Having spent 24 years in regional radio, most recently as Regional Content Manager and Breakfast Presenter at ABC South East, in 2016 Ian launched a new endeavour.
About Regional is a fresh platform for local stories, information, and ideas.
Ian is keen to build on his passion for regional communities and his desire to see them thrive.
About Regional covers online, social media and podcast; a true celebration of the colour and perspective of country people.
The full sale of Snowy Hydro to the Federal Government is a $4.2 billion injection into the New South Wales economy, and the Mayor’s of South East NSW are lining up to spend it.
Premier, Gladys Berejiklian, and Deputy Premier and Member for Monaro, John Barilaro have “ring-fenced” those dollars for infrastructure projects in rural and regional NSW.
“4.2 billion dollars in one go for rural and regional NSW does not happen often, this is a once in a generation opportunity,” the Premier says.
“Snowy Hydro is iconic, an iconic nation-building project, what we intend to do is convert the proceeds into iconic nation-building projects for rural and regional NSW.”
Eurobodalla Mayor, Liz Innes is ready to help the Premier spend it; her wish list is geared towards generating employment and economic development opportunities.
“We’ve completed significant work in identifying our infrastructure priorities at a local and regional level,” Cr Innes says.
“This is a wonderful new opportunity and we’re grateful the NSW Government is directing the funding to regional areas.”
The top priorities for Eurobodalla Shire:
Batemans Bay Regional Arts, Aquatic and Leisure Centre at Mackay Park
Agribusiness and aquaculture infrastructure, including export packing and tourism facility for recently announced oyster hatchery at Moruya Airport;
Surf Beach innovation park – subdividing and providing infrastructure for future economic and employment growth;
Southern water storage facility – helping to secure Eurobodalla’s water supply with a 3,000 megalitre, off-stream storage facility near the Tuross River;
Improved coastal access and inclusive infrastructure incorporating walking trails, accessible pontoons, accessible facilities, and beach and water access.
West of the coastal escarpment, Snowy Monaro Mayor, John Rooney has big ambitions including reopening the rail line from Canberra to Cooma and then on to Bombala and the port of Eden.
Cr Rooney was quick to put the idea on the agenda soon after being elected Mayor late last year, telling Fairfax Media at the time, that rail was the most efficient form of land transport and that reopening the Queanbeyan-Bombala railway would give the Dongwha mill at Bombala access to softwood plantations in the ACT and Palarang.
At that time the Mayor committed himself to speaking with all levels of government to progress the idea, five months later there’s money on the table for what the Deputy Premier and local member says will go towards infrastructure projects that span generations.
Also on the Snowy Monaro wishlist:
Upgrading the transport network to ensure the main freight routes are to modern standards, including Imlay Road to Bombala
The Bundian Way, a 360km ancient Aboriginal pathway that links Targangal (Mount Kosciuszko) and Bilgalera (Fisheries Beach, Eden)
In the Bega Valley, Mayor Kristy McBain also has road infrastructure in mind.
“Bega Valley Shire Council was very pleased to see the recent State Government announcement in regards to a potential funding boost for the regions stemming from the Snowy Hydro sale,” Cr McBain says.
“We have identified a number of infrastructure project priorities that, when completed, will bring substantial financial and social benefits to our community.
“[Including] water treatment facilities at Bemboka, Brogo, and Bega, [and] an upgrade of the Brown Mountain east-west transport link .”
“The prospectus enables the State and Federal Government to look at projects over a wide range of infrastructure, cultural, and sporting priorities for our area, we would obviously welcome any additional spend in our area,” Cr McBain says.
When it comes to what projects are funded when, the Deputy Premier says, “We’ll take our time deciding what those projects are.”
“We don’t want to squander the opportunity, the legacy left by Snowy Hydro,” Mr Barilaro says.
What would your community do with Snowy Hydro dollars? Make your pitch below.
“Its a record for us and I think it might also be a world record,” Charlie says.
“Women’s sport, in general, has absolutely exploded this year – AFL, soccer; and we are now apart of that.
“Men and women compete on an equal playing field, physical strength has nothing to do with it,” he says.
Fifty-five handlers from around Australia will send 300 mostly Border Collie dogs around the bush showground between now and Sunday (March 18). Spectators are welcome to find a perch in one of the shady grandstands every day.
“You can even bring your pet dogs, please just keep them on a lead,” Charlie says.
2018 marks 75 years of sheepdog trialing in the ACT. The sport was born during the dying days of World War 2 and a need to raise money for the post-war work of Legacy.
Those early days played out on Manuka Oval led by George Westcott, a community-minded public servant.
“I’d like to have a go at running this on Manuka Oval next year,” Charlie laughs.
The skill of sheep dog trialing is a balance between control and threat and working with the natural herding instinct of the dogs.
“One is a hunter and one is hunted, so there’s a natural mistrust from the sheep towards the dog,” Charlie says.
“The handler has got to get those sheep accepting the dog as a guiding rather than threatening force.”
Spectators will see each dog working over a marked course featuring three obstacles, the last being an enclosed pen the sheep are herded into. The dog’s job is to keep the sheep within the boundaries of the course.
Each pair starts the trail with 100 points and 15 minutes to complete the course. Points are deducted whenever the sheep are off course or when the dog loses control of the sheep.
Rather than being true farm dogs, there’s no doubt a lot of these dogs are trained to compete. A competition that has become a lifestyle furnished with comfortable caravans, regular cuppas on the sideline and scones with jam and cream.
“The sport is changing but some of these dogs will go back and be working on farming properties on Monday morning, the dog that I am looking for to win this trial is the same dog that I would be looking for on a big property.”
The very best dogs show their skill and instinct as puppies.
“It’s not unusual to see pups of 8 or 10 weeks old trying to block the escape of their litter-mates or chooks in the farmyard – it’s an instinct and to modify that instinct becomes the art of sheep dog training,” Charlie says.
“If it’s not born into them then you can’t train it to the extent that you need to.”
The other magic that happens is the bond that forms between the handler and the dog through regular training.
“You can have a good dog but if the handler doesn’t understand the likelihood of what the sheep will do, then the dog will be getting the wrong commands, but the dog really needs to have that little bit of extra something.”
“Working the sheep, the joy of work is the reward for the dogs, these dogs would rather work than eat,” Charlie says.
The 2018 competition is being run in honour of one of the sport’s most successful human participants: Greg Prince from Dubbo who passed away a fortnight ago.
“Greg Prince came along and won 16 National Championships, this is the start of a new era,” he says.
Charlie is modest about his own chances in 2018 and has arrived from his property in Yass with a trailer of dogs boasting all levels of experience.
“I’ve got a couple of nice dogs here. My father was a sheep dog trialer before me, and I’ve always had a dog at home, it’s been life-long.”
The National Sheep Dog Trials run each day between 8 am and 4:30 pm at Hall Showground. The highlights include the Champion of Champions and the Open Final on Sunday.
Entry is free on weekdays; the weekend is $5 per adult and $15 per car, pet dogs are welcome on a lead, food and coffee is available Saturday and Sunday.
Summer in Bermagui is busy, a time when locals surrender their beaches and cafes to welcome tourists, but what only locals know is that autumn is the best time in Bermagui.
The water is warmer, the Gang Gang’s move into the Spotted Gums, a fire at night becomes an option again, the daytime sun is a little weaker but still warm on your shoulders…and sculptures appear on the town’s headland.
Works sit within the naturally sculptural landscape Bermagui offers, starting with the cathedral of Spotted Gums as you enter town, moving out to Montague Island floating on the horizon, and wrapped in the looming presence of Gulaga.
Over the 10 days of the exhibition, humans try and match that beauty with their own creations.
Perhaps there is some magic that happens when natural and manmade sculptures come together and create a buzz – part of the events 12-year success.
110 sculptures this year, a record – your head will spin as you take in the works dotted around Dickinson Point Headland and the Bermagui Community Centre.
Make sure you vote in the People’s Choice Award and the Children’s Choice Award.
“Working with creative people is my ideal environment and the artists are very supportive and interesting, expressing their individual ideas and passion,” says Paul Payten, Sculpture Bermagui President.
Entry to Sculpture Bermagui is free, but do the town a favour – buy a beer, bait, or coffee while you are there, better still have dinner and stay the night.
With her piece, Sally Simpson collected materials from beaches around Australia. You’ll notice bits of fishing net, abalone shells, bottle tops, and more.
“I create contemporary ritual objects to embody the complexities and contradictions of our relationship with the ocean,” Sally explains.
“Obsession” will catch your eye from the town’s main street. Made of stainless steel, John Fitzmaurice says it’s his twisted look at the female slavery to fashion and the high heel stiletto.
“A transition from two dimensional to three-dimensional space where a familiar object is placed in an unconventional way,” Alexandra explains.
The patron of Sculpture Bermagui is a doyen of Australian architecture, Phillip Cox. Phillip snaffled Jen Mallinson’s piece for his growing bush sculpture garden just south of Bermagui.
Not sure this photo does Jesse’s work justice – standing 3 metres tall, this horse of copper, steel, and bronze is enjoying one of nature’s other creations.
Wind Works and it’s opposing wind wheels is well placed to catch the passing sea breeze and spins with mesmerizing precision. See it for yourself.
After studying Japanese screen art (Byobu) Stephen has transferred his skill to this garden screen.
After being swept along by the grandeur of the outdoor sculpture along the Bermagui foreshore and headland, it’s easy to think you have seen it all, no – head towards the Bermagui Community Centre.
Matthew Perry’s work has got to be a contender for the People’s Choice Award. Adorned with shells, Mathew says his surfboard, guitar, and suitcase become vehicles for dreams and stories of past and future.
Paul’s busker is already a crowd favourite, “A bit ragged around the edges, but still playing beautiful music,” he says.
“My inspiration for Olly stemmed from a local octopus I witnessed gliding through the rock pool,” Jordan says.
“I wanted to represent its erratic and fluid movement through my piece.”
Sculpture Bermaguiruns until Sunday, March 18. 110 sculptures on show, see them for yourself.
Summer is nature’s peak season in South East NSW. Fauna and flora look to those warm rays from the sun to flourish and keep their species going.
Survival of the fittest means something new in these days of rapid environmental change; creatures of feather, fur, and fin are responding differently to those influences, and it’s often something that can be witnessed first hand.
With the first licks of winter being felt at dawn and dusk, a report card on the summer of 2017/18 was released by those observing the local environment at close quarters.
Sham Eichmann, is the Acting Manager of the Batemans Marine Park, for the NSW Department of Primary Industries. She says the long-spined sea urchin (Centrostephanus rogersii) has been one to watch over summer as the impacts of sea urchin barrens become more widely noticed within the Batemans Marine Park.
“Long-spined sea urchins are a native species on the east coast of Australia,” Ms Eichmann says.
“Small barren areas are part of the natural marine ecosystem and have been found to provide benefits to smaller cryptic fish species. Not all barren areas can be considered ‘bad’ for the marine environment.
“There is concern that the barrens are expanding more rapidly and are detrimentally impacting a range of social, economic, and environmental values within the marine park.
“The scale of this change and its causes are unknown,” Ms Eichmann says.
For the time, the Department of Primary Industries is asking that people don’t take matters into their own hands and begin killing urchins.
Many species of sea urchins inhabit local waters including red, green, and slate pencil urchins, which play an important role in the biodiversity of reef systems.
In NSW a bag limit of 10 sea urchins applies to all species, and urchins can only be taken by hand. Hammers, mattocks, chisels, small spades, and screwdrivers must not be used to kill sea urchins.
Ms Eichmann says urchin barrens will continue to be studied by the Department and university researchers.
The other feature of the local summer just gone was a combination of king tides and very hot temperatures, which led to a fish kill at Shark Bay, Broulee over the Australia Day long weekend as temperatures spiked towards 40 degrees.
“Marine Park staff attended the site and determined the fish kill was due to a pulse of nutrients into the system,” Ms Eichmann says.
In the lead-up, big swells had washed a large amount of seaweed on to the beach and into rock pools, the fatal rush of nutrients flowed into the system as the overwhelming amount of seaweed started to break down in the extreme heat.
On the flip side, summer saw some good fish catches according to the Marine Park’s Acting Manager.
“Particularly Jewfish in the Clyde River, and DPI is investigating claims that Jewfish numbers are increasing within the Marine Park,” Ms Eichmann says.
Bird movements also point to the changing seasons. As I sit here tapping away, Gang Gang Cockatoos are settling into the bush outside, the birds move down from the high country each autumn ahead of the approaching cold.
“There are currently ten breeding pairs of Hooded Plovers in the Bega Valley Shire. These birds are critically endangered in NSW,” he says.
“Unfortunately, only one chick made it all the way through to fledging this summer.
“It takes five weeks from hatching through to fledging, predators include foxes, ravens, gulls, and goannas and on some beaches, domestic dogs are also a threat,” he says.
Pied Oystercatchers fared somewhat better with at least ten fledglings, including one at busy Short Point in Merimbula. These birds are listed as Endangered in NSW.
“Another endangered bird that nests on beaches in our region is the Little Tern,” Mr Berzins explains.
These birds arrive in late October to establish breeding colonies before departing in early February.
“The most reliable nesting location is at Mogareeka, near the Bega River mouth. Another location used this summer was Bird Island in Lake Wallagoot, where some thirty nests were established before being decimated by gulls,” Mr Berzins says.
Following the loss of this colony, many of the birds seemed to move up to Mogareeka to nest again.
“Only ten or so chicks made it through to fledging, well down on recent years. The main threats were again foxes, gulls, and ravens,” he says.
One beach-nesting bird that is not yet endangered continues to breed successfully.
“The little Red-Capped Plover is better at concealing its nest than other hoodies and sometimes succeed out in the open at a busy location such as Tura Beach,” Mr Berzins says.
Another positive was the sighting of a number of Beach Stone-Curlews; it’s rare to see them this far south but Mr Berzins says sightings have increased in the last couple of years, especially at Spencer Park Merimbula, Whale Spit in Twofold Bay, Mogareeka, and at Bithry Inlet.
“The question remains whether there are more Curlews in the region or whether the same birds are being sighted in different locations at different times of the year,” Mr Berzins says.
Away from the beach, some uncommon birds were observed over the summer of 2017/18.
“Two raptor species, birds of prey, a Black Kite at Tanja and a Spotted Harrier near Candelo,” he says.
“These birds are much more common further inland and are not often seen in the south-east. Possibly dry conditions further west drove the birds further afield in search of food.”
“Seed was collected during the peak flowering period of each species, which included Parris’ Bush-pea (Pultenaea parrisiae), Merimbula Star-hair (Astrotricha sp. ‘Wallagaraugh’), Kydra Dampiera (Dampiera fusca) and Genoa River Correa (Correa lawrenceana var. genoensis),” the spokesperson says.
This work is one of hundreds of projects the Saving our Species program is undertaking, with the aim of ensuring the long-term future of threatened species in NSW.
“This seed collection work often involves travelling to remote locations for field work and many hours of searching for very small and difficult to find plants.
“We collect the seed firstly to provide some insurance against threats to the remaining populations, and secondly to see what makes the seed germinate, to help with future management plans,” the National Parks spokesperson says.
Did you notice anything interesting in nature around your place over summer? Please share your experience below.
The principals of 50 public schools from across Southern New South Wales have gathered in Batemans Bay to meet with chiefs of the NSW Education Department.
Schools from the Monaro, Far South Coast, Illawarra, Shoalhaven, Southern Tablelands, Southern Highlands and Queanbeyan were all represented, part of a road trip by Department Secretary, Mark Scott, Deputy Secretary School Operations and Performance, Murat Dizdar, and Deputy Secretary Educational Services, Georgina Harrisson.
“We have 2,200 schools and we want them to be great schools and you don’t have great schools without a great principal, and so we are asking them – what kind of support do they need in order to provide great leadership?” Mr Scott says.
Ninety percent of respondents said they were passionate about their work, however, a few alarm bells were rung:
*44% or close to 1 in 2 principals say they have been threatened with violence;
*The survey pointed to high levels of job demands, 1.5 times greater than the general population, emotional demands 1.7 times higher, and emotional labour 1.7 times higher when compared to the general population;
*Stress and burnout were flagged as issues, with principals saying the sheer quantity of work and a lack of time to focus on teaching and learning are impacting on them.
Mr Scott says he got a sense of that stress and pressure when talking to principals at Batemans Bay.
“If we are a world class system then we are providing outstanding support for principals,” he says.
“We are looking at how the Department and the system can better support principals and also how principals can better support themselves.”
The influence of the outside world is a big part of the daily challenge for teachers and principals.
“The complexity [of the job] is not all to do with teaching and learning,” Mr Scotts says.
“The complexity in part is because of broader pressures in society – pressures around families and the stability and security of the environments young people come from.
“Schools are often the one secure anchor point in a child’s complex and turbulent world, so schools often need to broker an array of support for students that often extends well beyond what has been traditionally provided in a school,” he says.
That traditional work of schools; preparing kids for their future, was also front and centre in the day-long meeting at Batemans Bay.
The former ABC boss, says his Department has been doing a lot of work trying to imagine the world of the future and the skills our kids will need.
“In the last year, we’ve done a big research project called ‘Education for a Changing World’ tapping into a global array of leading academics in this area,” Mr Scott says.
“To be successful we know that a young person will need to have very strong literacy and numeracy skills because frankly, they are going to spend their entire career learning.
“Young people are going to need a growth mindset, we know that they are going to need to be able to take on new challenges, learning new things, they are going to have to back themselves,” Mr Scott says.
Fostering a love of learning in each child is central to Mr Scott’s vision of the future, and indeed his challenge.
“We once may have thought we take young people to school to teach them knowledge, in a way now we feel they are at school so we can help them learn to learn,” he says.
“We think less in terms of a class and think more about where each individual student is up to.
“Our great teachers are aware that every student is different and at a different point in their learning – it’s a long way from a row of desks that’s for sure,” Mr Scott says.
NSW public education is the largest education system in Australia, with 810,000 students in 2,200 schools, looked after by 85,000 staff.
The Department’s tour also takes in meetings at Newcastle, Coffs Harbour, Tamworth, Wagga Wagga, Dubbo, Sydney, Penrith, and Liverpool.
The rules of polite conversation are clear; politics and religion are generally no-go areas, and in Southern New South Wales, foresty, logging, and woodchips are perhaps also on that list given the volatile nature of debate in the past.
But the rules of polite conversation don’t resolve or inform discussion.
One local with significant experience in the foresty industry believes it’s time people step up, be brave, put politics aside, and re-engage in what has been a divisive and emotionally charged issue.
Rob de Fegely is a forester and lives in the bush south-west of Pambula. His view is that all our forests need to be managed better and more creatively for the benefit of the environment, regional communities, and the industry.
“I’d like to think that we can have a far more mature debate about what we as a country want to do with our forests,” Rob says.
Rob is hopeful that the current review of the two Regional Forest Agreementscovering state owner forests in South East NSW will not just improve on the work of the past but generate a bigger conversation that takes in the National Parks system and privately owned natural forests.
“I’d love to see more money for our National Parks, budgets are way too low, we don’t spend anything like the dollars per hectare that we need to, to get the work done,” he says.
“I feel for the staff, we are not giving them the support or the resources they need to manage the forests around us.”
Rob believes the aggression of forestry debate in the past continues to poison talk on the issue today.
“I think the forest industry was loved in a social license sense through the 1950’s and 60’s,” he says.
There was a shift in the 1970’s according to Rob when woodchips became part of the industry, and those pioneering, nation-building days the timber industry was a part of for 150 years ended.
“It [woodchips] was really confronting, I remember going to Eden as a student in about 1976, and thinking – wow!
“Big clear-felled coups, about 800 hectares, they are all covered in trees now. But it was very confronting, and one of the reasons the industry lost it [public opinion],” Rob believes.
“Harvesting in natural forests has declined by 60% nationally since the signing of most of the RFAs,” he says.
Rob points to better codes of practice in the industry, a reduction in the area available for harvesting, and the impact of the environmental movement as being the reasons.
“Our [Australia’s] agriculture feeds about 60 million people a day, according to Cotton Australia we clothe about 500 million people a day, but we can’t supply our own timber requirements,” Rob says.
“Without opening up vast areas of forest for production, I’d like to think we can do more across tenures, and contribute more to not only Australia’s demand but also the demands of our South East Asian neighbours.”
Forests currently in private ownership have great potential in Rob’s mind. He’d like to see landholders assisted in managing the health of the bushland they own and perhaps working with the timber industry.
“We’ve got plenty of regulation but let’s see how we can assist private landholders to do different things,” Rob says.
“None of the industry here knows what people have got, we are far too focused on government-controlled forests.”
Rob is calling for more local control and input and a wider view of landscape management, which he believes would create a more positive and constructive discussion about developing the industry and meeting environmental needs.
Tapping into indigenous ways of managing forests is part of the future and part of that more localised approach Rob is suggesting; one that builds skills and understanding of forest health.
“Most people can tell when they find a horse or cow that’s been maltreated,” Rob explains.
“But you can’t say the same for forests, understanding that requires a little bit of skill.
“Reports from early explorers and surveyors suggest our forests were far more open then they are today with grassy understories, nowhere near the shrub layer that we have today and fewer trees per hectare,” he says.
“What did the Yuin People do down here? How did they manage the forests, how did they manage fire?”
Greater trust is critical in any mature advance in the foresty discussion locally. Rob flags “a classic conflict of interest” that undermines public confidence – The NSW Government acting as owner, regulator, and policemen in State Forests.
“It’s very hard to be the regulator and the operator, it’s open to influence in some form or another, and I am not suggesting corruption in any way,” Rob says.
“You really need an independent, skilled arbiter, and this is my experience in Tasmania. The Tasmanian Forest Practices Authority has been running for 30 years now, they are the independent policeman on public and private land for all forest operations – they look after ecology, threatened species, and soil.
“It’s a model that New South Wales and Victoria could adopt very easily, it would remove a lot of the contention about how forests are being managed,” Rob says.
The different “values” our forests represent guide Rob’s thinking and perhaps pull his ideas together.
“I’d love to think that in this more mature debate we can think about some of the alternative values, how we price them, and how we get the funds to ensure fantastic forests are rewarded,” he says.
Rob believes there are plenty of sticks in the system telling people what they can’t do but he asks, “Where are the carrots?”
“As a private landholder I am likely to improve habitat for lyrebirds, koalas, bandicoots, and potoroos, but where is the direction to do that?
“And how do we build that across the landscape to link in with National Parks, the Forestry Corporation, Crown Lands and others to develop a system across the South East where we would end up with a landscape we are all proud of?” Rob says.
A fresh approach to youth health that started in Bega is expanding to five new locations.
South Eastern NSW Primary Health Network and Senator John Williams, Duty Senator for Eden-Monaro, have announced Commonwealth funding to roll out “Teen Clinic” in GP practices at Bermagui, Eden, Narooma, Merimbula, and Kiama.
Bega Valley Medical Practice in Bega started the free drop-in service for the region’s young people in 2015.
Dr Duncan MacKinnon says Teen Clinicstarts at the front desk of his GP practice with reception staff.
“When teens come all they have to say is ‘We’re here for Teen Clinic’ and that’s as much information as they have to give, no questions asked,” Duncan says.
On two afternoons a week, each practice will set aside time for teens with registered nurses (RN). High schoolers simply show up, no appointment needed, and no fee – Medicare picks up the cost.
Doctors and other health professionals are there and ready to respond if needed, supporting the work of the RN.
Conscious of the barriers that sometimes exist when ‘grown-ups’, bureaucracy, and adolescents try and engage, an easy, non-judgmental, welcoming approach is key to the Teen Clinic model, as well as the leadership of nurses.
RN Sue MacKinnon is one of the faces of Teen Clinic in Begaeach Tuesday and Thursday afternoon between 2 and 5 pm.
“There has been a lot of research that shows teenagers can be reluctant to talk to doctors,” Sue says.
“But they are fairly happy to talk to nurses, we are a good entry point.”
Aside from offering their own high level of primary health care, Sue and the clinic’s other RNs work to introduce and connect teens to the people and additional care they might need.
“We do a lot of baton passing, it’s a really smooth transition for the kids and takes away some of the scariness for them,” Sue says.
It’s important that Teen Clinic is not “just” seen to be a mental health service or a sexual health service.
All bases are covered, open access covering all medical concerns for teens.
The response from Bega teens has been positive over the last two years.
“We have a small population, so sometimes we might get one person, sometimes we get seven,” Duncan says.
“We get groups of kids coming in which is really lovely because they’re bringing their friends.
“It’s important that teenagers know this is a confidential service,” he says.
“But we always talk to them about parental involvement, but a lot of teenagers are capable of making informed choices.”
In announcing the funding, Senator Williams said, “Any investment in rural health in the search for better outcomes is a good investment.
“There has always been a great divide between city and regional health services but thankfully with initiatives such as this it will assist our medical specialists and ease the burden on country people,” he said.
Bega Valley Shire Council says it’s disappointed and frustrated by a recent incident of fish waste being dumped in a shared community space at Bermagui.
New Wallaga Lake resident Deborah Taylor came upon the fishy horror scene one day last week while walking her dog at Bermagui Harbour.
The heads of a number of big Marlin along with fish frames and innards were dumped into overflowing street bins right in the heart of the town’s famous fishing precinct.
“I couldn’t believe the size of the fish carcasses,” Deborah says.
“I called Council, and as we were talking the Cleanaway truck pulled up, one man hopped out to clean it all up – an awful job.”
The NSW Department of Primary Industries advises, “It is an offense to dump fish offal into the waters at Bermagui Harbour.”
The shire’s red top landfill bins are an option but in this case its the volume and manner in which the fish waste has been left that is the issue.
Council says the dumping of waste and litter detracts from the beauty of our region, “Our coastline is the Shire’s greatest natural asset and the protection and effective management of our coastline is a high priority.”
Council has previously provided a specially designed ‘offal trailer’ at the Bermagui Harbour boat ramp; local farmers were collecting the waste and using it as a fertiliser, but that service had to be discontinued.
Local’s have suggested the trailer often became full of general household waste, reducing the effectiveness of the composting service.
It seems that sort of idea is still on the table. Council’s Waste Management team is currently reviewing operations and looking at alternative options for the collection and treatment of fish waste, including processing it into compost products.
The sad thing is big Marlin like the ones dumped at Bermagui aren’t generally considered good eating and are often loaded with heavy metals from a long life at sea.
Most sporting fishermen tend to take a photo of these impressive creatures of the deep then tag and release them, ready to tussle again another day.
“I was appalled to see this human greed, cruelty and don’t care attitude,” Deborah says.
Council is directly responsible for a public reserve network that stretches along 225km of coastline, for many if not all of the towns and villages along the way these spaces are central to community life and the region’s tourist appeal.
Ten boat launching facilities throughout the Shire are part of that responsibility.
“The management of fish waste at some of these facilities has been a long-standing problem,” the Council spokesperson says.
“During peak fishing periods, large volumes of fish frames and offal are generated and are generally well managed by local fishing Clubs, charter operators, and fishing competition organisers.”
Council says it is working closely with fishing clubs in Eden, Merimbula, and Bermagui to find solutions to the problem of fish offal, and encourages fishing tournament organisers to contact their waste section to discuss options for the extra waste generated by these events.
The fish waste dumped at Bermagui coincides with the recent trashing of Tathra Lions Park at Mogareeka, where partygoers lit fires and left behind twelve bags of rubbish along with vomit and urine for Council to clean up.
“The management and maintenance of public reserves is an ongoing challenge for Council and for many members of the local community who provide countless hours of invaluable volunteer time helping manage and protect these areas,” Council says.
Deborah Taylor feels the frustration and has spent the summer picking up after people. “Tweed Bait bags, fishing line, food wrappers, bottles, cans, cigarettes, even underpants, and socks, I get quite upset about it,” she said.
The Bega Valley is on the verge of reshaping its definition of garbage.
The Food Organics Garden Organics (FOGO) bin collection that will start later this year will divert around 1000 tonnes of household waste from the shire’s landfill and turn it into high-quality compost. Garbage won’t be garbage anymore but the building blocks of healthy soil and a good garden.
On average, 53% of the contents in your red bin is compostable, but at the moment that ends up in a big hole at Wolumla producing methane.
Essentially anything that once lived can go in your FOGO bin – garden trimmings, clippings, and prunings, meat, dairy, egg shells, seafood, take away food, vegetable, and fruit scraps. Plus, tissues, paper towels, shredded paper, kitty litter, and animal droppings.
ABC TV Gardening and recycling guru, Costa Georgiadis toured the Merimbula Waste and Recycling Depot late last year, expressing his delight at the food and organics collection technology that Bega Valley Shire Council has been trialing over the past two years.
“To turn waste into organic compost and make it available for local gardens, schools, community groups, and sporting projects is such a win,” Costa says.
When the time comes, your green bin becomes your FOGO bin and your red bin takes what is left, or better yet – your yellow recycling bin.
Currently, green bins take garden and lawn clippings only and are collected once a month from residents on the urban garbo run; while red bins are collected weekly. That turns upside down with the introduction of FOGO later this year.
Green bins and their bigger, broader mix of organic contents will be picked up weekly, red and yellow bins will be collected fortnightly. Council is still working out when the new routine will take effect.
Homes on the FOGO collection run will also receive a bench top caddy for their kitchen scraps.
Young families or people with health issues needing to continue a weekly red bin pick up, just need to ask.
If you live on a rural garbo run and currently don’t have a green bin – nothing changes, your red bin will still be collected weekly. No FOGO for you – which includes me.
The new FOGO (Food Organics Garden Organics) collection from Bega Valley Shire Council starts in the second half of 2018, these little people are the stars of the TV commercial that will help us get in the FOGO groove.I was lucky to hang out with them and the Bega Valley Waste & Recycling crew during the flim shoot. You might recognise some of these faces.CheersIan
Diane Brooks writes, “Finally, congratulations to all involved. Let’s make this trial work effectively ??? There will be an education program organised by ESC to encourage all beach users, whether they are residents or visitors to act within the framework of rules! We hope this will be adhered to by all.”
Kylie Clarke writes, “WONDERFUL NEWS!!!! So pleased!!! Thank you to the LBCA!!!!! And Thank you to our elected reps, Mayor and Councillors who voted unanimously on this! Awesome. Just awesome.”
Dani Applebee – “That’s great but just remember when your dog is off it’s leash you have control and it doesn’t knock children over and hurt them badly!”
Sue Middlebrook – “Pictorial signage that is visible, clear and understandable is the first step.”
The trial will start this month and continue until Council completes a broader review of its Companion Animal Management Plan 2015-19, which details on and off-leash areas, timeshare, and prohibited dog arrangements across Eurobodalla.
Council’s Divisional Manager of Environment Services Deb Lenson says, “The review would consider how to best balance the community’s competing interests.
“Council recognises the importance of providing areas for pet owners to readily exercise their pets and the need to take into account legislative requirements, public safety and environmental constraints,” she says.
According to Ms Lenson, further consultation for the review would begin this month.
“We’ll be seeking the community’s feedback on a suite of proposed changes to dog exercise areas across the shire that aim to reduce confusing timeshare arrangements and increase provision of off-leash and prohibited dog areas,” she says.
“We’ll also be seeking suggestions on how we can work with the community to improve responsible pet ownership.”