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WOMAN AND SON ESCAPE UNINJURED FROM UNIT FIRE

Police are investigating the cause of a fire, which badly damaged a unit in Wallsend early this morning. A woman woke to the sound of the fire alarm in her Harriett Street unit just before 1 o’clock, and found the fire burning in her 7-year-old son’s bedroom. Both managed to escape uninjured. Fire fighters were able to stop the blaze from spreading into two other units.

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TEENAGER DIES AT NIMBIN’S HANGING ROCK FALLS

A 19 year old has died, after a tragic accident at Hanging Rock Falls near Nimbin. Witnesses say the teen was holding on to a rope swing, and failed to let go, hitting his head on a rock and slipping beneath the surface. Police rescue scoured the water for his body today, but failed to uncover anything. The teenager was on a road trip to Falls Festival in Byron Bay with friends. Inspector Matt Kehoe says it’s a tragic loss of life, and issued a warning to others thinking of swimming in waterholes this summer. “Any waterhole that’s around this area with rope swings and rocks that have warnings they are dangerous.” “We’d just stress to people to be careful at this time of year particularly given we’ve had some large rainfall, the water is flowing very quickly down there, …

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RELATIVE CHARGED OVER SEXUAL ASSAULT OF GIRLS

A 58-year-old man has been charged with the sexual and indecent assault of three young female relatives over a 12-month period. Child Abuse Squad detectives were told a five-year-old girl and a seven-year-old had reportedly been sexually assaulted by the man, said to be a distant relative. Additionally, it will be alleged that he indecently assaulted another relative, a six-year-old girl. The man was arrested by police in Newcastle at around 8.00pm last night. Charged with 12 counts of aggravated sexual assault, the man was refused bail to appear in Maitland Local Court today.

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WEATHER WITH GAVIN MORRIS: Big December rain.

The Northern NSW coast has been swamped with heavy rain across the weekend with 300mm coming down from Kingscliff to Coolangatta and inland to Murwillimbah and Nimbin where up to 150mm fell on Saturday. 50 to 80mm fell from Coffs Harbour to Port Macquarie. So now the drought has eased for the Hunter Valley and the coast. Big rain is still needed across the north-west however. Tomorrow a dry southerly will move up the coast and a few showers will blow in on NYE for the Northern NSW coast but for most it will be predominantly fine.

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HOLIDAY TRAFFIC CONTINUES TO CAUSE HEADACHES

Heavy traffic is continuing to build in the state’s mid-north and far-north this afternoon. Northbound on the Pacific Highway at Macksville  is especially congested, with queues of up to 13 kilometres adding up to an hour on holiday makers travel times. An earlier accident reportedly involving numerous vehicles is affecting traffic in both directions at Woodburn also, with queues of 6 kilometres northbound and 2.5 going south. Wet weather across the region is also expected to worsen, possibly creating further delays.

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FIRE DESTROYS GARDEN SUBURB SHED

A fire has completely destroyed a garage at a home in Garden Suburb. At around 5.00am, a fire started at the rear of the Prospect Road property. Fire fighters were called to the scene to find the shed well alight. It took crews three hours to fully extinguish the blaze. The cause of the fire is still unknown.

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NEWCASTLE EARTHQUAKE 25 YEARS ON

December 28 1989 – it’s a date Newcastle will never forget. Tomorrow marks 25 years since a devastating earthquake ripped through the heart of the city – killing a dozen people and injuring almost 200 others. NBN News recounts the day the disaster struck and how lessons learnt went on to shape Australia’s building practices.

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DRAYTON SOUTH EXPANSION BACK ON THE CARDS

The Drayton South mine extension is back on the cards, this time on a smaller-scale. Global mining giant, Anglo America, has re-submitted plans to develop the Hunter Valley project. The company says mining would be limited to two pits instead of four, while overall coal production would also be halved to 75-million tonnes. Previous plans have been knocked back twice by the planning commission, over concerns of a  negative impact on nearby horse studs. (no audio)

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CONCERNS ABOUT NEW PETROL STATION IN TUNCURRY

Woolworths is hoping to establish its second petrol station in Forster-Tuncurry, which is renowned for having some of the priciest fuel in New South Wales. But one resident wants council to knock back the proposal, saying it will drive out the independent stations… And drive up the cost of petrol.

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