Category Archives: 上海夜场

The truth about quitting your job to travel the world

This is the fantasy: you quit your day job, whatever that is. You chuck in that reliable nine-to-five, you pack up your belongings, you say goodbye to your family and friends, you get on a plane, and you go. You travel.
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And you never stop.

This is the dream. It’s travelling the world in perpetuity, wandering the globe without stopping, spending your life flitting from place to place, seeing the sights, meeting the people, drinking in the world around you. The logic goes that if you love to travel, then you’ll love to travel all of the time. Forever.

This is the fantasy that some people peddle. There’s a breed of traveller, usually overly smiley bloggers in my experience, who use this as their selling point: that they’re constantly travelling the world, and they’re being paid for it.

They place themselves under enticing headlines like, “How I sold everything I own to travel the world”, and encourage others to live the dream with them. Or at least live vicariously through them.

They don’t have a house any more. They don’t have a normal job. They don’t have any of the constraints of Western life. They just wander. Sounds amazing, right?

Well, not really.

This is a completely personal preference, but to me a life of constant travel sounds horrible. Just because you love doing something doesn’t mean you’re going to love doing it all the time.

I’ve got about four months in me. Five, tops. That is the limit to my nomadic global wandering. That’s the most time I want to spend living out of a backpack or suitcase, sleeping on floors and couches and bunks and hotel beds. That’s how much time I’ve got before I’ve had enough. This is what the bloggers and the dedicated wanderers will never tell you: a life of constant travel isn’t that much fun. It might sound freeing to give up all of your possessions and your house in favour of traipsing around the globe, but the reality doesn’t come close to matching up with the dream.

It’s a lonely existence, for starters. You’ll often be doing this stuff by yourself, because it’s rare to find someone else who’s willing to give everything up and go with you. So you’ll be doing this exploration solo – taking trains by yourself, riding buses by yourself, looking at monuments by yourself, eating at restaurants by yourself, drinking in bars by yourself.

You will meet people along the way. You’ll end up with thousands of Facebook friends. But these will be fleeting relationships, gone as soon as they’ve begun. And then you’re on your own again.

Travel is a constant battle, and it’s one that will be exciting at first. All of those haggles with taxi drivers, those hit-and-miss hotels, those struggles to book tickets, that wrangling with a foreign language – that will be invigorating to begin with. But it wears you down.

Just as living out of a suitcase wears you down. Just as never having a space to truly call your own wears you down. Just as the constant search for a washing machine, or the constant craving for home-cooked food wears you down.

I have about four or five months before all of this stuff starts to matter. For four or five months I’m completely happy to wander on my own, to battle with language and locals, to wear stinky clothes, to take chances on restaurants and make fleeting friendships in hostel dorms. After that, I’m done.

This is not the dream existence. It’s hard work. Travel is amazing, but it’s something that should be done in manageable chunks. You need a base. You need a tiny amount of stability. You need time to recharge and remind yourself that all of these things you’re doing are mind-boggling, and a privilege, and that they need to be appreciated in comparison to something else.

If there’s a dream to be lived, it would come closer to what a friend of mine calls “travelling without moving”. He likes to do his travel by moving to another country and living there for a while. You get the excitement of being in a foreign land, but with the comforts of a bedroom and a washing machine and a place to call home.

That, to me, sounds a lot more enjoyable than living the bloggers’ dream, travelling to a new place every week, giving up everything you know. Just because you love to travel, doesn’t mean you’ll love to travel all of the time.

So don’t envy those people spruiking their amazing lifestyle. Don’t covet a life of being paid just enough to get by while constantly travelling the world.

Those people don’t have everything. Most don’t even have a washing machine.

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See also: 12 signs that prove you’re a ‘real’ travellerSee also: Science proves travel is the secret to happiness

Going places: Travel news and deals

Cruise the Aegean Sea aboard the mega-yacht, MS Galileo. Photo: Supplied Cruise the Aegean Sea aboard the mega-yacht, MS Galileo. Photo: Supplied
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Explore Laos and the Mekong with G Adventures.

Cruise the Aegean Sea aboard the mega-yacht, MS Galileo. Photo: Supplied

Cruise the Aegean Sea aboard the mega-yacht, MS Galileo. Photo: Supplied

TOUR THAILAND AND LAOS

A 14-day trip through Thailand and Laos is now 15 per cent off. It includes visits to the temples in Chiang Mai, night markets, sailing on the Mekong and spending the night in a Laotian village, 13 meals, 11 nights in hotels and one overnight train.

$1444 for the November 27 departure.   Phone 1300 180 969. See gadventures上海龙凤论坛m.au  IMPERIAL INDIA

There’s a 33 per cent reduction on the single supplement for Insight Vacations’ Luxury Gold 13-day Imperial Rajasthan Tour. It includes baggage handling throughout, hotel and restaurant tips, free Wi-Fi, transfers and lots of meals and sightseeing.

From $3525 a person for select departures until April 11, 2016. Phone 1300 301 672. See insightvacations上海龙凤论坛m  ISLAND MALDIVES PACKAGE

This seven-night package includes a free upgrade from a Beach Villa to an Ocean Villa Sunrise at Loama Resort in the Maldives, return economy flights with Singapore Airlines from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth, half board, Wi-Fi and return speedboat transfers.

From $4360 a person twin share if booked by October 31 for travel before December 12. Phone 1300 728 998. See siaholidays上海龙凤论坛m.au/loamaAEGEAN SAVINGS

Beyond Travel is offering early-bird savings of up to $800 per cabin on 2016 departures of its eight-day Jewels of the Cyclades cruise aboard the mega-yacht, MS Galileo. Round trip from Athens, ports include Paros, Kythnos and Syros, Santorini and Mykonos. Two meals a day are included.

From $2510 a person twin share if  booked and paid for by February 25. Departures are April – October, 2016. Phone 1300 363 554. See beyondtravel上海龙凤论坛m.auSCANDINAVIA FOR FAMILIES

50 Degrees North’s six-day Aurora Safari and Treehotel Christmas Special takes you to see the Aurora Borealis in the wilds of Swedish Lapland staying at the Treehotel and the Aurora Safari Camp. It includes a traditional Christmas Eve dinner. Now 10 per cent off at $5174 a person for the December 22 departure. See fiftydegreesnorth上海龙凤论坛mEUROPEAN ADVENTURE

Planning a big family adventure in Europe in 2016? Creative Holidays’ early-bird airfares include a $100 land credit when booked with a minimum of four nights’ accommodation. Airfare offers include flying economy return with Singapore Airlines from $1569 for departures March 1 – September 30, 2016 when booked by November 9.

See creativeholildays上海龙凤论坛m  CRUISE FRANCE

Save $400 on The Grand France, a 14-night Uniworld Connoisseur Collection trip including French cuisine experiences such as a visiting La Couronne restaurant.  Get all meals and unlimited beverages on board, Wi-Fi, transfers and TVG train between Paris and Lyon.

From $11,869 a person twin share until November 30 for departure on July 17, 2016. Phone 1800 044 066. See travel-associates上海龙凤论坛m.au/uniworld   SINGAPORE TO SYDNEY

Take a $500 saving on a 19-day cruise from Singapore to Sydney. This package takes you to Singapore, Bali, Darwin, Cairns, Brisbane and Sydney on board Celebrity Cruises’ ship, Millennium.  It includes flight to Singapore and two nights in Singapore.

From $1999 a person twin share. Departs March 11. Valid for sale till October 31. Phone 1300 813 391. See ditravel上海龙凤论坛m.auPORT STEPHENS HOTEL BARGAIN

Get two nights for the price of three at Shoal Bay Beachclub Apartments in the Port Stephens area of New South Wales . Under the spring offer, a two-bedroom Sea Spray apartment with sofa bed accommodating up to six people is priced from $169 a night.

Valid for stays till December 18. See portstephens上海龙凤论坛.au  WORLD ON SALE

AccorHotels’ Global Super Sale is on from October 12, offering discounts of up to 40 per cent plus free breakfast for members of AccorHotels’ loyalty programs (Accor Plus and Le Club AccorHotels) and 30 per cent off plus free breakfast for non-members who book through the Accor website. The deal applies to more than 100 hotels and resorts around and more than 2800 hotels worldwide.

Book online October 12-16 for stays November 1, 2015 – April 30, 2016. See accorhotels上海龙凤论坛m/supersale

Lake Macquarie mental health advocate and volunteer allegedly killed by daughter

The Redhead house where a woman, 73, was stabbed to death. Photo: Newcastle HeraldA woman, 73, allegedly killed by her daughter at Redhead, in Lake Macquarie, on Saturday was an advocate and volunteer for mental-health services in the Hunter.
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Gail Parnell was found dead inside her home at The Sanctuary mobile-home park on Kalaroo Road about 6.30pm, reports the Newcastle Herald. She had suffered multiple stab wounds in an alleged frenzied attack by her daughter, Keren Parnell, 36.

Gail’s husband, John Parnell, suffered minor injuries, including scratches and bruises to both arms, police said. He was taken to John Hunter Hospital but later discharged.

Keren Parnell, of New Lambton, was arrested at the home and later charged with murder, using an offensive weapon with intent to commit an indictable offence and detaining a person with intent to obtain an advantage and cause actual bodily harm.

She did not leave the courthouse cells or apply for release in Newcastle Bail Court on Sunday morning.

Her legal-aid solicitor said Keren Parnell had “significant mental and physical health issues” and asked for her to  be seen by a nurse while in custody.

Her matter was adjourned to Newcastle Local Court on Wednesday.

Police have also applied for an apprehended violence order on behalf of Mr Parnell against his daughter. Both parents had been board members for the Association of the Relatives and Friends of the Mentally Ill (ARAFMI) Hunter.

The organisation  aims to provide  support services for the families and carers of people with a mental illness.

ARAFMI committee treasurer Garry Fowkes was deeply shocked to hear of Gail Parnell’s death. Mr Fowkes said she had been a board member for some years and had acted as a carer to two of her children and her husband after he had a stroke a few years ago.

“She was a beautiful, gentle, caring person,” Mr Fowkes said. “That’s the best way to sum her up.”

Saturday was World Mental Health Day and October is Mental Health Month in NSW.

Mr Fowkes said ARAFMI had been organising the annual mental health walk of pride for October 24 “to celebrate how far we’ve come with destigmatising mental illness”.

“For this sort of thing to happen to one of our members so close to that event is going to be heartbreaking,” he said.

It is believed Mr and Mrs Parnell moved to the Redhead mobile-home park from Swansea about five months ago. Residents of The Sanctuary park said it was generally Redhead’s most peaceful place. Popular with retirees, it is home only to permanent residents.

It is the sort of place where residents leave their doors unlocked to go for a walk. When a throng of ambulances burst through the park gates on Saturday afternoon, residents thought someone had suffered a heart attack.

Then word spread that a crime scene was being set up. “It was such a shock,” one resident said. “I feel so sorry for the family. It’s a very sad situation.”

The park encourages a social atmosphere, but the Parnells preferred to keep to themselves during the few months they lived there, neighbours said.

“If you walked past them they would say g’day and that’s about it,” one resident said.

The Newcastle Herald

Dachshund racing In Melbournephotos

Dachshund racing In Melbourne | photos MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – SEPTEMBER 19: Hayley Swanson poses with her mini dachshund Chilli, dressed as a biker dog as she competes in the Hophaus Southgate Inaugural Best Dressed Dachshund competition on September 19, 2015 in Melbourne, . 30 mini dachshunds, 6 standard dachshunds and 18 dachshund puppies all competed for first place and for Best Dressed Dachshund during the annual Oktoberfest celebration. (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)
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MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – SEPTEMBER 19: Chilli dressed as a biker dog licks Bangers (R) as they compete in the Hophaus Southgate Inaugural Best Dressed Dachshund on September 19, 2015 in Melbourne, . 30 mini dachshunds, 6 standard dachshunds and 18 dachshund puppies all competed for first place and for Best Dressed Dachshund during the annual Oktoberfest celebration. (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – SEPTEMBER 19: Cooper, dressed as a racing car driver competes in the Hophaus Southgate Inaugural Best Dressed Dachshund competition on September 19, 2015 in Melbourne, . 30 mini dachshunds, 6 standard dachshunds and 18 dachshund puppies all competed for first place and for Best Dressed Dachshund during the annual Oktoberfest celebration. (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – SEPTEMBER 19: Mini dachshunds compete in the Hophaus Southgate Inaugural Best Dressed Dachshund competition on September 19, 2015 in Melbourne, . 30 mini dachshunds, 6 standard dachshunds and 18 dachshund puppies all competed for first place and for Best Dressed Dachshund during the annual Oktoberfest celebration. (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – SEPTEMBER 19: Mini dachshunds compete in the Hophaus Southgate Inaugural Best Dressed Dachshund competition on September 19, 2015 in Melbourne, . 30 mini dachshunds, 6 standard dachshunds and 18 dachshund puppies all competed for first place and for Best Dressed Dachshund during the annual Oktoberfest celebration. (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – SEPTEMBER 19: Willy, dressed as a surf livesaver and Mia, dressed as Where’s Waldo? compete in the Hophaus Southgate Inaugural Best Dressed Dachshund competition on September 19, 2015 in Melbourne, . 30 mini dachshunds, 6 standard dachshunds and 18 dachshund puppies all competed for first place and for Best Dressed Dachshund during the annual Oktoberfest celebration. (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – SEPTEMBER 19: Mini dachshunds run as they compete in the Hophaus Southgate Inaugural Dachshund Running of the Wieners Race on September 19, 2015 in Melbourne, . 30 mini dachshunds, 6 standard dachshunds and 18 dachshund puppies all competed for first place and for Best Dressed Dachshund during the annual Oktoberfest celebration. (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – SEPTEMBER 19: A general view as a large crowd watches as dachshunds compete in the Hophaus Southgate Inaugural Dachshund Running of the Wieners Race on September 19, 2015 in Melbourne, . 30 mini dachshunds, 6 standard dachshunds and 18 dachshund puppies all competed for first place and for Best Dressed Dachshund during the annual Oktoberfest celebration. (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – SEPTEMBER 19: Bangers the mini dachshund barks at a competitor as they compete in the Hophaus Southgate Inaugural Dachshund Running of the Wieners Race on September 19, 2015 in Melbourne, . 30 mini dachshunds, 6 standard dachshunds and 18 dachshund puppies all competed for first place and for Best Dressed Dachshund during the annual Oktoberfest celebration. (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – SEPTEMBER 19: A general view as dachshunds compete in the Hophaus Southgate Inaugural Dachshund Running of the Wieners Race on September 19, 2015 in Melbourne, . 30 mini dachshunds, 6 standard dachshunds and 18 dachshund puppies all competed for first place and for Best Dressed Dachshund during the annual Oktoberfest celebration. (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – SEPTEMBER 19: Mini dachshund Chilli, dressed as a biker dog licks her lips as she competes in the Hophaus Southgate Inaugural Best Dressed Dachshund competition on September 19, 2015 in Melbourne, . 30 mini dachshunds, 6 standard dachshunds and 18 dachshund puppies all competed for first place and for Best Dressed Dachshund during the annual Oktoberfest celebration. (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – SEPTEMBER 19: A mini dachshund chases a competitor as he competes in the Hophaus Southgate Inaugural Dachshund Running of the Wieners Race on September 19, 2015 in Melbourne, . 30 mini dachshunds, 6 standard dachshunds and 18 dachshund puppies all competed for first place and for Best Dressed Dachshund during the annual Oktoberfest celebration. (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – SEPTEMBER 19: A mini dachshund competes in the Hophaus Southgate Inaugural Best Dressed Dachshund competition on September 19, 2015 in Melbourne, . 30 mini dachshunds, 6 standard dachshunds and 18 dachshund puppies all competed for first place and for Best Dressed Dachshund during the annual Oktoberfest celebration. (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – SEPTEMBER 19: Cooper, dressed as a racing car driver chases a competitor as he competes in the Hophaus Southgate Inaugural Dachshund Running of the Wieners Race on September 19, 2015 in Melbourne, . 30 mini dachshunds, 6 standard dachshunds and 18 dachshund puppies all competed for first place and for Best Dressed Dachshund during the annual Oktoberfest celebration. (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – SEPTEMBER 19: Xena the mini dachshund, dressed as a nuclear missile competes in the Hophaus Southgate Inaugural Best Dressed Dachshund competition on September 19, 2015 in Melbourne, . 30 mini dachshunds, 6 standard dachshunds and 18 dachshund puppies all competed for first place and for Best Dressed Dachshund during the annual Oktoberfest celebration. (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – SEPTEMBER 19: Cooper, dressed as a racing car driver competes in the Hophaus Southgate Inaugural Best Dressed Dachshund on September 19, 2015 in Melbourne, . 30 mini dachshunds, 6 standard dachshunds and 18 dachshund puppies all competed for first place and for Best Dressed Dachshund during the annual Oktoberfest celebration. (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – SEPTEMBER 19: Mini dachshunds compete in the Hophaus Southgate Inaugural Best Dressed Dachshund competition on September 19, 2015 in Melbourne, . 30 mini dachshunds, 6 standard dachshunds and 18 dachshund puppies all competed for first place and for Best Dressed Dachshund during the annual Oktoberfest celebration. (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – SEPTEMBER 19: Mini dachshunds compete in the Hophaus Southgate Inaugural Best Dressed Dachshund competition on September 19, 2015 in Melbourne, . 30 mini dachshunds, 6 standard dachshunds and 18 dachshund puppies all competed for first place and for Best Dressed Dachshund during the annual Oktoberfest celebration. (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – SEPTEMBER 19: A mini dachshund competes in the Hophaus Southgate Inaugural Best Dressed Dachshund competition on September 19, 2015 in Melbourne, . 30 mini dachshunds, 6 standard dachshunds and 18 dachshund puppies all competed for first place and for Best Dressed Dachshund during the annual Oktoberfest celebration. (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)

TweetFacebookMini dachshunds competes in the Hophaus Southgate Inaugural Best Dressed Dachshund competitionin Melbourne, .

Dozens of mini dachshunds, sixstandard dachshunds and 18 dachshund puppies all competed for first place and for Best Dressed Dachshund during the annual Oktoberfest celebration.

Indonesian traditional Lamalera whaling village: last of the great ocean hunters

Villagers take part in a simulated whale hunt, or koteklema. Photo: Elspeth Callender Villagers take part in a simulated whale hunt, or koteklema. Photo: Elspeth Callender
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Villagers take part in a simulated whale hunt, or koteklema. Photo: Elspeth Callender

Villagers take part in a simulated whale hunt, or koteklema. Photo: Elspeth Callender

The main path from the beach to the heart of the village is lined with semi-dried strips of blubbery meat draped on simple wooden frames. Colourful fabric triangles flap in the sea breeze from the top of stripped branches staked into hefty sun-whitened vertebrae.

The lane runs between two of the many open-air boathouses that collectively extend the full width of the beach and house narrow wooden vessels all pointed seawards, as though ready to go at any time, which they are. This is Lamalera​, one of Indonesia’s last two whaling villages.

The Savu Sea has quite a roll to it the day we visit and enough swell that many of the local men volunteer to help our expedition crew land each inflatable boat safely onto the sand. These Lamaleran whalers have done this countless times with their own boats in much rougher conditions for more generations than anyone knows. The first European record of their existence is an anonymous Portuguese document from 1643, when a completely different type of vessel from our small cruise ship would have been perched on their horizon.

We gather on the pathway for a formal welcome, where palm wine, tobacco and scarves are presented to our representatives. Most of the hundred or so passengers I’m travelling the Malay Archipelago with have come to shore, curious about this 2500-person village on the south coast of Lembata​ Island in the Lesser Sunda Islands of eastern Indonesia. Two weeks into the trip, meeting new people and experiencing new places have become our way of life.

“Each part of the whale has an owner,” Lamalera’s spokesperson explains, once we’re seated in the shade of a huge tree in the middle of the village. “Almost all parts of the whale are distributed to members of the tribes.” She is referring specifically to the sperm whale, central to the culture of this society, in which a great deal of lore is attached to its demise and distribution. The people also catch fish, dolphins and whale sharks, but, apart from orca, it is taboo for them to hunt or kill any other type of whale than sperm whales.

Despite heavy missionary influence, the Japanese occupation of Lembata during World War II and a well-established Catholic education system, traditional whaling has survived here. Although some Lamalerans have become professors, doctors, journalists and government officials, many families live subsistence lifestyles, with very little exchange of currency. They trade their harvests from the sea for vegetables, corn and rice from the next village.

After a group of women perform dances that portray various aspects of village life, we’re invited to join them in a circle for simpler steps. Samples of local food are passed around and we then have the afternoon to wander, socialise and watch demonstrations of rope production, made from scratch using local vegetation, and the forging of harpoon heads. Older women sell their wares in the square or along the main street, particularly ikat​ scarves that are handwoven with tie-dyed thread. Local children strike harpooning stances for our cameras.

Lamalera fights to maintain its traditional way of life. It’s alleged the village takes 15 to 20 sperm whales each year from the Savu Sea, pursues only those initially visible from shore, and not a scrap is wasted. Using few instruments of modern technology, the people of Lamalera and Lamakera​, on the nearby island of Solor, still practise what these days is referred to as sustainable hunting, now that humans have achieved the alternative.

After our inflatable boats have been pushed back out to sea, some of Lamalera’s fleet also launch to give us a show. With boats under sail, each harpooner leaps into the sea, throwing their full body weight behind a single powerful thrust of the long bamboo spear at imaginary prey.

From the bow of our own vessel, it’s like looking through a portal into the past to a time when it was a fairer fight between human and beast and when people truly put their lives on the line to source meat from its natural habitat, although I wonder whether passengers would still clap and wave if this suddenly turned real.

MORE INFORMATION

aptouring上海龙凤论坛m.au

CRUISING THERE

APT sails many of the world’s seas and rivers. The company owns and operates three small ships – MS Caledonian Sky, MS Island Sky and MS Hebridean Sky – for expedition-style trips in Asia, Northern Europe and the Kimberley. Fares for the Seven Seas Odyssey, which will be called 17-day South East Asia Adventure in 2016, are from $11,995 a person, twin share. The price includes shore excursions, all meals, all beverages (apart from premium wines and spirits), gratuities, port charges and transfers. This style of cruise is not equipped to accommodate passengers in wheelchairs. Phone 1300 196 420. See aptouring上海龙凤论坛m.au.

The writer travelled courtesy of APT.

The silk road to recovery – solving the problem of burst eardrums

Dr Ben Allardyce is working on a silk skin for burst eardrums. Photo: Simon O’DwyerGeelong researchers are testing a silk membrane to fix badly perforated eardrums. Traditional materials used to repair eardrums have either provided good acoustic properties or mechanical strength that resists further tearing. It appears that the silk drum skin provides both.
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While most eardrum perforations heal themselves, chronic middle-ear infections or trauma leads to larger permanent holes. Untreated, they lead to further infection and hearing loss.

“Repairing these perforations usually means grafting material from somewhere else on the body,” says Dr Ben Allardyce, postdoctoral research fellow at Deakin University’s Institute for Frontier Materials.

The long-time go-to material was the temporalis fascia, the fibrous covering of the chewing muscle, just above the ear. “It gives good hearing outcome because it’s thin and flexible,” says Allardyce. “The downside is it is relatively weak.”

Certain infections, such as that of the eustachian tubes that lead from the ear to the nasal cavity, can cause negative pressure – leading the grafted material to collapse. In such cases a surgeon will opt for ear cartilage as the grafting material. “It’s mechanically very strong but causes a dampening of the sound waves,” says Allardyce.

“It’s also completely opaque, which makes follow-up observation of the middle ear very difficult.”

In 2009, while attending a conference on silk powders, one of Allardyce’s colleagues, Dr Rangam Rajkhowa​, met with representatives of the Ear Science Institute  , a research and advocacy group based in Western . The institute was keen to see a fibre-based solution to the problem. Silk is particularly useful in bio-medical applications because it’s a protein that the human body can well tolerate. Issues of rejection are minimal.

“There’s a very low immune response to silk protein,” says Allardyce. “And it appears that a silk membrane offers both mechanical strength and good acoustic properties.”

The production of the basic membrane is fairly straightforward. The silkworm cocoons are boiled in an alkaline solution to get rid of gummy protein.

They’re then dissolved in a concentrated lithium bromide solution at 60 degrees. This leaves a honey-coloured solution of liquid protein, which is transparent.

Dialysis is then deployed to get rid of the salt. The remaining silk protein waster is poured into a dish to dry out. What remains is a clear membrane.

So far the membrane has been tested on guinea pigs and rats. Cell culture work shows the cells of the eardrum can attach to the membrane and grow across it. Testing of the membrane’s acoustic properties is being done using a laser doppler vibrometer – a laser that measure the vibration of an object – an audiology ear phone, a microphone and plastic ear canal tube.

All of this is looking good. “But we still don’t know how the membrane will behave in the environment of the middle ear,” says Allardyce.

Next up are human clinical trials. But given there are intellectual property and patent issues at play, it’s not clear when these will begin.

The silk skin innovation has profound implications for ‘s Indigenous children, who have the highest rates of middle-ear disease in the developed world, with around one-third suffering moderate to severe hearing loss, according to a Medical Journal of report from 2010, and a World Health Organisation red flag in 2004.

“Indigenous ns are more prone to large perforations because they have less access to antibiotics when suffering infections,” says Allardyce. “For children the outcomes include developmental problems … because their speech is significantly impacted.”

Tympanic membrane perforation, or hole in the ear drum, reportedly affects around 100,000 ns and more than 80 million people worldwide.

Salim Mehajer poses in slippers in New Idea, as wife Aysha talks about money

Salim Mehajer and wife Aysha as they appear in the October 19 edition of New Idea. Photo: Supplied Salim Mehajer at a lectern, with his wife Aysha beside him, during his interview with Nine News. Photo: Channel Nine
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Salim Mehajer and his wife Aysha during their lavish wedding in August. Photo: Supplied

Aysha Mehajer in 2009 when she worked at beauty salons in the Illawarra and went by the name April Learmonth. Photo: David Tease

Aysha Mehajer, new wife of Auburn’s controversial deputy mayor, Salim Mehajer. Photo: Nine News

Aysha Mehajer, new wife of Auburn’s controversial deputy mayor, Salim Mehajer. Photo: Nine News

Salim Mehajer, Auburn’s controversial deputy mayor, and his new wife Aysha have thrown open the doors of their lavish multimillion-dollar Sydney home for a glossy women’s magazine, as Mrs Mehajer declared: “Money is not important to me.”

Among the extravagances on show at their swanky pad on Frances Street in Lidcombe are an indoor fountain, illuminated marble staircase, a “moss-clad outdoor sauna”, 10 luxury cars in a vast underground garage, a cinema room and a sports bar entertaining area.

Their surname is also displayed above a water feature that spills into their backyard pool.

The newlyweds pose for numerous photographs in the New Idea spread. In one photograph, Cr Mehajer is sitting at a white grand piano, while in another shot he appears to be wearing a velvet jacket and pair of designer slippers as he stares up adoringly at his wife.

But despite their ostentatious existence, Mrs Mehajer, 29, says money is immaterial.

“Money is not important to me. People can have millions and be completely miserable. What is important is to have something that’s irreplaceable with somebody. And what Salim and I have is priceless,” she said.

The newlyweds were also urged to come clean about whether their pearly whites and chiselled cheekbones were the result of cosmetic surgery.

Mrs Mehajer, described in the article as a former senior lecturer in beauty therapy, dodged the question, simply saying: “I’m not going to go there.”

Her husband, though, insisted that he hadn’t gone under the knife.

“I take it as a compliment that people think I’ve had work done, to be honest,” Cr Mehajer told New Idea.

“Do you want to see my eyebrows and teeth 20 years ago?” he asked, before the magazine said he flourished a photo as evidence that he had had nothing done.

Mrs Mehajer backed up her husband’s claims, saying he had a “great cleansing and moisturising routine”.

Cr Mehajer, 29, and his wife have not been far from the headlines since their wedding exploded into a national spectacle two months ago.

Their special day, which the proud groom described on social media as “AUSTRALIAS BEST WEDDING”, featured four helicopters, a fighter jet, a plane dragging a banner, dozens of Rolls-Royces, Ferraris, Lamborghinis, a film crew and a troupe of drummers that closed down their street and infuriated neighbours.

Mrs Mehajer previously worked as a beauty therapist in Wollongong, where she was known as April Learmonth.

At the time of the wedding, a former colleague in Wollongong said Mrs Mehajer had undergone a physical transformation, in which her strawberry blonde hair and freckles had been replaced by flowing brown locks and unblemished skin.

Cr Mehajer appeared to announce his prime ministerial ambitions last week during a bizarre television interview, in which he requested a lectern to address a lone reporter, with a single Nine News microphone in front of him.

He is facing an intimidation charge for allegedly threatening Bruce Herat, the father of Lindt cafe siege survivor Joel Herat, outside a Burwood gym last month.

Cr Mehajer was also been served with a personal violence order over the incident, and will appear in court next month. He has denied the allegations against him.

Dutdutan Tattoo Festival in the Philippinesphotos

Dutdutan Tattoo Festival | photos MANILA, PHILIPPINES – SEPTEMBER 26: A man gets tattooed by a tattoo artist during the Dutdutan Tattoo Festival on September 26, 2015 in Manila, Philippines. The festival is the biggest tattoo exposition in Asia attracting tattoo artists and enthusiasts from Taiwan, Indonesia, Japan, Singapore, Guam, Samoa, Germany and the United States. (Photo by Dondi Tawatao/Getty Images)
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MANILA, PHILIPPINES – SEPTEMBER 26: Participants display their tattoos during the Dutdutan Tattoo Festival on September 26, 2015 in Manila, Philippines. The festival is the biggest tattoo exposition in Asia attracting tattoo artists and enthusiasts from Taiwan, Indonesia, Japan, Singapore, Guam, Samoa, Germany and the United States. (Photo by Dondi Tawatao/Getty Images)

MANILA, PHILIPPINES – SEPTEMBER 26: Tattoo enthusiasts gather during the Dutdutan Tattoo Festival on September 26, 2015 in Manila, Philippines. The festival is the biggest tattoo exposition in Asia attracting tattoo artists and enthusiasts from Taiwan, Indonesia, Japan, Singapore, Guam, Samoa, Germany and the United States. (Photo by Dondi Tawatao/Getty Images)

MANILA, PHILIPPINES – SEPTEMBER 26: Tattoo enthusiasts gather during the Dutdutan Tattoo Festival on September 26, 2015 in Manila, Philippines. The festival is the biggest tattoo exposition in Asia attracting tattoo artists and enthusiasts from Taiwan, Indonesia, Japan, Singapore, Guam, Samoa, Germany and the United States. (Photo by Dondi Tawatao/Getty Images)

MANILA, PHILIPPINES – SEPTEMBER 26: A girl displays her tattooes during the Dutdutan Tattoo Festival on September 26, 2015 in Manila, Philippines. The festival is the biggest tattoo exposition in Asia attracting tattoo artists and enthusiasts from Taiwan, Indonesia, Japan, Singapore, Guam, Samoa, Germany and the United States. (Photo by Dondi Tawatao/Getty Images)

MANILA, PHILIPPINES – SEPTEMBER 26: Participants display their tattoos during the Dutdutan Tattoo Festival on September 26, 2015 in Manila, Philippines. The festival is the biggest tattoo exposition in Asia attracting tattoo artists and enthusiasts from Taiwan, Indonesia, Japan, Singapore, Guam, Samoa, Germany and the United States. (Photo by Dondi Tawatao/Getty Images)

MANILA, PHILIPPINES – SEPTEMBER 26: Participants display their tattoos during the Dutdutan Tattoo Festival on September 26, 2015 in Manila, Philippines. The festival is the biggest tattoo exposition in Asia attracting tattoo artists and enthusiasts from Taiwan, Indonesia, Japan, Singapore, Guam, Samoa, Germany and the United States. (Photo by Dondi Tawatao/Getty Images)

MANILA, PHILIPPINES – SEPTEMBER 26: A man gets tattooed by a tattoo artist during the Dutdutan Tattoo Festival on September 26, 2015 in Manila, Philippines. The festival is the biggest tattoo exposition in Asia attracting tattoo artists and enthusiasts from Taiwan, Indonesia, Japan, Singapore, Guam, Samoa, Germany and the United States. (Photo by Dondi Tawatao/Getty Images)

MANILA, PHILIPPINES – SEPTEMBER 26: A man gets tattooed by a tattoo artist during the Dutdutan Tattoo Festival on September 26, 2015 in Manila, Philippines. The festival is the biggest tattoo exposition in Asia attracting tattoo artists and enthusiasts from Taiwan, Indonesia, Japan, Singapore, Guam, Samoa, Germany and the United States. (Photo by Dondi Tawatao/Getty Images)

MANILA, PHILIPPINES – SEPTEMBER 26: Participants display their tattoos during the Dutdutan Tattoo Festival on September 26, 2015 in Manila, Philippines. The festival is the biggest tattoo exposition in Asia attracting tattoo artists and enthusiasts from Taiwan, Indonesia, Japan, Singapore, Guam, Samoa, Germany and the United States. (Photo by Dondi Tawatao/Getty Images)

MANILA, PHILIPPINES – SEPTEMBER 26: A girl displays her tattooes during the Dutdutan Tattoo Festival on September 26, 2015 in Manila, Philippines. The festival is the biggest tattoo exposition in Asia attracting tattoo artists and enthusiasts from Taiwan, Indonesia, Japan, Singapore, Guam, Samoa, Germany and the United States. (Photo by Dondi Tawatao/Getty Images)

MANILA, PHILIPPINES – SEPTEMBER 26: A girl inspects her tattoos during the Dutdutan Tattoo Festival on September 26, 2015 in Manila, Philippines. The festival is the biggest tattoo exposition in Asia attracting tattoo artists and enthusiasts from Taiwan, Indonesia, Japan, Singapore, Guam, Samoa, Germany and the United States. (Photo by Dondi Tawatao/Getty Images)

MANILA, PHILIPPINES – SEPTEMBER 26: A man gets tattooed by a tattoo artist during the Dutdutan Tattoo Festival on September 26, 2015 in Manila, Philippines. The festival is the biggest tattoo exposition in Asia attracting tattoo artists and enthusiasts from Taiwan, Indonesia, Japan, Singapore, Guam, Samoa, Germany and the United States. (Photo by Dondi Tawatao/Getty Images)

MANILA, PHILIPPINES – SEPTEMBER 26: A girl gets tattooed by Indonesian tattoo artists during the Dutdutan Tattoo Festival on September 26, 2015 in Manila, Philippines. The festival is the biggest tattoo exposition in Asia attracting tattoo artists and enthusiasts from Taiwan, Indonesia, Japan, Singapore, Guam, Samoa, Germany and the United States. (Photo by Dondi Tawatao/Getty Images)

MANILA, PHILIPPINES – SEPTEMBER 26: A girl gets tattooed by Indonesian tattoo artists during the Dutdutan Tattoo Festival on September 26, 2015 in Manila, Philippines. The festival is the biggest tattoo exposition in Asia attracting tattoo artists and enthusiasts from Taiwan, Indonesia, Japan, Singapore, Guam, Samoa, Germany and the United States. (Photo by Dondi Tawatao/Getty Images)

MANILA, PHILIPPINES – SEPTEMBER 26: Participants display their tattoos during the Dutdutan Tattoo Festival on September 26, 2015 in Manila, Philippines. The festival is the biggest tattoo exposition in Asia attracting tattoo artists and enthusiasts from Taiwan, Indonesia, Japan, Singapore, Guam, Samoa, Germany and the United States. (Photo by Dondi Tawatao/Getty Images)

MANILA, PHILIPPINES – SEPTEMBER 26: Tattoo enthusiasts gather during the Dutdutan Tattoo Festival on September 26, 2015 in Manila, Philippines. The festival is the biggest tattoo exposition in Asia attracting tattoo artists and enthusiasts from Taiwan, Indonesia, Japan, Singapore, Guam, Samoa, Germany and the United States. (Photo by Dondi Tawatao/Getty Images)

MANILA, PHILIPPINES – SEPTEMBER 26: Participants display their tattoos during the Dutdutan Tattoo Festival on September 26, 2015 in Manila, Philippines. The festival is the biggest tattoo exposition in Asia attracting tattoo artists and enthusiasts from Taiwan, Indonesia, Japan, Singapore, Guam, Samoa, Germany and the United States. (Photo by Dondi Tawatao/Getty Images)

MANILA, PHILIPPINES – SEPTEMBER 26: A man gets tattooed by a tattoo artist during the Dutdutan Tattoo Festival on September 26, 2015 in Manila, Philippines. The festival is the biggest tattoo exposition in Asia attracting tattoo artists and enthusiasts from Taiwan, Indonesia, Japan, Singapore, Guam, Samoa, Germany and the United States. (Photo by Dondi Tawatao/Getty Images)

MANILA, PHILIPPINES – SEPTEMBER 26: A man gets tattooed by a tattoo artist during the Dutdutan Tattoo Festival on September 26, 2015 in Manila, Philippines. The festival is the biggest tattoo exposition in Asia attracting tattoo artists and enthusiasts from Taiwan, Indonesia, Japan, Singapore, Guam, Samoa, Germany and the United States. (Photo by Dondi Tawatao/Getty Images)

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Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 investigation combines horror and humanity

n Federal Police Senior Sgt Rod Anderson stands where the bodies of the MH17 victims were brought once they landed in the Netherlands. Photo: Kate Geraghty AFP officers and their Dutch counterparts collect human remains from the MH17 crash site. Photo: Kate Geraghty
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The Hague: If you were at war, you’d want somebody like Rod Anderson in the trenches, right beside you. Nuggety in stature, he’s like a coiled spring. He’s taciturn, eyes darting around the room as he mulls each question, looking for the trick.

At times he’ll pinch a finger and thumb, then draw them across his pursed lips: “Ain’t saying nothing.”

Maybe he’s refusing to divulge a lapse in a challenge he accepted from his daughter to reduce his sugar intake. Or he thinks he’s being asked to reveal too much about the interior of the recovery operation and the criminal investigation into the crash of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 – a gruelling, ongoing operation that has been kept under a tight cone of silence imposed by and other countries.

But in a series of interviews in The Netherlands and , Anderson and other n Federal Police colleagues who were on the MH17 front line have given rare glimpses into a complex international operation, in which the emotional challenge was underscored by Anderson’s AFP colleague Dr Sarah Benson, who told me: “We were there to see justice done … and we needed to find our own.”

It’s difficult to remove the “us” and “our” factor in the MH17 saga. Disasters sometimes becomes a prism through which the humanity of many is judged –  the victims; those who deal with the injured and the dead; and, particularly in times of war, that of the other side, which inevitably is portrayed in unflattering terms.

But senior AFP officers attached to the MH17 investigation seem to go out of their way to acknowledge and to defend the humanity of the Ukrainian rebels who were accused of bringing down the aircraft and of the Ukrainian emergency services that mounted a rebel-controlled recovery operation in the immediate aftermath of the crash, in which 298 passengers and crew died on July 17, 2014.

Anderson is irritated by then prime minister Tony Abbott’s “bring ’em home” sloganeering at the time of the crash – because of an implication that these n dead were more important than others and/or that the response of Anderson and his colleagues somehow would be different to how they had performed at a litany of earlier disasters.

Referring to his between-disasters role investigating fatal car crashes around Canberra, Anderson said: “I attend all  deaths on ACT roads – and I don’t think one loss of life is more tragic than another. Forty together in the air, or one on the highway – they’re all tragic.”

In The Hague I saw AFP officers break from meetings on a ghoulish aspect of the crash to make cheerful phone calls to spouses in , and to say goodnight to their children on the other side of the world. Their desks were littered with family snaps and mementos of home – stuffed kangaroos and koalas, the Aussie flag.

A gut-wrenching contrast to all this, however, was a collage of the faces of ns who would not be phoning home – the 41 MH17 victims from . Nodding to the poster, a copy of which hangs in each n workspace at various investigative locations in the Netherlands, Detective Superintendent Andrew Donoghoe said: “They’re a small group of the whole 298 who died, but just seeing them fires us up.”

More than a year on, the verdict of these n investigators on the local Ukrainian recovery operation – by the rebels and local emergency responders – is cast in kinder, more forgiving language than was apparent in an avalanche of criticism at the time of the crash.

After foreign investigators, Anderson among them, took control of a refrigerated train on which the rebels had ordered that the victims remains be stored, a Dutch official said that as many as 100 bodies were missing, fuelling angry demands by officials from the victims’ countries for the warring sides in Ukraine’s separatist conflict to allow a more thorough search by investigators from the Netherlands, , Britain and Malaysia.

Ultimately, the foreign teams – sometimes a handful, sometimes as many as 80 – spent no more than 18 hours actively searching the 45 square-kilometre crash site. The Dutch claim of 100 bodies missing was perplexing, because when they unloaded what became known as “the train of the dead” at Kharkiv in Ukraine’s far north-east, the body bags in which the victims’ remains had been packed were not opened before they were airlifted to the Netherlands.

Anderson too was concerned that not all the bodies had been found – though more cautious than his Dutch colleague, the n cop figured privately that about 50 or 60 were missing. Either way, the figures were a condemnation of the local search  and recovery effort and the withdrawal of the foreign search teams was couched in terms of a worsening security threat; and conveying no sense that the much-maligned  initial Ukrainian search might have been as thorough and professional as was needed.

“We [searched] swiftly and thoroughly, while it was safe to do so,” ‘s prime ministerial envoy Angus Houston said in a statement announcing the abrupt abandonment of the first foreign sweep of the crash site early in August 2014. Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, who lost 193 of his countrymen in the crash, said it had become too dangerous for foreign search parties to remain in the region.

Without referring to the Dutch estimate of bodies missing, Rutte added that an opportunity to interview a Ukrainian military doctor involved in the initial response “had changed the recovery team’s perception of an earlier [search] effort undertaken by local authorities [and] fortunately more was done after the disaster than we thought until now”.

Fast-forward to mid-September 2015, and t Anderson is sitting in a conference room at the n Embassy in The Hague, telling me: “The Ukrainians were not uncaring people. It was as much a tragedy for them as for the victims. There was a lot of talk of disrespect for the dead because of the fighting – that was not the case.”

Drawing a comparison between the use of refrigerated rail wagons in Ukraine and that of refrigerated trucks in the Black Saturday bushfires of 2009, Anderson observed: “They were searching within 20 minutes of the crash and recovering remains – that’s a good response, a good job … it was done fairly well … with the level of expertise and equipment that they had, the locals did the best they could do.”

Donoghoe, now in his second rotation as head of the AFP team in The Hague, told me:  “The victims were treated with respect and dignity in difficult circumstances.”

Interviewed separately, his colleague Simon Walsh, who heads the AFP’s disaster victim identification operation, agreed – “there was no evidence to suggest otherwise”.

As shown in media reports, the Ukrainian search and recovery effort was amateurish, Walsh said, “but what we have established since is that so many victims were successfully identified on the basis of what [the Ukrainians] had collected, and subsequent searching did not reveal huge amounts of human remains that they had missed.

“The original [Ukrainian] work was done to a high standard in terms of the victims’ human remains being treated with respect and dignity.”

Were the locals and the rebels as humane as the victims’ families and friends might have expected? “From what I’ve observed, that’s a fair assessment,” he said.

The disaster victim identification process, carried out at a Dutch military base at Hilversum, near Amsterdam, also cast doubt on widespread media reporting of looting, particularly of the jewellery worn by victims.

Walsh, a member of the Identification Board that reviewed and formally ratified each identification decision, said that a regular element among what are called “secondary identifiers” was jewellery worn by the victims –  “clearly it had not been looted”, he told me.

And in cases in which the victim was not wearing jewellery described by families as proof of identification, Walsh said there were explanations apart from looting for its absence – perhaps the victim had opted not to wear the piece on the day of the flight or the jewellery might have come away from the victim as a result of the crash.

“Yes, there were cases of the jewellery being present. I can’t say if the presence was high or low; and there were cases of no jewellery, but not sufficient to substantiate claims of a high or extraordinary amount of looting.”

Through a day of interviews in The Hague, the Canberra traffic cop Anderson cloaked himself in a steely, dispassionate professionalism. But the following day, as we shared the back seat of a cop car for the drive to Hilversum, he allowed a fleeting glimpse of his own humanity.

“Mate, who do you debrief to? Who do you talk to?” he asked quietly, referring to my reporting from the charnel houses of serial wars. When I talked about the therapeutic effect of writing, he volunteered that he had taken to making audio recordings of what he saw and felt, which he’d then commit to paper as he sought to make sense of it all.

Sadly, though, some things never make sense.

Warm weather with a chance of rain in store for Canberra

A swamp wallaby eating Blooms of a wattle tree in Tidbinbilla. Photo: Philipp BrandlThe first of several possible storms for the weekend passed over Canberra on Friday evening as the Bureau of Meteorology warned of a severe thunderstorm in the region.
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Heavy rain and hail fell across Canberra and the storm was also expected to bring hail and damaging winds to the south coast, southern tablelands and the snowy mountains. Decent sized hail falling around #Canberra at the moment. pic.twitter上海龙凤论坛m/0dV3uJXl01— Julie J (@mookaqueen) October 9, 2015

After a long weekend of genuine summer-like temperatures this weekend might feel comparatively cooler.

But a string of days peaking in the mid-20s will still be well above average alongside a chance of a shower or storm, Weatherzone meteorologist Rob Sharpe said.

Friday is forecast to reach a maximum 26 degrees before tops of 27 degrees on Saturday and 24 degrees on Sunday; five to six degrees above average.

“The long weekend was very warm for this time of year,” he said.

“From tomorrow onwards it’s going to be well above average again. The October long-term average is 19.5 degrees.

“It looks like it’s going to be a very warm October compared to usual and it looks like it’s going to be a very dry October compared to usual.”

Mr Sharpe said the warm weather could be peppered with the odd shower or thunderstorm thanks to a low pressure trough that had formed over southern and central parts of the country.

“There is a chance of a few showers and maybe a couple thunderstorms through to next week. The risk is greater on Sunday or Monday,” he said.

“The air mass across the country is still very dry – we had very dry air moving into Canberra last weekend. Any shower or thunderstorm we do get will probably be fairly light.”

Mr Sharpe expected less than 10mm of rain over the next week.

He said maximum temperatures could dip to the low to mid 20s by Tuesday and Wednesday, before warming up again in time for the following weekend.

The warmer weather has allowed patient Canberrans to get behind the camera and snap some intimate photos of wildlife for The Canberra Times spring photo competition.

Philipp Brandl​ of Yarralumla captured a swamp wallaby eating golden blooms from a wattle tree in Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve.

Competition entrants’ photos have the chance of being published in the Canberra Times newspaper or on canberratimes上海龙凤论坛m.au.

Send a maximum of three photos to [email protected]上海龙凤论坛m.au as attached JPEG files and include your name, address, phone number, photo title, a description of the photo and the date it was taken.

Photos must be between 150 kilobytes and one megabyte. Winners will take home a share of the $1000 prize. 

Weatherzone is owned by Fairfax Media, publisher of The Canberra Times.