|Seven Africans confirmed for Great Ocean Road Marathon
The contingent of African runners heading to Australia to race in the Great Ocean Road Marathon continues to grow.
Race organiser John Craven said yesterday seven Africans are confirmed starters in events over the weekend on May 16-17 with two women heading down under to race for the first time.
Ethiopian Gemet Teka has entered the 45km marathon between Lorne and Apollo Bay while 20-year-old compatriot Firehiwot Tesfaye will line up in the 6.5km race from Apollo Bay to Marriner's Lookout and back up in the 23km half-marathon from Kennett River to Apollo Bay the next day.
Teka, 29, won the 2008 Pune International Marathon in The Netherlands in an impressive time of two hours, 32 minutes and 20 seconds.
Craven said he was delighted to have two members of the Ethiopian national distance running team - Wellay Amare and Asamenew Tiruneh - in the marathon field.
The 29-year-old Amare ran 2:12.12 to win the 2007 Moha Marathon in his home country and also triumphed in the Dokkum Half-Marathon in Holland that year.
"Their team management approached us about entering him in the event and he reckons he can win it," Craven said.
"Even with the Kenyans in the field, he should start as favourite. The way that the whole marathon concept is unfolding is wonderful, especially now that we've got African women now wanting to come here and compete in some of the events."
James Kariuki, the 2006 winner, will lead the Kenyan assault on the race.
Craven said Ethiopian-born, Canberra-based runner Gemechu Woyecha - who is coached by Australian marathon icon Rob de Castella - has entered the half-marathon. He won half-marathon events in Sydney and Perth last year.
The marathon will be officially launched in Geelong today by Chris Wardlaw, a two-time Olympian who is now the new coach of Geelong middle distance runner Craig Mottram.
The 59-year-old, who made the final in the men's 10,000m at the 1976 Montreal Olympics and contested the marathon four years later in Moscow, has also entered the 45km marathon.
April 21st, 2009
|Dinosaur den, Mega fossil central
GEELONG will host a major dinosaur exhibition later this year, Hatching the Past , but the region's links with dinosaurs go back a long way _ at least 106 million years ago. That's when the Otway coast was a veritable cradle of the dinosaurs, home to one of the greatest ranges of animal fossils of any dinosaur site in Australia.
Just outside Apollo Bay, a palaeontology dig of the 1980s dubbed Dinosaur Cove was the first place where scientists were to raise the possibility of dinosaurs as warm-blooded mammals or birds, putting paid to the theory that dinosaurs were all cold-blooded reptiles. The dig was in full swing in 1984 with 70 Museum of Victoria scientists and volunteers _ led by dinosaur-hunters Tom Rich and Tim Flannery _ drilling, digging and dusting every skerrick of ancient sandstone in an almost inaccessible cliff-face tunnel.
They turned up all manner of fossil _ velociraptors, flying pterosaurs, underwater plesiosaurs, meat-eating oviraptors. And more familiar creatures too; crocodiles, turtles, upright relatives of echidnas and the platypus. Dinosaur Cove was a dinosaur treasure trove. But it was a one-metre long biped herbivore dinosaur that really put the site on the world map. A dinosaur Rich dubbed Leaellynasaura, after his young daughter Leaellyn.
The animal's skull caused a sensation with its large eyes and big optic lobes. It needed large bug-eyes to see in the low light of the Antarctic winter. Apollo Bay 100 million years ago was inside the Antarctic circle. Climate change and geography change, big time.
This suggested Leaellynasaura didn't migrate to warmer climes in winter and was more likely to have been warm-blooded like a mammal. The fossil record is fragmentary but it suggests whole new groups of dinosaurs and other animals evolved in the southern land masses and then spread north without leaving an adequate fossil record in their ancestral home. Flying north for the winter, perhaps? Well, maybe. These days, young Leaellyn is a lawyer. A few years back her namesake dinosaur was named Victoria's official fossil emblem.
More recently, Dinosaur Cove hit the headlines when a Queensland palaeontologist used bones found there to advance the theory that fair dinkum Australian dinosaurs roamed far and wide across Gondwanaland _ Africa, South America and Antarctica _ to Australia. If accurate, this particular dinosaur _ megaraptor _ would be the first. It amounts to a scientific rethink of long-standing claims of Northern Hemisphere affinities for many Australian dinosaurs _ as well as geographic and/or climatic isolation of Australian dinosaurs.
But Steven Salisbury, from Brisbane's University of Queensland _ Australia's part of an international University of Chicago Field Museum team chasing the Otway ossuary _ has found himself at odds with the folks who dug up the bones. The standoff all hinges on an ulna bone, a wrist bone, discovered in 1989. It's the distinctive forearm of a megaraptor _ a chainsaw-mouthed, emu-sized devil similar to the terrifying velociraptors of the Jurassic Park films.
Salisbury's suggestion is that Australia was a dinosaur stamping ground in its right. But Tom Rich, and Patricia Vickers-Rich of Monash University, argue much more work is needed before this conclusion can be drawn from one megaraptor wrist bone. ``Unfortunately, this single bone which our team collected long ago is damaged and conclusions being drawn from it are beyond what we feel are justified,'' Vickers-Rich said in June.
A spoiler, perhaps, but not one that should draw attention away from the possibility the Otway Coast may well have been a dinosaur nursery, Garden of Eden. As the Riches told Scientific American 15 years ago: ``Author Conan Doyle once dreamed of a plateau in South America that time forgot, where dinosaurs continued to reign. Reports earlier this year that dwarf mammoths survived to early historical times, in islands of the coast of Siberia, give force to such speculation. If dinosaurs found a similar haven in which they outlived the rest of their kind, then we think polar Gondwana, including southeastern Australia, is a likely place to look for it.''
NOEL MURPHY: Otways _
August 15th, 2008
|Apollo Bay in top 20
Coastal hamlet Apollo Bay has won the hearts of international tourists.
An international travel website has ranked Apollo Bay in the top 20 most recommended Australian holiday destinations.
United Kingdom-based website TripAdvisor has listed Apollo Bay as the 18th-best spot in Australia and second in Victoria.
TripAdvisor is a hotel search website which attracts more than 20 million holiday-makers a month.The site involves travellers writing reviews of hotels they have visited and destinations are then ranked by popularity
Sydney tops the list, with Melbourne second. Apollo Bay is the next Victorian locality at number 18.
Member for Polwarth Terry Mulder congratulated the efforts of Apollo Bay tourism operators.
“Apollo Bay ranked above Ballarat at 24th and Phillip Island at 27th,” Mr Mulder said.
Paradise Garden Cottages and Bed and Breakfast at Apollo Bay topped the list of popular Apollo Bay hotels.
Great Ocean Rd in Baz Luhrmann's $50 million Aussie ad campaign.
REGIONAL tourism bosses will press for the Great Ocean Rd to take a starring role in Baz Luhrmann's $50 million Aussie ad campaign.
Tourism Australia managing director Geoff Buckley yesterday said it was a coup to have the internationally renowned director of Romeo and Juliet and Strictly Ballroom conceive and produce the $50 million project.
A Tourism Australia spokeswoman yesterday said the advertisements were top secret and the locations would not be revealed until an official launch in October.
The campaign, which will run for several months from October 2008 in Tourism Australia's international markets, will coincide with the world-wide marketing and release of Luhrmann's major motion picture Australia.
"The combined weight of the film and this campaign will provide Australia with its most powerful push in decades," Mr Buckley said. "This is a remarkable, and we think, unique project."
Geelong-Otway Tourism head Roger Grant yesterday said he would press home the need for the iconic Great Ocean Rd to be featured in the advertisements.
"You would hope it is focused on the national landscape and not just the Kimberlies and the Outback. We would like to present a broader perspective," Mr Grant said.
The announcement of the advertising campaign coincides with the Federal Government declaring the Great Ocean Rd one of eight national landscape icons.
Federal Tourism Minister Martin Ferguson will officially launch the program in Torquay tomorrow.
The program is a partnership between the conservation and tourism sectors and aims to promote the nation's natural wonders.
"It will have very much a landscape focus, on areas of fantastic natural beauty," Mr Grant said.
"It will feature Uluru, Kakadu and of course the Great Ocean Rd will be there," Mr Ferguson said.
"I think our whole focus is not just on numbers of visitors but on getting people to stop and stay. This will assist in that cause."
Mr Grant said it was a busy year for the road as it was also under consideration for national heritage listing, which would a pave the way for more federal funding.
He said a decision on this was due before the end of the year.
July 31st, 2008
Concerns raised over Apollo Bay harbour revamp
AN ambitious plan for the Apollo Bay harbour that would see an 80-room boutique hotel, shops, restaurants and offices lining the waterfront had been met with significant community apprehension, Colac Otway Shire was told yesterday.
In his report to council, Mike Barrow, from the council's planning and development department, said the community concerns meant the draft plan had not met its original May completion date.
The plan has 17 major infrastructure proposals, including the hotel, open recreation space, a 400-space car park, new fishermen's co-op, saltwater swimming pool, new sailing club buildings, 60 camping sites and a new road linking the harbour to the Great Ocean Rd.
Yesterday's Colac Otway Shire council meeting was told 550 submissions had been received after the release of the draft master plan last year. There was positive support for several key elements and opposition to others.
The vision for the harbour is to make it "a new focal point for the town" and a "must-see" destination on the Great Ocean Rd, Mr Barrow said.
"Significant investment in foreshore infrastructure is urgently required to do this," he said.
The plan retains the harbour as a commercial operation.
A steering group and community reference group have been established to oversee development of the plan.
Shire chief executive officer Tracey Slatter said the community would be invited to participate in the consultation process.
Mr Barrow said the next step was to develop a business case involving market testing of the proposal with private investors.