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Jarratt not afraid of scary movies

When John Jarratt was growing up, Psycho was the movie that made his blood turn cold.


Ironic, considering he now plays a knife-wielding murderer of his own.

Jarratt is famous for his turn as serial killer Mick Taylor and is pulled up “every five feet” on the street by fans of the horror flick Wolf Creek.

He says their appetite for gore and being scared will be well-satiated by the sequel.

However, in terms of horror movies, Jarratt says there’s not much that frightens him.

“I’m not a big fan of horror movies – not because they scare me,” he says. He just prefers films like The Railway Man or works by Martin Scorsese.

Even when co-star Ryan Corr explains how The Exorcist terrified him growing up, Jarratt interjects.

“That was hilarious,” he says, much to Corr’s disbelief.

“When she did the 360 and then spewed the pea soup, I was in the aisle. I thought it was hysterical.”

However, not even Jarratt could escape the terror of Alfred Hitchcock’s creation.

“Psycho was the one that really got me. That was made in the early 60s, so that was my first scary movie,” he says.

His strong stomach for horror and creepy happenings came in handy on the set of Wolf Creek 2.

The underground brewery tunnels in South Australia were lined with realistic looking corpses (“it’s just foam rubber”) and the location was reported by locals to be incredibly haunted.

Not that he cared. In fact, it was more exciting than anything to hear about the miner’s cottages, where doors slammed at night for no reason.

“I’m all up for haunted,” Jarratt says.

“Someone says `that’s haunted’ and I’ll go sleep in a room. I’m open for it. I’d love to meet a ghost.

“You don’t read in the paper, `another person scared to death in haunted house on weekend’ so they obviously can’t kill you. If they exist, I want to see one.”

One figure that does seem to follow Jarratt is that of Mick Taylor. Although there was an eight-year break between the first film and the sequel, Jarratt says Mick was always around.

When director Greg Mclean was banging out the screenplay with Aaron Sterns, Jarratt was called on to add his “two bob’s worth”.

Then on his first day back, in full costume, Jarratt said he was straight back in character.

Corr found it strange to see the transformation.

“It was weird for me, seeing him come in with his leather jacket, and Ray Bans and whatever he was wearing at the time and watching him come out of make-up with mutton chops and then the arm tattoo, this slow step into like `woah, there’s the guy that really freaked me out in the first film’,” Corr says.

And while Jarratt didn’t need to constantly stay in character as he infamously did on the first film, this time around, odd things still happened.

“It’d be a freezing cold night and I’d just be in the Mick outfit,” he says.

“I wouldn’t feel cold until they said wrap. Mick’s tougher than me.”

He’s not the only one who changes.

“Even Greg turns into a mischievous little evil bastard. We’re like Beavis and Butthead,” Jarratt says.

“But in that regard it’s kind of fun in a naughty-boy kind of way.”

* Wolf Creek 2 is released in Australian cinemas on February 20.

Aussie icon moving to a new beet

Not long ago beetroot was something you used to eat as a kid and Dick Smith couldn’t give away, as cheap imports wiped out what was left of the local canning industry.


Now an Englishman, armed with some fancy foreign vege-growing technology, is bringing back the beet.

Beetroot is familiar to most Australians as a sliced, canned product with incredible spilling and staining abilities.

But Rob Munton, project manager for national fruit and vegetable grower OneHarvest, has introduced a new kind of beetroot product to the nation.

Love Beets are fresh-cooked baby beetroot in a vacuum-sealed pouch, and they are creating new customers and new jobs in an industry that, not long ago, was regarded as finished.

“It’s quite a different product to what’s been traditionally sold in the Australian market,” Mr Munton said.

“Beetroot is an iconic Australian flavour and the market has traditionally been with the beetroot in vinegar, sugar and basically cooked – stewed – in a can.

“With Love Beets, the beetroot is taken as a completely fresh baby beetroot that’s peeled, nothing added and then that’s placed into a vacuum-packed pouch and cooked in the pouch.”

It sounds simple but Love Beets are the product of a licensed field-to-supermarket process developed over 20 years in the United Kingdom.

England has a strong record in ready-to-eat fresh produce: Mr Munton, who is from an east coast farming family, worked for the producer that supplied the world’s first fresh-cut salads to retailer Marks & Spencer in the 1970s.

OneHarvest, one of Australia’s biggest fruit and vegetable growing companies, licensed the technology because of the depth of knowledge involved, ranging from growing the unusually small-sized beetroot to the type of plastic needed for the packs.

“It’s know-how and a thousand-and-one little bits of information which one could discover in time but rather than spend 20 years learning all the nuances we decided as a company to license the technology from day one,” Mr Munton said.

OneHarvest built a $3.8 million factory in Bairnsdale, Victoria, to pack Love Beets, aided by $150,000 from the Victorian government, and has created 30 jobs across that state and NSW .

The project was welcomed in an industry which suffered the closure of Australia’s last cannery, Windsor Farm, in 2013, and the exit of major processor Heinz in 2011 when it moved production from its Golden Circle cannery to New Zealand.

Millionaire entrepreneur Dick Smith famously bought and canned a crop of beetroot in 2012 but was forced into a public giveaway of the product after major retailers declined to stock them.

The beetroot farmer Mr Smith bought the crop from, Cowra-based Ed Fagan, is now growing for OneHarvest.

Mr Munton says he is not worried about entering an industry which has been under so much pressure in recent years.

“We think we’re coming in with a completely different product,” he said.

“It’s not soft and mushy and been sitting in a can for 12 months.

“We don’t see that we are competing at all with the canned beetroot.”

With a range of flavoured beetroot packs also on offer, Mr Munton hopes to attract new, younger buyers to beetroot.

All major supermarket chains will start selling Love Beets during early 2014 and Mr Munton says he hopes to create another 30 jobs and, if demand rises, build a second processing plant worth up to $2 million.

Kakadu celebrates 30 years of Dundee

30 years ago Paul Hogan exhorted Americans to throw another shrimp on the barbie, putting Kakadu on the tourist map.


Now the national park will be celebrating all things Dundee with a series of “Hoges” themed weekends.

In 1984, Hogan told Americans they needed “a fair-dinkum holiday in the land of wonder, the land down-under” in an ad campaign that saw Australia shoot from number 78 to number seven on the US’s “dream vacations” list.

That ad was followed up with Crocodile Dundee in 1986, the second-highest grossing film in the US that year, and one that has gone a long way towards shaping how Americans see Australia.

It has remained a top one or two dream destination for Americans for most of the past two decades, as Tourism Australia announced last week that American arrivals into Australia topped 500,000 annual visits for the first time.

“Hoges and the Crocodile Dundee image has had such a tremendous bearing on Kakadu – it’s been 30 years now since the ad first saw the light of day and we had prawns converted to shrimps,” said Rex Wild, chairman of Kakadu Tourism.

He said the vagabond, larrikin character of Mick Dundee and the vast landscapes of the Northern Territory are eternally appealing.

“It’s the wide open spaces we still have, the beautiful scenery, the wildness of it in terms of the crocodiles and the buffalo, and it touches a sense of adventure that Americans still have, which they don’t find quite so much in their own country,” Mr Wild told AAP.

The Gagudju crocodile-shaped Holiday Inn and the Cooinda Lodge were in part developed by the character’s success, Mr Wild said, and so the former is feting 1980s Australiana with two “Celebrate Hoges” weekends of 7-9 and 14-16 March, while Cooinda Lodge becomes “Hoges Central” for the weekends of 21-23 and 28-30 March.

Guests are encouraged to come dressed as their favourite Paul Hogan character while they revisit the Crocodile Dundee films, enjoy a complimentary “shrimp entree” when dining in the restaurant, receive a crocodile-themed gift pack have a daily breakfast that might even include croc sangers.

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Don’t blame system for Luke’s death: Mum

Luke Batty’s killer father wouldn’t have gone to jail even if he had been arrested on outstanding warrants before the murder, the boy’s mother says.


Greg Anderson was wanted on five warrants when he killed the 11-year-old boy last week after Tyabb cricket training on the Mornington Peninsula.

Police have blamed the force’s ageing IT system for failing to alert officers the warrants existed when the 54-year-old was questioned about an assault three weeks before the killing.

But Luke’s mother, Rosie Batty, says those offences weren’t severe enough to keep her ex-partner in custody.

“The truth of the matter is, Greg’s conduct would not have put him in prison,” she told Triple M on Monday.

Ms Batty said it wasn’t right to blame cracks or glitches in the system for her son’s death either but the answer involves seeing men collectively take a stand against domestic violence.

“It starts with men. Don’t blame systems,” she said.

“It took me years to understand that violence isn’t just about hitting somebody. There are many forms of abuse.”

Ms Batty tried to surround Luke with positive male role models when her ex-partner became violent.

She said she found support in former AFL star Matt Rendell, who became “Big Matt” in Luke’s life.

“He adored Matthew,” she said.

Luke’s father was shot dead by police after the killing.

Ms Batty said he had been suffering from paranoia for years but there’s no record of him having contacted a mental health service.

Mental Health Minister Mary Wooldridge said it’s common for the mentally ill to first come into contact with services through police or the courts but it’s difficult to force someone into treatment.

She said it was feasible to track those on intervention orders with ankle bracelets, just as sex offenders are currently tracked.

“The question is how far you go,” she said.

Multiple investigations are underway into Luke’s death.

Premier Denis Napthine said these inquiries will help agencies reduce the risk of a similar tragedy happening again.

Graham doubts Burgess can make World Cup

There’s serious doubts within rugby union circles that league superstar Sam Burgess can adapt quick enough to make England’s team for next year’s World Cup.


Souths forward Burgess has announced he’ll leave the Rabbitohs at the end of this year’s NRL season and play for Bath in England’s rugby premiership.

That will give him less than 11 months to make the transition to play in the 2015 World Cup for the host nation.

Queensland Reds coach Richard Graham, a former assistant coach at Bath and also the Wallabies, doubts Burgess could master the nuances of rugby well enough for the cut-throat, global showpiece tournament.

“I think the transition will be a tough one for him,” Graham said on Monday.

“His aspirations of going to the World Cup are going to be challenging, to say the least.

“There’s no doubt he’s a big physical guy, a very good athlete and a real professional in the way he goes about his training so he’ll give himself a chance. But I think probably the timing will be against him.

“He has to find a position and develop a skill-set there.”

Reports out of England have suggested Bath and England coach Stuart Lancaster want to develop Burgess into an inside centre.

Graham hinted the bullocking league front-rower may not have the polish and poise in his passing and attacking game to shine at No.12 work immediately.

Former Great Britain league skipper Andy Farrell also switched to that position in rugby when he crossed codes in 2005.

But Farrell had more time – two years – and more experience as a ball-player to make his mark at inside centre for the 2007 World Cup.

Graham said: “I was fortunate to coach Andy Farrell when he crossed from Wigan to Saracens at the time but he was a guy who played No.6 (five-eighth) a fair bit in rugby league and a really good thinker and very good skill set.

“He was renowned in English rugby league and internationally and at that time he played No.8 (lock), which also distributed the ball at that period, and he came with a good understanding of the game and how to manipulate defences.”

If Souths make the NRL finals then Burgess would likely miss the first six to eight rounds of the English premiership and only have four months to impress to make England’s squad for the Six Nations – which will provide their main selection rehearsals for the World Cup.

Sonny Bill Williams enjoyed a three-year apprenticeship, including an initial two seasons in France, before playing at the 2011 World Cup but he was largely a bench-warmer for the All Blacks.

Another former NRL star, Brad Thorn, found his road even tougher, struggling in his debut season in 2001 after leaving the Brisbane Broncos, turning down and All Black jersey that year because he didn’t believe he deserved it.

But former Great Britain rugby league halfback Mike Ford, to coach Burgess at Bath, is confident the big Yorkshireman has the qualities to make a successful transition.

“He’s hard working, a huge presence both on and off the field, and an ambitious young Englishman,” Ford said.