► STATE’S WORST: Most trains on the Warrnambool line ran late in December. Read more.
► MORE PATROLS: A shark sighting at East Beach has prompted more patrols. Read more.
► DISAPPOINTED: A brazen theft has shocked volunteers. Read more.
► POPULAR: Beach cricket in Warrnambool is proving to be a hit. Read more.
► TOP EFFORT: Steph Townend had a great day on the cricket ground. Read more.
State of the Nation
Need a national news snapshot first thing? Well, we have you covered.
► LAUNCESTON, TAS: It has been one week since Launceston mum Kirsten Ritchie decided she wanted to make a difference in her hometown by creating a food service for homeless people.
Her online page for ‘Launceston feeding the homeless’ has already gained almost 3000 followers and she now spends each night at Royal Park offering food to locals who have fallen on hard times. Read more.
► BALLARAT, VIC: It’s been three and five years respectively since Ballarat Beard and Mustache Union president Jake Warren and his deputy, Jimmy Munro, were clean shaven.
Last year they went to new lengths for facial hair, becoming the second ever Australian group to register with the World Beard and Mustache Association. Read more.
► NEWCASTLE, NSW: Bar Beach has become more accessible for children and adults with disabilities after Cooks Hill Surf Lifesaving Club was donated a floating wheelchair by Variety – The Children’s Charity.
Floating wheelchair’s give disabled people the opportunity to enter the water with their friends and families, instead of watching them from the sand. Read more.
► MANDURAH, WA: Beachgoers at Falcon will have access to the state’s sixth protected swimming area under a re-elected Liberal-led Government, Premier Colin Barnett revealed on Wednesday.
Speaking in Falcon with Dawesville Liberal candidate Zak Kirkup, Mr Barnett said the beach enclosure would be the first for Perth’s southern suburbs and would be a significant addition to the State Government’s extensive shark hazard mitigation strategy. Read more.
► TAMWORTH, NSW: NARABRI Shire Council has secured much-needed funding under the latest round of the Government’s Energise Enterprise program.
This vital support will help community organisations invest in new opportunities and stimulate jobs growth. Read more.
► WOLLONGONG, NSW: An expletive-laden tirade directed at an Illawarra bus driver was “a bad example” of what those behind the wheel of public transport put up with every day, according to the union.
The NSW Transport Workers’ Union (TWU) has used the incident, and the recent sentencing of the man responsible for the foul-mouthed tirade, to call for state government action. Read more.
► WARRNAMBOOL, VIC: News faces are bringing new ideas to Headspace Warrnambool.
The south-west youth mental health organisation introduced two new staff members in November – and both have set a clear focus for the new year.
A former teacher at Warrnambool College, Michael Hoffmann – working as community awareness and engagement coordinator – said there was a need to address mental health. Read more.
► TAS: A mandatory quad bike training course – such as exists for would-be motorcyclists - is a sound idea for those wishing to operate the vehicles.
Yes, the usage of a road registered motorcycle differs from an all-terrain vehicle only used on private property, but too many people are seriously injured or killed by the vehicles in Tasmania. Read more.
► SOUTH COAST, NSW: Missing New Zealand father and daughter Alan and Que Langdon have been found in Ulladulla on the New South Wales South Coast.
Alan Langdon, 46 and his 6-year-old daughter Que sparked an international manhunt when they had not been seen or heard from since they sailed from Kawhia Harbour in the Waikato on December 17. Read more.
► QUEENSLAND: A mechanical issue with a chain on one of Movie World's roller-coasters left more than a dozen people stranded above the ground on Wednesday.
Queensland Fire and Emergency services and paramedics were called to the Gold Coast theme park just before 12pm AEST to reports of about 20 people dangling in their seats on the Arkham Asylum Coaster. Read more.
► WODONGA, VIC: A couple who ripped off $25,000 from Border people who believed they were supporting a cancer charity won’t spend a day in jail.
Dylan Blake will live in home detention for at least eight months after deceitfully rattling tins with his wife, Pauline. Read more.
► Two new tall towers will bookend Pyrmont Bridge within a few years as developers push to complete the facelift of Sydney's Darling Harbour with more than $1 billion of further construction.
But a proposal to redevelop the Cockle Bay Wharf at the eastern end of the bridge and a separate proposal to rebuild the Harbourside Shopping Centre at its western end have drawn strong objections from the City of Sydney. Read more.
► Several Anzac Day marches have been cancelled in the Blue Mountains because RSL groups say they cannot afford to pay for anti-terrorism measures required by police and the state government.
Following truck attacks in Europe, including in the French city of Nice last July, these measures include the use of water-filled barriers to close roads. Read more.
► The private operator of NSW's land titles registry would not only have access to all property and ownership data, but also sensitive information about bankruptcies, marriages, divorces and deaths, experts warn.
The Concerned Titles Group (CTG), which consists of legal, titles and surveying experts, says if the Baird government leases the registry, the private operator could easily get its hands on the supporting documents that allow a person or company to sell, lease, buy or register property. Read more.
► Former One Nation senator Rodney Culleton has threatened a High Court challenge to his disqualification from federal Parliament for being bankrupt.
Senate President Stephen Parry informed West Australia Governor Kerry Sanderson of a vacancy in the upper house on Wednesday, brought about by the Federal Court's ruling on Mr Culleton's business affairs. Read more.
► The travel plans of hundreds of Australian holidaymakers are uncertain with Tigerair cancelling flights in and out of Bali due to approval issues with the Indonesian government.
About 700 customers were stranded during the busy January holiday period on Wednesday after Tigerair cancelled four Bali flights due to what it referred to as "new administrative requirements imposed by the Indonesian government". Read more.
► Shane Warne has agreed to shut down his signature charity to avoid it being potentially stripped of its registration by the state government regulator.
Consumer Affairs Victoria director Simon Cohen announced on Wednesday the regulator had completed its 11-month investigation into The Shane Warne Foundation, noting it considered deregistering the charity because of the "low proportion of funds raised that were distributed to beneficiaries in recent years". Read more.
► A two-year-old boy has died in hospital after being pulled from a pond in the front yard of a home in Sydney's west earlier this month, the latest death in a spate of tragic drownings this summer.
Emergency services had been called to the home in Fairfield West on Monday, January 2, after the toddler was found in the pond. Read more.
► UNITED KINGDOM: For decades members of venerable Foreign Correspondent's Club of Hong Hong speculated that Clare Hollingworth, the correspondent who broke news of World War II, may have been immortal.
She sat in a corner at "Clare's table" near photographs of the Vietnam War, sometimes banging her cane on the floor for attention. Read more.
►WASHINGTON: Professorial to the end, President Barack Obama finished his farewell speech to Americans with a brief lecture in language and tense – "yes we can" became "yes we did."
But then, he had a trick refrain. It was another "yes we can," alluding back to his theme of unity and participation in a democratic process about which Obama in this speech, his last as the country's 44th president, was incredibly optimistic, particularly given the battering his party has taken as successive national and state elections, despite his presidential victories. Read more.
►Just a week before he takes office, Donald Trump has been forced to deny allegations that Russian agents hold compromising personal, financial and political material about him, and that during a five-year effort to cultivate him Russia supplied his campaign with information about his political rivals.
Mr Trump dismissed the claims, sending a tweet just as President Barack Obama commenced his farewell speech in Chicago saying: "FAKE NEWS - A TOTAL POLITICAL WITCH HUNT!" Read more
►CHINA: It's not often a novel launches a journey around the world and back.
Especially a trip that ends up revealing secret KGB investigations, decapitated corpses, a curious box of contraceptives and the true fate of a Chinese war hero chosen to succeed Mao Zedong.
Then again, few storylines melded fact and fable more than the life – and particularly, the demise – of Marshal Lin Biao. Read more.
ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY …
1528 – Gustav I of Sweden "father of the nation" crowned King of Sweden. Rules 37 years.
1872 – Yohannes IV is crowned Emperor of Ethiopia in Axum, the first imperial coronation in that city in over 200 years.
1899 - Paul Hermann Muller, the man who discovered that DDT was a potent insecticide, is born.
1967 – Dr. James Bedford becomes the first person to be cryonically preserved with intent of future resuscitation.
2005 - Nine die in a devastating bushfire on the Eyre Peninsula in South Australia.
2010 – Earthquake occurs in Haiti killing 230,000 and destroying the majority of the capital Port-au-Prince.
2011 - Tugboat skippers Doug Hislop and Peter Fenton heroically prevent Brisbane’s twin Gateway Bridges from being damaged by floating debris.
FACES OF AUSTRALIA
Andy Rowe –
Andy Rowe was in a tram barn working when the 2011 Christchurch earthquake struck.
He ended up in Cathedral Square, at the heart of the city, to get all the trams and the drivers back during the aftershock.
“I was still in the centre of town right up until the end of the day, until the police kicked us out,” Mr Rowe said. Read more.