Using Safe Christmas Lights

Christmas Lights Over Christmas we usually hear on the news of at least one case where fire has be started due to Christmas lights. WorkSafe QLD have a great list on ‘Using safe Christmas lights’.

Below are a few tips from each section:


  • Test your safety switch and smoke detector before setting up your lights.
  • Keep lights and other electrical appliances away from children.


  • Don’t put Christmas lighting around or above swimming pools or have leads lying in water or wet areas.
  • Avoid wrapping lights around sharp metal objects which may damage the wires.
  • Avoid passing electrical leads through doorways and windows where leads might be damaged.

Check old lights:

  • Test Christmas lights before installing them.
  • Make sure the power is off when putting up your Christmas lights or changing light bulbs.

Buying Christmas lights:

  • Christmas lights must meet safety standards and are required to have an Australian certificate of approval before they can be sold in Queensland.
  • Buy from a reputable dealer.

Check out the full list their website:

Everyone’s Responsible when it comes to work Christmas parties!

christmas partyWith the festive season already in full swing, it is a great time to attend work parties and other social events during this time.

However, it is also a time for both employer and employee to ensure you are aware of the legal implications that come with being over indulgent and a little too joyous at your work Christmas party.

Staff should be well aware of all policies and procedures that are in place and the consequences that may be incurred in the event that discrimination, workplace bullying and breach of social media arises.

Both employers and employees could be putting the business and their jobs on the line if something was to happen.

Make sure that everyone is playing by the rules and you should all have a great time!

Tips for reducing family conflict at Christmas

Christmas with FamilyChristmas is a wonderful time of year when many of us are celebrating with our friends and families from near and far however, although this is a joyous time it can also bring with it stress, frustration and family conflicts.  It can also be a sad time of year if children have to be away from their parent/s for certain reasons.

According to the Salvation Army Counseling Service they have said “Christmas is a time for letting go of the past and enjoying the special moments that come with this important day. It’s best to not stir up the past. Christmas is just not the right time to bring up old problems and issues. You can always deal with the ‘unsaid problems’ later on when the atmosphere is befitting for sorting out things. If any issues arise during Christmas, it’s best to be assertive rather than taking on an aggressive stance. This way you’ll get your point across without ruffling any feathers.”

Try and make an effort to put those conflicts aside for one day and focus on the more important reason why everyone is together, to celebrate Christmas. Have fun, laugh, eat, drink and have a memorable time.

Do you have tips for reducing conflicts at Christmas?

Pyramids Road Bernie’s Blend 2012

Pyramids Road Bernies BlendUs Queenslanders are a parochial bunch!  We vociferously cheer for the Mighty Maroons, the Reds, Lions and Brisbane Roar:  we’re probably the most one-eyed group of supporters on earth, especially when any of our teams are playing New South Wales!  We pride ourselves on being the Sunshine State and luckier than the rest, so why is it that we tend to overlook our very own wine industry in the Burnett and Granite Belt regions?

You obviously can’t compare viticultural regions and you have to appreciate for what it is, each regional nuance that graces your glass, but there’s no reason why our Queensland wine industry can’t hold its own.

I first tried the Pyramids Road Bernie’s Blend on a trip to the Granite Belt over a decade ago.  Then, I thought it was one of the best reds that I had tried from the region, and having tasted the 2012 vintage, I reckon it still is.  It’s a blend of Shiraz, Cabernet and Merlot this year (although in previous years, you’d probably find a bit of Mourvèdre as well). There’s a slightly leathery nose but more vibrant red berries in the glass and a herbaceous dried blackcurrant and toasty blueberry flavours across the palate.  It’s a dry style that clearly benefits from the balanced tannic influence of French and American oak.

I’d say that the style is probably better suited to being served with food than on its own but fortunately for us, here in the greatest State in the country, we also throw the nation’s best barbeque!

The Bernie’s Blend sells at around $35 a bottle but I reckon it’s worth a few extra dollars to support our own winemakers and our Queensland wine industry.

Our wine reviewer, Travis Schultz, is Practice Group Leader of Schultz Toomey O’Brien Lawyers, Part of the Slater & Gordon Group and lover of fine food and wine.

Tips to buying a home

People loooking at a homeMany of us want to buy and live in our own home, however there are certain things you should consider before deciding whether that home is the perfect one for you. The list below provides some ideas of what to think about before making a purchase:

  1. Do your research into the area/s you are interested in. Check the suburb information online and whether the area is in a ‘hot’ or ‘not’ zone.
  2. Location. Just because the home is close to shops or highways doesn’t mean it is the best location for you. Keep in mind what may happen in future to the area and if this may affect your way of living.
  3. Check out the surrounding suburbs. If the area you are looking at is a bit out of your price range the surrounding suburbs maybe more in your budget.
  4. Keep your eye on market trends and interest rates and when there may be less competition in the market.
  5. Talk to experts. It’s always a good idea to seek local agents and get their advice and opinions of the market. Sometimes you have to be patient and wait until the right opportunity arises.
  6. Show your interest early. Register with online real estate websites and local agency newsletters so you can be the first to receive updates on new listings.
  7. Monitor your local area. If you are planning to purchase in the same vicinity as you currently live in, then do a little research and see what price other houses are selling for, how they are marketed and how long they are taking before they sell. This will give you a bit of an indication as to how the market is behaving in your neighbourhood.
  8. Inspect carefully. Many buyers obviously want to sell their home, and some may try to cover up any flaws associate with the home. Make sure to check thoroughly and ask questions about the house if you are uncertain of anything.

If you ever need assistance with buying or selling property, please contact us today 1300 STOLAW.

Travelling during the holidays

Holiday TravelsWith the holiday season almost upon us, we’d just like to remind everyone that is planning on driving on the road to prepare and take care.

  • Make sure you familiarise yourself with the roads you will be taking by mapping out the route you plan to take.
  • Ensure your car has been checked and fixed of any problems that may cause you delays or issues on your trip.
  • Take breaks on long drives, there are plenty of rest places to stop at to have a break and stretch those legs and get some fresh air.
  • Always wear a seat belt. Ensure your children are equipped with the right seat belts and car seats, especially young children and babies.
  • Never drink and drive or be under the influence of drugs and alcohol when driving. Not only can you risk your own life, but others who are also on the road.
  • Stay alert, and don’t get distracted especially by electronic devices.

Fox Creek “The Vixen”

Fox Creek Wines VixenAptly named, Fox Creek’s sleek and sexy sparkling red is called “The Vixen” and lives up to her feisty reputation.  She’s a blend of 74% Shiraz, 16% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Cabernet Franc from their McLaren Vale vineyard and she’s as sweet as she is seductive.

At first, the Vixen smells a bit like leafy musk and chocolate but her effusive fine sparkling bead punches out flavours of sweet red licorice and preserved blackberries across the palate as she entices you to pour another glass.  But the nasty side to this rich foxy creation is her crisp acid backbone and curt tannic skeleton that confines the crème brulee sweetness that might otherwise overbear on her vanillin oak finale.

Sparkling red is a bit of an “Australian” substitute for champagne and it may not be everyone’s cup of tea.  But in my book, the Vixen is all that her namesake suggests: sleek, vivacious and seductive but with a hint of nastiness dwelling marginally below the surface.  At around $23 a bottle the Vixen isn’t cheap, but neither is she nasty.

T’Gallant Cyrano Pinot Noir 2012

T'Gallant Cyrano Pinot NoirThough a frugal soul, my mother insisted throughout my childhood that, “In life, you only get what you pay for”.  And while the statement may generally be true, my dear old lady obviously hadn’t much experience in buying wines or she’d have rethought having a mantra like that!

Very often, wine consumers are asked to part with over $50 a bottle to partake of a winery’s finest drop, only to find that due to poor vintage conditions or simply an overinflated opinion of the winemaker, the product just doesn’t live up to its price point.  And conversely, on rare occasions, the thrifty wine drinker is rewarded with a bottle that is undersold but which seriously over delivers.  Well, if you’re in that latter group of cost conscious consumers, you’re in luck.  The 2012 T’Gallant Cyrano Pinot Noir has hit the shelves and it’s great value.  It’s priced at only a bit over $20 a bottle but it should be a lot more expensive.

It’s a darker crimson colour in the glass than most Pinot Noir I’ve drunk and has a delightful rose petal perfume on the nose.  Sweet cherry and stewed rhubarb flavours run rampant across the palate with only a hint of savoury constraint at the back end.  There’s none of the tannic stalkiness that sometimes taint Pinot Noir from the Mornington Peninsular (especially in the lower price points) and the French Oak integration is seamless.

The T’Gallant is available in all the major outlets and is a perfect drink now style.  But you may have to be quick because it’s selling at a price point that makes a mockery of Mum’s favourite cliché!

Hauner Salina Rosso 2012

Hauner Salina RossoWhile it’s the French that enjoy a reputation as being the biggest and best wine producers in the world, it’s a surprising fact that the Italians make about 30% more vino than their near north western neighbours. To put it in perspective, according  to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation, Italy produces about 6 600 000 tonnes of wine grapes per annum while France manages about 4 700 000 tonnes  and Australia a relatively  modest 1 200 000 tonnes. Given those volumes it’s perhaps a little difficult to explain why there isn’t an abundance of Italian styles on our local bottleshop shelves.

And while I don’t know a lot about their local varietals, I really like most that I’ve tried.

A wine connoisseur colleague recently introduced me to the Hauner Salina Rosso 2012 over a dinner meeting at a Melbourne restaurant. Its genesis lays in the volcanic soils of the Aeolian Islands (near Sicily) in the Tyrrhenian Sea. It’s crafted from a blend of grapes we don’t see much of in Australia; Nero D’Avola and Nerello Mascalese.

In the glass there’s an unusually vibrant purple hue around the edges and it’s perhaps a little brambly on the nose, but on the palate the blackberry and burnt mulberry flavours are spectacular. There’s a lot less tannic grippiness than in most Italian varietals I’ve tried and around the edges there’s a soft, almost chai latte sweetness that adds a bit of Mediterranean charm. Despite the richness of the fruit it manages to finish dry, balanced and with its integrity intact.

It’s definitely my style of wine and can be found at specialist outlets for around $30 a bottle. It’s worth the effort chasing it if you’re up for a bit of an Aeolian adventure!

Tackling Domestic Violence

Domestic ViolenceThe Labor government has said that harsher penalties are needed for perpetrators of domestic violence and those who breach domestic violence orders with acts of physical violence.

Labor has proposed increasing the jail term from two to three years and also proposed that victims are able to secure more support and assistance whether or not physical abuse was used.

Originally published as Labor plan to tackle domestic abuse.