ANALYSIS: No quick fix for Dungog’s ratepayers

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TOUGH JOB: Dungog Council General Manager Craig Deasey, who believes councillors should pursue a merger with Port Stephens Council. Picture: Simone De Peak

THE question for Dungog ratepayers after Tuesday’s decision to avoid pursuing a merger with Port Stephens at least before the September election is: what happens now?

Well, depends who you ask.

Nancy Knudsenand the other councillors who stuck with their original May 1 motion to avoid the merger expect the council to now begin working on the alternate decision they reached that night.

That is, for the general manager and mayor tobegin negotiations with Maitland, Port Stephens, the NSW government and the Boundaries Commission.

There’s doubt aboutwhether those options are viable, though. The role of the Boundaries Commission, for example, is to report matters referred to it by the Local Government Minister –and Dungog’s general manager Craig Deasey told theNewcastle Heraldon Wednesday that he wasn’t yet sure whether it would be possible to execute the motion.

There’s also hope of other financial aid.

The freeze on indexation on financial assistance grants has been lifted, and Port Stephens MP Kate Washington has suggested Hunter Councils are thinking of ways to help Dungog alleviate its $40 million infrastructure backlog.

But it’s not clear how much more money will flow into the council’s coffers as a result of the financial grants, and even Cessnock mayor Bob Pynsent –the head of Hunter Councils –isn’t convinced their plan wouldbe enough.

“I don’t know whether they [Dungog] are saveable if both the general manager and mayor are saying there’s very little that can be done,” he said.

Here’s the reality though: whether Dungog amalgamatesor not, its rates are going up.

Using the mean land value in Dungog of $125,000 as a measure, ananalysis of 2016/17 residential ratesshow a huge discrepancy between Dungog, Maitland and Port Stephens.

In Dungog villagearatepayer coughs up $581, compared to $994 fornon-urban residential areas in Maitland and $785 in Port Stephens.

The tiny village producing AFL stars

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Welcome to Collingullie, where one in every 200 residents become an AFL player.

When Harry Perryman debuts for the Giants against Richmond on Saturday he’ll become the second Collingullie product to play in the top league, following in the footsteps of GWS teammate Matthew Kennedy.

Perryman, like Kennedy, came through the GWS Academy and was taken with pick No.14 of last year’s National Draft. Adelaide initially selected the youngster who can play through the midfield and off half back, but the Giants matched their bid.

Collingullie is a tiny village on the Sturt Highway, 26 kilometres north-west of Wagga Wagga boasting a school, general store and a pub. Perryman predicted most of its 400 inhabitants would make the trek to Western Sydney for the Tigers clash.

“They’ll probably all be here – they’re pretty keen I think,” he said.

“It’s obviously pretty special, this is always what you want to do, play an AFL game. I can’t wait to run out with the boys on Saturday.

“I always knew it was going to be a hard team to get into, there’s some great players in this side so I’ve just had to put my head down and keep working.”

Perryman will be playing alongside one of his idols, Heath Shaw, a man he watched closely growing up as a Collingwood supporter and the man who acted as his mentor while he was in the academy last season.

“Yes we’ve got a few injuries, but he deserves his spot in the team, it’s great to have him on board and I taught him everything he knows,” Shaw said.

“He’s a natural footballer and that gets lost a little bit these days. Everyone’s looking for the athlete and the guy with the washboard abs who can jump and mark it but Harry, he’s a rugged footballer.

“He reads the ball really well and he’s very skilful and I’m looking forward to playing alongside him on the weekend.

“It’s a basic game and the worst thing you can do when bringing young guys into AFL level is confuse them and give them bucket loads of information.

“We just like to keep it really simple,” Shaw said. “They got drafted for a reason because they can play footy, we just want to use their strengths and mould them into Giants players and that’s what Harry’s done and he’s really shone in the NEAFL under duress with a lot of top players.”

Indian gem stands out as beacon of taste

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A REAL GEM: Sapphire entices passers-by with its exotic aromas. Pictures: Marina Neil Raj has had Indian cuisine cornered, so to speak, in Newcastle for a long, long time. Well, down on the corner of Glebe Road and June Street, Merewether, Sapphire Indian Restaurant definitely has Indian cuisine, um … cornered.

Find a park somewhere on the streetand enter through the large glass sliding door into a roomy well-lit room humming with the sound of ravenous, in-the-know Novocastrians with an appetite for samosa. The walls are painted in earthy tones and are illuminated by bright down-lights, and droplet shaped chandeliers hung high above white tablecloth covered tables and high-backed, soft (p)leather chairs.

An appetising atmosphere of tangled spice aromas set us grasping for the menu to see what edible treasures await us.

Vegetarians and people with a preference for proper protein are both well catered for in the entree section of the menu. There’s kaju kebab, which is a seasoned pureed potato coated with crushed cashew nuts, and mushroom duplex, which has nothing to do with affordable housing founded on fungi, and everything to do with mushrooms stuffed with potatoes, mint and cottage cheese that’s been battered with spices.

The same goes for the main menu. Here you’ll find seafood dishes, like deep fried black tiger prawns coated in a light and spiced batter, otherwise known as zingha vada, or, daal makhni (v); black lentils with kidney beans cooked slowly overnight for maximum flavour, as well as many variations of chicken, goat, lamb, and beef dishes, plus sides, including a refreshing raita (yoghurt, cumin seeds and black salt), naan breads and roti, and, of course, rice, such as basmati, saffron, and the incredibly aromatic and flavoursome coconut rice, which, in all honesty, has enough compelling flavours to be eaten on its own.

Evidently, it’s hard to decide what to order. Nevertheless, we do our best and start with the mysterious-sounding Chicken 65 and Kaju Kebab for entree, followed by beef biryani and the goat curry for main.

Sapphire is licensed and features a good selection of wines, beer, ciders, spirits, soft drinks, and lassi, including mango, rose, sweet, and salt flavours. It’s BYO too, and we take advantage of this by bringing a bottle of pinot noir from Hawke’s Bay, in New Zealand, which turns out to be perfect for washing down the deep flavours of tonight’s meal.

FULL TABLE: Kaju kebab, goat curry, beef biryani and raita yoghurt

First out is the kaju kebabs. They’re a pleasant surprise in terms of their taste and texture: mildly spicy, herbaceous and sweet, especially when dipped in the accompanying smoky, plum and chilli sauce. Purveyors of ‘hot-wings’ in Newcastle take note; Sapphire’s ‘Chicken 65’ consists of deep fried chunks of exotic spiced chicken, ginger and shallots that is more flavoursome and way more spicy than any hot-wing you’ll eat in this town, presently. I’ve already got my order in for Origin.

However, one note to the chef: save some money and ditch the decorative snow pea shoots. The sliced cucumber’s enough to refresh the palate between bite-sized morsels of both dishes.

As soon as all the mains were on the table we knew we’d over-ordered. Not to worry, because you can take leftovers home, just the same as if you’d ordered take away.

HOUSE-MADE: The pistachio ice cream comes highly recommended.

The beef biryani is a colourful earthy-orange dome of rice that encases chunks of beef seasoned with plenty of complex spices – cardamom, nutmeg, pepper, cinnamon, ginger, to name more than a few.

The goat curry is the favourite of the two mains. Soft bits of deliciously gelatinous goat cling gently to slow-cooked bone that swims in a small balti bowl filled with a rich, earthy and spicy sauce, perfect for dipping crispy bits of roti in later.

We end our evening by sharing a small bowl of house-made pistachio ice cream, initially recommend by our waiter, and now highly recommend by me.

It’s a refreshing way to end a fun and flavoursome meal that’s full of warm, comforting food ideal for the impending winter.

QUICK BITEWhat: Sapphire Indian RestaurantWhere: 367-369 Glebe Rd, MerewetherDrinks: Lassi, Soft Drinks, Beer/Cider, Wine, Spirits, Cocktails, (BYO also)Hours: Dinner: 7 Days 5pm-10pm / Lunch: Sun 12pm-3pmVegetarian: YesBottom Line: $85 for two incl. drinksWheelchair Access: YesDo Try: Chicken 65, pistachio ice cream

ADVERTISING FEATURE: Dealing with dizziness

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COMPREHENSIVE: Newcastle Neurodiagnostics offers high quality neurology tests to help you and your physician arrive at a timely and accurate diagnosis.Vertigo is a sensation that you are moving when you are not. It is often a symptom of an underlying problem with our balance system.

People with vertigo typically describe it as feeling like they are spinning. It may also be felt as a rocking, tilting, or swaying movement.

Other symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, jerking eye movements, headache, sweating, ringing ears or hearing loss. Anxiety and loss of balance very commonly occur as a result of the vertigo.

A wide range of conditions and diseases can cause vertigo, and according to neurologist Dr Michael Katekar from Newcastle Neurodiagnostics, it is important to determine which,in order to get the appropriate treatment.

“Anxiety disorders, brain disorders, underlying medical conditions like low blood pressure, infection, heart problems and low blood sugar can play a role,” he said. “It is important to see your doctor if you have unexplained dizziness or balance issues, and seek specialised help if necessary.”

Disorders of the inner ear account for about half of all cases of ongoing dizziness. Those disorders include Meniere’s disease, vestibular neuritis and benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV). BPPV occurs when tiny calcium particles (otoliths) find their way into the semicircular canals of the inner ear.

“BPPV can occur at any age,” Dr Katekar said. “It’s rare in children and young adults but gets more common with age. It can follow a head injury, like coming off a bike or a car accident. Basically, it feels like you are moving when you not. You get an intense spinning sensation, provoked by head movement, especially looking up or bending forward.”

The condition can make people anxious, upset and limit their day-to-day activities, thereby impairing their quality of life. But depending on the cause of the vertigo, relief is available.

Newcastle Neurodiagnostics offers testing to facilitate diagnosis of a wide range of neurological conditions, with a particular interest and expertise in dizziness, and balance disorders. New investigation techniques, many developed in in the last few years, allow very detailed evaluation of the functioning of the inner ear. Accurate diagnosis often leads to effective treatment.

“Our practice is unique in that we have a physiotherapist working on site as part of our team,” Dr Katekar said. “If you have got BPPV there are techniques and manoeuvres – particle repositionings – that can fix it up very quickly. We’re all about getting people fixed up in a timely fashion.

“If the problem is more serious we can recommend and administer appropriate treatments.”

If you would like more information, visit www.newcastleneurodiagnostics成都夜总会招聘.au or call 02 49423 944.

ADVERTISING FEATURE: Obesity surgery transforms lives

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BEFORE AND AFTER: Gastric sleeve patient Amanda Crowther, left, weighing 215kg in 2015 and now tipping the scales at 98kg.

The transformative nature of surgery should never be underestimated by those wrestling with the irrational thought processes of obesity.

Sufferers often realise that over-eatingis irrational in itself, that they are lowering their quality of life and quite literally eating themselves to death.

Diets and exercise have often been tried and failed, and yet even whensurgical intervention is appropriate there are irrational fears, according to Dr Tim Wright, from Eastern Surgical Services.

“They fear it won’t work, that it’s high risk, or that they are going to fail, or that they won’t be able to justify the procedure to family and friends,” Dr Wright said.

”All irrational thoughts, because the truth is that when they lose the kilos, they have a completely different life.

“They can do things they never could do before, their self esteem goes through the roof, they say it’s been a life-saver and should have done it sooner.”

Amanda Crowther struggled with her weight all her life and by the time she attended one of Dr Wright’s monthly obesity surgery seminars, she weighed 215kg.

The seminar gave an opportunity to ask questions about what to expect, the risks involved and the likely outcomes.

“Dr Wright’s passion and compassion for those attending was clear,” Amanda said.

“There was no judgement, just a recognition that there was a problem and there was an answer.”

Amanda committed to gastric sleeving. As part of the process, she joined a health fund and embarked on a period of fasting in order to shrink her liver and reduce the chance of complications in surgery.

By the time the keyhole surgery was performed, on May 17, 2016, she weighed155kg. Twelve months down the track on her “sleeve-aversary” she’s tipping the scales at 98kg.

The emotional and physical transformation has been huge and she is literally jumping into her future with enthusiasm.

“I’m being the mum to my kids I never could be before,” she said.

“I can get off the couch now, I’m exercising and when I lose a couple more kilos, I’m going to do sky diving and base jumping.”

The key to commitment for Amanda was the information she got about the procedure at Dr Wright’s seminars.

”Having the surgery is not cheating,” Amandasays of yet another irrational fear regarding the procedure. “It has been lifesaving and I am so pleased I had it.”

Dr Wright urges anyone like Amanda to come along to one of his seminars and get informed.

“The fact is if you are in a health fund, then for the cost of a cheap second hand car you can achieve long term results you might have thought were beyond you,” Dr Wright said.

“And it is possible you can claim all out of pocket expenses back from your super fund.”

Keen to pass on the benefit of her experience, Amanda will be the guest speaker at the next seminar, at Rutherford Bowling Club, on May 24.

If you would like more information, ring Eastern Surgical Services on4032 8777.