Hunter roads: All Hunter roads are clear this morning.
Hunter trains: There is a good service on the Central Coast and Newcastle line and the Hunter line.
Hunter weather: Cloudy with a medium chance of showers in Newcastle (25 degrees), a possible chance of showers in Raymond Terrace (25 degrees), cloudy day in Maitland with possible showers (28 degrees) and a cloudy day in Scone with possible showers and afternoon thunderstorm (30 degrees).
Hunter beachwatch by Dave Anderson: Not exactly the best of weather for a day on the beach with overcast and onshore conditions. Swells from the South and starting to drop from 1.5 to 1m during the morning.Wind light to moderate S/E to East. Cleaner waves early on the big incoming tide with Flatrock,Alley,Cliff and Merewether the best options.Buribi and One Mile to the north.Dudley,Caves and Catho down the coast. Sweeps on the run out tide so take care and only swim at patrolled beaches in the flagged areas.Water temp 21C
► EDEN Hasson was catching the last of the light and the smooth waves at the northern end of Samurai Beach when he took off on a left-hander. More here.
► THE MAN accused of intentionally lighting a bushfire at Kurri Kurri told police he threw a lit cigarette on the ground in bushland on a 40 degree day and then rode away, Maitland Local Court has heard. More here.
► UNBELIEVABLE as it may seem, Newcastle are set to kick off the 2017 NRL season with less experience across the board than in round one last year. More here.
► RICHARD Jones once heard some wise words from a successful entrepreneur and quickly made them his mantra: make your job your hobby. More here.
► LAWLER Partners accounting founder Terry Lawler has been awarded the Order of Australia, and used the occasion to describe Australia’s asylum seeker policies as “very difficult to take any pride in”. More here.
► Joyce Watt never asked for anything in return when she started working and volunteering at the Hawkins Masonic Village more than 40 years ago. More here.
► TORONTO’S Robert “Dutchy” Holland is most famous for sending the great West Indies Test cricket side of 1984-85 into a spin when he claimed match figures of 10-144. More here.
► LARGE parts of Newcastle remain drenched in a toxic cocktail of heavy metals and cancer-causing hydrocarbons that rained down for decades during the city’s industrial heyday. More here.
► Aldi is on schedule to open its third Maitland supermarket in September. The company will open in The Hunter Mall on The Levee in September. More here.
► A Maitland family is facing the choice between risking a fine or sweltering during hot summer nights. More here.
► Fresh scam reports have surfaced in the Hunter as con artists pretend to be from federal welfare agency Centrelink in order to get personal information from unsuspecting victims. More here.
► It’s as iconic as Vegemite and the sausage sizzle. Dairy cows have been producing milk for generations of Australians since colonial times and making sure there is white goodness for the morning cereal. More here.
► Neville Lawrence who has served his community for 51 years as part of the Gresford Brigade of the Rural Fire Service has been awarded a Medal (OAM) of the Order of Australia in the Australia Day Honours. More here.
► Richard Ingall has been a hard-working volunteer for almost 30 years. His dedication to the Cessnock District Rescue Squad and the NSW Police Force’s Volunteer in Policing Program have earned him the Order of Australia Medal on this year’s Australia Day honours list. More here.
► Terry Hughes has a passion for providing opportunities for children to read. The Lovedale resident appears on the 2017 Australia Day honours list, receiving the Order of Australia Medal for his service to business, particularly in the education sector. More here.
► Take a look at these beautiful photographs of Dungog and surrounding areas. To include your picture in the gallery simply use #Dungog on Instagram. More here.
► PORT Stephens residents Colin Edwards, Ronald Swan and James Graff are among this year’s Australia Day honours. More here.
►A four-week shutdown of bulky waste services over Christmas is under review after a spike in waste and complaints. More here.
► LOCALS planning to spend Australia Day at The Entrance are advised that some roads and a car park will be closed in the town for the day. More here.
► THEY are the local people who made a real difference across Lake Macquarie in 2017. And on Monday night, they were honoured by council at the 2017 Lake Macquarie Australia Day Awards. More here.
► RESIDENTS and holiday makers are expected to gather in Port Stephens on Australia Day to see new citizens take the pledge and generally have a good time. More here.
► AUTHORITIES are investigating how a cane toad came to be found in the backyard of a house at Summerland Point. More here.
► For the residents of Bulga the news Yancoal Australia is buying Rio Tinto’s local coal mines may provide be a welcome reprieve from their years of conflict over the expansion of the Warkworth mine. More here.
► A four-week shutdown of bulky waste services over Christmas is under review after a spike in waste and complaints. More here.
► IN an attempt to combat the growing problem in the region, a prevention group is urging Muswellbrook residents to join the “ice fight”. And, the organisation hopes locals can “get the message out” before it’s too late. More here.
► A MUSWELLBROOK born and bred man etched his name in the history books on Wednesday, by becoming the first Australian Federal Police (AFP) Assistant Commissioner to secure the top job in the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force. More here.
Happy Australia Day
► AUSTRALIAN OF THE YEAR: Biomedical scientist Emeritus Professor Alan Mackay-Sim has been awarded 2017 Australian of the Year for his work in the treatment of spinal cord injuries.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull presented Professor Mackay-Sim with the trophy at a ceremony in the Great Hall of Parliament House in Canberra on Wednesday evening.
An inspirational scientist and international leader in stem cell research, Professor Mackay-Sim’s decades of dedicated research and international leadership in the field have given hope to thousands of Australians and people across the world with spinal cord injuries. Read more.
► How well do you know the country you are living in? Take our quiz:
► STAY SAFE: NSW Police launched Operation Goldsmith on Thursday to ensure safe and secure celebrations across NSW on Australia Day.
Millions of people are expected to attend local celebrations throughout NSW.
Police said the operation would include the Police Transport Command, Traffic and Highway Patrol Command, Public Order & Riot Squad, Operations Support Group, Licensing Police, Mounted Unit, Dog Unit, PolAir and Marine Area Command. Read more.
State of the nation
Need a national news snapshot first thing – well, we have you covered.
► NSW: Police are furious about a couple that lied in order to get help quicker when they were bogged in the Gulf.
Brendon Fiander, 27 of Mackay, and Rita Tranter, 25 from New South Wales got their two-wheel drive Hyundai Terracan stuck on a station road last week having told police their GPS had directed them off the Burke Developmental Rd between Normanton and Four Ways.
Mr Fiander then walked 20km to Milgarra Station homestead to raise the alarm telling the 000 operator his partner was pregnant.
Normanton Senior Sergeant Duane Amos said that was not true. Read more.
► NSW: It’s as iconic as Vegemite and the sausage sizzle.
Dairy cows have been producing milk for generations of Australians since colonial times and making sure there is white goodness for the morning cereal.
But dry times, and a huge drop in the milk price, has left the Hunter’s dairy farmers struggling to stay afloat.
They need your help, so this Australia Day do them a favour and buy some milk. Read more.
► VIC: Seven teens remain on the run after 50 terrified staff were forced to go into lockdown for four hours after the latest riot at a youth detention facility near Castlemaine.
Fifteen detainees escaped from Victoria's troubled Malmsbury Youth Justice centre on Wednesday, stealing cars, ramming other vehicles and prompting police pursuits.
Several inmates from the Malmsbury Youth Justice are believed to have carjacked two cars, a red hatch (registration 1HZ5UN) and a blue Falcon sedan (ZKV598). Police have also confirmed they are searching for a stolen white Suzuki SUV (personalised registration WILMAK). Call 000 if seen. Read more.
► TAS: As of January 17, Coles was the first supermarket chain to exclusively stock apples with no added wax, following positive responses from customer trials in South Australia, Western Australia and the Northern Territory.
Wax is used to make apples appear more shiny, but research has shown that more than 70 per cent of Australians prefer the idea of purchasing apples without added wax.
Coles fresh produce general manager Brad Gorman said they were “always looking for new and innovative ways to improve” their fresh produce. Read more
► AUSTRALIA DAY HONOURS: Women remained significantly under-represented in nominations for Australia Day honours in 2017, with men six times more likely to be nominated for achievements in law and media and 20 times more likely in science, technology and research.
Men were nominated at more than twice the rate of women for Thursday's honours, with no female nominations in six of the 31 categories.
Figures provided by the office of Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove show 651 men were nominated for the general division of the Order of Australia awards, compared with 320 women. Read more.
► GUN CONTROL: Is shotgun-loving senator Bridget McKenzie a double agent inside the newly formed Parliamentary Friends of Gun Control?
The National Party senate whip, who last year defied Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull by crossing the floor to vote in favour of allowing the importation of the rapid-fire Adler shotgun, says she is not.
While even the groups' co-convenor, Labor's Andrew Leigh, described her membership of the Friends of Gun Control as "a tad surprising", Senator McKenzie told Fairfax Media she was attracted by the promise of "evidence and facts" in the debate over guns.
National weather radar
On this day
1788 – The British First Fleet, led by Arthur Phillip, sails into Port Jackson (Sydney Harbour) to establish Sydney, the first permanent European settlement on the continent. Commemorated as Australia Day.
1905 – The world's largest diamond ever, the Cullinan weighing 3,106.75 carats (0.621350 kg), is found at the Premier Mine near Pretoria in South Africa.
1926 – The first demonstration of the television by John Logie Baird.
1965 – Hindi becomes the official language of India.
1998 – Lewinsky scandal: On American television, U.S. President Bill Clinton denies having had "sexual relations" with former White House intern Monica Lewinsky.
► LONDON: Treasurer Scott Morrison is urging the Australian business community in London to adopt "strategic patience" as they wait to find out whether Britain will still enjoy special passporting rights into the EU after Brexit.
The issue is key for Australian providers of financial services into the Eurozone as the passporting system allows businesses to operate in participating countries without needing permission from each individual country.
Key countries include: Germany, Denmark, Norway, Netherlands, France, Italy, Spain, Sweden, Finland and Denmark. Read more.
► PHILIPPINES: The killing was particularly grotesque, even in Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte's so-called "war on drugs" that has left thousands dead, including children as young as four.
Heavily armed officers of the police Anti-Illegal Drugs Group burst into the home of South Korean businessman Jee Ick-joo in Angeles City, 80 kilometres north of Manila, as the bodies of drugs suspects were piling up in funeral parlours across the island nation.
The police had a fake arrest warrant and accused Mr Jee of involvement in drugs, according to a Department of Justice investigation. Read more.
Faces of Australia: Besta Poni Peter
At school, Besta Poni Peter wrote her answers in the dirt, because she didn’t have money to buy a notebook.
She had one pair of shoes. Her chair was a rock in the shade of a mango tree, her school a grass house.
Growing up in Sudan, alone after losing her parents and her brother, all she had was the support of the people around her, and an unwavering focus: she was going to complete her education, and do something with her life. Read more.