IAN KIRKWOOD: Understanding sand movement is key to saving the Stockton peninsula from erosion

READING of a proposal to have 200-kilogram hollow “aquatic pyramids” installed as a sea-wall in front of Stockton Surf Life Saving Club set me thinking about all of the other ideas that have been tossed upin the decades-long battle against sea erosion at the southern end of Stockton Bight.
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SWIRLING SANDS: conceptual model of Stockton sand movement. Source: Stockton Beach Sand Nourishment Scoping Study.

As it happens, the first article that I wrote that made the front page of the Newcastle Herald dealt, in the late 1980s, witha plan tobuild groynes at Stockton as a method of erosion control. Later on, there was a push to have an artificial reef, or reefs, with a Lake Macquarie engineer and surfing obsessive, Robert Sirasch, being a vocal proponent. Alert observers will have noticed that nothing came of either idea,but Siraschis still around, and when I spoke with him on Friday, he directed me to a range of reports that have been done on Stockton over the years.

These investigations mean the authorities should have a detailed understanding ofsand movement in and around Stockton Bight.In general terms, sand travelsfrom the south to the north on this part of the coast, but the artificial nature of the entrance to Newcastle harbour tends to impede this movement, as does the unusual depth of the harbour entrance.

The harbour entrance acts as a barrier: sand thatwould normally migrate to the southern end of Stockton Beach does not get there, although the supply is bolsteredfrom time to time when the port authority, dredging clean sand from the harbour entrance, drops it north of the harbour off Stockton, where wave action eventually pushes it in.

The other major impact at Stockton is the sea-wall built on the beach next to Mitchell Street, running some 500 metres from Pembroke Street at the south to Stone Street to the north.

Environmental consultant Doug Lord, who was involved in some of the Stockton studies when he was a coastal manager for the NSW Department of Land and Water Conservation, says the sea-wall stopped the erosion, but the wave pressures remain, so there is very little sand in front of the rocks, especially at high tide.Lord says thishas “pushed the problem north”, meaning thaterosion is increasing north of the sea-wall as the beach “tries to find its new alignment”.

As it happens, this kilometre-long stretch from Stone Street north to the Hunter Water sewage treatment works is also the narrowest strip of coast, with less than 400 metres of low-lying land separating the ocean from the Hunter River, with the edge of Kooragang Island another 500 metres away across the channel.Further north, the impact of erosion diminishes untilan “equilibrium” point is reached, just north of the Stockton Centre, parallel withFern Bay.

PLUSES AND MINUSES: Options on Stockton beach recession management prepared in mid-2000s.

North of here, things are not so critical because there is no beachfront develop and the dune system is still relatively intact.Things are alsostable at the far southern end of Stockton Beach, meaning that all of the pressure is concentrated on that one central area of North Stockton.

A study donefor Newcastle City Council about a decade ago compares a dozen options for the Stockton foreshore, ranging from doing nothing to the most favoured approach, an artificial headland –a triangular-shaped rock headlandsticking out into the surf, beyond the usual line of breakers. But at $25 million, it was also the dearest option, and so nothing has come of it.Shame, really, because as well as the erosion benefits, I can’t help thinking of the great waves such a headland could generate. If we are going to save the coast, we may as well have fun doing it!

Sea-walls and swells: a very Stockton story Seawall facing south

Seawall, facing south

From monument area facing north

Monument area, facing north

Monument area, facing South

Stockton Surf Club

Definition of coastal terms

TweetFacebook Erosion at Stockton after 1999 storm.Images from Stockton Beach Coastal Study, progress report #4, Newcastle City Council, 2006.

Australia Day 2015: Bill Chapman,miners’ rights battler

FIGHT FOR RIGHTS: Bill Chapman is being honoured for his career in the mining industry. Picture: Marina NeilHunter honours list celebrates community role models
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BILL Chapman remembers the first time he went underground as though it were yesterday.

‘‘I was terrified but my family desperately needed the money,’’ he said.

‘‘Most of the old miners knew my family’s predicament though, and they guided me through it.’’

At 15 the former president of the Northern District Mining and Energy Union was forced to enter the mines to help make ends meet after his coalmining father broke his back working underground.

That was 1947, at the Abermain No1 Colliery, and it signalled the beginnings of a career spanning more than 40 years.

Inspired by the struggle to receive compensation for his father’s injury, Mr Chapman became heavily involved in the union movement.

In 1957 he became a union lodge official at Hebburn No2 Colliery.

Less than two decades later, he was the president of the northern district, before eventually becoming the union’s national vice-president.

That placed him squarely in the middle of the Nymboida mine takeover 40kilometres south-west of Grafton.

When the owners of Nymbodia tried to close it in 1975, the men refused to stop working, and Mr Chapman was one of the union leaders who led ‘‘work in’’ protests that eventually saw ownership transferred to the union.

‘‘It was an exciting time, but it was an excitement we could have done without, there were a lot of men, a lot of families, who depended on that mine,’’ he said.

Nymbodia eventually became the union-owned United mine, which operated between the Wambo and Hunter Valley mines near Singleton, and Mr Chapman was the inaugural chairman.

He was also part of setting up a miner’s trust that saw millions of dollars being deposited in the trust fund, providing money to various community projects, including the Hunter Westpac rescue helicopter.

He’s one of 12 Hunter residents receiving an Order of Australia Medal this year, and said it was ‘‘extremely humbling’’.

‘‘It’s something myself and my family never dreamed of but it is very humbling,’’ he said

Real NRL awaits news on Knights input

WAITING: Matt Harris.HOW much funding the Newcastle Rugby League can expect from the Knights this season is no clearer after a meeting on Thursday was postponed until Wednesday next week.
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Newcastle Rugby League chief executive Matt Harris and chairman Trevor Crow were meant to meet Knights board members John Quayle and Phil Gardner on Thursday to discuss the relationship between the local competition and its big brother.

Since the National Rugby League assumed ownership of the Knights from Nathan Tinkler in June it has been unclear whether the previous funding model would be retained.

Before Tinkler’s privatisation, the Knights provided the Newcastle league with $180,000 annually.

That rose to $300,000 under Tinkler’s ownership.

Due to delays in installing the new Knights board in November, and then the Christmas break, Harris has been unable to receive any clarity on funding levels for this season.

“It’s frustrating, but we have to be mindful of the timing of everything and make sure we’re following the right procedures and make sure we get to a resolution sooner rather than later,” Harris said.

Harris said Wednesday’s meeting would not focus on the funding figures, but on how to build a closer relationship between the local league and the Knights.

“The key focus in the proposal we’ll present . . . is what both organisations can offer,” he said.

Harris said closer administrative links between the Newcastle league and the Knights was something he wanted to discuss.

The local league owns its National Park Street base and there are no plans to shift its office to the Knights’ Wests Mayfield headquarters. But Harris has spoken to Knights CEO Matt Gidley about sharing human resources.

The level of Knights funding will also affect the live streaming of games online.

Last season Bar TV and B-live both broadcast matches each weekend through the Newcastle Herald and Newcastle Rugby League websites.

However, in February the Newcastle Rugby League board is expected to choose between Bar TV or B-live due to budget restraints.

“The likelihood is we’ll have one organisation doing the live streaming, therefore it’ll be one game on the weekend,” Harris said.

“While the final decision hasn’t been made, that is the likely outcome.”

Troy Palmer and Newcastle Jets part ways

END OFTHE ROAD: Troy Palmer. Picture: Edwina PicklesHE was the ambitious accountant who backed himself to run two football clubs, and perhaps even the A-League itself.
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Yet after four turbulent years and countless unwanted headlines, Troy Palmer’s stint as a sporting administrator appears to have run into a dead end.

A statement from Newcastle Jets owner Nathan Tinkler on Thursday confirmed that his former right-hand man was no longer associated with what remains of the Hunter Sports Group.

“Troy Palmer has not had an official role since leaving the group in August,” Tinkler said. “Troy was assisting with the sale [of the Jets], but as the club is no longer for sale, this involvement has ceased and we wish him well in the future.”

Palmer, who until recently continued to attend Jets training sessions and press conferences, did not respond to the Newcastle Herald’s attempts to contact him.

The former Bluetongue Brewery general manager approached Tinkler on spec in 2008 and was soon employed as a financial controller for the tycoon’s myriad business ventures.

After helping Tinkler establish his Patinack Farm horse-racing stud, he was appointed chief executive of HSG, the company created to manage the Newcastle Knights and Jets.

At its peak, HSG owned not only the Knights and Jets, but hundreds of racehorses, a Porsche car racing team, sponsored Surfest and underwrote international netball Tests played in Newcastle.

And Palmer was eyeing even bigger conquests.

In May, 2011, after a meeting with key stakeholders, he declared: “Basketball is a key part of our sports strategy and we believe Newcastle deserves to have an NBL and WNBL team.”

The following day, Palmer revealed Tinkler had offered $25 million to take over the A-League, a deal that was ultimately rejected by Football Federation Australia.

“We just said, ‘Is there a better model?”‘ Palmer said at the time. “Our proposal was to help the FFA and the A-League management team to ensure it is a success.”

Yet things soon turned sour.

Less than a year later, Palmer fronted a press conference to declare Tinkler was handing back the Jets licence, labelling the A-League “unsustainable”.

Tinkler subsequently relented, but Palmer’s role would not be forgotten in FFA’s corridors of power.

Two years later, he was heavily involved in the long and bitter wrangle that culminated in the NRL ousting Tinkler as Knights owner.

Tinkler could now be facing a similar battle to retain Newcastle’s A-League franchise, this time without his long-time confidant.

But to suggest Tinkler and Palmer have gone their separate ways would be premature.

There is the small matter of an ICAC inquiry still unresolved. And, in March, both will appear in Adelaide Supreme Court to face Patinack Farm Administration creditors chasing $4.7 million they are allegedly owed.

Newcastle Jets stocks ever thinner after striker ruled out

UNAVAILABLE: Jeronimo will miss the trip to Adelaide with a shoulder injury. Picture: Jonathan CarrollAN injury that will cost Jeronimo an Adelaide homecoming has further reduced Jets coach Phil Stubbins’ options for Saturday’s game at Coopers Stadium.
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Jeronimo dislocated his shoulder in Newcastle’s most recent match, the scoreless draw with Sydney 20 days ago, but at the time Stubbins was optimistic the three-week hiatus between games would ensure the Argentine striker was “fine”.

But at training on Thursday Jeronimo did not join his teammates, instead working alone with the club’s conditioning staff.

He is not available to play against his former club but is expected to be cleared for the Jets’ next match, at home to Brisbane on February 6.

The setback for Jeronimo, who has scored three of the Jets’ 12 goals this season, including the winner against Adelaide on December 19, means Stubbins will have four fewer players at his disposal this week than he did for the Sydney game.

Marcos Flores and Sam Gallaway have departed during the January transfer window, while winger James Virgili suffered a broken ankle at training that could sideline him for the rest of the season.

The Jets are also still to replace Irishman Jonny Steele, who signed with Minnesota United after just two games in Jets colours.

Despite Stubbins stating that he hoped to reinforce his roster with as many as four players before the transfer window closes at midnight on February 2, there had been no announcements by Thursday.

One addition the coach will welcome is midfielder Billy Celeski, who will return on Saturday from a groin injury, probably off the bench.

The former Melbourne Victory playmaker has been restricted to just four appearances since joining Newcastle, most recently an eight-minute stint against Wellington on December 6.

“If I am involved, it won’t be from the start,” Celeski said.

“I’ll have to be coming off the bench. I’ll have to have a chat with the gaffer about it.”

Celeski said it had been frustrating spending so much of the season in rehabilitation, but he had been back in full training for almost a month.

“We’re obviously going to keep trying until it’s mathematically impossible for us to get into that top six. We’ve got pride to play for.”

Farmer turns unwanted land into site for education

FLOOD-PRONE PARADISE: Nobody wanted this land, which Rick Barker turned into a fertile farm and education centre. Picture: Peter StoopIT’S the total opposite of your traditional mega-scale, mostly single-crop, pest-prone and chemical-dependent agriculture business.
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For the past 30 years, Rick Barker has been creating a one-man, high value-added, intensive 9.5-hectare permaculture farm on his Marsh Road property at Bob’s Farm. His dream, which started with buying flood-prone land that “no one else wanted” for $15,000 in 1985, has resulted in the Tilligerry Permaculture Research and Education Farm.

Permaculture uses techniques to harness ancient farming principles and embraces an ethic of healing the land’s wounds and sharing its abundance.

It’s a message Mr Barker is now enthusiastically sharing with hundreds of school children, university students and international visitors.

“What we have is an example of another way of doing things, based on natural science,” he said.

“This place is on the pulse of Mother Nature. The needs of the system are provided by the system and it does not waste or pollute.”

The chicken shelter helps control certain insects on the farm and there is no town water or sewerage.

Mr Barker’s last electricity bill was $2.91. The farm has a wind generator, or turbine, that provides 12-volt electricity to run lighting.

The farm grows its own soil and its own fertiliser and uses its own water.

There are two main buildings on the property that were built with mainly re-used materials. One is used as a residence and the other to hold workshops teaching about companion planting, food forests, seed saving, aquaculture, bush tucker, water patterns and medicinal and culinary herbs.

“Twenty years ago, people wanted to whack you with a stick for being different. Now people’s consciousness has changed and there has been a move towards better questions and people embracing a different way of doing things,” Mr Barker said.

Drums sound defeat for Uzbekistan

The biggest drum carried into AAMI Park by the Uzbeks on Thursday evening was not quite as big as a bass drum nor as flat in tone. It was loud, persistent, urgent.
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There were several other drums, lighter ones, and during the match they had varied the beat like a dance band trying to cajole a winning tempo for their players. But now it was over and Uzbekistan had lost the quarter-final 2-0. The crowd had numbered 23,381. The Uzbeks numbered 300 and yet, for the whole of the game, they made it sound like there were two teams in the stadium, two proud nations competing.

The lead drummer was a big-chested man with a round face. With the final whistle, his head dropped and I saw tears in his eyes. Then he started again, finding a new beat through the emotion, a solemn tone to accompany a virtuous defeat.  The Uzbeks had been brave. They had kept coming all night. Khaidarov, who had finished the match wearing the captain’s armband, came down and applauded the gallant three hundred. Denisov, the stylish left-back, followed, taking off his shirt and throwing it to the supporters.

At the other end of the ground, throughout the match, a sea of South Koreans in red shirts waved inflatable clappers. Late in the match, after Son Hueng-min scored his second goal, the Koreans turned to song and a pleasant sound like a musical wind passed round the stadium. With the Uzbeks it was non-stop drums and chants although, after Son scored his first goal in extra time, the drumming ominously stopped for a period of perhaps a minute.

That goal came after panic beset the Uzbekistan defence. The ball buzzed around the Uzbekistan goal while Son twice tried to get more than one touch on it and thereby bring it under his control but, in so doing, was pounced on by Uzbek defenders. When it ricocheted back for a third time Son met the ball with his head and Nesterov, the stocky Uzbekistan goalkeeper, was beaten.

I’d met the Uzbeks before the game outside the stadium. Shahina Ahad, the Dandenong restaurant owner who had been responsible for drumming up a crew of Uzbekistan supporters, came with her mother, two-year-old daughter and husband. Uzbekistan needed every person it could get. There are only 70 Uzbeks in Melbourne but others had come from Sydney and Adelaide. One family flew in from Canada.

I’d only been sitting with them a couple of minutes when I was draped in the Uzbekistan flag. I saw a woman nearby clutching another Uzbekistan flag, asking, “Is this the right way to hold it up?” She, too, had been inducted into the Uzbek clan.

A charming young man called Abdurakhmon was the “boss”. He called the change of beats, started chants, incited whistling. He wore a clown’s wig that boasted four fluorescent colours. Pre-match and well into the game, Abdurakhmon was also engaged in running a ticket exchange.

No area had been set aside for the Uzbekistan cheer squad. They simply claimed one and then offered up their tickets as the true owners of the seats, many of them Koreans, arrived. The whole thing was fluid and half-legal, police and security staff hovered around, but no one seemed too bothered. What mattered was out there, on the pitch.

Before the match, I had spoken with Roma, a 19-year-old Uzbek in Melbourne studying commerce. He said the Uzbekistan supporters had spoken with “our players”  the previous day. “They really want to win,” he said. “They have the energy to win.” His favourite player was Sardor Rashidov and, in the course of the game, I saw why. Rashidov has a measure of magic in his feet; he can make his way through and past defenders and was involved in most of Uzbekistan’s best attacks.

Nesterov, the Uzbekistan goalkeeper, had done his warm-up in front of the goal occupied by the Uzbeks. A trainer shot balls at him. He saved to the left, he saved to the right. One passed him; he plucked the ball from the back of his net with palpable regret. He produced a first-class save in the first half, flinging his body to deflect a ball headed for the top left-hand of his net.

But, by the end of the match, Son had beaten him twice, the last time four minutes from the end. Son, who plays for Bayer Leverkusen in the Bungesliga, is an interesting player; he runs around, perfectly poised, with a gait that makes him look like he’s permanently tipped forward. When he acts, it’s decisive.

I approached Shahina, who was wearing traditional dress, in the immediate aftermath of the defeat. Her husband, Alisher, looked shattered. She shrugged and said, “It’s only a game”, but I could see her sadness. It was only a game but it had been that and more than that for the Melbourne Uzbeks.

Australia Day 2015: Hunter honours list celebrates community role models

Kevin Berger, from Newcastle East, the founder and executive director of the St Philips Christian School’s DALE program, and now, OAM recipient. Picture: Simone De Peak. EDITORIAL: Honours list reflects our ideals
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Genevieve Clay-Smith relishes award nomination

Bill Chapman, miners’ rights battler

Tony Lang police, army chaplain

A DOZEN of the Hunter’s citizens have been held up as role models to help ‘‘define, encourage and reinforce our national aspirations’’.

The 12 residents join 613 others from across the country being recognised as part of the annual Australia Day Honours. They are commended for everything from professional achievements to community service and volunteering.

Last year, the Hunter’s recipients were littered with the local contingent of London Olympics stars such as gold-medal winning sailors Nathan Outteridge, Iain Jensen and Tom Slingsby.

This year’s award list contains less household names, but all 12 of the new Order of Australia members have made significant contributions to the Hunter Region.

Like Kevin Berger, from Newcastle East, the founder and executive director of the St Philips Christian School’s DALE program.

The program, founded at the urging of Mr Berger in 1997, supports at-risk and special needs youth to remain at school and continue their education.

The school also offers a separate program for young mothers seeking to complete the high school certificate.

‘‘One of the biggest changes you see in the kids is confidence,’’ Mr Berger said.

‘‘Often they’re coming from a situation where they’ve had a lot of negativity directed their way, and often an encouraging environment opens up a lot of gifts and skills that weren’t being noticed before.’’

Margaret Sulman has volunteered at the Mater for more than 20 years and has been included in this year’s Australia Day honours. Picture Jonathan Carroll

Margaret Sulman, from Marmong Point, has been a volunteer at the Calvary Mater hospital since 1992.

Mrs Sulman, known as Maggie, has been a regular face for more than two decades, working in ‘‘many, many roles’’, from manning the front desk to helping to co-ordinate the hospital’s volunteers and organising fund-raising events.

‘‘I always say to people, ask me how to get rich without being paid,’’ she said.

Other Hunter residents who received the Order of Australia were:

●Dr Alan Beard, from Valentine, who has volunteered in numerous organisations such as Rotary in Lake Macquarie since 1978.

● Norma Clarke, from New Lambton, for more than 50years of services to lawn bowls, including serving as president of the Alder Park Women’s Bowling Club and the Newcastle District Women’s Bowling Association.

●Norma Clarke, from New Lambton, for more than 50years of services to lawn bowls, including serving as president of the Alder Park Women’s Bowling Club and the Newcastle District Women’s Bowling Association.

●John Rumball, recognised for his long and various contributions to the ambulance service, the Hamilton Returned Services League and his chairmanship of the Hunter Melanoma Foundation from 1996 to 2000.

●Antony Todman, from Quirindi, for more than 40years working with the Royal Institute of Deaf and Blind Children.

●David Williams, for his long service to Singleton, including the Northern Agricultural Association.

●The Reverend Tony Lang, a long-serving army and police chaplain.

● Arthur Baker, from Bulahdelah, for his work for more than a decade on the Pacific Highway Upgrade Committee.

●Arthur Baker, from Bulahdelah, for his work for more than a decade on the Pacific Highway Upgrade Committee.

●Bill Chapman, from Dora Creek, the founding chairman of the Union-owned United Collieries, who helped establish a Mine Workers Trust.

●Kathleen Milford, from North Arm Cove, for services to the community, including membership of the Kurri Kurri Lions Club since 1992 and a foundation member of the Kurri Kurri Tidy Towns association since 1988.

● Darren McManus-Smith, from Morisset, for his service to veterans and their families.

●Darren McManus-Smith, from Morisset, for his service to veterans and their families.

Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove offered his congratulations to the award recipients and expressed his gratitude for their contributions to the nation.

‘‘We are fortunate as a community to have so many outstanding people willing to dedicate themselves to the betterment our nation, and it is only fitting that they have today been recognised through the Australian Honours system,’’ he said.

This year is the 40th awards and winners join more than 40,000 other Australians who’ve been recognised.

‘‘Since 1975, these awards have drawn national attention to the personal efforts of individuals, made willingly, without thought of recognition or recompense,’’ Mr Cosgrove said.

OBITUARY: William Keith Rudkin – talent coupled with charm

TRADEMARK SMILE: Keith Rudkin on his computer at work. Picture: Ryan OslandWilliam Keith Rudkin,
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WELL-known Newcastle business identity, singer and amateur theatre actor William ‘‘Keith’’ Rudkin passed away on January 1.

He was 81.

For more than 27 years, Keith was the driving force behind the eponymous Keith Rudkin Copy Centre on Darby Street.

He considered customers to be among his friends, and he would often work through the night to complete a job, which was always delivered early the next morning with his trademark good humour and a smile.

Born in Gloucester, NSW, on February 1, 1933, he was the first child of Keith and Grace Rudkin.

He had two brothers, Ron and Barry.

The family lived in Stockton, Abermain, Singleton and East Maitland during Keith’s formative years.

He worked on a milk run in Singleton, and then on an ice run while he attended Maitland Boys’ High School.

After school he worked at the Zaara Street Power Station in Newcastle before training as a radio technician at Ballarat with the Royal Australian Air Force.

In 1954 he married Elizabeth Eve (Betty) Wallace at Ballarat and they had two daughters, Christine and Lianne.

While stationed at Williamtown Airbase, Keith went to a hotel in Newcastle with some of his RAAF buddies.

FLESH SUPPLIES: Keith Rudkin and Nola Wallace in Sweeney Todd.

The band performing on the night asked the audience if anyone would like to get up and sing.

Keith’s mates pushed him up onto the stage.

Soon after, Keith began performing with the late Claude Moore on the hotel lounge and club circuit in Newcastle and Port Stephens.

He also had a spot on the radio with Matthew Tapp, who would pre-record songs in the studio.

Keith said it had been strange to be driving along and hear himself singing The Donkey Serenade on the radio.

In 1968 his wife Betty died from leukaemia.

Two years later he married Elizabeth Wansey, a photographer at Raymond Terrace.

Keith and his daughters moved to Raymond Terrace and they became a family of five with Elizabeth’s daughter, Carolyn.

In 1972 another daughter, Emma, was born.

Keith was working as a technician for Xerox, and was the area manager for a district that extended to Armidale and Moree.

Rather than spend so much time on the road, Keith got his pilot’s licence and flew to appointments instead.

Then in the early 1980s, Xerox decided to trial copy services in the region, with Keith at the helm of the Newcastle branch.

CARBON COPY: A caricature of Keith by Herald cartoonist Peter Lewis

He eventually bought the successful business and re-branded it as the Keith Rudkin Copy Centre.

His motto was ‘‘I can copy just about anything’’ until he retired in 2008.

During the mid-’80s, Keith attended an acting class conducted by Newcastle amateur theatre personality Don McEwen.

Soon afterwards he was cast as the villain Jud Fry in Oklahoma!, and as the lead role in Sweeney Todd alongside Nola Wallace.

He received CONDA nominations for his performances in both productions.

Of Keith’s role in Oklahoma! the Newcastle Herald theatre critic Ken Longworth wrote: “The show had a standout performance from Keith Rudkin as the suppressed, mentally-twisted farmhand Jud Fry. His Jud has a brooding menace which chills the spine when he sings of his frustration and hatred in Lonely Room.’’

Keith also starred in some television advertisements, including one for Kloster Ford.

He told friends they’d had to do several takes because he kept saying ‘‘you should go to Foster Claud’’.

Keith was also involved with the Raymond Terrace Art Show Committee, the Newcastle Forum Club, and his local church parishes at Raymond Terrace and Mayfield.

He married his third wife, Valerie Hamson, in 1999 and gained four step-children. He had five grandchildren and 10 step-grandchildren.

Valerie met Keith as a customer at his business.

‘‘We both owned a red Renault Fuego – a sporty little car,’’ she said.

Their common interest led to romance.

Valerie will cherish memories of Keith’s charming smile and soothing voice. She would miss his loving nature and determination to get things done sooner than later.

‘‘I consider him my rock – a solid, dependable and caring person who took care of the little things, and of me,’’ she said.

‘‘Keith was blessed with intelligence, spoke with a clear and educated voice, could sing, had the ability to act, displayed a sound work ethic, had good social skills.

‘‘He was a loyal and trusting friend, sincere in his dealings with people and always enjoyed being with kids.

‘‘Young and old alike were drawn to his presence.

‘‘When told he had inoperable lung cancer, Keith said he had had a good and interesting life, and now he wouldn’t have to worry about getting dementia!’’

Has France become a dangerous destination for travellers?

The world’s most visited country: France welcomed almost 85 million foreign travellers in 2013. The world’s most visited country: France welcomed almost 85 million foreign travellers in 2013.
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The world’s most visited country: France welcomed almost 85 million foreign travellers in 2013.

The world’s most visited country: France welcomed almost 85 million foreign travellers in 2013.

The recent terrorist attacks in Paris are no reason to avoid France.

To underwrite the safety of its own citizens and everyone else on its soil, the French government has deployed massive numbers of police and military forces on the streets of Paris, in other cities and in sensitive areas throughout the country. The deployment is part of a suite of security measures it is hoped will be sufficient to dampen the enthusiasm of any would-be terrorists who might be considering follow-up attacks.

For France, much is at stake besides public safety. France is the world’s most visited country, and welcomed almost 85 million foreign travellers in 2013. Tourism is worth $212 billion to its economy, which amounts to about 7 per cent of French GDP. In the Ile-de-France region, an area that includes Paris, the tourism industry employs 550,000 people. It is the country’s biggest industry.

For visitors, the enhanced security means additional screening at museums, galleries and places of worship, possibly causing delays and inconvenience. There is a possibility of being stopped, questioned and searched by police.

For travellers who might want to visit France but are concerned what the additional security might mean for their holiday, regional France and the smaller French cities might be preferable to Paris.

The Australian Government has not upgraded the advice for France on Smart Traveller, its travel website, as a result of recent events in Paris. It advises travellers visiting France should “exercise normal safety precautions”, the lowest rung on its travel advisory scale.