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The stories you loved this year - and some weird stuff

BIKIES, the bizarre, the ridiculous, the tragic, the trivial  - they all made us click in 2013.

No stories made us click more than the running controversy over Queensland's anti-bikie legislation.

Not only did it deliver the second biggest story of the year on the APN Australian Regional News network, but also a number of other spots in the top 20.

But it wasn't just controversy that had us engaged.

We were also fascinated by the bizarre.

Who could go past a headline like this: Pig steals beer, gets drunk and starts fight with cow.

Or the yarn about the poor bloke who landed in hospital with an extreme stomach bug after dropping his beer in the Brisbane River.

Ipswich can deliver some of the most intriguing court stories, but no-one could imagine one about a man who recorded himself having sex with a horse - and then sent his ex-wife the video of the event.

But the top story of the year was somewhat unexpected.

The story of a Sunshine Coast mum who sought legal advice after her seven-year-old was injured climbing the HMAS Brisbane memorial at Alexandra Headland went ballistic on social media, with 19,000 Facebook likes.

It was followed by 17,000 likes for the story about Rebels gang members being charged for 'having a beer' at a Sunshine Coast pub.

APN ARM Group Digital Editor Mark Furler said 2013 had been an impressive year, with the number of unique visitors to APN's sites up 82% year on year.

"We have had some amazing growth in unique visitors, page views and audience engagement,'' Mr Furler said.

The growth in mobile phone traffic, in particular, has been phenomenal with sites like Toowoomba Chronicle recording 257% and the Sunshine Coast Daily 270% growth year on year.

"Importantly, our stories are fostering plenty of debate in regional communities, with almost 25,000 comments posted on our sites last month  - up 50% year on year,'' Mr Furler said.

He praised the work of digital producers at each local newspaper site - as well as the central online team overseen by news editor John Parker.

"Together with the reporters and photographers in local newsrooms, these people work around the clock to ensure rolling coverage for big events like the Queensland floods, major storms, local and federal elections.''

The top stories that had you clicking across APN's Australian websites were:

1. Mum may sue after boy, 7, hurt climbing war memorial

AN ANGRY mother has sought legal advice after her seven-year-old son was "scarred for life" climbing the HMAS Brisbane memorial at Alexandra Headland.

A deep, red angry gash across seven-year-old Dré Conquest's forehead shows just how severe the accident was.

"If he hadn't put his hands up when he fell he could have died," his mum Elise Conquest said.

Rebels motorcycle member. Photo: John McCutcheon / Sunshine Coast Daily
Rebels motorcycle member. Photo: John McCutcheon / Sunshine Coast Daily john mccutcheon

2. Rebels gang members charged under VLAD laws

A FURIOUS alleged Rebels bikie gang member says he and his sons face six months in jail for the "crime" of having a beer together at a Sunshine Coast hotel.

The man, who identified himself as Mike Smith, rang his local ABC to complain ahead of his expected arrest.

Four men have been arrested on the Sunshine Coast today under the State Government's tough new laws making it an offence for members of outlaw motorcycle gangs to gather.

3. Breaking flood warning issued Bundaberg

JANUARY 26: A flood warning has been issued for Bundaberg for Sunday evening, with Burnett River levels expected to reach 7m - just less than a metre below the peak of the 2010/11 summer floods.

The Bureau of Meteorology has just issued the urgent warning, saying major flood levels had been exceeded at Walla, with major flooding to extend through to Bundaberg by Sunday evening.

Heavy rain between Gayndah and Bundaberg and strong local inflows into the Burnett River is responsible for the current flooding in the lower Burnett River.

4. Rolling coverage of Queensland floods

BUNDABERG residents have described 'surreal scenes' of people being plucked from their homes in 'neck high' floodwaters as like that out of a 'war zone'.

Bundaberg News-Mail chief photographer Max Fleet, who took to the skies in a helicopter Monday afternoon, said he could not believe the scenes.

Fellow photographer Scottie Simmonds was caught on the northern side of the city where dozens of rescues were being carried out.

5. Toowoomba bikers ready to hand in their patches

TOOWOOMBA members of Life and Death Motorcycle Club have been told to either hand in their club patches or go to jail.

Chapter president Tony "Bones" Lowe expected to renounce his membership to the club today in a bid to avoid imprisonment.

He sold his business Gatton Tattoos to his son last week as new bikie laws made it illegal for any member of 26 outlaw clubs to work at a tattoo parlour.

The shop has been under continuous police surveillance.

6 . Grant Kenny and Fifi Box in amicable split

GRANT Kenny is reportedly no longer dating Fifi Box, despite revelations by a woman's magazine that he is the father of the TV and radio personality's unborn child.

"It's understood Kenny - who sold his Queensland-based aviation company in January for an estimated $70 million - has agreed to support Box financially,'' News Corp reported.

 

 

7. Rebels letter to Police Minister Jack Dempsey

TONY Jardine, a senior Rebels member, asks the minister why he is accusing the Rebels of running a major PR campaign against these new laws introduced to Queensland recently.

Can you tell me of any payments made by the Rebels to any media company?

The Qld govt has spent close to $800,0000 to advertise these laws but when the Rebels agree to be interviewed on the matter you claim it's a PR spin, he wrote.

8. Christmas lights banned for Muslims? Not in our town

A TINY town in north Queensland with a population of less than 1500 was making headlines after a Facebook hoax accusing it of bowing to Christmas-light hating Muslims went viral.

The Cassowary Coast council - which includes the town of Cardwell between Cairns and Townsville - tackled the nonsense rumour head-on.

"A hoax statement has been posted on a Facebook page about Christmas lights in Cardwell. Council HAS NOT banned Christmas lights in the town," the council posted on its website.

The provocative claim appears to have been made on Facebook group "Meanwhile in Australia"


9. Mini tornado rips through Mooloolaba

A MINI tornado swept through a housing estate at Mooloolaba.

The Emerald Springs estate was hit with fierce winds uprooting trees and causing minor damage to homes.

9. Bikies at trial ordered to leave

THREE bikies waiting to testify in a trial in a Maroochydore Magistrates Court were ordered by a police sergeant to disperse from the area or face possible jail.

The order is a sobering side effect of the State Government's new anti-association laws.

"Basically, they were told they would be arrested if they didn't get out of the courthouse," Tony Jardine, of the Rebels' Sunshine Coast Chapter, said.

10. Girl, 12, raises alarm after mother killed in home

A 12-YEAR-OLD girl raised the alarm after her mother and another man were brutally slain at a Coolum Beach home overnight.

Neighbours said they heard multiple gunshots outside a home where two people were murdered and a man was shot by police.

The girl, in the house at the time,  ran to a neighbour's house in Yandina-Coolum Road at Coolum around 10pm on Wednesday night telling them two people had been stabbed in the house.


11. Woman killed, kids seriously injured in highway crash

A WOMAN has been killed and three children are seriously injured after a truck and car collided on the New England Hwy, just south of Toowoomba.

The crash was reported about 8.30am.

Initial reports suggest that the truck has rolled on to the car.

12. Winter wonderland on the Sunshine Coast

AMAZING video of two police officers nearly being run over by a motorist eager to get through thick foam at Alexandra Headland is becoming an internet hit.

The video shows a bus heading through the foam when a  "wave"  suddenly picks up and heads towards the officers.

13. Tornado rips through Bargara

A TORNADO ripped through Bargara today, bringing down powerlines throughout the area, ripping off roofs and causing a serious accident after a fallen tree crashed into a car.

Witnesses say roads are blocked, trees are down, powerlines and power poles have been swept over, and significant damage has been done to the shopping centre after the wild weather struck just before 1pm.

Bargara councillor Greg Barnes said two people had been trapped in a ute after a Norfolk pine on the Esplanade was sent crashing into the cab of the passing vehicle.

14. First flood death as Qld calls in army choppers

POLICE have confirmed the first death from Queensland's flood and tornado disaster after an elderly man's body was recovered from waters at Burnett Heads, near Bundaberg.

Another two people have been reported missing in floodwaters in Maryborough and Gympie,

15. You had your questions and rebels have given answers

YOU had your questions, and the Rebels have given answers.

The Rebels Motorcycle Club has broken its silence this week to express its views on new state government laws designed to crush outlaw bikie gangs.

Tony Jardine, who has been a member of the Rebels' Sunshine Coast chapter for 22 years, offered to take questions from Sunshine Coast Daily Facebook and Twitter. The Daily sent Mr Jardine 17 questions. These are his answers.

16. GP gets straight to point in vaccination debate

THE Sunshine Coast recently had the dubious honour of having one of the lowest levels of vaccination in Australia.
This places us at risk of seeing a resurgence of diseases, such as measles, that we never thought would be seen again.

AND THEN THE BIZARRE...

Pig steals beer gets drunk and starts fight

Independent News & Media

A BOOZE-PILFERING drunken feral pig has caused chaos by running amok at an Australian campsite and starting a fight with a cow.

The belligerent porker went on a drunken bender after stealing and drinking three six-packs of beer that had been left out by campers at the DeGrey River campsite in Port Hedland, Australia.

In the predictable series of events that followed the animal went on to ransack rubbish bin bags to find some late-night snacks before starting a fight with an innocent eyewitness cow.

Pope Francis celebrates his inaugural mass with cardinals inside the Sistine Chapel at the Vatican City.
Pope Francis celebrates his inaugural mass with cardinals inside the Sistine Chapel at the Vatican City. AP

Forums strive to connect new Pope with Anti-Christ prophecy

Internet forums descended into chaos as the new Pope was finally named at the Vatican.

Not because they were celebrating the naming of the new pontiff but because many wanted to know if there was any connection between Pope Francis and a prophecy by little-known Irish saint Malachy, who correctly predicted the previous 111 popes, including Pope Benedict, who resigned last month.

Only 112 popes were named in the prophecy, leading many to believe this Pope would be the last.

Bev Lacey

Man recorded himself having sex with a horse

A MAN who filmed himself having sex with a horse sent his ex-wife a video of the event.

Michael Francis Klan, 36, had intercourse with the beast at Fairney View and recorded the incident.

Klan then sent messages to his ex-wife asking if she would like to watch the footage or view any of his photographs of his encounter.

He then sent through a video of the act - which his ex took to the police.

Top Gear's Jeremy Clarkson.
Top Gear's Jeremy Clarkson. drive.com.au

Mazda Furai concept car burns - Top Gear says sorry

THE beautiful Mazda Furai Concept car has suffrered a most untimely death at the hands of none other than Top Gear.

The magazine was driving the one-off prototype as part of their 20th anniversary issue
when the car caught fire and burnt to a crisp.

It is unknown at this stage why the fire occurred.

John MacDonald says he faces six operations.
John MacDonald says he faces six operations.

Surgery ordeal follows beer superbug from Brisbane River

THE so-called three-second infection rule clearly did not apply when John Macdonald, 59, dropped his beer in the Brisbane River during a fishing trip.

On March 20 last year, the pensioner was not thinking about what could possibly lurk in the waters below when he fished it back out and kept drinking.

Less than three hours later, he was violently ill with a stomach bug.

Topics:  bikies editors picks floods