Mitchell Marsh firming as heir apparent to Shane Watson

Australia crumble in heat
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ABU DHABI: Mitchell Marsh reaffirmed his standing as the heir apparent to Shane Watson but Australia’s vulnerability against spin bowling in foreign conditions was again cruelly exploited on Saturday.

Marsh accepts Watson is a walk-up start in the Test side when fully fit but “If you score enough runs they have to pick you”, he said of his chances of remaining in the side for the first Test against India in Brisbane next month.

Watson’s future appears to be at No.6 though Marsh’s promising start to his Test career combined with the moderate form of Alex Doolan at first drop has left the door ajar on both all-rounders featuring in the side.

Watson and Marsh have both been named in Australia’s squad for the first two one-day internationals against South Africa.

Marsh had a maiden Test century within reach but succumbed to the dual curse of 87 and 66.6 overs.

He was the bright light on another bleak day for the Australians in the Middle East.

Australia were dealt another blow with Brad Haddin not taking to the field in the second innings with his shoulder injury though he was able to bat, making 10. His arm was in a sling on Saturday.

Australia’s capitulation for 261 was the 10th time from their past 11 innings in Asia where they have failed to score 400.

Highlighting their woes this series, Australia’s batsmen have made just one century compared to Pakistan’s seven.

Marsh was the only player to pass 50 and clearly the most comfortable of the Australians.

The second-gamer said getting through the first 40 balls of his innings was what allowed him to succeed. Embarrassingly, only four players achieved that feat and two were tailenders – Nathan Lyon and Peter Siddle.

“I just went out there and tried to play my natural game, obviously it was a little bit tough losing a few wickets around me, but I just tried to put it out of my head and bat the way I do and it was good fun to get a few runs but we are behind the eight ball in this match,” Marsh said.

“There’s no doubt that we didn’t make enough runs as a batting group this innings. The wicket is pretty flat, their spinners bowled really well, they got the ball reverse swinging and it was a good all round effort from their bowling attack.”

Marsh entered this match with a first-class average of 28 but if his effort on Saturday was any guide it will not stay that low for long.

“I think over the last 12 months I have matured as a batsman and I have worked out what works for me and all cricketers growing up go through that period,” Marsh said.

“Just learning how I want to play, I probably got a little bit caught up when I came into the first-class scene of trying to play too cute and look like a real batsman, rather than just going out there, backing my own ability and taking the game on.

“Because that is when I play my best cricket and that is when most players play their best cricket and that’s been the best thing for me and hopefully that will continue.”

Marsh said he wanted to be aggressive against Pakistan, though the strategy did not serve many of his teammates well.

“Everyone has individual game plans  but the way we are taught to play cricket is to take the game on so that was certainly what was going through my head,” Marsh said.

Marsh said he was nervous on debut but felt more relaxed in Abu Dhabi.

“I didn’t have 25 of the Marsh clan in the stands watching me so that made me feel a bit better,” Marsh said.

Pakistan chose not to enforce the follow on but are in a near impregnable position with two days remaining. The Australians have all but conceded they will not win this match and level the series.

“We’ve got a huge challenge ahead of us. Whatever total they set us will be a huge one and we’ll fight as hard as we can to hang on to this Test match,” Marsh said.

“If we get some early wickets you never know.”


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20 reasons to visit Lyon, France

1 Eat at a Bouchon
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Once frequented by hungry silk workers in the 17th and 18th centuries, these cosy inns specialise in hearty, no-nonsense French cooking flying in the face of fussy haute cuisine. Tourist imitations are rife but a smattering of traditional establishments remain. While sampling dishes such as blood sausage with stewed apple or rich duck pate, the checked tablecloths and frantic cheek kissing will leave you in no doubt you’ve discovered an authentic French experience. See lesfedeslyon上海龙凤论坛m. 2 Lumiere Institute Museum

Cinema was essentially invented here after Lyon brothers Auguste and Louis Lumiere came up with the Cinematograph projector in 1895, so a visit to this intriguing museum is a must. Housed inside what was once the Lumiere family home, exhibits throughout 21 rooms include some of the earliest picture reels and prototype cameras and even the Photorama, a reproduction of Louis Lumiere’s incredible invention that ensures visitors can view photos projected 360 degrees to a height of more than six metres. See institut-lumiere上海龙凤论坛. 3 Walk the Old Town

Lyon’s medieval Old Town (also known as Vieux-Lyon) is one of the best preserved in Europe. Located on the west bank of the Saone River, it’s a charming mix of cobbled alleyways, boutique shops, wine bars and restaurants. In 1954, the area became the first in France to gain protection under a law to preserve the country’s cultural sites resulting in an unparalleled mix of Renaissance, Romanesque and Gothic architecture. Don’t miss the covered Passage Thiaffait in the silk quarter. 4 Museum of Miniatures and Film Sets

Housed inside the famous “Maison des Avocats” building, a 16th century UNESCO protected gem, this five floor exhibition details everything from the use of special effects in cinema to reproductions of daily life through elaborately crafted miniatures. The museum is partnered with numerous LA-based studios who work closely with local artists to ensure exhibits change regularly. Highlights include life-sized sets from the film Perfume in the basement and even a Gremlin. See museeminiatureetcinema.fr.  5 Basilique Notre Dame de Fouviere

A visit to this elaborate basilica perched on the crest of Fourviere Hill offers the best views across the city and surrounding Rhone Valley. Built between 1872 and 1884, the ornate interior is testament to the sheer opulence and outrageous wealth of the Catholic Church; a heady mix of gilt, marble, stained glass and coloured mosaics perhaps overcompensating for the church’s lack of genuine political clout around the time. Frequent tours are available. See fourviere上海龙凤论坛. 6 Les Halles de Lyon-Paul Bocuse

Named after Lyon’s celebrated Michelin-starred chef, this covered market originally dates back 1859 and although the original incarnation fell into disrepair, it underwent an extensive renovation in 2006. Now home to 56 specialist food shops and restaurants spread over three floors, it’s the sort of place to bring chefs and foodies to their knees. After perusing the high-end cheeses and gourmand smoked meats, pull up a stool, grab a glass of wine and sample fresh oysters or ham off the bone alongside the locals. See hallesdelyon.free.fr.  7 Hotel Le Royal Lyon

With its plumb location on Bellecour Square in the heart of Lyon, this elegant boutique hotel has been artfully furnished in the style of a traditional country “maison”, fusing modern classicism with tradition. From the plush lounge lizard bar to the quiet airy rooms, this is a slick oasis where details matter. See lyonhotel-leroyal上海龙凤论坛m.  8 Escape to wine country

As well as its gastronomic prowess, Lyon is also on the doorstep to some of Europe’s most eminent wine regions; in particular the Rhone Valley and Beaujolais. The Rhone Valley is perhaps more prestigious, known for outstanding Syrah and Viognier grape varieties while the Beaujolais’ Gamay grapes make for dangerously easy-drinking fruit-driven wines. Both regions are easily reached by car but an organised day tour from the city is the best way to avoid ending up tanked behind the wheel. See kanpai-tourisme上海龙凤论坛m.  9 Cruise on the Saone River

Gain another perspective of the city from the water on an evening boat cruise along the Rhone or Saone rivers. Running between April and October, cruises are a laidback way to learn more about a town with more than 2000 years of history but, at just over an hour, they avoid descending into tedium territory, making instead for a very civilised pre-dinner sojourn. See lyoncityboat上海龙凤论坛m.  10 Musee des Confluences 

Set to open in December, this science centre and anthropology museum will be the latest edition to Lyon’s cultural landscape. Housing permanent exhibitions detailing anything from the Big Bang Theory to the mechanisms of evolution, the museum’s unusual architectural design is also drawing attention. Referred to as the “Crystal Cloud”, it is an angular mix of glass, concrete and stainless steel set at the top of a steep headland. See museedesconfluences.fr. 11 Lyon City Card

Available as one-, two- or three-day passes, this handy little card is the key to the city. Pay a one-off fee and gain free admission to dozens of museums, galleries, guided tours, public transport and boat cruises and get discounts at certain shops. See lyoncitycard上海龙凤论坛m.  12 Lunch at Brasserie Le Silk

Stylishly decked out with a slick, New York loft feel by Parisian interior designer Patrick Norguet, this Sofitel brasserie is a decent option for a more up-market dining experience. Food emphasis is on Mediterranean classics such as beef or salmon tartare with an Asian twist. An outdoor terrace is open during warmer months. See sofitel上海龙凤论坛m/gb/hotel-0553-sofitel-lyon-bellecour/restaurant. 13 Shopping

The shopping here could placate a Beverly Hills housewife. More luxurious, boutique stores are located in Rue de President Herriot, an elegant stretch of 19th century buildings. For more mainstream offerings, nearby Rue de la Republique and Rue Victor Hugo are a safe bet. If second-hand books and antiques are more your scene, try Rue Auguste Comte or hit the Canal Flea Market on Sunday between 6am and 1pm. See en.lyon-france上海龙凤论坛m. 14 Museum of Fine Arts

Home to a treasure trove of European painting spanning the Middle Ages to the 20th century, this is one of Europe’s premier art museums. Exhibits showcase anything from Egyptian antiquities to Renaissance sculptures and paintings by European masters, from Claude Monet to Henri Matisse. See mba-lyon.fr. 15 Parks and gardens

Escape the city with a stroll through Park de la Tete, a lush, tranquil oasis filled with rose gardens, Mediterranean plants, boules courts and even a sizeable zoo. Also stroll the renovated promenade on the left bank of the Rhone, veering off to nearby Parc des Berges. See loisirs-parcdelatetedor上海龙凤论坛m/en. 16 Nightlife

Lyon’s nightlife scene is as trendy as it is diverse. The streets around Vieux Lyon are a good place to start, where the Smoking Dog pub is a favourite for a no-nonsense pint. Other traditional hotspots include the streets around Croix Rousse and Place Terreaux, while many former riverboats have since been converted into bars and clubs on the Quai Augagneur along the Rhone.  17 Gallery Hopping

Located at the base of the slopes of La Croix-Rousse, The Rue Burdeau is a bohemian hub of art galleries, workshops and exhibitions incorporating photography, paintings, illustrations, sculpture and more. Be sure to check out the cutting edge photography exhibit, Galerie le Reverbere before rounding off your cultural immersion with a nightcap at the achingly cool Bec de Jazz bar at No.19. 18 Chocolate

In a city with more than 2000 restaurants, there’s always room for dessert. Chocolatiers are ubiquitous in Lyon and among the most famous are Bernachon, known for its iconic Palet d’Or and Bouillet, a chocolatier-cum-patisserie famed for the sort of intricate cakes, tarts and macaroons your waistline won’t thank you for. See chocolatier-bouillet上海龙凤论坛m/boutique-en-ligne.  19 Festival of Lights

Over four days in December (5-8) Lyon will explode into a kaleidoscopic visual treat as designers from all over the world convene to create the Festival of Lights. Comprising intricate light installations throughout parks buildings and rivers, the festival will see Lyon transformed beyond recognition during dark winter nights. Best of all, it’s free. See fetedeslumieres.lyon.fr/en. 20 Guided tours

Learn more about the silk trading era, traboules (secret passages for which Lyon is famed) Renaissance district or Old Town on a guided walking tour that will help you make sense of the city’s convoluted 2000-year history. Alternatively, rent an MP3 audio guide and meander through the Croix Rousse district at your leisure. The latter is available for rental in various languages from the Lyon Tourist office. See en.lyon-france上海龙凤论坛m/Guided-Tours-Excursions.

The writer was a guest of Rail Europe and The Lyon Tourism Board.


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Wallabies hang on to beat Barbarians at Twickenham to start Michael Cheika’s tenure with a win

LONDON: The Wallabies finally have something to smile about after beating the Barbarians and new coach Michael Cheika wants Australia to “get on the ride” as his team attempts to restore its badly dented reputation.
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The Wallabies started Cheika’s tenure with a 40-36 win at Twickenham on Sunday morning Australian time, holding off a Nick Cummins’ inspired charge to secure a morale-boosting triumph.

The Barbarians’ helter-skelter style and attacking freedom exposed some flaws in the Australian game plan in an 11-try bonanza.

But Cheika believes that can help accelerate his side’s development after a winless month filled with off-field dramas.

The Wallabies also unearthed a potential Test star in Melbourne rookie Sean McMahon, who starred in his Australian debut after getting a shock spring tour call up.

“The win helps, but the issue is about the players and the team taking the initiative and changing people’s [perception], get them enjoying the game again,” Cheika said.

“Forget about all the other stuff, just enjoy footy for what it brings. Sometimes it’s going to be great, other times it won’t be perfect.

“But it’s about getting on the ride and enjoying it, being proud of the team. We can do that by showing our commitment on the field.

“Our defence is probably the part of our game I want to improve the most … it’s a new system so you’ll have that slight hesitation but hopefully we’re a bit more aggressive next week.”

Australian rugby has been bashed and belted from every angle and the Kurtley Beale-Di Patston drama has engulfed the sport.

The Wallabies are intent on rebuilding respect with a four-Test tour of Europe, starting against Wales in Cardiff this weekend.

“[The game plan] of the Waratahs isn’t going to work, we’ve got to build a unique style and embrace the characters in the team that will suit us,” Cheika said.

McMahon stepped up to make his mark on the Wallabies, coming on as a replacement for Scott Higginbotham after just 19 minutes.

Higginbotham is in danger of missing the rest of the Wallabies tour after injuring is hamstring, but will be given two days to recover before a decision is made.

Cheika described McMahon’s debut as “outstanding” and the Australian under-20s captain and Commonwealth Games bronze medal winner didn’t look at out of place in front of almost 54,000 fans.

McMahon is in contention to replace Higginbotham in the backrow next week, with Cheika saying he would not panic into calling a player into the squad.

But the Wallabies had hearts in their mouths when cult hero Cummins, also known as the Honey Badger, led the Barbarians on a late charge.

The crowd roared as Cummins made break after break against his former teammates as the Barbarians closed the gap from 18 points to just four with time running out in a seesaw battle.

“It was a tough game … they kept throwing the ball around and our defence stood strong at the end,” said captain Matt Hodgson.

“We knew they would throw it around at the end to try to catch up. We just had to stick to our system.

“It’s a big step forward for us. We’re on a five-week tour and we needed to start with momentum … not only with a win but with that physical style.”

Sam Carter, Benn Robsinson, Tevita Kuridrani, Rob Horne, Bernard Foley and McMahon all scored tries while the Barbarians refused to give up.

Queensland duo Quade Cooper and Will Genia got their chances to start as a five-eighth-halfback combination but were a little rusty after injury-enforced breaks from the game.

Outside centre Tevita Kuridrani was outstanding again and has all but locked up the Wallabies’ No.13 jersey for the tour.

Cheika’s impact on the team was evident right from the opening whistle.

The Wallabies adopted Cheika’s plan to have players start 10 metres behind halfway at kick-off, a ploy used by the NSW Waratahs in their Super Rugby success.

The Barbarians were intent on entertaining and put on an experimental masterclass to try to catch the Wallabies napping

From their first lineout No.8 Steven Luatua launched the ball 35 metres over the set piece to a flying Nick Cummins, who dropped the ball in contact.

From their first attacking penalty they put the ball five metres from the Wallabies’ line and used a 12-man lineout to try and force their way over the line.

When that was illegally stopped, halfback Tomas Cubelli used an audacious no-look kick over his head from close range which resulted in a scramble for possession in the in goal.

Both teams had less than a week together in preparation, but it was the Barbarians – made up of players from all over the world – who steamrolled Cheika’s men early.

At times the Wallabies appeared to lack some cohesion in the helter skelter fixture, with running rugby taking precedence over tactical play.

AT A GLANCE

WALLABIES40 (Sam Carter, Benn Robinson, Tevita Kuridrani, Rob Horne, Bernard Foley, Sean McMahon tries; Quade Cooper 3, Bernard Foley 2 conversions) bt BARBARIANS 36 (Frank Halai, Adam Thomson, Francis Saili, Nick Cummins, Marnitz Bashoff tries; Colin Slade 2, Marnitz Boshoff 2 conversions; Colin Slade penalty) at Twickenham on Sunday morning. Crowd: 53,568. Referee: Jaco Peyper.


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How Taylor Swift learned to embrace her ‘uncoolness’

Taylor Swift shakes my hand, then shakes it again. She grimaces and mimics a girlie handshake, her hand like a delicate cat’s paw with plum-coloured nails. “I didn’t get that quite right,” she says, apologetically. “I don’t want you to think I can’t shake hands properly.”
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The American singer-songwriter might have 45 million Twitter followers, 80 million digital single downloads and a back catalogue of famous ex-boyfriends. But Taylor Swift is like most 24-year-olds. She still cares what people think.

Swift is in Australia to promote her fifth album, 1989. She arrives for our interview, at Universal Music’s Sydney studio, looking slightly skittish. She’s dressed in red brogue-style ankle boots – a nod to her country credentials – and a crisp white Camilla and Marc mini that shows off her legs.

At 178 centimetres, she towers over the security guards who flank her. A crack team of stylists follow her full-time, though her bobbed blonde hair, cat’s-eye make-up and full, strawberry lips are all perfect. Her hairdresser, make-up artist and wardrobe stylist check their charge, then fall away, loitering in an anteroom until they are needed again.

An efficient publicist, also in Swift’s full-time employ, hovers while I sign a non-disclosure agreement which has a $US2 million penalty for violation, then unfurls earbuds and picks up an iPhone like they are the keys to heaven. It’s seven days, eight hours, 16 minutes and six seconds until the new album drops. No one is taking any chances.

1989 is pure pop. Its bubblegum lyrics are still stuck in my head and I find myself watching Swift’s Shake It Off clip more times than is necessary. Even before the single has gone cold, there are YouTube parodies, snide remarks about twerking and all the predictable nastiness about how Swift’s goofy all-American sweetheart schtick is wearing as thin as her voice.

Swift has the last laugh. She writes it all down, puts it to a sugary pop beat, then takes it to the bank. “I shake it off, I shake it off,” she sings. She’s been in the Forbes Celebrity 100 list since 2009, coming in at No. 18 with annual earnings of $US64 million in 2014.

She owns homes in Nashville, Rhode Island, Beverly Hills and New York: she bought a Tribeca penthouse from New Zealand director Peter Jackson for a reported $US15 million in April, then dropped another $US5 million on the apartment next door for her round-the-clock security team.

For my money, I miss Swift’s jaunty banjo and spangled guitar, her sundresses and cowboy boots, and the plucky teen who, at 14, convinced her parents to move to Nashville so she could follow the path of her idols Faith Hill and Shania Twain. After school, her mother would drive her around town, waiting in the car while her daughter dropped off demos. She was the youngest songwriter to be hired by Sony and squeezed in songwriting apprenticeships between school and homework. But Taylor Swift was only ever going in one direction. Pop.

“It’s totally a pop album,” she says of 1989. “I don’t think it’s surprised people that I made a pop album. But it’s surprised people that I was very honest about it. The greatest mistake you can ever make is to assume that fans aren’t smarter than you. It would be exploitative and disingenuous to make a pop album and call it country.”

In a room full of plush chairs and sofas, Swift has chosen a hard stool at a high table for our interview. “So I can’t lie,” she smiles sweetly. Between questions, she fixes me with steely blue eyes. It’s a confessional of sorts, except that I’m under strict instructions not to ask about her relationships. Which is ironic, given that it is Swift’s songwriting that has laid her love life bare.

Since 2008, she has dated pop-rocker Joe Jonas, Twilight actor Taylor Lautner, singer-songwriter John Mayer, actor Jake Gyllenhaal, political heir Conor Kennedy and One Direction singer Harry Styles. Every relationship, every malicious headline, is fodder for her songs. Which, in turn, makes her personal life blogger clickbait. In 2012, talk-show host Ellen DeGeneres put a series of photos on a big screen and made Swift ring a bell each time she saw a man she had dated. As Swift told Rolling Stone magazine: “I feel like watching my dating life has become a bit of a national pastime.”

She tells me, “I could make music that’s catchy and has not a shred of personal information in it. But that wouldn’t feel honest and my fans wouldn’t connect to it.” Later she adds, “It’s like these people have been reading my diaries since I was 16. I spend two years making an album, so I mean it to be meaningful and an accurate representation of my life.

“Artists gain celebrity and lose perspective. They gain fame and they lose a sense of reality or self-awareness. They start to care about some gossip blogger. I refuse to let them dictate the type of work I’m going to do.”

No one disputes that Swift has a gift for hit-making. Her iPhone is full of thousands of voice memos, she tells me. Some are three seconds long, some are 30 seconds and some are “me just riffing for seven minutes, and singing and ad-libbing with my guitar”.

“I’ve never been able to explain where ideas come from,” she says. “I have no idea why I wake up in the middle of the night, replaying in my head a melody I’ve never heard before. It’s what keeps the job never feeling like a job. The writing process is what keeps all of this bearable. A lot of chaos surrounds this type of career and I wouldn’t be able to handle it if I was just a singer.”

Swift has her Nashville roots to thank for that. And her parents. Her mother, a former marketer, and her father, a financial adviser for Merrill Lynch, have been the quiet guiding hand behind her investments, her savvy branding and her squeaky-clean image. She still calls them every day. “They don’t want me to become one of those ridiculous tragic stories of some kid who has a huge career and ends up penniless,” she says.

The digital revolution has the music industry in a tailspin, but Swift’s albums just keep on selling. She might surround herself with smart people, but she is firmly behind the wheel. In the lead-up to the release of 1989, she engineered the “1989 Secret Sessions” – hand-picking fans from their social media feeds and inviting them to her various homes for private listening sessions. Nothing was stolen, nothing leaked.

Word of mouth worked. The album’s first single, Shake It Off, debuted at No. 1. “It’s much harder to make a platinum album than it used to be,” she says. “[People] used to buy 10 albums a year. Now they’re buying two. You have to work harder to be one of the two.”

Swift says the secret sessions were the most fun she has had in her career. Which begs the question: what else does she do for fun? Her passions are simple: her two cats, Friends marathons, baking cookies, buying presents for friends and drinking coffee.

An awkward teen, Swift says she has finally embraced her uncoolness. “I like things that are cosy,” she shrugs. “I like fuzzy sweaters, I like cats, I don’t go to clubs. Not because I feel I can’t, but because I really don’t have any interest in being somewhere loud and hectic. I know that it’s really in style to be edgy and cool and blasé and unaffected, but I’m none of those things.

“I love going on Tumblr – I have all kinds of inside jokes with my fans on Tumblr,” she says. “Sometimes when I’m on the road and I’m really tired, the idea of laying in bed all day is the greatest. Hopefully I’ll have a day when I can do that in the next couple of years.”

When I suggest to her that this might be unlikely, she smiles sweetly again. “One can hope.”

THREE FACTS: TAYLOR SWIFT

• She has won seven Grammy Awards.

• Legendary Fleetwood Mac singer Stevie Nicks has compared Swift’s songwriting to that of Elton John and Neil Diamond.

• She holds the Billboard record for the most singles to debut in its Top 10.


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ACL spitting unlikely to be punished

Matthew Spiranovic, right, is headbutted by Nasser Al-Shamrani. Photo: Screen grab, Fox Sports The players are kept apart after tensions boiled over. Photo: Screen grab, Fox Sports
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Match report: Wanderers win Champions LeagueFans go wild in Sydney

It is a shame that on the greatest night in Australian club football history, a pathetic serving of sour grapes will distort many of the headlines. The sight of Al-Hilal’s Nasser Al-Shamrani head-butting Western Sydney Wanderers’ defender Matthew Spiranovic as the match wound to a close was already bad enough. Little did we know worse was to come.

Spiranovic, a substitute, held his peace until the final whistle, only wanting to get the job done for his side.

When the match did eventually finish, drawn out for what felt like a small eternity, the Wanderers burst into celebration at the miracle duck-egg scoreboard. As is their right, as you would expect. As Al-Hilal would have done if the situation was reversed.

Still, Spiranovic wanted Al-Shamrani – nicknamed “The Earthquake” for his ability to shock the opposition – to know what he’d done was wrong; that he’d broken the unspoken rules of conduct that exist between fellow professionals.

“It’ll be a hostile crowd and they will bring out all the tricks to try and put us off our game,” Spiranovic toldFairfax Media this week. “But I think the boys are aware of that, we know what to expect.”

That they did, and Australia was done proud. The same cannot be said for Al-Shamrani, who did his best to bring infamy to his club and his country.

Should the two nations meet at January’s Asian Cup – a quarter-final meeting is every chance, where Spiranovic would again mark Al-Shamrani – don’t think this country will forget in a hurry, even if the governing body conveniently does.

 

The timing, perhaps, wasn’t ideal, but the striker’s response was beyond disgusting.

Not bothering to reply to Spiranovic with words, Al-Shamrani spat straight at the defender. Truly, an abominable act of sportsmanship. Unacceptable on every level, and no wonder a brawl nearly ensued.

The Asian Football Confederation should be moved to act against Al-Shamrani but in their swirling political waters it is hard – perhaps impossible – to predict what sanction he may receive.

In short, the Gulf giants are a big wheel, politically. It was the head of their football association, Hafez Al Medlej, who backed away from the AFC presidential election in 2013 to give Bahrain’s Sheikh Salman a smooth ride to the top. These things get remembered

As much as Al-Shamrani deserves a ban or a fine from Kuala Lumpur, it’s just as likely he’ll be on the receiving end of a keenly-worded press release. Asian football tends to be like that.

In some ways, the Saudi Arabian subterfuge only added to the greatness of the aggregate victory.

Aside from Al-Shamrani’s spittle, the repeated use of laser-pointers, designed to blaze the pupils of Ante Covic, was appalling. Guangzhou Evergrande fans did it to Covic a few months back, so at least he had experience of knowing what being blinded is like. Referees must surely halt play – perhaps even more – when this happens.

It is impossible to defend the actions of a select few, be they players or fans, not even with a healthy dose of cultural context. But it is possible to tap into the powder keg of pressure that has been building since the moment Al-Hilal arrived home to prepare for the second leg.

Whatever pressure the Wanderers were under, you can double or triple that for the Blue Wave. So much money, so many royal connections, so much history. But, on this occasion, too much pride for their own good.

Although well-behaved in Australia, once they returned to Riyadh, the club – from the vice-president to the coach and players – reflected the same will of Uruguay in November 2005; most memorably through Alvaro Recoba’s infamous “divine right” claim.

The Kingdom believed victory was only a matter of time, and the streets prepared for the inevitable celebration. The players willed it to happen but destiny was, for once, conspiring wildly in favour of an Australian team.

But unlike our club and country teams of yesteryear, at least the Wanderers knew what was coming.


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Nick Cummins’ eye-catching efforts remind Wallabies what they’re missing

LONDON: Former Wallabies cult hero Nick Cummins wants to be “on the burst” for Australia at the World Cup next year after almost engineering a devastating blow for Australian rugby on Sunday morning.
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Cummins showed the Wallabies what they were missing as he went on a second-half rampage for the Barbarians playing a crucial role in putting his team on the cusp of a major upset.

But the reason Cummins sacrificed his World Cup dreams to move to Japan just four months ago was in the crowd of almost 54,000 fans as the Honey Badger turned it on.

Cummins signed a lucrative deal in Japan to provide for his family – his dad Mark, who was at the game, was diagnosed with prostate cancer last year and two of his younger siblings have cystic fibrosis.

He is hoping to gain a temporary release from the Coca Cola West Red Sparks to return to the Western Force in a bid to secure a World Cup berth.

“I’m still on the burst … just have a yarn to the Japanese and get me on the burst, I’m in,” Cummins said.

“There was one point in the lineout where it was [the Wallabies] ball and I moved forward, I was looking at the jersey.

“That sort of feeling holds pretty deep with you and I would have loved to be back in the mix there. You can’t change what’s going to happen, I’ve signed for two years with the Japanese club and I’m a man of my word, I’ll go through with that.

“But if there’s a chance we can work something out, I’ll be stoked.”

Cummins scored a second-half try and then tore the Wallabies defence apart as the Barbarians rallied for an attempt to steal the result.

Cummins prefers not to talk about his family’s situation, but said having his dad in the crowd made his Barbarians experience even more special.

He also hopes to stay with the team to play against a Combined Services team at Bath on November 11.

“[My family] are happy for me anyway, either team I’m playing for. That’s what family is,” Cummins said.

Cummins said his management had “been creative” with the options they present to the Red Sparks to open up the chance to return to Australia.

“When you’re trying to translate, ‘I want to be in the mix and get up the guts’, it’s pretty difficult,” Cummins said.

Barbarians coach Sir John Kirwan thought Cummins would be a valuable asset to Australian rugby, but endorsed the ARU’s strict eligibility criteria which requires players to play Super Rugby to be available for Wallabies selection.

Wallabies coach Michael Cheika said Cummins wouldn’t be considered for selection unless he returned to Australian rugby.

“I’m not sure what helps he needs, he’s looking after his own stuff,” Cheika said.

“He decided to go to Japan and that was a very supported decision. He can just as easily come back and play next year … I think it’s up to Nick. He’s showing he wants to play for Australia if he comes back and plays.

“He’s obviously a class player … if he ends up playing back in Australia he’ll be considered no doubt about it.”


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Living off land on epic 10-day beach walk: Photos, video

Epic 10-day beach walk living off land: Photos, video STINGRAY FEED: Small stingrays were one of the easier ways to get protein for beach walker and survivalist Ben Stainer.
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BEACH COUCH: Beach walker and survivalist Ben Stainer found this couch on the beach near Moruya airport.

SURVIVAL GEAR: Bags are packed. Three days to go until depart Potato Pt to Sydney coastal walk. Living traditionally off fish, lobster, shell fish, bush greens, berries.

FIRST MEAL: Walked Potato Pt to Pedro Pt. Late lunch cockles for protein berries for energy and starch root for carbs.

HORSES: Travelled remote beaches that farms back onto, some local girls that know our neighbours the Mathies riding their horses on the beach.

TOP SPOTS: Beach walker and survivalist Ben Stainer near Tuross Head somewhere.

TUROSS VIEW: The view near Tuross Head as seen by beach walker and survivalist Ben Stainer.

TUROSS VIEW: The view near Tuross Head as seen by beach walker and survivalist Ben Stainer.

BROKEN BOARD: A broken surfboard on the beach near Coila Lake.

BEACH SHACK: A beach shack near the Moruya River somewhere.

BUSH FRUIT: These beach fruit needed some treatment before being edible.

FLIGHT FRIENDS: Beach walker and survivalist Ben Stainer saw plenty of wildlife along the way including this sea eagle.

EAGLE PREY: The remains of an eagle’s feed – nature in all it’s glory.

MORUYA AIRPORT: Beach walker and survivalist Ben Stainer walked right past the Moruya airport.

DINNER: Shellfish on the open fire was a treat for beach walker and survivalist Ben Stainer.

CANOE TREE: An ancient conoe tree as encountered by beach walker and survivalist Ben Stainer near Broulee.

WILD ASPARAGRAS: Wild asparagras was a treat for beach walker and survivalist Ben Stainer.

STINGRAY FEED: Small stingrays were one of the easier ways to get protein for

JUST ANOTHER CREEK: Just another creek this time near Moruya for beach walker and survivalist Ben Stainer to cross.

ANOTHER BBQ: We can’t quite make out what beach walker and survivalist Ben Stainer has cooking here.

CAMP: Making camp and preparing dinner in an ocean cave for beach walker and survivalist Ben Stainer.

CAMP: Making camp and preparing dinner in an ocean cave for beach walker and survivalist Ben Stainer.

ANCESTOR: Great great grandfather King Billy Jimmy Golding last of the Wandandian tribe.

MIXED LUNCH: Prickly pear, wild graps and other berries were an everyday meal for beach walker and survivalist Ben Stainer.

BAY CRABS: Soldier crabs on the beach at Batemans Bay before beach walker and survivalist Ben Stainer made his longest water crossing.

LONGEST CROSSING: Batemans Bay proved the longest crossing for

WILD GRAPES: Wild grapes were a staple for

DINNER TIME: Abalone were a regular dinner for

BAY CAMP: The camp of beach walker and survivalist Ben Stainer near Batemans Bay.

ABALONE DINNER: Abalone chunks on the fire were a delicacy for

SPECTACULAR COAST: The spectacular coast north of Batemans Bay as encountered by

SPECTACULAR COAST: The spectacular coast north of Batemans Bay as encountered by beach walker and survivalist Ben Stainer.

SPECTACULAR COAST: The spectacular coast north of Batemans Bay as encountered by beach walker and survivalist Ben Stainer.

NATIVE CHERRIES: Native cherries were a real treat for beach walker and survivalist Ben Stainer.

NATIVE CHERRIES: Native cherries were a real treat for beach walker and survivalist Ben Stainer.

ULLADULLA COAST: The beautiful coastline near Ulladulla as seen by beach walker and survivalist Ben Stainer.

WASHING TIME: Drying off after yet another creek crossing for beach walker and survivalist Ben Stainer.

WANDANDANIAN MAN: Beach walker and survivalist Ben Stainer takes a selfie halfway through his epic bech walk.

MAGGOT FEST: Tempted but not that hungry was beach walker and survivalist Ben Stainer.

NANA: Ben Stainer has the great respect for the traditional owners’ ability to live off the land.

WRECK BAY: Wreck Bay Aboriginal community was a stopping off point for beach walker and survivalist Ben Stainer.

WRECK BAY: Wreck Bay Aboriginal community was a stopping off point for beach walker and survivalist Ben Stainer.

WRECK BAY: Wreck Bay Aboriginal community was a stopping off point for beach walker and survivalist Ben Stainer.

DEADLY: A deadly death adder encountered by beach walker and survivalist Ben Stainer.

RUGGED COAST: The rugged coast and cliffs around Jervis Bay proved perhaps the greatest challenge for beach walker and survivalist Ben Stainer.

RUGGED COAST: The rugged coast and cliffs around Jervis Bay proved perhaps the greatest challenge for beach walker and survivalist Ben Stainer.

OYSTER SNACKS: Oysters on the rocks proved to be a great snack for beach walker and survivalist Ben Stainer.

HUSKY PUB: The Huskisson Pub as seen by beach walker and survivalist Ben Stainer.

HUSKISSON: Yet another crossing for beach walker and survivalist Ben Stainer, this time at Huskission.

WINDANG COWS: On the longest 15-hour stretch for beach walker and survivalist Ben Stainer encountered some cows at Windang.

ALOMST THERE: Beach walker and survivalist Ben Stainer on the home stretch at Windang.

WINDANG BEACH: On the longest 15-hour stretch for beach walker and survivalist Ben Stainer on the beach at Windang.

WOLLONGONG: The last stretch from Wollongong to Sydney was perhaps the most challening for beach walker and survivalist Ben Stainer.

THE END: Beach walker and survivalist Ben Stainer at the end of his epic journey on the beach at Cronulla.

TweetFacebookHere are some of Ben’s Facebook posts from along the way:

Oct 20 Facebook entry:

Seas choppy no breakfast dive, walked beach to Moruya Heads found an old beach shed, moving on to collect some takeaway cockles for lunch in the mangroves. Picture of mangrove fruit editable but you must process it. Eagle and prey on route to my little swim found a nice spot to relax and lounged around for a while, moved on to Moruya airstrip. Than found some black cockies and a water dragon laying in a billabong. Time for lunch cockle takeaway. On to a 200-year-old canoe tree, used by Yuin people. Passed some wild asparagus and ate as was hungry. Finally camped at an ocean cave as I think might get wet tonight. Cooking fish and seaweed. With some fruit which is not local and testing of poison. My bed is 5m to high water mark ocean views.

Post by Crossing Tuross Lake entrance….

Post by Crossing Moruya River mouth….

Oct 20 Facebook entry:

Some family history my great great grandfather King Billy Jimmy Golding last of the Wandandian tribe. He was in his late 80s in photo. Would have eaten much the same food as I have been posting. No health problems like today with Aboriginal people. We have recorded history that he would walk from Jervis Bay to as far south to Wallaga Lake and far north to Botany Bay. He lived to 100 and his wife lived to 110 by newspaper reports.

Oct 21 Facebook entry:

Have to be quick no power in solar charger. Stopped at a place before Clyde River crossing. Collected some lunch of wild grape that’s the black ones. Plus some prickly pear fruit, it’s not native. Note didn’t video today’s crossing due to power but biggest yet crossed about 1 km of water. I am about to go out of charge and service area for about three days heading to Ulladulla.

October 23 Facebook entry:

Dive for breakfast swim, walked to pebbly beach camped. Next day walked to Meroo on the way picked up afternoon tea of native cherry they are the best should sell them like blueberries. Lots of photos. Heading to Ulladulla making good ground. Doing on average 10 hours walking per day plus say 1 hour for getting food.

Post by Eating sea urchins….

October 24 Facebook entry:

Stopped in at the in-laws at Narrawally. Not cheating brought my own food – abalone. No photos today as had no charge. But will give brief on events. Camped at Meroo last night on a remote lake, fish started jumping everywhere last night as thousands of flies landed on the water. Spent most of the night trying to hand spear the fish but my out-of-water spear throwing needs practice. Today rained in the morning packed for Narawally ate mainly native flowers plus picked up some honey suckles and sucked the honey out of them for energy and abs for afternoon tea. Walked through bush at back of Burill Lakes and reminded me of when I was younger… Recharged my phone at in-laws now so heading off to camp at Conjola. Thanks for cooking the abs for me.

Got to Conjola. Was cliff hanger to day prayed for help from god as the tide came in and I was 4m up a rock face and got hit by a wave. Only way to get to safety was climb 20 of crumbling rock face with a back pack on. Shit myself couple times as rocks just crumbled. Time for bed heading to Wreck Bay tomorrow — at Conjola Lakeside Caravan Park

October 25 Facebook entry:

Heading to Wreck Bay Aboriginal community. As kids we would holiday there as my nana has friends there. Nana grew up in a time of change she was not allowed to speak in her Aboriginal but her nana would. She went to school at the Naval college as her dad was white man who was a hydraulics engineer . That’s how my dad’s uncle became a plumber and my dad and now me . Her cousins where not allowed schooling. My nana taught me about abalone , her job as a kid was to collect it at low tide with a hessian sack. They were everywhere then she said. Abs where like potato for them, she would tell me.

Family history: This is my great great grandmother. She was 110 . She used to tell about when she was little she saw sailing boats and had never seen a white man before. She used to talk about to my nana’s mother about going to Pigeon House Mountain for corroboree and special business. I was told she was very wise and strict from her cultural upbringing. Tomorrow I’m heading for Myola to find an old grave site of a family member in the bush.

Post by Talking about the ancestors….

October 26 Facebook entry:

Breakfast oysters on a rock. Crossing Curinbene Creek near Myola. Opposite Husky pub to see grave

Billong our Aboriginal family home land of Wandandian tribe.

October 27 Facebook entry:

Crossing Port Kembla with Ben Neaves tomorrow morning. Just would like to thank everyone for their support, especially Charlie Greer for posting food on Facebook. Last three days I have walked 41hrs my feet take four hours to cool down at night. As I hit the city sea is barren and bush has hardly any food. I have been eating black boy core, which is starch carbs, plus grubs and figs.

Post by About to swim across Port Kembla….

October 28 Facebook entry:

Will be at Bundeena tomorrow morning before lunch. Then swim Port Hacking, then done.


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State of the NationSunday, November 2, 2014

Good morning. Need anational newssnapshot first thing – well, we have you covered.
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Firstly, something on everyone’s lips – petrol prices:Why we will pay more for petrol, even though Parliament says no.

And, if you haven’t caught up with the Melbourne Cup latest, you need to know it’s a case of same horse, same barrier, same result forJapanese trainerTomoyuki Umedadeclared after favourite Admire Rakti drew barrier eight for Tuesday’s Melbourne Cup.

NEWCASTLE: A 15-year-old boyhas died after being struck by lightning at One Mile Beach atPort Stephenson Saturday.The boy had been surfing with friends and an adult when an electrical storm blew over about 5pm.He was about 20m out ofthe water, on the shore, when he was struck.

WARRNAMBOOL: Two localstables will provide two runners in Tuesday’s Emirates Melbourne Cup after the Darren Weir-trained Signoff won Saturday’s Lexus Stakes at Flemington.

BENDIGO: TheState Opposition has promised$148.6 million to traincustody officers to supervise prisoners kept in police holding cells, including at Bendigo Police Station.

WAGGA WAGGA:The jockey that was airlifted from Tumut Turf Club’s race day on Saturday afternoon was rolled on by her horse, paramedics say.Apprentice jockey Chynna Marston, 23, left the track in a stable condition but was rendered unconscious by the fall.

TAMWORTH:Locals rallied in Tamworth yesterday to take a stand against cancer.It was the Tamworth Relay for Life and the annual Cancer Council fundraiser was in full swing – with locals setting up camp at the Carter St ovals for the big event.

ORANGE: Policeare appealing for witnesses after a woman was robbed a knife-pointand touched inappropriately in the early hours of Saturday.

ALBURY: BobThompson is the showbag king.The 80-year-old Temora resident has been coming to the Albury Show for the past 35 years, and first joined the show circuit at age seven.

Bob Thompson, 80, at the Albury Show last night, is a veteran of the circuit. Picture: PETER MERKESTEYN

►In the movieNight at the Museuman ancient curse causes the exhibits on display to come to life and wreak havoc.In a reversal of this scenario, an activist organisation is claiming that the creatures at a Sydney aquarium are being disturbed by after-hours human activities.

►The home of Melbourne’s anarchists will soon be overshadowed by the might of capitalist developers.Two apartments rising up six levels are set to tower either side of the Northcote headquarters of the Melbourne Anarchists Club.

►Belinda Ritchie was in good company at the Australian Geographic Society awards at the Ivy Ballroom in Sydney’s CBD last Wednesday. Bindi Irwin received the Young Conservationist of the Year award. Aussie soldiers Heath Jamieson and Seamus Donaghue, who raced against Prince Harry to the South Pole, got the Spirit of Adventure award and Dick Smith got a lifetime achievement award.But what Ritchie, a 31-year-old Sydney lawyer, accomplished to be named Young Adventurer of the Year demonstrates similar tenacity, stamina and fortitude.

Belinda Ritchie rode from Healesville near Melbourne to Cooktown north of Cairns.

► To set foot in a real estate expo in China is to run a frantic gauntlet of sales staff thrusting glossy pamphlets into every open hand they can find.Vying for the attention of cashed-up investors is always competitive at major property events; with hundreds of property developers spruiking dreams of home ownership – and not just in China.

►New human remains have been found at the crash site of flight MH17 in eastern Ukraine, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte announced.According toDe Telegraaf, a Dutch team together with the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe went to the crash site with local disaster relief workers on Friday.

TMZ staff #Halloween costumes: Roger Goodell, Amanda Bynes, Lorde & more awesome ‘stumes! http://t上海龙凤论坛/19VUyq7FLIpic.twitter上海龙凤论坛m/7Znu1Khf0v

— TMZ (@TMZ) November 1, 2014

Photographer and former Neighbours star Dan Paris is sharing some of his favourite spots in Esperance in his fourth book, which has just been released.Showcasing the best of the region, Esperance A Place Less Travelled is a collection of Paris’ favourite places in the area.

Out now: Dan Paris shows off his newest book at West Beach, a location shown throughout the book.


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Who shot the barman?

In good spirits: Dan O’Leary with Who Shot Thebarman, named in honour of his aunt. Photo: Vince CaligiuriDan O’Leary remembers it being three fingers as a small child and two fingers as a bigger kid.
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Be it weddings, funerals, 21st birthdays – “Aunty Julie” was always heard when running on empty.

It rarely seemed to matter she could not remember most of the kids’ names. They all knew how she liked her gin – with only a dash of water, of course.

“She would just yell out, ‘hey you kids, who shot the barman?’ That was her call for one us kids to grab her glass and go and fill it up,” nephew Dan O’Leary said.

“Whoever was close would always know … little kid three fingers, big kid two fingers. As we got to be bigger kids it was two fingers of gin and not much water.”

“Aunty Julie” would be pretty proud if she was around now.

Despite admitting to having reservations about lending her catchcry to a horse the dairy-farming O’Leary brothers from New Zealand’s North Island will be the toast of the once-a-year Melbourne Cup punter on Tuesday.

“I didn’t want to call a good horse a name like that, but a lot of people have bought into it the name,” O’Leary said.

Dan O’Leary is the eldest of the four brothers – along with Michael, Humphrey and Shaun – who race Who Shot Thebarman with expat Kiwi trainer Chris Waller. Dan’s wife, Jane, also shares in the ownership.

The brothers’ distinctive tangerine racing colours worn by Who Shot Thebarman have been passed down through the generations.

It is much like the family’s dairy farming background in the Wanganui district after arriving from Ireland, which means milking cows has primarily funded this Melbourne Cup dream.

“The whole family have milked cows in the Wanganui Valley for just over 100 years … and all four brothers have still got cows today,” Dan said.

The brothers’ father, Humphrey snr, had always dabbled in training a few horses. The boys used to be in tow, often racing around their paddock on ponies.

“We’ve raced horses for a long time and we know how hard it is to get a horse of this calibre,” Dan said. “There’s a lot of interest – not only from Wanganui but right across New Zealand – in the horse.

Maybe none more so than “Aunty Julie”, ready for one almighty heavenly shout on Tuesday.


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How to stay safe on a cruise ship

Man overboard: It is difficult to fall into the sea from a cruise ship. Man overboard: It is difficult to fall into the sea from a cruise ship.
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Man overboard: It is difficult to fall into the sea from a cruise ship.

Man overboard: It is difficult to fall into the sea from a cruise ship.

Exotic: The RV Samatha’s restaurant.

Set sail: The Northern Lights are on the cruise itinerary for 2015.

Opulent: The River Princess’ reception area.

NEWS

As we head into another record-breaking cruise season, I’ve heard the question “Are cruise ships safe?” more times than I can recall. Certainly it seems that whenever there is an accident or outbreak of illness on a cruise it hits the headlines, but considering how many people cruise worldwide (some 21 million last year, according to CLIA), it’s worth keeping a sense of perspective. The catastrophic sinking of Costa Concordia in 2012 was, thankfully, a very rare occurrence – it was Italy’s worst maritime disaster since World War II.

While you hear stories about people falling overboard, it’s actually extremely hard to “fall” from a cruise ship. Railings are (by regulation) at least 1.1 metres high and most overboard incidents are tragic accidents involving someone climbing over a balcony after drinking too much alcohol, or someone deliberately jumping – for reasons known only to themselves.

Cruise lines operate under the international Safety of Life at Sea  (SOLAS) rules, which govern everything from navigation to man overboard procedures, food-handling practices, firefighting, and safety drills for passengers. The safety muster (when all passengers gather on deck or in lounges for instructions on lifeboat location and wearing life jackets) must be held within 24 hours of a ship setting sail with new passengers. Captains have the power to chuck you off the ship if you don’t attend the muster, so you’ve been warned – take it seriously.

Other concerns that people express about the safety of cruising include being robbed on board and whether there are lifeguards by the pools. You should take normal precautions against robbery: stash valuables in the safe in your cabin, or don’t bring them in the first place; keep an eye on your handbag or wallet when going ashore; and if something goes missing inform the cruise director or staff at the guest relations desk straight away so a search can be conducted if practical.

Ships’ swimming pools aren’t usually supervised by lifeguards, so if you’re travelling with children it’s important to be aware of this. It’s up to you to take the same sort of precautions you would in everyday situations and keep a close eye on your children all the time they are in or around the pool.

Meet the crew

NAME: Rik Sprengers, from Holland

POSITION: Cruise manager, Uniworld’s River Queen (Rhine, Main and Danube rivers)

MY JOB: I make sure the program is running smoothly and take care of our guests.  I enjoy my job because of the people I work with. All the staff – from the Los Angeles, European and Sydney offices to the staff on board – are so dedicated.

MY TYPICAL DAY: I’m normally confirming buses, tour guides, writing daily programs, daily talks, making sure we deliver what we promise and helping with individual guest requests or medical help if necessary. I also assist guests in choosing from our diverse program and help them decide what to see and do in the ports.

FAVOURITE CRUISE MOMENT: I once had a request from a guest to make the Icelandic volcano stop erupting, so she could go home and see her newborn grandchild. It’s difficult to pinpoint just one moment, every cruise has a different group and different individuals. Every day we are in a different port, city and perhaps a different country. No two days are alike.

FAVOURITE PORTS:  Amsterdam, especially on the Tulip and Windmill cruises in spring. I can show off my home country when it is at its most beautiful.

TIP FOR PASSENGERS: Never put your money belt and passport in the garbage bin of the bathroom in your cabin for safekeeping – use the safe! I had a guest who learned this the hard way – it took a team of three ladies from housekeeping, the hotel manager and me 35 minutes to sort through all the garbage bins to find the money belt she’d hidden and  which was removed during turn-down service!

TIP

Pack stuff in your hand baggage that you might need once you’ve boarded your ship and are waiting for your cabin to be ready, especially if you’re travelling with kids: swimsuits, medication and important documents.

RIVER

New Burma rivership

Check out the artist’s impressions of the interiors of APT’s new rivership, RV Samatha, in the company’s 2016-17 Burma river cruising brochure. The lavishly decorated main restaurant (pictured) will serve dishes devised by APT’s Asian ambassador, celebrity chef Luke Nguyen. RV Samatha also features a private dining room for eight that offers a degustation menu. The new rivership will have 30 twin-balcony suites (the biggest being 48.7 square metres), a sun deck with pool, day spa, free Wi-Fi and a main lounge and bar, and will sail from Mandalay to Yangon. Book by March 31, 2015, for free return flights to Burma; see aptouring上海龙凤论坛m.au.

HIGHLIGHTS

See the Northern Lights with Dr Karl

Everyone’s favourite scientist, “sleek geek” Dr Karl Kruszelnicki, is accompanying a nine-day World Expeditions cruise from Longyearbyen, in the Arctic, to see the aurora borealis. Just 20 passengers will sail on the schooner Noorderlicht, which is equipped with zodiacs for onshore wildlife-spotting excursions. Dr Karl will be on hand to explain this extraordinary phenomenon and deliver a series of lectures. The voyage departs on September 25, 2015, and has been timed to offer the best chance of viewing the Northern Lights (and polar bears and Beluga whales). See worldexpeditions上海龙凤论坛m.

TV star to join Love Boat cast on board Regal Princess

Tori Spelling, actress and daughter of famed Love Boat producer Aaron Spelling, will serve as the official Master of Ceremonies for the christening of Princess Cruises’ Regal Princess later this month. The original Love Boat cast members are reuniting for the ceremony in Fort Lauderdale, which kicks off the cruise line’s 50th anniversary celebrations. The 3560-passenger Regal Princess is virtually identical to Royal Princess, which was famously christened by the Duchess of Cambridge last year, just before she gave birth to Prince George.

DEALS 

OFFER OF THE WEEK

has just released a new 34-night cruise tour package that takes in Alaska, North America and the Panama Canal with introductory discounted prices of up to 40 per cent, when you book by December 15. The package, which starts at $6489, includes return airfares, 29 nights aboard Norwegian Sun, three nights accommodation in Tampa, Florida, and two nights in Vancouver. It departs April 19; phone 1300 369 848, see ecruising.travel.

MORE DEALS

CAPTAIN COOK CRUISES is offering a range of Christmas party packages to suit all tastes and budgets on MV Sydney 2000. Christmas party lunch cruises start from $59 per person while dinner cruises start from $79. Or you can charter your own vessel and enjoy a private party on Sydney Harbour from $109 per person. Phone 02 9206 1111, see captaincook上海龙凤论坛m.au.

EASTERN EUROPE TRAVEL has developed a series of cycle itineraries and maps for guests to enjoy on their Amadeus river cruise programs from Budapest to Prague in 2015. Passengers can cycle in Bratislava, Vienna, Linz, and from Durnstein to Melk in the picturesque Wachau Valley. All equipment is provided and prices start from $2990 for the 10-day fully inclusive cruise. Phone 1300 668 844.


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