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TOPICS: Flowers to be nipped in the bud

COLOURFUL WELCOME: Blooming salvias are to be removed from their spot in front of the Morisset sign.HERE at Topics, we reckon Lake Macquarie City Council is facing a bit of a dilemma.

The Welcome to Morisset sign, you see, will soon vanish behind a row of flowers.

What’s a council to do? Remove the pretty plants or send a message that people are not so welcome in Morisset, after all.

We asked the council if it could shed any light on this vexing problem.

As it turns out, nipping it in the bud won’t be as difficult as we thought.

‘‘They are pretty flowers, yes – salvias, actually,’’ a council statement said.

‘‘They’re annuals, so they’ll be removed this week.’’

Topics isn’t the only one to have noticed quite a bit of overgrown vegetation on public land in Lake Macquarie territory lately.

What’s the situation there, we wondered.

‘‘A quick lesson in vegetation: It’s been perfect growing conditions lately, the ideal mix of warmth and water,’’ the council said.

There you have it.

DARK PAST: A water rat, above, is Australia’s largest rodent. They were hunted, below, after bubonic plague struck Sydney in 1900.

ANYONE remember Ratty from The Wind in the Willows?

Coal Point Progress Association’s latest newsletter said old Ratty came to mind when Landcare volunteers found three dead native water rats, while working at Carey Bay Wetland.

These elusive, semi-aquatic creatures with partially webbed feet and prominent whiskers are Australia’s largest rodent.

The newsletter noted it was ‘‘lucky we have any left’’.

‘‘During the 1930s Depression, they were hunted for their water-repellent fur when a ban was placed on imported fur.’’

DARK PAST: Water rats were hunted after bubonic plague struck Sydney in 1900.

When the bubonic plague hit the shores of Sydney in 1900, a bounty was put on rats.

A State Library of NSW picture shows professional rat catchers with the results of their handiwork.

Native water rats suffered in the killing spree, even though the black rats were the disease carriers.

Native rats are apparently good guys – just like Ratty.

NEWCASTLE Herald reporter extraordinaire Matthew Kelly reached a global audience on Friday.

Kelly gave an interview to a BBC reporter about Rio Tinto’s Mt Thorley-Warkworth open-cut mine extension plan.

This was not Kelly’s first brush with fame. Julian Lennon tweeted a link to his story last year on a disease threatening Port Stephens’ oyster crops.

Asked how the two experiences compared, Kelly said: ‘‘Son of a Beatle v three minutes of fame on the BBC World Service – it just makes you realise that we’re all tiny particles in the universe.’’ That we are old pal, that we are.

NEWCASTLE Jets fans must have been outraged at the recent F3 derby when they were denied the chance to holler and hoot at the man they most love to hate: Central Coast Mariners stalwart John Hutchinson.

It was to be Hutchinson’s last derby but in a cruel blow, he was left on the bench.

Hutchinson got his revenge on Friday when Phil Moss, the coach who benched him, was sacked.

The club confirmed Hutchinson will remain with the Mariners in a coaching capacity next season. This should be good for Newcastle. Totally reliable statistics show that whenever Hutchinson attends Jets games, Newcastle residents are on their best behaviour.

ANYONE attending Cessnock City Council lately might be forgiven for being slightly overawed by the size of the council’s business paper. The February 18 report was 589pages long. Yikes!

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