Robert Dillon: Future of the Newcastle Knights is in the hands of the Wests Group board of directors

CRUCIAL JUNCTURE: The NRL are eager for Wests to assume ownership of the Knights but need to convince the group’s seven board members.THE salvationof the Newcastle Knights could hinge on a show of hands, possibly within a matter of days.

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After months of confidential negotiations –confirmed this week by Knights chairman Brian McGuigan –theNewcastle Heraldunderstands that the Wests Group board of directors remain undecided about the NRL’s bid to sell them Newcastle’s embattled rugby leaguefranchise.

It is believed the NRL will soon be sending a high-powered delegation to Newcastle to meet face-to-face with the seven directors –chairman Owen Kilpatrick, Wayne Hore, John McLaughlin, Geoff Coburn,Jack Ashman, BobDarcy and Scott Holmes, as well as chief executive Phil Gardner –in an attempt to clinch a deal.

Having funded the Knights for almost three years since the demise of former owner Nathan Tinkler, the NRL have reached the conclusion that a Wests takeover is the only feasibleoption.

If it cannot be agreed by the end of this season, there are genuine fears the governing body will turn its attentionto relocating the franchise andforming a second Brisbane team.

This might seem unthinkable to Knights fans, especially in light of last week’s21,412-strong crowd for the clash with Sydney Roosters at McDonald Jones Stadium.

But the governing body has always maintained that its ownership of the Newcastle franchise was an interim measure. Their budgetis not unlimited, nor is their patience.

The NRL put the Knights out to tender late last year, but despite expressions of interest, no suitable consortium or individual emerged.

Combine that with the club’s financially troubled history, dating back to its foundation season in 1988, and would it be any real surprise if the powers-that-be started to seriously question Newcastle’s viability?

Relocating the team, and using Newcastleto hostoccasional games, as clubs do with Central Coast Stadium, might be a last resort. But you can bet your bottom dollar it has been discussed.

All of which can be avoided if Wests agree to come to the party.

The licensed-club juggernaut was immediately identified after Tinkler’s demise as the NRL’s best option to replace him.

As then NRL chief executive Dave Smith said at the time: “As a leagues club they [Wests] have been incredibly successful …you could see how there would be a natural alignment.”

It is believed Wests were interested in taking over the Knights, but only on their terms.

They wanted the remainder of the bank guarantee ($5.1 million) Tinkler forfeited, and further NRL funding tosafeguard against incurring any costs.

The NRL decided they could do better. With the benefit of hindsight, it appears they were wrong.

With no viable alternatives, the NRL returned to the table with Wests early this year.

Unlike the other interested parties during last year’s tender process, Wests tick every box. They are a local organisation, founded by rugby league people, with a massive community presence.

And most of all, they have the necessary financial clout. According to the group’s last financial statement, for the year ended January 31, 2016, they enjoyed a record turnover of almost $137 millionand banked a net profit of$23.186 million.

That took the group’s net assets to$207.6million.

How much would it costto buy out the Knights?

TheHeraldunderstands the major outlaywould be $10 million towards a proposed rugby league centre of excellence, plus yet-to-be-determined running costs that the NRL maintains will be offset by increased club grants from 2018 onwards.

The NSW Government has committed to matching NRL clubs on a dollar-for-dollar basis to build centres of excellence, so Newcastle is in line to receive a state-of-the-art $20 million complex.

It would be situated at District Park, Broadmeadow, possibly replacingthe existing harness-racing track.

So by agreeing to the NRL’s offer, Wests could potentially not only save the Knights from the threat of extinction but contribute towards perhaps the most impressive sporting facility in Newcastle’s history.

That would be some legacy.

So what is stopping them?

Well, their track record would suggest the Wests board rarely make a bad business decision.

They buy struggling, run-down licensed premises, renovate, and turn them into thriving establishments.

As one source said: “They don’t waste one dollar.

“They treat it as if it’s their own money.’’

One of the fewregrettableinvestments they have made over the years was in 2005, when the Knights were verging on insolvency and Wests committed $1 million a year to underwrite the city’s NRL flagship.

It was a partnership that lasted barely twoacrimonious years, afterthe Knights posteda $1.3 million deficit in 2007 and Wests angrily rejected some of the liabilities.

The arrangement was eventually terminated, although Wests continued to support the Knights by providing a training and administration base.

Kilpatrick, who has been a board member for 45 years and president for 11,Hore (36 years), Coburn (24 years), McLaughlin (19 years) and Ashman (16 years) were all directors during that contretemps.

Once burned, twice shy.

It would also be understandable if Wests felt they have already been extremely generous to the Knights for 30 years and have no real need to acquire an “asset” that, history suggests, has been a money pit.

There certainly appears to be a degree of wariness.

TheHeraldhas been told that at a recent board meeting, three directors voted in favour of the NRL proposal, three opposed it, and one abstained, for reasons unknown.

Soon they are expected to vote again, after hearing the NRL’s sales pitch. A ballot, apparently, that they are constitutionally entitled to holdwith no input from the group’s members, who at last count talliedmore than 120,000.

Knights fans can only hope that when it comes time for the directors to raise their hands, those in favour holdthe majority.

Margin loans are bad for your financial health

“Leverage is the only way a smart guy can go broke.” – Warren Buffett.

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Borrowing to invest. The idea is almost as old as investing itself. Australians know the concept only too well, having dramatically increased our household debt levels as we chase ever-higher property prices.

And, thus far at least, it’s been a successful strategy – using the bank’s money to lock in a price on an asset that has gone nowhere but up (quiet, you West Australians, we like our “property never goes down” fiction, thank you very much).

As it should be. After all, if you put $100,000 down and borrow the rest to buy a $1 million property, it needs to rise only 10 per cent, to $1.1 million, and you’ve doubled your money (the $100,000 profit compared with the $100,000 deposit you saved).

See, money for jam. Of course, if that same house fell in price to $900,000, your equity goes from $100,000 to, well, something you can carry around in a thimble ??? with space left for your finger.

Now, reasonable, intelligent people can disagree on will happen next with house prices, but the maths doesn’t lie. That is what leverage does – it magnifies your gains and losses – turning a 10 per cent change in an asset price into a huge win or a disastrous wipeout.

But this isn’t an article about property prices, or the wisdom of borrowing to buy a house. Instead, I want to look at its stepcousin: the margin loan.

That is the term given to an investment loan that is used to buy shares, because we used to say that using the bank’s money to buy shares was “buying on margin”. But it’s essentially the same thing: debt, used to buy an asset, secured against that asset.

But margin debt is different, in three important ways:

First, the interest rate is usually meaningfully higher than mortgage debt. That’s fair enough – the banks judge their risk to be higher, so charge borrowers more for the privilege. But it means you need to get a higher return to cover the cost of that debt.

Second, while a mortgage is secured against a house, and the bank could technically “call” its loan and force you to sell if you’re unable to refinance, it almost never happens. Banks don’t call housing loans. But they do call margin loans. All the time. If your equity falls, you need to top it up with new cash, or the bank can – and will – forcibly sell your shares.

Third, and more destructively, because share prices tend to be more volatile than house prices, short-term share price movements can destroy your portfolio, even if those same share prices recover. During the global financial crisis, share prices almost halved. If you had a margin loan that equated to, say, 70 per cent of your $1 million portfolio, a 50 per cent fall would have seen the bank sell all of your shares, at or near the bottom of the market, and you would have essentially nothing left. Back to square one. Compare that with someone who had a $300,000 portfolio and no debt – their portfolio is now higher than before the GFC. Foolish takeaway

That is the ugly side of leverage. Now, many of you reading this would hear my cautionary tale and think that you’ll be the exception to the rule. You would use margin sensibly. You wouldn’t get caught out. But, like the 90 per cent of drivers who believe themselves to be above average, you can’t all be right. Debt, used well, can be a great tool for wealth creation. But used badly, it can kill your retirement dream. And is that really worth the risk?

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Scott Phillips is the Motley Fool’s director of research. You can follow Scott on Twitter @TMFScottP. The Motley Fool’s purpose is to educate, amuse and enrich investors.

Australia’s surprising top Green status and why it’s in peril

London: An analysis of “green jobs” in five advanced economies ranks Australia as number one in terms of opportunity but the same data shows Australia at the bottom when it comes to job-seeker interest.

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The study, which also ranked the top five green jobs in each country over 2016, shows that “Green Army participant” ranked number three in Australia in terms of job postings. And industry sources said Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s decision to scrap the Green Army program could undermine Australia’s favourable ranking in terms of green job opportunity.

The Green Army, a pet policy of former prime minister Tony Abbott, will wind up in June after it was scrapped by Mr Abbott’s successor – Malcolm Turnbull – in last year’s budget update.

The research was conducted by global job search company Indeed ahead of Earth Day on Saturday and analysed the market for green jobs in five English-speaking countries: Australia, Britain, the United States, Canada and Ireland.

Australia came up number one when it cames to the concentration of green jobs and opportunity. But job seeker interest in green jobs did not match the opportunity, with Australia coming last.

Green jobs are any that protect or restore the environment and can be found across a wide range of industries, including manufacturing, renewable energy and recycling.

Chris McDonald from Indeed said Australia had “led the way” in fostering green jobs but this was not matched by job seeker interest.

“Globally, green jobs are a growing source of opportunity and, of the countries studied, Australia led the way in terms of green job concentration levels.

“There is however an interesting anomaly: when compared to the other markets, Australia appears to face a greater challenge in attracting job seekers to green jobs.

“The study suggests a mismatch in green job opportunities and job seeker interest compared to the likes of Canada and the United States,” he said.

Based on the data, the green job concentration levels suggest that in Australia there are around 6.8 jobs per thousand compared to around four in the US.

However, the research shows that job seekers are 1.7 times more interested in green jobs in the US compared to jobs overall, whereas in Australia job seekers are less likely to seek out green jobs (at a rate of 0.9) compared to regular jobs.

In 2016, “Green Army participant” was the third most common green job posting. Fairfax Media understands job seeker interest effectively halved overnight when it was slated for closure in December 2016. By contrast, searches for green jobs peaked in August 2015.

The Green Army is a taxpayer funded program that paid young Australians aged 17 to 24 up to $996.60 per fortnight based on a 30 hour week. It was hoped up to 15,000 young unemployed people would make use of the scheme where they work in teams for six months on projects such as cleaning up waterways and clearing weeds. But the program was scrapped in the budget update last year to save $350 million, despite the Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg describing the policy as having been “very successful”.

However the Green Army’s website still prominently calls for potential applicants to register their interest and gives no clear indication on the homepage that the program is to be wound down in just a few months.

Green Army vacancies are still being advertised as the government agreed to honour existing project contracts. A current search on Indeed’s Australian site showed 25 job postings for Green Army participants.

Former prime minister Tony Abbott expressed his disappointment at the scrapping of his pet policy at the time.

“I’m dismayed by reports the Green Army may be scrapped,” Mr Abbott wrote on Facebook.

“Not only has it been good for grass roots conservation but it got unemployed people working too.

“It’s a bad principle to axe your own policy for the Greens policy because it means that their priorities are more important than ours.

“That would hardly be a smart move for a centre right government.” Of the savings, $100 million was diverted to Landcare projects as part of a deal the Coalition struck with the Greens. Tasmanian senator Eric Abetz labelled the decision to scrap Green Army projects as “unpalatable”.

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Former Socceroo Jason Culina to flip Putney home

Former Socceroo Jason Culina sells colonial mansionBryan Rose, the buyer of Mosman’s most expensive $22.5 million houseLiberal MP John Alexander sells his Putney home for $2.7 million

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Former Socceroo Jason Culina and his wife Terri are set to flip another home renovation, cementing the football star’s new career status as a property investor.

The couple have rendered their Putney home almost unrecognisable since they purchased it three years ago for $1.77 million.

Gone is the red brick facade and segregated floor plan and in its place is a Victorian-style, five-bedroom home with a living area that overlooks a swimming pool.

The result is in large part thanks to Terri’s interior styling skills, which are showcased on the Eighty Spaces property staging and styling website the couple founded in late 2013 soon after Culina’s retirement from professional football.

The Mitchell Street property goes to auction on May 13 for $3.2 million through Nicholas McEvoy and Peter Grayson, of Bresic Whitney.

The Culinas’ last home renovation was of their 200-year-old colonial mansion Denham Court, which the couple sold in 2014 for $1,725,000. The Culinas owned the historic mansion only two years, restoring and modernising it after they bought it in 2012 for $1.2 million from Dr Keith Okey.

At the time Culina listed the National trust-listed property he told Title Deeds: “I still get my kicks commentating for SBS but in general I don’t miss football.”

The Culinas are already on the house-hunting trail to upgrade their next home, but meanwhile records suggest they have their next renovation lined up given a recent purchase of a restored farmhouse also in Putney for $2.9 million.

City need better balance, to stay calm and defend as a team, says Jakobsen

When Michael Jakobsen finally shrugged off the long-running calf injury that kept him out of the Melbourne City line up for eight weeks, coach Michael Valkanis could hardly disguise his relief.

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In his absence Valkanis had taken every opportunity, when asked about the importance of his Danish centre back, to insist that he was the best defender in the A-League and that he couldn’t wait to rush him back into the starting line-up.

Valkanis’ judgment looked to be spot on when Jakobsen returned to the City rearguard for the penultimate game of the regular season, a 1-0 win over Adelaide United in which City kept an all too rare clean sheet.

Things didn’t quite go to plan in Perth the following week, however, when City shipped five goals in a ludicrous nine-goal thriller.

Jakobsen laughs when asked about that and whether his contribution to City’s defensive set-up might have been over-rated, succinctly pointing out that he was simply one man in a defensive machine that failed to properly function last Sunday evening.

“I don’t think I could make that massive a difference on my own,” he says.

“It’s all about the whole team defending as a unit, not one or two guys at the back. We all have to stick together and work as one, defend and attack with 11 players and concentrate fully from the start.

“We have to be more aware and get more players behind the ball and not get caught out in the way we were, not be so open.”

Jakobsen, in common with his teammates, is expecting a much tighter game this weekend. Last Sunday Perth had to roll the dice and attack to try to win by four goals to force a home final.

This time the season will be over for who loses, so the Dane expected a much more controlled environment and a much more disciplined approach by both teams.

“Last week there was a lot of space out on the pitch. They were attacking, and that meant we could get forward. If we had been better in taking our chances we would not have had the concerns we did.

“They do have some good players going forward and they will try to hit on the break, so we need to have a better balance – and take the chances that we do get.”

This game kicks off at the distinctly un-fan-friendly time of 7pm on a Sunday, but Jakobsen says that City fans should defy the FFA planners and get out in force to support the team as it bids to play its way into the semi-final.

A $22m new neighbour to interchange

MOVING IN: An artist’s impression of the $22 million Millhorn apartments. The building will be seven storeys high and house 40 new apartments.

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It’s seven storeys high, worth $22 million and branded‘The Millhorn’.

And it offersa glimpse ofwhat’s nextforWickham,as the suburb undergoes a seismic shiftfrominner city industrial hubto the next frontier of Newcastle’sapartment boom.

At least six new developmentsare either under construction or in the pipeline for the precinct between the Newcastle transport interchange and Throsby Street.

The latest to be unveiled by Colliers International,The Millhorn, includes 40one- and two-bedroomapartments on Wickham Street.

The bottom floor will be devoted to commercial space and Colliers Director Dane Crawford said he expected it would eventually house“bespoke”retailers.

“I see it as likely to be a…small little cafe or a hole-in-the-wall deli,” he said.

Deposits have now been taken on all of the apartments, which are expected to be completed in late 2018. The homes have been designed by renownedarchitectJohn Streeter.

“It’s already been really well received and we haven’t gone to the public market yet,” Mr Crawford said.“We’ve had a couple of hundred pre-registrations.

“It’s got a couple ofopen communal terraces on level five and that’s been a big drawcard.”

He added that it had been“nice to see” that many of the deposits had been put down by first home buyers.

Across the road from the Millhorn will be the WestEnd, a 122-apartment development. On the next block is Bishopsgate, which will bring 37 new apartments online next year. It’s understoodfurther projects will be announced in coming months.

Hunter director of the Property Council Andrew Fletcher said the high rise waspart of a phenomenon known as “transport orientated development”.

“It’s a bit of a global trend and it’s hitting the Hunter,” he said.“People want to live close to transport links.”

But he didn’t expect itto spell the end of light industry in Wickham.

“There’s no reason light industrial and residential can’t be neighbours. Light industrial means very different things now to what it did 20 and even 10 years ago.”

Six of the best Tasmanian day walks

The Cape Huay Track leads to rugged coastal cliffs. Photo: Getty ImagesORGAN PIPES, MT WELLINGTONThe mountain that towers above Hobart is crisscrossed by trails giving panoramic views out over the city. A four-hour return hike from Fern Tree (accessible by public transport) to pass by the extraordinary rock formation known as the Organ Pipes requires some moderate climbing, from 720 metres to 1000 metres. Once honour has been satisfied, those with cars can drive to the rocky summit, where there are lookouts and an enclosed Visitors Centre from which you can admire the scenery while escaping the biting wind.See苏州美甲学校网wellingtonpark.org苏州美甲学校网.

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The gorgeous Russell Falls is very accessible. Russell_Falls Photo: [email protected]苏州美甲学校苏州美甲学校网

RUSSELL FALLS, MT FIELD NATIONAL PARKThe second oldest national park in Australia (the oldest is the Royal National Park south of Sydney) is Mt Field National Park, established as a nature reserve in 1885 and now less than an hour’s drive from Hobart. It holds the dubious distinction of being the place where the last Tasmanian tiger was captured in 1933. They must have been less strict about taking endangered animals from the wild then. Now it has an easy walking trail (even wheelchair accessible) that takes visitors out to point the backs of their smartphones at the gorgeous Russell Falls. The rainforest below it features wonderful ferns and towering swamp gums, some of the world’s tallest trees. Longer, overnight walks in the park are also possible.See苏州美甲学校网parks.tas.gov苏州美甲学校网/?base=3589

TRUGANINI TRACKOne of the most easily-reached trails begins from the Hobart suburb of Mt Nelson. The 2.1km (one way) track climbs gently through bushland and open forest with wildflowers in spring and plenty of birds any time of year. Near the summit the Truganini Memorial celebrates the first Tasmanians and their descendants. A bonus before or after the walk is coffee, lunch or dinner at the lovely restored historic Signal Station, with views across to the Tasman Peninsula – on a fine day.See苏州美甲学校网signalstation苏州美甲学校苏州美甲学校网

Picture perfect. The view of Wineglass Bay is worth the climb. Photo: Chris Bray Photography

WINEGLASS BAYIs there a more picture perfect beach anywhere in the world than Wineglass Bay? It’s in Freycinet National Park, a 2.5-hour drive along the East Coast from Hobart. It’s a bit of a steep haul up the mountain from Coles Bay to the lookout on the saddle between Mt Amos and Mt Mayson, but the track is well made and it should take only 1-1.5 hours each way. And what a view from the top! If you have time and you’re feeling more adventurous you can climb down the other side to the beach itself, doubling the length of the walk. See苏州美甲学校网wineglassbay苏州美甲学校

There are lovely short walks at Lake St Clair. Photo: Garry Moore.

CAPE HUAY, TASMAN PENINSULAMost visitors to the Tasman Peninsula, just south east of Hobart, head straight for the notorious Port Arthur penal settlement. But the area also features fine coastal walks, ranging from 15-minute family strolls to tough multi-day treks. The Cape Huay Track, 4.4km each way, leads to the rugged cliffs featuring the dolerite pillars, the Candlestick and the Totem Pole, popular challenges for rock-climbers and abseilers. Climbing them is not an essential part of the walk! Allow 4 hours for the round trip.See苏州美甲学校网parks.tas.gov苏州美甲学校网/index.aspx?base=1533

LAKE ST CLAIRFrom the Visitors Centre at Cynthia Bay, about a 2.5 hour drive from Hobart, there are options for lovely short walks along the lakeside or a severe trek up Mt Rufus. There’s a good chance of seeing wallabies and wombats, and possibly even a platypus at dusk or dawn. For a full day excursion, a ferry will take you down the lake to Narcissus Hut, from where it’s a 15-kilometre stroll back along the last section of the famous Overland Track to the Visitors Centre. Allow about 5-7 hours to do it, camera in hand!See苏州美甲学校网parks.tas.gov苏州美甲学校网/?base=3462

In fine weather, these walks can be managed in sensible travel shoes, but be assured that it will rain some time while you’re in Tassie. A good rain jacket is essential at any time of year.

The writer was the guest of Tourism Tasmania.

This article originally appeared on Traveller

Friday Furnace: Freo must fire, MCG hoodoo and Bob’s 300th

Four rounds down and the AFL ladder appears to be taking some shape – albeit a somewhat unusual one.

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Propped up by three-peaters Hawthorn, 2016 finalists North Melbourne and last year’s Grand Final losers Sydney, few would have predicted that trio sitting winless by round five.

So, can the Hawks bounce back over West Coast and continue the Eagles’ MCG hoodoo, will the Swans find their feet in a Sydneyside derby and can Fremantle build on its resurgence to inflict more pain on the Roos?

All this and more as we run the rule over round five, the Anzac Day round.

The Eagles are without Sam Mitchell against his former club. Photo: Getty Images

Stampy:The Sydney derby promises to be a cracker, with pressure on the Swans.

Burning Question: Are the two WA sides the real deal? If they are, then winning this week is non-negotiable.

Headline: Kangaroos catch Dockers on the hop to open account

Tune in: West Coast v Hawthorn – can the Eagles finally beat the Hawks at the ‘G?

Tune out: This is probably the only Friday night game I’m not interested in watching this season. Fortunately I have a friend’s wedding to keep me occupied.

Pick of the Round: Geelong by 1-39 points is paying $2.20. This game has always been a close one, with the Saints winning by three points last time and a draw in the previous outing.

Tips: Power, Dogs, Suns, Giants, Roos, Cats, Eagles, Tigers, Pies

Can the Dockers keep the good form against the Roos. Photo: Darrian Traynor

Burning question: If the Eagles don’t break their MCG hoodoo write off their premiership chances.

Headline you’d like to see: Party with McCarthy: Cam boots five in Dockers third straight win

Tune in: Richmond v Melbourne. Desperate Dees need to overcome Tigers to get their season back on track.

Tune out: Port Adelaide v Carlton. Beware the Friday night stinker.

Pick of the round: A Freo team full of confidence is paying $2.10 to top the Kangaroos by a 1-39 margin. It’s no certainty, but this looms as one of those games where Fyfe drags his side over the line.

Tips: Port, Bulldogs, Adelaide, GWS, Fremantle, Geelong, West Coast, Richmond, Collingwood

Richmond faces a stern test in round five against Melbourne. Photo: Getty Images

Burning question: Already Owen-four, will the challenge of beating little brothers GWS finally get last year’s grand finalists Sydney the four points this season?

Headline you’d like to see: Fierce foes bring back the biff in Anzac Day thriller

Tune in: Bulldogs v Brisbane… the game could be over by half time but the celebrations afterwards for Bob Murphy’s 300th on Saturday (11.45am, Etihad) should be fun.

Tune out: Carlton has a 4-3 record over Port Adelaide in the past five seasons but the Power will shut out the lights early for the Blues on Friday (5.50pm, Adelaide Oval)

Pick of the round: The Swans have some big ins for the GWS clash on Saturday (5.25pm, SCG) and a 1-39 point win at $3 are juicy odds on their home turf, where they’ve never lost to their cross town rivals

Tips: Port Adelaide, Bulldogs, Adelaide, Sydney, Fremantle, Geelong, Hawthorn, Melbourne, Collingwood

Photo: Getty Image

Morpeth Bridge closed for work on same weekend as Tocal Field Days

Morpeth BridgeTocal Field Days organisers were astoundedafter finding out Roads and Maritime Services scheduled closures at Morpeth Bridge on the same weekend as the event.

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The bridge willshutfrom 6am on May 5 until 6pm on May 8. Tocal Field Days runs from May 5 to7.

Tocal Field Days manager Wendy Franklin said RMS did not consult with event organisersabout the closure.

She said she found out about the works through community members.

Ms Franklin contacted RMS about moving the bridge work dates but the request was rejected.

“They’ve refused to change it for what is going to be a really large event,” she said. “It’s mind-boggling.”

About 20,000 attendees are expected at Tocal during Field Days.

Ms Franklin said the closure shouldn’t impact access to the eventas the bridge was only a minor route. She said the main roads most people would use were all still open.

Bridge closures clash with Tocal Field Days | PHOTOS, POLL Rosie Spiteri, 1, and Gracie Spiteri, 2, of Aberglasslyn.

Hamish Williams, 4, of Ashtonfield. Photos: Marina Neil.

Action at Tocal Field Days.

Pig races.

Tocal College Students, Georgia Lantry of Hinton and Kee-Anna Patton of the Gold Coast.

Pig races.

harlotte Jones, 4, of Karuah.

Sheep shearing at the Tocal homestead.

Sheep shearing at the Tocal homestead.

Action at the field days.

Rhiannon Jones of Seaham and Montana Cooper of Quorrobolong.

Clare, 2; Cameron and Louise Waters of Branxton.

Jessie Henderson, 2; Nicki Needham and Steve Henderson of Booral.

Isabella Parker, 8, and Steph Parker, of Maryville.

Joan Gordon, of Elermorevale, and Michelle Gordon, of Wallsend.

Shanelle Wenban, of Lambs Valley, and Dylan Linklater, of Gosforth.

Adam, Sapphira, 2; Callan, and Stevie, 11 months, of Tenambit.

Nora Towns 2; Kate Towns and Kezz Catsicas, all of Singleton.

Lucinda Ray, 10, and Faye Ray of Black Hill.

Sisters April Bryson, Emily Bryson and Lusy Bryson, all of Wamberal.

Brendan Wakeman, Stella Wakeman, 4, of Dungog, and Andrew Wakeman and Brock, 5, Wakeman, of Waratah.

DRUMS: Knox Grammar School’s Pipes and Drum band performs at Tocal Field Days.

GREEN MACHINES: Tocal Field Days

GREEN MACHINES: Tocal Field Days

LIVESTOCK: Singleton district Dexter breeder Ron Brown talks about the advantages of the breed.

SMOKING: The billy boiling competition

IN RYTHYM: Knox Grammar’s Pipes and Drum band performs at Tocal Field Days

GOOD FOOD: Jane Purkiss a member of Hunter Slow Food with some freshly picked vegetables the group was selling at Tocal Field Days.

MASCOT: Tocal Field Day manager Wendy Franklin with a field day ‘cow’

TASTY: Apprentice chef Kody Hutchinson, John Clarke and Amorelle Dempster from Hunter Slow Food at Tocal Field Days.

INSTA: @maxxwellaustralia Hamish, the llama, and friend visited our stand at the Lifestyle Marquee to check out our magnetic jewellery. Learnt a lot about llamas. #tocalfielddays #jewelleryforpetlovers #pawprintdesignjewellery #magneticjewellery #MaxxWellAustralia

INSTA: @cee.christo Starting the CC’s @ 10. Another great weekend with the best of mates! ❤️ #tocalfielddays #countrygirls #pub #nightout #cowgirls #bestmates

INSTA: @penevans When you spend all day at #Tocalfielddays and you only take one photo! So many random purchases… Bought the most handsome rooster… #whopaysforarooster #me #farmlife #thisisatractortyre #tractorwewanttobuyoneday

INSTA: @njds263 Little boy on a little digger! #tocalfielddays #catapillar #westtrack #hudsonzion @caitlingracewest

INSTA: @lil_bitty_farm My kind of Sunday! Waking up to glorious rain, went to the Tocal Field Days to research a few ideas we have and then get to come home to goat cuddles! Life is good! Now to make blueberry and White choc scones #tocalfielddays #babygoats #farmlife #lilbittyfarm #lifesgood #blessed #permaculture #sustainableliving #researching #bigdreams #dreambig #love #australia #instagram ❤️✌🏻️😄

INSTA: @maxxwellaustralia Head on over to this photogenic “cow” located at the Information Desk to find out what is happening where, and when, on the last day at Tocal Field Days. And, that’s no bull! Want a free magnetic massage? Head on over to Stand S20 in the Lifestyle Marquee anytime today between 9am and 4pm. #TocalFieldDays #freemagneticmassage #jewellerywithintegratedmagnets #magneticjewellery #MaxxWellAustralia #jewelleryforpetlovers #pawprintdesignjewellery #giftideasfurmumsformothersday

INSTA: @wsatheband Tearing into the breakdown of “Sunday” today at #tocalfielddays Thankyou everyone!

INSTA: @simonmcdowellpt Tocal field days ! Such a great day with @emilykayjean @eddowilko and @lucyelixabeth #huntervalley #tocal #local #localproduct #tocalfielddays #countrylife #farming #alpaca #animals #pettingzoo #fun #goodtimes #vinyards #wine

INSTA: @kirkyman #tocalfielddays

INSTA: @blue.gum Hanging out at Tocal Field Day with the little dude #lovesatractor #farming #agriculture #tocal #tocalfielddays #bluegum #smallbusiness #maitland #huntervalley #landscaping #building #plumbing #fencing #tradies

INSTA: @saravb187 Spending the day with the lovely @kimbokate. Putting up with me even on my shittiest days since 2000 ❤ #besties #tocal #tocalfielddays

INSTA: @saravb187 Just a casual Saturday hanging out with Hamish! #HamishTheLlama #llama #tocal #tocalfielddays #farmlife #selfiesaturday

INSTA: @averil_maree Although I didn’t get a cart ride, got to see my boys again 😍😍 #clydesdales #tocalfielddays #horses #missthem #tocalgrad

INSTA: @monique.suters Yeah, you read that right *squee* #omgomgomg #tocalfielddays #pigletracing #farmlife #pigsforlife #wantafarm #tocal

INSTA: @bethrichens And on today’s agenda – piglet races at the #tocalfielddays

INSTAGRAM: @kerriepaterson Judging the Billy boiling competition at Tocal field days. #maitland #tocalfielddays

INSTA: @maxxwellaustralia Knox Grammar band was awesome. Great to hear the music in the Lifestyle Marquee to liven things up. I was dancing along at Stand S20. #TocalFieldDays #jewellerywithintegratedmagnets #magneticjewellery #freemagneticmassage #MaxxWellAustralia

INSTA: @wilkiedesign No filter today at tocal the sky looks amazing.. #tocalfielddays #wilkiedesign #market #fridaymarkets #dayout #sun #tocal #shopping #ladies #clothing

TweetFacebook Tocal Field Days 2016 +48MORE GALLERIES

facebookSHAREtwitterTWEETemailwhatsappBut she said she couldn’t believe there was no consultation or consideration of the event.“We’re at a loss to explain it,” she said.

Morpeth businesses also expect to take a hit from the bridge closure.

Savannah on Swan barista Melanie Bailey said the bridge closures hadaffectedbusiness in the past.

She said sheexpectedpeople wouldbypass Morpethwhile the bridge was closed.

“It will cut down business but we’re powerless to do anything about it,” she said.

The situation won’t be so dire for Le Beau Cafe, which will be closed for renovations.Le Beau Cafe owner Nadine Monaghan said the timingworked out well for her business, but not for others.“I would be annoyed if I was open,” she said.

The May bridgeclosure is the third and finalas part ofmajor upgrades of the structure.

An RMS spokesperson said business owners had been included in discussions about closure dates, to reduce an impact on customers and motorists.

“No significant traffic impact is expected as motorists will be detoured via Harry Boyle Bridge at Pitnacree, which adds about seven minutes to the journey.”

Hunter’s surviving Anzac Alf Carpenter turns 100

Century for digger Alf | photos, video MILESTONE: Alf Carpenter, who fought in several theatres of World War II before fate brought him to Newcastle, turns 100 on Saturday. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

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MILESTONE: Alf Carpenter, who fought in several theatres of World War II before fate brought him to Newcastle, turns 100 on Saturday. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

Alf Carpenter with a downed German troop carrier in Crete, Second World War.

MATES: Alf Carpenter (centre) with fellow diggers Bob Tallon and Earnie Evans.

Alf Carpenter among the Pyramids of Giza during World War II.

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facebookSHAREtwitterTWEETemailwhatsappcommentCommentsALF Carpenter remembers swimminginthe warmSouth Pacific, kickingaway fromthe wreckof a bullet-riddenbarge, filling his lungsandnot giving a thoughtto his chances ofever being old.

Hismind was on what he’d do next, if he happened to survive.

Mr Carpenter and a fellow digger floatedin the narrow Buka Passage, east of present-day Papua New Guineain the aftermath of a Japanese attack on their flotilla, and struck up a conversation.

He’dbeen in command of six barges of troops, which intelligence services had decidedcould make “a soft landing” in a small bay lined with pontoons.

Mr Carpenter’stroop bargeshad been guiding a supply barge into thebeach.

“That’s when all Hell broke loose. We got shot up, I finished up in the water, and I swam out to sea,” Mr Carpenter, of Georgetown,said.

“Another chap was with me,we started chatting.He said, ‘if we get out of this place alive, we’ll go into business together’.”

The other digger, it turned out,was a retailer worker from Wallsend. A year after theconversation in the water under fire as they waited to be rescued,heurged Mr Carpenter by telegramto move up from Wagga Wagga andhelp set up a general store in Warners Bay.

“We ran the business there for quite a long time. And that’s how I came to be in Newcastle.”

TheBuka Passage joined a growinglistof places that could have killed Mr Carpenter duringWorld War II.

Since the warbegan he’d beenstationed in Libya,Egypt, and Syria’smodernwarzonesof Damascus and Aleppo, where“boy, did the wind blow through”.

He’d foughtamong thousands ofAustralians atthe Battle of Crete,Germany’s biggest airborne operation, whereNazi troop carriers dronedinacross the Mediterraneanto dropterrifying cascades ofparatroopers.

On Crete, in the city ofHeraklion, he took a piece of metal to thehead.

“We’d been mortar bombed, and I was hit by shrapnel. In latter years I lost the sight in my right eye,” Mr Carpentersaid.

“But acornea implant has given me back 25 per cent of the sight in the eye. I’ve still got my licence.”

Having fought in Europe and the Middle East, Mr Carpenter was sent to the Pacific towardsthe end of the war to help fight the Japanese invasion force.

And on Saturday, withfriends and familyat South NewcastleLeagues Club andat least a schooner of his favourite, Tooheys Old, one of the Hunter’s last Anzacswill celebrate turning 100.

Anzac Alf Carpenter, on a fellow digger’s pledge

His longevity can’t have been hurt, he says, by the fact he was a runner, decoratedsurf lifesaver and keen swimmer with cold-water-loving diehards, the Merewether Mackerels.

“I swam last Sunday, but I’m in reverse-thrust now. I think I’m going backwards,” Mr Carpenter said.

“But I used to bethe zone supervisor for Surf Life Saving. I got involved in 1938,got my bronze medallion at Maroubra beach. Anything I’m interested in, I tend to do pretty well at.”

When MrCarpenterenlisted in the second Australian Imperial Force in 1939 and sailed for the Middle East,he had been married his wife Marjorie for a month. He has outlived her, and two sons.

He has been back to Greece 10 times and, inSydney in 2015, was honoured by Greek government officialsin a ceremony for Oxi Day.

“Oxi” is Greek for “No”, and the Greeks proudly celebrate their country’s refusal toMussolini’s requestto grant the Italian forces wartimepassage overland.

This Anzac Day, as he does every year, Mr Carpenter will wear his blazer and his medalsandmarch throughSydneyas a marshall of the2/4th Infantry.

Talk of tightened security atAnzac Day marches around the country doesn’t perturb him, he said.

“They say there’s a greater threat from terrorism, but I don’t give a bugger. If I were to go that way, then that’s what I’lldo.”