Memories of a trek to the big smoke

By TONY WHITE

SO what did the 42 Graftonians involved in the 2005 Daily Examiner footy tipping promotion get up to on grand final day and later that evening?

Surely there must be some good goss about.

Head tourist, DEX general manager Steve Portas, our inside man or fly on the wall so to speak, would have been at the hub of activities.

However, Mr Portas, while heading up the DEX team, obviously isn't skilled in the wily ways of journalism. He's more adroit at management or for that matter decorum rather than juicy revelation.

"Sorry, you know the old story, what happens on tour stays on tour," the head honcho suggested diplomatically via his mobile yesterday. "You've got to protect the innocent but more so the guilty," he added with a laugh.

Seems the crew arrived safely by plane and got to Telstra Stadium around 3pm to see the second half of the Jersey Flegg game involving local Danny Wicks.

"We cheered him on," Portas said. "It was a cracker of a day. We were seated around 20,000 Tiger fans. It was a sea of orange and black. Two-thirds of the people were cheering for the Tigers.

"Everyone had a ball. The first-grade game was great."

Portas admitted that after the game some of the fun really began with about a one-third of the touring party heading to the casino to try their luck, while others ventured elsewhere into Sydney.

A scout, who headed to Sydney on Saturday before joining the touring bandwagon, had allegedly been seen leaving the casino well after daybreak and backed up the following evening.

Another allegedly returned home from the casino with a wallet fatter than the American cartoon character Fat Albert.

And a tourist of musical persuasion apparently had an admiring group of Queanbeyan girls chanting his name to sing on the return train trip from Telstra Stadium that had passengers agape in disbelief, some believing he was a mega rock star in disguise.

Mr Portas suggested, that following great response from local business houses keen to jump back on again, the DEX footy tipping promotion was 'a grand final certainty' for next year. An AFL contest has also been mooted.

Incidentally, Bank of Queensland's Peter Gibbons was a clear winner of the contest over Tank, from the Post Office Hotel, who finished runner-up on a count back.



UPDATE: Fire out of control, too late to leave

UPDATE: Fire out of control, too late to leave

A major bushfire at Ellangowan has just jumped containment lines

Fires close one highway, affect another

Fires close one highway, affect another

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FIRE FRONTLINES: Help has arrived

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