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Since its inception back in 1996, the Thorn Tree has been synonymous with a diverse, engaged and helpful travel community and, like any long-running site, the forum has gone through a number of incarnations over the years.

Last year we started what will hopefully become an annual tradition, launching a detailed survey to collect feedback from Thorn Tree members and visitors alike. It ran from mid-November until early December, and more than 300 individuals participated to let us know how they felt about the functionality and usability of the site at that time.

Many of the points from the 2013 survey have shaped the past year’s work to improve the forum, as well as providing us with an excellent foundation for Thorn Tree V – the version that you see (and hopefully also use) today.

Last year’s results indicated that users wanted more intuitive navigation and better search, as well as the reinstatement of a number of features disabled during earlier major changes to the platform.

We’ve listened to these requirements by introducing, and gradually expanding, a new ‘EXPLORE’ panel containing a variety of quick navigation options, including:

Every individual post (both replies and posts that begin a new topic) received within the last 24 hours, regardless of branch, category or thread).

Every individual post (both replies and posts that begin a new topic) received within the last 24 hours, regardless of branch, category or thread).

Every individual post (both replies and posts that begin a new topic) received within the last 24 hours, regardless of branch, category or thread).

Every individual post (both replies and posts that begin a new topic) received within the last 24 hours, regardless of branch, category or thread).

All threads posted within the last week without any replies, across all branches and forum categories.

All threads posted within the last week without any replies, across all branches and forum categories.

The most active topics on Thorn Tree within the last week, with filter and sort options to refine criteria by forum branch or type of activity.

The most active topics on Thorn Tree within the last week, with filter and sort options to refine criteria by forum branch or type of activity.

Work has progressed behind the scenes on improving forum search, search accuracy and search result sort/filter options, to ensure visitors can easily access the wealth of information contributed to the site over the years. We expect to be able to announce further refinements to search in the near future, including a new option for grouping results by topic, so do keep an eye out for those changes and please don’t hesitate to let us know what you think.

Many of the more long-standing members of the forum will already be aware that a few important points from last year (improved member profile pages, signatures, embedded images, etc) have yet to materialise on Thorn Tree. There are several potential reasons why a feature might not have appeared:

  • We spent some time considering the request and we’d like to make it happen, but it’s relatively complicated to implement, and is therefore either in progress or carries slightly lower priority than those things that can be easily fixed or added.
  • We liked the idea even though it was slightly out of scope for us at the time, and we’ll probably have to return to it at a later date.
  • We considered the suggestion from a variety of angles, but factors either internal or external may have prevented us from taking any further action.


With this in mind, if you see any familiar points or ideas in this year’s survey, please take a moment to rate them once again according to your personal opinion, and we’d also encourage you to provide as many additional comments or as much explanation as you like.

Lastly, please don’t assume that simply because you haven’t seen something yet it won’t happen in the future…or that we’re not listening! Development takes time and resources. As soon as this year’s survey has concluded, we’ll provide you with an update on the feedback we’ve collected and what we hope to do with the information.

The survey is open now, and will remain so until 23:59 UTC, Saturday, 31 January 2015, so you’ll have plenty of time to submit your response.

Whenever you’re ready, simply click the following link to begin in a new tab:


Please note: this survey has not been optimised for tablets and mobile devices. Apologies for any inconvenience this may cause.

Thanks in advance for your participation, and watch this space!

By admin

4.00pm AEST

The top men?

They are:

3.54pm AEST

Great putt, Steven Bowditch, he’s 1-under now. Jordan Spieth is in the lead after his stiffed iron to the par-3. I think he’s going to win.

3.51pm AEST

Okay – Adam Scott makes par. Nice putt. Nick Cullen makes par, too. What else is going on? Andrew Tampion, our leader, a bogey. And the leaderboard has five men on -3.

3.43pm AEST

Jordan Spieth now … stiffs one. A par-three. He’s about to get a birdie, there are less certain dawns.

3.42pm AEST


Maybe. But he’s had a couple of birdies, and I doth predicted he’d finished +2. Which on this maggotty old day remains that most wonderful things for your Uber Man of Golf: In contention.

3.40pm AEST

Scotty Gardiner, he’s T2 now, on -3. And good luck to him. Australia’s first indigenous golfer on the PGA Tour.

3.34pm AEST

Rhiein Gibson, who may or may not be known as “Purple” Rhein Gibson, he has a long putt for par … and he makes it and stays -3.

3.33pm AEST

Here’s our Dear Leader, Andrew Tampion, he’s on 4-under, putting for birdie … and … leaves the putt in the jaws, just short. Not a bad little lag, though.

3.32pm AEST

Adam Scott … whacks it … up there somewhere. He’s just off the green. Up and down for bird, a friendly enough little equation for your Man of Golf

3.31pm AEST

Okay … quite an overcast day here at The Australian, it hasn’t rained much if at all but it’s sorta warmish/windy, sorta … it’s a weird enough old day.

Jordan Spieth? He doesn’t mind. He just plays golf. He’s 21 years old. For a golfer, that’s ridiculously young to be so very good at golf. It’s like a 10 year old sitting the HSC or a one year old going to University and getting a PHD.

3.27pm AEST

Okay, booming drive by Adam Scott who’s been booming drives since he was 3 years old, probably before that, probably when he was one, or none, or minus 23, he’s grouse at golf Adam Scott.

3.26pm AEST

Leaderboard? It is thus:

Andrew Tampion -4
Aron Price -3
Rhein Gibson -3
Rory McIlroy-2
Adam Crawford -2
Richard Green -2
Scott Gardiner -2
Jordan Spieth -2
Achi Sato -2

3.20pm AEST

Okay – Nick Cullen, gettable birdie putt on 13 to get him off the devil’s number +4. Not sure if it’s the devil’s number in fact pretty sure it’s got nothing to do with his imperial majesty of evil, Satan, but Nick Cullen … he … has … made it! Top putt, Nick Cullen. Three-over. It’s not the worst number that will be chicken-scratched today.

3.16pm AEST

Rhein Gibson? He shot 55 in a round in the United States. It was 14-under, I think. Wasn’t in a comp round, so not sure it can count. But they count them all in America, it’s a Thing. Anyway he’s -3 which is one off the leader, Andrew Tampion, bet the kids had rude nicknames for him at school.

3.15pm AEST

Rhein Gibson, now, chipping from just off the green. OH! Brendan De Jonge, dud putt from close. Doesn’t get his sand-save. Slides off the leaderboard.

3.13pm AEST

Okay, here’s Big Brendan De Jonge in his giant electric blue happy pants, he’s extracting his ball from a greenside trap and he … does it beautifully. Great touch. Does it necessarily follow that big men should be ponderous, and not have good touch? We always say, Oh, great hands for a big man. But big men can be just as deft as little ones. Big men can be pianists and surgeons, and flower arrangers, there was that guy in Police Academy the one who was kicked out of the Academy for tipping a car on its roof after rednecks said a bad thing to the very shy girl who could sometimes turn into a real hell-cat.

3.08pm AEST

Okay – 13th tee. Bit of a hold-up for our Feature Group of Adam Scott, Jordan Spieth and Nick Cullen. The latter two are having a yarn, their conversation going something like, Me? No I don’t have a girlfriend I spend all my time hitting golf balls, and the other replying, Totes understand, I don’t have a girlfriend, all my time is spent hitting golf balls.

Adam Scott, meanwhile, thinks, Pff, I’ve got a wife. Plus I’m handsome as hell, I could be a model.

3.05pm AEST

Yes! Adam Scott’s made a birdie! Go back to what you were doing, Nation! Our Adam has made a birdie and is 4-over with half-a-dozen to play, he’s good at golf he’ll finish +2 I predict it.

3.03pm AEST

Okay – Big Brendan De Jonge, now, resplendent in a giant pair of electric blue happy pants, I want some, he makes a … bogey. He’s now 2-under. It’s still very good, it means he’s T2 which is equal second and not the second Terminator though he could be he’s big enough

3.00pm AEST

Quite a lot of bunkers here at The Australian, they’re hard to get out of if you’re not really good at golf, but these Supermen of Golf just sort of … get out. And get close. It’s a top trick. They practice a lot, though, to get out. Consequently they don’t get out a lot, if you will. These are their dues.

2.55pm AEST

And so to hole No12, another par-4 there are many here at gorgeous The Australian Golf Club, it’s a really good place. Kerry Packer was a member here and made a General Manager cry because they didn’t stock his favourite sorts of biscuits. What a nasty big goanna he was, the Big Man, as capable of great charity and understanding. But then it’s easy to be charitable, isn’t it?, when you’ve got a motza. Here, sick person, have some cash. He couldn’t be nice to everyone? I dunno. Doesn’t sound like the nicest person. You’d say God rest his soul except Kerry famously died once and came back and said, Son, I’ve been to the other side and there’s nothing f***ing there. So he was good for a quote. But he made a man cry once, and that’s not very nice, particularly over a packet of biscuits.

2.50pm AEST

Adam Scott, now, monster putt with his monster-long broom-handle putting wand thing, and he remains 5-over after 11 holes. Wonder when he’s going to brush the broom? It will be against the Laws of Golf in a few months, and the Laws of Golf are more sacrosanct than many religious laws.

2.49pm AEST

Okay – Nick Cullen, won the Australian Masters last week with a spleen-selling sand-save on 18, he’s chopping it about today, a bit, he’s 3-over and doing his best. He’s not chopping it about. He’s really, really good at golf. But he’s on the telly today, playing with Adam Scott and Jordan Spieth. And that is all.

2.48pm AEST

The Leaderboard?

Aron Price -3
Brendon De Jonge -3
Andrew Tampion -3
Rory McIlroy -2
Adam Crawford -2
Richard Green -2
Scott Gardiner -2
Jordan Spieth -2
David Bransdon -2

2.44pm AEST

Brendan De Jonge? He’s our equal leader on 3-under, sharing top billing with Aron Price who’s finished and Andrew Tampion who has not.

2.42pm AEST

Righto … Brendan De Jonge of Zimbabwe, a man Darrell Eastlake would describe as a huge man, he whacks a 7-iron pretty close. Good game, golf, if a man can be built like an oak barrel of beer and yet be really, really good at golf. That’s inclusive. Egalitarian. It’s the Aussie Fair Go in action. Something.

2.40pm AEST

Okay, who we got here … it’s Jake Higginbottom, one of the cavalcade of giant punks who smash the golf ball like the hammer of mighty Thor, they are good at golf these kids, and good luck to them. They don’t have much in the way of girlfriends given all the golf ball bashing they have to do to be really, really good at golf. But people give them Lexus motor vehicles if they’re good. So there is that.

2.37pm AEST

Adam Scott makes his par. He’s 5-over after ten holes, which isn’t super-flash. But he’s really, really good at golf so there’s a few birdies in him.

2.36pm AEST

Nick Cullen … great shot. A chip from off the green that spins just when it’s required and slides on down close to the hole. Hard-fought par-4 on the tenth. But he’ll take it, I betcha.

2.35pm AEST

Okay, Wayne Grady is in the Emirates Marquee. Repeat. Wayne Grady is in the Emirates Marquee.

Wayne Grady? He on the US PGA in 1986, thereabouts. He’s on the telly and Twitter these days. He swears less on the telly. His tweets could be described as polemic, if you’re being really, really kind.

2.29pm AEST

Ryan Fox, now, putting for the bird … he misses. His daddy Grant didn’t miss a lot, he played No.10 for the All Blacks and had a job that was effectively “Give the ball to John Kirwan” and kick the goals.

But Ryan Fox is a fair player, he won the Jeep Pro-Am once at Royal Pines.

2.28pm AEST

Jordan Spieth, now, on the tenth. He fairly schtonks one down the guts, it’s a long par-4 that goes downwards and then upwards, there’s been 43 bogeys and and seven birdies and about 63 pars, and it’s quite a hard hole.

2.26pm AEST

Highlights of Rory’s Round include: some nice putts. Some nice shots. A very natty red jumper, I want one. A very fine stiffed 7-iron on the ninth, and birdie. He played with Geoff Ogilvy who on the 06 US Open, and Matt Jones, who did not.

2.23pm AEST

Jordan Spieth – makes a very tidy par-4 on the ninth hole, playing like a beast into the southerly.

2.22pm AEST

Cullen, now, for bogey. He’s 2-over. And now he’s 3-over.

2.22pm AEST

Adam Scott – another bogey. A three-putt. He’s channelling me on a Wednesday afternoon.

2.21pm AEST

News: Scotty Gardiner, our Ace Man who Won a Lexus, has started 6, 1, 3, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, for his front 9. He’s 2-under. He owns a Lexus. He cares not.

2.15pm AEST

Adam Scott, from a fairway trap … top shot. It’s gone a long way past the hole. But he’s on the dance-floor, and has a thousand foot putt for the bird.

2.14pm AEST

Cullen’s playing partner, Jordan Spieth, 21, an age when your correspondent was spilling Fosters Lager on his footy shorts on end of season rugby trips, has a hellacious lie above a bunker … and … chops it nowhere good. Too much weights, not enough speed work? Yeah, not really.

2.13pm AEST

Okay … we’re on the ninth hole, and Nick Cullen, winner of the Australian Masters last week with a sand-save on 18 you’d sell a spleen to achieve, has what looks like a 4-iron. Oh – straight at it … but not far enough! And he’s into the drink. He’s 2-over. That won’t help.

2.05pm AEST

Okay. Welcome back to The Australian Open at The Australian Golf Club, and it’s still quite overcast, with a blustery little wind from the south. Aron Price (-3) remains our leader, tied with Brady Watt who’s amassed three birdies in his first six holes. And good luck to him.

Some news: Adam Scott is 4-over after seven holes, and has The Blocks, according to a mate who’s trailing him around.

1.41pm AEST

Greetings, Australians, and welcome to the Australian, the super-flash golf club nestled like a giant velvet green tongue in Rosebery in Sydney’s suburban east. It’s day one of the Australian Open and the golf is going to be grand.

Actually it’s been pretty tough going for these super-star professional men of golf this morning. The best score in is Aron Price’s three-under-par 68. Conditions are overcast, there’s a light southerly breeze, and overnight rain means there’s little run on the fairways. The course is playing long.

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Eight hostages including a Saudi were liberated in the joint US-Yemeni operation, a rare instance of American forces intervening on the ground in Yemen.

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