Australia 2015: a year in review

SHOOTINGS, animal cruelty, royals and celestial bodies made headlines across the nation this year. Here are the top stories that had Australians talking in 2015.

NSW Police accountant Curtis Cheng. Cheng was shot dead outside NSW Police Headquarters in Parramatta, in Sydney's west on October 2, by 15-year-old gunman Farhad Jabar Khalil Mohammad, who was killed by officers responding to the shooting.
NSW Police accountant Curtis Cheng. Cheng was show dead outside NSW Police Headquarters. SUPPLIED

Paramatta shooting

THE fatal shooting of police accountant Curtis Cheng outside police headquarters in Parramatta shocked the nation and put addressing terrorism threats high on the political agenda.

The gunman, 15-year-old Farhad Jabar, shot Mr Cheng as he was leaving work on October 2 before police shot dead the teenager.

Loved ones and colleagues farewelled the police employee at a funeral service at St Mary's Cathedral on October 17.

Two Sydney men are now facing charges in connection with the shooting.

Royals Down Under

ROYAL watchers were in heaven this year with Prince Harry and Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, visiting our shores.

Diehard fans lined up for hours to catch a glimpse of Prince Harry at a public meet-and-greet on the steps of the Sydney Opera House in May.

The event marked the end of the prince's month in Australia on secondment with the Australia Army.

Prince Charles and his wife Camilla then toured New Zealand and Australia in November, visiting Adelaide, Canberra, Sydney, Albany and Perth, where Charles celebrated his birthday at Cottesloe.

Live baiting scandal:

A LIVE baiting scandal left Australia's greyhound racing industry in turmoil after a Four Corners investigation exposed a dark underbelly of cruelty and cheating.

The RSPCA and police raided a series of properties after the exclusive report aired on February 16, revealing trainers and owners across the country using banned and illegal methods.

The footage included the use of live piglets, possums and rabbits during secret training sessions.

As a result, Racing Queensland "warned off" more than 20 trainers, cruelty charges were laid and the Queensland government held a commission of inquiry into the industry.




Pay scandal:

THE exploitation of foreign workers in Australia was under scrutiny amid revelations in the media a convenience store chain had been ripping off staff.

A Senate hearing in September looked at the exploitation of workers at 7-Eleven as part of an inquiry into Australia temporary work visa program.

The inquiry heard staff underpayment had been happening for years and there were instances of franchise owners charging workers tens of thousands to secure a working visa. 7-Eleven management vowed to compensate underpaid staff.

A supplied image obtained Wednesday, July 15, 2015 of Pluto nearly fills the frame in this image from the Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) aboard NASA' s New Horizons spacecraft, taken on July 13, 2015 when the spacecraft was 476,000 miles (768,000 kilometers) from the surface.
Pluto nearly fills the frame in this image from the Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) aboard NASA' s New Horizons spacecraft AAP/NASA

Focus on Pluto:

AN AUSTRALIAN space centre received the world's first close-up images of Pluto after NASA's New Horizons spacecraft made its historic flyby of the icy dwarf planet.

The Deep Space Communication Complex outside Canberra received the detailed images of Pluto sent through from the space probe, marking the end of a nine-year mission.

New Horizons is the first spacecraft to fly past Pluto and shed light on details of the planet's surface, geology and atmosphere.

From Twitter

Tributes flow for 'Flic'

LEADING conservationist Felicity 'Flic' Wishart was hailed as a great Australian for her dedication to protecting the environment after her sudden death on July 19.

Ms Wishart, who played a leading role in campaigns to protect the Great Barrier Reef and rainforests and to stop land clearing in Queensland, died in her sleep aged 49.

She was working as the Great Barrier Reef campaign manager for the Australian Marine Conservation Society and previously held roles at the Wilderness Society and the Queensland Conservation Council.

Bali 9 execution:

INDONESIA'S execution of convicted drug smugglers Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran was met with widespread outrage in Australia.

The Bali Nine pair faced the firing squad on Nusakambangan Island on April 29 despite Australian Government pleas for clemency.

Chan and Sukumaran were sentenced to death in 2006 when found guilty of attempting to smuggle more than 8kg of heroin into Australia. Australia withdrew its ambassador from Jakarta in the wake of the executions.

Adelaide coach Phil Walsh talks to his troops during a match earlier this season.
Adelaide coach Phil Walsh.

AFL tragedy:

THE AFL community was struck by tragedy when Adelaide Crows coach Phil Walsh was found stabbed to death in his home on July 3.

His son, 26-year-old Cy Walsh, was charged with murder.

Football fans across the country expressed their grief over Walsh's death on social media while Adelaide players honoured their coach at a game later that month.

A memorial service at Adelaide Oval was attended by family members, AFL dignitaries, players and coaches who gathered to pay tribute to the sporting identity.

NSW Police | Facebook

Fugitives arrested:

AFTER eight years on the run, police finally arrested two of Australia's most wanted men near Dubbo in New South Wales on October 28.

Father and son Gino and Mark Stocco were charged with a string of offences, including the murder of the caretaker on the remote property where they were arrested.

The manhunt for the pair led police across NSW and Victoria after they allegedly shot at officers on October 16.
Both were formally refused bail during a short court hearing in Dubbo.

Khandalyce Kiara Pearce, 2, whose remains were found in a suitcase along the Karoona Highway in South Australia
Khandalyce Kiara Pearce, 2, whose remains were found in a suitcase along the Karoona Highway in South Australia

DNA breakthrough

THE mysterious deaths of Alice Springs mother Karlie Pearce-Stevenson and her daughter Khandalyce dominated the news with a multi-state investigation under way since police linked their bodies with fresh DNA evidence.

Ms Pearce-Stevenson's body was found in the Belanglo State Forest in NSW in 2010 and the toddler's remains were found in a suitcase on the side a highway in South Australia in July.

Daniel James Holdom, 41, has been charged with murdering both the 20-year-old mother and her daughter.

Police revealed Ms Pearce-Stevenson's identity, mobile phone and bank account were used for years after her death.