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Felicity Fulcher experiences Kokoda Trail

WHAT A WALK: Felicity Fulcher, 15, walked the Kokoda Trail earlier in the year and met her school’s sponsor child. Picture: PAUL CARRACHERA LIFE-CHANGING experience walking the Kokoda Trail was made even more special for one Horsham student.
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St Brigid's College's Felicity Fulcher, 15, walked the track as part of a group which included her mum Kim, dad Miles and older brother Lewis, 22.

She was the youngest member of the group, while the oldest was 68.

Felicity said she learnt about the history of the track during the 10-day trek.

She said there were difficult times but it was worth it.

"It definitely was a challenge,'' she said.

"Towards the end around day seven everyone started to get really tired,'' she said.

"It was just keeping on, keeping on.''

Felicity said on day six the group visited the village of Efogi.

It was there she experienced the highlight of her trip when a group of school children sang to her trek group.

She said village residents also joined the group, including St Brigid's College's sponsor child Lydia. The college sponsors Lydia to attend school.

"I brought her a school dress and a hat,'' Felicity said.

"The next day, she and her family came down and gave mum and me a bag each, which she had made herself.''

Felicity said meeting Lydia and listening to the children singing were the best moments.

"You had to hear it to know what it was like,'' she said.

"Their singing was beautiful and was one of the highlights of the trip.''

Felicity encouraged other people to consider tackling the Kokoda Trail.

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Wimmera Volunteers hand out $13,000 in grants

VOLUNTEER FUNDING: Wimmera Volunteers chief executive Julie Pettett with Art is...Festival chair Marion Matthews on Friday. The festival received funding through the Wimmera Volunteers community grants program. Picture: PAUL CARRACHERTWENTY-seven Wimmera community groups have received grants and training subsidies worth more than $13,000 from Wimmera Volunteers.
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Wimmera Volunteers chief executive Julie Pettett said the organisation's round two 2011-12 community grants program helped provide important services.

Ms Pettett said the program gave much-needed money to groups, including sporting clubs, festival committees, Scout groups and agricultural and pastoral societies.

"Regional volunteering groups often provide key services to communities, so we are pleased to be able to offer our support and encouragement through our grants program," she said.

Ms Pettett said the round two grants included subsidies for community groups to access training for volunteers.

The Way2Go volunteering toolkit for volunteer managers incorporated $750 for each eligible organisation to send up to two volunteers to three workshops.

"We are very excited to be able to offer a Way2Go," she said.

"Training will support community organisations which have full-time or part-time employees responsible for maintaining a volunteer program.

"Albury Wodonga Volunteer Resource Bureau developed the toolkit and Wimmera Volunteers is delivering it in this region."

Edenhope Pastoral and Agricultural Society secretary Christine Bull said the society was lucky to receive $300 from Wimmera Volunteers.

She said the society's annual show in November would run with the help of volunteers.

"We will use the money to celebrate our volunteers' hard work after the show," Mrs Bull said.

❏ For the full grant details, see today's Mail-Times.

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Platypus in peril

THE Australian Platypus Conservancy has warned that illegal fishing in the Wimmera River could pose a threat to platypus.
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The warning comes after biologists from Biosis Research uncovered evidence of unlawful traps and lines during an environmental survey in the catchment.

Biologists found an opera house yabby trap containing the dead body of a native water rat and two drum nets, as well as unattended 'set' fishing lines.

The conservancy's Geoff Williams said drum nets and opera house traps were banned from rivers because they had the potential to drown platypus and other aquatic species such as water rats and freshwater turtles.

He said platypus could also become hooked and killed on unattended fishing lines.

Platypus and water rat populations in the Wimmera River declined during drought years and remain at critically low levels.

Mr Williams said one of the factors repeatedly cited by landowners as having contributed to a marked decline in platypus numbers in the Wimmera was the widespread use of drum nets and gill nets.

He said the use of such nets could compromise the chances of the populations recovering.

Opera house traps can only be used in farm dams and their use is prohibited in all public waters in Victoria.

Leaving fishing lines unattended is also illegal and fisheries officers can impose fines for any recreational fishing regulation breaches.

Department of Primary Industries fisheries officers in the Wimmera fined three people more than $2500 in total for having used illegal opera house nets in February.

The department has asked anyone who sees people using the illegal nets in public waters to call the Offence Reporting Line on 13 34 74.

A spokesman said more information about regulations was available at www.dpi.vic.gov.au/fisheries.

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Young Demon from Edenhope on the rise

TOM McDonald has a farm, and it's where his run into the Melbourne back line began.
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McDonald is from Edenhope, the small town halfway to Adelaide, which meant off-season training partners were tough to track down.

The 19-year-old drove an hour to Horsham most days, to lift weights in a gym, and kicked balls around a local oval with his brother.

He did some of his running there, too, but saved parts of the program for his 3500-acre family farm, where his father runs mostly merino sheep.

"My driveway's about 500 metres long, so that was pretty helpful,'' he said this week.

''If I had to do a three-kilometre time trial I'd just go out and run up and down six times. It made it easy to get done.''

It's an old McDonald - James - who will be an obvious focus when Melbourne takes on Greater Western Sydney on Sunday.

That's what happens when beloved former captains play against their old team.

But since making the side as a late call-up in round two, the younger version has spent the first half of the season giving supporters good things to look forward to.

McDonald spent last year learning how to become a defender: after training all summer with the forwards, it was where he found himself at the end of his first pre-season, asked to watch Mitch Clark when the Demons played the Brisbane Lions in a NAB Cup game.

''For the first five or 10 minutes I had a hundred things in my head, but after that I just tried to play and learn things and experience as much as I could,'' he said.

McDonald had never played there as a junior, either, although his mother, a netball defender, always suspected it was his best spot.

''She was always pushing for me to play there in local footy. She said it was in my genes,'' he said.

It was McDonald's running ability that caught his coaches' eyes when he got back from Edenhope for the start of his second summer; it was obvious that he had worked hard during the break.

He ran not only like a midfielder, said assistant coach Jade Rawlings, but one with elite endurance.

It's what has allowed the teenager to sample such opponents as Nick Riewoldt, Michael Hurley and Andrew Walker this year, and it's given him confidence that he can keep up with anyone, then start learning from there.

It's also allowed him to spend more time on the ground than most other Melbourne players this year.

''He's able to play really high game time, and that's been good, because the more time he's on the ground, the more things he'll be exposed to,'' said Rawlings, who likes how McDonald combines his confidence with a realistic willingness to work out how to take on particular players, and to confront things that aren't going well during games.

McDonald's running ability wasn't always his fall-back, though.

As a skinny 13-year-old he lagged behind most of his classmates, and was told about it.

''When we did cross country, I could never keep up. I was always told I was slow,'' he said.

''I remember being told by my footy coach that I needed to work on my speed and fitness, so that's what I tried to do.''

Since being at Melbourne, with access to all-day, every-day advice, he feels like it's improved even more.

''Being able to do all of the pre-season, I guess I started to realise it was a strength. It's definitely something I try and keep building up, and using as much as I can,'' he said.

There is plenty McDonald still wants to learn - he's started writing up notes on each new opponent, things to remember for next time around on where, when and how quickly they move - and also to stop worrying. ''I was pretty quiet for the first four or five weeks and there's still patches now where I go a bit quiet and drop my head a bit if something goes wrong,'' he said.

''Jade Rawlings keeps telling me, 'eyes up', because when I get tired or make a mistake I start looking at the ground and thinking about myself, so that's something I'm working on all the time.

"As a young player you don't want to make mistakes or be the one who stuffs up, but you need to see the game through the team's eyes and thinking, how we can fix this?''

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Horsham Town Hall redevelopment cost savings upset councillor

HORSHAM Rural City councillor Gary Bird believes council should not take short cuts with the Horsham Town Hall and Horsham Regional Art Gallery redevelopment.
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Cr Bird told council he was disgusted to read in project control group meeting minutes that consultants had suggested leaving a cooling system out to cut costs.

The minutes stated that the project control group was not in favour of deleting a cooling system from its cost plan.

But Cr Bird said consultants, particularly architects, did not care about Horsham.

"They just care about winning awards," he said.

"We need to make sure that council makes the right decisions.

"If we have to prune the project back to save costs, then we should, but let's not take out essentials.

"There are little things the architects can do aesthetically to save costs."

Cr Bird said Horsham Town Hall was freezing cold in winter and stinking hot in summer and needed a new heating and cooling system.

"When the hall was built it was probably the best thing available, but now it's not," he said.

"It's all very well to say 'leave the cooling out, we'll do it later'.

"But later might not come.

"We might not have the money to install things later."

Project control group member Cr David Grimble said the redevelopment needed to deliver what the community required, within budget.

"We have a long way to go and have a costings plan, but I do agree with Gary," he said.

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Venue change for Kowree Brolga event

THE venue for a Kowree brolga event at Edenhope on Sunday has changed.
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Due to wide-spread rain the event has moved from the McDonnell family farm to Edenhope Racecourse on Apsley Road.

Wimmera Catchment Management Authority and West Wimmera Landcare have organised the event, which will include children’s activities and presentations from brolga researcher Inka Veltheim and bird enthusiast and comedy writer Sean Dooley.

More information is available by calling Wimmera CMA on 5382 1544.

Applications for the event have closed.

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Toolondo’s Poppy pops up in the big smoke

LUCKY WIN: Toolondo’s Elaine Oakley reunites with her pet pooch Poppy after the dog went missing for more than a month. Elaine found the dog through the Mail-Times. Picture: PAUL CARRACHERPOPPY the dog can only be described as lucky. In the past month and a half she has had more adventures than Lassie.
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From her farm at Toolondo, the fox terrier cross somehow ended up in Horsham.

A resident found the wandering pooch on Natimuk Road and called the ranger.

Horsham Rural City Council animal rehousing offi cer Wayne Lane thought Poppy was too old to rehouse and might have to be destroyed.

But Horsham People for Animal Welfare and Support’s Tarni Rees disagreed and a vet confirmed the dog was only a couple of years old.

So Poppy was available for rehousing.

Horsham PAWS member and foster carer Guin Cleminson took on Poppy while she waited for a potential buyer.

People looked at adopting the dog but no-one wanted her to keep.

But a picture on the Mail-Times’ Horsham PAWS page on Wednesday improved Poppy’s luck.

Poppy’s owner, Elaine Oakley, only knew that Poppy had wandered away about a month and a half ago and thought the dog could be dead.

She said it was a shock to see her pet safe and well in Horsham.

“I thought ‘oh my goodness, if it’s not her then it’s a twin’,’’ she said.

Mrs Oakley said she and her husband Steven had looked for the dog when it first went missing.

She said her three grown sons, Shane, Adam and Troy, were devastated to hear Poppy was gone and were thrilled at her return.

The boys grew up with Poppy, which Mrs Oakley believes is at least eight years old – closer to Mr Lane’s initial prediction.

“She’s a very lucky dog,’’ Mrs Oakley said.

Mr Lane said the dog had survived despite several challenges.

“That’s a lucky dog, a very lucky dog.’

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Wimmera students discuss water security at GWMWater conference

WATER WISE: Dimboola Memorial Secondary College students Hayley Crawley, Taylah Ryen, Andrew King and Hadassah Schembri make a presentation about water quality at the sixth annual water conference yesterday. Picture: PAUL CARRACHERSTUDENTS from across the Wimmera gathered in Horsham yesterday to discuss water supply in the region.
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GWMWater, together with the University of Ballarat, hosted the sixth annual student conference for year nine and 10 students at the university’s Horsham campus.

Students from schools in Horsham, Dimboola, Ararat and Edenhope made presentations about what a secure water supply meant to their area.

They were joined via audio and video link by students from Ashdale Secondary College in Perth and Tauranga Girls College in New Zealand.

GWMWater’s Andrew Rose said he was impressed by the quality of the presentations.

“Every year the students seem to raise the bar. Their presentations demonstrated a real understanding of the water situation in their towns,” he said.

“They recognised that even though the drought of the 2000s is behind us we still have to be careful with how we treat water.

“The conference is a valuable way of educating the next generation.”

Mr Rose said more than 500 students had participated in the conference during the six years.

He said students at the conference also talked to former Rotary exchange student Pat Liamyoo in Thailand via Skype.

Mr Liamyoo spent a year in Horsham in 2003 and 2004 and attended St Brigid’s College.

Dimboola Memorial Secondary College student Taylah Ryen said she enjoyed the day.

“We did a presentation on water security and quality,” she said.

“During our research we learnt just how important saving water is and the process it goes through when it gets filtered.”

Fellow Dimboola student Hayley Crawley said the students learned a lot about what a secure water supply meant to the Wimmera.

“Since we were only a group of four we had to research water a lot more on our own so we could get all the information ready on time for our presentation,” she said.

Edenhope College students were judged the overall winners of the conference and received $1000 for their school.

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Playtime Pictures 2

Entrants in the Cerebral Palsy Alliance Playtime Pictures photo competition
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Aiden McGuiness

Brock Harrison

Charlie Priest

Charlotte Ash

Cynthia Palmer

Ethan Black

Felicity Britten

Gus Lewis

Ivy Lewis

Jessica Priest

Joseph Bayada

Khye Downey

Lucy Dolton

Luke Bonham

Max Ryan

Natalie Nixon

Penny Jackson

Rubie Black

Seth Leathem

Toby Jackson

Tye Opetaia

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Quaking with fun

IT happened like this: Myself, my boyfriend and one of my journo friends were watching Packed to the Rafters.
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Suddenly, the ground rumbled and my friend, Justine, said: “I think there’s been an earthquake!’’ Melbourne imploded.

Of course, we weren’t in Melbourne – we were in my lounge room.

But we felt the shockwaves through the barrage of tweets and posts coming to us.

J-Mac had jumped on Twitter to read something I’d shared earlier, and it was there she saw the first tweet coming from people in the aftermath of a 30-second earthquake.

Within the first few moments, there were the expletives, the disbelief – “WAS THAT JUST AN EARTHQUAKE?! #Melbourne.”

My boyfriend, Matt, lay there and listened as Justine and I read out choice tweets, celebrities and friends alike sharing where they were when the 2012 Melbourne Earthquake struck.

Within 10 minutes came the jokes.

One man tweeted, “Earthquake causes $8-million of improvements to Frankston.’’

People posted pictures of Melbourne’s perfectly unharmed

Federation Square with witty comments alluding that the earthquake had caused it to look the way it does.

Others uploaded pictures of upended outdoor furniture with the tag line: ‘‘Melbourne Earthquake – we WILL rebuild!’’

Within 20 minutes were the jokes and one-liners about the amount of information online.

One man wrote, “At first sign of an earthquake seek shelter under a door frame – but only after you tweet about it.’’

It summed up the attitude well.

Meanwhile, on Facebook, Wimmera people were getting into the act. Several Wimmera people tweeted their disgruntlement with having NOT experienced the quaking earth under their feet.

Groups popped up in seconds, such as ‘‘I survived the 2012 Melbourne Earthquake.’’

A lone voice, my friend Jadon’s, tried to tell people that it should be the GIPPSLAND earthquake.

No-one really listened.

The same pictures were being shared, the same jokes.

Within an hour, the excitement was dying off. The jokes were old, the comments old, there were more exciting things happening on Twitter, Facebook, in real life.

The earth had stilled.

Where were you when the earthquake struck?

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