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Now I’m Free Freefallin’



Josh Mortel is 23 years old, Manager at Mortels Sheepskin Factory and regularly jumps out of planes 15,000ft off the groundfor fun. 

When it comes to pushing your mind and body to the limit, Josh Mortel is an expert. If he’s not at work making and selling high quality sheepskin and leather products, he’s looking for his next action sporting adventure. 

At the age of 16, Josh went skydiving for the first time whilst on a family trip to New Zealand. His sister and father signed up for a tandem skydive, and not wanting to be known as a ‘wuss’ as Josh puts it, he also signed up for the extreme experience. “After the tandem I didn’t think about skydiving much more,” said Josh.

“I thought what so many people think: “skydiving – tandem – done”. I didn’t actually know the depth that skydiving is as a whole.”

Josh has always been an action sport enthusiast, breakdancing at a high level from a young age and participating in parkour and various other extreme sports. “I was always pushing my physical and mental limits,” he said. 

“One day scrolling through my news feed I found a photo of an old friend, him in the sky upside down. At that moment I discovered that skydiving was a sport. I questioned him about it until I eventually sucked up my nerves and booked the AFF course for myself.”

Skydiving is the sport or activity of jumping from an aircraft and performing acrobatic manoeuvres in the air under free fall before landing by parachute. It is known as an ‘extreme sport’ as people jump from an aeroplane at around 10,000ft to 15,000ft in the air and fall to the ground at high speed.

The sport itself has so many levels to it, giving you the option to make it as extreme or as calm as you would like. Some forms of skydiving include solo flying to soak up the view (SOLO skydiving), flying flat on your belly with friends (FS), falling as fast as you can towards the ground (Speed-flying), wingsuit flying (a common favourite), parachute flying (Canopy Piloting), and flying vertically towards the ground in formation (Freeflying). 

To begin skydiving as a sport you need formal training, commonly referred to as “AFF” (Accelerated Free Fall) training. No one is allowed to skydive without this, with the exclusion of tandem skydiving. You can start this training without ever having done a tandem and with absolutely no experience. 

Once your training is complete (this can take anywhere from 1 week to 1 month depending on where you go, weather and money you are willing to spend) then you are free to train in any discipline you like the look of.

“Skydiving is one of the most mentally difficult things that a human can do… imagine standing inside a plane with the door open at 15,000ft then having to look out the door and JUMP,” said Josh.

“Once you step off the door, you are in a whole different planet. It’s 100% complete euphoria, the fear is now gone, and you are free. You are certainly not worried about the amount of toilet paper in your bathroom or what TV show is playing later that night. 40 seconds pass and now you deploy your parachute, once it is open you are now flying at a slow speed, safely towards the ground you’ve done it!”

“When your feet softly touch the ground and you are safe that’s when the emotion really hits, “Wow! I’ve just done that”, and all of a sudden everything in life sounds so much easier. I think to myself ‘I jump out of planes now; I am going to nail this week at work’.”

Josh emphasised the point that anyone can skydive. Skydiving gives you the opportunity to make friends for life from all kinds of backgrounds. “I’ve skydived with lawyers, tradies, marketing consultants, I.T Experts, artists and so much more,” he said. 

There’s no fitness level required, you can simply turn up to your booking and start learning. There’s also a large range of events that skydivers can get involved with including dedicated learning camps or ‘Boogies’ where skydivers get together to have fun in the sky. “The skydiving community is full of fantastic, like-minded people who just love life and everything about it,” said Josh.

“No one is shy of saying G’day and making you feel welcome from day one. I have never seen or heard of any better community in any walk of life. If you go to a drop zone, jumping or no jumping, you will be welcomed with open arms.”

If you’re looking for a thrill, new hobby or an opportunity to make new friends, head to your local drop zone and do a jump. It’s not only lots of fun, but there’s a high chance of your life being changed for the better. 

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Cast Away



Winter is finally loosening its icy grip and there’s no better place to enjoy a bit of sunshine than out on the water with a rod in your hand.


It’s been all about Yellow Fin lately with a consistently good bite off the coast. We are starting to see the fish thin out and move South although things are still changing locally day to day.

The Snapper have been a bit hot and cold up around the Bay lately, though I’ve no doubt they will turn it on soon enough. The reefs off Newcastle and Forster are proving a lot more consistent.


Whether it’s from the ocean rocks or from a breakwall, Bream and Blackfish are proving to be consistent and in good numbers.

Drummer and Grouper are also fishing well especially after some of the wild weather of late. You will also find a few Tailor spinning metals around the wash.

Squid will still be available but may be harder to find after the rough seas.


I must say that thanks to the super mild Winter weather we have been seeing this Winter there’s plenty on offer along the beaches. A beach fishing mission would have to be the pick with target species being Bream and Salmon throughout the day and Tailor on dusk. Even a Jewie or two as the sun disappears. As we move out of Winter and into Spring we generally see a decent run of Jewies on the beaches.


The fishing is generally tough during Winter but armed with a few plastics, suspended divers worked super slow along the edges or even bobbing a few football or the ice style jigs through schools of fish holding in the deeper water you should find something to hook on.

Keep floatin’ – Thrifty’s

From the Thrifty’s Cookbook – 15 minute Salmon with Miso Glaze

Miso Glaze

  • ¼ cup brown sugar, packed
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce, low sodium
  • 2 tablespoons hot water
  • 2 tablespoons white miso, organic Miso

In a medium bowl combine brown sugar, soy sauce, hot water, and miso and stir with a whisk.


  • 4 x 150gm Salmon fillets
  • Salt and black pepper for seasoning
  • 2 teaspoons sesame seeds, optional

Arrange fish on a shallow baking dish coated with cooking spray. Spoon Miso mixture evenly over fish fillets. Bake for 8-10 mins or until fish flakes easily with a fork. Base again with Miso glaze halfway through cooking (2 times total). Sprinkle with sesame seeds and green onions. Best served with rice and greens.

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Big Goals for Local Boxer



Cessnock’s Troy O’Meley entered the ring in 2008 and has never looked back, now striving to one day be the World Boxing Champion.

The 27-year-old took out the Australian Super Welterweight Championship earlier this year and he’s not stopping there. Not even COVID can stop this ambitious young boxer from smashing goal after goal as he trains harder than ever to defend his title which has been postponed until further notice.

Troy became the Australian Champion after his victory against Adrian Rodriguez in early March 2020 – the biggest title of his career to date. His early career saw Troy the first non-Thai to fight for the Thai National team and represent Thailand in the World Series Boxing, carrying their flag to Mumbai.

Turning Pro in 2017 the Hunter boxer currently stands at an impressive 11 wins to no losses. With huge support from his father and trainer Anthony O’Meley and brother Kane O’Meley who is also a boxer, Troy said his family is who inspires him and it’s not hard to see why.

Anthony currently hosts the 6pm to 8pm slot on 2CHR 96.5fm covering topics from mindset and motivation to discipline and training, with Troy sitting alongside him as guest speaker.

“Dad went on the radio show to promote the Title Bout and Dad loves a chat, so I sit by his side and support him on the show,” said Troy.

Sharing some of his experiences, advice and support for his community on the show Troy said, “I’m passionate about helping others as it’s genuinely good for your soul.”

Late last year Troy travelled to Narrabri together with members of the East Cessnock Bowling Club to donate a van full of toys, clothing, food and essentials to assist with drought relief in the region. Troy also generously ran a boxing and fitness clinic for kids in the area.

Most recently Troy completed the 25 push-ups for 25 days challenge to help raise awareness of PTSD, depression, anxiety and suicide. He expressed how important it is to look after each other during the current pandemic. “This challenge is really close to my heart,” said Troy.

“I know it can be hard sometimes, I’ve been through a lot myself, but by getting out and doing things for yourself you can always turn everything around.”

Thinking back to his Australian Championship title, Troy said, “I can tick that step off my list, although I still have a long journey ahead to achieve my goal of World Champion.”

“I look back on each and every step of my journey as being a part of the story that has helped me achieve my most current achievement.”

His advice to young athletes – to have self-belief through discipline and dedication. And Troy’s career and strong character embodies exactly that. One step further to his goal, we hope to see the O’Meley name take the World Title in the years to come.

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Do You Even Lift Bro?



You’ve just bought yourself a new 4WD and you’re about to kit it out with some mods to get you out on the tracks and touring the countryside. If you’re new to the game, you might be struggling with ideas on where to start and the most practical mods that will be useful for 4WDing and touring. 

So, do you need a suspension lift? It’s a question that most newcomers debate over – “I’m only doing beach driving and a few easy tracks; do I really need a suspension lift?” Well, the simple answer is yes you do, but the long answer is much more complicated than that.

Most modern 4WDs have a whole heap of hi-tech traction aids that work wonderfully with the exception that they all lack two important factors – ground clearance and suspension down travel. These are the two things that will get you stuck!

When you start to add weight to your vehicle with other goodies like bar work, roof racks, fridges for camping and camping gear the extra weight moves vital components closer and closer to the ground, not to mention that the handling of the standard suspension will also be affected.

Most quality suspension suppliers will offer a range of different spring rates to suit the weight you have on the vehicle, so that it’s always handling its best and sitting at its optimum ride height.

The legal lift height in most states is 75mm (or 3 inches in the old scale) over-all, including suspension lift and lift obtained from fitting bigger tyres. The most common way of achieving this is by running 50mm of suspension lift and fitting tyres with a 50mm larger diameter than the standard tyre (which lifts the height of the vehicle 25mm bringing it to 75mm overall).

Now while this doesn’t sound like much, it really makes a world of difference in dramatically improving the approach, ramp-over and departure angles of the under-body components while tackling uneven terrain. It pays to check your state’s requirements as it does vary.

But I’m only doing beach driving.

The thing about beach driving, is that you’re dealing with an ever-changing environment. A hard-packed, easy-to-drive beach one day can be a soft, washed out mess the next day; so raising the chassis rails and body components up out of the soft sand with a suspension lift makes sense, to avoid these bits getting hung up.

There could be worst places to get stuck than on a nice beach somewhere (especially with a fully loaded esky) but the reality is, even though getting stuck is sometimes unavoidable, it’s much easier and safer to not be stuck than to need to do a recovery. A quick YouTube search will reveal plenty of horror stories of bogged 4WDs being claimed by the surf.

The same can be said for driving bush tracks – anything from mild to wild tracks can always change and giving your vehicle the best ground clearance and suspension down-travel will reduce the chance of damage and ensure that wheels stay on the ground and moving forward.

So, a suspension lift makes perfect sense for anyone wanting to do any form of off-road driving to avoid damage and ensure forward momentum, and we would definitely put it up there as one of our top 4WD mods. After all, who couldn’t use a few more inches?

Thanks to TJM HunterValley, our 4WD experts

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