Supercars chief executive James Warburton with Newcastle Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes at Fort Scratchley on Tuesday. PICTURE: Marina Neil IT’S too late for Shortland Esplanade.
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That was the message to Newcastle City Council from Supercars chief executive James Warburton during a visiton Tuesday at which he said the race had been victim to “scaremongering” that would subside once East End residents experienced the race.

Supercars Australia were drawn into the increasingly fraught relationship between Newcastle City Council and the state’s tourism body, Destination NSW, last week when the Lord Mayor, Nuatali Nelmes, said Mr Warburtonhad told her he was open to changing the race circuit as recently as last week.

Cr Nelmes and the council havebecome increasingly frustrated with Destination NSW for what they see as the organisation’s failure to properly coordinate the race and consult with residents who are unhappy that the race runs through residential areas in the East End.

Last Tuesdaycouncillors agreed to a motion that asked for the state government to consider changing the route, with a view to moving it down Shortland Esplanade.

The idea was quickly ruled out by Supercars Australia, who said it was too late in the game to change the route.

But on Wednesday Cr Nelmes doubled down, telling the Herald she had been told via a text from Mr Warburton that the option was still alive.

That’s drawn the ire of Liberal Party Councillor Brad Luke, who called on Cr Nelmes to release the texts.

“She should supply the entire text message conversation with James Warburton,” Cr Luke said.

He ridiculed the idea of taking the track down Shortland Esplanade, saying it was “obviously too dangerous when the surf is up”.

“Does she plan on having a council worker down there with a stop and go sign when the race is on?” he said.

The Newcastle Heraldhas seen one text from Supercars chief executive James Warburton to Cr Nelmes sent the Monday before last week’s meeting in which he says he “can always do everything possible if that is the way you want to go [but] deadlines are extremely tight”.

However the Heraldalso understands Mr Warburton believed a number of text messages sent before then made it clear the route was not feasible.

The Heraldhas also been told that council officers were provided with a report in February that explained why the Shortland route was not possible, including safety concerns and the extra cost of the route.

The council has been asked for comment.

On Tuesday Mr Warburton said the Shortland Esplanade optionhad been ruled out “at the end of last year” after concerns raised by theInternational AutomobileFederation –or FIA –over the safety of the running the race along the road, and the extra cost.

“Our view is we always that we want to provide a service, and what the community wants and in this case what the lord mayor wants, but unfortunately the timing of this, it’s too late, it’s set, and the track we have is the track we’ll have for 2017 and beyond,” Mr Warburton said at a press conference standing next to Cr Nelmes.

“Ultimately with Shortland Esplanade it really comes down to a couple of things [for example] there were concerns around the seawall.

“Obviously we’re aware there’s some community consultation and polling going on at the moment so you can never say never but whether or not that’s an option remains to be seen.”

Cr Nelmes denied that the council’s motion was about moving the track to Shortland Esplanade, saying it merelysought to consult with the community on the route of the track.

“Good community consultation doesn’t pre-empt the outcome,” she said.

“It should have been done at the beginning,that’swhyIhave been frustrated by the management of the race.

“I think the community should be asked [but] it’s been made very clear now that for whatever reason they can’t move the track for 2017.”

However Cr Luke criticised the mayor for not raising the issues earlier, saying she was “in election mode”.

“I hear Labor preselections are open and if you want to know what the real story is that’s what I would be looking at,” he said.

Cr Nelmes dismissed that, pointing to correspondence she sent to former Premier Mike Baird in December calling for more consultation over the race.

Mr Warburton, who was in Newcastle to promote the race on Tuesday, said Supercars was not concerned with the political stoushes and community opposition.

“Ultimately for us we just get on with the job,” he said.

“We’ve been dealing with it for 27 years on the Gold Coast so the reality is that obviously there are always people who either don’t support it or don’t want to see it but I suppose the overall benefit of what this event brings to Newcastle is something that is there for the greater good of the community.”

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EXPERIENCED: Newcastle Jockey Club and NNSWF director Bill Moncrieff.
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NORTHERN NSW Football life member Bill Moncrieff looks set to continueas disciplinary and matchday commissioner after gaining a seat on the federation’s board.

Moncrieff, former Football Mid North Coast director Rick Naylor and ex-North Coast Football general manager Paul Sullivan were elected from four nominations for three positions on Sunday. Christo Patsan was unsuccessful.Phil Holt and Alex McDonald had to retire after two four-year termsand deputy chairmanMichael Gaertnerdid not seek re-election.Bill Walker was returned as chairman andHelene O’Neill was elected deputy.

NNSWF chief David Eland said Moncrieff’s roles were not“disqualifying positions”, meaning he could retain them whilea director.

“We are going to have a discuss with FFA about it just to make sure,” Eland said. “He’s keen to continue but he’s absolutely prioritised his board position.”

He said the departing directorswere integral to the landmark development ofLake Macquarie Regional Football Facility.

NNSWF board members with the plaque at Lake Macquarie Regional Football Facility at Speers Point. Picture: NNSWF

Theboard’s “foresight and commitment” in helping make the Speers Point headquarters a reality was officially recognised with a plaque at the facility.

Of the new directors, Eland saidNaylor was an experienced administrator who had recently moved to Newcastle.

Sullivan, who lives on the North Coast, “has an extensive knowledge in sport and local government” and“worked with local councils and rights-holders to conduct significant sporting events in regional areas” while with Cricket NSW.

​Moncrieff, an A-Leaguematchday commissioner, is a long-time Newcastle Jockey Club director and former vice-chairman. He has served as NNSWF disciplinary commissioner for more than 20 years.

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Search resumes for tragic Mohsin Mohsin Awan was taking photographs at Nobbys when he was swept away.
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The scene on Sunday evening.

TweetFacebook Police searching Nobbys beach for missing man. Pictures: Marina Neil, Supplied Police searching Nobbys beach for missing man. Pictures: Marina Neil, SuppliedAUSTRALIA was meant to be the gift of a lifetime for Mohsin Awan.

The young Pakistani man crossed the world to Newcastle six months ago, embracing all that the region had to offer: he joined a cricket club, knuckled down in his studies at the University of Newcastle and enjoyed day trips in the picturesque Hunter Valley.

The 23-year-old’s Australian adventure turned to tragedy on Sunday night, after he was swept away in rough surf at Nobbys Beach.

Authorities now fear the worst for Mr Awan, who was last seen taking photographs with a friend in the rock-ringed area known as Soldiers Baths, at the southern edge of the beach.

With an extensive search effort between Nobbys and Dudley beaches yet to find Mr Awan on Monday, senior police now describe the operation as a “retrieval”, and have notified the High Commission for Pakistan as the search enters its third day.

A group of Mr Awan’s devastated friends were gathered at Nobbys on Monday afternoon as emergency services desperately scoured the water in front of them.

They said they prayed for their friend to be found safe.

“We still have hope,” said Bilal Akram, who played alongside Mr Awan at the Birmingham Gardens Cricket Club.

“He’s a really lovely, friendly guy – we need to find him and pray that he is found.”

Mudasar Zahid came to admire Mr Awan over a short period of time and said the 23-year-old business student was respected by many for his friendship and intelligence.

HOPE: Bilal Akram, centre, with other friends of missing University of Newcastle student Mohsin Awan. Picture: Marina Neil

“He was really talkative, his classmates told me he was always making conversation with them,” he said.

“He was a really, really nice guy. We didn’t know him for long, but still we are missing him.

“It’s tragic.”

Mr Awan’s parents, who live in the Pakistani city of Lahore, were told of their son’s disappearance on Monday.

“They’re in shock,” Mr Akram said.

Lifeguards, Marine Rescue and the Westpac Rescue Helicopter concentrated much of Monday’s search near Newcastle Ocean Baths, but the strength of the current saw sweeps as far as Dudley Beach.

Witnesses said Mr Awan and a friend, also 23, became caught in a rip after being swept from the rocks in large surf.

Holly Davidson, a worker at Swell kiosk at the pavilion, said everyone scrambled to help after the men after they were spotted panicking and fully clothed in the water shortly before 7pm.

Ms Davidson said swimmers and a surfer went to rescue the duo, but were only able to pull one of the men back.

“Those guys were amazing, they put their lives at risk, they jumped out into the rip,” she said.

“They tried to get him but unfortunately he’d been dragged out quite far so they couldn’t get to him.

“A man went out to try and get him but he just couldn’t get there.”

Ms Davidson said the ocean looked deceptively serene on Sunday.

“It was very low tide, lots of rips,” she said.

“It looked quite calm until the big waves came over. It was just a big wave that picked them up and took them out.”

Tony Leacy, an ex-firefighter who was at Nobbys as the emergency unfolded, said he saw the two men taking photographs by the water’s edge before being washed out into the surf.

“They were probably about up to their knees in the water taking selfies and the next thing they were being washed across the beach,” he said.

“One of them, the bigger guy, managed to grab onto the rocks but the other guy couldn’t make it. He was only a few metres away from the rocks but you could tell neither of them could swim.”

Dye released to show how water is moving at Nobbys. It’s clinging tightly to the rockpool at Sth end where man last seen. @newcastleheraldpic.twitter南京桑拿/Tq0Ccjhpfi

— Matt Carr (@MattCarrNH) March 19, 2017

Veteran lifeguard Warren Smith said even strong swimmers could be caught out by Nobbys’ strong rips, undertows and “big horseshoe” of rocks and ledges.

However, the now-retired Mr Smith said it was rare for to be a drowning at the iconic beach despite the challenging conditions.

“When you don’t have lifeguards on duty and people get caught in those situations, it’s terrible,” he said.

“No one would have thought that was going to happen. I feel very sorry for the family.”

Marine Rescue Newcastle Unit Commander Ron Calman said search efforts had so far been hampered by choppy water.

“The vision on the water is pretty limited,” he said. “Where he’s found all depends on the wind and currents.”

The search resumed at 7am on Tuesday.

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Mel B has filed for divorce from her husband of 10 years.
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The Spice Girl married Hollywood producer Stephen Belafonte after a five-month whirlwind romance in 2007. They have one daughter, Madison Brown Belafonte, five.

In papers obtained by People, Melanie “Mel B” Brown, asked for joint legal and physical custody of Madison. The couple’s date of separation is listed as December 28.

She requested the court not award spousal support.

The family lived in Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs during Brown’s role as a judge on the X Factor and a co-host of the 2012 season of Dancing with the Stars.

They returned to the US in 2013, with Brown travelling to Australia to act as a judge on The Voice Kids in 2014.

In addition to Madison, Brown has two daughters, nine-year-old Angel Iris Murphy Brown (from her 2006 relationship with actor Eddie Murphy) and Phoenix Chi Gulzar, 17. Belafonte has one daughter, Giselle Belafonte, 12.

Last month, Brown posted a photo of the couple on Instagram, accompanied by a loved-up caption.

“We have been through everything that would normally tear couples apart and we have come out on the other side stronger. You loved me before I even [knew] how to really love myself. You are my world, honey,” she wrote, adding “and let’s not forget you are abit [sic] of a dickhead too.” My baby boo @stephenthinks11 we have been through everything that would normally tear couples apart and we have come out on the other side stronger,you loved me before I even new how to really love myself,you are my world honey and let’s not forget you are abit of a dickhead too xxxx #tenyearsmarried #fightfortheineyoulove #theysaiditwouldntlast #bitcheswishtheyhadthis #nowtalkaboutmeA post shared by Mel B (@officialmelb) on Feb 6, 2017 at 3:55pm PST

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Care campaign: Jennifer Creal with Upper Hunter MP Michael Johnsen and the new book, Our Stories.HUNTER residents have shared their experiences of palliative care ina bid to put an end to the shortage of specialists services across the state.
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The Cancer Council says NSW needs 10 more full time specialist palliative care physicians, at a minimum, to be brought in line with national palliative care recommendations.

On Tuesday, Cancer Council NSW launched its I Care For Palliative Care campaign along with a book, called Our Stories, which includes thepersonal accounts of Hunter people who used or neededpalliative care services for their loved ones.

Dungog resident Jennifer Creal contributed to the book, after discovering palliative care services were lacking when her late husband Christopher finished his active cancer treatment in 2013.

After surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy, his oncologist had suggested they choose quality of life over quantity when the treatment was not working.

“We were referred to the local palliative care team, which was 40 minutes away from the farm where we lived, and unfortunately, even though the will was there, they were so over worked they weren’t able to assess him,” Mrs Creal said.

“At the end of two weeks, I couldn’t control his pain at home anymore and our GP admitted him to the palliative care unit at our wonderful little hospital in Dungog. I basically lived there until he died about seven days after he was admitted.

“If I’d have had access or support from a palliative care team to manage his painI would have been able to have him comfortablyat home, and he could have had his family,his grandchildren, his family, and his dog around him, and we would have all liked that.”

The book waspresented to localMembers of Parliament on Tuesday, andsent to NSW Minister for Health Brad Hazzard.

“We’re a long way behind the other states in palliative care on a populational basis,” MrsCrealsaid.

“We’re wanting another 129 nurses, and another 10 palliative care doctors, to bring us up to the average of all the other states.

“It is a huge gap.”

Mrs Creal said access to specialist palliative care meantpeople with terminal illness could keep doing the things they love for as long as possible, and that families could make the most of the time they hadleft.

The Cancer Council is calling on people to support the I Care for Palliative Care campaign bysigning the pledge for Minister Hazzard to end the palliative care shortage via南京夜网canact南京桑拿南京夜生活/palliative_care_pledge.

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AMERICAN DREAM: Newcastle-Central Coast band October Rage have built a US fan base, but are relatively unknown in Australia.FOR Newcastle’s Kai Chambers it all began with a “horrendous” advertisement for a drummer in the window of Muso’s Corner four years ago.
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He never believed answering the ad would lead to fulfilling his rock’n’roll dreams, travelling around the US in a tour bus. Yet that is the situation Chambers, and fellow Novocastrian guitaristJohn McMullen, will find themselves in come May when they fly out fortheir third American tour with hard rock band October Rage.

The four piece wereformed in 2008 by Central Coast brothers Nick and William Roberts. They received their big break in 2010 when their single Silver Line won a Triple M radio competition to support Bon Jovi on their Australian tour. Contacts madeled to an opportunity to perform in the US.

However, the Roberts brothers’ ambitions burnt out their formermembers, opening the door for Chambers and McMullen to be recruited. But not before Chambers, whose father Terry was thedrummer in English rock band XTC, believed the ad was a hoax.

“The ad was like ‘international touring band seeks drummer, we’ve played with Bon Jovi andSteel Panther, must be able to tour and have current passport’,” Chambers said. “I was thinking you’ve got to be kidding me. This ad is horrendous. It’s got to be some guy whose dreaming, but I later thought what if it’s real?”

October Rage have released three EPs and are preparing to record their debut album Victory or Valhallawith Newcastle producer Rob Taylor (The Whitlams). The album will be released through Salt Lake City-based label Aircastle Records.

Each US tour and EPhas increased their fan base across the Pacific and led to support slots with Alien Ant Farm,Sevendust andPuddle Of Mudd. However,October Rage remain relatively unknown in Australia.

October Rage – Valkyrie“It’s got a lot to do I reckon with the saturation of Australian radio with old stuff that’s been played for 30 years and nobody else can get a look in,” Chambers said. “Everyone wants to go see Midnight Oil and Jimmy Barnes and nobody wants to see anything new I guess, whereas in the States they have dedicated stations to specific genres.”

Chambers is also October Rage’s booking agent and has secured the band’s biggest shows this American summer, including an appearance alongside US bandsBlack Stone Cherry andAlter Bridge atRockin’ The Rivers in Montana.

“We played there 1pm on Thursday last year, which is the opening day, and this year we’ve been promoted straight to the main stage,” he said.“Everywhere we go it’s building more and more and everyone seems to want to help you chase your dreams, opposed to cut you down at the knees.”

Catch October Rage at the Newcastle Leagues Club on April 22.

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Toll road operator Transurban will fund the Inner City Bypass upgrade and take over ongoing maintenance and operation of the road in return for increased tolls on existing Brisbane toll roads.
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Tuesday’s announcement, made at the Legacy Way control centre at Bowen Hills, would see heavy vehicle tolls increase on the Clem7, Legacy Way and Go Between Bridge toll roads.

Regular motorists using the Legacy Way tunnel would also be slugged with an increase of about 7 per cent, bringing it to the maximum toll allowable.

The $60 million ICB upgrade would see a widening to four lanes in each direction between Legacy Way and the RNA tunnel, new on- and off-ramps onto the ICB, bus priority measures at the Herston Road exit and a new westbound on-ramp from Bowen Bridge Road and the Inner Northern Busway.

Lord Mayor Graham Quirk said the agreement would save ratepayers more than $54 million, meaning the ICB upgrade would be delivered with just $3-4 million from the council’s budget.

The agreement between Brisbane City Council and Transurban, subject to state government approval, means heavy vehicle tolls for the Clem7 and Go Between Bridge will increase from 2.65 times the car tolls to three times the car tolls from July 1 next year.

Legacy Way would follow suit on July 1, 2020, at the same time as car tolls for tunnel users also increased.

Transurban Queensland general manager Wes Ballantine said the agreement, believed to be the first of its kind in Australia, would not see a toll introduced to the ICB.

Mr Ballantine said Legacy Way regular tolls would increase “circa 7 per cent” in 2020, from $4.94 to $5.31, in 2017 terms.

At a time when Brisbane’s TransApex network of toll roads were performing well below expectation, Mr Ballantine defended the price hikes for motorists.

“I think with almost 500,000 trips a day on Brisbane’s toll roads, Brisbane would look a lot and feel a lot different to the negative if these toll roads didn’t exist,” he said.

“Rather than the toll price increase, it’s actually the improvement in the ICB which will make a difference here and, in close conversation with the council, we believe that the price increases here are commensurate.

“Certainly, the value improvement is way beyond the (toll) price increase we’re announcing here today.”

Although Transurban would take over the operation and maintenance of the ICB under the agreement, Mr Ballantine said there would be no toll introduced to the road that linked Hale Street and Kingsford Smith Drive.

“Our key focus is how can we make the network work better, whether they are our roads or not,” he said.

“The council was open to that conversation and, with our tunnels at each end of this road and our workers on the road every day, we were in the best position to provide the most efficient operations of this road.”

Cr Quirk said the precedent of such an arrangement was set with the Logan Enhancement Project, a market-led proposal by Transurban to upgrade parts of the Logan and Gateway motorways.

“(State approval) has been sought, but we’ve only reached a point of agreement now with Transurban, so we’re in a position now where we can go to them with an agreement and we can formally ask for that approval.”

Cr Quirk said the freight industry had been consulted ahead of the announcement.

“It comes back to a value proposition – will it be value for money in terms of the dollars paid for the time saved?” he said.

“When you’re dealing with large vehicles like this and the large cost of fuel and maintenance associated with those vehicles, time saving can be a very significant cost advantage.”

Cr Quirk said Transurban approached the council after the ICB upgrade announcement was made last year.

When asked whether funding an upgrade to an untolled road would be a bitter pill for toll road users to swallow, Cr Quirk said such financial arrangements needed to be considered.

“It’s always an issue of revenue and where it comes from to keep up with infrastructure,” he said.

“You have a number of choices. You can continue to increase rates around that. There are a number of ways you can go about it.

“The one thing I do know is that the people of Brisbane will want me to keep up with the infrastructure build.

“They’ll want to make sure that, as our city and region grows, that we continue to invest.”

The Lord Mayor said construction savings, along with an estimated $1 million a year in maintenance cost savings, would be reinvested into other Brisbane infrastructure.

“Where we anticipated that this would be an $80 million project, the total cost will come down to about $3-4 million,” Cr Quirk said.

“There’s always a list of infrastructure jobs to be undertaken and that always makes up part of our budget considerations each year.”

Mr Ballantine said the three-time multiple toll for heavy vehicles was consistent with toll roads in Sydney and Melbourne.

“It’s very in line with the market,” he said.

The seeds of the agreement were sewn last June, when Mr Ballantine indicated Transurban was in early discussions with the council.

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Outgoing ABC Chairman Jim Spigelman.15th March 2017.Photo: Steven Siewert Photo: Steven SiewertNBN board member and former Telstra executive Justin Milne is expected to be appointed the new chair of the ABC by the Turnbull government later this week.
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Mr Milne will succeed former NSW chief justice James Spigelman in the prestigious role when his five-year term officially expires at the end of the month.

Mr Milne has been a long-time friend of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull since they worked together at internet service provider Ozemail in the 1990s.

The chair of the ABC is unusually the prerogative of the prime minister with input from the minister for communications.

Fairfax Media understands the appointment was approved by cabinet on Monday night, with an official announcement expected later this week.

The job comes with a pay packet of around $160,000 a year.

As well as OzeMail, Mr Milne served as chief executive of internet giants MSN and BigPond before Mr Turnbull appointed him to the NBN board in 2013.

He is also chair of accounting software group MYOB and NetComm Wireless, and also sits on the board of Tabcorp Holdings.

An ABC source said staff would be relieved the government had appointed someone with extensive experience in telecommunications and media rather than an “ideological warrior”.

A spokeswoman for Communications Minister Mitch Fifield said: “The Government has made no announcement about the next Chair of the ABC, but will do so in the near future.”

The appointment comes after an announcement by ABC managing director Michelle Guthrie to cut 200 jobs as part of a major restructure of the broadcaster.

Prominent lawyer Danny Gilbert, managing partner of law firm Gilbert + Tobin, was in the running to be appointed chairman, but was pipped by Mr Milne who has more media experience.

Mr Spigelman last week told Fairfax Media he was disappointed not to have been appointed to a second term.

“If I had been offered a second term I would have accepted,” says the former NSW chief justice and principal private secretary to Gough Whitlam.

“My predecessor wasn’t given a second term and wanted it; I haven’t been given a second term.”

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Stockton hazard exposed Concern: Surf club life members Ken Grainger (left) and Wayne McMahon. Picture: Daniel Danuser.
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Rock platform: Local children inspect some of the exposed rocks.

Danger: A number of beach users have been injured on the rocks.

TweetFacebookMOTHER Nature brought it to a head in June last year.

The effects of extreme storm surges stripped Stockton Beach to a thin ribbon of sand.

The long-held hope of many locals that authorities would act on the continual erosion problem faced by the coastal strip became a reality.

Newcastle City Council agreed to a $2 million beach restoration program.

Fast forward nine months and hundreds of Stockton Surf Life Saving Club nippers are gathered ready for their weekly Sunday morning competition.

Large, sharp rocks litter the beach, causing the cancellation of the sand events.

Stockton surf club life member Don Bland said parts of the beach were “just far too dangerous for use”.

“You’ve only got to look around to see what we’re dealing with,” he said. “It’s a major safety hazard. To try and tell us the rocks have always been there is complete rubbish. I’ve been here since 1947 and the rocks are an unwelcome new feature.”

The club’s director of lifesaving, Luke McShane, said volunteer lifesavers had seen a significant increase in injuries in the past few months.

Mr McShane said the problem was getting worse as the sand moved south “uncovering more leftover rocks”.

“While there’s no doubt that the conservation works are completely necessary to ensure the sustainability of our beach over the next few years, there’s been an obvious failure to address the hazards that have resulted from the work,” he said.

“In and out of the water, we’ve seen both lifesavers and members of the public sustaining a range of injuries from ripped up toe nails to deep lacerations.”

After being contacted by Fairfax Media, Newcastle City Council’s spokesman said an inspection would be carried by its contractor on Tuesday to remove any exposed rocks.

A further inspection will be carried out next week on extreme low tide.

“Following stormy weather over thepast two weeks, around 800mm of sand has been lost from the new seawall at Stockton, exposing a number of rocks leftover from the stockpile. Earlier this month, council officers undertook an inspection and no protruding rocks were visible.”

Council’s spokesman said an “ongoing sand nourishment and rock-screening process” was in place to ensure the beach was safe.

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Mellissa Moore was sitting on her porch in Gladesville on Sunday afternoon, taking in some of the rare sunshine when she felt a creature slither over her toes.
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“I thought, ‘Oh, it’s just a blue tongue’,” Ms Moore said, before she glanced down. “Hang on – this one doesn’t have any legs!”

The snake was perhaps 30 centimetres long, and likely to be the venomous red-bellied black snake. “I could clearly see the red stripe,” she said, before it slid away.

Ms Moore’s concern was that there would more in the grass around the house where her two young children have – until now – been free to play.

“They are forever outside without shoes,” she says. “Now they don’t go outside without gumboots.”

Sydney’s long wet patch may have buried a few memories of what was the city’s hottest summer in 158 years of records.

But it also appears to have nudged a few critters, such as snakes and spiders, inside homes and garages in search of drier conditions. ‘Inundated’

For professional snake handlers such as Harley Jones of Snakes in the City, it’s been a bumper season of call-outs, with up to four a day for red bellied black snakes alone.

“At the moment, we’ve been inundated,” Mr Jones says, just after bagging another juvenile red-belly that had found its way into an office complex at Lane Cove. The wet weather “tends to put them inside houses,” he adds.

March, though, also tends to be the peak season for breeding, with red-bellies typically spawning about 14 offspring at this time of year. While most will be taken by kookaburras, foxes and other predators, juveniles are still capable of inflicting a very nasty bite.

In terms of injecting highly potent venom, “they are just as capable as a parent. The last thing you do is pick them up,” Mr Jones said.

Red-bellied black snakes “are found all over Sydney,” he adds. “They’re absolutely everywhere … You find them in the middle of the CBD, all over the north shore, all over the south and all over the east.”

Most of those he captures are released back into the wild, such as in the Lane Cove National Park.

Other snakes turning up include golden-crowned snakes, particularly in the north shore, and green or brown tree snakes – with the latter able to climb through open windows.

Stephen Mahony, a herpetologist at the Australian Museum, said people are more likely to come across snakes such as red-bellied black snakes and browns once the sun comes out after a wet spell.

“They are generally less active in overcast, rainy and colder conditions,” Mr Mahony said. “Red-bellies do hunt a lot of frogs, so may be seen hunting somewhat more after rain periods once it warms somewhat.”

“Some snakes, for example pythons – such as the diamond python – and some tree snakes such as the brown tree snake do seem to increase in activity when it is wet,” he said. “Though the reason is not clear.” More rain to come

Those hoping for a break in the snake-friendly weather will have to wait a few days yet.

“There’s a high chance for showers each day” up until about the weekend, said Graeme Brittain, a Weatherzone meteorologist.

Storms are possible in Sydney both on Tuesday and especially Wednesday afternoon. (See the Bureau of Meteorology chart below showing predicted rainfall totals over the next four days.)

“We’ve had these moist on-shore flows, and above-average sea surface temperatures off the NSW coast,” Mr Brittain said. The additional moisture that’s available has combined with upper-level pools of cool air to create ongoing instability and rain.

While nights have been exceptionally warm, the clouds are keeping a lid on temperatures – although most days are above the March average.

“There’s no real sign of any real heat making it towards the coast over the next week or so,” Mr Brittain said.

Still, there’s a chance for some reasonable sunshine on Sunday and early next week, as temperatures in the city climb back towards 30 degrees. Snakes won’t be the only ones happy with that outlook.

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So far in March, Sydney has had 17 days with at least 0.2 millimetres of rain, or well above the average of 13.6 rainy days for March, according to Agata Imielska, senior climatologist with the bureau in Sydney.

The record of 26 rainy days, set in 1870, is perhaps out of reach but the 22 wet days in March 2014 is within reach.

In terms of rain totals, the 223 millimetres is already well above the average of 129.6 millimetres for March at Observatory Hill.

“The record March total is 521.4 millimetres in 1942, so we’ve got a way to go to reach that record as well,” Ms Imielska said.

Weatherzone is owned by Fairfax Media, publisher of this website.

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