Hawks bt Suns, stay in AFL top eight mix

Hawthorn have overcome errant kicking and a sluggish start to beat Gold Coast by 53 points in their AFL clash in Launceston.
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The Hawks trailed by nine points at quarter-time but did enough to beat the fading Suns 13.18 (96) to 5.13 (43) on Saturday in front of 9007 fans.

Hawthorn’s third-straight victory keeps them in the top-eight mix, while the battling Suns have lost eight in a row.

“We got jumped a little bit at the start,” Hawks coach Alastair Clarkson admitted.

“It was a tough game of footy. At no stage was there any real flow in the game, except perhaps late when we got two or three goals that made it look like it was a big margin.”

Both teams sprayed countless set shots throughout the afternoon, including several from in front.

Jack Gunston kicked three goals after copping a hit below the belt during warm-up and a calf cork early on, while Liam Shiels finished with a game-high 33 touches.

Veteran Shaun Burgoyne sat out the last quarter with ice on his troublesome hamstring but Clarkson said it was precautionary.

“He complained about being a bit sore and tired,” Clarkson said.

“There was no point taking a risk with him. We’ll monitor it during the early part of next week.”

Despite the final margin, the Suns dominated territory early, with talls Tom Lynch and Peter Wright combining for three opening-term goals.

But it went pear-shaped for Gold Coast, who only scored 0.5 in the middle quarters.

Coach Stuart Dew was able to find some positives after last week’s narrow loss to St Kilda.

“Our boys had a crack. We were really beaten by some outside class in the end,” he said.

“We had our looks but weren’t able to capitalise.

“I think they kept their feet better and were stronger in the tackles as well.”

Hawthorn took a 37-24 lead into halftime, punctuated just before the break by a high-flying grab from Taylor Duryea.

In line with the theme of the day, he kicked a behind.

The Suns rallied late in the third quarter but squandered their chances, missing three kickable set shots in a row.

Hawthorn found their radar in the dying stages, with skipper Jarryd Roughead icing the win with a major from the final kick of the day.

Australian Associated Press

Tathra resident comes up with innovative house plan after devastating bushfire

One of the houses lost in the Tathra bushfire, and Lies Paijmans (inset), whose own house was burnt down in the March disaster.A woman from Tathra who lost her house in the recent bushfire has come up with an innovative concept forrebuilding.
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On March 18, LiesPaijmans was in Bermagui when she heard about a fire nearTathra.

After stopping in Mogareeka and seeing it approach the town, she headed home and sawpeople packing and leaving, including one of her sisters, who lived next door.

“I went into my house andgrabbed my laptop and iPad, and that was all,” she said.

“I wandered around a bit aimlessly; I just had no plan, I didn’t expect it to happen.”

“It was pretty hard to take it in, it was just shocking. What else can you say?”

She drove to Mogareeka, from where she could hear gas bottles popping in the heat,and watched the bushfire hit the town.

Read more:Shocking photos of Tathra show scenes of utter devastation

“I was completely convinced the whole of my street would have been burnt,” she said.

“I texted my son and told him‘get ready to say goodbye to your house’.”

Later when she was in Brogoshe got the news she both dreaded and expected,that her house had burnt down– although it wasthe only one on her street.

It had been her home for 14 years, where she had lived with her parents when taking care of them and she had lost may treasured items, such as photo albums and paintings by family members.

An aerial shot of the raging bushfire.

“It was pretty hard to take it in, it was just shocking. What else can you say?” she said.

Ms Paijmanssaid it was also hard on her other sister who had the house built for their parents to live in, asall the sympathy cameto her but not her sister who also felt traumatised.

“I think that’s the case for a lot of people in Tathra. They didn’t necessarily lose anything, or only some things, but felt like they didn’t deserve the attention when there wereother people that lost everything,” she said.

While she went through a stage where she did not even want to see the remains ofherhouse again, she realised rebuilding was an opportunity to look into the future and came up with the idea of communal living.

Dozens of homes were destroyed as the bushfire tore through the South Coast town.

The plan is to build a house with several self-contained rooms as well as a common living and kitchen space soresidents can look after each other as they grow older, which means that in the long term they could continue to live at home for longer instead of moving into an aged care facility.

Both permaculture and sustainable principles would be utilised during the construction process.

Ms Paijmans has been to most of the community meetings in the aftermath of the fire, but said adisappointingaspectwas the absence of a process to get the community actively involved in sharing stories and ideas and being part of the whole decision making process, rather than passive recipients of the help provided, as wonderful as this has been.

“I think it’s a shame the recovery process hasn’t focused more on community involvement in the decision processes and sharing people’s stories in a structured way,” she said.

“If as a community we want to get stronger…it will only happen effectively if we do it through self-determination.”

While she said the Tathra community was recovering slowly, she said there were still many people who were traumatised and easily triggered.

“That sort of trauma can take a long time to recover from, it can take years,” she said.

“I think the best thing for me is I’ve got such a good network of friends and family so the process has been less traumatic for me than maybe it has been for other people.

“I did go through a period of being completely overwhelmed by grief, loss and shock.

“I loved my house, I loved my garden. It was the perfect place and to have it all just gone feels like a tragic waste.

“At least no-one died, no-one was hurt. That would have been a very different feeling.”

Why Leah Jay participates in the Big Freeze: to rid the world of MND

Climbing for good: Newcastle woman Leah Jay on her Everest trek in 2017.As she pushed towards the summit of Everest in the pre-dawn on May 22 last year – every step in slow motion, gasping for breath in the high-altitude air – Leah Jay thought not of her discomfort, the cold, the dark, the sheer drops on either side of the narrow ridge she was traversing, nor even the elusive prize that lay a just ahead at the top of the mountain. Instead, her thoughts were consumed by the struggles and fears of another.
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Leahwas thinking of her teenage son, Elliot, and the ordeal he had endured 10 years earlier when he was suddenly struck, then swiftly taken, by motor neurone disease.

“I was constantly thinking about Elliot and what he experienced,” Leah says softly. “I was trying to imagine what it would be like to be 19 and facing death, with your body deteriorating, and you can’t speak and you can’t breathe … that was my driving force.”

In 2007, Elliot Jay was an intelligent, fun-loving teenager who, in his mother’s words, “sucked the life out of life”.

Early that year, Elliot had started to limp and stumble a little. Leah, a well-known Newcastle property management specialist, wasn’t overly concerned.

Suspecting a sporting injury or some other minor ailment, she sent her son off to the GP.

“We had no idea what we were in for,” she says. “It took four or five months for Elliot to be diagnosed with MND but over that time he was rapidly deteriorating. The progression of the disease through his body over those few months – it was fierce.”

Motor neurone disease, or MND, is an unforgiving disease. It attacks the muscles that allow people to move, speak, breathe and swallow. The nerve cells, or neurones, that control those muscles degenerate and eventually die, stripping the sufferer of the ability to perform all bodily functions.

Change of life: Leah Jay got herself fit to meet the challenge of tackling the Seven Summits. Picture: Liz Kalaf

Sometimes the progression of the disease is slow, such as in the case of Stephen Hawking who lived with MND for more than 50 years. In Elliot’s case, the onset was rapid.

“There’s no cure, we knew that straight away,” Leah says, “Elliot accepted it. He knew he was on borrowed time. So what he decided to do, which was what I decided to do from that point, was live every day.

“He took the reins and made sure we all had memories of the last 10 months of his life that we’ll never forget. Strange as it may seem, he led us on that journey. He directed it; he directed the end of his life.”

By early 2008, Elliot was bedridden and his body was failing him. His ability to speak was starting to go, too,but while he still had the use of his voice, he delivered to his mother some blunt advice that sowed the seeds for what would blossom into her passion for mountain climbing.

“He said to me one day, very matter of fact, ‘Mum I’m going to die’,” Leah recalls. “And I don’t want you to become one of those mums who goes weird because their kid has died. Go and enjoy life.

Leah Jay, on her son Elliot, who died of MNDTHE CHALLENGELeah Jay, conqueror of six of the world’s Seven Summits (the highest mountains on each continent) and one of a small group of Australian women to have stood on the summit of Everest, allows herself a wry smile when she recalls the genesis of her mountain climbing exploits.

“Elliot would be laughing his head off about all this,” she says. “We used to go down to Burwood Beach so he could go surfing and he would tease me because I struggled to walk back up the hill on the way home. Seriously, I was that unfit.”

After Elliot’s death, there was an inevitable period of mourning for Leah. She had her days “when you just can’t get up off the sofa”. She started walking and doing yoga, and found that being active and outdoors were good for her mental health and emotional wellbeing.

Near what would have been Elliot’s 21st birthday, an opportunity arose to trek the Kokoda Track to raise money for MND research. Leah completed the trek with her daughter, Emily, Elliot’s father, Geoff, and a group of Elliot’s friends who had remained a strong support unitsince his death.

“It was goddam hard; I really struggled,” Leah says. “But I got through it and then I started to think, ‘OK, what else can I do?’”

A trip to the Himalayas triggered an interest in trekking, which in turn led to an ascent of Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa at 5895 metres, and the most accessible of the Seven Summits.

All of a sudden, mountain climbing was on Leah’s agenda.

A few more trekking trips to Nepal followed before Leah took on her next major challenge in 2014: a technically difficult Himalayan mountain called Ama Dablam.

Successfully completing that climb was “huge”, she says.

“I thought, if I can do that, I’ve got a good chance of summiting Everest and climbing all the other peaks of the Seven Summits.”

Leah scaled Russia’s Mount Elbrus in 2014, followed by Aconcagua (Argentina), Carstensz Pyramid (Indonesia) and Vinson Massif (Antarctica) in 2015.

She got just short of the summit of Denali, in Alaska, the highest peak in North America, in 2016 before bad weather halted the expedition.

“You get on a roll,” Leah says ofher transformation from an exercise-agnostic middle-aged suburban mum to advanced mountaineer. “Each mountain is a little different, and you learn new techniques.

“Climbing mountains is a lot of mental toughness as well. You have to develop confidence and learn to overcome fear.”

By 2017, Leah felt she was ready to tackle the big one: Mount Everest.

TOUGHENING UP On the way up: Leah Jay traversing through the mountains on her Mount Everest trek.

At the time her Everest preparation began, Leah was already in the habit of running eight to 15 kilometres four days a week, doing strength training twice a week and yoga another two days. For Everest, she amped the training up further: running six days a week, sometimes twice a day, extra, high-intensity strength workouts, hill sessions, a fresh food diet and absolutely no alcohol.

“For Everest, you have to get right outside of your comfort zone, you have to be 150 per cent prepared,” she says. “I’d deliberately get up at 4.30 in the morning when it was cold and dark and horrible, because when you are on a mountain you have to just get up and go. You can’t wait until the sun comes up and it’s nice and bright.”

About seven months after that rigid training ritual began, Leah trekked up to Everest base camp to begin the final preparation for her climb. She would spend eight weeks on the mountain in total.

From base camp, an attempt to scale Everest requires several rotations. To acclimatise and build up their red blood cells, climbers have to climb to camps one, two and three, spending various amounts of time at each, before descending to base camp again to regain their strength.

Leah’s expedition nearly ended after the first rotation and her first experience of ascending and descending the notorious Khumba Icefall, an avalanche-prone, unstable landscape of jagged pinnacles, sheer ice walls and wide crevasses that are crossed by narrow ladders.

“I was so petrified after that first climb through the icefall that I just couldn’t face the thought of going back up; the thought made me physically ill,” she says.

“I rang my daughter, Emily, and told her I thought I had bitten off more than I could chew. But we talked about it and she convinced me to go on.

“I think it was the fear of failure that made me change my mind, and knowing that I had been through way worse when Elliot was dying. I thought about Elliot and everything he had to face and the fear he had to overcome, and I decided that surely I could go out and climb up a few more ladders and go over a few more crevasses.

“Plus, I had had in my mind that if I could get to the highest point on the planet, then that’s probably the closest I could get to Elliot. So that thought played a massive part in keeping me going.”

Incredibly difficult: Leah Jay crossing a crevice on her Mount Everest trek.

Leah pushed on, but the mountain had a few more challenges to throw at her. Arriving at camp four before the night of her summit attempt, there was a dead body on the ground, a stark reminder of the potential dangers that lay ahead. The victim had attempted to summit Everest without oxygen. His climbing mate was alive but gravely ill, and succumbed a few hours later.

On the night of May 21 2017, Leah and her expedition group left the relative comfort of their tents, precariously perched on the South Col at camp four, to begin their final ascent, hoping to reach the summit around dawn.

“Everything is difficult at that altitude,” Leah says. “You are in survival mode. You can’t eat, you can’t sleep, you don’t have a lot of energy but you have to draw on your reserves. You can actually feel your body dying.”

Climbing in slow motion, Leah made it to the top – then promptly went blind in her right eye, courtesy of an aneurism that struck as she stood on the summit. The problem would eventually clear but the loss of vision on one side made for an ‘horrendous’ descent back to camp four.

But before that setback, Leah had the opportunity to experience her fleeting few minutes on the roof of the world, soaking in the stunning view and savouring her personal triumph. She had achieved what she had set out to do. Not just in reaching the summit, but in making a spiritual connection with Elliot.

“As I got to the summit, I felt I was the closest I could be to Elliot here in this world,” she reflects.

“He was there. I felt his presence and I felt a huge sense of relief that I had been able to do it.

“I had climbed as high as I could to try to reach him.”

THE BIG FREEZELeah Jay on her mission to honour her son Elliot. Video by Amy De LoreLeah Jay is just back from Denali. It was the only one of the Seven Summits she failed to conquer on first attempt, so she returned in May to tick it off the list. Unfortunately, bad weather struck again, and at the moment she is undecided on a future attempt. She admits, though, that her climbing campaign really climaxed with Everest last year.

“It sort of tied things up with Elliot,” she says. “After Everest, I found a total sense of peace and centeredness that I really hadn’t experienced before.”

What started out as a very personal journey for Leah has segued into a platform for advocacy. People love to hear about her mountain climbing adventures, so she has become, reluctantly, a popular public speaker and, in turn, a front woman for the MND cause.

This time next week, she will supporting more than 20 sliders launching themselves down a slippery dip into a pool of icy water at the No 1 Sports Ground, as the chairperson of the Big Freeze, a super-charged version of the ice bucket challenge popular on Facebook a few years ago.

Each slider is tasked with raising at least $5,000 for the charity Fight MND. Among the participants will be Chris Fanning, who was diagnosed with MND in February, and his wife and children. Many of the sliders have a direct connection to the disease through family or friends who have been afflicted.

Leah was a slider in last year’s Big Freeze, which raised more than $109,000. This year the target is $150,000.

“I never set out to do any of this, but it does help to raise the profile of MND and I’m fortunate to be able to use something that I enjoy doing to promote that cause,” Leah says.

“What drives me to keep going is awareness of the disease, and funding for a cure.

“As soon as we can find a cure to eradicate this beast of a disease, none of us will have to do this any more.”

The Big Freeze Newcastle will be held from 2.30pm on Saturday June 23 at No 1 Sports Ground. For more details, or to support a slider, visit Newcastlefreeze南京夜网 or phone 0499 014 954.

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Ponga can be Qld Maroons great: Walters

No pressure, Kalyn.
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The lead-up to Sunday’s State of Origin game two in Sydney was already intense enough for Queensland rookie Kalyn Ponga.

Now Maroons mentor Kevin Walters has unwittingly cranked it up another level by predicting the 20-year-old can emulate Billy Slater and become one of the Maroons’ greats.

A fullback was always going to dominate Queensland’s build-up to Origin II with Slater playing his 30th game for the Maroons.

However, it is Newcastle No.1 Ponga who has been hogging the headlines before his long-awaited debut off the Maroons’ bench.

And Walters has not tried to hose down the hype, saying Ponga is destined for greatness, just like Slater who had also made his Origin debut at 20.

“We’ve had many players over the years debut at his age and they have come through to be some of our greatest Origin players,” Walters said.

“He’s a courageous player and that suits Origin. But we don’t want him to do anything different to what he has been doing with the Knights.”

At 20 years and 86 days, Ponga will become the youngest Origin player since NSW’s Will Hopoate in 2011 (19 years and 37 days) and the youngest Queenslander since Israel Folau in 2008 (19 years and 48 days).

But the question remains – how will Queensland use Ponga as a bench utility?

Ponga spent time training at fullback in Queensland’s captain’s run on Saturday at ANZ Stadium, adding more intrigue ahead of his debut.

“How we use him will be determined on how the game is flowing but the good thing is he has the 14 jumper on for us,” Walters said.

While Ponga had dominated the build-up, Walters said there would be only one fullback on the team’s minds on Sunday – Slater.

The veteran will finally kick-start his final Origin series in his milestone game after overcoming a hamstring injury that had forced his last-minute withdrawal before the series opener.

Slater becomes the 11th player and 10th Queenslander to join the 30-game Origin club.

“Bill has been one of the great Origin players of all time. We want to get the result Billy wants (on Sunday),” Walters said of Slater who will play his first game in five weeks in Origin II.

“If you could model a Queensland State of Origin player around someone, he is one you would think of with all his traits.

“We expect him to get a bit of a workout from NSW but it is not the first time they have tried to sort him out.”

Slater scored the last of his 12 Origin tries in game three 2014, his only four-pointer in his past 12 matches for Queensland.

Australian Associated Press

WA Lib by-election win a Labor smackdown

The Liberals have won back the West Australian state seat of Darling Range in a massive smackdown of the McGowan government 15 months after Labor swept to power in a landslide victory.
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Alyssa Hayden, a two-term Barnett government upper house MP, beat Labor candidate Tania Lawrence, a former Woodside manager.

The by-election was triggered by the resignation of Barry Urban after colossal lies about his background were uncovered, including wearing a police medal for investigating war crimes in Bosnia despite never having served there.

So it was gobsmacking when the government found itself embroiled in another credibility crisis with its first candidate, Colleen Yates, who apparently didn’t fib to the party but committed the lesser crime of exaggerating about her tertiary qualifications in an online profile.

“It was a very tough by-election and very tough circumstances as we are all aware,” Premier Mark McGowan told party members on Saturday.

He said the “circumstances” were beyond Labor’s control but he had previously admitted the party’s vetting process had to be improved, insisting Ms Lawrence had been subject to a higher level of scrutiny when unveiling her as the new candidate three weeks ago.

He blamed the loss on the controversies, saying they had clearly hit Labor in the polling booths although it was always hard to win a by-election in government.

“The result is one we will review, clearly, in coming days and weeks, and take heed of what the people of Darling Range have said to us.”

During last-minute campaigning, Ms Hayden seized on the controversies plus a fresh one that erupted on Thursday when Water Minister Dave Kelly allegedly made a headbutt gesture at Nationals leader Mia Davies during a heated debate in parliament.

Ms Hayden described the gesture, which Mr Kelly vehemently denies making and was not caught on camera, as “disgraceful”.

“This is a chance for the people of Darling Range to say we will not tolerate bad behaviour, we will not tolerate lies and broken promises,” she said.

“Labor are not fit to govern in my opinion.”

She said voters in the traditionally Liberal-held seat had indicated they were deeply disappointed by the Urban scandal.

The Liberals also campaigned against big hikes in household fees and charges, which kick in on July 1, but Labor defended that argument by saying it was cleaning up the financial mess left by the previous government.

Both parties had said they expected the poll would be a tight race, but Opposition Leader Mike Nahan had leaned on the side of pessimism, saying toppling Mr Urban’s 5.8 per cent swing was “a big ask”.

Ms Lawrence, who made it to polling day with her reputation intact, said she would have another go at politics at future elections.

Labor still has a massive upper house majority of 40 out of 59 seats.

Australian Associated Press