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Sydney bushfire causes evacuations, halts Big Brother production


An out of control bushfire caused evacuations on Sydney’s northern beaches on Saturday – and forced production crews to flee the Big Brother house.

The fire at North Head, near Manly, started as a hazard reduction burn before turning into an emergency when flames were blown past containment lines.

The blaze sent smoke billowing across Sydney Harbour, leaving a haze hanging over the city.

NSW Fire and Rescue said about 200 people were forced to evacuate from locations close to the fire in the national park, including the historic Quarantine Station.

That included the 50-strong production team from Big Brother – including host Sonia Kruger – which is working on the 2021 edition of the reality show.

“Due to the impact of a prescribed hazard reduction burn at North Head, the Big Brother crew onsite were safely evacuated,” a spokesperson for production company Endemol Shine Australia said.

“Filming is yet to commence and production will resume when it is safe to do so.”

Text messages sent to staff show filming was meant to begin on Saturday, when contestants were expected to arrive on site.

On Sunday the Rural Fire Service said the fire was “pretty much contained” after a night of backburning and rain.

It had burned through about 10ha of the national park by the time it was brought under control.



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Man dies after motorcycle, SUV collide in Sydney


A man has died following a crash between a motorcycle and an SUV in Sydney’s west on Sunday.

The motorcyclist, believed to be a man in is 30s, was found unresponsive by emergency services at the crash site on The Horsley Drive, Smithfield about 12.15pm.

Despite the efforts of police and NSW Ambulance paramedics, the man died at the scene.

The 73-year-old driver of the other vehicle was taken to hospital for mandatory tests.

He was not injured.

Police are investigating the circumstances surrounding the crash.

Anyone with information should call Crime Stoppers, 1800 333 000.

heath.parkes-hupton@news.com.au



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On the 20th anniversary of the Sydney Paralympics, the stars of the Games share their memories


In 2000, Australia won the summer Paralympic Games, earning a whopping 63 gold medals on home soil in Sydney.

Twenty years on, those winners spoke to the ABC as they looked back at the event they say led to a major shift in Australia’s perception of disabilities.

Louise Sauvage

A woman in a wheelchair watches a younger woman in a racing wheelchair intently.
Louise Sauvage represented Australia to the world. Now, she’s turned her attentions on up-and-comers.(ABC News: Brendan Esposito)

Twenty years ago Paralympian Louise Sauvage was one of the biggest stars of the Sydney 2000 games.

Now she “couldn’t think of anything better” than training the athletes of the future.

The wheelchair racer picked up two gold and one silver to help Australia finish on the top of the competition’s medal table.

The now-47-year-old has moved into coaching, backing fellow wheelchair athlete Madison de Rozario ahead of Tokyo in 2021 — and gold is firmly in their sights.

“I think the biggest highlight for me now and the biggest buzz is being part of someone else’s journey, helping them to achieve their goals,” Sauvage said.

Two women laugh side by side
Sauvage says it is a ‘buzz’ to help others achieve their goals.(ABC News: Brendan Esposito)

Looking back on the Sydney games, Sauvage said the opening ceremony was a moment she would never forget.

It was a close-kept secret that she’d be lighting the cauldron.

“My family was up in the stands, they had no clue either so it was a big surprise for them too,” Sauvage said.

“It was fantastic just to have that massive honour, it was just phenomenal.”

But, medals and fanfare aside, Sauvage said the Sydney Paralympics changed the way people with a disability were seen.

And it’s that true sense of competition that the superstar coach instils in her athletes.

A close up shot of an athletic young woman. Her face is best described as 'focussed'.
De Rozario has her sights set firmly on gold at Tokyo 2021.(ABC News: Brendan Esposito)

“Knowing Louise is there and having experienced everything that I want to be able to achieve is one of the most reassuring things,” De Rozario said.

“I think I’m so lucky to have someone in my corner who [knows] all of the emotions that come with racing and training and the extreme kinds of successes and failures, she’s experienced all of it.”

Siobhan Paton

Canberra woman Siobhan Paton has mixed feelings about the Sydney 2000 games. At the time of the competition she didn’t know it would be her first and last Paralympics.

Paton, who lives with an intellectual disability, was just 17 years old and became a household name when she won six gold medals in the pool.

Her beaming face was all over the newspapers and magazines and a postage stamp was created in her honour. Paton was later named “Paralympian of the Year”.

A photo of a magazine clipping, showing a young Siobhan smiling by the pool.
Siobhan Paton was 17 years old when she won six gold medals in the pool at the Sydney 2000 Paralympics.

“It was wonderful that I was number one,” she said. “[But] I would have been smiling if I was number two or three, I was ecstatic, it was great that I did this.”

A cheating scandal at the 2000 Paralympics that had nothing to do with Paton put a stop to her swimming career.

Ten members of the winning Spanish basketball team were revealed as not having an intellectual disability. They were stripped of their gold medals and a criminal investigation followed.

The International Paralympic Committee banned all athletes with intellectual disabilities and they only returned in 2012 at the London Paralympics.

While she swam at the world championships in 2004 and won 14 gold medals, Paton was unable to compete in Athens or Beijing.

She said it hit her “very, very hard.”

A woman holds up a gold medal and smiles.
Siobhan Paton says the ban on athletes with intellectual disabilities at the Athens and Beijing Games hit her “very, very hard”.(ABC News: Gregory Nelson)

She spent six weeks in hospital receiving treatment for her mental health and lives with depression to this day.

“I have good days, I have bad days, I have bad weeks,” she said. “I can have bad months, something will just trigger and whatnot, but I cope with it. I live with it.”

Tim Matthews

Victorian sprinter Tim Matthews was part of a relay team that won two gold and broke various records at the Sydney games.

It was his second Paralympics after competing in Atlanta four years earlier.

Tim Matthews races in the 2000 Paralympic Games
The Sydney 2000 Paralympic Games was Matthews’ second Paralympic Games.(Supplied: Paralympics Australia)

He said there was no doubt the Sydney event was a watershed moment for the disability movement around the world.

“I think people with a disability now have a voice and a lot more exposure,” he said.

Like Sauvage, Matthews is now giving back. He’s currently coaching star long jumper and sprinter Kelly Cartwright — who won gold and silver at the London Games — to qualify for Tokyo.

Tim Matthews and Kelly Cartwright
Paralympic athlete Tim Matthews says the Sydney 2000 Paralympic Games were a ‘watershed’ moment for the global disability movement(ABC News: Patrick Stone)

Matthews has also been working as a talent spotter and trainer with Paralympics Australia.

“They realise they’re eligible for Paralympic sport and then [we] work out which sport might be best suited to them depending on their impairment and their classification,” he said.

“Then to see some of those athletes grow and develop and go on to be Paralympic gold medallists is awesome.”

Tim Matthews coaches Kelly Cartwright
Cartwright hopes that with Matthews’s coaching, she will qualify for the Tokyo 2021 Paralympic Games.(ABC News: Patrick Stone)

Danni Di Toro

When wheelchair athlete Danni Di Toro pushes into the stadium with the Australian team for the opening ceremony at Tokyo next year, it will be her seventh Paralympics.

At the Sydney 2000 games, she competed in wheelchair tennis and won a silver medal in the doubles.

“Looking back 20 years is like, I feel kind of old,” she laughed. “But it’s so strange, I feel like that was a moment ago.

“The whole country came together to celebrate everyone, celebrate diversity.”

a woman smiles into the camera. a table tennis table is behind her.
Danni Di Toro competed in wheelchair tennis at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, but now competes in para-table tennis.(ABC News: Patrick Stone)

Di Toro has since switched sports and is now a para-table tennis athlete.

She became a paraplegic after a wall collapsed on her at a school swimming carnival.

For Di Toro, who has been competing for more than 30 years, the Sydney games elevated Paralympic sport to a whole new level.

“You’d enter a stadium, [with] 10,000 people for every match,” she said.

“You know, usually your mum and your dad and your dog comes to watch but for the first time ever, there was actually people watching and staying because what they were seeing was extraordinary talent on display.”

Danni Di Toro competes in the 2000 Sydney Paralympic Games
Danni Di Toro won a silver medal in the wheelchair tennis doubles event at the Sydney 2000 Paralympic Games.(Supplied: Paralympics Australia)

Living in Melbourne, Di Toro’s training for Tokyo has been “pretty crazy” due to the coronavirus lockdowns.

Like many athletes, her coach has been joining her over Zoom and she’s set-up a ball machine in her backyard.

Danni is slightly blurred as she is in mid-motion after swinging her table tennis racquet
Di Toro is preparing for a ‘very different games experience’ if the Tokyo 2021 Paralympic Games go ahead despite the coronavirus.(ABC News: Patrick Stone)

Di Toro has her “fingers crossed” that her seventh Paralympics will go ahead.

“It’s going to be a very different games experience, ” she said. ” But if we can get there, it’s going to be an incredible celebration of so many things.”



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Penrith Panthers beat South Sydney Rabbitohs 20-16 to set up NRL grand final against Melbourne Storm


The Penrith Panthers are into the NRL grand final against Melbourne after a scrappy 20-16 win over South Sydney.

The minor premiers reached their first decider in 17 years with the 17th win of their record streak, which broke the record of the last Penrith team to play in the last game of the year, in 2003.

Next Sunday they’ll face a seasoned grand finalist in Melbourne, after their 30-10 win over Canberra on Friday night.

On Saturday, the sixth-placed Rabbitohs were punching well above their weight as they looked to ride their hot late-season form into a surprise grand final appearance.

A whopping 13 points separated them on the ladder this year, but the grand final qualifier was a completely different matter.

South Sydney Rabbitohs players are strewn across the grass after losing an NRL preliminary final against Penrith.
South Sydney put up an almighty fight, but Penrith’s class won out.(AAP: Dan Himbrechts)

In what proved to be a harbinger of things to come, the Rabbitohs opened the scoring off a Penrith error, when Corey Allan picked the pocket of opposing fullback Dylan Edwards.

Cody Walker was dragged down a metre from the tryline by Brian To’o, but that left the Panthers’ left wing exposed, and Adam Reynolds landed a pin-point kick into the arms of Alex Johnston on the next play.

But a bad drop by Johnston at the other end handed Penrith the equaliser a few minutes later, and Nathan Cleary’s boot handed the minor premiers the lead when he landed a kick in no man’s land for Tyrone May to touch down in the 27th minute.

A penalty goal gave the Panthers a 14-6 lead at half-time but with 30 tackle busts and seven line breaks it would have been more if not for eight costly errors.

The Rabbitohs got back into the fight when Cameron Murray and Walker sparked a short-side raid and Dane Gagai finished it off in the 49th minute.

South Sydney stayed in touch thanks to exceptional defence and more Penrith errors, including one on the tryline after a try-saving tackle by Johnston on Stephen Crichton, who dropped the ball while trying to capitalise on yet another line break.

But four minutes later, workhorse Isaah Yeo broke through the middle and found Edwards back inside for a try under the posts in the 67th minute for what appeared to be the game-sealer.

The Rabbitohs had other ideas, though, and Allan produced a moment of magic off a wayward pass that flew at his feet, but he trapped and soccered ahead to score in the 72nd minute. Epitomising the effort of the sixth-placed Rabbitohs, he could barely celebrate the pivotal four-pointer because of a severely corked thigh.

Reynolds tried to come up with his own moment of magic two minutes later, dropping back behind the play on the fifth tackle and kicking what he thought was a game-changing 40/20 off one step, but his left foot was planted on the 40m line, meaning it was Panthers ball.

They held on and advanced to the grand final for the first time since the 2003 premiership, where they’ll try to add the Provan-Summons Trophy to the JJ Giltinan Shield.



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Sydney Roosters lose injured Olympic gold medallist Charlotte Caslick for remainder of NRLW season


The Sydney Roosters have lost Olympic rugby sevens star Charlotte Caslick to injury for the remainder of the NRLW competition.

Caslick, who made her NRLW debut earlier this month, was sidelined after sustaining two small fractures in her lumbar spine.

She has already commenced a recovery program and will remain with the Roosters’ NRLW squad as they continue their build-up to the grand final on October 25.

Caslick was a member of Australia’s gold medal-winning rugby sevens team at the Rio Olympics in 2016.

Her availability to play NRLW this season came after the Tokyo Olympics were postponed until next year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

She will return to the national rugby sevens ahead of next year’s Games.

“It’s a great time for me and I think I would have regretted it if I put it off for another year,” Caslick said last month.

Charlotte Caslick in full stride
Caslick helped Australia win Olympic gold in rugby sevens in Rio.(AAP: Dean Lewins)

The 25-year-old backline star appeared in both of the Roosters’ two victories so far this NRLW season.

She posted an impressive 163 running metres in the Roosters’ opening 18-4 win over St George Illawarra and backed up that performance in attack with 119 running metres in the 22-12 defeat of the Warriors.

The Roosters and Broncos are guaranteed to face each other in the NRLW grand final, despite one round remaining in the competition.

They are both undefeated ahead of their regular-season clash at Sydney’s Olympic stadium on Saturday.

They will meet again at the same venue eight days later.



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Transgender activists march in Sydney despite court ban


A march for transgender rights went ahead in Sydney on Saturday despite a court ban on the protest.

LGBTQ activist April Holcombe and her group Community Action for Rainbow Rights called the march in the inner city neighbourhood of Darlinghurst a “victory” despite one arrest made and several fines handed down to attendees.

“It was quite outrageous that we were being suppressed, but people had the guts to show up anyway. It’s about making people understand how vulnerable trans people are,” Ms Holcombe said.

The group claimed 500 people joined the march.

A 19-year-old from Bronte was arrested and charged with resist or hinder police officer in the execution of duty, assault officer in the execution of duty and not comply with noticed directions, police said.

The teen was granted conditional bail and is due to appear in court next month.

Officers also handed out 11 fines for alleged breaches of COVID-19 health orders, and one move-on direction.

The NSW Supreme Court ruled in favour of a police bid Friday to shut the protest down on the grounds it would pose a COVID-19 risk.

Ms Holcombe said that argument rang hollow to her, and pointed to a separate decision Friday to create a special exemption under a health order for 11,000 people to be able to attend the Everest race.

“I think it’s clear the court decision had nothing to do with concerns for public health, and I think people can see that,” she said.

The march was called to protest a proposed bill by One Nation’s Mark Latham that would prevent teaching or discussion about transgender people in government schools by banning any mention of “gender fluidity”.

The term is defined by Mr Latham as the belief there is a difference between sex and gender.



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South Sydney Rabbitohs defeat Parramatta Eels 38-24 to reach NRL preliminary finals



A stunning second half from South Sydney saw Parramatta eliminated from the NRL finals series via a 38-24 defeat at Western Sydney Stadium on a day of much drama for the Eels.

South Sydney’s win sets up a preliminary final with minor premiers Penrith at Sydney’s Olympic stadium next Saturday night.

The Eels had been rocked on Saturday morning by the revelation former Test and State of Origin centre Michael Jennings had failed a doping test and would be provisionally suspended under the NRL’s anti-doping policy.

The NRL said Jennings returned a positive A-sample for banned substances Ligandrol and Ibutamoren and three of their metabolites.

He had been named in the Eels’ squad to face the Rabbitohs and his withdrawal meant rookie winger Haze Dunster was given a baptism of fire after getting the call-up to debut in the morning.

Dunster was thrown onto the wing as a part of Brad Arthur’s patched-together backline with Maika Sivo and Blake Ferguson also missing through injury.

And while the Eels were gutsy in defeat, their season ended in front of 14,510 spectators.

The match was there for the taking at half-time when the Eels led 18-8 following a flurry of points within four minutes, all either set up or scored by star fullback Clint Gutherson.

But the Rabbitohs pounced with two quick converted tries to start the second half and clawed back the lead.

Eels halfback Mitch Moses had the chance to level the scores with a penalty goal in the 62nd minute but the ball hit the posts and Rabbitohs winger Jaxon Paulo went streaking down the sideline.

Full of steam, the Rabbitohs landed on Eels line, with Gutherson bobbling a grubber kick from Damien Cook just enough for Bailey Sironen to ground the ball.

Eels five-eighth Dylan Brown threw an intercept for Paulo to score his second of the night with 10 minutes to go.

The try put the Rabbitohs in front 32-18 but the Eels went down fighting.

Jennings’s younger brother George, playing on the wing for the Eels, grabbed his second try of the night with five minutes to go in the match.

But a late try to Damien Cook put an end to a miserable day for the Eels, leaving Parramatta players strewn and emotional on the turf.

It is the second year in the row the Eels have bowed out of the finals in week two and the third time in four seasons.

AAP/ABC



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Brisbane Broncos to play Sydney Roosters in NRLW grand final



The Brisbane Broncos will look to claim a historic three-peat when they face the Sydney Roosters in the NRLW grand final, despite one round of the round-robin competition left to play next week.

After the Roosters made it back-to-back victories to open the season with a 22-12 defeat of the Warriors on Saturday, the Broncos also stayed undefeated with a dramatic 18-4 win over St George Illawarra at the Western Sydney Stadium.

The round-two results mean both teams — who will clash in a dead-rubber match at Sydney’s Olympic stadium next week — will meet each other again in the grand final on October 25.

But the Broncos’ win was soured by captain Ali Brigginshaw being put on report for attacking the legs of Dragons halfback Maddie Studdon while in mid-air in the second half.

The Dragons also lost star second rower Kezie Apps (knee) and reigning Dally M medallist Isabelle Kelly (ankle) to suspected serious injuries.

Broncos centre Jayme Fressard also failed to finish the match due to an ankle issue, forcing the Broncos to play the final seven minutes of the match with 12 players.

But winger Lauren Brown sealed their place in the grand final with a try from close range in the 57th minute.

St George Illawarra will face the Warriors next week in a battle of the wooden spoon.

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Earlier, the Roosters worked their way to a two-try lead over the Warriors at half-time on Saturday before continuing their dominance in the second term.

Halfback Zahara Tamara was arguably best on ground, highlighted by her entry for try-of-the-season when she beat four defenders on her way to a 50-metre individual effort in the second half.

Warriors pair Kirra Dibb and Evania Pelite, who raced 70 metres around high-profile signing Charlotte Caslick for a solo try, added some respectability to the scoreline, but by then the damage was done.

There was plenty of anticipation around Caslick switching to fullback for the Roosters, but the 2016 Olympic gold medallist was outshone by her in-form teammates in the frontline.

Lock Hannah Southwell was again a menace in defence, while second rower Kennedy Cherrington and hooker Quincy Dodd also were a handful when injected off the bench into the contest.

Caslick came from the field midway through the second period, minutes after she was hit awkwardly in a tackle by Warriors five-eighth Dib while bravely fielding a kick close to her line.

But she allayed any health concerns by returning for the final three minutes of the match and finished with 92 metres, four tackle busts and two offloads in another strong showing.

AAP



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NRL finals: Parramatta Eels vs South Sydney Rabbitohs live score, stats and commentary



After learning Michael Jennings has been provisionally suspended, Parramatta looks to keep its season alive in a sudden-death semi-final against South Sydney.

Follow our ScoreCentre for all the live score, stats and commentary.

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Canberra Raiders defeat Sydney Roosters 22-18 in NRL semi-final classic at SCG


The Canberra Raiders are one win away from a second-straight grand final after they exacted revenge on the Sydney Roosters by denying the defending two-time premiers a shot at an NRL three-peat.

The Raiders shot out of the blocks to lead 16-0 after 23 minutes before holding out the fast-finishing Roosters to win 22-18 at the SCG.

The result sets up a preliminary final date with the Melbourne Storm next Friday in Brisbane, with the winner to advance to the season decider on October 25.

Josh Papalii was again immense for the Raiders, as the visitors won the battle of the middle.

Fullback Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad was also superb, with two crucial try-saving tackles on Brett and Josh Morris to halt the Roosters’ charge.

His tackle on Josh Morris in the second half was one of the most important moments of the match. He sprinted across the field to put the Roosters centre into touch when the Raiders were clinging to a 16-12 lead.

Moments later the Raiders had their lead back out to 10 points, as James Tedesco lost his feet trying to field a George Williams kick and Jack Wighton scored.

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But even then the Roosters would not let up in front of 18,110 spectators.

They again cut back the Raiders’ advantage to four points with five minutes to play when Sonny Bill Williams and Sitili Tupouniua combined to put Tedesco over.

And they looked as if they had the Raiders in all sorts of trouble in the dying minutes, only for Tedesco to drop a ball 30 metres out with Canberra short on numbers.

A Canberra Raiders NRL player is tackled across his upper body by two Sydney Roosters opponents.
Raiders enforcer Josh Papalii (centre) is met by the Roosters defence.(AAP: Dan Himbrechts)

Papalii had earlier started the run for the Raiders when he crashed over for the first try of the match from close range, making the most of a piggyback penalty.

The Raiders forward was also instrumental in their next try.

He began a centre-field movement with an offload for John Bateman, before Jordan Rapana put Williams over.

And the match looked all but over when Joseph Tapine pushed his way through five defenders from close to the line to make it 16-0.

But it was then that the Roosters’ comeback started.

Tedesco scored his first try of the evening in the 35th minute and with Kyle Flanagan’s conversion, the Roosters only trailed 16-6 at half-time.

Joey Manu provided plenty of spark, denied once after half-time for a double movement before convincing the bunker moments later to record the Roosters’ second try.

Looming as a threat all night, he picked up a loose ball from 25 metres out and found the line, despite a desperate last effort from Raiders veteran Jarrod Croker.

The loss not only ended the Roosters’ hopes of three straight premiership wins, but it also brought down the curtain on Mitchell Aubusson’s 306-match career with the club.

AAP/ABC



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