Australia Weather News

Rail strike called off

Trains to the Central Coast and Hunter region have resumed after rail workers ended a strike but services are expected to be disrupted throughout the day.

Hundreds of staff walked off the job at midnight over their refusal to test a fleet of 55 new intercity trains.

The Rail, Tram and Bus union says the new trains will see guards replaced with CCTV cameras and distress buttons connected to a call centre in Green Square, instead of staff on the train.

Transport for New South Wales agreed to cancel the test run and will meet with the Rail, Tram and Bus union to discuss safety concerns.

Rail, Tram and Bus Union spokesperson Alex Classens warned there could still be delays to some services until the afternoon peak.

Whiteley piece breaks records

Brett Whiteley's painting, Henri's Armchair, has sold for $6.1 million, becoming the highest value Australian artwork ever sold at auction.

Three telephone bidders and one absentee bid on the 1974 masterpiece at Menzies Auction House in Sydney's Kensington last night.

It was sold in less than five minutes and the winning bidders were private collectors from Sydney's Lower North Shore.

The painting was sold by Elizabeth Evatt, the wife of late defence barrister Clive Evatt QC, who chose to capitalise on the buoyant art market right now.

The iconic work is part of Whitley's Lavender Bay series and shows the view from his studio-home over Sydney harbour.

NSW to be hit by a scorcher

Heatwave conditions are forecast for NSW over the coming days bringing increased fire danger across the weekend.

Sydney is expected to reach a top of 26 degrees Celsius, but it will be far hotter in the west, with 41C predicted for Broken Hill.

Strong and gusty winds are forecast for inland NSW on the weekend with raised dust likely.

Thunderstorms in the next few days may also see winds increase.

Calls for more women to become bus drivers

Today marks 50 years since women were first allowed to become bus drivers in New South Wales.

About 5 per cent of Sydney's bus drivers are female, and the State Transit Authority wants to recruit more women into the industry.

Susan Fairless was one of the first, becoming a driver in 1971.

She said most instances of discrimination in the early days came from other women.

"One woman confronted me and said: 'I don't like the idea of you working on the bus', and I said: 'What's the problem?'

"She said: 'You're taking a job from a man'. I said: 'With all due respect ma'am, if I wasn't here you wouldn't have a bus to travel in'."

Fentanyl warning for cocaine and heroin users

Health authorities are warning of a rise in fentanyl-related medical incidents in recent months.

NSW Health said a number of people in Sydney and regional New South Wales had taken fentanyl unknowingly, when using heroin or cocaine.

The strong opioids fentanyl and acetylfentanyl were identified as contaminants, and have caused serious harm.

Doctors say some people have described the heroin as being purple in colour.

They warn the opioids can be life-threatening when taken unknowingly and can easily cause overdoses.

Pandemic helps improve domestic violence strategy

A domestic violence service in Sydney's west says outcomes for many of its clients have improved during the pandemic due to new strategies.

Catherine Gander from DV West said a review into its operations during April to September found an increased use of technology, video calls and electronic document transfers.

Ms Gander said although the changes had not worked for all women, they had proven successful for many.

"Some women it will work better to work remotely with them because they don't have to come in for an hour, they don't have to arrange child care, we can do it in short bits."