Bombala kids shape design of all abilities playground

A vision for Bombala's new all abilities playground by students at St Joseph's. Photo: Snowy Monaro Regional Council
A vision for Bombala’s new all abilities playground by students at St Joseph’s. Photo: Snowy Monaro Regional Council

Buddy benches and reflection ponds are just a couple of the bright ideas Bombala students have come up with as part of their studies into playground design.

Students from St Joseph’s Primary School have just presented a range of thoughtful and captivating 3D playground models, paving the way for future playground construction in Bombala.

Following months of hard work, their final playground designs have been pitched to staff from Snowy Monaro Regional Council – Major Projects Manager Linda Nicholson, and Recreation and Property Technical Officer Jane Kanowski, as well as family and friends.

“All the students should be very proud of their efforts,” Linda says.

The students designed and built a playground space that incorporated elements of physical, social, mental, and spiritual well-being for people of all ages and abilities – community gardens, slides, handball courts, picnic areas, and bright, colourful equipment, were all part of their vision.

“The designs are very exciting, it was a pleasure working alongside the students – a great community partnership,” Linda says.

Dylan and Alexander Bruce make their pitch to classmates, Council, and family and friends. Photo: Snowy Monaro Regional Council.
Dylan and Alexander Bruce make their pitch to classmates, Council, and family and friends. Photo: Snowy Monaro Regional Council.

A number of valuable skills were picked up along the way, including team work, communication, public speaking, engineering, and building.

A terrific example of project-based learning.

Council staff presented students with a certificate of achievement for their outstanding efforts.

The students will continue their involvement throughout the design and construction of an all-abilities playground in Bombala during 2018.

About Regional Pop-Up Newsroom – what a great day in Bermagui!

The first About Regional Pop-Up Newsroom landed in Bermagui this week, based out of Julie Rutherford Real Estate we uncovered some of the untold stories of this town.

Kelly Eastwood from River Cottage Australia dropped in to share her plans for a deli and cooking school…

The About Regional Pop-Up Newsroom is in #Bermagui upstairs at the harbour at Julie Rutherford Real Estate.This time chatting to Kelly Eastwood about her new deli and cooking school.Drop by with your story between now and 2pm.CheersIan

Posted by About Regional on Tuesday, 5 December 2017

 

Longtime Bermagui fisherman Allan Broadhurst talked about his life on the ocean…

Can't come to #Bermagui and not talk to a real fisherman! Here's one – Allan Broadhurst.The About Regional Pop-Up Newsroom at Julie Rutherford Real Estate.Drop by with your story before 2pm.Thanks for tuning in.Ian

Posted by About Regional on Tuesday, 5 December 2017

 

The team at Marine Rescue Bermagui reinforced my longheld view that “the hills around here” hide some interesting people…

The About Regional Pop-Up Newsroom moves to Marine Rescue Bermagui, chatting to Alec and Richard.What's your story? Drop by Julie Rutherford Real Estate before 2!Thanks for tuning in.Ian

Posted by About Regional on Tuesday, 5 December 2017

 

And then there’s Bruce Frost, a life of volunteering, beekeeping and managing MS, one of the region’s great men…

The About Regional Pop-Up Newsroom is at Julie Rutherford Real Estate, upstairs at #Bermagui Harbour until 2ish. Drop by and share your story.Chatting to Bruce Frost right now talking volunteering, beekeeping, life with MS, and who knows!Thanks for tuning in.Ian

Posted by About Regional on Tuesday, 5 December 2017

 

What a great day! The About Regional Pop-Up Newsroom will happen again in 2018, somewhere in South East NSW.

Cheers

Ian

Peter Pan gets a Eurobodalla twist with Red Door Theatre @ Moruya

Narooma's Linda Heald, the storyteller behind, Peter Pan - The Eurobodalla Chapter. Photo: Ian Campbell
Narooma’s Linda Heald, the storyteller behind, Peter Pan – The Eurobodalla Chapter. Photo: Ian Campbell

A Eurobodalla chapter is about to be added to a story that has enthralled the world for decades.

Peter Pan is the creation of Scottish writer James Matthew Barrie and first appeared in Barrie’s 1902 novel The Little White Bird. Narooma writer and director Linda Heald has put a local twist on the story, her chapter opens at St Mary’s Performing Arts Centre in Moruya on Friday night (December 8).

Walt Disney’s 1953 animated film is perhaps the first image that comes to your mind. Peter Pan, the boy who can fly and who never grows up, leader of The Lost Boys, a lifelong childhood in Neverland mixing with pixies, mermaids, and pirates.

Linda remembers it fondly, “As a young child I would sit beside my cousin at the piano and she would sing the songs,” she says.

With Moruya’s Red Door Theatre Company only new to the stage, Linda was looking for the amateur company’s next challenge and one that allowed people with a range of experiences to have a go.

“I couldn’t find anything that was perfect, so I thought let’s write it,” Linda says.

“I started thinking – pirates in Moruya, and if you are thinking pirates then you’ve got to have Peter Pan, and you’ve got to have Hook, and then you need to have Tinkerbell.

“But we’ve taken a slightly different approach to those characters and given them a twist.

“There are a lot of accountant jokes – there’s mess and there’s music – it’s a fast-moving panto,” she explains.

With that Linda lets slip that Tinkerbell is “Stinkerbell” in her production – “And there are lots of jokes.”

Some of those involved in Red Door Theatre's production of Peter Pan - The Eurobodalla Chapter. Photo: Facebook
Some of those involved in Red Door Theatre’s production of Peter Pan – The Eurobodalla Chapter. Photo: Facebook

The Peter Pan story now belongs to The Great Ormond Street Hospital in London, J.M.Barrie gifted the rights in 1929, which have been a significant source of funds for the Hospital’s Children’s Charity.

Barrie asked that the hospital never reveal the actual income received, which the hospital has always respected.

Knowing this Linda checked with Great Ormond Street before proceeding with her one of a kind local chapter, and got the all clear.

This will be Red Door’s second production, the pantomime “Babes in the Woods” earlier this year got things started with seven people on stage, the cast swells to 17 this weekend for Peter Pan – with a four-piece band!

“We’ve got a whole load of new people and some amazing talent,” Linda says.

“We are there to entertain and to bring the community together.”

Audiences on Friday and Saturday can expect lots of local references and some well-placed topical gags but above all, as with any amateur theatre production its the strength and spirit of the community that created it that shines through.

“I love seeing it when people [cast and crew] arrive on day one and they’re hesitant and unsure of themselves, and then you look at them on stage in the production and they have just blossomed – that’s the best thing,” Linda says.

“And it’s just a fun night out!”

What are you waiting for?

*About Regional content happens because of the support of members, thank you to Sprout Eden – Cafe and Local Produce,  Bronnie, Taylor, Tabitha Bilaniwskyj-Zarins, Nastasia Campanella and Thomas Oriti, Jeanette Westmore, Oh’Allmhurain Films, Claire Blewett and Neroli Dickson, Kate Liston-Mills, Fay Deveril, Shane O’Leary, Fiona Cullen, Nancy Blindell and Jo Riley-Fitzer.

Meet 2EC’s new radio presenter – a painter from Bega, John Watkin

John Watkin learning the ropes with Kim Saker in 2EC's Bega studio. Photo: Ian Campbell.
John Watkin learning the ropes with Kim Saker in 2EC’s Bega studio. Photo: Ian Campbell.

One of the best blokes in Bega has just landed his dream job, four decades after he first had a crack.

John Watkin has been in the paint business for close to 40 years, but as a teen, he applied for radio school with the ambition of working on the wireless.

“Radio was my childhood dream and I got rejected,” John remembers.

“This was back in the day when youth unemployment was 30%, jobs were really hard to come by, you had to get a job wherever you could, which is how I ended up in the family business.”

John grabbed the opportunity with both hands, working with his father to build a business that is now one of the pillars of town – Inspirations Paint.

But from Monday, John’s radio dream becomes a reality as the new Morning presenter for East Coast Radio 2EC.

Program Director and 2EC Breakfast presenter, Kim Saker says giving John the job feels right despite his lack of professional radio experience.

“He and I had talked about the idea over a couple of scotches in years gone by,” Kim laughs.

Keen to bring stability to her station when yet another vacancy opened Kim pitched the 50 something painter to the powers that be.

“He doesn’t have the radio skills as such, but he’s got the personality, he’s got the stability, he’s got the maturity, and he’s got the passion – everything else you can teach,” Kim says.

John’s appointment comes at a time when regional media is under pressure and in many country radio stations local content has been replaced by networked programs from the nearest capital city.

Kim says it was localism that sealed the deal.

“The directors of Grant Broadcasters, who own 2EC have the technology to do hubbing, but they believe in keeping it local wherever they can,” she says.

During his years running the paint business and raising three kids with his wife of 30 years Sharon, John has fed his radio dream with a regular painting and decorating segment in Kim’s breakfast program.

“And for the last 10 years when we have our radiothon weekend, John comes into the studio and he and I pretty much spend the whole weekend on air together,” Kim says.

Learning how to drive the radio studio has been the focus for John over the last few weeks of training, getting to know the equipment, being able to respond to a live radio program, and above all getting comfortable in what many people see as an intimidating environment.

Listeners to Kim’s breakfast program might not have realised that on some mornings recently, John has been “paneling” – pressing all the buttons while Kim kept her gums flapping – as only she can!

From Monday (December 4) he’ll need to do it all himself (as country radio presenters do) during his own program.

This boy from Bega who grew up listening to 2EC or 2BE as it used to be known, says it’s been a nerve-racking experience.

“I’ve been self-employed for the last 27 years, this is out of my comfort zone,” John says.

2EC Breakfast presenter and Program Director Kim Saker with new Mornings presenter John Watkin. Photo: Ian Campbell
2EC Breakfast presenter and Program Director Kim Saker with new Mornings presenter John Watkin. Photo: Ian Campbell

Locals will be familiar with John’s community work through the Bega Chamber of Commerce, Legacy, Anzac and Remembrance Day, Bega Hospital, and more, it’s something he is keen to bring to his new role.

“For me, radio is part of the local community, it’s a connection point, it’s a conduit for the community to share what’s going on,” John says.

“When it comes to fires and floods that’s where radio really steps up, you can get instant news to people.”

John will be on air between 9 and 12 weekdays, treading lightly at first while he gets his bearings, but his plan is to include interviews and discussion in amongst the music that 2EC is known for.

“My day is about connecting with this community, I’ll be talking about what’s happening and how that impacts on our local area,” John says.

The career change is a significant shift in the operations of the paint business John and Sharon continue to run.

“My wife is still not talking to me,” John laughs.

“Sharon is very supportive, she knows I’ve had a passion for radio since before I had a passion for her.

“And the kids think it’s fantastic, they keep hassling me. My daughter has just moved to London and she can’t wait to live-stream me.”

As a 30 year veteran of the industry, Kim Saker says it’s a really nice feeling to make someones radio dream come true.

“My passion for radio started when I was 11, I couldn’t imagine waiting as long as John has,” she says.

“For John to be living the dream now is awesome for me.”

Radio needs real people, country towns need radio, and John Watkin is a welcome addition to the ranks.

*About Regional content is backed by members, including – Kylie Dummer, Kaye Johnston, Geoffrey Grigg,
Robyn Kesby, Amanda Fowler, Sue and Duncan Mackinnon, Geoff Berry, Tania Ward, the Bega Valley Regional Learning Centre, and Four Winds at Bermagui.

“Pack the Pool” floats 50 metre option for Batemans Bay

The option adopted by Eurobodalla Shire Council at their August 29 meeting. Photo
The option adopted by Eurobodalla Shire Council for the Mackay Park, Bay Pool, Old Bowlo site. Photo: ESC

Batemans Bay locals have laid claim to the town’s 50-metre swimming pool.

The future of the aging facility on the Princes Highway south of the Batemans Bay bridge has been a sore point since late August when Eurobodalla Shire Council adopted a draft concept plan for a new 25-metre, year-round, enclosed aquatic centre.

Aside from a 25-metre, eight-lane pool with ramp access, the full vision for the proposed aquatic centre includes a separate 10m warm-water therapy pool and spa, a freeform indoor leisure pool, that includes learn-to-swim and toddler areas, water-play splash pad, waterslides, gym, group fitness and wellness area.

The pool plan is coupled with a new 500 seat performance and cultural space taking in the current pool site, part of bigger plans that take in the old Batemans Bay Bowling Club site and Mackay Park next door.

Both facilities would boast shared amenities, including a foyer, café, visitor information service and associated retail space, administration offices, as well as plant and support services.

Council is looking to take advantage of a ‘pot of gold’ on offer from the NSW and Australian Governments to turn the $46 million vision into a reality.

Around 120 people turned out over the weekend for the “Pack the Pool’ event, disappointed the draft concept plan adopted by Council doesn’t include a new or refurbished 50-metre pool.

https://www.facebook.com/fightforthe50/videos/168035247122884/

 

One of the organisers, Maureen Searson believes the decision is backward.

“We’ve already got the 50-metres which is catering to an existing group of swimmers,” Ms Searson says.

“It comes down to this idea of community, and bringing the community together, it makes no sense that Council would not build something for the whole community.”

According to the business case developed by planning consultants Otium, a 50-metre pool will cost approximately $6 million more to build and up to $300,000 a year more to operate – in comparison to a 25-metre facility.

Otium pointed to a “limited local market for a 50-metre pool” and suggested stronger demand for a recreation and program/therapy pool space, given the shire’s older and aging population and appeal to the family tourist market.

Ms Searson disagrees suggesting that an indoor 50-metre facility will be a drawcard for visiting representative squads and rebuild a competitive swimming club in the town.

“Families are traveling to Ulladulla for training at the moment because Council has allowed the Bay pool to deteriorate,” Ms Searson suggests.

At the Council meeting of August 29, Mayor Liz Innes rounded out a discussion on the length of the pool by saying, “Ultimately, we will only build what we can afford to maintain.”

To date, Council has ruled out a rate increase to cover the project.

The idea of an indoor, year-round, heated pool has been the long-held dream of the Batemans Bay Indoor Aquatic Centre Committee. Carolyn Harding is one of those who have been selling raffle tickets for the last 20 years raising funds, “The committee would like to see a 50-metre pool included in the new facility, however, if it is not affordable we will accept a 25-metre pool as long as the rest of the plan is retained,” she says.

“Rather than miss out [on the government funding] and be disadvantaged by that, we are happy to see the 25-metre pool funded along with everything else,” Ms Harding says.

As President of the Aquatic Centre Committee, Ms Harding attended “Pack the Pool” on Saturday.

“I think there are a lot of people who are not fully informed as to what the indoor aquatic centre is all about,” she says.

A closer look at the concept plan for a new aquatic centre at Batemans Bay. Photo: ESC
A closer look at the concept plan for a new aquatic centre at Batemans Bay. Photo: ESC

Earlier this month, Cr Innes called for unity around the idea.

“Arguing over detail and process at this point is only detracting from our goal, which is to achieve government funding to build the facility.”

“First we need to show the NSW and Australian Governments that we have a concept that is excellent and affordable. And we do,” she said.

“Let’s get the facility funded, then we can really start to drill down into the details.”

Simply getting a draft proposal in front of the NSW Government for consideration in this round of the Regional Cultural Fund and the Regional Sports and Infrastructure Fund seems to have been a driver, with speculation that the fund is already oversubscribed and might not advance to a second round.

Council’s across NSW are pitching the dreams of their various communities to Macquarie Street for funding, and everyone wanted to make sure they were there in the first round.

One of the NSW Government’s key selection criteria in considering applications is affordability and viability, a 25-metre pool seems to tick that box in the Eurobodalla’s case.

When asked about the possibility of a 50-metre pool, the State Member for Bega, Andrew Constance told Fairfax there would be no issues with altering the design if affordable.

“Ultimately, running costs will have to be evaluated against other interests in the shire,” he said.

Council says a 50-metre pool was presented as an option, however, “Given the additional construction and operational cost of a 50-metre pool, it is likely that the warm-water program pool or the learn-to-swim area would need to be sacrificed if a 50-metre pool was included,” Council’s website says.

“To include a 50-metre pool would have also weakened our business case, undermining the strength of our grant application and the likelihood of securing the NSW Government grant funds,” Council says.

Around 120 people turned out for Pack the Pool on Saturday. Photo: Facebook
Around 120 people turned out for Pack the Pool on Saturday. Photo: Facebook

Maureen Searson’s group, “Fight for Batemans Bay’s 50m Pool” doesn’t accept that a 50-metre pool is still an option given that Council has already adopted the 25-metre option.

The group is hoping to address Council tomorrow (November 28) suggesting that the figures Council is using to argue for a 25-metre pool are wrong.

“One of our supporters, Jeff de Jager has raised questions about the audited financial statements that suggest the total maintenance costs for all three of council’s swimming pools was $229,000 for the year,” Ms Searson says.

“The report also says the gross replacement cost for three pools is $5,134,000.

“We are keen for Council to explain how it is then that a new 50-metre pool would cost an extra $6 million in building costs compared to a 25-metre pool and an extra $300,000 for maintenance annually,” Ms Searson says. *See response that followed from Council below.

News about the dollars flowing from the Cultural Fund could come this week at the Artstate conference in Lismore, shortlisted applicants will be asked to provide further project details in early 2018.

Council’s application for additional funding from the Federal Government’s “Building Better Regions Fund” is being finalised now for submission before December 9.

*About Regional content is funded by members, thank you to 2pi Software, Tathra Beach House Apartments, Kelly Murray, Gabrielle Powell, Tim Holt, Robyn Amair, Wendy and Pete Gorton, Shan Watts, and Doug Reckord.

The Zen Warrior Princess lives on in friends and family and a 1992 Pulsar

Brogo's Olivia Forge, ready to take to the road with Kelsey Clark in their 92 Pulsar. Photo: Ian Campbell
Brogo’s Olivia Forge, ready to take to the road with Kelsey Clark in their 92 Pulsar. Photo: Ian Campbell

A group of friends from the Bega Valley have just set out on an outback rally adventure with the memory of another looming large over their odyssey.

“Originally I’d signed up with my friend and colleague from Local Land Services Liz Clark,” Brogo’s local Olivia Forge says.

“Not long after we’d signed up for the rally she was diagnosed with multiple myeloma and ended up having six or seven months of treatment.

Liz Clark in the environment she loved and cared for. Photo: Facebook
Liz Clark in the environment she loved and cared for. Photo: Facebook

“She was always working towards this rally, this was the thing that was keeping her going, but the myeloma was just too aggressive and she died in August,” Olivia says.

“One of Liz’s last requests was that I continue on the rally but take her daughter Kelsey instead.”

The Mystery Box Challenge is for cars that are at least 25 years old cars. Every day of this 5-day trek is a mystery, with the 150 teams taking part only given the route to their daily destination with breakfast.

The map will take Oliva and Kelsey in a loop that starts and finishes in Dubbo in western New South Wales – the k’s and camping spots in between are unknown.

“We have a very fine 1992 Nissan Pulsar, no air conditioning, no power steering,” Olivia says.

Each of the 150 teams has raised a minimum of $3,000 for the Cancer Council to take part, Olivia and Kelsey have so far doubled that. Their tally currently sits at $6,236 but is growing every day as people hear their story.

Today (November 25) is day one, with the ladies from “Team Zen Warrior Princess” given directions that cover the 495km from Dubbo to Tipla.

“While Liz was going through her treatment we all ended up calling her the Zen Warrior Princess,” Olivia says.

“Sometimes she was feeling relaxed and Zen about the whole thing and other times she felt like a real warrior, like she was going to kick cancers arse, and other times she felt like a princess and was in floods of tears.”

The Zen Warrior Princess painted on the roof of the car, painted by local vet Cassie McDonald. Photo: Ian Campbell
The Zen Warrior Princess painted on the roof of the car, painted by local vet Cassie McDonald. Photo: Ian Campbell

The pair’s Pulsar has also been transformed into a homage to Liz and painted with all the things she loved – native plants, native orchids, dogs, and owls, with the roof emblazoned with a caricature of their warrior spirit.

Local vet, Cassie McDonald helped paint the car, “She is the most amazing artist,” Olivia says.

“And the car belonged to a Bega local, he loved it but he was going to the United States, he wants to buy it back when he gets home, I am not sure he’s going to be able to once we’ve finished with it.”

Team Zen Warrior Princess is grateful for the sponsorship of local businesses – Inspirations Paint provided all the paint for the car, Specialised Automotive fitted a bash plate, fixed the radiator and gave the car a safety check, and Beaurepaires chipped in with new tyres.

“It’s been fantastic,” Olivia smiles.

Traveling alongside the Pulsar across the 2,500km of the rally is a red Toyota Celica with Brogo’s Sue-Anne Nicol and her daughter Darcie at the wheel.

“I did the Mystery Box Challenge last year with Sue-Anne and it was amazing,” Olivia says.

“It’s like a huge family, everyone is so supportive, a lot of people are doing the rally because they’ve lost someone or because they’ve had cancer themselves.”

Sue-Anne and Darcie are known as “Seriously? Seriously!” and have so far raised $7,069.

“And you are expected to break down because the cars are crap,” Olivia smirks.

“So there are people along the way to help get you back on the road and keep going.”

Aside from the physical, geographical, and mechanical challenges ahead, the trip will be an emotional one for Olivia and Kelsey as they remember their friend and mum who died just a handful of months ago.

“Having this project has been really good for me, I just hope what we are doing gives some relief to the grief Liz’s family feels,” Olivia says.

You can follow the progress of both local cars over the coming week and donate via the Zen Warrior Princess Facebook page.

Kelsey, Darcie, Olivia, and Sue-Anne ready to tackle day 1 of the Mystery Box Challenge. Photo: Facebook
Kelsey, Darcie, Olivia, and Sue-Anne ready to tackle day 1 of the Mystery Box Challenge. Photo: Facebook

*About Regional content is supported by the contributions of members, including Kiah Wilderness Tours, Sprout Cafe and Local Produce Eden, Kym Mogridge, Danielle Humphries, Pam Murray, Alexandra Mayers, Jo Saccomani, Rosemary Lord, Amanda Stroud, and Olwen Morris. Thank you!

The medicine of music on the streets of Cooma – the Australian National Busking Championships

Sharon White, “Music is healing.” Photo: Ian Campbell.
Sharon White, “Music is healing.” Photo: Ian Campbell.

The recent Australian National Busking Championships were more than a tourism and commerce promo for the Monaro.

Sure, the tills were ringing, but for those who stopped to listen and watch the 180-odd performers dotted around Cooma’s CBD, something more valuable was at play – the joy and medicine of music.

Despite the grandiose name, this year was the first time the Championships were a truly national affair.

Throughout 2017, Rotary Clubs along the East Coast staged their own regional heats, culminating in a Cooma showdown on the first weekend in November.

The best buskers from Noosa, Stanthorpe, Ballarat, Wangaratta, Narooma, and Berry competed across a range of categories.

The top prize of $2000 went to Ballarat’s one-man band, Geoffrey Williams. The Rhythm Hunters from Narooma Primary School won the crowd vote and $1000 – their drums and spunk were hard to walk past.

Cooma music teacher Allan Spencer and his comrades from Cooma Rotary got the momentum rolling and are rightly proud of their ‘baby’ six years after it started as a Cooma only event.

“Yeah we’ve got some wonderful stories,” Allan says.

“There’s Canberra’s Guyy Lilleyman, who won in 2013 and 2014, and on the strength of 2013, he was picked up by an agent and he had a tour of South Africa.

“He went on to complete a 10-week tour of Afghanistan, entertaining Australian and NATO troops,” he says.

There is an art to pulling a crowd on a busy street of passers-by who are perhaps more intent on getting the day’s groceries than stopping to listen to some tunes.

Being cute, loud, and colourful is worthy and part of the festival’s appeal but what unfolds in Cooma is a genuine celebration of music and those who share it with us.

#Narooma Rhythm Hunters from Narooma Primary School, contenders at the Australian National Busking Championships in #Cooma.Ian

Posted by About Regional on Friday, 3 November 2017

 

Sharon White, a singer-songwriter from Sydney, remembers coming to Cooma as a kid on holidays.

Her powerful voice sitting on a milk crate in front of the fish and chips shop on Sharp Street called me over from the big trees of Centennial Park.

Stopping to listen I realised there was more to this little lady with a cane.

The lyrics she sings speak of love, loss, hurt, recovery, and release.

“She’s got a story to tell,” the couple next to me says to each other.

Sharon didn’t win any of the awards that day – the fact that she is alive seems to be Sharon’s prize.

“I write all my own songs, and events like this are good for original material,” Sharon says.

“There are a few people here playing covers, and they’ll probably get the people in, but my stuff is personal.”

Sharon White, “I am already a winner.” Photo: Ian Campbell.
Sharon White, “I am already a winner.” Photo: Ian Campbell.

Sharon says she comes from a musical family.

“My great-grandmother was Sydney’s second-best opera singer,” she says.

“I’ve got her voice.”

Dame Nellie Melba was the only voice better than her great-grandmothers according to Sharon.

“I just do what I do because I love it,” Sharon smiles.

“I write about life experiences, everything that happens in my life, I’ll probably write a song about talking to you!”

At the suggestion that music might have a healing effect in her life, Sharon pulls a pink, polished gemstone from her pocket with the word ‘healing’ engraved across its surface. A lucky stone that pushes her on.

“I lost my brother and I sort of lost myself for a little while, I was messed up, too much alcohol,” Sharon starts to explain.

“And my son said to me one day – if I lose you, I’ll have no one, so I said okay, I’ll fix myself up.”

The song “I am Gonna Fly” from Sharon’s homemade album “The Naked Truth” was born of that time.

“I sing that song now with a smile because it’s now a recovery song, it gives me strength and I think of my son and brother,” Sharon says.

“It makes me go on.”

The walking stick that helps Sharon cart her amp and guitar around Cooma’s CBD is a reminder of a car accident that almost claimed Sharon’s life, another time when music played its healing tune.

“I don’t even know it [music]’s there, I just do this,” Sharon says.

“I come up with songs all the time, it feels good to create something that wasn’t there before.”

Another song “I am Going to Nashville” points to where Sharon hopes her music and a few coins in her guitar case will take her one day.

“In Sydney, I can make about $300 in three hours,” she says.

While it was a fella from Ballarat and a bunch of kids from Narooma that claimed the big prizes at the Australian National Busking Championships, Sharon says the festival has been a great opportunity to share her music.

“It doesn’t matter if I win or lose, I’ve already won – I have my life and I have my songs,” Sharon says.

Sharon has auditioned for the upcoming season of the TV talent show “The Voice”, she’s waiting to hear if she has made it through to the next round.

Cooma will be cheering you on Sharon!

*This article was originally published to Riot ACT

Youth Stage at Cobargo Folk Festival turns 13 – entries open now for 2018

Sarah Lindgard from Eden Marine High. Photo: Supplied
Sarah Lindgard from Eden Marine High. Photo: Supplied

The Crossing Youth Stage at the annual Cobargo Folk Festival has an impressive back-catalogue.

Almost 700 young acts have entertained festival-goers and in 2018 the Youth Stage turns thirteen.

Young people interested in performing and adding to the tradition are invited to apply online before December 10 to secure a place.

“Because of the history and fun we’ve had over the years, applications are filling fast, there is a limited number of sets available,” The Crossing’s Annette Turner says.

“The Folk Festival really believes in providing a designated space for young performers, and we’ve really seen it become a highlight in amongst the star-studded festival program.”

The Youth Stage builds on the day to day work of The Crossing Land Education Trust at Bermagui.

The Trust is based in a magnificent Spotted Gum forest on the edge of the Bermagui River.

Established in 1999 and lead by Dean and Annette Turner, The Crossing is a unique not-for-profit educational camp where teens for near and far learn about Landcare, sustainable design, habitat, and wildlife research in a hands-on, practical way.

Greater self-awareness, confidence, initiative  – and a good time is the spin-off for those who take part.

“We take that notion of having a go in a supportive environment to The Youth Stage and give young people experience performing in front of live audiences,” Annette says.

Most performers are local but a few young people from further afield like Canberra and Wollongong have heard about the opportunity and in recent years have been making the most of the festival experience.

Rhys Davis and Llew Badger in 2014. Photo: Supplied
Rhys Davies and Dizzi Stern in 2014. Photo: Supplied

Names on The Crossing Youth Stage honour role include Cooma’s Vendulka, Brogo’s Daniel Champagne, Bega’s Rhys Davies, and Merimbula’s Kim Churchill, who have all gone on to bigger stages and bigger audiences around Australia and around the world.

“There is always such a broad range of music,” Annette says.

“All music is welcome with opportunities for young people to perform a single song or an entire set – you can even come and juggle.

“And what I really love is that some will go away and really hone their skills between festivals and return with new material, different line-ups, and more confidence,” Annette smiles.

The Stage also provides an important hub and hang out for young festival goers, with an atmosphere of respect and inclusion for all.

Spin-offs from the Youth Stage have included a Songwriters Camp held at The Crossing during the school year that gives young people an opportunity to develop their talent and craft under the guidance of professional musicians and performers.

The 2018 Cobargo Folk Festival runs March 2 to 4, the program so far includes Eric Bogle, Neil Murray, The Northern Folk, and David Ross McDonald. Those interested in performing at The Crossing Youth Stage need to register online before December 10.

*The Crossing Land Education Trust are Community Group Members of About Regional.

Rubbish resuscitated as art at the Eurobodalla’s ReVive Art Prize

Moruya's Susan Bomball with Bill, winner of ReVive2017. Photo: Eurobodalla Shire Council
Moruya’s Susan Bomball with Bill, winner of ReVive2017. Photo: Eurobodalla Shire Council

A tribute to an old friend, made of even older bits and pieces has won the Eurobodalla’s recycled art prize  – ReVive 2107.

Moruya’s Susan Bomball and her sculpture, “Bill” claimed the $4000 prize before a packed house at the Mechanic’s Institute.

“I was shocked, there is so much talent in there, I’ve never had people look at my work like this,” Susan says.

Made from reclaimed tools, chains, metal drill bits, and treasures from Council’s kerbside cleanups, Susan’s piece is a memorial to her favourite horse who was 17 years old when he passed away recently.

“Bill was a unique character,” Susan recalls.

“He didn’t like me very much, and he could be a bit of a grump but he was so good with special needs kids or anyone that needed a hug.

“Put a child in front of Bill, and he’d turn into mush,” she says.

Ben Floreani - Birth Engine. Photo: Ian Campbell
Ben Floreani – Birth Engine, using recycled glass bottles. Photo: Ian Campbell

Susan’s winning was one of 48 artworks on display at the Mechanics Institute in Moruya as part of National Recycling Week.

“Absolutely splendid” is how Council’s creative arts coordinator Indi Carmichael describes the exhibition.

Indi says the nature of the prize lends itself to playfulness, “The variety of works is impressive,” she says.

“The number of 3D works shows that more and more people are exploring that medium. Sculpture is definitely having a moment.”

Joy Macfarlane - What if. Photo: Ian Campbell
Joy Macfarlane – What if, using rubber, plastic, and polystyrene. Photo: Ian Campbell

Normally a painter, Bill was Susan’s first attempt at welding.

“I saw immediately that I could make art with welding, it’s a very forgiving way to work, you can just break things and reweld it,” Susan says.

Bill seems to have started with the large spanner that makes up his nose.

“In the last year and a half, I’ve really started getting into recycled materials in my art,” she says.

“I’ve got piles of recycled metal and wood – all sorts of things, materials that inspire me.”

Susan laughs that some of the bits and bobs she collects are fought over.

“My friend is always saying  – you cant weld that, that’s a great old tool that still works, you can’t buy that anymore,” Susan says.

Toby Whitelaw - Warning. Photo: Ian Campbell
Toby Whitelaw – Warning, using plastic bags collected from the roadside. Photo: Ian Campbell

Many of the works on display at ReVive are for sale but not Bill.

“He’ll have pride of place at home, he’ll sit at the top of the driveway,” Susan says.

“Thank you for the opportunity, this is a great way for people to have a go.”

Now in its sixth year, the ReVive Art Prize will continue as a biennial event in the alternate year to Eurobodalla’s prestigious Basil Sellers Art Prize.

The exhibition wrapped up on Friday (November 17) with the awarding of the $500 People’s Choice Award – Julie Brennan’s corkscrew inspired piece titled, “Threatened Species”.

*About Regional content is funded by members – thank you to 2pi Software, Sprout Eden – cafe and local produce, Therese and Denis Wheatley, Fiona Firth, Scott Halfpenny, Bruce and Julie Williamson,
Sue Hill, Robert Hartemink, Maureen Searson, Bruce Morrison and Kerry Newlin.


Check out the gallery of other About Regional favourites…

Julie Brennan - Threatened Species. Photo: Ian Campbell
Winner of the People’s Choice Award – Julie Brennan’s, Threatened Species, the screwcap invasion is disaster for the cork. Photo: Ian Campbell
Merryn Sommervile - Childless Mothers. Photo: Ian Campbell
Merryn Sommervile – Childless Mothers, from a young age, girls are conditioned to perceive their purpose and value tied to motherhood. Photo: Ian Campbell
Kathleen McKenzie - Powerless, Battery Hen. Photo: Ian Campbell
Kathleen McKenzie – Powerless, Battery Hen, using batteries, ink cartridge components, packing beads, and kitchen shelving. Raising the plight of battery hens. Photo: Ian Campbell
Julia Mia Holmes - A Congress of Nudibranchs. Photo: Ian Campbell
Julia Mia Holmes – A Congress of Nudibranchs, using milk bottles to create a transparent discussion on the state of marine affairs. Photo: Ian Campbell
Linda Heald - There are memories in the glass...Photo: Ian Campbell
Linda Heald – There are memories in the glass. Doors from my childhood home, windows in my grandmothers house, colouring the landscape of my life. Photo: Ian Campbell 
Mark Ward - The Couple. Photo: Ian Campbell
Mark Ward – The Couple, using carpenters rulers, painted wood lattice. Having made the female initially, the little plastic penis turned up on a beach, so I made the man to keep her company.  Photo: Ian Campbell 

“Seeing my designs on the runway will drive me to do it again.”- Cooma’s Charly Thorn

Charly Thorn, back home in Cooma. Photo: Ian Campbell
Charly Thorn, back home in Cooma. Photo: Ian Campbell

Cooma fashion designer Charly Thorn says she is happy to be sleeping in her own bed again after plying an international catwalk but is hungry for more.

India is the next stop for this ambitious 18-year-old.

The opportunity to leave her Snowy Monaro home was forged at FashFest in Canberra this time last year, an industry scout spotted Charly’s talent and offered her a spot at Vancouver Fashion Week in Canada – if she could raise the money to get there and create a spring/summer collection.

Cooma turned out to make sure the opportunity didn’t pass her by with a fashion show fundraiser held earlier this year to supplement Charly’s savings while working at the town’s Thai restaurant and at the online fashion house Birdsnest.

Part of Charly's Vancouver collection, the teal top is Merino wool, the skirt is made of silk. Photo: Robyn Damianos Photography
Part of Charly’s Vancouver collection, the teal top is Merino wool, the skirt is made of silk. See the full collection HERE. Photo: Robyn Damianos Photography

In Vancouver, Charly’s designs were the first to stride out before an audience of media and international buyers – Charly was the opening event.

“It was such a thrill, seeing my creations walk down a runway together as a collection,” she says.

“It was exhilarating after all that work to get there.”

New York was added to the travel schedule, her youth and ability the ticket.

“I grabbed an awesome opportunity in New York, there was a day at Parsons School for Design, which is where I have always wanted to go, my dream school,” Charly says.

The collection Charly presented in Canada was a mix of her two homes – Hamilton Island off Queensland’s tropical coast and Cooma, a stone throw from Australia’s highest peak and coldest temperatures.

Since she was a baby, Charly’s year has been split between the families snow business – Village Ski Hire in Cooma during winter and another life and business on Hamilton Island in the warmer months.

It’s a lifestyle that gave birth to, until now, an unlikely connection – holiday time resort wear meets Merino wool, an idea that attracted positive coverage from fashion bible Vogue.

“It was a real contrast for people and challenged what they think of when they think wool – lots of beachwear, very floaty – a juxtaposition that puts wool on the beach or beside the pool,” Charly says.

“It works though, wool is so breathable, it’s really nice to wear, and at the end of its life when you throw it out it’s not going to hurt the environment.

“To be able to showcase Australian wool, alongside other natural fibres like linen and silk, on an international stage is awesome,” Charly says.

Part of Charly's Vancouver collection, featuring linen printed in Sydney. Photo: Robyn Damianos Photography
Part of Charly’s Vancouver collection, featuring linen printed in Sydney. See the full collection HERE.  Photo: Robyn Damianos Photography

The colour and cut of the cloth wasn’t the only point of interest in Charly’s travels, the 18-year-old’s passion for the Monaro’s fibre lead to conversations at Parsons around the marketing and production of wool.

“It was really interesting to see the comparison between the Australian wool industry and what America wants to make of their wool industry.”

“America is talking about localising wool, not just production on local farms but also the milling, dyeing, and manufacturing side of the business in local factories.

“I really hope Australia follows that trend, because at the moment once wool leaves Australian farms it goes to China to be dyed and go through a fabric mill, and then we buy it back from them for manufacturing,” Charly explains.

“It’s really tricky to track wool once it leaves the farm.

“Food has already done it, people want to know where their products come from,” Charly says.

Still coming down off her high, Charly is considering her next move.

“To be in the middle of all those creatives is what I live for,” Charly says.

“So I’ve applied for a couple of international scholarships, and to colleges and universities here, I am just waiting to hear back.”

In the meantime, work as a trainee at Birdsnest has opened a door to travel to India in December.

“Every year they visit their suppliers and I just said can I come with you? I’ll pay my way, I just want to come and watch,” Charly says.

The experience in Vancouver and New York has left her hungry for more and it’s impossible not to believe 2018 will be the start of so much more for Charly Thorn and her homespun unique inspirations.

“Seeing my designs come to life on the runway will drive me to do it again and again.”

*About Regional content happens because of the contributions of members including – Tathra Beach House Appartments, Four Winds Bermagui, Kate Liston-Mills, Kym Mogeridge, Pam Murray, Jo Saccomani, and Doug Reckord. Thank you!