Check out what's happening in the south-west and beyond.
► POWER OUTAGE: Productivity was severely affected at Alcoa due to a power outage. Read more.
► ON SONG: A youth music festival at Brauer College was a huge success. Read more.
► PORT FAIRY CUP: Racegoers were dressed to impress at the Warrnambool racecourse on Thursday. Read more.
► RISING STAR: Tiffany Tracey is an all-round superstar. Read more.
► GOOD START: Marc Leishman had a good day on the golf course on Thursday. Read more.
State of the nation
Need a national news snapshot first thing? Well, we have you covered.
► BENDIGO, VIC: First there were some distinctive scats, then there were footprints. Now it has been confirmed beyond dispute – wombats have travelled well beyond their normal range and can now be found in urban Bendigo. At least, that’s certainly true of one wombat who was captured on camera by a council parks and natural reserves worker who literally stumbled upon the decisive piece of evidence after months of reported wombat sightings. Read more.
► NORTH STRADBROKE ISLAND, QLD: Cylinder Beach on North Stradbroke Island has again been voted one of Queensland’s best beaches. Surf Life Saving Queensland has rated Cylinder fourth best in the state, after Burleigh, Main Beach at Noosa and Greenmount. Lifesavers released their second annual list of Queensland’s top 10 beaches to celebrate the start of summer, with Cylinder Beach easily making the cut as one of Queensland’s best spots to cool down this summer. Read more.
► BATHURST, NSW: Bathurst might be bracing itself for a long, hot, dry summer, but the region’s farmers say they are having their best season in 60 years. There is an 80 per cent chance that summer in Bathurst will be warmer than average, Bureau of Meteorology data shows. Read more.
► BALLARAT, VIC: An 89-year-old man who was knocked to the ground by an unknown offender while shopping in Coles is undergoing surgery while the offender remains on the run. Police say the elderly man was entering the supermarket when the offender was exiting. The man was knocked to the ground by the offender who fled the scene while bystanders attended to the man.Police have released a public plea for any witnesses to come forward. Read more.
►NEWCASTLE, NSW: They didn't know it – but Germany's Pia Moellendorf and Ireland's Tom Conway were in Malcolm Turnbull's sights on Thursday when a political volley was swung their way on national radio. The Prime Minister ripped into Labor over the backpacker tax, saying the Opposition favoured “rich white kids from Europe” holidaying in Australia over “Pacific Islanders working here to send money back to their villages”. But to Mr Conway, who is backpacking in Newcastle from the Irish city of Galway, the PM's broadside was “not really fair”. Read more.
► QUEENSLAND: Letters last Friday delivered the shattering news to landholders in the Townsville and Rockhampton regions that their land would be needed by the Department of Defence for the expansion of field training areas, to allow 14,000 Singaporean troops to be accommodated for 18 weeks each year. The news stopped many in their tracks, not least Couti Outi Brangus breeders Lawson and Linda Geddes, whose land abuts the existing Shoalwater Bay training ground in central Queensland. Read more.
► JUNEE, NSW: Police have laid another round of child sex charges against an alleged Junee paedophile, who has since reportedly confessed to “thousands” of assaults. Detectives from Strike Force Cornet at 10am on Thursday raided the home of the former Junee and Coolamon school teacher, who they believe is part of a wider paedophile ring. Read more.
► KERGUNYAH, VIC: Tears of joy and gratitude flowed as a Kergunyah mum watched her daughter being honoured by Victoria’s Health Minister. Taylah-Jean Hardisty received a Community Hero Award for her calm response to a motorbike crash which left her mother needing 42 screws and 11 plates. Melinda Hardisty watched with pride as Taylah-Jean, 14, was honoured with the Ambulance Victoria award by minister Jill Hennessy on Thursday. Read more.
► BOOTI BOOTI, NSW: Beaches south of Forster around the Booti Booti and Pacific Palms area have been closed for at least the next 24 hours after a surfer sustained injuries when he was bitten by a shark on Thursday morning. Read more.
► NARACOORTE, SA: The state Opposition’s promise of decade-long ban on fracking in the South East of SA, if elected in 2018 has been celebrated by the 45 communities which have declared themselves ‘gasfield free’. The announcement came after a two-year long parliamentary inquiry this week concluded a social licence “did not yet exist” to frack in the region. Read more.
► The Turnbull government has struck an 11th-hour deal with the Greens to tax backpackers' incomes at 15 per cent, ending a week of farcical politicking as Parliament rises for the year. The deal will bring peace of mind to farmers and regional communities, who faced the possibility that working holidaymakers would automatically be whacked for 32 cents in the dollar from January 1 if no compromise was reached. Read more.
► An international hacking gang that has previously claimed hoax bomb threats at Australian schools says the calls are made "just for the mayhem". Calling itself the Evacuation Squad, the gang claimed responsibility for some of the dozens of threats to schools earlier in the year. Read more.
► Housing supply and more affordable rentals will be top of the agenda when Treasurer Scott Morrison and his state counterparts meet in Canberra on Friday. A leaked copy of an affordable housing report, which will be considered by the treasurers on Friday, identifies planning rules, local councils and, crucially, federal and states taxes such as negative gearing and stamp duty, as factors that impact on the supply of affordable housing. Read more.
National weather radar
► INDONESIA: An incendiary fake news report distributed via Australia and the US has added fuel to Indonesian jitters ahead of another huge demonstration on Friday calling for Jakarta's governor to be jailed. Read more.
► SYRIA: He was the clown who brought joy to the lives of children in a city that has been described as going through a "slow-motion descent into hell". Social worker Anas al-Basha refused to leave the rebel-held Syrian city of Aleppo despite a merciless bombing campaign by Syrian and Russian forces. Instead, the 24-year-old dressed as a clown and provided counselling to hundreds of children who have been orphaned by the country's civil war that has torn apart a country for almost six years. On Thursday, he was killed in an air strike. Read more.
On this day
December 2, 1697: A visit to London is hardly complete without a visit to St Paul's Cathedral. The Anglican cathedral was consecrated on this day 319 years ago. Its dedication to Paul the Apostle dates back to the original church on the same site, founded in AD 604 Learn more about the church's history here:
The faces of Australia: Sarah King
IN MAY last year, in what could be a national record for a female broadcaster, Kempsey’s Sarah King racked up a quarter of a century in the same shift at the same radio station.
Sarah, who has called the Breakfast at Central Coast station 2GO for 26 years now, packed up and made her home there in the early 1990s.
It’s an amazing achievement for someone who says she fell into the industry and is a self-confessed “night owl”.
Sarah’s latest recognition has seen her commended in the NSW Parliament for her work fundraising for sick children, with Sarah at the forefront of creating the radio campaign “Give Me 5 For Kids”.
The wonderfully simple radio campaign is now more than 22-years-old and continues to benefit the Central Coast’s Gosford and Wyong Hospitals and local paediatric services. Read more.