Monthly Archives: August 2019

Hamilton flying high

YEAH BABY: Hamilton will be aiming to be the first team to win consecutive premierships since Maitland in 1998-99. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

CAN anyone stop the Hawks?Buoyed by the minor-major premiershipdouble, Hamilton are well placed to be the first team to win consecutive premierships since Maitland in 1998-99. On the surface, Wanderers and Merewether appear the likely challengers in a competition that returns to 10 teams and hasa revised player points system.

HAMILTONCoach:Scott Coleman

Last year: 1st

IN:Geraint Weaver (Wales),Liam Kearney, Joe Finn (Nelson Bay), John Agnew (Scotland), Ben Harriss (Norths).OUT:Eric Vasukicakau (Perth), Chris Pusi (Easts, Sydney), Rob Smith (England), William Soe (Waratahs), Marty Lisiua (retired).Bottom line: The Hamilton machine rolls on. Again Bubba Coleman has a wealth of talent and depth at his disposal. The return of Harriss and Bryce Madden (knee reconstruction) compensate the loss of Smith andVasukicakau. Keeping Lamont and Akkersdyk away from the doctor’s table is key. Tip: 1st

WANDERERSCoach: Viv Paasi

Last year: 2nd

IN: Elliot Jennings, Howie Grant (Maitland RL), John McSorely (Scotland). OUT:Blake Walsh (knee reconstruction), Col Hovell (retired), Andrew Fletcher, Mark Sherwood, Anthony Barrett (lower grades).Bottom line: The Two Blues production line continues to churn out talented youngsters. Dan Kevill is hungrier than ever and his off-loads could have been the X-factor they needed in the grand final. They loom asthe biggest threat to the Hawks. Tip: 2nd

MEREWETHERCoach: Stacey Sykes

Last year: 4th

IN: Tom Azar (Warren),Brad Sheridan (Ourimbah), Josh Stewart (Tamworth Pirates), james Robinson (Ireland)OUT: Michael Dan, Kent Hatchwell (retired), Shaun Rich (Randwick), Isaac Wilton (rugby league).Bottom line: There is a lot to like about the Greens.Sykes returns after two years at the helm ofNSW Country andhas broughtCockatoos Stewart, Sheridan and Azar with him. Questions remain at the set-piece.Tip: 3rd

UNIVERSITYCoach: Mark O’Brien

Last year: 4th

IN: Darcy Christie-Johnson, Oliver Crowe(Bathurst), Newton Tananyiwa (Zimbabwe), Matt Yeoman (Spain), Ed Richards (Lindfield), Richard Hunt (Narrabri), Ben Sutter (Southern Beaches), Matt Brennan (Mackay), Alex Lloyd (Wales). OUT: James Wilkinson (work). Bottom line: The Students are a year older and a year stronger. They need to develop a hard edge at the breakdown but if they can convert the close losses into wins, look out.Tip: 4th

THE WARATAHSCoach:Matt Chidgey

Last year: 3rd

IN: William Soe (Hamilton). OUT: Tim Riley (retired), Josh Afoa,Adrian Curry, Rob Harlow (New Zealand),MichaelFakava (Sydney), Todd McDean (retired).Bottom line: With no Riley and Pedersen you have to ask where the points will come from?Again they look solid up front, but lack the intimidation factor of previous years. One of four teams likely to fight for fifth spot.Tip: 5th

SOUTHERN BEACHESCoach: Johan Laurens

Last year: 6th

IN:Alan Bruitnbach (Ourimbah), Mitchell Gibson (Wanderers), Jackson McLean (Norths). OUT:Glenn Stone (North Lakes), Mick Iopa (year off), Ken Vilamu, Willie Fraser, Tavita Polamalu, KG Lam, Barcelona Lupenastasila, Ben Chidgey, Ben Smit (Lake Macquarie) , Ben Sutter (University).Bottom line: Mark down May 27 on the calendar and the clash against Lake Macquarie. Of the departures, Glenn Stone could be the hardest to replace. Any team with Va Talaileva and theDelore brothers can’t be discounted.Tip: 6th

LAKE MACQUARIECoach: Tim Chidgey

Last year: 9th, withdrew after round 9

IN:Ken Vilamu, Willie Fraser, Tavita Polamalu, KG Lam, Barcelona Lupenastasila, Ben Chidgey, Ben Smit(Southern Beaches),Aston Talia (New Zealand), Joe McDonagh (Gold Coast). OUT:WiremuMatakatea(Central Coast RL)Bottom line: The only way is up after they made the decision to withdraw from the competition midwaythrough last season. The bottom three teams from last year have an extra 12 points under the cap and the Roos will need them. Chidgey is proven atputting structures in place and rebuilding a club. Expect a major improvement. Tip:7th

MAITLANDCoaches: Ryan McCormack, Mick Hickling

Last year:7th

IN:Mick Howell (France), Adam McCarthy (work), Chris Logan (Nelson Bay), John Birrell (work)OUT:Josh Gray (Brisbane), James Johnston (Brisbane), Sean O’Connor (lower grades), Luke Cunningham (lower grades).Bottom line: Howell adds starch and sizeto a pack led by Anderson Medal winner Nick Davidson. They have some good kids coming through, but they will need to step up quickly. Tip: 8th

NELSON BAYCoaches: Adam Edwards, Michael Hotene, Matt Affleck

Last year: 8th

IN: Zion Takarua (Hamilton), Todd Arnold (Waikato), Rhys Cutbush (work), Ed Clarkson, Doug Randall (England). OUT:Adam Edwards (coaching), Dan Collins, Chad Northcott (England),Liam Kearney, Joe Finn (Hamilton),Tom Hart, Ross Aitken (Scotland), Chris Logan (Maitland).Bottom line: Any team that loses the calibre of Collins, Northcott and Kearney is going to do it tough. Strong Oval has always been a tough place to play. Nothing changes.Tip: 9th

SINGLETONCoach: Bruce Harris

Last year: 10th

IN:Samson Salanoa. OUT:Sione KamotoBottom line: The Bulls will be better for their first season back in premier rugby. Again they will rely on home-grown youngsters but lack the depth and quality to trouble the top sides. Tip: 10th

Parents give evidence at missing son’s inquest

Kyle Coleman’s mother Sonia (facing away from camera) is escorted away from Mount Isa Coroner’s Court.PARENTS Robert and Sonia Coleman gave evidence to the inquest of their son Kyle at Mount Isa,both saying they wanted answers to his disappearance.

Kyle Coleman was never seen again after he went on a hunting expedition on February 21to Undilla Station with friend James Coleman (no relation), who himself committed suicide a few days afterwards.

James Coleman told Kyle’s parents that they had abandoned the trip due to floodwaters and returned to Mount Isa late that night where they were drinking before he said Kyle walked home.

Sonia Coleman said the first she knew of Kyle’s disappearance was a text she received from James on the afternoon of February 22which said “Hey old girl, what’s Kyle up to, can’t get hold of him?”

Mrs Coleman said it was not unusual to get a text from James asking about Kyle but this was unusual as she thought Kyle was with James.

She told the coroner that Kylewould always contact her if he was staying the night somewhere different.

“It is very out of character for him (Kyle) not to ring me,” Mrs Coleman said.

When she and her husband went over to talk to James, he repeated the story about Kyle walking home and his girlfriend Toni-Lee Sabin asked him (James) why he didn’t wake her up to get her to drive him home.

Mrs Coleman said they spoke again with James Coleman on the Sunday morning but this time he was unresponsive.

Father Robert Coleman contacted police after that meeting on the Sunday to report Kyle as missing.

Robert Coleman told the court that the explanation of events James Coleman gave him did not match up with police statements.

Robert Coleman saidJames told police they had ventured deeper into Undilla Station and did not initially turn back due to flooding.Instead they went to a campsite where they lit a fire and took shots at trees.

“I had warned Kyle beforehand that alcohol and firearms don’t mix,” RobertColeman said.

Robert Coleman said he and the station owner had subsequently found charred remains of a watch that Kyle wore at the fire site and they also found spent .303 calibre shells and evidence of a tree that had been shot at.

Mr Coleman told the coroner he believed his son was killed at the campsite but his remains might never be found due to the wild dogs, cattle and other animals that live in the area.

A police ballistics expert also gave evidence saying there was no evidence of human remains at the fire site and the fire would have needed to be extremely intense to burn all of the human matter.

The case continues.

North West Star

No power, but sailing a breeze for Nicholson

NEWS flash! Superboat syndicate 222 Offshore has joined the sponsorship ranks for the Sail Port Stephens regatta starting Monday at Nelson Bay.

It’s the exemplar of powerboating muscle marrying his gentle sailing mistress, where once ne’er the twain would meet.Think Hatfield son kissing a McCoy daughter …

But, of course, 222 pilot Darren Nicholson has always had a soft spot for yachting. As a tacker he skippered Pelicans and 16-Foot skiffs on Belmont Bay and teamed with younger brother Chris to win a 505 world title.

Driving high-powered raceboats at breakneck speeds is a more recent pursuit and Nicholson is hoping to win over a new legion of fans from sailing’s ranks with his participation at Sail Port Stephens.

His company Hunter Parking and Storage is also aboard to present one of the most dynamic and panoramic days on the NSW boating calendar, with on- and off-water regatta action reaching a crescendo for ‘Super Saturday’, April 16.

This year sees the debut of a Broughton Island passage race, a 26 nautical mile lap of the pristine islands off Port Stephens, as part of the NSW IRC Championship and Port Stephens Trophy.

Also new, Sail Port Stephens has linked with the Hunter Medical Research Institute (HMRI) to raise vital funds for brain cancer research, honouring regatta mentor Roger Hickman who succumbed recently to a brain tumour.

The HMRI Cup will now be presented annually for the Broughton Island Passage Race and proceeds from the ‘End-of-Season Sailebration’ evening at Broughtons at the Bay function centre will be donated to HMRI.

“The faster yachts will have a chance to ‘stretch their legs’ and the race track will also offer unique challenges for the tacticians,” says Sail Port Stephens Regatta Director Geoff Campbell.

“Because Hicko loved his offshore sailing, it’s a good way for us to acknowledge the support he provided when our club was establishing the regatta.”

A top-quality IRC fleet is assembling for the State title, including TP52 heavyweights Balance, Ichi Ban, Koa and Celestial along with the DK46 pairing of Nine Dragons and Khaleesi. Queensland sailor Peter Harburg is bringing his smaller Black Jack Too.

Two feeder races begin this weekend, with Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club holding the Pittwater-Newcastle race tomorrow from 10am then Newcastle Cruising Yacht Club staging the Newcastle-Port Stephens dash on Sunday.

The second race is the perfect opportunity for Sydney crews to get a feel for what Lake Macquarie and Newcastle’s sailing communities will bring to the table at Sail Port Stephens. So far 32 yachts representing a good spread of clubs are registered for the 10am start.

“Similar to previous years the Newcastle to Port Stephens coastal dash includes the ability to conduct a unique rolling start whereby, if wind conditions require it, the race committee will instruct the fleet to start motoring towards Port Stephens until such time as they deem there to be enough wind to start the race,” NCYC CEO Aaron Harpham says.

TOP CONTENDER: Newcastle Cruising Yacht Club entrant Anger Management which will be leading the charge across Stockton Bite on Sunday.

STILL TIME TO ENTER: A Melges 24 sports boat – the door is still open to divisional entries.

Insight into a leader

Artistic talent: Detail from a sketch of Morpeth by EC Close.

HE’s the founder of Morpeth township, but what do we really know about pioneer settler Edward Charles Close?

Monument: St James Church at Morpeth.

Also called the “father of the Hunter”, ECClose lived a long, satisfying life, which is a bit of a miracle considering he could have died in battle many times in faraway Spain during the bitter Napoleonic Wars.

He’s best remembered today perhaps for a vow recorded in his diary that if spared in the particularly savage battle of Albuera, in 1811, he’d build a church to the glory of God. Right?

Captivating: Author Ann Beaumont with her book, A Man of Many Parts.

Well, no. Nowhere in his surviving diary (republished last year) is that wartime vow recorded from the brutal Peninsula Wars. So, is the story a myth?

Historian and Mittagong author Ann Beaumont after studying Close’s life for the past six years to produce the pioneer settler’s first biography is convinced the story is true.

“It was at Albuera that Close was nearly killed. His close brush with death had a deep effect on him,” she said of her new biography, A Man of Many Parts.

“Close obviously spoke of his vow to his family and friends and many years later (in 1840) he fulfilled his vow to build St James Church, at Morpeth.

“A lot of material written about Edward Close over the years though has just been recycled. I needed to know more, so I started from scratch, including research in England,” Beaumont said.

She saidEdward Close (1790-1866) enlisted with the British 48th Northhampton Regiment in February 1808 and was soon promoted to lieutenant. He served two tours of duty in Spain, eventually being involved in seven major battles.

Just how brutal the Peninsula Wars were in best illustrated in the victory over the French enemy at the Battle of Albuera with its terrible loss of life.

Close wrote about the first and second battalions of his 48th regiment (comprising 450 men) coming out of the battle with only 25 men and six officers, himself included. The rest were dead, wounded or missing.

“Edward Close had left England in 1808 as a naïve 18-year-old and arrived back in his homeland as a battle-scarred 21-year-old veteran,” writer Beaumont said.

He then left the killing fields of Europe to come to NSW with his regiment in 1817 before resigning his commission. He then carved an estate from Hunter Valley wilderness with convict labour, creating his private town of Morpeth on land grants in an area known as Green Hills.

Beaumont said the soldier settler built a world for himself with opportunities that would have been impossible in England.

She said while he was one of many former military men who created the backbone of the colony, he stood above most because of his empathy, kindness and his practical Christianity.

“I tried to find dirt on Edward Close. I didn’t find any, but in writing biography you have to show all sides of a personality,” Beaumont said. “Born in Bengal in India in 1790, Close later grew up on his family’s estate in England, living a privileged life. His mother was a quaker and I’m sure a lot of his attributes, like a love of art and religion, came from her.”

His father, silk merchant Edward Close snr, was gored by a wild bull and killed in India six months after his son’s birth.

“It had always been assumed ECClose was an only child, but before his father married he’d had a common law Indian wife called Peggy who produced two daughters. His will stipulated they be sent to England,” the author said.

Beaumont said Edward Close was appointed in 1819 as a military engineer to Newcastle Harbour where he removed hazards to improve navigation, put down mooring chains, built a small hillside fort and erected a coal-burning beacon to safely guide ships.

Close was again busy with his pencils and paints, painting landscapes.

“A lot of what we know about early Newcastle, what it looked like in 1819-1821, comes from his paintings. A lot of them were later wrongly credited to his wife’s aunt and they were kept in a cupboard in England for 150 years,” Beaumont said.

“The Mitchell Library then bought them at auction [in 2009]for almost a million dollars.

“Before his Newcastle duty, Close was down around Camden way, in Sydney, chasing bushrangers. Here he painted the natives. This is a man interested in other people who was trusted enough to be allowed to sketch them, “ she said.

“I did find, however, while Edward Close was generous in donating land, he was hard and a businessman. He was very controlling, particularly with his own family, and was very much the squire of Morpeth.”

Beaumont said Edward Close had a wry sense of humour, but was a hesitant speaker all his life. Despite this, Close was always in demand as a moderator during debates.

Although Close sold his fine stone house called Closebourne to the Anglican church in 1848, it was actually the third home he’d built locally, all on prime positions.

“When colonial Governor Darling took over in 1825, he demanded Close surrender his grant so it could be used to build a government town. Close agreed, provided he was fully compensated for his labour, his financial investment and the disruption to his family. Darling refused and Close kept his land,” Beaumont said.“In 1833, the government came to an agreement with Close for him to provide waterfront land to build a public wharf. The place became known as Morpeth from 1834 when Close started to sub-divide his land into town blocks.

“As Morpeth was the head of navigation on the Hunter River, it was a major port for settlers moving into the interior and to ship goods to and from Sydney and Newcastle. I think he also built two pubs,” she said.

“When Close started subdividing land for sale at Morpeth he was advertising it as suitable as sites for merchants. In 1842, he tried to create Closebourne Village, half way between Morpeth and East Maitland, about where Raworth is now,” she said.“Some 100 blocks went up for sale and it was quite blatantly advertised as being suitable for the lower classes, for the working class.SoClose was a man of his time. He’s good to people, but there’s still that class distinction,”Beaumont said.

A Man of Many Parts, by Ann Beaumont,$29.95, is in bookstores now.

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Murder accused to apply for bail

SILK: Arguably Australia’s most prominent barrister Winston Terracini SC will represent Ben Batterham. Picture: Supplied. ONE of Australia’s leading criminal defence barristers will represent the man accused of the Hamilton break-in murder and says he will “expedite” an application to release the 33-year-old from jail.

Top Sydney silk Winston Terracini SC and barrister Brian Murray visited Benjamin Batterham at Cessnock Correctional Centre on Tuesday, a day after taking over the high-profile murder case.

Mr Batterham, an apprentice chef, is alleged to have murdered Ricky Slater-Dickson after he discovered Mr Slater-Dickson inside his Cleary Street home about 3.30am on March 26.

Mr Slater-Dickson died in John Hunter Hospital on March 27.

ACCUSED: Ben Batterham. Picture: Supplied

The Newcastle Herald reported last week that Mr Batterham would remain in custody until at least May 25 after his legal representation declined to apply for bail on his behalf in Newcastle Local Court.

But Mr Terracini SC told the Herald he planned to make a bail application “as urgently as possible” and Mr Batterham’s family was in the process of organising a surety.

​He was alsoarranging for a forensic pathologist to look atthe post-mortem examinationof Mr Slater-Dickson.

Mr Batterham, who the Herald understands doesnot have any priorcriminal history, is alleged to have discovered Mr Slater-Dickson in the hallway of his home.

It’s believed Mr Batterham chased Mr Slater-Dickson outside where the pair were allegedly involved in a fight.

It’s understood Mr Batterham suffered a number of injuries to his face as well as bite marks to his body.

When police arrived Mr Slater-Dickson was being detained by Mr Batterham and his friend, a 32-year-old who was visiting from Queensland.

Mr Slater-Dickson suffered serious injuries, however the Heraldcan confirm his neck was not broken

Mr Slater-Dicksonlost consciousness a short time later.He was treated by paramedics and taken to hospital.

His life support machine was switched off the following day and Mr Batterham was charged with murder.

The Herald understands Mr Batterham willclaim he acted inself defence and that he was alsodefending his property and his family.

It’s believed Mr Batterham and his friend had been celebrating Mr Batterham’s 33rdbirthday on the night of March 25 but there was no party at the home and Mr Batterham and Mr Slater-Dickson did not knoweach other.