Rubbish resuscitated as art at the Eurobodalla’s ReVive Art Prize

Moruya's Susan Bomball with Bill, winner of ReVive2017. Photo: Eurobodalla Shire Council
Moruya’s Susan Bomball with Bill, winner of ReVive2017. Photo: Eurobodalla Shire Council

A tribute to an old friend, made of even older bits and pieces has won the Eurobodalla’s recycled art prize  – ReVive 2107.

Moruya’s Susan Bomball and her sculpture, “Bill” claimed the $4000 prize before a packed house at the Mechanic’s Institute.

“I was shocked, there is so much talent in there, I’ve never had people look at my work like this,” Susan says.

Made from reclaimed tools, chains, metal drill bits, and treasures from Council’s kerbside cleanups, Susan’s piece is a memorial to her favourite horse who was 17 years old when he passed away recently.

“Bill was a unique character,” Susan recalls.

“He didn’t like me very much, and he could be a bit of a grump but he was so good with special needs kids or anyone that needed a hug.

“Put a child in front of Bill, and he’d turn into mush,” she says.

Ben Floreani - Birth Engine. Photo: Ian Campbell
Ben Floreani – Birth Engine, using recycled glass bottles. Photo: Ian Campbell

Susan’s winning was one of 48 artworks on display at the Mechanics Institute in Moruya as part of National Recycling Week.

“Absolutely splendid” is how Council’s creative arts coordinator Indi Carmichael describes the exhibition.

Indi says the nature of the prize lends itself to playfulness, “The variety of works is impressive,” she says.

“The number of 3D works shows that more and more people are exploring that medium. Sculpture is definitely having a moment.”

Joy Macfarlane - What if. Photo: Ian Campbell
Joy Macfarlane – What if, using rubber, plastic, and polystyrene. Photo: Ian Campbell

Normally a painter, Bill was Susan’s first attempt at welding.

“I saw immediately that I could make art with welding, it’s a very forgiving way to work, you can just break things and reweld it,” Susan says.

Bill seems to have started with the large spanner that makes up his nose.

“In the last year and a half, I’ve really started getting into recycled materials in my art,” she says.

“I’ve got piles of recycled metal and wood – all sorts of things, materials that inspire me.”

Susan laughs that some of the bits and bobs she collects are fought over.

“My friend is always saying  – you cant weld that, that’s a great old tool that still works, you can’t buy that anymore,” Susan says.

Toby Whitelaw - Warning. Photo: Ian Campbell
Toby Whitelaw – Warning, using plastic bags collected from the roadside. Photo: Ian Campbell

Many of the works on display at ReVive are for sale but not Bill.

“He’ll have pride of place at home, he’ll sit at the top of the driveway,” Susan says.

“Thank you for the opportunity, this is a great way for people to have a go.”

Now in its sixth year, the ReVive Art Prize will continue as a biennial event in the alternate year to Eurobodalla’s prestigious Basil Sellers Art Prize.

The exhibition wrapped up on Friday (November 17) with the awarding of the $500 People’s Choice Award – Julie Brennan’s corkscrew inspired piece titled, “Threatened Species”.

*About Regional content is funded by members – thank you to 2pi Software, Sprout Eden – cafe and local produce, Therese and Denis Wheatley, Fiona Firth, Scott Halfpenny, Bruce and Julie Williamson,
Sue Hill, Robert Hartemink, Maureen Searson, Bruce Morrison and Kerry Newlin.


Check out the gallery of other About Regional favourites…

Julie Brennan - Threatened Species. Photo: Ian Campbell
Winner of the People’s Choice Award – Julie Brennan’s, Threatened Species, the screwcap invasion is disaster for the cork. Photo: Ian Campbell
Merryn Sommervile - Childless Mothers. Photo: Ian Campbell
Merryn Sommervile – Childless Mothers, from a young age, girls are conditioned to perceive their purpose and value tied to motherhood. Photo: Ian Campbell
Kathleen McKenzie - Powerless, Battery Hen. Photo: Ian Campbell
Kathleen McKenzie – Powerless, Battery Hen, using batteries, ink cartridge components, packing beads, and kitchen shelving. Raising the plight of battery hens. Photo: Ian Campbell
Julia Mia Holmes - A Congress of Nudibranchs. Photo: Ian Campbell
Julia Mia Holmes – A Congress of Nudibranchs, using milk bottles to create a transparent discussion on the state of marine affairs. Photo: Ian Campbell
Linda Heald - There are memories in the glass...Photo: Ian Campbell
Linda Heald – There are memories in the glass. Doors from my childhood home, windows in my grandmothers house, colouring the landscape of my life. Photo: Ian Campbell 
Mark Ward - The Couple. Photo: Ian Campbell
Mark Ward – The Couple, using carpenters rulers, painted wood lattice. Having made the female initially, the little plastic penis turned up on a beach, so I made the man to keep her company.  Photo: Ian Campbell 

Dual sex sea creatures swamp Far South Coast beaches

Bluebottles at North Durras. Photo: Christa White Facebook
Bluebottles at North Durras. Photo: Christa White Facebook

Locals and visitors have been returning beaches along the Eurobodalla and Bega Valley coastline, the chill of winter replaced with the temptation of a swim under big, bright, blue skies.

But that springtime enthusiasm has been tempered on some beaches with the mass arrival of familiar but alien looking creatures – Bluebottles.

Not one creature but many, these duel sex visitors to Far South Coast beaches are a collegiate group each with a job to do before being blown ashore.

“I love bluebottles, they’re awesome,” says Kerryn Wood, Manager of the Sapphire Coast Marine Discovery Centre in Eden.

“They’re actually a colony of several animals, all with specialised functions – feeding, catching prey, and reproduction.

“Fascinating!” Kerryn says.

A tangle of Bluebottles. Photo: Colin Eacott Facebook
A tangle of Bluebottles. Photo: Colin Eacott Facebook

According to the Australian Museum, the Bluebottle is a colony of four kinds of highly modified individuals known as zooids, and come from the same family of life that includes coral and sea anemones.

“The zooids are dependent on one another for survival.

“The float (pneumatophore) is a single individual and supports the rest of the colony.

“The tentacles (dactylozooids) are polyps concerned with the detection and capture of food and convey their prey to the digestive polyps (gastrozooids).

“Reproduction is carried out by the gonozooids, another type of polyp,” The Museum says.

Generally speaking, northerly winds bring Bluebottles onto local beaches.

“There have also been some pretty big seas lately,” Ms Wood says.

The beauty of Bluebotlles. Photo: Jackie Saunders Facebook
The beauty of Bluebotlles. Photo: Jackie Saunders Facebook

The Bluebottles famous float can grow to over 15cm, it’s job is to sail the colony across the ocean surface capturing the breeze with its aerodynamic shape. A degree of muscular contraction in its crest gives the Bluebottle a sense and skill similar to a holidaying windsurfer.

Local surfboat crews training for January’s George Bass Surfboat Marathon are reporting large “schools” of Bluebottles bobbing about at sea.

“The float may project either to the left or to the right; the left-handed forms sail to the right of the wind and vice versa,” The Australian Museum explains.

“Thus, if the sailing angle of one form leads to its stranding on the shore, the others sailing to the opposite side of the wind may escape.”

A neat survival trick that maintains the population even when Far South Coast beaches are blanketed in dried and popping specimens.

Food and reproduction drive life and Bluebottles have some impressive tools to call on.

Their stinging tentacles drift downwind for up to one metre capturing food in their wake, responding swiftly to the presence of food, they twist and tangle prey, and “become all mouth” to digest their meal.

A range of enzymes are deployed to break down proteins, carbs, and fats across a menu of small crustaceans and surface plankton.

Reproduction is another impressive Bluebottle trick that helps it’s species survive on the high-seas.

Bluebottles are hermaphrodites, they carry female and male parts.

“Awesome, I love that so many marine creatures are hermaphrodites,” Ms Wood says.

“And sometimes they’ll wash up on the beach with a variety of other really beautiful ‘blue’ animals like Glacus atlanticus or the Blue Sea Dragon – also hermaphrodites.

“The Glaucus atlanticus actually eat blue bottles and ‘steal’ their poison, making them even more poisonous!” Ms Wood says.

The Glaucus atlanticus, AKA Blue Dragon, eats Bluebottles. Photo: Commons Wikki
The Glaucus atlanticus, AKA Blue Dragon, eats Bluebottles. Photo: Commons Wikki

All this is very interesting but from a human perspective, avoiding the stingers and knowing what to do if stung is front of mind during a day at the beach.

Andrew Edmunds from the Far South Coast Surf Lifesaving Association says northeasterly winds and swells in particular bring Bluebottles on to beaches between Batemans Bay and Eden.

“Avoiding north-east facing beaches in those conditions might help families dodge Bluebottles,” Mr Edmunds says.

“The best treatment for a sting is hot water, a shower as hot as you can without burning does the trick.

“And if hot water isn’t available ice is a good alternative in relieving the pain after you have washed the tentacles away,” Mr Edmunds advises.

“Swimming at a patrolled beach this summer will ensure that first aid is close at hand from lifesavers.”

And be aware beachcombers, as thousands of Bluebottles lay shipwrecked on local beaches the toxic mixture they use to immobilise and digest their prey is still active and can sting you, however the contractions that trap their marine victims becomes inactive.

Bluebottles are awesome, the sting they can inject into a day at the beach instinctively demands our respect, but so to should their survival skills.

*Become a member of About Regional and support local news and stories, thank you to the Bega Valley Regional Learning Centre, Linda Albertson, Julia Stiles, Ali Oakley, Rosemary Lord, and Simon Marnie.

*Large elements of this article originally appeared on Riot ACT.

Tourism showcase highlights local landmarks to global travel agents

Overseas travel agents dining at Fat Tony's Tathra. Photo: Gang Gang Tours
Overseas travel agents dining at Fat Tony’s Tathra. Photo: Gang Gang Tours

Foreign travel agents have just experienced a free Eurobodalla and Bega Valley holiday – all in the name of research for their customers back home.

Not a bad gig!

NSW Tourism Minister, Adam Marshall says, “We want to ensure that international travel agents are well informed about Australia’s number one state for tourism.”

“Helping put money into local pockets and boosting local economies,” Mr Marshall says.

Called familiarisation tours within the tourism trade or “famils”, three parties of 31 agents from America, the United Kingdom, Italy, and France have just sampled, South Coast Sea Planes, Montague Island Discovery Tours, Ngaran Ngaran Cultural Tours, Bodalla Dairy Shed, Drift Eden, and Tathra Beach House Apartments – among a host of other local attractions.

“These groups are specialist travel salespeople who will now understand our region better, this experience will help them sell our region,” says Anthony Osborne, Executive Officer of Sapphire Coast Tourism.

The three local famils hosted by Destination Southern NSW were part of a group of six tours that sprung from a trade event on the Gold Coast run by Tourism Australia, and follow on from famils to the Snowy Mountains in May and June with 26 participants.

Sea kayaking with Region X at Batemans Bay. Photo: Kerrie-Anne Benton
Sea kayaking with Region X at Batemans Bay. Photo: Josh Waterson 

“Two of the groups travelled to the South Coast from Sydney, the other from Canberra,” Mr Osborne says.

Eurobodalla Tourism Marketing Coordinator, Kerrie-Anne Benton, says the agents loved their South Coast experience.

“Nature, nature, and more nature, that’s why the Sapphire and Eurobodalla Coasts were selected for these familiarisations,” Ms Benton says.

“And with flights into and out of Canberra and Singapore now, a gateway for travel has emerged connecting our region to the world.”

The Jindabyne based, Gang Gang Tours acted as chaperones on two of the three local tours.

“I had eight lovely ladies from the USA, front-line travel agents who will take this experience home,” says Gang Gang owner, Janine Becker.

“Out of the eight, seven hadn’t been to Australia before,” Ms Becker says.

“One of the agents told me people are wanting to get off the tourist trail, which is our region’s big selling point.”

Happy travellers at Glass House Rocks Narooma. Photo: Gang Gang Tours
Happy travellers at Glass House Rocks Narooma. Photo: Gang Gang Tours

Aside from teaching them about us, these opportunities also serve as a learning experience for local tourism bosses and operators.

“It was interesting to hear about travel patterns in other countries,” Ms Becker says.

“Workers in the U.S only get two paid weeks of leave a year, which means the average holiday runs seven to ten days.

“European countries tend to get four weeks paid leave, so they have longer holidays and have a great opportunity to travel to regional areas overseas,” she says.

Ms Becker doesn’t think the international market will be the biggest part of the Gang Gang business model, but she is keen to grow its influence.

“This experience will help us target our marketing better,” Ms Becker says.

The other point that emerged was that in most cases, international markets travel outside Australia’s peak periods and in some cases in the heart of our off-peak season.

In the year ending June 2016, the Eurobodalla welcomed 28,000 international visitors – 20% from the U.K, 15% Germany, and 11% from the U.S.A

Kerrie-Anne Benton thinks it makes business sense to target overseas holidaymakers.

“Australia is a finite market whereas there is massive potential for international travel growth,” she says.

“Canberra has opened up new opportunities for the South Coast and we need to encourage more tourism businesses to be international ready and have options ready for travellers.”

Captain Sponge Bob at Pambula talking oysters. Photo: Gang Gang Tours
Talking oysters at Pambula with Captain Sponge’s  Magical Oyster Tours: Photo: Gang Gang Tours

Further south in the Bega Valley, Anthony Osborne is nodding.

“Australia continues to see growth in international visits while the domestic market is static, it’s a no-brainer for us to focus some resources on building this market, and we have extra funding this year from Bega Valley Shire Council to tackle that challenge,” Mr Osborne says.

“We need to develop more experiences around our unique selling points. Nature and the coast are the number one reasons international travellers come to Australia and we have that in spades.”

*About Regional content is made with the backing of members, people, and businesses supporting local storytelling. Thank you – Sprout Cafe and Local Produce in Eden, Shan Watts, Robyn Amair, Gabrielle Powell, and Phil Martin.

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

Hall of Service to take soil from 65 South East locations

NSW Governor, David Hurley collects a sample of soil with members of Narooma RSL sub-branch looking on. By Ian Campbell
NSW Governor, David Hurley collects a sample of soil with members of Narooma RSL sub-branch looking on. By Ian Campbell

Soil collected from sixty-five war memorials across South East New South Wales will be featured in a new state memorial honouring First World War veterans and their hometowns.

The Office of Veterans Affairs is overseeing the program, which is collecting soil from almost 1,700 WW1 enlistment locations for an art installation in what will be known as the Hall of Service at the revamped Hyde Park memorial in the centre of Sydney.

An artists impression of what the Hall of Service will look like when complete in 2018. Source: anzacmemorial.nsw.gov.au
An artists impression of what the Hall of Service will look like when complete in 2018. Source: anzacmemorial.nsw.gov.au

Narooma is one of 15 Eurobodalla locations identified for the program, and one of the first local spots where soil has been collected. NSW Governor, His Excellency the Honourable David Hurley who visited the Shire this week was the one to do the honours.

Other South East locations include:

Adaminaby

Batemans Bay

Bega

Bergalia

Bermagui

Berridale

Bibbenluke

Bimbaya

Bodalla

Bombala

Bredbo

Broadwater

Burragate

Candelo

Cathcart

Central Tilba

Cobargo

Colinton

Conjola

Cooma

Craigie

Dalgety

Delegate

Dignams Creek

Eden

Eurobodalla

Jerangle

Jindabyne

Jervis Bay

Jingera

Kameruka

Kanoona

Kiandra

Maharatta

Merimbula

Michelago

Milton

Monaro

Moruya

Myalla

Narooma

Nelligen

Nerrigundah

Nethercote

Nimmitabel

Numeralla

Pambulla

Quaama

Rock Flat

Rockton

Rocky Hall

Roasedale

South Pambula

South Wolumla

Stony Creek

Tathra

Tilba Tilba

Tomakin

Towamba

Ulladulla

Wagonga

Wolumla

Woodlands

Wyndham

Yatte Yattah

Linda Hurley chats to Narooma school kids about life in Government House. By Ian Campbell.
Linda Hurley chats to Narooma school kids about life in Government House. By Ian Campbell.

When complete, memorial visitors will be able to learn about each location via their personal digital devices.

The information presented will include details on the soil collection, the names of enlistees who gave that location as their home address, and maps showing the local area and its surrounding memorials and schools.

The simple soil collection program forms part of a $40 million enhancement of the memorial marking the centenary of World War 1.

Works are on track for opening on Remembrance Day 2018, which will bring to life the original 1930’s vision for the space and include a second water feature and new educational areas.

NSW Governor, David Hurley told About Regional, war memorials like this are a reminder of the strength of service and sacrifice for current day service women and men and of the history they are a part of.

His Excellency believes the new Hall of Service will be stunning and emotional…

This story was made with the assistance of About Regional members Wendy and Pete Gorton, Amanda Dalziel, Phil Martin, and Olwen Morris – thank you for supporting local story telling.

Marriage equality – have you got the energy for this? South East locals hope you do.

'Love Makes a Family' as seen at the 2016 Sydney Mardi Gras
‘Love Makes a Family’ as seen at the 2017 Sydney Mardi Gras. Source: C and N

The disappointment around the postal plebiscite on marriage equality is real and bitter for many, but it seems it is the only course of action available to bury this boring issue once and for all.

Boring because for so long the vast majority of Australian’s have understood that ‘Love is Love’ yet the months/years of political scratching around has disillusioned and disengaged the community.

There are those challenging this process in the High Court of Australia, describing it as unlawful; the full bench of the court will decide  on September 5 and 6.

The wheels of the Australian Bureau of Statistics, who will run this show, will continue to spin regradless – getting ready for the survey which is due to start just a week after the High Court decision.

While those in our community at the sharp end of this cheer on the High Court challenge, in the back of their mind they are also laying the ground work for the campaign ahead – mobilising as many people as possible to vote ‘yes’ in this non-compulsory process.

Bega Valley LGBTIQ advocate, Tas Fitzer says it took him a couple of days of reflection to work out the way ahead.

“I really understand the temptation for supporters of marriage equality to say ‘I am not voting, I am boycotting this process’, because it’s not a process we’d like to legitimise,” Tas says.

“We are giving a platform to debate that is going to be harmful to children of same sex couples, for young LGBTIQ people, and for people struggling with their identity.

“We don’t want to be here but we are here, this is something we have to deal with and the best way to deal with it is to take it head on,” he reasons.

Tas Fitzer. Source: Facebook
Tas Fitzer. Source: Facebook

Tas says he’ll be voting ‘yes’ and will be actively campaigning for others to do the same.

“Disagree with the process – absolutely, disagree with how it’s being done – absolutely, but let’s accept the fact we are here and make the most of it,” Tas says.

C and N are women who live on the Sapphire Coast and have been together for over two decades, they have a teenage son and are active members of a range of community and sporting organisations.

They have asked me not to use their names, mindful of the impact any publicity might have on their boy.

“For the first time in a very long time, I feel different and vulnerable, and that I have to somehow show evidence of how healthy, normal, and loving my relationship is with both my partner and son,” C says.

“How I live my life day to day and how I parent our child is under the microscope for those who don’t know us.

“And, I’m embarrassed for Australia – friends, colleagues, clients, people I know, across the age span, those with faith and those without, really don’t understand what the problem is, there is this sense of – really, we are still talking about marriage equality?,” C says.

Reflecting on the weeks ahead C and N believe there will be a relatively small but vocal group of people who will feel the postie poll gives them permission to voice their bigotry, to judge, attack, and say dreadful, hurtful, untrue and damaging things about the LGBTIQ community.

If it goes ahead, the result of the poll will be known on November 15 but it will be parliamentarians that ultimately decide if the Mariage Act can include same sex couples.

Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull has said he’ll be encouraging a ‘yes’ vote and if ‘yes’ wins his Liberal MP’s will be free to vote according to their conscience.

ABC South East reported this week that Anne Sudmalis, the Liberal Member for Gilmore which covers the northern end of the Eurobodalla, won’t reveal her personal view on same sex marriage.

The ABC said that Ms Sudmalis would stand up for what her electorate decides.

A survey on the issue conducted by Ms Sudmalis in October 2015 pointed to 62 percent approval for marriage equality in Gilmore, 36 percent were opposed, while the rest undecided – the ABC reported.

Colourful tutus with a clear message
Colourful Bega Valley tutus with a clear message at the 2017 Sydney Mardi Gras. Source: C and N

Labor’s Mike Kelly, the Federal Member for the neighbouring seat of Eden – Monaro told About Regional, “The fastest and cheapest way to deliver marriage equality is through a free vote in the Parliament, not a $122 million survey.”

“If we are going to be forced to take part in this farce then I think the best thing we can do is send the Turnbull Government a message they can’t ignore – vote yes for marriage equality,” Dr Kelly says.

Dr Kelly is urging eligible voters to enroll or update their details with the Australian Electoral Commission before August 24 so that they can take part in the marriage law survey.

The former Army colonel is hopeful the campaign ahead will be respectful and tolerant.

“I plead with everyone in our community to exercise the utmost civility and join with me in urging that we all refrain from engaging in misinformation or hurtful comments,” Dr Kelly says.

Twenty-one-year old Tas Fitzer is of a similar mindset.

“The mental health of some of our young LGBTIQ people is of real concern to me,” he says.

“That’s why I have decided to get out there and campaign for a ‘yes’ vote so that they can see there are people out there to support them.”

Click play to hear more from Tas…

 

Speaking with C and N in fading light this afternoon, both fear some in the community who would vote ‘yes’ are now unmotivated to take part given the level of discussion the issue has had over an extended period of time.

“Many people honestly don’t understand what the fuss is about and are exhausted by this debate,” N says.

“Because same sex marriage seems a no brainer to them, I’d implore people to realise that unfortunately for some Australians the idea is frightening and abhorrent.

“Giving free reign to people to say whatever they like, to judge us simply for not living our lives like them is scary, scary for us now and for the next generations,” N explains.

Both are hopeful people will push past the grubby, lengthy politics of the issue and find the energy and motivation to say ‘yes’.

Writing for About Regional almost 12 months ago on this issue, Iain Dawson the convener of Bega Valley for Marriage Equality asked people to walk in his shoes…

“John Howard’s change [to the Marriage Act] in 2004 defined marriage as ‘a union between a man and woman only’.

“I am incredulous that Australia still judges my relationship with the man I love, ‘to the exclusion of all others’ as less than equal to my peers, friends, and family.

“For those not yet convinced; put yourself in that equitation and see how it feels, what it says to your soul.

“80% of Australians want our leaders to change the Marriage Act.

“The majority of my countrymen see my relationship as equal; that gives me and the LGBTIQ community strength and hope,” Iain wrote.

Whatever happens in the High Court on September 5 and 6 this issue will remain unresolved, work still needs to be done to finish this, energy needs to be mustered.

As a heterosexual father of three, with friends and family seeking equality that I take for granted, I will find that energy, despite the shit sandwich we are being served, I ask you to do the same.

Thanks to About Regional members – Tim HoltAmanda StroudDeborah Dixon, and Nastasia Campanella for supporting local story telling.

Declaration: Tas Fitzer is a part-time Electorate Officer for Mike Kelly and former Country Labor candidate.

 

Eurobodalla, Bega Valley and Monaro firefighters at work in Canadian wildfires

Garry Cooper. By Ian Campbell
Garry Cooper. By Ian Campbell

Fire fighters from South East NSW are about to step into the heat of the Canadian wildfire season, with British Columbia ravaged by more than 3,300 fires since early July.

As the third wave of NSW fire fighters prepares to leave tomorrow (Wednesday) the situation on the ground in Kamloops, about four hours bus drive east of Vancouver is deteriorating.

The latest overview talks of active fire growing significantly, very high fire dangers to continue, communities under very thick smoke, and worsening fuel and fire measures over the next week

Bega’s Garry Cooper will see it first hand.

Garry spends his working week overseeing fire mitigation and hazard management for Far South Coast Rural Fire Service, covering the Eurobodalla and Bega Valley.

However, he will finish this particular working week with his boots on the ground in Canada as part of a 100 strong deployment made up of personnel from the NSW RFS, NSW Forestry Corporation, National Parks and Wildlife Service, and ACT RFS.

Kamloops wildfire, August 2017. By Kim Anderson of iNFOnews.ca
Kamloops wildfire, August 2017. By Kim Anderson of iNFOnews.ca

“Up to 1.2 million hectares has been alight and they have called on other countries for assistance,” Garry says.

Two earlier contingents from NSW are already on the ground, including Tracey Anderson and Simon May from Malua Bay RFS, and David Philp from Brogo.

Garry will arrive in the earlier hours of Thursday morning Bega time with Patrick Waddell from Bermagui Brigade, Jason Snell from Dalmeny – Kianga, and Ben Winter from Berridale.

This third six-week deployment marks a shift in the Australian contribution so far, with ‘arduous personnel’ requested by Canadian authorities.

“Key incident management staff have been helping out in planning, operations, and logistics but now they [Canadians] need fire fighters on the ground, Remote Area Firefighters like Patrick, Jason and Ben to support ongoing operations,” Garry explains.

Temperatures have been around or above 40 degrees Celsius right through summer, according to Garry, and over night humidity in the low twenties.

“Unprecedented weather conditions,” Garry says.

The remains of mobile homes destroyed by wildfire are seen at a trailer park in Boston Flats, B.C., on July 9 2017. By Darryl Dyck, Canadian Press.
The remains of mobile homes destroyed by wildfire at a trailer park in Boston Flats B.C. on July 9, 2017. By Darryl Dyck, Canadian Press.

Canadian media has declared it a ‘Summer of Fire‘ with thousands forced to flee their homes at different times over the last month – up to 45,000 at the peak of the emergency,  an estimated $230 million in fire fighting costs, and dozens of homes and trailers lost.

While hot, smokey, dirty conditions are nothing new to the Aussies on the ground, they will be working with and in a different landscape and environment.

“It’s extremely steep terrain, very close to the Rocky Mountains,” Garry says.

“And I am guessing a lot of their forests are pine and red woods – all that conifer type timber, very different to what we are used to fighting.”

Local RFS boss, Superintendent John Cullen says he supports Garry and local volunteers being called up to serve overseas.

“Garry is respected throughout the state and that’s why he’s been picked,” he explains.

John says he is happy to see the effort and commitment of local volunteers like Tracey Anderson, Simon May, David Philp, Patrick Waddell, and Jason Snell being recognised with these higher duties.

“We are very proud of them, going over and representing this area,” he says.

“The experience they will gain out of this will be healthy for our organisation nationally and locally,” John believes.

And there’s a debt to repay, part of the fraternity of fire fighting John says.

A helicopter dumps a load of water on a grass fire in British Columbia. By Adam Proskiw of iNFOnews.ca
A helicopter dumps a load of water on a grass fire in British Columbia. By Adam Proskiw of iNFOnews.ca

“In a time of need, everyone steps up.”

“We’ve had firefighters from this area of Canada over here working with NSW RFS during serious fires,” John says.

Garry has been an RFS volunteer since he was 17 years old, following a family tradition. From there it built into a career with Far South Coast RFS based at Bega Fire Control.

He says this opportunity to help on the other side of the world is overwhelming.

“The Service puts out an Expression of Interest every year to all members of staff and volunteers to go on an Overseas Deployment Register,” Garry explains.

“That register is there in case a request comes through for supporting fire fighting operations in other countries.”

By the time Garry and his comrades return to the Far South Coast the region will be in the early days of its bush fire season.

“The introduction of very large air water tankers here in the last couple of years is something that is day-to-day business for the Canadians and the Americans, so there is scope for us to learn more.”

“The more we do this and communicate with other countries, the more versatile we become for our communities at home,” Garry says.

Made with the assistance of About Regional Members, Jo Riley-Fitzer, Nancy Blindell, Phil Martin, Wendy Gorton, and Julie Rutherford Real Estate Bermagui – thanks for supporting local story telling.

Tilba Milk takes the next step with Woolies at its side

Tilba Real Milk - 100% Jersey. Source: Tilba Real Dairy.
Tilba Real Milk – 100% Jersey. Source: Tilba Real Dairy.

Major investment at Tilba Milk is underway as the artisan dairy company steps up to meet demand for its products, including a new contract with Woolworths supermarkets.

Bottling and labeling machinery worth hundreds of thousands of dollars has just arrived from the United States and is waiting to be installed at the historic ABC Cheese Factory on Bate Street, Central Tilba.

The site has been a hub for the local dairy industry since 1891 but under the ownership of Nic and Erica Dibden new life and opportunity has been injected into the building, the industry, and the community.

Another chapter is unfolding.

Building on the success they’d had at a smaller site in Bodalla over the six years prior, in 2012 Nic and Erica set out to expand their mostly cheese and yogurt business on the Tilba site using milk from their Jersey herd down the road.

However the buzz around their fresh, unhomogenised, cream on the top, Jersey milk has flipped the equation, 80% of the business is now milk.

Nic Dibden, on the job milking in the dairy. Source: Tilba Real Dairy.
Nic Dibden, on the job milking in the dairy. Source: Tilba Real Dairy.

“When we first set up the Tilba factory we put in a very small, very labour intensive milk filling machine which requires five or six people to stand around filling, capping, and carting milk,” Nic explains.

“That has worked fine, but our sales have continued to grow, this new machine will fill, cap, and label one bottle each second, with two to three staff.”

Between the factory and their lush farm, 22 people are employed and Nic believes more jobs will be created.

The new bottling machine will activate a different part of the factory, freeing up space for increased cheese production.

“Staff that have been bottling milk will move across to cheese, in fact we might need more staff,” Nic says.

A relationship with Woolworths has also been building. The supermarket giant has stocked Tilba Milk at its Bermagui outlet for the last two years, but in recent weeks the Dibdens have started supplying the Narooma and Bega supermarkets as well.

New bottling and labeling machinery is ready to install. By Ian Campbell
New bottling and labeling machinery is ready to install. By Ian Campbell

Butcher shops, small independent supermarkets, cafes, fruit shops, and delis have been the only go to place for Tilba Milk customers up until now.

“We supply about 200 stores from Eden to Nowra, and then Bowral, Mittagong, and into Canberra,” Nic says.

“60% of our business is in Canberra.

“We’ve never really gone out chasing stores, it has been consumer driven, consumers go in and ask stores to stock our products,” he says.

The new deal with Woolies was a long time in the making and adds an extra 1000 litres of milk each week to the business.

Nic says Woolies approached them and have been great to deal with.

Woolworths like everybody else that sells food, wants safe food. So although we are audited by NSW Safe Foods, Woolies have their own independent auditing system which we had to pass, and that takes time,” he says.

The door is open for further growth with Woolworths but sustainable, manageable growth is important to the way the Dibdens approach their business.

Tilba Milk, now in Wollies at Narooma, Bega, and Bermagui. Source: Tilba Real Dairy.
Tilba Milk, now in Wollies at Narooma, Bega, and Bermagui. Source: Tilba Real Dairy.

“We have no intention of trying to conquer the world, we want to continue to produce a very good product and look after our staff and look after our community,” Nic says.

The financial security that comes with supplying a business like Woolworths is a key part of the Dibden’s drive but they are also mindful of the existing commercial arrangements that have been apart of their development.

“When we go into new stores we have tended to get new customers, it has made very little difference to existing suppliers in the same town, they have their loyal customers who support them,” Nic says.

“In any town that we go into we have a non-exclusive supply arrangement, for us to supply to one store in one town is uneconomic.”

In doing a deal with Woolworths, the Dibdens had to consider the controversy around $1 a litre supermarket milk.

“We have always gone into our stores at the price point that we are at, with no thought of competing against dollar milk,” Nic says.

“Dollar milk is a disaster for the dairy industry ultimately and you get what you pay for, dollar milk has been stripped, but I fully understand people buying dollar milk.

“But if you want to buy our milk it will be at the correct price point, that’s the way we operate,” he says.

The Tilba Real Diary farm, with Little Drom in the background. Source: Tilba Real Dairy
The Tilba Real Diary farm, with Little Drom in the background. Source: Tilba Real Dairy

Most of the core ingredient at the centre of the Tilba Real Dairy business comes from a Jersey herd approaching 300 at the Dibden’s farm, which sits in the shadow of Gulaga on the Princes Highway.

“We continuously grow our cow numbers to stay ahead of the production curve, but at some point we will have to take on more farms if we want to grow the business,” Nic explains.

“I am very much hoping we can find people who might start up a new operation, it has to be 100% Jersey milk of course, that is our brand.”

With spring creeping into the air and the busy tourist season approaching Nic is hoping specialist technicians from New Zealand will have the new bottling and labeling machines installed and working at the factory in the coming weeks.

“This has been a steep learning curve,” Nic says with a smile.

 

Thanks to About Regional members Kym Mogridge, Patrick Reubinson, Pam Murray and Julie Rutherford Real Estate for supporting local story telling.

Want to become an About Regional member? Click HERE to learn about the perks and benefits.

 

 

 

Batemans Bay pitches to a future as the State points to a pot of gold

Batemans Bay from above. Source Bay Chamber FB page taken by Geoff Payne
Batemans Bay from above. Source Bay Chamber FB page taken by Geoff Payne

Batemans Bay’s seaside location is guiding a vision for the town’s future, with the Business and Tourism Chamber inspiring a plan that includes floating pontoons in the CBD and a pier off Hanging Rock for cruise ships to pull up alongside.

Lead by newish president David Maclachlan, the Chamber is making the most of the State Government’s pitch for big ideas that need funding.

Spruiking on Facebook, the Member for Bega and NSW Transport Minister, Andrew Constance said, “We’ve got a $1.3 billion fund, the message to the community is get out, push your councils, push your mayors, push us, look for great projects.”

“One central piece of infrastructure required at Batemans Bay is floating pontoons to enable recreational boats, personal watercraft, and seaplanes to access our town centre and seaside boardwalk,” Mr Maclachlan says.

Floating pontoons seem more feasible at this stage compared to a fixed pier at Hanging Rock. Current pontoon planning still accommodates cruise ships in that it might cater for cruise ship tenders as opposed to ‘a mothership’ that perhaps needs a purpose built fixed structure to tie up to.

Access for all seems to be a driver in the Chamber’s pontoon push, inspired by what is being achieved by ‘The Bay Push’ an the inclusive playground at Batehaven.

“The proposal is to install a wheelchair hoist on the proposed pontoon and at the existing Hanging Rock boat ramp,” Mr Maclachlan says.

Primarily though stimulating the local economy and tourism industry is at the heart of the Chamber’s plan.

Flat white thanks! Source: Bay Chamber FB Page
Flat white thanks! Source: Bay Chamber FB Page

“Without floating pontoons, there is little practical recreational boating access to the CBD,” the Chamber chief says.

“There is no mooring point at which the boating public can get a coffee, groceries, or bait and fishing tackle.

“There are few public wharfs available to boat owners and what is there is of such a height that it is largely unusable by recreational craft,” Mr Maclachan explains.

In a report presented to those who can make this stuff happen (NSW Ports, NSW Roads and Maritime, Regional Development Australia, Eurobodalla Shire Council) the Chamber also points to seaplane movements.

“The seaplane operators are now licensed to land on the water adjacent to the CBD, yet do not have pontoon access,” Mr Maclachan says.

“The seaplanes feature in Eurobodalla and Tourism Australia’s national and international marketing for the region.”

According to the Chamber, the plan has been received positively by the NSW Government. About Regional sought comment from local member, Andrew Constance, and Maritime Minister Melinda Pavey.

“The proposal has been internally submitted within Roads and Maritime Services for funding,” Mr Maclachlan says.

Sailing off Batemans Bay. Source: Chamber FB Page
Sailing off Batemans Bay. Source: Chamber FB Page

Eurobodalla Mayor, Cr Liz Innes says Council is supporting the idea.

“When you look at these projects that deliver tourism infrastructure into our shire, the potential is fantastic, Cr Innes says.

“But we need to be realistic about the environmental constraints.”

The Mayor points to wave action within the bay that perhaps impedes pontoons, and that Council is seeking expert advice.

Council is really keen to look at these kind of projects that the Chamber is bringing forward, we really commend them for thinking outside the box and having the courage to step up, but we do need to have a look at those environmental concerns,” the Mayor says.

“There is a little bit more involved in the engineering to make sure that they [the pontoons] are stable and that long term the maintenance doesn’t become a huge burden and an issue for ratepayers.

“But in this day and age, the engineering solutions are just incredible, we’ve just gotta make sure we get it right,” Cr Innes says.

Batemans Bay Foreshore. Source Chamber FB page, by Geoff Payne
Batemans Bay Foreshore. Source Chamber FB page by Geoff Payne

The Mayor is clear that Council has no capacity for funding such a project and that environmental considerations need to be explored further, but she is keen to see the idea succeed if feasible.

“It’s important that we take the time to ensure what we do now doesn’t create issues in the future,” Cr Innes says.

“We have a really good working relationship with our local member [Andrew Constance] and he is very keen to see benefits from the State flow down to this region in particular.”

Chamber chief, David Maclachlan accepts those concerns but is confident a solution already exists.

“You see it in Sydney Harbour and up on the Hawkesbury,” Mr Maclachlan told About Regional.

“Our largest industry is tourism, we need to keep growing and always look to do better and provide more – everyone benefits.

“Private and public tourism infrastructure has been identified by various studies as a solution to local employment issues and increasing visitor spend,” he says.

Batemans Bay Marina. Source: Chamber FB page by Geoff Payne
Batemans Bay Marina. Source: Chamber FB page by Geoff Payne

The Chamber’s pitch is just part of the Batemans Bay buzz at the moment, which not only includes a new $300 million crossing of the Clyde River but plans for the old Batemans Bay Bowling Club site, MacKay Park/Batemans Bay Pool precinct, the Bay Link Road project to the Princess Highway, and Council’s CBD streetscape makeover.

“There is massive momentum Ian, an indoor aquatic centre and an arts and cultural centre are extremely exciting possibilities,” Cr Innes says.

“Both Andrew Constance and myself have made very strong commitments that that is something we want to see delivered.

“All this will have flow on affects for the whole Shire because it is a gateway site,” Cr Innes says.

The new bridge is locked in, the Batemans Bay community waits to see what the NSW Government’s $1.3 billion booty might deliver next.

*Thanks to Rebecca Henshaw at Livefire Batemans Bay for video production

 

River Cottage Australia @ Central Tilba sold! Meet the new owner

River Cottage Australia at Central Tilba has been sold.
River Cottage Australia at Central Tilba has been sold.

The new owner of the River Cottage Australia property at Central Tilba on the New South Wales Far South Coast is a 36-year-old single builder from Sydney looking for a place to put roots down and call home.

Tristan Diethelm says he is comfortable with the price he paid for the famous TV set but wouldn’t reveal the final figure.

“Considering it was River Cottage, I am sure I paid a bit more, but opportunities like this are rare,” Tristan says.

Reportedly listed for $895,000 in late April, Tristen told About Regional that the 9-hectare property was a dream come true.

Bermagui based real estate agent Julie Rutherford was the exclusive agent and says it was a real thrill having such a famous listing on the books.

“The fact that it was the home of River Cottage was a factor in the level of interest,” Julie says.

“But there were also many buyers who were attracted by the size and quality of the land, the beautiful Tilba landscape, the character of the home and the temperate climate of our area.”

Tristan Diethelm and Paterson
Tristan Diethelm and Paterson

The sale comes after production of the TV show wrapped up at the end of season four late last year, much to the distress of fans.

Host Paul West has also moved on, his young family settling into Newcastle in recent months.

“We’re keen to get back to the South Coast in the next couple of years, especially as Otto gets ready to start school,” Paul says.

“I was so busy with the show, I needed to reconnect with family and take some time out and keep a low profile.”

The new owner of the property says he is keen to carry on the principles Paul put in place.

“I want to tap into local food and the community, that’s part of what attracted me in the first place,” Tristan says.

Currently living in and renovating a terrace house in Paddington, Tristan has plans for the Punkalla Tilba Road property.

River Cottage will be open for holiday rentals in time for spring 2017.

The heart of River Cottage Australia - the kitchen.
The heart of River Cottage Australia – the kitchen.

“It will be a place where family, friends and I can escape to, but I will be listing it for holiday rentals on Airbnb soon,” Tristen says.

All the animals that starred in the show alongside Paul were sold off late last year, the veggie beds remain and have continued to produce under their own steam, indeed a carrot from the River Cottage garden has become somewhat of a trophy for locals.

“I’ve pretty much bought the place as is,” Tristan says.

“Most of the furniture and what people saw on TV comes with the property, so it will feel like a River Cottage experience to fans of the show who want to stay.”

Being handy on the tools, the new owner also sees great potential in some of the property’s other buildings.

“The bedrooms in the house need a little bit of work, and the old dairy and silos could perhaps be turned into further accommodation,” Tristan says.

The vendor in the sale wasn’t Paul West, the property was owned by British TV production house Keo Films.

The new owner of River Cottage Australia sees great potential in the properties out houses.
The new owner of River Cottage sees great potential in the properties out houses.

David Galloway, Executive Producer and Director of Programmes at Keo says, “After several seasons making the show and watching Paul grow the property it was a hard decision to sell.”

“Unfortunately without a TV commission, it was a business decision in the end.”

Up until tonight (July 3) the show was only available on pay TV and DVD, but SBS will screen all 64 episodes weeknights at 6pm, opening the show and the South East of New South Walse to a whole new audience.

“Who knows where that may lead to in terms of future programming,” the Keo TV boss says.

“For Keo, River Cottage Australia was a hugely successful venture, with four seasons airing on Foxtel’s Lifestyle Channel.

“It also gave the company a production base in Australia from which other highly successful Keo formats – like Struggle Street’ (SBS) and ‘War on Waste’ (ABC) have been produced,” Mr Galloway says.

Paul West. From RCA Facebook page.
Paul West. Source: RCA Facebook page

As the new owner of the property, Tristan Diethelm chuckles as he confesses to only watching the first series of River Cottage Australia.

“But I’ve been looking for a property outside of Sydney for a while, there’s a buzz about the South Coast at the moment and I’ve been scanning the area for about a year,” he says.

“I am keen to nurture the property and would love to be working in the area down the track.

“There’s the beach nearby, a rural lifestyle, and a beautiful little town, it ticks so many boxes.”

While he lives in Sydney Tristan says he doesn’t feel like he has a hometown.

“My Dad is a yachtsman and we spent a lot of time sailing the world when I was young, so I am looking for a place to put down some roots,” Tristan says.

“And if Keo wants to film another series one day, I’d open up the property again for River Cottage.”

*Photos supplied by Julie Rutherford Real Estate, with photography by Kit Goldsworthy from Tathra (internal and some external photos) and Josh McHugh from Bermagui (drone aerial shots).

New southern NSW tourism boss gets down to work

Shane O'Leary, the General Manager of Destination Southern NSW
Shane O’Leary, the General Manager of Destination Southern NSW

A new energy is at play in the region’s tourism industry, with Shane O’Leary appointed to the newly created position of General Manager, Destination Southern NSW.

O’Leary’s boots are under his new desk for the first time this week as this new organisation finds it’s feet and makes good on the State Government’s tourism reforms.

Most recently working as Economic Development Manager at Bega Valley Shire Council, Mr O’Leary says he is looking forward to settling into his new job and the work ahead.

“We will work across the region with peak tourist organisations in our Local Government Areas to identify, promote, support and facilitate strategic opportunities with Destination NSW involvement,” he says.

It’s a whopper of a region covering a dynamic mix of environments, communities, and interests.

Murrumbateman Filed Days. Source: Yass Valley Council
Murrumbateman Field Days. Source: Yass Valley Council

Destination Southern NSW covers eight local government areas – Goulburn Mulwaree, Hilltops, Queanbeyan‐Palerang, Upper Lachlan, Yass Valley, Snowy Monaro, Bega Valley, and Eurobodalla.

Six Destination Networks were established by the NSW Government this time last year, replacing eleven Regional Tourism Organisations that crisscrossed the state.

At the time Tourism Minister, Stuart Ayres said, “The networks will improve industry engagement and better development of visitor experiences and products.”

In July 2016, the Minister announced that around $10 million a year will be channeled into new initiatives that aim to bolster visitor numbers in regional and rural areas.

“The NSW Government has a goal of doubling overnight visitor expenditure by 2020, and we know that regional tourism is an important driver in meeting this target,” Mr Ayres said.

Each of the networks is governed by a six-person, skills-based, paid board. Southern NSW Directors include Natalie Godward from Cruise Eden, Wayne Kirkpatrick from Tourism Snowy Mountains, and Roger Linderman from Virgin Australia.

Southern Chair, Richard Beere comes to the job with 34 years of tourism industry experience. Ahead of this week’s board meeting in Cooma, Richard congratulated Shane O’Leary on his appointment as General Manager.

“We had a very strong pool of talented applicants but the interview panel was very impressed not only by Shane’s skills and experience but also his ability to “take us on the journey”

“He strongly believes in collaboration and negotiation to gain mutual agreement and support and this is also a key value of the Board,” Mr Beere says.

Skiing at Perisher. Source NSW National Parks
Skiing at Perisher. Source NSW National Parks

The chair says Mr O’Leary builds on the expertise of the board.

“But most importantly we all have a passion for the area and helping local businesses maximise the opportunities and benefits of increased tourism receipts,” Mr Beere says.

Apart from recent his local government experience, O’Leary  comes to the role having been Executive Director of Tourism, Events, and Sport with the ACT Government, and as Chief Executive Officer of the 2009 Sydney World Masters Games Organising Committee.

“Highlights included securing a number of first-ever and significant major sporting events for the nation’s capital,” Mr O’Leary says.

“The first ever One Day International cricket match featuring the Australian Cricket Team, a Trans-Tasman Netball Test,  and hosting the AFL’s annual Hall of Fame Dinner to name a few.

“Other highlights include leading the negotiations that resulted in the first ever naming rights sponsor of Canberra Stadium and overseeing the project that saw the installation of lights at Manuka Oval,” he says.

O’Leary, a former Yass local who now calls Bemboka home, was also part of the team that worked with Canberra Airport to develop the business case that would ultimately lead to the commencement of direct international flights to and from Canberra.

“This project, in particular gave a clear and detailed insight into the tourism attractions and potential of southern New South Wales,” Mr O’Leary says.

Whale watching at Montague Isand. Source Eurobodalla Tourism
Whale watching at Montague Island. Source Eurobodalla Tourism

“An integral part of the Canberra value proposition we developed highlighted the ease of access for inbound travelers to the region Destination Southern NSW will support and work with.”

Initial priorities for the new tourism boss will be setting up a headquarters for the organisation in Merimbula and recruiting an operational team, quickly followed by the development of a Destination Management Plan.

Destination Southern NSW is the direct conduit to government for industry support, development, marketing campaigns, and other services and support, Mr O’Leary says.

“In this regard, we will advocate and highlight opportunities and the needs of the region.

“The Destination Management Plan is the first step and will guide our work and help build a case,” he says.

O’Leary is keen to engage with a local tourism industry he describes as, “diverse and universally passionate.”

“We have no intention of duplicating the successful programs of existing local tourism organisations within our Local Government Areas (LGAs),” Mr O’Leary says.

Goulburn's St Saviour Cathedral. Source: Goulburn Cathedral
Goulburn’s St Saviour Cathedral. Source: Goulburn Cathedral

“I understand and respect the diverse range of experiences on offer across the region and the importance of supporting, not disrupting, the existing well-regarded tourism bodies that exist.

“The aim of Destination Southern NSW is to add value that brings clear benefits measured over the medium term by increased visitation and spending,” he explains.

“How this is best achieved will be identified quickly through the establishment of a communication and collaboration framework with existing peak tourism bodies and the leadership of LGAs across our region.”

When reflecting on his capacity to cover such a large territory with numerous stakeholder groups, O’Leray touched on his time leading the organisation of the 2009 World Master Games in Sydney.

An event that wrangled over thirty thousand athletes from over 100 countries covering 30 sports at 80 venues around the Sydney metropolitan area and beyond.

Bermagui Harbour with Gulaga looking on. Source: Sapphire Coast Tourism
Bermagui Harbour with Gulaga looking on. Source: Sapphire Coast Tourism

“It was a great privilege and wonderful experience to have led the organisation from the time Sydney was awarded the Games through until the post-event wind-up,” Mr O’Leary says.

“As CEO I am proud of what our team of over 60 staff and some 5000 volunteers achieved.

“Working effectively with a great board, dealing with twelve Local Government Areas and selling Sydney and New South Wales to the world were fundamental responsibilities I enjoyed and will bring those experiences to Destination Southern NSW.”