I’ve got some news about the future of About Regional that I want to share with you if you are reading this then you have been part of this journey with me and supported the growth and development of this new platform for the stories of South East NSW.
This week Canberra digital news and opinion platform RiotACT finalised the acquisition of About Regional which includes my ongoing full-time employment. About Regional is now part of a growing umbrella of news and storytelling platforms owned by Michael McGoogan and Tim White.
The move is another solid step in RiotACT’s ambition to become the primary source of digital regional news for people in Canberra and its surrounds.
RiotACTco-owner Tim White says About Regional fits perfectly with the company’s vision.
“RiotACT is on a mission to cover the local issues that matter, and Ian’s values and track record fit nicely. We look forward to empowering the communities he knows so well,” Tim says.
The last two years of About Regional have been a terrific rollercoaster, your support and encouragement as a member has been key and I will be forever grateful.
I started this knowing the power and importance of local stories, being able to take that further with the business know-how and ambitions of Tim and Michael is great for my family and great for the region.
“Those connections between Canberra, the coast, and the Snowies are well known, having Ian come on board adds new energy and adds to the growing formal networks being laid down through local and state government, tourism, business, and education,” Tim says.
About Regional will continue to evolve and build its own online presence under the RiotACT umbrella, with relevant stories from Batemans Bay, Bega, Merimbula, Cooma, Jindabyne, and surrounds also finding a home on other RiotACT platforms.
I am excited by the potential this partnership represents to the communities of South East NSW.
Michael and Tim are well-known to the Canberra business community. Their reputation and success with companies such as Allhomes and Uber Global speaks for itself.
I am hooked on their vision to revolutionise digital regional news, we have a shared passion to see local news succeed and prosper.
Since taking over RiotACT in August 2016, Tim White and Michael McGoogan have built the site into one of Canberra’s leading digital news and opinion outlets, with more than 150,000 unique website visitors each month.
Tim White is the former CEO of Allhomes and the driving force behind its $50 million acquisition by Fairfax in 2014. Michael McGoogan is a serial tech entrepreneur and the founder of UberGlobal, one of Australia’s largest cloud service providers which was acquired by MelbourneIT for $15.5 million in 2015.
Michael says,“I am looking forward to working with the people, businesses, and industries of South East NSW to secure a prosperous and colourful future for all involved.”
It’s onwards and upwards for About Regional, the stories of this region are about to be taken to a bigger audience and I look forward to sharing the next step with you.
Thank you, your support has created this opportunity for my family and this region.
For the last 3 summers, businesses in Tathra and Bega have worked together to fund a beach safety program that has kept the famous red and yellow flags flying on Tathra Beach during February.
Our golden strip of sand has been the only beach south of Ulladulla with a 7-day-a-week lifeguard service during the final month of summer.
To build on the reputation Tathra has with grey nomads and young families at this magic time of year, the Tathra and District Business Chamber is once again seeking financial support from local businesses and organisations to keep the flags flying in 2018.
“February is a big month in Tathra, many young families and retirees are attracted to our beautiful beach after the busy school holiday period,” Chamber Vice President, Rob White says.
“The feedback from holidaymakers is always terrific, it’s clear that people come to Tathra during February because they know our beach is patrolled, this extends our summer and gives Tathra a point of difference,” Rob says.
Locals know that February is the best time of year on our beaches, daily temperatures are similar to January, but the water is warmer and the winds lighter.
Lifeguards employed by Bega Valley Shire Council keep watch over beach goers Monday to Friday during the summer school holidays, complimenting the outstanding volunteer effort each weekend from Tathra Surf Life Saving Club.
“But once school goes back after Australia Day the Council service stops, leaving visitors to our town and members of our community at risk,” Rob says.
“Council considered working with us to extend their service into February to take the pressure off the community fundraising effort, but we have been told they don’t have the budget.”
The Chamber is now hoping to raise the $13,000 needed to keep professional life guards on Tathra Beach, Monday to Friday from January 29 until February 23.
Secretary of the Chamber, Carmen Risby says the results speak for themselves.
“The extended beach patrols on Tathra Beach during February last year meant that lifeguards were on hand to perform 14 rescues,” Carman says.
“Our stats show that lifeguards kept watch over approximately 6200 people on Tathra Beach during weekdays last February.”
Businesses who take part will receive significant media exposure, and generate tremendous goodwill within the local community.
Thank you to the businesses who have already made a commitment – Tathra Big4, Tathra Beachside, Tathra & District Business Chamber, Tathra Beach House, Tathra Beach Bowling Club, Bendigo Bank, and Tathra Hotel. More are needed to keep the flags flying.
Please contact Rob White at Tathra Beach House Apartments for further information on becoming a business or organisation sponsor – firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 6499 9900.
The significant contribution volunteers make to Bega Valley Meals on Wheels will be celebrated this
Tuesday, December 5 – International Volunteers Day.
The day was established by the United Nations General Assembly in 1985, and gives organisations like Bega Valley Meals on Wheels an opportunity to raise awareness of the contribution volunteers make to the life and economy of the local area.
David Atkins, Manager, Bega Valley Meals on Wheels says, “Tuesday’s celebration in Bega will be part of a worldwide network of events all geared towards saluting and thanking volunteers.”
“There is also an opportunity for people who might be interested in volunteering to find out more about it.”
Bega Valley Meals on Wheels relies on around 150 volunteer hours each week, with 200 extraordinary people from across the shire covering a range of roles.
“These people are the lifeblood of our organisation and are the reason we are able to provide an affordable, caring service to people in need across our community,” Mr Atkins says.
“Meals on Wheels is famous for food, but that knock on the door means so much more to the people opening the door and the people making the delivery.”
For over 60 years, Meals on Wheels has built a sense of community and resilience through the simple act of a delivered meal.
Better health and nutrition is the obvious benefit, but Bega Valley Meals on Meals volunteers also check on safety and well-being. A greater sense of social cohesiveness flows, reducing isolation and supporting independence and choice.
“While acknowledging the work of our current volunteers, we need new people to step forward and help,” Mr Atkins says.
“The commitment is manageable, shared, and flexible and comes with ongoing support and training, but most of all it comes with a huge sense of pride.”
The community is invited to join the celebration of International Volunteers Day at Toussaint’s Café, at the Bega Valley Meals on Wheels Centre on Bega Street, Bega. A BBQ lunch will be served from 12pm, on Tuesday December 5, everyone is welcome.
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.
A Community Bike Ride from Tathra to Bega later this month will showcase the vision and potential of the ambitious plan to build a permanent track between the two towns.
Over $3 million in State Government funding earlier this year has turned the idea into a reality.
“We’ve been talking about this for a long time so to secure this funding was a dream come true, but we need to keep fundraising,” says Robert Hartemink, ‘Lead Rider’ of the Bega Tathra Safe Ride Committee.
On Sunday, September 24, rolling road closures starting at 9am from Lawrence Park Tathra will give riders a chance to experience the journey without the normal pressure of traffic – and the perfect way to wrap up NSW Bike Week.
“This will be a great family day, only the brave and keenest of riders can tackle this course normally, the speed and the closeness of cars and trucks is just too much for most,” Mr Hartemink says.
“I can’t wait to see families enjoying our beautiful countryside without that stress, not only on September 24 but whenever they choose to ride once we complete the track.”
Planning and design work for the new track is in full swing led by Bega Valley Shire Council.
“Council are keen to get as much bang for buck as possible, we are hoping to get as far as we can with the $3 million,” Mr Hartemink says.
“In the meantime we’ll push on with fundraising chipping away at each kilometre until it’s done.”
Entry fees for the ride are part of that effort but Bega Valley Legacy will share in the funds to support their work with families affected by war.
“When we finished this track it will be such a community asset – fitness, fun, sustainability, tourism, and we’ll get a taste of that on the twenty-fourth,” Mr Hartemink says.
“For those who haven’t taken part in a mass ride before this will be a real thrill, there will be a real community spirit, everyone will be looked after,” he says.
The Tathra Sea Eagles AFL Club are preparing a hot breakfast and espresso coffee for riders from 7:30am, and the money will go towards the Clean Energy for Eternity solar panel project at Lawrence Park.
The finish line is the Bega Showground, with riders expected to arrive before 11am.
A bus donated by the Tathra Beach Country Club will get you back to your car at the start line.
Bega Tathra Safe RideSecretary Doug Reckord adds, “This is a new event for the region and I really hope people are bitten by the riding bug and get a group together and register quickly.”
Tathra Beach and Bike have chipped in with a $500 voucher for the purchase of a ‘Specialized’ bike from their store. All riders will be in the draw for that fantastic prize.
“We are hoping the first section of track will be done in the first half of next year, and to keep the momentum going it would be terrific to see a big community turn out on September 24,” Mr Reckord says.
The Bega Valley is about to recognise the contribution of one local father to World War 2.
A tribute plaque will be dedicated in Bega on Friday, 1 September at 11 am telling the story of Henry ‘Pop’ Lucas and his nine sons that went to war.
The grandson of Henry Lucas, Guy said most families of the time had sons serving, he hopes this new space will prompt opportunities to share that history.
“To farewell nine sons is something extraordinary, perhaps even a world record,” Mr Lucas says.
All nine boys are recognised on the Bega War Memorial – Henry Jnr, Lance, Bill, Rufus, Ronald, Dudley, Cecil, Joseph, and Basil, alongside comrades from around the Bega Valley.
“This plaque in front of the Civic Centre remembers my Pop, who raised all these boys and seven other children on his own when my grandmother Alice died after giving birth,” Mr Lucas says.
It is understood that this is the only group of nine brothers who enlisted to serve in the one conflict anywhere in the British Empire, or the British Commonwealth as we know it today.
“And I understand there is a plaque in the White House in Washington noting six brothers – only six brothers!” Mr Lucas laughs.
This story starts when ‘Pop’ Lucas received a standard letter from the King when Dudley was killed on January 15 1942. That letter read, “We pray that your country’s gratitude for the life so nobly given in its service may bring you a measure of consolation – George.”
“Evidently Pop then said, ‘I’m going to write to the King and Queen,” Mr Lucas says.
“He sent them pictures of all the boys’ which resulted in him ultimately receiving a letter from the King recognising and congratulating the family for what it was doing for the country and for the war effort.”
The original letter was lost in the devastating bushfires of 1952 that swept through the Bega Valley, all that is left is a 1942 newspaper article from The Daily Telegraph detailing the King’s interest in the family.
“It was something special to get a letter from the King in those days, not like today where they churn them out,” Mr Lucas smiles.
“As the eldest son of the eldest brother of those nine Lucas lads who enlisted, along with my cousin Garry, who is the son of the fourth eldest of the sons, Rufus. We are both honoured and delighted to be unveiling this tribute.
“However, it’s truly been a community effort, and we have to thank numerous people for their interest and assistance, including the Bega and Cobargo RSL Sub-branches, Bega Valley Shire Council staff and Mayor, Kristy McBain,” Mr Lucas says.
“And a special thanks must go to local sculptor Tony Dean for designing and overseeing production of the plaque.”
The nine Lucas brothers and their father were just ordinary blokes, doing what many other ordinary Australian families felt was their patriotic duty at the time.
“Most of them were trapping rabbits and stripping wattle bark when they left to join the Australian army,” Mr Lucas says.
Regrettably, Basil and Dudley were both killed Malaya and New Guinea, seven of Henry’s boys returned home.
A simple dedication service will be held with the Lucas Family and local RSL members on Friday, 1 September at 11 am in front of the Bega Valley Commemorative Civic Centre.
*A shout out to local historian Peter Lacey for his help pulling this together.
Disclaimer: Author is part-time media officer for Bega Valley Shire Council. “It’s been a real buzz to help tell and share this story on behalf of the Lucas Family and Bega Valley Shire Council.” – Ian Campbell.
As a kid growing up in the leafy, benign suburbs of Canberra, there was time to dream. Sure, I was supposed to be training as a child prodigy pianist, but when I wasn’t wandering the Brutalist halls of the Canberra School of Music, I was doing what every kid does – reading books, imagining, wondering.
Why can’t I fly? Why is Rick Astley on Video Hits… again? Why don’t they make houses out of Kit Kats?
Kids are full of curiosity, dreams and quirky questions. Maintaining this curiosity is one of life’s great challenges.
We are born to dream, to be curious, and to ask questions about the world around us. But how can we keep that spark of curiosity burning?
Somewhere amidst the musical chaos of my childhood, my parents took me to a small building in Ainslie. Exhibits were scattered around the space, staffed by volunteers, and I spent the next hour playing with unusual toys.
I remember a ball staying up in the air, kept there by a steady jet of air from a silver tube – it wobbled, it bounced, but it stayed. This was Questacon, Australia’s first interactive science exhibition, and it gave me a new sense of wonder – how does it work?
Questacon showed me that science and wonder go hand in hand.
As I grew older, the sense of wonder morphed and shifted, but wouldn’t go away.
As a teenager, I’d hit the road with my friends and explore the caves around Canberra. We’d explore the dark mystery of these subterranean spaces, their stalactites glistening in the torchlight.
Dreaming in these caves led to curiosity – why are these beautiful structures here? Is there a system to this, or is it all down to chance?
Thankfully, you can study cave science, I did a degree in Geology, and fell in love with volcanoes, lava bombs, and cave-riddled karst country.
These days I explore how communities can use science to make decisions about social, environmental and economic issues.
Questacon is now a grand, multi-storey complex, and one of Canberra’s most popular tourist attractions. It also runs a traveling exhibition called ‘Science on the Move’, which is coming to the Bega Commemorative Civic Centre from August 12 to 19 during Science Week.
Kids can explore science in a fun, hands-on environment, asking questions like ‘how does a periscope work?’ and ‘what is a thongaphone?’
Science can help us to keep our curiosity burning for a lifetime.
Kate Burke is a sought after vocalist and musician based in Candelo and is completing her Masters in Science Communication at the Australian National University.
“At Mnemosyne, we have had many discussions about the term – feminism,” organiser Jodie Stewart explains.
“We have all had difficulties defining who we are in relation to a movement that has produced so many definitions of womanhood. We continue to search, to probe and to speculate.”
Perhaps I am not alone in the push and pull of Feminism?
Mnemosyne was the Greek goddess of memory and mother of the Muses, who were the goddesses of inspiration in literature, science and the arts. The story of Mnemosyne and her Muses centres on the skill and storytelling of oral cultures and the power of memory.
Those behind Mnemosyne the group/journal describe themselves as, “A feminist collective made up of PhD candidates, undergraduate students, creative writers, poets, musicians, filmmakers, historians, and librarians.”
“Our aim is to help raise the voices of women on the South Coast of New South Wales and to amplify them through the publication of the Mnemosyne: South Coast Women’s Journal,” the group’s website says.
To date, their writings have lived in the digital world, but the group is working towards a print edition of their ‘muses’.
Member, Noe Lumby says, “Our journal will reveal the stories, opinions, research and creative work of all south coast women.”
For any men still reading this, you are invited and welcome to Mnemosyne’s July 26 forum in Bega.
“Mnemosyne hopes to foster a chorus of voices and men’s voices are an important part of this discussion,” Ms Stewart says.
“We have invited a young local man to be a part of our panel, Tas Fitzer, who stood as a candidate in last year’s local government elections.
“A range of experiences and insights are an important part of an open forum on contemporary feminism. All are welcome and we encourage everyone to come along,” Ms Stewart says.
Other panelists include Dr Annie Werner, Indigo Walker, and Lorna Findlay, with the discussion chaired by Ms Stewart, who is a PhD candidate and tutor at the University of Wollongong (UOW), Bega.
Dr Annie Werner is head tutor in the Faculty of Arts at the Bega campus of UOW. Her current research addresses the sexual and social challenges of living in a non-reconstructed post-breast-cancer body.
Indigo Walker is the founder of local business Topsy-turvy Intimates which makes underwear out of recycled materials. Indigo also represents the new generation of feminists and women’s social justice advocates.
Lorna Findlay is a feminist historian who studied law in Melbourne in the 1980s and then worked in the field of domestic violence.
Lorna’s research interest lies in the development of second and third wave feminism. She hopes to investigate the similarities and shared beliefs that remain and whether feminism has lost its political voice.
In speaking to About Regional, the forum’s chair is expecting some interesting discussion influenced by the forum’s rural setting.
“Like the rest of the country, there is still much work to be done here in South East NSW,” Ms Stewart says.
“At a practical level we need more women in leadership positions in our community and more women making decisions that affect other women.
“Women are also under-represented in higher paying jobs and over-represented in underpaying jobs,” she says.
“This has a significant impact on social justice outcomes for women in our community.”
While acknowledging the influence a female Mayor and a female General Manager of Council will have in the Bega Valley, Ms Stewart believes challenges still exist.
“It’s an important step forward and an important part of social and cultural change, but there remains a significant barrier in terms of social attitudes and pervasive gendered expectations,” Ms Stewart explains.
“Women are still funneled disproportionally into ‘caring roles’ both inside and outside of the workforce because these roles are still seen as inherently female,” she says.
Sexism and the equality issues that forged the feminist movement decades ago are still relevant now in the Bega Valley according to Ms Stewart.
“Sexism is the elephant in the room,” she believes.
“Sexism is institutionalised and is part of the everyday experience of being a woman, compounded when you are Indigenous, a woman of colour, if you are part of the LGBTQI community or a woman with a disability.
“In our community, it is still advantageous to be a white male,” Ms Stewart.
There is much of what Jodie Stewart talks about that I don’t understand or can relate to, I am one of those white males after all which no doubt blinds my judgment.
There is clear evidence though from those walking in different shoes that something needs to change, which gets my attention and opens my mind.
The ‘Feminism in the 21st Century’ Forum is on Wednesday, July 26 at the University of Wollongong, Bega from 5pm-7pm – a local opportunity to be part of a bigger discussion that is being led at a national and international level by writers and commentators like Clementine Fordand Jane Caro.
Light refreshments will be provided and entry is by gold coin donation, all funds raised will go towards the publication of Mnemosyne’s first hardcopy edition.
Long before Donald Trump turned America’s back on the Paris Agreement, Australian families decided that investing in solar energy for their homes and businesses made sense, in fact Australia has the highest take-up rate in the world.
The NSW Office of Environment and Heritageis keen to build on that and have just been in the region, dropping in on towns where the take up of solar panels hasn’t been as great as it has been in other communities.
Free community seminars in Queanbeyan, Cooma, Eden and Ulladulla have helped “Demystify Solar Power’.
OEH staff were on hand to answer questions and lead discussion – explaining the different options for businesses and households wanting to switch to solar; saving money and saving the planet.
The Paris Agreement was part of the conversation that took place at these seminars, but this all happened just before Trump quite, not that I think the local response would have been different.
Mark Fleming, from OEH said the seminars will explain in plain-English the different types of solar technology available and the trends in solar power use in Australia and around the world.
“We had such a positive response to the last seminars that we are again encouraging people to come along and get the info they need to make decisions that are best for their circumstances,” Mr Fleming said.
“We’ll also explain the different options available for local businesses wanting to switch to solar and save money on bills.
“Businesses and households often get unsolicited approaches from companies wanting to install solar panels and while most people agree that solar is a good thing, it’s hard to compare these offers.
“At the seminars, you’ll find out the exact questions you should ask suppliers if you are thinking about installing solar panels,” said Mr Fleming.
Mark Fleming talks to About Regional, click play…
Around 800 people attended the seminars held last year across the region and since then more than 50% of those surveys have either installed solar or are in the process of getting quotes.
“Our goals to make people comfortable to ask the questions on their minds and leave with a much clearer understanding as to if solar is right for them,” Mr Fleming said.
Tuesday, 16 May 2017, 2:00pm to 4:30pm @ Queanbeyan City Library, Rutledge St, Queanbeyan.
Wednesday, 17 May 2017, 8:30am to 11:00am @ Alpine Hotel, Sharp Street, Cooma
Wednesday, 17 May 2017, 2:00pm to 4:00pm @ Eden Fishermen’s Club, Imlay Street Eden
Thursday, 18 May 2017, 1:00pm to 3:30pm @ Milton Ulladulla Ex-Servos Club, Princes Highway, Ulladulla.