More than 5000 homes were without power across the Hunter

Work to restore power in the Hunter. Picture: Trish Lee Fulcher
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11.30AM:Power is back on in Dudley and Gateshead, Ausgrid has confirmed, but Redhead is the latest to lose power.

Weather conditions are affecting equipment on overhead lines, with crews on site in the area.

About 1300 businesses and homes are without power.

They expect power in that area to come back on about noon.


Power has been restored to about 3,100 residents in Stockton, Fern Bay. Ausgrid is working to get the final 80 customers back on the grid.

About 650 residents in Swansea have had power returned. Crews are working to restore the final 200 in that area. Electricity has also been restored to 1,300 customers in Redhead.


More than 5000 residents in Stockton, Fern Bay, Fullerton Cove, Swansea and Redhead are without power on Wednesday morning.

About 4am power was lost to 3200 residents from Stockton to Fullerton Cove. Ausgrid is working to restore power, but there is no time frame for the fixdue to ‘complex repairs’.

Crews are working to restore power to 1500 customers in Redhead. For more detail and restoration times go to https://t苏州夜场招聘/MxbaFPxBlKpic.twitter苏州夜总会招聘/7H4ZfnFhju

— Ausgrid (@Ausgrid) January 30, 2018

Power is also out to about 850 residents in Swansea and a further1500 homes and businessesin Redhead.

Ausgrid has asked customers to remain patient while crews work to fix the issues.

“If a power outage has affected a large amount of customers, our call centre will become very busy, very quickly. You may hear a pre-recorded message when you call. Where possible, this will include an estimation of the time it will take to restore power. If there is no message about a power outage in your area or you need more information, stay on the line and a customer service representative will assist you,” a statement on the Ausgrid website read.

“If you have electricity to only some parts of your property or if your neighbours have power and you don’t – the problem could be inside your home. Call13 13 88in the first instance to check.”

There was also power havoc in the Maitland area on Tuesday.

Power was out to about 800 customers in parts of Largs, Bolwarra Heights, Bolwarra, Lorn, Pitnacree, Raworth, East Maitland, and Wallalong. Emergency crews managed to fixthe fault and power was restored to most suburbs inthe area. There was still reportedly a small pocket of residents without power as of7am Wednesday.


Super Blood Blue Moon is comingHunter’s gun culture growing at rapid rateDrug rush before new law kicks in

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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.
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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.

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Aust, US in search for ferry survivors

MISSING DINGY FOUNDUS and n aircraft have joined the search for passengers of a missing ferry off Kiribati, as rescuers scoured the central Pacific Ocean for a life raft believed to be carrying survivors.
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Eight people rescued from a drifting dinghy on the weekend said the ferry broke up soon after setting out on January 18 and that they had seen other passengers scramble aboard a life raft.

“There is definitely a possibility that the people in the life raft are alive given that only a short while ago we found people in an open dinghy alive,” said New Zealand-based rescue coordinator Paul Craven.

“We’re hoping in a life raft they’re actually in a better survival situation so that’s why we’ve got such an intensive search going today,” he said on Tuesday.

Authorities are uncertain how many people had been on board the ferry, Craven told Radio New Zealand. Reports from survivors and government officials varied between 35 and 100 people.

The 17-metre catamaran was reported missing on January 20, two days after it departed Nonouti Island on a 250km trip to Betio in Kiribati.

has sent a P-3 Orion surveillance aircraft to assist in the search and the US Coastguard has sent a Hercules aircraft from Hawaii to scour the northern part of the search area.

A New Zealand aircraft spotted a dinghy on Sunday with eight people, including a 14-year-old girl, who had been adrift for days without water. The eight were rescued by a fishing vessel.

They told rescuers they had scrambled into their tiny dinghy as the ferry disintegrated soon after setting off and that other passengers had made it into another dinghy and a liferaft.

The second dinghy had broken up and likely sunk, Craven said, with the search now focusing on finding the life raft.

He said the rescuers’ main concern was that any survivors would be facing the heat for days without drinking water.

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Trump hails economic growth

USA TRUMP UN SECURITY COUNCIL Donald Trump has urged Republicans and Democrats to work together in his State of the Union speech.
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President Donald Trump has hailed a bustling US economy, low unemployment and rising wages in his first State of the Union speech, telling members of Congress and the nation that business confidence is at an all-time high.

Trump touted tax cuts passed in December, reduced federal regulations, bonuses paid to workers and corporations that have announced planned investment, saying all these things have further stoked growth.

In the speech on Tuesday, which lasted about 80 minutes, Trump described an 8-trillion-dollar rise in US stock market valuations as “great news” for Americans’ retirement accounts, while unemployment has continued to fall since he took office, with jobless rates for minorities at what he said were all-time lows.

The tax reform legislation slashed the business tax rate from 35 per cent to 21 per cent, “so American companies can compete and win against anyone in the world”, Trump said.

He said his administration has eliminated more regulations in his first year than any administration in history and he is helping to lure manufacturers back to the country, noting that this is news that Americans are unaccustomed to hearing.

He highlighted Chrysler’s plan to move a major plant from Mexico to Michigan and plans by Toyota and Mazda to open up a plant in Alabama.

“Soon, plants will be opening up all over the country,” Trump said. “For many years, companies and jobs were only leaving us. But now they are coming back.”

The speech was interspersed with sustained applause for people Trump invited to attend. This included an emotional moment for the parents of two teenage girls murdered by the international crime gang, MS-13. Another was a police officer who, together with his wife, adopted a baby born to a homeless heroin user.

Trump said the latter couple, Ryan and Rebecca Holet, who were seated next to first lady Melania Trump along with their baby girl, “embody the goodness of our nation”.

Trump told the audience – members of Congress along with Supreme Court justices and members of his cabinet – that there has never been a better time to start living the American dream.

He spent several minutes talking about what he said was a “fair compromise” he has proposed on immigration reforms in the hope of winning support from opposition Democrats to get the legislation through Congress.

He said there could be a “path to citizenship” for up to 1.8 million people brought into the country illegally as children, while demanding a “wall on the Southern border,” one of Trump’s key campaign promises.

He also called for an end to the US visa lottery in favour of “merit-based immigration” and for a halt to family-sponsored immigration beyond spouses and minor children.

Trump described the proposal as “one where nobody gets everything they want, but where our country gets the critical reforms it needs”.

In addition, Trump announced some news in the speech regarding the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. He said he signed an order just prior to the speech to reverse his predecessor’s unfulfilled desire to close the facility.

Trump concluded the speech by paying tribute to the founders of the country and saying it still belongs to the people as they envisioned.

“The people dreamed this country. The people built this country,” he said. “And it is the people who are making America great again.”

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Tributes flow for ex-Aust F1 boss Walker

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* Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull – “Ron was a wise and true friend to me as he was to so many Liberal leaders. We will not see his like again. Out hearts go out to Barbara and their family at this sad time.”

* Former prime minister Tony Abbott – “He was a staunch friend and constant encouragement to successive Liberal leaders and will be much missed.”

* Labor leader Bill Shorten – “Vale Ron Walker, a man of big ideas and great generosity. Modern Melbourne owes much to his vision and drive.”

* The Confederation of n Motor Sport – “His contribution to the n motor sport landscape will forever be remembered.”

* Entrepreneur, media buyer and friend Harold Mitchell – “I see him two, three times a year and he was looking more frail but what a fighter … He was a very generous man.”

* Environment and Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg – “A brave and thoughtful man who did so much to promote Melbourne, the Liberal Party and broader community. RIP.”

Victorian Liberal Party president Michael Kroger – “A truly great n has been lost to us. He was one of the Liberal Party’s greatest and most trusted servants.”

* Victorian coalition leader Matthew Guy – “Ron Walker loved Melbourne and Victoria. His generosity touched many. His achievements helped put Victoria on the map.”

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews – “Ron Walker was a giant of Victorian cultural and political life. Whether feared or revered, Ron was someone who you never forgot.”

* Acting Melbourne Lord Mayor Arron Wood – “His love of Melbourne and his contribution to our great city will never be forgotten.”

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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.
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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.

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Commercial Property: Multiple income streams and highly visible location in Maitland Road property

STRONG PROSPECTS: This two-storey building on busy Maitland Road in Mayfield features two residential flats and a retail space and is fully leased.Attractive location and multiple income prospects are expected to make aproperty on Maitland Road sought after.
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Raine & Horne’s Alan Tonks is marketing 171 Maitland Road, Mayfield, which is set for auction on March 8.

The two-storey masonry building is fully leased. It includes two residential flats and a retail shop. Mr Tonks said it offeredgood vehicle andpedestrian exposure.

Total net income comprises $64,600 per annum and the property is approximately 405 square metresin total with rear access.

“This is a great opportunity to purchase a well-located property with fourincome streams in the thriving suburb,” Mr Tonks said.

DEMAND FOR INVESTMENTSBrent Sinclair, of Knight Frank, said the sale of an investment property at 467-469 Pacific Highway, Belmont for $2.7 million showed a 6.1 per centyield on the passing net income.

The property consisted of two detached buildingsand was sold fully let with leases to Battery World and Pet Quarters until 2022 plus options.

“There is a shortage of investment stock and an increasing demand from investors, especially from Sydney,” he said. “We could do with more listings like this to meet the pent-up demand.”

WAREHOUSES IN WARATAHTwo warehouses in Crescent Road, Waratah being marketed by Colliers International’s Mark Yazbeckoffer differentopportunities.

He said a 198 square metre warehouse with 6.3m clearance at 3/27 Crescent Road was “perfect for any tradesman or business owner”.

“It is in a centrallocation with good access to service the majority of Newcastle’s residential population base and its affordable,” Mr Yazbecksaid.

The property has on-site car parking, roller door access and a self-contained kitchen. It is being sold for $425,000 plus GST plus outgoings.

Neighbouring warehouse 2/27 Crescent Road is being sold through expressions of interest and offers an investment opportunity.

It is fully leased by Hunter Valley Martial Arts Centre Pty Ltd until July 2020 with an annual net income of$40,100 plus GST.

It is an open plan warehouse with self-contained kitchen, toilet amenities and functionrooms.

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Insurers reap ‘rampant profits’: Shorten

CorruptionBill Shorten is keeping private health insurance companies in his sights, accusing them of reaping a better return than the big banks.
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The Labor leader used his major speech kick-starting 2018 to put insurers “on notice” for their premium hikes, as well as the federal government.

Premiums rose 4.84 per cent last year and are due to go up by an average 3.95 per cent in April.

That is the lowest rise in 17 years.

But Mr Shorten wants to sit down with the insurers, claiming increases are out of control.

“Private health insurance companies, the big ones, have a better return on profits or return on equity than the banks,” he told the Nine Network on Wednesday.

Mr Shorten confirmed he will not be abolishing the private health insurance rebate.

“We think there is a role for private health insurance but it’s got to work for people,” he said.

The private health insurance industry says it’s open to talks with Labor on improving the system, but believes policy premium rises have been reasonable.

Chief executive of insurer nib, Mark Fitzgibbon, said the n population was ageing and, as there were fewer taxpayers, alternative ways were needed to pay for the health system.

“While there’s always room for improvement we think we’ve done reasonably well in recent years in keeping a lid on premium inflation against a backdrop of rising spending, including now funding many public hospitals,” Mr Fitzgibbon said.

“If Mr Shorten has some additional ideas as to how we might further improve we’re all ears.”

Health Minister Greg Hunt said health insurance cover would always be lower under the coalition, because Labor in government had cut rebates.

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W-League: Newcastle Jets boss Lawrie McKinna full of praise for coach Craig Deans

Even if Newcastle’s W-League side missed the finals, Jetschief executive Lawrie McKinna would have ratedcoach Craig Deans’ work this season as“amazing”.
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STARRING ROLE: Newcastle Jets boss Craig Deans was W-League coach of the year in 2015-16 and could well win the award again this season. Picture: AAP

And if the former Jets A-League assistant and interimcoach wants the job again next year, McKinna says it’s his.

In his third campaign as W-League coach, Deans has steered Newcastle to the finals for the first time since the competition’s inaugural season of 2008-09.The Jets sealed a top-four place with a 5-1 victory over Canberra on Sunday and play Melbourne City in the final round on Saturday night at McDonald Jones Stadium.

The play-off spot has also come in the team’s first season under the management and backing of the Martin Lee-owned Jets club.

McKinna said Deans’ work in assembling the squad during the change from Northern NSW Football to Jets’ control has been instrumentalin this season’s success and he hoped to have him in charge againnext season.

“If Deansy wants the job, he’s got it,” McKinna said.

“It’s as simple as that.

“To be fair, it’s been a one-man band. When we took over, Deansy had done all the player recruitment. He’d done an amazing job at the start of the season to get them all on board. Obviously we gave him back-up with signing and looking after the players, but it was Deansy who’s done an amazing job.

“And that is regardless of being in the finals or not. If he hadn’t made the finals, he wouldstill have done an amazing job.

“His staff came on board right at the end, but Deansy deserves all the credit.”

McKinna said the Jets had great support from Newcastle City Council, the Greater Bank and NNSWF to recruit the likes of Emily Van Egmond but “Deansy was at the forefront”.

“It’s been a long while and they just missed out last year, but it’s just great for the club and for Newcastle that ourW-League team is going to be in the finals,” he said.

In 2008-09, Matildas stars Cheryl Salisbury, Katie Gill and Joey Peters were part of a squad that finished second then lost 1-0 to Canberra in asemi-finalat McDonald Jones Stadium.

Newcastle willfinish second again and host a grand final qualifier if they defeat City and Sydney do not beat Western Sydney on Sunday.McKinna said McDonald Jones Stadium and No.2 Sportsground were potential venues for a home semi.

The Jets have made No.2 Sportsground their training base this season and also played one game, a 2-1 loss to Canberra, at the venue.After Saturday night, their remaining five home matches will have been at McDonald Jones Stadium as double-headers with the A-League side.

McKinna said the stadium, which would be used partially,was available for the finals weekend andcost was not a factor.

”They’ve played at No.2 and got 1200-1300 for the stand-alone game, which was good,” he said.“And obviously we get good crowds for the double headers, compared to some other teams, so we’ll actually put it to the girls, ‘where would you prefer to play a final?’”

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Samurai Beach Bungalows: 25 years of making manana better

Hands on: Sandy Munday cleaning the pool at Samarai Beach Bungalows. Pictures: Max Mason-HubersTwenty-five years ago, Sandy and Mark Munday, then in their late 20s, built a house for themselves in the Port Stephens area. Then the Mundaysleft and travelled around the world for the next 10 months.
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The trip was supposedly their last for a while, as when they returned they would build a few bungalows and start a small hostel business.

“We came back engaged,” Mark says. “We had our honeymoon before the wedding.”

Now, the bustling hostel in the bush is called Samurai Beach Bungalows, and since its inception, it’s been a place for backpackers and tourists from all walks of life to visit, andreturn to over and over.

The Hunter Tourism award-winning hostel just had their best January yet, and they’ve been mentioned in Lonely Planet, Rough Guide and German and French tourism guide books. Their occupancy rate thissummer is 86 per centand thewhole facility gets booked out several weekends a year for family and social groups.

A huge long-haired German shepherd named Bo can be spotted lounging around their small rainforest, along with kookaburras, tawny frogmouths, brush turkeys, possums, blue-tongued lizards and maybe a koala if you’re lucky.

Next to their reception and home is a lagoon-style saltwater pool. Nearby, nature activities are abundant, ranging from hiking to surfing to whale-watching.

On the map: Mark and Sandy Munday, owners of Samurai Beach Bungalows, an award-winning hostel mentioned in Lonely Planet, Rough Guide and German and French tourism guide books.

Unlike many accommodations in the Port Stephens area, this small habitat in Anna Bay was built for travellers, by travellers, with a design that encourages group interactions and communal mingling.

“Our catchphrase is ‘a touch of Asia in ’,” Sandy says. “People come in here and it’s a rainforest, its own eco-system, especially if they’re coming out of a mass-produced dorm room from Sydney where no one talks to you. There, it’s ‘here’s your number and key’. Here, we walk them to their room, and we know everybody by their first name.”

The bungalows built on three-and-a-half acres hold up to 31 guests. The Mundaysfirst built rooms One, Two, Three and Four. Later,they addedprivate rooms and even two cabins with an ensuite bathroom.

A large, covered bush kitchen complete with a massive barbecue sits in the middle of the accommodation, a great place for communal meals. The fire pit is perfect for a weekly campfire/pizza night where guests regularly swap stories.

INSPIRATIONThe vibe and design of their hostel was inspired based on the Mundays’ travels through Asia and Guatemala. They visited places in Thailand and Indonesia where the accommodation had high fences surrounding it to have total view control. Similarly, at Samurai, all the bungalows sit in a bit of a circle, facing inwards towards the trees and each other. This arrangements alsohelps minimize noise from the exterior.

Guatemala was the other location of inspiration for the Mundays. They visited fincas (farms) where they’d chill, sit around with other people and chat.

In Guatemala they stayed in treehouses and lounged hammocks. Structurally, Samurai is not the same, but a similar atmosphere is what they aim to create with a chilled, laid-back nature base.

“Guatemala is where we got the name ‘manana syndrome’,” Mark says.

Manana means “tomorrow”in Spanish. Onthe farms the Mundays wouldask their fellow travellers when they were leaving, and if theyresponded “manana”, theyknew they were having a good time.

“You want to make them feel welcome and at home. It’s the manana syndrome;you know you’ve done a good job when people want to stay another day,” Sandy says.

“I’ll spend 10 or 20 minutes checking someone in, because I want people to feel comfortable.”

“We like small places,” Mark says. “If someone walks past, it’s ‘how ya going, Frederic’, you remember people’s names.”

“It’s small enough to remember them when they come back,” he says.

The secret of success: “You want to make them feel welcome and at home,” says Sandy Munday. “It’s the manana syndrome; you know you’ve done a good job when people want to stay another day.”

The Mundays have many returning guests. Mark recalls a man named Roger who was Swiss and had a very distinct voice. Roger came back to Samurai two years later and before Mark had a chance to look up from the front desk, he heard Roger’s voice and greeted him by name.

The family vibe spills from professional to personal as well. Guests will occasionally have opportunities to volunteer on the property in exchange for accommodation. The Mundays refer to them as their “international children”.

At the time of writing they have a couple from South Africa volunteering at Samurai, and an American woman just left. These volunteers sometimes stay for a while, helping out with gardening, cleaning, and leading guest activities.

In exchange for their hospitality, the Mundays often get the royal treatment when they go abroad. They just returned from Germany and didn’t pay for accommodation. They stayed in Berlin with the parents of a German backpacker who volunteered in their garden when he was 18. His parents had gone on holiday and gave the Mundays their home for the duration of their absence. The Mundays said that previously their son came back to Samurai five or six times, and once he even stayed with them for a year-long while attending Newcastle Uni.

“He was in our house, he was just like a son,” Sandy says.

The two have been on some spectacular holidays throughout the years, including a trip to Machu Picchu, Croatia, Turkey, Portugal and even seven-month trip around in a caravan with their son and their dog. Their next holiday will be in Bali for their 25th anniversary.

When not travelling, the Mundays never really stop working or get much time off because they live on location.

To go with their bungalows, they also have some land, cows and cabins on the Allyn River which they host people via Stayz or through their own website. Between holidays, these two properties keep the Mundays very busy.

But the ongoing work doesn’t seem to faze them. Together the two have worked hard for decades to craft a life that they want while also helping visitors have experiences up to par with their own.

“They call them lifestyle businesses; this is our life business,” Sandy says

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