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.”

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.”


• 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

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.

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.

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.

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杭州龙凤论坛/19VUyq7FLIpic.twitter杭州龙凤论坛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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