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March, 2019

‘Urgent meeting’: Chappypie China Time plans in doubt

Sydney residents wanting to experience the majesty of imperial China may have to continue to travel further than Wyong, following the seeming disintegration of plans for a Chinese theme-park on the Central Coast.
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The company behind the mooted “Chappypie China Time” theme park at Warnervale has apparently failed to make contractual payments for the purchase of land for the theme park.

And the Central Coast Council, which had contracted to sell the land to Australia China Theme Park, issued a mysterious statement this week saying it was seeking an “urgent meeting” with the company.

Should plans for the project irretrievably break down, it would be an ignominious and wasteful end to a scheme that at one stage promised a $500 million development for the region.

The project had been enthusiastically backed by the former mayor of Wyong Doug Eaton.

But it would be an entirely predictable outcome for the theme park’s many critics.

“We said this from the outset,” said the Labor Member for Wyong, David Harris.

Mr Harris said there was no evidence the company behind the project had experience delivering something of the size it was promising. Nor was the land zoned for the sort of use they envisaged.

Indeed, the director of Australia China Theme Park, Bruce Zhong, has previously made a virtue of his lack of experience. “This is a world’s first-ever project,” he told Fairfax Media in 2014.

But Mr Zhong has not responded to an emailed request for comment.

Nor has Mr Eaton, whose wife was previously revealed to have shares in a company part-owned by Australia China Theme Park. Mr Eaton has said his wife had no knowledge of how she came to acquire those shares.

Another curious aspect has been the advertisement in China, on social networking app WeChat, of the potential to invest in the project and receive permanent residency visas.

The latest development comes after the former Wyong Council last February contracted with Australia China Theme Park to sell it two parcels of land totalling 15.7 hectares near the Pacific Highway at Warnervale.

The company paid $300,000 deposits for each parcel, and was to settle the first parcel for $3 million plus GST this February.

The Central Coast Council then gave the company an extension until the end of March. But the Council’s statement this week suggests the Australia China Theme Park has missed that deadline.

The council said that the contracts contained confidentiality clauses and as such it could not comment, but that it had “sought an urgent meeting with representatives of ACTP to discuss these contracts”.

Bob Graham, a former independent councillor on Wyong Council, which has since been merged into the Central Coast Council and placed under the control of an administrator, said the project never made any sense.

Mr Graham said the council-owned land at Warnervale should instead have been used for a business park, which could already be employing people.

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

An elegant affair in the Blue Mountains

Live music … part of the deal at the Hydro Majestic High TeaI guess that I used to think of the Blue Mountains as an obstacle — one that I rarely stopped at and even more rarely enjoyed, but one which I had to confront on each of many trips over the years between Sydney and the Central West of New South Wales.
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But certainly no longer. What used to be an impediment has become a much favoured haunt — an avenue lined with sumptuous food, fine accommodation and unforgettable scenery, both in dappled sunlight and swirling, sometimes quite eerie, mist.

View from the Hydro Majestic’s dining room … the mist rolls in … or is out?

That appeal was driven home a couple of weeks ago when myself and the Woman with Altitude were hosted by Ralf Bruegger, the general manager of the Escarpment Group, which has in its portfolio the Hydro Majestic, Lilianfels, Echoes and Parklands in the Blue Mountains, and has recently expanded to take on The Convent in the Hunter Valley.

It all started with a rather decadent High Tea in the Hydro’s Wintergarden restaurant watching the mist swirling around the Megalong Valley.

Ralf and his team are to be congratulated on their attention to detail in so tastefully and authentically restoring what is certainly a more-than-century-old Blue Mountains icon. They have done the region and, indeed, Australia a great service.

We opted to share servings of the traditional Wintergarden offering and the more radical Eastern High Tea, accompanied by flutes of French bubbly.

Both dishes were served on three-tiered stands laden with tempting savoury and sweet treats.

Gorgeous food … the Hydro Majestic’s Eastern High Tea (left) and Wintergarden High Tea

It was there that we abandoned the Woman with Altitude’s car, not realising that she had left on the lights and was rapidly flattening the battery, and shared my car to Katoomba, where, because accommodation at Echoes was booked out, we had to stay at luxurious Lilianfels. Damn!

Lilianfels was established by Sir Frederick Darley, sixth Chief Justice of NSW, as a family retreat after he purchased land at Katoomba’s Echo Point in 1888.

It epitomises accommodation in the grandest of manner. It is elegant and its silver-service restaurant, appropriately named Darley’s, delivers food totally worthy of the surrounds.

There’s absolutely nothing ‘mini’ about our Mini Mini Saddle Suite, with its elegant décor, absolute king-size comfort and separate lounge and bedroom.

A comfortable resting place … the Mini Mini Saddle Suite at Lilianfels

The quality of the food at Echoes — and it really is next door, well within walking distance — certainly matched the luxury of our suite at Lilianfels.

We tried entrées of crispy soft-shell crab served with pan-seared scallops and som-tom salad; and pan-fried quail with kale, shimeji mushrooms, and tamarind-and-honey glaze … an absolutely delicious pair of starters eagerly washed down with glasses of crisp riesling from Bests in Victoria’s Great Western district.

One of the delicious entrées at Echoes … soft-shell crab with pan-seared scallops

These were followed by two of the best main courses we have recently tried: free-range chicken wrapped in jamon, and served with sweet potato and quinoa rosti, braised fennel, wild mushroom and truffle veloute; and char-grilled angus tenderloin, served with onion jam and baby vegetables grown in the garden of the Escarpment Group’s nearby Parklands property.

Both dishes were simply sensational, with the velvety veloute sauce an absolute stand-out.

I’m a great fan of reds from France’s Rhone Valley, which I reckon offers better value than the more esteemed Bordeaux and Burgundy regions, and the Perrin & Fils blend of grenache, syrah and mourvedre certainly did more than justice to the exceptional tenderloin.

And similarly a glass of De Iulius chardonnay from the Hunter Valley to the chicken.

It was a very fine meal in a beautiful room, tended by the most efficient, friendly staff … and full marks to the Hydro’s handyman, who had no trouble jump-starting the Woman with Altitude’s car the following morning.

John Rozentalsis a freelance writer whose passions aretravel, food and wine. He lives at Molong in the Central West of NSW, from where he hostsOz Baby Boomers, a lifestyle-resource for mature Australians, and Molong Online.

Fresh Fogarty boosts Greens for 2017 opener

NEW PLAYER: Sam Fogarty returns to Merewether at outside centre after a beneficial off-season with the NSW sevens program. Picture: Jonathan CarrollMerewether Carlton coach Mick Gill reckons Sam Fogarty has come back a different playerahead of the Newcastle and Hunter Rugby Unionseason opener against old rivals Wanderers at No.1 Sportsground on Saturday.
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Outside centre Fogartyspent the summer months with the NSW sevens program andwas the sole country-based player in the state side, which included the national championships in Adelaide in November, and Gill barely recognised him at Townson Oval in the lead up to their 2017 campaign.

“It was like we received a brand new player after that off-season with The Waratahs,” Gill said.

“Fogo had gained a yard of pace, he came backstronger, and his skillset was unbelievable. Just 100 per cent a better player.”

Fogarty will partnerskipper Jay Strachan in the centres, which Gillidentified as a key area for Merewether.

“That’s where our strength is,” Gill said.

“Both players have a licence to throw it around and I don’t want to lock them in anywhere. Rather than having to standsomewhere on the field they can go andfind their own opportunities.”

The rest of the backline has been shuffled around with Thomas Smith slotting into fly half after University recruit Will Frost injured his shoulder in a recent trial while versatile Blake Creighton could miss the year following a knee reconstruction.

The Greens forward pack is also a mixed bag –weakened without Alex Hills (Randwick) and prop WendallWilhelmus (shoulder surgery) but bolstered by flanker Billy Freeman (University) and back-rower Kent Hatchwell (return).

Butstability has been provided in drawing the Two Blues straight up according to Gill, allowing the group to gel in sight of last year’s grand finalists.

“It actually helped with our pre-season, giving us that extra motivation,” Gill said.

“Not that you need much motivation to play Wanderers …but it made those fitness sessions a bit easier.”

Wanderershave named five-eighth Luke Simmons as captain whilesecond-rower Doug McKillop (Scone),halfback Gus Locke (UK) and No.15 Josh McCormack (Maitland) all debutfor the hosts. Tom Emayel returns after two years abroad.

Elsewhere, two-time defending premiers Hamilton are at home to The Waratahs, Beaches travel to meet Maitland, Lake Macquarie tackleSingleton and University take on Nelson Bay.

*Go totheherald南京夜网419论坛for the BarTV Sportslivestream of Wanderers v Carlton at3pmon Saturday.SEASON PREVIEW: Who will take out the Newcastle and Hunter Rugby Union premiership?

PHOTOS: Hamilton claim back-to-back titles with grand final win over Wanderers

BLUE CARD: Concussion trial in Newcastle for 2017

Meanwhile, the NHRU season was officially launched at Wests City on Friday with former Wallabies coach Alan Jones the guest speaker at the annual Hawthorne Club luncheon.

And the women’s competition doesn’t start until April 22 but 10 Hunter players will represent NSW Country at the Southern States Championships in Wagga Wagga on Saturday.

Magpies aim for fast turnaround

KEY MAN: Marquee Matt Thompson also helps coach Maitland.
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MATT Thompson believes Maitland are better this year, but they will need to be if they are going to challenge Edgeworth at Jack McLaughlan Oval on Saturday night.

The Magpies beat Newcastle Jets Youth 4-2 on Wednesday night at Speers Pointto belatedly open their NNSW NPL season after four washouts. Thompson scored the go-ahead goal early in the second half and Matt Comerford struck in injury time after it was 2-2 at half-time.

“It was just a good result, to get a game in and get through it unscathed,” Thompson said.“It’s not easy playing on that surface against a team that runs around a bit, after not playing for three weeks.”

They meet an Eagles sideon Saturday (7.30pm) in round five coming off the bye and smarting from a 2-1 loss to Lambton Jaffas. Maitland lost 4-3 to Edgeworth in the semi-finals last year and Thompson said they would need to improve.

“We talk about how we nearly beat them, but at the end of the day, they won and they probably never felt like they weregoing to lose it,” he said. “No doubt, we need to be better. We haven’t really lost in terms of personnel fromlast year. Obviously we lost [Dean] Heffernan, but we gained Shane [Cansdell-Sherriff], Andrew Pawiak and Josh Dutton-Black.I think we’re in better position than last year in that we have a strong 16, 17 players.”

Also Saturday, Valentine host Adamstown (2.30pm) and Hamilton welcome the Jets Youth (6pm). On Sunday, Charlestown host Broadmeadow and the Jaffas are away to Lake Macquarie.

* Go totheherald南京夜网419论坛for the BarTV Sports livestream of Lake Macquarie v Lambton JaffasEdgeworth coach Damian Zane, meanwhile, said attacking UK recruit Kieran Sanders would play under 20s on Saturday after serving a three-match ban carried over from his time with Far North Queensland Heat.

Zane said the Eagles had responded on the training paddock to the midweek loss to Jaffas.

“We trained on Saturday and it was quite a heavy and intense session,” Zane said.

”You can just seenow, all the cattle are back andplayers are looking around and seeing there’s a battle on now for spots.

“They are proud of what they have done the last couple of years and that loss stung them. It was a tad harsh to lose, but losing away to Lambton, there’s noshame in that. It was good for us, it’s got us going and I’ve seen it at training.

“I think the game showed up a couple of players who were a yard off as well. We’vegot a fair bit of work into them over the last week and a bit, so I expect a big performance from them.”

Thompson said “Edgy, for me, are the team to beat again”.

“Even though they had a loss to Lambton the other week, they have proven themselves over the last few years and they are a quality side,” he said.

Thompson said Ryan Clarke, who missed the win over Jets Youth with a hamstring problem, would likely return against Edgeworth.

Thompson, Maitland keeper Matt Trott, Adamstown’s Stuart Musialikand Edgeworth striker Daniel McBreen will back up on Sunday in the F3 Derby Legends Game at Central Coast Stadium before the A-League clash between Newcastle and the Mariners.

McBreen and Trott will play for the Mariners, whileThompson and Musialik will be in Newcastle’s line up for the seven-a-side exhibition.

“I’m not sure which one’s more important to be honest,” Thompson laughed about the two clashes this weekend with McBreen, who has been talking up the Legends Games rivalry.

“Hopefully we can get the win in both, that’s the plan.”

Fears over drinking water

ON THE ATTACK: Catherine and Tony Witcomb at their property in Eagleton, which would border a proposed rock quarry. They fear their rural way of life will be destroyed if the proposal receives the green light. Picture: Simone De Peak HUNTER WATER and the Roads and Maritime Service havecome out in opposition to plans for a hard rock quarry in the catchment for Newcastle’s main drinking water source.
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Boral Resources –which operates the nearby Seaham Quarry – has also launched an attack onthe proposal, warningit contains“deficiencies, incorrect conclusions and inadequate mitigation measures”.

TheHeraldreported in February that plans for the quarry at Eagleton, north of Raymond Terrace, hadbeen resurrected after four years.

The EagletonRock Syndicate plans to extract around 10 milliontonnes of rock inside the boundaries of the catchment for Grahamstown Dam, which supplies about 20 per cent of Newcastle’s drinking water.

In a letter to the planning department, senior Hunter Water engineerMalcolm Withers said the organisation “does not support approval of the proposed development in its current form.”

Hunter Water found the syndicate had failed to show water discharged from the quarry would be of equal or better quality than what is currently leaving the site.

Its management plan had been designed for a “typical catchment” rather than a sensitive drinking water source, it argued.

It came as residents mobilised against the proposal, lodging nearly 50 objections with the Department of Planning and forming the Eagleton Residents Action Group.

“It’s a majorissue not just for us but for the people of Newcastle,” spokesperson Tony Witcomb said.

“Because of the Williamtown fiasco,Hunter Water have closed off use of some of the Tomago Sandbeds,soit’s more important than everthat the Grahamstown catchment doesn’t have any contamination issues.”

The quarry wouldcome within 150 metres of Mr Witcomb’s back fence and would see the removal of a hill that acts as a buffer between his home and the Boral quarry.

His home is also near a motorbike racing track and the site of the proposed $12 million Circuit Italia and Mr Witcomb said the company’sacoustic assessmenthad not taken into account all the noise sources in the area.

“The noise is going to be atrocious,” he said, adding most residents relied on tank water and feared it would be contaminated with dust.

The group has also pointed out a number of existing quarries in the area haveapplications before the state government for expansions.

“Why build a greenfield quarry whenthe infrastructure is not there and the quarry’s not required?” Mr Witcomb said. “It’s not like people are screaming out for gravel.”

In its objection, the Road and Maritime Service warned extra truck movements would put pressure on the intersection of the Pacific Highway and Italia Road, “exacerbating the potential safety risk”.

It found the intersection was likely to need upgrading if the quarrygoes ahead.

Boral Resources complainedit had not been consulted on the proposed development, despite the syndicate’s claims to the contrary.

The company said trafficassessments for the new quarry were based on the “incorrect” assumption it would cease operations by 2026 and the proposal had “ignored” noise and air quality impacts on the proposed Kings Hill subdivision.