TEN Eyewitness News: the new tech launching entrepreneurs into the digital age

Published in TEN Eyewitness News on July 20, 2017

Online: https://tenplay.com.au/news/national/july-2017/the-new-tech-lauching-entrepreneurs-into-the-digital-age

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Forget the old bricks-and-mortar store front. If a business isn’t online, then it may as well not exist.

That’s the future according to architect and photographer Demas Rusli, one of tens of thousands of tech-savvy entrepreneurs making a name for themselves on social media.

“Everyone is on their phones these days. You see on the bus and public transport, on the train, everyone is on their phone and everyone is scrolling on Instagram,” he said.

“It’s a pretty big thing, you can’t really say no to it.”

Rusli is a social media ‘influencer’: he’s racked up a following of over 70,000 people on Instagram, and uses the platform to get lucrative sponsorships from all sorts of brands – from footwear giants Nike and New Balance, to car manufacturers like Lexus.

“It’s like a new way to market, a new way to advertise,” he said.

“If I’m shooting a sneaker campaign for Nike or something, I don’t try to put the sneaker in front of me. I try to put it in a scene and have a story behind it, and make it more genuine to my content and what I usually do anyway.

“Over time, I’ve realised the importance of it, because a lot of people look up to me.”

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One of Rusli’s Instagram posts, using his brand of photography to promote New Balance shoes. Image: Instagram

Hayden Cox, entrepreneur and founder of Haydenshapes Surfboards, still has love for the traditional shop window.

He has stores in LA as well as New South Wales, but used the web to take his business up a notch. He now has nearly 80,000 followers on Instagram.

“I started making and designing surfboards when I was 15-years-old, and I built and coded my first website when I was 16, so I’ve always engaged through the Internet with building my brand and my business over the last 20 years,” he said.

“There’s some people who may not have seen one of my boards down at the local beach, and they saw an Instagram post, and they want to walk into your local retailer or one of our stores and touch and feel and pick up the product.”

Now, it seems that technology is catching up to the new breed of business men and women – always on the move, with a need to constantly be online.

Companies are ditching bulky laptops in favour of ‘two in one’ portable tech – that is, small, lightweight, often keyboardless computers that have all the functioning capability of your desktop.

Samsung have just launched the ‘Galaxy Book’ and ‘Galaxy Tab S3’ in line with this concept.

The back of the tablet sports a new sleek, sophisticated look made from reinforced glass.

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The new Galaxy Tab S3 has HDR video quality.

Running on Android with 4G capability, Microsoft products, like Word and Excel, are pre-installed on the device, so you can pretty much knock-up any document that you would at home.

And while some might miss the iPad’s Apple store, the Samsung has it beat with an SD card slot – very useful for camera-wielding influencers.

As for the Galaxy Book, it’s pretty similar to the tablet in design, but it comes in two different sizes, 10.6 inch and 12 inch.

Users have the option of using a keyboard with both devices, but if you were to use the Galaxy Book screen alone, tablet-style, you’d have a fully-functioning advanced computer that’s extremely lightweight and portable.

The Windows 10 software is what makes that possible – creative-types can download full version software, like Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom, without having to settle for mobile versions that skimp on the full capabilities.

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The 10.6 inch Galaxy Book, which is extremely thin and lightweight.

Both the Galaxy Book and Galaxy Tab S3 also support High Dynamic Range video content, which means top-notch colour and image quality.

“I actually had a really good experience with it, everything ran smoothly. Lightroom and Photoshop are the two programs I use the most, and they work completely fine, like they would when I’m on my laptop at home,” said Mr Rusli.

“The mobility of it is what’s important.”

There’s also a big hurrah about the S Pen that comes with both devices. It writes like a real pen, makes second-grade handwriting look close to calligraphic, and classic pencil company Stedler have even chipped in with a nostalgic rendition that’s compatible with the Samsung screens.

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The 12 inch Galaxy Book comes with the newly refined-tip S Pen. 

But, is it good enough to throw out your laptop?

“Yeah, probably, I think definitely. I’ve had a really positive experience with it,” said Mr Rusli.

As more big tech companies like Samsung follow suit in this new trend, it seems that online business will be just on its heels.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics Census, businesses’ social media engagement had increased by 4.2 per cent between 2015 and 2016.

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 and Galaxy Book are available in store from July 28. Prices start at $949 for the tablet and $1,099 for the Galaxy Book.

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TEN Eyewitness News: Call to ditch school skirts and dresses

Published in TEN Eyewitness News on June 16, 2017

Onlinehttps://tenplay.com.au/news/national/june-2017/call-to-ditch-school-skirts-and-dresses

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Winter can be a dreaded time for Aussie school girls. The boys get to don their slacks against the cold, while girls are forced to tough it out in skirts and dresses, with nothing but some thin stockings for protection.

But the winds of change are in the cool air.. with a new survey revealing a majority of school parents want a shakeup to uniform protocol.

The findings by key parent group South Australian Association of State School Organisations found that over 90 per cent of school parents surveyed think girls shouldn’t have to adhere to ‘traditional’ style uniforms.

The group’s Director David Knuckney said it wasn’t just parents who were against the uniforms.

“With negative gender stereotypes known to have disastrous impacts on female students, is it time to rethink making them dress like ‘girls’?” he told the Adelaide Advertiser.

“While schools have long held that uniforms improve discipline, experts, parents and students are now calling school uniforms sexist – a discriminatory disadvantage.”

A quarter of principals surveyed even supported chucking out uniforms all together.

But some educators say too much choice can be dangerous for students.

Mitcham Girls High principal Antoinette Jones said that students were generally less well behaved on casual clothes days.

“They are more rowdy, they are louder, they maybe don’t engage in their learning as much, and we don’t know why.”

Ms Jones said that uniforms also act as a ‘leveller’ between different socio-economic backgrounds.

Most schools are moving towards ‘flexible’ options for girls and a chosen dress code rather than a specified school uniform.

These include gender neutral options for both boys and girls rather than strict rules on what either can wear.

Ms Jones said that her school has a “wide range” of options so students could wear “whatever makes them comfortable”.

TEN Eyewitness News: Horror Christmas drowning death-toll prompts urgent calls for rip safety

Published in TEN Eyewitness News on December 29, 2016

Online: https://tenplay.com.au/news/national/december/horror-christmas-drowning-deathtoll-prompts-urgent-calls-for-rip-safety

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As NSW’s drowning death toll for the festive season jumps to six, and the search continues for 14-year-old Tu’ipulotu “Tui” Gallaher, who disappeared during a swim at Sydney’s Maroubra Beach on Tuesday night, authorities have urged tourists and locals to be more cautious in the surf.

Boxing Day alone claimed four lives, including a 60-year-old Grafton man, who entered the water in a bid to save his four nieces who were caught in a rip off a beach in the state’s north.

A couple of rips were also found where missing teen Tui was last seen, as Surf Life Saving Sydney conducted their search and rescue mission.

Rescue efforts resumed yesterday morning, after earlier being called off due to poor conditions.

“There’s no doubt that rip currents are one of the biggest dangers on Australian beaches, particularly if you don’t know how to spot them in the water,” said Surf Life Saving Queensland’s operations support coordinator Jason Argent in a recent release.

“Overconfidence can be a big issue when it comes to rip currents, particularly amongst that younger male demographic.”

Of the 280 people who died from drowning in Australian waterways between July 1 last year and June 30 this year, 83 percent were male.

Australian beaches claimed the most lives compared with lagoons, creeks, rivers and other waterways.

“We’ve found that a lot of people who think they can spot a rip actually can’t, and a lot of people mistakenly think they don’t need to worry about rips because they’re strong swimmers,” Mr Argent said.

“It’s important to understand that rips don’t discriminate and, tragically, in the past we’ve seen all sorts of people, from international tourists right through to regular beachgoers, drown after they were swept out to sea by a rip they didn’t even know was there.”

Mr Argent said that beachgoers should always protect themselves against rips by swimming at patrolled beaches only, in between the red and yellow flags.

Rips can be identified by darker channels of water with fewer breaking waves, while sandy-coloured water extending beyond the surf-zone can also indicate the presence of a rip.

Mr Argent said that because these areas often look calmer, swimmers can wrongly assume that they are the safest places to swim, and that’s when they get themselves into trouble.

However, if you do get stuck in a rip, there are a few things you should do to minimise the risks.

“If you find yourself caught in a rip, it’s really important that you try to stay calm, conserve your energy as much as possible by floating in the water, and raise your arm to attract the attention of lifesavers or lifeguards,” he said.

“Whatever you do, never try to swim directly against the current. The majority of drownings attributed to rip currents have come after swimmers have begun to panic and tried to swim against the current, leaving them too exhausted to keep their heads above water.

“Instead, if you’re comfortable doing so, you can escape a rip by swimming parallel to the beach and then allowing the waves to assist you back to shore.”

TEN Eyewitness News: Five tips to keep your pets cool this Summer

Published in TEN Eyewitness News on December 29, 2016

Online: https://tenplay.com.au/news/national/december/leading-vets-offer-top-tips-on-how-to-to-keep-pets-safe-from-heatstroke

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When Australia’s Summer scorchers come around, we often think of the elderly and young children as being most at risk of heatstroke, but researchers say our pets are just as vulnerable.

With temperatures set to reach the high thirties in Sydney this week and expected to exceed 40C in our west, Dr Fawcett from the University of Sydney’s Faculty of Veterinary Science says it’s more important than ever that we keep our companions cool.

“The mortality rate of dogs admitted to veterinary hospital is 50 to 65 percent so it is crucial owners take every precaution to make sure their animal companions are safe and healthy,” she said.

Heat stress can be harmful for dogs in two ways.

Firstly, injuries caused by direct heat or overheating, and then secondly with the after effects of dehydration, shock and poor circulation, according to Dr Fawcett.

“While some animals present with obvious symptoms such as panting, lethargy, noisy breathing and red gums, others will be more difficult to detect and may not even be hot to touch,” she said.

“Diagnosis is often tricky, because many owners have begun cooling their animal prior to veterinary attention being received – the presence of a normal or even LOW body temperature does not rule out a diagnosis of heat stroke.”

These are Dr Fawcett’s top five tips to keep our furry friends safe from heatstroke this season:

  1. Where possible, keep companion animals indoors or board them in an air-conditioned facility.
  2. Shade is key to keeping companion animals safe. Make sure they have access to shade all day, as shady spots can disappear as the sun moves.
  3. Cool and iced water is essential. I always provide a small ice-bucket for my guinea pigs on hot days.
  4. Provide adequate ventilation throughout the day.
  5. Do NOT leave animals in a car without air conditioning.

TEN Eyewitness News: Dining-room dive or Sydney’s biggest Airbnb bargain?

Published in TEN Eyewitness News on December 15, 2016

Online: https://tenplay.com.au/news/national/december/diningroom-dive-or-sydneys-biggest-airbnb-bargain

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Looking for a cheap night’s stay in Sydney this summer? Mel’s dining-room air mattress might be just the ticket.

A stark contrast to Sydney’s five-star hotel rooms booking for hundreds of dollars a night, the “humble and friendly beachside dive” in Chifley, south of the city, boasts “small”, “cluttered space”, bicycle availability, free parking and 24-hour check-in for just $15 a night.

Check-out is, oddly, at midnight.

Guests at this Airbnb lodging need only abide by a few house rules – drink alcohol in moderation, wash your own dishes, present your passport on arrival, don’t do illegal drugs, and preferably, be aged 13 or over as this accommodation “may not be safe or suitable” for 12-and-unders.

Smoking is allowed and shampoo is provided, but guests who want Internet access will have to use local WiFi “available at shopping centres, McDonald’s and libraries close by.”

A security deposit of $130 is required, but this Airbnb host offers 10 percent discounts for weekly stays, and a 30 percent discount for monthly stays.

Bruno, an online reviewer, has great things to say about his time on the Chifley air mattress:
“Awessome hoster. That is why I am going back there xD [sic].”

Nelson also highly recommends Mel’s dining room stay:
“Awesome host! Very helpful with local knowledge and places to sight see! Very friendly! Is a good spot to crash!!”

TEN Eyewitness News: Researchers: Aussie travellers at risk of bringing Zika back home

Published in TEN Eyewitness News on December 15, 2016

Online: https://tenplay.com.au/news/national/december/researchers-aussie-travellers-at-risk-of-bringing-zika-back-home

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Australian travellers are at risk of bringing the Zika virus and dengue fever into the country when they return from overseas, researchers warn, by unwittingly bringing back the eggs of exotic mosquito species.

People who travel to Southeast Asia during the holiday season, particularly Bali, are especially vulnerable.

Zika infections exploded in South America earlier in the year, with world health authorities fearing a global pandemic. The virus is primarily contracted through mosquito bites, but can also be sexually transmittable up to six months after initial infection.

Particularly worrying, Zika has been linked to horrific birth defects, including microcephaly, if pregnant mothers are infected.

“If these exotic mosquito species find a way to our suburbs and become established, it creates the perfect conditions for a local outbreak of Zika or dengue,” Dr Cameron Webb, Medical Entomologist at University of Sydney and NSW Health Pathology, said.

“While we can’t prevent people infected with Zika or dengue coming to Australia, we can prevent the establishment of exotic mosquitoes species, so that widespread outbreaks can’t occur.”

Dr Webb, lead author of the Sax Institute’s Public Health Research & Practice journal, published Wednesday, said that we need to be more mindful of what we bring home from our holidays.

“It is very easy for people to unwittingly bring exotic mosquito eggs back into Australia via water bottles, vases or other belongings,” he said.

Some of the species that could carry potentially deadly viruses are the Aedes aegypti, the ‘yellow fever’ mosquito, and the Asian tiger mosquito, Aedes albopictus.

Dr Webb says that while repellents are generally a cheap and effective way to protect yourself, you need to choose the right ones.

“Unless you are prepared to reapply every one to two hours, it’s safer to avoid botanical extract-based repellents available from health food stores, tackle shops and the ‘homebrews’ available from local markets,” he said.

“Australians at home and abroad should instead choose a repellent containing DEET, picaridin or ‘oil of lemon-eucalyptus’. There are hundreds of different formulations to choose from in the supermarket or the pharmacy that will keep you and your family safe.”

Dr Webb says that communities and health authorities need to be monitoring suburban areas as well as wetlands, because these deadly mosquitoes can survive under both conditions.

TEN Eyewitness News: Coles customer awarded $90,000 after slipping on grape

Published in TEN Eyewitness News on December 15, 2016

Online: https://tenplay.com.au/news/national/december/coles-customer-awarded-90000-after-slipping-on-grape

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A single grape has cost supermarket giant Coles more than $90,000 after a shopper slipped on the fruit at a supermarket in Sydney’s west.

Sangeeta Guru, a 40-year-old beautician, was shopping in the Cambridge Gardens store in October 2012 when she fell on the floor, hitting her leg on a trolley.

While on the floor of the supermarket, she looked at the bottom of her thongs and found bits of squashed grape and other fruit that had fallen from the fruit and vegetable section.

An employee came to her aid, telling Ms Guru she hadn’t had a chance to clean up the mess because she’d been on tea break.

On Wednesday, a NSW District Court Judge found that Coles was negligent by not addressing the risk of fallen grapes, despite the employee’s claim she took adequate measures to prevent a hazard.

“I am always out on the floor and constantly checking the grape display as I know how often they are dropped by customers,” the employee told the court.

Ms Guru was awarded $90,130 for injuries she told the court she still suffers today, including soft tissue pain that worsens after sitting or walking for long periods of time, ankle pain with “associated occasional swelling and a burning sensation”, and “constant pain in her right knee”.

Judge Levy found Ms Guru was impaired in her ability to participate in leisure activities, like swimming and gym exercise, and to complete housework.

“She has become an unhappy person. Her sleep is also impaired,” Judge Levy said in his judgment.

Coles unsuccessfully argued for “contributory negligence”, saying that Ms Guru should have been watching where she was walking.

Judge Levy acknowledged that Ms Guru admitted she was looking at supermarket shelves instead, but said it was understandable in this setting.

“The plaintiff was looking around her for items to purchase. Her surroundings were a supermarket where goods were attractively displayed to induce customers to select particular items for purchase.”

Ms Guru initially claimed more than $1 million in damages for economic loss, loss of superannuation and domestic assistance, but Judge Levy found that she was not entitled to damages for any.

TEN Eyewitness News: Leaked audio offers insight into what downed South American charter plane

Published in TEN Eyewitness News on December 1, 2016

Online: https://tenplay.com.au/news/national/december/leaked-audio-offers-insight-into-what-downed-south-american-charter-plane

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It’s an explanation so simple it makes the loss of 71 lives seem even more tragic.

Leaked audio from the charter flight that killed 71 people in Colombia has revealed the plane was simply ‘out of fuel’ when it crashed into a mountainside on Monday.

On the recordings, the pilot of LaAia Airlines Flight 933 can be heard warning that they have a “total electrical failure” and are “out of fuel”.

Before the audio cuts out, Medellin Air Traffic Control places the aircraft at 8.5 nautical miles from the runway and 9,000ft (2743m) above ground level.

There was no explosion when the plane came down which suggests lack of fuel was the cause of the crash, but one Colombian military source told AFP the absence of it was “suspicious”.

It is not yet known if the lack of fuel was because of a leak in the aircraft or if there was none on board.

Investigators are yet to announce a single cause for the tragedy and a full analysis is expected to take months.

The Brazilian first grade Chapecoense football club had 19 players among those who died.

The team were to play a cup final on Wednesday evening, but instead, fans are gathering at the stadium for a memorial event.

Twenty journalists were also killed.

Flight technician Erwin Tumiri, one of only six who survived, told Colombian media that following safety protocol saved his life.

“Many stood up and started shouting,” he said.

“I put the suitcases between my legs and assumed the brace position.”

The Sydney Morning Herald: Ten ways to make the most of the last free Opal weekend

Published in The Sydney Morning Herald on September 1, 2016

Online: smh.com.au/…/ten-ways-to-make-the-most-of-the-last-free-opal-card-weekend-20160704-gpy9gs

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This weekend is the last chance for Opal card users to take advantage of free trips.

For 19-year-old student Emma Lucas, it means from next week she might not be so quick to tap on and tap off.

From Monday, cardholders who have reached the eight paid trips in one week will have to pay half-fare for Friday and the weekend instead of it being free.

Ms Lucas said that she’ll be less likely to use public transport once free Opal trips stop.

“If I want to do something on the weekend like go to Manly, I normally wouldn’t because of the ferry costs, but if I’ve got free trips I’m encouraged to do those things,” she said.

“I’m pretty aware of my carbon footprint, so the last thing I want to do is use my car, but cancelling free Opal trips means that I will use my car more or not go out as much. It takes away the encouragement to use public transport.”

A uni student with a part-time job two days a week, Miss Lucas reaches the eight trips quota just getting to class.

She said that once free trips stop, she’ll be too worried about how much she’s spending to take extra trips.

“I’ve got auto top up as well, so it takes the money straight out of my account. I won’t want to use my Opal as much because I want to save money on it,” she said.

“It’s going to be a much bigger thing to worry about on the minds of people who don’t have a car or a full time job.”

This weekend is the opportune time for Opal travellers to get out of town and explore outer-Sydney for free.

Boundaries of Opal travel extend as far South as Bomaderry, as far west as Bathurst, and as far north as Dungog, so cardholders could in theory travel through most of NSW without paying a cent.

These are our top 10 destinations for cardholders to visit for free this weekend, according to the locals.

1. The Blue Mountains (two hours from Central Station)

The Blue Mountains is one of Opal card’s top four most-frequented destinations for weekend travel. Ramon Rathore, owner of UpBeet Juice and Espresso, attributed this to the uniqueness and beauty of the place.

“We have some of the most pristine wilderness within region view of pretty much everywhere in the mountains,” he said. “It’s unique on every front – spiritually, visually, geographically, everything.”

The train journey is especially stunning when there’s snow on the mountains. Visitors can follow one of the many walking tracks to see breathtaking views of the Three Sisters, or stroll through the town of Katoomba – a man-made oddity in the centre of bush. Mr Rathore is afraid that Opal travellers who frequent his cafe will stop coming once they no longer have free trips.

“Anything that is going to effect the efficiency of tourism up here does have a direct effect on our business,” he said.

2. Manly Beach and North Head (approx 45 min from Central)  

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Catch the ferry over to Manly from Circular Quay. The seabreeze is always pleasant and passengers get a great view of North Head’s sandstone headlands. Once visitors arrive at Manly Beach, they can amble up to the headlands on a number of walking tracks. The paved Fairfax walk is ideal for taking along the kids. It starts at the end of North Head Scenic Drive and loops around the top of North Head, passing Q Station – a quarantine station active in 1833 – and other historical sites. All the sites are marked by information boards that give insight into North Head’s past.

Deb Randell, a tour guide at Q Station which is free for the public to enter, said that North Head’s history, scenery and close proximity to Sydney set it a part from other places.

“Q Station’s third graveyard is up at North Head. It’s the only graveyard out of our three that still has all its headstones, so it’s very much intact,” she said.

“The whole place just comes alive once you start to hear all the fascinating stories that have gone on here and some of the characters that have passed through over time.”

3. Terrigal, The Central Coast (approx. 2 hr from Central)

Take a trip on the Central Coast train line and view the Hawkesbury River, bobbing boats, oyster farms, ocean and bush. Hop on a bus from Gosford Station to Terrigal, where you can walk from the end of Terrigal Lagoon, along the beachfront, and up to the Skillion lookout across from Terrigal Haven.

Mardi Love, a patrolling member of Terrigal Surf Club for 14 years, said that Terrigal is always a great destination for visitors, regardless of the weather.

“Of course the beach is the best thing about Terrigal, but there’s also a number of coastal walks that are gaining in popularity,” said Ms Love.

“You can always find a nice little place to dunk in the water or play on the beach. One of the other great attractions is the food and cafe culture.”

4. Kiama and The Blowhole (approx. 2 hr and 15 min from Central)

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Kiama may seem like a bit of a trek to most Sydneysiders, but Ray Thorburn, 81, has lived in the area since 1975 and said it’s well worth the trip.

“I would suggest that it is better than Sydney,” said Mr Thorburn.

“Aesthetically, it’s so far away from Sydney that it isn’t funny, but it’s close enough to the smoke to really go up there whenever you need to. It’s the best of all worlds, I suppose you could say.”

Visitors can get off the train at Kiama Station and walk the 10 to 15 minutes up to the famed Blowhole, which is the largest in the world, and the Kiama lighthouse, which was established in 1887. Take along some hand reels and fish off the harbour.

5. Thirroul (approx. 1 hr and 15 min from Central)

If passengers are lucky, they’ll not only have the ocean to their left on the train ride to Thirroul, but mist rolling down the hills on their right. The seaside suburb of Wollongong features a one kilometre long beach that faces east and picks up swell from most directions, so it’s a good surf spot. Before heading to Thirroul Station, visitors can get off at nearby Scarborough and wander across to the Scarborough Hotel, then head upstairs to take in the stunning views of the ocean below.

Ellen Austin manages the Scarborough Hotel.

“We’ve got such a beautiful view here. There’s nothing else like it,” she said.

“It’s a really relaxed area and everyone’s really nice. I don’t think anywhere else comes close to here.”

Ms Austin recommends people walk the 10 minutes to Sea Cliff Bridge, the 665 metre highlight of Grand Pacific Drive. Other coastal towns, Austinmer and Coledale, are dotted along the road and are within a couple of minutes train or bus trip.

6. Windsor (approx 1 hr from Central)

Windsor is a town in Sydney’s west known for its heritage and historical value. Founded in 1810, Windsor still has its traditional country charm that attracts people away from the hustle and bustle of city life. Vicki Burns is a supervisor at Australia’s oldest pub, the Macquarie Arms Hotel, which was built in Windsor in 1815.

“There’s a lot of old buildings that are still standing. We’ve got a couple of old churches, and really old graveyards dating back hundreds of years,” she said.

“People like it because it’s a little country town. We have markets through the mall with all local produce on Sundays.”

Visitors can get off at Windsor Station, which is on the main street of the town – George Street – and amble past sites that seem frozen in time, including St Matthew’s Anglican Church (built in 1817) and Windsor Court House (built in 1822).

7. Richmond (approx. 1 hr and 15 min from Central)

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Passengers enjoy the bucolic scenes from the train window as Richmond nears; farm animals are a welcome site outside the norm of urban life. Get off at Richmond Station and wander across to the old-style oval over the road. Buy a quarter chicken and fresh salad from a store opposite the oval and grab a coffee from the same strip on the way back.

Graham Smith, 78, was born and bred in Richmond and has lived there his whole life. Mr Smith said he wouldn’t have had it any other way.

“I wouldn’t like to live anywhere else. I’m very happy living in the area,” he said.

“If you lived in the city, I think Richmond is a lovely place to visit.”

Mr Smith named historic buildings, cafes, antique stores and the Royal Australian Air Force Base – where you can watch the planes take off and land – as main attractions.

8. The Hawkesbury River, Brooklyn (approx 1 hr from Central)

The Hawkesbury River offers some of the most pristine views in Sydney, and with the station right in the centre of town, the one hour train trip is definitely the best way to get there.

Catherine Pigneguy owns the local Riverboat Postman, which does day trips during the week and weekend cruises, and also runs the Teahouse at Brooklyn.

“It’s such a tiny little village surrounded by national park, so it feels like a town on its own but it’s still a part of Sydney,” said Ms Pigneguy.

“The cafes here are brilliant and the fish and chips are pretty much straight out of the river. It makes the perfect day trip that’s absolutely totally different from what you’ll see anywhere else.”

Like Mr Rathore from the Blue Mountains, Ms Pigneguy is concerned about what the cancellation of free Opal trips will mean for the town and business.

“The train relieves parking issues in small towns like ours, so if they reduce the incentive to use the train, people will just drive and make parking availability worse.”

9. Newcastle and Merewether (approx 3 hr from Central)

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If you go from one end of Newcastle to the other, you’ll come across a whole range of scenes; from the urban jungle of the city, to the oddly industrial waterfront, to the nostalgic fronts of picket-fenced cottages, to the long stretches of beach. Visitors can get off the train at Hamilton, hop on a bus into town and peak into the trendy pigeon hole cafes, or head down to Merewether Beach.

Rebeccah Warwood, sales and events manager at Merewether Surfhouse, said that visitors love the place because it offers city, surf and suburbia.

“It’s a different, relaxed vibe out here compared to the CBD of Newcastle. It’s a good middle ground between all the buzzing areas,” she said.

“We see dolphins and whales frequently, on most mornings, which is beautiful.”

Ms Warwood said that Newcastle is an ideal spot for Sydneysiders to take a break and relax over the weekend.

10. Moss Vale (approx 1 hr and 45 min from Central)

Sandra Menteith, 65, helps run the local Farmers Market in Moss Vale. She said that her favourite thing about living in a rural town is the country way of life, but new, ‘younger’ business is making the area a lot more interesting.

“In Moss Vale, you can see a lot more traditional things and the way of life living in a regional area, that are perhaps lost when a place gets too developed,” said Ms Menteith.

“There’s a lot of new business and activities emerging in the area – especially ones around food. It’s appropriate, because Moss Vale was traditionally the agricultural centre of the Southern Highlands.”

Ms Menteith said that if people from Sydney tasted Moss Vale’s local produce, they wouldn’t settle for anything less again.

The Sydney Morning Herald: Former politician Pat Farmer to run City2Surf for cancer

Published in The Sydney Morning Herald on August 11, 2016

Online: smh.com.au/…/former-politician-pat-farmer-to-run-city2surf-for-cancer-20160707-gq0lq0

Pat Farmer was 18 when he knew he wanted to run.

Now a holder of several world records, he ended up running around Australia, through the Middle East, and in 2011, more than 20,000 kilometres from the North Pole to South Pole.

“It was, without a doubt, the most incredible feat of endurance I think anybody’s ever done,” he said about the trek, which took more than 10 months.

“I reflect on it now and I don’t even know how I did it myself. You’re in the moment, you plan these things for years, then you just get out there and give it your best shot.”

As a kid, he was inspired by Cliff Young, a potato farmer from Victoria.

Young, at 61, won what Farmer called the “toughest race on earth” – the Sydney to Melbourne Ultramarathon – in the 80s.

“The wonderful thing about that was it showed me that ordinary people could aspire to doing extraordinary things, not just the elite,” he said.

“Cliff will always be the factor behind all my fundraising and everything I’ve done.”

Farmer dedicated his running career to charity from the word go, and has since raised millions for several organisations and causes.

“For me, it’s not even so much about the running, but what I can use the running to do,” he said.

“It’s taking the emphasis on me setting records, running and racing, and putting it on the needy.”

Farmer said that no matter what field he is in, whether it be sport, business or politics, he is always driven by a love of helping others.

Farmer was elected the Liberal MP for Macarthur in 2001, and served in Parliament as the secretary for education, science and training. He says he is disappointed by Australia’s current political climate.

“I think in my days [they] were certainly more focused on public outcomes than their own personal interests,” he said.

“Today’s politicians need to focus on the community that they represent rather than themselves. At the end of the day, you can talk as much as you like, but you really need to hit the ground running and show people what you’re made of.”

Farmer said that if he wasn’t kicked out of the Macarthur seat by his party in 2009 for living out of the electorate, he would still be in politics.

This year, Farmer is training and running alongside the Cancer Council Gold Team – 25 runners doing The Sun-Herald City2Surf, presented by Westpac.

The team hopes to raise more than $165,000 for the charity, and Farmer said they were well on their way.

“As you can imagine, for me, the distance is much shorter than what I would normally compete in,” he said. “But it’s an opportunity to support other runners to realise their best.”

“You’ll see in the City2Surf, ordinary people from all age groups, and even people with a disability, will complete the distance. To me, that’s a gold medal performance and they are the inspiration for ordinary Australians.”

The Sun-Herald City2Surf will be held in Sydney on August 14.

Register online at: www.city2surf.com.au