Former coach tips podium finish for Porte

Richie PorteTHE coach who set Richie Porte on the road to cycling stardom has no doubt where he is heading in this year’s Tour de France.
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“I expect to see a Tasmanian on the podium in Paris,” said Andrew Christie-Johnston as his star pupil surged up to second in the world’s biggest bike race.

“He’s doing very well. There’s only one guy in front of him.

“I’m sure he would love to finish on the podium, but he’s second so why not shoot for the win?”

On the first rest day of the three-week Grand Tour, the Launceston rider sits 2 minutes 23 seconds behind stage 10 winner Vincenzo Nibali.

With two-time winner Alberto Contador joining reigning champion Chris Froome among the high-profile withdrawals, Porte has narrowed to a $6.50 second favourite, having begun the Tour as a $67 outsider.

Christie-Johnston helped Porte transition from a triathlete when he joined the Tasmanian-based Praties team before breaking into the pro ranks in Europe and remains in daily contact with the 29-year-old.

“We exchange emails or texts at the end of each stage and he sounds very calm about it all,” he said.

“It’s nice to hear how he is feeling after each stage. He is confident.

“He’s in great form. I think he’s handling it very well.”

Christie-Johnston said it had been a tough season for Porte who was expected to lead Team Sky into the Giro d’Italia but was forced to withdraw through illness.

This left him fresher for the Tour de France and in better shape to fill Froome’s shoes as lead rider.

He believes Porte has what it takes to beat Nibali as well as third-placed Alejandro Valverde, American hope Tejay van Garderen and reigning world champion Rui Costa and suspects the result may be determined by the penultimate stage 54-kilometre individual time trial into Perigueux.

“The way it’s going I think it will come down to the time trial to decide the podium.

“Richie has not done a time trial for a while but he’s always been very good at them.

“He’s lighter than he’s ever been and when they come later in tours he is at his best, but it’s hard to say whether he can out-time-trial Nibali.

“It’s amazing when you look at his time trials, how many times Richie has been in the top few riders. He’ll be strong and will need to be.

“I do think he will finish on the podium because the other people he has to content with I don’t think are as good at the time trial. I don’t think Valverde has even beaten Richie in a time trial.”

With some 1700 kilometres still to ride, Christie-Johnston said anything could happen and consistency would be pivotal to the result.

“At the moment it seems that something major is happening every night,” he said.

“It’s not so much about necessarily having super days just making sure you don’t have bad days when rivals can put a lot of time into you.”

Despite being on holiday in Queensland with his family, the 41-year-old manager of the renamed Avanti Racing Team said he was glued to his television each night cheering on Porte.

“He will always be part of our team. He always wants to be part of our training camps, he stays with us at nationals and is a part of our family.

“It’s a team sport and he remembers where he came from and we’re very grateful for that.

“If he were to finish on the podium it would be massive for Tasmanian cycling but also for Australian cycling.”

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Chicken on the path to world domination: OECD

Free range chickens laying eggs Photo: Jessica Shapiro The taste for chicken in growing. Photo: Marcel Aucar
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The art of cooking of cooking the perfect roast chicken

Once, pork could do no wrong. It was cheap, plentiful and versatile. Now its day is done.

The OECD-FAO Agricultural Outlook 2014 report has revealed that the world’s insatiable appetite for chicken is surging to new highs.

“Currently, pork accounts for the greatest share in world total meat production,” the OECD report said. “However, a comparatively slower growth rate through the next decade will result in it being surpassed by poultry by 2020.”

Increasingly pork and beef are being left behind by consumers more interested in the cheaper poultry alternative.

Australia consumption habits mirror the global trend. A report from Griffith University released in 2013 shows that chicken is king in the Australian market.

Out of the 111 kilograms of meat consumed per capita by Australians each year, 43 kilograms of that was chicken.

 

By comparison, Australians are spending nearly twice as much on beef as they are on chicken – for half the amount of consumption.

 

Worldwide, chicken remains the cheapest and most accessible meat.

The OECD report found that unlike pork, which is not eaten by Jews or Muslims, “poultry faces few cultural barriers related to its consumption across geographical areas”.

However there remain lingering concerns over the welfare of chickens bred for their meat on Australian farms.

“More than 85 per cent of meat chickens in Australia are raised in conventional systems,” said the RSPCA in a statement. “These sheds can hold up to 60,000 birds. This high stocking density results in lack of space, which can increase the risk of lameness and even death from heat stress. Chickens can also suffer feet and hock burn and breast blisters.”

“The low space allowance, inadequate lighting and barren environments can lead to serious welfare issues, even death.”

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LETTERS: Driving lessons not learnt

I WRITE regarding the sad death of Mitchell Powell and the ongoing “hoon activity” in the Newcastle area (“Devastated parents call for car checks” Herald 12/7).
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Firstly, let me say that as a former supervising sergeant of both Lake Macquarie and Newcastle local area police commands I believe the current police traffic enforcement strategies have gone off the rails.

It looked promising when the powers-that-be finally decided to put highway patrol strengths back under the command of experienced traffic officers and not to be used as a back-up to general duties strengths.

That sounded like very smart thinking to me in combating our road toll.

On speaking with current serving traffic police, it apparently could be better.

Penalties imposed by the courts are continuing to be a complete disgrace.

In the case of the sad death of Mitchell Powell I believe that is clearly the case.

I am sure the young driver would be remorseful but it seems to be a very inadequate determination by the courts, particularly on licence suspension.

Perhaps police school lecturing, a section I also worked in for a short time in the late 1970s, needs to be re-introduced on a constant basis?

Finally, the hoon” activity on both Kooragang Island and the Nobbys car park area.

This has been going on for decades and the entire article I read in the Herald could have been written back in the 1990s or even further.

These young drivers need a licensed/supervised area where they can vent their driving skills without endangering the public and themselves.

Authorities, other than the police force, just want it left to police to solve. Well, as you can see it hasn’t been solved.

It cannot be left to the police to eradicate the problem. Get serious please.

2633 students suspended

STATE schools dished out suspensions to an average of 13 students a day across last year’s four terms.
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While suspension figures in the state have declined in the past six years, Victoria University education Professor Roger Slee criticised the overuse of suspensions.

The method has been described by some academics as a violation of a child’s human rights.

Professor Slee will speak at today’s national summit in South Australia that will look at the management of student behaviours and will be overseen by National Children’s Commissioner Megan Mitchell.

Professor Slee said the 2633 students suspended in 2013 _ representing 4.8 per cent of Tasmanian students _ was high.

“Suspension tells us not so much about student behaviour but more about the organisational climate and policies of schools,” Professor Slee said.

“If you want to affect student behaviour, the more you work on improving the quality of teaching, learning and engaging with the curriculum, and have decent surroundings for young people to be working in, there will be a much better effect than using punitive disciplinary sanctions.”

Students have previously been suspended mostly for physical abuse of students and teachers, followed by disobedience, verbal abuse, drug use, and sex or weapon-related issues.

Education Department secretary Colin Pettit said safety was a high priority in all schools, with suspension being a method to combat inappropriate behaviours.

“It is an unfortunate fact of life that serious inappropriate behaviour can occur in all parts of society, including our schools,” Mr Pettit said.

“We have in place a number of strategies to help combat unacceptable behaviour, of which suspension and exclusion are last resorts,” Mr Pettit said.

Last year, acting Children’s Commissioner Elizabeth Daly reviewed student suspensions and found they were ineffective because they failed to address underlying issues in children.

Her report states a majority of suspensions were given to males, of low socio-economic status, aged 14 to 15, and that the method increased anti-social behaviours and lowered academic achievements and retention rates.

National Summit organiser Dr Anna Sullivan said suspension could be viewed as a breach of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Dr Sullivan said the aim of the summit was to re-examine what happens in schools to see what can be done differently.

“If you respond with interventions like time-out, exclusions or suspensions, it isn’t going to help fix that problem and if you continually remove kids from their learning we are wondering if that breaches their right to an education,” Dr Sullivan said.

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OPINION: Charged with relativity

WHILE I promise to return to Earth – and possibly even to matters pertaining directly to the Hunter – tomorrow, an email from reader Eric Aitchison compels me to spend a final day on Saturn’s polar hexagon.
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“I know you cannot keep this going indefinitely,” Aitchison wrote to me on Tuesday morning.

“But the phenomenon is electrical, as diagnosed by Australian physicist Wal Thornhill, of Canberra.”

My initial response was to think this sounded more sensible than winds running in straight lines for 14,000 kilometres and before turning 60 degrees and running for another 14,000 kilometres, and so on, until they joined up again, but Thornhill’s theories, as I soon learnt, are not exactly mainstream.

His material is set out on two websites – holoscience南京夜网 and thunderbolts.info – and his main thesis is the “electric universe”, which astronomers and others are “unable to see that stars are simply electric lights strung along invisible cosmic power lines that are detectable by their magnetic fields and radio noise”.

Thornhill says the Big Bang – the idea that the universe appeared instantaneously – is dead, and that his model of an electrically charged universe explains spiral galaxies and other repetitive patterns of star clusters far better than “theoretical inventions” including “dark matter” and “dark energy”.

Pointing out – correctly as far as I know – that science has no real explanation for the generation of lightning in our weather, Thornhill says that craters on the moon and other planets are the result of “electrical arc scarring” rather than impact craters from meteors and that stars are “electrical transformers not thermonuclear devices”.

Now I don’t know how much of this stands up to rigorous analysis. Most scientifically trained people will probably say very little.

But it’s our propensity, as conscious beings, to question what goes on around us, and the history of science is littered with once certain theories that have turned out to be wildly wrong.

I am stating the obvious but the internet is full of websites like Thornhill’s, postulating all sorts of different belief systems across the full spectrum of human belief.

Indeed – in another snippet I learnt from Radio National’s Science Show – the United States-based Australian science writer Margaret Wertheim, a University of Sydney-trained physicist, wrote about them at length in her recent book Physics On The Fringe.

As it happens, Newcastle house painter Norman Vallejo – who painted the inside of our place and did a sensational job, by the way – has published his own book, Trans-dimensional Evolution, which he says contains formal disproofs of both Darwin’s theory of evolution and Einstein’s theory of relativity.

Since 2010, he has offered a $10,000 cash prize – details at normanchristophervallejo南京夜网.au – to anyone who can disprove what he says.

It is easy to dismiss things like this but it is hard to deny a group-think when it comes to science and the various enthusiasms that grab academia, and the funding bodies, from time to time.

While the data should always rule, so much of science is experimental and theoretical that the data may not be found – or found missing – until a lot of time and money has been allocated.

In The Perfect Theory: A Century of Geniuses and the Battle Over General Relativity (Hachette, $32.99), physicist Pedro G. Ferreira traces the rise and fall of various specialities as they raced each other both for recognition – all those Nobel prizes – and funding, including battles between warring camps of academics insisting that their way was right, and everyone else was wrong.

As Ferreira observes in the closing chapters of the book, the conventional wisdom at the moment is that 96 per cent of the universe is made of “dark matter” that we haven’t found yet because that’s what the maths tells us must be there.

But if the science is so obtuse, and so contested that even paragons of academia don’t accept – or perhaps even understand – the implications of each other’s work, who’s to say that science outsiders like Thornhill and Vallejo aren’t right, or even right enough to merit consideration?

Hells Angels ‘threatened to bash building boss’

Under investigation: Hells Angels are being investigated by police over alleged threats to bash Andrew Zaf. Photo: Wolter PeetersDetectives are investigating allegations that Hells Angels associates hired to intervene in a building industry dispute threatened to bash a building contractor just days after he gave royal commission evidence about crime in the sector.
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The Victoria Police anti-bikie Echo Taskforce is overseeing an investigation into an incident on Saturday in which two men allegedly bearing weapons, including the son of Hells Angels boss Peter Hewat, threatened to bash Andrew Zaf over a disputed debt.

The allegations are corroborated by two witness statements and audio and video recordings, including a short video showing a Hells Angels-owned tow truck removing a car that was blocking the bikie associates from entering a building site.

The revelations highlight the impunity with which organised crime figures continue to operate in the building industry.

They also raise fresh questions about why the state government has not acted on repeated police requests to introduce laws to licence debt collectors, tow truck drivers and building industry “mediators” with crime links.

The revelations have no connection to the building union or Mr Zaf’s claims to the royal commission last week about alleged corruption involving its officials. However, Mr Zaf’s commission witness statement also detailed the involvement of crime figures in the industry and he has separately made allegations in the media about the role of bikies in the sector.

The fresh evidence of bikie involvement comes after the royal commission heard allegations on Tuesday about the ties between the NSW branch of the CFMEU and suspected Sydney crime figure George Alex, who has close ties to the Comanchero outlaw motorcycle gang.

Former veteran CFMEU official turned whistleblower Brian Fitzpatrick said in sworn evidence that he received a death threat from fellow union official Darren Greenfield after questioning the union’s support of Mr Alex’s crooked building companies and their repeated failure to pay union members superannuation and other benefits.

A recording of Mr Fitzpatrick reporting the threat to police soon after it occurred was also played to the commission.

The incident in Melbourne on Saturday involving Mr Zaf occurred at an excavation site in Melbourne’s outer north.

Echo Taskforce Inspector Ian Campbell said his detectives were overseeing an investigation into the incident.

“The Hewats and the Hells Angels are one of the major focuses of police and we are monitoring this situation closely,” he said.

Fairfax Media has obtained video footage that shows an 888 tow truck, which is owned by Peter Hewat, parked at the front of the site where Mr Zaf was performing earth works with a second man.

Last year, in a widely reported raid, police searched the premises of 888 Towing and allegedly uncovered ecstasy, a taser stun gun, boxes of bullets, a stolen excavator and a rebirthed truck.

Mr Zaf and a witness have told Victoria Police that two men, including Mr Hewat’s son, Beau Hewat, threatened Mr Zaf while holding bars after Mr Zaf refused to allow them to remove a machine from the site.

Beau Hewat is a close associate of the Hells Angels and has been previously recorded on phone taps operating the 888 business on the orders of his father.

The machine Mr Hewat was seeking to remove is owned by Melbourne building company Maxstra and was being held by Mr Zaf as security for a debt he claimed was owed to him by Maxstra. Maxstra had organised for 888 Towing to attend Mr Zaf’s site after he had earlier demanded the firm pay his debt.

Mr Zaf and a witness have alleged to police that after Mr Zaf parked his car in front of the entrance to the site and called triple-0, Mr Hewat and his associate used the tow truck to pull Mr Zaf’s car away from the site entrance.

Mr Zaf’s police statement says that after he locked himself inside an excavator, Beau Hewat approached him with “a steel tyre lever in his left hand”.

”The passenger [of the tow truck] had a polished wood bat in his right hand.” The pair allegedly threatened Mr Zaf.

“I panicked and called 000 again,” Mr Zaf said.

A witness is heard on a video recording made immediately after the incident that “Hells Angels” had made threats “with a baseball bat”.

On Tuesday this week, three days after police launched an investigation into the Saturday incident, Maxstra moved to repay the debt to Mr Zaf. Mr Zaf has informed police about this offer.

A Maxstra senior employee, Frank Nadinic, told Fairfax Media that while he was aware the company had ordered a tow truck to Mr Zaf’s building site, he was unaware of the involvement of bikies.

Fairfax Media has previously reported that two serving Victorian building union officials are linked to the rebels outlaw bikie club and that, in 2005, the then fiancee of Victorian union boss John Setka briefly owned a construction business with Queensland Hells Angels boss Errol Gildea.

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Hot McCoull could be the punters’ pal

Leading jockey Brendon McCoull rode five winners at Elwick on Sunday.STILL riding on a high after a handful of winners at Elwick, top jockey Brendon McCoull has the chance to continue a big week at Spreyton Park today.
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McCoull landed five winners at a meeting for the fourth time in his career in a satisfying afternoon at Elwick.

It has given the 40-year-old a 20-win advantage in the Tasmanian jockeys premiership, a title he is poised to win for the 14th time.

McCoull has four rides on the seven-event program at Spreyton this afternoon and all have undeniable chances.

He kicks off the afternoon with the John Blacker-trained Flying Stevie in the opening race.

Flying Stevie has been placed in three of his of four starts this preparation and at his latest appearance was beaten by a long neck by Sid The Sloth at this track on July 6.

Sid The Sloth was ridden by McCoull 10 days ago and he has retained the ride on the chestnut in the third race.

It is always a difficult assignment stepping from a maiden to a class 1 but the three-year-old shows an affinity with the synthetic track and he is prepared by top, local trainer Adam Trinder.

McCoull’s last two rides are Genuine Lad and Osborne for Longford trainer Bill Ryan.

Genuine Lad has won his past two starts at Spreyton, the latest on July 6 when he dashed away from a handy field to win by three lengths.

He is a promising stayer, well suited to the 1880 metres and today is likely to be his last run before heading for a spell and being prepared for the summer racing carnival.

Osborne has won or been placed at five of his seven starts and makes a return in the final race after not racing since April 16.

It will be his first start on the synthetic surface but with McCoull having the opportunity to ride nine winners in the space of four days expect him to be given every chance.

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Australian mechanic recovering in hospital after being gored in Pamplona

Warning: Graphic images below.
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An Adelaide mechanic who was gored in Spain’s infamous running of the bulls in Pamplona is recovering from surgery and had a lucky escape from serious damage to his vital organs.

But he is still in shock from the brutal attack, local media reported.

Jason Gilbert, 26, from Adelaide Hills, was cornered then lunged at by Olivito, 595kg bull, after it became separated from the herd when it fell turning a corner.

He was seriously injured in the chest, abdomen and leg, was treated on the scene then taken to the local hospital.

Mr Guilbert told the Noticias de Navarra that he was two weeks into a six week tour of Europe, arriving in Pamplona from San Sebastian with three friends.

He dropped off his luggage on Sunday in a flat he found on a ‘couchsurfing’ website then toured the town to check out the festival of San Fermin.

After watching a bullfight and talking to a local, he decided to take part in the final run of the festival, he told the Daily Mail.

“(The local) told me about the number of people who take part and the number of people who get injured every year and I thought ‘why not?’,” he said.

“I grew up in a regional town and have seen a lot of cattle so I know how powerful bulls are. What shocked me about the bull that gored me was just how aggressive it was.”

He didn’t see the bull fall but realised he was in trouble when it trapped him against the wall, he told the Mail.

“I felt like I was running for my life as it chased after me the first time it gored me. I was in pain and I knew it was bad when I saw my leg was wide open. It was a feeling of sheer and utter panic being chased by the bull.

“After that I really just remember being pulled through the fence by people on the other side. It probably saved my life. Seeing the paramedics and knowing I was out of immediate danger was a feeling of tremendous relief.”

The night before Mr Gilbert had watched the World Cup final with his travelling companions in the apartment.

He then went to bed – unlike many other bull runners, who sometimes stay up all night drinking before the 8am charge through the town’s narrow streets.

“I went to sleep because the next day I wanted to be able to do the bull run,” he told the Noticias.

But despite being fresher than many of the runners around him, he was in the wrong place at the wrong time when Olivito fell.

His friends, who had spent an agonising four hours looking for him before they saw footage of the attack on the internet, arrived at the hospital at noon on Monday, “with faces of worry and despair”, the paper reported.

However they were happy to discover their friend was not at death’s door.

“The injuries are not as severe as it first looked on TV,” one told the Noticias. “But the video of the goring is alarming.”

From his hospital bed the next day Mr Gilbert thanked the doctors and on-the-spot paramedics who had looked after him immediately after the goring and at Virgen del Camino hospital.

“I am very happy with their treatment, both in the moments after the bull gored me and in the hospital,” he said.

He underwent several hours of surgery, for injuries that festival officials described as “three gorings in the thorax, abdomen and left thigh, pneumothorax (lung collapse) and torn pleura (lung tissue)”.

“The operation went well,” Mr Gilbert told the Noticias.

However he was still psychologically affected by the goring, the paper said.

“It’s the first time I’ve run and I can tell you now it will be the last,” he told the Mail.

He had intended to head onwards to Bordeaux but will now wait until his release before deciding whether to continue his holiday.

Doctors said he would likely remain in hospital for a week. He had been lucky because the horn that entered his chest came close to damaging his neck.

On Tuesday doctors updated Mr Gilbert’s status to ‘stable’.

A spokeswoman from DFAT said Australia was “providing consular assistance to a 25-year-old Australian man injured in Spain”.

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Archibald Prize winner enters St Pat’s Flanagan Art Prize

Former Archibald Prize winner Marcus Wills has entered the 2014 Flanagan Art Prize.
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Archibald Prize winner Marcus Wills has entered the Flanagan Art Prize. PICTURE: Rebecca Hallas

The Australian artist joins a list of more than 80 artists who have been accepted in this year’s exhibition being hosted by St Patrick’s College.

In 2006, the former University of Ballarat student took out the Archibald Prize with his painting titled The Paul Juraszek Monolith after Marcus Gheeraerts.

Judges selected the medieval-style oil painting as the winner of the Archibald Prize, describing it as a fictional chronology of the life of Melbourne sculptor Paul Juraszek. More than 150 entries were received from across Australia for this year’s Flanagan Art Prize, which is now in its seventh year. Preliminary judging brought the number down to 86.

St Patrick’s College headmaster Dr Peter Casey said organisers were pleased this year’s event had attracted entries from such established artists.

“Not only are we excited that Archibald Prize winners are now entering the award, but we are equally delighted that this year’s event had attracted entries from such established artists,” he said. “This has helped ensure that this year’s exhibition will be our best ever.”

The 2014 Flanagan Art Prize will be launched at St Patrick’s College on Friday, August 22, with Monash University’s head of fine arts, Professor Callum Morton, judging the entries.

The winners will be announced at a cocktail party on the same night, with the winner receiving $5000.

Another $1500 will also be awarded for an emerging artist and $500 for the best affordable art. The exhibition will be open to the public for free on August 23-24 and August 30-31, from 11am until 4pm.

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EDITORIAL: Road leads way to the Hunter

THE quest for better and bigger main roads means that many Australian inter-city trips are much quicker and safer than they were a generation ago.
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The motorway between Sydney and Newcastle is an obvious example, as is the journey north of the Hunter River from Hexham, where the bypassing of Raymond Terrace, Karuah and Bulahdelah has taken each town off the main tourist map.

In a similar vein, the Hunter Expressway has revolutionised the drive between Newcastle and Branxton, which is fine for those wanting the direct route, but with wide-ranging implications for a number of townships in the Lower Hunter that are no longer receiving the amount of tourist traffic they once did.

With the economic futures of these centres in mind, Cessnock councillor Rod Doherty has proposed the creation of a new tourist route, the Hunter Valley Way.

For a modest amount, Cr Doherty says the Hunter Valley Way can be promoted, online and through signposts, from Freemans Waterhole at its southern end, on to Mulbring, Kurri Kurri, Weston, Abermain, Lovedale, Greta and Branxton, through to Broke Fordwich, Milbrodale, Jerrys Plains, Denman and Merriwa.

These towns – and a host of others on short drives down any number of side-roads and byways – represent a roll-call of tourist interest.

Even Kurri – which may not be the first place one thinks of in connection with tourism – has become a major word-of-mouth attraction thanks to the 50-odd wall murals that adorn the town.

History shows that a similar street signposting campaign was proposed in 2011, apparently without bearing fruit, and while Cr Doherty says the organising committee has most of the $7000 it needs for signs, a website and an initial run of tourist material, continued support will be needed to ensure a good idea does not wither on the vine.

Perhaps because of this region’s historical associations with steel and coal, tourism has sometimes struggled to make itself heard, and in some quarters, at least, the Hunter is still not seen as a major tourist destination despite an impressive cavalcade of attractions and a lifestyle that many find enviable.

Still, the stunning success of many vineyard destinations, especially, show the region is finding its feet when marketing itself as a point of destination attraction.

But Cr Doherty is confident that the creation of a Hunter Valley Way will play a key role in encouraging more travellers – who would otherwise drive through the region on the way somewhere else – to stop for a while and to see what’s on offer.

Here’s hoping it’s a case of the less-travelled road proving more interesting.