The Press Book House Cafe: caffeine and wisdom

Classics and discoveries: Murrie Harris at The Press cafe on Hunter Street, Newcastle. Picture: Marina NeilThe Press Book House & Café, 462 Hunter St, Newcastle, Mon/Wed/Fri: 7-4; Thu: 7-6; Sat: 8-3; Sun: 9-2.
SuZhou Night Recruitment

Selling books under the same roof as your coffee and enjoying a lasting and dedicated following has always proved to be an elusive achievement here in Newcastle.

Twenty odd years ago there was an elegant establishment opposite the old Newcastle Herald offices on Bolton Street in the East End. Tastefully arranged around bookshelves were a select number of tables at which well-dressed coffee drinkers would sip to the cerebral sounds of classical music. The ceilings were high but so were the prices. It sometimes felt more like a minimalist art gallery for the well-heeled than a place for a student to sink into a cosy corner with a second-hand novel.

At The Press Book House Café on Hunter Street, Murrie Harris and Ivy Ireland have arranged their shelves a little differently. With an espresso machine at the front of their bookstore and long, communal tables nestled between the novels at the back, they have created a cerebral atmosphere that is less about exclusivity and more about community and inclusion. You are unlikely to see anyone sipping to classical music in here. As the artistic and the unkempt share their ham and pickle sarnies ($10) in an atmosphere that only a needle crackling along old vinyl can create, the ambience at this bookshop is more of a blue-jean 1970 than a blue-blooded 1790.

But none of this means that The Press perceives itself to have reached an untouchable level of cool. This is in no way a café where a roster of surly adolescent girls will make you feel unwelcome because you have not been named after an Indian spice powder. The same couple of blokes making sandwiches and coffees have been here for years.

If anything has changed, it has been the adoption of a philosophy that says your stay should be as long as you want it to be. For every bohemian university student lounging at The Press there is a sharply dressed lawyer who only has time for a $2, cup-through-the-window espresso.

For those with less pressing priorities, Murrie will refill your cup all day long with a rotating single origin filter coffee for $4 – perfect for those who find something on the shelves that they just can’t put down.

If your tastes lean more towards your easy drinking, milk-based coffees – a James Patterson rather than a James Joyce – then these baristas can certainly be relied upon to keep you focused on flipping the pages.

For reasons that have nothing to do with their reputation down South or the quality of their blends, their Melbourne-based roaster Gridlock’d still enjoys a relative anonymity here in Newcastle.

Alternating between the High Beam and the Ghetto Blaster blend, The Press boys have ensured that their following have stayed dedicated to the standard of coffee as much as they have the quality of the literature.

Continue reading

Pregnant woman jailed over fatal SA crash

GREATLEYAn Adelaide woman who caused the death of a work colleague in a road crash will be sent to jail despite being about to give birth.
SuZhou Night Recruitment

Rebecca Lee Greatley was high on cannabis when she drove through a stop sign and into the path of an oncoming semi-trailer in South ‘s mid-north in May 2016.

The crash killed 26-year-old British backpacker Jamie Dumbleton and injured two other charity workers – Lauren Canciani and Dylan O’Donnell-Middleton.

Greatley initially denied charges of causing death and serious injury by dangerous driving but pleaded guilty on the second day of her trial.

On Tuesday, she sobbed uncontrollably in the District Court as Judge Stephen McEwen described her failure to see the truck as “grossly defective” and jailed her for almost two years with a non-parole period of 18 months.

“For whatever reason, she drove straight out onto the highway and into the path of the prime mover,” he said.

Judge McEwen refused to suspend the sentence, despite the 25-year-old being due to give birth in March and facing the prospect of having her newborn taken from her soon after.

In a statement read on their behalf outside the court, Mr Dumbleton’s family said the jailing of Greatley was “the light at the end of our very dark tunnel”.

“Although we now have a sense of justice we still feel, that given the harm done and the loss of Jamie’s life, it is not a complete justice,” they said.

They criticised Greatley, who they said had manipulated the justice system from the moment she was arrested.

“Shown a coldness and selfishness beyond compare. She has played the game and been successful,” they said.

“She has shown very little remorse or apparent sorrow for her actions until today.”

Ms Canciani said she was happy with the sentence and tried not to think too much about the crash or Greatley.

“I don’t have much emotion for her. I’ve tried not to be angry because I don’t think that’s fair to myself either,” she said.

“I hope she’s remorseful. I hope it wasn’t an act and that she really feels bad for what she has done.”

Ms Canciani said while she hadn’t known Mr Dumbleton long, he was wonderful, caring and thoughtful.

Continue reading

Wark jailed for life over Dodd teen murder

WARKTeenager Hayley Dodd dreamed of setting up a lolly shop before she was abducted and murdered in a sexually motivated attack almost 20 years ago by a man later convicted of raping another woman.
SuZhou Night Recruitment

The 17-year-old’s family says it has been a “living hell” not knowing what happened to her, with their painful wound growing deeper every year justice eluded them.

Justice finally arrived on Tuesday when Francis John Wark was jailed for life, with a minimum of 21 years, for murdering the hitchhiker after luring her into a ute on a road near rural Badgingarra on July 29, 1999.

Hayley’s mother Margaret Dodd smiled as she left the WA Supreme Court with her family, including two of her 15 grandchildren.

“He’s 61, the same age as me. We’ve already served 18-and-a-half-years, his (sentence) is only just going to begin,” she said.

“We go to bed with pain and we’ll wake up with pain every single day.

“When Hayley went missing, we received a deep, deep wound. That wound got wider and wider over the years.

“Maybe now it will start to close up. We will never get rid of the scars but at least we can start healing.”

Ms Dodd’s grandchildren, aged five and eight, carried a “no body, no parole” banner and she renewed calls for her daughter’s “coward” killer to reveal the location of Hayley’s body.

“Be a man for once in your life. Tell us where Hayley is,” she said.

“I hope that he gets a conscience and he turns around and says ‘no, I’ve done enough, I have to accept responsibility for what I’ve done. I will tell the family what I’ve done with their daughter so they can have some rest and get on with the rest of their lives’.”

Wark showed little emotion as Justice Lindy Jenkins sentenced him, but some people in the packed public gallery clapped.

Justice Jenkins, who presided over Wark’s trial without a jury, said the way he disposed of Hayley’s body “prolonged and increased the suffering” for her loved ones.

The victim impact statements from Hayley’s family were “highly personal” and Justice Jenkins said she could “feel the pain and despair” they suffered, which had ruined their lives.

Hayley’s sister likened it to being a prisoner in her own body.

Prosecutor Amanda Burrows described Hayley’s murder as “every parent’s worst nightmare”.

Wark was convicted largely on the evidence of an ankh-shaped earring found in 2013 when a car bench seat cover that police seized one week after Hayley vanished was examined at the state forensic laboratory.

Justice Jenkins also found Wark had a propensity to pick up lone female hitchhikers then overpower and rape them.

Wark was charged in 2015 following a cold case review, and was serving a 12-year prison term at the time for raping a woman he picked up on a remote Queensland road in 2007.

Given his age, it is possible Wark will spend the rest of his life in prison.

Continue reading

Sydney’s Ferry McFerryface scrapped

FerriesThe name Ferry McFerryface, given to one of Sydney’s newest ferries, has sparked controversy since it was first introduced and will now be replaced with the name of treasured children’s author May Gibbs.
SuZhou Night Recruitment

Ferry McFerryface was reported as the most popular name nominated by Sydneysiders in a competition last year, but freedom of information documents reveal the name attracted just 182 votes and was ineligible under the NSW government’s criteria, according to the Nine Network.

The documents revealed the criteria for the ferry naming competition, drawn up by Transport for NSW, suggested “mitigating the risk of satirical naming campaigns” and avoiding “the highly publicised mishaps in the naming of ships in other jurisdictions”.

Transport Minister Andrew Constance signed off on the plan and later went ahead with naming the vessel Ferry McFerryface, the Nine Network says.

The documents reveal environmental campaigner Ian Kiernan received the most votes in the competition which cost $100,000.

Hours after the documents were released on Tuesday, Transport Minister Andrew Constance announced the vessel, which he says was branded as Ferry McFerryface for the summer only, will be renamed.

“We always intended this vessel would be named for the kids,” Mr Constance said in a statement.

“After a summer on the harbour, Ferry McFerryface will now be renamed after prominent n author May Gibbs. This will retain the vessel’s appeal to our youngest customers while also recognising an n icon with a long connection to Sydney.”

NSW opposition spokeswoman Jodi McKay slammed Mr Constance saying he had been caught out “rigging the ballot”.

“We know Andrew Constance can’t run a train network but now it’s clear he can’t even run a competition to name a ferry,” she said in a statement.

“He flat out lied about the competition repeatedly saying Ferry McFerryface was the popular choice when he knew it was anything but.”

Earlier, Mr Constance denied the claims, saying the reports were “incorrect”.

He said Ferry McFerryface came from the first open call for public nominations where people could vote for any name without stringent criteria.

“In this round, Ferry McFerryface received 229 nominations and Ian Kiernan received 17,” Mr Constance told AAP in a statement.

The second round of public voting included set criteria and did not include Ferry McFerryface as an option, he said.

The name Ferry McFerryface isn’t original. It follows a public vote in the UK to name a new polar research ship Boaty McBoatface but the Natural Environment Research Council choose “Sir David Attenborough” instead.

Continue reading