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

Big fish dumped at Bermagui – “Frustrating and disappointing”

“I couldn’t believe the size of the fish carcasses.” – Deborah Taylor.
“I couldn’t believe the size of the fish carcasses.” – Deborah Taylor.

Bega Valley Shire Council says it’s disappointed and frustrated by a recent incident of fish waste being dumped in a shared community space at Bermagui.

New Wallaga Lake resident Deborah Taylor came upon the fishy horror scene one day last week while walking her dog at Bermagui Harbour.

The heads of a number of big Marlin along with fish frames and innards were dumped into overflowing street bins right in the heart of the town’s famous fishing precinct.

“I couldn’t believe the size of the fish carcasses,” Deborah says.

“I called Council, and as we were talking the Cleanaway truck pulled up, one man hopped out to clean it all up – an awful job.”

The NSW Department of Primary Industries advises, “It is an offense to dump fish offal into the waters at Bermagui Harbour.”

The shire’s red top landfill bins are an option but in this case its the volume and manner in which the fish waste has been left that is the issue.

Part of the fishy horror scene at Bermagui Harbour. Photo: Deborah Taylor.
Part of the fishy horror scene at Bermagui Harbour. Photo: Deborah Taylor.

Council says the dumping of waste and litter detracts from the beauty of our region, “Our coastline is the Shire’s greatest natural asset and the protection and effective management of our coastline is a high priority.”

Council has previously provided a specially designed ‘offal trailer’ at the Bermagui Harbour boat ramp; local farmers were collecting the waste and using it as a fertiliser, but that service had to be discontinued.

Local’s have suggested the trailer often became full of general household waste, reducing the effectiveness of the composting service.

It seems that sort of idea is still on the table. Council’s Waste Management team is currently reviewing operations and looking at alternative options for the collection and treatment of fish waste, including processing it into compost products.

Bermagui Harbour with Gulaga looking on. Source: Sapphire Coast Tourism
Bermagui Harbour with Gulaga looking on, how it normally looks. Photo: Sapphire Coast Tourism

The sad thing is big Marlin like the ones dumped at Bermagui aren’t generally considered good eating and are often loaded with heavy metals from a long life at sea.

Most sporting fishermen tend to take a photo of these impressive creatures of the deep then tag and release them, ready to tussle again another day.

“I was appalled to see this human greed, cruelty and don’t care attitude,” Deborah says.

Council is directly responsible for a public reserve network that stretches along 225km of coastline, for many if not all of the towns and villages along the way these spaces are central to community life and the region’s tourist appeal.

Ten boat launching facilities throughout the Shire are part of that responsibility.

“The management of fish waste at some of these facilities has been a long-standing problem,” the Council spokesperson says.

“During peak fishing periods, large volumes of fish frames and offal are generated and are generally well managed by local fishing Clubs, charter operators, and fishing competition organisers.”

Council says it is working closely with fishing clubs in Eden, Merimbula, and Bermagui to find solutions to the problem of fish offal, and encourages fishing tournament organisers to contact their waste section to discuss options for the extra waste generated by these events.

The fish waste dumped at Bermagui coincides with the recent trashing of Tathra Lions Park at Mogareeka, where partygoers lit fires and left behind twelve bags of rubbish along with vomit and urine for Council to clean up.

“The management and maintenance of public reserves is an ongoing challenge for Council and for many members of the local community who provide countless hours of invaluable volunteer time helping manage and protect these areas,” Council says.

Deborah Taylor feels the frustration and has spent the summer picking up after people. “Tweed Bait bags, fishing line, food wrappers, bottles, cans, cigarettes, even underpants, and socks, I get quite upset about it,” she said.

The scene that greeted Council’s clean-up crew recently at Mogareeka. Photo: Bega Valley Shire Council.
The scene that greeted Council’s clean-up crew recently at Mogareeka. Photo: Bega Valley Shire Council.

*This article first appeared on RiotACT

FOGO – the Bega Valley’s bold step in the “War on Waste”

Bega Valley Shire Council's Waste Management Coordinator, Joley Vidau with a FOGO kitchen caddy. . Photo: BVSC
Bega Valley Shire Council’s Waste Management Coordinator, Joley Vidau with a FOGO kitchen caddy. Photo: BVSC

The Bega Valley is on the verge of reshaping its definition of garbage.

The Food Organics Garden Organics (FOGO) bin collection that will start later this year will divert around 1000 tonnes of household waste from the shire’s landfill and turn it into high-quality compost. Garbage won’t be garbage anymore but the building blocks of healthy soil and a good garden.

On average, 53% of the contents in your red bin is compostable, but at the moment that ends up in a big hole at Wolumla producing methane.

Essentially anything that once lived can go in your FOGO bin – garden trimmings, clippings, and prunings, meat, dairy, egg shells, seafood, take away food, vegetable, and fruit scraps. Plus, tissues, paper towels, shredded paper, kitty litter, and animal droppings.

ABC TV Gardening and recycling guru, Costa Georgiadis toured the Merimbula Waste and Recycling Depot late last year, expressing his delight at the food and organics collection technology that Bega Valley Shire Council has been trialing over the past two years.

“To turn waste into organic compost and make it available for local gardens, schools, community groups, and sporting projects is such a win,” Costa says.

When the time comes, your green bin becomes your FOGO bin and your red bin takes what is left, or better yet – your yellow recycling bin.

Currently, green bins take garden and lawn clippings only and are collected once a month from residents on the urban garbo run; while red bins are collected weekly. That turns upside down with the introduction of FOGO later this year.

Green bins and their bigger, broader mix of organic contents will be picked up weekly, red and yellow bins will be collected fortnightly. Council is still working out when the new routine will take effect.

Homes on the FOGO collection run will also receive a bench top caddy for their kitchen scraps.

Young families or people with health issues needing to continue a weekly red bin pick up, just need to ask.

If you live on a rural garbo run and currently don’t have a green bin – nothing changes, your red bin will still be collected weekly. No FOGO for you – which includes me.

Behind the scenes of the Bega Valley FOGO TV commercial

The new FOGO (Food Organics Garden Organics) collection from Bega Valley Shire Council starts in the second half of 2018, these little people are the stars of the TV commercial that will help us get in the FOGO groove.I was lucky to hang out with them and the Bega Valley Waste & Recycling crew during the flim shoot. You might recognise some of these faces.CheersIan

Posted by About Regional on Monday, 5 March 2018


A significant change is brewing in the months ahead; led by the passion of Waste Management Coordinator, Joley Vidau, Council seems determined to help residents embrace and manage the transition.

The Bega Valley is about to take a bold step in the “War on Waste”, no doubt they’ll be teething problems, but there is a genuine excitement in the air that I think will see us through.

More FOGO info is available from your local library, Council’s waste website, or the Bega Valley Waste and Recycling Facebook page.

#Sponsored post

Far South Coast beaches weed free but for how much longer?

Mogareeka, the mouth of the Bega River at Tathra. Photo: Chris Sheedy.
Mogareeka, the mouth of the Bega River at Tathra. Photo: Chris Sheedy.

The beaches of the Bega Valley are clean and largely weed free for a reason. It doesn’t just happen.

This 225 kilometre strip of gold and sapphire coastline is tended to like a garden, a huge community effort that has just celebrated ten years of grassroots environmental action.

But as this collaboration between traditional owners, government agencies, and community organisations looks to the future; funding is uncertain.

A decade ago, the beaches that run from Bermagui to the Victorian Border were a different sight to what you see now.

In July 2007, alarmed by the growing threat he’d noticed on local beaches, Bermagui based botanist Stuart Cameron undertook an exhaustive 12-month survey of the Bega Valley’s 101 beaches.

“I recognised that we had a real window of opportunity along this coast,” Stuart says.

Stuart’s work identified about 90 invasive species that were starting to have a significant impact – Bitou, African Beach Daisy, African Boxthorn, and Sea Spurge were at the top of the list.

“We were at a tipping point, had the project not commenced, we would have had much greater infestation, which possibly could not have been controlled,” Stuart says.

“For example, at Murrah Beach and Merimbula Main Beach, there was so much Sea Spurge that it took teams of four or five people, four or five days to clear one beach.

“We can go back to those beaches now and deal with them in half a day,” Stuart smiles.

Botanist, Stuart Cameron, Project Officer, Protecting the Coastal Wilderness. Photo: Chris Sheedy.
Botanist, Stuart Cameron, Project Officer, Protecting the Coastal Wilderness. Photo: Chris Sheedy.

What came from Stuart’s research was an impressive, first of its kind response, that with government support continues until Autumn 2018.

For ten years, backed by Commonwealth and State Governments via the NSW Environment Trust, the “Protecting the Wilderness Coast Project” has been a powerful, united effort; an umbrella that has pulled together what was a range of separate control efforts.

Agencies like Bega Valley Shire Council, South East Local Land Services, National Parks and Wildlife Service, and Far South Coast Landcare, recognised that combining resources and spending was the only way to tackle weeds in this vast environment.

But it’s the work of the traditional owners of this land, staff from the Merrimans, Bega, and Eden Aboriginal Land Councils and community-based Landcare and Dunecare volunteers that have been critical to the success of this war on weeds.

Far South Coast Landcare Coordinator, Chris Post says the program works due to its simplicity.

“Twice a year for six to seven weeks, these guys [Aboriginal Land Councils] are working on country, their office is the beaches of the Far South Coast,” he says.

“They walk the beaches and work with Landcare groups, removing weeds and rubbish from our coast.”

Over 70 cubic metres of litter have been removed by project workers over the last decade.

A huge collection of plastic and glass bottles, plastic bags, balloons, polystyrene, footwear, fishing line, and debris, all of which have the potential to harm marine life and, in some cases, seriously injure beachgoers.

Fortunately, the trend in litter volume is downwards.

Nelsons Lagoon, just south of Bermagui. Photo: Chris Sheedy.
Nelsons Lagoon, just south of Bermagui. Photo: Chris Sheedy.

Many people in the community are unaware of the work that goes into keeping this environment in pristine condition, and while awareness around litter is high, the same can’t be said for the impacts of coastal weeds.

“Bitou can seem attractive with its mass of yellow flowers, but it has the capacity to displace virtually all native vegetation,” Stuart says.

“And there are others such as Sea Spurge which was an accidental introduction in ships ballast, that has a toxic sap.”

Weeds out-compete and take over native species. Most are home garden escapees or are washed ashore by the changing tide. In some cases, weeds deploy a range of weaponry as they take hold of a beach.

A few weeds have the capacity to actually alter the soil and make it unsuitable for native plants to germinate and grow.

“The value of biodiversity in this or any environment is a question of resilience and being able to recover from major impact like storms,” Stuart explains.

As the impacts of rising seas levels and more frequent storms take their toll on coastal communities, the weed work of the last decade is being rewarded.

“After the June 2016 storm there were huge areas that became de-vegetated along our coast,” Stuart says.

“Had we not [already] controlled weed species there would have just been a massive take-off of weeds.

“Over the ten years of the project we have massively depleted the weed seed bank,” he says.

Far South Coast Landcare Coordinator, Chris Post. Photo: Chris Sheedy.
Far South Coast Landcare Coordinator, Chris Post. Photo: Chris Sheedy.

From an economic perspective, the project cares for the region’s key asset.

Tourism is the most significant local industry and the coastline is the main attraction for visitors.

In the year ending June 2017, Sapphire Coast Tourism reported visitor numbers of 876,000 visitors, injecting $412 million into the local region, generating nearly 5000 jobs

Local Tourism Chief, Anthony Osborne points to increasing visitor numbers on the back of the highly successful “Unspoilt South Coast” global marketing campaign.

“Tourism monitors tell us domestic visitor numbers remain stable with a significant and pleasing increase in international [visitors],” he says.

Bega Valley Shire covers one-seventh of the NSW coastline. It’s in a healthy, “unspoilt” condition and draws people to holiday and live here, however keeping it that way is the ongoing challenge.

“This program [Coastal Weeds] has grown into a beautiful example of what can happen when you glue together the passion of community people, with local and state government agencies that are brave enough to try something different,” Chris says.

The fear of those who live and breath this project is that future government funds might not be available, putting an end to the six-monthly weed and litter sweeps that are so vital.

“Funding that pays homage and respects what has happened in the past would be beautiful to see,” Chris says.

Tathra Beach, looking south from Mogareeka. Photo: Chris Sheedy.
Tathra Beach, looking south from Mogareeka. Photo: Chris Sheedy.

Talk to those who have done this work over the last ten years, and they all say the same thing: “Weeds are relentless.”

“There is a need for ongoing surveillance, it doesn’t need to be as intense as it had to be in the early years, but it does need to be ongoing,” Stuart says.

The growth and development of people and networks has been just as significant as the reduction in weeds and litter.

“A large number of Aboriginal workers have gone on to full-time work in natural resource management with skills in plant identification and weed control techniques,” Stuart says.

Djiringanj men like Eric Bruce Carpenter, from Bega Aboriginal Land Council, says working on country means a lot.

“Yeah it is a bit of pride and I go back and tell my young fellas, and when they get older they’ll most probably do the same thing,” he says.

“It is a good thing for my people and for the community we are working for.”

Julie Green, from Bega Aboriginal Land Council, agrees.

“Last week I was in Merimbula and I had a lady and a man come up and ask me what I was doing,” Julie says.

“They said we’ve got one of the best-looking coasts on the East Coast.”

According to Chris: “Nature needs humans to be interacting with it in a positive way.”

“We remove humans and the work the group is doing, and we’ll be knee deep in Sea Spurge, Bitou, and Bone Seed in a couple of years,” he says.

Julie Green, Bega Aboriginal Land Council. Photo: Chris Sheedy.
Julie Green, Bega Aboriginal Land Council. Photo: Chris Sheedy.

One more sweep of Far South Coast beaches is planned before current funding runs out.

Those involved are hopeful their work and contribution to the health of the local environment will be recognised and the program will be extended.

*This article first appeared on RiotACT

Fluoride flows for Bega Valley water supplies – Council votes “yes”

Some of those in the public gallery today at Bega Valley Shire Council. Photo: Ian Campbell.
Some of those in the public gallery today at Bega Valley Shire Council. Photo: Ian Campbell.

A ten-month debate at Bega Valley Shire Council came to an end this afternoon with councilors voting to add fluoride to most of the shire’s remaining water supplies.

Council has been adding fluoride to the Bega-Tathra system since 1963, today’s six – two result in the chamber will see it added to two of Council’s other water supplies.

The long process has been characterised by conflicting science and at times hostile debate, which was on show again at today’s council meeting.

Before a public gallery of around 30 people, five community members addressed councilors urging them to reject the idea, most suggesting that Council would face legal action if they proceeded.

“I do not give council permission to introduce this toxic substance as mass medication without choice into my water supply,” Merriwinga resident, Sean Burke said.

Negative health impacts have been a real fear of those opposing the introduction. Reduced IQ, thyroid complaints, cancer, fertility problems, arthritis, and kidney disease have all been raised during the course of the debate.

“Imagine the outcry if you were to add some other medicine to the water?” Bermagui’s Anthony Hereford argued.

Pambula’s Fraser Buchanan, speaking for the Bega Valley Residents and Ratepayers Association suggested the recent NSW Health phone survey on the issue was biased in favour of fluoride.

Five hundred residents were quizzed over the summer holidays and asked, “Do you agree with adding fluoride to the public drinking supply to try to prevent tooth decay?”

“Step up and show you are unwilling to be part of a contrived process,” Mr Buchanan urged Councillors.

The validity of the survey was a theme that run through the discussion, however some councilors were clearly swayed by the results – 66.2% responded ‘yes’, 28.4% responded ‘no’, 5.2% were unsure and only 0.2% preferred not to respond to the survey.

Today’s decision for Bega Valley Shire Council was prompted by NSW Health asking regional water utilities who don’t already incorporate fluoride into their water treatment processes to do so as a prevention of tooth decay.

With 96% of the state fluoridated, NSW Health is moving on the remaining 4% and is providing all the funds needed for the Bega Valley to come on board.

Councilors Cathy Griff and Jo Dodds argued strongly for those in the room campaigning against the idea.

Cr Griff moved a motion to defer the decision pending legal advice but that was defeated.

“Sugar is the problem,” Cr Griff said.

“The case is building against fluoride, I would like to think we could lead the way.”

Despite a general acceptance among councilors of the benefits of fluoride in preventing tooth decay, many also seemed frustrated at the conflicting science presented during the course of the debate with both sides undermining the quality of each others research.

“This triggers in me the precautionary principle,” Cr Dodds said.

“There is too much evidence of risk.”

The Tantawangalo water supply source at Six Mile Creek. Image Kate Burke
The Tantawangalo water supply at Six Mile Creek, near Candelo.  Photo: Kate Burke

With Councillor Mitchell Nadin on leave, the vote could have been split four all but it soon became clear of the eight remaining councilors, six would be saying ‘yes’ to fluoride.

Cr Robyn Bain said, “This gives everybody the chance to have good dental health.”

“Not everybody has the ability to afford good dental care, this is equitable.”

In voting for fluoride, Cr Liz Seckold said, “I will always advocate for the socially disadvantaged.”

“I am sick of being bullied by the anti-fluoride brigade,” she added.

Cobargo’s, Cr Tony Allen was of a similar view, “This will be of benefit to people across the shire.”

Heckled from the public gallery, Cr Sharon Tapscott cut short her speech suggesting, “You are only interested that I vote your way,” she said.

Cr Tapscott drew on the 46-year history of fluoride in the Bega – Tathra supply.

“We’ve had no health problems, that experience should guide us,” she said.

In voting ‘yes’ Pambula’s Russell Fitzpatrick said, “Good oral health is vital and has a huge impact on overall health.”

After rising to her feet at least five times to settle the rowdy gallery, Mayor Kristy McBain was among the last to speak on the issue.

Cr McBain drew a compassion between her own childhood drinking fluoridated water and that of her eight your old daughters.

She told the chamber her daughter has already had four fillings.

“She doesn’t come from a poor background, she brushes her teeth and we see the dentist,” Cr McBain said.

“The only difference is that I came from a fluoridated area she does not.”

Council says the introduction of fluoride means extensive capital asset construction along with human resource considerations, staff training, policy and procedure reviews.

Meaning that it is expected to be a number of years before the people of Candelo, Wolumla, Merimbula, Tura, Pambula, Eden, Kiah, Quaama, Cobargo, Brogo, Wallaga Lake, and Bermagui are drinking fluoridated water.

In closing, Cr McBain made the point that fluoride was not the shires most pressing water issue, the Mayor suggesting that money would be better spent on building water filtration plants.

*This article first appeared on RiotACT

Bega Valley Mayor, Kristy McBain calls on us to “Advance Australia”

Kristy McBain, pic from Bega Valley Shire Council
Bega Valley Shire Mayor, Kristy McBain. Photo: Bega Valley Shire Council

Through her Australia Day address, Bega Valley Mayor, Kristy McBain has tried to advance the conversation about our national day.

“With courage let us all combine in a celebration and conversation about our country,” the Mayor told the 200 people gathered in Littleton Gardens this morning for the Shire’s official Australia Day ceremony.

An hour after the Bega ceremony concluded a Survival Day event was held in Bermagui, reflecting the undeniable loss many Aboriginal people feel on January 26.

The Bega Valley was split in two, and those overwhelmed by the debate went to the beach.

Communities divided or not engaged on our national day – surely this is not healthy?

Rather than waiting for Federal leadership on the issue, perhaps the people of South East NSW could lead the way and create an event that truly unifies and inspires all Australians.

It’s a conversation the Bega Valley’s Mayor seems keen to have and lead…

To address you on a day such as this is a tremendous honour and something I have spent a lot of time thinking about.

Australia Day is an event that generates conversation and thought, and rightly so. Thank you for being here to consider my thoughts.

There is a sigh of relief that comes with being Australian, our country is truly blessed in natures gifts and the beauty of our people and way of life is rich and rare.

The people we honour today with an Australia Day Award remind us that being Australian is active citizenship.

People like Dane, Junee, Ron, Shaun, Geoffrey and Marshall are people within our community that point the way. They inspire us and remind us of the power we each have within our hands and heart to shape this land that is girt by sea.

I am so glad you are here today to share in their wisdom and experience, and perhaps ask yourself – What can I do to Advance Australia? How can I respect and support the people, environment, and way of life we celebrate today?

Today we also stand up and cheer as new Australian’s join our ranks and deepen our proud multicultural heritage.

Twelve people will today become Australian citizens, people from across the seas to share our boundless plains. The stories of these people and the talent they bring make us stronger.

Central to our time together today is a history that spans one of the oldest living cultures on the planet as well as European settlement and exploration.

Australia Day is a history lesson that presents a range of ideas and experiences to consider; stories that take in the full scope of our country’s history and human emotion.

How these shared and at times conflicting histories sit side by side and are remembered is an ongoing dialogue for our community and important work for us to do so that in history’s page, every stage, does Advance Australia.

As different and conflicting as those histories are at times, there are often shared values and ambitions that rise to the surface as those histories are shared.

At our core, we are a nation of people who value being Australian and what that means to us and says to the world.

It’s freedom that comes as easy as the next breath, a celebration and acceptance of different cultures, an emphasis on friendship, a spirit that has a go, a sense of fun, and an empathy that steps up when we see a need.

A successful nation has been built on these lands over many thousands of years, each chapter adds something new, each chapter has its own challenges, and each chapter calls on us to help shape the next.

So in 2018 I encourage you to mark Australia Day however feels right to you, remembering all that we have to be grateful for, all that we have in common, and the future we all create together.

With courage let us all combine in a celebration and conversation about our country.

Happy Australia Day!

Bega Valley Shire Mayor, Kristy McBain

The increasing hurt and frustration around Australia Day damages the potential and delays resolution, while ever it continues people will run from any organised event, the only people attending will be those at the extremes of the discussion, the rest will opt for a swim and a good book, and Australia Day will become just another public holiday when it could be so much more.

The leadership shown by Cr McBain this morning is perhaps the start of something better, let’s get the local discussion going now and not wait for next January to roll around.

Always interested in your thoughts.



*Author is part-time media officer for Bega Valley Shire Council and acted as MC for Australia Day 2018 in Bega.


Butts binned in Littleton Gardens campaign – litter down 80%

Volunteer gardener, Geoffrey Grigg asking Bega locals to 'Bin Your Butt' Photo: Ian Campbell
Volunteer gardener, Geoffrey Grigg asking Bega locals to ‘Bin Your Butt’ Photo: Ian Campbell

A simple campaign to rid Bega’s Littleton Gardens of dirty cigarette butts is working, as spring takes hold and new growth claims its place.

Volunteer Gardener’s Geoffrey Grigg and Marshall Campbell erected handmade “Bin Your Butt” signs throughout the garden three weeks ago.

“We’ve seen an 80% reduction in the amount of cigarette butts littering the lawn and garden areas,”  Geoffrey says.

“The number of cigarette butts being dropped or left behind was starting to get people down and make it hard to use and love this space, and cleaning it all up was a big part of our work.”

The recent addition of the Aboriginal ‘Biggah Garden’ prompted the action.

“This is Yuin Country and we need to treat it with respect,” Geoffrey says.

“The response from smokers has been very positive, no one has raised a concern or issue, once you point it out to people you start to see a change.”

The volunteer green thumbs would love to see the same response spread across the town.

“Everywhere you go you find cigarette butts, we just need to be more mindful of our actions,” Geoffrey says.

New signs will be displayed in the Garden shortly to update the message and maintain the momentum, and Council will soon add designated ‘but out’ bins to existing garbage bins.

With one problem solved the next is being tackled – bindies!

“It’s a big job, but we’ve been pulling them out by hand and trying to avoid the use of chemicals, this is a food garden after all,” he says.

A big crop of various edible greens are thriving in the spring sunshine throughout Littleton’s garden beds – lettuce, spinach, warrigal greens, lemon balm, and coriander, a donation from Bega Valley Seed Savers.

“People are invited to take a few leaves for lunch or dinner, that’s why the plants are here, just carefully pull leaves off from the base or stem so that the plant can keep growing,” Geoffrey says.

“As the weather warms up people will start to notice tomatoes and basil come through, and it won’t be long before we are eating strawberries.”

Geoffrey and Marshall tend to the garden each Wednesday and Thursday and invite people to stop for a chat.

“If you have any questions about the plants, how to pick them, how to cook with them, or if you have plants and time to donate, let us know,” Geoffrey says.

*Author is part-time media officer for Bega Valley Shire Council

‘Pop’ Lucas to be remembered 75 years after letter from King George.

The 1942 newspaper article from The Daily Telegraph is all that is left of the Kings letter. Photo: Ian Campbell
The 1942 newspaper article from The Daily Telegraph is all that is left of the Kings letter. Photo: Ian Campbell

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.


Head garbos point to new opportunities in the local ‘war on waste’

Recycling up close. Source: Eurobodalla Shire Council
Recycling up close. Source: Eurobodalla Shire Council

‘Head garbos’ across the region have welcomed the supermarket ban on light weight plastic bags but are looking to new opportunities and challenges in their ever present ‘war on waste’.

Woolworths and Coles were tripping over themselves in announcing the news last week, both committing to a phase out of single use bags over the next 12 months.

Shoppers will be asked to bring their own bags or be charged 15 cents for a heavier weight, reusable plastic bag.

“This will significantly change the number of bags going to any landfill or transfer station,” says Mandy Thurling, Rescouse and Waste Manager for Snowy Monaro Regional Council.

In the Eurobodalla, Amanda Jones, Council’s Manager of Waste Services says, “This is great news, keeping problem waste from entering the environment.”

While also welcoming the action, Toby Browne, Waste Services Manager for Bega Valley Shire Council has signaled a need for further change, “It’s a move in the right direction but definitely more needs to be done to reduce packaging and other soft plastic waste.”

Environmental groups have been campaigning for a plastic bag ban for decades, and while some states and towns have imposed restrictions, the ABC TV series “War on Waste” seemed to inject new momentum into the national discussion.

Clean Up Australia estimates six billion plastic bags are handed out every year, with just 4% recycled.

Let loose in the environment they choke, smother, and tangle wildlife.

The supermarket ban doesn’t go far enough according to Clean Up Australia, who continue to lobby the Premiers of New South Walse, Victoria, and Western Australia for an out right ban.

“Hopefully more commercial premises will come on board and ban the bag,” Ms Thurling from Snowy Monaro says.

Given their ‘last for forever nature’ all three South East councils will have to continue to manage plastic bags and soft plastics into the future.

A new landfill cell at the Brou waste facility. Source: Eurobodalla Shire Council.
A new landfill cell at the Brou waste facility. Source: Eurobodalla Shire Council.

Apart from taking up tip space, the Eurobodalla’s Amanda Jones says, “Plastic bags at landfill sites get caught by the wind and need to be managed by catching them in litter fences and manual litter picking.”

Toby Brown is frustrated by plastic bag contamination of other waste streams at his Bega Valley facilities.

“When they contaminate recycling and organic waste streams, they must be manually removed,” he says.

With that Amanda Jones jumps in.

“Please don’t put your recycling in plastic bags!” she says.

“The bags don’t always fall open to allow recyclables to be sorted.”

The recent introduction of  REDcyle bins at Coles supermarkets in Bega, Eden, Batemans Bay, Ulladulla, and Cooma is part of the equation Mandy Thurling is hoping locals might take up.

REDcycle bins not only take plastic bags but the soft plastic wrapping and packaging many products come smothered in.

REDcycle askes you to do the scrunch test, “If it’s soft plastic and can be crunched into a ball, it can be placed into a REDcycle drop off bin,” their website says.

The material collected is transformed into a range of products including street furniture, decking, and bollards by Replas.

“Council is always looking at the next step in reducing waste to landfill, this could be by reducing all soft plastics and finding alternate recycling avenues for this material,” Ms Thurling from Snowy Monaro says.

In the Eurobodalla, where Council runs their own recycling facility the ‘war on waste’ is reaching new heights.

Crushed waste glass is starting to be used instead of quarried sand in road construction projects.

The sand substitute has just been tested in Murray Street, Moruya where 63 tonnes of the local product was used to install new drainage culverts and reconstruct the road.

“The crushed glass has proven to be a viable product to replace sand in concrete mixes,” Council’s Works Manager, Tony Swallow says.

“It does need to be treated differently to bedding sand but our crews are happy with the performance,” he says.

Around 30 tonnes of sand like substance is produced each week at the Materials Recycling Facility in Moruya; glass represents 40% of the 5,200 tonnes of recyclables collected in the Eurobodalla each year.

“The savings to our environment and Council’s materials budget are significant,” Mr Swallow says.

Polystyrene is the other win in the Eurobodalla’s waste war.

Known for making a mighty mess, up until now polystyrene had taken up valuable landfill space at Surf Beach and Brou.

The polystyrene thermal compaction machine at the Surf Beach waste facility. Source: Eurobodalla Shire Council
The polystyrene thermal compaction machine at the Surf Beach waste facility. Source: Eurobodalla Shire Council

With a $30,000 grant from the Environmental Protection Authority, Council has installed a thermal compaction machine at its Surf Beach facility.

“The process reduces the volume and turns polystyrene into a hard white substance,” Mr Swallow explains.

“Our contractor is shipping it to China where the material is made into items like picture frames.

“What has made this such a success is that we have supplied local businesses that have a lot of polystyrene packaging with metal frames and wool bales to easily collect the material,” Mr Swallow says.

Council estimates the move will save them $100,000 worth of landfill space each year, with other savings spinning off to local electronic businesses and supermarkets in reduced waste disposal fees.

Bega Valley Shire is looking to do more with waste and is currently developing a waste strategy.

“Our key areas are likely to be addressing food waste recycling and improving local economic opportunity in recycling and resource recovery,” Mr Browne says.

“It’s great to see business making meaningful change in response to community concern. Change creates opportunities.”

At the start of July, Snowy Monaro Regional Council introduced a fully commingled recycling service for the Cooma kerbside collection area

“This allows locals to place recyclable items in the yellow lidded recycling bin,” Mandy Thurling says.

“There is no longer a need to separate paper and cardboard into the black crate.”

Council is now considering giving households a larger capacity recycling bin – more room to recycle.

The action, appetite, and ideas that swirl in this discussion points us in the right direction and into a better position to win the ‘war on waste’ locally.

*Thank you to About Regional member Tim Holt for his contribution to local story telling.

Disclaimer: Author is part-time media officer for Bega Valley Shire Council



Over $5 million for local cycleways including Bega to Tathra link

The long-awaited Bega to Tathra cycleway is set to become a reality with $3 million set aside in the NSW Budget this week.

Member for Bega, Andrew Constance said, “I am so excited to confirm the funds to build this important project.”

“This will not only better connect two of our great communities it will also provide a fantastic tourism driver and give the region a further economic boost.”

The money will go to Bega Valley Shire Council to work with the community and stakeholders to design, plan and construct the much-anticipated path.

The Bega – Tathra money was the largest part of a big splash of cash for local cycleways.

Other money announced by NSW Treasurer, Dominic Perrottet included:

  • $2 million for a shared pathway from Rotary Park in Merimbula to Merimbula Wharf.
  • Construction of 660 metres of shared path in Moruya along Bergalia Street.
  • Construction of almost 500 metres of shared path in Narooma along the northern end of McMillan Road.

The champagne corks were popping as Doug Reckord, the Secretary of the Bega Tathra Safe Ride Committee shared the news with his dedicated group. Click play for more.

Disclaimer: Author is part-time media officers for Bega Valley Shire Council