MORNING RUSH: news, sport, weather, traffic and online goss

9.20am That's it from us this morning. Thanks so much for stopping by. We'll be back tomorrow from 6am - hope to see you then. 

9.10am Triple J's photo gallery for the St Jerome's Laneway Festival includes a dedicated beards section. It's surprisingly small but there's some good 'uns.- http://ab.co/1bl59cA

9.05am "It's obviously been a long and painful situation for the family, and I hope they find some resolution and peace." Cate Blanchett responds to Woody Allen abuse letter by adopted daughter Dylan Farrow -  http://ab.co/1ilsGvP

9.01am Good morning, newcomers, and happy Monday. 

WEATHER It's going to be another sunny day with a top of 25 degrees. Already it’s 22 in Bellambi and 23 in Albion Park and Kiama. Cloud clearing. Winds north to northeasterly, 15 to 20 km/h, increasing to 30 to 35 km/h in the middle of the day, then easing to 20 to 25 km/h.

TRAFFIC Roads look pretty good. At Mascot, a breakdown on Southern Cross Drive approaching Botany Road has closed one of four southbound lanes.

TRAINS There is a good service on the South Coast line.

8.59am TV chef Heston Blumenthal has shut his gourmet London restaurant after it was hit by an outbreak of the same vomiting virus which forced him to close the Fat Duck five years ago, reports goodfood.com.au."Blumenthal said that he aimed to amaze guests with 'taste sensations beyond their imagination' rather than exposing them to a 'really nasty couple of days of heaving'." 

8.50am 

8.44am UOW is taking registrations for its annual Discover the Gong tours. The tours are a chance for new students to meet people and get to know the area. One of the tours is the 'Tasty Tour", dedicated to finding all the good food spots. Sounds delicious.

8.40am Open mic nights are now a regular thing at Red Square, Wollongong, on Wednesdays. 

8.32am Here's Bulli tidal pool, beautifully shot by Benji Reef Photography. Sigh. 

8.27am Wollongong twins starting school:http://bit.ly/1aTKK0p

8.16am A statement from Phillip Seymour Hoffman's family: "We are devastated by the loss of our beloved Phil and appreciate the outpouring of love and support we have received from everyone. This is a tragic and sudden loss and we ask that you respect our privacy during this time of grieving. Please keep Phil in your thoughts and prayers.” Hoffman is survived by partner Mimi O'Donnell and their three children, son Cooper Alexander, 10, and daughters Tallulah, 7, and Willa, 5.

8.13am Josh also has the latest in our series on Illawarra rock pools - Saltwater Sanctuaries. Bulli tidal pool was our most recent subject: http://bit.ly/Mpht1Y

8.09am Have you been following Josh Butler's new music column in the Merc? It's a good one for anyone interested in the local music scene. Runs Fridays - here's the latest: http://bit.ly/1lvhGRm

8.am WEATHER It's going to be another sunny day with a top of 25 degrees. Already it’s 21 in Bellambi and Albion Park and 22 in Kiama. Cloud clearing. Winds north to northeasterly, 15 to 20 km/h, increasing to 30 to 35 km/h in the middle of the day, then easing to 20 to 25 km/h.

TRAFFIC Roads look pretty good. At Mascot, a breakdown on Southern Cross Drive approaching Botany Road has closed one of four southbound lanes.

TRAINS There is a good service on the South Coast line.

7.56am A record score from the Melbourne twins on My Kitchen Rules last night. Annabel Ross has the recap: http://bit.ly/1agbtUm

7.47am Daisy the Kiama cow to be replaced with a fibreglass version of herself? http://bit.ly/1k0XaGz

7.42am More tributes for Phillip Seymour Hoffman, including from Kiama actress Claire Bowen

7.38am Meet the East Corrimal indigenous beauty poised to shake up the fashion establishment - http://bit.ly/1illnV1

7.29am Did you have a good Veganuary? British medico Dr Max Pemberton writes here on why no one needs to detox: http://bit.ly/1bRY5kp

7.20am A long but absorbing read from SMH's Good Weekend Magazine on the many charms of $300-an-hour male escorts

7.12am No room at the limb for Matt Cooper. "Sleeve is all done Thanks tattoosbyfranck universalink Need some ideas for the other arm."

7.05am After almost two weeks of investigation, authorities still haven't found the source of the sewage leak in Wollongong Harbour. Leak is small but smelly. Also possibly a ninja. We're waiting on water quality tests, which will be made publicly available Thursday. Report: http://bit.ly/1bRSCKm

7.01am Good morning and welcome, if you're just joining us. 

WEATHER It's going to be another sunny day with a top of 25 degrees. Already it’s 20 in Bellambi, Kiama and Albion Park. Cloud clearing. Winds north to northeasterly, 15 to 20 km/h, increasing to 30 to 35 km/h in the middle of the day, then easing to 20 to 25 km/h.

TRAFFIC Everything looks clear on the region's roads and for the drive to Sydney or south.

TRAINS There is a good service on the South Coast line.

6.58am ‘‘Our focus was there but when we came out we didn’t match their intensity and their effort and hunger,’’ Hawks captain Oscar Forman, on the team's loss to Townsville on Friday night. That's four straight losses for the Hawks. Five of their next six games are at home - let's all get along and cheer them to a win! Report: http://bit.ly/1fOAMLa

6.50am It's NFL Super Bowl time, and apparently there are people - right here in Wollongong - who not only UNDERSTAND the game, but will be paying attention and cheering and the like!?! Kick-off is at 10.30am. 

6.43am Harry Potter bombshell: JK Rowling says she got it wrong and Hermione should have ended up with Harry. Poor Ron. And what a crap day for redheads everywhere.

6.33am Australian Winter Olympic gold medal prospect Torah Bright will pull out of February's Games in Sochi if Russia's apparent terrorism problems worsen, reports the ABC. No sign of a boycott-in-planning on the snowboard star's Twitter page though - she posted this two hours ago: "First day in Athlete village. Hanging out with @scottyjames31 in the Olympic Rings! First day of training tomorrow on the slope style!".

6.29am Who's seen the new refurb at Keira Street fine dining haunt Caveau? Very fancy. Perhaps it's been too long since your last kingfish carpaccio with smoked eel brandade?

6.25am Investigators found a syringe in Hoffman's arm and an envelope containing what is believed to be heroin, reports the New York Times

6.19am Tribute messages for Hoffman have been pouring in online.

6.14am Shocking news this morning from New York, where Oscar-winning actor Philip Seymour Hoffman has been found dead at 46

6.05am ... and further afield, here's what's making news: 

* A majority of people believe the Labor Party should distance itself from the union movement, according to an SMH poll. 

* Also reported in the SMH, the Ambulance Service of NSW says an assault on a female paramedic on Sunday is part of a growing trend in which there was a 50 per cent rise in assaults on paramedics last year.

* The NRL integrity unit will consider confiscating the mobile phones of players on game day as part of a crackdown on betting security on matches this season, reports the Tele.

* And from the Australian: Mark Scott has hit back at accusations ABC journalists have failed to practice editorial rigour in the wake of recent asylum-seeker claims and maintains he has ‘‘strong support’’ from the ABC.

6.04am Let’s see what’s making news

 in the Merc today:

* The fixed speed camera on the Princes Highway at Bulli raked $153k in the last six months of last year - more than its average annual performance over the previous three years. Glen Humphries has the story here: http://bit.ly/1j31p4n

* A fire forced the temporary closure of a Warrawong trampoline park just one week after its grand opening - http://bit.ly/1bRFyoi

* The Opal smart card system will be available on Illawarra trains by the end of the year - http://bit.ly/1bhZSPT

* A man competing in the Huntley Hillclimb was airlifted to hospital after crashing into a guard rail on Sunday - http://bit.ly/1kz95ZO

6.02 First things first, here’s what’s going on outside: 

WEATHER It's going to be another sunny day with a top of 25 degrees. Already it’s 20 in Bellambi, Kiama and Albion Park. Cloud clearing. Winds north to northeasterly, 15 to 20 km/h, increasing to 30 to 35 km/h in the middle of the day, then easing to 20 to 25 km/h.

TRAFFIC Everything looks clear on the region's roads and for the drive to Sydney or south.

TRAINS There is a good service on the South Coast line.

6am - Good morning and welcome to a brand new week. A special hello to all the new kindy kids starting "big school" today - it's the start of a great adventure. 

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