Australian News

AFL Brownlow Medal ceremony goes virtual, but the footy stars and their partners still rock red carpet looks

The Brownlow Medal 2020 ceremony usually takes place in Melbourne, but this year’s event was spread out across Australia.

The bulk of the players in the Queensland bubble were at an event at Carrara Stadium on the Gold Coast.

And there were events in Perth and Adelaide, as well as in Sydney and Melbourne.

AFL partners and players are shown across eight different screens with a scoreboard at the bottom on the left and right.
AFL players and their partners at Carrarra stadium, the SCG, the Gabba, Adelaide Oval, Perth Stadium and the Melbourne studio.(Supplied: Channel 7)

Things may be all over the place due to coronavirus, but the footy stars and their partners still delivered looks — even though attendees were reportedly told they didn’t need to follow a strict black tie dress code this year.

Here’s who dressed up and who didn’t (spoiler alert: everyone did).

The Brisbane Lions’ Lachie Neale and partner Julie didn’t hold back, with the new first lady of footy donning a sheer floor-length gown and tousled waves.


And Hawthorn’s Jack Gunston rocked a suit and a face mask, captioning his Instagram outfit post: “Brownlow Medal Victorian Style.”


Meanwhile, Melbourne’s Christian Petracca and his partner Bella were #Brownlow ready in Brisbane.


The Brisbane Lions’ Charlie Cameron went for a suave dark velvet ensemble, with his partner Caitlin Seeto in an equally elegant black number.

Charlie Cameron smiles as he holds his partner Caitlin by the waist. They both wear black.
Charlie Cameron, with partner Caitlin Seeto, was up for the mark of the year gong but went home empty handed.(AAP Image: Darren England)

West Coast Eagles player Luke Shuey and his partner Dani were dressed to the nines.

Shuey said he was disappointed not to be playing this weekend.


Melbourne’s Jack Viney and his wife Charlotte posed for pictures with their baby daughter Mila Grace.


And the Sydney Swans’ Luke Parker cut a dapper figure next to partner Kate Lawrence, who stood out in a red number.


Equally sharp were the Melbourne Demons’ Steven May and partner Briana.


The Western Bulldogs’ Marcus Bontempelli and Tom Libatore brought their fashion A game, both rocking up to the Gold Coast event in style.

Libatore’s suit even covered up his, “My god you’re greasy” tattoo.


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Australian News

Dwayne The Rock Johnson TV show stopped by Queensland ambulance

The only thing that can stop Hollywood legend ‘The Rock’ in his tracks is a Queensland ambulance.

Filming for the Queensland-based TV series based on the life of Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson was in motion in a side street in Strathpine, in northern Brisbane, on Tuesday.

The NBC production Young Rock is based on the formative years of Hollywood’s highest paid actor and is being filmed across southeast Queensland.

A Moreton Bay Regional Council representative doorknocked every house in the area to warn them that access to the area may be restricted when the cameras were rolling.

Only one concern was raised, when a woman said she had an ambulance booked on Wednesday afternoon for a hospital appointment.

“They agreed to stop production when the ambulance picked her up and again when it was to drop her off,” the MBCC representative told NCA NewsWire.

Aussie actor Uli Latukefu will play Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson from the ages of 18 to 20, when he’s recruited to play American football at the University of Miami.

The 11-part comedy will track Johnson’s life from childhood and his formative years growing up and his run for presidency.

New Zealand actor Stacey Leilua has been cast as Johnson’s mother Ata Johnson and has posted a photo on Instagram of a gift sent to all cast members to mark the start of production.

She wrote: “Blessings from the top as we begin the next phase of our #youngrock journey this week” with a photo of a bottle of Teremana tequila and a note from ‘The Rock’.

“Stacey, Congratulations on our start of production for Young Rock,” the note read.

“ Enjoy your Teremana and many positive and grateful vibes sent your way.

Cheers, DJ.”

Filming was to have taken place along Bells Pocket Rd, Strathpine, between Dobson Drive and Fox St between 2pm and 6pm although that has been extended to 9pm because of inclement weather.

The production is expected to move to Coorparoo on Wednesday.

Moreton Bay Mayor Peter Flannery said the region was becoming quite popular with production houses because it was considerably cheaper than the Gold Coast with a number of TV commercials being made in recent times.

“We’ve rolled out the red carpet for this production – turning around their application at lightning fast speed, waiving their filming fees, and even getting staff to help doorknock residents in Strathpine to let them know what’s going on,” he told NCA NewsWire.

“With our shimmering coastlines and stunning hinterland region, why wouldn’t we be able to lure some A-listers away from the Gold Coast and Sydney?

“We’re already the first choice for a lot of national and international brands to film advertisements, but we want a slice of that Hollywood razzle dazzle.

“I hope today’s filming puts us in the box-office seat for future filming success.”

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Australian News

Thai Rock virus clusters officially linked

New genomic sequencing has linked coronavirus cases at two Thai Rock restaurants in NSW, one in Wetherill Park and one in Potts Point, despite the eateries being 32km away from each other.

Health authorities have believed the two were linked for weeks and finally have the science to back it up.

A spokeswoman for NSW Health said genetic sequencing of the virus for cases from the two restaurants proves they were linked – but there was still one major issue.

“It is unknown which cases link the two venues and this is under investigation,” she said.

The original source of the cluster, which is now linked to 153 cases, is also still under investigation.

The cluster was first announced on July 17, three days after a female worker in her 30s began developing symptoms and got tested.

A warning was sent to diners who had visited the restaurant on July 9, 10, 11, 12 and 14, and all employees who had contact with the woman were instructed to get tested and isolate.

In the weeks following, the virus spread like wildfire and was linked to five other community clusters across south west and western Sydney.

On July 22, a case with no known source was linked to the Thai Rock Restaurant in Potts Point, where the patient had dined on July 17.

Less than a week later, a staff member at the Apollo Restaurant in Potts Point was diagnosed with coronavirus, also with no known exposure.

A media blitz calling for testing of staff and patrons of both restaurants led to contact tracers finding a couple who had eaten at Thai Rock in Potts Point on July 17 and the Apollo on July 22 – linking the cases.

Since the supercluster began, cases have been linked to funeral gatherings, an under-5s football game, and Our Lady of Lebanon Cathedral in Harris Park.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian said she remained deeply concerned about south west and west of Sydney, as there had been multiple cases almost every day with no known source, leading authorities to believe there is a yet-to-be-detected strain travelling through the area.

She said there were cases nearly every day from residents of the area who had no known source and more than a dozen that were still under investigation weeks later.

“These (cases) are part of the same strain but they don’t have a confirmed source as to where the virus was acquired,” she said.

“For that reason, we are really encouraging people in southwest and western Sydney to come forward and get tested.”

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Australian News

Rock climbing’s newfound popularity uncovers dark past of unsavoury route names, sparking its #MeToo moment

As society has grappled with cultural reckonings of movements like Black Lives Matter and #MeToo, sport has not been spared.

None more so than the sport of rock climbing, where a debate about the names of climbing routes has divided what was once a small, close-knit community with strong traditions.

Warning: The following article contains words and phrases that may offend some readers

In just the past two months, a debate has exploded within the climbing fraternity about route names considered to be sexist, misogynistic, homophobic and racist.

Names like Rape and Carnage, Rape and Pillage, Flogging a Dead Faggot, Pasty Poofs and One Less Bitch have been raised as being deeply offensive.

As a result, climbing has been forced to reconcile its past.

“Definitely it’s grotesque,” Emma Horan, who has represented Australia in climbing and runs one of Sydney’s largest bouldering gyms, said.

“I started climbing when I was seven and I’d never considered the implication of the names — I guess that’s my privilege.

“And then [when] one of our other friends, who’d been climbing for not too long, made reference to it, I thought, ‘Actually, that is really bad.'”

There are thousands of route names in Australia alone.

A man hangs by one arm from a colourful indoor rock climbing wall.
Indoor rock climbing has grown in popularity in recent years.(ABC News: Daniel Irvine)

Many relate to sexual acts, while others refer to band names, musicians, drugs, and even Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter.

The debate has exposed fractures in a sport that has grown massively over the past decade. It moved from the alternative to the mainstream as indoor climbing gyms took off and the sport became an Olympic event.

How a climbing route is named

It all goes back to one of climbing’s unwritten rules around the sanctity of what’s known as “the first ascensionist” — the person who first climbs a route has the right to name it.

Some of them are written down in print in the form of guidebooks. Hundreds of thousands of others exist in cyberspace on a database called The Crag, which also functions as a social network for climbers.

“These names are maybe given in a moment of excitement and people are very young and think they’re funny,” The Crag’s head of business development, Ulf Fuchslueger, said.

“Very often in Australia, once a name is given to the first route on a cliff, people try to stay in the same context.”

A rock wall in the Grampians with metal climbing spikes and hooks
Metal climbing spikes and hooks can be seen on the face of this rock in the Grampians.(Supplied; Parks Victoria)

And so, in one of the Australian flash points around the popular climbing cliffs near Nowra on the New South Wales South Coast, you get the name One Less Bitch, followed by Queen Bitch, Bitch’n, Bitch Slap and so on.

But this is where the context of the debate gets murky — where one person’s humour or homage is another’s offensive statement.

One Less Bitch is a name of a song by controversial American hip hop group NWA.

Many of the names were given in the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s in what was then a largely counter-culture sport, much like surfing.

“You live out in the wild, you sleep at the cliff — it was not just a sport,” Fuchslueger said.

“There was all that revolutionary aspect of climbing as well.”

And it was particularly popular with some social groups — “punks, a bunch of hippies”, according to Horan.

“If you look at the people who were climbing early on, it’s a very male, white-dominated sport,” said Riley Edwards, president of LGBTQ rock climbing and social club ClimbingQTs.

A lot of those young men were listening to rap and punk and naming route names after their favourite songs, or making jokes about sex and porn.

“A lot of the racially toned names have come from rap culture, which in the ’80s and ’90s wasn’t so much discussed as inappropriate for white people to reference,” Horan said.

“When it was a bunch of young guys down at the crag, I don’t think they had the intention of anyone else doing those [climbs].

“I obviously am not comfortable with it, I know a lot of friends that are also not comfortable with it.”

Climbing community pushes back

Names such as Flogging a Dead Faggot — which has recently been reviewed and is listed in The Crag as “Sanitize Review” — are particularly problematic for gay climbers.

“For someone who may not have come out to their family or friends, to see these really homophobic slurs, if they read those things in the climbing space, or if they hear someone making a joke, how are they ever going to become comfortable in themselves, let alone to their climbing peers to be themselves?” Edwards said.

There was a time when only a handful of people would have known about the names, but the explosion in popularity of indoor climbing has led to many more people discovering them after making the switch to outdoor climbing.

The debate first began in Mexico two years ago, according to Fuchslueger, over a route called Tinder Pussy.

A rock climber looks downwards while hanging from the face of a large rock
Historically, the first person to climb a route has the honour of naming it.(Supplied)

When the Black Lives Matter movement erupted this year, it prompted a debate in the US about climbing route names that referenced slavery.

Very quickly, a similar debate began in Australia, exploding on social media and in climbing forums.

“It ended up in pretty nasty comments on our forums — we even had to delete some of that stuff because in itself it was pretty offensive,” Fuchslueger said.

The debate has mirrored others in the arts, media and public life over historic figures, their beliefs, and works.

“This sounds like the book 1984, where history is being rewritten to suit the regime,” one post on The Crag read.

A muscular man without a shirt climbs the exterior of a large rock
Ulf Fuchslueger says debate over renaming routes online ended up “pretty nasty”.(Supplied: Berna Fuchslueger)

Another said: “Climbers do seem to have a unique, and at times excruciatingly funny, sense of humour. It would be a travesty if it was supressed for something as trivial and irrelevant to real life as political correctness.”

The argument that “it was funny at the time” carries no weight for Edwards, though.

“It just seems like an outdated perspective, most likely coming from someone who’s never been subject to any form of discrimination or harassment,” they said.

‘It’s a complete change of culture’

Rob LeBreton, one of the original developers (route setters) and guidebook author for Nowra, was approached by the ABC to be interviewed but did not respond. None of his names have been flagged as offensive.

In an article for rock climbing magazine Vertical Life, he attempted a nuanced take on the debate, arguing: “Those that are blatantly racist, sexist, promote sexual violence, homophobic, etc, have no place in climbing or society.”

A rock climber ponders his next move while climbing the face of a big outdoor rock
Fuchslueger says older climbers “resent” the sport’s rise in mainstream popularity.(Supplied: Berna Fuchslueger)

He said context was important and that climbing opened his eyes to diversity, referencing the route names that came from rap music.

“For many of us, it was the first time we had seen African Americans as something other than the amusing sidekick in a movie or TV show,” he wrote.

The Crag is attempting to change the names and, indeed, Fuchslueger says many first ascensionists are coming forward to ask for that to happen.

But Fuchslueger acknowledges that it’s a slow process for a sport which, in some regards, is still struggling with its new-found popularity.

A climber clambers up a rock as members of a team applaud and give support.
Members of Melbourne climbing community ClimbingQTs.(Supplied: Australian Sports Foundation)

“It’s a big thing for climbing — it’s a complete change of culture, and that’s maybe one of the reasons that some people that are part of the older climbing community are not so happy with what’s going on,” he said.

“It’s all the people that are coming out of gyms that were never involved in setting up climbing areas and bolting. I’m sure there are many people who resent that.”

And therein lies one of the conundrums of the debate: how to preserve the sanctity and the legacy of the “first ascensionist” — that person who holds a special place in climbing.

“Even though these people had named them terribly, they have still done a service to the sport in actually being the developer of these areas,” Horan said.

“It costs a lot of money; it takes a lot of personal time. I don’t inherently think these individuals are bad, they’re just not particularly smart in their naming choices.”

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Australian News

Pharmacy staff isolated after dining at Thai Rock

Nearly 20 staff members at the pharmacy attached to St Vincent’s Private Hospital in Sydney are in self-isolation, after 18 of them dined at the Thai Rock restaurant in Potts Point, where a coronavirus case has since been confirmed.

A spokesman for HPS, which runs the pharmacy separately to the hospital, told NCA NewsWire the staff were there for dinner on July 17.

“It has since been confirmed that one Thai Rock Potts Point restaurant employee has been diagnosed positive to COVID-19,” he said.

“In accordance with a NSW Health directive that anyone who visited the restaurant for more than two hours between July 15 and July 25 to be tested and self-isolate for 14 days, the pharmacy staff who dined at the restaurant are currently in self isolation awaiting the results of COVID-19 tests.”

An earlier report from 2GB suggests the directive has left just one staff member standing.

Despite the potential issue, St Vincent’s Private Hospital and the pharmacy have arrangements in place to continue pharmacy operations for the hospital.

“Patient and staff welfare are the priority,” the spokesman said.

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Isolation warning for Thai Rock patrons

NSW Health has issued a warning to patrons of the Thai Rock restaurant at Potts Point which has the same owners as its namesake eatery in Wetherill Park linked to 67 coronavirus cases.

The sister restaurants, which lie about 40km apart, have now both recorded infections, with a staff member at the Potts Point venue now testing positive and the premises closed for cleaning.

But surprisingly, contact tracers have not yet identified a link between cases at the two sites.

NSW Health is directing everyone who attended the Potts Point Thai Rock within a 10-day period up to last Saturday to immediately be tested for COVID-19 and self-isolate for 14 days from the date they were there.

The direction is for anyone who was there for two hours or more between Wednesday, July 15 and Saturday, July 25 to isolate, regardless of whether they have any symptoms.

This new advice follows an investigation into a case announced last week of a person who had reported attending Thai Rock Potts Point on Friday, 17 July.

The owners of Thai Rock Potts Point also own Thai Rock in Wetherill Park, a cluster that now has 67 cases of coronavirus linked to it.

Contact tracing is under way and NSW Health said investigations to date have not identified links between cases at the two sites.

In addition, two western Sydney Vietnamese restaurants, in Bankstown and Cabramatta, have been named as possible infection spots after a couple with COVID-19 visited both.

Anyone who falls under the isolation direction from NSW Health must isolate for 14 days, where they test negative or not.

If you do develop COVID-19 symptoms, you should be retested, even if you have had a negative result previously.

NSW Health is also asking other Sydneysiders to be on alert for symptoms.

A couple who were reported with coronavirus yesterday attended two restaurants while infectious – An Restaurant in Bankstown on July 23 from 9-11am and Tan Viet Noodle House (AKA Crispy Chicken Noodle House) in Cabramatta on July 22 from 1-2pm.

Anyone who attended either of these restaurants at these times should monitor for symptoms and immediately isolate and seek testing if they appear.

A child who attends Georges River Grammar School in Georges Hall also tested positive for coronavirus today.

The school is closed while contact tracing and cleaning are under way.

The child is linked with a funeral and related church services in southwestern Sydney between July 16 and 19.

The events were:

A service at St Brendan’s Catholic Church, Bankstown for one hour from 6.30pm on July 16.

A service at Ausia Funeral Services, Fairfield East between 1pm and 8pm on July 17.

A funeral service at St Brendan’s Catholic Church, Bankstown for one hour from 10am on July 18.

A burial service at St John of God Lawn, at Rookwood cemetery between 11.30am and 1pm on July 18.

A service at Our Lady of Mt Carmel, Mt Pritchard for one hour from 7.30am on July 19.

NSW Health has advised that “everyone who attended these events is now considered a close contact and must isolate, get tested for COVID-19 regardless of any symptoms”.

NSW Health also said that these close contacts must “continue to self-isolate for 14 days even if the test is negative. If symptoms develop get tested again”.

“Close contacts will be notified to undertake 14-day self-isolation after their last contact with the case and undertake testing for COVID if they develop symptoms”.

Close contacts can attend a clinic on the full list of COVID-19 testing clinics available, or visit their GP.

Australia has recorded 14,403 cases in total, including 475 over the past 24 hours.

NSW recorded 14 new cases in the 24 hours up to 8pm last night.

Victoria recorded 459 new COVID-19 cases and 10 new deaths yesterday, marking the state’s deadliest day since the pandemic began.

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Thai Rock Restaurant, Wetherill Park diners warned to isolate

There have been three coronavirus cases linked to a Thai restaurant in Sydney, prompting further warnings for anyone who dined there to get tested and isolate.

NSW is directing anyone who went to the Thai Rock restaurant in Stockland Mall, Wetherill Park, on July on 9, 10, 11, 12 and 14 to immediately get tested for COVID-19 and self-isolate for 14 days, regardless of symptoms.

“Anyone who develops COVID-19 symptoms should also be retested, even if they have had a negative result previously,” officials said in a statement this afternoon.

“Everyone must stay in isolation for a full 14 days even if their test is negative.”

READ MORE: NSW announces new restrictions

READ MORE: ‘Worrying’ question experts can’t answer

The health advice has been changed after officials identified a third case linked to the restaurant in a customer who dined there on July 10.

Earlier today, NSW Health announced details about a woman in her 30s from southwest Sydney who worked at the restaurant on those dates.

There was also a previously identified case in another customer who also dined at the restaurant on July 10.

“Contact tracing for all those who attended the restaurant in this period is under way and investigations continue,” NSW Health said.

The restaurant is closed. The restaurant said all employees who have had contact with the worker were self isolating and being tested.

“We have immediately activated our protocols at Stockland Wetherill Park and Thai Rock is closed for deep cleaning,” they said in a statement.

NSW Health also said cases linked to the expanding Crossroads Hotel cluster are being investigated after people with the virus visited other venues.

More than 42 confirmed cases are now linked to the hotel in Casula.

There are also more than 25 venues across NSW including gyms, pubs, supermarkets, cafes and shopping centres that have been identified as possible coronavirus hot spots.

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Rio Tinto investors ‘shocked’, want answers on rock shelter blast

The destruction of the rock shelters sparked international outcry and federal government promises to examine the adequacy of heritage-protection laws. Rio has issued an apology to the Puutu Kunti Kurrama and Pinikura People (PKKP) and on Sunday pledged to immediately review its approach to dealing with heritage matters. But the PKKP has rejected Rio’s insistence the group had not previously relayed its preference that the rock shelters be preserved. “For Rio Tinto to suggest otherwise is incorrect,” a statement said.


Ms Davidson said it was disappointing that communications appeared to have broken down between Rio Tinto and the traditional owners. “We want to understand how the company will engage with local communities on future issues,” she said.

Susheela Peres da Costa, head of advisory at governance firm Regnan, which advises institutional investors, said clients had begun asking about the ethical and sustainability implications of Rio’s actions.

“Rio Tinto is generally one of the better performers on cultural heritage and indigenous issues, and something has clearly gone wrong here,” she said. “Because of this, we will be very attentive to why.”

Ms Peres da Costa said the situation raised serious questions about Rio’s engagement processes and governance controls. “From the statements made by Rio and PKKP, a failure of communication seems possible – either between Rio and the traditional owner groups or internally at Rio, between those in contact with PKKP and those making the decision to go ahead with the denotations,” she said.

“If it was the former, we’d have to ask about the effectiveness of the stakeholder relations processes. If the latter, our questions are more likely about the effectiveness of Rio’s internal controls – a governance question.”

Shareholder activists have written to Rio chairman Simon Thompson to convey “sadness and, to be frank, anger” about the destruction of the priceless and irreplaceable site. In a letter, the Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility (ACCR), a Rio shareholder, said the miner’s commitments to United Nations guidelines on human rights and the rights of indigenous people required it to go beyond the legal minimum standards in each jurisdiction.

The group’s director, Brynn O’Brien, said the disaster “squanders” Rio’s work to enhance its social licence and long-term value. She had spoken with large investors, fund managers and industry bodies in recent days, signalling there was a “high level of concern” about the company’s actions and discussions about whether investors will push for certain consequences.

“We call on you to provide a transparent explanation of how this occurred, despite clear policy commitments that should have prevented it, as well as an outline of Rio Tinto’s plans to provide a remedy to those whose rights have been violated,” the letter said.

Rio Tinto iron ore chief executive Chris Salisbury said the miner, in partnership with the PKKP, had followed a heritage approval process for more than 10 years and, in 2014, undertook a large-scale exercise to retrieve and preserve significant cultural artefacts from the area, recovering about 7000 objects.

“We will continue to work with the PKKP to learn from what has taken place and strengthen our partnership,” he said.

On Monday, WA Aboriginal Affairs Minister Ben Wyatt told ABC Radio he was not aware of the blast or of traditional owners’ concerns beforehand.

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Climber rescued from rock cliff in Blue Mountains

A climber is being rescued from a rock cliff in the Blue Mountains after falling and breaking his bones earlier in the day.

Rescue crews are dangerously helping get the climber to safety at Point Pilcher lookout in Medlow Bath this evening.

He is wrapped in a thermal blanket, sitting on a 1m rock ledge, halfway down the 150m cliff face.

He was part of a group of three climbing the cliff.

A rescue helicopter is being used to winch the injured man to paramedics at the top of the cliff.

He is believed to have a “significant” arm injury.

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Little Richard, rock pioneer behind hits Long Tall Sally, Tutti Frutti, dies aged 87

Little Richard, regarded as the founding father of rock music, has died aged 87.

His son Danny Penniman confirmed the singer’s death to Rolling Stone but said the cause of death was unknown.

Born Richard Wayne Penniman in Georgia in 1932, he began his performing career as a teenager in the late 1940s, but his breakthrough came when he signed to Specialty Records in 1955.

He released a run of singles that were among the most flamboyant of the Rock and Roll era, including Tutti Frutti, Long Tall Sally and Rip It Up.

He built his ground-breaking sound with a boiling blend of boogie-woogie, rhythm and blues and gospel.

Little Richard influenced legions of performers whose fame would eventually outstrip his own.


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