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Master mariner lands medal

Written By miftah nugraha on Jumat, 21 Juni 2013 | 19.55

Master mariner and Aurora Australis captain Craig Laughlin has been awarded the Australian Antarctic Medal for outstanding service over 20 years. Picture: AAD

FROM the moment the Antarctic icebreaker Aurora Australis leaves the wharf until the moment it docks, Captain Scott Laughlin takes nothing for granted.

The skipper of the bright orange Hobart-based icon navigates some of the world's biggest seas and trickiest harbours in the six months he spends at sea each year.

"You can encounter anything from force 12-plus gales with anything up to 20-plus metre seas," he says.

That's hurricane-strength gales at close to 120km/h when the sea becomes a mess of white.

"Although the ship can handle it and the cargo can handle it and the crew can handle it, there's a high possibility of hurting someone on board with the heavy roll," he continues.

"You heave to, put your head to sea and sit there at minimum speed until the storm goes through and that can be anything up to 72 hours."

Captain Laughlin has been making the voyage from Hobart to Antarctica for 20 years, more than 10 as the Aurora's skipper.

The 43-year-old's dedication to making it safe has been recognised with the Australian Antarctic Medal (AAM), appropriately awarded in midwinter by the Governor-General.

The trip south is just the first part of a journey that can also be hit by blizzards and pack-ice, which can trap or damage a ship.

"Nothing down south can be taken for granted, from the time you're leaving the wharf until the time you're getting back to the wharf," he says.

"You can't be complacent at all otherwise Antarctica bites."

Captain Laughlin's time aboard has brought its share of hairy moments, including two fires.

In 2002 it took the Aurora's 24-person crew almost five days to break another vessel, Polar Bird, out of pack ice it had been stuck in for six weeks.

Then in 2011 Captain Laughlin led the rescue of a stricken fishing boat off Macquarie Island.

A childhood dream to visit Antarctica led him to switch from a commercial shipping job in 1994 and, apart from the difficulty of being away from his two children, the Master Mariner hasn't looked back.

"I love being down in the ice -- there's the animals and the kind of people you have on board," he says.

"The people that go down south are a cut above the rest. They want to do things."

Seabird ecologist Dr Barbara Wienecke has also been awarded the AAM for her research into the effects of commercial fishing on bird populations.


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Police seek tattooed man

POLICE are seeking a Hobart man with a distinctive facial tattoo who may be able to assist in a serious crime inquiry.

David Ian Coles, 34, is described as being 180cm tall and of a medium build with brown eyes and slightly receding brown hair.

Mr Coles has a large tribal-style facial tattoo on the right side of his face.

Anyone who may be aware of Mr Coles's whereabouts is asked to contact Detective Sergeant Nicholas Preshaw on 6230 2111 or 131 444 or to call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

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Nude dude tests the waters

THE River Derwent will become a sea of naked humanity at sunrise tomorrow when hundreds of courageous souls take the plunge for the first annual Dark MOFO Nude Solstice Swim.

About 350 people will get their gear off to make a splash at Sandy Bay's Long Beach Reserve at 7.42am.

An hour later, about 70 more modest bathers will don togs and dive in for the "prude swim".

While 650 people applied to take part in the nude swim, numbers had to be limited for health and safety reasons.

Sydneysider Ryan Batt, who will be among the naked crew, had a quick paddle today to test the waters.

The 30-year-old bar manager said he was expecting it to be far worse.

"I like to come down (to Tassie) but I have never been in winter," Mr Batt said.

"I saw all the Dark MOFO stuff on and thought 'why not?'

"When I first heard about the nude swim I put my name down.

"I was only told I was in about a week ago. I think they had a bit more demand than they were expecting.

"It won't be a long swim but I will get properly wet. You have to submerge yourself I suppose."

With the air temperature set to drop below 3C overnight and the water temperature expected to be about 12C tomorrow, hypothermia could be an issue.

But up to 30 surf lifesavers some with specialist medical skills, defibrillators and oxygen will be on site to ensure no one comes to grief.

The Nude Solstice Swim kicks off a huge day of Dark MOFO action, which also includes the HCC Winter Feast at PW1 and the Satanalia concert at MAC2. Both events start at 4pm.

Read more in the Saturday Mercury ...

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Dark MOFO's delicious demos

Written By miftah nugraha on Kamis, 20 Juni 2013 | 19.56

Street spit roasters Ben Milgate, left, and Elvis Abrahanowicz, from Sydney's Porteno restaurant prepare racks of local Tassie lamb for tonight's feast. Picture: LEIGH WINBURN

THREE nights of food fire and fun kick off on Hobart's waterfront this afternoon.

Produced and curated by Sydney event director Gillian Minervini, the Hobart City Council Dark MOFO Winter Feast will feature visiting guest chefs including barbecue bad boys Ben Milgate and Elvis Abrahanowicz from Sydney restaurant Porteno tonight; spice queen Christine Manfield from Sydney's Universal tomorrow night; and Frank Camorra from Melbourne's acclaimed MoVida on Saturday night.

There will also be dozens of stalls selling Tasmanian produce including Cygneture Chocolates.

"The feast will be unlike any other event, breaking down barriers between cooks, chefs, performers and audience," Minervini said.

The Feast will feature intimate performances by Dark MOFO musicians including Ben Salter, Sal Kimber, Pugsley Buzzard and more, and laser artist Robin Fox's latest installation White Beam.

"This community feast is a new recipe of ancient tradition and contemporary culture – pagan tradition by laser light," Dark MOFO creative director Leigh Carmichael said.

The HCC Dark MOFO Winter Feast will be held in and around Princes Wharf Shed No. 1 from 4-10pm today, tomorrow and Saturday.

Entry is free.

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Bosses to brave big chill

Oaktree Foundation state director Rob Hortle, Dogs' Homes of Tasmania CEO Rhonda McLaughlin, and TCCI CEO Michael Bailey preparing for tonight's event at Aurora Stadium. Picture: NIKKI DAVIS-JONES

A SWAG of business chiefs is set to shiver through the night in Launceston for the annual CEO Sleepout.

More than 50 leaders from across Tasmania are taking part in the St Vincent de Paul event, which has raised more than $13 million nationally since it started in 2006.

The Sleepout also aims to boost awareness of the plight of the homeless.

RACT CEO Harvey Lennon, who has already raised more than $5000, said while there was no comparison between living on the streets and the CEO Sleepout, it did help business leaders to change their perspective about the nature of homelessness.

"This campaign has really taught me that any one of us could end up in that position if our circumstances changed or were different," he said in a statement.

"Homelessness isn't always what people think it is -- for example, 58 per cent of people experiencing homelessness are under 35 years of age and 44 per cent are women.

"Every night 200 Tasmanians are sleeping homeless, in conditions much worse than I will be tonight and in my eyes that's just not good enough.

"That is why I am taking on the challenge and calling on everyone to donate to a CEO."

A convoy from southern Tasmania is due to arrive at Launceston's Aurora Stadium about 5.30pm today to spend the night sleeping in cardboard boxes.

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Carnes new Denison candidate

GLENORCHY alderman and former prison officer Sharon Carnes will stand for the Labor Party in the state seat of Denison.

Revealing the new candidate today, Premier Lara Giddings said Ms Carnes was a long-time member who epitomised the grassroots of the party.

"Sharon was brought up in a proudly working-class Labor family and is committed to standing up for jobs and opportunities for all," Ms Giddings said.

"Sharon's values have been shaped by a diverse background which has included working in the shearing industry, a period as a prison officer, working for the Tasmanian Ombudsman as a part of the Review into Abuse of Children in State Care. Most recently she has worked for state and federal Labor members of Parliament."

Ms Carnes said she wanted to enter State Parliament to have a stronger voice to represent the people of Denison.

"I was four when Gough Whitlam was dismissed and I remember asking my parents what's the difference between Labor and Liberal," she said.

"They told me; 'Labor looks after people like us who are workers and the Liberal Party looks after people like your dad's boss'."

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Crash blocks Lyell Hwy

Written By miftah nugraha on Rabu, 19 Juni 2013 | 19.56

POLICE advise there has been a crash between a van and a truck on the Lyell Highway south of New Norfolk.

No injuries have been reported but the road is blocked and traffic is being diverted.

In a statement issued about 3.15pm today, police urged motorists to avoid the area if possible.


As of 4.10pm Tasmania Police have advised the highway is open to traffic again.

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Bushfire appeal funds flow

Written By miftah nugraha on Selasa, 18 Juni 2013 | 19.55

A PLAN to install nesting boxes for wildlife is among 10 community projects to win funding under the Red Cross Bushfire Appeal.

The first-round grants of up to $15,000 were announced today by Sorell/Tasman Affected Area Recovery Committee co-chair Kerry Vincent, who is also the Mayor of Sorell.

Councillor Vincent said the first round of projects would get people active, engage local youth and protect wildlife.

"Community members have shown enthusiasm and creativity in this first round of projects," he said in a statement.

"These great ideas will bring the community together, both in getting the projects off the ground and giving residents places and facilities to share and have some fun."

The successful projects include: 

  • Landscaping and footpaths around the Sommers Bay Rd car park 
  • A footbridge at Sounds Rivulet 
  • An upgrade of pedestrian access from Sommers Bay Rd to Sommers Bay Jetty 
  • A youth involvement program in the Dunalley area 
  • A basketball slab and hoop in Murdunna 
  • A day use area on the Grave Island foreshore 
  • Watercraft including kayaks, safety gear and storage facilities based at Murdunna 
  • A mobile barbecue and events facility for the greater Dunalley and Murdunna areas 
  • Native wildlife nest boxes in bushfire affected areas to support wildlife where their habitat was destroyed or damaged 
  • Symbols of Recovery – art workshops

Bushfire Appeal Distribution Committee chair Pat Leary said a further round of funding would be available later this year.

To find out how to submit project ideas or an expression of interest, contact the Bushfire Recovery Unit on 1800 567 567 or visit www.bushfirerecovery.tas.gov.au

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'I'd just lost half my ear'

A MAN has recounted having his ear bitten off and spat out in front of horrified workers at a Hobart business.

Dion Cragg told the Supreme Court he didn't realise what had happened until he heard a woman scream out: "His ear's on the floor".

Jake James Smith, 22, of Kingston has pleaded not guilty to wounding Mr Cragg in Liverpool Street on January 25, 2012.

Mr Cragg was returning his disabled daughter to his ex-partner after an access visit and had just got off a bus from Launceston when a fight broke out.

He told the court a man named Jason called him a "deadbeat father" and kicked him before Mr Smith came at him "throwing haymakers".

The pair grappled with each other and tumbled through the front door of a business.

"We were locked together and fell through the closed doors," Mr Cragg said.

"We both landed on the carpet. Jake landed on top of me, I was face down.

"I was saying 'let me up, let's fight like men'.

"That's when he latched on and took a chunk out of my ear. Between falling down and him taking a bite would have been 15 to 20 seconds.

"He instantaneously bit it, then spat it out.

"I heard a lady scream. I didn't really feel it. She said: 'His ear's on the floor'. I put my hand up and felt the blood."

Mr Cragg said Mr Smith pulled the hood up on his top and fled.

"I picked my ear up off the floor. I had a pair of army camouflage pants on. I wrapped it in a bit of tissue and put it in my pocket."

He said he then had a beer.

Under cross examination by defence lawyer Kim Baumeler, Mr Cragg denied being aggressive while on the bus but admitted he was expecting a confrontation when he arrived because he had changed childcare arrangements with his former partner.

He admitted being very upset in the aftermath of the fight.

"I was very agitated -- I'd just lost half my ear," he said.

The jury was shown graphic photographs of Mr Cragg's injuries and bloodstains spattered liberally around the business where the fight took place.

The trial, before Justice Stephen Estcourt, is expected to finish tomorrow.


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Firies prevent Tassal fire

FIRE crews acted quickly to avert a potentially serious fire at Margate this morning.

A Tasmania Fire Service spokesman said a Tassal worker noticed a burning smell in one of the company's chiller rooms.

He said it was suspected an electrical fault in a fan unit caused arcing in the wiring.

The fault had the potential to ignite styrofoam insulation.

Units from Margate, Snug and Kingston attended the scene.

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