Matt Giteau and Rob Horne ruled out for rest of Rugby Championship

The Wallabies are searching for a new centres pairing after their Bledisloe Cup hopes took another major blow with Matt Giteau and Rob Horne ruled out for the remainder of the Rugby Championship.
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And Michael Cheika is preparing to be without another playmaker in Matt Toomua for the second Test in Wellington after he was taken from the field in the first half of his side’s biggest-ever home defeat – a 42-8 loss to the All Blacks – due to a head knock.

For Giteau, 33, his Wallabies future is hanging by a thread after suffering a syndesmosis injury in the opening exchanges on Saturday evening.

It is an even tougher pill to swallow for the 103-Test veteran after making the trek back from club duties in Toulon knowing full well he faced the risk of being financially worse off.

“He’s done a pretty good job on his leg,” Cheika said. “He’s disappointed but he’s also very realistic. He’s a pro, he still knows he’s got to get himself right to get back to his club commitments later in the season so that’s what he will be doing.”

On a night where three centres were taken off for different injuries, Cheika did not use such bad luck as an excuse for his side’s uninspiring performance.

Horne received scans on Sunday for a shoulder dislocation and will more than likely require surgery.

For Toomua, he will be monitored throughout the week but has been rated little chance of lining up for the must-win game in Wellington.

“I would say he will struggle to be available for this week after he took a pretty heavy head knock,” Cheika said. “We’ll just go through the recovery protocols for the head knock and see how he stands.”

Cheika now has to sit down with the other coaches to best work out how to fill the void at No.12.

The obvious replacement would be Samu Kerevi, who started there in the first two Tests against England, however someone like a Quade Cooper or even Reece Hodge could do a job.

Although fullback Israel Folau slotted into second receiver at various points, Cheika said he was reluctant to move him into the midfield.

“I’ve always seen Israel in the fullback role and that’s been his main role and it’s probably somewhere I’d like to see him keep playing,” Cheika said.

Vice-captain Michael Hooper said the team were feeling for the injured trio, particularly Giteau who has worked so hard to stay within the Wallabies set-up over the last few years.

“It sucks for Matt and for the wider team,” Hooper said. “Hugely disappointing for himself. He’s such a vibrant character with him and Drew [Mitchell] and the other guys who come back. For him to go out so early in the game is really tough to take so it’ll be disappointing not having him at full fitness.”

Cheika disagreed that the Wallabies were in the midst of a post-World Cup hangover and yet again defended his decision to bring a number of older, experienced players back for the series.

“It’s four losses [in 2016] and that shows that we’re out of form and we need to get back in form quickly,” Cheika said. “We’re going to have a week where there’s going to be a lot of negativity around us and it’s going to be a chance to stick together as much as possible and build something out of adversity. We put ourselves there and now we’ve got to get out.

“It’s not like we’re in pension zone from the point of view of the average age of the squad.”

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Grassroots Healing: Good Life Farm helps troubled teens grow confidence

Roaming alpacas: What looks like a carefree day on The Good Life Farm is about something more. Photo: Eddie Jim The Good Life Farm is devoted to helping at-risk young people from Melbourne’s suburbs. Photo: Eddie Jim
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Lesley Porter says the farm teaches consequences: “No firewood, no fire, no lunch. It’s how life is.” Photo: Eddie Jim

Boys at the farm are required to do health checks on the animals and see to their needs. Photo: Eddie Jim

Mucking out: Streams of young people pass through The Good Life Farm each year. Photo: Eddie Jim

Although the horses are big and gentle, kids soon learn they can’t be pushed around. Photo: Eddie Jim

Many of the boys at the farm find themselves drawn to the horses. Photo: Eddie Jim

Lesley Porter wants to establish similar farms across the nation. Photo: Eddie Jim

If it’s pork tomorrow, the boys know it has come from a pig they might have fed last week. Photo: Eddie Jim

The boys attending the course still live at home with parents and family and attend school. Photo: Eddie Jim

Lesley Porter with her daughter Tennile, who also works on the farm. Photo: Eddie Jim

Kids and their therapists attend the farm course. Photo: Eddie Jim

Everyone gathers wood for the campfire. Photo: Eddie Jim

On the farm with dogs Bilbo Baggins and Beamo. Photo: Eddie Jim

Most courses at the farm comprise an equal number of boys and girls. Photo: Eddie Jim

Smoke curls around the figures of 10 boys on a Yarra Valley hillside in wisps and hangs among the trees.

Two horses, coated against the wintry air, drift by. A couple of dogs – Beamo, a border collie-kelpie cross, and Bilbo Baggins, a large-boned animal of indeterminate breed – slink between their legs.

Potatoes roast in the ashes of a campfire. Beans heat in a camp oven. Later the boys will toast marshmallows, sticking the confectionary on sticks. Laughter floats among the trees.

It could, with a tweak here and there, be a painting from the Heidelberg school. An impressionist’s view of a carefree day in the Australian bush.

It is something else altogether.

Those boys up there on the hillside – the one with the anxious eyes, the young fellow laughing too self-consciously, the big lad hunkered down in his hoodie, not looking at any of the others – all of them, one way or another, are askew within themselves.

With a bit of fortune, plenty of encouragement, a dose of prodding and the touch of the wet nose and the warm coat of a dog, a horse or a cow, they are learning to regulate the unreliable beat of their spirits and their moods, to operate in some syncopation with the team they are becoming.

This is The Good Life Farm, a Yarra Valley property at Chum Creek, near Healesville, devoted to helping troubled and at-risk young people from Melbourne’s suburbs to gain a measure of control, confidence and direction in their lives.

Lesley Porter, a no-nonsense woman with a heart the size of the sky, set up The Good Life Farm some years ago for a straightforward reason.

She wanted to save lives.

She wanted, she says, “to show kids that you don’t have to continually repeat the cycle of being emotionally or physically or spiritually disadvantaged”.

Lesley has an uncommon knowledge of what such words mean.

Aged five, she was orphaned when her entire immediate family was killed in a car crash in England. She was raised by a grandmother who, she says, brought her to Australia but didn’t want her.

“When I was nine, I was living in a caravan by myself outside a house owned by people who didn’t want to share their table with me, estranged from everyone,” she says. “I was sexually abused, physically abused, emotionally abused.”

And then, aged 11, she got a job mucking out the stables at a riding school at Healesville.

The first time she touched a strong, gentle horse, she knew what love felt like. It breathed salvation.

“Horses saved my life,” she says.

“That’s what I created this place is for. To introduce kids to animals. To save lives.”

It took years, and as a non-profit arrangement, the farm relies on donations, bequests and funding from schools and shires, though there never seems to be quite enough.

Nevertheless, The Good Life Farm has emerged as the only such organisation in Australia and Lesley dreams of establishing more farms across the nation.

“One of the big things missing in the lives of a lot of the young people who come here is boundaries – they’ve never been given or taught the meaning of boundaries,” she says, watching at the boys sitting around their campfire.

“I’m old-school. I’ll tell them how it is, and I’ll stick to it. They need to know there are consequences: no firewood, no fire, no lunch. It’s how life is.”

Everyone gathered wood; even the boy who first refused and sat on a log, staring at the ground, thinking about the deal for long minutes. Eventually, he became so enthusiastic he lit the fire.

Without quite knowing it, these city kids squelching around paddocks in rubber boots are learning about the beat of their own hearts. Grassroots Healing, it’s called.

They are surrounded by horses, dogs, cattle, pigs, chooks, turkeys and goats.

They are required to tend to the needs of the creatures.

None of it is sugar-coated. If they are to eat pork chops tomorrow, Lesley explains their meal has come from a pig they might have fed last week.

When Fairfax Media turns up a boy rushes up with the warning that “you mustn’t turn your back on the big brown alpaca. She’ll try to jump on your back”.

“If she comes at you, stand still and look her in the face,” says another boy. “Her name’s Rosa. She’s really nice, actually.”

Rosa turns out to be an inquisitive and gentle animal, forever following us around. Lesley tells us that four weeks ago, when this group of boys arrived, they were all terrified of Rosa.

They wouldn’t go near Stimpy, either, the old friesian-angus cow with big horns.

Now, the boys hand-feed her hay and comb her coat, mourning when they learn that she has lost her teeth and will, soon, be put down because she is losing so much condition.

The boys are required to do health checks on all the animals, and see to their needs.

“I tell them there are seven things that all living things need,” says Lesley.

“Food, water, sunshine, oxygen, shade, shelter and company. The kids have to make sure all the animals have all these things, and it reinforces the idea that they should check on themselves and their mates, too.”

Most of the boys have found themselves drawn to the horses. The animals are big and gentle, but those of the group who have been bullies soon learn you can’t push a horse around.

Though we have gained permission to spend a day with and photograph the boys, for reasons of privacy we are not to use their names in print. Trust is a big word around The Good Life Farm. Streams of young people with different names pass through these paddocks each year. The names are not as important as the stories of what this place comes to mean to them.

The 10 boys attending the farm on this day are in the fourth week of a 10-week course called “student well-being”, held each Wednesday.

Most courses at the farm comprise an equal number of boys and girls. But too few girls were put forward by their schools this time, and the farm had no wish to have, say, two girls among eight boys.

Those attending the student well-being course were recommended by their schools because of low-level social and behavioural problems – some bully or are bullied; some are frustrated by learning difficulties. Some are given to verbal outbursts, some push and shove teachers and other students. Some are withdrawn. Most are anxious.

“Most of these kids can’t regulate their emotions – they feel something, they let it out,” says Tenille Porter, Lesley’s daughter who is studying post-graduate psychology and who spends much of her time among the young people who come to the farm.

Those attending this course might have problems, Tenille says, but they still live at home with parents and family and attend school.

Other courses held on different days of the week at the farm are for much more profoundly-damaged young people who have few reliable moorings.

Many of them are homeless, are sent to the farm as a condition of probation from juvenile detention, are deep in drug and alcohol and legal problems, have suffered dreadful abuse as children, and have often altogether lost their way. The sort of kids who, in another part of Australia, might find themselves in a place like the Don Dale Detention Centre, of Northern Territory infamy.

Lesley’s voice becomes tender when she talks about these young people.

“They’ve never had proper childhoods,” she says, and tells of taking one group of tough tearaways off for a picnic.

“You know what they wanted to do?” she asks. “All they wanted to do was play hide and seek. They loved it. They’d never played it before.”

Donations to The Good Life Farm can be made through 梧桐夜网

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Only Daughter, Anna Snoekstra’s debut novel set in Canberra, is bound for Hollywood

Anna Snoekstra, whose debut novel Only Daughter, a thriller set in Canberra, has been picked up in the US by Universal pictures. Photo: Elesa Kurtz It all started with the sound of glass breaking in the dead of night.
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Someone had smashed Anna Snoekstra’s car windows outside her Melbourne home, and she couldn’t get back to sleep. Paranoid thoughts began crowding her mind; it didn’t help that she’d been thinking a lot about film noir, imposter stories and the creeping fear of the unknown. On this night, as a way of calming herself down, she started mapping out a story in her head, on involving a missing girl, and a woman who returns, years later, claiming to be her.

As it happened, no one was after Snoekstra – she had simply left her wallet in the car and someone had broken the window to steal it. But the germ of a genuine pot-boiler was already fermenting.

Three years down the track, her highly-anticipated debut novel is about to be released, and Hollywood is already knocking.

Entitled Only Daughter, the book fits squarely in what’s been dubbed the Gone Girl genre, in that, like the 2012 novel by Gillian Flynn, it involves a female protagonist who is, ostensibly, in danger. It’s also part of the Girl on the Train juggernaut – the 2015 novel which rides on the back of Gone Girl. But what distinguishes this book from those two bestsellers – and the 30 or so titles that are riding on their coattails – is the fact that Only Daughter is set in Canberra.

Canberra is, says Snoekstra, the perfect setting for a troubled teenaged protagonist, living through one of the city’s hottest summers, and permeated with a sense of looming danger, both real – the 2003 bushfires – and unnamed, and therefore creepy. The daughter of the title, Rebecca Winter, goes missing, and 11 years later, a young woman, as a way of getting out of being arrested for shoplifting, claims to be her.

“I grew up here, so it felt really natural to be talking about someone’s childhood and being a teenager,” says Snoekstra, over lunch in Manuka. She spent her childhood in Canberra’s south, and finished her schooling at Narrabundah College, before moving to Melbourne to study creative writing and cinema. But, while her family have also moved away, she returns here regularly, and it has always struck her as a great setting for a psychological thriller.

“It just felt like a natural place to talk about being a teenager for one, and also a really safe place where bad things don’t happen,” she says.

“That’s how it was in my head, and also very suburban. And the other side of it is that really stark architecture, this is where all the politics happens.”

Backtrack to three years ago, and Snoekstra was working nights in a Melbourne cinema when she first struck on the idea of a novel.

“I thought about the idea for a long, long time before I actually wrote anything – months and months, just because I was working in the cinema,” she says.

“I felt like I should probably get a proper job, or a more regular job, and I knew committing myself to writing a novel was going to be a big thing to do, so I was going back and forth, because I really loved the idea, and I just wasn’t sure if that’s what I should be putting my time into at that time in my life.”

She had long been fascinated by the legend of Bluebeard – the ancient folk about a man whose wives disappear mysteriously, one by one. She loved imposter stories – The Changeling, and Anastasia – and psychological thrillers like Hitchcock’s Rebecca, and George Cuckor’s Gaslight. It’s no wonder the car windows smashing in the dead of night had her spooked.

“I was interested in the idea of taking someone’s life, and two stories set in the same place but from two different perspectives,” she says.

But not once did the thought of publishing or marketing tropes enter her mind. Gone Girl had only recently been published when she began writing and besides, it’s a genre that has been around for centuries. She even wrote a Master’s thesis focusing on the Bluebeard genre – “one of the oldest myths in storytelling”.

So the fact that she’s being primed to join a current runaway publishing phenomenon is confusing, if not a little galling.

“I’ve read all of them, those kind of books. It’s good, but it’s also a little annoying because that kind of genre has been around for such a long time,” she says.

“Gone Girl was such a big hit, which is great – that kind of brought it to light, then everything’s ‘the next Gone Girl’, to the point where every female-based crime book is called ‘girl’ something. If you look in the bookshops, there are about 30 of them, and it seems a bit crazy that they’re just using that name and trying to make it into some phenomenon of girl books.”

Not that she’s complaining. She spent about a year writing the book, and began shopping it around in Australia. Not one agent was interested, so she went to the US. There, an agent picked it up straight away, and before long, she had a publisher. And then another and another: the book is now coming out in 19 countries, although interestingly, Australia didn’t pick it up until at least 10 other countries had got in first.

In the years since finishing Only Daughter – whose original title was The New Winter – she’s already sold her next two novels to Harper Collins – one of which is already finished, and has recently been exchanging emails with the translator of the book’s German edition, and the Australian voice artist who is reading the Audiobook version. Not to mention the fact that the film has been optioned by Universal Pictures – she has a vivid recollection of taking the call from a hyper-excited film agent while still in her pyjamas at 7.00am – and the screenplay is being written by the same person who did The Girl on the Train. Debut novelists don’t get huge advances for their work, but selling the film option meant Snoekstra could quit her job at the cinema for a bit and focus on writing.

So far, so surreal for a young writer with no profile and no knowledge of the publishing industry. Although, sitting in Manuka on a wintry day, just around the corner from the McDonalds branch where part of the book is set, she says things feel surprisingly normal for the moment.

“I think that’s because it’s been my reality for two years now. The movie stuff came up in probably a bit over a year ago,” she says. But, amid all the excitement about movies and scripts and speculation as to who might play the film’s lead (Emma Stone, a redhead like the book’s protagonist, comes irresistibly to mind), the book itself has yet to hit the shops. There have been positive advance reviews on some literary websites, but as for what’s coming, she has no idea what to expect. She’s no wiser, really, than when she first started out, although she’s clear-minded about the luck of timing involved.

“I had no platform, I had nothing really going for me. The only way I was going to really be able to do what I actually wanted to do was just to think of a really good idea and write something really, really well, and that’s the only way I could actually get people to take notice of me,” she says.

“I was just lucky that what I was interested in was what a lot of people were interested in. But I mean, it’s in that genre, domestic noir, it’s something that keeps coming back, so even if this thing hadn’t happened now, maybe it would have.”

And what of her beloved hometown – much changed since her teens? Amusingly, the international response to the Canberra depicted in the novel has focused on how damn exotic we all sound here.

“I was trying to get across in the book that whole thing about the city and the bush being pressed up against each other a little bit, which is something I think is so beautiful about Canberra and so unique,” she says.

It helps that she has used the 2003 bushfires as a vivid and atmospheric backdrop to the story, although there is a certain amount of personal pain underlying the narrative.

“I was a teenager when that happened here, and I just remember it so vividly, and when I was writing those chapters was in one of Melbourne’s hottest summers, 2013-14,” she says.

“I was in Melbourne [on Black Saturday] and also my grandparents died in the Ash Wednesday fires. So bushfires in my family has always been a real soft spot, a real fear, I think.”

And while the story itself is not based on any real events, she made the second character – the lookalike imposter who remains unnamed throughout – 25, the same age as she was when she was writing.

“She changed ages a few times in it, but I thought that it was something that doesn’t really get written about very often, that time where you realise that you’re an adult and that things actually matter and you don’t always know what you’re meant to be doing,” she says.

It’s safe to say that Snoekstra, now at the still-tender age of 28, knows exactly what she’s meant to be doing, even if it means carrying the burden of a much-hyped genre on her shoulders, at least for now.

Only Daughter, by Anna Snoekstra, is published by Harlequin, and is released September 15.  

The book will be launched on August 27 at the National Museum of Australia at 10.00am as part of the Canberra Writers Festival. Visit canberrawritersfestival南京夜网419论坛 for more information. 

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Kim Mahood returns to the Tanami Desert again and again in Position Doubtful

Artist and author Kim Mahood with her dog Pirate in her studio near Canberra. Photo: Andrew Meares Artist and author Kim Mahood says words are the most powerful medium for her ideas. Photo: Andrew Meares
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On the morning I meet the artist and writer Kim Mahood, she has driven her ute nonstop for 1000 kilometres on her way home to Canberra from the Tanami Desert in Western Australia, a journey she has made back and forth across the continent for more than 20 years with the compulsion of a migrating bird.

A small, lean figure with a dry sense of humour, unfazed by flat tyres and solitude, Mahood seems honed for no-frills survival. Cleaning out her vehicle after the long drive with her dog, Pirate, she found a wire used for digging out witchetty grubs, a tomahawk and remnants of cooked kangaroo tail. Yet her conversation and her creative work have the subtle eloquence of an urban intellectual.

Many readers remember with passionate respect her first book, Craft for a Dry Lake, a memoir published in 2000 and winner of the NSW Premier’s Literary Award for Non-Fiction and the Age Book of the Year for non-fiction. Prompted by her father’s death in a helicopter crash, she wrote in earthy, glistening prose about her first trip back in 1992 to Mongrel Downs, the Tanami cattle station where she had been raised amid low spinifex country and lakes that dramatically fill and disappear.

Her long-awaited second book, Position Doubtful, tracks her itinerant life and work since then, exploring Australia’s complexity through her unusual position at the interface of cultures. The title, a term that appears all over maps of the region, also describes her restless love affair with the remote place that shaped her.

“It felt like there just weren’t enough voices out there that had both the knowledge and the capacity to make it accessible to a broader public,” she says of her decision to write again. “There’s this huge continent, most of which Australians don’t know about, and I happen to know a lot about a pocket that can stand for other pockets. Every tiny community in outback Australia has the stories around it that I’ve amplified in this book.”

Her original purpose was to trace in images and words her own connections to the palimpsest of geography, people and history. Over the years her work broadened into collaborations with the Aboriginal people to record their stories on beautiful hand-painted canvas maps that layer natural and traditional places with the names of missions, cattle stations and mines.

During her latest visit to her base in the tiny community of Mulan, she continued 10 years’ work with the Walmajarri people of Lake Gregory to create a calendar of seasonal plants and animals on a large circular ground canvas.

Mahood was only three weeks old in 1953 when her father was posted as acting superintendent to Hooker Creek, a Warlpiri community where she was cared for by a woman who gave her a skin name, a bush name and a dreaming. At school in Alice Springs, she says, “I had a natural affinity with the Aboriginal kids; I was this weird little outsider who didn’t quite fit in the classroom.”

By the time she was 10 her family had lived all over the Northern Territory for her father’s work as a stock inspector (though he wanted to be an artist) and settled on Mongrel Downs. In the 1980s the station would become the Warlpiri-owned Tanami Downs, which is now being liquidated because, despite being well managed, it can no longer support viable numbers of cattle.

Mahood led a “dual life, to-ing and fro-ing between the life in absolutely nowhere and Perth boarding school. I think that set up the dichotomy I still occupy between the intellectual nexus and this land-based knowledge”.

She began university but found “I don’t have an academic temperament, I kept getting absorbed in something not on the course”. At Julian Ashton Art School in Sydney she learnt the unfashionable formal skills that gave her confidence to work in experimental forms of painting and sculpture. With commercial shows, grants and teaching, she has mostly made her living as an artist.

It was only after keeping a journal about her first trip back to the desert and the art she made there that she began her first serious piece of writing. Some of it she recognised as “good enough” to become Craft for a Dry Lake.

The title and cover image for that book came from an old tin boat she found in the desert. She thought it was the boat she had sailed on with her father as a child and an artist friend, Pam Lofts, photographed her dragging the tinny across the sand. Later Mahood remembered their boat had been a wooden yacht and could not have survived.

Lofts’ death is one of many that punctuate Position Doubtful. Mahood’s mother dies “suddenly and without fuss”, her dog Slippers is hit by a car, and some of the older Aboriginal people succumb to illness.

Recording Indigenous knowledge of the land is increasingly important to Mahood and she reproduces an English translation of the story told by a Ngardi woman, Dora, of her people’s travel on foot across the land, each place named and significant.

“Change is why humans are on the planet,” she says. “But I do feel that original way of being in the country, that evolved from people living in it for thousands of years and walking all day every day, produced a sensibility that is almost gone now.”

Mahood is affectionate but unsentimental about the Aboriginal communities, which she depicts as fraught with the constantly changing policies of kartiya (whitefella) bureaucrats and “the dastardly things people do in pursuit of their own agendas – I’m talking about blackfellas”. Much of the latter was left out but may appear one day in a fictional form.

She did struggle to write “a bad novel” after Craft from which she later extracted a short story, which won the Elizabeth Jolley Prize. She thinks there are more stories buried in the discarded manuscript.

“I’m interested now in the challenge of fiction, that’s the bone between my teeth,” she says. There she can further explore “the gritty ground full of all the stuff you’re not supposed to talk about; it’s so clouded over with obfuscation and people’s sensitivities and anxieties and prejudices that cut both ways. Within it are these really complex stories that don’t fit any stereotype and I find that totally fascinating.”

In order to do her own work, Mahood has to retreat from the chaotic communal life of Mulan to her “introspective, fairly introverted self” and her home outside Canberra, where she shares a large studio shed with friends.

Some of her new art will be sculptures on welded steel frames using old blankets and a swag cover from the Mulan tip. Some may be paintings that include text, such as the series of watercolours she painted to capture the long, low mountain range between Mulan and Balgo: nine postcards illustrate the story of her trying to leave Mulan, stopping to pick up a woman who then urged her to investigate distant smoke, which led them to some women who had run out of fuel, so Mahood gave them her fuel and had to stay the night at Balgo. On the last panel the passenger chides Mahood, “People shouldn’t go bush without enough fuel”.

However, she says, words are the hardest but most powerful medium for her ideas. She has learnt the craft by reading authors such as Alice Munro (“I felt a knife had been inserted in my brain and words inserted”) and V.S. Naipaul (“I counted about 10 things he achieved in a couple of paragraphs and I could manage four”).

“People imagine a book came out of your head onto the page,” she says, “and you feel you’ve grappled an enraged, rabid orang utan for about five years, losing more often than winning. A lot of the time I really hate writing, but it’s like a Rubik’s Cube and click, click, click, suddenly it’s all in place.”

Working from journals and notes scribbled over the years on scraps of paper, in her car logbook and whatever was to hand, she used the software Scrivener to organise the fragments into categories and then a linked manuscript, which took precise editing to produce what Indigenous writer Bruce Pascoe praises as “chapters [that] unfurl like ribbons of red dunes”.

Position Doubtful is more outward gazing than her first grief-driven book and Mahood says she’s done with writing memoir.

“I couldn’t think of writing a book like Craft now; it’s someone else who wrote it,” she says. “I’m somewhat shocked that I wrote it, to have been so raw. I know that’s what gives it its power and it’s still the element that upsets some of my family – that’s the downside of having a writer in the family. Because I wrote it I now don’t need to write it.”

Position Doubtful is published by Scribe at $29.99. Kim Mahood will speak at Gleebooks in Sydney on August 23 and at Melbourne Writers Festival on September 4. And Another Thing

Mahood was able to finish Position Doubtful in the past year after receiving a $40,000 grant from the Australia Council in the only round that considered all art forms together before the Minister for the Arts, George Brandis, cut funding.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Iain Reid: books that changed me

Iain Reid, author of new thriller, I’m Thinking of Ending Things.Iain Reid is the Canadian author of two critically acclaimed memoirs, One Bird’s Choice and The Truth About Luck (named by Canada’s Globe and Mail as one of the best books of 2013). His new thriller, I’m Thinking of Ending Things (Text Publishing), follows a young couple who take an unexpected detour on a road trip. Reid recently received the 2015 RBC Taylor Emerging Author award. He lives in Kingston, Ontario. One Man’s Meat
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E.B. White

I found this book on one of the shelves at the farmhouse where I grew up. I knew White from Charlotte’s Web and Stuart Little, books I’d loved as a child, but it wasn’t until I read his essays that I started to fully appreciate White’s skill. Although most were written 50 years or so before I was born, it was thrilling to read (in such beautiful prose) about a small farm that seemed similar to my own.  Under the Net

Iris Murdoch

I read Under the Net, Murdoch’s first novel, after my brother gave it as a gift on my 21st birthday. I knew it was about a struggling young writer in London, and for some reason I kept putting it off. For the first few weeks of 21, other books felt more urgent. Once I started, though, I felt silly for having not read it immediately. There are few writers as funny and as smart as Murdoch.  The Loser

Thomas Bernhard

Funny, weird, and unsettling. I bought this special book for $2 at a secondhand bookshop and devoured it while living in Toronto, a couple of years after graduating university. I was, and remain, amazed at how often the book makes me laugh, considering the content. I enjoy returning to it once a year or so, as I always find something else that I appreciate. Intricate in the very best way.  The Notebook Trilogy

Ágota Kristóf

A trilogy of transfixing, disturbing novels by the Hungarian author, and unlike anything I’ve read. I read the entire trilogy over a long weekend while staying at a friend’s remote cabin in the woods. I was there alone and had planned on taking hikes and doing some chores around the cabin. I did none of that. Once I started reading I couldn’t stop except to sleep, which I did restlessly.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

‘I really thought I was going to lay there and die’: Wombat mauls woman walking dogs in Canberra

Banks woman Kerry Evans was attacked by a wombat while walking dogs Murphy and Pirate (pictured) in the suburban street of Tom Roberts Avenue in Banks, ACT. Photo: Karleen Minney One of the bites Banks woman Kerry Evans sustained when she was attacked by a wombat. Photo: Dave Evans
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Wombats have a reputation for being cute and cuddly but a woman mauled by one in Canberra has warned others to stay away from the marsupials.

Kerry Evans suffered more than 20 bites and lacerations across her body after she was attacked by a large wombat while walking her dogs in a suburban street in Banks, in south Canberra, on Monday night.

She toldFairfax Media she was taking her two English springer spaniels along their usual route on Tom Roberts Avenue about 7.30pm when she saw what appeared to be a “large boulder” ahead in a front yard.

“I thought ‘I don’t remember seeing this before’ and I got quite close to it and I saw it move and all of a sudden it dawned on me what it was,” Mrs Evans said.

The wombat charged her dog, Murphy, which began yelping and tried to flee.

In the chaos, Mrs Evans became tangled in the leads and was knocked to the ground.

That’s when the wombat turned on her, she said.

“I was laying screaming for help, I couldn’t get away from it, every time I managed to get up it attacked me and bit me and knocked me to the ground,” she said.

“I really thought I was going to lay there and die that night because I just couldn’t see how I was going to get way from it, it just wasn’t stopping its attack.”

A neighbour and nearby driver were able to intervene, an act Mrs Evans said may have saved her life.

“One woman screamed ‘let go of the dogs’ and I wouldn’t because my dogs were terrified, I was scared of them running off in the dark so both ladies approached from different angles and grabbed the dogs off me and got away pretty quickly because they were scared of being attacked themselves,” she said.

“Then I managed to get to my feet and get away to the lady who was screaming ‘come here, come here’ and the wombat just disappeared.”

Paramedics were called and Mrs Evans was taken to hospital. An ACT Health spokeswoman confirmed she was treated at Canberra Hospital on Monday night.

Three of the large, slit-like bites from the wombat’s “buck teeth” required stitches, but Mrs Evans said the real problem was the potential for infection.

“When I was in hospital I had to have quite a few bags of IV because they don’t know enough about the risk of infection from wombats,” she said.

“They even had to go and make sure I didn’t have rabies. I know that sounds silly in Australia but the doctor actually had to go and check on that.”

Mrs Evans reported the attack to ACT Parks and Conservation but rangers were unable to find the wombat, she said.

“The ranger I spoke to said he’d actually contacted a wombat carer and she said to him although she hadn’t heard of attacks, she’d seen them attack other wombats and that they could be very vicious,” Mrs Evans said.

“So she could imagine my description how it could have happened because once they start attacking, they just keep attacking and they don’t stop.”

While rare, wombat attacks on humans are not unheard of.

In 2010, a Victorian man was hospitalised after a ferocious encounter in which the animal repeatedly bit, scratched and knocked over the Black Saturday survivor.

An ACT Parks and Conservation spokesman said it was the first wombat attack they were aware of in Canberra.

“Without knowing the full details of what happened it is likely that the presence of dogs meant that the wombat felt threatened,” he said.

However, Mrs Evans said neither she nor the dogs approached the animal.

“I certainly know the dogs didn’t threaten it but whether it felt threatened I don’t know, who knows what a wombat thinks,” she said.

“The ranger did actually say to me it was really unusual because most wild wombats would get away.

“They wouldn’t let anyone get as close to it as what I did, so whether or not it was sick with mange or had been injured or was an aggressive wombat or whether it was a female with a joey in its pouch, I don’t know.”

Her message to others?

“If you see a wombat, turn around and go the other way. Do not approach it in any shape or form,” Ms Evans said.

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Live exports controlled by ‘small band of multinational companies’, say Bidda Jones and Julian Davies

Bidda Jones, RSPCA Australia’s chief scientist and her partner, novelist Julian Davis: “The export industry is in the hands of a small band of multinational companies”. Photo: Christopher Pearce Cattle bound for live export on Tipperary station, Northern Territory. Photo: Glenn Campbell
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In March 2011 Animals Australia investigator Lyn White visited 11 abattoirs in Indonesia to assess the live export trade. Image shows distressed, roped Australian steer vocalising prior to slaughter on MLA installed equipment. Photo: Animals Australia.

Aesop’s​ foibles, or how government reacts to animal cruelty.

Fable 1: Mike Baird dispatches the greyhound racing industry with alacrity in the belief owners killed nearly 70,000 dogs.

Fable 2: Barnaby Joyce believes more asylum seekers arrived by boat after Australia suspended the Indonesian live cattle export trade.

Bidda​ Jones, RSPCA Australia’s chief scientist, blew the whistle on Indonesian abattoir workers cruelly hacking to death Australian cattle.

It was early March 2011 when Jones walked into the ABC’s Ultimo headquarters with a DVD.

The footage, by Animals Australia investigators, showed Australian cattle being dispatched with extreme prejudice at 11 Indonesian abattoirs. Jones had watched some 50 killings, replaying each one four times, sometimes in slow motion. One steer was shown hacked to oblivion after it stumbled. Death took more than three minutes to arrive.

“The steer is thrashing his head, blood spraying from the gaping wound, as the slaughtermen move away, their job apparently complete,” Jones writes in her co-authored book, Backlash: Australia’s conflict of values over live exports.

“The rope is untied from around the steer’s neck, and the slaughterman puts his foot on the steer’s head and makes more cuts at the steers throat. He vocalises in response, his eyes rolling, mouth moving and tongue hanging out.”

Two months later, when the footage was shown as part of an award-winning Four Corners program, “A Bloody Business”, the federal government briefly suspended the trade. Five years on, live cattle export is back bigger than ever in Indonesia, and Vietnam. China is the latest market to be targeted.

Jones and her partner, novelist Julian Davies, have written Backlash partly as a counter to powerful interests they believe have successfully stymied the taste for reform of the live export trade that followed the national furore in 2011.

“There was a lot of optimism that change would really happen,” she says. “But things got slightly ahead of themselves. The hope that change will happen remains, but the people benefiting from the industry have got hold of the agenda and there has been a backlash. The book is aimed at showing what happened, the extraordinary political back story, and dispel the myths that have grown since about animal welfare.”

Only about 12 per cent of the giant Australian meat industry is involved in live export. There is little information on how much of that business is foreign-owned but it is a hugely costly undertaking, involving ships and overseas regulations.

Jones and Davies are an unlikely pair to take on such powerful interests.

They live with their two teenage daughters on a property outside Braidwood in the NSW southern tablelands. She was born in Liverpool, UK, he in Melbourne. They met as children in England, got together in the 1990s and built their house on the block of land Davies had carved out of the bush for himself as a twentysomething.

Spruiking their book, they agreed to meet at Cafe Morso​ in Pyrmont. She chose the corn and gruyere souffle tart with capsicum relish, poached egg and avocado, he selected the beetroot cured salmon.  A working lunch, both went with water.

A zoologist, Jones worked for the British RSPCA before coming to Australia.

Several decades ago, when most people connected the RSPCA with cats and dogs, farm animal welfare remained a minority concern. When Peter Singer’s book on the ethical treatment of animals was published in 1975, battery hens and sow pens were not yet public issues. Even so, the fate of live cattle is far from a new concern, the Howard government suspending sending live cattle to Egypt in 2006 following television footage showing mistreatment of the animals. And pity the poor sheep: they’ve been suffering poor conditions and high mortality on their way to the Middle East ever since the live sheep trade cranked up in the 1980s.

Today, animal welfare is mainstream; but proponents are routinely dismissed as members of the “meat is murder” brigade.

Jones chose to address such cliches thus: “Most Australians eat meat and will continue to. We’re not fighting against that. What we’re about is trying to ensure that those animals are treated as well as possible in that process.

“In my work I meet a lot of people who are vegan or vegetarian and there’s quite a lot of attention to ethical food concerns today, but I’m not vegetarian. It’s partly because as a zoologist I’ve always thought that the idea that it is intrinsically wrong for an animal to eat another animal is unrealistic, if not slightly bizarre.”

Jones says she was amazed at the craven greed of the meat industry in chasing the Indonesian live export trade with little thought for the consequences for the animals or Australia’s trade reputation

“There continue to be huge investments in live export ships unaccompanied by an improvement in standards so desperately needed,” she says.

“In Indonesia cattle are smaller, and highly domesticated, and easily led by a rope to slaughter. By contrast our Brahman steers are large, frightening, frightened animals raised on huge properties, free ranging and seeing people little more than once a year. Then, they are mustered, herded onto a boat and sent off to Indonesia to be slaughtered by people totally unused to handling such animals. We Australians created that situation.”

Davies says it is easy to understand the fear that reform engenders in meat producers.

Living in the bush, he says, is to be constantly reminded of the stark realities of farm life: “There are booms and busts. It’s tenuous and therefore quite hard to be punctilious about animal welfare when there is a constant fear of going broke. But this is exactly why we need to further a sustainable, high-quality, high-reputation, meat-only trade.”

Perhaps the Australian meat trade has always been in the hands of the few. The days of LordVestey and Sidney Kidman may have passed but the sense of entitlement and the ethos the cattle kings fostered still rules.

“The export industry is in the hands of a small band of multinational companies,” Davies says.

“If you actually looked at where the money in live export is going it would be really interesting: They – the governments of Tony Abbott and Malcolm Turnbull – talk about the need to increase farm gate prices but who are the main beneficiaries of live export? The people at the top of the pile are very wealthy people, people who don’t want their wealth eroded by having to pay more to ensure the welfare of the animals they make money from.”

Davies says it would be far better if the government – primarily held back by the National Party flank – pushed for the slaughter to be done in Australia and thereby ensure welfare standards while increasing employment in our own country.

“[Nationals leader] Barnaby Joyce is talking about opening up the live trade to China. Chilled meat exports to China have rocketed as its middle class develops a taste for beef. But the Chinese want quality and don’t like bad publicity. A scandal in the live trade, like the sledge hammering slaughter of cattle in Vietnam, could destroy the large, lucrative chilled meat trade to China.

“So what are we doing? We’re risking shipping jobs off to China, when we have a successful, clean, ethical meat industry here. The powers that be want to undermine that by sending cattle off to China. Incredible.”

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Queensland earthquake: Aftershocks will be felt for ‘weeks’

The location of an earthquake that struck off Bowen early on Friday morning. Photo: Geioscience AustraliaThe aftershocks from Thursday’s earthquake off the Queensland coast will be felt for “weeks”, a seismologist says, after a smaller earthquake hit near Airlie Beach on Friday.
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Thursday’s magnitude 5.8 earthquake was recorded about 70 kilometres off the coast, north-east of Bowen, caused six aftershocks, including a magnitude 4, in the following hours.

Three schools and Cairns airport were shut down temporarily, while several buildings in Townsville’s CBD were evacuated.

On Friday, residents and tourists at Airlie Beach woke to a magnitude three earthquake that occurred nearby at 7.37am.

Geoscience Australia senior seismologist Jonathan Bathgate said the aftershocks would continue for weeks.

“We would expect the aftershock sequence from yesterday to continue for a while, a few weeks at least, but apart from that we really can’t predict if there is going to be another sequence somewhere along the coast,” he said.

Mr Bathgate said the aftershocks were the result of fault lines readjusting back to equilibrium.

“You get the main shock that is a really big movement of the faults and the period after that is the fault readjusting itself back to equilibrium state,” he said.

“If you move something really quickly and then let it go it takes a bit of time to reach an equilibrium state so these are all just small adjustments to get it into a point where the fault will start again to build up some stress on that fault and lock together until it goes again some time in future.”

Earthquakes occur in Queensland due to the Australian plate moving northward, about seven centimetres a year, and colliding with the Pacific plate.

This causes stress to build up, which is released by earthquakes that Mr Bathgate said could not be predicted.

“It is something we don’t know, we can’t predict where it is going to occur or when so at the moment it is just a matter of monitoring the area,” he said.

“We are sending out some extra monitoring equipment over the next week to deploy on some of the islands and along the coast line to get a better idea of where the activity is occurring and get a better idea of what is causing it.”

Mr Bathgate said the region near Bowen had been quite active over the last 18 months.

“In terms of what we have recorded, it has been active over the last 18 months, the area does have a history of activity, but it has not been as frequent as it has,” he said.

“We know the area gets earthquakes but they are generally not that common.”

The Bowen area was also hit in 2011 with a magnitude 5.3 earthquake that was significantly closer to the coast than yesterday’s incident.

Queensland’s largest recorded earthquake was a magnitude 6 in 1918 that originated near Lady Elliott Island and was felt from Mackay to Grafton.

The state’s second largest was Thursday’s earthquake, followed closely by a 5.4 magnitude earthquake in 2015 that was recorded east of Fraser Island.

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Eade says sleepover had nothing to do with huge defeat

Gold Coast coach Rodney Eade has rejected suggestions that the Suns’ defeat on Saturday night was directly related to the side remaining in Melbourne for the past week.
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After the injury-ravaged young side were defeated by Essendon last week, club hierarchy decided to keep the side in Melbourne for the week leading up to the Collingwood game.

However, Eade said that the week-long stay in Melbourne had little to do with the Collingwood thrashing on Saturday night.

“It had nothing to do with it. I don’t see the relevance, to be honest. I said ‘we’re fatigued’ coming into the last week’s game,” Eade said.

Some quarters of the AFL community were doubting the wisdom of having the side away from home.

“Weather you sleep in a different bed, how does that make a difference? Because it’s the end of the season, we know the guys are fatiguing and it was just to change it up and give them different stimulus,” Eade said.

“If we were back on the Gold Coast, we would have done something different, too, like going to paintball or something to actually change it up.

“They’ve given as much as they can for the last eight or nine weeks and especially since all the midfielders have gone out, which has been the last five or six weeks. You couldn’t ask any more.”

However, Eade preferred to focus on the mounting number of injuries in his young side.

“We needed to use the ball as well as we could but we struggled in that area as well. We’re struggling for run,” he said.

“[Callum] Ah Chee​ shouldn’t be playing. Tom Lynch is carrying a little bit at the moment. All our markers on a few of our guys show we would be resting about six or seven of them. But we can’t so we just have to push on and get up for the next week.”

And the injury list continued with defender Sean Lemmens​ concussed after being on the end of a strong bump by Collingwood’s Jesse White. After Lemmens collided with White’s shoulder he was taken from the ground on a stretcher and remained off the ground for the remainder of the game.

And Eade told the media on Saturday that reports that Gold Coast were talking to West Australian champion Nat Fyfe were incorrect.

Reports are circulating that the Fremantle star will examine all his options when his contract ends at the end of next year.

“We’d be interested in any quality player. I’m 100 per cent certain that we have not spoken to Fremantle,” Eade said. “I don’t know for a fact, but list managers talk to player managers all over. Those conversations would be going on so I imagine something has been flown and unfortunately probably one of the managers has said that. It’s a fact of life.”

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Eagles and Hawks’ reaction to ruck losses part of the riddle

Rohan Connolly will be here blogging live from midday on Monday. Jump in now to leave your question early or come back at noon to join the conversation.
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It seems like every year for a long time we’ve continued to debate the importance or otherwise of ruckmen to modern football. Perhaps 2016 will be the season that settles the argument.

Certainly, in terms of that discussion, there’s been no more critical five minutes this season than the period during the third quarter at Domain Stadium on Friday night in which both West Coast’s Nic Naitanui and Hawthorn’s Jonathon Ceglar seriously injured knees.

The Eagles played arguably their best football of the season, but the mood in their rooms post-match when West Coast midfielder Matt Priddis was interviewed was sombre indeed, even before scans had confirmed Naitanui would require a reconstruction.

Ceglar, in contrast, might be a blip on the AFL profile radar compared to “Nic Nat”, but Hawthorn at least would instantly have been aware of the potential ramifications of his loss, too.

The critics haven’t held back on that front, either, several commentators immediately pronouncing both teams’ premiership aspirations finished off the back of the injuries.

A day later, almost rubbing it in for the Eagles and Hawks, Sydney were getting the job done against North Melbourne with Kurt Tippett back in harness after more than two months out with a hamstring injury. He made a pretty good fist of his ruck responsibilities with Sam Naismith, and his work up forward was good.

Here, also, was some interesting evidence for the ruck debate, the Swans’ ruck pair up against reigning All-Australian ruckman Todd Goldstein, and having the better of him in the hit-outs and, as a tandem, around the ground.

Goldstein hasn’t been nearly the same force since injuring his knee against Sydney first time around this season in round 10. Is it merely coincidence that the Roos have lost nine of their 12 games since that injury?

But then, if you’re looking for evidence that ruckmen don’t necessarily have to provide the answer to this season’s premiership puzzle, the Western Bulldogs are happy to help you out.

Their most technically adept ruckman, Will Minson, can’t even get a spot in the 22, playing just one game this season. Instead, the Dogs have gone essentially with pinch-hitters in Jordan Roughead and a combination of Tom Campbell and, more recently, Tom Boyd.

In pure hitout terms, the Dogs average fewer than all bar two other clubs. But the Dogs’ young goers have a capacity to physically grind down their ruck opponents and reduce their effectiveness. Testament to the strategy is clearance numbers which have the Bulldogs ranked No. 1 on the differentials.

So does the loss of Naitanui and Ceglar have to prove fatal for West Coast and Hawthorn? Interestingly, when West Coast were without Naitanui from rounds 13-19, they nevertheless won five of those six games. How good those wins were, however, is debatable.

They smashed stragglers Brisbane and Essendon, had an impressive home victory against North Melbourne, scraped home against Carlton and Melbourne, and lost to Collingwood.,

In every one of those games bar one, they lost both the hitouts and clearances. Intriguingly, the one exception was the Eagles winning the stoppages against Melbourne in round 18. Up against the AFL’s best in Max Gawn, West Coast, for the only time in that period, went with a double-pronged ruck set-up with Scott Lycett and Jonathan Giles.

The Eagles were only narrowly beaten for hitouts (44-46) and won the clearances (42-38). That may be a pointer to what is to come, with a potential pinch-hitter in Jeremy McGovern badly needed in defence, particularly this week against Adelaide’s forward height.

The longer-term indicators, though, aren’t good. West Coast were ranked No.1 for hitouts and fifth for clearances in 12 games before Naitanui hurt his Achilles, and 17th and 18th respectively when he was absent.

They’ve also depended heavily upon stoppage work for their scoring, ranked third in the AFL on differentials for scoring from clearances.

Ceglar and Hawthorn? Well, he and Ben McEvoy form not only a ruck pairing, but have also been important contributors up forward. Ceglar had booted 14 goals in his 19 games, and like McEvoy when off the ball, at the least help create a contest.

And yet, in that sense, the Hawks do at least have options in back-up ruckmen Jack Fitzpatrick, who has had four games back at VFL level after missing six weeks with concussion, and the far-less-experienced Marc Pittonet.

They also have another forward option in Ryan Schoenmakers, who has played two VFL games after returning from a groin injury. The Hawks could conceivably bring in both a ruckman and the forward.

And while lack of senior game time might be an issue, there’s at least some comfort in knowing that Hawthorn create the vast bulk of their scores from pressure turnovers rather than stoppage work, the Hawks ranking only 13th for scores from stoppages.

That’s a different approach to West Coast, whose modus operandi is different again from Sydney, Adelaide and the Shane Mumford-led ruck presence of Greater Western Sydney. All totally different from the Bulldogs, who continue to prosper despite in traditional ruck terms, not having a lot.

And it seems pretty likely that whichever team ends up prevailing this finals series will also go a long way to resolving the perennial ruck debate. Photo: Michael Dodge

So we’ve been denied that last round fight for a spot in the final eight, Melbourne failing to keep their end of the bargain, losing to Carlton and rendering North Melbourne safe. Like St Kilda, the Demons fall just short. Yet, in the cold light of day, like the Saints, missing out may actually have done Melbourne a favour. When you’ve been as deprived of finals action for as long as the Demons, falling into a spot in the eight can be viewed more favourably than perhaps it should. Who knows whether either club’s younger brigade might have sub-consciously been too satisfied with that minor achievement? Now, at least, there’s no false economy, and no excuse for either St Kilda or Melbourne not to attack next pre-season with everything.


Intent scrutiny: Umpires turned mind-readers during the St Kilda Richmond clash. Photo: Adam Trafford/AFL Media

There’s barely been a week this season that hasn’t featured either controversy or at least some spirited debate about the harsher interpretation of the deliberate out-of- bounds rule, umpires having to become mind-readers about players’ intent, players more than occasionally penalised simply because of a crooked bounce. There were several more examples at the weekend, and a good point, too, raised by Fox Footy commentator Brad Johnson at the Richmond-St Kilda game as a kick which could have been kept alive was allowed to dribble out in the hope of drawing a free kick. If the spirit of the rule is about keeping the ball in play, how is allowing it to cross the boundary line when there’s plenty of time to pick it up any less deliberate?


Faint praise: David Mundy’s banner ‘celebrating’ his 250th game. Photo: Fremantle Dockers/Twitter

We know cheer squads love their clubs and work hard to offer them support. We know making the run-throughs takes time and effort. But to say Fremantle damned their captain David Mundy with faint praise on the occasion of his 250 th AFL game would be an understatement. “Well done David Mundy 250 solid games” might have been underselling the Dockers’ skipper a tad given he’s now behind only Matthew Pavlich on Freo’s all-time games list, leads the club, and is a best and fairest winner and an All-Australian. If that’s merely solid, Freo fans certainly have high expectations. It makes you wonder what Pavlich can expect in his farewell game next weekend. We hope it’s something a little more enthusiastic than his successor as captain got for a significant milestone.


Want-away forward Hayden Ballantyne looks on as coach Ross Lyon addresses the team. Photo: Paul Kane

While we’re on the subject of Freo, another week, another insipid performance. We’ve written it several times already, but even allowing for injuries, the Dockers’ 2016 has been little short of disgraceful. Let’s recap. From a preliminary final, to 10 successive losses, just three wins, and now another eight straight losses, the last four by a ridiculous average of 75 points. And again, Saturday’s pathetic 92-point belting at the hands of GWS featured a team containing 14 of those same players who lined up against Hawthorn last September for a spot in a grand final. Coach Ross Lyon can dress it up anyway he wants, but no team as well-performed as the Dockers were one season ago should be as hopeless as they are now.

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