I’ve got some news about the future of About Regional that I want to share with you if you are reading this then you have been part of this journey with me and supported the growth and development of this new platform for the stories of South East NSW.
This week Canberra digital news and opinion platform RiotACT finalised the acquisition of About Regional which includes my ongoing full-time employment. About Regional is now part of a growing umbrella of news and storytelling platforms owned by Michael McGoogan and Tim White.
The move is another solid step in RiotACT’s ambition to become the primary source of digital regional news for people in Canberra and its surrounds.
RiotACTco-owner Tim White says About Regional fits perfectly with the company’s vision.
“RiotACT is on a mission to cover the local issues that matter, and Ian’s values and track record fit nicely. We look forward to empowering the communities he knows so well,” Tim says.
The last two years of About Regional have been a terrific rollercoaster, your support and encouragement as a member has been key and I will be forever grateful.
I started this knowing the power and importance of local stories, being able to take that further with the business know-how and ambitions of Tim and Michael is great for my family and great for the region.
“Those connections between Canberra, the coast, and the Snowies are well known, having Ian come on board adds new energy and adds to the growing formal networks being laid down through local and state government, tourism, business, and education,” Tim says.
About Regional will continue to evolve and build its own online presence under the RiotACT umbrella, with relevant stories from Batemans Bay, Bega, Merimbula, Cooma, Jindabyne, and surrounds also finding a home on other RiotACT platforms.
I am excited by the potential this partnership represents to the communities of South East NSW.
Michael and Tim are well-known to the Canberra business community. Their reputation and success with companies such as Allhomes and Uber Global speaks for itself.
I am hooked on their vision to revolutionise digital regional news, we have a shared passion to see local news succeed and prosper.
Since taking over RiotACT in August 2016, Tim White and Michael McGoogan have built the site into one of Canberra’s leading digital news and opinion outlets, with more than 150,000 unique website visitors each month.
Tim White is the former CEO of Allhomes and the driving force behind its $50 million acquisition by Fairfax in 2014. Michael McGoogan is a serial tech entrepreneur and the founder of UberGlobal, one of Australia’s largest cloud service providers which was acquired by MelbourneIT for $15.5 million in 2015.
Michael says,“I am looking forward to working with the people, businesses, and industries of South East NSW to secure a prosperous and colourful future for all involved.”
It’s onwards and upwards for About Regional, the stories of this region are about to be taken to a bigger audience and I look forward to sharing the next step with you.
Thank you, your support has created this opportunity for my family and this region.
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.
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.”
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.
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…
“They’re actually a colony of several animals, all with specialised functions – feeding, catching prey, and reproduction.
“Fascinating!” Kerryn says.
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 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.
“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.
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.
“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.
“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.
“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.”
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
“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.”
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.
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:
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.
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 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 15but 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.
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.
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.
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’.
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.
“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.
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.
“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.
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.
“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.
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.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.
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.
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).