Buddy benches and reflection ponds are just a couple of the bright ideas Bombala students have come up with as part of their studies into playground design.
Students from St Joseph’s Primary School have just presented a range of thoughtful and captivating 3D playground models, paving the way for future playground construction in Bombala.
Following months of hard work, their final playground designs have been pitched to staff from Snowy Monaro Regional Council – Major Projects Manager Linda Nicholson, and Recreation and Property Technical Officer Jane Kanowski, as well as family and friends.
“All the students should be very proud of their efforts,” Linda says.
The students designed and built a playground space that incorporated elements of physical, social, mental, and spiritual well-being for people of all ages and abilities – community gardens, slides, handball courts, picnic areas, and bright, colourful equipment, were all part of their vision.
“The designs are very exciting, it was a pleasure working alongside the students – a great community partnership,” Linda says.
A number of valuable skills were picked up along the way, including team work, communication, public speaking, engineering, and building.
A terrific example of project-based learning.
Council staff presented students with a certificate of achievement for their outstanding efforts.
The students will continue their involvement throughout the design and construction of an all-abilities playground in Bombala during 2018.
Bombala’s Ron and Lexie Milliner have worked hard, smart and with passion all their lives, they are now moving towards a kind of retirement that will keep them busy, but see them enjoying the spoils of their labour.
Six months ago they all but wound up their long-running earth moving business.
“We wanted to dismantle things while we still had our marbles, although some say I lost them a long time ago,” Ron laughs.
Negotiations continue around the sale of their beloved “Crystal View”, which had been HQ for the family and the business. Most of the trucks and machines that were once parked on the property on Gunningrah Road are gone, sold at auction back in May.
“We built the business up to a point where we had just over 60 registrations – trucks, trailers, utes, and machines, and now after the sale, we are down to about 10,” Ron says.
“I’ve still got a granite rock quarry and I make road base and sell all sizes of granite stone -from 20mm to rocks as big as this lounge we are sitting on.
“We are hoping to expand and sell wall and landscaping rock to the coast.”
It’s hard to imagine Ron not driving trucks and machinery, it’s his boyhood dream – trucks and music.
“When I was a little kid I wanted to own trucks and bulldozers and play Slim Dusty music,” the 71-year old says.
“And to a certain degree, I’ve managed to do that.”
Ron beams as he talks about his two and half-year-old great-grandson playing in the Milliner quarry.
“He’s doin the same thing I used to do as a little kid – load little rocks into his little dump truck,” Ron says.
Married for 53 years, Ron and Lexie have three children, seven grandkids, two great-grandsons, and another two due in January.
The pair met while working at the old Harold Golberg department store in Bombala.
“Lexie worked upstairs in the accounts department,” Ron remembers.
As a founding member of the “Bombala Knit and Knatter Group”, Lexie has been busy knitting baby blankets for the new arrivals on top of her regular crafty generosity.
The Knit and Knatter girls get together often at Bombala’s famous Cosmo Cafe, making woolen blankets for the charity Wrap With Love.
“We sent 100 wraps away in August, I’ve lost count how many we’ve done over the last eight years,” Lexie says.
Apart from keeping the home fires burning, Lexie has been key to the businesses success, often called on in the early days to move a truck when Ron needed an extra pair of hands.
Both fondly remember family barbeques in the bush when their children were young. Precious family time while Ron was working a 13 day fortnight harvesting and carting logs, building up the business.
At aged 25, it was the forestry industry that gave the Milliner’s their break in the 1970’s.
“We had no money when we got that first contract, and I remember getting that first cheque from the Eden Chip Mill for $6500, I’d never seen so much money,” Ron says.
“We built the business up from there, trading up to new machinery, three steps forward and 2.99 back.
“But as we were going along we could see we were losing more and more forestry areas to National Parks.
“There were about 40 contractors in those days,” he says.
Recognising the decline in forestry, Ron and Lexie started to diversify their business and moved into earth moving.
In 1992 they took over the local concrete plant from the cash-strapped Bombala Council.
“Forestry started pulling names out of a hat and I didn’t want to go like that or get to that stage so I took a small package from the government and that helped us move on.”
Logging, earth moving, and concrete were all part of the business for a few years before the Milliners finally got out of forestry in 1995.
“It was important to have a diverse business so that we could cope with the rise and fall, there was something going all the time,” Ron says.
Milliner machines have worked on some to the region’s big projects.
“But nothing was too small for us,” Ron smiles.
Reflecting on his 50-year career, this boy from Mount Darrah who trapped rabbits and sold turnips as a lad points to Bombala’s new softwood processing plant as one of his biggest jobs.
“On one day alone we did 75 truck and trailer loads,” he said.
“We worked on the Eastern Gas Pipeline that came through in 2000, we did clearing work out on the Hume Highway in the nineties getting it ready for the road to go through, and more recently we worked on the big new electricity substation at Cooma – some interesting jobs.”
In winding up the business at Crystal View, Ron and Lexie considered moving to the coast for their retirement years but instead, they opted to become “townies” building a new home in the community Lexie was born and breed in.
“Ron was too frightened a tsunami would get him, so he said – I am staying on top of the mountain,” Lexie chuckles.
Family and friends invited to Crystal View will be familiar with the large performance space Ron had created to share his love and skill for music. Lexie’s warmth, humour, and hospitality an important ingredient to the party.
“In a smaller way we’ll still do it here in the new shed,” Ron suggests.
“We could hold 6o or 70 people at Crystal View, here we might be able to fit 20 or 30.
“The last concert we had out there, there were a few tears, but nothing lasts forever, everything comes to an end Ian,” Ron says.
With self-funded recordings to his name and countless gigs in dozens of country halls with his family band, Ron still has musical ambitions and a need to celebrate music and its influence on people.
“I’ve got an old peddle steel guitar, its about 30 years since I’ve played it, so I am going to try and get that cranked up,” he says.
Ron and Lexie say there have been many sleepless nights during the history of their business as they managed the various twists and turns but more so in the last 12 months as they worried about the fate of the dozen or so employees that were part of the business.
“Everyone of those people now has a job,” Ron says with relief.
“We’ve had some good men over the years, one of the things I am happiest about is that we gave dozens and dozens of young fellows their start.”
Ron, Lexie and I chat at the end of a long day, Ron is dirty, bleeding and in bright orange hi-viz having just knocked off. If he wasn’t chatting to me he’d be having a beer – I am regrettably polite and knocked back the earlier invitation to have one.
Lexie is surrounded in cream and orange wool finishing another wrap, comfortable in her deserved new home, talking of perhaps taking a bus trip holiday.
Their daughter Leanda has just left and promised to return for coffee in the morning.
This is a rich family, but not because they have just cashed in their life’s work.
“I am a wealthy man Ian, my family stuck together, the business and our music is a big part of that,” Ron says.
*About Regional content happens because of the support of members – thank you to the Bega Valley Regional Learning Centre, Doug Reckord, Wendy and Pete Gorton, Bronnie Taylor, Amanda Dalziel, and Tabitha Bilaniwsky-Zarins.
In the mid-1990’s the school was closed and childhood education in Bombala consolidated on the Bombala High School site.
TAFE moved into the space for a period of time offering a range of vocational and special interest subjects, however changes within TAFE and the opening of the Trade Training Centre at Bombala High took momentum and opportunities away from the historic site.
“My three children went to school here, a lot of families have incredible ties with this beautiful old building, ” Sue says.
Sue is a former Bombala Shire councilor and has just been elected to the merged Snowy Monaro Regional Council, she also remembers taking part in art and photography classes at the old school under TAFE.
“Once the art classes stopped we just found rooms here there and everywhere and applied for arts funding to bring instructors in a few times a year,” Sue says.
“We approached TAFE about using this space, but it would have been at a commercial hire rate, so it just wasn’t viable for us.”
A resumption of arts and cultural activities is seen as part of the old school’s future.
“Over the years we’ve lost Ando Public School, Bibbenluke has just gone, this building is such a part of Bombala,” Sue says.
“This building was put here by the community, the building itself was funded through fundraising and back in the early days even the teacher was funded by community efforts.”
The thought of the building being sold and the proceeds deposited into the combined TAFE coffers was a ‘red flag to the community’ Sue says.
“It was a real concern that the money from the sale wouldn’t be turned back into our community,” she explains.
With a business plan already in place through the gifting arrangements between State and Local Government, the Arts and Culture Advisory Committee is now waiting to get the keys and put the plan into action.
“We would like to see this place as the home of a local progress association, as a place for tourist and cultural events, and as a community meeting place for a range of interests and groups,” Sue says.
Appointing a project officer to activate and manage the space is one of the first steps to drive the idea forward.
“The town needs a place for a range of groups to call home, this will be a hub for the Bombala community,” Sue says.
An exit clause has been negotiated that guarantees funds from any future sale of the building would be returned to Bombala.
“So if our business plan doesn’t work, and we find we can’t maintain it or it’s not viable, in three years time we can sell it and the money stays in the community,” Sue says.
With plans for an opening event growing, Sue says, “Watch this space!”
About Regional content is supported by the contributions of members – thank you! People and businesses like Patrick and Meagan O’Halloran, Patrick Reubinson, Kym Mogridge, Danielle Humphries, and 2pi Software.
Just over 10,200 of yesterday’s votes have been counted at this point, with 11 new councillor positions to be decided from a field of 27 candidates.
Former Bombala Mayor and grazier Bob Stewart has polled the most votes with 1,447, followed by Adaminaby livestock carrier, Lynley Miners (1,364), and 23-year-old apprentice carpenter James ‘Boo’ Ewart from Jerangle (948).
Former Cooma – Monaro Mayor, Dean Lynch who has over seen the operations of the merged council for the last 16 months as Administrator says he’s happy to see the election come and democracy restored to the region.
“My biggest concern was representation for the smaller areas, and you can see that’s not going to be an issue now,” Mr Lynch says.
“I am a little bit worried about the lack of female representation in the results at this stage,” he says.
Bombala’s Anne Maslin is the highest polling woman with 243 votes which puts her in thirteenth position over all – outside the 11 member council.
Postal votes and preferences will come before the poll is declared and the final results are known.
Under the counting system used for local government elections in New South Wales, each candidate must reach a quota of votes to be elected, preferences follow and are distributed according to the voter’s instructions on their ballot paper.
“You get the total number of voters and then dived it by 12, one more than the new Council needs, to work out the quota,” Mr Lynch explains.
“Going off previous elections I think the quota will be around 930 votes.”
Preferences help candidates who don’t reach the quota in the first round of counting get elected.
Bob Stewart believes it might not be until Tuesday or Wednesday before all 11 seats in the new chamber are decided, he is hopeful a flow of preferences from himself and running mate John Last will get Anne Maslin elected.
Mr Stewart, a passionate critic of the merger process says he is humbled by his result and is looking forward to getting back to work.
“I will be putting my hand up for the Mayoral position,” Mr Stewart says.
“We’ve gotta make sure there’s equity down our way, the merger process for council staff in Bombala has been very unfair.”
“We don’t need it [Council] to be centralised towards Cooma so that Bombala loses out on jobs, we must try and protect jobs for the social and economic benefit of our smaller communities,” the former Bombala Mayor says.
Mr Stewart says he is also keen to address recent extra charges on utility costs like water and waste, he says he’ll be asking for a report to Council early in the term.
Speaking to About Regional while loading livestock on to his truck, Lynley Miners has mixed feelings about being elected to Council.
“The truth is I didn’t want to stand now, I am too busy with my own business, but now is the logical time, it’s a fresh start being the first council,” Mr Miners says.
Being a truckie, Mr Miners says he’ll be taking a particular interest in the region’s roads and better infrastructure.
“A lot people think we are going to be able to fix theses things over night,” Mr Miners says.
“We’ve got a three-year term and the first 12 or 18 months will be taken up with learning and trying to get sorted with whats been done during the administration period and get the ship steering straight.”
Despite his high personal vote Mr Miners says he won’t be standing as Mayor in the near future, preferring to leave the job to people with more time and experience for now.
When asked to reflect on the merger process between Bombala, Cooma-Monaro and Snowy River Shires, Mr Miners is hopeful people can move on
“It will hang there for a bit, but once people get to the table if they want to strive to make this better, it can’t be about us and them, it’s done, it’s happened, it’s time to move on,” Mr Miners says.
Dean Lynch will remain Administrator until the first council meeting on September 26 when the new Mayor is elected, says he has been working hard to tidy up loose ends and set the new council up for success.
The election marks an end to Mr Lynch’s nine-year career in local government, he says the last 16 months have been some of the most challenging times.
“I always knew pulling this together would be a poison chalice, but I love local government and I love this area,” he says.
“Some of the social media comments have been hard for my family but I’ll stand behind all the decisions I made, I feel like I’ve given the new council every chance possible to be good.”
Mr Lynch is delighted James ‘Boo’ Ewart appears to have been elected.
“Boo has been around Council meetings with me for the last four years, he’s always wanted to be on Council, it’s great to see him get in without the need for any alliances, a fresh start is just what this council needs,” Mr Lynch says.
“The new council needs to get out and meet with communities right around the area
“My advice for the old and the new, they just need to get around and meet everybody before they rush in and make decisions,” Mr Lynch says.
When asked about his future, the former Cooma-Monaro Mayor says they’ll be a holiday with his wife first.
“The most exciting thing, I am the chair and a director of the Country Universities Centre and we are rolling those out right across the state at the moment, that’s my passion.
“I’ve had various offers, but I just need to take a step back for a while,” Mr Lynch says.
Former Deputy Mayor of Cooma-Monaro Shire Council, and now Member of the NSW Upper House, Bronnie Taylor says a mix of old and new will be important for the new council.
“Yes we need experience but this is an opportunity to get some really great new people on council and I really encourage people to look at that,” Mrs Taylor says.
With just days to go until polling day the attention and interest of voters will start to sharpen.
Voting instructions on each ballot paper will guide locals, but generally speaking, each voter will be asked to select six candidates in order of preference, you can select more if you wish and perhaps push out to 11 to reflect the full council you want to be elected. But for your vote to count, you must at least number six boxes in order of preference.
The inaugural mayor will be elected by councilors at their first meeting after the election.
Mrs Taylor admits the process and choices can be overwhelming but she is calling on locals to take an interest and use the days ahead to find their new councilors.
“Vote for who you think is going to make a difference…vote for someone who has the same values and aspirations for your community,” she says.
Despite being part of the State Government that drove the merger of Bombala, Snowy River and Cooma-Monaro Councils, The Nationals MLC accepts that the process could have been better but has confidence in the future of the 11 member Snowy Monaro Regional Council.
Mrs Taylor is adamant small communities won’t be forgotten in the new larger entity.
“The councilors that get elected, they’re good people, they care about their communities [but they also] care about their region,” she says.
“I am someone who lives in the town of Nimmitabel which has a population of around 300 people,” Mrs Taylor says.
“We had a really shocking time during the drought.
“There was not one other councilor from Nimmitabel or from down this end of the shire [on that council except me but] every single one of those nine councilors on Cooma-Monaro Shire Council voted to invest that money.
“They knew it was really important for that community (Nimmitabel) and that that community was part of them,” Mrs Taylor says.
Given the size of the field to choose from and the need to at least number six boxes on the ballot paper, voters can be forgiven for feeling confused or unsure of who to vote for.
“I think people that get up there and promise 16 different things aren’t very realistic,” Mrs Taylor says.
“You have to have someone who is prepared to work with other people and prepared to see other points of view.
“At the end of the day…you have got to find compromises and ways through to get good results,” the former Deputy Mayor suggests.
Working out who those people are or finding the information you need to have an informed vote can be a challenge in amongst the posters, Facebook pages, and how to vote cards of an election campaign.
“I think candidate forums are really good,” Mrs Taylor says.
“And the great thing about local government is that you can pick up the phone and ring them (candidates) and ask them what they think about something and they should be able to give you some time to do that.”
Mrs Taylor also suggests talking to other people in the community as a way of making your vote count.
“Talk to the people that you trust, they know the pulse of the community, I think that’s really valuable,” she says.
Leanne Atkinson sat on Snowy River Shire Council between 1999 and 2003 and has stood as a Labor candidate for the NSW Parliament in the seat of Bega a number of times since, she says it can feel like a ‘leap of faith’ when you first put your name forward for election.
“You really aren’t sure what you are doing at the beginning,” Ms Atkinson told About Regional.
“You need to get the message out about yourself and what differentiates you from other people.”
Ms Atkinson says she went into her first campaign with issues she felt connected to and could speak on.
“I was a young mum, and was very aware of the constraints there were for families in the area and what services were available for them,” she says.
“That was how I went into that first campaign, looking at services for families, for young people, ” she says.
Ms Atkinson says she never considered standing for council until a couple of people suggested it to her.
“I said I can’t see myself doing this, there are all those people sitting around that table, all that procedure, I couldn’t do that.
“The funny thing is that once you are elected you realise that you absolutely can be at that table,” Ms Atkinson says.
Ms Atkinson believes the role goes beyond the popular catchphrase of ‘roads, rubbish, and rates’.
“There are a lot of demands on Council, and the role a Councilor is to have a strategic view, to set the tone, and to set the direction,” she says.
“It’s really important to engage effectively with the community.”
The merger process, taking three council areas into one has left smaller communities concerned that they will be over looked by the big new entity shaped by the Baird – Berejiklian Government.
Leanne Atkinson believes it’s incumbent on the eleven new councilors to think beyond their own home town.
“Don’t focus just on the big towns, there are little communities where those people matter and are just as important as the people in the bigger towns,” she says.
“You have to be aware that you are there for the whole community.”
But there is some strategic advice from this Labor stalwart for smaller centres keen to see one of their own elected.
“I have a view that the amalgamations shouldn’t have been forced, but the fact is it’s amalgamated,” Ms Atkinson says.
“The community needs people who are going to move the shire forward in it’s new form.
“Maybe some smaller communities should get together and ask, who is the one person who could represent us well?” she says.
Find a candidate and get the community behind them seems to be the advice.
“I lived in Berridale for a while, and if it was me in a community like that, I’d be pulling people together and saying, okay we want representation on this council, who can we advocate for and increase our chances of getting someone elected,” Ms Atkinson suggests.
Reflecting on her council time, Ms Atkinson says it was one of the best experiences of her life, she is keen to see a diverse range of candidates stand for election on September 9.
“There were lots of little things that I would look at and think, we can do better than that.”
“If you are willing to work you’d be surprised at how much you can achieve,” Ms Atkinson says.