Holiday fun: Kelsey Orchard, 9, Ella Davies, 8, and (back) Georgia Featherstone, 8, enjoy a slide at Cairns Sugarworld yesterday. SCHOOL was the last thing on the minds of Kelsey Orchard, Georgia Featherstone and Ella Davies as they soaked up some fun at Sugarworld yesterday.
They joined thousands of Far Northern youngsters making the most of the Christmas break across the region. Weather-wise, partly cloudy conditions are expected over Cairns today, along with isolated showers and a top of 32C.
COMPANIES sending their staff on incentive trips to the Far North have grown by 50 per cent. Business Events Cairns and Great Barrier Reef director Rosie Douglas said 116 incentive groups chose the region as the destination to reward top-performing employees in 2012-2013.
She said the Queensland Business Events Survey figures showed the lucrative market was up from 78 incentive groups. Ms Douglas said it was difficult to put an economic benefit on the trips because of the secrecy surrounding the events and confidentiality clauses providers had to sign.
But, she said, the market was worth about $70 million a year, not including post and pre-touring trips. She said the peak season was from June to October and with the Australian Tourism Exchange and the G20 Finance Ministers summit also next year the number of business travellers was going to rise. The variety of venues showcasing the dual World Heritage areas of the Great Barrier Reef and the Wet Tropics rainforest meant incentives had "a natural wow factor". The education program followed Dreamtime 2013 in Melbourne on December 9-11 which, as Australia's signature trade event for showcasing incentive experiences, attracted more than 100 buyers from all over the world.
A LUCKY Queenslander has been given the ultimate Christmas present, taking out the largest single lotto win in Australia's history. And while the Cairns region has previously had several lucky lotto winners take the prize, this time, it was not to be. There was only one winning entry for last night's record-breaking $70 million jackpot - an unregistered ticket purchased in the Sunshine State. And the winning numbers were 26, 24, 20, 17, 34, 39 and 36, with supplementary numbers 22 and 23. The chances of landing this jackpot is 1 in 3.78 million, with the money landing in the winner's bank account for the New Year - if they come today. JUMP FOR JOY: Artist Josie Lowerson and her granddaughter Tahlia DeLai, aged 10, at The Great Art Hunt at Cairns Regional Gallery.
The Great Art Hunt is a fun-filled interactive exhibition developed by local artist and school teacher Josie Lowerson at Cairns Regional Gallery.
It takes children on a journey of discovery that sees them exploring large, colourful sculptures of ant hills, palm trees, and other familiar features of our local natural environment. The Hunt will result in children collecting objects that will be used in art activities designed to stimulate young imaginations and foster creativity. HIDE AND SEEK: Artist Josie Lowerson and her granddaughter Tahlia DeLai, aged 10, at The Great Art Hunt at Cairns Regional Gallery. A great way to keep active kids busy this school holidays, The Great Art Hunt will launch on Friday and run through until the end of the break on January 25. If you're stuck for a Christmas gift, Cairns Regional Gallery's shop contains original and limited edition pieces by artists while you're at it.
The Great Art Hunt launches on December 20 and runs until January 25 at Cairns Regional Gallery.
At its general meeting yesterday, the Council adopted a policy and code of practice for the removal of the bats.
The Deputy Mayor Terry James says $50-thousand has been set aside for dispersal and if tree trimming doesn't work, the Council will look at other non-lethal methods.
Mr James scoffed at a proposal by Councillor Rob Pyne to erect a platform to view flying foxes in the city's CBD.
Mr James says while he recognises the bats are a novelty for tourists, the proposal is unlikely to be supported by other councillors. POLICE officers pulled two unconscious workers from a Cairns office building after they were exposed to a dangerous levels of carbon monoxide this week. Sen Constable Russell Parker said it was a close shave with death for the two men who were cleaning carpets about 5am on Tuesday. Five police officers attended Cairns Commonwealth Centre on Grafton St and found a man unconscious in the garage and another unresponsive on the first floor of the building. He said three police officers were exposed to the poisonous gas for about 20 minutes and were treated on scene. A Queensland Ambulance Service spokeswoman said two men were taken to Cairns Hospital for treatment. It is understood the men are recovering while Workplace Health and Safety Queensland investigates the incident.
A Queensland Fire and Rescue Service spokeswoman said a crew from Cairns fire station were called to ventilate the building. OPINION: The most disappointing aspect of this Hamilton test was actually before a ball was even bowled. As I mentioned last week, and, as Shane Bond said a few weeks back also, it's about time NZ starting asking questions of the opposition techniques when they tour this country.
We shouldn't be afraid of acknowledging this, it is our strength and will allow us to climb to the rightful position this country should occupy in the world game - between second and no lower than fifth.

Now, a green pitch doesn't only require skill to bat on, it also needs accuracy to bowl on.
An interesting observation of our test game and what direction we will be taking is the morning of the first test against India in about a month's time. Above all else, the resurgence of Australia has been in their ability to get back to playing the game of cricket as they know it. NZ should look closely at our transtasman cousins and their resurgence by going back to their roots. If there is anybody we'd turn to for advice on how to make a fruit cake - especially during Christmas time - it would have to be the woman who made the masterpiece for the Royal Wedding as well as the Christening cake for Prince George.
Baking expert, Fiona Cairns shared eight tips with us on how to prepare, cut and decorate festive baked goods, even if you aren't a Bake Off genius. THE largest health fund premium rise in nine years will increase the cost of health insurance by up to $21 a month.
The murder trial of a man who has admitted dissolving his wife's body in acid in Cairns in far north Queensland has heard some of her teeth were found in a drain outside their home. Klaus Andres, 70, has pleaded guilty to interfering with the corpse of his 42-year-old wife Li Ping Cao by dissolving it in acid. He said he saw Andres about a week after Ms Cao's death, and noticed blood around his lip and thought his teeth looked damaged. Mr Noble said when he asked about Ms Cao's whereabouts, Andres replied she had run off with another man.
Andres's son Ralph Andres told the court his father told him he had fought with Ms Cao and returned home from an appointment to find she had left. Mr Andres said all of Ms Cao's shoes except for a pair of slippers were gone from a rack in the couple's garage.
Earlier today, Klaus Andres's next-door neighbour Rhonda Elgy told the court she frequently heard the couple argue loudly. She said she was home sick on November 7, around a week after Ms Cao's death, and noticed Andres hosing down the gutter outside their homes.
The court has heard 10 of Ms Cao's porcelain teeth were found in the drain a couple of weeks later.
Andres' barrister Tony Glynn QC has argued that Ms Cao's death was an accident caused by Andres pushing her over during a heated argument at their Brinsmead home on October 30, 2011.
Mr Glynn said Andres then bought 60 litres of hydrochloric acid from hardware stores and used it to dissolve her body in a wheelie bin, before pouring the contents down the drain outside their home.
The court was told yesterday the couple had been unhappy for a long time, argued frequently, and that Andres was having an affair with a Thai woman.
Mr Glynn said on the night of Ms Cao's death, the pair had been in a heated argument when Ms Cao scratched Andres's face and stabbed his hand with a fork. Mr Glynn said Andres panicked after finding she was unresponsive and bleeding from her ear. However, crown prosecutor Nigel Rees said he intended to prove Andres murdered Ms Cao by his conduct before and after her death, and the numerous lies he told investigators. The court heard Andres sent emails to a Thai woman known as Da, with whom he was having an affair. Andres said in the emails he wanted her to move in with him, but he had a problem he would try to fix as quickly as possible.
In another email, Andres told Da he did not hit women and would never harm his current wife.
Two neighbours also yesterday testified about frequently hearing loud arguments between the couple.
Ms Cao's friend, Yanmei Liu, told the court she went to see Andres around a week after his wife's death. She said Andres told her Ms Cao had gone to China and the circumstances were none of her business. The court also heard Andres wrote a letter to Centrelink after his wife's death to have payments owed to her transferred into his bank account.
A 70-year-old Cairns man accused of murdering his wife in far north Queensland has told the Supreme Court he is an honest man, but admitted to telling numerous lies to conceal her death.
The prosecution has continued cross-examining Klaus Andres, who has pleaded not guilty to murdering his 42-year-old wife Li Ping Cao, but guilty to disposing of her body with acid at their Cairns home in October 2011.
Today, Andres described his wife injuring his hand with a fork after she discovered he was having an affair. Andres admitted under cross-examination to lying to a range of people, including his police officer son, investigating detectives, friends of his wife and his solicitor after dissolving his wife's body in a wheelie bin using hydrochloric acid.
He said Ms Cao was knocked unconscious after he pushed her during an argument in October 2011.
Crown prosecutor Nigel Rees yesterday referred to emails between Andres and his Thai mistress, where he refers to a "problem" he was trying to fix so they could be together. Mr Rees suggested a month before his wife's death, Andres's solicitor had advised a divorce would be costly. When Mr Rees asked if Andres expected the jury to believe that transferring his dead wife's Centrelink payments to his account would save on account-keeping costs, he replied: "It was my thinking at the time". When asked why he tried to claim his wife's Centrelink payments after she died, he said he had no explanation and it was completely out of character. Earlier in the trial, the jury was shown a lengthy police interview where Andres told numerous lies to detectives, including denying he had used his dead wife's bank card to buy the hydrochloric acid.

The defence will today call a forensic pathologist who will describe ways people can die suddenly in the manner Andres says his wife died. OPINION: I used to find it quite amusing when the bowling group had fingers pointed at it after the failings of the batting group. The Boxing Day ODI produced such a reaction when a substandard performance from the New Zealand batters meant the bowlers had to take 10 wickets to win the match. In striving for this there will always be consequence as you must produce wicket-taking deliveries.
With Jesse Ryder back, Martin Guptill in and Kyle Mills and McClenaghan replacing the successful duo of Trent Boult and Time Southee, I have thought about how the New Zealand team for the opening game of the 2015 Cricket World Cup may shape up.
It's 14 months away but there are only about a dozen ODIs left before we play Sri Lanka in Christchurch. Being this far out, Mike Hesson and Bruce Edgar, the men charged with shaping the team, will have the majority of personnel in place but they must commit as soon as possible to allow combinations and strategy to evolve. The reason is that with this top three, any bowling attack in the game is going to have apprehension as all are capable of match-winning knocks and taking the game from you, quickly. Ross Taylor at four to anchor and control the innings and the team's best bat and then Williamson's skill to tick the middle part of the innings over against spin, gives good balance to the power at the top.
With McCullum not keeping, it means that Corey Anderson, Colin Munro and Jimmy Neesham are vying for two spots at six and seven. The four to make up the rest of the squad are Tom Latham (covering top order and keeping), James Franklin, Nathan McCullum and Mills. So that's my squad and it's a team that has impact and match winners and is a definite semifinal contender. If McCullum could don the gloves and Munro comes in for Ronchi then I believe that is a World Cup- winning combination as the balance and depth is frightening and has experience along with youthful passion. Wellington provided a surface that was perhaps a little too emerald but why Hamilton has produced this pitch completely bewilders me. Often opposition bowlers lack the skill to bowl on our seam-friendly pitches and are found short. It's always pleasing to see a quality player at the top of his game and long may it continue.
Taylor has decreased his shot range and by doing this he has increased his chance of success.
Sport is cyclical and this current crop of England players has had its time under Andy Flower.
NZ's roots lie in tough cricket on challenging pitches and heck, if you're struggling on the field we're still a great wee place to tour off it. Allow your Christmas cake to mature, and add a tablespoon or two of brandy before storing away, to allow flavours to mature and for extra succulence and booziness! Cutting your Christmas cake - so many people associate Christmas cakes with a pile of dry crumbs. I think the bowlers, and in particular Mitchell McClenaghan, were superb in getting New Zealand close but the batters will know they need to produce more and no doubt Napier will provide the platform for this today. Where I would change the order is to have Brendon McCullum at three and put Kane Williamson down to five. I would love to see all three play as this young group are without doubt some of the game's most explosive talent, though Munro may be the unlucky one to miss out. BJ Watling is on the outer but an excellent cricketer, though his strike rate at 50-over cricket is too slow.
Experience off the bench is critical as there will be injuries and perhaps a form slump from someone during the tournament. There were two vans parked in the garage and they were running petrol generators to power the carpet cleaning," he said. If Ryder could also play a more compact game and do away with some riskier shots, NZ would get more out of him and Ryder would become more consistent. The result last year in England was somewhat inflated by the three-nil scoreline, it was never that big a gap but the alarming aspect is the demise of the English and how spectacular it has been. If you are not an experienced cake decorator you can buy a fabulous ribbon and decorate the top of the cake with a few deep red roses. Shortbread and gingerbread dough freezes really well - make the dough as instructed, roll out and cut out the shapes and freeze them in readiness for the festive period. This is one of the first conversations Taylor should have with Ryder when he comes back into the squad, politely but with an air of a man who is at the top of his game. Alastair Cook has been found wanting as captain, something Shane Warne picked a while back, while Jonathan Trott has been sorely missed and here's hoping his current challenge away from cricket can be conquered. But the cake must be cut with a sharp, serrated knife, cutting with a gentle sawing action. But it's the absence of James Anderson and Graeme Swann that has been most perplexing and questions are now being asked about their futures.

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