And that wraps it all up for us today folks. Join us from 7am tomorrow for your latest news and more.
TAMWORTH: FOR 17 years, Queenslander Peter Horton has made the annual pilgrimage south for the Tamworth Country Music Festival.
It’d be easy to mistake the singlet-wearing, Akubra-clad retiree as a local.
But the Morayfield man is one of just thousands of visitors who call Tamworth home every January as they converge on the city for the 10-day festival.
INVERELL: If you did not fuel up the family car over the weekend you might be regretting it.
Fuel prices did not just hop, but hurdled an average of 20 cents across Inverell in the past few days. Local resident Warwick Bedford said it made him so annoyed, he had to do something about it.
TAMWORTH: THE owner of a Tamworth bike shop is counting the costs after thieves hit the store, stealing thousands of dollars worth of bikes.
Kevin Bartlett arrived at his Bridge St shopfront on Thursday morning to find the mess after thieves struck sometime on Wednesday night and into the early hours of Thursday.
Gunnedah: The mercury will climb into the low 40s again on Friday as heatwave conditions persist throughout the region.
TAMWORTH: Police are still piecing together the circumstances surrounded a crash near Tamworth.
ARMIDALE: Investgators have ramped up the hunt to find an armed teen trio who stabbed a man walking home from work in broad daylight.
TAMWORTH: There’s only seven days to go until the Tamworth Country Music Festival. Find out how everyone’s preparing. Here.
State of the Nation
Need a national news snapshot first thing? Well, we have you covered.
► PARKES, NSW: The Parkes Observatory celebrated another successful Elvis @ The Dish concert on Wednesday, with Wayne Cooper as Elvis in the tribute show, “Sincerely Elvis”.
More than 200 fans attended the show, with The Dish as a backdrop. See the photos here.
► BATHURST, NSW: The father of trainer-driver Amanda Turnbull says his daughter will strenuously fight allegations she was involved in race fixing in northern Victoria.
Amanda Turnbull, currently NSW’s leading female driver, and previous winner of the NSW Driver of the Year Premiership, was one of four people charged by Victoria Police on Wednesday following alleged harness race fixing. Read more.
► MANDURAH, WA: A Coodanup grandmother has made an emotional plea to thieves who have robbed her three times in eight weeks, saying they have left her granddaughter "too terrified to sleep".
Adele Gazeley moved into the property in Coodanup in late October last year with her seven-year-old granddaughter, Leila. Read more.
► BURNIE, TAS: There’s a renewed call to move faster to introduce mandatory country of origin labelling for all imported seafood sold in the food services industry in Australia.
Braddon Labor MHR Justine Keay said last year the Federal Minister for Industry Innovation and Science Greg Hunt agreed to establish a bi partisan working group to investigate the issue and should get moving on it. Read more.
►BALLARAT, VIC: With a list of performers that includes the Grigoryan brothers, Genevieve Lacey, Jane Gower, Massimo Scattolin, Anthony Halliday, Hoang Pham, Giampaolo di Rosa and more, this year’s Organs of the Ballarat Goldfields Festival promises to deliver a veritable feast of classical and contemporary music.
The festival opens tomorrow evening at St Patrick’s Cathedral in Dawson Street with an homage to the late 17th-early 18th Century composer Jean-Philippe Rameau. Read more.
► TAMWORTH, NSW: They’re the HOGs with hearts of gold, raising money for the Tamworth Ronald McDonald House
For the past seven years, the North West NSW Harley-Davidson Owners Group have sponsored a room at the house, which is home away from home for those who need it most. Read more.
►LAUNCESTON, TAS: Japanese “rockstar”, Etsuko Sakai’s dreams came true on Thursday night when she performed her first show at Bridestowe Lavender Farm, one of two shows being held at the farm.
On her sixth tour of Tasmania, Sakai will perform a duet with Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra's head tuba player, Tim Jones on Friday night. Read more.
►NEWCASTLE, NSW: A regular user of the Fernleigh Track says the more people who use it, the safer it will be.
Vicki Coughlan hoped recent reports about people fearing for their welfare on the popular pathway would not deter them from using it, as there was safety in numbers.
►WOLLONGONG, NSW: The new owner of Pillar Administration has vowed to retain the superannuation provider’s Illawarra operations and says workers’ jobs are protected under existing agreements.
The commitment from global investing firm Mercer comes amid ongoing Public Service Association (PSA) concern for the employees at Pillar’s Coniston-based office. Read more.
► ALBURY, NSW: Headspace Albury-Wodonga will recruit a youth worker to bring group sessions to schools and support services, solely thanks to the donations of the Big Splash.
At the launch of the 2017 splash, headspace centre manager Karina Kerr said counselling services had been boosted thanks to last year’s event. Read more.
► James Fairfax, the former chairman of publisher John Fairfax Ltd, died on Wednesday at his home at Retford Park in Bowral. He was 83.
Last year Mr Fairfax bequeathed the Retford Park homestead, estimated to be worth $18 million, to the National Trust. The Trust's chief executive Brian Scarsbrick describes the estate as "a real jewel in the crown" of the organisation's heritage properties. Read more.
► Judith Daley is one of the unlucky ones. Amid simmering anger over politicians' entitlements and the government's Centrelink debt clawback, the Sydney retiree is one of about 327,000 pensioners to have had her pension reduced or cut altogether this year.
Ms Daley, 72, has lost her part pension and health benefits under changes to the aged pension introduced on January 1. Read more.
► Justice Elizabeth Fullerton rarely just walks into a courtroom - she dashes.
After the three door-knocks that signal her arrival, Justice Fullerton usually zooms up the stairs and into her seat.
Her enthusiasm and dedication for her work is evident, even in a complex, convoluted and trying case like that of Lian Bin "Robert" Xie. Read more.
►Australian teachers, parents and recruitment agencies have lashed out at deceptive marketing practices which have turned the working-holiday dreams of some young Australian teachers into "unsustainable" experiences.
The migration of young Australian teaching graduates overseas has boomed on the back of a chronic shortage of teachers in the UK and an oversupply of teachers at home, where up to 47,000 remain on a waiting list in NSW. Read more.
► A group of NSW state MPs is pushing for civil celebrants to be required to conduct same-sex marriage ceremonies if the federal Parliament makes the unions legal.
But the group argues that if existing civil celebrants are granted the right to refuse to conduct same-sex marriages, an "opt-out" system should apply and all newly registered celebrants should be required to conduct the ceremonies. Read more.
► Leading international human rights advocates have slammed the Turnbull government's hardline and highly secretive offshore immigration detention regime as well as its attempts to strengthen counter-terrorism laws in a review of practices around the world.
The latest report by Human Rights Watch also highlights the rise of populist politicians such as US President-elect Donald Trump and strongmen leaders in Russia, the Philippines, Turkey and China as putting the postwar system of universal rights at risk, warning that converging trends of authoritarianism, fake news and rejection of fact will challenge efforts to promote tolerance and equality. Read more.
► LONDON: "Do you often get molested on a Saturday morning?" Rolf Harris allegedly asked a 13-year-old girl, while groping her in a BBC TV studio in 1983.
This was one of the claims revealed in court on Wednesday, at the new trial of the 86-year-old Australian entertainer for a string of sexual assaults over more than three decades. Read more.
► PHILIPPINES: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has repeated threats to kill municipal mayors involved in drugs as the number of Filipinos killed in his deadly crackdown tops 6200.
"I might go down in history as the butcher. It's up to you," Mr Duterte told 1635 town and city mayors he summoned to the presidential palace.
"I will ask the chief of police to shoot you," he said. Read more.
►WASHINGTON: It was unseemly behaviour – not so much by the President-elect, as by the 200-plus reporters covering Donald Trump's first all-in press conference in about six months.
As with every other aspect of the Trump transition to power, there was anticipation about which Trump would appear before the hacks – the bovver boy they came to love and hate during the campaign or, strange as it might sound, a more presidential persona? Read more.
ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY …
1785 – John Walter publishes first issue of London Times.
1842 – Dr. William Brydon, a surgeon in the British Army during the First Anglo-Afghan War, becomes famous for (reputedly) being the sole survivor of an army of 16,500 when he reaches the safety of a garrison in Jalalabad.
1888 – National Geographic Society founded.
1939 - 71 people die in Victoria in bushfires on 'Black Friday'.
1942 - Car-maker Henry Ford patents the plastic automobile body.
1985 - 392 people are killed when a train derails in Ethiopia.
2000 – Microsoft chairman Bill Gates steps aside as chief executive and promotes company president Steve Ballmer to the position.
2004 - The Spirit of Tasmania III makes the first Sydney to Tasmania voyage.
2012 - Italian cruise ship, the Costa Concordia, runs aground near shore, killing 32.
FACES OF AUSTRALIA
No-one ever plans to get addicted to heroin.
For Shaun Peters, 38, like many people, his journey down the path towards addiction began with “just one hit” because a few of his mates were already using.
What followed was a 20-year spiral into addiction, pain, and unspeakable acts. Read more.