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News archive

This is an archive containing every news story ever posted on the BDT website. If you’re looking for a specific article, try the search box at the top right hand side of this page. Otherwise you can just browse the archive by selecting a year and month below.

September, 2021

Heart of red and blue

Originally published: Saturday, 25th September, 2021

Having only started following AFL football and the Demons since the early 2000’s, Trevor Walsh is excited to see his beloved Melbourne Demons battle on the big stage.
Walsh has been barracking for the Demons for 19 years now, thanks to a move to Far West NSW and some fed-up elderly Demons fans.
“I moved to Broken Hill in 2001, came from central-west NSW, played soccer and rugby union, had never played Aussie rules, never saw too much of it.
“When I moved to Broken Hill, obviously being AFL-centric, I had to support a team and I didn’t really take affiliation with anyone,” he said.
After a trip to Melbourne with wife, Stacey, his chosen team was clear.
Originally travelling to watch the Collingwood v Essendon ANZAC Day clash on a Thursday, but with a free night on Friday, they headed to the then Telstra Dome to see “whoever was playing”.
“It was Melbourne versus Western Bulldogs, funnily enough, 19 years ago on the 26th of April 2002,” said Walsh. “We walked in on the forward pocket, and we sat in front of about a dozen ladies knitting blue and red blankets, scarves, whatever. But the youngest one would have been 70, so they’re probably not around to see this Grand Final which is a shame.
“But all they did from the centre bounce to the full-time siren was put shit on Melbourne,” he said. “They rubbished them. I couldn’t believe it. So, from that day on, I thought Melbourne needed a supporter, so I became a member.”
Melbourne last won a Grand Final in 1964, before Walsh was born.
They made it to the Grand Final in 2000, but lost - before Walsh was a footy man.
He is yet to witness the Demons play a Grand Final. Today is a big day.
“It’s exciting,” he says. “I haven’t had much success. I’ve copped a lot of bad press, a lot of bad wraps for being a Melbourne supporter over the years, but they’ve always been triers.”
“I think it was last year they were destined to make the finals - all they had to do was beat Collingwood in the last game and they couldn’t do that. We seem to fall in the big games.”
“But this year they’ve actually done really well. I’m excited for that, but, yeah - it’s still a little bit like; ‘Aw, no, who’s going to turn up on the day?’”
Walsh said he “would’ve tried come hell and high water” to get to the Grand Final if we weren’t in lockdown. Instead, he said he’s likely to be watching by himself.
“I think I’ve been designated to the shed in the backyard. I think Stace and the boys will kick me out.”
Based on their performances of late, Walsh said he likes the Dees chances.
“I’m reasonably confident if the team turns up, like they did against Geelong, they’ll do very well. Grand Final is a big stage so who knows what will happen.”
Walsh believe the players who did well in the Brownlow votes will perform well tonight. “(Christian) Petracca, Clayton Oliver and Max Gawn - against Geelong he was absolutely freakish. Then there’s the younger blokes, such as (Tom) Sparrow who are coming through really well. I’m glad Steven May will be there. I hope he’s not carrying anything with that hamstring.”
“It’s a really good unit. I think the fact that our ex-captain has stepped away - Nathan Jones can’t get a spot in the team after 302 games, I think that’s hard. But, hopefully, they can do something like what the Bulldogs did for Bob Murphy in 2016. I’d like to see the AFL do something for a bloke that’s been a servant when they were really, really poor, so we’ll see.”

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Ducky Shincrackers

Originally published: Saturday, 25th September, 2021

Margot White was five years old when she fell asleep on the stage of the Town Hall ballroom, in a little bed made up for her from a heap of blankets and a pillow.
“I remember waking up and I was behind the drummer and he winked at me,” she said.
“The whole orchestra was playing.” This startling way to emerge from a nap introduced Margot to a love of dancing and was also highly practical.
“There were no babysitters and I had no siblings to look after me,” said Margot.
“If Mum and Dad went anywhere, they took me with them.”
It was the 1930s, an era of big bands and big crowds in Broken Hill.
A time when hundreds of people would walk down Argent Street for late-night shopping, to enjoy the brass bands and to be seen.
The place to meet was at Martin’s Corner, a two storey clothing shop on the corner of Argent Street and Oxide Street, on what is now the site of the ANZ Bank. Always popular, it proved very useful during the 1940s for checking that seams were straight.
“Martin’s Corner had big mirrors and, during wartime, the girls would wait there and check their hair and lipstick and seamed stockings,” said Margot.
“A lot of marriages came out of that corner.
“The girls would wait for the boys to take them to the pictures or to a dance.”
During wartime, Saturday afternoons were spent ‘at the pictures’ at the Ozone Theatre, where the Civic Centre is now located.
However, dances were a chance to dress up and try the latest dance crazes brought to Australia by ducky shincrackers, which was 1940s slang for ‘good dancers.’
Great excitement was created by an exuberant, acrobatic dance brought by American servicemen during World War II, called the Jitterbug.
Swing dance and ballroom dance moves were enjoyed at Trades Hall and the Fire Station, which is now the town library, but Town Hall and the Palais were the most popular venues for dancing in Broken Hill during World War II.
The Palais was situated at the Oxide Street roundabout, where Vines furniture shop is now, and was very popular on Saturday nights.
“The floors were polished, the music was always live and there was no amplification needed,” said Margot.
“Sometimes the trumpet playing was so good, they’d all stop dancing and listen.”
 The Palais raised money for the war effort with its annual ‘Movie Ball,’ where the walls were adorned with pictures of Humphrey Bogart and other movie stars.
As soon as Margot was old enough to go dancing, she danced as much as she could, returning home in tired contentment.
“You’d come home in winter after a night of dancing and see if there were enough coals in the wood stove to make a piece of toast and to warm your feet at the stove.”

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Whopping gophers no longer illegal

Originally published: Saturday, 25th September, 2021

Riders of large motorised mobility devices are off the hook, thanks to new road rules that finally recognise their legal right to travel on footpaths.
This week, the NSW Government has at last amended the rules regarding restrictive weight limits, so that immense gophers are no longer considered ”illegal” when riding on footpaths and walkways.
Serena Ovens, CEO of the Physical Disability Council of NSW, said the change is long overdue.
“The PDCN has been advocating for the onerous weight restriction to be lifted for several years,” she said.
“We literally had situations where people had gone to the cost and effort of purchasing MMDs, and were told; ‘This is too heavy, it’s illegal to use this to get around and you can’t use it in our grounds’.
“At the same time, the weight restrictions were limiting our members’ ability to import newer, more advanced models – it was an arbitrary rule with little to no practical justification and had serious impacts on our members’ independence and capacity to engage in community life.”
Broken Hill people riding even the most gigantic motorised mobility devices can now breathe easy.

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COVID claims its first in the Hill

Originally published: Saturday, 25th September, 2021

The Far West has recorded its first COVID-19 death this week.
The Far West Local Health District reported that a man in his late 50’s, who was COVID positive, died at the Broken Hill Hospital on Thursday afternoon.
The man was a close contact of a previously confirmed COVID-19 positive case, was unvaccinated and had underlying health conditions.
FWLHD Chief Executive, Umit Agis, spoke to the media in a press conference on Friday afternoon.
“Sadly, unfortunately, I have to report that we had our first COVID-19 death in the region,” he said.
“It was a Broken Hill man in his late 50’s, who was not vaccinated, and we only became aware of his COVID positive status when he came to ED (Emergency Department), so he was not known.  
“As part of our process, we swab people when they come into hospital ED, and there it was discovered that he was COVID positive. He was very heavily compromised physically and, unfortunately, he passed away yesterday (Thursday) afternoon.
“I want to relay my sincerest condolences to the family and his loved ones.”
Mr Agis could confirm that the man who passed away was an Aboriginal man.
“It just goes to show, really, that no matter how slight your symptoms are, don’t second guess, because you may not get a second chance with this,” he said.
“We encourage anyone and everyone to get tested, irrespective of if you have symptoms or not, and we’ll make sure that we turn the results around very quickly so we can notify the individuals concerned.
“But please, come forward. If we can get to it in time, we can contain the spread of the virus.”
Mr Agis said there are currently two COVID positive patients in the Broken Hill Hospital and they’re doing reasonably well.
Up to 8pm, Thursday, September 23, the Far West recorded a further 11 cases, nine in Broken Hill and two in Wilcannia. Up to 8pm, Wednesday, September 22, there were seven cases in the Far West, six in Broken Hill and one in Wilcannia. There were just three cases in the district up to 8pm, Tuesday, September 21, all of which were in Broken Hill.
This brings the total cases in the Far West to 226; of those, 148 are from Wilcannia, 77 from Broken Hill and one from Balranald. There are 130 recovered cases in the district; one from Balranald, 20 from Broken Hill and 109 from Wilcannia.
There are currently 96 active cases in the region; 57 in Broken Hill and 39 in Wilcannia.
Mr Agis said there is good news in relation to the region’s COVID vaccination numbers.
“At the moment, for 16 years and over, as a district, we are now standing at just under 83 percent for first dose and 56 percent second dose.
“Wilcannia and White Cliffs, 69 percent first dose, 53 percent second dose. Now, Wilcannia, as you know, had a large number of people who became positive - a large number of those, around 70 to 80 percent, were not vaccinated. Unfortunately, those individuals will not get vaccinated post their COVID-free status - they’ll have to wait another three to six months.
“So, if you remove those numbers from the denominator, the actual rate of vaccination for those who are eligible is quite high.”
Mr Agis said that Menindee is “the star” when it comes to vaccinations.  
“Menindee is just under 93 percent for first dose and 78 percent second dose. Broken Hill is 88 percent first dose and 62.5 percent second dose.
“So, as you can see, we are doing quite well on the vaccination front.
“I’m told by our Public Health that if we maintain our current strike rate, we’re looking at two to three weeks to reach our 70 percent full dose and slightly more than four weeks for 80 percent.”

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A night of frocks, Power and Wines

Originally published: Wednesday, 22nd September, 2021

In a historic night, the Brownlow Medal was held in Perth and the 2021 Brownlow Medallist was Port Adelaide’s star midfielder Ollie Wines, who became the club’s first ever winner of the prestigious award.
The count was a close run from the Round 1 votes, with Western Bulldog’s captain, Marcus Bontempelli, leading for much of the night, before being overtaken by Wines late in the count.
To add some flair and dramatics for the final round of voting, only Wines or Bontempelli could possibly win and in Round 23 the Bulldogs and the Power played off. Bontempelli didn’t poll and Wines earnt two votes, securing his Brownlow Medal win.
In a Brownlow record, Wines polled in 16 rounds, including 11 of the last 12. He polled a record-equalling 36 votes, on par with that of Dustin Martin when he won the medal in 2017.
Wines was in Perth for the count and when he first approached the podium for his acceptance speech he said he was “a little bit rattled to be honest.”
“There are so many great players that I still look up to at my age, who have had tremendous seasons and a lot of them are playing on Saturday in the biggest game of the year, and I’m extremely envious of them,” said Wines.
In a post-event video for AFL social media channels, Wines said; “As a kid you dream of these moments, of winning a Brownlow or winning a premiership and one of them has today come true for me and I’m incredibly honoured for that.
“Hopefully it inspires kids younger than me who want to win this award and win premierships and play AFL,” he said.
For the first time in Brownlow history, a record four players polled 30-plus votes in the count. Runner Up, Marcus Bontempelli, finished with 33 votes, in third Clayton Oliver of the Melbourne Demons had 31 and Carlton young gun Sam Walsh finished in fourth with 30 votes.
To round out the top five, Essendon’s Darcy Parish and St Kilda captain Jack Steele both had 26 votes to finish equal fifth.
Broken Hill’s exports represented well in the count, with Adelaide Crows’ Taylor Walker leading the count on seven votes after Round 3, evidence of his strong start to the season. While in Round 21 against Geelong, GWS Giants’ Isaac Cumming polled his first ever Brownlow votes with two, in what was a cracking game from him.
As well as the main medal in that of the Brownlow, the AFL also crowned the winners of the Mark and Goal of the Year.
Fremantle youngster, Caleb Serong, took out Goal of the Year in their Round 22 clash with West Coast. The goal was a kick from the boundary, deep in the pocket after Serong lost his footing and managed to get to his feet and put boot to ball.  
“I don’t think much was going through my head when I was in that situation, I got up as quick as I could and just smacked it on the boot,” said Serong. “I think it was more of a fluke than anything but pretty glad it went through”
Having taken out the Rising Star Award in 2020 and now the Goal of the Year, when accepting his award on Sunday night he was asked what else the football world can expect from him.
“Hopefully a flag next year for the Dockers,” he said.
Richmond highflyer, Shai Bolton, was the winner of the Mark of the Year award, with a perfect leap and specky over Geelong’s Mark Blicavs at the top of the goal square in Round 8.
“I was just waiting there for a while and I wanted them to kick it to me earlier, but I guess it was a good mark,” he said.
Previous Mark of the Year winner, Nic Naitanui, asked who Bolton’s step ladder is at training, to which he responded, Liam Baker. In the theme of taking one over teammates, fellow Tiger Jack Riewoldt was in contention for the award, to this Bolton said “Maybe next time mate.”
Now to the red carpet, which for some is the best part of the evening and it definitely makes for good viewing - from the players we’re used to seeing in a playing kit all dressed up in their suits, to the partners in stunning dresses and the hosts putting on their best frocks.
For me, there were a clear top three in the women’s outfits. From the red carpet it was Brittany Brown, who was best on in my opinion; she accompanied West Coast’s Nic Naitanui and wore a turquoise dress with a deep V-neck and a tule skirt. The 7AFL hosts were serving looks, with Jacqui Felgate in an emerald green strapless number with a corset-style bodice, while Abbey Holmes rocked a white one shoulder form-fitting gown.
The male top three were harder to come by, with most of the players rocking basic black suits. However, Melbourne captain, Max Gawn, sported a black-on-black paisley embossed print jacket with the traditional white shirt and black bow tie. Brisbane Lions captain, Dayne Zorko, wore a cream jacket and white top combo, with black pants, shoes and bow tie. Lastly, Melbourne’s Christian Petracca donned a grey check suit with a darker grey vest, but it was the Nike Air Force 1’s that sold this outfit for me - very on trend and looked a treat.
Overall, it was enjoyable viewing, with a great red carpet display and a tight race for the Brownlow. With the Brownlow done and dusted, that means all that’s left is the Grand Final this weekend and, boy, am I looking forward to it.

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Death lurks in the shadow of COVID

Originally published: Wednesday, 22nd September, 2021

Last week, Louise Pointing noticed that her 15-year-old son was not himself.
He was beginning to have what looked to her like epileptic fits  
“I took him up to the hospital and then they sent us home,” Louise told Barrier Truth.  
“But then he had a couple more the same night, so I took him up the next day and they kept him in overnight.”  
With no history of epilepsy in Louse’s family, doctors were puzzled.  
“They don’t have a clue,” said Louise. “They’ve put him on anti-seizure medication until we can see if there’s something underlying. But what bothers me is, if there’s something underlying, six months could make a big difference.”
And six months could be how long Louise Pointing and her son must wait.   
“He needs to have an MRI done, and an EEG done as well, but who knows how long that’s going to be? We can’t get either done because we can’t get a technician over the border.
“It’s absolutely ridiculous. They said maybe for a couple of weeks, end the month, but we really don’t know when the technician’s coming in.”
Louise and her son are just two of hundreds in Broken Hill who are suffering as a result of COVID myopia, a medical blind spot created largely by political reactions to the pandemic.
With the border between NSW and SA having been effectively closed for months, specialists, even those who’ve successfully applied for exemption, must isolate for 14 days when returning from Broken Hill – a situation that is unacceptable to busy medical personnel.  
Barrier Truth has spoken to several Broken Hill doctors who all have the same story to tell: long waiting lists for patients suffering from entirely treatable ailments, many of whom will get more unwell, or even die, before they get the help they need.  
Steve Flecknoe-Brown was Consultant Physician at Broken Hill Health Service for 16 years until 2015. The first Chairman of the Far West Local Health District Board (July 2011 to December 2012), he says what’s happening is a quiet disaster that was brewing long before COVID showed itself.  
“My heart aches for Broken Hill and Wilcannia at the moment, particularly Wilcannia,” Dr Flecknoe-Brown says.   
“But this is the real toll of being isolated.  
“The good thing about being isolated was always that we had a community feeling and we looked after each other. But the real toll is now that you’re really isolated and they can’t get the specialist care they need, so they’ve got to depend on the local specialists there.  
“Unfortunately, dysfunctional management has basically pushed all the good ones away.”
“So there’s that, and there’s also the lack of access to preventive health measures when you feel that you’re not able to get out into the community. The doctors definitely are not delivering anything like the amount of preventive care that they used to.
“People are avoiding the doctor’s surgery for routine stuff, and only going there when they’re sick.
“That’s not a bit surprising. It’s exactly what I would’ve predicted. And that’s what we’re hearing all across the nation.”
According the latest figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (“Provisional Mortality Statistics: Jan 2020 - May 2021”), death from nearly everything but COVID has markedly increased in the past two years. Cancer and diabetes, in particular – survivable diseases when combatted with regular specialised treatment – are six percent and nine percent respectively higher than the averages from the 2015 to 2019 period.  
It’s a trend that mirrors the shock findings of a report published in the British Medical Journal last May (“Hospital admission and mortality rates for non-COVID diseases in Denmark during COVID-19 pandemic: nationwide population based cohort study”) that found hospital presentations were noticeably down, while death was noticeably up, the report concluding that “increased attention towards management of serious non-COVID-19 medical conditions is warranted.”  
Dr Flecknoe-Brown agrees.
“We’re missing out on things like bowel cancer screening, pap smears and all those sorts of things that save lives.  
“The message for the people is that they are entitled to go to their doctor for healthcare, and that includes preventive care. Even though they have to mask up and QR code in and so on, it’s really important that they keep up the preventive care and routine visits.”
For Louise Pointing and her son, it’s a little too late for that.
“Well, we just have to wait,” she says. “There’s nothing else we can do. We can’t get across the border, we can’t do anything.
“It just annoys me because they bang on about uniting Australia, we’re one big country, and yet there’s nothing between us and the South Australian border – It’s 50 kilometres, no towns, nothing else, and yet we’re not allowed to go in. It’s just about division of power.
“A couple of years ago, I had a mole that became itchy,” Louise recalls. “Luckily, we moved quick, within, like, a week, and got it cut out.
“It was at the stage that if I had waited six months, I wouldn’t be here today.
“So, like I said, six months could make a big difference.”

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Vale Kevin “Bushy” White

Originally published: Wednesday, 22nd September, 2021

As a young boy, Kevin White was constantly going walkabout, hunting rabbits or chasing kangaroos out into the scrub, to the point where the question; “Where’s Kevin?” would almost always be answered with; “He’s out bush!”
So began the nickname “Bushy”, which Kevin preferred all the way to the end. Today, Broken Hill is mourning him.
“I am deeply saddened at the news of Kevin ‘Bushy’ White's passing,” said Broken Hill Mayor, Darriea Turley.
“Bushy was a much-loved local character and a mainstay of our tourism industry for over three decades.”
Born in Broken Hill in 1943, Bushy lost his father when he was just 18 months old and grew up with four other siblings.
Times were tough, and full schooling was uneconomical for the White family, so Bushy joined the workforce at a young age; first at the old Ice and Produce store, then Frear’s wood yard, followed by a three-year stint on a property at Robinvale – his first and last experience of living away from Broken Hill.
From the age 17, Bushy never called anything but Broken Hill “home”.
He married and had three children, but so much of his life was spent underground, beetling through the Zinc Mine for 26 years until, at the age of 49, he was retrenched.
“In the end,” Bushy told Barrier Truth in 2013, “working with men you trusted your life with was good and character-building, to say the least.”
More recently, reflecting on his underground years to a reporter from ABC Radio National, Bushy spoke about “a certain claustrophobic feeling” one can get toward the end of one’s career in the mines.
“And when you get that claustrophobic feeling,” he said, “get out.”
After escaping the perils of underground work, Bushy began to concentrate on his art - works constructed from minerals – and turned his vast collection of mining artifacts into White’s Mineral Art and Living Mining Museum, which, alongside his wife Betty’s Doll Museum, remains one of the more interesting galleries in Broken Hill.
“He made a significant cultural contribution to our community through his unique museum, his own mining artwork, and his preservation of historic mining artefacts,” said Mayor Turley.
“And who could forget the amazing Christmas displays that brought a smile to so many kids' faces over the years.
“His love for our mining heritage was unrivalled, and his 26 years working on the mines ensured that all visitors to his museum received a unique and authentic insight into our mining history.
“Bushy's passion and enthusiasm for mining, Broken Hill, and its people, will never be forgotten.”
Kevin Bushy White leaves behind a wife, three children, a squadron of grandkids and an uncountable number of friends and admirers - sad today, but greater for the life he shared with them.

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One win away from a SANFL Grand Final

Originally published: Saturday, 18th September, 2021

In his opening season of SANFL football with the Woodville West Torrens Eagles, 23-year-old Kobe Mutch is preparing for a second semi-final clash against ladder leaders, Glenelg, at Adelaide Oval tonight (Saturday, September 18).
This year’s finals series has a number of unique aspects, with the second semi-final being played as an evening game and the penultimate match of the year, the preliminary final of 2021, being a Friday night fixture, on AFL Grand Final eve.
The 2021 SANFL Grand Final will be Sunday, October 3, starting at 3pm.
After finishing second behind Glenelg, the Eagles clawed their way to victory last Sunday in the Qualifying Final, defeating Norwood by seven points in a low scoring and uncompromising affair.
Mutch was an important contributor in the victory, kicking a first quarter goal, collected 25 disposals (14 kicks and 11 handballs) and laid five tackles to be among the Eagles best.
“Norwood were awesome in the way they attacked the game – and we needed to produce a strong brand of footy to grab the win,” Mutch said.
“The game last week was a significant step up in the intensity, as you’d expect from a final.  
“It was pleasing we were able to match them and hold on for a win in pretty tough and slippery conditions.”   
Mutch explained a major reason he decided to sign with Woodville West Torrens this season was they were expected to participate in the major round.  
“That’s why I’m here - 100 per cent – this is the time of year you want to be involved and performing,” Mutch confirmed.  
“Reading the history of the club, the Eagles have been in a lot of finals (since the foundation clubs amalgamated in 1991) but have never collected back-to-back flags.
“The focus is on being a part of the team that achieves that.”    
The Eagles task tonight (Saturday evening) is to defeat ladder leaders Glenelg, who endured just one loss for the regular, their final game against Port.
The winner gains direct entry to the Grand Final and importantly a week’s rest.
Mutch confirmed that players need to alter your preparation for an evening fixture.
“My one AFL (Friday) night-game was with Essendon and it wasn’t an experience that I remember fondly – I tore my ‘hammy’ and spent the next 12 weeks on the sidelines,” Mutch mused.
“It is important you don’t play the game in your head too much during the day, and are ready to play the game from when the ball bounces.  
“I’m more prepared and mature in this area now.”
After a shoulder injury on SANFL debut in round one, Mutch returned to league ranks in round seven.
His form over the second half of the season has been ultra-consistent, playing as an inside midfielder for the reigning premiers.  
“(I’ve) Started to get continuity of my body in the second half of the season and play some consistent footy,” he smiled.
“(My) Best footy for the season is still in front of me.
“Eagles coach Jade Sheedy has been excellent for me this year.
“He’s really good at relationship building and you know where you stand, which helps to play your best footy.”
Mutch is looking to follow in the footsteps of fellow Silver City footballers including Lachlan McGregor, Mitch Clisby, Colin Casey, Peter Meuret and Chris Duthy, who have paraded their football talent on the SANFL’s biggest stage, the Grand Final.
They have two chances over the next seven days; winning the second semi, or beating either Norwood or South in the Preliminary Final next Friday night.
Kobe Mutch’s plan is to get the job done tonight.

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Burke and Wills Barkandji mystery

Originally published: Saturday, 18th September, 2021

One hundred and sixty years ago this month, the explorer Alfred Howitt found the sole survivor of the Burke and Wills Expedition at Cooper Creek, and the sad fate of Burke and Wills was finally revealed. However, the news of the explorers’ demise would take another two months to reach Melbourne.
Unaware of the dramatic events unfolding at the Cooper, the expedition’s organisers, The Royal Society of Victoria, held a meeting at the Society’s Hall in Melbourne to celebrate the bravery of a young Barkandji man from Menindee, who Anglo-Australians called ‘Dick’. On 23 September 1861 the Governor of Victoria, Sir Henry Barkly, presented Dick with an engraved brass breastplate on a chain and five sovereigns in honour of his gallant conduct in saving the lives of two of the expedition’s members.
Dick was one of several Aboriginal people that guided the Burke and Wills Expedition through the colony of New South Wales, with Mr. Benton, Martin, Simon and Watpipa taking turns to lead the expedition through the mallee country from Balranald to the Darling. Upon returning to Menindee, Dick found a police trooper, Myles Lyons, had arrived from Swan Hill with urgent despatches for Burke. Accompanied by a saddler from Bendigo, Sandy MacPherson, the three men set off in pursuit of Burke, with Dick once more leading the way north.
It was now December 1860, the weather was hot, the men had limited provisions and water was scarce. As they ventured over the Queensland border into the Grey Range their horses died and the men became stranded. They were forced to drink their own urine to survive, before struggling back to the mosquito-infested waterhole at Torowotto Swamp. Too weak to continue, Dick hunted for food and then arranged for the Pantyikali people to supply them with nardoo cakes, birds, snakes and goannas.
In a final bid for salvation, Dick set off alone to walk 150 kilometres through the summer heat to Menindee to raise the alarm, leaving Lyons and MacPherson huddled under the shade of an old horse blanket. After travelling for eight days without food, Dick arrived at the Expedition’s camp in Menindee and collapsed. The Expedition’s surgeon, Dr Beckler recalled:
“I saw a native approaching our camp. I would certainly not have recognised him were it not for his clothing which led me to think it must be Dick. His previously full face was sunken, his tottering legs could hardly carry him, his feet were raw, his voice was hoarse and whispering. He was the shadow of a man. He laid himself at my feet and looked at me wistfully and soulfully.”
A rescue party was sent out to retrieve Lyons and MacPherson, and the artist, Dr. Becker, painted a watercolour of their saviour – ‘Dick the brave and gallant native guide’. The Expedition’s third-in-command, William Wright, “was very desirous that Dick should be rewarded in some manner and wished to purchase a medal for him”. The Royal Society of Victoria was aware that an Aboriginal woman from the Darling had been presented with a brass medal for saving the life of a white man, and so they arranged for a similar brass breastplate for Dick to be inscribed with the words:
“Presented to Dick by the Exploration Expedition, for assisting Trooper Lyons and Saddler McPherson, December, 1860.”
Unfortunately, the breastplate was mislaid while being taken from Melbourne to Menindee, but when it was eventually returned to the Royal Society of Victoria later in the year, they decided to invite Dick to Melbourne for a formal presentation. The Melbourne newspapers reported:
“On Monday afternoon, 23 September 1861, at the Hall of the Royal Society, His Excellency Sir Henry Barkly, in the presence of several gentlemen, presented ‘Dick’, the Aboriginal who materially assisted in rescuing Lyons and McPherson from the perils of the Australian interior, with a brass plate and chain and five sovereigns, as a reward for his gallant conduct on that occasion. His Excellency, in making the presentation, said: ‘Dick, I understand that this has been given to you by the Queen’s Government for rescuing Trooper Lyons and Saddler McPherson. Every blackfellow who sees you will let know what you received this for.’”
Dick returned to Menindee after his remarkable journey to the Victorian capital, and continued as an expedition guide, first for Alfred Howitt and then George Curlewis. However, after 1862, there is no further record of his movement. Dick’s digging stick was later presented to the Royal Society of Victoria as a souvenir.
The Royal Society of Victoria made three additional brass breastplates which were presented to Yandruwandha-Yawarrawarrka people at Cooper Creek. Two of these breastplates were found several years ago.
Now, on the 160th anniversary of this remarkable story, the Burke and Wills Historical Society would like to know more about the forgotten tale of Dick’s courageous act, and maybe find out what became of his breastplate and digging stick.
If you can shed any light on this mystery, the B&WHS would love to hear from you. You can contact them at secretary@burkeandwills.net.au and all responses will be gratefully received and answered.

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Broken Hill woman’s amazing story … ‘COVID VAX CURED MY DEPRESSION’

Originally published: Saturday, 18th September, 2021

Tina* used to wake up most mornings wishing she was somebody else.
The crippling curse of depression, curdled with a dash of bipolar disorder, made many days feel as if they were particularly tedious episodes of some dreary midday soap.
“Sometimes I’d be alright for a while,” Tina says, “thanks mostly to medication.
“But, even then, on my good days, there was always like a black cloud over the horizon.
“You couldn’t see it, but you always knew it was there, waiting to come over and ruin everything.”
Then along came COVID, the global pandemic, and another ghoulish fiend was added to Tina’s weird gallery of psychological tormenters.   
“I suffer paranoia pretty badly sometimes,” she says, “and it doesn’t take a lot to set me off.
“Like, if I see a police light flashing way in the distance, I can become convinced that they’re looking for me. It can take me a whole night to settle down.
“So, when the coronavirus came along, I naturally got all anxious about it. I was sure I was going to get it.”
Things got worse when the COVID vaccines became available, along with a deluge of misinformation that belched from the internet on a daily basis: you’d get blood clots, they said; you’d never feel the same again; it was all a government plot to take us over and then steal our precious things.
“I’m not a conspiracy theorist,” Tina says, “but I guess I was a bit susceptible to some of the rumours that were flying around.”
But when Tina read that the vaccines were part of a conspiracy to knock us unconscious so that Oprah Winfrey could steal the blood of our babies, she’d had quite enough.
“I just thought; ‘This is ridiculous – the people spreading these rumours are more screwed up than I am’. So I decided to get vaxxed, just to put a stop to these stupid voices that were getting too much airtime in my head.
“I just decided to take control, I guess.”
Her first jab was uneventful.
The second was anything but.
“I spewed,” Tina recalls, “and then they made me lie down for a bit. But after about an hour I felt OK and went home.”
It was the next morning that Tina felt a rainbow had struck her fair in the fundament.
“I woke up feeling great,” she says. “Just really happy, not down at all. That dark cloud thing … I just wasn’t aware of it anymore. I felt like it had just lifted.”
Day after day, Tina awoke expecting those big black clouds to return and dump their load, heavier than before. But, so far, it hasn’t happened.
“Everything seems better,” she says. “I’m happier, my relationship’s better, and I’ve even got better at guitar – although I think that’s probably because I’ve had more time to practice in lockdown.”
University of Sydney Associate Professor and immunisation expert, Julie Leask, doesn’t discount Tina’s experience, but believes we should be careful not to go thinking the COVID vaccines have magical properties.
“I can't think of any mechanism by which a vaccine would act on whatever chemical imbalance brings serious depression that comes with bipolar disorder,” she told Barrier Truth.
“It's clearly going to be a ‘plus’ placebo effect, where you think you have something acting on you and it's not, but it's still a very powerful psychological effect anyway.”
Professor Leask says post-vaccination sensations of “well-being, security and relief” have been common around the world, and, COVID or not, placebo effects have been demonstrated to exercise command over an individual’s mental state.   
“Placebo effects have documented psychological effects on people and they can even make people just feel less pain, for example,” she said.
“In fact, interestingly, in the trials of the COVID vaccines, they had a placebo group, which just received sterile salty water and needles – they didn't know whether they got the vaccine or not – and a lot of them experienced similar side effects to the vaccination group, like the tiredness, the aches and so forth.
“So, having a vaccine has a psychological effect on us, and clearly, in this unusual instance, it's had a really positive one for her.”
Tina’s not worried.
“I don’t care what’s causing it,” she says.
“All I know is that I got vaxxed and now life isn’t crappy anymore.”
*Not her real name

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Sad Max: Our rigs flogged to the highest bidder

Originally published: Wednesday, 15th September, 2021

A nightmarish squadron of vehicles from Mad Max: Fury Road is up for auction later this month, and it looks like Broken Hill might be robbed of its rightful Hollywood heritage for a second time.  
Lloyd’s Classic Car Auctions will be bringing the hammer down at 7pm on September 26, the highest bidder getting to drive away with 13 machines including the “War Rig”, the “Gigahorse” and the “Doof Wagon”, “super turbo-charged and armed to the teeth with weaponry”, as Lloyds’ website describes them.  
A spokesperson for Lloyds told Barrier Truth that the lot has attracted “considerable interest from the United States”, meaning iconography that really belongs in Broken Hill will once again go to some less deserving part of the world.  
“The whole Mad Max thing itself – it’s Australian through and through,” says Adrian Bennett, curator of Silverton’s Mad Max Museum.  
“George Miller himself described it as his vision of Australia. I think that’s what disappointed a lot of people about Fury Road – you had to use your imagination to convince yourself that it was Australia, when it was actually Africa.
“And its absolutely right to say that the look of these vehicles – the whole steampunk thing – began here, with Mad Max 2.”
Though the original 1979 Mad Max was shot in Victoria, it was Mad Max 2 in 1981 that brought the franchise to international fame, director George Miller’s “junkyard-society-of-the-future look”, as Hollywood writer Richard Sheib described it, owing as much to Broken Hill’s wasteland desertscapes as it did to the costumes and machinery.     
“It really all started with Mad Max 2,” says Adrian.   
“It was so influential – started everything off with this post-apocalyptic look and feel we’ve seen in so many movies since. When you read interviews with directors like Tarantino, they all say the same thing; that, without Mad Max 2, depictions of the future in film would look very different indeed.”  
But it was in 2011 that Broken Hill was first cheated of its fortunes in the Mad Max horn of plenty, unseasonably wet weather making the desert bloom with flora entirely unsuitable for Miller’s apocalyptic vision. After considerable pre-production, including the building of a studio in Eyre Street, Miller was forced to relocate Fury Road to the bleak sandhills of Namibia in Southern Africa.
Like a heartbroken ex-lover, Broken Hill watched in agony as the world became enamoured with Swakopmund – a former mining town, no less – the coastal Namibian getaway becoming the darling of travel writers, real estate speculators and apostles of Hollywood (the Namibia Tourism Board still runs tours of the sand-swept Fury Road locations).   
The grief is now poised strike again as the iconic machines – the grandchildren of the wagons from Mad Max 2 – are likely to be whisked away from their spiritual home, to be fiddled with by some rich American stranger, a future more desolate than the one depicted by the film in which they starred.  
Adrian Bennett can barely stand it.  
“It would be lovely if George Miller had saved me just one vehicle,” Adrian muses,” and delivered it here with a note saying; ‘Kind regards, George Miller.’”
But Lloyds is auctioning the vehicles as an entire lot – a spokesperson for the auction house said the current owner was “very specific that the group be kept together” – thus wrecking any possibility of one or two of the monstrous contraptions being adopted by the Mad Max Museum in Silverton.
“Unfortunately, the price for the whole lot is probably way, way out of my budget,” says Adrian.  
“I seriously don’t think Westpac would appreciate the call.”  
Still, with Furiosa, the next instalment in the Mad Max series, set to begin filming next year, there is hope that the next generation of mechanical gremlins will find their way home.  
“Apparently they’re building a new truck for Furiosa, because it’s set before Mad Max 2 and all the other films.  
“Perhaps I’ll get to claim that one when filming is over.”         
For those who can stand it, the auction will be live streamed through Lloyd’s website at www.lloydsonline.com.au

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Dees versus Dogs it is

Originally published: Wednesday, 15th September, 2021

They were the endings no one expected. The top four teams of the 2021 season battled it out in the Preliminary Finals over the weekend, and they were far from close games.
Blow outs would be putting it politely; the Demons won convincingly over Geelong in Perth, as did the Bulldogs over the Power, and on the loser’s home turf.
The two teams that have been the top end of the ladder for the entirety of the season have proved their worth and have booked a ticket to the 2021 Grand Final in Perth in a little over a week’s time.
The first to earn their spot were the Melbourne Demons, with an 83-point win over the lacklustre looking Geelong Cats on Friday night.
The Demons were unrelenting and ruthless in their push to win, essentially putting on a clinic, dominating at every opportunity. The Cats on the other hand were low impact and lacking on all fronts, their only goal in the second half coming with 90 seconds to go in the game.
Max Gawn was the clear standout player from this game, the Demons captain taking the game on his shoulders and running with it. At the end of the third quarter, Gawn had singlehandedly kicked more goals that the Geelong team. He was a man on a mission.
Gawn kicked a career-high five goals in the Preliminary Final, four of which came in the third quarter. He finished with five straight goals, 19 disposals and 33 hit outs in a dominant performance.
The Demons will head to the Grand Final for the first time since 2000 and are just one win away from their first premiership in 57 years.
Full time score – Melbourne Demons 19.11 125 defeated Geelong Cats 6.6 42.
In another easy win to secure their place in the Grand Final, the Western Bulldogs managed a 71-point win over Port Adelaide on Saturday night, who were far from their best.
The Bulldogs were on the front foot from the game’s commencement, with Baily Smith slotting the first goal, picking up where he left off last week. Within ten minutes it was evident which team was most on their game; the Dogs had five goals on the board before Port managed to get anything happening, with a goal from Ollie Wines.
Bailey Smith was again a standout for the Bulldogs, showing he knows how to step up and perform in finals football, finishing with four goals and 23 disposals. Adam Treloar and Marcus Bontempelli were instrumental with 23 disposals, a goal and 13 score involvements and 20 disposals and two goals respectively.
The Bulldogs battled through the finals from fifth spot on the ladder at the end of the regular season, with straight wins in the Elimination, Semi and Preliminary Finals heading into the big dance - similar to their run into 2016, which we all know ended with a premiership.
Full time score – Western Bulldogs 17.14 116 defeated Port Adelaide 6.9 45.
The Dees and the Dogs will meet at Optus Stadium for the illustrious last game in September, in just over a week’s time on Saturday, September 25. All eyes will be on them, as they battle it out to determine who will be this year’s Premiership team.

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Age, rage and the virtual stage: The late-life rebirth of Steve Kilbey

Originally published: Wednesday, 15th September, 2021

On a weekend in September of 2020, a handful of Broken Hill people got to witness something special.
Steve Kilbey, former frontman with The Church, performed at The Palace Hotel, solo, the crowd limited to 49 paying customers in observance of COVID restrictions.
What might have been a downer of an evening was, in fact, an exhibition of power – a mere 12-string guitar in the hands of one man, but a campaigner experienced enough to understand the strange clout one can wring from an intimate situation. It was, if the pun can be pardoned, a religious experience.
For Steve, it was just another show. What he remembers most about that weekend is the strange place he found himself in, for the first time.
“I remember it was a good show,” he says, “and I remember the audience were very kind.
“I don't really remember a lot about what happened that night. It was a good gig. I remember that.
“I think I've done so many gigs now, and they’re not always going to be like Hultsfred in Sweden, with 60,000 people, you know? Sometimes it's smaller intimate places
“But I’ll tell you, I have really fond memories of Broken Hill from that weekend,” he says.
“I didn't think I would enjoy my time there and I really did. I’d never been to Broken Hill before and I didn’t know anything about Broken Hill, but the little bits and pieces that I saw I really enjoyed, and every person that I met was very gracious and kind to me.
“I wasn't in any hurry to leave at all. When we finally got on the train and left, I was quite melancholy the whole thing was over.”
Sorrow over good times having passed is an emotion with which Steve Kilbey is intimately familiar.
In the 1980s, The Church were one of the brightest stars in the nation’s rock and roll filament. Not as flash and glitzy as INXS, nor as miserable as Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, The Church surfed the wave of international interest in Australian acts by remaining aloof, mystical, just a little out of reach of both fans and critics. It was a posture that worked, though Steve doesn’t care for it much today.
“I sort of invented a little character for myself,” Steve recalls, “and I thought I had to play it, and I thought my character was to be frosty and standoffish and even rude.
“Looking back on that now, I'm very ashamed of myself, and I think I did myself enormous damage by behaving like that. It wore very thin. I managed to piss off a lot of people and not get invited back on to things.
“If I had my time again, I would go for affable right from the get-go. If I had been more affable with people, I still could've been frosty onstage, but I didn't have to keep it going all the time.”
For a time, however, the theatrics worked, The Church building an international fan base the relics of which remain to this day (the internet is awash with The Church fan sites, at least one of which has made it its business to document every single show the band ever played, in Australia and the world).
The Church’s apex moment came in 1988 with the release of Under the Milky Way, a dreamy single that propelled The Church to #2 on the US Billboard Charts, the song finding a second home on the soundtrack of the 2001 cult film, Donnie Darko. In 2008, a poll by national newspaper, The Australian, voted it the best Australian song recorded in 20 years (while Kilbey was in Broken Hill, he received notification that he’d been paid a five-figure sum by an American football team who’d played 30 seconds of the song as they ran out for Superbowl).
But, as far as chart success is concerned, that was it for The Church, the following two decades seeing them break, reform and break again. Eighteen albums later, The Church still exists, but more like an idea than an actual band, coming together when they feel like it, which, for Kilbey, isn’t often.
“I sort of feel like I'm a different person,” he says. “Obviously, I had my 67th birthday yesterday (Monday September 13). I'm a much different person than I was then, and people like the me that I am now better than that other idiot who sort of ... I don't know why I wrote that part for my ... We all sort of wrote parts for ourselves and then we adhered to them. It was very tiresome.
“I was telling somebody yesterday, down at the beach, that I thought my 50s were a breeze. I felt, wow, 50s are no different than anything else. It's like I'm 55 or whatever, and nothing's happened at all – a little bit of grey in my beard, but that’s all.
“Now I'm in my late 60s and I guess you'd have to say I'm not enjoying it. I don't care about the looks, and getting old, from that point of view, but it's the health things, like arthritis in my feet, and back ache, and teeth falling out, and stuff like that. I've got screaming tinnitus. And I don't see so good.
“Having said all that, I think for someone of 67 I should be pretty grateful because I still have most of my faculties.”
And he’s still performing. One of the first Australian musicians to respond to the challenges of COVID, Steve jumped on the live-streaming wagon before anyone else, his nightly on-line performances during 2020 scoring audiences in the thousands.
His last solo album, 11 Women, was praised by critics when released in September last year, the experience enlivening him to record and release The Hall of Counterfeits, a double album, no less.
“I always loved that stupid idea of making what you hope is a sprawling masterpiece,” Steve says. “There's like 24 songs on there, and it's just like a rollercoaster of ... I'm really proud of it. I really enjoyed doing it. It's quite a preposterous listen, and I doubt where there's many people who have ever listened to it all in one go. It's quite an ask.”
Being prolific and genuinely (as opposed to theatrically) strange, says Kilbey, seems to come with age.
“I guess it's like raging against the dying of the light and all of that,” he says.
“Old musicians tend to lose their bite, and they just get old and soft and boring. So, for me this record was a way of saying: ‘I'm not. You might not like my record, but you can never say I've gotten old and soft and boring.”
A product of Kilbey’s prolific period has been a musical: The Road to Tibooburra, a nod to his time in Broken Hill, which he hopes will be performed soon.
“Maybe that musical will get performed properly or maybe it won't,” he says.
“But I went into the studio and recorded my own version, so that's set to come out at some stage too. My own personal version of The Road to Tibooburra.
“It’s the impression that part of the world had on me,” he recalls.
“I've never had a good time when I'm out in the desert, in America as well.
“But, as I said before, that’s all changed now.” 

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Back to work you bastards!

Originally published: Saturday, 11th September, 2021

Politicians and thousands of angry NSW residents have signed a petition urging the Berejiklian Government to reopen Parliament immediately.
Parliament was suspended for the third month in a row on Monday, meaning New South Wales will remain a one-party state until October at the earliest, the Government having eluded parliamentary transparency since June 24, when the current COVID crisis began.
The situation has so enraged Roy Butler, MP for Barwon, that he has been moved to present a petition to the Legislative Assembly demanding the Government return from its undemocratic smoko.
“For democracy to work, Parliament needs to sit,” Mr Butler fumed.
“Parliament is how Government is properly held to account, how policies and decisions are challenged and improved to better suit regional communities.”
The petition has already gathered more than 22,000 signatures after just a few days on the Parliament of New South Wales website.
One who was delighted to sign was Broken Hill Mayor, Darriea Turley.
“I think it’s outrageous,” she said. “We’re in a pandemic.
“The Government should be at work, allowing the people of NSW to, as the old saying goes, ‘keep the bastards honest’, through the democratic process of Parliament.”
The Government excuse – that Parliament can’t sit because it would be breaking its own Health Orders about gatherings – doesn’t wash with Kiama MP, Gareth Ward.
“We send nurses, doctors, ambos, police, teachers, transport workers, retail workers back to work — but politicians are too precious?”, he said.
“I find this totally unacceptable when online options exist.”
Shadow Minister for Regional and Western NSW, Mick Veitch, is convinced the State Government is up to no good.
“The NSW Health Orders list parliamentarians as essential workers,” he told the Barrier Truth.
“There has been a COVID-safe work plan developed for the NSW Parliament. Other workplaces also have COVID-safe plans and are continuing to operate, including supermarkets, pharmacies and bottle shops.
“The Federal Parliament has been able to sit, the Victorian Parliament is proposing to sit, so why is the Government in NSW resisting the Parliament sitting?
“Why would the Government want to oppose parliamentary scrutiny?”
For some, the answer is obvious.
“There is really little doubt what is motivating the Government’s position here,” wrote The Australian’s NSW political correspondent, Yoni Bashan. “It is on the nose electorally and vaccination rates remain its only lifeline out of this mess.
“It wants to avoid scrutiny for as long as conceivably possible.”
For Roy Butler, that’s tantamount to betrayal.
“When this all started, there was an agreement struck to grant Government significant powers to be able to move quickly in response to a virus we didn’t know much about,” he said.
“We now know more, especially that Government has failed to balance these significant powers with transparency.
“The NSW Parliament, when operating, can force that transparency.”
For his part, Deputy Premier John Barilaro reckons there’s no point in democracy until more people are vaccinated.
“There is no rush to bring people back or to reconvene Parliament in September,” he said, “when I know that on the road map we will be at double vaccination at 70 percent in October, which will give us the opportunity to return on a scheduled date possibly in October.”
Premier Gladys Berejiklian has called vaccinations “our best weapon” against the Delta variant.
We have another weapon, too: Parliament.
Unfortunately, the chamber is empty.

The e-petition is available to sign on the NSW Parliament Website at: www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/la/pages/epetitions-list.aspx

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No water to spare? Depends who’s asking

Originally published: Saturday, 11th September, 2021

Last week, the Productivity Commission released its three-yearly assessment of the National Water Initiative. Of special relevance is the Initiative’s reliance on the water market to manage our water and rivers.
The Productivity Commission says that the establishment of a water market demonstrates “significant progress” in the water reforms. The report praises the commodification of water that has created “material benefits” for those with water entitlements. It’s allowed growth in irrigated agriculture and given farmers the freedom to take out loans or retire debt.
The Productivity Commission acknowledges that Aboriginal people have been very clear - they want greater access to and control over water. The Commission suggests that the National Water Initiative be modernised to “recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s reverence and cultural responsibility for rivers and groundwater systems, and their desire to participate in all significant water-related processes and decisions.” That’s a worthy sentiment.
However, the Commission then argues that granting Aboriginal people water rights “would require fundamental change to current property rights regimes and the way water is currently managed”. Such a move “would have profound flow-on impacts on other entitlement holders, communities and individuals”.
Profound flow-on impacts on other entitlement holders certainly sounds like something to avoid. However, this is what will happen if the NSW Government licenses floodplain harvesting in Northern NSW. It is in the process of doing just that.
The Productivity Commission acknowledges the significant cumulative impacts that unlicensed floodplain harvesting has on the integrity of water entitlements. The response? Hurry up and license them.
So, there’s no water to spare when it comes to Aboriginal people, but plenty when it comes to new floodplain harvesting licences. Aboriginal people can give their knowledge, attend more meetings, and make more submissions, but that’s about it.
If governments are genuine about including Aboriginal people in decisions about water management, they could start with the submissions to the current NSW Parliamentary Inquiry into floodplain harvesting. The Dharriwaa Elders Group from Walgett states unequivocally that it “does not agree with, and does not want, any floodplain harvesting” on the grounds that the Elders “don’t believe that floodplain harvesting can be sustainable. Floodplain harvesting is, by definition, taking water from the ecosystems of the floodplains. It is not spare, unused or wasted water”.
Similar points were made by every Aboriginal group that made submissions. These included the Murray-Lower Darling Indigenous Nations, the NSW Aboriginal Land Council, the Euahlayi Peoples Republic, as well as individuals.
Governments say they’re willing to include Aboriginal people in water management. They can start by amending their water ownership bias and listening to Aboriginal people about floodplain harvesting.

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Ambos say the Day is every day

Originally published: Saturday, 11th September, 2021

Ambulance NSW says it’s important to still check on friends even though R U OK? Day is over.
Ambulance NSW Broken Hill Station Officer, Simon Evitts, says asking workmates if they’re coping is something ambos do regularly.
“R U OK? Day is advertised and is a planned day, but it’s something that we do on a daily basis,” he says.
“Like working in crews and partners, always checking up on your partner and making sure they’re okay and supporting them where needed.”
In their field of work, there are often difficult calls to attend, and they ensure to check in after those jobs.
“There are tough jobs you go to,” says Evitts, “but at the completion of that job we’ll have a debrief, where we discuss the job, good things that have happened, things we could’ve done better and that’s a very structured process within NSW Ambulance.
“We do have external employee-assistance programs, peer-support officers that we can call upon, but normally that’s very confidential – the person can do that individually.
“But we also support each other in a debrief process, and then follow-up in the coming days, to make sure the people are feeling okay about the tough jobs and offer further support if they’re not.”
Evitts says R U OK? Day is always important, but even moreso for the community in the current COVID climate.
“As everyone knows, with restrictions and lockdowns, it’s very, very tough on a lot of people. There are support networks there, but it’s a matter of reaching out.
“It can be a lonely time for some, so I think it’s very important to recognise if you’re struggling then reach out for help.

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When bullies and dongs rulled The Hill

Originally published: Wednesday, 8th September, 2021

Merrilyn ‘Merry’ Pedergnana makes a favourite sweet for her husband, Reg, and claims that quandong pie is a good lockdown treat because it is time-consuming to make. 

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30 questions to the Health Minister

Originally published: Wednesday, 8th September, 2021

NSW Minister Brad Hazzard visited Wilcannia yesterday. The media was not alerted – the journey was leaked – so Mr Hazzard’s purpose in Wilcannia was to fact find, see things with his own eyes, but not answer any media questions. Barrier Truth understands Mr Hazzard stayed in Broken Hill last night and is flying out some time this morning. It seems an ideal time to ask 30 questions of the Health Minister that are crucial to the health and safety of the people of Broken Hill and the Far West. We’ll make sure he gets his paper.    

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It’s raining Cats and Dogs

Originally published: Wednesday, 8th September, 2021

The final four teams of the 2021 AFL Premiership season are locked in and will do battle this weekend in the Preliminary Finals, for a spot in the Grand Final. After the Cats and the Bulldogs were victorious in the Semis, they, as well as the Demons and the Power, are all that remain in the hunt for the 2021 Premiership.

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Barretts line up for All Blacks in Perth

Originally published: Saturday, 4th September, 2021

The All Blacks have made five changes to their Bledisloe Cup-winning line-up for the third Test at Perth's Optus Stadium on Sunday.
All Blacks coach Ian Foster has swung the changes to New Zealand's Bledisloe Cup-winning side, starting three Barrett brothers for the third trans-Tasman Test on Sunday.
Lock Scott Barrett replaces Samuel Whitelock in the only change to the All Blacks forward line for the Perth match.
It's all change among the backs, with Jordie Barrett at fullback and Beauden Barrett as the starting No.10.
Only Ardie Savea, captaining the All Blacks in Whitelock's absence, David Havili and Will Jordan will start in the same backline roles from the second Bledisloe Cup Test.
In addition to the Barretts, Brad Weber and Anton Lienert-Brown have squeezed into the line-up as part of five changes to the All Blacks side.
New Zealand retained the Bledisloe for the 19th straight year last month with a pair of victories at Auckland's Eden Park.
Sunday's Test at Perth's Optus Stadium will count as part of the Rugby Championship, which will then conclude in Queensland.
– AAP

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Clarion call to Far West poets

Originally published: Saturday, 4th September, 2021

The judge of the Silver Tree Poetry Competition, Les Wicks, has chanced upon the literary muse in Broken Hill.
“On my first visit, I walked down this street, through the fence, and I could have this perfect solitude and the words flew onto the page,” said Mr Wicks, a prolific, Australian poet, publisher and workshop facilitator.
He draws inspiration from both the vastness of our landscape and the expanse of stories inside Broken Hill’s people.
“It’s the mix in Broken Hill of intense stories, an overload, almost, of stories of what brought them here. Those who grew up in Broken Hill, combined with the solitude, walking along the highway or in the regeneration area,” he said.
This double sweep inspired Mr Wicks to write a “huge amount of poems” in Broken Hill, including ‘Aeolus at the Mulga,’ in which is found such evocative imagery as ‘A huff of emus disperse like seeds as I approach.’
Two of his 14 published books were launched by people who grew up in Broken Hill.
“They are my really close friends, Rae Desmond Jones and Tom Thompson, who are acclaimed writers and social commentators,” said Mr Wicks.
“I’ve also made some really treasured friends in Broken Hill, the poet, Barbara De Francesci, and Mavis Sofield, who was the librarian.”
Literary types living in Far West NSW are eligible to enter the poetry competition’s Local category. A local writer can win the Local prize in the competition and may also win the Open prize, competing with poets around the country.
“This competition is really exciting,” said Mr Wicks.
“It’s only in its second year run and this year it is branching out nationally.”
Mr Wicks anticipates hundreds of entries for the $1,500 prize pool and said that literary attention will be on Broken Hill.
“I think it’s really important to have non-university, non-capital city ventures,” he said. “It’s a way for Broken Hill to say ‘Hi. I’m here’.
He believes that the competition benefits Broken Hill writers in two ways.
“It builds the reputation of Broken Hill and, at the same time, brings in a city influence,” said Mr Wicks.
“It’s a way to re-introduce and re-integrate those people in Broken Hill who write, to the broader city connections. They really are invaluable.”
Mr Wicks believes that poetry in recent years is more important than it has been for decades.
“Particularly in the time of Covid, poetry has had an enhanced role in society because so many people have been cut off from their normal life,” he said.
He sought to put words to why humans have this deeper need for poetry.
“You can create this whole world of feelings and intellectual response in 30 odd lines and this can be translated across,” said Mr Wicks.
“The simplest way of explaining it is that poetry contains the uncontainable.
“Once something is containable, it is endurable.”
Competition entry forms are available from Under The Silver Tree bookshop at 29 Sulphide Street. There is a $10 fee for each entry and entrants may submit more than one entry.
For enquires (08) 8000 1942 or UTSTwritingcompetition@gmail.com
Entries close on February 1, 2022, and the winners will be announced by Mr Wicks in April next year at a prize-giving ceremony at the Broken Hill Art Exchange, Covid- permitting, and also broadcast on 2Dry FM.
Under the Silver Tree is holding this writing competition to further its mission of encouraging reading, writing and the love of literature.

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Australia's cases soar as jab deal struck

Originally published: Saturday, 4th September, 2021

Australia will receive four million Pfizer coronavirus vaccine doses from Britain as the nation grapples with record infection numbers.
Australia has smashed its coronavirus case record and will soon receive an injection of four million vaccine doses from the UK.
There were more than 1650 new local infections reported on Friday across NSW, Victoria and the ACT.
Twelve people in NSW died, along with one in Victoria, taking the national toll to 1032.
Australia's Pfizer supplies - a major handbrake on the vaccine rollout - received a major boost after the UK agreed to a swap deal.
Four million doses will arrive in Australia this month and be paid back later.
Scott Morrison said he owed UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson a beer in return for the deal, which the government believes will significantly accelerate jab rates.
"This really does break the back of it," Australia's prime minister told reporters in Canberra.
Another 300,000 people received a jab in the past 24 hours as double-dose coverage for people aged 16 and over exceeded 37 per cent.
More than 61 per cent have received a single dose.
Vaccine coverage targets of 70 and 80 per cent linked to easing restrictions were again discussed at a national cabinet meeting.
Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese welcomed the vaccine deal but said it highlighted the government's failure to acquire enough doses initially.
"If Australia was genuinely first in the queue, we wouldn't be in a position or wouldn't need to be doing swaps to bring forward vaccine supply," he said.
A record infection rise was fuelled by the spiralling NSW outbreak which led to another 1431 people contracting the disease in 24 hours.
Victoria broke 200 cases for the first time in a year with both states pinning lockdown exit plans on a rapid increase in vaccinations.
There were another 18 cases in Canberra where year 12 students will receive priority access to the ACT's jab allocation from a separate swap deal with Singapore.
National cabinet was also briefed on how hospitals would cope when cases and deaths rise under less restrictions and higher vaccine coverage.
Health Department boss Brendan Murphy denied claims that elective surgeries and other care will be delayed to deal with the virus.
"It is not a plan that is dependent on stopping elective surgeries and paralysing the private hospital system. That is not true," he told a Senate committee.
"They are there as a valuable backstop if we need them but all the modelling is done to move into living with COVID in a vaccinated population with low-level activity."
Australian Medical Association president Omar Khorshid said leaders should go back to the drawing board if the plan involved sacrificing other care.
"Stopping surgery and other care was necessary in 2020 in a crisis," he said on Friday.
"But there is no excuse for lazy planning now. If we can't open up without decimating ordinary health care maybe we need more than 80 per cent of our population vaccinated?"
Dr Khorshid said the system needed to provide normal care to everyone or lives would be lost for years to come.  

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Swifts stand tall over Giants

Originally published: Wednesday, 1st September, 2021

The NSW Swifts proved the better team on the day of the 2021 Suncorp Super Netball Grand Final, defeating the Giants by four points, earning the title of champions.
Come the final siren, the scores were Swifts 63 to Giants 59. The Giants looked to be forging a comeback late in the fourth quarter, but it was too little, too late.
The Swifts were on top from the get-go, scoring the first goal of the game after a free. Sam Wallace scored a shot from under the post. Due to a couple of Giants turnovers, the Swifts got out to a six-point lead before the Giants managed to score their first goal via Sophie Dwyer.
The Giants slowly found their mojo as the first quarter progressed, Sophie Dwyer sinking the first super shot of the game, 15 seconds into the Power 5 to put the Giants up by a point. At quarter time, the Swifts lead the Giants by two-points, 17 to 15.
Giants’ Amy Parmenter turned the game on her hand in the second term, with multiple intercepts creating turnover in the Giants favour. She worked her way into the game as part of the Giants defence who upped their pressure on the Swifts attack. The Swifts put down 15 goals in the second quarter, while the Giants managed 13. Half time again saw the Swifts in the lead this time by four points, 32 to the Giants 28.
Despite sinking the first two goals of the second half, the Giants fell away in the third term, with no defensive answers to the magic that Sam Wallace was creating in the Swifts’ attacking circle. The Swifts sunk 17 goals while the Giants hit their lowest in the quarter for the game, with just 12. At three-quarter time the Swifts held their biggest lead of the game, 49 to the Giants 40.
The Giants fought back hard in the final term, winning the quarter 19 goals to the Swifts 14. It was a notoriously back-and-forth quarter, the Giants downing the last two goals of the game, both super shots, in the last 35 seconds, but it wasn’t enough. The Swifts were dominant from the first whistle, and from that they won their seventh premiership title by four points.
The Swifts’ Maddy Turner was named the Grand Final’s Most Valuable Player, for silencing Giants Sophie Dwyer. Turner kept Dwyer, the usually dominant 19-year-old goal attack, to just 16 goals for the game and her defensive efforts were impeccable and a big part of the Swifts victory.
Full time score – NSW Swifts 63 defeated Giants 59.

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Local author’s book a call to arms

Originally published: Wednesday, 1st September, 2021

Anika Molesworth was 12 years old when her family moved from Melbourne to a sheep farm just outside Broken Hill.  
Rather than the distressing wrench some children feel at leaving an old life behind, young Anika was bedazzled.
“Everything I had known up till that point was city life,” she says. “Then, up here, there were horizons forever. I would get up early in the morning and go for walks across the paddocks and see kangaroos and emu nests. I fell in love with this place very easily. It was an almost instant connection.”
In those early days, life on The Barrier was almost non-stop excitement.
“Driving a car on the farm when you can barely see over the dashboard, splashing around in a dam. It was incredible.”  
But the days of innocent fun were to be short lived. The family’s arrival had rather cruelly coincided with the onset of the millennium drought, and very soon young Anika began to see the country she had fallen in love with slowly change.
“It was becoming apparent that something was going on. There were more dust storms, less vegetation, the dams were evaporating. I saw the land suffering but what surprised me was that it quickly became an emotional experience. I felt this sadness brewing inside me.”  
Conversations around the kitchen table, as she tried to reconcile her own private response to the real time transformation of the world around her, sparked a sense of personal responsibility.  
“When you feel a deep sense of care for something it’s difficult not to act. I felt that profound sense of care as a teenager and I was determined to do something positive about it.”  
Now, almost 20 years later, Anika has a doctorate in Agroecology, is a founding director of the influential Farmers for Climate Action, a network of over 5,000 Australian farmers recognised as a global exemplar of grassroots community action. She is also an Australian Young Farmer of the Year and, as of this week, she can add “published author” to her impressive CV. Our Sunburnt Country hits the stores this week, and it’s a book that COVID made.
“At the start of 2020, I had a busy diary, and then, quite suddenly, it wasn’t anymore. So, I decided to blow the dust off the book idea that had been sitting in the corner of my mind and put pen to paper.”
The result is a memoir of climate change from one who has experienced it, a highly readable dance through the truth of the science, of the importance of sustainability and practical solutions, a book brimming with ideas and unflagging optimism.  
“When we reflect on what we all want, the outcomes are actually quite similar. We all want a stable prosperous community, an environment we can enjoy, good nutritious food on our plate, meaningful employment. It’s just that, at the moment, we all seem to be pointing in different directions.”  
The key to aligning ourselves, according to Anika, is in reconnecting.
“As a larger society, 90% or more of us live in urban areas and, sadly, we’ve become dissociated from the country. We can feel as though we’re somehow separate. It’s important for us to remember that we’re all actually dependent on the natural environment and the health of our rural communities for our survival.
“It’s very important to look at the science but not to politicise it. We have a situation where in some hands the science has been overexaggerated and doom laden, and then we have the deliberate misreading of the science or the dismissal of it. Neither of those approaches is helpful. Honest, open discussion is what we need.”
And according to Anika, the answers to the more sustainable practices that will secure our future are already there, we just require the collective will to put them in place.
“It’s not like we have to imagine these industries and practices. Renewable technologies, vegetation re-establishment, water infrastructure and efficiency projects, there’s an abundance of existing opportunities to inject wealth and to create skilled jobs, jobs that can lead the country to that thing we all want. A sustainable, prosperous and inclusive future.”
For Anika the key is to let go of what we think we know and to start listening.
“We can tend to look at the world with short and narrow vision, thinking what we have is normal. When we look back the facts say something different and so do those that have lived it. I can recall conversations with people from Broken Hill in their 80’s talking about the crystal-clear waters in the Darling, days when they could see the cod swimming amongst the roots of the trees. I don’t see that now. It’s almost impossible for me to imagine it. That is normal.”  
More intelligent conversations, less 200-word tweets, fewer band aids and the big one, courageous leadership. It’s a tall order but despite the challenges, Anika is optimistic.
“It’s an exciting time. We do have a challenge to overcome but we already have the means. All we need to do is come together. I hope the book will help us to do that.”

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Football freaks urged to frock up for charity

Originally published: Wednesday, 1st September, 2021

Residents in the Broken Hill district are invited to don their favourite sporting team jersey for charity.
Footy Colours Day is back on today and aims to raise more funds to go towards an important cause.
The annual campaign is hosted by the Fight Cancer Foundation that is dedicated to helping people living with cancer and funding vital research into treatment and cures.
Proceeds from the day will help facilitate education support programs for children and young adults diagnosed with the disease.
The foundation’s managing director, Eric Wright, said the support programs are crucial, especially for children living outside metropolitan areas.
"Regional and rural kids with cancer are more likely to have to relocate and may need to leave their town for upwards of six months, making them more likely to need education support,” he said.
“Our education support programs ensure that these kids can keep up with their education while removed from home life and allows them to return back to their life once they finish treatment."
An average of 1500 children and young people living with cancer have been supported by the education programs each year.
The programs are designed to address the significant social, emotional and educational impacts during lengthy treatment.
It tackles this by helping to maintain strong links between children and peers, reduce or remove any break in learning and assist with the transition back to their regular school life.
Mr Wright said the COVID-19 pandemic has increased the difficulty for children and is urging more community members to get involved to generate much-needed resources.
“Covid has shown us how important it is to keep connected with our peers and our education,” he said.
“Footy Colours Day is a fun and easy way to ensure kids with cancer, who are already doing it tough, aren’t more significantly impacted.
“We desperately need your help to continue to support these kids.”    
Local families, schools and workplaces are encouraged to register to host a virtual event and use the hashtag #FootyColoursDay on social media.
For more information or to donate to the cause, visit www.fightcancer.org.au.

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