National News: Federal government budget cuts spur childcare crisis nationwide

Federal government

budget cuts spur

childcare crisis



5 Carrie Bradshaw worthy wardrobe tips

This would be more for the ladies of the home.

Need some help organizing your wardrobe? Check out the tips below.

You may read the article here or click on the link below to go the full,30949?pos=0#pagetop

Dreaming of a walk-in wardrobe to rival Carrie Bradshaw’s but don’t have the space or budget? The Home’s senior stylist Marjorie Silva shares her best storage solutions to help make the most of your closet – no matter how (Mr) Big it is.

1. Be creative.

Look at spaces that you would normally ignore – under the bed, underneath long dress spaces in the wardrobe, or on top of cupboards. Look above and below and ensure you’re maximizing all the available space.

Dreaming of a walk-in wardrobe to rival Carrie Bradshaw's but don't have the space or budget? The Home's senior stylist...

2. Hang it up 

Adding hooks to the inside of your cupboard doors for accessories such as scarves, belts or jewellery is a clever storage trick. Line the back of the door with felt to reduce noise.

2. Hang it up 

Adding hooks to the inside of your cupboard doors for accessories such as scarves, belts or...

3. Think about lighting

Adding lights to the inside of your closet not only makes your clothes look great but helps you see what’s in there, stopping you from forgetting items bought seasons past.

3. Think about lighting

Adding lights to the inside of your closet not only makes your clothes look great but...


4. Be ruthless

Clean your unwanted items at the end of each season. If you didn’t wear an item that season, it’s time to reassess; donate, sell or store.

4. Be ruthless

Clean your unwanted items at the end of each season. If you didn’t wear an item that season,...

5.  Colour Code

Categorizing your items by colour can make your current clothing more visually enticing, and as a bonus help stop the urge to shop!

5. Colour code 

Categorizing your items by colour can make your current clothing more visually enticing, and...



After hitting decade lows spending on home renovations is preparing to surge again

After hitting decade

lows spending on home

renovations is preparing

to surge again

How To Prepare Your House For Sale

Contemplating on selling but don’t exactly know what to do?

It may appear as a very daunting task but below are some ideas on how you can prepare your house for sale.

(Or alternatively, you can just let one of our Walsh & Sullivan Residential Sales consultants help you….)

How To Prepare Your House

For Sale


You can read the full article here or click on the link below.

Prepping and staging a house. Every seller wants her home to sell fast and bring top dollar. Does that sound good to you? Well, it’s not luck that makes that happen. It’s careful planning and knowing how to professionally spruce up your home that will send home buyers scurrying for their checkbooks. Here is how to prep a house and turn it into an irresistible and marketable home.
Difficulty: Average
Time Required: Seven to 10 Days

Here’s How:

  1. Disassociate Yourself With Your Home.
    • Say to yourself, “This is not my home; it is a house — a product to be sold much like a box of cereal on the grocery store shelf.
    • Make the mental decision to “let go” of your emotions and focus on the fact that soon this house will no longer be yours.
    • Picture yourself handing over the keys and envelopes containing appliance warranties to the new owners!
    • Say goodbye to every room.
    • Don’t look backwards — look toward the future.


  2. De-Personalize.
    Pack up those personal photographs and family heirlooms. Buyers can’t see past personal artifacts, and you don’t want them to be distracted. You want buyers to imagine their own photos on the walls, and they can’t do that if yours are there! You don’t want to make any buyer ask, “I wonder what kind of people live in this home?” You want buyers to say, “I can see myself living here.” 
  3. De-Clutter!
    People collect an amazing quantity of junk. Consider this: if you haven’t used it in over a year, you probably don’t need it.

    • If you don’t need it, why not donate it or throw it away?
    • Remove all books from bookcases.
    • Pack up those knickknacks.
    • Clean off everything on kitchen counters.
    • Put essential items used daily in a small box that can be stored in a closet when not in use.
    • Think of this process as a head-start on the packing you will eventually need to do anyway.


  4. Rearrange Bedroom Closets and Kitchen Cabinets.
    Buyers love to snoop and will open closet and cabinet doors. Think of the message it sends if items fall out! Now imagine what a buyer believes about you if she sees everything organized. It says you probably take good care of the rest of the house as well. This means:

    • Alphabetize spice jars.
    • Neatly stack dishes.
    • Turn coffee cup handles facing the same way.
    • Hang shirts together, buttoned and facing the same direction.
    • Line up shoes.


  5. Rent a Storage Unit.
    Almost every home shows better with less furniture. Remove pieces of furniture that block or hamper paths and walkways and put them in storage. Since your bookcases are now empty, store them. Remove extra leaves from your dining room table to make the room appear larger. Leave just enough furniture in each room to showcase the room’s purpose and plenty of room to move around. You don’t want buyers scratching their heads and saying, “What is this room used for?” 
  6. Remove/Replace Favorite Items.
    If you want to take window coverings, built-in appliances or fixtures with you, remove them now. If the chandelier in the dining room once belonged to your great grandmother, take it down. If a buyer never sees it, she won’t want it. Once you tell a buyer she can’t have an item, she will covet it, and it could blow your deal. Pack those items and replace them, if necessary. 
  7. Make Minor Repairs.
    • Replace cracked floor or counter tiles.
    • Patch holes in walls.
    • Fix leaky faucets.
    • Fix doors that don’t close properly and kitchen drawers that jam.
    • Consider painting your walls neutral colors, especially if you have grown accustomed to purple or pink walls.
      (Don’t give buyers any reason to remember your home as “the house with the orange bathroom.”)
    • Replace burned-out light bulbs.
    • If you’ve considered replacing a worn bedspread, do so now!


  8. Make the House Sparkle!
    • Wash windows inside and out.
    • Rent a pressure washer and spray down sidewalks and exterior.
    • Clean out cobwebs.
    • Re-caulk tubs, showers and sinks.
    • Polish chrome faucets and mirrors.
    • Clean out the refrigerator.
    • Vacuum daily.
    • Wax floors.
    • Dust furniture, ceiling fan blades and light fixtures.
    • Bleach dingy grout.
    • Replace worn rugs.
    • Hang up fresh towels.
    • Bathroom towels look great fastened with ribbon and bows.
    • Clean and air out any musty smelling areas. Odors are a no-no.


  9. Scrutinize.
    • Go outside and open your front door. Stand there. Do you want to go inside? Does the house welcome you?
    • Linger in the doorway of every single room and imagine how your house will look to a buyer.
    • Examine carefully how furniture is arranged and move pieces around until it makes sense.
    • Make sure window coverings hang level.
    • Tune in to the room’s statement and its emotional pull. Does it have impact and pizzazz?
    • Does it look like nobody lives in this house? You’re almost finished.


  10. Check Curb Appeal.
    If a buyer won’t get out of her agent’s car because she doesn’t like the exterior of your home, you’ll never get her inside.

    • Keep the sidewalks cleared.
    • Mow the lawn.
    • Paint faded window trim.
    • Plant yellow flowers or group flower pots together. Yellow evokes a buying emotion. Marigolds are inexpensive.
    • Trim your bushes.
    • Make sure visitors can clearly read your house number.

Australian dollar higher against weakened greenback

On Friday morning, the dollar was trading at 94.15 US cents.

On Friday morning, the dollar was trading at 94.15 US cents. Source: Supplied

THE Australian dollar is higher against the weakened greenback following more disappointing economic data out of the US.

At 0700 AEST on Friday, the local currency was trading at 94.15 US cents, up from 94.12 cents on Thursday.

Consumer spending, which accounts for more than two-thirds of US economic growth, rose a mere 0.2 per cent in May, official figures showed, while the US Federal Reserve’s preferred measure of inflation remained subdued.

That followed disappointing economic growth figures released earlier in the week.

“The greenback was under pressure throughout the US trading session,” BK Asset Management managing director Kathy Lien said. “Even though St Louis Fed president James Bullard said the markets should be pricing in rate increases based on (Federal Reserve head) Janet Yellen’s recent comments, Treasury yields declined, indicating that investors are not convinced that the central bank is ready to tighten.

“We expect trading ranges in the foreign exchange market to remain intact.”

The Hills’ school holiday guide

Here is a school holiday guide to help you keep your children entertained this school holiday.

Rio at the RSL: Frank Urizar, Event Cinemas Castle Hill’s general manager, said he looked forward to bringing Rio 2-inspired games to Castle Hill RSL. ‘‘With heaps of activities and giveaways to entertain the kids, we hope to see you there [on July 8],’’ he said.

There’s plenty to do in The Hills area these school holidays. Here are some of our picks.

Bella Vista Farm

■ July 9, 10.30am-2pm: Kids Fun Day featuring activities such as creating a farmhouse collage, using bark, leaves and flowers from the farm; decorating tree cones for Christmas in July; old-fashioned games. Cost: $5 a person or $10 a family. Bring a rug and packed lunch. Tea, coffee, water and soft drinks on sale.

Details: Bella Vista Farm, Elizabeth Macarthur Drive, Bella Vista. Bookings: 0408 027 516.

Castle Hill Library

■ July 2, 1.30pm-3pm: Learn the beautiful art of paper folding with Japanese artist Midori Furze. For school years 3-6. Cost: $15 includes materials.

■ July 8, 10.30am-noon: Award-winning children’s illustrator Sarah Davis tells the tongue-twisting, funny tale of Toucan Can; talks about how she made her wonderful illustrations; and then teaches kids to make a Crazy Bird Collage to take home. For kids in years K-2. Cost: $15.

■ July 8, 1pm-3pm: Make an accordian book that tells a story in pictures with children’s illustrator Sarah Davis. For kids in school years 3-6. Cost: $15.

Details: Pennant Street, Castle Hill, 97614510. Bookings essential:

Castle Hill RSL

■ July 8, 11am-1pm: The RSL, in conjunction with Event Cinemas Castle Hill, is hosting a Rio 2 Kids Day to celebrate the release of animated adventure comedy Rio 2 on June 30. Activities include crafts (make a paper plate maraca and a clever mind-reading game) and a Rio 2 colouring-in competition. There will also be prizes and giveaways.

Rio 2 follows Blu, Jewel and their three kids as they venture into the wilds of the Amazon for a family reunion. Out of his element in a land he doesn’t know, Blu must face his most fearsome adversary — his father-in-law — while evading Nigel’s fiendish plans for revenge.

Details: 77 Castle St, Castle Hill,

Castle Towers

■ July 1-5, 11am and 1pm: Follow the yellow brick road over the rainbow to see The Wizard of Oz. Join Scarecrow, Tin Man, Lion and Dorothy at Centre Court (middle level), followed by Wizard of Oz Scarecrow hat making/decorating activity.

■ July 8-12, 11am-2pm: Craft Village at Centre Court.

■ July 8-12, 11am-2pm: Kids can create their own healthy food snacks to take home, outside JB Hi-Fi (lower level).


Cumberland State Forest

■ July 2-September 29, 10.30am: Forest Fairies and Elves, where kids can come dressed as their favourite fairy or elf and join a forester for a mystical forest walk.

■ July 3-September 25, 10.30am: A forest ranger will teach kids about how wood can be used for everyday things. Kids will then make a timber toy without nails. For ages 3-10. Adults must accompany kids under 6.

■ July 4-October 1, 10.30am: A forest ranger will teach kids about the animals that live in our forests. Kids will then make and decorate an animal to take home. For ages 3-10. Adults must accompany kids under 6.

■ July 8-September 30, 10.30am: Kids will learn amazing facts about timber and its many uses in everyday life on a ranger-led walk, then decorate their very own gum tree cookie magnet to use at home. For ages 3-10. Adults must accompany kids under 6.

Details: 95 Castle Hill Road, West Pennant Hills. Bookings: 1300 655 687,

Dural Library

■ July 9, 10.30am-11.30am: Learn how to do finger knitting. Just bring a ball of wool in your favourite colour. For ages 5-8.

Details: Pellitt Lane, Dural. Free but book:

Dural Riding Stables

■ June 30-July 2, July 7-8, 9am-3.30pm: Learn how to brush, groom, saddle, bridle, clean tack. For beginners to advanced riders, 5 years and up. Cost: $110 per day.

Details: 644 Old Northern Road, Dural. Bookings: Ruth, 0412 467 137.

Fagan Park, Galston

■ July 2 and 10, 11am and 1pm: A story, garden-themed treasure hunt and some do-it-yourself fun. For primary school-aged children.

■ July 8, 10am-11.30am: Discover the magic of Carrs Bush on this special bush discovery walk, followed by a craft activity. For ages 5-9 (walk not pram-friendly).

■ July 13, 10am-12.30pm: Kids learn about composting and make a worm farm.

Details: Eco Garden Gazebo, Fagan Park, Arcadia Road, Galston. Free but book: or call 9847 4856.

Fitness First

Fitness First invites youth aged 14-18 to work out free at any of its centres these school holidays, as part of the FFIT Holidays (Fitness First Initiative for Teens) program. Choose from small group training, shockwave, pro cycling, zumba and body balance.

Includes a 45-minute induction on club protocols and how to use the equipment safely. Must be 16-plus to use weights and strength equipment. Membership not required.


Galston Aquatic Centre

■ June 30-July 4 and July 7-11, 8.30am-noon: Intensive five-day swimming program. For ages 2 to adult. Cost: $125 for five days (15-minute private lessons).

Details: Galston Park, 412 Galston Road, Galston. Bookings essential: 9651 2393 or email

Happy Art Studio

■ July 7-8, 9am-noon: Drawing, cartoon, pastels, watercolour and card-making sessions. Cost: $85 (for two days, includes materials).

Details: 67 Glanmire Road, Baulkham Hills. Bookings: Tina, 0412 601 323 or email

Hills Shire Music Festival

■ July 1, 3, 8, 10: Workshops in guitar, keyboards, drums and singing. All materials included. Offered as half day workshop (9am-noon or 1pm-4pm) or full day workshop, 9am-4pm. For ages 5-12.

Details: 26/22 Hudson Ave, Castle Hill, 9899 3177,

Hornsby Council libraries

Hornsby Council library branches, including the Galston branch, are running plenty of school holiday activities, such as stories, songs and crafts. Cost: $2 (kids aged 18 months and over). Kids under seven must be accompanied by an adult.


Hornsby Library

■ July 10, 10.30am-1pm: Free. Celebrate NAIDOC Week 2014 with children’s stories, craft, morning tea and a presentation on the contribution of Aboriginal people to the armed forces.

Details: 28-44 George Street, Hornsby, 9847 6813,

NSW Sport and Recreation

Sport and Recreation school holiday camp packages include all activities, accommodation, meals and 24-hour supervision. Supervised transport is also available to and from most camps.

There are 11 sites across NSW. Many camps are day-only. Others provide the full camp experience including high ropes, canoeing, rock-climbing and sing-alongs around the campfire at night.

Details: June 28-July 11 for ages 7 to 16,, 13 13 02.

Powerhouse Discovery Centre

■ July 1-4, July 8-11: Make a paper bird puppet. 10am-4pm. Suitable for ages 3 and up. Cost: $2 per child.

■ July 1-4, July 8-11: Make a mini constellation viewer out of templates and a cardboard tube to take home. 10am-4pm. For ages 3 and up. Cost: $2 per child.

■ July 2, 10: The charismagic Jonas Jost is back with his bag of magic tricks. All ages. 11am. Free with general admission.

■ July 11: Learn about tornados, clouds and flying objects with the Fizzics Education show. All ages. 11am. Free with general admission.

Details: 172 Showground Road, Castle Hill, 9762 1300,

Riverside Oaks Golf Resort

■ July 7, 8, 8am-12.30pm: Junior golf clinic, includes coaching, games, on-course play, lunch, drinks, a gift. All levels, ages 6-14. Coached by PGA professionals David Scott and Chris Fox. Cost: $69 a clinic or $119 for both.

Details: O’Briens Road, Cattai. Bookings: 4560 3220,


Sport4Kids holiday clinics are offered to kids aged 5-13 in:

■ June 30: multi-sports;

■ July 1, 8: netball, AFL;

■ July 2, 9: Oztag, soccer;

■ July 3, 10: teeball, ultimate frisbee;

■ July 4, 11: athletics (track and field);

■ July 7: multi-sports.

Cost: $50 a session.

Details: Greenway Park, Shepherds Lane, Cherrybrook. Bookings: 0422 808 152,,

Sydney Hills Gymnastics

■ June30-July 4, July 7-11, 14: Gymnastics holiday fun. For ages 5-12. Full day $57 (8.45-3.30pm), half day $37 (8.45am-12.30pm), or any 5 days $260/$160. Siblings: full day $50/half $32, or any 5 days $225/$135. Discounts for club members.

■ June30-July 4, July 7-11, 14, noon-2pm: Tumbling clinic, Ages 8-15. Cost: $30 per child per day, or 5-lesson package $130.

Details: Unit 3, 4 Gladstone Road, Castle Hill. Bookings: 9659 9010,

Sydney Ice Arena

Ice skating, fun activities on the ice, Monday to Friday. Cost: $16 includes entry and hire skates. Group lessons available for $3 extra.

Details: 11 Solent Circuit, Baulkham Hills, 9659 5557,

Vinegar Hill Memorial Library

■ July 7, 2pm-3pm: Celebrate NAIDOC week with Aboriginal Dreaming stories, songs and paint your own wooden boomerang to take home. Ages 6-12. Cost: $5.

Details: Rouse Hill Town Centre, White Hart Drive, Rouse Hill. Bookings:

■ July 9, 10am-1pm: Hills Community Aid, Family Fun Day and Open Day, join us to share in the fun.  Jumping Castle, Fire Engine, arts, crafts and more. Cupcake decorating class: 10am – 11am, $5 a child. Bookings: 9639 8620.


The Rouse Hill Billy Cart Derby is on Sunday, July 20, 10am to 3.30pm at Rouse Hill Town Centre. It will coincide with a family festival.

FULL STORY: Click here to read more.

Entry: $5 a team (pre-register for unlimited races, or it’s $5 a race if the team just shows up).

Details, sponsorship: Kerrie, or 0404 493 488. Visit for more information.