Superman’s life is the best result in the George Bass Surfboat Marathon

Wayne "Superman" Kent whose life was saving on day 1 of the George Bass Surfboat Marathon. Photo: Ian Campbell
Wayne “Superman” Kent whose life was saved on day 1 of the George Bass Surfboat Marathon. Photo: Ian Campbell

Perhaps the best result in the 2018 George Bass Surfboat Marathon is that Wayne “Superman” Kent is still alive.

The 66-year-old member of Pambula Surf Life Saving Club started the epic race in Batemans Bay on New Year’s Eve, 31km’s later as “Super” was helping pull his boat ashore at South Head, Moruya his heart stopped.

“The bloke was dead when he was brought up the sand,” Dr Steve Craig says.

“Through the excellent work and training of the surf life-saving members, they got the defibrillator on him very quickly, we were able to get his heart going again and he left the beach alive.”

Dr Craig who works out of Moruya and Nowra Hospitals was rowing as part of the Open Men’s crew from Mollymook Surf Life Saving Club and was quick to come to the aid of Super, as was Victorian firefighter Cassie Lee Field rowing for the Torquay Masters Women, nurse Lea Henry from the Grange crew out of South Australia, and Pambula clubies Andrew Holt and Matthew Harvey.

Lifesavers on patrol with Moruya Surf Club also played a critical role in beating away death until paramedics from NSW Ambulance arrived.

Super was taken to Moruya Hospital and shortly after flown to Canberra where a pacemaker was inserted in his chest.

Five days later Wayne Kent, who takes his nickname from Superman’s alter ego Clark Kent, was there at Pambula Beach to cheer his clubmates across the line on day six of the race. At the awards presentation that afternoon the crowd erupted as Super spoke of his experience.

“If it had happened out at sea god knows what would have happened, I would have hated to put the crew through that, they are a good bunch of blokes,” Super says.

“I am so lucky it happened on the beach because I had 240 odd rowers around me – all life-savers and if anyone was going to kick the bucket on that day they would have had to have been really gone.”

Scare tissue from previous heart bypass surgery is thought to have been a factor in Super’s heart failure.

Twenty-five surfboats and thirteen surf skis started the 7 day, 190km George Bass, the finish line at Snug Cove in Eden seemed a long way away when Super hit the sand at the end of day one, his brush with death pointing to the challenges ahead for the bodies taking part.

“My intention was just to drive the [boat] trailer around for them, but the boys couldn’t find a sweep, so the next thing you know I was in for another year,” Super laughs.

The 66-year-old can’t remember when he first took part in the Bass, sometime in the 1990’s is his best guess, over the years he has been a rower, sweep, and coach.

Dr Steve Craig, who helped save "Super's" life at Moruya Beach. Steve was also rowing for Mollymook in the George Bass Surfboat Marathon. Photo: Les Herstik
Dr Steve Craig, who helped save “Super’s” life at Moruya Beach. Steve was also rowing for Mollymook in the George Bass Surfboat Marathon. Photo: Les Herstik

Dr Steve Craig says he’ll be writing a letter of commendation to the volunteer surf life-savers from Moruya that stepped up when Super went down.

“They just clicked over into their training and by doing so within two or three minutes we had his heart started again,” Dr Craig says.

Life and death aside, in the overall point score presented after Saturday’s final leg from Pambula to Eden, the winning crews were the Bulli Open Men, North Cronulla Open Women, North Cronulla Masters Men, Pambula Masters Women, Tathra Vet Men, and Avalon Beach Vet Women.

In the ski paddle race, Wollongong’s Paul Buttle was the winner, while Narooma’s Nick Ziviani and Joe Halsey took out the double ski division.

Still keen to be apart of the George Bass community, Super says he’d like to support Pambula’s place in the race but only as part of the support crew on land.

“I am married to a great woman who has turned into a rottweiler, she is making sure I am following all the doctor’s instructions and I don’t think she’ll let me compete again,” Super says.

“I was gone, I am one of the luckiest men in Australia.”

The 21st George Bass Surfboat Marathon runs December 29, 2019, to January 4, 2020.

*About Regional content is supported by members, thank you to Tathra Beach House Apartments, Sprout Eden – cafe and local produce, Robyn Broughton, Kylie Dummer, Kaye Johnston, Geoffrey Grigg, Robyn Kesby, Amanda Fowler, and Kym Mogridge.

*Video above created by Dr Matthew Nott

*Ian Campbell travelled as a guest of the George Bass Surfboat Marathon

George Bass Surfboat Marathon – bluebottle tangles on day two

Paul Jones leading the Bulli Open Mens home. Photo: Les Herstik.
Paul Jones leading the Bulli Open Men home. Photo: Les Herstik.

Day two of the George Bass Surfboat Marathon was a slog, with the events 25 entries having to punch through a stiff southerly breeze and swell to make it to Coila Beach at Tuross.

The 18km leg started with a tribute to a stalwart of the Moruya Surf Club and the Bass, Lesley Pheeney.

Lesley was the race secretary for many years and worked side by side with her late husband, Dave in the Far South Coast Surf Lifesaving Association. Lesley and Dave have been reunited at sea, with a salute from Bass crews who raised their oars into the sky for one minute silence.

Fresh from New Year Eve celebrations, competitors in the George Bass Surf Ski Marathon were the first to set off. Pambula’s Jacqui Keogh, the only woman in the ski race was forced to retire with a broken rudder in the testing conditions.

Around one and a half hours later the ski fleet was returning to shore. Narooma’s Nick Ziviani and Joe Halsey in their duel ski the first home followed by Brendan Cowled and Tony Ireland.

Day two, single ski results:

First – Paul Buttle (1:33:24)
Second – John Pattison
Third – Nick Kirby
Fourth – Stephen Bunney
Fifth – Simon Stenhouse
Sixth – Gavin Granger
Seventh – David Schofield
Eighth – Craig Vipond
Ninth – Nathan Vipond
Tenth –  Warwick Ward
Eleventh – Jacqui Keough (DNF)

Nathan Vipond headed for the beach. Photo: Les Herstik
Nathan Vipond headed for the beach. Photo: Les Herstik

A large, supportive crowd packed the walkway and headland overlooking Coila Beach to welcome the surfboats home, locals and holidaymakers impressed with the ticker of competitors who over the course of seven days will row to Eden, 188km away.

The Bulli Open Mens crew put in another dominant performance overtaking the entire fleet. The club is vying for its forth consecutive overall win.

Paul Jones is Bulli sweep and is competing in his eighth Bass, “It was a tough day, the wind got up earlier than expected, luckily it was a shorter day,” he says.

Bluebottles added to the challenge, with rowers getting tangled in the stingers during their changeovers at seas. Fresh rowers in some boats forging on with blue tentacles wrapped around arms, legs, and necks.

Those changeovers at sea are a critical part of the race, how and when they happen is up to each crew.

“We try not to lose boat speed,” Paul says.

“We get two guys to jump out while the two guys left in the boat keep rowing, the other guys need to get in as best they can, but we don’t want the boat stopping dead.”

Day two, Open Men results:

First – Bulli (2:00:55)
Second – Coogee
Third – Mollymook
Fourth – Long Reef
Fifth – Pambula

Day two, Open Women results:

First – North Cronulla (2:08:45)
Second – Broulee
Third – Moruya
Fourth – Broulee Canberra Capital

Day two, Masters Men results:

First – North Cronulla (2:02:11)
Second – Narooma
Third – Wollongong City
Fourth – Grange SA
Fifth – Tathra
Sixth – Wanda
Seventh – Noosa Qls
Eighth – Broulee Canberra Capitals
Ninth – Bulli
Tenth  – Pambula
Eleventh – Warriewood

Day two, Masters Women results:

First – Pambula (2:23:48)
Second – Torquay Vic
Third – Avalon Beach
Fourth – Darwin NT
Fifth – Broulee

The Darwin Womens Master crew, rowing in a boat borrowed from Bermagui SLSC. Photo: Les Herstik.
The Darwin Womens Masters crew, rowing in a boat borrowed from Bermagui SLSC. Photo: Les Herstik.

The end of the race was a stark contrast to the drama of yesterday.

Marathon organiser Andrew Edmunds says crews are relieved to hear the the 66-year-old male sweep from Pambula who had a heart attack on the finish line at Moruya is improving in hospital.

“He is currently awaiting surgery and we hope he’ll be out of hospital in a few days,” Andrew says.

“The situation highlighted how everyone participating in this event are surf lifesavers first and competitors second, with the Pambula crew, a Grange competitor, a rower from Mollymook and Moruya lifesavers all clicking into action as soon as the emergency situation arose.”

Most crews took the opportunity to rest one or two members today,  as they will most days now ahead of the finish in Eden on January 6.

Day 3 starts off Coila Beach, with the skis setting off at 8:30am and 9am, followed by the surfboats at five-minute intervals. The finish line is 22km away in front of Narooma Surf Club, the first competitors are expected to arrive one to two hours after the start.

You can stay in touch with the field via the George Bass Live Tracker.

For more photos head to the George Bass Facebook page.

*Ian Campbell is traveling as a guest of the George Bass Surfboat Marathon.

George Bass Surfboat Marathon ready to go – TOMORROW!

Coogee on the run south from Batemans Bay in 2016. Photo: GB Facebook
Coogee on the run south from Batemans Bay in 2015. Photo: GB Facebook

Rowers and ski paddlers ready to start their conquest of the mighty George Bass Surfboat Marathon are settling into their Moruya High campground ready for a start on the last day of 2017.

This one of a kind event starts at the Batemans Bay Bridge tomorrow (Dec 31) morning. For the seven days that follow crews and competitors from around Australia will make their way to the finish line in Eden 188km away.

After the Clyde River start, day 1 will see competitors sweep past Malau Bay, Tomakin, and Broulee finishing in front of Moruya Surf Club at South Head.

The surf ski paddlers will be the first to go at 9:30 followed by the first of the surf boats at 9:45.

The men’s surf boat record over the 31km’s is 2:20:44 set by Batemans Bay in 2008, the women’s record stands at 2:34:04 (Torquay 2012), while Tim Jacobs run in 2008 is still the benchmark for the surf skis – 2:15:20.

Gathering at Tomakin this afternoon for their first pre-race briefing, crews and paddlers looked fresh and ready to go after months of training.

Gary Pettigrove is sweeping for the Broulee Capitals Open Women, a Canberra based crew that rows under the banner of Broulee Surf Club.

“We’ve been training five mornings a week since May, a 5:30 start on Lake Burley Griffin, and every fortnight we’ve been coming down to have a row on the coast,'” Gary explains.

This will be Gary’s eighth Bass, for some of his rowers it will be their first.

“At the end, you’ve got a memory that lasts a lifetime, it’s a grueling event – seven days, 190k’s, busting your gut the whole way,” Gary says.

“We are a competitive group, but we are here to have fun, that’s the main thing.”

Gary Pettigrove from the Broulee Capitals. Photo: Ian Cambell
Gary Pettigrove from the Broulee Capitals. Photo: Ian Cambell

Fitzy is a member of Warriewood Surf Club on Sydney’s Northern Beaches these days but his connections with the other side of our continent has pulled together a masters crew that includes three rowers from Western Australia.

“I used to sweep at City of Perth back in the eighties,” Fitzy says.

“Garbo here was in my crew back in the eighties, he found out that we were doing the Bass and said – I want to have a crack at that.”

“Then he rang up and said I’ve got two mates that want to do it as well,” Fitzy says, and a trans-Australian team rowing under the Warriewood name was born.

Only one member of the Warriewood crew have taken part before, but all have a surf boat background. They range in age between 60 and 65 years and know what they are in for.

“We don’t have sliding seats in our boat, so our arses are in trouble,” Garbo laughs.

Given the distances they have traveled when Warriewood put their oars in the water at Batemans Bay tomorrow it will be the first time they have rowed together as a complete unit.

Crews have come from around Australia to take part, all competitive but with a sense of fun. Photo: Ian Campbell
Crews have come from around Australia to take part, all competitive but with a sense of fun. Photo: Ian Campbell

This will be the twentieth running of the great race, only two clubs have competed in every event – Moruya and Tathra. Tathra is represented this year in the men’s masters, Moruya in the open women’s.

Open Men, crews entered:

Bulli NSW, Coogee NSW, Long Reef NSW, Mollymook NSW, Pambula NSW.

Reigning champions are Bulli who are vying for their third straight overall win.

Open Women, crews entered:

Broulee Blue Bottles NSW, Broulee Canberra Capitals ACT/NSW, Moruya NSW, North Cronulla NSW, Torquay Victoria.

This will be a competitive race, North Cronulla are expected to do well. The three local crews are also up against one of the top teams from Victoria.

Masters Men, crews entered:

Broulee Canberra Capitals ACT/NSW, Bulli NSW, Grange SA, Narooma NSW, Noosa QLD, North Cronulla NSW, Pambula NSW, Tathra NSW, Wanda NSW, Warriewood NSW, Wollongong City NSW.

Narooma will be vying for their third straight overall win but will face stiff competition. With 11 crews entered from across the country it will be a close race.

Masters Women, crews entered:

Darwin NT, Pambula NSW, Broulee NSW, Avalon Beach NSW.

The women give their all and race with a commitment and dedication that is their own, this race is one to watch.

Surf Ski Marathon:

Gavin Granger, Pambula SLSC, NSW
Nathan Vipond, Maroochydore SLSC, QLD
Paul Buttel, Wanda SLSC, NSW
Stephen Bunney, Bermagui SLSC, NSW
John Pattison, Austinmer SLSC, NSW
Jacqui Keogh, Pambula SLSC, NSW
David Schofield, Shoalhaven Heads SLSC, NSW
Nicholas Kirby, North Cronulla SLSC, NSW
Craig Vipond, Maroochydore SLSC QLD
Warwick Ward, Wollongong City SLSC, NSW
Simon Stenhouse, Moruya SLSC, NSW
Dean Gardiner, City of Perth SLSC, WA
Nick Ziviani and Joseph Hasley, Narooma SLSC, NSW
Brendan Cowled and Tony Ireland, Mollymook SLSC, NSW

This year’s ski marathon is one of the largest in recent years and includes double ski competitors which will add to the spectacle.

Competitors will have a southeasterly breeze in their face tomorrow morning at 15 to 20 knots, swinging northeasterly in the afternoon. Seas will be running on a 1 to 2 metre swell under cloudy skies, a top temp of 23 degrees is forecast.

The outgoing tide will be a challenge at the start line, with referee Tony Haven keen to make sure everyone stays behind the line until the hooter sounds. Tony asking crews at this afternoon’s briefing to give each other plenty of room in the run south to avoid a “Wild Oats XI” type penalty.

Family, friends, and fans can follow the race via the George Bass Surfboat Marathon tracker.

*Ian Campbell is traveling with the George Bass Surf Boat Marathon as a guest.

Peter Pan gets a Eurobodalla twist with Red Door Theatre @ Moruya

Narooma's Linda Heald, the storyteller behind, Peter Pan - The Eurobodalla Chapter. Photo: Ian Campbell
Narooma’s Linda Heald, the storyteller behind, Peter Pan – The Eurobodalla Chapter. Photo: Ian Campbell

A Eurobodalla chapter is about to be added to a story that has enthralled the world for decades.

Peter Pan is the creation of Scottish writer James Matthew Barrie and first appeared in Barrie’s 1902 novel The Little White Bird. Narooma writer and director Linda Heald has put a local twist on the story, her chapter opens at St Mary’s Performing Arts Centre in Moruya on Friday night (December 8).

Walt Disney’s 1953 animated film is perhaps the first image that comes to your mind. Peter Pan, the boy who can fly and who never grows up, leader of The Lost Boys, a lifelong childhood in Neverland mixing with pixies, mermaids, and pirates.

Linda remembers it fondly, “As a young child I would sit beside my cousin at the piano and she would sing the songs,” she says.

With Moruya’s Red Door Theatre Company only new to the stage, Linda was looking for the amateur company’s next challenge and one that allowed people with a range of experiences to have a go.

“I couldn’t find anything that was perfect, so I thought let’s write it,” Linda says.

“I started thinking – pirates in Moruya, and if you are thinking pirates then you’ve got to have Peter Pan, and you’ve got to have Hook, and then you need to have Tinkerbell.

“But we’ve taken a slightly different approach to those characters and given them a twist.

“There are a lot of accountant jokes – there’s mess and there’s music – it’s a fast-moving panto,” she explains.

With that Linda lets slip that Tinkerbell is “Stinkerbell” in her production – “And there are lots of jokes.”

Some of those involved in Red Door Theatre's production of Peter Pan - The Eurobodalla Chapter. Photo: Facebook
Some of those involved in Red Door Theatre’s production of Peter Pan – The Eurobodalla Chapter. Photo: Facebook

The Peter Pan story now belongs to The Great Ormond Street Hospital in London, J.M.Barrie gifted the rights in 1929, which have been a significant source of funds for the Hospital’s Children’s Charity.

Barrie asked that the hospital never reveal the actual income received, which the hospital has always respected.

Knowing this Linda checked with Great Ormond Street before proceeding with her one of a kind local chapter, and got the all clear.

This will be Red Door’s second production, the pantomime “Babes in the Woods” earlier this year got things started with seven people on stage, the cast swells to 17 this weekend for Peter Pan – with a four-piece band!

“We’ve got a whole load of new people and some amazing talent,” Linda says.

“We are there to entertain and to bring the community together.”

Audiences on Friday and Saturday can expect lots of local references and some well-placed topical gags but above all, as with any amateur theatre production its the strength and spirit of the community that created it that shines through.

“I love seeing it when people [cast and crew] arrive on day one and they’re hesitant and unsure of themselves, and then you look at them on stage in the production and they have just blossomed – that’s the best thing,” Linda says.

“And it’s just a fun night out!”

What are you waiting for?

*About Regional content happens because of the support of members, thank you to Sprout Eden – Cafe and Local Produce,  Bronnie, Taylor, Tabitha Bilaniwskyj-Zarins, Nastasia Campanella and Thomas Oriti, Jeanette Westmore, Oh’Allmhurain Films, Claire Blewett and Neroli Dickson, Kate Liston-Mills, Fay Deveril, Shane O’Leary, Fiona Cullen, Nancy Blindell and Jo Riley-Fitzer.

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 

Eurobodalla and Bega Valley locals say “Stop Adani”

Eurobodalla locals gather on Congo Beach near Moruya. Photo: supplied
Eurobodalla locals gather on Congo Beach near Moruya. Photo: supplied

South East locals have been part of national protest action against the Adani coal mine proposed for North Queensland.

Protesters turned out in forty-five locations from Adelaide to Bondi to Bunbury over the weekend.

Locally, Eurobodalla 350 estimates around 250 people attended their protest at Congo Beach on Saturday, holding placards to spell out #STOP ADANI.

“We demand the federal government halt Adani’s enormous proposed coal mine,” spokesperson Allan Rees says.

In Bega, a colourful group marched through town on Friday and gathered in Littleton Gardens.

Organiser Sue Andrew sees the Adani mine as a litmus paper issue for a globe preparing for a climate change future.

“I feel now more than ever we have to unite to stand up against the fossil fuel industries and other extractive industries if we are serious about addressing climate change,” Ms Andrew says.

The Indian based Adani is seeking a billion dollar government loan to build a railway line linking its proposed Carmichael coal mine in the Galilee Basin to the Abbot Point coal port on the Great Barrier Reef.

Once complete, Carmichael would be Australia’s largest coal mine, with six open-cut pits and up to five underground mines, with a lifespan of between 25 and 60 years.

Queensland Labor Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk told the ABC the project will bring new jobs to communities like Rockhampton, Towsnville, Charters Towers, Mackay, and Claremont.

“You only have to travel to regional Queensland to understand what this project means to thousands of families out there that will be employed through this project,” she told the ABC

The Queensland Premier is also confident environmental concerns have been heard.

“At the end of the day we have the toughest environmental conditions attached to that mine,” she said.

Allan Rees says those that gathered at Congo on Saturday are angry that taxpayer dollars might be used to subsidise something “so destructive”.

“Adani’s mine may be far away, but the Eurobodalla can’t escape the climate change caused by burning that coal,” Mr Rees says.

“Australia has enormous reserves of coal which we must keep in the ground if we are to halt climate change.

“Climate change is here and is harming our agriculture and fishing.

“Beekeepers tell us how gum trees are blossoming at the wrong time, orchardists have lost trees from extreme heat, graziers and fishing people tell us how the climate is changing and harming their livelihoods,” Mr Rees says.

Bega locals march thorugh town with their marine puppets. Photo: Ian Campbell
Bega locals march through town with their marine puppets. Photo: Ian Campbell

Local fears also extend to the future of the Great Barrier Reef itself if the mine goes ahead with Bega protesters carrying a series of handmade marine creatures along Carp Street and into the town’s civic space.

“We know the Great Barrier Reef is highly endangered already and any further development or shipping would only increase the destruction of this incredible ecosystem,” Sue Andrew believes.

The exact number of jobs the $22 billion Adani investment will create is disputed, Adani claims 10,000 however the Land Court of Queensland has put the number at closer to 2,600.

That same court deemed the development could go ahead but added a number of new environmental safeguards.

While accepting new jobs are important for regional communities Allan Rees suggests the jobs created by the mine are floored and points to new jobs in greener industries.

“We have to support communities which currently rely on coal to have new industries to employ people,” he says.

“State and federal governments must develop programs to change to wind and solar, batteries and hydro, as well as energy efficiency.

“Australia has to give up coal mining and change to a renewable energy economy,” Mr Rees says.

“We should be retrofitting homes and businesses with insulation and using better designs for new buildings.”

Debate has been renewed on the back of a Four Corners investigation that aired last week on ABC TV.

“Adani has been exposed on the ABC’s Four Corners program as damaging people’s health, the livelihoods of farmers and fishing people and the environment in India,” Mr Rees says.

“Adani is using foreign tax havens and has a corporate structure that would allow them to minimise tax paid in Australia.

“The former Indian Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh said that it was almost beyond belief that the Australian Government would look to provide concessional loans and other taxpayer support to facilitate Adani Group’s coal mining project,” he says.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull sees huge potential in the mine going forward – should it be built.

“It will generate, over the course of its life, an enormous amount in taxes and in royalties, revenues for state and federal ­governments,” he told The Australian back in April.

Adani has suggested it will break ground on the mine site before the end of this month with the first coal produced in early 2020.

The billion dollar loan from the Federal Government’s National Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF) remains undetermined.

However, News Limited has reported comments by Adani chairman Gautam Adani saying, “The project will be funded by internal accruals, NAIF and foreign banks.”

Bega’s Sue Andrew is positive people power will prevail.

“There is so much opposition. It is not viable; economically, ethically, or environmentally,” she says.

It is really a no-brainer, why not spend the proposed billion dollars from NAIF on building renewable energy infrastructure and thousands of sustainable jobs and show our commitment to our children’s future?”

Those behind the Eurobodalla and Bega Valley protests are committed to further action.

 

About Regional content is supported by the contributions of members. Thank you to Julie Klugman, Cathy Griff, Kate Liston-Mills, Shane O’Leary, Jenny Anderson, and Julie Rutherford Real Estate Bermagui.

Podcast 19 – Eurobodalla Youth Forum

Some school holiday listening this time around.

During Local Government Week recently, Eurobodalla Shire Council made space for the youth of the shire.

Senior students from Carroll College and St Peter’s Anglican College at Broulee, and Batemans Bay High School were given time to address Council – including Mayor, Liz Innes and Deputy Mayor, Anthony Mayne.

One of the Shire’s Federal MP’s was also taking notes – Member for Gilmore, Anne Sudmalis.

Courtney Fryer from Carroll College used the opportunity to advocate for young people living with physical and mental disability.

Harrison O’Keefe from Batemans Bay High, made a great point around youth engagement –“show them what they are missing out on” and he has an idea to do just that.

While Pippi Sparrius from St Peter’s presented some surprising stats around teenage pregnancy in the Eurobodalla.

Keen to give the students a ‘real council meeting’ experience, Cr Innes was watching the clock, with Courtney, Harrison, and Pippi all given five minutes each.

Click play to listen here and now…

Or listen and subscribe via AudioBoom, Bitesz.com, or Apple Podcasts/iTunes.

For support or more info about the issues raised in this podcast check in with the Eurobodalla youth services directory or drop by one of the Shire’s popular youth cafes in Narooma and Batemans Bay.

About Regional is supported by the financial contributions of members, including Jill Howell, Max Wilson, Sue MacKinnon, Geoff Berry, and Four Winds at Bermagui – who have just released the program for next Easter’s festival, 60 artists, 10 ensembles, 26 performances, 10 stunning locations, over 5 days starting in late March 2018. Early bird tickets are on sale now.

Thanks for tuning in, see you out and about in South East NSW.
Cheers
Ian

Research about Aboriginal society is not news to this Moruya audience

Kangaroo Grass bread. By Toby Whitelaw
Kangaroo Grass bread, made and shared by Bruce Pascoe at Southeast Harvest, April 1 2017. Photo by Toby Whitelaw.

News this week that Aboriginal people reached Australia at least 65,000 years ago won’t come as a surprise to those who saw Mallacoota based writer Bruce Pascoe speak in Moruya last April.

Research out of new excavations of a rock shelter at the base of the Arnhem Land escarpment in the Northern Territory has pushed back estimates of human arrival on the Australian continent.

The shelter, known as Madjebeben has been described as the earliest evidence of humans in Australia.

Chris Clarkson from the University of Queensland told ABC Science that the new date would have a big impact on our understanding of when humans left Africa and moved through South- East Asia.

One of the artifacts unearthed is the world’s oldest known ground-edge axe head, one made by grinding rather than flaking. The full story has been published in the journal Nature.

Bruce Pascoe spoke of such evidence to a captivated audience during his lecture at Southeast Harvest at Moruya Showground in April 2017.

Bruce is a man of Bunarong and Yuin heritage, and the author of the acclaimed book, “Dark Emu“. Based on the diaries of early European settlers, in the book Bruce makes the case that Australia’s original inhabitants designed and constructed sophisticated irrigation systems and cultivated vast areas of land.

He dispels the idea that Aboriginal people were simple hunters and gatherers before European settlement and points to evidence of a civilisation that can legitimately be described as pioneers of agriculture, architecture, and engineering.

Speaking to Awaye on ABC Radio National, Bruce said he was excited to hear this latest news.

“I am very hopeful, hopeful that we can continue this conversation,” Bruce says.

“This is a fabulous continent, the continent wants to talk to us, it’s been trying to talk to us, and white Australia has been deaf to it.

“Now today when we see this news, maybe we can start to listen, maybe this is one of the ways we turn the corner,” Bruce says.

Sustainable Agriculture and Gardening Eurobodalla and Moruya filmmaker Toby Whitelaw have made Bruce Pascoe’s Southeast Harvest lecture available to all…

Thanks to About Regional members, Amanda Dalziel, Tabitha Bilaniwskyj-Zarins, and Amanda Stroud for supporting local stories.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Other money announced by NSW Treasurer, Dominic Perrottet included:

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

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

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

Eurobodalla Citizens Jury – $100,000, 86 recommendations. Worthwhile?

Is Council spending your money on the right things? If not, what should it change?

That was the question put to the Eurobodalla Citizens Jury, a group of 28 randomly selected residents.

Starting in June 2016, the Citizens Jury reported back to Council in December making a wide range of recommendations from business development to land use to the role of the arts in the community, including:

  • Ensure that the potential for a performing arts base is considered in the redevelopment of the MacKay Park precinct.
  • Investigate revenue opportunities through use of waste facilities to generate income and or energy source, e.g. incorporating methane collection; recycling of plastics into a viable resource.
  • Continue and further develop collaboration with Aboriginal people and use of traditional land care techniques.
  •  Council recognise that the Jury supports the consistent application of the LEP and other environmental strategies and plans, such that green belts and riparian zones are protected.

The Citizens Jury project cost around $100 000 but was it worth it?

Yes, but it was not without its problems, according to Moruya juror Kate Raymond.

“The Citizens Jury was definitely worthwhile, it gave us all a good sense of what Council did and what kind of decisions had to be made every day,” Kate says.

However, the Jury struggled with the complexity of the task and was heavily reliant on Council staff to provide them with information.

“We came to realise that the question was just too broad, and we really couldn’t answer it,” Kate explains.

“How are we supposed to know if Council is spending enough money on roads, rates, and rubbish? What do we have to measure it against?

“We were briefed, but we only got Council’s perspective, and they said, ‘We’re doing the best we can with the money we have’. We had to take their word for it,” Kate says.

The Jury members also struggled to achieve consensus on issues.

“Even if some of us thought Council was spending too much on something, we’d never be able to reach consensus on it because it’s a group of 28 people with different priorities,” Kate says.

“For instance, some people wanted much more paving and guttering in the Shire but others disagreed because they thought it was less important for a rural shire. That’s just one example!”

It’s a point Deputy Mayor Anthony Mayne isn’t surprised to hear.

“By definition, a jury is a group of people who consider information and then reach a binding decision about it,” Cr Mayne says.

“Although the Jury deeply engaged with the issues presented to them, they weren’t expected to come to a unanimous agreement about them.

“To call it a ‘Jury’ does little to advance or promote the positive benefits of this project,” he says

Kate Raymond also believes the jury struggled to understand the role of Council.

“There were some jurors with quite extreme views about what Council does [views that] were simply outside what we were meant to be talking about,” she says

“I think the New Democracy Foundation (the Jury facilitators) did a really good job though.”

“Overall, I still think it was worthwhile,” Kate says.

Critic of the Citizens Jury project, Paul Bradstreet, took a keen interest in the process and observed a couple of Jury meetings.

Paul represents the Eurobodalla Ratepayers Association (ERA).

Not a juror himself, he argues that the Jury wasn’t able to consider new ideas for the Shire.

“The Shire needs new ideas, but Council remains stuck in the same old patterns because it’s easier than dealing with new things,” he says.

According to Paul, citizens with innovative ideas were directed to make a submission to the Jury, but the Jury couldn’t consider them.

“For instance, the Eurobodalla Ratepayers Association had ideas that we wanted to put to Council, especially following the [Council] elections in September,” Paul says.

“The ERA had a couple of councilors elected on our platform issues, so we know our ideas are relevant, but we weren’t being given a chance to express them.

“The Citizens Jury was set up as a public relations, rubber stamping exercise, where Council gets to hear that they’re doing a great job,”  Paul says.

Eurobodalla Shire Council says that new ideas and submissions from the public were included in the Jury project.

A Council spokesperson says, there were 39 submissions from the community, and the Jury considered all of them carefully.

“Although the Jury project was primarily set up to look at how Council currently spends its money, it did consider new ideas, for instance, a community ‘think tank’ activity to run as part of Local Government Week and investigating a mobile library service,” the spokesperson explains.

Kate Raymond agrees that the Jury considered new ideas, but was somewhat ambivalent about Council’s response,

“For instance, our report recommended (p.9) having an agricultural officer in Council, to supercharge the outcomes from the Rural Lands Strategy,” Kate says.

Council’s response was, ‘We will look into this’ and if there is grant funding available (p.32) they’ve told us they will investigate options.

“Does this mean Council is actively looking for grant funding for this position? What does investigating options mean? That’s unclear,” Kate says.

Council’s spokesperson says the Citizens Jury worked well and achieved the goal of providing feedback on how Council spends its money.

The jury made 86 recommendations, 76 of which align with the Draft Delivery Program 2017-21 and the Operational Plan 2017-18. These two documents inform upcoming Council spending in the immediate future,” the spokesperson says.

“We [Council] also realised that there’s quite a lot of confusion in the community about the three tiers of government (local, state and federal) and their respective roles. So we’re working at getting some information about this out there.”

Eurobodalla Deputy Mayor, Anthony Mayne. Source: Facebook
Eurobodalla Deputy Mayor, Anthony Mayne. Source: Facebook

The Deputy Mayor believes it was a worthwhile process.

“In the modern world of social media, to see 28 people deeply engaged and enquiring of any number of issues over a sustained period of time is to be applauded,” Cr Mayne says.

“These were volunteers, paid a small allowance to give up seven nights and many hours of reading over several months to listen, wonder, seek, exchange, explore and debate a variety of matters before finally presenting their outcomes to the Councillors”.

So, will the Eurobodalla see another Citizens Jury?

“Council has developed a Community Engagement Framework and the Citizens Jury will remain something we can use when appropriate,” Council’s spokesperson explains.

“The jurors provided significant amounts of their own time and Council is appreciative of that.”

Words by Fiona Whitelaw, Moruya

*Fiona contacted a number of other jurors for this article but Kate Raymond was the only one to take up the opportunity.

*Featured videos produced by Eurobodalla Shire Council before and during the Jury process.