Local projects in need of Snowy Hydro dollars – transport to culture and sport

Snowy River Mayor John Rooney is pushing to have the Canberra to Bombala rail line reopened. Photo: Ian Campbell.
Snowy River Mayor John Rooney is pushing to have the Canberra to Bombala rail line reopened. Photo: Ian Campbell.

The full sale of Snowy Hydro to the Federal Government is a $4.2 billion injection into the New South Wales economy, and the Mayor’s of South East NSW are lining up to spend it.

Premier, Gladys Berejiklian, and Deputy Premier and Member for Monaro, John Barilaro have “ring-fenced” those dollars for infrastructure projects in rural and regional NSW.

“4.2 billion dollars in one go for rural and regional NSW does not happen often, this is a once in a generation opportunity,” the Premier says.

“Snowy Hydro is iconic, an iconic nation-building project, what we intend to do is convert the proceeds into iconic nation-building projects for rural and regional NSW.”

Eurobodalla Mayor, Liz Innes is ready to help the Premier spend it; her wish list is geared towards generating employment and economic development opportunities.

“We’ve completed significant work in identifying our infrastructure priorities at a local and regional level,” Cr Innes says.

“This is a wonderful new opportunity and we’re grateful the NSW Government is directing the funding to regional areas.”

The top priorities for Eurobodalla Shire:

  • Batemans Bay Regional Arts, Aquatic and Leisure Centre at Mackay Park
  • Agribusiness and aquaculture infrastructure, including export packing and tourism facility for recently announced oyster hatchery at Moruya Airport;
  • Surf Beach innovation park – subdividing and providing infrastructure for future economic and employment growth;
  • Southern water storage facility – helping to secure Eurobodalla’s water supply with a 3,000 megalitre, off-stream storage facility near the Tuross River;
  • Improved coastal access and inclusive infrastructure incorporating walking trails, accessible pontoons, accessible facilities, and beach and water access.
Eurobodalla Mayor Liz Innes is keen to advance Council's plans for a new aquatic and cultural centre for Batemans Bay. Photo: Eurobodalla Shire Council.
Eurobodalla Mayor Liz Innes is keen to advance Council’s plans for a new aquatic and cultural centre for Batemans Bay. Photo: Eurobodalla Shire Council.

West of the coastal escarpment, Snowy Monaro Mayor, John Rooney has big ambitions including reopening the rail line from Canberra to Cooma and then on to Bombala and the port of Eden.

Cr Rooney was quick to put the idea on the agenda soon after being elected Mayor late last year, telling Fairfax Media at the time, that rail was the most efficient form of land transport and that reopening the Queanbeyan-Bombala railway would give the Dongwha mill at Bombala access to softwood plantations in the ACT and Palarang.

At that time the Mayor committed himself to speaking with all levels of government to progress the idea, five months later there’s money on the table for what the Deputy Premier and local member says will go towards infrastructure projects that span generations.

Also on the Snowy Monaro wishlist:

  • Upgrading the transport network to ensure the main freight routes are to modern standards, including Imlay Road to Bombala
  • The Bundian Way, a 360km ancient Aboriginal pathway that links Targangal (Mount Kosciuszko) and Bilgalera (Fisheries Beach, Eden)
The Snowy Mountains Highway on Brown Mountain has been unstable for many years. Photo: RMS.
The Snowy Mountains Highway on Brown Mountain has been unstable for many years. Photo: RMS.

In the Bega Valley, Mayor Kristy McBain also has road infrastructure in mind.

“Bega Valley Shire Council was very pleased to see the recent State Government announcement in regards to a potential funding boost for the regions stemming from the Snowy Hydro sale,” Cr McBain says.

“We have identified a number of infrastructure project priorities that, when completed, will bring substantial financial and social benefits to our community.

“[Including] water treatment facilities at Bemboka, Brogo, and Bega, [and] an upgrade of the Brown Mountain east-west transport link .”

Bega Valley Shire Council has just launched an Infrastructure Prospectus touting a range of projects in need of government and/or commercial investment.

The prospectus enables the State and Federal Government to look at projects over a wide range of infrastructure, cultural, and sporting priorities for our area, we would obviously welcome any additional spend in our area,” Cr McBain says.

When it comes to what projects are funded when, the Deputy Premier says, “We’ll take our time deciding what those projects are.”

“We don’t want to squander the opportunity, the legacy left by Snowy Hydro,” Mr Barilaro says.

What would your community do with Snowy Hydro dollars? Make your pitch below.

*This story first appeared on RiotACT

Bermagui’s natural sculptures showcase man made talent – Sculpture Bermagui on now!

Shannon Hobbs imposing fire sculpture "Hot Head" sits at the end of the headland keeping watch. Photo: Ian Campbell.
Shannon Hobbs imposing fire sculpture “Hot Head” sits at the end of the headland keeping watch. Photo: Ian Campbell.

Summer in Bermagui is busy, a time when locals surrender their beaches and cafes to welcome tourists, but what only locals know is that autumn is the best time in Bermagui.

The water is warmer, the Gang Gang’s move into the Spotted Gums, a fire at night becomes an option again, the daytime sun is a little weaker but still warm on your shoulders…and sculptures appear on the town’s headland.

Sculpture Bermagui opened on Friday night and rolls through until Sunday, March 18.

Artificial Intelligence by Zane Now AKA Anthony Herford, $7,600. Photo: Ian Campbell.
Artificial Intelligence by Zane Now AKA Anthony Herford, $7,600. Photo: Ian Campbell.

Works sit within the naturally sculptural landscape Bermagui offers, starting with the cathedral of Spotted Gums as you enter town, moving out to Montague Island floating on the horizon, and wrapped in the looming presence of Gulaga.

Over the 10 days of the exhibition, humans try and match that beauty with their own creations.

Perhaps there is some magic that happens when natural and manmade sculptures come together and create a buzz – part of the events 12-year success.

Umbra by Ulan Murray, $25,000. Photo: Ian Campbell.
Umbra by Ulan Murray, $25,000. Photo: Ian Campbell.

110 sculptures this year, a record – your head will spin as you take in the works dotted around Dickinson Point Headland and the Bermagui Community Centre.

Make sure you vote in the People’s Choice Award and the Children’s Choice Award.

Turbulence by Tobias Bennett, $9,000. Photo: Ian Campbell.
Turbulence by Tobias Bennett, $9,000. Photo: Ian Campbell.

“Working with creative people is my ideal environment and the artists are very supportive and interesting, expressing their individual ideas and passion,” says Paul Payten, Sculpture Bermagui President.

Ferrous Lillys by Tobias Bennet, $900. Photo: Ian Campbell.
Ferrous Lillys by Tobias Bennet, $900. Photo: Ian Campbell.

Real Big Fish by Tobias Bennett, $3,500 each. Photo: Ian Campbell.
Real Big Fish by Tobias Bennett, $3,500 each. Photo: Ian Campbell.

Entry to Sculpture Bermagui is free, but do the town a favour – buy a beer, bait, or coffee while you are there, better still have dinner and stay the night.

Ocean Watchers by Sally Simpson, $1,100 each. Photo: Ian Campbell.
Ocean Watchers by Sally Simpson, $1,100 each. Photo: Ian Campbell.

With her piece, Sally Simpson collected materials from beaches around Australia. You’ll notice bits of fishing net, abalone shells, bottle tops, and more.

“I create contemporary ritual objects to embody the complexities and contradictions of our relationship with the ocean,” Sally explains.

Obsession by John Fitzmaurice, $25,000. Photo: Ian Campbell.
Obsession by John Fitzmaurice, $25,000. Photo: Ian Campbell.

“Obsession” will catch your eye from the town’s main street. Made of stainless steel, John Fitzmaurice says it’s his twisted look at the female slavery to fashion and the high heel stiletto.

Slanted by Alexandra Wale, $3,400. Photo: Ian Campbell.
Slanted by Alexandra Wale, $3,400. Photo: Ian Campbell.

“A transition from two dimensional to three-dimensional space where a familiar object is placed in an unconventional way,” Alexandra explains.

Influence by Jen Mallinson, $4,200. Photo: Supplied.
Influence by Jen Mallinson, $4,200. Photo: Supplied.

The patron of Sculpture Bermagui is a doyen of Australian architecture, Phillip Cox. Phillip snaffled Jen Mallinson’s piece for his growing bush sculpture garden just south of Bermagui.

Flower Power By Jesse Graham, $25,000. Photo: Ian Campbell.
Flower Power By Jesse Graham, $25,000. Photo: Ian Campbell.

Not sure this photo does Jesse’s work justice – standing 3 metres tall, this horse of copper, steel, and bronze is enjoying one of nature’s other creations.

Wind Works by Chris (Smile) Magill, NFS. Photo: Ian Campbell.
Wind Works by Chris (Smile) Magill, NFS. Photo: Ian Campbell.

Wind Works and it’s opposing wind wheels is well placed to catch the passing sea breeze and spins with mesmerizing precision. See it for yourself.

Byobu by Stephen Hogan, NFS. Photo: Ian Campbell.
Byobu by Stephen Hogan, NFS. Photo: Ian Campbell.

After studying Japanese screen art (Byobu) Stephen has transferred his skill to this garden screen.

Runaway Blues by Mia Karlsson, $1,850. Photo: Ian Campbell.
Runaway Blues by Mia Karlsson, $1,850. Photo: Ian Campbell.

After being swept along by the grandeur of the outdoor sculpture along the Bermagui foreshore and headland, it’s easy to think you have seen it all, no – head towards the Bermagui Community Centre.

Lost Luggage 1,2,&3 by Matthew Perry, $1,200 - $2,200. Photo: Ian Campbell.
Lost Luggage 1,2,&3 by Matthew Perry, $1,200 – $2,200. Photo: Ian Campbell.

Matthew Perry’s work has got to be a contender for the People’s Choice Award. Adorned with shells, Mathew says his surfboard, guitar, and suitcase become vehicles for dreams and stories of past and future.

Bedraggled by Paul Dimmer, $7,500. Photo: Ian Campbell.
Bedraggled by Paul Dimmer, $7,500. Photo: Ian Campbell.

Paul’s busker is already a crowd favourite, “A bit ragged around the edges, but still playing beautiful music,” he says.

Oliver the Octopus by Jordan Tarlinton, $1,100. Photo: Ian Campbell.
Oliver the Octopus by Jordan Tarlinton, $1,100. Photo: Ian Campbell.

“My inspiration for Olly stemmed from a local octopus I witnessed gliding through the rock pool,” Jordan says.

“I wanted to represent its erratic and fluid movement through my piece.”

Sculpture Bermagui runs until Sunday, March 18. 110 sculptures on show, see them for yourself.

For the diary, Jindabyne’s Lake Light Sculpture exhibition runs over Easter – March 30 to April 2, and in Batemans Bay this spring, Sculpture on Clyde – August 25 to September 2.

*This article first appeared on RiotACT

NSW schools boss Mark Scott meets southern principals in Batemans Bay

Mark Scott speaking to principals from across southern NSW in Batemans Bay on Monday. Photo: Dept of Education.
Mark Scott speaking to principals from across southern NSW in Batemans Bay on Monday. Photo: Dept of Education.

The principals of 50 public schools from across Southern New South Wales have gathered in Batemans Bay to meet with chiefs of the NSW Education Department.

Schools from the Monaro, Far South Coast, Illawarra, Shoalhaven, Southern Tablelands, Southern Highlands and Queanbeyan were all represented, part of a road trip by Department Secretary, Mark Scott, Deputy Secretary School Operations and Performance, Murat Dizdar, and Deputy Secretary Educational Services, Georgina Harrisson.

“We have 2,200 schools and we want them to be great schools and you don’t have great schools without a great principal, and so we are asking them – what kind of support do they need in order to provide great leadership?” Mr Scott says.

The Batemans Bay forum came just two weeks after the release of the 2017 Principal Health and Wellbeing Survey, a nationwide check up on over 5,500 principals in state, religious, and independent schools.

Ninety percent of respondents said they were passionate about their work, however, a few alarm bells were rung:

*44% or close to 1 in 2 principals say they have been threatened with violence;

*The survey pointed to high levels of job demands, 1.5 times greater than the general population, emotional demands 1.7 times higher, and emotional labour 1.7 times higher when compared to the general population;

*Stress and burnout were flagged as issues, with principals saying the sheer quantity of work and a lack of time to focus on teaching and learning are impacting on them.

Mr Scott says he got a sense of that stress and pressure when talking to principals at Batemans Bay.

“If we are a world class system then we are providing outstanding support for principals,” he says.

“We are looking at how the Department and the system can better support principals and also how principals can better support themselves.”

Students from Batemans Bay High School and Broulee Primary combine for the 2017 Southern Stars Concert. Photo: Bay High Facebook.
Students from Batemans Bay High School and Broulee Primary combine for the 2017 Southern Stars Concert. Photo: Bay High Facebook.

The influence of the outside world is a big part of the daily challenge for teachers and principals.

“The complexity [of the job] is not all to do with teaching and learning,” Mr Scotts says.

“The complexity in part is because of broader pressures in society – pressures around families and the stability and security of the environments young people come from.

“Schools are often the one secure anchor point in a child’s complex and turbulent world, so schools often need to broker an array of support for students that often extends well beyond what has been traditionally provided in a school,” he says.

That traditional work of schools; preparing kids for their future, was also front and centre in the day-long meeting at Batemans Bay.

The former ABC boss, says his Department has been doing a lot of work trying to imagine the world of the future and the skills our kids will need.

“In the last year, we’ve done a big research project called ‘Education for a Changing World’ tapping into a global array of leading academics in this area,” Mr Scott says.

“To be successful we know that a young person will need to have very strong literacy and numeracy skills because frankly, they are going to spend their entire career learning.

“Young people are going to need a growth mindset, we know that they are going to need to be able to take on new challenges, learning new things, they are going to have to back themselves,” Mr Scott says.

Cooma cheers one of its own, Emily Blyton, top marks on the 2017 HSC. Photo: Monaro High Facebook.
Cooma cheers one of its own, Emily Blyton, top marks on the 2017 HSC. Photo: Monaro High Facebook.

Fostering a love of learning in each child is central to Mr Scott’s vision of the future, and indeed his challenge.

“We once may have thought we take young people to school to teach them knowledge, in a way now we feel they are at school so we can help them learn to learn,” he says.

“We think less in terms of a class and think more about where each individual student is up to.

“Our great teachers are aware that every student is different and at a different point in their learning – it’s a long way from a row of desks that’s for sure,” Mr Scott says.

NSW public education is the largest education system in Australia, with 810,000 students in 2,200 schools, looked after by 85,000 staff.

The Department’s tour also takes in meetings at Newcastle, Coffs Harbour, Tamworth, Wagga Wagga, Dubbo, Sydney, Penrith, and Liverpool.

#This article first appeared on RiotACT

Regional Forest Agreements – something to think about this weekend.

Native timber harvesting has fallen by 60% according to Rob de Fegely. Photo: Forestry Corp of NSW.
Native timber harvesting has fallen by 60% according to Rob de Fegely. Photo: Forestry Corp of NSW.

The rules of polite conversation are clear; politics and religion are generally no-go areas, and in Southern New South Wales, foresty, logging, and woodchips are perhaps also on that list given the volatile nature of debate in the past.

But the rules of polite conversation don’t resolve or inform discussion.

In recent weeks the State and Federal Governments have been inviting views on forestry practices across an area that takes in Tumut, Batemans Bay, and Eden.

Community meetings have been held and submissions to the review close Monday, March 12. A number of local groups have been encouraging members and supporters to take part, mostly opposing further logging – Great Southern Forest, National Parks Association Far South Coast

One local with significant experience in the foresty industry believes it’s time people step up, be brave, put politics aside, and re-engage in what has been a divisive and emotionally charged issue.

Rob de Fegely is a forester and lives in the bush south-west of Pambula. His view is that all our forests need to be managed better and more creatively for the benefit of the environment, regional communities, and the industry.

“I’d like to think that we can have a far more mature debate about what we as a country want to do with our forests,” Rob says.

His global forestry career started 38 years ago at Bombala, but Rob is currently the Chair of Sustainable Timber Tasmania, Co-chair of the Commonwealth Government’s Forest Industry Advisory Council, and a member of the Far South Coast Regional Advisory Committee for NSW National Parks.

Rob is hopeful that the current review of the two Regional Forest Agreements covering state owner forests in South East NSW will not just improve on the work of the past but generate a bigger conversation that takes in the National Parks system and privately owned natural forests.

“I’d love to see more money for our National Parks, budgets are way too low, we don’t spend anything like the dollars per hectare that we need to, to get the work done,” he says.

“I feel for the staff, we are not giving them the support or the resources they need to manage the forests around us.”

With almost 40 years in the timber industry, Rob de Fegely is hoping creative ideas might emerge from the current review of the RFAs. Photo: Ian Campbell.
With almost 40 years in the timber industry, Rob de Fegely is hoping creative ideas might emerge from the current review of the RFAs. Photo: Ian Campbell.

Rob believes the aggression of forestry debate in the past continues to poison talk on the issue today.

“I think the forest industry was loved in a social license sense through the 1950’s and 60’s,” he says.

There was a shift in the 1970’s according to Rob when woodchips became part of the industry, and those pioneering, nation-building days the timber industry was a part of for 150 years ended.

“It [woodchips] was really confronting, I remember going to Eden as a student in about 1976, and thinking – wow!

“Big clear-felled coups, about 800 hectares, they are all covered in trees now. But it was very confronting, and one of the reasons the industry lost it [public opinion],” Rob believes.

The review of Regional Forest Agreements (RFAs) underway throws up all sorts of ideas and talking points for Rob de Fegely.

“Harvesting in natural forests has declined by 60% nationally since the signing of most of the RFAs,” he says.

Rob points to better codes of practice in the industry, a reduction in the area available for harvesting, and the impact of the environmental movement as being the reasons.

“Our [Australia’s] agriculture feeds about 60 million people a day, according to Cotton Australia we clothe about 500 million people a day, but we can’t supply our own timber requirements,” Rob says.

“Without opening up vast areas of forest for production, I’d like to think we can do more across tenures, and contribute more to not only Australia’s demand but also the demands of our South East Asian neighbours.”

Forests currently in private ownership have great potential in Rob’s mind. He’d like to see landholders assisted in managing the health of the bushland they own and perhaps working with the timber industry.

“We’ve got plenty of regulation but let’s see how we can assist private landholders to do different things,” Rob says.

“None of the industry here knows what people have got, we are far too focused on government-controlled forests.”

Rob is calling for more local control and input and a wider view of landscape management, which he believes would create a more positive and constructive discussion about developing the industry and meeting environmental needs.

Tapping into indigenous ways of managing forests is part of the future and part of that more localised approach Rob is suggesting; one that builds skills and understanding of forest health.

“Most people can tell when they find a horse or cow that’s been maltreated,” Rob explains.

“But you can’t say the same for forests, understanding that requires a little bit of skill.

“Reports from early explorers and surveyors suggest our forests were far more open then they are today with grassy understories, nowhere near the shrub layer that we have today and fewer trees per hectare,” he says.

“What did the Yuin People do down here? How did they manage the forests, how did they manage fire?”

The road to Myrtle Mountain lookout, South East Forest National Park. Photo: John Yurasek NPWS website.
The road to Myrtle Mountain lookout, South East Forest National Park. Photo: John Yurasek NPWS website.

Greater trust is critical in any mature advance in the foresty discussion locally. Rob flags “a classic conflict of interest” that undermines public confidence – The NSW Government acting as owner, regulator, and policemen in State Forests.

“It’s very hard to be the regulator and the operator, it’s open to influence in some form or another, and I am not suggesting corruption in any way,” Rob says.

“You really need an independent, skilled arbiter, and this is my experience in Tasmania. The Tasmanian Forest Practices Authority has been running for 30 years now, they are the independent policeman on public and private land for all forest operations – they look after ecology, threatened species, and soil.

“It’s a model that New South Wales and Victoria could adopt very easily, it would remove a lot of the contention about how forests are being managed,” Rob says.

The Eden Woodchip Mill on the southern shores of Twofold Bay. Photo: Allied Natural Wood Exports.
The Eden Woodchip Mill on the southern shores of Twofold Bay. Photo: Allied Natural Wood Exports.

The different “values” our forests represent guide Rob’s thinking and perhaps pull his ideas together.

“I’d love to think that in this more mature debate we can think about some of the alternative values, how we price them, and how we get the funds to ensure fantastic forests are rewarded,” he says.

Rob believes there are plenty of sticks in the system telling people what they can’t do but he asks, “Where are the carrots?”

“As a private landholder I am likely to improve habitat for lyrebirds, koalas, bandicoots, and potoroos, but where is the direction to do that?

“And how do we build that across the landscape to link in with National Parks, the Forestry Corporation, Crown Lands and others to develop a system across the South East where we would end up with a landscape we are all proud of?” Rob says.

Let the “polite conversation” about forestry in southern NSW begin, submissions to the RFA review close March 12.

Next week, religion!

*This article first appeared on RiotACT

A new Pooh Bear’s Corner on the Monaro? What do you know about it?

Is this the start of a Pooh Bear’s Corner on the Monaro? Feb 2018. Photo: Ian Campbell.
Is this the start of a Pooh Bear’s Corner on the Monaro? Feb 2018. Photo: Ian Campbell.

Pooh Bear’s Corner on the Kings Highway between Canberra and Batemans Bay has been delighting travelers for decades, and it would appear that something similar is being created on the Monaro Highway just out of Cooma.

In recent weeks, extra teddy bears have been slung into the hollow of an old Ribbon Gum northwest of Nimmitabel.

The first teddy; a koala, appeared in June last year, but in the opening weeks of 2018 two more have been added, perhaps by Canberra families escaping the capital for a summer holiday on the coast.

Is this the start of something? A new Pooh Bear’s Corner?

The original, west of Batemans Bay, sprung up in the 1970’s.

Crookwell potato farmers David and Barbara Carter are credited with creating the landmark, which sits in a cave next to a rainforest of tree ferns on Clyde Mountain.

The Carter’s apparently saw it as a clever distraction for their young children during the regular run to their holiday home at Rosedale. Other families have been stopping to leave their own teddy bears and soft toys in the cave ever since.

The original Pooh Bear’s Corner, west of Batemans Bay on the Kings Highway. Photo: Broulee Beach Cabins Facebook.
The original Pooh Bear’s Corner, west of Batemans Bay on the Kings Highway. Photo: Broulee Beach Cabins Facebook.

Who is behind the Monaro version remains a mystery, and whoever it is has gone to a bit of trouble. This one sits 10 metres off the ground and takes more effort than Batemans Bay’s Pooh Bear Corner.

Ladders have perhaps been used, or maybe there’s a weight on the end of a rope to hold the teddy in place?

The boy scout in me is curious.

The koala that started it all, June 2017. Photo: Ian Campbell.
The koala that started it all, June 2017. Photo: Ian Campbell.

This lone Ribbon Gum was already catching people’s eye long before the first teddy appeared in mid-2017.

As discussion bubbled about the appearance of that koala, regular travelers spoke of the tree’s “presence” in their journey.

Sherri Cooper wrote on the About Regional Facebook page: “My Mum and I were doing weekly trips to Canberra for cancer treatment a while back and we could never find a safe spot to pull over and take a photo when the pink and red bark was at its most spectacular.”

Beth Krncevic wrote: “The twisting branches and changing colours of the bark is what inspired me to start painting and why I have so many gum trees at my home.”

“Beautiful gum tree, always wondered who lived in the hollow. Friday afternoon on my way to Merimbula I must say I was shocked and had a little chuckle to myself, most unexpected resident,” wrote Bev Dobson.

As the colours of this landmark tree change from pink, to red, to green, to steel grey, with the approaching cold season perhaps the next wave of holidaymakers will add new residents to the ancient hollow it carries – the National Parks and Wildlife Service estimates hollows of this size take between 100 and 200 years to form.

Travellers watch on with interest, not just at the weather-beaten bark anymore, but to see who and what will take up residence next.

The Teddy Tree, northwest of Nimmitabel, on the Monaro Highway, Feb 2018. Photo: Ian Campbell.
The Teddy Tree, northwest of Nimmitabel, on the Monaro Highway, Feb 2018. Photo: Ian Campbell.

*This article first appeared on RiotACT.


Superman’s life is the best result in the George Bass Surfboat Marathon

Wayne "Superman" Kent whose life was saving on day 1 of the George Bass Surfboat Marathon. Photo: Ian Campbell
Wayne “Superman” Kent whose life was saved on day 1 of the George Bass Surfboat Marathon. Photo: Ian Campbell

Perhaps the best result in the 2018 George Bass Surfboat Marathon is that Wayne “Superman” Kent is still alive.

The 66-year-old member of Pambula Surf Life Saving Club started the epic race in Batemans Bay on New Year’s Eve, 31km’s later as “Super” was helping pull his boat ashore at South Head, Moruya his heart stopped.

“The bloke was dead when he was brought up the sand,” Dr Steve Craig says.

“Through the excellent work and training of the surf life-saving members, they got the defibrillator on him very quickly, we were able to get his heart going again and he left the beach alive.”

Dr Craig who works out of Moruya and Nowra Hospitals was rowing as part of the Open Men’s crew from Mollymook Surf Life Saving Club and was quick to come to the aid of Super, as was Victorian firefighter Cassie Lee Field rowing for the Torquay Masters Women, nurse Lea Henry from the Grange crew out of South Australia, and Pambula clubies Andrew Holt and Matthew Harvey.

Lifesavers on patrol with Moruya Surf Club also played a critical role in beating away death until paramedics from NSW Ambulance arrived.

Super was taken to Moruya Hospital and shortly after flown to Canberra where a pacemaker was inserted in his chest.

Five days later Wayne Kent, who takes his nickname from Superman’s alter ego Clark Kent, was there at Pambula Beach to cheer his clubmates across the line on day six of the race. At the awards presentation that afternoon the crowd erupted as Super spoke of his experience.

“If it had happened out at sea god knows what would have happened, I would have hated to put the crew through that, they are a good bunch of blokes,” Super says.

“I am so lucky it happened on the beach because I had 240 odd rowers around me – all life-savers and if anyone was going to kick the bucket on that day they would have had to have been really gone.”

Scare tissue from previous heart bypass surgery is thought to have been a factor in Super’s heart failure.

Twenty-five surfboats and thirteen surf skis started the 7 day, 190km George Bass, the finish line at Snug Cove in Eden seemed a long way away when Super hit the sand at the end of day one, his brush with death pointing to the challenges ahead for the bodies taking part.

“My intention was just to drive the [boat] trailer around for them, but the boys couldn’t find a sweep, so the next thing you know I was in for another year,” Super laughs.

The 66-year-old can’t remember when he first took part in the Bass, sometime in the 1990’s is his best guess, over the years he has been a rower, sweep, and coach.

Dr Steve Craig, who helped save "Super's" life at Moruya Beach. Steve was also rowing for Mollymook in the George Bass Surfboat Marathon. Photo: Les Herstik
Dr Steve Craig, who helped save “Super’s” life at Moruya Beach. Steve was also rowing for Mollymook in the George Bass Surfboat Marathon. Photo: Les Herstik

Dr Steve Craig says he’ll be writing a letter of commendation to the volunteer surf life-savers from Moruya that stepped up when Super went down.

“They just clicked over into their training and by doing so within two or three minutes we had his heart started again,” Dr Craig says.

Life and death aside, in the overall point score presented after Saturday’s final leg from Pambula to Eden, the winning crews were the Bulli Open Men, North Cronulla Open Women, North Cronulla Masters Men, Pambula Masters Women, Tathra Vet Men, and Avalon Beach Vet Women.

In the ski paddle race, Wollongong’s Paul Buttle was the winner, while Narooma’s Nick Ziviani and Joe Halsey took out the double ski division.

Still keen to be apart of the George Bass community, Super says he’d like to support Pambula’s place in the race but only as part of the support crew on land.

“I am married to a great woman who has turned into a rottweiler, she is making sure I am following all the doctor’s instructions and I don’t think she’ll let me compete again,” Super says.

“I was gone, I am one of the luckiest men in Australia.”

The 21st George Bass Surfboat Marathon runs December 29, 2019, to January 4, 2020.

*About Regional content is supported by members, thank you to Tathra Beach House Apartments, Sprout Eden – cafe and local produce, Robyn Broughton, Kylie Dummer, Kaye Johnston, Geoffrey Grigg, Robyn Kesby, Amanda Fowler, and Kym Mogridge.

*Video above created by Dr Matthew Nott

*Ian Campbell travelled as a guest of the George Bass Surfboat Marathon

George Bass Surfboat Marathon ready to go – TOMORROW!

Coogee on the run south from Batemans Bay in 2016. Photo: GB Facebook
Coogee on the run south from Batemans Bay in 2015. Photo: GB Facebook

Rowers and ski paddlers ready to start their conquest of the mighty George Bass Surfboat Marathon are settling into their Moruya High campground ready for a start on the last day of 2017.

This one of a kind event starts at the Batemans Bay Bridge tomorrow (Dec 31) morning. For the seven days that follow crews and competitors from around Australia will make their way to the finish line in Eden 188km away.

After the Clyde River start, day 1 will see competitors sweep past Malau Bay, Tomakin, and Broulee finishing in front of Moruya Surf Club at South Head.

The surf ski paddlers will be the first to go at 9:30 followed by the first of the surf boats at 9:45.

The men’s surf boat record over the 31km’s is 2:20:44 set by Batemans Bay in 2008, the women’s record stands at 2:34:04 (Torquay 2012), while Tim Jacobs run in 2008 is still the benchmark for the surf skis – 2:15:20.

Gathering at Tomakin this afternoon for their first pre-race briefing, crews and paddlers looked fresh and ready to go after months of training.

Gary Pettigrove is sweeping for the Broulee Capitals Open Women, a Canberra based crew that rows under the banner of Broulee Surf Club.

“We’ve been training five mornings a week since May, a 5:30 start on Lake Burley Griffin, and every fortnight we’ve been coming down to have a row on the coast,'” Gary explains.

This will be Gary’s eighth Bass, for some of his rowers it will be their first.

“At the end, you’ve got a memory that lasts a lifetime, it’s a grueling event – seven days, 190k’s, busting your gut the whole way,” Gary says.

“We are a competitive group, but we are here to have fun, that’s the main thing.”

Gary Pettigrove from the Broulee Capitals. Photo: Ian Cambell
Gary Pettigrove from the Broulee Capitals. Photo: Ian Cambell

Fitzy is a member of Warriewood Surf Club on Sydney’s Northern Beaches these days but his connections with the other side of our continent has pulled together a masters crew that includes three rowers from Western Australia.

“I used to sweep at City of Perth back in the eighties,” Fitzy says.

“Garbo here was in my crew back in the eighties, he found out that we were doing the Bass and said – I want to have a crack at that.”

“Then he rang up and said I’ve got two mates that want to do it as well,” Fitzy says, and a trans-Australian team rowing under the Warriewood name was born.

Only one member of the Warriewood crew have taken part before, but all have a surf boat background. They range in age between 60 and 65 years and know what they are in for.

“We don’t have sliding seats in our boat, so our arses are in trouble,” Garbo laughs.

Given the distances they have traveled when Warriewood put their oars in the water at Batemans Bay tomorrow it will be the first time they have rowed together as a complete unit.

Crews have come from around Australia to take part, all competitive but with a sense of fun. Photo: Ian Campbell
Crews have come from around Australia to take part, all competitive but with a sense of fun. Photo: Ian Campbell

This will be the twentieth running of the great race, only two clubs have competed in every event – Moruya and Tathra. Tathra is represented this year in the men’s masters, Moruya in the open women’s.

Open Men, crews entered:

Bulli NSW, Coogee NSW, Long Reef NSW, Mollymook NSW, Pambula NSW.

Reigning champions are Bulli who are vying for their third straight overall win.

Open Women, crews entered:

Broulee Blue Bottles NSW, Broulee Canberra Capitals ACT/NSW, Moruya NSW, North Cronulla NSW, Torquay Victoria.

This will be a competitive race, North Cronulla are expected to do well. The three local crews are also up against one of the top teams from Victoria.

Masters Men, crews entered:

Broulee Canberra Capitals ACT/NSW, Bulli NSW, Grange SA, Narooma NSW, Noosa QLD, North Cronulla NSW, Pambula NSW, Tathra NSW, Wanda NSW, Warriewood NSW, Wollongong City NSW.

Narooma will be vying for their third straight overall win but will face stiff competition. With 11 crews entered from across the country it will be a close race.

Masters Women, crews entered:

Darwin NT, Pambula NSW, Broulee NSW, Avalon Beach NSW.

The women give their all and race with a commitment and dedication that is their own, this race is one to watch.

Surf Ski Marathon:

Gavin Granger, Pambula SLSC, NSW
Nathan Vipond, Maroochydore SLSC, QLD
Paul Buttel, Wanda SLSC, NSW
Stephen Bunney, Bermagui SLSC, NSW
John Pattison, Austinmer SLSC, NSW
Jacqui Keogh, Pambula SLSC, NSW
David Schofield, Shoalhaven Heads SLSC, NSW
Nicholas Kirby, North Cronulla SLSC, NSW
Craig Vipond, Maroochydore SLSC QLD
Warwick Ward, Wollongong City SLSC, NSW
Simon Stenhouse, Moruya SLSC, NSW
Dean Gardiner, City of Perth SLSC, WA
Nick Ziviani and Joseph Hasley, Narooma SLSC, NSW
Brendan Cowled and Tony Ireland, Mollymook SLSC, NSW

This year’s ski marathon is one of the largest in recent years and includes double ski competitors which will add to the spectacle.

Competitors will have a southeasterly breeze in their face tomorrow morning at 15 to 20 knots, swinging northeasterly in the afternoon. Seas will be running on a 1 to 2 metre swell under cloudy skies, a top temp of 23 degrees is forecast.

The outgoing tide will be a challenge at the start line, with referee Tony Haven keen to make sure everyone stays behind the line until the hooter sounds. Tony asking crews at this afternoon’s briefing to give each other plenty of room in the run south to avoid a “Wild Oats XI” type penalty.

Family, friends, and fans can follow the race via the George Bass Surfboat Marathon tracker.

*Ian Campbell is traveling with the George Bass Surf Boat Marathon as a guest.

Paul, forced to walk home from hospital at 2am, told it won’t happen again

Step 4 - chest pains at Glebe Lagoon. Photo: Ian Campbell.
Paul had to stop after chest pains returned near Glebe Lagoon in Bega. Photo: Ian Campbell.

A Bega man who was told to walk home from South East Regional Hospital (SERH) at 2am says his confidence in the local health service has improved.

Paul’s outrageous story drew a strong response from the About Regional community when it was first published in late November.

He had already made an official complaint about his shoddy treatment but was yet to receive an explanation or apology. In the days that followed the publication of Paul’s story, he was invited to a meeting with new hospital chief, Wendy Hubbard.

“She apologised for what had happened and told me new systems were in place to stop it happening again,” Paul says.

Paul is not his real name. In sharing his story Paul didn’t want to embarrass friends and clients that work at the new facility and asked to remain anonymous. He did however want to see change and a better standard of care for the community that has been his home for 20 years.

It seems he has achieved that.

It opens Friday, December 15, the Carers and Relatives Accommodation at South East Regional Hospital in Bega. Photo: Ian Campbell
It opens Friday, December 15, the Carers and Relatives Accommodation at South East Regional Hospital in Bega. Photo: Ian Campbell

Paul’s story starts with chest pains after dinner one Sunday evening in early September, after a day of feeling funny he and his partner called for an ambulance.

After five hours in care, Paul was told he hadn’t had a heart attack but was suffering from angina. By that stage, the hospital clock was saying 1:30 am and with a diagnosis in hand, Paul was advised to see his GP as soon as possible.

“They [then] gave me a blanket and said I’d have to walk home,” Paul explains.

Paul arrived at the hospital with his partner five hours earlier via ambulance, they had no car, no way of getting home.

“We have lots of friends, but it was two o’clock in the morning, we didn’t want to impose on people,” he says.

No other option was offered – no bed, no ride home, just a blanket to guard against the early spring chill.

“I did say – I can’t walk home with angina,” Paul says.

During the four-kilometre walk home, Paul had to stop on the path at Glebe Lagoon when the chest pains returned.

Thankfully he made it home and was able to see his doctor on the Wednesday.

South East Regional Hospital
South East Regional Hospital. Photo: SNSWLHD

When I initially published Paul’s story the Health Service pointed to the lack of a taxi service in Bega as being the issue.

“The problem is not that the hospital doesn’t provide transport, but rather that there is only one taxi in Bega and they won’t provide service after hours,” the NSW Health Transport Travel Support Group said.

While accepting that transport is an issue across South East NSW, the community reaction to Paul’s story and the heartless government response has prompted a rethink from the Health Service, with many people reporting similar tales of being stranded by a system that seemed to not care or understand life in a country setting.

In a subsequent statement to About Regional, a spokesperson for Southern NSW Local Health District confirmed that in the future patients will be offered an overnight stay in the hospital to help manage transport issues.

“To avoid similar incidents arising in the future Emergency Department (ED) staff will be able to raise potential patient transport issues with the After Hours Nurse Manager,” a Health spokesperson said.

“[Staff] will talk to the patient and consider any options, including an offer to stay overnight.”

Furthermore, the spokesperson said, “On December 15 the SERH on-site Carers and Relatives Accommodation will be opened, which will provide a further option for people in a similar situation.”

Paul says he feels vindicated and trusts that this won’t happen again.

“I appreciated the apology Wendy offered and I got a sense she is working to make things better,” Paul says.

“It seems there was a lack of understanding by agency and locum staff on duty the night I arrived.”

Under new District Cheif Executive, Andrew Newton further operational and cultural changes have been flagged inline with the review initiated by the NSW Health Minister.

Confidence in the sparkling new facility and some of its staff has been shattered on the back of a raft of issues since the hospitals opening in early 2016.

A few finishing touches before Friday's grand opening of the Careers and Relatives Accommodation. Photo: Ian Campbell
A few finishing touches before Friday’s grand opening of the Careers and Relatives Accommodation. Photo: Ian Campbell

The Carers Accommodation that opens on Friday is perhaps an opportunity to reinvigorate people’s trust.

Like so many things, the construction of this building has been driven by community fundraising coordinated by Bega Valley service clubs but embraced by people and organistaions around South East NSW, as well as State and Federal Governments and big business.

An 18-bed facility for carers is the full vision, six motel style rooms with their own ensuite will open on Friday representing stages one and two.

The community is invited to look through the new building between 2 and 5pm.

Paul is not surprised that the community has stepped up the way it has around his story or how it has rallied around the need to build carers and relative accommodation for a hospital that services communities from Batemans Bay to Jindabyne to Mallacoota.

He hangs on to the blanket he was given on that cold September night as a reminder that systems and bureaucracy are meant to serve people.

*About Regional content happens because of the financial contributions of members, thank you to Snowy Monaro Regional Council, Geoff Berry, Tania Ward, Jill Howell and Max Wilson, Ingrid Mitchell and Deb Nave, Therese and Denis Wheatley, Bronnie Taylor, Fiona Firth, and Scott Halfpenny.

“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.



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.

Eurobodalla and Bega Valley legends countdown to Gold Coast Commonwealth Games

A local train driver with the Baton as the QBR is transported to the city of Galle. Photo - https://www.gc2018.com/qbr
A local train driver with the Baton as the QBR is transported to the city of Galle. Photo – https://www.gc2018.com/qbr

Thousands of “local legends” around Australia have just been told they will carry the Queen’s Baton through their community in the run-up to the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games – 19 Bega Valley and Eurobodalla locals are among them…

Peter Anderson, Malua Bay
Robert Blake, Malua Bay
Darren Browning, Tomakin
Ann Brummell, Batemans Bay
Anthony Fahey, Dalmeny
Leah Hearne, Lilli Pilli
Sharon Himan, Moruya
Tracey Innes, Longbeach
Andrei Kravskov, Sunshine Bay
Helen McFarlane, Sunshine Bay
RubyRose McMath, Batemans Bay
Merle Morton, Wamban
Brad Rossiter, Surfside
Amanda Smith, Broulee
Cheryl Sutherland, Moruya
Kate Butterfield, Bermagui
Helen Hillier, Eden
Lynne Koerbin, Merimbula
Dane Waites, Pambula

Nominated by their peers for achievements and contributions to their community, these batonbearers have been chosen because they represent the spirit of the Commonwealth and inspire others to be great.

Bermagui’s Kate Butterfield is a former police officer managing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, she started the Run Brave initiative to raise awareness of the benefits of running for those struggling with mental health issues.

She has created a fun, supportive, and encouraging environment for people of all fitness levels to complete a five-kilometre event across Australia in 2016, fostering community spirit and raising money for Lifeline.

Its an initiative that is growing in popularity, all participants benefit from improved physical and mental health through connection with other like-minded people, at all stages of fitness.

Bermagui's Kate Butterfield will run with the Queens Baton. Photo: kate.runs.the.world
Bermagui’s Kate Butterfield will run with the Queens Baton. Photo: kate.runs.the.world

Surfside’s Brad Rossiter is part of the relay with Kate, he says just being nominated was an honour.

“And then to be selected to carry the Baton through Batemans Bay is tremendously humbling,” Brad says.

“Congratulations to all our local batonbearers.”

Brad will cover his 200 metres on two prosthetic legs. Brad is a dual organ transplant recipient (kidney and pancreas), is legally blind and a double leg amputee as a result of type 1 diabetes.

He shares his deeply personal and inspirational story daily promoting general health and well being and organ donor awareness.

As the founder of ‘The Eurobodalla Renal Support Group & Organ Donor Awareness’ Brad is a tireless community worker.

Brad and Lorae Rossiter is their prized Surdside garden. Photo: Facebook
Brad and Lorae Rossiter is their prized Surfside garden. Photo: Facebook

The relay is part of the 100-day countdown to the Gold Coast Games which will get underway on April 4, running for 11 days.

Launched at Buckingham Palace in March this year, the Queen’s Baton carries a message from Queen Elizabeth II, in it she calls the athletes of the Commonwealth to come together in peaceful and friendly competition.

Currently traveling through Brunei, Malaysia, and Singapore, the Baton starts its Australian journey on Christmas Eve in Brisbane, dropping in on major events, iconic landmarks, and children’s hospitals during the summer school holidays before switching to a traditional relay in Canberra on 25 January.

From Nowra, the Baton Relay arrives in Batemans Bay on Tuesday, February 6 for a community celebration at Corrigans Reserve, before taking off to Tasmania

“The wonderful people selected for this special task have dedicated their lives to improving the lives of others,” Eurobodalla Mayor Liz Innes says.

“Some have accomplished great feats and others are working towards realising their dreams.

“This will be a rare and unforgettable experience and I encourage everyone to share the excitement and get behind the Relay when it comes to Batemans Bay in February.”

More information about the local celebration will be released before the end of November.

*Content contributions from Eurobodalla Shire Council.