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

8.56am That's it from me this morning. Have a great day and a fun and safe Easter. Enjoy your choccies and hot cross buns.

8.53am TRAFFIC An earlier car breakdown at Heathcote on the Princes Highway has now been cleared and traffic has eased.

8.50am Just letting you all know Morning Rush is taking a mini break this weekend too. It will be back on Tuesday to bring you the latest news and online goss.

8.46am On this day in 1937, Daffy Duck's first appearance, in Porky's Duck Hunt.

In 1961, the Bay of Pigs invasion occured.

And way back in 1397, Geoffrey Chaucer told the Canterbury Tales for the first time at the court of Richard II.

8.43am People, I need your help - what coffee shops are open in Wollongong tomorrow? The Merc staff working Good Friday will need their morning cup!

8.40am The annual Towradgi Beach Hotel Easter Show is on this Sunday between 10am to 6pm. There will be stacks of rides, show bags, food and drinks stalls as well as our regular services of children’s park, massive beer garden and Oscars Grill.

8.36am TV All six episodes of Chris Lilley's keenly anticipated new comedy Jonah From Tonga will be released online before its broadcast on ABC1 next month.

From May 2 to 4, the entire series will be available for streaming via the ABC's online player iView on internet-enabled TVs, tablets, smartphones and gaming consoles. SMH

8.31am LOCAL NEWS Wollongong's history is all around - slightly hidden, a little forgotten, but bubbling under the surface nonetheless. Reporter Josh Butler took a walk with the Wollongong City Centre Heritage Trail, as part of the Heritage Festival.

8.28am Easter is coming and we’re running an Easter Egg Hunt. The promo will run from April 1 to 19. 20 Easter Egg images will run in the paper - some days there may be one, other days there could be several! Once you’ve found the image, post them in or fill out an online entry form. Entrants have the chance to win one of five $200 chocolate hampers.*/

8.24am Cute Easter-themed animal time. I did want to find a pic of a bilby, but these dreaming bunnies were too gorgeous not to share

8.20am Remember to slow down when travelling over the Easter weekend. 

Double demerits apply to anyone exceeding the speed limit or not wearing their seatbelt are in place until midnight Monday.

For all other offences, motorists will receive an extra demerit point on top of the usual amount.

8.16am NATIONAL NEWS A man wanted over the fatal stabbing of his de facto partner in a busy Melbourne street remains at large. The woman, a 33-year-old mother of four, had just left court over a dispute with her partner when she was stabbed to death. She was stabbed multiple times in front of shocked lunchtime shoppers on Wednesday in Sunshine’s busy Hampshire Road shopping district. AAP

8.12am The 1959 Penfold's Grange at the centre of O'Farell's resignation is only rated " fair-to-middling", according to John Rozentals. 

8.08am There's a stack of things on tomorrow night to keep you entertained on the first day of the long weekend.

-  Body Jar + Kohji + Rude Rahlis + Crash Tragic + Lower Coast Skies + Under The Influence are at Waves.

- Lionel Cole is playing at the Blue Diamond Bar, Kiama Sebel from 7pm.

- Sound of Koko with Kachina Lewis is at Howling Wolf Whiskey and Cider Bar in Wollongong from 8pm.

8.03am The SMH is reporting Mike Baird is poised to become the next Premier of NSW after his nearest rival for the job, Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian, decided not to challenge in a leadership ballot.

Liberal MPs will meet at 3pm on Thursday to decide their new leader.

It's 8am. The sun is shining (right now it's 17 degrees), I assume the birds are singing (not that I can hear them inside) and the long weekend is almost here!

7.56am April seventeen

Is Haiku Poetry day

So go write a poem

It's also Bat Appreciation Day, Blah Blah Blah Day and Nothing Like a Dame Day.

7.52am The kids had a great time scoring some early Easter treats at the egg-cellent Kiama Farmers' Market yesterday

7.49am STRANGE BUT TRUE Saturn is having a baby! Well, kind of. A NASA probe captured photographs of a small arc forming on one of the planet's outer rings, which scientists believe is a newborn moon. HUFFINGTON POST

7.45am TRAFFIC ALERT There is a car accident on the Princes Highway at Heathcote, near Blacket Street. One of three northbound lanes is affected. There are moderate traffic conditions and emergency services are on the scene.

7.41am LOCAL NEWS A Mount St Thomas man will appeal a magistrate’s decision to jail him for up to 20 months for a series of crimes he committed while high on prescription medication.

7.37am TV The clothes of Mad Men get talked about constantly, but the hairstyles are just as awesome. Have a flip through this gallery of awesome '60s dos as you reminisce over the past six seasons.

7.32am As the last remains of the once lively Oxford Tavern will soon turn to rubble, the Mercury is calling on readers to submit their memories of the pub. Send your photos and memories to or share them online or through our mobile app.

7.28am Barry O'Farrell appears to be focusing on the positive.

7.24am Don't forget, the Mercury is now in a new office on Market Street in Wollongong. We're on level four on the AHM building, but can still be reached on 4221 2333.

7.20am Barry O'Farrell will miss out on the perks of being a former premier, thanks to changes he made to entitlements during his time in the position.

Under the changes, a former premier needs to have spent at least five years in the job to qualify for perks including free travel, a driver and an office. Mr O'Farrell is two years off meeting the threshold.

He reduced the combined lifelong entitlements of the three long-serving former premiers $500,000 from $1.6 million to $1.1 million in 2012-13. SMH

7.16am Looking for a way to kick off your long weekend? The superheroes and villains party is on at the UOW UniBar tonight, so don your best cape and mask and head out to show off your superpowers.

7.14am Spiderman is a bit whiny in his latest incarnation, according to this review. I love Emma Stone, who plays Gwen Stacy, but I don't get why there is already a reboot of the Spidey franchise when the last lot of movies didn't come out all that long ago.

Anyway, take a look at the trailer and decide whether it's worth a watch.

7.07am I never thought I'd associate the words "cute" and "snail" together

7.03am LOCAL NEWS An airport at Badgerys Creek will boost the case for the Maldon-Dombarton rail link, according to Urban Development Institute of Australia chief executive Stephen Albin.

7am We're powering through the morning - the last day at work for most of you before a cruisy four-day weekend. Lucky ducks!

6.57am Are your little munchkins getting cabin fever already? Keep them entertained this Easter weekend with the Illawarra’s Easter Funday at the Pavilion, Kiama from 10am to 4pm on Good Friday or celebrations at the Wollongong Crown Street Mall between 11am and 2pm on Saturday.

6.54am Has sport become dull? Peter FitzSimons thinks so. 

6.51am TIARA ALERT So the Royals are in town, an naturally the most important thing is what the Duchess is wearing. I loved her citrus yellow dress as she rocked up at the Opera House yesterday. Here are some predictions of what she might wear for the next nine days in Oz.

6.46am WORLD NEWS Nearly 300 people, most of them students, remained unaccounted for as coast guard and navy divers continued to search a ferry that sank off the southwestern tip of South Korea.

By mid-evening on Wednesday, four people were confirmed dead, including a high school student and a member of the ferry's crew.

6.42am TECH NEWS Google this week updated its Gmail terms of service to spell out the company read what their users wrote.

"Our automated systems analyse your content (including emails) to provide you personally relevant product features, such as customised search results, tailored advertising, and spam and malware detection. This analysis occurs as the content is sent, received, and when it is stored," it said.

Be careful what you write! SMH

6.38am The Merc is launching a new page on April 15 called Kid’s Corner. Send in pics of your little cherubs & we’ll print them - email for more info.

6.34am SPORT NEWS Gerroa's Sally Fitzgibbons starred in the late show at the Bells Beach world tour event opening round, producing a big score in the final seconds to win her heat.

Fitzgibbons, who won successive titles at Bells in 2011-12, scored 5.77 with the final wave.

She tweeted this pic before hitting the water yesterday.

The second round of the women's competition is likely to take place on Thursday

6.30am Let's take a moment to say happy b-day to all the April 17 babies. They share the day with glamazons Victoria Beckham and Jennifer Garner, as well as former Warden of the North and walking spoiler Sean Bean (I mean, really, the second he walks on screen you know things aren't going to end well for his character).

6.26am Twitter predictably went nuts yesterday following Barry O'Farrell's resignation. The hashtag #grangegate was overflowing with wine-related puns, most of which were really awesome. It seems in poor form to share them here, but check out the hashtag for a morning giggle.

6.22am CELEB GOSS AC/DC is not splitting up, according to lead singer Brian Johnson. Rumours the band was about to announced their retirement have dogged the group all week, but Johnson told London's The Telegraph they would record in Vancouver in May. He did however confirm one band member was seriously ill. SMH

6.18am SPORT NEWS Melbourne chief executive Mark Evans has told St George Illawarra officials to "get over it", claiming dubious calls such as the full-time siren debacle will always be part of the game. Harsh words.

6.14am After a breakdown of what exactly happened with Barry O'Farrell yesterday? The SMH has an explanation here.

6.11am Today's national news, courtesy of the SMH

*The barrister leading the Independent Commission Against Corruption inquiry has raised questions about whether the information leading to Premier Barry O’Farrell’s resignation was strategically leaked to the media to bring him down.

*Liberal MPs will meet at 3pm on Thursday to elect a replacement for Barry O'Farrell as leader following his dramatic resignation as NSW Premier. Likely contenders areTreasurer Mike Baird and transport minister Gladys Berejiklian.

*Respected coalminers and fathers Jamie Mitchell, 49, and Phillip Grant, 35, are believed to have been killed instantly when a 15-metre wall of coal erupted and fell onto them as they worked on preparing a new longwall at the Yancoal-owned Austar mine on Tuesday night.

*Thousands packed into the Sydney Opera House to see the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge during the first event of their Australian tour on Wednesday.

6.07am Here's a look at today's Mercury headlines

*Barry O'Farrell swept to power on a promise of cleaning up NSW politics only to be brought down by his own hand and a $3000 bottle of wine.

Kiama MP Gareth Ward, Heathcoate MP Lee Evans, Wollongong MP and Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbery have taken the resignation resignation at face value, saying it was an act of integrity to step down after he was caught out misleading a corruption inquiry over a $3000 bottle of red wine.

But not all Illawarra commentators were willing to forgive his "significant memory fail", including Keira MP Ryan Park and South Coast Labour Council secretary Arthur Rorris.

University of Wollongong politics lecturer Anthony Ashbolt and anti-corruption campaigner John Hatton have said O'Farrell's resignation was not an "act of integrity" as it came only after the evidence showed he had no other choice.

*A seminar organised by a group opposed to Hume Coal's proposed Sutton Forest mine was presented a peer reviewed report, which suggested the groundwater level in the area of the mine could fall by up to 120 metres if the project went ahead.

6.02am Let’s take a look at the roads and the skies

WEATHER Finally, a mostly sunny day for the Illawarra. A few light southerly winds this afternoon and max temps between 19 and 23 degrees. Much better. Although it does feel quite fresh out there this morning.

TRAFFIC No accidents or delays to report around the Illawarra this morning. Keep an eye out for roadworks at Gerringong and the top of Mount Ousley

TRAINS There is good service on the South Coast line.

6am Happy Thursday! Welcome to today's edition of Morning Rush.


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