Archive for September 2018

Stay away: Michelle Marks with Lara, her 11-year-old pet Stimson’s python, a native to Western Australia, but she warns people to stay away from snakes in the wild.WITH a Laverton man dead and another five people hospitalised due to snakebites, a Merredin reptile expert has warned residents to take care.
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Michelle Marks is chief executive officer of Western Reptile Rescue, a non-profit organisation dedicated to care and protection of Australia’s native reptiles.

She has 10 years experience working with all reptile species, including snakes and crocodiles.

“As the activity levels of reptiles rise with the warmer weather, it also means that there is a growing chance of encounters with snakes,” Ms Marks said.

“This does not mean we have to switch our brains to high alert and live in fear of them, but to simply be aware of their existence, appreciate their place in our environment and to utilise tips on avoiding negative encounters with potentially dangerous snakes.”

Ms Marks’ tips for avoiding snakes are:

At home:

Keep your grass short and gardens weeded. Snakes do not like to be in the open and will seek the cover of long grass. Keeping grass short and gardens weeded lessens the appeal for a snake.Get rid of rubbish. Rubbish may provide a snake with shelter so removing it reduces the chance of a resident snake.Keep potential food sources away. Rodents, birds and frogs can attract snakes as they provide prey opportunities.Keep your home and garden rodent free and bird aviaries and chicken coops as far from the house as possible.Wear gloves. It is important to wear protective gloves when gardening or removing rubbish and firewood. They will reduce the chance of skin being penetrated if a snake does strike.In the outdoors:

Wear protective clothing. When hiking, camping and bushwalking wear ankle-high boots, thick socks and long pants. Australian snakes have relatively short fangs less likely to penetrate skin through thick clothing.Keep bedding stored away. When not in use, fold up your camp bedding and keep it off the ground. Shake it before use.Awareness:

Give snakes a wide berth. If you see one, do not catch it, attempt to kill it or scare it away. Simply give it plenty of space and it will move away.Teach children. Children are less likely to be bitten if they are educated in snake safety. You do not have to teach them to be afraid of snakes, just teach them to never touch or pick up a snake.First aid. Become familiar with snake bite first aid. Snakes rarely bite or attack unprovoked and it is critically important to never attempt to catch or kill a snake. Not only is it illegal to do so, but it severely increases the risk of snake bite. Around 80 per cent of snake bites in Australia are a result of the victim attempting to catch or kill the snake.If a snake is sighted in your home or business, call a licensed snake removalist who is trained and equipped to capture and relocate the snake safely.

Western Reptile Rescue provides snake relocation as a community service and is based in Merredin.

This service is free however the organisation relies on community donations to survive.

For snake removal phone 0423 322 584 or for information email [email protected]

Wish you were here: Racegoers are likely to want to post pictures online for all to see. Photo: Graham Tidy Oversharing: Racegoers will be hungrier for data than ever before, but will the networks cope? Photo: Vince Caliguri
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Wizard of Odds: Live Odds, Form and Alerts for all RacingFull coverage: Melbourne Cup 2014Melbourne Cup sweep

Mobile phone carriers are promising plenty of capacity for racegoers at Tuesday’s Melbourne Cup despite an expected 100,000 punters being hungrier for data than ever.

Telstra, Optus and Vodafone have all beefed up their networks at the event, with Telstra expecting more than five per cent of its total traffic for the day to occur in the 15 minutes immediately after the race at 3pm.

Australia’s largest carrier, Telstra, has “more than doubled” its 4G capacity at the venue, a spokesperson said.

It was expecting about 250,000 voice calls and 80,000 text messages at the track on race day, with traffic about 2.5 times higher than at last year’s event.

“We’ve basically put up enough to run a small city out of Flemington,” the spokesperson said.

“For the technically minded, this includes 21 3G cells, with 90 carriers or channels, and 17 4G cells, including a mix of larger sites microcells and in-building distributed antenna systems.”

Optus has also expanded capacity on its 3G and 4G networks in and around Flemington.

The telco was also tweaking its services to prioritise voice and SMS services, a spokeswoman said.

Vodafone, meanwhile, has switched on in-building infrastructure for the first time, to cope with higher network demand.

This is in addition to rolling in a mobile base station on the back of a truck – dubbed “COW” (Cell On Wheels) – to provide “comparable” 3G and 4G coverage to that being offered by Telstra at the event, a spokesperson said.

It should be business as usual for customers on race day even with a surge of usage, as similar infrastructure at previous major events like the AFL grand final had “gone off without a hitch”, the Vodafone spokeswoman said.

But Victorian Racing Club spokesman Marcus Williams said part of the reason mobile carriers were better coping with customer demand was the free Wi-Fi service the venue introduced last year.

Before that, telcos “didn’t seem to be keeping up” with racegoers’ demands for data, “probably due to the steep rise in use of data for social media and the internet”, Mr Williams said.

“Certainly the Wi-Fi has taken a bit of a load off. Just making calls and texts became difficult, so having the Wi-Fi for internet has relieved some of the burden.

“Last year we found improvements and this year the phone networks are working better for calls and messages.”

The Wi-Fi service, delivered by IBM and Cisco, is available in all indoor areas at the venue, including the three grandstands and the Breezeway.

Two outdoor areas – the betting ring and the Flemington railway platform – will also have Wi-Fi access, but parts of the front lawns and carparks won’t be covered.

Telstra, Optus and Vodafone said they hadn’t received any negative feedback from customers attending Derby Day at Flemington on Saturday, which attracted 90,244 racegoers.

The telcos continually monitor network demands during the racing carnival so they can increase capacity further if needed.

The ultimate racing guide with the latest information on fields, form, tips, market fluctuations and odds, available on mobile, tablet and desktop.

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The absence of the main protagonists in the last Australia Test series win in South Africa this year, Michael Clarke and Dale Steyn, from the teams’ imminent Twenty20 series will not guarantee a resumption of warm relations, Shane Watson predicts.
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Since the completion of that series in March all-rounder Watson has barely played for Australia, because of injury. While he has been training with the Australian Twenty20 squad in Adelaide since the weekend much of his evenings have been spent watching his usual Test teammates being pummelled in Abu Dhabi, a dual-team scenario he said “feels quite wrong, to be honest”.

“I’ve never experienced anything like this previously … to be able to be here with an Australian squad but still, on TV, watching the other Australian team plying its trade over in the UAE just seems very bizarre,” he said on Monday, before the start of Australia’s home international summer on Wednesday night at Adelaide Oval.

“Knowing there’s only a day or so between when the match finishes and we start here is interesting scheduling – but that’s the way the international schedule is now. Things are very jam-packed.”

Watson, 33, reckoned the result against Pakistan in the two-Test series could be an important lesson for the Australian team.

“After everything that we’ve done over the past 18 months to build it up [it is important to remember] things are never meant to go perfectly well,” he said.

“We had an incredible run in the Ashes here last summer and then South Africa as well … things pop up at times to give you a reality check when you need it. From afar, it certainly looks like it’s been a really big reality check for everyone.

“We’ve always grown out of situations that haven’t been ideal for us and we’ll certainly do that again.”

None of the Australian players in the UAE will return in time for Wednesday’s series opener, nor are they scheduled to play in any of the three matches. South Africa has chosen to rest arguably its six best players for the series – Steyn, captain Faf du Plessis, AB de Villiers, Hashim Amla, Morne Morkel, Vernon Philander – for the subsequent one-day series and also its looming home summer. JP Duminy will be the Proteas’ acting T20 captain for the series.

Watson predicted there would be lingering animosity from the Test series, after which South Africa’s players were so aggrieved only Robin Peterson visited the Australian rooms to congratulate the visitors on their victory.

“The relations were a bit rocky, there’s no doubt. It was very hard-fought cricket from both sides,” he said of the three-Test series, which Australia unexpectedly won. “There’ll certainly be a lot of competition on the field, no question … and maybe a few scars floating around from that Test tour.

“South Africa don’t have a few of their really big Twenty20 stars but we’re missing a few of ours as well … but it’ll be a high-quality game of cricket, there’s no doubt.”

Wicketkeeper Ben Dunk will make his debut for Australia and batsman Nathan Reardon is also in contention to achieve that honour. For the Proteas Rilee Rossouw has only played one-dayers and Kagiso Rabada and Reeza Hendricks are yet to play in any format.

Watson, who was ruled out by selectors for the entire limited-overs and Test series against Pakistan because he was not able to bowl, returned to domestic cricket at the end of the recent Matador Cup. He said he was “the most [physically] well-prepared I have been for a long time” for a home summer.

“I’m very excited to be back playing again. It’s been my biggest break for a long time so I’m just very excited to be able to get back out there,” he said.

“It’s been five months of gradually building things up, with a few setbacks along the way.

“The past couple of weeks have come together really well, with getting back into playing and building up my bowling workloads as well.”

Watson said he was eager to return to Australia’s Test team, irrespective of where there was a vacancy in the batting line-up.

“Wherever Darren [Lehmann, coach] and Michael [Clarke, captain] want to me bat I just want an opportunity to be able to play again,” he said. “Hopefully I can score enough runs over the next month to give myself enough opportunity to be in the team.”

Watson also said he would be pleased to play alongside fellow all-rounder Mitch Marsh, whose batting has looked well suited to Tests.

SQUADS AUSTRALIA: Aaron Finch (c), Sean Abbott, Doug Bollinger, Cameron Boyce, Pat Cummins, Ben Cutting, Ben Dunk, James Faulkner, Nic Maddinson, Nathan Reardon, Kane Richardson, Shane Watson, Cameron White.SOUTH AFRICA: JP Duminy (c), Kyle Abbott, Farhaan Behardien, Quinton de Kock, Marchant de Lange, Reeza Hendricks, Imran Tahir, Ryan McLaren, David Miller, Wayne Parnell, Robin Peterson, Kagiso Rabada, Rilee Rossouw, David Wiese.

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The AFL’s media strategy will undergo a facelift with the impending departure of the league’s most senior communications adviser, James Tonkin.
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The replacement for Tonkin, who has massaged the AFL’s message for the past three years, is expected to come from a soon-to-be launched nationwide search. His resignation comes as Gillon McLachlan sets about restructuring his corporate affairs department, in one of a series of gradual changes at the game’s head office.

Fairfax Media understands McLachlan is looking at reshaping the all-important game development portfolio, removing a significant portion to the AFL’s football operation headed by Mark Evans.

Grant Williams, who was seconded from the top job at AFL Victoria when McLachlan replaced Andrew Demetriou, was placed in a newly created senior role overlooking state leagues and lower-tier competitions across the country. He is expected to carry out that role with Evans under the football umbrella.

Until now, the entire game development portfolio has been overseen by Dorothy Hisgrove, the AFL executive in charge of customer, community and people. Hisgrove will still oversee a significant chunk of game development including indigenous and junior programs such as Auskick. She is also expected to oversee the AFL’s media team, adding corporate affairs to her portfolio.

While McLachlan is yet to unveil his predicted administrative restructure, the AFL’s austerity campaign has seen the departure of three-time Brisbane premiership player Chris Johnson.

The one-time Fitzroy defender had been the league’s diversity talent manager, helping remove the obstacles for young indigenous footballers in their bid to transition from junior grades to the TAC competition, state football and through to the AFL draft.

With the league choosing not to replace national indigenous manager Xavier Clarke earlier this year after his move into coaching, an AFL reshuffle of the game’s multicultural area looks imminent.

To date the only change to McLachlan’s executive has been the appointment of former Gold Coast boss Travis Auld to a newly created role dealing with stadiums and club relations. The prevailing view is that McLachlan’s 10-member executive team will be streamlined.

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