Mad Max actor cashes in on $1.3 million Botany sale

If Joy Smithers ever wants to quit her official job as an actor or as a ceramicist she should take up property flipping, judging from the windfall on the sale of her Botany home.
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The three-bedroom house she renovated with her partner, former INXS manager Gary Grant, sold on the weekend for more than $1.3 million, well above the $1 million guide set ahead of this weekend’s planned auction.

The bullish purchase price returned a 72 per cent capital gain to Smithers from the $752,000 she paid for it in late 2013, although she has undertaken a renovation since then.

George Faris, of The Sydney Property Agency, was unable to disclose the exact sale price but said it sold to a young couple from Vaucluse who are hoping to live in the home.

The house, on 304 square metres, includes a rear studio with rear lane access where Smithers’ Batch ceramics were created.

Smithers, who is best known for her roles in Home and Away, All Saints and most recently in Mad Max:Fury Road as part of the The Vuvalini, has increasingly put her efforts in recent years into her ceramics.

But it is her love of renovating that is also getting plenty of creative expression of late. Records show the Smithers and Grant have bought another house in Botany marketed with “redevelopment potential” for $1.54 million.

And like the family home they just sold, the three-bedroom house on 447 square metres also comes with a separate rear studio space, although she says she plans to move her ceramics studio out of the family home.

“The thing I love about Botany is it hasn’t been gentrified yet,” she told Domain when she listed the family home last month. “There are so many gems.” Related: Joy Smithers goes from Mad Max to renovation warriorRelated: Steven Lowy expands beachfront holding by $14.2 millionRelated: Andrew Potter trades one Point Piper waterfront for another

Jackie Mary Hays in court over alleged child grooming at Hunter school

ACCUSED: Jackie Hays leaving Raymond Terrace courthouse on Monday. Picture: Sam Rigney A FORMER female employee of a Hunter school allegedly groomed a male student for sex over a period of 14 months, according to court documents.
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Jackie Mary Hays, 50,appeared in Raymond Terrace Local Court on Monday charged with groom child for unlawful sexual activity, two counts of using acarriage service to groom a person under 16 years for sexual activityand two counts ofusing a carriage service to menace, harass or offend.

Ms Hays, who was represented by barrister Philip Massey, did not enter any pleas and the matter was adjourned to Newcastle Local Court on January 24, where it will be prosecuted by the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions.

The charge ofusing acarriage service to groom a person under 16 years for sexual activity carries a maximum of 10 years in jail.

Police say they established Strike Force Minnamorra in June this year to investigate allegations an employee at a Hunter school had been grooming two male students for sexual activity.

Detectives allege a number of explicit text messages and phone calls were sent between Ms Hays and a male student.

Investigations allegedly revealed a second student was also involved in sending and receiving messages and phone calls from Ms Hays, who the school’s principalsaid was a former member of the support staff.

Ms Hays is accused of trying to groom one of the malestudents for sexual activity between April, 2015, and June, 2016, according to court documents.

She is also accused of using a mobile phone to groom that student between 3.11pm and 8pm on September 21, 2016, and using a carriage service to menace or harass the second student between November and December, 2015.

In a statement addressed to parents after Ms Hays’s arrest, the principal said the school instigated the police investigation by reporting the allegations to the authorities.

“The school has been advised by police that a former member of our support staff has been charged with grooming and improper use of a telecommunications device in relation to two former students,” the statement says.

“The school first became aware of the allegations last year and immediately reported them to the police, Family and Community Services and the NSW Ombudsman.

“While we were not involved in the investigation or privy to the details, we understand that the charges are the result of investigations triggered by our reports.”

GolfBlake Windred wins his third WE Alexander Open title by three shots.

CHAMPION: WE Alexander winner Blake Windred lines up a putt at Waratah on Sunday. Windred has now won the tournament three times. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers.BLAKE Windred dreams of a career as a professional golfer.
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ACE: Justin Ely celebrates after nailing a hole-in-one on the 14th on Sunday.

If and when that becomes a reality, he will reflect on the WE Alexander Open at Waratah as his launchpad.

The 19-year-old Charlestown amateur won the tournament for the third time on Sunday, posting rounds of 68 and 69 to finish three under par, and three ahead of runner-up Clayton Small (Long Reef).

DRIVING AMBITION: Luke Ferrier won Merewether’s A-grade title.

Charlestown’s Brayden Petersenand Justin Ely (Waratah) –who had a hole-in-one on the par-three 14th–finished two shots further back in equal third.

Windred first won the WE Alexander as a 15-year-old and took it out again last year.

“I look at it as a really good stepping stone,” Windred said. “Obviously I’m looking to move on to professional golf, and I suppose bigger and better things.

“But winning this tournament is definitely going to help me achieve what I want to achieve in the future …I have so much respect for the tournament and the people who have won it, so to get my name on the board for a third time is just awesome.”

Small held a two-shot lead after the first round and gained a shot with 12 holes to play.

“It was nice to make a few putts around the turn and slowly get into the lead, especially in the conditions,” Windred said.

“It was pretty tough, rainy and windy, but it felt good to take advantage of that.”

* ANOTHER promising youngster to win a tournament for the third time was Luke Ferrier, who finished three shots ahead of Scott Telfer in Merewether’s A-grade club championships.

Ferrier, whose family homeoverlooks Merewether’s fifth green, won the title for the first time2014, as a 15-year-old.

He was runner-up a year later and won it again last year.As if he didn’t have enough cause to celebrate, this year’s victory coincided with his 18th birthday.

B grade was won by Kyle Anderson, and C grade by Louis Silberberg.

*JACK Newton Junior Golf is expanding its boundaries next year to welcome in even younger players.

For the first time since it was founded 30 years ago, the JNJG Tour is adding 11-years and under-10s divisions to its calendar of events.

The newcomers will play a shortened course and will have a caddy to help them cope with 18 holes.

* CHARLETOWN’S Jake Higginbottom finished 21st last week in the Indonesian Open, played at Pondok Indah Golf Course, Jakarta.

Higginbottom shot rounds of73, 69, 71, 68, to finish at seven-under, 16 behind winnerPanuphol Pittayarat, of Thailand. He collected $US3045 ($3980) for his efforts.

​* ENTRIESclose on Wednesday for the 2017 Newcastle Cup, which will be held at Newcastle Golf Club on Sunday.

Awabakal land council begins restoration work on old post office building in Newcastle CBD

WORK has begun to secure the verandah of Newcastle’s oldpost office, in what has been hailed as the “first step in a long journey” to restore the iconic buildingto its former glory.
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As part of stage one of the project, homeless people who sheltered underneath the building have been moved on and a fence has been erected around the site.

“We’ve been assisted greatly by the Matthew Talbot homelessness service,” Awabakal Aboriginal Local Land Council chief executive Robert Russell said, adding that alternate accommodation had now been found for those affected.

“We’ve cleaned the verandah and taken the remnants from the fire in August, plus the old mattresses and rubbish that had accumulated there. Our contractors are now going to build a more secure box to deny access to the verandah.”

The next stage of the work, being carried out by consultants RPS Group, will help protect the site from further weather damage and deterioration.

“The next stage will involve going in to try and repair the roof as best we can,” Mr Russell said.

“We will be putting up netting to prevent further pigeon infestations and generally start to clean up … some of the vermin and mess that’s been left behind, to put the post office in a more presentable state for people who may be interested in a development or some other arrangement.”

The work is being funded by a $150,000 funding grant from the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage, being matcheddollar-for-dollar by the land council.

Awabakal has listed the post office for sale through Colliers International, with expressions of interest closing later this month.

It has received 70 inquiries from prospective buyers, with suggesteduses for the building include a hotel, an art gallery or a fine-dining restaurant.

“There’s a long way to go but it’s really good to get the first step in this long journey under our belt, and move forward in trying to finally work towards the ultimate restoration of the post office,” Mr Russell said.

Parking woes plague staff

FRUSTRATED: Hospital staff say the battle to find a parking space is getting harder, with one member saying she drove around for an hour searching for a spot.STAFF members at John Hunter Hospital say they are no longer guaranteed a parking spot on site, despite having parking fees deducted from their wages.
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Hospital staff say they are becoming “increasingly frustrated” that the number of people versus the number of available car spaces had gone “beyond parity,” renewing calls for Hunter New England Health to reinstate the park and ride shuttle service.

One staff member, who spoke to the Newcastle Herald on condition of anonymity, said she drove around for an hour looking for a car space before a shift.

“I normally swipe into the staff car park, but it was chock-a-block full. So I tried another one, and I had no luck there either, so then I went to the multi-storey car park there,” she said.

The parking attendant saidshe would have to pay the full day parking rate, despite already having a parking fee deducted from her wage each week.

“The other option was to park along Lookout Road, or up near the water tower, but by that stage, all of those parks were taken too.

“After an hour, it crossed my mind to actually just go home. It’s not good.”

Sonia Hornery,member for Wallsend, said she receivescalls from hospital staff about “inadequate” staff parking “almost weekly.”

An email from hospital management to a staff member in September confirmed they were no longer guaranteed a spot, and would becharged twice if they parked in the public spaces.

Ms Hornery is calling for Hunter New England Health to re-instate the shuttle bus service.

“Staff are under enough stress without thefrustration of having to circle around the number of staff car parks trying to find a spot,” she said. “The added insult of being charged twice to park in the public car park is a disgrace.

“When the shuttle bus from Hunter Stadium was operating, staff parking was never an issue. It was a stress-free option.”

Brett Evans, manager of capital works for the hospital, said parkingfees for staff at John Hunter Hospital varieddepending on their salary, but ranged from$7.40 to $17.49 per week.

He said there were2150 staff carparkingspaces at John Hunter Hospital, and there were no plans to reinstate the shuttle service.

“Staff who pay forparkingon the hospital campus but are unable to find a park should present to the carparkingattendant’s office. The attendant can assist with finding a park in designated staffparkingor elsewhere onthe campus,” he said.

“Parkingfees will be refunded via the employee’s salary in circumstances where they cannot find a park in a designated area and are required to park elsewhere under the advice of the attendant.”