Christmas in Glebe Park festival draws crowd on second weekend

With the mercury rising into the 30s on Saturday, Canberra was far from the winter wonderland and the cold temperatures associated with Christmas.

However, the hot weather didn’t stop a large crowd of people from gathering in Civic on Saturday for the Christmas in Glebe Park festival.

Now in its second weekend, the festival is running every Friday, Saturday and Sunday in the lead up to Christmas, with this weekend’s festivities focusing on free screenings of Christmas movies.

It’s the first year the event has taken place in Canberra, replacing the large Christmas tree and multitude of lights seen in City Walk.

Saturday’s festivities saw live music performances, Santa photos, the chance to decorate real Christmas trees as well as many Christmas lights.

An open-air cinema was also screening the modern Christmas movie classic Elf, with Home Alone to be screened on the Sunday.

Among those attending the Christmas markets were Calwell residents Courtney and Adam Bryant, along with their two children Amelie and Xavier.

Mrs Bryant said the family was looking to do something around Christmas time this year.

“The kids wanted to do something for Christmas, and we were going to come here to see all the Christmas trees and the lights as well,” she said.

A week out from Christmas, the family said they had mostly had things sorted for December 25, with a family Christmas planned.

As well as Christmas festivities at the markets, goat yoga will also feature as part of the event on Sunday at 2pm.

The event’s organiser Ashleigh Gleeson said the move to Glebe Park has paid off, with large crowds coming through the gates each weekend.

“It was better than we could have hoped,” she said.

“Christmas is so busy, so it’s nice to see families set up picnics, with no rush, no panic, people could take their time and enjoy the space.”

The Christmas in Glebe Park festival continues on Sunday.

Live: Smith registers phenomenal double ton following Marsh’s heroics

Updated December 16, 2017 19:41:32

Steve Smith reaches a second Test double century as he and new centurion Mitchell Marsh flay England to all corners on day three in Perth.

Follow all the action from the WACA in our live blog.

Topics: sport, cricket, ashes, perth-6000, wa, sydney-2000, nsw, melbourne-3000, vic, brisbane-4000, qld, adelaide-5000, sa, canberra-2600, act, hobart-7000, tas, darwin-0800, nt, australia

First posted December 16, 2017 12:50:33

Tweenhills Chestnut farm in Hoskinstown on the market for the first time in 33 years

A newspaper advertisement offering a property “for sale or house swap” led John and Heather Kane to their dream home in 1984.

On the 38-acre block, about 40 minutes from Canberra, the couple began a chestnut business.

They grew their farm from one tree to 1500 and became familiar faces behind the roasting machine at Fyshwick Markets. 

Now, the owners of Tweenhills Chestnuts have decided it’s time to put their feet up and put the property on the market. 

“It’s been a 20-year journey but I’m just getting tired,” Mr Kane said. “My body’s tired, I have a sore back, sore legs and well, now we’re just planning for the future.”

In 1983, after unsuccessful bids to find a home, the pair found a block of land in Hoskinstown. 

“I fell in love with it. I fell in love with the block of land and Heather said to me, ‘come and look at the house’ and I said ‘no, I don’t care about the house, the soil’s fantastic’,” he said.

“We didn’t get it. We couldn’t pay the amount of money that the owners wanted so we didn’t go ahead with making an offer.”

But a year later, they got a second chance when Mrs Kane stumbled across a notice in The Canberra Times advertising a property “for sale or house swap”. 

“In the general description that they provided I realised that it was this property and so we made contact with them and came to an agreement,” Mrs Kane said.

The couple moved to their forever home and raised two children. 

Mr Kane originally wanted to grow grapes and olives, but realised there were already many wineries in the region. After about 10 years of testing and research they decided to give chestnuts a try.

Mr and Mrs Kane started delivering chestnuts to Canberrans and Sydneysiders. 

“As production started to increase, we started selling to the wholesalers markets but then we realised we weren’t making a living out of that and needed to diversify,” Mr Kane said.

“We bought a chestnut roasting business and in 2003 I started roasting at the Fyshwick markets.” 

They have been roasting chestnuts ever since. 

The property started with just 28 trees, mostly Eucalypts. Since then it has expanded to about 2500 chestnut trees, but since reduced to 1500 chestnut trees, plus 80 hazelnut trees and 21 apple trees. 

Director of PRD nationwide Bungendore Dan Woodford said the property was its own oasis.

“It’s quite a unique property, when you drive up the driveway and once you get here. All the trees, the plantings, it’s like a private garden,” Mr Woodford said.

“But once you step foot outside of the house yard itself, seeing the orchard is just another level and seeing what they have done. You can see the hard work they’ve put into it.”

The property has two dams and includes all machinery, including the chestnut roaster van.

“State of the art chestnut harvesting, washing, inspection and size-grading equipment, as well as cold room facilities are all included with the sale,” he said.

The house itself, which has been extended twice, has three bedrooms, two living areas, two bathrooms and a study.

Mr Woodford estimates the property to go for about $1.5 million to $2 million. 

The Kanes hope the new owners would continue the business.

“I think it would be nice if we found somebody who wanted to take the business on to the next level,” Mrs Kane said.

“There’s so many things that we can think of that you can do in terms of value adding or extending the ‘pick your own’ or maybe even developing a function centre or something out here.

“There’s endless possibilities.”

Follow Han Nguyen on Facebook and Twitter.

‘Is he dead? I hope he’s dead’: Killer jailed for stabbing neighbour over dispute

Posted December 15, 2017 17:47:34

A Canberra man who stabbed his neighbour to death before referring to him as a maggot while speaking to police has been sentenced to 21 years in jail by the ACT Supreme Court.

Ambulance officers discovered the grim scene inside the home of Jason Hollingshed at the Stuart Flats in Griffith on February 29 last year.

Mr Hollingshed was dead in a pool of blood, with multiple stab wounds, including in his neck.

Scott Jamie Cole, 41, admitted to police at the scene that he was responsible for the attack, repeatedly asking if he was dead.

Cole: I’m Scott Cole. Is he dead?

Officer: Is who dead?

Cole: The maggot.

Officer: What unit?

Cole: Unit nine. I f***ing stabbed him. I hope he is dead.

Cole and Mr Hollingshed had been friends and neighbours until a falling out over a lewd comment about Cole’s girlfriend and Justice John Burns noted the long-running animosity between the pair.

That tension boiled over on the day of the killing when Mr Hollingshed accused Cole of breaking his screen door.

There was a fight inside Mr Hollingshed’s unit, before Cole retrieved a large knife from his own kitchen and stabbed his former friend repeatedly.

“The stabbing blows were delivered with force,” Justice Burns said.

“The deceased fell to the ground in front of the kitchen and you stabbed him in the neck while he was on the ground.”

The judge said the knife penetrated through to the floor, damaging a rug and tiles beneath Mr Hollingshed.

He also noted Cole had shown no remorse.

“While you made full admissions to a number of police officers at the scene … these admissions can be characterised as justifying your actions and denigrating the deceased,” he said.

Justice Burns said Cole was a danger to the community and had poor prospects of rehabilitation.

He is set a non-parole period of 17 years, which expires in 2033.

Topics: murder-and-manslaughter, canberra-2600, act, australia

Canberra may not be getting benefits of almost a fifth of ACT clubs’ community contributions

Almost a fifth of the $10.5 million ACT clubs paid out in poker machine-generated community contributions in 2015-16 may not have had a wider benefit to the community, a new analysis has suggested.

The PwC “impact analysis”, commissioned earlier this year by the territory government, examined all Canberra’s clubs’ community contributions over a seven-year period, to find out how much the contributions would cost to replace.

It quantified the wider benefits of specific contributions to each of the reported categories, such as sports and recreation, by measuring the funds against more specific criteria such as “community sport” or a clubs’ “own team”.

It found the cost of replacing clubs’ funding in 2015-16, if another party had to cough up the money, was between $16.8 million and $33.2 million, despite clubs’ only paying out $11.7 million that year, as much of the spending had wider community benefits.

But it also found contributions to clubs’ own events and infrastructure, amounting to a total of $1.95 million in 2015-16, or 18.5 per cent of the total contributions that year, did not have a wider community benefit, as it would likely occur anyway or did not meet an “identified need”.

It follows another recent report investigating specifically where the contributions ended up, by the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education, which found many contributions actually go back to clubs or their related parties, and questioned a lack of transparency surrounding the scheme.

Clubs ACT chief executive Gwyn Rees said while he backed the report’s findings on the wider community benefits of the contributions, without revenue from gaming machines, many clubs and sports teams would likely not exist.

He said clubs were also responsible for some 400 hectares of sporting grounds, which the territory government did not maintain, but were used by community, despite the report’s findings such contributions would likely happen irrespective of the scheme.

Mr Rees said one example of the infrastructure spending claimed was a golf course replacing irrigation systems, that such contributions were allowed under the scheme and the funds go to more than 1000 community groups.

Overall, the analysis showed the scheme was meeting its stated purpose of ensuring clubs invest eight per cent of their net gaming machine revenue back into the community.

But it also found there were areas where the scheme could be “tightened” as it was “difficult to show the nexus between” infrastructure contributions and an “incremental community benefit”, and that the level of community access to such infrastructure was not measured.

While clubs’ were contributing more than the mandatory eight per cent across all spending categories,  and years’ analysed; it showed that the $11.7 million spent in 2015-16 was the lowest total amount spent in the previous six years, and compared to $13.2 million in 2009-10.

But Mr Rees said that over that period, clubs had also suffered the extra financial impost of tax increases in rises to liquor licensing fees and “significant changes to the rates regime” which were challenging the sector’s bottom line.

By measurement category, the report found the biggest contributions in the three years to 2015-16 went to community sport, clubs’ own teams, clubs’ own maintenance, social assistance and “activities” such as providing groups with free room hire and equipment.

Ram-raid thieves filmed stealing ATM from Canberra shops

Posted December 14, 2017 14:17:19

Police want dashcam footage or witnesses to a group of thieves who ripped an ATM out of a Canberra shopping centre on the weekend.

The ram-raid thieves backed a Toyota LandCruiser through two sets of glass sliding doors at Casey Market Town in the city’s north on Sunday.

In the CCTV footage, two people can be seen climbing out of the car and trying to rip the machine out of the ground.

Eventually they ask the driver to simply back the car over the ATM before driving away with it in the boot.

ACT Policing said they later found the LandCruiser burnt out with the ATM damaged and missing cash.

They also said the car, with a licence plate YIC87E, ran a red light the previous day.

Topics: crime, casey-2913, canberra-2600, act, australia

Stories told through historic wedding dresses

Posted December 13, 2017 15:20:53

A designer gown and a bespoke suit or thongs and sarongs at the beach? Deciding what to wear has always been a crucial part of a couple’s wedding plans.

When Veronica Wensing and Krishna Sadhana tied the knot in 2013 the colour purple was a key feature.

Ms Wensing chose a long floral dress from a factory outlet; Ms Sadhana wore a purple shirt and tie with a My Little Pony rainbow motif.

Like a dozen other Canberra same-sex couples, they leapt at the chance to wed under the ACT’s marriage equality bill, but the High Court overturned the legislation just days after their wedding.

“To them it was a really affirming ceremony where they were not only being accepted by their family and friends, but also by the community at large,” said Rowan Henderson from the Canberra Museum and Gallery (CMAG).

“Hopefully now that marriage equality has gone ahead [under federal law] there will be more same-sex weddings happening in Canberra.”

While wedding dresses are a useful way to chart changing fashions, they also mark a time in history.

And they’re imbued with the personal stories of those who wore them on one of the most special days of their lives.

The CMAG collection spans nearly a century.

“These items … are important for the CMAG collection as they document the rituals of birth, marriage and death that define the passage of our lives,” Ms Henderson said.

“We can explore the changes over time in the way we celebrate these rituals.”

A look at a multicultural wedding in 1980

When academic Rosamund Dalziell married her husband Ian in 1980, she wore a Thai silk ensemble she had spotted in a Canberra store three weeks before her engagement.

Ms Dalziell worked at AIDAB, now known as AusAID, and the couple had many friends from overseas.

Their church wedding in Ainslie and reception at the ANU’s Burgmann College was a multicultural celebration.

“It was a bit more of a laid-back, personally organised affair … than the very traditional conservative kind of wedding,” Ms Henderson said.

“[The dress] was an off-the-rack, but looking at it … it was probably destined for a wedding because of the colour.”

What did a traditional 1915 bridal gown look like?

Olive Booth was 21 when she married Dr Sydney Evan Jones in Sydney in 1915.

Her delicately patterned wedding ensemble comprised a skirt, bodice, sash, veil, two-metre train and kid leather shoes.

Tragically, just 18 months after the wedding Olive died after giving birth to her daughter.

“She was married for not even 18 months and she was a mum for 10 days,” Ms Henderson said.

“It just speaks to me as such a tragedy of a life unlived, that potential that was never fulfilled.”

Though Jones remarried twice, he chose to be buried with his first wife.

Her wedding attire was cared for by their daughter Olive Hinchcliffe until her death in 1999, when it was donated to CMAG by a family friend.

Topics: history, library-museum-and-gallery, fashion, marriage, canberra-2600

Liberal Candice Burch officially elected to the ACT Legislative Assembly

Candice Burch has officially become Canberra’s newest local politician.

ACT Electoral Commissioner Damian Cantwell declared the former public servant the winner of a countback of 2016 ACT election preferences in the seat of Kurrajong on Wednesday.

Ms Burch is expected to formally take up in the Assembly chamber in second week of February after ACT politicians return from the summer recess, replacing Steve Doszpot who died last month.

An economist and former assistant director in the Department of Finance, Ms Burch was declared the winner of the countback on Monday but was not confirmed until the official announcement, as Elections ACT allows time for successful casual vacancy candidates to resign from any relevant public office if required.

Born in South Africa, she is a former staffer for Liberal Opposition Leader Alistair Coe and returned home from a working holiday in the United States and Canada to take up the vacancy.

Mr Burch has nominated housing affordability for young Canberrans as a key issue in the Assembly and described representing Kurrajong as an honour and a privilege.

She said this week her experience at Finance meant she would bring a good understanding of how government worked and the “unintended consequences of government decisions”.

Mr Coe and deputy Nicole Lawder welcomed Ms Burch, calling her an active member of the community with a strong academic and professional background.

According to the 2016 election results, Ms Burch was the front-runner of all unelected Kurrajong candidates, having received 2859 votes or 5.9 per cent of the electorate’s votes.

Her appointment makes the Canberra Liberals’ partyroom majority women, coming a year after the ACT became the first Australian jurisdiction with a majority female parliament.

Women will make up 14 out of the 25 members of the parliament from 2018.

Mr Doszpot died after a nine-year career in the Legislative Assembly and a month after announcing he had terminal liver cancer.

‘Worst nightmare come true’: Man jailed for ‘terrifying’ Canberra sex worker attack

The attack was a worst nightmare come true for two Canberra sex workers; a “gross violation” of their workplace, their bodies and their safety, prosecutors said.

Threatened at knifepoint, dragged into a bedroom, robbed and repeatedly raped in a horrifying ordeal when one man booked an appointment before he showed up at the Reid unit with two others in search of “free sex and money” one night in March 2016.

Among the three attackers was Rashid Mohamed Abuuh, 24, who an ACT Supreme Court jury in September found guilty of sexual assault, rape, attempted rape and aggravated robbery in the company of two brothers.

Ahmed Al Abbasi, 32, also named as Khaled, and his younger brother Mohammad Alabbasi, 22, were each jailed for more than five years for two separate attacks on three sex workers at apartments in Reid and Braddon.

Justice Michael Elkaim echoed their sentencing judge’s description of the offending as “disgraceful” as he handed Abuuh three years and eight months’ imprisonment for his role in the Reid attack court on Tuesday.

He said the fact the rape offences had been committed against sex workers did not lessen their severity.

“The victims were entitled to carry on their profession in safety and free from fear of molestation, rape and robbery by men masquerading as customers.”

Prosecutor Sara Gul said the offences were “extremely serious” and would have been “terrifying” for the vulnerable women, who were alone at the time and barely spoke English.

“For the victims this was a gross violation of their workplace, their bodies and their safety.”

“Your Honour might think this was a worst nightmare come true.”

At trial, Abuuh said he had acted under coercion.

He acknowledged one of the women had been forced to perform oral sex on him but said his role in the attack had not been voluntary. He denied he raped the woman, or had tried unsuccessfully to rape her during the ordeal.

Justice Elkaim said the offender’s account “defied reasonable belief” and had been “plainly rejected” by the jury.

His trial heard Abuuh went to Escape Travel in Belconnen and enquired about a one-way flight to Mogadishu in the hours after police served him with a summons to face court on the charges.

He booked his ticket soon after his first court appearance, but had denied he intended to skip the country so he wouldn’t face the charges.

Ms Gul the attack involved a degree of premeditation and planning and Abuuh had shown no remorse. She said deterrence, denunciation and punishment should “loom large” in sentencing.

Defence lawyer Andrew Fraser said Abuuh had tried to stay away from the brothers and had been a “hanger on” who feared Ahmed.

Justice Elkaim said Abuuh was born in Somalia before his family fled civil unrest for Saudi Arabia in the late 1990s.

His father died soon after and Abuuh was arrested as an illegal immigrant, separated from his mother and sister and put in an adult prison.

They later came to Australia, where he became a citizen.

“His community is made up of many persons who have faced trauma and suffered in their home country and who would benefit from support and assistance,” Justice Elkaim said.

The judge found Ahmed Al Abbasi was “the most culpable” of the three men in the attacks and said Abbuh’s role had been closer to Mohammed’s.

Abuuh, who has served more than 100 days in prison, will spend at least two years and two months behind bars. He will be eligible for parole in October 2019.

In the Braddon attack, police said Ahmed Al Abbasi had raped the sex worker after she accepted an online booking for a half-hour service in a hotel on May 10. His brother had driven him to the apartment block.

The three men were arrested after police launched an investigation into attacks against sex workers in the ACT in early 2016.

with Alexandra Back

Jail for rapist who attacked ‘most vulnerable’ worker

Posted December 12, 2017 13:26:25

A Canberra man who raped and robbed a sex worker with two other men will spend up to three years and eight months in jail, after prosecutors in the ACT Supreme Court described their victims as being in “the most vulnerable of occupations”.

Rashid Abuuh, 24, pleaded not guilty to charges of sexual assault, sexual intercourse without consent, attempted sexual intercourse without consent and aggravated robbery.

Prosecutors alleged he and two other men, 32-year-old Mohammed al-Abbasi and 22-year-old Khaled al-Abbasi, booked the sex worker before forcing her into a bedroom and raping her.

Both the al-Abbasi brothers pleaded guilty to a number of charges, while Abuuh was found guilty by a jury earlier this year.

The two brothers were also convicted of raping another sex worker in the same apartment, but in sentencing Abuuh, Justice Michael Elkaim found the offences “occurred as part of a single criminal enterprise”.

During a sentencing hearing, Abuuh’s lawyer argued that he should be viewed as playing the smallest role of the three men in the attacks.

He argued that while Khaled al-Abbasi led the attacks, Abuuh’s role was more limited and that he was “more of a hanger-on than Mohammed”.

Justice Elkaim partially accepted that argument.

Victims ‘entitled to safety’

The defence argued an intensive corrections order should be considered, but Justice Elkaim said given the seriousness of the offences, full-time incarceration was “an absolute necessity”.

“The offence of sexual intercourse without consent is always serious,” he said.

“The fact that these offences were committed against sex workers does not lessen their severity.

“The victims were entitled to carry on in their profession in safety, and free from fear of molestation, rape and robbery by men masquerading as customers.”

The defence argued Abuuh’s background as a Somali refugee whose father died when he was six or seven should be considered in sentencing.

The court heard Abuuh recently became an Australian citizen.

Abuuh will be eligible for release after serving two years and two months of his sentence.

Co-accused motivated by ‘free sex and money’

Prosecutors argued a full-time sentence was the only option, noting that in pleading not guilty Abuuh had shown no remorse for his actions.

During the sentencing hearing, prosecutors repeated the assessment of Justice David Mossop, who sentenced the Alibassi brothers, that the offences could be considered “thoroughly disgraceful”.

Justice Elkaim agreed with that assessment.

“I adopt [Justice Mossop’s] description of the conduct, including his statement that the offences were ‘disgraceful’,” he said.

They noted that the offences were not spontaneous and required some degree of planning, and that co-accused Khaled al-Abbasi had spoken of their motivation to get “free sex and money”.

Prosecutor Sara Gul also mentioned the challenging circumstances of the victims, working in the “most vulnerable of occupations” and speaking very little English.

“For the victims this is a gross violation of their workplace, their bodies and their safety.”

They argued that the robbery offence, for stealing a mobile phone from a victim trying to send text messages calling for help, should not be dismissed as less serious.

Abuuh chose not to give evidence during the hearing.

Topics: courts-and-trials, law-crime-and-justice, canberra-2600, act, australia