Hunter roads: All Hunter roads are clear this morning.
Hunter trains: There is a good service on the Hunter line and delays on the Central Coast and Newcastle line and the Hunter line.
Hunter weather: Cloudy and a very high chance of showers and afternoon thunderstorms in Newcastle (24 degrees), Raymond Terrace is in for a cloudy day with showers and afternoon thunderstorms (23 degrees), cloudy day for Maitland with showers and possible afternoon thunderstorms (24 degrees) and a cloudy day with a high chance of showers and possible afternoon thunderstorms in Scone (25 degrees).
Hunter beachwatch: It was nice to see a bit of sunshine yesterday and although we should have some blue sky this morning the showers are expected to return later in the day. The wind will head south-west to south-east and there is a strong wind warning in place. The swell will be from the east around 1 to 1.5 metres but is expected to shift to the south later. The southern corners will be worth checking for an early paddle. Around town try Stockton, Nobbys, Flatrock, Merewether and Dudley. To the south try Blacksmiths, Caves and Catho. At Port Stephens try One Mile. A few rips and tricky edges will persist so only swim in the patrolled areas. The water temperature is 21 degrees.
► A TEENAGER who used a syringe to hold-up two Hunter service stations, and attempted to rob two more, during a two night spree in June last year told detectives a co-accused used a knife to make him smoke the drug ice and “threatened” him into committing the robberies. More here.
► ANDREA Walter is the woman whose former husband’s penis was “stabbed” while they were having sex, after mesh implanted in her body to treat incontinence eroded through her vaginal wall in 2012. More here.
► BISHOP Greg Thompson was the right man to lead Newcastle Anglican diocese after the Australian Government in November, 2012 established the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. More here.
► Newcastle Council has thrown its weight behind a campaign to prevent a housing development from going ahead on a green at the Mayfield Bowling Club, opposing any residential or private development in Dangar Park. More here.
► Independent Member for Lake Macquarie Greg Piper is to meet with the city council over the stalled Bunderra Estate subdivision at Boolaroo, in a bid to find a way for dozens of would-be residents to access the land they’ve bought but have been unable to build on. More here.
► THE State Government is reviewing mine rehabilitation policies and process, including the management of final voids, following increasing concern about the mining industry’s long-term environmental impacts. More here.
► Newcastle NRL star Jarrod Mullen will reportedly challenge a four-year ban for allegedly testing positive to drugs. More here.
► THE change in season isn’t lost on Boolaroo’s “Mooranda the cow”. In fact, all this weather has her head spinning, right into some knee-high grass. More here.
► THE man accused of the “one-punch” assault of former professional surfer Jake Sylvester outside a Newcastle West hotel has appeared in court for the first time. More here.
► HUNTER businesses will be asked to contribute to a new project that provides the homeless with short term accommodation, access to a live-in case manager and existing services, work experience and help to move into supported and then permanent housing. More here.
► Welcome back, Pnau. The band offered no pageantry revealing themselves as the headliners of the Cambridge Hotel’s mysterious Thursday night gig. More here.
► A public forum with Health Minister Brad Hazzard is in the pipeline to highlight concerns over the new Maitland Hospital. More here.
► All his life, Tim Cox loved cars. He was training to become a mechanic, he had rebuilt his own vehicle and his favourite movies were The Fast and the Furious series. The 19-year-old from Rutherford died beside a stretch of road at Bishops Bridge on Wednesday, after his car crashed into a telegraph pole at about 9pm. More here.
► Maitland councillor Steve Procter has questioned whether the city’s ward structure should be abolished and the number of councillors reduced. More here.
► Words couldn’t describe what Peggy Huckstadt felt as she watched her East Gresford home burn to the ground on Wednesday night. More here.
► HAVE you or somebody you love been affected by dust diseases caused by exposure to asbestos, crystalline silica or other hazardous substances? More here.
► THE top performers in last year’s Newcastle Permanent Primary Schools Mathematics Competition have enjoyed a weekend camp at Myuna Bay Sport and Recreation Centre on the shores of Lake Macquarie. More here.
► The community ownership proposal to anchor the Newcastle Knights in the Hunter has won a powerful ally. More here.
► The clippers have begun to buzz, ready for Port Stephens residents to lose their locks for the World’s Greatest Shave. More here.
St Patrick’s Day
Leprechaun hats, ginger beards and pints of Guinness will be the staples as people take to the streets to celebrate St Patrick’s Day.
To keep with the theme, we’ve whipped together a quiz that will test your Irish knowledge.
State of the nation
Need a national news snapshot first thing - well, we have you covered.
►SA: Relations between the Commonwealth and South Australia have turned toxic after an angry row between the the federal Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg and the state's Labor Premier, Jay Weatherill, played out on live television.
In bizarre scenes, the two figures stood shoulder-to-shoulder as they exchanged claims of hypocrisy, panic, and abject failure in the increasingly fraught energy policy debate. Read more
►WA: Horrified parents at a religious school south of Perth are threatening to pull their children out after learning a convicted child sex offender and an accused child rapist were among the students.
The two boys, aged 17 and 12, are accused of separate child rapes - with teachers, students and parents unaware of their alleged offences until the details began to spread on social media on Tuesday. Read more
►VIC: The Great Moscow Circus has cancelled its Ballarat tour, just days after the show visited Bendigo.
Ticket holders were left in limbo after performers were told at the last minute that last night’s opening show would not go ahead at the Ballarat showgrounds.
The show had been in Bendigo from March 2 to March 12 and was due to run for five days in Ballarat.
The Great Moscow Circus said “very soft ticket sales” were the reason for cancelling its tour in Ballarat in a Facebook post on the Ballarat event page. Read more
►TAS: Respected economist Saul Eslake believes three key issues are impacting Tasmania’s economic health: education, jobs, and healthcare, with education leading.
►NSW: A Riverina councillor has landed himself in hot water after he likened a young disabled boy to a “drunken Japanese tourist” in an embarrassing social media gaffe.
Bland Shire Councillor Murray Thomas has faced severe community backlash after his comments, with some community members calling for his immediate resignation. Read more
The Korean man, aged in his 40s, tried to drive his removalist truck through flood waters south of Miles about 11pm on Wednesday, when his vehicle became trapped. Read on
►NEWCASTLE: A Proposal to redraw the Supercars track has been rejected by race organisers, who say Newcastle council’s request is too late in the piece and unlikely to ever happen.
Supercars Australia was forced to defend the track on Wednesday, after Labor councillors backflipped on the agreed route the night before, deciding the council would reverse its support for the politically sensitive East End track and push for the race to run along Shortland Esplanade. Read more
►The federal government will increase its stake in the Snowy Hydro if NSW and Victoria refuse to help finance Malcolm Turnbull's ambitious expansion plan.
The Prime Minister says his government is prepared to go it alone and put up equity to fund the "game changing" $2 billion development, increasing the Commonwealth's current approximate shareholding of $800 million, or 13 per cent of the asset. Read more
►Confidence in the housing market has collapsed, with the number of Australians describing property as the wisest place to put their savings falling to its lowest level in more than 40 years.
The Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research has been asking about the wisest place to store savings since it began its consumer confidence survey in 1974. Read more
National weather radar
What’s coming you way …
►JERUSALEM: Progressive, left-leaning Westerners travel to Palestine to identify with the struggle and get an authentic "occupation experience". British artist Banksy's new "Walled Off Hotel" offering a view of the West Bank barrier wall in Bethlehem is the latest example of this trend.
Although these two tourism streams appeal to entirely disparate markets, they both rely on the idea of a static, mythical Palestine, not a living place inhabited by real human beings. Read more
►LONDON: Rupert Murdoch's $18.7 billion bid to takeover Sky News in the UK has been referred to the media regulator, with the Tory government citing concerns about "broadcasting standards" and "media plurality."
Ofcom, Britain's media regulator, will spend the next forty working days investigating whether the media mogul is a "fit and proper" person to acquire total ownership of Sky and if the takeover will further shrink Britain's news media offerings, with a report due on May 16. Read more
On this day
The faces of Australia: Ella Ebery
Believed to be Victoria’s oldest citizen with an active driver’s licence, 101-year-old Ella Ebery has defied the limits of age.
“When you get to my age, you have to try to be active in a small country town. If you cannot drive, you’re housebound,” the St Arnaud resident said.
“Being housebound is the biggest imposition anyone could put on me.”
She sat her licence renewal test three weeks ago and passed. Read more