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Brothers Lachlan and Stefan Lamble completing their run across Australia | Image: Orford Optics

Feel-Good Friday: 10 May 2024 – Killer Whales and Running Trails

In case the news that the Biebers are pregnant wasn’t enough to thrust you into a good mood, I’ve returned to finish the job. If you ask me, this week’s edition of Feel-Good Friday is loaded with information that will melt the thick layer of ice that surrounds your heart and leave you feeling all warm and fuzzy. Like a box full of puppies or the thrill of finding an eleventh nugget in your 10-piece McNugget feast, I have the means to make this Friday a very enjoyable one. Dig in.

HECS-HELP indexation is set to rise | Image: Unseen Studio
HECS-HELP indexation is set to rise | Image: Unseen Studio

$3 Billion in HECS Debt to Be Wiped Off

After a long and torrid campaign to change the current HECS-HELP student loan system, the Australian Federal Government has taken action. The government has announced that it will cut around AUD$3 billion in student debt, effectively reversing last year’s monumental 7.1 per cent indexation hike.

The new system, which will be outlined in detail in this month’s federal budget, will cap indexation by tying measurement to whichever is lower out of the Consumer Price Index (CPI) or the Wage Price Index (WPI). In simple terms, the measures will ensure that student debts cannot outpace wage growth in the future.

In recent years, student debt has spiralled to AUD$78.2 billion, however, it was last year’s mammoth indexation increase that spurred widespread criticism of the system. The 7.1 per cent rate hike, the highest in more than a decade, saw many loans grow faster than Australians could pay them off. In response, crossbench MP Monique Ryan started an online petition demanding changes to the way the loans were indexed, which has since received more than 280,000 signatures.

The government has listened, with about 3 million Australians set to be better off. Best of all, the proposed changes are expected to be retrospective and backdated to 1 June 2023, meaning many students should receive credit on their payments.

Orca calf spotted in WA's Ningaloo Reef | Image: Ningaloo Coral Bay
Orca calf spotted in WA’s Ningaloo Reef | Image: Ningaloo Coral Bay

First Orca Calf Spotted at Ningaloo Reef in Years

A baby orca has been sighted at Western Australia’s Ningaloo Reef for the first time in three years, marine researchers have confirmed. The calf was first spotted by a tourist boat pilot near Exmouth earlier this week and has since been seen in the shallows of the Exmouth Gulf, alongside a pod of six mature orcas.

According to field biologist John Totterdell, it’s the first time in several years that an orca calf has been seen in the area. The whale expert told ABC that the animal’s unexpected appearance puts an end to a difficult reproductive period within the UNESCO World Heritage site.

“It’s really exciting because (the orca population) is lean. We don’t see a lot of new calves up here,” Totterdell told ABC. “Mortality is very high around the world with killer whale populations in their first year or two…We’re really hoping that we get a couple of years with this new calf, and it can become a regular member.”

Brothers Lachlan and Stefan Lamble completing their run across Australia | Image: Orford Optics
Brothers Lachlan and Stefan Lamble completing their run across Australia | Image: Orford Optics

Brothers Raise $200k in 100 Days By Running Across Australia

Brothers Lachlan and Stefan Lamble have completed their incredible goal of running across Australia in 100 days, raising a whopping AUD$200,000 for charity in the process. The young athletes made their way from Perth to Melbourne, covering 3,400 kilometres in just 85 days before crossing the finishing line on Sunday. The journey was all for a good cause, with the Lambles helping to raise money for the Australian Cancer Research Foundation, a vital organisation dedicated to supporting Australians affected by the devastating disease.

“Not only did these superhumans run almost daily marathons but also braved floods, heatwaves, storms and multiple injuries along the way,” the organisation wrote on Instagram. “They’ve smashed their initial fundraising goal of AUD$100,000, crossing the finish line on Sunday, they have now raised over AUD$201,000 for a purpose beyond themselves – lifesaving cancer research.”

For more information on the run and to donate to the Lambros Army, visit the Instagram link below.

Hickson House Distilling Co. launches Harbour Bridge Gin Series | Image: Hickson House Distilling Co.
Hickson House Distilling Co. launches Harbour Bridge Gin Series | Image: Hickson House Distilling Co.

Win the Ultimate Harbour Experience with Hickson House Distilling Co.

Sydney gin legend Hickson House Distilling Co. has unveiled a new limited-edition homage to one of Sydney’s most famous residents. The label has officially announced the Harbour Bridge Gin Series, an annual release celebrating the upcoming centenary of the Steel Coathanger. Every year from now until 2032, The Rocks-based distillery will release a new limited-edition gin designed to capture a unique chapter of the Sydney Harbour Bridge’s story.

The inaugural release, entitled Breaking Ground, commemorates the historic moment developers first turned sod in 1923, marking the beginning of the Bridge’s construction. An image of this monumental event is displayed on the inside of each of the individually numbered bottles. Inside, you’ll find a selection of the label’s award-winning small batch Hickson House Harbour Strength Gin that has been fused with locally sourced botanicals, including Lemon Aspen and Lilly Pilly (which would have grown in the area during the time of the bridge’s construction). At 42% ABV, this release is big on bold juniper notes balanced with bright citrus and subtle berry aromas.

Best of all, Hickson House is making sure the word gets out. To celebrate the launch, the distillery is offering consumers the chance to win one of three Ultimate Sydney Harbour Experiences with every purchase of Harbour Bridge Gin online or in-store. The experience includes a Harbour Bridge Summit climb for two, a Hickson House distillery tour, and a $150 dining voucher.