Entries in Australia (70)


Rare Australian Coin Fetches Record Sale Price

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(MELBOURNE, Australia) -- One of the first coins ever used as Australian domestic currency was sold this week for the U.S. equivalent of about $508,000, setting a new world record, the auctioneer said.

The price set a record for sales of the rare coin known as the “Holey Dollar,” which was created in the early 1800s.

The auction occuredWednesday in Melbourne, Australia, and the buyer was a private collector from the Australian state of Western Australia, according to a release from Coinworks, the dealer that handled the auction.

The coin was one of the finest specimens of Holey Dollars in existence, Belinda Downie, a numismatics expert and managing director of Coinworks, said in a release.

“This Holey Dollar was created from a Spanish Silver Dollar that had been minted at the Lima Mint in Peru in 1808,” she said.  “Only twenty of the 200 specimens held by private collectors have ties to the Lima Mint.  And this is the absolute finest of them all.”

The previous high sale for a Holey Dollar was made in 2011.  The price was the U.S. equivalent of around $500,000.

According to Coinworks, the Holey Dollar was introduced in 1813 to alleviate a currency crisis in New South Wales, the fledgling colony that would later form part of the Commonwealth of Australia.

Gov. Lachlan Macquarie purchased 40,000 Spanish Silver Dollars, then had the coins altered to ensure they would not be taken out of the colony in payment for exports.

A circular disc was removed from the center of each coin and the remaining outer ring stamped with the year and New South Wales issuing authority.  The coin’s value was 5 shillings.  

The inner portion that was punched out of the coin was re-stamped and used as a 15-pence piece.  It was called the 1813 Dump.

The coins were removed from circulation between 1826 and 1829 and melted for their silver.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Australian Miners Fired for Underground 'Harlem Shake' Dance

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(SYDNEY) -- With literally thousands of "Harlem Shake" videos being uploaded to the Internet every day, one would think people would run out of locations to shoot their own.  But a group of gold miners in Australia went underground with their tribute to the dance craze -- and it got them fired.

Fifteen people who took part in the video, which was shot at the Agnew gold mine in western Australia and went viral after being uploaded last week, were terminated for allegedly breaching safety protocols, according to the Herald Sun.

The workers insisted they were just blowing off steam in the middle of the night -- and wore all the required gear except, in some cases, the required long-sleeved shirts.  Their superiors at Barminco didn't appreciate the joke to say the least, and banned them for life, saying the dance damaged the mine company's reputation.

In the U.S., a performance of the "Harlem Shake" dance on a Frontier Airlines flight from Colorado Springs to San Diego has also received scrutiny.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


WATCH: Three-Year-Old Plays with Alligators at Australian Wildlife Park

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Charlie Parker is being billed as Australia’s youngest wildlife ranger.

The 3-year-old boy is fearless, and he loves reptiles.  His best friend is Pablo, a boa constrictor that measures 8 feet in length.

Photos of Parker playing in the water with an alligator named Gump have people buzzing about the boy.  But wildlife is the family business, and Parker’s father, who runs Ballarat Wildlife Park in Victoria, Australia, says his son’s love of animals must be genetic.

But is Parker too young for this kind of contact with dangerous animals?

Animal expert Jack Hanna told ABC's Good Morning America that proper supervision of wild animals is critical.  Without that, people are placed in jeopardy.

“Children and wild animals are not a good mix,” Hanna added.  “You can train a wild animal but you can never tame a wild animal.”

It’s not the first time that young children have gotten close to dangerous creatures.

People were shocked last year to see video of an 18-month-old girl playing with a 300-pound gorilla.  The video had been shot 22 years earlier, and the girl’s father, gorilla conservationist Damian Aspinall, reportedly had kept it hidden until then because he feared backlash.

Aspinall said he released the video in order to bring awareness to endangered gorillas and to show their gentle nature.

In the video, Tansy, his daughter, has a smile on her face as she pets, plays with and is carried around by the gorilla.

The late Steve Irwin, who gained fame as the star of The Crocodile Hunter wildlife TV series, also drew heavy public criticism for holding his young son too close to a 12-foot crocodile.

Irwin’s daughter, Bindi, has followed in her father’s footsteps.  Now a 14-year-old actress, Bindi previously hosted her own televised nature series.

Irwin was killed by a stingray in a freak attack in Sept. 4, 2006.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


WATCH: Australian Woman Posts Time-Lapse Video of Gender Change

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Using more than 1,000 photos taken over a period of three years, a woman from Sydney, Australia, has documented her transformation from man to woman in a one-minute video clip.

Ashley Caccamo, 24, began her gender transformation from man to woman on Dec. 8, 2009.  As the images fly by in the video she posted to YouTube, her features change, as does her expression -- into an ever-so-slight smile.

“I have had FFS [facial feminization surgery] during the process,” Caccamo said on her YouTube page.  ”I started roughly around when I was 20–21 years of age.”

The video clip begins with a notice that it has a “T” rating -- approved for all transgendered people.  Caccamo set the clip to “Girl” by the Beatles.

Facial feminization surgery often includes procedures such as a brow lift, rhinoplasty and lip augmentation.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Thieves Smash Wall, Miss Jewelry Store, Rob KFC

Aaron M. Sprecher/Bloomberg via Getty Images(BEAUDESERT, Australia) -- In a jewelry heist gone incredibly wrong, just after 8 a.m. on New Year’s Eve, two thieves planned to rob Wrights Jewelers in Beaudesert, Australia, about 45 miles south of Brisbane.  But instead they knocked through the wrong wall and found themselves inside a Kentucky Fried Chicken outlet next door.

Police say the suspects, Dwayne Doolan and Peter Welsh, were prepared to raid a store full of precious stones and gems. Instead, they found themselves surrounded by trays of the Colonel’s Original Recipe and Extra Crispy chicken as well as stares from surprised workers after smashing through the wrong block wall in a restroom.

But they quickly regrouped and robbed the fast food joint instead, police said.

The Queensland Police Service released a statement saying, “The men threatened staff with a metal bar and made demands for cash. Two female employees complied and handed over a sum of cash to the men.”

After robbing the fast food chain, the thieves left on foot with $2,600.

No one was hurt in the armed robbery, police said.

Queensland police arrested the two men in connection with the armed robbery. In the police report, one man is charged with one count of armed robbery and two counts of stealing. The other suspect is charged with “one count of armed robbery, two counts of stealing, one enter premises with intent to commit offense and one attempted enter premises with intent to commit indictable offence.”

Both suspects appeared in the Southport Magistrates Court on Jan. 3. One suspect made bail and returned to court on Jan. 5 while the other remained in custody.

Sgt. Barry McErlean with Queensland Police said, “Both have been remanded to appear again on March 5.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Snakes Close Australian Day-Care Center

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(DARWIN, Australia) -- Australian officials shut down a day-care center in the Northern Territory Thursday because of an infestation of at least 23 baby pythons and their much larger mother.

It all started Wednesday, when a single hatchling Australian carpet python was spotted at the Mitchell Street Childcare Center in Darwin. The following day, seven more little snakes were seen slithering around the community center, which cares for children 6 weeks to five years old.

Director Louise DeBomford called the city of Darwin and two contractors were sent to investigate the issue. They peeked inside the center’s walls and discovered something shocking.

“They found the nest and mum,” DeBomford said.

Their 10-foot-long mom, to be specific. The wall contained a total of 41 broken eggshells, suggesting there were still nearly 20 foot-long serpents unaccounted for.

“I thought there would have to be more than one because we had an inundation of snakes last year, about the same time,” DeBomford told Northern Territory News.

The non-venomous carpet python is relatively common in much of Australia and New Guinea. It can grow as large as 13 feet and, like all pythons, kills its prey by coiling around and suffocating or crushing it.

It is possible for a snake as large as the one found at Mitchell Street Childcare Center to harm a young child. In one example from 2009, a family’s 8-foot pet Burmese python escaped its cage and killed a 2-year-old girl as she lay in her bed.

Coincidentally, this is not the only snake surprise kids witnessed in Australia this week. Outside Townsville, Queensland, a 3-year-old boy and his mother were shocked Monday to find some eggs the boy had collected and placed in his closet weeks ago hatched into seven highly venomous Eastern brown snakes.

No one was hurt in either case.

In Darwin, the kids at the day care seemed downright entertained as officials removed the family of snakes, presumably to somewhere a little more suitable for everyone involved.


Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Aussie Driver Blames GPS for Wrong-Way Journey

Comstock/Thinkstock(SYDNEY) -- A 37-year-old Australian man was pulled over early Sunday morning in New South Wales after driving more than 13 miles the wrong way on a freeway.

According to the Australian Broadcast Company, the unidentified motorist didn't realize he was going the wrong way, thinking the cars shooting past him in the other direction were just in an opposing lane.

After the driver was stopped, he claimed his GPS led him in the wrong direction. 

Whether the devices don't work correctly in some remote areas Down Under is a growing concern, the Australian Broadcast Company reports.   The Mildura Police Department issued a warning to drivers last week not to rely on the positioning units that rely on online maps.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Royal Prank Call: Radio Station to Donate $500K to Nurse's Family

A Current Affair/ABC News(SYDNEY) -- The Australian radio station that employed the DJs who prank-called the London hospital where Kate Middleton was being treated has cancelled their show and will donate at least $500,000 to the grieving husband and children of the nurse who took the call and later apparently killed herself.

Australia's 2Day FM released a statement on Tuesday saying it hopes to "help [Jacintha] Saldanha's family with the support they need at this very difficult time."

After days of suspended advertising, the radio station at the center of a global firestorm announced it will resume airing commercials on Thursday.  All its profits for the rest of the year will go directly to the family of the unsuspecting nurse at the center of that joke.

The Sydney-based station also issued a company-wide suspension of prank calls after the nurse who initially answered the hospital call was found dead.

Saldanha's husband and two teenage children met with officials at the hospital on Monday, and spoke publicly for the first time, although via a member of the British Parliament.

"This is a close family," Keith Vaz said.  "They are devastated by what has happened.  They miss her every moment of every day."

While their show has been terminated, it's still unclear whether DJs Mel Greig and Michael Christian of Australia's 2Day FM will be.

The two could face criminal charges if police determine their call was illegally recorded.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Royal Hoax Tragedy: Australian Radio Station Cancels Show of Prankster DJs

A Current Affair/ABC News(SYDNEY) -- The Australian radio show that pulled the prank call on Kate Middleton's hospital last week has been canceled, according to a statement from Southern Cross Austereo, which owns 2Day FM.

The hosts of the show, Mel Greig, 30, and Michael Christian, 25, who were responsible for the call, will not return to the airwaves until further notice, the statement said. The network also ordered a company-wide suspension of prank calls.

Southern Cross Austereo said it tried to contact the hospital several times before airing the segment. But the hospital said there were no calls.

"Following the hoax call, the radio station did not speak to anyone in hospital senior management or anyone at the company that handles our media enquiries," a spokesperson for the hospital told ABC News.

The Australian radio station has come under fire for its antics gone wrong before.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority launched an investigation into 2Day FM in July 2009 after the station broadcast a lie-detector test with a mother and a daughter regarding the girl's sexual activity, despite the girl's protests. In the segment, which was part of the Kyle and Jackie O Show, the 14-year-old girl revealed to her mother that she had been raped when she was 12, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

After the revelation, host Kyle Sandilands said, "Right ... is that the only experience you've had?"

The segment ended with host Jackie O'Neil's apologizing.

The rape allegation was investigated by police but later called off by the teenager. As a result of the investigation, however, the Kyle and Jackie O Show was suspended for three weeks.

Sandilands came under fire later that year after he said actress Magda Szubanski, who was a spokeswoman for weight-loss company Jenny Craig at the time, could lose even more weight if she went to a concentration camp, the Australian reported. Szubanski is of Polish descent. Sandilands quickly apologized for the comments.

The station was also investigated in April 2009 for a segment called "Heartless Hotline" in which a mother of five children, four of whom were disabled, called in to win tickets to the Sydney Royal Easter Show. The woman was offered seven tickets unless another listener called to claim them within 30 seconds. When another listener called in, the mother of five had to argue with hosts in order to keep the tickets.

Also that year, the station staged a prank in which it raised funds for the parents of a disabled child. The station claimed to have raised $150,000 for the family but when the parents contacted 2Day FM to claim the money, the station gave them the names of listeners who had pledged donations. The parents were only able to collect $50,000.

ABC Australia's program Media Watch recalled one of the Kyle and Jackie O Show pranks in which it told a Cambodian-Australian woman, Saveth, it would bring her niece, Dana, to Australia. But the day before the station was to fly Dana to the country, it told Saveth that it would put Dana behind one of three doors when she arrived and if Saveth didn't choose the right door, Dana would be flown home. When Saveth picked the wrong door, the women pleaded and cried until the station finally told them Dana could stay.

As for the most recent episode, the two Australian radio DJs who prank-called the London hospital where Middleton was being treated last week said they were "shattered" and "gutted" after the nurse who answered their call apparently killed herself.

Shock jocks Mel Greig, 30, and Michael Christian, 25, cried as they spoke to Australia's Channel 9 overnight in their first public interview since Jacintha Saldanha, 46, the nurse who last week connected the pair to the duchess' room, was found dead Friday morning.

"I'm shattered, gutted, heartbroken," Christian said. "Mel and myself are incredibly sorry for the situation and what's happened. I had the idea. … It was just a simple harmless phone call. It was going to go on for 30 seconds. We were going to get hung up on."

The host of the 2Day FM radio show pretended to be Queen Elizabeth and Prince Charles, asking for an update on Middleton's condition when they called up King Edward VII Hospital in central London. With no receptionist on duty overnight, Saldanha answered the prank call and put it through.

"It was just something that was fun and light-hearted and a tragic turn of events that I don't think anyone had expected," Christian said.

Saldanha was found dead Friday morning after police were called to an address near the hospital to "reports of a woman found unconscious," according to a statement from Scotland Yard.

Investigators have not said how she might have killed herself.

Greig cried today when asked about the moment she heard of the death of Saldanha, a mother of two.

"It was the worst phone call I've ever had in my life," she said through tears. "There's not a minute that goes by that we don't think about her family and the thought that we may have played a part in that is gut-wrenching."

The DJs said they never expected to get through to Middleton's nurse and assumed, "the same phone calls had been made 100 times that morning," Christian said.

Grieg said, "We wanted to be hung up on with our silly voices and wanted a 20-second segment to air of us doing stupid voice. … Not for a second did we expect to even speak to Kate or even have a conversation with anyone at the hospital. We wanted to be hung up on."

The global backlash against the duo has been fierce, from online death threats to calls for prison time. Their radio station has announced it is banning phony phone calls altogether.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Australian Police Urge Motorists to Turn Away from Apple Maps

Digital Vision/Thinkstock(VICTORIA, Australia) -- It’s been no secret that Apple’s Maps app has its problems, but a police department in Australia has actually gone so far as to say that it is a “life threatening issue.”

It seems that motorists looking for the town of Mildura in northwestern Victoria, Australia have found themselves lost or stranded in Murray-Sunset National Park. Why? Because Apple Maps places the town smack in the middle of the park. Not only is the park 70 km (about 45 miles) from the town of Mildura, but some people said they got stranded there for up to 24 hours without food or water, and had to walk long distances to find phone reception.

As a result, the Mildura police have issued a statement "urging motorists to be careful when relying on” Apple’s Maps in iOS 6. This comes after “a number of motorists were directed off the beaten track in recent weeks.” The town has reached out to Apple and hopes there will be a fix, but for now is urging anyone traveling to the town to use other mapping software.

Apple, reached by ABC News, declined to comment on the police statement.

After Apple released its Maps app in September, and people reported misplaced towns and cities, Apple itself admitted it hadn’t lived up to its own standards. “At Apple, we strive to make world-class products that deliver the best experience possible to our customers,” CEO Tim Cook wrote in a letter to Apple customers. “With the launch of our new Maps last week, we fell short on this commitment. We are extremely sorry for the frustration this has caused our customers and we are doing everything we can to make Maps better.”

Cook reiterated Apple’s commitment to improving the software last week in an interview with Bloomberg Businessweek. “We’re putting all of our energy into making it right. And we have already had several software updates. We’ve got a huge plan to make it even better. It will get better and better over time. But it wasn’t a matter that we … decided strategy over customers. We screwed up. That’s the fact.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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