Girl, 7, airlifted after fall from third storey

A seven-year-old girl was in a stable condition in a Sydney hospital on Tuesday night after falling three storeys from a Lake Heights unit.

The child sustained serious head injuries after plunging six metres onto a concrete driveway in front of her father, whose quick reaction partially broke her fall.

The girl was in a critical condition when airlifted to Westmead Children’s Hospital for neurological and spinal assessment.

Emergency services were called to the address about 11.20am after reports a girl had toppled over a unit balcony attempting to help her father wash a car below.

“She was passing a hose over the balcony to her father down below, and they were going to wash the car,” Illawarra Ambulance district Inspector Terry Morrow said.

“She stood on a chair up against the railing and for some unknown reason either the chair has slipped or she has slipped and fallen over the balcony.

“Her father recognised that she was falling from the balcony and he grabbed her and [broke] her fall by catching her partly and she hit her head on the concrete driveway.”

The special operations ambulance officer who first arrived at the scene found the young girl unconscious with a serious head injury and called for immediate back-up. Intensive care paramedics treated the girl on the scene, taking precautions for potential spinal injuries, and transferred her to an ambulance helicopter waiting at a nearby oval.

She briefly regained consciousness before she was airlifted to hospital, accompanied by her father.

Lake Illawarra police said initial investigations suggest the balcony fall was a “freak accident”.

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Warmer and wetter than average in 2014

Anglers on Lake Illawarra as the region enjoyed beautiful weather on Tuesday. Hot temperatures are expected this summer. Picture: ANDY ZAKELIThebrief evening thunderstorm that rolled through the Illawarra on Monday could be a sign of things to come, weather forecasters say.

The storm rounds out a year of above-average rainfall and temperatures slightly higher than the norm across the region.

Brett Dutschke, a meteorologist with Fairfax Media’s Weatherzone, said overall temperatures at Albion Park were about half a degree warmer than the average in 2014, making it the warmest of the last 16 years.

Daytime maximums at the inland weather station averaged 22.7 degrees, while overnight lows hovered around 12.0 degrees. The region’s highest maximum was recorded on November 1, when the mercury hit 35.4 degrees inland and 34.2 at Bellambi Point.

As of Tuesday afternoon, 1113 millimetres of rain had fallen at Albion Park, comfortably higher than the long-term annual average of 927 millimetres, with just a couple of millimetres more recorded on the coast.

“It’s not as wet as last year, but it is the second wettest of the past 16 years [at Albion Park],” he said.

Up to 158 millimetres was dumped on parts of the region during the year’s wettest day – the 24 hours to 9am on March 25 – with Bulli and Berry the hardest hit by localised flooding.

Mr Dutschke predicted rainfall would be near or just below average during the start of 2015 and recent dry periods were likely to continue.

“It should be hotter than average for the rest of summer and there’s a good chance the start to autumn will be warmer than average also,” he said. “It looks like the dry spells will be fairly lengthy, although there’ll be the occasional heavy downpour, mainly with a short burst of rain and storms, but it’s unlikely we’re going to get long-lasting rain.”

Mr Dutschke said a trend towards a weak El Nino was likely to dictate the 2015 forecast.

“We’ve still got relatively warm waters along the coast, so the combination of the two should lead to warmer and drier than average weather.”

Nationally, the Bureau of Meteorology said 2014 temperatures were on track to be the warmest on record.

“Temperatures were persistently warm throughout the year, with several significant heatwaves and below-average rainfall occurring, particularly in the north-east of the state,” bureau spokesman Chris Webb said.

The organisation’s annual climate statement is expected to be released next week.

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State’s wildlife popular with Asian tourists

Tasmania Zoo owner Dick Warren feeds two cotton-top tamarins.

WILDLIFE sanctuaries are experiencing an influx of Asian tourists this summer, with international visitor numbers up in the state’s North.

Both Trowunna Wildlife Sanctuary, at Mole Creek, and Tasmania Zoo, at Riverside, said foreign guests had flocked through the gates to catch a glimpse of Tasmania’s uniquely Australian wildlife collection.

Trowunna owner Androo Kelly said several factors had played a part in visitation numbers rising.

“This is the biggest December we’ve had in about five years,” he said.

“It’s definitely picked up.

“I don’t think the Chinese President’s visit has a lot to do with it – I think we’ll notice that in years to come – but the capacity of Launceston’s Airport is helping.

“Jetstar has increased flights into Launceston and there are now direct flights from Brisbane, which means there are more and more Queenslanders coming to visit.”

Tasmania Zoo owner Dick Warren said while international visitation was high, local visitor numbers were dropping.

“A lot of Asian tourists are visiting, but as far as Tasmanian visitors, it’s really down from last year,” he said.

Mr Warren said an overwhelming demand for new animals each year had hurt the zoo.

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Moloney reaches singles, doubles finals in Warrnambool Grasscourt Open

WARRNAMBOOL tennis ace Matt Moloney is well placed to collect a home- court singles crown today.

The wildcard entry will meet number one seed David Hough in the Warrnambool Grasscourt Open men’s singles final after producing two convincing wins yesterday.

Matt Moloney faces a busy schedule of Warrnambool Grasscourt Open finals today after qualifying in singles and doubles. 141230DW07 Picture: DAMIAN WHITE

Moloney defeated number eight seed Nikolai Storch — the player who knocked out his doubles partner Jake Dunn in the round of 16 — in the quarter-final 6-1, 6-4.

He backed it up with a 6-4, 6-2 semi-final triumph over sixth-ranked Todd Millington.

The south-west-based coach said windy weather conditions helped him advance.

“Playing on grass suits my game compared to other surfaces,” Moloney said.

“If it was on another surface it would be a different story.

“Both guys were a little bit younger so I drew on my experience and a good grasscourt game in the wind. I got a couple more balls back in the end.”

Moloney and Dunn will attempt to defend their men’s doubles crown this afternoon after booking a spot in the decider.

They defeated Erik Holt-Crossman and Isaac Watson in their semi-final, fighting back from one set down to win 2-6, 6-2, 10-7.

They will play Ryan Draffin, the player Moloney eliminated in their men’s singles quarter-final, and Hough in the final.

Moloney and Dunn were the only south-west competitors to advance to main draw finals.

Casterton’s Stephen Tomkins was eliminated in the men’s singles quarter-finals, losing 1-6, 7-6, 6-1 to Millington.

Warrnambool teenager Sophie Drake dropped her two singles quarter-finals.

She suffered a humbling 6-1, 6-0 loss to number two seed Madeleine Bailey in the open women’s section before going down to Tallulah Grauaug — the opponent she knocked out in the open women’s singles round of 16 on Monday — in the under 16 girls’ quarter-final, 6-4, 2-6, 6-2.

Warrnambool duo Ben Warren and Ben Wilde lost their under 16 boys’ doubles semi-final, Hamilton’s Willow Sainsbury and Hawkesdale’s Jessica Swarbrick went down in the under 14 girls’ doubles semi-final and Hawkesdale’s Eloise Swarbrick went down in three sets in her under 12 girls’ singles semi-final battle.

Warrnambool’s Wihan Van Der Merwe teamed with visitor Billy Spicer in the under 12 boys’ doubles but they were knocked out in the semi-final stage.

The competition wraps up today.

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Bowls: Webbcona’s Mahoneyclaims champion of champions title

Success: Webbcona’s Brett Mahoney displayed near-perfect form to claim the BDBD men’s Champion of Champions singles. WEBBCONA premier division skipper Brett Mahoney has broken his run of grand final losses in the Ballarat District Bowls Division men’s Champion of Champions.

Mahoney edged over Ballan’s Brad Coffey 25-13 in the 2014-15 final at City Oval on Monday.

By the end of the first day, reigning champion Greg Brown (Ballarat) advanced through to the semi-finals against Coffey, while Sebastopol’s Scott Roberts booked a spot with the impending champion in the second semi.

Both Mahoney and Coffey won through to the final in tight matches on day two, before the latter jumped out to an early 13-8 lead and consolidated it for the rest of the match.

“I’m happy to get the win after being runner-up in my last two Champion of Champions grand finals,” Mahoney said.

Mahoney also paid tribute to the late Bobby Frka, who won the same title on the same green on the same rink two years ago.

The BDBD congratulates both Coffey and Mahoney, and wishes the latter good luck at regionals.

The draw for the women’s division state fours at Daylesford Bowling Club on Thursday, January 8 (players required at 9.30am for welcome) is below.

Section one: M Tate, J Adams, R Ryan J Feltham

Section two: W Wereszczuk, B Huntley, J Vincent, J Harman

Section three: S Chapman, S Peters, J Kenyon, R Armstrong

Meanwhile, Webbcona Bowling Club will host the semi-finals of the BDBD men’s pairs championship on Sunday, January 4, with players reminded of a 9.45am roll-up.

The second day of the BDBD men’s singles championship is on Saturday, January 3 at Webbcona, with players required for 12.30pm roll-up.

Midweek pennant will resume at 10am on Monday, January 5, while weekend pennant will recommence on Saturday, January 17.

Bowlers are urged to throw their support behind the annual Heartbeat Tournament held at Ballarat on Sunday, January 4 at 1pm.

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