has a personality, he giggles at things, he’s close to crawling,” she said. “We don’t know how it works, all we know is that we can see the improvement. What choice did we have? It was either try it or know that we were losing him.”

NSW-based Tony Bower, the owner of Mullaways Medical Cannabis uses a cold extraction method to create his tincture oil treatments.  His tinctures contain small amounts of THC and something called THC Acid, which, he says, does not have the psychoactive qualities associated with recreational cannabis use.

“Your chances of abusing that would be the same as abusing hemp seed oil,” he said.

Although he does not have a scientific background, Mr Bower said he does have “a really good background in the cannabis plant”.  “It’s an unusual knowledge I have of the plant,” he said. “I just seem to know a lot about it, I don’t know why, but I do, its qualities, how to change it.”

He supplies about 150 families with the oil and said he would continue despite already spending time in prison for cultivating.  “I couldn’t stop because the mothers don’t have a choice,” he said.

Other suppliers have started to appear on the medical marijuana black market over the past 12 months, Mr Bower said.  “They’re just making people sick and getting people in trouble,” he said.

President of the Australian Drug Law Reform Foundation, Dr Alex Wodak, said until the laws were changed desperate parents would continue to look outside of regulated medicine, leaving the door open to  “snake oil merchants”.

“A medicine that’s effective and safe is being denied to people and people are therefore being forced to go outside of the medical system,” he said.  “There’s a lot of good scientific work to be done over the next 20 or 30 years, working all this out.

“The politicians should get out of the way and leave health people to follow the usual paths.”

Both the Victorian and federal health ministers remain opposed to the prospect of legalising marijuana for medicinal purposes.

Weeks have passed since Detective Sergeant Meadows turned up at Ms Batten’s door and no charges have been laid.

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

Why do roadworks cost so much?

Posted on 16/08/2018 by

A new roundabout in a local street can cost around $100,000 Photo: Dylan RobinsonAbout $800,000 for a roundabout and $21 million to widen a road. How can building and improving roads be so hideously expensive?

Construction costs are inflated by high bidding costs and poor financial transparency, federal assistant Infrastructure Minister Jamie Briggs was quoted this week in advance of an industry round-table discussion on the best ways to tackle the problems.

According to a recent leaked Infrastructure Australia report, road expenditure in Australia is notoriously inefficient and roads agencies lack intimate knowledge of roads systems, resulting in frequent cost overruns.

A former VicRoads employee said the roads agency has been deskilled to the point where there are too few experienced engineers to properly assess tenders submitted by private construction companies. Doug Harley, who was manager of network modelling at VicRoads, left the agency last year after three decades, over differences of opinion regarding the cost benefits of East West Link.

Because tenders are selected almost solely on their price, he said, private companies submit cheap tenders, and then later start adding variations that end up inflating the final price well above the original quote.

However, contractors who frequently work for VicRoads say such a scenario is unlikely. Allan Williams, operations manager at regular VicRoads contractor Bitu-mill, said any road construction business that engaged in under-quoting and then over-claiming on variations would be risking future contracts. “It’s a small industry, and your reputation and your ethics come into it when you tender, not just price. You’re only as good as your last job, and companies that did that may come unstuck next time they put in a tender.”

People are often ignorant of what it costs to build a road or install a roundabout, Mr Williams said. “When you see a noticeboard for a road project and it says $5 million, that includes a lot of costs apart from the construction – it also covers the cost of design, the site investigation, relocation of services, environmental plans, traffic management, even the costs of putting together the tender.”

Costs are also boosted by high community expectations regarding environmental and safety issues, he said, with continual improvements in worksite safety and procedures meaning upfront costs are greater. “In order to protect the personal safety of the general public and of road workers, a road construction project might need to include concrete barriers, worksite diversions, traffic management and project methodology – and that all costs.”

Civil engineer and transportation expert Professor William Young, from Monash University, said competition with the mining industry can be blamed to a large extent for the high costs of road construction in Australia.

“Labour costs here are three or four times higher in Australia than in England, for instance,” he said.

Competing with the mining industry pushes up the prices of materials as well as labour.

While the Infrastructure Australia report suggested the nation’s “addiction” to road building meant spending is inefficient and unaccountable, it acknowledged this was less true at the lower levels of government. Local government, it argued, tends to retain engineering personnel “who generally do manage and ‘know’ their road networks intimately”.

In the case of Darebin, in Melbourne’s north-east, the council has a pavement management system that audits the condition of its 512 kilometres of roads. Any requests for road improvements such as roundabouts and widening need to be closely costed and put out to budget for public review.

Darebin still carries out road maintenance in-house and has a substantial number of engineers on staff, thus ensuring it is able to carry out accurate estimates of bigger projects that need to be outsourced. This limits the chance of cost overruns in the final construction price, Darebin Council’s director of assets and business services Steve Hamilton said. “We have a good idea of unit rates based on our experience.”

This is not the case at VicRoads, according to Mr Harley, who claimed the agency no longer has experience building things and no previous job estimates to work off. “VicRoads has to go for the lowest tender, and because they have been deskilled over the years, they can’t tell whether or not the price has been deflated – or inflated,” he said.

VicRoads, denies this, claiming that even though most of its road construction works are outsourced, the agency still undertakes some road and bridge design and occasional minor road construction. VicRoads’ director of procurement and contract management Mark Koliba said this has been a deliberate strategy “to ensure that VicRoads maintains capability, continues to be an informed purchaser and is up to date with current market rates”.

How much does a road cost?

VicRoads declined to provide costings on road construction, stating there are too many variables influencing the cost to be able to generalise. These include the location of the project, whether land acquisition was required, whether services such as power, water or telecommunications needed to be relocated, and the availability of suitable construction materials. Costs also vary enormously depending on how much and what kinds of traffic the road is expected to carry. VicRoads looks after freeways and arterial roads in urban and non-urban areas, while municipal councils look after local roads.

As an indicator of the variation between road building costs, a major arterial road might require asphalt to a depth of 30 centimetres, while a local street might require asphalt only three centimetres deep.

The roundabout being built at the intersection of Gisborne-Melton Road and Melton Valley Drive, Melton, was contracted to Bitu-mill at $865,000 reflecting the scope of a project that involves an arterial road, traffic management measures and relocation of services. Meanwhile, a simple local roundabout constructed in a local street is more likely to cost $100,000 or less.

What is involved in building a local roundabout?

Design                                                $3000

Construction prelims/mgmt                $8000

Site preparation/demolition                $4000

Road pavement                                  $35,000

Kerb and channel                               $10,000

Footpath/crossovers                          $10,000

Drainage                                             $20,000

Service alterations                              $5,000

Landscaping                                       $5,000

Total                                                    $100,000

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

Making hay the old school way

Posted on 09/07/2018 by

Chaff Mill workers Graham, Al and Nick at the Smith Family Chaff Mill in Rocklyn, Victoria. Photo: Paul JeffersIn the late 1960s the three Smith brothers, Ballarat boys, had 300 tonnes of hay that nobody wanted. The produce stores were over-run with a glut of horse feed and the money wasn’t good anyway.

“Our land wasn’t good potato country, so we had to diversify,” says David Smith, now 65.

They took a punt and bought an old boiler and a chaff cutter, thinking that horse owners would rather pay $65 a tonne for bags of chaff than $18 a tonne for hay tied up in sheaves.

“We thought if we could do the work of cutting it up, adding value, it might make us a living,” he says.

It took two years of getting the word around, knocking on doors. More than 40 years later, the Smiths are still running their boiler which dates from the 1920s, maybe earlier. The boiler provides steam that toughens the hay – essentially keeps it supple – so it doesn’t crumble to dust when being cut. Curiously, the touch of steam doesn’t damage the hay. “But if you get it wet, it turns mouldy.”

From the top of an elevator where the hay is steamed, it travels on a belt through a series of mechanical knives before it’s routed into a storage cylinder attached to a double-bagging machine. A couple of workers feed the hay in at one end, a couple more seal the bags at the other.

At its peak, the Smith Brothers Chaff Mill ran for 80 hours a week. “We started the day at a reasonable hour but the days were long, we’d be going until 10 o’clock at night.”

They were turning out 150,000 bags a year.  “It’s much less now.”

Seven years ago, the chaff was delivered by the semi-trailer load. That ended when the horse flu epidemic wiped out a large portion of the local equine population.

“It never really recovered after that,” says Smith. “Now we use a tray bed.”

The Smiths, however, continue to diversify and survive. “We’re growing a few more potatoes. And we do a little bit of contracting.”

Still, their bread and butter comes from chaff. “There’ll still be a market there. It won’t go away,” says  Mr Smith. “It all depends on what share of the market you want. At my age, it’s not a large share.”

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

Cruising: get on board

Posted on 09/07/2018 by

Cast off: a typical small liner. Cruisers from Hapag-Lloyd’s Bremen roam an Antarctic ice field.

Crystal Symphony in Sydney Harbour.

Swimming pool deck on Green Thunder.

Watch the sunset on the Crystal Symphony pool deck.

Family on a cruise.

Shackleton Lounge.

Cruising not for you? With so many choices, you may not realise what you are missing out on, writes Sally Macmillan.

It’s a booming segment in global travel, almost a million Australians taking an ocean or river cruise each year. But, for many of us, it’s a phenomenon that seems to have passed us by, like the proverbial ships in the night.

If you somehow haven’t noticed, cruising has evolved from a rather stuffy sort of sea voyage to a holiday that offers everything from genuinely fine dining from celebrity chefs, five-star accommodation to rival the great hotels, and expeditions in far-flung corners of the globe – and a whole lot of amazing and surprising options in between.

Sailing the world’s oceans today are cruise ships that vary in size from 50 passengers to 6000; that cater for young families, extended families, couples and singles from age 20 to 80, the budget-conscious, adventure-minded and well-heeled travellers.

Then there are river cruises that ply the waterways of Europe and, increasingly, south-east Asia, India and America, yet another way to travel to fascinating destinations comfortably, easily and safely.

“In recent years there has been a dramatic increase in ships visiting our shores,” says Brett Jardine, general manager of CLIA (Cruise Lines International Association) Australasia, “which has meant that holidaymakers are seeing a constant parade of local and international ships.”

This piques interest, and when people discover “the great value of a cruise holiday – wrapping transport, accommodation, meals and entertainment into one fare”, they tend to come back again and again.

Yet scepticism persists. It’s with that thought in mind that we’ve prepared a special guide, based on typical traveller personalities, to prove the point that these days there really is a cruise for everyone.

So check out our guide and see what sort of cruiser you could be – and find out what the whole world is talking about.


“Nothing but the best for me.”

The Cruise Director says Five-star, ocean-going ships were made for you. They are “small” (251-750 passengers) or “mid-size” (751-1750 passengers), offer suite-style accommodation (plenty with private balconies), stylishly decorated public spaces and fascinating itineraries.

Cuisine is world-class; expect dining experiences from ultra-formal to quality casual. Attention to detail throughout is paramount, from the quality of the dining-room tableware to the thread-count of the bed linen, and service is immaculate – professional but friendly. Nothing is too much trouble.

River cruise lines offer some wonderful voyages for the discerning traveller. Uniworld’s newest vessel, the SS Catherine (launched in March), is probably the most luxurious on Europe’s waterways; APT, Scenic and Tauck also run superb river cruises on super-modern ships. Fares for top-drawer ocean and river cruises almost always include drinks, tips and more.

Cruise lines to consider

Ocean lines: Crystal Cruises, Oceania Cruises, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Seabourn, Silversea.

River lines: APT, Avalon Waterways, Scenic, Tauck, Uniworld.

Try these

Cruise Line Crystal Cruises.

Ship Crystal Symphony.

Itinerary 11 days, London to Stockholm, July 26-August 6, 2015.

Fare From $5045.

Cruise Line Uniworld.

Ship SS Catherine.

Itinerary Eight days, Avignon to Lyon, from March to November 2015.

Fare From $3799.

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“How many clubs are there?”

The Cruise Director says

Modern resort-style ships that have lots of bars, non-stop entertainment and clubs are perfect for people who are looking for fun, in groups, solo or couples.

The ship often becomes as much the destination as the ports; on board there’s a terrific choice of restaurants and cafes, state-of-the-art fitness centres, and spas for pampering after a hard night’s partying. Carnival Cruise Line’s Sydney-based Carnival Spirit has 16 bars and lounges, live entertainment, a karaoke bar, a comedy club, casino and nightclub.

Norwegian Cruise Line’s US-based ships are also chock-a-block with bars. Its newest ship, Norwegian Getaway, even features an ice bar that specialises in cocktails made with Svedka vodka.

Very refreshing on a hot, steamy Caribbean cruise …

Cruise lines to consider

Carnival Cruise Lines, Celebrity Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line, P&O Cruises, Royal Caribbean International.

Try these

Cruise Line Carnival Cruise Lines.

Ship Carnival Spirit.

Itinerary Seven nights, Melbourne Cup cruise, round-trip from Sydney, November 2, 2014.

Fare From $1523.50.

Cruise Line Norwegian Cruise Line.

Ship Norwegian Getaway.

Itinerary Seven nights, Miami to Western Caribbean (Bahamas, Jamaica, Grand Cayman, Mexico), November 15, 2015.

Fare From $805.

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“I can’t stand the idea of being bored.”

The Cruise Director says

If you’re looking at an ocean cruise, choose one that has a short itinerary or plenty of port stops, physically challenging shore excursions and a ship that offers lots of onboard activities. Royal Caribbean International’s ships boast the most innovative onboard playgrounds – think ice rinks, rock-climbing walls, flow-riders and huge sports courts.

Its newest megaship, Quantum of the Seas (launches in November), even features a simulated skydiving experience.

Cruises in Alaska, the Arctic, the Caribbean, Australia and New Zealand take in destinations that offer extreme activities such as canyoning, jet-boating and glacier-trekking – the choice is almost limitless. Some ships, such as SeaDream Yacht Club’s two “yachts”, have onboard marinas so you can go waterskiing, jetboating, catamaran sailing and kayaking straight off the ship.

River cruises stop in different ports every day, sometimes twice a day, so boredom shouldn’t be a problem in Europe, Asia or the US. However, super-active people might find the tours a bit tame.

Cruise lines to consider

Ocean lines: Carnival Cruise Lines, Hurtigruten, Norwegian Cruise Line, P&O Cruises, Princess Cruises, Royal Caribbean International, SeaDream Yacht Club.

River lines: APT, Evergreen Tours, Scenic, Tauck, Travelmarvel, Uniworld, Viking.

Try these

Cruise Line Royal Caribbean International.

Ship Quantum of the Seas.

Itinerary 3 nights, round-trip to Kuala Lumpur from Singapore, June 12-15, 2015.

Fare From $949.

Cruise Line SeaDream Yacht Club.

Ship Sea Dream 1.

Itinerary Seven days, San Juan to St Thomas (Caribbean), January 10-17, 2015.

Fare From $US3299 ($3517).

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“What’s the point of an ice-skating rink on a ship?”

The Cruise Director says

You can’t get much more traditional than a trans-Atlantic cruise with Cunard – the line’s flagship, Queen Mary 2, operates seven and eight-night crossings between Southampton and New York (and vice versa) from May to January.

QM2 boasts the largest library and ballroom at sea, offers afternoon tea with white-glove service, and dressing for dinner is still de rigueur.

The Cunard Insights program attracts high-profile people who present entertaining sessions on everything from filmmaking to politics.

Long-established British line Swan Hellenic, which operates the 350-passenger Minerva, has legions of fans – mainly 60-plus, well-educated and enjoying voyages to destinations that megaships often can’t reach.

River cruises in Europe and Asia are also ideal for tradition-lovers; vessels hold a maximum of 190 passengers, excursions take you to villages, towns and cities of historic and cultural importance, and the range of itineraries gets bigger by the year.

Cruise lines to consider

Ocean lines: Azamara Club Cruises, Cunard, Holland America Line, Fred Olsen, Princess Cruises, Swan Hellenic, Voyages of Discovery.

River lines: APT, Botanica, Evergreen Tours, Scenic, Tauck, Travelmarvel, Uniworld, Viking.

Try these

Cruise Line Swan Hellenic.

Ship Minerva.

Itinerary 16 days, Muscat to Sharm El Sheikh (Egypt), March 29, 2015.

Fare From $2155.

Cruise Line APT.

Ship AmaReina.

Itinerary 15 days, Amsterdam to Budapest, departures March-December 2015.

Fare From $7795.

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“When I travel I like to learn something.”

The Cruise Director says

Choose a cruise with destinations you want to learn about and a ship that offers quality “enrichment” activities.

There are hundreds of courses and classes across an array of lines; you can make jewellery, paint, sculpt, master computer basics or advanced photography, polish your singing and dancing skills, create gourmet meals – the choice is vast.

Princess ships are renowned for their [email protected] programs; other options include Celebrity Cruises’ CelebrityLife; Crystal Cruises’ Creative Learning Institute; Holland America Line’s Explorations program; and Oceania’s Bon Appetit Culinary Centre and the Artist Loft.

Some lines also offer detailed “behind the scenes” tours of the ship bridge, galley, theatre and (occasionally) the engine room.

Themed cruises are another way to go; if you want to immerse yourself in gardening, say, there are cruises that visit famous gardens and host expert lecturers in horticulture – and your fellow passengers will be just as keen on gardening as you are.

Cruise lines to consider

Cunard, Celebrity Cruises, Crystal Cruises, Holland America Line, Oceania Cruises, Princess Cruises, Seabourn, Silversea.

Try these

Cruise Line Princess Cruises.

Ship Diamond Princess.

Itinerary Nine days, round-trip from Tokyo, July 8-16, 2015.

Fare From $1869.

Cruise Line Oceania Cruises.

Ship Riviera.

Itinerary 11 days, “Artistic Discoveries” Venice to Barcelona, May 11-22 2015.

Fare From $3060.



“I love luxury, seclusion, individual style.”

The Cruise Director says

A few days relaxing in balmy, tropical French Polynesia on a small ship that caters for sophisticated grown-ups would fulfil your cravings – we’re talking about the 332-passenger Paul Gauguin. Or you could embark on a traditional tall ship. Sea Cloud Cruises and Star Clippers operate ships that combine contemporary creature comforts with old-fashioned wind-power.

Sea Cloud has two beautiful windjammers that accommodate 64 and 94 passengers. The original ship was built in 1931 and its owners’ suites are the most ornate at sea.

Star Clippers has three tall ships, the 227-passenger Royal Clipper, and the nearly identical, 170-passenger Star Clipper and Star Flyer. All sail in the Mediterranean and Caribbean.

Windstar Cruises has three vessels that have sails, although the sails are computer-controlled; and Compagnie du Ponant’s Le Ponant is similar but smaller and imbued with French chic.

Cruise lines to consider

Celebrity Cruises, Crystal Cruises, Paul Gauguin Cruises, Princess Cruises, SeaCloud Cruises, SeaDream Yacht Club, Seabourn, Silversea, Windstar Cruises.

Try these

Cruise Line Sea Cloud Cruises.

Ship Sea Cloud.

Itinerary Seven days, Valetta (Malta) to Piraeus, May 18-25, 2015.

Fare From €2795 ($3995).

Cruise Line Paul Gauguin Cruises.

Ship Paul Gauguin.

Itinerary Seven nights, Tahiti and Society Islands, May 9-15, 2015.

Fare From $3995.

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“Keeping everyone from grandpa to the toddlers happy is a big call.”

The Cruise Director says

Modern resort-style ships are ideal for a multi-generational holiday – family groups whose members range in age from two to 72 are taking to the ocean in droves. Ships that carry from 1751-6500 passengers fall into this category. They offer interconnecting and quad-share cabins, kids’ clubs that cater for children in different age groups, a huge range of entertainment and activities – and spas, fitness centres, adults-only pools and sun decks.

The family-owned European cruise line MSC Cruises operates family-friendly cruises on its 12 ships – children under the age of 18 travel free when sharing a cabin with their parents.

A more unusual multi-generational cruise popular with American travellers is an educational expedition with Lindblad, whose six ships aren’t bristling with cartoon characters and high-tech toys, but offer interaction with wildlife and soft-adventure experiences in fascinating destinations that suit all ages .

Cruise lines to consider

Carnival Cruise Lines, Celebrity Cruises, Disney Cruise Line, Lindblad Expeditions, Royal Caribbean, MSC Cruises, Norwegian, Un-Cruise, P&O Cruises.

Try these

Cruise Line Royal Caribbean International.

Ship Explorer of the Seas.

Itinerary Eight nights, South Pacific, Sydney round-trip, December 16, 2015.

Fare From $US1290 ($1380).

Cruise Line Celebrity Cruises.

Ship Celebrity Solstice.

Itinerary 14 nights, Sydney-Auckland, January 5, 2015.

Fare From $1704.

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“Take me far from the madding crowd.”

The Cruise Director says

Boutique, soft-adventure and expedition ships can take you to places of peace and solitude that are often accessible only by sea.

Destinations that appeal include the Kimberley, the Russian Far East, Africa, Micronesia and the polar extremes, Antarctica and the Arctic.

Travelling to the world’s wildernesses is usually an expensive exercise, but our thirst for adventure cruising is growing, particularly for the luxury variety.

Cruise lines such as Silversea Expeditions, Hapag-Lloyd Cruises, Compagnie du Ponant and Seabourn operate four or five-star ships that travel to remote places where you can experience encounters with ancient cultures and native wildlife, while enjoying butler service back on board.

More traditional, “hardcore” expedition companies such as Aurora, Heritage, Adventure Associates and One Ocean operate smaller, more spartan ships, often as part of scientific research programs; again, demand is high, particularly for the polar regions.

Cruise lines to consider

Adventure Associates, Aurora, Compagnie du Ponant, Hapag-Lloyd Cruises, Lindblad Expeditions, One Ocean Expeditions, Seabourn, Silversea Expeditions.

Try these

Cruise Line Lindblad Expeditions.

Ship National Geographic Orion.

Itinerary 12 days Antarctic, departing Ushaia, December 7, 2015.

Fare From $12,350.

Cruise Line Silversea Expeditions.

Ship Silver Discoverer.

Itinerary 10 days, Norway to Longyearbyen, Svalbard, July 2-12, 2015.

Fare From $9050.

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As a wise person said to me when I was a child, only boring people get bored. You can do as much or as little as you like on a cruise. Apart from stops in different ports, which you will have a day or more to explore, there are plenty of activities on board. Whether you enjoy a rigorous gym workout, relaxing in the sun with a cocktail and a good book or learning a new skill, there’s bound to be something to suit. Check out what activities different cruise lines offer, before you book.


Going on a cruise doesn’t mean you are confined to a cabin. Whatever size ship you’re on, it will have open deck space, lounges, restaurants, cafes, a pool or two, a spa, a theatre, a library and an internet cafe. Even when you’re on a megaship with 3000 passengers, the ship is designed to ensure there’s plenty of space for everyone. If you think you’ll feel claustrophobic, book a cabin with a balcony. It costs a bit more, but is worth every extra cent.


Cruises of eight to 10 days are increasingly popular with young families, couples and singles, and recent statistics from CLIA Australasia show that nearly half of all cruisers are under the age of 50. Multi-generational cruising is a fast-growing trend, but on the whole it’s only well-heeled retirees who can afford longer and more expensive trips such as a world or grand cruise of 30 to 90 days.


If you’re like most people, who can resist anything but temptation, be prepared to work off a few extra cruise kilojoules. Cruises offer opportunities to indulge in delicious meals and snacks all day (and half the night), so if you’re likely to put on weight, make a deal with yourself to go to the gym, walk the decks, avoid the lifts or do whatever works for you. Meanwhile, try to avoid the buffet, remember that cocktails, wine and beer are loaded with sugar and don’t bring any “big” clothes.


Modern ships have stabilisers and often you barely feel that you’re sailing, but if you’re prone to motion sickness, be prepared. The cabins in the middle of the ship are the most stable and spending time in the fresh air helps banish queasiness. Try drug-free remedies, such as ginger pills, green apples or acupressure wrist bands, or check with your doctor or pharmacist about medication or patches.

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

Advice service fails to woo couples

Posted on 09/07/2018 by

Urging people to register for free relationship counselling: Kevin Andrews. Photo: GLENN HUNTKevin Andrews’ love revolution is a slow burner.

Almost all of the free relationship counselling vouchers under the Social Services Minister’s scheme to introduce more harmony in Australians’ love lives remain up for grabs.

With a limit of 100,000 vouchers available to couples, a spokeswoman for Mr Andrews urged people to register as ”soon as possible” when the scheme launched on July 1.

So far, only about 1400 couples have taken the government up on the offer, leaving about 98,600 vouchers going spare for sessions on parenting, conflict resolution and financial management.

Mr Andrews – who is a fan of regular marriage counselling himself – has labelled the initial take up ”very encouraging”. ”I believe as more people hear about this program, more couples will take advantage of the offer,” he said.

While the $200 vouchers are open to all committed couples over the age of 18 regardless of their marital status or sexuality, most people who have registered are between 25 and 34 years old and are engaged to be married.

The scheme is undergoing a one-year trial and the government is set to introduce a broader advertising campaign for the vouchers, spruiking them through bridal expos, marriage celebrants, churches, Centrelink and Medicare centres.

Relationships Australia spokeswoman Susan Visser said she was noticing couples starting to come in for counselling because of the vouchers. She said that while Australia had ”come a long way” over the past decade, there was still a stigma around counselling.

”We haven’t quite got to the stage where it’s seen as a normal thing to do that, should you be having problems in your relationship or want to enhance the relationship, you go for counselling,” she said.

Mr Andrews has argued his policy will ultimately save the government money by preventing costly divorces.

The $20 million cost of the trial has been found from savings within his portfolio.

Couples can register for a voucher at the Department of Social Services website, choose from a list of approved providers and make an appointment.

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

My place

Posted on 09/07/2018 by

The bush retreat that keeps on giving.In 1964, my husband and I made a momentous decision; we spent our entire savings of £2500 on a half-completed, unlined fibro shack on three blocks of land in what was then a remote area near the back beach between Rye and Sorrento on the Mornington Peninsula.

There was electricity but no mains water and no bathroom; we depended on a water tank, a canvas-bucket shower and a ”long drop” toilet in the bush. Here, with our young family of four, we spent many happy holidays, swimming in rock pools, collecting shells and running over sandhills. No television but great family cohesion.

Over the years, of course, there have been many changes; we now have four bedrooms, two bathrooms, an extra block of land and even a garden shed, but in essence the place remains the same.

Nothing gives me more pleasure than seeing my eight grandchildren enjoying all the same simple things that our own children did all those years ago, and last Christmas there was even a great-grandchild splashing in the rock pools.

Those grandchildren who have driving licences take their friends there, and every year my son hosts a golfing weekend. In spite of its simplicity and lack of luxury, the house is popular with all ages.

My most precious possessions are five dog-eared school exercise books which (beginning in 1964) contain the names and comments of all those hundreds of people who over the years have enjoyed My Place.

Send in your 250-word piece on the place that brings you joy to [email protected]南京夜网.au.

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

Traveller deals: wellness in Thailand

Posted on 09/07/2018 by

Club Med Finolhu Villas Maldives. Romania’s Poenari Castle.



Stay 10 nights for the price of eight at peaceful, luxurious Kamalaya Wellness Sanctuary Koh Samui. The deal includes Hillside room, a wellness program, return flights, transfers and massage. Costs from $4400. Valid until August 24. Phone 1300 551 353. See healthandfitnesstravel南京夜网.au.


Pinctada Cable Beach Resort in Broome, the baby of Marilynne Paspaley, has fab features including a 25-metre lap pool. Book 14 days in advance online and receive 15 per cent off room rates. Secure transfers and spa treatments at the same time, and get 10 per cent off those.

Valid until December 31. See pinctadacablebeach南京夜网.au.



Four days of free child-minding and complimentary children’s meals are offered on stays at Outrigger on the Lagoon. You get seven nights for the price of four as well. From $972 for two adults and two children. Valid for stays October 7-March 31, not over Christmas and New Year. Book by August 31. See outrigger南京夜网/fijifamily7.


Southern Ocean Lodge on Kangaroo Island is exceptional. Get four nights for the price of three when booking with Abercrombie & Kent. The deal includes a take-home hamper, a $50 spa voucher and a $50 “Bespoke Experience” voucher. The price is $6300 a couple twin share. Phone 1300 590 317. See abercrombiekent南京夜网.au.



The new Club Med Finolhu Villas in the Maldives has a great opening deal, two free nights in a seven-night holiday. The package includes transfers, meals, drinks and activities. Priced from $5159 a person. For sale till September 18. Valid only for stays beginning March 14. Phone 1300 887 477. See clubmed南京夜网.au.


Get $1000 off early bird bookings of Bentours’ Classic Antarctic Air & Cruise package. It includes flights, eight days cruising, meals, lectures, Zodiac expeditions and two nights in Chile. Priced from $11,506 a person. Valid for sale till September 2 for departures from December 2015 to February 2016. Phone 1800 221 712. See bentours南京夜网.au.Tourwatch


Spend Halloween in a haunted castle as part of a nine-day tour of beautiful Romania. The small-group G Adventures holiday visits Dracula’s Poenari Castle, explores Bucharest and includes a Halloween party at Hunyad Castle in Transylvania. Transport is on trains and local buses. Priced from $1699 a person twin share. Valid for sale until September 30 for travel starting October 29. Phone 1300 939 414.

See flightcentre南京夜网.au.

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