Peterhansel, Despres on verge of Rally win

Stephane Peterhansel will be crowned Dakar Rally champion for an 11th time on Saturday while French compatriot Cyril Despres should wrap up a fifth motorcycling crown on the day’s final stage.
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Defending champion Peterhansel, a four-time auto winner and a six-time victor on two wheels, will tackle Saturday’s short, 128km timed run into Santiago with a 44min 38sec lead over South Africa’s Toyota driver Giniel De Villiers.

On Friday’s penultimate 441km stage from Copiapo – the longest of the two-week, 8,000km event – Peterhansel finished in ninth place.

”We had to get through this stage without any problems, so there was a lot of stress in the car, first when we were crossing the first dunes,” said Peterhansel.

”We didn’t take any risks at all and we only lost a few minutes, but we managed to protect our lead this way. We know how it goes: something could still happen right up until you cross the finishing line.

”Even if it’s a small special, we still have to get it over and done with.”

American NASCAR driver Robby Gordon claimed the stage honours in his Hummer with his 3hr 40min 53sec time good enough for a 22sec advantage over France’s Guerlain Chicherit in an SMG. Chile’s Orlando Terranova, in a BMW, was third.

Despres virtually wrapped up a fifth motorcycling title when he finished second on the stage to open an overall lead of over eight minutes.

The 38-year-old, the champion in 2005, 2007, 2010 and 2012, was 5min 25sec behind Chile’s Francisco Lopez who hasn’t given up hope of catching his rival on home turf.

With KTM teammate, and overnight title rival, Ruben Faria slipping into third in the standings, Despres will go into Saturday’s final dash into the Chilean capital with an 8min 15sec overall lead over Lopez.

”The bike race isn’t just about strategy. It’s also about rally-raid sport: we’ve just rode 440 km and I was feeling good on the first section,” said Despres.

”Afterwards, I saw that I’d got some time back on Francisco and that he wasn’t going to disappear into the distance over 140km. So I thought I had better be careful with the engine.

”Since I ate quite a bit of dust in the morning, I preferred to make sure and take it easy. There were two or three tricky bits of reading to select the right track. As for celebrating, we still have 220km to the bivouac today and with 690km tomorrow, it’s not going to be a walk in the park.”

For Honda rider Lopez, it was a fourth stage win on the 2013 race and 10th of his career.

AFP

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Shanghai Night Net.

No Heart stopper this time

WITH Melbourne Heart, it ain’t over till it’s over. John Aloisi’s side has provided its fans with a roller-coaster ride all season, squandering leads when in positions to win matches and losing games in stoppage time when a draw was the least they deserved.
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So even when they were coasting towards a three-point outcome against a disappointing Adelaide at AAMI Park on Friday night, no one in the 7181 strong crowd, least of all the head coach, could be quite sure that they would go on and finish the job.

Memories of last weekend, when they were a goal up with five minutes remaining in Sydney against the bottom-of-the-table side only to lose 2-1, were still too sharp for any complacency.

This time Heart kept its nerve, shape and structure and saw the game out comfortably enough to notch a 2-0 victory.

The win takes it into fifth spot on the table overnight, although it could drop to seventh by the end of the round depending on Perth Glory’s result with Melbourne Victory and how Newcastle fares against the Mariners.

For Adelaide this was an ordinary performance and a poor result. It will remain second on the table whatever happens, but the Mariners could stretch their lead to beyond the current two points if they see off the Jets, while a win in the west would bring Victory snapping at their heels.

Heart got off to just the sort of start needed to settle any nerves, Josip Tadic striking in the fifth minute to provide the impetus for his side to take charge.

In the build up, David Williams, restored to the line up after suspension, played a short corner to Fred, whose cross found the Croatian forward and he converted with his head for his sixth goal of the season.

Heart has scored plenty of early goals this season but has failed to capitalise. Few teams have been as adept as them at surrendering leads and their long-suffering fans have learned from bitter experience not to count their chickens, so despite the glow from such an early goal no one was getting ahead of themselves.

Aloisi had spoken at length during the week about the need for his players to counter their second half fade outs by concentrating more, working harder and maintaining the intensity that has so often put them in such good positions. He also demanded that they show more tactical awareness by working together, talking and advising each other in pressure situations.

His message seemed to have penetrated, especially in a first half where Heart pressed hard to deny the high flying Adelaide time and space on the ball in the forward third and worked effectively to maintain possession themselves, while also putting together some threatening moves.

The skipper, Fred, is so often the talisman for his team. When he plays well, Heart has a tremendous record but when the Brazilian is absent the results are in sync.

He was up for this contest – at least until his dodgy hamstring curtailed his involvement just 10 minutes into the second half – and he worked with his trademark enthusiasm to press and crowd opponents in their own half, sliding in for tackles and seeking to keep the flow moving by playing quick passes, even if at times his final execution was awry.

His presence and that of the effervescent Richard Garcia gave Heart plenty of purpose. Williams, who has looked a lively option all season, was another to pose problems for the opposition on the left flank as Heart spread the ball to the wings.

Adelaide had few chances in a game enlivened by a fascinating contest between the skilful Adelaide winger Iain Ramsay and Heart’s tyro defender Jeremy Walker, determined to make the vacant right back spot his own following Michael Marrone’s move to China last week.

Certainly Aloisi has shown faith in the Tasmanian teenager in recent weeks and it was not misplaced in this game as the youngster broke even with a player who has proved an Adelaide matchwinner in the past.

Still, John Kosmina’s team should have got back on level terms before the interval when Dario Vidosic blasted a clear chance over the bar from close range.

It was a miss that proved even more costly four minutes after the restart when Matt Thompson won the ball in midfield from Adelaide’s Evan Kostopoulos and powered on to the penalty area before rolling a pass to the unmarked Garcia, who calmly stroked the ball past Adelaide goalkeeper Eugene Galekovic.

It was Garcia’s second goal in two games and it effectively killed off an out of sorts Adelaide.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Shanghai Night Net.

Land of the free

Away from it all … Veronica and John Hutson with their horses on their property.There is a growing band of Sydneysiders who are fed up with the rat race and are after a quieter and more rural life, but want to remain within commuting distance of the city.
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Many of these ”urban refugees” are not looking to do anything with their rural land – just having space around them is enough, some agents say. But there are others who want the full farm experience of keeping animals and growing vegetables, of having to close the gate behind them and strain to hear their neighbours.

These properties are generally less than five hectares, although there are many farms around Sydney that are hundreds of hectares. Despite the city’s growth, which is gobbling up a lot of rural land for urban development, there are still more than 125,000 hectares of open land in Sydney’s metropolitan area, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

In 2010-11, it found there were more than 44,000 cattle and 23,000 sheep on several thousand farms in the metropolitan area. Most of these are on the western edges, an hour or more from the city. But it’s possible to find sheep and horses grazing on land 20 kilometres north of the harbour, in Oxford Falls.

The exodus is being encouraged by improved infrastructure, such as shopping centres, roads and train lines. Camden, on the south-eastern fringe, 65 kilometres from the city centre, is one. The ABS found it had the second-highest population growth of any area in Sydney.

”We’re certainly seeing people moving out looking for that larger plot of land,” says an agent at Ray White Camden, Stuart Davies.

”As the infrastructure continues to develop to support the growth that’s going on out here, you’re likely to see more people choose it as an alternative lifestyle.”

Agents in others areas, such as the Hawkesbury, say new train lines and better roads are not expected to make much difference to travelling times. But despite commute times of about 90 minutes, rural-minded buyers are still coming. Elizabeth and Roy Ansted are one such couple. With their 10-month-old son, Archer, they have just moved from a two-bedroom house in Carlingford, which they sold for $650,000, to a 4.5-hectare property in Kurrajong, which they bought for $775,000.

”We just wanted Archer to have a better life than suburbia can offer,” Elizabeth says.

”We wanted a huge place where he could run around, and where we could be part of a community.” In their old house they could hear the ping of the neighbours’ microwave and the whir of the airconditioners. On the farm they can’t hear anyone. They’ve started an organic garden, and plan to have a ”menagerie” of animals, she says.

Both still work in Sydney – he at Meadowbank and she as a sales rep based in Cammeray – but the extra time spent travelling is worth it, Elizabeth says.

”Once you head over the Hawkesbury River, all your stress and worries just wash away. And we are lucky enough to live there.”

Ron Coleman, from Richardson and Wrench Windsor, says the demand for properties in the area rose in the second half of last year. ”If you’d asked me six months ago how many acreage properties I’d sold, I could probably tell you straight away – one or two,” Coleman says. ”But in the past six months we’ve probably sold six or seven, and that’s unusual – we’re a small office.”

Rural buying Median priceYoY changeKurrajong$845,000+15.2%Dural$1.55m-10.9%Oakville$945,000-10%Arcadia$1.32m+18.9%Bringelly$990,000+1.5%Kenthurst $1,245,000+ 3.1%Breath of fresh air in Kurrajong

John and Veronica Hutson moved to Kurrajong, at the foot of the Blue Mountains, just over 15 years ago in search of the freedom and fresh air they had when they were growing up.

Both had lived on the land in Africa and were keen to have that life again. So with only one of their three children still at home, they decided to leave Denistone, in Sydney’s north, for a more rural existence.

”We always cherished the open air and freedom and were keen to get that lifestyle again,” John says.

They finally found it on a nine-hectare farm, with an 1860s weatherboard farmhouse, workshop, sheds and stables, perched on a hill with fine views from the mountains to the plains.

”Initially we drove past it thinking it would be beyond our financial ability, until a real estate agent suggested we look at it,” John says.

It was in a central spot for John’s work, which was based in Parramatta but took him all over the state. And it had everything they were looking for – large enough for the animals they wanted but without too much upkeep. The couple have horses and chickens and a vegetable patch. But now, with all their children living interstate or overseas, the Hutsons have decided to sell up and move to Queensland to be closer to two of them.

The farm – on 4.5 hectares – is for sale at more than $849,000. The other 4.5-hectare lot is for sale for $595,000, or together at $1.39 million.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Shanghai Night Net.

Getting the most from the coast

The house was built to maximise the beach views. The original dwelling.
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The new beach house.

Evan Gledhill and his wife, Maree, had a goal – to build a holiday house where they could handle the ebb and flow of visiting family. With five children, their five partners and 10 grandchildren, this would not be cheap. Fortunately, Gledhill, who previously headed a construction company, had a few thoughts on how he could build a solution.

In 2005, the couple, based primarily in the Hunter Valley, started hunting for a coastal block to buy. They looked at every beach between The Entrance in the north down as far as Pearl Beach in the south. What they found was a rundown three-bedroom shack on an elevated block in Wamberal. Price tag: $3,065,000.

”At the time, it was a good price,” Gledhill says. The original property had plumbing issues and was effectively uninhabitable, so the real work was still ahead.Digging in

Gledhill quickly realised renovating was out of the question.

”We looked at renovating but with the poor quality of the foundations and the new rules from council, it just wouldn’t have been worth it,” he says.

So he enlisted Andrew Vingilis of Corben Architects to draw up plans for a four-bedroom house, split between two pavilions, that would do justice to the beachside block.

With plans in hand, Gledhill took over. He wanted to build the house himself with the help of subcontractors but to do that he would have to be close by.

”I actually lived next door,” he says. ”The Catholic Church has an old hostel on the beach and they gave me a room in there for the year.”

As indicated by the cost breakdown, the first part of construction was the most expensive and most important aspect. Construction on a sand dune requires substantial digging in, and you can forget the traditional beach tools of a bucket and spade – Gledhill spent $176,000 driving foundations into the ground with a piledriver.

From then on, things went pretty smoothly for the building veteran, who has more than 30 years of experience under his belt.Sunny days

The end product is called ”Nautica” and it is a fusion of timber and stone that is both elegant and understated.

But as the name suggests, the house is not the star of the show. On an elevated block, the 180-degree ocean views from Forresters Beach to Terrigal Haven will grab your eye long before you notice things such as the designer kitchen, the sandstone fireplace or the 600-bottle cellar.

The finished house has allowed the couple to embrace a new lifestyle involving morning swims, walking their Labrador on the dog-friendly beach, frequenting the cafes of Terrigal and a whole lot of sitting back and looking at the view.

But logistics were also important to the couple, who wanted the house to be enjoyed by the whole family. That is why it is split into two pavilions – you can have two or more families staying in the same house, both in comfort and with a large degree of privacy.Moving on

Having had their time in the sun, the couple have decided to sell Wamberal and head back to the Hunter Valley permanently – though Gledhill is quick to point out that ”it’s not because we don’t like Wamberal; we love Wamberal”.

”Our children have moved to Sweden, Victoria and the Hunter Valley, so we don’t use the space as much,” he says.

The property is now listed for sale for more than $4.5 million through McGrath Central Coast.In a nutshell

Time

Design and council approval: 10 months.

Construction: 12 months.

Land size 816 sq m.

Architect Andrew Vingilis – Corben Architects, 9904 1844.

Builder Owner-builder.

Green pointsDesigned to maximise natural light.Insulation and automatic aluminium louvres.Heat-pump hot-water system with two 3000-litre grey-water tanks servicing the toilets and laundry.A 20,000-litre rainwater tank for hosing and irrigation.Installation of fixed aluminium louvre blades and New Guinea rosewood shutters on the western elevation windows and a large, sail-covered area.

Favourite feature

Evan Gledhill says: ”The 180-degree views up and down the beach, they are beautiful. Also, the main thing for us was being away from the busy area of Terrigal but still within walking distance of the shops and cafes.”

Insider’s tip

Gledhill says: ”Select your architect and builder well. Check that the architect has done similar projects and that the builder has done the quality of work that you are looking for.”

What went right

The build came in on budget.

What went wrong

The market for coastal properties has readjusted since the couple’s purchase in 2005.Costs

Insurances $10,000

Architect $62,000

Civil and structural engineer $38,000

Geotechnical engineer $7000

Preliminaries $123,000

Demolition $11,000

Piling $176,000

Excavation $16,000

Concreter/ formwork/reo $198,000

Brick and blockwork $61,000

Structural steel $30,000

Metalwork $36,000

Automatic louvres $38,000

Mount White stonework $32,000

Carpentry $113,000

Joinery $98,000

Windows and doors $121,000

Door and window hardware $17,000

Roofer $108,000

Cement render $24,000

Plasterboard $92,000

Ceramic tiler $41,000

Glazier $6000

Stairs $15,000

Timber floors $31,000

Carpet $6000

Painter $49,000

Landscaping and water tanks $24,000

Plumbing and drainer $61,000

Airconditioning $46,000

Electrical $65,000

Security $6000

Total $1,761,000

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Shanghai Night Net.