UP and AT IT: October 7, 2014

Your daily fix of overnight news from across the region.

9AM: And that's it for today, tune in tomorrow for the latest news from across the region.

8.50am: Australian special forces have been cleared to start work on the ground in Iraq, helping local forces as they face the grinding task of driving Islamic State fighters out of their stronghold towns and cities.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott is expected to announce on Tuesday that the final legal hurdles with the Iraqi government have been cleared, meaning the Australian commandos can begin their ''advise and assist'' work with the Iraqis. Read more here.

8.40am: School goes back today, but here is a gallery of photos of what Gunnedah kids got up to over the holidays. 

8.35am: Inverell East Rotarians are dusting their hands after collecting about $8000 from the club’s annual book sale on the weekend.

8.30am: THE man who epitomises Tamworth's homeless crisis slept in a bed for the first time in months last night thanks to the generosity of a complete stranger.

Dennis, whose inability to find work left him living out of his car on a Tamworth roadside, gratefully accepted an offer of ongoing accommodation yesterday afternoon.

The plight of the 53-year-old and his beloved dog featured on The Leader's front page on Saturday and captured the hearts of countless residents. Read more here.

HOME SWEET HOME: Dennis and his dog Rocky settle into their new accommodation after months living in a car. Photo: Barry Smith 061014BSD04

HOME SWEET HOME: Dennis and his dog Rocky settle into their new accommodation after months living in a car. Photo: Barry Smith 061014BSD04

8.20am: A fire which destroyed Don McDonagh's Barber Street home will not mean the end of the line for his iconic model train set.

The fire, which gutted the Gunnedah property on August 26, damaged the wiring of the tracks and burnt several train carriages.

Mr McDonagh said the damage did not have to mean it was the end for the landmark train set. Read more here.

Harry Ryman plays with Don McDonagh's train set last year. Photo: Peter Lorimer.

Harry Ryman plays with Don McDonagh's train set last year. Photo: Peter Lorimer.

8.10am: JAMES Psarakis is about to turn 18.

He’s also about to  lead South Tamworth in its quest for a Wombramurra Cup when the Tamworth District Cricket Association season kicks off this weekend.

The 17 year-old schoolboy has been named as the South Tamworth first grade skipper for the new season and the NSW Under 19 squad member is ready for the challenge. Read more here.

James Psarakis hitting out for Warriros Rainbows in their grand final loss to the Warrior Blues. Photo: Gareth Gardner 130914GGE10

James Psarakis hitting out for Warriros Rainbows in their grand final loss to the Warrior Blues. Photo: Gareth Gardner 130914GGE10

8AM: It's big. It's red. And it's coming to a night sky near you.

Tomorrow night Australians will get the chance to witness a total lunar eclipse that will turn the full moon a deep red colour for an hour.

Astronomer Alan Duffy of Melbourne's Swinburne University of Technology said a lunar eclipse occurs when the earth gets between the sun and the moon, casting a shadow across the moon that causes it to turn a blood-red colour.

Dr Duffy said this eclipse will be much more spectacular than one that was visible in Australia in April.

"This one will be the real McCoy," he said.

WHEN TO WATCH: NSW/ACT: Eclipse begins 8.15pm, total eclipse 9.25pm-10.25pm, eclipse ends 11.35pm.

7.50am: A TAMWORTH family has employed some neat tricks to slash hundreds of dollars off their water bills.

Simon and Alison Fearby are reaping the financial rewards of cutting their water consumption in recent months.

Find out how they did it here.

EVERY DROP COUNTS: Tamworth resident Simon Fearby teaches his four-year-old son, Gabriel, about the importance of conserving water. Photo: Geoff O Neill 061014GOC01

EVERY DROP COUNTS: Tamworth resident Simon Fearby teaches his four-year-old son, Gabriel, about the importance of conserving water. Photo: Geoff O Neill 061014GOC01

7.40am: Tamworth Weather is optimistic with "three drops of rain on the way".

7.30am: Check out the photos as the Wandering Warriors conducted a 'friendly invasion' of Uralla at the weekend in their quest to raise funds.

7.20am: Moree’s Keanen Duncan is chasing his dream with success after winning a contract with the Cronulla Sharks recently. Read more here.

7.10am:  THE New England North West has delivered bags of support to the women and school students of Vanuatu.

Bras don’t normally feature heavily on people’s packing lists when heading on a tropical holiday, but for a group of eight from Tamworth, they were the main item of clothing in their suitcases.

Nearly 700 bras were stuffed in among the usual holiday clothing of six adults and two children and delivered to the Port Vila Red Cross last month for the Uplift Project. Read more here.

BAGS OF SUPPORT: Vanuatu Red Cross acting chief Augustin Gara with Rebecca Belt and bags of 680 bras at the charity s headquarters in Port Vila. Photo: Ruth Caskey

BAGS OF SUPPORT: Vanuatu Red Cross acting chief Augustin Gara with Rebecca Belt and bags of 680 bras at the charity s headquarters in Port Vila. Photo: Ruth Caskey

7AM: Your weather:

North West Slopes and Plains: Patchy rain in the south early this morning. Mostly sunny afternoon. Winds northerly 15 to 25 km/h tending northwesterly 25 to 35 km/h in the morning then shifting south to southwesterly 20 to 30 km/h during the afternoon and evening. Daytime maximum temperatures 29 to 35.

Northern Tablelands: Sunny morning. Isolated showers and the chance of thunderstorms in the south during this afternoon. Winds north to northwesterly 25 to 35 km/h tending west to northwesterly 25 to 40 km/h in the morning then tending northwest to southwesterly 15 to 25 km/h in the evening. Daytime maximum temperatures 23 to 32.

Story of the day

Actor Ben Affleck has made headlines today after getting into a heated exchange with a television host about criticizing Islam. 

Front pages

See Fairfax's front pages from around Australia here.

Regional news

Marcus Volke

Marcus Volke

BALLARAT - Marcus Volke had an intense gaze that went straight through you. That’s how one schoolmate described the former Ballarat man who is believed to be responsible for the murder and dismemberment of his Indonesian girlfriend at a Brisbane apartment. READ MORE HERE

TAMWORTH - A paraglider has died after a crash 40km from Tamworth. READ MORE HERE

WAGGA - Sydney band urinate on Wagga pub. READ MORE HERE

MANDURAH - Driver critical after freeway rollover. READ MORE HERE

ALBURY - High speed drag race appalls police. READ MORE HERE

SOUTH COAST - The Westpac Lifesaver Rescue Helicopter is searching an area around Jervis Bay for a possible missing person. READ MORE HERE

MILDURA - Man caught with fake ID trying to buy airline ticket. READ MORE HERE

NEWCASTLE - The jury that convicted Kathleen Folbigg of killing her four children was ‘‘almost certainly misled’’ about the rarity of multiple sudden infant death syndrome cases in families, a submission seeking a judicial review of her case will say. READ MORE HERE

MT ISA - Karumba has become Australia’s top fund-raiser for Cancer Council’s Biggest Morning Tea, taking the national trophy for raising more than $42,000. READ MORE HERE

National news

Firefighters battle a blaze in the Blue Mountains in September, 2013, a month of "unprecedented" high temperatures. Photo: Nick Moir

Firefighters battle a blaze in the Blue Mountains in September, 2013, a month of "unprecedented" high temperatures. Photo: Nick Moir

  • Governments, industry and the education sector should be "alarmed" by the growing numbers of students abandoning science and mathematics in their final years of high school, say the authors of a landmark report that found a continuing decline in the proportion of year 12 science and maths students over the past two decades. READ MORE HERE
  • Environment Minister Greg Hunt was given a thorough briefing about the effects of climate change on Australia's weather patterns three weeks before he told a BBC radio interview he had sourced information on bushfires and global warming from Wikipedia. READ MORE HERE
  • Defence Minister David Johnston says the government does not know how much Australia's military mission in Iraq will cost the budget bottom line, but the matter will be addressed in December's mid-year economic update. READ MORE HERE
  • Australian special forces have been cleared to start work on the ground in Iraq, helping local forces as they face the grinding task of driving Islamic State fighters out of their stronghold towns and cities. READ MORE HERE

Daily poll

National weather

International news

  • This is the man who turned away from Islamic State. Now he's fearful that instead of recruiting him, they wish to kill him. READ MORE HERE
  • As dawn broke and the Hong Kong government's ultimatum to pro-democracy demonstrators to vacate the streets passed, protesters said they had no intention of vacating the encampments that have paralysed major streets in the city centre until their demands are met.  READ MORE HERE
  • On a bright autumn Sunday in the heart of a city built around monuments to war, Barack Obama dedicated yet another - a memorial to America's disabled veterans. READ MORE HERE

Faces of Australia

Brian Condon, right, and Ron Johns have been major figures in Rotary.

Brian Condon, right, and Ron Johns have been major figures in Rotary.

Today's Faces of Australia features two men from South Australia who have made a big difference to the fight against polio worldwide.

LITTLE did 12-year-old Brian Condon know that the boy he was carrying on the handlebars of his bicycle would change his life forever.

It was about 1938 and Brian was giving a dinky ride to Georgie Shearer, 10, who would be dead two days later from polio.

Today, Brian has built a legacy based on his own experiences with the death of both Georgie and a woman relative from the disease.

Fellow Rotarian Ron Johns recalls during the epidemic that his mother, upon receiving a letter in the mail, would heat the envelope in the oven for fear of polio contamination.

READ MORE HERE.

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