30 December 2021

2021 Year in Review: The news that had you clicking in 2021

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While the national media was consumed with COVID-19 in 2021, the About Regional team was focused on stories unique to the capital region.

From bushfire recovery and floods, to waste incinerators and conditions for shearers – and it wouldn’t be About Regional without some animal stories thrown in. Take a walk with us back through the stories you clicked on in 2021.

12. Emergency workers and Aboriginal Elders lead walk across new Batemans Bay bridge

Batemans Bay Bridge opening 2021

The then NSW Transport Minister Andrew Constance marks the opening of the new Batemans Bay Bridge with Aboriginal Elders. Photo: Supplied.

After weeks of rain, blue skies made for spectacular views for the crowds of people who thronged across the new Batemans Bay Bridge in March.

With a price tag of $274 million, the project to replace Batemans Bay’s ageing but iconic bridge marked a historic milestone with a community walk led by local emergency services across the new span.

Bega MP Andrew Constance said the bridge opening to traffic months ahead of schedule was a win for the entire community.

11. Bungonia and Tarago residents kick up a stink over waste-to-electricity incinerators

Artist's impression of Advanced Energy Recovery Centre in Tarago

An artist’s impression of the proposed Advanced Energy Recovery Centre upon completion in Tarago. Image: Veolia.

Residents opposing waste-to-energy facilities in the regional villages of Tarago and Bungonia, near Goulburn, say they shouldn’t be dumped with Sydney’s rubbish.

The proposed $600 million facilities will be capable of burning 710,000 tonnes of waste sourced locally, and from Sydney and Canberra, each year. That’s enough to fill more than 300 Olympic-size swimming pools.

Jerrara Power intends to build its facility on Jerrara Road, in Bungonia, within five years, while Veolia plans to build its facility near its existing Woodlawn Bioreactor in Tarago, also within five years.

10. St John’s Orphanage in Goulburn to be demolished

Exterior of dilapidated St John's Orphanage in Goulburn

The dilapidated St John’s Orphanage in Goulburn was ordered to be demolished. Photo: Robyn MacRae.

Back in July, the owner of the historic St John’s Orphanage at 52 Mundy Street in Goulburn was ordered to demolish the main building and three outbuildings that had been severely damaged by fires since 2016.

John Ferrara was given just 90 days to demolish the three outbuildings.

9. Couple saves cattle from Braidwood bushfire only to lose them in flood

Peter Bowie and Tracia Milton's three-bedroom cottage floats down Manning River.

Millions of Australians watched Peter Bowie and Tracia Milton’s three-bedroom cottage float down Manning River on television. Photo: Supplied.

A year after fires burnt their Braidwood property, Peter Bowie and Tracia Milton watched floods wash away cattle and a three-bedroom cottage from their second farm in Mondrook near Taree on the Mid-North Coast.

The couple was thrown into the spotlight by the media in March as images emerged of the cottage floating down the Manning River.

Ms Milton said it was “surreal” watching the cottage lift off the bank.

8. Bushfire-hit mirror twins caught in government red tape

Peter and David Abel

Mirror twins Peter and David Abel were denied a Homeowner grant because they were not a couple. Photo: Supplied.

At 68, Mogo mirror twins Peter and David Abel have negotiated all of life’s twists and turns as a united front. This year, the very relationship that has defined them was used by the Federal Government to deny access to funds to help them rebuild after the Black Summer bushfires.

In what was described as a heartless move, the pair who have lived together their whole lives were denied financial help to rebuild their home because, as brothers, they didn’t fit HomeBuilder grant criteria.

“HomeBuilder is only available to an individual or a couple,” David said. “A married couple can get it, defactos can get it, but we can’t because we are brothers.

7. Moruya Bypass explainer: How was the route chosen and what are the concerns?

Moruya Bridge and town

Traffic over the existing bridge in Moruya. Photo: Transport for NSW.

This year, Transport for NSW revealed the preferred corridor for the Moruya Bypass and the community was invited to have its say on the proposed route.

While supporters of the bypass have said it will reduce congestion and improve travel times for those driving along the South Coast, there is concern among some of Moruya’s community about the visual and social impact of the project.

6. Canberra entrepreneur acquires Commercial Hotel in Yass

Exterior of Commercial Hotel in Yass

The derelict Commercial Hotel on the main street of Yass has changed hands. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

The major shareholder of Public Bar in the south Canberra suburb of Manuka and the founder of Canberra’s largest accounting firm, Walter Turnbull, has taken over the derelict Commercial Hotel on the main street of Yass.

Andrew Turnbull is also part of a Canberra-based syndicate that recently purchased five pubs in the NSW Central West for $75 million.

Investment Management Group now owns the Royal Hotel in Orange, the Dudley Hotel in Bathurst, the Castlereagh Hotel in Dubbo, the Federal Hotel in Wellington, and the Federal Hotel in Mudgee.

5. ‘Farmers are not listening’: Disgusted shearers walk from industry

Shearers working with sheep in shearing shed.

Conditions in many shearing sheds have not improved since this photograph was taken several years ago. Photo: Ray Sherman.

Dangerous working conditions, poor pay and old, dirty living quarters are causing shearers to leave the wool industry.

Some workers on the frontline say they camp out in filthy, broken down shacks, sleep on old mattresses and earn little return for backbreaking work in old, noisy shearing sheds with dangerous equipment.

Consequently, NSW has such a dire shortage of shearers that an animal welfare problem threatens to break out in the peak November-December shearing season.

4. Watch: Brown snake slithers into Jindabyne Bowling Club

Snake on floor inside Jindabyne Bowling Club.

A brown snake inside Jindabyne Bowling Club.

The staff and customers at Jindabyne Bowling Club were surprised to see a brown snake slither up to the bar one lunchtime in January.

A video on social media showed anxious patrons gathering around the snake as it moved towards a table and chairs near the bar.

Michael Jamieson was behind the camera and said no one knew exactly how the snake got into the club. Some patrons suggested it crawled under the door, while others questioned how it wriggled its way to the bar from the front door without anyone noticing.

3. Zookeeper Chad heartbroken by sudden death of orphan lion cub

Moto the lion cub has sadly died, despite the best efforts of Mogo Wildlife Park staff. Photo: Facebook.

Mogo zookeeper Chad Staples shared his pain at losing one of the two lion cubs he’d been hand-raising since the death of their mother.

Mogo Wildlife Park’s treasured lioness, Zuri, tragically died three days after giving birth to her first cubs.

The seven-year-old lioness gave birth to two healthy cubs on 8 December 2020, but a third cub was born dead and a fourth couldn’t be delivered naturally.

2. Mogo in the firing line again as floods hit South Coast

Mogo highway underwater

Mogo highway underwater. Photo: Tom McGann.

The Princes Highway was cut at Mogo and the Kings Highway at Nelligen was passable to 4WDs only when the region was battered by wild winds and damaging rain in December.

Once again, Mogo bore the brunt of nature’s fury, with water lapping at the doors of shops that just two years ago were destroyed by fire.

Some residents were saying it was the worst flooding they had seen since 1983.

1. Funnel-web spider crawls into Goulburn mother’s backyard

Funnel-web spider.

What would you do if you found this funnel-web spider in your backyard, just as Holly Catt did on 16 January? Photo: Supplied.

When Goulburn resident Holly Catt lifted her lawnmower cover, near where her children play, a deadly funnel-web spider dropped out.

Holly Catt said she was terrified to find the 4cm to 5cm spider inside a tarp covering her lawnmower.

“It fell right next to my foot,” she said.



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