From the amusing to the impressive, from tales of go-getters to poignant reflections, this year’s About Regional community stories showcased the spirit of South East NSW and shone a light on local achievements.
The highest-ranking articles this year made us think, pulled on the heartstrings, and above all, gave us plenty to be proud of.
Here they are again.
Pooh Bear’s Corner on the Kings Highway between Canberra and Batemans Bay has been delighting travellers for decades, and it would appear something similar is being created on the Monaro Highway just out of Cooma, wrote Ian Campbell in February.
The mystery of why teddy bears had been slung into the hollow of an old Ribbon Gum northwest of Nimmitabel encouraged readers to speculate about the origin of the stuffed animals. Was it the work of families escaping the heat to enjoy a summer holiday on the coast? What might the next wave of holiday-makers bring?
Bega’s Anne Moore has been involved with the Girl Guides movement for 45 years, starting as a leader at the age of 17 but joining a Brownie group even earlier, at the age of seven. Her decades of service were recognised at a NSW-ACT Girl Guides conference in Canberra earlier this year.
As a little boy, all David Wilson ever wanted was to be a truck driver. The now-owner of Pambula freight company DJ Cool Freight did just that, and more – including winning a national accolade from the trucking industry organisation, NatRoad.
David was named 2018 Professional Driver of the Year at NatRoad’s national conference. The annual awards recognise and reward those in the road transport industry for their ongoing commitment to safety, developing skills and an overall professional approach.
If you have ever broken down or had a bingle on the Kings Highway, you may have met Murray Robertson (also known as Robbo), a man of few words, with an exceptionally dry sense of humour and a magnificent moustache, wrote Alex Rea.
Robbo drives Braidwood’s tow truck and until this year, ran D & S Motors on the main street. But in September, the main street business and local landmark closed its doors after 60 years in the Robertson family. Hundreds of townsfolk, family and emergency services workers turned out to say their farewells. Fittingly, as people assembled, Robbo had ducked out in the truck to collect a car from Northangera.
A cafe at Bungendore is challenging what the community thinks people with a disability are capable of, one serving of coffee and cake at a time, wrote Ian Campbell in June.
He dropped in to meet Sarah Schiliro, Manager of The Big Green Cup Cafe, to discover how she is building a business that relies on a workforce who live with disabilities or have a story to tell.
Alex Rea brought us a story of loss and reunion in the high country that played out for three and a half months before ending with a heart-warming reunion between a woman and her horse.
Wanda Egan’s horse Rory escaped his yard from a camp in the Kosciuszko National Park in February after another horse had taken fright and run through the electric fence, quickly letting lose Rory and another seven horses. Three stayed in camp or were captured quickly, but four horses bolted off to the west.
Thanks to the power of social media, a jubilant Wendy was eventually reunited with her beloved horse.
Jesse Rowan’s moving open letter to Catherine McGregor needs little introduction. Here’s an excerpt, but if you haven’t read it in its entirety, catch up above.
Thanks for being the opening speaker for the Festival of Open Minds held in Bega last Friday on the first day of Spring. You left us feeling a sense of deepest honour and respect for baring your heart and life to us. Ian Campbell nailed it when he said that you opened our hearts as well as our minds. Indeed, every speaker left us with plenty to ruminate on.
You are so lucky to have experienced even one moment of pure joy in your life – that joy you spoke of when you found the courage to decide to allow yourself to be who you are. I think it is a rare treasure many of us never have. I have had only one moment of pure joy, a moment when I actually cried and realised there really was such a thing as ‘tears of joy’. Just after childbirth, gazing at my baby, and feeling as if I had no skin – I was at my most vulnerable, and I was connected to all of humanity by some magical invisible but powerful thread. My personal shielding walls were surprised down with joy, at least for a short, special time.
Ian Campbell’s story about a field of flowers in a sacred space among the rolling hills of Tilba was the third most popular community story this year.
Ian visited Mountain View Farm and met owner Kathryn Ratcliffe, whose stunning fresh cut flowers you may have seen at markets at Moruya, Tilba, Bermagui, and Bega.
If you missed the spectacular flower show, it’s not too late. Click on the article title above to check out photographer David Rogers’ incredible pics of the floral fest.
Two down-to-earth dairy farmers from Candelo, south-west of Bega, became the region’s newest celebrities when they won House Rules – a “life-changing” event that has given them a healthy bank balance and a fully renovated home.
Toad and Mandy took out the grand final win in the sixth season of House Rules by just one point – scoring themselves $355,000 in prize money in the process.
Viewers had earlier found out that their newly-renovated house (both inside and out) and farm were now valued at $1.1 million – an increase of $250,000 over the property’s valuation of $850,000 before the program started.
And the most popular community story in 2018? Ian Campbell’s article about SBS TV show River Cottage Australia.
The series showcased South East NSW to a national audience, but as the final episodes went to air, local fans were wondering what was next for the host of the show and the property in the lush foothills of Gulaga where it was filmed.
Ian Campbell brought you all the answers.
This year’s top ten community stories were full of local colour and spirit. Were there other community events in the region during 2018 that made an impression on you?