FRIENDSHIP can be a powerful thing. For some native animals on the Central Coast, though, it's the start of something pretty special. Two joeys at the Australian Reptile Park have become mates, a friendship that's actually helping one of them bounce back from a pretty debilitating health scare.
Keepers reckon Frankie and Tim Tam are inseparable, something of a happy ending for Frankie after a rocky start to life. The roo was saved after developing serious skin conditions, but has now made a full recovery.
As she started to join the other Skippys roaming around the Central Coast park, she locked eyes on Tim Tam and has barely been apart from her mate since.
Apparently they love a hop around together, chowing down and the odd roo rumble.
Head of mammals Dean Reid said Frankie had integrated with the kangaroos seamlessly thanks to the bond between the pair.
"Honestly there is always a bit of anxiety when reintroducing a kangaroo joey back into the 'mob'. You never know if they're all suddenly going to fight or cause issues," Mr Reid said. "Frankie has been through everything you can imagine, and it makes us all get a bit teary to see her just like all the other kangaroos again, from having skin issues, to suckling on her own feet so much that the only way to stop it was to put special socks on them - it's been a rollercoaster."
Flu season to hit harder, later
FLU season is likely to hit Australia later than usual this year, and it could make a big comeback.
Australia saw the lowest number of influenza cases on record in 2020, and there have been few cases recorded over the past six months, following a record-high number in 2019. So how will things play out in 2021?
"That's the $64 million question," Ian Barr, from the WHO Collaborating Centre for Reference and Research on Influenza, said.
"It will remain low but when things free up, when international borders reopen, there is a much greater chance for circulation.
"While we might not see flu in the normal season it might be delayed and come back strongly."
Australia's normal flu season runs from June until September or October. The global circulation of the flu is well down for 2021 so far, but there have been outbreaks in East Timor, Cambodia, Bangladesh, Laos, India and Vietnam.
Chris Moy from the Australian Medical Association says high immunisation rates, as well as mask-wearing and physical distancing due to COVID-19, helped stop the spread of flu last year.
It's estimated these measures prevented about 2800 influenza deaths.
But Dr Moy said a year with very little flu can often mean a reduced immunity in the population, resulting in a big flu season the following year.
Doctors are "scrambling" to administer regular flu shots at around the same time as the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, he said.
City vs country towns in NSW side
KNIGHTS fans are probably wishing Sunday afternoon was a figment of their imagination, given the uphill battle the club faces putting a side together for Saturday's clash with the Gold Coast.
NSW Minister for Customer Services Victor Dominello had a crack at metaphorically naming a special kind of NSW side in his opinion piece on Saturday, naming Sydney and Newcastle at halfback and five-eighth.
If the two cities are the playmakers, which other parts of NSW are in your line-up and where are they playing?