European Carp making a home in Snowy Monaro waters, but…

European or Common Carp. Photo: Flickr L Church via CSIRO
European or Common Carp. Photo: Flickr L Church via CSIRO

European Carp have been using the warmer water temperatures of spring to move across the Snowy Monaro, bringing their destructive ways into new habitats.

Since the 1850’s, Carp have been spreading out into low land waterways like the Murray-Darling Basin, but in the last ten years, these ferals have been moving into higher elevations, places once thought too cold for them.

Carp were introduced to Australia in an attempt to imitate a European environment – some nice cheese and wine could have done the job!

Despite being a native of Central Asia, carp are extensively farmed in Europe and the Middle East and are a popular angling fish in Europe. Eating carp is also a Christmas tradition in some cultures.

Carp in North America and Canada are also considered a significant pest.

Cooma Region Waterwatch Coordinator, Antia Brademann has eaten carp but doesn’t recommend it. Her interest is working with the community to build knowledge and share information and use it as part of locally tailored control programs.

Posted by Lauren Van Dyke on Sunday, 29 October 2017

 

The Carp Love 20 degrees campaign is key to those ambitions and is helping build a local profile of the fish. The program asks people to report carp sightings to the Feral Fish Scan website.

“Carp have a temperature trigger, so as water temperature gets to 20 degrees, that’s their spawning trigger, they need (and indeed love) that nice warm temperature,” Antia says.

Cooler water temperatures have perhaps slowed the pest’s progress across the Snowy Monaro, that is no longer the case with carp fanning out through the Upper Murrumbidgee River Catchment including the Bredbo and Numeralla Rivers, Cooma Creek, and into Canberra.

“They are moving, looking for suitable spawning habitat, “Antia says.

Locally that habitat looks different to what has been considered normal or ideal carp spawning areas – off stream wetlands, like those of the Lachlan River system, where large amounts of water gathers in shallow areas.

“In the Upper Murrumbidgee, we don’t have those big off stream wetlands, so we weren’t sure what the ideal spawning habitat looked like locally,” Antia says.

“Unfortunately from Carp Love 20 over the last three years, we are finding that carp spawning locally is opportunistic and variable.”

Carp spawning in the Upper Murrumbidgee catchment

Conditions are perfect to spot carp breeding. Anyone can do it! Waterwatch needs your help to better manage this pest species. #carplove20

Posted by ACT Landcare and Waterwatch on Thursday, 2 November 2017

 

A 6kg female can lay up to 1.5 million sticky eggs, attaching them to submerged vegetation or rocks in shallow water where they wait for a male to fertilise.

“We think that carp in this part of the world might have a number of spawning runs outside the traditional October to December window, because of the variability of local temperatures during spring,” Antia explains.

“And in the Upper Murrumbidgee Catchment, carp spawning is unlike the spawning of any other fish.

“You are listening for vigorous splashing, it will be very noticeable,” she says.

Fishing clubs at Numeralla and Bredbo have also been important players in the citizen science underway.

“We’ve found schools of carp that are less than 10cm long in Cooma Creek which tells us that’s a nursery habitat,” Antia says.

“By recording all these sightings and the anecdotal information, we are starting to build a picture of what’s happening in our catchment.”

Apart from scientific satisfaction, those taking part are also encouraged with free Carp Love 20 t-shirts!

Sadly, carp are now the most abundant large freshwater fish in some areas, including most of the Murray-Darling Basin. They have contributed to the degradation of large sections of natural aquatic ecosystems.

The NSW Department of Primary Industries points to the species destructive feeding practices leading to increased turbidity which in turn reduces light penetration, making it difficult for native fish that rely on sight to feed.

“Carp have this way of eating called, mumbling,” Anita says.

“They tear-out a bit of mud, and they suck out the macro-invertebrates and algae, and then they expel that mud out of their gills.”

Reduced light decreases plant growth, while suspended sediments smother plants and clog fishes’ gills.

Anita describes them as “ecosystem engineers” who undermine river banks to create the shallow sludgy environment they prefer.

Australia, meet the Caprinator

Australia – meet The Carpinator. He's going to rid our waterways of carp, by spreading the herpes virus.

Posted by Barnaby Joyce on Monday, 5 June 2017

 

But carp aren’t the only creatures responsible, poor catchment management practices by people have had a more substantial affect, carp have been clever and have been able to move into already degraded environments and build a lifestyle.

Many native species, including Golden Perch, Murray Cod, Silver Perch and Freshwater Catfish were already in decline before the introduction of these ferals into Australian waterways.

The presence of carp in terms of competition for food and the damage they inflict on freshwater habitats makes it difficult for native fish to re-establish.

In the man-made world, carp are also famous for choking water pumps and swamping irrigation channels.

The mapping of carp hotspots across the Upper Murrumbidgee Catchment is important for understanding behaviour and identifying opportunities for control.

The annual Mud Marlin (AKA carp) Fishing Competition run by the Numeralla Fishing Club is a great example of the control effort to date. Over the 13 years of the event, thousands of carp have been fished out of local waterways and disposed of humanely.

Similar events have also been held at Bredbo and Cooma.

Habitat like fallen trees and stumps which were once common in the Numeralla River have been put back in place by local Landcare to provide valuable feeding and breeding areas, as well as protection against predators. Photo: Landcare Australia.
Habitat like fallen trees and stumps which were once common in the Numeralla River have been put back in place by local Landcare to provide valuable feeding and breeding areas, as well as protection against predators. Photo: Landcare Australia.

Local Landcare volunteers have then moved in to restore habitat that better supports restocking with native fish species like Murray Cod and Golden Perch.

Carp warriors across the Snowy Monaro are now gearing up for the next phase in their attack – the carp herpes virus, which will bring on a “carpageddon” according to Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce.

Matt Barwick, Coordinator of the National Carp Control Plan (NCCP) says, “This virus is found in over 33 countries around the world and is specific to carp.”

“Research from the CSIRO over the last eight years has looked at all sorts of different fish species, birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, crustaceans – the only thing that gets disease from this virus is the common carp.”

The $11 million program will culminate with the release of the virus towards the end of 2018, the aim is to reduce carp density below levels known to cause environmental harm.

The NCCP is about to undertake a community briefing session flagging a possible local release. South East Local  Land Services is co-hosting a session at Goulburn Soldiers Club on Monday, December 18 from 6-8pm.

In the meantime, Antia Braddeman is calling on the community to continue making their contribution.

“Certainly if I am fishing I would not put a carp back, if people do catch carp we just ask that they humanely dispose of them,” Anita says.

“We are certainly finding out some interesting stuff about carp through community reports and observations, which helps with the control programs to come.”

Download the Feral Fish Scan App HERE to add your sightings to the database.

*About Regional stories happen because people become members – thank you to Snowy Monaro Regional Council, Robert Hartemink, Maureen Searson, Bruce Morrison and Kerry Newlin, Julie Klugman
Jeanie and David Leser, Maria Linkenbagh, Jenny and Arthur Robb, Nigel Catchlove, and Cathy Griff.

 

The medicine of music on the streets of Cooma – the Australian National Busking Championships

Sharon White, “Music is healing.” Photo: Ian Campbell.
Sharon White, “Music is healing.” Photo: Ian Campbell.

The recent Australian National Busking Championships were more than a tourism and commerce promo for the Monaro.

Sure, the tills were ringing, but for those who stopped to listen and watch the 180-odd performers dotted around Cooma’s CBD, something more valuable was at play – the joy and medicine of music.

Despite the grandiose name, this year was the first time the Championships were a truly national affair.

Throughout 2017, Rotary Clubs along the East Coast staged their own regional heats, culminating in a Cooma showdown on the first weekend in November.

The best buskers from Noosa, Stanthorpe, Ballarat, Wangaratta, Narooma, and Berry competed across a range of categories.

The top prize of $2000 went to Ballarat’s one-man band, Geoffrey Williams. The Rhythm Hunters from Narooma Primary School won the crowd vote and $1000 – their drums and spunk were hard to walk past.

Cooma music teacher Allan Spencer and his comrades from Cooma Rotary got the momentum rolling and are rightly proud of their ‘baby’ six years after it started as a Cooma only event.

“Yeah we’ve got some wonderful stories,” Allan says.

“There’s Canberra’s Guyy Lilleyman, who won in 2013 and 2014, and on the strength of 2013, he was picked up by an agent and he had a tour of South Africa.

“He went on to complete a 10-week tour of Afghanistan, entertaining Australian and NATO troops,” he says.

There is an art to pulling a crowd on a busy street of passers-by who are perhaps more intent on getting the day’s groceries than stopping to listen to some tunes.

Being cute, loud, and colourful is worthy and part of the festival’s appeal but what unfolds in Cooma is a genuine celebration of music and those who share it with us.

#Narooma Rhythm Hunters from Narooma Primary School, contenders at the Australian National Busking Championships in #Cooma.Ian

Posted by About Regional on Friday, 3 November 2017

 

Sharon White, a singer-songwriter from Sydney, remembers coming to Cooma as a kid on holidays.

Her powerful voice sitting on a milk crate in front of the fish and chips shop on Sharp Street called me over from the big trees of Centennial Park.

Stopping to listen I realised there was more to this little lady with a cane.

The lyrics she sings speak of love, loss, hurt, recovery, and release.

“She’s got a story to tell,” the couple next to me says to each other.

Sharon didn’t win any of the awards that day – the fact that she is alive seems to be Sharon’s prize.

“I write all my own songs, and events like this are good for original material,” Sharon says.

“There are a few people here playing covers, and they’ll probably get the people in, but my stuff is personal.”

Sharon White, “I am already a winner.” Photo: Ian Campbell.
Sharon White, “I am already a winner.” Photo: Ian Campbell.

Sharon says she comes from a musical family.

“My great-grandmother was Sydney’s second-best opera singer,” she says.

“I’ve got her voice.”

Dame Nellie Melba was the only voice better than her great-grandmothers according to Sharon.

“I just do what I do because I love it,” Sharon smiles.

“I write about life experiences, everything that happens in my life, I’ll probably write a song about talking to you!”

At the suggestion that music might have a healing effect in her life, Sharon pulls a pink, polished gemstone from her pocket with the word ‘healing’ engraved across its surface. A lucky stone that pushes her on.

“I lost my brother and I sort of lost myself for a little while, I was messed up, too much alcohol,” Sharon starts to explain.

“And my son said to me one day – if I lose you, I’ll have no one, so I said okay, I’ll fix myself up.”

The song “I am Gonna Fly” from Sharon’s homemade album “The Naked Truth” was born of that time.

“I sing that song now with a smile because it’s now a recovery song, it gives me strength and I think of my son and brother,” Sharon says.

“It makes me go on.”

The walking stick that helps Sharon cart her amp and guitar around Cooma’s CBD is a reminder of a car accident that almost claimed Sharon’s life, another time when music played its healing tune.

“I don’t even know it [music]’s there, I just do this,” Sharon says.

“I come up with songs all the time, it feels good to create something that wasn’t there before.”

Another song “I am Going to Nashville” points to where Sharon hopes her music and a few coins in her guitar case will take her one day.

“In Sydney, I can make about $300 in three hours,” she says.

While it was a fella from Ballarat and a bunch of kids from Narooma that claimed the big prizes at the Australian National Busking Championships, Sharon says the festival has been a great opportunity to share her music.

“It doesn’t matter if I win or lose, I’ve already won – I have my life and I have my songs,” Sharon says.

Sharon has auditioned for the upcoming season of the TV talent show “The Voice”, she’s waiting to hear if she has made it through to the next round.

Cooma will be cheering you on Sharon!

*This article was originally published to Riot ACT

“Seeing my designs on the runway will drive me to do it again.”- Cooma’s Charly Thorn

Charly Thorn, back home in Cooma. Photo: Ian Campbell
Charly Thorn, back home in Cooma. Photo: Ian Campbell

Cooma fashion designer Charly Thorn says she is happy to be sleeping in her own bed again after plying an international catwalk but is hungry for more.

India is the next stop for this ambitious 18-year-old.

The opportunity to leave her Snowy Monaro home was forged at FashFest in Canberra this time last year, an industry scout spotted Charly’s talent and offered her a spot at Vancouver Fashion Week in Canada – if she could raise the money to get there and create a spring/summer collection.

Cooma turned out to make sure the opportunity didn’t pass her by with a fashion show fundraiser held earlier this year to supplement Charly’s savings while working at the town’s Thai restaurant and at the online fashion house Birdsnest.

Part of Charly's Vancouver collection, the teal top is Merino wool, the skirt is made of silk. Photo: Robyn Damianos Photography
Part of Charly’s Vancouver collection, the teal top is Merino wool, the skirt is made of silk. See the full collection HERE. Photo: Robyn Damianos Photography

In Vancouver, Charly’s designs were the first to stride out before an audience of media and international buyers – Charly was the opening event.

“It was such a thrill, seeing my creations walk down a runway together as a collection,” she says.

“It was exhilarating after all that work to get there.”

New York was added to the travel schedule, her youth and ability the ticket.

“I grabbed an awesome opportunity in New York, there was a day at Parsons School for Design, which is where I have always wanted to go, my dream school,” Charly says.

The collection Charly presented in Canada was a mix of her two homes – Hamilton Island off Queensland’s tropical coast and Cooma, a stone throw from Australia’s highest peak and coldest temperatures.

Since she was a baby, Charly’s year has been split between the families snow business – Village Ski Hire in Cooma during winter and another life and business on Hamilton Island in the warmer months.

It’s a lifestyle that gave birth to, until now, an unlikely connection – holiday time resort wear meets Merino wool, an idea that attracted positive coverage from fashion bible Vogue.

“It was a real contrast for people and challenged what they think of when they think wool – lots of beachwear, very floaty – a juxtaposition that puts wool on the beach or beside the pool,” Charly says.

“It works though, wool is so breathable, it’s really nice to wear, and at the end of its life when you throw it out it’s not going to hurt the environment.

“To be able to showcase Australian wool, alongside other natural fibres like linen and silk, on an international stage is awesome,” Charly says.

Part of Charly's Vancouver collection, featuring linen printed in Sydney. Photo: Robyn Damianos Photography
Part of Charly’s Vancouver collection, featuring linen printed in Sydney. See the full collection HERE.  Photo: Robyn Damianos Photography

The colour and cut of the cloth wasn’t the only point of interest in Charly’s travels, the 18-year-old’s passion for the Monaro’s fibre lead to conversations at Parsons around the marketing and production of wool.

“It was really interesting to see the comparison between the Australian wool industry and what America wants to make of their wool industry.”

“America is talking about localising wool, not just production on local farms but also the milling, dyeing, and manufacturing side of the business in local factories.

“I really hope Australia follows that trend, because at the moment once wool leaves Australian farms it goes to China to be dyed and go through a fabric mill, and then we buy it back from them for manufacturing,” Charly explains.

“It’s really tricky to track wool once it leaves the farm.

“Food has already done it, people want to know where their products come from,” Charly says.

Still coming down off her high, Charly is considering her next move.

“To be in the middle of all those creatives is what I live for,” Charly says.

“So I’ve applied for a couple of international scholarships, and to colleges and universities here, I am just waiting to hear back.”

In the meantime, work as a trainee at Birdsnest has opened a door to travel to India in December.

“Every year they visit their suppliers and I just said can I come with you? I’ll pay my way, I just want to come and watch,” Charly says.

The experience in Vancouver and New York has left her hungry for more and it’s impossible not to believe 2018 will be the start of so much more for Charly Thorn and her homespun unique inspirations.

“Seeing my designs come to life on the runway will drive me to do it again and again.”

*About Regional content happens because of the contributions of members including – Tathra Beach House Appartments, Four Winds Bermagui, Kate Liston-Mills, Kym Mogeridge, Pam Murray, Jo Saccomani, and Doug Reckord. Thank you!

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.

 

Colouring for change in Cooma, lead by local teens

Has anyone seen the orange pencil? By Ian Campbell
Has anyone seen the orange pencil? By Ian Campbell

High school students from Cooma have combined with a locally based, online fashion house in a colourful approach to tackling family violence.

The idea of a workplace ‘Colourathon’ is being trialed at Birdsnest in Cooma, with female students from Monaro High School preparing to launch the idea nationally in November.

New ‘Colourathon for Corporates’ kits come packed with everything a business will need to host their own event, broadening the community response to family violence.

Artistic change maker, Big hART is leading the collaboration under the banner of ‘Project O‘.

“Project O is a national program we run with young women aged 12 to 15, assisting them to build new skills and capacity and to learn how to be change makers,” says Genevieve Dugard, Project O National Director.

Project O started in the ‘family violence hotspot’ of North West Tasmania and has since been rolled out to Cooma, Roebourne WA, and Canberra.

“A colourathon is a colouring-in arts marathon,” Genevieve explains.

“An arts endurance event, where every hour of colouring-in is sponsored and raises money for trauma therapy services for young children fleeing violence and needing crises care.”

Jane Cay, 'big bird' at Birdsnest and Genevieve Dugard, Project O National Director. By Ian Campbell
Jane Cay, ‘big bird’ at Birdsnest and Genevieve Dugard, Project O National Director. By Ian Campbell

A colourathon at the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra on November 30 will help launch the corporates kits being developed at Birdsnest by the twenty young women from Monaro High School.

The Project O crew are hoping businesses will buy a kit as a team building or social responsibility exercise while raising money for the Australian Childhood Foundation.

“They roll out a play based therapy program in women’s shelters,” Genevieve says.

“The average age of a child fleeing violence is two and a half years old, through the fundraising we provide training in play based therapy which helps children who can’t talk or express their feelings like adults.”

The add on to Big hART’s Project O initiative for the Monaro girls is the opportunity to be mentored by the innovators and entrepreneurs that make up Birdsnest – winner of the ‘Best Online Customer Service Award’ at the Online Retail Industry Awards in 2015 and 2016 and BRW Australia’s 8th ‘Best Place to Work’ for companies with 100 employees or less in 2015.

Former IBM e-business consultant, Jane Cay is ‘head bird’.

“It’s such a great opportunity for them to realise that they can create change even when they are young and at school,” Jane says.

Students have been embedded in Jane’s company for a ten week period, mentored by staff in event management, product development, publicity, design, logistics, and a range of other business skills.

“It’s a massive company and it’s amazing that we are able to have workshops here,” says Brooke, one of the Project O students.

‘We are so lucky that we have this experience, to meet all of the staff and learn new things from them,” Brooke’s friend Georgia adds.

Both students say they have also been surprised to learn about the issue of family violence.

“It does happen in Cooma, I didn’t think it would happen in Cooma, it’s been a shock to me,” Georgia says.

“I hope this [The Colourathon] will show people that it is happening and it needs to stop,” Brooke says.

“Hopefully we raise money to help them [children] get through it and find more support through play based therapy,” Georgia adds.

Aside from the benefit to the community through programs like Project O and the Colourathon, Jane Cay believes it makes good business sense for corporates to get involved.

“People need to come to work feeling nurtured, and they need to look after themselves in order to be of service to anyone – whether that’s in the workplace or to their families,” Jane says.

“If the family environment is not a safe and nurturing place it’s very difficult to then come into a work place without that very basic foundation that humans need to operate.”

 

Thanks to About Regional members, Jeanette Westmore, Claire Blewett, Fay Deveril, and Fiona Cullen for supporting local story telling.

 

 

Podcast 16 – Cooma’s Charly Thorn, the talk of the town.

Cooma's Charly Thorn (on the right) with one of her models and creations at Canberra FashFest 2016. Souce: Canberra Times, taken by Martin Ollman.
Cooma’s Charly Thorn (on the right) with one of her models and creations at Canberra FashFest 2016. Souce: Canberra Times, taken by Martin Ollman.

Welcome to About Regional – a new place for the stories of South East NSW.

This podcast is brought to you by Julie Rutherford Real Estate at Bermagui, Doug Reckord, Wendy Gorton and Shan Watts – thanks for your support.

About Regional Memberships are now open and come packed with perks!

Charly Thorn is the talk of the town, not only in her home town of Cooma but also on the other side of the world in Vancouver and Los Angeles.

Charly is a young fashion designer, not long out of high school, learning her trade and so much more at Birdsnest Cooma.

FashFest 2016 in Canberra was her big break and has led to a spot on the catwalk for Charly’s garments at Vancouver Fashion Week in less than 9 weeks.

Cooma has been helping Charly raise the money she needs to get there.

Since Charly and I spoke on a cold Cooma day, she has also been invited to show at LA Fashion Week in October.

As you are about to hear, Charly has all the ingredients for success…

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

You can stay in touch with Charly via her Facebook page.

Your feedback, story ideas, and advertising inquiries are always welcome, just click on the contact tab.

Thanks for your interest, see you out and about in South East NSW.

Cheers

Ian

Landmark Monaro tree hollow gets a resident

This old girl has seen a few Monaro winters and it seems she now has something to cuddle up to.

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.”

 

 

 

 

 

Podcast 15 – Refugee Week in South East NSW with ANU Professor of Diplomacy

Welcome Refugees from Refugee Council of Australia
Welcome Refugees from Refugee Council of Australia. Please note the balloons are tied up!

Refugee Week is being marked around the region, the theme is a clever play on words borrowed from our national anthem – “With courage let us all combine.”

The aim of the week is to celebrate the contribution refugees make to Australian society and to ultimately build a better understanding between different communities.

A range of cultural, social, and advocacy events are planned across the Eurobodalla, Bega Valley and Snowy Monaro in the coming days.

At Cooma on Thursday (June 22) there is a film screening, “Constance on the Edge” between 5:30 and 7:30 at the Cooma Multicultural Centre on Mittagang Rd.

‘Constance on the Edge’ follows a charismatic mother of six, as she confronts her painful past in war-torn Sudan, risking everything in Australia so her family can thrive. Filmed over 10 years in Wagga Wagga, the documentary is an unflinchingly honest portrayal of one refugee family’s resettlement story in regional New South Wales.

The Bega Valley branch of Rural Australians for Refugees has a packed program of movie screenings, dinners, and author talks and on Friday (June 23) at 10 am in Littleton Gardens Bega, a rally to raise awareness of Refugee Welcome Zones.

And in the Eurobodalla, locals are invited to join a celebration in Moruya on Saturday morning (June 24) as the Welcome Scroll visits as part its national journey.

The Welcome Scroll is 5 metres long, features hand turned red gum handles and the signatures of representatives from over 140 Refugee Welcome Zones around the country – including the signature of Eurobodalla Mayor Liz Innes.

Head to Russ Martin Park between 10 and 12 this Saturday, they’ll be food and live music and you can check out the Moruya Markets at the same time.

South East NSW busy as always!

To this week’s podcast – William Maley, Professor of Diplomacy at the Australian National University, and Vice President of the Refugee Council of Australia, has just been in the region as a guest of the Social Justice Advocates of the Sapphire Coast.

Bill’s book “What is a Refugee?” is a guide to the complex issues that surface whenever refugees are discussed, while also telling the stories of families and individuals who have sought refuge.

Social Justice Advocates of the Sapphire Coast, refugee forum 2016
Social Justice Advocates of the Sapphire Coast, refugee forum 2016.

Bill came to Merimbula keen to motivate and inform advocacy around the issue, hoping for a more humane approach to refugees from the Australian Government and sections of Australian society.

He spoke for almost an hour to around 200 people, I’ve boiled it down to about 17 minutes, I’ve cleaned the audio up as best I can but there is a little bit of background noise, which I hope you can forgive.

Thanks for tuning into About Regional, your feedback, story ideas, and advertising inquiries are welcome, just flick me an email – hello@aboutregional.com.au

Thanks to my partners in this week’s podcast – Light to Light Camps – pristine beaches, great food, hot showers and comfy beds. This is your chance to explore the Wilderness Coast in style.

See you out and about in South East NSW.

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