Australian News

Watsons Bay Hotel fined for social distancing breach

Sydney’s iconic Watsons Bay Hotel has copped a hefty fine after it was caught not following social distancing rules properly.

The eastern suburbs pub was hit with a $5000 infringement after authorities conducted a spot check and noticed it had failed to create a safe environment for customers on Friday night.

RELATED: Follow our live coronavirus updates here

Patrons were standing and drinking and gaming machines were not spaced out, according to Liquor and Gaming NSW.

Undercover officers attended the hotel on July 31 and observed that all gaming machines were operational — meaning there was no way there could be 1.5m between gaming machines.

This was contrary to the venue’s COVID Safety Plan, which stated “every second machine has been disabled in the gaming room”.

Patrons were also sighted seated less than 1.5m apart.

Acting Director of Compliance for Liquor and Gaming NSW Dimitri Argeres said 15 venues had been fined in the past three weeks.

“While most venues are making serious efforts to comply with all the conditions, it’s disappointing that some are simply not getting the message,” Mr Argeres said.

“Flouting these measures is not only bad for the health and safety of patrons; it’s also bad for business.”

It’s not the only place struggling to adhere to social distancing; yesterday images emerged of packed trains and platforms at Town Hall station.

One image showed a carriage of passengers crammed together on a service to Bondi Junction — an area near Potts Point, a COVID-19 hotspot.

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Australian News

Positive cases visit Albion Park, Batemans Bay

Community transmission continues across New South Wales with a number of positive coronavirus cases now identified on the state’s south coast.

NSW Health Deputy Chief Health Officer Dr Jeremy McAnulty today announced 15 new positive cases for the state and issued a number of isolation warnings.

Dr McAnulty said two of the 15 positive cases had attended the Soldier’s Club in Bateman‘s Bay on July 13 from 7pm to 9pm and had then briefly visited Albion Park McDonald’s, in the southern suburbs of Wollongong, on July 15 from 2pm to 2.30pm.

The McDonald’s is a popular transit spot for holiday-makers heading to the NSW’s south coast and is one of the busiest restaurants in the state.

RELATED: Live coronavirus updates

RELATED: NSW virus scare spreads to more than 25 locations

Dr McAnulty advised anyone who had visited the club in Batemans Bay to “isolate immediately” for 14 days.

“Watch out for symptoms and if symptoms develop come forward for testing right away and even if they get a negative test to stay in isolation for that full 14 days,” he said.

Anyone who visited the Albion Park McDonald’s at the previously mentioned times has been advised to watch for symptoms and isolate immediately if any develop.

“Watch carefully for symptoms and if you develop any respiratory symptoms, coughs, sore throat, runny nose, shortness of breath or fever, to come immediately forward for testing and isolate themselves,” he said.

Four of the 15 new cases were from overseas travellers, all in hotel quarantine, and five were linked to the Crossroads Hotel cluster. The western Sydney hotel now has 45 cases linked to it.

Five cases from NSW’s new numbers are still under investigation.

The isolation warning comes a day after NSW Health added two new venues to its growing list of businesses impacted by the latest virus outbreak.

Stockland Mall in Wetherill Park and Thai Rock restaurant in the mall were identified as the latest venues to have been visited by a COVID-19 case.

Health Minister Dr Kerry Chant yesterday said a southwestern Sydney woman in her 30s who worked at the restaurant in the mall has been identified as a case. She worked at the restaurant from July 9 to 14.

“There are five recent cases that report spending some time in the Stockland mall at Wetherill Park while infectious,” she said.

“We are urging anyone who is at the mall in the last two weeks to be particularly vigilant for symptoms, especially those who attended the thai restaurant … to watch carefully for symptoms and if they occur, isolate and immediately come forward for testing.”

More than 25 venues across NSW including gyms, pubs, supermarkets, cafes and shopping centres have been identified as possible coronavirus hot spots.

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Australian News

Sydney news: Police investigate bones found in Byron Bay, COVID-19 outbreak delays junior rugby league

Here’s what you need to know this morning

Bones found in Byron

Police have set up a crime scene after skeletal remains were found in bushland in Byron Bay during a search for a missing woman in the state’s north.

Police discovered the remains on Wednesday while conducting a fresh search for missing woman Thea Liddle in bushland in Byron Bay.

The 43-year-old had been living on a property in the Tweed Shire when she disappeared in late 2019.

Officers found the skeletal remains near Tallow Beach and set up a crime scene.

Police said it was too early to determine if the remains were male or female.

The scene will be processed by forensic officers today.

Footy club hit by COVID-19

Facade of a building with a giant image of a man with a football in his hand.
The Magpie Sports Club is expected to reopen today.(Facebook: @magpiesportsclub)

Another club has been affected by the spread of COVID-19 throughout Sydney.

Magpie Sports Club in Croydon Park confirmed on its Facebook page that a person who tested positive to the virus visited the club on July 10.

The club said it was not advised by NSW Health to close but did so out of “an abundance of caution” and expected to reopen today after cleaning.

It was the latest in a string of premises that had been forced to temporarily close after a cluster of COVID-19 cases developed in Sydney’s south-west during the past week.

Health authorities have traced the cluster to a man from Melbourne as the likely source, after he travelled to Sydney late last month unaware he had the virus.

Outbreak delays junior rugby league comp

The resumption of community rugby league competitions has been delayed for another fortnight in Sydney’s south-west, because of the COVID-19 outbreak in the area.

NSW Rugby League chief executive David Trodden said the health and safety of players, officials and spectators remained the game’s primary concern.

The competition in the city’s south-west will now start from August 1.

“While everyone has worked hard to get footy restarted and we would love to be kicking off across the entire state this weekend, it’s important we remain vigilant to stop any potential avoidable spreading of the coronavirus,” Mr Trodden said.

Pair arrested after alleged assault

A wanted man and a teenage girl have been arrested over the alleged assault of a 14-year-old girl in Darlinghurst at the weekend.

About 10:30pm on Sunday, a Volkswagen Passat stopped at an intersection.

The driver, a 33-year-old man, got out and allegedly assaulted the girl, who was also in the car, before a passer-by attempted to intervene.

The passer-by was also allegedly assaulted before the man returned to the car and drove from the scene with the girl and another woman inside.

After a short pursuit, police arrested the man and girl, who were travelling in another allegedly stolen car.

The pair were being questioning at Narellan Police Station.

Property industry not out of the woods

A for sale sign out the front of an apartment building.
There’s been a slight upturn in the property market.(ABC News: Elise Pianegonda)

Confidence in the state’s property industry has improved slightly due to the easing of coronavirus restrictions over the past few months.

The latest ANZ/Property Council survey shows confidence is still low overall but has increased 11 index points since the last one conducted at the height of the COVID-19 lockdown.

NSW Property Council executive director Jane Fitzgerald said even though there had been an upturn in sentiment and some positive light, the industry was not yet out of the woods.

“This is a reminder of the significant impacts that the COVID-19 crisis has had on many businesses and will continue to do so with growth expectations still in negative territory,” she said.

She praised the efforts of the State Government in keeping construction going and keeping people in jobs, which she said was critical for the state’s overall economic recovery.

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Australian News

Skeletal remains found in Byron Bay search for missing woman

Skeletal remains have been found in Byron Bay bushland during a search for a woman missing since October last year.

NSW Police on Tuesday re-appealed for information into the whereabouts of Thea Liddle, 42, who was last seen in Mooball and was known to frequent other far north coast locations including Nimbin and Byron Bay.

She was reported missing by her family to Queensland Police in January 2020.

Several searches of bushland in and around Byron Bay – “where Thea was known to have been residing in the months leading up to her disappearance” – began on Tuesday.

A police spokeswoman told on Wednesday afternoon a crime scene had been established after the discovery near Tallow Beach.

“Skeletal remains were located in bushland near Byron Bay,” she said.

“Officers located the remains about 1.20pm today.

“It is too early to determine if the remains are male or female.

“The scene will be processed by forensic officers which will take a significant amount of time, with police expecting to maintain the crime scene into tomorrow.”

Superintendent Dave Roptell on Tuesday said at the time of her disappearance, Thea was staying at a rural property in Mooball with a then 46-year-old man.

Detectives have previously searched that property as part of their missing person investigation.

Supt Roptell said they had “fears for her safety”.

“Thea lived a very transient lifestyle – shifting from place to place, changing campsites often and would opt for places in remote bushland away from the public,” he said.

“We are conducting thorough searches throughout these locations for any indication of Thea’s presence there.

“It wasn’t uncommon for Thea to travel throughout the far north coast, however, is it unusual for her to go this length of time without speaking to family members.

“As we have said before, we are extremely keen to speak to anyone who may have seen or spoken to Thea in late October or early November 2019, in and around the far north coast of NSW. Any piece of information may assist investigators.”

Thea isn’t the only person missing in the Byron Bay area – Belgian backpacker Theo Hayez was last seen in a local bar in July 2019.

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Australian News

Golden Sheaf Hotel Double Bay fined for packed queue

An iconic Sydney pub has been fined for not imposing social distancing on patrons who crammed into a queue outside its doors on Wednesday night.

The NSW Office of Liquor and Gaming imposed a $5500 fine on the Golden Sheaf Hotel in Double Bay in Sydney’s eastern suburbs after a picture emerged of scores of people queuing to get in.

The picture was reportedly taken at 9pm on Wednesday of up to 250 people waiting outside the pub without any obvious social distancing.

None of the people in the queue appeared to be anywhere near 1.5m apart.

NSW Government advice on managing pubs during the pandemic states operators must “introduce strategies to manage gatherings that may occur outside the premises”.

But the picture will call into question whether some venues are doing enough to keep patrons safe.

The pub told it worked with police to disperse the crowd last night and would employ extra security to ensure only 20 people at a time could line up outside the venue. It said it was the “collective responsibility” of staff and pubgoers to stay safe.

RELATED: Melbourne to Sydney flight sees passengers disembark without coronavirus screening

Wednesday has long been a student night at the Sheaf. However, the venue has said that last night was a standard pub night with no DJs or drinks promotions.

The picture was initially uploaded to the website Reddit and subsequently to Twitter. The initial poster asked “How many days until Sydney is locked down?”

Among the hundreds commenting are those suggesting the crowd could lead to a second wave in Sydney and a subsequent lockdown such as the one reimposed in Melbourne.

“I give it seven days,” said one.

“How is the Sheaf getting away with this – it’s still one person per four square metres isn’t it?” said another.

Other comments included:

“What part of social distancing don’t these people get? This is not the common flu!”

“Sydney to Melbourne: ‘hold my beer’”.


One suggested Sydney pubs were actually handling capacity and movement within venues relatively well, with groups seated most of the time and distant from others.

However, the concern was with the congestion this caused outside as large numbers of people waited for sometimes long periods to gain entry.

Other people were less worried about the queues pointing out local transmission in New South Wales was still virtually non-existent.

“Why am I supposed to buy into the hysteria and get offended by this crowd when we had one local case today?”

Although one person retorted it wouldn’t take much for COVID-19 to begin spreading: “All we need is one COVID ridden visitor from Melbourne and the next thing we’re Florida”.


In a statement to, chief executive officer of Solotel pubs group Justine Baker said the firm was practising “strict social distancing and COVID hygiene and safety procedures” and adhered to NSW Health guidelines.

“We take the safety of our guests and staff very seriously, which is why we will now be taking bookings only on Wednesday nights from 8pm and we will be employing extra staff and security to ensure social distancing is adhered to and we have a maximum of 20 people in our queues at any one time.

“We employ management and security staff to monitor queues constantly – at the Golden Sheaf last night we worked immediately with police to disperse the crowd and ensure social distancing measures were established.

“It is the collective responsibility of all staff, guests, operators and authorities to ensure the safety of each other.”

Australian Hotels Association NSW director of liquor and policing John Green said all hotels had a responsibility to manage inside and also outside their hotel to ensure social distancing.

“This is serious lesson for all NSW pubs. We need to do all we can to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and social distancing requirements must be complied with.”

Previously there have been concerns about crowds on beaches and in markets potentially spreading COVID-19 as well as the recent Black Lives Matter protests.

However, most instances of infection within groups in Australia have occurred in indoor locations where people have been together for large periods of time such as at workplaces, weddings and family gatherings.


Pubs and restaurants can operate relatively easily in NSW. On July 1, set capacity limits were removed and venues could accommodate as many people as they wished so long as there was enough room for one person per four square metres. However, all customers must have a seat and must socially distance when, for instance, going to the bar.

Tables must also be at least 1.5m apart and groups of more than 20 are not allowed.

RELATED: Victoria’s cases could spread to other regions

NSW recorded eight new cases of coronavirus yesterday. Seven of those were in hotel quarantine for returning Australians with one a woman in her 30s from south western Sydney also infected although testing is underway to see if that was an historical diagnosis.

Despite the relatively low numbers, the state is on high alert fearful some of the upsurge of cases in Victoria might have seeped across the now-closed border. On Tuesday, an entire plane load of travellers from Melbourne were allowed to disembark a plane without any health checks.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian is reportedly considering creating checkpoints north of Albury, where there have been some recent COVID-19 cases. That would allow the border communities of Albury and Wodonga to function as a whole, while trying to avoid cases there from travelling further north.

Yesterday, the ACT recorded its first three cases in weeks. All three were from travellers from Melbourne.

Melburnians are now back in lockdown for at least six weeks following the rapid raise of infections within the city. | @BenedictBrook

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Australian News

Moreton Bay missing kayaker found dead

A young man who became separated from friends during a kayaking trip in Queensland has been found dead.

The 21-year-old Chinese international student was reported missing at Moreton Bay, off Peel Island, yesterday afternoon.

Police continued their search through the night and found the man’s body at 7.15am.

“There are no suspicious circumstances and police will prepare a report for the coroner,” Queensland Police said in a statement.

The group of friends set off to return to North Stradbroke Island about 4pm, after travelling to Peel Island earlier in the day.

Police said the worsening wind and current increased the time for the journey and the group became separated about 5pm in the rain and failing light.

“One of the group contacted authorities and water police commenced a search at 5.20pm,” they said.

About 6.30pm, two kayaks with four people were found near rainbow passage.

A third kayak with two people was found at 9pm near Amity Banks.

They couldn’t find the man in his single kayak.

Senior Sergeant Gary Worrell said weather hampered the rescue effort.

A storm cell forced the rescue helicopter being used to land.

“It was a sad result but it’s good to have closure this morning,” he told Nine.

“It was just an unfortunate set of circumstances with the weather and we couldn’t get to them in relation to the aerial assets any sooner.”

Police are investigating what happened and whether the man’s kayak overturned.

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Australian News

Sea pork washes up on Hervey Bay beach but people think it’s ambergris

A Queensland woman was excited she might have stumbled across a blob worth a lot of money.

The woman shared a photo of the strange sea creature that had washed up on a Hervey Bay beach and asked people if they thought it was a dangerous stonefish.

But most people believed the jelly-looking find to be ambergris.

Ambergris is an intestinal slurry ejected by sperm whales that eventually hardens in the water.

It is sought after by perfume companies and worth about $US20 per gram.

In 2016, a family on South Australia’s west coast discovered some that was tipped to be worth more than $1 million.

That same year three Indian fishermen hit the jackpot after scooping 80kg of the “floating gold” from the ocean, expected to net them US$2.5 million.

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The woman who posted her find was told to scoop it up and put it on eBay.

“That is worth a lot,” said one woman.

Not getting her hopes up, she rang a university and was told ambergris was more waxy.

The teacher told her it could have been a colony of sea squirts.

Others commenters were on the money when they suggested the lump was sea pork.

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Professor Sandie Degnan, of the University of Queensland, told Yahoo News Australia that was her best guess.

“It is a kind of sea squirt, related to the cunjevois that many people are familiar with growing on our rocky shores (step on them and they squirt out water; fisherman cut them open to use their guts as fishing bait),” she said.

“This particular kind of sea squirt, probably in the genus Aplidium, is actually a colony of hundreds of tiny individual sea squirts, compared to a cunjevoi that is one single, large individual.”

Sea pork gets its name from apparently resembling slabs of pig fat.

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Cyclone Amphan the latest storm out of Bay of Bengal, one of Earth’s deadliest cyclone zones

Cyclone Amphan made landfall last night (AEST) near the India-Bangladesh border with winds gusting up to 185 kilometres per hour, approximately a category three on Australia’s cyclone scale.

The system has weakened as it moves inland, but at least 82 people have been reported dead.

It is the latest massive storm to hit the Bay of Bengal, a region notorious for producing cyclones that have claimed hundreds of thousands of lives.


The world’s deadliest cyclone

The Bay of Bengal was the setting for the deadliest weather event on modern record, Cyclone Bhola.

On November 12, 1970, the storm made landfall over the Bhola region of what was East Pakistan (now Bangladesh).

Most reports suggest 300,000 people died; some estimates put the toll as high as 600,000.

Cyclone Bhola coincided with a lunar high tide, compounding the storm surge that inundated the low-lying region and swept away thousands of people.

Late warnings and complacency resulting from a weaker cyclone in the months before likely added to the death toll.

Many killer cyclones have originated in the Bay of Bengal, with one that hit Bangladesh in 1991 resulting in an estimated 138,000 deaths.

Space to play or pause, M to mute, left and right arrows to seek, up and down arrows for volume.
Powerful cyclone ploughs into the coasts of India and Bangladesh

What makes the Bay of Bengal so deadly?

Greg Holland, senior scientist emeritus at the National Centre for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado, said it was not necessarily that there were a large number of storms in the region, but the geography.

With India to the west, Myanmar and Malaysia to the east and Bangladesh in the north, the Bay of Bengal was ocean surrounded by land, he said.

A map of the Bay of Bengal
The Bay of Bengal can produce massive cyclones.(Google Earth)

Then there is the region’s population density.

If a cyclone were to hit anywhere between Darwin and Port Hedland, there is a pretty low chance of large numbers of people being directly affected.

“A cyclone hits anywhere in the Bay of Bengal, and it’s going to be a lot of people affected,” Dr Holland said.


Getting all those people out of harm’s way is also a struggle — three million people were evacuated in preparation for Cyclone Amphan.

“India has a quite well coordinated program of evacuation and the people do move, they get up and they leave,” Dr Holland said.

“In India you can do that because people can go inland and basically get away from the worst of it.”

But Bangladesh was difficult to evacuate, he said, for both socioeconomic and geographical reasons.

The majority of the country, one of the world’s most densely populated, is less than nine metres above sea level, making it incredibly vulnerable to storm surges.

“You have to go a very long way inland in the Ganges delta area to get away from any aspects of tropical cyclones,” Dr Holland said.

Bar graph showing Cyclone Bhola, 300,000 deaths in the 1970, April Cyclone 138,000 deaths 1991, Cyclone Sidr 3,363 deaths 2007.
Cyclone fatalities have reduced since the horror of Cyclone Bhola.(Supplied: World Meteorological Organisation)

How have things gotten better?

Changes undertaken in Bangladesh since the 1990s count among the great victories in emergency management.

As evacuating to higher ground is not an option for many citizens, the country has developed an innovative approach of going vertically, according to Dr Holland.

“They have concrete towers which can be used as community facilities, schools, in the good times, but people can go in there and climb up and get above the storm surge in the bad times,” he said.

Warnings, communications, protective embankments and recovery support have also improved.

The effectiveness of the warnings, evacuations and shelters this time around, on top of COVID-19, will become apparent in the days and weeks ahead.

A river delta seen from space shows lots of curly aquatic lines tracing out to sea.
The Ganges delta is one of the most fertile and densely populated regions of the world.(NASA)

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Local News - Victoria

City’s sewerage pours into Port Phillip Bay

“But nothing can be done about this until the south-eastern sewerage system and the Carrum treatment plant are completed,” he said.

“It is the high degree of pollution which we are concerned about,” he said.

Mr. Robertson said the Carrum treatment plant was already nearly 12 months behind schedule because of wild-cat stoppages, union demarcation disputes and off-site strikes.

He said the first properties were due to be connected to the new system this June. “Now we do not expect to be open until at least April next year,” he said.

“Each week of delay is costing the community $200,000.

“Melbourne’s main watercourse, the Yarra, cannot be fully sewered until this south-eastern system is completed.

“The whole community must realise that now is the time to stop talking about pollution and get down to the solid work of preventing it.”

All of Melbourne’s sewage now flows to the 80-year-old Werribee sewage farm. The new $182 million system is designed to serve the present and future needs of the rapidly expanding eastern suburbs.

Mr Robertson said most unsewered properties were out in the newer eastern suburbs.

$62 million

Extension of sewerage up the Dandenong Creek Valley and the cleaning up of the “highly polluted Dandenong Creek” were high priority tasks.

“Our biggest problem at present is shortage of funds. We are trying to work towards the State Government deadline of 1980 to have the whole of Melbourne sewered,” he said.

“The Federal Government has indicated it will provide some funds. The board can effectively spend another 20 percent next year in addition to the $62 million we are spending on sewerage this year.

“I am not paying out on any union, or blaming them, but the community must realise that everybody must pull together to overcome the pollution problems.”

The chairman of the Board of Works (Mr. Croxford) said yesterday he deplored the strike holding up the completion of the work.

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