Rare WW1 soldier’s documents discovered

Cecilia Hannon, with a photograph of her great-uncle, John Tucker, at the Australian War Memorial where his Last Post Ceremony took place in January.
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An article in the Mudgee Guardian on the history of a local World War 1 soldier has led to the discovery of previously unknown documents on his life and death in the trenches France.

The historic documents relate to the service and death in 1918 of former Coolah resident John Edward Tucker, 45th Battalion AIF. He was killed just before his 20th birthday.

Jack Tucker’s great-niece, Cecilia Hannon, of Sydney, was unaware of their existence at the time of his Last Post Ceremony at the Australian War Memorial in early January.

Following the Mudgee Guardian’s January 2 article publicising his upcoming Last Post Ceremony, Cecilia was contacted by her mother’s cousin, long-time Coolah resident Maria Rindfleish.

Maria told Cecilia that she was very much alive and wanting to pass to her letters and some official documents.

Maria inherited these documents from her uncle, Jack’s brother Vincent Tucker, upon his death in 1972.

These preserved papers give some insight into what Jack Tucker was involved in during his time as a member of the gun team with D Company, 45th Battalion AIF.

Apart from the telegram advising of his death, there is a poignant and beautifully penned letter to Jack’s mother from his platoon Sergeant James Golden DCM:

Excerpts include:-

“I know that he had never been away from home before, he had often told me of his home and people.”

“He was one of the bravest boys in the Company.”

“He had a decent cross erected on his grave, poor child.”

“It was a Sunday when poor Jonnie was killed.”

“Thank God this cruel war is over.” ”

The papers include an original telegram advising his death, addressed to Rev. O’Donnell from the Gulgong Parish; a letter from 2nd Military District dated September 28, 1918, confirming the delivery of the telegram; a letter from his Company OC in D Company, Captain William Herbert Schadel MC, dated August 28, 1918; a letter from his Platoon Sergeant in D Company, Sergeant James Edward Joseph Golden DCM, dated January 19, 1919; a letter from a Miss J. Edwards of Hounslow in England, dated October 28, 1918, sent to Jack’s mother, Minnie Tucker; and a Red Cross document containing a statement given by a Private A. A. Mc Millan – D Company 45th Battalion, dated July 23, 1919, about the location of Jack’s first burial place in Harbonniers.

Cecilia said she was shocked and surprised at hearing from Maria as she had long wanted to find out more details of her great uncle.

“I was stunned; it was wonderful to hear from Maria on January 13 and to receive this new information about Jack,” she said.

“I was still coming down from the high of Jack’s Last Post Ceremony, which was officiated by the RSM of the Australian Army Warrant Officer Class One, Dave Ashley. It was such an honour for Jack’s memory to have someone as senior as the RSM of the Australian Army there. It was a beautiful service.”

“These papers make Jack come to life. I feel like I know him just that bit better now and can gain a real appreciation of his time away from Coolah, a place, according to Sergeant Golden’s letter, Jack was greatly missing,” she said.

“It was shocking to read that the bullet which killed Jack instantly went straight through his steel helmet. He’d put his head up to watch some grenades explode a distance away.

“These letters would have made his parents, John and Minnie Tucker, so very sad but I am sure they were quietly proud of their eldest boy.

“My research is a way of paying my respects to that generation of both men and women who endured so much heartache during the Great War and the broken years for Australia that followed.”

Cecilia believes Jack would be sad to know that we now have a new generation of many broken young men and women following Australia’s involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan and other post-Vietnam conflicts around the globe.

“With this Centenary of the ANZAC Landings at Gallipoli and the observance of the Centenary of the First World War, I’d like to see more analysis on the effect the Great War had on the women who were left behind and of the real suffering that some of the current generation of veterans and serving personnel are experiencing,” she said.

“The world has changed dramatically since August 1918 when Jack was killed, but we can pay real homage to the men and women of that era by ensuring that we take better care of this current generation of veterans, service personnel and their families.”

InSeptember, Cecilia will visit Jack’s grave at Fouquescourt British Military Cemetery in northern France and with his niece Maria’s support, she will shortly be handing these documents to the Australian War Memorial.

Share your family’s WWI storyIn the lead up to the 100th anniversary of the landing at Gallipoli on Anzac Day, the Mudgee Guardian will be publishing a series of articles drawing on letters from World War I servicemen which were published in the Mudgee Guardian from 1914-1915. If you would like to share the stories of your World War I connections, or contact Robyn Murray at the Mudgee Guardian on 6372 1455 or email [email protected]南京夜网.au

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‘Failure’ costly

A MILDURA small businessman says council’s “failure to provide working infrastructure” has cost him more than $1 million and caused major businesses to leave town.
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Annoyed: Outback Kids Childcare Centre owner Greg Nelson says drainage delays have cost his business.

Outback Kids Childcare Centre owner Greg Nelson said an unexpected delay on drainage works along Fourteenth Street had cost the city millions of dollars in development.

However, the council said major floods in 2011 had set back drainagedevelopment around Mildura.

“BlueScope Steel, a major trucking company and, I believe, four other businesses have all walked away because of the drainage disaster created by Mildura Council,” Mr Nelson said.

Council earmarked properties along Benetook Avenue between Fourteenth and Fifteenth Streets as a new business district a decade ago.

Following major floods in 2011, the council began installing a drainage pipeline in the area but, four years on, work remained incomplete.

For more of this story, purchase your copy of Friday’s Sunraysia Daily 27/2/2015. To subscribe to our Digital Edition Click here

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Challenge launches local disability support services

Challenge Disability Services Chief Marketing & Sales Manager. Graham Dooley Challenge Children’s Services Regional Manager Western Foster Care, Lisa Anderson, State Manager Children’s Services Chris Brown, Challenge Western Area Manager Belle Moerkerk, State Manager Challenge Choices, Chris Buckman Challenge Choices NDIS consultant David Hinwood and Western Region Operating Manager Natasha Lee.Challenge Community Services launched its disability support and new foster care services at an open day on Tuesday.
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Challenge has recently opened a Mudgee office in the former Salvation Army building in Perry Street.

State Manager Challenge Choices, Chris Buckman, said the Challenge would provide a range of services for disabled people from the Perry Street centre, including day time activities, social nights and training.

“We want to provide a choice for people with disabilities and different opportunities for people in Mudgee,” he said.

“We will provide training and transition to work programs, but also social facilities such as a pool table and air hockey tables.”

Mr Buckman said the centre will open daily, but the hours will vary according to the clients’ needs.

“We will be talking to clients about what they want and the hours they want to use the centre,” he said.

Challenge Community Services was established 58 years ago by a group of parents in in Tamworth and now provides services to people with disabilities through 60 sites.

State Manager Children’s Services Chris Brown said the group had recently moved into foster care services including respite services for carers and early intervention for families at risk.

“Our foster care services matches children with carers one-on-one and we also have residential care for children who do not meet the foster care model,” he said.

“The respite service helps carers who need a break.

“We also have early intervention services for families identified by Family Services, and we run preventative courses so that their children don’t come into care.”

Mr Brown said although Challenge was a relative newcomer to children’s services, it was the fastest growing organisation in the state in this field.

Visitors to the open day heard from foster carers who had worked with Challenge and also clients of the Challenge Choice disability support service.

Challenge Community Services also provides mental health support and Aboriginal services.

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Nan Tien Institute opens its doors

Anticipation: Nan Tien representatives Dr Leigh Wilson and Venerable Miaoyouin in front of the new campus at the Nan Tien Institute. Picture: GREG TOTMANAustralia’s first, government approved, Buddhist tertiary institution will open its doors after 15 years of designing, planning and construction, on Sunday, March 1.
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The Nan Tien Institute (NTI) is a holistic education institution built to cater for 300 students, with a vision to one day cater to 3000.

To celebrate the opening of the $40 million project, the NTI opening ceremony will feature a blessing ceremony, community entertainment, a food fair and guided tours of the campus.

The campus will be officially opened by special guest Venerable Master Hsing Yun, founder of Fo Guang Shan Buddhist order, the Nan Tien Temple and NTI.

Mr Yun has 15 million followers around the world and his presence at the institute is expected to draw thousands.

The NTI is expecting approximately 5000 visitors to pour through the gates come Sunday, as the event is a first of its kind for the region.

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14-year-old to face Children’s Court over school fire

THE Department of Education has refused to say if a student has been suspended in the wake of Wednesday’s suspicious fire which caused hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of damage toInverell High School.
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BURNING: A students captured this image of the fire as they were evacuated to the school oval on Wednesday.

A 14-year-old girl was arrested on Wednesday afternoon by police, following investigations into the deliberately lit fire at Inverell High School which destroyed the industrial arts building.

The fire broke out just before 1.30pm and more than 700 staff and students were evacuated as fire fighters tried to douse the blaze which spread to much of the classrooms block.

Police will allege in court the girl, who is a student at the school, set fire to a tree before the blaze spread to the building, taking hold, causing the ceiling beams and roof to collapse.

Police have confirmed the damage bill from the fire is likely to exceed $200,000.

The 14-year-old girl is facing one count of recklessly cause damage by fire after she was charged on Wednesday night at Inverell Police Station.

The girl was granted conditional bail to appear in Inverell Children’s Court in March.

A Department of Education spokesperson will not confirm if the girl has been suspended in the wake of the police charge.

“As the matter is to go before the courts, it is inappropriate for the Department to comment on any disciplinary action the school may take in relation to the juvenile charged,” a statement said.

The loss of classrooms in the fire has seen further disruptions to school timetables today, according to the Department with the damage still being assessed by specialists.

“Parents may choose not to send children to school, but should understand that if they wish to send children to school they will be supervised as all staff will be on site,” a spokesperson said.

“The process of ordering temporary accommodation has commenced and the Department’s Assets team will be working to facilitate prompt installation so practical classes can continue.

“Inverell High School would like to extend its heartfelt appreciation to its staff, parents, members of the community, many schools and local member Adam Marshall that have offered support and good wishes since (Wednesday).”

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Sunraysia’s battlers need welfare fair go: Agency warning on reform proposal

MALLEE Family Care’s Lisa-Maree Stevens has warned against a “knee-jerk reaction” to welfare reform proposals.
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Worry: Lisa-Maree Stevens has concerns on the welfare reforms.

The community services director said she hoped the Federal Government would spend time considering the recommendations made after the review of Australia’s welfare system before acting.

The A New System for Better Employment and Social Outcomes report, released this week, proposes changes to “make Australia’s welfare system fairer, more effective, coherent and sustainable and encourage people to work”.

The report result of an independent review into the nation’s $150 billion welfare system, commissioned by the government in December 2013.

“I would like the government to consider longer-term what impact this would have on the vulnerable and disadvantaged people in our community,” Ms Stevens said.

“We do live in an area where there are less jobs, so they need to consider how people are meant to get jobs.

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Four signed, four to go?

Neil Thorman, Kyle Richens and Matt Wakefield.
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The Young Cherrypickers have locked in four new recruits ahead of the 2015 season but captain-coach Luke Branighan has just announced there may be four more signings on the horizon.

Branighan made it official on Monday former ‘Picker Kyle Richens, Neil Thorman, Carl Plannicka and Matt Wakefield will be flying the red, white and blue flag this year.

There may also be four more international players heading Young’s way, pending immigration matters.

There are hopes former New Zealand Warriors under 20 prop Visesio Setefano will give the final tick to help bolster the ‘Picker pack, as well as three Fijian players.

The signing of Newcastle Knights prop, Zane Tetevano, Branighan was also hoping to secure has fallen through.

Tetevano will be staying to play in Newcastle.

But for now, all eyes are on the secured new recruits and what they can deliver come April.

The new recruits said Branighan’s position as captain-coach had drawn them to the club.

“I’m looking forward to playing with Luke, there’s rumours of how good he is and he’s highly respected,” 21-year-old Plannicka said.

“I’m looking forward to having a run with him.”

The now former Cowra and Group 10 player was looking for a change and travelling to Young everyday for work made him turn to the ‘Pickers.

“I was stuck in a rut in Group 10… I’m looking forward to something different,” he said.

It’s the same reason Englishman Thorman landed on our shores.

Thorman will be one to watch this season after Branighan described him as being the best British player he’s brought to the club.

“Neil and I played together in England in 2009 and is a very good player,” Branighan said.

“He plays a number of positions but I will play him hooker.”

Thorman – who previously played with Whitehaven in the championship – said he took Branighan up on his offer for the adventure and is already beginning to suss out the level of play in country NSW.

“I was looking at my options in the off season… Luke called me and asked if I had made a decision. It was quite lucky. I wasn’t under contract,” Thorman said.

“I’m looking forward to playing with Luke again, I really do think he is a good player… I’m just really excited to get stuck into the comp.”

Wakefield – who played for Woy Woy last year – wasn’t beating around the bush when he said yesterday that he was looking forward to winning the premiership.

The boy originally from Bronte and who attended high school with Branighan was just as thrilled to be playing alongside his old classmate.

“Honestly I was sick of waking up at 4am everyday for work,” Wakefield said.

“I’m looking forward to meeting new people… I have over 20 years experience playing.”

Branighan said Wakefield was one of the best players running around on the central coast.

“He plays lock forward. [Plannicka] from Cowra played in last year’s Group 10 grand final for Cowra, he’s fit and very aggressive,” Branighan said.

“Richo is back from the coast. He’s been training house down and is primed for a big year.

“The club is still looking for a front rower and outside back.”

Meanwhile, the Young club is all geared up for their ground-breaking league tag carnival on March 7 and 8.

The carnival – which offers more than $2500 in prizes, is open to all league tag players registered with Country Rugby League – will take place at Keith Cullen Oval.

It will follow a round robin format on Saturday before teams are split into pools for a knockout on Sunday.

Teams from Wagga, Albury, Temora, Leeton, Eugowra, Grenfell, Orange and the Bears have already expressed interest in playing.

Registration for the carnival is priced at $30 per player and can be done through Jessica McInerney at [email protected]南京夜网.

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New Dawesville run at starting line

Dawesville parkrun organisers Tegan Towie, Michelle Sidebottom, Juliette Rowsell, Carrie Flynn and Steve Garner started a drive last year to bring the event to town.A SUCCESSFUL fundraising drive by area runners will give local athletes a new fitness option as the first Dawesville parkrun gets under way on Saturday, March 14.
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Last spring, the group called on local businesses to support bringing the free event, part of a worldwide exercise phenomenon, to the Peel region.

Until now, the closest parkrun was in Rockingham, and organiser Tegan Towie said that people she’s talked to are glad to have this option at the Dawesville Foreshore Reserve.

“They cannot wait to have one closer to home,” she said. “It’s fabulous.”

Parkrun consists of weekly, timed 5-kilometre runs. Held across Australia and overseas, parkruns encourage people of all ages and abilities, including families, to get out and enjoy fitness.

“We get the community together, and they have a good time doing it,” Ms Towie said.

Organisers began work last spring to raise the $10,000 necessary to fund a parkrun group, half of which came from the national body, parkrun Australia. They had hoped to have their first parkrun a bit earlier, but there were some logistical issues. They did, however, meet their goal of having it in the first half of 2015.

“It was a long time coming, but it feels damn good,” Ms Towie said.

The first parkrun in Australia launched in April 2011. There are now more than 100 parkrun events across the country on Saturday mornings with more than 114,000 parkrunners.

To participate in the weekly event, runners should arrive at 7:45am. There will be a pre-run brief, and the run starts at 8am at the southern end of Dawesville Boat Ramp car park.

For more information go to www.parkrun南京夜网.au

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For golf club, it’s a long shot

THE Wentworth Shire general manager has said further discussions would be held with the Wentworth Golf Club regarding its viability.
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The sum of $40,000 has already been contributed by the rate­payers and in all probability this is now nearing $50,000.

Shire CEO Peter Kozlowski has also stated that a report on the club’s viability would be provided to the council in due course.

Given the losses to date, the very small number of members playing and the condition of the course, which will not attract visitors, surely this is very clearly evidence of a total lack of viability.

This is seen by all, excepting presumably the Wentworth Council, which seems to think it has a bottomless pit of ratepayer funds to use on propping up a golf club clearly running out of options.

Losses of the magnitude so far cannot be tolerated by ratepayers for much longer and it is surely incumbent on the council to cease support for the golf club in the near future.

Cr Bill Wheeldon has stated that the club was vital to the town’s tourism industry, but to say Wentworth would struggle if the club folded is clearly scaremongering.

Golfers have the option of a first-rate golf course close by at Coomealla and a course in such a poor condition as Wentworth is not required.

David G Porter,


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Weather alert: Storm warning after hail at Comboyne

Pic by @pedro_lyra1 in Port Macquarie. The caption read: “Pronto para dormir na minha barraca – impermeável” Portuguese for “Ready to sleep in my tent -waterproof!”
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Did you snap a weather photo? Email [email protected]南京夜网.au

Severe thunderstorms are likely to produce large hailstones, heavy rainfall that may lead to flash flooding and damaging winds in the warning area over the next several hours.

Locations which may be affected include Port Macquarie, Taree, Scone, Bowral, Mudgee and Katoomba.

The Bureau of Meterology reported that3cm hail was observed near Comboyne.

The State Emergency Service advises people should:

Move your car under cover or away from trees.Secure or put away loose items around your house, yard and balcony.Keep clear of fallen power lines.Keep clear of creeks and storm drains.Don’t walk, ride your bike or drive through flood water.If you are trapped by flash flooding, seek refuge in the highest available place and ring 000 if you need rescue.Unplug computers and appliances.Avoid using the phone during the storm.Stay indoors away from windows, and keep children and pets indoors as well.For emergency help in floods and storms, ring the SES on 132 500.The next warning is due to be issued by 10pm.

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Council and Concerned Ratepayers go head to head

CONCERNED Inverell Ratepayers Association (CIRA) rejected, in part, an offer by council to hold discussions on the Town Centre Renewal Plan.
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CONCERNS: Concerned Inverell Ratepayers Association president Caroline Wilson speaks at Wednesday’s council meeting.

For months the association has been criticising the council since it approved the plan in June 2014, which includes possibly removing some plane trees from the CBD and installing a median strip.

Inverell Council Chamber was packed on Wednesday afternoon when about 60 people, the majority of whom were CIRA supporters, attended the council’s monthly meeting.

The first item on the meeting’s agenda was an offer from the mayor for the ratepayers group to meet with him and senior council staff to discuss their differences.

In her address to the council during Public Forum, CIRA president Caroline Wilson indicated they would rather meet with councillors than council staff.

“We consider a more effective process would be to first meet with all nine councillors, with minutes taken,” Ms Wilson said.

“You (councillors) constitute our elected body, you are the representatives of the people and ultimately you are the ones who vote for the motion. Unlike yourselves, senior staff are not subject to re-election.

“They are public servants, who in principle are subject to your decisions, so a meeting with them would be more appropriate if further discussions are required.”

CIRA secretary Larry Cameron – a former councillor – also spoke at public forum, and his message to council was blunt.

“These people you see here have left their businesses, some of them have left their farms and they have come here today because they do not want a central median with Pin Oaks, they do not want a fancy Port Macquarie style square at the intersection of Otho and Evans streets, and they do not want to see the Plane trees to be removed. That’s the guts of it, and that’s what you’ve got to think about,” Mr Cameron said.

Mayor not impressed with ratepayers’ campaign

AT Wednesday’s council meeting mayor Paul Harmon said the campaign waged against council by the Concerned Inverell Ratepayers Association was more vindictive than anything he had seen in his 10 years as a councillor. He said he had been surprised by the ferocity of those acting for the people who had a different view to council.

“You have previously stated that you will run candidates for the next election. I welcome that,” Cr Harmon said.

“I hope that your candidates never have to experience your husband or wife being treated like a leper when they are shopping at Inverell, or having your employer put you on notice due to a decision in council.

“I hope they don’t have to endure being ignored and shunned while representing council at official events, and only having the club president apologising for the behaviour of some people.

“I hope you don’t have to endure these actions, like my councillors and myself have had to in the past few months.”


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Council and ratepayers group need to compromise

The number of people who attended Wednesday’s council meeting may have surprised everyone. A couple of late arrivals took the headcount up to about 60 and the majority were supporters of Concerned Inverell Ratepayers Association (CIRA) who were there in a show of solidarity as the association’s petition against the plan was handed over to council.
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Council tried a conciliatory approach by offering the opportunity of a meeting with councillors and staff in a Mayoral Minute that was subsequently passed by council.


It was a lively meeting and although Mayor Paul Harmon later said there was a sprinkling of Town Centre Renewal Plan supporters present, they did not speak at the public forum, perhaps, instead, opting for discretion.It was obvious from the tone of that part of the meeting that feelings ran high on both sides of this issue, and it was interesting to watch the reactions of the various councillors, which varied from bored to uncharacteristically animated.

What was also obvious (and has been for some time) was the genuine animosity between the groups. Unfortunately this animosity now borders on a hatred that does little credit to this community.

This community through no fault of its own has to live with that, and there is no use saying it is council’s fault because it is not, but it is not CIRA fault either.

Unfortunately, both are as untrusting, intolerant, fixated and inflexible as each other, and if it is a fact that CIRA put out misinformation, then it is also true that council did not put any extra effort into setting the record straight.

The mayor has said his councillors have been subjected to snubs and public ostracism by the savage attacks by CIRA. And CIRA thinks the arrogant behaviour of one councillor towards one of its members was intolerable and, worse still, nothing was done about it.

This whole issue is just getting so far out of control it is just not funny. Both parties need to remember an old saying that everyone who aspires to lead should repeat to themselves every night before they go to bed, ‘with power comes great responsibility’. Time to get responsible folks and think about compromise.

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Power & passion- Why women are lifting weights

Power & passion- Why women are lifting weights Vicki Webber performing a snatch lift. Picture: Peter Stoop
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CHANGED SHAPE: It was curiosity that led fitness instructor Ebonnie Thomas to lift weights and she loves it. Picture: Simone De Peak

“It has completely changed my body shape”: Ebonnie Thomas. Picture: Simone De Peak

Vicki Webber doing a pull up. Picture: Peter Stoop

Vicki Webber and Lee McWilliams. Picture: Peter Stoop

Vicki Webber does a clean and jerk. Picture: Peter Stoop

Vicki Webber doing a pull up. Picture: Peter Stoop

Lee McWilliams doing a front squat. Picture: Peter Stoop

TweetFacebookIT is a hot, humid afternoon and a couple of floor fans are doing little to cool down the large suburban shed that is home to an Adamstown CrossFit gym. Vicki Webber bends down, picks up a chunky 30-kilogram dumbbell with one hand and thrusts it above her head as she stands. She completes 30 ‘‘alternating dumbbell snatches’’ before plunging her hands into a bucket of chalk and moving on to 60 chest-to-bar pull-ups and a stint on a rowing machine.

When Webber is done, she is covered in a sweaty sheen. The broad-shouldered 36-year-old plonks herself on the floor and stretches her legs as she explains how lifting weights has transformed her.

‘‘It’s very empowering,’’ she says. ‘‘It gives me confidence. My body shape has completely changed. I’ll show you.’’

Webber jumps up and retrieves her phone.

‘‘That’s me after I had my first child,’’ she says, showing me a photograph of a pale-faced young woman in an unshapely jumper and jeans. I cannot marry the photo, taken 14 years ago, with the woman standing in front of me in short black tights and a crop top with identical rows of abdominal muscles and enviable biceps.

The mother-of-three is one of an increasing number of women who are routinely lifting weights to boost fitness and transform their physiques. Webber juggles single parenthood with jointly managing a CrossFit gym at Belmont. She also squeezes in two hours of training a day and is a fierce competitor in the popular CrossFit Games.

In case you have been living under a rock, CrossFit is a strength and conditioning program that incorporates powerlifting, plyometrics, Olympic-style weightlifting, and high-intensity interval training. With its competitive, back-to-basics focus, CrossFit has been credited with boosting the popularity of weight lifting among women. Strong, as the popular saying goes, is the new skinny.

Where once the weights area of gyms was the domain of grunting men, women are now moving in. At my local gym last weekend, I watched a diminutive woman complete sets of squats with 60kilograms stacked on a barbell. There were another couple of women lifting dumbbells nearby.

‘‘It’s almost revolutionary the way women are choosing to see that being strong rather than skinny is more important,’’ says self-described gym junkie Megan Cunneen. ‘‘Women want to have a healthier shape and to do that, you have to train and eat well so women are educating themselves about nutrition. Being skinny isn’t as attractive any more.’’

Vicki Webber performing a snatch lift. Picture: Peter Stoop

Cunneen, 30, recently resigned from a public relations role in Newcastle to relocate to Tamworth to help her boyfriend manage his busy sport supplement business. She began weight training about two years ago when a ‘‘gym buddy’’ of hers started doing more lifting.

‘‘I used to be cardio-obsessed,’’ she says. ‘‘I’d do two classes a day – aerobics, boxing, step – but never actually noticed any significant changes in my body other than being exhausted all the time. Now, every time I exercise, I incorporate weights.

‘‘In the shop, we get women coming in and they say, ‘I don’t want to lift weights because I don’t want to bulk up’. That’s such a hard myth to shake because it’s been drilled into women that they have to do hours of cardio to lose weight. Weight training can be just as effective for weight loss, especially if you mix it up with some cardio.’’

IT is easy to spot a woman who regularly lifts because they are athletic, yet shapely. All the women who spoke to Weekender referred to the positive impact lifting has had on their physiques – and self-esteem.

‘‘There’s certainly been a shift in the fitness industry towards incorporating more weightlifting into routines,’’ says Rachelle Mackintosh, acting editor of Women’s Health magazine. ‘‘There’s been a growth in popularity of functional fitness, which is why CrossFit has taken off, and even in your standard gyms, you’re seeing more lifting.

CHANGED SHAPE: It was curiosity that led fitness instructor Ebonnie Thomas to lift weights and she loves it. Picture: Simone De Peak

‘‘Women want to appear toned, rather than skinny. And [lifting] isn’t about looking masculine; you’re looking for a more supple frame. There are the hard-core women who are doing serious body building but for the average punter, it’s about looking strong and toned, but also feminine.’’

According to a Harvard School of Public Health study, weightlifting is the best way to stay trim, as opposed to cardiovascular exercise, which includes running, cycling and swimming.

Researchers found that after monitoring more than 10,000 men aged 40-plus for weight and waist circumference over a 12-year period, those men who spent an extra 20 minutes a day weight training gained less abdominal weight.

‘‘You burn fat faster with more muscle,’’ Mackintosh says. ‘‘If you focus only on cardio, you can do a 10-kilometre run but unless you’re supplementing that with weights, you won’t build muscle.’’

It would be difficult to find a health professional who doesn’t support some form of weight training as part of an exercise regimen, especially for people aged 40-plus. Lifting weights helps to avoid the loss of joint flexibility that comes with ageing. Resistance exercise can reduce bone deterioration and build bone mass, helping to prevent osteoporosis.

Working your muscles can also inhibit the effects of sarcopenia, the age-related loss of muscle mass, strength and function. After the age of 30, there is a loss of 3 to 5per cent of muscle mass per decade, making day-to-day tasks gradually harder to perform and slowing down metabolism – increasing the risk of weight gain.

Weight training helps 47-year-old Lee McWilliams keep up with her two teenage sons and cope with the demands of running her Swansea cafe. She heads to CrossFit Lake Macquarie every morning at 5.30 and completes a weight training and cardio program. In the three years since she began lifting weights, she has lost ‘‘inches’’ off her waist and is fit and toned. She now completes 100-kilogram dead lifts.

‘‘I love that I can now keep up with the younger girls,’’ McWilliams says. ‘‘Now, I’m chasing the men.’’

“It has completely changed my body shape”: Ebonnie Thomas. Picture: Simone De Peak

McWilliams urges anyone who is interested in lifting weights to seek out a good gym and a trainer.

‘‘It’s all in the technique,’’ she says. ‘‘Once you know what to do and how to do it properly, you won’t look back.’’

It was curiosity that led fitness instructor Ebonnie Thomas to lift weights. The mother-of-two was teaching classes with a focus on cardio and would only occasionally venture into the weights room.

‘‘I didn’t really know what I was doing,’’ she admits.

Thomas enlisted the help of trainer Brooke Dunlop early last year.

‘‘She showed me the ropes and now I just love it,’’ says Thomas, 30. ‘‘I have always admired Brooke, who looks so fit and toned. I wanted to see how my body would change with weights. I’ve now got more definition through my stomach, legs, back and arms. It has completely changed my body shape.’’

Thomas trains with weights six days a week and maintains her level of cardio fitness with her instructor’s job at Genesis Fitness. She has watched her strength increase, as well as her confidence.

‘‘I remember the first time I did a training session with Brooke and she wanted me to lift an Olympic bar that weighted 20kilos with another 10kilos of weights added. I struggled. I ended up taking the weights off the bar and just lifting it on its own.

‘‘I was only able to do a few clean and presses. Now, I can lift 40kilos for a clean and press – eight reps – and my personal best was a 50-kilo clean and press.

‘‘But there are also other benefits; it’s like therapy. I’ll go stir-crazy if I miss a couple of days of training. It helps me deal with stress.’’

In September 2014, Thomas competed in the fitness section of two natural body building competitions. Her trainer also coaches women in preparation for the events, which are booming in popularity.

‘‘The competitions are insanely popular and until I started lifting, I didn’t know they existed,’’ says Thomas, who is intending to compete again this year. ‘‘Looking fit and toned is the new skinny. Everyone wants muscles now, and nice abs. I love showing my body off. I work really hard for it.’’