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Baby Penguins, Royal Hugs And Hidden Proposals: The Good News Of 2018

Looking back on 2018, it’s very easy to get caught up in the wild, woeful and honestly urgh moments of the year -- many of which came out of Canberra.

There were a lot of them (a whole alphabet's worth, in fact) so we don’t blame you. We’re just here to remind you it wasn’t all doom and gloom.

This was also the year we unlocked a hidden part of the brain, an adorable six-year-old hugged Prince Harry and Megs, and gay penguins welcomed a baby chick into the world. 

READ MORE: Au Pairs, Bonk Bans ... The A-Z Of A Brutal Year In Oz Politics

So grab your tissues and get ready to warm that heart of yours with our round up of good news!

Cute kids and furry friends

Sphen and Magic -- And Their Baby Chick 

2018 was the year we met Sphen and Magic, or as the penguin couple is affectionately called, 'Sphengic'. The two lovebirds -- Sea Life Sydney's first same-sex couple -- were first  introduced to the world as they built a nest of pebbles in the lead up to breeding season.

They went on to welcome their fostered baby chick, called -- you guessed it -- 'Baby Sphengic'.

A 'Hot Duck' 

Remember that time a colourful and rather mysterious duck -- dubbed 'hot duck' --  randomly appeared in New York's Central Park pond? Yeah, us too. 

It was an exciting day for bird watchers and park-goers when they spotted the rare Mandarin Duck swimming majestically in a quiet corner. With striking purple and blue feathers and hot pink bill, it went on to captivate the city and steal hearts across the globe.

It also prompted important questions, namely: how did 'hot duck' reach the middle of Manhattan?

So majestic. Image: Getty Images.

A Firefighter And One Lucky Cat 

Amongst heartbreaking scenes of bushfires ravaging California and destroying an entire town, there was some happy news for one lucky cat.

Firefighter Ryan Coleman was helping to battle the blaze in Paradise when he found his furry friend desperate for some love and affection.

Coleman continued to fight the fire, and we can only hope there was a happy ending for the cat.

Cat Can't Leave Firefighter Alone After Rescue

A Royal Hug From Six-Year-Old Luke 

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex's visit down under stole the headlines this year, with a long list of heartwarming moments.

But this hug from five-year-old Luke Vincent takes the cake.

Prince Harry and Meghan were in Dubbo when they met Luke, who broke away from a group of schoolchildren to embrace the dad-to-be before stroking his beard. The Duchess was also in line for a sweet hug.

*Cue hearts melting. Image: Samir Hussein WireImage
The Heart-warmers

Every year, a series of heart-warming moments are caught on camera, and proceed to restore our faith in humanity -- like this mother who leapt into action when her daughter froze onstage in the U.S.

Shaye Washington was sitting in the audience of her daughter's school talent show when she noticed her voice starting to fade. Washington stepped in and sang a line from 'Andra Day's 'Rise Up', as her daughter found her voice.

Image: CBS News

A woman's random act of kindness in a US supermarket also prompted a global outpouring. The grieving grandmother offered to anonymously pay for another customer's birthday cake, in memory of her own grandson.

The Breakthroughs

A hidden part of the brain

It was a year of scientific achievements -- none more so than the team of Aussie neuro-scientists who unlocked a hidden part of the brain. What started as a brown smear turned out to be a new nucleus, uncovered by world-leading brain mapper Professor George Paxinos, that could help to explore cures for  Parkinson's and motor neurone disease.

Image: 10 News First

A New Life For Conjoined Bhutanese Twins 

2019 will be a very different year for twins Nima and Dawa as they recover from a delicate separation surgery.

A team of 25 surgeons, nurses and anaesthetists in Melbourne successfully operated on the 15-month-old girls, splitting their connected livers, reconstructing their abdomens and closing over the area that was previously attached.

The 15-month-old sisters spent their whole lives joined at the torso until they were successfully separated at the Royal Children's Hospital last week. Image: AAP

Robots Helping Sick Kids

Here at 10 daily, we're all about promoting 'good tech' -- such as this Aussie mother out to prove that every child deserves to stay in school. After going through her own son's journey with critical illness, Megan Gilmour developed a telepresence robot that stands in for children in the classroom.

It's an Australian-first that aims to restore hope for thousands of kids who are watching from the sidelines, and we're all for it.

Telepresence Robots Helping Sick Kids To Stay In School
The Happy ENDINGS

Who doesn’t love a good ol' happy ending?

There were some crackers this year, including the British couple who were reunited with their engagement ring after losing it down a grate in Times Square

Our favourite was buried in a recent edition of Fairfax Media's Good Weekend magazine quiz. As Fairfax Media reported, quiz fan Dennis Neuen asked whether the publication could make a mock quiz for his proposal to Melissa Godwin. The team went one step further, incorporating his proposal into the actual quiz.

.... and she said yes!

Touchdown!

Changing tune slightly, there was this happy ending at NASA headquarters in California when its InSight spacecraft successfully touched down on Mars.

It was a monumental morning for some Aussies, too, who are playing their part in the latest mission on Martian soil.

Engineers from the flight team react at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory as the InSight spacecraft mission makes its successful landing on the planet Mars. Image: AAP

Let's see what 2019 brings!

Contact the author ebrancatisano@networkten.com.au.