‘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

Fear and fluoride, bedfellows amidst conflicting “evidence”

The Tantawangalo water supply source at Six Mile Creek. Image Kate Burke
The Tantawangalo water supply source at Six Mile Creek. Image Kate Burke/Raisin

The potential fluoridation of the Tantawanglo-Kiah Water System (Candelo, Wolumla, Merimbula, Tura, Pambula, Eden, Kiah) and the Brogo – Bermagui Water System (Quaama, Cobargo, Brogo, Wallaga Lake, Bermagui) has divided the Bega Valley community.

With Bega Valley Shire Council’s decision on whether to fluoridate or not still pending, the way forward seems far from clear.

By the way, the Bega – Tathra Water System has been fluoridated since 1963.

The international anti-fluoride Fluoride Action Network (FAN) challenges the safety of fluoridation despite reassurances from peak health bodies such as the Australian Medical Association and the Australian Dental Association.

FAN cites a series of scientific studies that point to negative health effects related to fluoride. Yet the World Health Organisation cites fluoridation of water as, “the most effective public health measure for the prevention of dental decay.”

The ingredients of this debate are a potent mix of conflicting evidence, with added fear, and a rather large ethical grey area.

It’s murky and hard to navigate.

Yet if you can familiarise yourself with this tricky landscape, you can start to make sense of the different perspectives people have on this issue, and perhaps take some of the fear out of the equation.

It turns out that scientific studies, the foundation stones of public health debate, are not always as rock solid as they seem.

While the fluoride debate touches on personal choice, welfare, and economics; scientific studies are a central part of pro and anti-fluoride argument.

A body of studies has been cited by the Fluoride Action Network pointing to potential effects of fluoride such as reduced IQ in children, obesity, and even cancer.

The Australian Medical Association claims that there is no appreciable link between fluoridation and these side effects.

But with so much at stake, how do you navigate the conflicting “evidence” that we’re finding?

Where better to begin than Google Scholar?! Google’s search engine for published academic studies. What happens when you search for “fluoride and IQ”?

Looking through the studies that have linked fluoride to lower IQ in children, one thing stands out – most studies that popped up didn’t test for other factors that could affect IQ.

Many studies were from China, India, or Mongolia, and compared towns that fluoridated water supplies with those that didn’t.

However, they didn’t check for other differences between the towns – levels of poverty, nutrition, potential lead and arsenic poisoning, all of which can affect the IQ of children.

This is like blaming weight gain on exercise, without considering diet.

These studies simply don’t meet the criteria needed to inform sound decision-making, yet they are published online alongside studies of higher quality.

Twenty low-quality studies that link lower IQ and fluoride, alongside only one quality study that finds no link, can look like strength in numbers and cast the wrong impression.

Assessing evidence doesn’t work like that. It’s not like voting. One study is not necessarily worth the same as another.

The problem is that scientific investigations can be carried out and published (particularly online) by any scientist, from any organisation. Most are carried out with noble intentions, but even noble intentions can be fed by bias – if you’re passionate about a cause, or feel that you’ve found an important link, established scientific practices might fall by the wayside.

Glass of water. Source pixabay.com 1160264
A glass of water. Source pixabay.com 1160264

Dr Andrew Wakefield’s study linking autism with vaccination is a famous example.

Dr Wakefield and his colleagues felt that they’d found an important link after reviewing the cases of eight people who’d been diagnosed with autism within a month of receiving the Measles Mumps Rubella (MMR) vaccine.

The investigation was found to be riddled with problems; their medical assessments and analysis of results were described as incomplete and biased.

Much of the criticism of Dr Wakefield’s study suggested it ignored statistical significance.

Given that 50,000 children per month were vaccinated with MMR in England at the time, eight presentations of autism were not enough to establish a link.

Statistical significance is needed for a scientific result to have meaning. Where health is concerned, this usually means two things –  that a lot of people were tested and the results were strong enough to discount coincidence and other confounding factors, such as nutrition and lead in the IQ example.

Dr Wakefield’s study was discredited, and wide scale, high-quality studies were carried out that found no link between autism and vaccination.  But his study was already fuelling the fears of parents across the globe.

When something appears to threaten the health of children, it can achieve notoriety.

It’s important to carefully examine the information you are given or find yourself, but how do you sift through the jargon, the publications, the conflicting evidence?

Putting your fear aside, how do you know what and who to trust?

Dr Will Grant of the Australian National University’s Centre for the Public Awareness of Science says that it’s almost impossible for one person to do this alone.

“While I’d love to say that I have the capacity to truthfully assess the veracity and rigour of all research that’s available online, I simply don’t have that capacity.  In fact, no one does,” he says.

“Instead we’re all forced to use the decision-making heuristics we’ve always used, typically though not exclusively, trusting a variety of voices in our networks that know better.”

Dr Grant says that we rely on institutions to process this information for us.

“But if I’m a person who doesn’t trust these institutions – and the number of people who don’t trust the central institutions of society is growing globally – then I’m going to trust other things,” he says.

Kate Burke
Kate Burke

Other things might include organisations like FAN, who question the reliability of institutionalised knowledge.

The FAN website claims it, “develops and maintains the world’s most comprehensive online database on fluoride compounds.”

Despite making this claim, they don’t give you a comprehensive review of the quality of materials in their database.

The Australian Government’s National Medical Health Research Council (NHMRC), is a not-for-profit research organisation that draws on the expertise of people tied to the University of Melbourne, Royal North Shore Hospital, The Cancer Council, Alfred Hospital, and Monash University, among other organisations.

The NHMRC has released a Health Effects of Fluoridation Evidence Evaluation Report through its Clinical Trials Centre at the University of Sydney which provides an analysis of fluoride research from the last decade.

It’s worth a read for two reasons.

Firstly, it assesses the quality of studies looking into the effects of fluoridation on dental caries (decay) and other symptoms from 2006-2015, and walks through them bit by bit, weighing up their value without apparent bias.

Secondly, its conclusions reflect the “greyness” of this debate. The NHMRC says the evidence appears to indicate that Australian water fluoridation standards are safe, while also suggesting there are gaps in the research.

The recommended level of fluoridation is shown to give a 35% reduction in dental caries. This is a significant number, as it means that more than a third of dental decay can be prevented by adding fluoride to a water supply.

This has knock-on effects for the rest of a person’s health and reduces financial pressure on individuals and the economy by cutting down on visits to the dentist.

The report also shows that recommended fluoride levels can increase the incidence of tooth discolouration due to fluorosis (a chronic condition caused by excessive intake of fluoride compounds, seen as mottling of the teeth) by around 12%.

Healthy teeth, Source Pixabay
Healthy teeth, Source Pixabay

The NHRMC document also gives many of the scientific reports presented in this debate a confidence grading.

The low overall confidence grading of the reports that raise concerns about cancer and IQ perhaps take some fear out of the equation, as the ratings are low enough to discount many of the studies altogether.

The presence of studies of higher quality (ie more thorough and more reliable) have tipped the balance of evidence away from such matters of concern.

However, if the NHRMC also suggests there are gaps in the research, why can’t we just test for the negative health effects that fuel much of the fear in a robust credible way?

In Australia, people are exposed to fluoride in a number of ways, including in toothpaste and tea, and it naturally occurs in the environment around us. This means that a person’s previous exposure to fluoride is very difficult to determine. To find a bunch of people who have never been exposed to fluoride as a control group, and then to test the effects of drinking fluoridated water on them, is extremely challenging.

And as the studies linking fluoride and IQ in China, India, and  Mongolia show us, these studies are problematic because there are so many other factors that can contribute to influence a person’s health.

Finding the fluoride link is not easy.

The NHMRC review gives us an indication of which way the evidence is swinging – and it’s telling us that fluoridation of our water supply will give us healthier teeth and that the only side effect of significant concern is discolouration caused by fluorosis.

It also tells us that other side effects are most likely not going to happen at Australian levels of fluoridation.

Our personal views on fluoridation are important and varied and can’t be discounted.

But it is important that we are able to critically assess the information that is given to us.  If we can’t do this on our own, we can at least have a look at how others have reviewed it and make sure that we’re satisfied with how they’ve done it, which perhaps takes some of the fear out of the equation.

 

*Kate Burke is completing her Masters in Science Communication through the Australian National University

*Above is an edited article that originally appeared on Raisin – stories of regional science and innovation

*Ian Campbell founder of About Regional is part-time media officer for Bega Valley Shire Council

South East NSW makes its pitch for jobs from Canberra

Barnaby Joyce, pic from Sportsbet
Barnaby Joyce, pic from Sportsbet

South East NSW is pitching itself as a new home for a range of Federal Government departments.

Following the political and media stink around the relocation of the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) from Canberra to Armidale, a Senate inquiry was established to investigate elements of the decision by Agriculture Minister, Deputy Prime Minister, and local member for Armidale, the National’s Barnaby Joyce.

However, the work of the committee has been seen as bigger than just the issue of the APVMA as regional leaders look to fertilise a deeper discussion around moving public service jobs out of Canberra, all looking for a greater share of the $16.7 billion annual wages bill for their local economies.

Headed by Labor Senator Jenny McAllister, the Senate Standing Committee on Finance and Public Administration held hearings in Townsville last week. Bega Valley Mayor Kristy McBain was one of five local government officials from around New South Wales invited to phone in and take part in the discussion.

The invitation to speak came after the committee had considered written submissions.

Apart from Bega Valley Shire Council, Snowy Monaro and Eurobodalla councils also provided written advice to the committee, along with the Canberra Region Joint Organisation.

All of the local submissions declared the region as an ideal location for Commonwealth investment and backed the idea of decentralisation.

Kristy McBain, pic from Bega Valley Shire Council
Kristy McBain, pic from Bega Valley Shire Council

In his submission, Snowy Monaro Administrator Dean Lynch spoke of the boost such a move would be for the local economy and pointed to an available workforce.

Andrew Greenway, from Eurobodalla Shire, highlighted lifestyle advantages and the benefits that had for staff retention.

Bega Valley Mayor, Kristy McBain pointed to the region’s proximity to Canberra, Sydney, and Melbourne and the private investment that would follow.

Senator McAllister says the terms of reference of her committee are narrow and focused on the APVMA decision, none the less local government and regional business organisations from around the country have seized on the opportunity to put a stake in the ground.

Among the 200 written submissions were councils from the Mallee, Longreach, Manning Valley, Colac, and the Spencer Gulf along with groups like Australian Wool Growers, NSW Business Chamber, the Winemakers Federation and the Country Women’s Association.

Listening to the live stream on Friday morning as Cr McBain spoke, Senator McAllister and fellow committee member Senator Bridget McKenzie seemed to encourage that wider discussion, moving beyond the APVMA.

All those on the call were asked if their region had been considered along with Armidale as a new base from the APVMA, all answered, “Not as far as I know” and the conversation quickly moved on.

Both senators went on to point to the separate but related process underway within the Turnbull Cabinet, where the Minster for Regional Development, Senator Fiona Nash is developing the Government’s broader decentralisation policy which will be released later this year.

Speaking at the National Press Club in April, Senator Nash said regional Australians deserved the jobs and opportunities that come with government agencies.

“When government invests in community it breeds confidence,” Senator Nash said.

Fiona Nash, pic from ABC
Fiona Nash, pic from ABC

She went on to explain the process all Federal ministers are currently involved in, which asks them to detail the departments, entities or functions that might be suitable for relocation to a regional area.

“We are not going to leave any stone unturned in looking for those agencies that could be relocated to the regions for the benefit of the regions,” Senator Nash told the Press Club.

Danielle Mulholland, President of the Northern Rivers Regional Organisation of Councils and Mayor of Kyogle, told Senator McAllister that she is keen for the government to better definition ‘the regions’.

At the moment a regional community is seen as being one that lives at least 150km from a capital city.

“That’s a really loose definition,” Cr Mulholland said.

She fears authentic regional communities might miss out with a 150km starting line.

It’s a point echoed in the written submission from Snowy Monaro Regional Council and the Canberra Region Joint Organisation in regards to Cooma, which is just 116km from Canberra.

Dean Lynch from Snowy Monaro, in fact contends that regional areas around the ACT should be “initial priorities” and that Cooma’s proximity would “facilitate an easier transition from existing to new workplaces” for Commonwealth staff.

Cooma to Canberra, 116km.
Cooma to Canberra, 116km.

As the phone panel’s assessment of decentralisation evolved on Friday, Bega Valley Mayor, Kristy McBain said there also needed to be a synergy between the agency being relocated and the new host town for the process to be a win-win.

“From our point of view, it would have to be an agency or a department that had a natural fit with our area,” Cr McBain told the Senate committee.

From a Eurobodalla perspective, Business Development boss, Andrew Greenway believes that includes agencies responsible for regional communications, marine services, sciences and safety, regional development, regional transport, aged care, tourism, and education.

Both Snowy Monaro and Bega Valley also point to agriculture and environmental management services.

“We are going to have a big conversation around this over the next six months,” Senator McKenzie said.

All those on the call encouraged the two Senators in their suggestion that there should be a parliamentary committee formed with broader terms of reference than their own to fully develop a transparent and fair criteria and assessment process around decentralisation – the suggestion being, to avoid the allegation of political pork barrelling that has been leveled at Barnaby Joyce in the APVMA decision.

The findings of Senator McAllister’s committee will be delivered in June, it’s understood Turnbull Cabinet ministers have until August to complete their departmental reviews and report back to Senator Nash.

With 83% of Commonwealth employment located in Canberra or the five largest Australian cities, the potential of shifting some of that into regional areas is huge, hence the level of interest. In the Bega Valley’s submission, Cr McBain points to NSW Government data that estimates for each public sector job in a regional area, two jobs are created in the private sector.

However, “Government can’t fix everything,” warned Senator Nash at the Press Club, signaling that the Turnbull Government would be looking to partnerships with local government and the community more broadly as decentralisation rolls out.

It would appear that regional Australia is interested to know more and ready to play its part.

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tathra Wharf recycled into a new future following monster seas

The sun rises on Tathra Wharf, photo from The Wharf Locavore
The sun rises on Tathra Wharf, photo from The Wharf Locavore

The record-breaking seas that slammed into the much loved Tathra Wharf in June 2016 have opened a new chapter in the history of this 150-year-old structure.

The timber that was salvaged from the wrecked sections of decking and pylons has been snapped up with a sense of reverence. A host of upcycled projects has been born spreading the affection for this Far South Coast icon.

Over the weekend of June 4 and 5 2016 waves of up to 17 meters high or more shattered timber and fixtures that had stood the test of time.

Protected from the more frequent rough weather of the south, the wharf was at the mercy of this north-easterly inspired weather event.

On the Monday morning that followed Bega Valley Shire Council confirmed that the timber ramp that leads from the roadway down to the old cargo platform had been lifted off its pylons by the monster seas.

A repair job estimated to be worth half a million dollars was launched, recognising the importance of this pinkish structure to the region’s tourist appeal and sense of identity.

Click on each photo to get a bigger view…

Any timber that could be repurposed at the wharf was, with poor decking in undamaged sections replaced with suitable timber from the damaged sections.

Some of the larger scale timbers salvaged remain in the Bega Valley Shire Council stockpile, ready for maintenance works on the 70 timber bridges that dot the shire.

The remaining timber was offered to the volunteers at the Tathra Wharf Museum.

Museum Secretary, Michelle Russell says the organisation has been able to sell some of the leftover timber as a fundraiser with some pieces seen as being sculpturally interesting.

“A lot of the timber has been sold to woodworkers,” she says.

Michelle has been surprised at the interest after first thinking the timber would be sold as firewood for winter.

“It’s a bit of history and that seems to be what people want,” she says.

Most of the load has been sold off, earning around $1500 for the museum. Some pieces have been kept as museum exhibits while others will end up keeping local homes warm during the months ahead.

Anthony Little, owner of Fat Tony’s Resturant on the hill above the wharf was one of those to snap up a chunk of Tathra Wharf.

“I remember climbing on the frame of the wharf as a kid and running down to see sharks pulled in by fisherman,” Ant says.

Three obscure hunks of rusted timber now sit in the front yard of Ant’s eatery, which was the former residence of the Tathra Harbourmaster; the last ship to take cargo from the wharf was the SS Cobargo in 1954.

“I’ll be putting up some display boards and mounting each piece properly to highlight the connection between this place [the harbourmaster’s residence] and the wharf,” Ant says.

Craftsman like Greg Wall and Peter Hull have given the salvaged timber a new use altogether.

“Some of this timber has seen 150 years of traffic, it’s too good for firewood,” Greg says.

The woodworker from Black Range has turned a mix old stringy bark, iron bark, and gray box into a mortise and tenon joint bookcase for the wharf museum.

“I wanted to construct the bookcase using the skills of the time, the skills of 150 years ago when the wharf was built,” Greg explains.

Tarraganda joiner, Peter Hull says it’s been a thrill working with such significant timber and turning it into vanity benchtops and mantle pieces.

“My clients have loved being able to share the story behind their new feature,” Peter says.

Click on each photo to get a bigger view…

Apart from using its stockpiled timber in bridge structures, Bega Valley Shire Council plans on using some of its Tathra Wharf stash to make street furniture and gateway signage at the northern, southern, and western entries to the shire.

Some of the turpentine has already found bums in need of a seat in the Merimbula CBD and on the very structure it came from.

On her sunny verandah in Jellat, Museum Secretary, Michelle Russell is just happy to have a few lumps of the wharf to sit pot plants on.

“I have a family connection, Daniel Gowing was one of the first people involved in constructing the wharf,” Michelle says.

“I would like to thank Council for giving us [the museum] the timber because it’s been a great fundraiser,” she says.

“We haven’t decided what we are doing with the money yet, but we have a few projects in mind.”

Click on each photo to get a bigger view…

Apart from the acute damage that resulted from the East Coast Low of June last year, further assessments uncovered defects in 22 of the wharf’s 78 pylons. More work is needed to secure the structure’s long-term future especially in the face of increasingly testy seas.

Bega Valley Shire Council and the NSW Government are considering their options.

“We figure it’s been there a long time and will continue there for a long time yet,” Michelle Russell says.

“Mostly because the community considers it to be so important, it’ll be there in another 150 years I am sure.”

For those who don’t have a piece of Tathra Wharf as their own yet, small chunks are available for purchase from the Tathra Wharf Museum, which is open 10am to 4pm Saturday and Sunday.

 

 

Disclaimer – author is part time media officer for Bega Valley Shire Council.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Local history unearthed as GG tours the Bega Valley

Lord Northcote. Picture from National Library of Australia
Lord Northcote. Picture from National Library of Australia

This week’s tour of the Bega Valley by Queen’s representative in Australia has stirred history that dates back 110 years.

Three thousand people greeted the then Governor-General, Lord Northcote in March 1907 at the Bega Showground.

Current Governor-General, Sir Peter Cosgrove and his wife, Lady Lynne Cosgrove arrived on Monday (April 10) morning ahead of a civic reception that afternoon hosted by Bega Valley Shire Council.

My boy got a start representing his primary school, he tells me the caramel and chocolate tarts were delicious and that the GG is keen to see a ‘big cheese’ at the entrance to Bega.

Sir Peter and Lady Lynne will head back to Canberra on Tuesday afternoon having toured the region and meeting with a host of mainly volunteer organisations.

In her speech at the Bega Valley Commemorative Civic Centre, Bega Valley Mayor, Kristy McBain highlighted some of the history of that 1907 visit by Lord Northcote, it was a time when Eden was being considered as part of the new Australian capital city at Dalgety.

I’ve managed to track down two newspaper reports from the time…

From the Sydeny Morning Herald, page 7, Thursday March 14 1907
From the Sydney Morning Herald, page 7, Thursday March 14 1907

From the Sydney Morning Herald, page 7, Thursday March 14 1907:

GOVERNOR-GENERAL’S TOUR – BEGA, Wednesday.

The Governor-General and party visited Bega District Hospital this morning. His Excellency inspected the various wards, and made kindly and sympathetic remarks to the patients, particularly to two juveniles, whom he presented with picture-books and dolls.

Expressions of satisfaction regarding the management were made by his Excellency to the president and committee of management, the medical officers, matron, and nursing staff.

The Vice-regal party, after a short stay, proceeded to Kameruka estate, on route for Cooma, via Candelo, Bemboka, and Nimitybelle, escorted by Sub-inspector Tippett and a posse of mounted troopers and a detachment of Australian Light Horse, in charge of Lieuts. Otton and Irwin.

CANDELO, Wednesday.

His Excellency the Governor-General and party arrived here at midday to-day, after calling at Kameruka Estate, three miles distant where the visitors were cordially received by Mr Wren, manager, and Mr Champneys, acting manager.

Candelo was decorated with flags, greenery and coloured streamers. An arch was erected at the main entrance to the park. His Excellency was presented with an address of welcome in the park by citizens and school children.

Cheers were given for Lord Northcote, and the National Anthem was sung by the school children.

His Excellency said he trusted the children would always show the loyalty they had so pleasingly shown that day. He declared Friday as a whole holiday for the children.

A luncheon was tendered Lord Northcote in the School of Arts. Mr W J Collins presided and Dr Sharp was vice-chairman.

The Governor General, in replying to the toast of his health, said that next year they would have a visit from the State Governor.

He was pleased to find the district in such a flourishing condition. It was a great dairying centre.

He had great pleasure in paying a flying visit to Kameruka where the cheese making industry was prospering, and they were doing wonders in preserving fruit under the supervision of Mr Moody.

He had no idea they could produce such beautiful fruit in the district. He hoped upon his return home to be of slight service to Australia. He was of opinion that the Governor and the Governor-General could do more service for the country after they left it.

People at home were not sufficiently acquainted with the doings of this country. One thing he could say was that one always received a cordial welcome from Australians. His Excellency returned hearty thanks for the cordial welcome and wished prosperity and success to Candelo.

Mr Coman proposed “The Commonwealth Parliament’ and Mr Austin Chapman replied.

The Vice-Regal party left for Bemboka about 3pm.

Source: Trove

From 'The Argus' in Melbourne, page 7 Thursday, March 14 1907
From ‘The Argus’ in Melbourne, page 7 Thursday, March 14 1907

From ‘The Argus’ in Melbourne, page 7 Thursday, March 14 1907:

GOVERNOR-GENERAL’S TOUR – BEGA, Wednesday.

His Excellency Lord Northcote, accompanied by Captain Stephens, A.D.C., arrived at Bega yesterday afternoon.

He was accompanied by the Postmaster-General (Mr. Austin Chapman) and Mr W. H. Wood, ML.A., and the cavalcade, which was greeted along the road by hundreds of people who lustily cheered and welcomed Lord Northcote most enthusiastically, proceeded to the Bega show-ground, where the whole of the children of the district public and private schools sang the National Anthem.

Altogether the assemblage mustered about three thousand people. Addresses of welcome were presented to His Excellency who said he was glad to see that in Bega one of the most beautiful spots in His Majesty’s dominions, the people were not less loyal than in other parts of Australia.

He noticed with pleasure the magnificent monument erected in the public park close by in honour of those who had so loyally lost their precious lives in South Africa.

A banquet was given to His Excellency last night. About 500 district and town residents sat down. The mayor (Alderman Pell) presided, and proposed the health of His Excellency.

Lord Northcote in responding stated that he was more than pleased at the fine reception given him. Bega and district was one of the most beautiful spots he had ever visited. He was very pleased with the beauties Twofold Bay and the surroundings of Eden.

Mr. J. Bunningham proposed “The Commonwealth Parliament” and Mr.Chapman responded. He said he felt certain that His Excellency had already recognised that the Government house site had during that trip been inspected.

His Excellency was then introduced to some 280 ladies who were present and afterwards to the district residents and then at his special desire to the individual members of the Australian Light Horse.

His party left to-day at 10 a m for Caneldo.

Source: Trove

 

 

About Regional, a new place for the stories of South East NSW, Podcast 10

Marshall Campbell, Sharon Zweck and Geoffrey Grigg
Marshall Campbell, Sharon Zweck and Geoffrey Grigg

The Gang Gang Cockatoos have arrived in the bush around my place, a sure sign autumn is here.

Mind you I was in Cooma this week and the trees in Centennial Park aren’t showing any signs of it.

Given that we are about to tick over into April, those leaves will soon be changing.

Autumn is a theme that runs through our conversation today.

In August 2013 many in the Bega community were outraged when Bega Valley Shire Council cut down a stand of mature Blue Gums in the town’s park.

Council felt the risk of falling limbs was too great, and to be fair some in the community backed them.

Littleton Gardens was leveled to make way for a new civic precinct.

New trees were planted but the site has been the victim of vandalism a number of times – on one night in May last year around 50 mature trees were snapped, hacked or pulled out of the ground – the communities love and connection with the space had been broken.

In the last 6 months Littleton Gardens has got its mojo back, a partnership between Bega Valley Shire Council and SCPA – South East Producers – who use the space for a weekly farmer’s market, has seen leafy greens and other vegetables planted in the park.

The community is invited to pick the crop free of charge.

With autumn plantings going in a local charity will soon start grazing in the park, taking ingredients for the weekly meals they cook and serve to people and families doing it tough.

I caught up with the two volunteer gardeners working this space, Geoffrey Grigg and Marshall Campbell, also joining the conversation Sharon Zweck Coordinator of Ricky’s Place.

Thanks for tuning in and to my partners for this week’s program, Light to Light Camps, who let you explore the track between Boyd’s Tower and Green Cape Lighthouse in style, check their website for more info.

Your feedback and stories ideas are always welcome – flick me a note to hello@aboutregional.com.au

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No threat to Anzac Day in South East NSW – marches will go on

WW2 diggers on the Bega Civic Centre honour roll
WW2 diggers on the Bega Civic Centre honour roll

Organisers of Anzac Day marches across South East NSW say they will take any new security arrangements “in their stride“.

Dean Lynch, Administrator of Snowy Monaro Regional Council told About Regional that there was no way Anzac Day marches through the high country would be stopped.

Concern was sparked this week following the cancellation of marches in the Blue Mountains after the local council refused to cover costs associated with new anti-terrorist requirements.

David White, a spokesman for ex-services organisations at Katoomba, Springwood, Blackheath and Glenbrook told the ‘Blue Mountains Gazette‘ that he was devasted by the decision.

“It’s such a long, unbroken tradition and something which we believe is cherished by the local communities,” he told the paper.

“The terrorists are winning. I say that because the reaction to events overseas continues to provoke overreactions here, in our view, which require mitigation actions that are beyond our means.”

The new anti-terrorist measures are said to include the need for solid barriers across roadways to prevent a truck or other vehicles being driven through crowds, similar to what the world witnessed in the French city of Nice in July last year.

Blue Mountains Mayor, Mark Greenhill told the ABC he was appalled that the State Government was forcing these changes on to communities and expecting local government to pick up the cost.

“What other government in a country around the world would say ‘you need these measures to keep you safe but we won’t fund them’? It’s completely outrageous,” Cr Greenhill told the ABC.

Australian soldiers with the 5th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment march on Anzac Day. From wikimedia commons
Australian soldiers with the 5th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment march on Anzac Day. From wikimedia commons

The State Liberal Member for Bega and NSW Transport Minister, Andrew Constance says the security requirements for commemorations in the South East will be guided by local police with measures put in place on a case by case basis.

“Unfortunately this is the way of the world,” he says.

“Governments everywhere need to take these steps, especially at high profile events, to protect people.”

While acknowledging the need for extra security, Mr Constance says it is important that people go about their business.

“We can’t live in fear, we need to stand together and be strong as a community and not let terrorists dictate our way of life,” he says.

Mr Constance suggests the cancelling of events in the Blue Mountains was politically motivated.

“The Labor Mayor for the Blue Mountains has behaved disgracefully,” Mr Constance says.

The Member for Bega says the NSW Government will ensure Anzac Day will continue around New South Walse as planned and any extra costs will be shared, which is now the case in the Blue Mountains.

Snowy Monaro Council chief Dean Lynch says an assessment will be made and if there are extra expenses locally, all involved will work together and find a way to cover them.

Eurobodalla Shire Council believes the terrorist risk is low and will liaise with NSW Police.

WW1 diggers on the Bega Civic Centre honour roll
WW1 diggers on the Bega Civic Centre honour roll

Director of Infrastructure Services, Warren Sharpe told About Regional he sees no reason why the marches wouldn’t proceed with the usual sensible traffic control measures in place.

“We absolutely support the wonderful traditions and symbolism of our local Anzac marches,” he says.

“They mean a great deal to all of us and Council will do everything possible to make them a success this year, just as we do every year.”

In the Bega Valley, Tathra ex-serviceman Allen Collins says the Bega RSL Sub-branch is conscious of the need for security but is confident it’s close relationship with Bega Valley Shire Council and local Police will ensure a positive outcome.

“Anzac Day does cost money, but Council and groups like Tathra Lions and the RSL Club have always looked after us,” he says.

“I don’t think there will be any problems,” he says.

About Regional – the podcast, episode two, October 18 2016

About Regional – the podcast, episode two, October 18 2016

About Regional strives to capture the colour, wisdom, and issues of South East NSW, in episode two of the podcast…

Bega Valley election material
Bega Valley election material

* Long time Eurobodalla Council watcher Keith Dance wants to change the way Local Government is elected in NSW.

Having served two terms on Council and contested every election between 2000 and 2010, Keith believes the system encourages too many candidates to stand, which makes it impossible for voters to make an informed choice.

Keith reckons part of the solution comes from Victoria.

John Alcock and Howard Charles
John Alcock and Howard Charles

* The small Monaro town of Nimmitabel, south-east of Cooma is heading into summer with more water security than every before. A new dam has just opened on the outskirts of town.

Howard Charles and John Alcock are two of the fathers of the Lake Wallace Dam, both were keen to jump the fence and show me around.

* The Archibald Prize has just wrapped up for another year at the Art Gallery of NSW in Sydney.

But these famous faces aren’t being put away, they are hitting the road for a tour of regional NSW and Victoria – including the Bega Valley Regional Gallery.

Gallery Director, Iain Dawson gives us a preview.

And a bush dance to finish with, the Kameruka Bush Orchestra in full flight.

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