Video game-themed Mana Bar, closing in September, is the latest in a series of Brunswick Street bars to go under. Photo: Meredith O’SheaThe restaurant slump has hit hard in Brunswick Street, Fitzroy, the strip that kickstarted Melbourne’s cafe and bar scene back in the 1980s.
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At least 13 Brunswick Street venues have closed in the past three years, and at least six more hospitality businesses on the strip are listed for sale. Low consumer confidence, licence fees and high rents have been blamed for the flurry of exits.

Mana Bar, which opened two years ago as a video game-themed venue, has just announced its ”debilitating licence restrictions” would force it to close in late September.

A last-ditch effort to save the business, a ”Save Your Mana” event, will be held from August 27 to 31, but the owners are already searching for a new home.

Bar brand manager Skaidris Gunsmith said the state government’s extension of a freeze on the allocation of late-night liquor licences to June 30, 2015, played a significant role in the bar’s fate.

The freeze applies to any venue applying to trade past 1am in Yarra, Melbourne, Port Phillip and Stonnington.

”No one’s looking for cocktails during the day. People only want to come here at 9pm and then we have to stop everything and kick everyone out at 11pm. So we only have two hours to make money,” he said. ”If that [freeze] hadn’t been in place, we would have been thriving by now.”

Many Brunswick Street bars and restaurants have shut since 2010, including St Jude’s Cellars, the Cue Club, Sala Thai, Cherry Lounge, Kazen, The Tenth Muse, Cruzao Arepa Bar, Gypsy Bar, Mirrors Lounge Bar, Filter Cafe, Oppo Cafe, Max’s Cafe and Retro Cafe.

Restaurant and Catering Australia chief executive John Hart said because Brunswick Street is known as a hospitality district, there was a rent premium on venues that makes it hard for many businesses to make a profit.

The hospitality sector across Melbourne is under increasing pressure.

The average spend per person in the nation’s restaurants has dropped from $61 to $54 in the past year, according to national hospitality booking agency Dimmi. Victoria was the only state where the agency noted a decrease in bookings.

The Weekly Review Melbourne Times, with Esther Han

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The sign touting ‘Tackies’ for $40 Jason Dufner starts the Dufnering craze at a school visit
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A READER was browsing the discount rack of a fashion emporium at Stockton (pictured) when she noticed something odd about the sign.

‘‘$40,’’ it said.

Jaimie Ribbon pamphlet with blue ribbon.

Bubba Watson does an impersonation of Jason Dufner with a Dufnering pose

‘‘All jeans and tackies.’’

‘‘Freudian slip?’’ asks our reader.

They must be nice tackies for $40. Topics may investigate.

Calling local Dufners

TOPICS hadn’t really heard of American golfer Jason Dufner until the weekend when, armed with the larger gentleman’s golf swing, he won the US PGA Championship.

He can also lay claim to inspiring a fad: ‘‘Dufnering’’.

It started in May, when Dufner was in a primary school classroom for a charity day. There was a lull, so he slumped against a wall and sat on his hands, staring blankly.

An amused TV reporter snapped a photo, which found its way to Twitter. Dufnering was born.

Fellow pro golfer Keegan Bradley mocked up his own Dufnering shot, and plenty of others including Bubba Watson (pictured) couldn’t resist.

We wonder: does Dufnering have a Hunter equivalent?

Making an Abbott of it

NO one could accuse Jaimie Abbott of being publicity shy. The Liberal candidate for Newcastle has, in the campaign’s early days, scaled Tom Waterhouse-esque heights of exposure.

Here’s how often Brand Abbott popped up in a day in the life of a citizen (who’s a Topics writer).

Adamstown, 7.15am. Woke up for run. Passed beneath giant Jaimie Abbott/John Church billboard on the corner of the Pacific Highway and Glebe Road.

Adamstown, 7.47am. Still running. Jaimie Abbott sign mounted in front yard of Glebe Road house.

Newcastle, 9.22am. At work, emails read, now time to browse – er, check Facebook. Strictly for work purposes. Sure enough, one of the sponsored links is Jaimie Abbott, Liberal for Newcastle.

‘‘Eight of your friends like this page,’’ says Facebook.

Darby Street, Cooks Hill, 12.45pm. Glimpsed Jaimie Abbott campaign car, and possibly the candidate herself. But might have been someone in a blue T-shirt.

Newcastle, 2.29pm. Protruding from mail slot is a Jaimie Abbott pamphlet tied with a blue ribbon, like a wedding invitation. Can’t be cheap.

Bed, between 11.30pm and 6.30am. Asleep. Dream about being one of the members of Daft Punk is interrupted by appearance of Jaimie Abbott. Not sure how to interpret.

Toys in the gun

WE asked if you’ve seen a toy that’s a bit wrong (Topics, August 9) and for Beryl, of Warners Bay, there’s a whole range of toys that are wrong. Guns.

The influence of gun culture on playthings struck her just recently.

‘‘A well-meaning charity outlet had boxes of toys to distribute to children, and the box which of course took my eye was the one filled with guns,’’ writes Beryl.

‘‘We don’t need, in this day and age, to encourage children to use a toy gun.’’

The cowboy and Indian shootouts of yesteryear, believes Beryl, were more innocent than what’s evoked by the modern toy arsenal.

Does she have a point?

And where does that leave Topics’ childhood weapon of choice, a laser made of our index finger that made a ‘‘pew – pew pew!’’ sound?

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NO DUFFER: Jason Dufner holds on to the Wanamaker Trophy with the help of wife Amanda. Picture: Getty ImagesVIDEO: Dufner wins US PGA Championship
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ROCHESTER: Even Jason Dufner smiled when he won the US PGA Championship.

Dufner comes across as one of the most laid-back people on the planet and rarely breaks from his deadpan swagger.

Even with the Wanamaker Trophy in hand, the smile looked a little forced but the man who sparked an internet craze of “Dufnering” – sitting stiffly and looking disinterested – insisted it was genuine.

And so it should be after the 36-year-old American with the quirky waggle made amends for losing out on the title in a play-off to Keegan Bradley in 2011 by claiming his maiden major title at Oak Hill Country Club on Sunday.

Dufner bogeyed the last two holes but shot a closing two-under 68 to finish at 10 under and win by two strokes from 2003 champion and overnight leader Jim Furyk (71).

Henrik Stenson (70) and countryman Jonas Blixt (70) finished third and fourth respectively as Sweden’s long wait for a first major continued.

Australia’s Masters champion Adam Scott carded five birdies in his final round but also notched up five bogeys for a 70, only good enough tie for fifth place.

Dufner’s win came two years after he led by four with four holes to play but coughed up his lead then went down in the play-off.

“It feels great. My name will always be on the trophy and nobody can take that away from me,” Dufner said.

“I come across as a pretty cool customer I guess, but there are definitely some nerves out there, especially when you’re trying to win a major championship.”

Bradley, a key combatant in an ongoing friendly Twitter war, was on hand to hug his mate at the end.

Dufner was just happy to be able to lay to rest some of his 2011 demons from Atlanta Athletic Club.

“You always carry those scars with you and he always jabbed at me a little bit about having one of these [Wanamaker trophy] in his house and thanks me for giving it to him,” Dufner said.

“Now I’ve got one too. It’s pretty neat to come back and win the PGA.”

For Scott, it was a missed opportunity in what has been an incredibly consistent run in major championships.

His five birdies would have been enough if they were not mirrored by as many bogeys.

The the last throw of the dice for him came on the par five 13th.

Looking to make the par 5 in two, Scott came up just short in the rough before hitting a wedge fat and taking bogey when eagle or birdie had been on his mind.

“I felt like I was still in there with a chance coming up 13, if I could do something special up there,” Scott said.

“But the rough got me. I was in the long stuff too much today to really have a good chance. You can’t escape it all the time.”

Scott has been the best performed player to par in the majors over the last two years, finishing in the top 15 seven of eight times and claiming the Masters in April.

“It would have been nice to get another win in a major seeing I’ve kind of put myself in position, but I didn’t,” he said.

“So I have got to push on and try and win a couple of other tournaments this year to feel like I really get something out of my good play.”

Jason Day (67) had everyone all aflutter with a run of seven birdies in a 10-hole stretch but bogeyed the last three holes to fall to a tie for eighth at three-under.

Marc Leishman (68) is heading home for the birth of his second child on a great note, finishing at two-under in a tie for 12th.

Matt Jones (+4), Marcus Fraser (+5) and John Senden (+11) rounded out the Aussie tilt.

World No. 1 Tiger Woods finished with a 70 to be four-over for the championship, well off the pace, but he was better than world No. 2 Phil Mickelson, who finished with a 72 to be 12-over. AAP

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Wollongong’s new sobering-up centre is due to open by the end of the month, ushering in a safer summer nightlife for the city according to its operator.
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Watershed drug and alcohol recovery centre chief executive Will Temple on Mondayrevealed the voluntary NSW government centre would be located in Lowdon Square, near Wollongong train station.

It will be open from 11pm to 11am on Friday and Saturday nights to provide 12 beds for drunks who are picked up by police or emergency service workers in the Wollongong CBD.

Gong doesn’t need sober-up centre: hotels

Both men and women will be catered for, with a secure, female-friendly section being built in what Mr Temple said would be a “state of the art” alcohol-recovery centre.

Watershed has been providing drug and alcohol services in the Illawarra for 35 years and was chosen by the government to run the voluntary drunk tank last month.

Since then it has been fitting out the first part of the facility, which Mr Temple hopes to open by the end of the month or early September.

The NSW government announced in January its plans to open the Wollongong centre, and at the same time announced a hardline stance against drunks in the Sydney CBD.

A mandatory lock-up for drunks was established last month in Sydney to combat violent and drunken crime, but Mr Temple stressed the Watershed-run centre in Auburn Street would be vastly different.

“This is a completely different kettle of fish because it’s run by a drug and alcohol service and we are providing this for the community – it’s a community service,” he said.

“People who are causing trouble and who are violent and carrying on will still be locked up by police. They won’t be brought to the centre … because our focus is to be a safe alternative to the lock-up for people who are out, drunk and at risk for any number of reasons.”

He said the centre was designed to help police and ambulance officers, as well as keeping late-night revellers safe when they were intoxicated.

“This is for people who are not doing anything wrong, they are just intoxicated and our aim is to keep them safe and keep the wider community safe as well,” he said.

“At the moment the only options for the police are to lock them up, take them to the emergency department or take them home, which takes a police car off the beat for all that time.”

“So it’s about freeing up police and freeing up the accident and emergency department, and we’re looking at trying to work with paramedics so it can be about freeing up ambos to do their work as well.”

Mr Temple said the centre would operate with three staff for every five clients and a nurse on hand to assess those admitted at all times.

The last admission each day will be at 6am.

As well as providing a clean bed and food and water for intoxicated revellers, Mr Temple said the sobering-up centre would act as an early intervention service for problem drunks.

“We’re very excited about this opportunity, because we can touch base with these guys and it’s about getting some information from them about what they are drinking and how they are drinking,” he said.

“Alcohol is a major issue in Wollongong and it’s on the rise, so we really need to tackle it from the early intervention side.”

Operators say new alcohol-recovery centres will make the Wollongong CBD safer at night.

Over the next three weeks Watershed will be holding community information sessions about the centre and is also seeking part-time drug and alcohol staff.

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NEWCASTLE District Golf Association president John Waanders said leading amateur Callan O’Reilly would not be parachuted into the NSW Regional Championships side unless openings appear.
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Newcastle will start favourites at the two-day regionals at Kew Country Club on Saturday against Hunter River, Central Coast and Lower North Coast.

When the side was named O’Reilly was in the US.

“We selected the original team and we don’t really want to lump on someone who’s been selected by saying, ‘Look, Callan’s now available, so we’re going to kick you out’,” Waanders said.

“If there’s a cancellation then Callan will be the first one in.”

Waratah’s Stephen Monk has also been drafted into the masters this week after Muree’s Frank Musgrave withdrew through injury.

Meanwhile, Waanders is confident the NDGA will attract new blood to its committee at the annual general meeting on August 26.

Last September, Waanders answered an SOS call to return to the five-position executive board after two AGMs failed to fill the positions of president, secretary and treasurer.

Waanders plans to stand down as president but will continue as treasurer.

“Some people have been approached and they’ve ummed and ahed and hopefully we will get one or maybe two applicants, so it might even go to a vote,” Waanders said.

■ Toronto’s Clayton Bridges is hopeful an extra 12 months experience can propel him two spots higher on the NSW/ACT Trainee Championships leaderboard at Hawks Nest next week.

Last year the 20-year-old finished third is his maiden attempt at the 72-hole tournament.

“I’m hitting the ball pretty well and just had a lesson the other day, so everything seems to be going ahead,” Bridges said.

He and Charlestown’s Jamie Hook will spearhead the Hunter charge when the championships tee off next Monday.

Other Hunter hopefuls are Ethan Morris (Charlestown) Christopher Ford (Kurri Kurri), Regan McGovern (Newcastle) and Geoffrey McCormack (Waratah).

■ James Nitties’s hopes of returning to the US PGA Tour improved slightly on Sunday with his performance at the Price Cutter Charity Championship, pushing him eight places to 72nd on the web南京夜网 Tour’s money list.

The top 50 receive automatic promotion to the top tier. The Charlestown touring professional finished 14th after carding 275 (66-71-68-70), 13 under par.

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