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Treble of tries: CYMS fullback Kieran Cubby-Shipp scored a hat-trick against the Forbes Magpies on Saturday. Photo: BROOK KELLEHEAR-SMITHDubbo CYMS have extended their lead at the top of the Group 11 ladder after a comfortable 50-12 victory against the second-placed Forbes Magpies on Saturday.
苏州美甲美睫培训学校

CYMS weathered the send off of second rower Wade Kavanagh during the second half of their match at Caltex Park but were still much too strong.

John Grey and Keiran Cubby-Shipp both scored hat-tricks for hosts as they extended their winning streak to nine for season 2016.

CYMS coach Tim Ryan said his side were expecting a tough contest, after Forbes beat Wellington 106-12 six days earlier and he was happy with what he saw from his players.

“It was a good battle, a very good first 20 minutes but the game probably fell away later. It was a good result though and the boys came to play,” Ryansaid.

Magpies coaching co-ordinator Cameron Greenhalgh said his team needed to play for 80 minutes if they were going to be able to compete with a team like CYMS.

“CYMS played for the full 80 minutes whereas we probably played about 30 minutes of the football we wanted to play and youcan’t do that,” he said.

Forbes made the better start and scored an early try through Ben Maguire but that was the only bright spot for the half.

Cubby-Shipp fired a warning shot when he went close to scoring the first time CYMS got inside the Forbes 20-metre line, and just minutes later he was over after a pass from Kavanagh.

Midway through the half Kavanagh was sin binned but the home side extended their lead while he was away, a try to Ben Marlin taking the score to 10-4.

Cubby-Shipp found space and passed to Alex Bonham for a four pointer and from the kick-off Jyie Chapman found space down the right sideline and passed inside to Cubby-Shipp to make it 22-4 on the stroke of half-time.

Forbes drew first blood after half-time. A penalty for ahigh tackle gave them good position and Martin Herbert was on the receiving end of some swift passes to the left side of the field.

A double to Grey in the space of two minutes took the lead to 34-8 and killed any chance of a comeback.

A fight broke out between the sides with 26 minutes remaining and Magpies halfback Matt Roylance was sin binned while Kavanagh was given his marching orders.

Ben Robinson scored for the visitors before Shipp and Grey completed their hat-tricks and Pellow found the lineto round out the scoring at 50-12.

CYMS travel to Nyngan on Sunday to take on the Tigers in catch-up while Forbes have the bye.

DUBBO CYMS 50 (Keiran Cubby-Shipp 3, John Grey 3, Alex Bonham, Ben Marlin, Colby Pellow tries;Bonham 3, Pellow 4goals.) defeated FORBES MAGPIES 12 (Ben Maguire, Martin Herbert, BenRobinson tries).

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ROUND 11 of theLewie Fire Premiership saw a well-fought game between Cloncurry Eagles and Town Lions with only one try separating the teams.
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Town kicked off and pushed through Curry’s defense, thissaw Nathan Giles put the first points on the board. Town missed the conversion leaving the score 4-0 in the first minute of the game.

Curry were rattled leaving a hole in their defense which saw Town’s Paul Costello score at the left corner post. Town converted bumping the score to 10-0.

LIONS WIN: Town’s Adam Devine holding off Cloncurry’s attack at Alec Inch Oval on Saturday. Photo: Samantha Walton.

Ten-minutes into the game saw Curry player Brendan Baillie taken off the field due to an injury, but this did not deter Curry’s success. Kicking a 40-20, James Baira scored under the post and converted his own try to putpoints on the board for Curry, 10-6.

Town fought back with a hard tackle from James George that saw aCurry playerknocked to the ground. Curry picked back up withanother 40-20 andscrambled around Town’s defense with Jeffrey Wilson scoring in the left corner. Try was not converted,score 10-10.

Townkicked off and scrambled for the ball, Curry tried to hold them out but Justin Smith put Town ahead on 16-10 with a converted try in theright corner.

Curry player Jeffrey Wilson was at it again breaking through Town’s defensescoring in the left corner. Try was not converted, score was 16-14.

Both teams continued to share possession with no points on the board, until James Mahr from Town scored under the post on half time. Try was converted with a score of 22-14.

Curry kicked off tostart the second half. Curry’s first playlooked promisingto scorebut was pushed out of play by Town.

The ball switched possession between the two but it wasTown who regained possession and Simon Duke scored next to the post. Try was converted, score28-14.

Twentyfive minutes remaining and Curry’s James Bairascored off the back of another 40-20. The try was converted and left a score of 28-20.

It looked as though Town had lost their motivation when Curry’s Jeffery Wilson broke through Town’s defense and scored in the left corner. Curry did not convert the try, score was 28-24.

Curry continued to put pressure on Townbut a penalty in front of the postsprevailed for Town, leading 30-24.

The game heated up in the final 14minutes,with a non-converted try from Curry’sJeffrey Wilson, followed by a converted try by Town’s Adam Divine. Town leading 36-28.

Curry finished the game with Lesley Gallagher scoring with no conversion,ending the game 36-32.

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TOO GOOD: Collingullie-GP’s Matt Beckmans fires off a handball in front of GGGM’s Lachlan Steward at Crossroads Oval. Picture: Laura HardwickCOLLINGULLIE-Glenfield Park kept their finals hopes alive with a spirited 41-point victory over Ganmain-Grong Grong-Matong on Saturday.
苏州美甲美睫培训学校

The reigning premiers moved back within four points of the top five by proving far too good for the Lions, 11.12 (78) to 5.7 (37) at Crossroads Oval.

Playing in muddy conditions, the Demons were still able to get their running game going as they moved the ball far superior to the under-siege Lions.

Collingullie-GP won the midfield battle and with James Morris dangerous deep in attack, ran out convincing winners.

Six unanswered goals in the second term set up the victory as the Demons went from trailing to 27 points up at the main break.

The Lions kicked the first two goals of the second half to close back within 15 points but that was it as the Demons responded with the final four goals of the game.

Collingullie-GP coach Brett Lenon was thrilled with the victory but was not getting carried away with talk of finals just yet.

“We’re not looking too far ahead,” Lenon said.

“We all know it’s within reach but we’re not concerning ourselves with that.

“We’ll just go a week at a time, I know it’s an old cliche but it’s a week at a time. We’re not in a position where we can afford to get ahead of ourselves so we’ll take it a week at a time, and start with Coolamon next week and go from there.

“If we’re going to be any chance we just need to keep winning.”

Lenon was pleased to see the fire back within his Demons team.

“When we’re up and about and we have got these things right, our effort and pressure, then we have the ability to press sides and win games of footy,” he said.

“That was the most pleasing part, that the fire is still there and we have taken a good step in the right direction.”

Lenon said there were a couple of key areas that the Demons focused on and it worked.

“We’ve been working on a lot of stuff, all year. This week we put a lot of emphasis on effort, overall commitment, I suppose, to the club and to each other,” he said.

“We had a big build up this week and to get back on the board in the way they did, I thought we tackled excellent, our pressure across the board was excellent and that’s probably what set up the win.”

The Demons had winners all over the ground. Jayden Klemke (26 possessions), Matt Klemke and Matt Beckmans all had a lot of the footy through the midfield. Tom Keogh (23 possessions)was good in the ruck, while James Morris finished with four goals.

For the Lions, James Lawton was always dangerous, as usual, and finished with four goals. Adam Cullen was the other to shine.

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Australian passport holders headed for Britain
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While the vote in favour of Brexit could be interpreted as a protest against the number of foreigners living and working in Britain – and Poles in particular – those who visit on holiday are quarantined from that sentiment. If the British economy takes a pounding post Brexit, the British government would not want to stifle tourism by making it more difficult for Australian passport holders to visit. Therefore it is unlikely that the current rules will change.

Australian passport holders headed for Europe

Most of continental Europe is part of the Schengen Area, which was established to allow the free flow of goods and people within Europe, borderless travel in other words. Britain is not part of it. Australian passport holders are permitted to enter the Schengen Area and travel freely without a visa for up to 90 days within a six-month period. That’s likely to stay the same.

Australian residents with British passports

More than a million Australian residents hold current British passports. In 2014, British residents made more than 40 million trips to Europe, spending over £16 billion. If the GBP continues to wallow against the euro, Brits will have less to spend when they travel to eurozone countries, leading to less travel. It seems unlikely, therefore, that European destinations favoured by British residents would further dampen enthusiasm by restricting entry. Therefore I’m predicting that Aussie residents with British passports will continue to find the European door open.

Michael Gebicki

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Freycinet National Park, Freycinet Peninsula, Tasmania. Geographe Bay Marina near Busselton, Western Australia.
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Sunrise at Bear Island off La Perouse, NSW.

Recherche Bay, Tasmania.

Apple orchard, Huon Valley, Tasmania.

The Hazards, Freycinet, Tasmania.

Neck Beach, Bruny Island.

​We could have been French. On the shores of Botany Bay, where then Lieutenant James Cook first stepped ashore on the continent in 1770, is Frenchmans Bay, a beach named for one of the great might-have-been moments in history. French explorer Comte de La Pérouse landed here just days after the First Fleet in January 1788.

The French count stayed for six weeks in the area now known as La Perouse, building a stockade and establishing a small garden, before setting sail again for the south seas, never to be seen again. There’s a monument on the headland and the museum in the historic 1881 Cable Station tells the story of the expedition, its encounter with the First Fleet and the mystery surrounding its disappearance.

In 1791 Bruni d’Entrecasteaux left France on a search and rescue mission to locate the lost La Pérouse. His journey took him across the Indian Ocean to Tasmania, then called Van Diemen’s Land, and into the South Pacific before returning to France via the south-western coast of Australia. He failed to find La Pérouse, but he did discover a vast amount of Australian coastline, leaving behind a rich legacy of French place names including D’Entrecasteaux National Park (parks.dpaw.wa.gov419论坛), a wild and untouched place on the south-western tip of Western Australia that hasn’t changed much since Bruni put it on the map. Most of it is inaccessible unless you have a four-wheel drive, but it’s popular with anglers, campers and bushwalkers who come here for the long white sandy beaches flanked by imposing cliffs almost 100 metres high, hexagonal basalt columns that came from a volcanic lava flow 135 million years ago, jarrah and karri forests and wonderful wildflowers in spring.

Further east along the coast the pretty seaside port of Esperance (see visitesperance苏州美甲美睫培训学校), famous for its dazzling white sand beaches and brilliant turquoise waters, was named after one of the two ships on the expedition. The 30km Ocean Road Loop along the coastline just out of town is one of the country’s most beautiful short drives.

In Tasmania Bruni’s name lives on, in Bruny Island south of Hobart (see brunyisland.org419论坛) and the D’Entrecasteaux Channel that separates it from mainland Tasmania. South of Hobart, the town of Huonville on the Huon River in the Huon Valley – the apple growing capital of the apple isle – was named in honour of the Admiral’s second in command, Captain Huon de Kermadec.

Recherché Bay (see farsouthtasmania苏州美甲美睫培训学校) near the far south-eastern tip of Tasmania is named after his other ship, La Recherche. The expeditioners set up a temporary village and scientific observatory on the edge of the bay and stayed for several weeks in 1792 and again in 1793, and the remains of a vegetable garden planted by the French not only as a resource for other sailors, but “for the benefit of Indigenous people – a gift from the French people to the natives of the new land”, were unearthed by archaeologists in 2003. Surrounded by World Heritage wilderness it’s just as wild and isolated now as it was back in 1793, when d’Entrecasteaux wrote: “It will be difficult to describe my feelings at the sight of this solitary harbour situated at the extremities of the globe, so perfectly enclosed that one feels separated from the rest of the universe. Everything is influenced by the wilderness of the rugged landscape. With each step, one encounters the beauties of unspoilt nature… Some of these trees seem as ancient as the world, and are so tightly interlaced that they are impenetrable.”

The next major French exploring party to spend time in Australia was the Baudin expedition, with orders to try and find out if there was a strait between the New Holland (West Australia) and NSW and to claim Southern Australia, which they called Terre Napoleon, for France.

They hit the west coast first, and Cape Naturaliste and Geographe Bay near the wine producing region of Margaret River are both named after the two ships, Le Naturaliste and Le Géographe. Several places on the north-western coast still have French names including Faure Island and the Peron Peninsula, named after the expedition’s zoologist who gathered more than 100,000 specimens creating one of the most comprehensive Australian natural history collections of its type. Francis Peron National Park (see parks.dpaw.wa.gov419论坛) is part of the Shark Bay World Heritage Area near Monkey Mia (home of a celebrated pod of wild dolphins that come into shore to be fed by visitors each day), which claims to shelter the largest number of species ever recorded in one place on the planet – from a cliff-top vantage point on the tip of Cape Peron you might be lucky enough to see turtle, dugongs, dolphins and manta rays.

Baudin headed next to Tasmania. The Freycinet Peninsula (see discovertasmania苏州美甲美睫培训学校419论坛) on the east coast is named after the one of the two Freycinet brothers on board the ship. They named many more places along the south coast of Australia west of Wilson’s Promontory, only to discover that Matthew Flinders had beaten them to the rest of the coast when they ran into him in what is now known as Encounter Bay (see tourismvictorharbour苏州美甲美睫培训学校419论坛) near Victor Harbor on the Fleurieu Peninsula (named by Baudin) in South Australia; Baudin heading west, Flinders heading east.

England and France were at war at the time (François Peron is believed to have prepared a secret espionage report for Napoleon on ways to invade and capture the British colony at Sydney Cove), but despite this the meeting between the two scientists was friendly – Flinders was welcomed aboard Le Geographe, and he shared charts and swapped travel tips, like where to find fresh water on nearby Kangaroo Island and the Eyre Peninsula. Flinders named the bay after the get-together and you can explore its edge aboard the historic Cockle Train (Australia’ first railway see steamrangerheritagerailway.org) between Victor Harbor, Port Elliot and Goolwa. Outside of school holidays the train only runs twice a week (usually on Wednesday and Sunday) so a good alternative if you’ve got bicycles with you (or walk a section of it) is the 30km Encounter Bikeway – from May to October you may be able to spot whales as you ride.

Between them, Flinders and Baudin were responsible for around 70 per cent of the names of Australia’s coastal features, and even though the French maps were published three years before Flinders’, many of the French names were later supplanted by the English ones chosen by Flinders by virtue of the fact that he got there first, but only just.

Once again, the French had only just missed out. If La Pérouse had only been a few days earlier Australia Day might well be celebrated with croissants and crepes, rather than beer and a barbie – but at least it would still be on the beach.   AKAROA, NEW ZEALAND’S ONLY FRENCH SETTLEMENT

Our Kiwi neighbours  share our French connections, with several  French navigators and naturalists naming and charting the coastline. In 1840 a ship of French settlers aboard the Compte de Paris arrived on the Banks Peninsula (named by Cook, after his botanist, Joseph Banks), around an hour’s drive south-east of modern-day Christchurch, to establish a French colony, only to find that the British had arrived first and had already claimed sovereignty.

The 60 or so settlers decided it was too far to go home, so stayed on to establish the harbour-side town of Akaroa (see akaroa苏州美甲美睫培训学校), which still has French street names, and local restaurants pay homage to French cuisine. The architecture is a blend of British and French, with beautifully restored historic cottages brightly painted and festooned with flower boxes, and the main street is lined with quaint galleries and craft shops, cafes, bars and restaurants. The waters of the bay are a safe haven to the world’s rarest and smallest dolphin, the Hector’s dolphin.

According to the World Wildlife Fund there are only around 7000 Hector’s dolphins left in the world and they are only found off the coasts of New Zealand, with the biggest populations found in the Akaroa area. Swimming-with-dolphin cruises, along with kayaking and sailing trips to see penguin and seal colonies, are big drawcards. But if you really want to savour la belle vie, head to one of the wineries overlooking the harbour. The first French settlers began making wine here almost as soon as they arrived, and the tradition is still going strong. It’s easy to believe you are somewhere in Provence as you sip a chilled rose or cuvee blanc and gaze down at harbour below – Provence with a Kiwi twist that is.

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Time for a break on the Singapore twilight cycling tour. Photo: Tony Loo East Coast Park Singapore cycling.
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Clarke Quay Singapore twilight cycling tour.

Clarke QuaySingapore twilight cycling tour.

Chinatown.

“And this,” says Tony Loo, as we round a corner and pedal onto Singapore’s Marina Promenade, “is why we love the evening cycling tours. It’s nice and cool and the views are beautiful.” “Nice and cool” and “beautiful” are not words visitors often use when describing Singapore, a sprawling megalopolis anchored in the steamy tropics.

But Tony, a proud Singaporean and co-founder of Biking Singapore (whose rides are designed to offer a different perspective of the city-state), is spot on. The heat, so sweltering an hour or two ago, has been sapped, ever so slightly, by a sea breeze, and the views, set against an inky sky, are mesmerising.

Cycling along the waterfront, dodging walkers, joggers and groups participating in synchronised stretching and yoga sessions, my eyes dart from the lit-up skyscrapers of the CBD to the space-age architectural beacons that have sprouted here in recent years. The lotus flower-shaped ArtScienceMuseum and the Marina Bay Sands resort, whose rooftop, straddling its three towers, resembles a giant’s surfboard, are especially attention-grabbing.

As luck – or Tony’s good planning – would have it, we’re just in time to watch Wonder Full, the light and water spectacle that illuminates the marina every evening (wowing onlookers at 8pm and 9.30pm). Something Tony has no control over is the weather, and as we’re about to set off towards the glitzy “supertrees” of the Gardens by the Bay attraction, and the Marina Barrage dam – an engineering marvel that separates Marina Bay, a freshwater reservoir, from the open sea – we’re caught in a biblical downpour. Our ponchos are no match for it, and it’s a reminder that, however much Singapore evolves, its rainforest-like climate is unlikely to change.

Seeing my sodden state, Tony asks if I’d like to cut the tour short, but I’m fine. Cycling through the rain is a blast; a real adrenalin buzz, particularly on a scenic waterfront promenade out of bounds to vehicular traffic. And besides, not everywhere in Singapore is a cyclists’ nirvana. Although the Park Connector Network links 300 kilometres of trails around the island, including on the California-esque East Coast Park, there are few Amsterdam-like bike paths in the built-up centre. The first part of our tour saw us jostling with peak-hour traffic as we pedalled from our starting point, Clarke Quay (whose British colonial-era spice and rice warehouses have been transformed into bars, eateries and malls).

Tony did his best to make himself heard above the revving car engines, though, unfurling enlightening anecdotes about Singapore past and present. The population has more than tripled in the last 50 years (it’s now 5.5 million) and land is at an increasing premium, so much so that the historic, 200-hectare Bukit Brown cemetery is being dug up to build new highways, homes and shopping centres. In fact, across Singapore, an island smaller than Cape Cod, more than 100,000 graves have been exhumed for redevelopment projects. “Singapore is so packed that the dead have to give up their space for the living,” says Tony, who explains that this limited space is one of the reasons why we’re riding foldable Vert bikes.

“Most people here live in small apartments, with very little storage space, so these bikes are perfect. You can also carry them onto the Metro or put them in the boot of your car.” At various points of the tour, we park up and go walkies.

Chinatown is the atmospheric highlight. Perhaps more than any other district, it’s emblematic of Singapore’s melting-pot culture; its aromatic lanes are home to Chinese markets, restaurants, shophouses and Buddhist temples; hipster cafes, speakeasies and boutiques, as well as the Muslim Indian Jamae mosque and Sri Mariamman Temple, where we took off our shoes, delved inside and witnessed a spine-tingling, drum-and-bell-fuelled Hindu ceremony. As the city’s lights and neon crackle to life, the scent of food increasingly flavours the air. We cycled towards Lau Pau Sat, one of the city’s countless hawker centres.

Each evening, Boon Tat Street, which flanks this evocative Victorian landmark, is closed to through traffic. Plastic tables and chairs are set up.

Waitresses entice punters with ice-cool bottles of Tiger Beer. And vendors barbecue skewers of chicken, mutton, pork, beef and prawns, to be dipped in satay sauce. “We call this Satay Street,” said Tony. “And one of the stalls (stall 8) runs a satay challenge. You eat as many sticks as you can in 20 minutes – and if you beat the record, your meal is free.” My interest was piqued – until Tony revealed the record: 150! You certainly work up an appetite on this 12-kilometre, three-and-a-half-hour cycling tour, but probably not that much. TRIP NOTESMORE INFORMATION

yoursingapore苏州美甲美睫培训学校GETTING THERE

Singapore Airlines, Qantas and Emirates are among the airlines that fly from Melbourne and Sydney to Singapore. BIKING THERE

Biking Singapore offers a range of cycling tours (day and night). plus bike rentals. The evening tour is priced from SGD95 ($94); bikingsingapore苏州美甲美睫培训学校

Steve McKenna was a guest of Singapore tourism

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LIGHTNING RIDGE GOLF COURSE
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The first challenge is hammering your tee into the sun-baked earth. Next, careful with that tee shot. Unless your ball encounters one of the rare trees along the edge of the “fairways”, there’s no turf to slow down an errant shot. The club’s website notes “bare patches exist”. In fact bare patches are just about all there is to this 18-holer. The greens are sand, which makes for interesting putting. Luckily there’s a bar in the clubhouse.  MIN MIN LIGHT

In the Channel Country of western Queensland, the Min Min Light is a ghostly luminance known to follow travellers late at night, often appearing in their rear vision mirror. Although the town of Boulia is most often associated with the light, the phenomenon has been reported across outback Queensland and NSW, with origins dating back to Aboriginal stories from pre-European days. Sceptics suggest the phenomenon occurs more frequently when the observer has spent several hours in the pub. LAKE EYRE YACHT CLUB

Water from the rivers of Queensland’s Channel Country rarely reaches Lake Eyre. When it does the eccentric band of yachties of the Lake Eyre Yacht Club in Marree rejoice, and 2016 is a boom year. According to club Commodore Bob Backway, boats had not been on Lake Eyre since 2011 but the recent rains primed the Queensland rivers that feed the lake. The club held its fifth regatta in April 2016, not on Lake Eyre itself but to the north-east, on Lake Poondulanna. A total of 17 yachts competed for the Rear Admiral’s Mug and given the relative proximity of the Mungerannie Hotel, the lake proved a wise choice.  LIONS DEN HOTEL

Whether you’ve come south from Cooktown or north from Cape Tribulation, by the time to you’ve reached the Lions Den you’re ready for a drink. Decor at this pub on the main coast road between Queensland’s Mossman and Cooktown includes a unique collection of skulls, beer bottles from around the world, lots of corrugated iron, memorabilia left by past clients, enough graffiti to fill a book, a saucy picture or two and atmosphere you could carve.  There’s a lion too, and don’t miss the jungly Rousseau-style mural above the pool table.  CROCODILE HARRY’S UNDERGROUND NEST

Even the locals referred to “Crocodile” Harry as colourful and slightly weird, and in Coober Pedy that’s a high bar. Originally from the Baltic, Harry pursued a career as a crocodile hunter with some vigour, but his dugout home in low hills a few kilometres from Coober Pedy bears witness to his true affection – the female form. In sculptures carved from the walls of his underground home, images and second-hand undergarments, Harry’s fondness for women is liberally illustrated, and not much is left to the imagination. Harry passed away almost a decade ago but his obsession endures in his cavern of Saturnalia.  WILLIAM CREEK HOTEL

Most country towns have a pub or two but the William Creek Hotel is all there is to the town of William Creek. Decor is an unintended museum of work and play in the Outback – stock whips, cricket balls and dangling from every beam, caps and t-shirts commemorating the visit of Fiona from County Durham, Sven from Sweden and Alison from Dubbo. When you leave look both ways before crossing the road, the main street doubles as a taxiway for aircraft.  PINK ROADHOUSE, OODNADATTA

Rising out of the Simpson Desert like some gaudy leftover from Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, the Oodnadatta Roadhouse is a study in pink. Out the front of the all-pink roadhouse is a pink Volvo and pink canoes, inside there’s a pink phone box. The burgers are worth a long drive and you can borrow the keys to the railway station – once the northern end of The Ghan, and the lifeblood of the town. SUNSET AT THE PRAIRIE HOTEL, PARACHILNA

Half an hour before sunset the crowd that gathers every evening in the bar of the Prairie Hotel at Parachilna shuffles outside for the best show in town, and about two nights out of every three mother nature obliges, drawing a technicolour curtain across the desert sky that has cameras clicking frantically. Located on the western edge of the Flinders Ranges, the Prairie Hotel has attained legendary status for its bizarre sense of humour and a menu heavily reliant on feral food.  PRINCIPALITY OF HUTT RIVER

Although it lies almost 600 kilometres north of Perth, you’re no longer in Australia when you set foot in the Principality of Hutt River. Back in 1970, after a fight over the wheat quota from his 75-square kilometre farm, the self-styled H.R.H. Prince Leonard decided that Western Australia was not part of the legally constituted Commonwealth of Australia and so he seceded. So far, the Australian Government has not seen fit to send in the troops and Prince Leonard has made his principality a tourist attraction, with its own passports, flags, currency, postal system and military, while members of the “Royal Family” can be found in the souvenir shop. CANAPES WITH CROCODILES, MOUNT BORRADAILE

“No trailing fingers over the side of the boat please, the crocs take that as an invitation. More champagne?” The sunset cruise on Cooper Creek at Mount Borradaile, a 700-square-kilometre chunk of western Arnhemland, is an odd juxtaposition. It’s a free-range kingdom with sea eagles, jacanas doing a stiff-legged dance across the lily pads, clouds of whistling ducks and magpie geese erupting from the soggy grassland of the floodplain and big saltwater crocs warming themselves on the muddy banks, and yet there are canapes to go with the bubbly and learned references to the Aboriginal rock art sites on the reddening hunk of sandstone that gives Mount Borradaile its name.

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The eighth century fort of Gwalior. Photo: John Golder Men in traditional dress in Jaipur. Photo: John Golder
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Magnificent Jaipur. Photo: John Golder

The Maharaja’s Express. Photo: John Golder

Waiting in India. Photo: John Golder

Mystical Varanasi. Photo: John Golder

People do a lot of waiting in India. Waiting for work, waiting for a blessing, waiting for things to get better. Often they are waiting for a train.

Here are some people waiting on a platform: an elderly man with a waterfall beard cascading from his wizened face; a young mother in a mustard-yellow sari holding a bamboozled infant wearing eyeliner; a little boy striding purposely past them to the end of the platform, curling his toes over the edge, and pissing onto the rails, a perfect golden arc glinting in the morning sun.

Above them, hand-painted signs cover the walls; around them, a scratchy tannoy voice babbles updates from the network. Nearby, a dog quivers with fleas, restlessly shifting on the concrete as though expecting a relative to return on the next carriage.

Everyone is waiting for something, but they are not, in the ordinary sense of the word, waiting for my train. The Maharajas’ Express is the best train in India by some measurements, and the best in the entire world by some others. A grand, burgundy monster too big for many rural stations, it is owned by the Indian government and has been designed to carry foreigners, and to be seen and photographed by locals. For the onlookers on these platforms, the Maharajas’ seems to say: wait long enough and you too could make it on here.

I’ve come on board for the Indian Panorama program, a 2300-kilometre sampler of northern India. It starts in Delhi, and over eight days and seven nights introduces its guests to the country’s Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim and British heritages.

Each carriage (the number varies depending on the occupancy for the trip) is assigned a personal butler, young men who seem to possess a Batman-like ability to appear from nowhere to offer help. Some guests develop a not unreasonable theory that the butlers are stored in the ceiling and deployed the moment they sense a minor inconvenience.

For many, being waited on like is a treat, but I find it more than a little uncomfortable. Having an Indian house boy is, for this Brit, an incredibly awkward business. The only silver lining for me is that my butler is called Mahipal, which is more-or-less pronounced My Pal, allowing me to feel as though we’re something like equals. “Thanks for that My Pal”, “Oh don’t worry about it My Pal, I’ve got it.”

The key to enjoying the Maharajas’ Express, for me anyway, is to pretend as though you’re in some kind of elaborate improv and that none of this is real. When they literally roll out a red carpet at a village station and the music starts playing and beggars in rags are shepherded to the side so you can stride past … that’s all just pretend. Actors in convincing garbs. But, wow, haven’t they done a good job with how it all smells? At almost every stop the platforms are decked out in garlands of fiery marigolds. Often there is a band. Always there are locals staring. You have to slide into the role pretty quickly.

Thankfully the substance of the Indian Panorama itinerary is so rich that a lot of this pantomime is forgotten. The first stop is the spectacular pink city of Jaipur, then on to Ranthambore National Park where we casually see wild tigers from the jeep, as though they aren’t stealth experts and one of the world’s most endangered creatures.

That afternoon we visit Fatephur Sikri, an abandoned red ruin, once the home of the Mughal Emperor Akbar, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the domain of several hundred rose-ringed parakeets, whose vibrant green feathers seem to bounce out of the ochre sandstone. Our cameras flutter like their wings.

Several of the passengers on board have also travelled on the fabled Orient-Express, and compare the Maharajas’ favourably. It may not have the prestige of its older rival, but it has considerably larger cabins and every night of the trip is spent on the train (on the Orient-Express’ London to Venice route, just one night is spent on-board).

Not that people don’t occasionally lament being on the train through the night. It’s rarely quiet, occasionally the old tracks cause the carriages to rock violently, and some trick of the half-conscious brain leaves several passengers feeling as though we are travelling too fast towards some unknown disaster.

This being India, the train driver also uses the horn. A lot. Sometimes to alert signalmen further up the line, sometimes to try to cajole people into getting out the way. Its mega population means there are 1.2 billion potential problems in India these days, and that’s not including the holy cattle.

Nonetheless, it’s hard to imagine how the staff can do much more, given the format is essentially the same as it was in 1853 when the ruling British ran India’s first locomotive.

The food is unanimously excellent, too, but, while the Europeans are familiar with many of the Indian dishes, for the Americans much of it is a new experience. And for a small Japanese group of four, whose food at home is diametrically opposed to this, negotiating the thalis is like walking through a chilli-laden minefield. Noting this, the chef and his unseen team start cooking separate dishes for them.

It’s that kind of service that leaves people so fond of the Maharajas’ Express, and undoubtedly the sort of thing that’s led to it being crowed Leading Luxury Train at the World Travel Awards for the past four years. The attentiveness is possible because of the mammoth number of staff: most remain invisible but, once you total everyone working on the train, there are between 70 and 80, far more than there are passengers.

Many of the places we visit – Agra, Varanasi, Lucknow – are familiar to outsiders, at least by name, but none of us have heard of Khajuraho in Madhya Pradesh. We know nothing about it before we arrive, but that soon changes thanks to our guide, the garrulous Mr Singh.

As we walk around these UNESCO-backed Hindu and Jain temples, he starts every anecdote by pleading for “our kind attention”, before launching into a colourful dialogue about ancient practises, tyrannical emperors or Buddhist principles.

“May I have your kind attention? Who are you?” He asks no one in particular. “You are not only a body. You are a blessed being!” Some of the passengers nod attentively, others wander off to take photographs of the near-pristine sculptures that adorn these 1000-year-old temples.

“Nothing is new under the sun,” Mr Singh says. “Look at these carvings! See the monkey business between man and woman? The woman worried about her muffin tops, the man reaching for her? Nothing is new under the sun!”

We get a new guide almost every day, all with excellent English, most with a good sense of humour. (In Jaipur: “See these milk urns? The writing says how much water they have added to the milk and sometimes how much milk was added to the water.”) A couple of times, however, it feels as though we don’t need any guidance at all.

The first time it happens is at the Taj Mahal, the grandest jewel in India’s crown, the “tear-drop on the cheek of time”, a place so photographed and mythologised it seems almost unnecessary to try to capture it. Perhaps it’s enough to say that, as far as the death business goes, this is about as beautiful as it’s possible to be.

The other time is in the holy city of Varanasi. Death looms large here, too, death of the here and now, with 24-hour public cremations taking place on the banks of the Ganges. Above the ceremonies, black kites swoop ominously over buildings that seem to be crumbling into the holy river, yet, for Hindus, there is no better way to enter the afterlife than here, returned to ash by the holy river.

Watching the ceremonies from floating boats, the passengers of the Maharajas’ Express are divided about whether or not we should be here at all. The deceased loved ones are dipped into the sacred water before being transferred, wrapped in bright robes, to the pyre. A prayer is chanted, a flower placed, thousands of bells ring, the sound tinkling over us like rain.

Personally, I’m glad to witness it, to see that the departed – some of them so light their stretchers are lifted as though empty – are indeed loved ones, perhaps even more so in death than in life. Mark Twain wrote of Indians: “It is a curious people. With them, all life seems to be sacred except human life.” I can’t say how true that is, but visiting Varanasi I saw that at least human death is sacred.

On the last morning it’s we who have to do the waiting, held at a signal outside Delhi as the rush-hour traffic snakes its way hither and yon. As I eat my final breakfast in the dining car, a local train pulls up next to ours. The people on board are in second class, without air conditioning or virtually any comfort at all. I stare at them and they stare back for longer than I can bear. But before I look away, a trick in the windows’ reflections seems to project me into their place, and I hope that they, somehow, can see themselves in mine. TRIP NOTESMORE INFORMATION

incredibleindia.orgGETTING THERE

Air India is the only carrier with direct flights from Australia to Delhi, the capital of India, airindia苏州美甲美睫培训学校. Alternatively, fly to Singapore or Hong Kong and make a connection, or overshoot India and double back with Etihad, Emirates or Qatar. TOURING THERE

The Maharajas’ Express offers itineraries across India, except for during the crushing heat of summer. While some itineraries head south from Delhi to Mumbai, the Indian Panorama program takes in many of the most important historic and cultural attractions in Northern India, including the pink city of Jaipur, Agra and the Taj Mahal, and the holy city of Varanasi. Prices for their eight-day program start from US$5980, full board and including house drinks. See the-maharajas苏州美甲美睫培训学校

John Golder was a guest of the Maharajas’ Express.

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Mr Taha was shot in the driveway of this home on Fifth Avenue in Condell Park. Photo: Wolter Peeters Bilal Taha. Photo: Facebook
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It was a weekly ritual none of the Taha children ever wanted to miss.

But now Sunday night dinners at their Condell Park home are solemn occasions, after the family’s treasured get-togethers were shattered on December 28, 2014.

The family was enjoying tea and dessert on the balcony of their home when they heard a knock at the door.

Thirty-four-year-old Bilal “Bill” Taha answered the knock, and stepped outside with whoever was there.

Moments later, his family found him sprawled on the driveway suffering gunshot wounds. He was still clutching his cup of tea.

His brazen slaying remains unsolved 18 months later but police believe a dispute between some members of the Taha family in Sydney and a well-known criminal network may be to blame.

A blue Toyota Aurion sedan was spotted speeding from Fifth Avenue in Condell Park moments after Bilal was shot dead.

A neighbour managed to note the letters on the number plate. Police later matched the registration to a car of the same description owned by Abdullah “Abs” Hawchar.

The 23-year-old Punchbowl man is part of the well-known Hawchar family and was closely linked to slain standover man Walid Ahmad.

“Wally” Ahmad was executed as he sat at a café at a Bankstown shopping centre in April. Weeks earlier there had been a fatal shooting at the influential underworld figure’s smash repairs in Condell Park.

The Condell Park shooting was the result of a simmering feud between the Elmir and the Ahmad networks, which some of the Hawchars, including Abdullah, were aligned with.

His brother, Mohammed Hawchar, was also at Wally’s panel beaters that day, possibly acting as a mediator between the two feuding sides.

On December 28, 2014, hours after Mr Taha was killed, police patrolling the Condell Park area came across Abdullah Hawchar in a different car on Simmat Avenue, around the corner from the Taha home.

Hawchar was arrested and taken to Bankstown Police Station where he was later charged for not disclosing the identity of the driver and passenger in the car that was registered in his name and spotted leaving the scene of that night’s shooting.

According to documents tendered in his court case last year, Hawchar was less than co-operative when police tried to ask him questions about his car and Mr Taha’s murder.

“I’m just gunna be quiet, I’m just trying to remain quiet,” Hawchar told police during a recorded interview.

Late last year Hawchar received a six-month suspended jail sentence for not disclosing the identity of a driver or passenger.

Police raided a house linked to Hawchar a day after Mr Taha’s shooting and found steroids and a black soft armour vest in his bedroom.

Hawchar was later convicted of weapon and drug possession offences.

He was released on parole in October, six months before the double shooting at Wally Ahmad’s A Team Smash Repairs. There is no suggestion Hawchar fired a gun that day.

Bilal’s grief-stricken family still grapple with why their loved one and eldest son was targeted, laying grounds for the suspicion that the intended target was not Mr Taha, but someone else with that last name.

His family remember him as a doting uncle, who would watch his nieces and nephews play soccer and take them to McDonald’s each week to order dessert.

Anyone with information can contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

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 The state government is weighing up changes to IVF law after a “secret son” embryo donor case revealed by Fairfax Media exposed loopholes in the legislation.
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IVF Australia had facilitated the transfer of two embryos Natalie Parker donated to a Sydney woman. The woman is alleged to have faked the miscarriage of her donor-conceived baby so she didn’t have to honour an agreement to keep in contact with Ms Parker and her husband, the child’s genetic parents.

The woman told IVF Australia the embryo transfer had failed. She declined the clinic’s request to come in for a blood test to confirm the miscarriage.

It was only when Ms Parker discovered dated pictures of the woman with a baby son on Facebook that the alleged deception was uncovered. The recipient has now deleted her Facebook profile and cannot be contacted.

The Sun-Herald’s revelations of Ms Parker’s case sparked a NSW Health investigation, and a review of the ART Act.

The NSW Health investigation cleared IVF Australia, the clinic at the centre of the case, of any wrongdoing under the Assisted Reproductive Technology Act as it stands.

“NSW Health found IVF Australia had not breached their legislative obligations as set out in the current ART act,” a NSW Health spokeswoman said.

The department’s legislative review had identified areas for possible law reform, which “are now being considered”, according to a NSW Health spokeswoman. She would not provide further details.

“NSW Health is committed to ensuring that the quality of care offered to people accessing fertility treatment though ART services is of a high standard and is supportive of all parties,” the spokeswoman said.

In a letter emailed to Ms Parker, NSW Health acting deputy secretary Leanne O’Shannessy said Ms Parker had “highlighted the personal consequences of possible loopholes in the legislation governing embryo donation”.

“The Ministry of Health is considering options to address . . . possible loopholes in the system including the need for legislative change to close any such loopholes.”

Ms Parker said her case showed the existing law wasn’t strong enough to protect the rights of donor-conceived individuals. “I look forward to seeing changes that ensure the integrity of process,” she said.

It has been suggested that NSW follow Victoria’s lead and include an addendum on birth certificates stating the child was donor-conceived.

Ms Parker’s case has already prompted the IVF industry to overhaul its practices to ensure a similar situation does not occur in the future.

IVF clinics will now require women who use donor eggs, sperm or embryos to give a written undertaking to have a blood test to verify whether they fell pregnant. Any patient who fails to provide the results of a pregnancy blood test will be reported to state authorities.

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RODE Microphones CEO Peter Freedman avoids putting his staff through the hoops of “horribly confronting” performance ratings. Photo: Mark KolbeWhen workplaces turned super competitive, human resources became inhumane resources to many who lost out, but a quiet revolution is taking place against the office politics of fear.
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In Sydney there is a company that treats all employees as equal.

International software company Retriever Communications in the northern beaches suburb of Frenchs Forest does not rank employees against one another. Nor are any excluded from management meetings.

Mary Brittain-White, who founded Retriever Communications 20 years ago, has rejected rankings and other extreme human resources management fads that come and go.

“All of that ranking stuff is a load of bollocks,” Brittain-White says.

When it comes to getting the best out of her 40 engineers and 10 support staff, she makes sure that all their ideas, including criticisms, are heard. In the US, there was more of a tendency for workers to be compliant with their bosses, which Brittain-White believes is counter to promoting innovation and creativity.

The flat management structure at Retriever Communications means all staff are welcome to meetings. There is no visible hierarchy in the office.

“I let anyone at any level attend meetings if they have a need,” Brittain-White says. “Only the people that find it relevant to what they are doing actually come up.”

But unlike some American companies including shoe vendor Zappos, her management approach is not purely consensual. Zappos​, owned by Amazon, has embraced a system called “holacracy​” which replaces the management hierarchy with a democratic system of self-managed teams.

“I’m not suggesting there is no leadership here, there has to be,” Brittain-White says.

“It is allowing people to express a view and then having someone who actually has to own the decision.

“It is important to me … to say to people you are not barred from this meeting, this is not about seniority and hierarchy. It is about getting things done.”

Australian companies including Retriever Communications avoid the extremes of human resources trends – everybody runs the company at one end, brutal rankings and top-down management hierarchy at the other.

When it comes to performance reviews, the focus for Brittain-White is on the quality of the conversation and setting career goals for the benefit of staff.

“It is for the employee to feel they are getting the level of feedback they need, rather than the business needing it,” she says.

“The individual gets very frustrated in terms of not having a career path planned, not having a formalised assessment.”

The so-called “rank and yank” approach tested and ultimately abandoned by Microsoft, General Electric and other companies in recent years resulted in the bottom 10 per cent of employees being culled.

While setting worker against worker might encourage competition between sales staff, Brittain-White believes it fails miserably when applied to creative types.

“Conflict is not the best way to get the best out of engineers. What they are looking for is a more harmonious environment and encouragement. They need that,” she said.

Anxiety over job security and rankings breeds internal competition and in worst cases, gaming and cheating of the assessment system.

Before founding her company, Brittain-White worked for many years in large corporations including IBM and Motorola in Silicon Valley.

“I came from high sales and everyone was competing with the other bastard,” she says.

“In a smaller business like mine where you know everyone personally, I have made two people redundant in 20 years. We are desperate to find people with programming skills, we are trying to keep them, not get rid of them.”

The approach to human resources management in larger corporates was more brutal in the US, where employees are more easily sacked at will.

In an apocryphal story, a former human resources manager at Netflix named Patty McCord reportedly convinced her boss Reed Hastings that he should re-evaluate everyone in the executive ranks by asking the question: would you hire the same person again today? Reed took McCord’s advice to heart and used it to oust her from her job after 20 years in his service.

Tighter regulation of unfair dismissal under workplace laws makes sackings more difficult in Australia. Even so, significant down-sizing in recent years has still led to brutal retrenchments.

The rhetoric of retaining and developing staff talent operates in sharp contrast to the cold efficiency of downsizing.

“You are valuable until a company decides it doesn’t need you,” says John Shields, professor of human resource management at the University of Sydney business school.

“When it doesn’t need you, it will move you out as quickly and clinically as possible.”

Since the global financial crisis, many companies have moved away from reward payments towards talent development and training.

“The performance pay side of things really did take a hiding because of the way that executive rewards were exposed during the GFC,” Shields says.

The recent move away from performance reviews – universally hated and often criticised as an empty ritual – has surprisingly also led to employees becoming less engaged according to new research.

Aaron McEwan from best practice company CEB, said its survey of 9500 employees and 300 heads of human resources managers found employees, particularly high performers, had become disengaged without performance reviews.

The study of staff and managers at global companies including those operating in Australia found the move away from performance ratings resulted in a 28 per cent drop in the productivity of high performers.

In tossing out the bureaucratic box-ticking exercise, the valuable conversation between employee and manager had also been sacrificed, leading to staff, particularly high performers, withering without constructive feedback, recognition, goal-setting or encouragement.

Academics like Shields say the performance review format needed to be improved instead of jettisoned to protect the valuable time for a conversation between staff and managers.

Roy Green, dean of the University of Technology Sydney business school, found Australia is lagging behind many other countries including the US and Japan when it comes to promoting workplace productivity and creativity.

“We are not good in Australia at engaging talent and creativity in the workforce,” he said.

Harsh culling techniques used in company downsizing do little to encourage the talent and confidence of staff that remain.

“They are characterised by a survivor syndrome in that they wonder why they are still there and will they be the next to go,” Green says.

“I think the evidence is now suggesting that a very authoritarian approach to managing and constructing your workforce is instilling approaches that are the very opposite of the kind you would like to see occur, which is greater collaboration, greater commitment to the ethos of the organisation, greater participation …

“If you have a workforce that is so alienated that they don’t do these things, you are compromising the future success of your organisation.”

Performance reviews had become so “bureaucratic, over bearing and intrusive” in recent years that they had failed to give employees a greater sense of autonomy or enable them to participate in the innovation and growth of an organisation. The performance review had also become the proxy for ongoing dialogue with the workforce.

“Performance reviews have a role as long as they are a servant and not a master of job performance,” Professor Green says.

“Some of the old ideas of authoritarian management are disappearing but we still have many managers who are not well trained for their roles, who are insecure and who feel they need to have control over everything.”

Professor of human resource management at the University of South Australia business school Carol Kulik says there were conflicting purposes of performance reviews, including rewarding high performers with higher pay and laying off the bottom performers.

The administrative and punitive side of the reviews had stifled the candidness needed in genuine conversations that encouraged development and had led to some people trying to game the system.

The “rank and yank” technique often created internal competition and conflict among staff.

She says about 20 per cent of the Fortune 500 companies in the US had some form of forced distribution system which put employees on a bell curve.

“A forced distribution system only works if you are going to have some reward or punishment to attach to the ratings. Otherwise you are creating turmoil for nothing,” Kulik says.

“We haven’t seen forced distribution being that popular in Australia and part of the reason for that is because we’ve historically had such a strong centralised industrial relations system where a much smaller percentage of people’s pay is based on individual performance. Most of it is based on the award rate.”

Companies like GE and Microsoft that had eliminated 10 per cent of staff saw good performers lost.

Peter Freedman, the chief executive officer at RODE Microphones in Sydney, China and the US, says he avoids putting his 150 Australian staff through the hoops of “horribly confronting” performance ratings and has kept good employees for 10 years or longer “because that’s how you get a good business because they know what they are doing”.

“What we do is ask them what the highlights of the year were and what they have achieved,” he says.

“If the company is doing really well, and we have had another cracker year, then I come out there and increase everybody’s wages by 10 per cent. If you are doing well, why wouldn’t you share it.

“And that’s a huge motivator, otherwise they see me driving around in my hot car and they aren’t getting anything.”

The business also has a very flat management structure.

“Everybody could articulate why we are doing what we are doing. And they are super proud how we are beating multi-billion dollar companies because we are fast,” Freedman says.

“The millions of microphones coming out of a place in Silverwater. It’s pretty awesome.”

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Elizabeth Blanchard says buying a second hand car is an ‘overwhelming’ process. Photo: Peter Rae More than a billion dollars of unclaimed money is sitting lonely with the federal government.
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For months Elizabeth Blanchard has been searching for a small, second-hand car that she’ll be able to easily park in tight spots around the city. She’s spent days doing research to avoid being ripped off.

On her checklist is the need to make sure the car – if being privately sold – is debt-free and hasn’t been written-off or stolen.

The best way is to check the vehicle against the government’s Personal Property Securities Register (PPSR), formerly known as REVS. It costs $3.40 to obtain a certificate from the government’s website ppsr.gov419论坛.

But a quick Google search for the register also spits out the websites ppsr苏州美甲美睫培训学校419论坛, revs苏州美甲美睫培训学校419论坛 and revscheck苏州美甲美睫培训学校419论坛. All three websites are owned by the credit reporting giant Veda, which charges $25 for the same certificate.

“It’s appalling,” says Elizabeth, a 25-year-old medical practice manager. “Buying a car is already an overwhelming process and to think they’re charging $25 for something that you can get for a few dollars, it’s another way to be ripped off.”

The PPSR is one example of how profiteers are making big money by re-packaging freely or cheaply available information on government websites. Both big business and rogue operators are buying Google AdWords so their websites appear above organic search results, steering customers towards their pricey products.

Other examples include unclaimed money and birth, death and marriage records. Veda defends its websites

Matthew Strassberg, Veda’s external relations manager, defended the company’s PPSR websites, saying the $25 price tag was clearly displayed, and it was up to the consumer to decide whether it was worth it.

“We also provide a summary page, making it a lot easier to read, as the government’s certificate is quite text heavy and dense,” Strassberg says.

“Our website is mobile responsive, it’s a user-friendly interface for people to purchase the product.”

While the difference in price to conduct one PPSR check is relatively small, it can quickly build up. Elizabeth has seriously considered five used cars in the past four months. Using Veda’s websites to check the PPSR would have cost her $125, compared to $17.

A spokeswoman from the Australian Financial Security Authority, which manages the PPSR, said it was aware certificates were being resold and it was doing its best to promote its website.

“AFSA has no authority to determine fees set by a commercial operator,” she says. Cashing in on your lost money

Unclaimed money is another area where opportunists have made a profit by using free government information. At present, the federal government is sitting on $1.2 billion of worth of inactive bank accounts, lost shares and life insurance.

Bank accounts left untouched for seven years are transferred to the government’s coffers. This recently changed from three years. Owners can search for lost accounts using government websites such as moneysmart.gov419论坛 and get it back for free.

But unclaimed money “agents” have set up websites where they charge the user $30 for five searches. Some ask for a slice of the amount they recover as commission.

Deanna Mannix, director of moneycatch苏州美甲美睫培训学校419论坛, which claims to be “Australia’s largest unclaimed money database”, said it charged fees to cover the staff, legal and administration costs incurred to pull state and federal unclaimed money records in one place.

She also said it held records of unclaimed money that a state government may have removed from public viewing because it was not required to do so after six years.

“How do people even know if they have unclaimed money owing to them if it has been removed?” she asked.

She also said the company often helped customers overseas who had trouble locating and claiming old bank accounts.

“If you have legal issues you take your issues to a solicitor. It’s the same process with us. If you have unclaimed/lost money owing to you, you bring this issue to an unclaimed money recovery agent,” she said.

“We have recently incorporated overseas unclaimed money to the value of $5.5 million owing to Australians from companies outside of Australia.”

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission advises people who have been contacted by private money search companies wanting payment to recover lost bank accounts, shares and life insurance, to first conduct a search on moneysmart.gov419论坛. The cost of making a family tree

Australians wanting to trace their family history and build their family tree are encouraged to use records freely available on government websites before pulling out the credit card.

A Google search for “NSW marriage records” brings up Ancestry苏州美甲美睫培训学校419论坛, which asks the user to plug in personal and credit card details before starting a 14-day free trial period. Memberships start from $30 for one month’s access to its online database.

But users are urged to only join such paid sites once they have exhausted all free avenues, which include births, deaths and marriages registries, the National Archives of Australia and the National Library of Australia.

“Always read the fine print before signing up to any paid sites, and be wary of supplying credit card details to activate a free trial because you can end up in an expensive ongoing subscription,” said Tom Godfrey from consumer advocacy group Choice.

A spokeswoman for Ancestry苏州美甲美睫培训学校419论坛 said while it acknowledged the historical documents on offer are available from archives and libraries, its service placed digitised and indexed records online in one place.

“This makes it easier for Ancestry subscribers to research their family history without having to physically travel to archives and other institutions across Australia and the world to search the collections,” she said.

“Ancestry has developed proprietary online search technologies and tools to enable our subscribers to research their family history and build their family trees more easily.”

She said Ancestry苏州美甲美睫培训学校419论坛 has responded to criticism by updating the user interface in the past year to boost transparency around pricing and privacy.

“We also always encourage customers to have conversations with family members ahead of beginning their in-depth search in order to have a bank of relevant information available to lay the foundation for searches online at Ancestry,” she said.

Esther Han is the consumer affairs editor for the Sydney Morning Herald. Connect with her on Facebook at Savvy Consumer or follow Fairfax Money.

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Kate Waterhouse and Sonia Kruger at Bloom Cafe. Photo: Jessica Hromas Sonia Kruger’s baby daughter, Maggie, a year ago. Photo: Instagram
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Sonia Kruger with Today Extra co-host David Campbell (left) and Brendan “Jonesy” Jones. Photo: Ben Symons

Sonia Kruger hosts The Voice Australia, whose live final airs tonight, and also hosts the morning TV program Today Extra. Kruger made her acting debut in 1992 as Tina Sparkle in the Baz Luhrmann film Strictly Ballroom and has since also hosted Dancing with the Stars and Big Brother Australia. Kruger is married to Craig McPherson, executive producer of Today Tonight, and the pair welcomed their first daughter, Maggie, in January 2015. After more than 20 years in the media industry, Kruger, 50, tells Kate Waterhouse about motherhood, her “real screen kiss” with Dan Aykroyd and her most memorable blunder on live television.

The Voice final airs tonight. Who do you think will win? It’s too hard to pick! All four artists are extremely talented and have all had incredible moments throughout the show. It’s up to Australia now to vote.

How do you prepare for the finale? It’s a long day – meetings, rehearsals, hair and make-up, wardrobe and then the show … Sugar helps!

How will you celebrate tonight? With a glass of champagne at the wrap party and a pair ugg boots at home!

If you were trying out for The Voice, which coach would you choose? If I could sing [laughs] – which I can’t! I –  would probably go with Ronan [Keating] or Delta [Goodrem]. Ronan has really surprised me this series. He is very forthright, especially when Jessie J has said something inadvertently that some people might think is a bit offensive. Ronan serves it back. He is a very easy person to talk to and he is really funny. Otherwise, I would pick Delta because she is our princess; she is one of the nicest people I have ever met. I love Delta so much.

Is the bickering between Ronan and Jessie J real or just for TV? [No] it happens more than you see on television … Jessie is a bull at a gate and that bluntness irritates the other coaches.

What is a day in your life? My day starts at 6am when I get ready to go to work at the Channel 9 studio. I will see if Maggie is awake and sometimes I wake her up so I can squeeze in a cuddle. Then I’m in hair and make-up and we start the live show at 9am. I finish at 1130am and I can go home and spend the afternoon with Maggie.

What do you love about working on Today Extra? David [Campbell, the co-host] makes me laugh so much! It doesn’t feel like work, it is more of a chance to hang out with friends. The show is full of all the stuff I love: fashion, food, finance. There is so much variety each day and it offers something for everyone.

What has been the most memorable moment? We had [actor] Dan Aykroyd on the show and we were talking about a screen test he had to do. All of a sudden he has grabbed me and went in for the big pash. It was hilarious having a spontaneous real screen kiss; it made for a great promo!

What is it like working on live television? In the mornings, it is very relaxed. The plan is quite loose because you are doing a 2½-hour show. David and I love to say that we put the “semi” into professional! People seem to like that it is a little bit random. Someone said to me the thing they love about live television is the mistakes – it’s the mistakes we all remember. The Voice is a little different because it’s a real slick production and it’s prime-time. You know that a lot more people are watching so there is a bit more pressure to get it right, but then the fun factor goes up as well.

You talk about “mistakes”. What’s been your biggest mistake on air? Oh I’ve made so many! On my first series of Big Brother I had to commentate on what was happening in the house. The executive producer was in my ear saying “Michael is making peace, he is the peacemaker” so I was like “OK Michael is making peace, there has been a fight in the house”. I’ve got the whole story going up and he was like, “No pizza, he’s making pizza!” and I burst out laughing … I’m sure the audience was like, “What is she talking and laughing about?”.

When you were younger, did you envisage your life as it is today? I was always drawn to show business. When I was nine I started ballroom dancing. I was just in love with it and the sparkly costumes. I’m kind of very lucky that things have turned out the way they have, I have so many amazing opportunities, I’ve hosted some great shows and I feel very privileged to have done so much. Honestly, sometimes I feel like I’m an imposter! When they asked me to come and do The Voice, I was like “why?” [laughs]. But it’s great, I’m glad they asked.

What does Tina Sparkle mean to you? When we made the movie, none of us thought it would be a commercial success. We thought it might be a bit of a cult film but not a commercial success because it’s a movie about ballroom dancing, who is going to watch this? However, Baz Luhrmann did such a great job and gave the movie such a unique feel. When people make reference to Tina Sparkle, they always apologise, and I’m like “Don’t apologise, I love it”. Elton John once told me that it is the nickname he gave to his hairdresser!

Who is the most inspiring person you have ever worked with? I had to pinch myself when I worked with Daryl Somers. I grew up watching Hey Hey It’s Saturday and all of sudden I’m walking onto set and I’m co-hosting a show [Dancing with the Stars] with him. I was like, “how did I get here?”. He is a real statement in the entertainment industry. He doesn’t work with auto cue. We had nothing when we worked on Dancing with the Stars, which to me is flying by the seat of your pants.

What is the best piece of advice you have received? After more than 20 years in television, there are good and bad press days. A publicist once said to me, “Doll, as long as they get a nice picture and spell your name right then it is all fine”. No publicity is bad publicity [laughs].

How is your daughter Maggie? She is great, she is running around and becoming a real chatterbox; I wonder where she gets that from! [Laughs.] But she is very much a daddy’s girl.

Are you enjoying motherhood? Yes I’m loving it; life couldn’t be better right now, it’s perfect.

How has motherhood changed you? I left the house the other day in tracksuit pants and ugg boots and I would never normally do that. Now when I go shopping, I go to the children’s section and that’s where I spend my money.

It’s all come down to this, the live Grand Final. Only one of the artists remaining can be named the winner of The Voice Australia for 2016. Who will you choose?Katewaterhouse苏州美甲美睫培训学校 

The Voice Australia’s live final screens Sunday, July 10, 7pm-9pm on Channel Nine; Today Extra airs weekdays from 9am.    BITE SIZE 

WE WENT TO Bloom: The Healthy Food Company, Mosman

WE ATE Chicken salad with pistachio and honey lemon dressing

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