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.
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 proposal is that patients must be assessed by a psychologist or psychiatrist and have their decision signed off on by two medical practitioners, including a specialist.
It’s action that can be challenged by close family of the patient in the Supreme Court.
Party leaders have given all MPs a conscience vote on the issue, but for it to progress to the lower house – the domain of local’s like Andrew Constance and John Barilaro, the Bill first needs to pass the upper house.
The Monaro’s Bronnie Taylor sits in the upper house and spoke to the Bill from her perspective as a nurse.
“The fact is that all the money in the world thrown at palliative care will not be able to help everyone and anyone who says otherwise is simply not speaking the truth,” Mrs Taylor told parliament.
Speaking to About Regaional later in the day, Mrs Taylor said, “I am very disappointed that this legislation was defeated by one vote tonight. I found it a difficult day.
“I respect everyone has their own opinions but I am absolutely convinced that this is a good Bill and should have passed.
“My heart goes out to all those that so desperately wanted to die with dignity which they so deserve,” Mrs Taylor said.
Read and watch Bronnie Taylor’s full speech to parliament below…
I understand that the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill 2017 is an emotive issue for everyone so I take this opportunity to thank everyone in the Chamber for the respect shown during this process.
We all come from different places, we all have different beliefs but we are all here to do the best we can.
I genuinely believe we all try to do our best, albeit in very different ways. I have thought long and hard about what I wanted to say today.
I have consulted widely with many people. I have strong connections with people in the health industry in many different professions.
I am conscious that many members wish to speak today so I will attempt to keep my contribution brief and to the point.
I still think of myself—and I always will—as a nurse. I love and value the profession; it was so very good to me.
I speak as someone who has walked the walk and talked the talk. I spent more than 20 years as a nurse before I entered this place just over 2½ years ago, all of that time specialising in cancer care, oncology, with eight years as a clinical nurse specialist in palliative care.
We all have our own stories of death and dying.
On this day, World Pancreatic Cancer Day, I remember my dad, Ward Washington, who died from a horrible insidious disease.
Dad lived in Sydney next to one of the best hospitals in the world but it did not equate to him getting the best palliative care—something for which I can vouch.
My father was a devout Catholic and I do not think he would have chosen the option of this legislation if it were available to him.
But it leads me to a point that has been talked about in the media—that the answer to all of this must be better palliative care and that access to good palliative care depends on one’s postcode.
That simply and most definitely is not true.
My husband, Duncan—a man of much wisdom and common sense; a farmer, lawyer and economist—lost his mum to metastatic breast cancer when he was 20. I remember it well.
I was doing my first practical at the time, doing a community nursing placement. I knew then that I had found my passion.
Duncan’s family cared for his mum at home. They live half an hour out of Cooma, which is the main town, and have a long dirt driveway so one could say that they are isolated.
They felt so grateful to be able to have her at home to die. They had excellent palliative care in Nimmitabel, postcode 2631, population around 300.
Mrs Walters was their generalist community nurse; she still works at Cooma Community Health. This brilliant nurse, with a wealth of experience, worked closely with Duncan’s mum’s general practitioner [GP], Dr Vic Carroll.
Duncan’s mum died surrounded by her husband, Peter, who carefully and lovingly cared for her, her sons and her treasured friends.
That was great palliative care, delivered by a community nurse and a GP—no fancy hospice, no specialist—just a great team in a rural community.
Importantly, it was a community that cared for her and the family because that is what we do in the country; we care for each other in times of challenge and sadness.
When specialist doctors in the cities say that people in the country do not have access to good palliative care, they should come down south and have a look.
I know that is lacking in some centres but all of the specialists in the world will not solve that. What is needed is good basic nursing care, professionals who are willing and able to spend time with people and their families.
I have worked with people who are dying and their families for most of my professional life. I, too, have personal stories but I speak today from my professional experience.
I spoke earlier about being a clinical nurse specialist based in Cooma and I covered the entire Monaro area.
The fact is that all the money in the world thrown at palliative care will not be able to help everyone and anyone who says otherwise is simply not speaking the truth.
I know we need more resources and I will fight for that every day in this place while I am privileged to be a member. I can also relate many stories of the patients I have cared for but that is not my job today.
However, specialists who state in the media that anyone who wants to end their life at a time of their choosing after being diagnosed to be in the terminal phase of their illness is depressed and after receiving specialist palliative care will change their minds is a falsehood and something I find offensive.
The whole notion that excellent palliative care can cure everyone’s suffering is not true. Anyone who has worked with people who are dying knows emphatically that that is not true.
I have been asked for access to my recent speech to the Legislative Council on the Assisted Dying Legislation.I have been deeply humbled by the phone calls to my office and emails on my words to the Chamber.Here is the speech for anyone that is interested.Bronnie
People’s opinions are their own and they should not be imposed on others as if they were fact when they are not.
It is an interesting fact that when people are diagnosed with a disease—and I use cancer as an example as I know a little about this—they are always given the option of treatment to prolong their life, treatment to make them live longer, regardless of whether that treatment has a less than 5 percent chance of working.
People are offered that option and it is their choice. We give people the right to choose if they want to extend their life so I ask: Why do we not give people the option to end their lives, at a time of their choosing, surrounded by the people they love and above all—the ultimate—with the dignity that they so deserve?
We have spoken a lot about vulnerability and I have seen it time and again. Vulnerability comes when we feel we are losing control. It is a horrible feeling.
I used to say to my patients when I sensed their vulnerability, “This cancer will not define you or control you. You need to define it.”
We worry that this will hurt our most vulnerable. I completely disagree; this legislation will empower them and give them control.
I would like to quote Dr Charlie Teo of whom I am very fond. Dr Teo said:
“I am proud of my reputation of never giving up on patients who still have the will to live despite what others believe to be an exercise in futility.
“I am equally as proud to support Dying with Dignity because the only situation that would be worse than not having control of your life is to not have control over your own death.”
They are powerful words from an outstanding individual who does so much for so many at the most vulnerable time of their lives.
I quote from my husband whom I have been quoting a lot, as I do about most things. He sent me this text the other day which states:
“There is happiness and peace in knowing you will retain control over your own destiny, even if in all likelihood you don’t use it.
“Knowing you will slowly lose control will surely increase suffering and misery. And giving your control over your destiny to the government … well that is very dissatisfying.”
The fundamental reason for my vote today is based on the ultimate principle that I do not believe that government and politicians should tell people how to run their lives.
My belief is that we need to get out of the way. Our responsibility is to provide a safe framework.
I quote from the excellent position paper of the New South Wales Nurses and Midwives Association, even though the association and I do not always see eye to eye. However, I commend the association for this document.
“Our members provide high quality palliative care that for the majority is able to alleviate physical pain and provide adequate comfort.
“Unfortunately, palliative care is not effective for all patients and some experience unbearable pain and suffering for prolonged periods of time.
“We believe that legislation reform in this area will actually provide protection to people who are vulnerable.”
The draft bill, which is rigorous in its requirements, requires that a person who wishes to seek assistance should express such a wish to three separate health practitioners over a minimum period of nine days before assistance can be provided.
It also requires that a person be deemed of sound mind before assistance can be provided.
I believe the legislation is rigorous and commend the working party for its bravery and courage. It has done a good job.
Under this bill, people will need approval from three doctors. I trust doctors; I trust that they will make the right decision and not allow people to access the provisions in this legislation if they do not qualify.
Clause 29 of the bill specifically states that this is not about letting people commit suicide.
It is not about telling people with mental health issues that they are unworthy. This legislation would not give them access so it is wrong to draw that conclusion.
People in this Chamber might not wish to use this legislation which is fine; it is their choice. But they should not impose their views on others.
It is their right to choose, which is the way it should always be in a free and democratic country such as Australia.
I support this bill.
Bronnie Taylor is the Parliamentary Secretary to the Deputy Premier and Southern NSW and is a Nationals MLC.
Remember Eddie? He came to Canberra a while ago to tell the country about why his mums deserve equality – just like other families. Eddie’s story persuaded a lot of Australians to vote yes. After the result today, there was one person I wanted to talk to.
“People who know my family, know that there is nothing wrong with us,” Eddie told the Canberra media pack on September 12.
“We play soccer in the winter and volunteer for the surf club in the summer,” he said.
“I have two parents, they love me and they love each other, all couples and all families deserve the same respect and value.”
#Tathra's Eddie Blewett talks to the media pack at Parliament House, Canberra with Bill Shorten MP Mike Kelly MP, and Tanya Plibersek, asking #Australia to get this done and say YES for Rainbow Families.Ian
Realisation today that 62% of his countrymen agreed was reassuring.
“It’s been hard, having your family talked about and judged, thank you to everyone who has supported us during this difficult time,” Eddie says.
“I really hope the Prime Minister makes good on his commitment to take this to parliament and have this finalised by Christmas.”
Bill Shorten’s call this morning was a surprise, but points to the power of Eddie’s campaigning.
“Bill told me he wants this done by December 7, that was good to hear,” Eddie says.
“I am really grateful for Bill and Tayna’s support.”
With the sea under Tathra Wharf being whipped up by biting winds from every direction, those gathered started to unpick the detail of the results.
There was disappointment at the New South Wales result – the lowest YES vote in the country with 57.8%.
“Queensland (60.7% YES) and Tasmania (63.6% YES) seem more progressive,” was one cheeky comment I overheard.
News that 17 of Australia’s 150 electorates had voted NO also chipped away at the mood.
For the same-sex couples and gay people gathered seeing a number put on those who seemingly oppose who they are and their way of life was stark.
“I am really pleased most people have said YES, but it’s an uncomfortable feeling knowing that almost five million people (38%) have said NO, it’s hard not to feel that personally,” Claire Blewett says.
Seeing the local results come through renewed the energy in the 150-year-old wharf building.
Sixty-five percent of Eden-Monaro voters said YES, 62% in the Eurobodalla/Shoalhaven based seat of Gilmore.
“The way we got to this result has been damaging, ” Neroli Dickson says.
“But locally it’s been incredibly encouraging to experience the genuine support of so many in this country community, friends and ‘strangers’ who all want diversity celebrated, a 65% YES vote confirms it,” Neroli says.
“To know that the community we call home said YES so strongly is brilliant,” Claire adds.
“But we’ll wait for the next step to take place in parliament before we really relax and enjoy this result.”
Labor’s Mike Kelly, Member for Eden-Monaro says he is intensely proud of his electorate today.
“A result amongst the highest in Australia. I am even more proud of the respectful way in which this community on both sides engaged in the debate,” he says.
“The result demonstrates the intelligent and compassionate nature of this electorate and their steadfast belief in equality.”
In neighbouring Gilmore, Liberal MP Ann Sudmalis thanked the people of her electorate for taking part.
“I welcome the outcome, a YES vote supported by 62% of the electorate,” Ms Sudmalis says.
“I welcome the Prime Ministers commitment to have this legislated by Christmas, I will support a YES vote in the House of Representatives,” Ms Sudmalis says.
Speaking to About Regional later in the day, Bill Shorten paid tribute to the power of individual voices like Eddie’s.
“When Eddie spoke to the country about his family, I think he persuaded a lot of people to vote YES,” Mr Shorten says.
“This victory belongs to Eddie, his family and other LGBTIQ families in Australia.
“Eddie is an absolute legend. I’m really proud of him, and I know his mums are too,” Mr Shorten said.
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.
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.”
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.
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…
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.
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.
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.”
“They’re actually a colony of several animals, all with specialised functions – feeding, catching prey, and reproduction.
“Fascinating!” Kerryn says.
According to the Australian Museum, the Bluebottle is a colony of four kinds of highly modified individuals known as zooids, and come from the same family of life that includes coral and sea anemones.
“The zooids are dependent on one another for survival.
“The float (pneumatophore) is a single individual and supports the rest of the colony.
“The tentacles (dactylozooids) are polyps concerned with the detection and capture of food and convey their prey to the digestive polyps (gastrozooids).
“Reproduction is carried out by the gonozooids, another type of polyp,” The Museum says.
Generally speaking, northerly winds bring Bluebottles onto local beaches.
“There have also been some pretty big seas lately,” Ms Wood says.
The Bluebottles famous float can grow to over 15cm, it’s job is to sail the colony across the ocean surface capturing the breeze with its aerodynamic shape. A degree of muscular contraction in its crest gives the Bluebottle a sense and skill similar to a holidaying windsurfer.
“The float may project either to the left or to the right; the left-handed forms sail to the right of the wind and vice versa,” The Australian Museum explains.
“Thus, if the sailing angle of one form leads to its stranding on the shore, the others sailing to the opposite side of the wind may escape.”
A neat survival trick that maintains the population even when Far South Coast beaches are blanketed in dried and popping specimens.
Food and reproduction drive life and Bluebottles have some impressive tools to call on.
Their stinging tentacles drift downwind for up to one metre capturing food in their wake, responding swiftly to the presence of food, they twist and tangle prey, and “become all mouth” to digest their meal.
A range of enzymes are deployed to break down proteins, carbs, and fats across a menu of small crustaceans and surface plankton.
Reproduction is another impressive Bluebottle trick that helps it’s species survive on the high-seas.
Bluebottles are hermaphrodites, they carry female and male parts.
“Awesome, I love that so many marine creatures are hermaphrodites,” Ms Wood says.
“And sometimes they’ll wash up on the beach with a variety of other really beautiful ‘blue’ animals like Glacus atlanticus or the Blue Sea Dragon – also hermaphrodites.
“The Glaucus atlanticus actually eat blue bottles and ‘steal’ their poison, making them even more poisonous!” Ms Wood says.
All this is very interesting but from a human perspective, avoiding the stingers and knowing what to do if stung is front of mind during a day at the beach.
“Avoiding north-east facing beaches in those conditions might help families dodge Bluebottles,” Mr Edmunds says.
“The best treatment for a sting is hot water, a shower as hot as you can without burning does the trick.
“And if hot water isn’t available ice is a good alternative in relieving the pain after you have washed the tentacles away,” Mr Edmunds advises.
“Swimming at a patrolled beach this summer will ensure that first aid is close at hand from lifesavers.”
And be aware beachcombers, as thousands of Bluebottles lay shipwrecked on local beaches the toxic mixture they use to immobilise and digest their prey is still active and can sting you, however the contractions that trap their marine victims becomes inactive.
Bluebottles are awesome, the sting they can inject into a day at the beach instinctively demands our respect, but so to should their survival skills.
*Become a member of About Regional and support local news and stories, thank you to the Bega Valley Regional Learning Centre, Linda Albertson, Julia Stiles, Ali Oakley, Rosemary Lord, and Simon Marnie.
*Large elements of this article originally appeared on Riot ACT.
Entries are now open for the “Year of the Dog” Open Art Prize at Bega’s Spiral Gallery.
Works representing cavorting canines, pampered pooches, faithful friends, and wonderful working dogs are all expected to mark their territory in the renowned Church Street art space between February 16 and March 14.
There is a maximum of two works per artist with an entry fee of $30 per work. Anyone can enter, even if you don’t consider yourself ‘arty’, works in any medium and at any level of practice are encouraged.
There are great prizes to be won! First prize will receive $800 cash plus a $200 accommodation voucher from Tathra Beachside. Plus there are prizes for Runner-up, the Encouragement Award, and the People’s Choice Award.
Sponsors include – Candelo General Store and Café, Wild Rye’s Baking Company, Pambula Boarding Kennels and Outasite Storage, Tathra Tyre and Auto Service, Tathra Beachside, Bermagui Veterinary Clinic, Candelo Books, Bega Garden Nursery, Tathra Beach Tapas and Bega Cheese.
My car sits in the driveway at home covered by dust day in day out, rain is the only thing that gets my Subaru sparkling. A couple of hours at Cooma MotorFest on Saturday (Nov 4) is not going to change that but it has left its mark.
Brilliant blue Monaro skies backed the hard work of the Cooma Car Club and other local service groups; it was a magic day, not just for rev heads but for anyone that appreciates hard work, style, colour, and nostalgia.
This bi-annual event raises money for local charities and draws around 3000 people to Cooma Showground, not to mention car, truck, and machinery clubs from Canberra, the Far South Coast, and southern Monaro.
Podcast 20 features an extraordinary group of people who have just started meeting regularly to support each other through challenges and troubles that most would find impossible.
This group of a dozen or more grandparents are raising their grandchildren and great-grandchildren. The parents of these kids have deserted them for a range of reasons and these grandparents – the parents of the parents are the safety net.
Karen Thomas and Vanessa Bragg from PlayAbility in Bega have bought these families together. PlayAbility provides early intervention services for families who have young children with a disability or developmental delay.
You are about to meet people that carry an interesting range of emotions – sadness and despair, mixed with joy, humour, and love.
What stood out to me as I listened to these stories is that these people walk among us, carrying the most heartbreaking experiences, stories that have gone unheard, told by people who haven’t been recognised or supported – until now.
I’ve beeped out the names of the kids to respect their privacy.
Bombala’s Ron and Lexie Milliner have worked hard, smart and with passion all their lives, they are now moving towards a kind of retirement that will keep them busy, but see them enjoying the spoils of their labour.
Six months ago they all but wound up their long-running earth moving business.
“We wanted to dismantle things while we still had our marbles, although some say I lost them a long time ago,” Ron laughs.
Negotiations continue around the sale of their beloved “Crystal View”, which had been HQ for the family and the business. Most of the trucks and machines that were once parked on the property on Gunningrah Road are gone, sold at auction back in May.
“We built the business up to a point where we had just over 60 registrations – trucks, trailers, utes, and machines, and now after the sale, we are down to about 10,” Ron says.
“I’ve still got a granite rock quarry and I make road base and sell all sizes of granite stone -from 20mm to rocks as big as this lounge we are sitting on.
“We are hoping to expand and sell wall and landscaping rock to the coast.”
It’s hard to imagine Ron not driving trucks and machinery, it’s his boyhood dream – trucks and music.
“When I was a little kid I wanted to own trucks and bulldozers and play Slim Dusty music,” the 71-year old says.
“And to a certain degree, I’ve managed to do that.”
Ron beams as he talks about his two and half-year-old great-grandson playing in the Milliner quarry.
“He’s doin the same thing I used to do as a little kid – load little rocks into his little dump truck,” Ron says.
Married for 53 years, Ron and Lexie have three children, seven grandkids, two great-grandsons, and another two due in January.
The pair met while working at the old Harold Golberg department store in Bombala.
“Lexie worked upstairs in the accounts department,” Ron remembers.
As a founding member of the “Bombala Knit and Knatter Group”, Lexie has been busy knitting baby blankets for the new arrivals on top of her regular crafty generosity.
The Knit and Knatter girls get together often at Bombala’s famous Cosmo Cafe, making woolen blankets for the charity Wrap With Love.
“We sent 100 wraps away in August, I’ve lost count how many we’ve done over the last eight years,” Lexie says.
Apart from keeping the home fires burning, Lexie has been key to the businesses success, often called on in the early days to move a truck when Ron needed an extra pair of hands.
Both fondly remember family barbeques in the bush when their children were young. Precious family time while Ron was working a 13 day fortnight harvesting and carting logs, building up the business.
At aged 25, it was the forestry industry that gave the Milliner’s their break in the 1970’s.
“We had no money when we got that first contract, and I remember getting that first cheque from the Eden Chip Mill for $6500, I’d never seen so much money,” Ron says.
“We built the business up from there, trading up to new machinery, three steps forward and 2.99 back.
“But as we were going along we could see we were losing more and more forestry areas to National Parks.
“There were about 40 contractors in those days,” he says.
Recognising the decline in forestry, Ron and Lexie started to diversify their business and moved into earth moving.
In 1992 they took over the local concrete plant from the cash-strapped Bombala Council.
“Forestry started pulling names out of a hat and I didn’t want to go like that or get to that stage so I took a small package from the government and that helped us move on.”
Logging, earth moving, and concrete were all part of the business for a few years before the Milliners finally got out of forestry in 1995.
“It was important to have a diverse business so that we could cope with the rise and fall, there was something going all the time,” Ron says.
Milliner machines have worked on some to the region’s big projects.
“But nothing was too small for us,” Ron smiles.
Reflecting on his 50-year career, this boy from Mount Darrah who trapped rabbits and sold turnips as a lad points to Bombala’s new softwood processing plant as one of his biggest jobs.
“On one day alone we did 75 truck and trailer loads,” he said.
“We worked on the Eastern Gas Pipeline that came through in 2000, we did clearing work out on the Hume Highway in the nineties getting it ready for the road to go through, and more recently we worked on the big new electricity substation at Cooma – some interesting jobs.”
In winding up the business at Crystal View, Ron and Lexie considered moving to the coast for their retirement years but instead, they opted to become “townies” building a new home in the community Lexie was born and breed in.
“Ron was too frightened a tsunami would get him, so he said – I am staying on top of the mountain,” Lexie chuckles.
Family and friends invited to Crystal View will be familiar with the large performance space Ron had created to share his love and skill for music. Lexie’s warmth, humour, and hospitality an important ingredient to the party.
“In a smaller way we’ll still do it here in the new shed,” Ron suggests.
“We could hold 6o or 70 people at Crystal View, here we might be able to fit 20 or 30.
“The last concert we had out there, there were a few tears, but nothing lasts forever, everything comes to an end Ian,” Ron says.
With self-funded recordings to his name and countless gigs in dozens of country halls with his family band, Ron still has musical ambitions and a need to celebrate music and its influence on people.
“I’ve got an old peddle steel guitar, its about 30 years since I’ve played it, so I am going to try and get that cranked up,” he says.
Ron and Lexie say there have been many sleepless nights during the history of their business as they managed the various twists and turns but more so in the last 12 months as they worried about the fate of the dozen or so employees that were part of the business.
“Everyone of those people now has a job,” Ron says with relief.
“We’ve had some good men over the years, one of the things I am happiest about is that we gave dozens and dozens of young fellows their start.”
Ron, Lexie and I chat at the end of a long day, Ron is dirty, bleeding and in bright orange hi-viz having just knocked off. If he wasn’t chatting to me he’d be having a beer – I am regrettably polite and knocked back the earlier invitation to have one.
Lexie is surrounded in cream and orange wool finishing another wrap, comfortable in her deserved new home, talking of perhaps taking a bus trip holiday.
Their daughter Leanda has just left and promised to return for coffee in the morning.
This is a rich family, but not because they have just cashed in their life’s work.
“I am a wealthy man Ian, my family stuck together, the business and our music is a big part of that,” Ron says.
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