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

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8.30am That's it from us this morning. Have a wonderful Tuesday. Catch ya tomorrow.

8.26am NSW: Shannen Riggien, 17, from Kurri Kurri in the NSW Hunter region, died in John Hunter Hospital yesterday morning after suffering severe head injuries when she fell from the back of a moving vehicle at East Maitland after a teenage movie night.

8.24am A little Tuesday cat funny for you :)

8.20am Just to add to the pain, motorists are also experiencing significant delays northbound on the Princes Highway at Blakehurst due to a two car accident on Tom Uglys Bridge. Two of three lanes are closed.

8.18am TRAFFIC ALERT - Mt Ousley: we're hearing reports of a car v truck accident on Mt Ousley near the Cataract turn-off. Southbound traffic is banked up. Take extra travel time!

8.16am Don't forget Our Neighbourhood is on at Wollongong Workshop Theatre this weekend.

8.14am Did you know Sofia Vergara starred in two failed ABC series before Modern Family?! There you go...

8.12am Apologies for that slight delay, I'm back now...

8am STRANGE BUT TRUE: A five-year-old British boy has been handed an invoice for a "Child's Party No Show Fee" and threatened with court action after missing his schoolmate's birthday party to spend the day with his grandparents.

7.58am Good morning! Welcome if you're just tuning in. We're in for a cloudy day with a top of 22 degrees. There is an 80 per cent chance of showers, becoming less likely in the afternoon. All good on the roads & rail.

7.56am The team at Three Chimneys has been baking. How good do these loaves look!?


7.54am Are you taking part in the annual Australia Day equation at Wollongong Harbour? The weather is looking a little wet for the day but that shouldn't stop die-hard competitors. Good luck y'all!

7.52am LOCAL NEWS: Roads and Maritime Services has given approval for a company to use trucks longer than B-doubles along Appin Road.

*Reporter Glen Humphries has the story.

7.50am CELEB GOSS ALERT: Christina Aguilera has released the first photo of her little girl Summer Rain. And oh man, is she cute!?

7.48am In some other health news this morning, more patients will pay to see an optometrist as a result of a cut to Medicare rebates that took effect at the start of the year, optometrists say. Why? Find out here.

7.46am WORLD NEWS:  Descendants of the soldiers who fought in the Gallipoli Campaign in 1915 have been invited to a special commemorative Anzac Day ceremony at the Cenotaph in London.

7.44am Tiger Woods has had his front tooth knocked out by a camera. I kid you not. Here's the evidence - ouch!

7.42am HEALTH: More elderly or unwell people could be allowed access to "high risk" organs that would not be considered suitable for other people under draft organ donation guidelines released for public consultation.

7.40am In honour of Martin Luther King Day, words from the great man himself.

7.38am Bellambi rock pool will be closed today for cleaning. Keen swimmers can still visit nearby Towradgi or Bulli rock pools.

7.36am Have you been snapped out & about in the Illawarra? Check out our gallery of social pics - you never know who you might spot!

7.34am STRANGE BUT TRUE: This is just nuts - Malaysian girls have been threatened with jail time for hugging K-pop stars. Seriously.

7.32am So anyone who knows me knows I LOVE bad baby names. These are so bad they've been banned in Aus. Think Mr, Lucifer, Christ & /. Yep, /.

7.30am Anybody been to see any of the Oscar-nominated films yet? I've seen The Grand Budapest Hotel but that's it. Hopeless!

7.28am NATIONAL: The Abbott govt is facing fresh calls to delay the introduction of its higher-education reforms, with a vice-chancellor supporting limits on the amount universities can charge for a degree. Read more.

7.26am Liz Hurley just posted this picture of her cheeky cat Mr Mew on Instagram. Naughty boy!


7.24am SPORT: In some other tennis news this morning, Aussie Thanasi Kokkinakis won in five sets last night. The kid looks about 16 but man alive, he can serve!

7.22am LOCAL NEWS: More than 70 community members gathered for the 50th anniversary of Wollongong Meals On Wheels on Monday.

*Reporter Nicole Johnstone has the story.

7.20am Want to wake up with a bear looking at you? How about taking a bath to the soothing sounds of a lion? Well, now you can - at the Jamala Wildlife Lodge in Canberra, the lion LITERALLY sleeps tonight. Freaky.

7.18am A little Tuesday funny for you...


7.16am NATIONAL: Australian troops in Iraq have been dealing with roadside bombs, significantly raising the risk they face. A Fairfax Media analysis shows they are shouldering a heavier burden in the fight against the Islamic State than other comparable countries. Read more.

7.14am LOCAL SPORT: Dragons lock Trent Merrin is looking forward to a reunion with Wayne Bennett after being named in the NRL All-Stars squad.

7.12am In the BEST story this morning, Dame Judi Dench has admitted to getting a tattoo on her butt. At age 80. She ROCKS IT!

7.10am MOVIE NEWS: On the backs of Geoffrey Rush, Cate Blanchett and Nicole Kidman, Australian actors are the third most successful nation of Oscar winners after American and British actors. NB except for this year when we scored like two nominations.

7.08am SYDNEY: Hopes are high that after the slump in local business following the lockout laws, a burlesque-led revival could put the sexy – and the cash – back into Sydney's iconic nightlife centre, Kings Cross. Read more. 

7.06am STRANGE BUT TRUE: I bring you "Behind the Ovens", a look at weird requests from restaurant customers. How about a couple wanting to know if they could pay to eat their own food at a restaurant!? WHA?!

7.04am Curiouser and curiouser - a homeless woman has come forward with her version of events over golfer Robert Allenby's extraordinary story of being kidnapped, bashed and robbed in Hawaii.

7.02am LOCAL NEWS: Illawarra parents are digging deeper to educate their children. Many NSW parents will spend up to $1 million on their children’s kindergarten to year 12 education, according to the Australian Scholarships Group (ASG) Planning for Education Index.

*Reporter Andrew Pearson has the story.

7am CELEB GOSS ALERT: Aussie actors Daniel McPherson & Zoe Ventoura have announced their engagement. Aww.

6.58am Good morning! Welcome if you're just tuning in. We're in for a cloudy day with a top of 22 degrees. There is an 80 per cent chance of showers, becoming less likely in the afternoon. All good on the roads & rail.

6.56am How good do these look?! Chocolate kahlua cupcakes. Yum.

6.54am WORLD NEWS: Muslim groups have accused the British government of copying the language of the far right and of stoking Islamophobia after ministers wrote to imams asking them to explain to Muslims how Islam is compatible with being British.

6.52am Beauty is pain. No, really. A new study suggests wearing heels could lead to osteoarthritis in the knees. Ouch! #switchtoflats

6.50am Amen to this. Don't hate on Taylor.

6.48am Has anyone been to the dive-in movies at Jamberoo Action Park? Looks great - grab a lilo and float along while watching a movie.

6.46am NATIONAL: An intense heat trough over the country's north-west may bring Australia's first observation of 50-degree temperatures in 17 years, forecasters say. Read more.

6.44am MOVIE NEWS: People, I have some bad news. Grease is being remade. Yep, a TV movie is set to be made, based on the classic film. That's right, classic. As in, DON'T MESS WITH IT!

6.42am Looking for some inspiration in the kitchen this week? Check out this weekly meal planner for some top ideas. Good one!

6.40am LOCAL NEWS: For most young people Facebook is a procrastination trap, but for former University of Wollongong student Sam Dunster it led to the graduate job of a lifetime.

*Reporter Brianna Parkins has the story.

6.38am CELEB GOSS ALERT: This is fantastic - actress Betty White celebrated her 93rd birthday over the weekend with a flash mob. Love it.

6.36am Have you made your Australia Day plans yet? It's on Monday!

6.34am TV NEWS: The survivors of the Sydney siege have reportedly been paid big $$$ to share their stories. News Corp is reporting that survivor Marcia Mikhael has been signed by Channel Seven for $400,000, while John O'Brien will get $100,000. Meanwhile, rival Nine is rumoured to have signed four Lindt cafe workers for a combined $1 million.

6.32am TIARA ALERT: A pregnant Kate Middleton has revealed she can now feel her baby kicking. Awww. I'm calling it now - I think girl, I predict girl.

6.30am LOCAL SPORT: Former Hawks player Dave Gruber has opened up about his controversial axing in October, claiming he has no hard feelings toward the club. Reporter Tim Keeble spoke to him yesterday.

6.28am SYDNEY: A man has been charged with groping a teenage girl at Wet 'n' Wild on the weekend. Read more.

6.26am Check out Josie, the golden retriever, watching dog videos. She's so happy! Ah dogs, so easy to please.

6.24am Little Shop of Horrors is on at the IPAC tonight. Grab yourself some tickets, it's getting great reviews.

6.22am WORLD NEWS: A man Indonesian police have been hunting for months over the Bali murder of an Australian businessman has been arrested. Six people already face charges carrying the death penalty for taking part in the murder of Robert Ellis, 60, in October, including his wife.

6.20am Here on the Morning Rush, we love a good beauty trend but even this one seems a little out of our range. Ladies, would like your man to sport a rainbow beard? I kid you not.

6.18am LOCAL NEWS: The new Illawarra Pelvic Pain Network is set to assist women with chronic pelvic pain.

*Health reporter Lisa Wachsmuth has the story.

6.16am SPORT: They'll be some bleary-eyed people around the office today - Nick Kyrgios shook off his back problem and a relentless opponent last night to close out a dream opening day for the Aussies in the Australian Open. His match lasted more than three hours. Brutal!

6.14am CELEB GOSS ALERT: The Project host Carrie Bickmore is due to give birth to baby number 2 in April. She gave fans a sneak-peek at her growing belly via Instagram.

6.12am TV NEWS: The truth is out there - or is it? Well, in this case it is - official talks about the return of hit drama series The X-Files have been confirmed by Fox. But will Mulder & Scully return? Read more.

6.10am It's Martin Luther King Jr Day.

6.08am Let's start the morning with a cute animal photo - check out this wombat at Symbio. I wonder what Millie is thinking...

6.06am And in national news, via the SMH:

*The Australian Scholarships Group's modelling released on Tuesday forecast the cost of private schooling in Sydney to be $541,275, making it the most expensive city in Australia to educate a child.

*A stand off between asylum seekers and security guards on Manus Island came to a dramatic halt as Wilson guards stormed one compound on Monday.

*The Indonesian lawyer for Bali Nine ringleader Myuran Sukumaran will lodge a request for another judicial review of his case in a last-ditch attempt to save the Australian from the firing squad.

6.04am Here's what's making news in your Mercury today:

*Woonona woman Emma Simmons was walking to her car last Thursday night, when a brazen stranger chased her through a section of Wollongong’s CBD, only metres from the city’s police station.

*Keira MP Ryan Park says the state government has "completely stuffed up" the Restart Illawarra fund and has urged them to come clean about why money is yet to be spent.

*Community pharmacies could be the answer to Australia’s healthcare crisis according to a Thirroul pharmacist. Read more.

6.02am Let's kick things off with the latest weather & traffic.

WEATHER We're in for a cloudy day with a top of 22 degrees. There is an 80 per cent chance of showers, becoming less likely in the afternoon.

TRAFFIC All good on the region's roads & for the drive to Sydney.

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

6am Good morning Illawarra and happy Tuesday! It's a bit wet out there, isn't it!? Stay with your host, Emma Spillett, for all the latest news etc.