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Originally published: Saturday, 29th May, 2021
Council will look into their lease agreement with the Palace Hotel over the Priscilla stage show bus to see if it can be shared.
Councillor Tom Kennedy put forward a Notice of Motion at the Council meeting asking Council to liaise with the community to find a location to put the Priscilla Queen of the Desert bus on permanent display.
“It’s disappointing to read the bus has been leased out for 20 years,” Clr Kennedy said during the meeting.
“This was a great donation when Council did get the Priscilla Bus.
“I feel this may be another opportunity that is missed.”
Clr Christine Adams questioned the use of the bus as it was a stage prop and not a bus that people could walk on and off.
“It needs to be kept undercover and protected - that’s the terms of the lease agreement that they would look after it,” she said.
Clr Maureen Clark followed on from that and said “it couldn’t be parked anywhere”.
“I did talk to the owners of the Palace about this, they have the stage prop secured in their own premises; which is what the lease is all about.
“They have plans, they are working very hard to extend their premises which in the future will make the prop accessible to everyone.”
Clr Clark made an amendment to keep an addendum by Clr Kennedy to have a report provided on what the lease agreement is.
“We don’t have the right to find a location to put the Priscilla bus on display because that is the province of the owners of the Palace.
“We treasure Priscilla and the Palace Hotel do a fabulous job of running their festival as well as bringing the stage prop and slipper out on display every year.
“It becomes a novelty.”
Clr Kennedy spoke against Clr Clark’s amendment.
“Council has missed out on another opportunity due to a lack of foresight. Time and time again Council misses opportunities because we give away community assets.
“We still own it but it was leased for 20 years.
“Council has to start thinking smarter when we make decisions. They need to be decisions that the community back.”
The amendment got up six to four votes; which in turn became the motion.
Clr Kennedy said it was disappointing to see that result.
The motion passed and Council will receive a report on their lease agreement.
Originally published: Saturday, 29th May, 2021
Local Aboriginal women shared some compelling stories and insights of systemic issues during a lunch at the Civic Centre to commemorate National Reconciliation Week.
Sandra Clark is a Wilyakali woman who was born in Broken Hill but grew up in Wilcannia.
She moved to Albury at the age of 11 for assimilation into white culture through education.
“Dad was very political, a great writer and he believed in education,” she said.
“He always told us that we had to put down our spears now as hunters and gatherers and warriors and we had to use the white man’s stick, which was education.” Sandra used her education to work at Alma Primary school for 26 years, including as a teacher. While she receives a lot of support, some people are uncomfortable about the recent Aboriginal version of history included in the curriculum.
“Now they know how we felt at school.”
“And still feel,” added Denise Hampton, a Barkandji woman who grew up in Wilcannia in the Mallee in a tin shack. Her Hampton family experienced deaths in custody when Denise was only 10 years old.
Corina Kemp is a Barkandji woman who lost her father in childhood because of a death in custody and Denise wants to know why this is still a pressing issue decades after and what the nation can do to address it.
The women welcomed the theme for NRW 2021 which was ‘More Than a Word. Reconciliation Takes Action’.
The dates for NRW are the same each year, May 27 to June 3, and these dates commemorate two significant milestones in the reconciliation journey.
The 1967 referendum on May 27, 1967 was Australia’s most successful referendum. More than 90 per cent of Australians voted to give the Australian Government power to make laws for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and to recognise them in the Census.
The second significant date was for the High Court Mabo decision.
On June 3, 1992 the Australian High Court delivered the Mabo decision about Eddie Koiki Mabo’s challenge to the legal fiction of ‘terra nullius’ (land belonging to no-one).
This led to the legal recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the Traditional Owners and Custodians of lands and paved the way for Native Title.
Due to the Aboriginal Land Rights Act of 1983, compensation was paid for all aboriginal people in NSW for the loss of their land.
Denise considers it was one of the best pieces of legislation until amendments made in 1986 removed the very important clause that would have allowed communities to develop by being able to buy, sell and mortgage.
The compensation money is still tied to government.
It was paid over a 15 year period but had to be invested and Aboriginal people could only utilise the interest that was made off that investment, which was 7.5 per cent of land tax.
Denise believes that the outcome of economic development of Aboriginal people is not self-determined.
“We don’t have full control over it because everything we try to do has to go back to the Minister to be signed off.
“Until we can make decisions around what our community needs are, we’ll never get there.”
Sandra views government funding for Native Title, land rights and Aboriginal corporations as divisive for Aboriginal families, communities and as a nation.
“A lot of our people see it as the government chucking a bone out and community fight over that bone.”
Denise said that, prior to government funding, Aboriginal culture was loving, caring and sharing.
“Now, as Aboriginal people we walk in two worlds.”
Sandra maintains that Aboriginal children can’t be treated the same as white children at school.
“As soon as they step through that school gate, they know that there’s a different system, a different culture that they have to learn.
“So they become code-switchers.”
According to Denise, a learned behaviour is domestic violence, which is not a part of traditional Aboriginal culture.
“Our people had their own laws for dealing with everything and their business was discussed in the morning.
“It was dealt with, then people would go off and do their jobs, like hunting or gathering or whatever they had to do.”
Denise said that the lengthy system of justice in modern Australia adds stress and sets up a cycle for re-offending.
“It lingers on with the white man’s law as they’ve got to go through the court process for months.
“Whereas if you punished them straightaway it’s over and done with and you’ve moved on.”
Denise wants it remembered that Aboriginal people have been governed by policies but they need to be the right ones.
She wants designers and implementers of policies to refer to the 2007 United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and to include aboriginal people, especially regarding land use and management.
“Our people have been doing those things for many, many years such as fire sticks for burning and looking after country.”
Denise sees that creating equality is about more than good policies.
“Given that we’re only 3.3 per cent of the Australian population, the message is that we need everyone on board to bring about that change.”
To learn more about National Reconciliation Week and how all Australians can take small steps towards equality, visit https://nrw.reconciliation.org.au
Originally published: Saturday, 29th May, 2021
Today was set to be a historic day for AFL Broken Hill, hosting a double header of Men’s and Women’s combined games at the Jubilee Oval.
The women were originally scheduled to take on the Sunraysia League in the first combined game representing Broken Hill since 2017. However, with recent COVID outbreaks in Victoria, the Sunraysia women’s side are unable to travel due to the seven-day lockdown. The Miner’s Cup will still resume for the men, taking on the Far North League following a draw in the 2019 clash in Roxby Downs.
AFL Broken Hill Chairman, Andrew Schmidt said he is really looking forward to today and he is confident the local side can get the job done.
“This Saturday was set to be a bit of an historic one, because not only do we have the men playing a combined game here in the first since 2007, but the women were also going to be part.
“We’ve been really, really impressed with the passion shown by players - male and female - to the concept and the idea, and making themselves available to wear the Broken Hill jumper, which is fantastic.
“We’ve got some very talented players. We’ve had players from both teams swapping shifts so they can play and train,” said Schmidt.
“Our coaches, Robert Hickey and Phil Neal have been doing a wonderful job and we’re pretty excited about Saturday. The people of Broken Hill have been asking for so long, ‘We want to watch some combined footy’. Well, we’re bringing it to the oval on Saturday and, if you want to support it, come and have a look because you’re going to see the best male and female players in town.”
“The women were the last ones to have a combined game here, but to have the two on the one day has never happened before. It’ll be a great promotion for footy locally. We’ve had such a huge start to the year with the double-headers, the ANZAC weekend, the Heath Shaw marquee game and now this weekend, so it’s been a pretty big start to our footy year,” he said.
Schmidt said the last men’s combined game that was held in Broken Hill was back in 2007, “Over the journey, because our combined side was playing for the Miner’s Cup in Adelaide at either Footy Park or Adelaide Oval you’re committed to that, there’s no room for another game.
“Local people have said quite often over that fourteen years that we need to get combined footy back to Broken Hill, so when the game in Adelaide lapsed due to a couple of reasons; one, obviously trying to find a time slot before a Port Adelaide game, and the other was that the cost was just going through the roof because we had to pay Adelaide Oval and that to open the gates early.
“So we revisited the concept and started negotiations with the Far North League in 2018, which saw us play a combined game in Roxby (Downs) in 2019 and that game finished in a draw, and, for the concept, was brilliant,” he said.
“Obviously last year, we had no footy, so we’ve been working overtime behind the scenes to bring combined footy back.
“We started negotiations with the Sunraysia league - their women played here in 2017. They were keen for us to go to Mildura so we did a bit of a deal; they’ve agreed to come back this year so we can have that double-header and then next year we’re quite happy then to travel to play the Sunraysia League down there,” said Schmidt.
As part of the agreement, AFL Broken Hill will cover the costs of the accommodation for the men travelling here to play today, and they’ll do likewise when Broken Hill travels next year.
“We’ve had to source sponsors and we’ve been very lucky with Epiroc as our major sponsor for the Miner’s Cup. Also, CBH Resources, The Radford Family at BHP, Toyota and MCA which is a mining company, have also been very generous with their support as well.
The concept of the Miner’s Cup in the Men’s team was an idea from the SANFL over fifteen years ago. According to Schmidt, it’s still continuing today to bring the two mining communities together. “The footy is pretty serious, they take it fair dinkum, people are going to see some good footy played,” he said.
“We want to win both games if we can...We want to win the Miner’s Cup back, it’s been sitting in Roxby Downs for too long now.”
Originally published: Wednesday, 26th May, 2021
Travellers along the Barrier Highway between Cockburn and Burra may want to plan their trip dates. While normal speed limits will soon resume at the seven current roadworks sites, a number of new roadworks are scheduled to commence in the second half of the year.
The extensive works are part of two seperate government initiatives designed to improve regional freight corridors and stimulate South Australian jobs in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to a Department of Infrastructure and Transport spokesperson, some roadworks are expected to be completed in mid-2021 with more are expected to commence in the new financial year.
Weather-permitting, the following a works are expected to be completed by June.
The Barrier Highway between Mannahill and Terowrie, where 55 kms of road shoulder has been re-constructed is expected to have a re-instated speed limit in June. Sealing along these sections will commence this month. Also, 13 kilometres of pavement widening and rehabilitation works that are underway are expected to be completed by the end of June. The final seal should be applied on this section in early 2022.
Speed limits are expected to return to normal in mid-2021 along eight kilometres of pavement rehabilitation between Oodla Wirra and Terowie and seven kilometres of shoulder sealing and pavement rehabilitation north of Hallett. The final seal on that section will also be completed, weather permitting by early 2022.
In addition the 15 kilometres of asphalt pavement works between Hallett and Mount Bryan are set to be finished by the end of the financial year.
Excess bitumen along this section will need to be worn down to a safe level and so speed restrictions will remain in place for approximately four to six weeks following the completion of works.
Other speed restrictions in the second half of the year will be due to more shoulder sealing and pavement upgrades, which are expected to continue into 2023.
The upgrades expected to commence later this year are 25 kilometres between Cockburn and Mannahill and 7.4 kilometres between Terowie and Burra.
Three major culvert replacements between Cockburn and Yunta, two intersection upgrades at Yunta and Yarcowie and four rest area constructions or upgrades between Cockburn and Burra, are all currently in the planning and design stage.
Once the road construction works are complete, safety barrier installations will be undertaken, the first between Mannahill and Oodla Wirra which are expected to commence in mid-2021.
The large-scale roadworks are jointly funded by the Australian and South Australian governments in two government road initiatives.
The Roads of Strategic Importance (ROSI) initiative has allocated $62.5 million to upgrade the Barrier Highway between Cockburn and Burra. In addition to improving road safety, it is hoped the works will improve regional freight corridors, reducing freight times and thereby benefitting regional economies.
The first tranche of the $210 million Road Safety Stimulus Program has fast-tracked roadworks as part of the stimulus package for South Australian jobs and businesses in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Originally published: Wednesday, 26th May, 2021
Local St John Ambulance volunteer Breanna-Lee Gunning was amongst those recently honoured with the Order of St John medal at Government House in Sydney.
Membership within The Order of St John is an honour sanctioned by the Governor-General on behalf of the order’s Sovereign Head, Queen Elizabeth II.
46 medals were awarded to volunteers, who must meet the criteria of life membership and going above and beyond their duties.
Breanna-Lee joined St John NSW in 2006 and has been very active in presenting, fundraising and mentoring youth.
She particularly loves seeing children and young people thrive on duty at an event, which is possible from the age of 11.
“A responsible 12 year old on duty at a local soccer match can put ice on an injured ankle.”
These young people joined over 3,000 volunteers to provide more than 150,000 hours of community service in 2020.
According to the CEO of St John Ambulance NSW, Sarah Lance, “Volunteers provided critical support throughout the NSW Bushfire Emergency and COVID pandemic, helping at quarantine hotels and testing clinics across the state.”
In addition to the satisfaction gained from helping the community, Breanna-Lee said that St John NSW offers many other benefits to volunteers.
Breanna-Lee has travelled to Hong Kong, the Bathurst car races and camps in Queensland and Sydney.
Whilst on duty, she has also been able to watch shows and attend high level sporting events, including a Jimmy Barnes and Shannon Noll concert, motorcross and a super rugby match.
Another benefit of being a St John first aider is that the skills, certificates and clearances enhance a resume.
The greatest gift of course is to save lives through first aid, and the St John vision is to have one person educated, equipped and prepared to provide first aid in every home, workplace and public gathering.
Achieving that vision begins with training nights, which are on Tuesdays for adults and Wednesdays for cadets from the age of eight.
To become a volunteer or to find out more about St John NSW, call 1300 ST JOHN or visit stjohnnsw.com.au
Originally published: Wednesday, 26th May, 2021
South Reserves took a 20-point win over West on Saturday, on the back of a consistent game.
The Roos led for the game’s entirety to finish with a three-goal win after continuous intensity.
The first quarter saw South get on the board early with a host of goals before West got involved. The first major of the game came through Anthony Crombie, followed by one each from Tyler Tompkins and Casey Sanderson.
West first got on the board through a goal from Simon Matten, before Jarrad Burcher goaled to close the quarter. South led West 25 to 9 at the first break.
South’s Tyler Tompkins and Jarrad Burcher each kicked their second goals in the second term, while Jeffery Harvey slotted one for the Robins in between. The Roos lead by 25 points at half time.
Davin Bates opened the second half with a major for the Robins, followed by goals to South’s Jacob Dannatt and Anthony Crombie for his second. Bates then slotted his second before the third quarter’s end. West trailed by 28 points.
The Robins had some momentum in the final term, which was well utilised through three straight goals from Max Everuss, Casey Ferguson and Sage Hocking.
The Roos finished strong with goals to Deklin Langdon and Liam Farquhar - they ran out winners by 20 points.
South worked hard around the footy all game. They were well led by Connor Washbrook, Jarrad Burcher, Anthony Crombie, Liam Farquhar, Sam Lines and Sean Would who were awarded their best players.
In the votes for West, it was Jordan Meehan, Jeffery Harvey, Sage Hocking, Codie McEvoy, Casey Ferguson and Clint Pearce who were all impressive for the Robins.
Full-time score - South 10 8 (68) defeated West 7 6 (48).
Originally published: Saturday, 22nd May, 2021
Former Rugby League stars; Nathan Blacklock, Willie Mason and Reni Maitua were in Broken Hill last week helping to promote the Deadly Blues campaign.
The footballers visited both Broken Hill and Willyama High Schools to interact and play rugby with the students. While they were here, they also attended the Outback Rugby Leagues games being played in Menindee and Wilcannia.
In 2019, the Deadly Blues campaign was launched to encourage Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community members to talk to their local GP and get their 715 health check. Deadly Blues is part of the collaboration of NSW Rugby League and Deadly Choices to encourage regular medical check-ups to improve health.
All individuals who get their 715 health check through Maari Ma will, as part of the campaign, receive a free Deadly Blues shirt.
Tarissa Stakes, Maari Ma Aboriginal Health Practitioner Youth Health Worker said the Deadly Blues program aims to target chronic disease, nutrition, physical activity and smoking which can have a negative impact on Indigenous communities.
“The partnership is a powerful combination for good offering young people a clear pathway to healthy choices as well as a sense of belonging and achievement. It’s about working and playing together for the future of young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
“So it’s all about the health promotion...Deadly Choices are the ones that make up the shirts and stuff, they use Indigenous artists to help design the shirts and they do them for all the football teams, not just the State of Origin. They also do Indigenous shirts that we have here that we’ll give away as part of the health checks such as Parramatta Eels, AFL and NRL. They also have shirts for netball, like Firebirds shirts.”
Tarissa said it was great for the high school students and local community members and kids to have influential figures come to visit.
“It’s also a way of having famous footballers come out into rural and remote towns when they usually don’t see those sort of people. And to promote that, even though they’re from a little town like Menindee or Wilcannia, or wherever, that if they train hard, eat well and all that sort of stuff, then they can go to that next level as well.
“It was amazing to have them at the schools...Lots of the students play AFL and NRL anyway. A lot of the girls got involved at Willyama as well.
“It’s inspiring for the kids to have their sports heroes come and be on their level, have a game and have a talk and answer any questions that they have.”
Originally published: Saturday, 22nd May, 2021
It was overheard at the celebrations that “you get less for murder,” but Sonja McEvoy has enjoyed every moment of the 35 years she’s been with North Broken Hill Public School.
For Sonja, Tuesday May 18 marked 35 years to the day since she first became employed at North School as a Kindergarten teacher and she is now Assistant Principal,.
When asked how she feels about the 35th anniversary of her arrival at North she said, “Hard to believe its reality because it doesn’t feel that long... It feels like just the other day really.”
Sonja came to be working at North School by pure chance, “My number came up and this is where my position was, I was actually working at Happy Day Preschool so it was in the middle of the year there and like I said my number came up and it was just this is your appointment, take it or leave it and so I took it.
“I went onto a Kindergarten which was really nice because otherwise I may not have actually taken the position,” she said.
Sonja’s career has progressed well over 35 years, “I’ve been Assistant Principal here since 2000, so slowly but surely. I worked in the Infants all that time from when I first started then I had some time in the Primary, went back to the Infants and then actually got shoved all the way up to the top end and got to have them as well,” she said.
“Then I’ve had some bits and pieces where I have been off class and supported talented students in certain areas, particularly around maths and now I’m the Instructional Leader in the Primary which is funded by the school... So yeah it’s been an ongoing learning process and enjoyable.”
Sonja couldn’t choose just one memory that was a stand out over her years with the school, “There would be so many that I couldn’t pick from but usually as a teacher it’s the one where you have that student who suddenly just lights up and brightens because they’ve got whatever it was,” she said. “And they just feel so wonderful about themselves, because they’ve suddenly got something they’ve never been able to do or they’ve been trying to do and they’ve been challenged at.”
Her favourite part about North school is the community if people that are a part of it. “It would be the kids and the staff and the community and just particularly, how the staff put the kids first,” said Sonja.
“So one of our motto’s really is we call the place paradise and we say that kids come first and they do, across the whole board, when it comes down to making a decision is that what’s best for kids? That’s where our decision gets made.”
Sonja celebrated her 35 year milestone and the day spent surrounded by staff and students. “Well I have this wonderful surprise morning tea that I didn’t know anything about, other than that it will just be another day as normal, with a beautiful cake.
“I’d just like to thank everyone that’s been part of my time here,” she said.
Originally published: Saturday, 22nd May, 2021
Visitors have been travelling in droves to see the water flowing even with the announcement that the Murray-Darling Basin Authority has begun releasing a small amount of water from Menindee Lakes.
The release of 3,500 megalitres per day was in response to recent dry conditions across the Southern Basin.
MDBA Executive Director of River Management, Andrew Reynolds, said the Authority had consulted with the local community in partnership with WaterNSW, and was taking on board feedback around the best way to release the water, without impacting landholders and residents.
A peak of around 3,500 megalitres per day will be targeted over the next three weeks.
“WaterNSW estimates that between 800 and 1,000 gigalitres will enter the lakes, so the 20 to 30 gigalitres we will be releasing over a three-week period, represents four per cent of the total volume expected to arrive,” Mr Reynolds said.
President of the Darling River Action Group and Sunset Strip resident, Ross Leddra, said, “For this amount to go down the river is understandable, but that should be it and then we should go back to low flows”.
“The sticking point will be when the Government looks at the Lakes in late spring/early summer. We need to approach them in a unified manner now and hammer into the MDBA that the Lakes shouldn’t be emptied.
“I think with all the officials visiting recently, we will have a bit of support.”
Mr Leddra said he doesn’t want to see the same mistakes from 2014-15 and 2017 repeated.
“They say they are obligated under the (Murray-Darling Basin) plan to make those releases, but I would like to know where that is written. We don’t want them to get back into past practices.”
Menindee resident Graeme McCrabb said residents were understanding of the releases as well.
“I haven’t heard anyone going crook about it. Having flows down the river is a good thing. I think they will start bringing a bit from Menindee Lakes and some from Lake Wetherell as well.”
The flows have created the perfect conditions for tourists.
“Menindee is a different place with water,” Mr Leddra said.
“I was in Menindee during the week and the amount of cars that were there is unbelievable. They were parked on both sides of the street, in the pub car park and the dining room of the pub was full and people were in the courtyard.
“The place is packed.”
Mr Leddra said Mr McCrabb was showing around one of Minister Pavey’s advisors who noted how full the town was.
“We made the point that when there is water the economy grows.”
Mr McCrabb said Menindee was coming alive.
“There are a massive amount of people here, there are about 30 - 40 cars at the motel and 30 more in the street. Everyone is busy - the cafe, hotel, motel and supermarket.”
He also said he has been to see the water coming through many times.
“It looks great. There is a novelty to watching water coming in and it doesn’t wear off. I’ve been a few times to watch now.”
The lakes are currently 45 per cent full, holding more than 770 gigalitres and rising, with storages increasing by 17,000 megalitres every day on average over the past week.
“As the most significant volume of water to enter the lakes in five years, it’s critical that we draw on this water carefully and maximise the benefits to everyone with a stake in this resource,” Mr Reynolds said.
The volume of water in the Menindee Lakes surpassed 640 gigalitres on May 7, triggering water-sharing arrangements agreed between New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia in the Murray–Darling Basin Agreement.
At that point, the MDBA can access water in the lakes on behalf of Basin states until the lakes drop back to 480 gigalitres.
For more information about the Menindee Lakes visit: www.mdba.gov.au/river-information/running-river-murray/menindee-lakes
Originally published: Saturday, 22nd May, 2021
North managed a 144-point win over Central in their second official match of the season. Bulldog Kody Ellis was unstoppable, with eight goals total for the night.
Both teams were playing undermanned - Central with 14 players, and North with 16. The game was of a slower pace than its predecessor.
The Bulldogs wasted no time getting into the swing of things with Dan Kennedy slotting one in the early minutes of the quarter before Kody Ellis set the tone for his game with a trio of goals to round out the first quarter. North led Central 29 to 0 at the first break.
North was well spread with their work ethic on Wednesday night with nine individual goal scorers. The second quarter saw major scores from Tasman McAllister, initially, then Taz Lihou booted his first and Jet Johnson kicked a great banana through for a goal.
Kody Ellis then kicked a further two goals to bring his total to five at halftime. North led by 61 points at the main break.
Taz Lihou opened the second half with his second goal for the Bulldogs, followed by one from Sam Micallef and Bailey Adams.
Kody Ellis went again with back-to-back majors to make seven before Taz Lihou kicked his third with Sam Micallef and Dan Kennedy kicking their second. North was sitting on 114 points at three-quarter time.
Fletcher Kolinac kicked a major to open the last term before Jet Johnson and Tasman McAllister kicked their second for North.
Central’s Eli Chestnut got the Magpies on the board, firstly with a narrow miss to hit the goal post for a behind, but seconds later made up for it and slotted a goal. Cheers and car horns would have been heard for miles.
North’s Kody Ellis then kicked his eighth and final goal of the night to top off a stand-out and best-afield performance.
The Magpies pushed hard and managed a second goal in a matter of minutes through Karlson Cole before Brady Adams kicked the sealer and North ran out winners by 144 points.
Central put up a valiant effort and worked tirelessly all night. Nick Devoy and Will Campbell were impressive in the backlines and were at the top end of their best players. The likes of Karlson Cole, Ben Kuerschner and Ned Schaefer provided a good run through the centre and were among their best.
For the Bulldogs, it was Kody Ellis, Jet Johnson, Tax Lihou, Bailey Adams, Kyran Blore and Tasman McAllister who were their best players.
Full time score - North 22 16 (148) defeated Central 2 2 (14).
Originally published: Wednesday, 19th May, 2021
Camel man, John Elliot, is leading the first camel trek across Australia to pass through every state to raise awareness about skin cancer.
The unique fundraiser is for the charity Beard Season, which encourages men to grow beards over winter and start a conversation about free skin and melanoma checks. Beard Season is currently campaigning for a national screening program for skin cancer and the camel caravan draws attention to the issue wherever it goes.
Starting “in the worst drought that Australia’s ever seen”, John and his camels left Coonar Beach in North Queensland on April 11, 2019, heading south. They became caught in the middle of the bushfires but escaped to the mountains.
“It was just outside of Canberra and we disappeared into the high country,” John said.
When it was safe, the camel train resumed its southward journey and became the highest altitude camel trek in Australian history at the top of Mount Skene in Victoria. Unfortunately, the one hundred kilometres an hour winds and a foot of snow caused an accident requiring an emergency extraction.
“We had an eight-hour rescue after a few of my camels and I fell off a cliff,” John recalled.
With John and all the camels successfully rescued, the trek continued to the southern tip of Tasmania, Cockle Creek, and became the first camel trek to traverse Tasmania, a journey which took five and a half months.
Now on their way to Coral Bay in Western Australia, the caravan was greeted with delight on its way through Broken Hill and Silverton.
“It creates this little Mexican wave of smiles as you go through every town,” said John.
The camels also smile a lot and with good reasons. John saved the camels from going to abattoirs and they find enjoyment according to their individual personalities.
Ted is the leader and John explained that, although he is the most obedient of the group, he’s always aware of everything that’s going on around him and “can be a bit nervy.”
Jackson has the biggest tantrums but is probably John’s favourite because he “hangs around” John for company.
“Sometimes I wake up and he’ll be sitting next to my swag.”
Arthur is the least sociable camel but, for some reason, is best friends with the baby of the group, two and a half year old Charlie.
John recalled how he saw a little white camel in a paddock and asked the farmer if he could buy him. The farmer replied, “Mate, if you can catch him, you can have him”. But, he didn’t tell John the paddock was 12,000 acres in size and it took John two days to find and catch Charlie, who is “pretty happy and a good, little camel.”
John’s fifth camel could not be described as good. Bill the Bastard is always lurking at the back of the other camels and is often only visible by his legs.
“Whenever we’re going up a hill, he’ll sit back and let the others drag him up,” said John.
The number of camels dragging Bill the Bastard up a hill has been boosted by the addition of three camels brought along by Don Ainsbury, a man with a wealth of camel knowledge. These three camels prefer their own company, preferring not to mix with the other camels or the two dogs.
John’s dog Brusky is a red heeler-cross-dingo who is so energetic that a GPS tracker showed he travels more than double the distance that John walks.
“I walked 39 kilometres one day and he did 87,” said John.
As John and his camels have walked approximately 6,000kms of the 10,000km journey, he estimates that Brusky has walked approximately 15,000kms so far on this trip.
Brusky, John and the camels were trained intensively for the trek by experienced camel trekker Russel Osbourne. However, John’s friend and his dog Sylvie have joined the trek for one month in what John calls a baptism by fire.
“Silvie was brought out of her loungeroom and pretty much straight onto the track.”
The journey sounds arduous but John said “We’re in no rush”. Most camel treks are short but because these camels will be on the road for so long, he has to think about minding the camels’ health.
For every walk day, John gives the camels a rest day. “So one day for me, one day for the camels.”
John also ensures that rest days accumulate.
“If we walk four days, we’ll stop somewhere and rest for three or four days.”
John finds that the modest pace of four kilometres an hour affords a rare view of Australia.
“You get to see the slow change in the country as you go through.”
To follow the camel trek via GPS tracking or to donate, visit johnelliott.com.au
Originally published: Wednesday, 19th May, 2021
South proved too strong for the Bulldogs, even with former AFL star Heath Shaw in their line-up. The Roos took home a thirty-point win over the home side at the Jubilee Oval.
South’s Cody Schorn was the first to score for the afternoon in what would be another big day out for the star forward. After that, the first quarter was all North with goals through Trent Barraclough, Shane Dalby and Jordan Vella.
The last two North goals came with the help of Heath Shaw, he delivered the kick to Dalby and was hit late which made for a downfield free kick for Vella. The Bulldogs led by 11 points at the quarter time break.
Cody Schorn was too good in the second term with three goals on the trot, before Luke Lines also put one through. South wrestled back the lead with good use of a strong breeze to head into half time, up by 16 points.
Adam Slattery opened the second half with a goal for the Roos in the first minute of play. Heath Shaw set up a goal for Tobias Hack, he set a torpedo in long from the centre square for an easy mark and goal for Hack from the goal square.
South got some momentum and scored a quick few to extend their lead. Cody Schorn kicked goal number five for the game with Arlen Bird and Rourke Turner following suit to put the Roos up by 35 points at the last break.
The last quarter was lacking on the goal front, North’s Anthony Henderson was the only one to kick a major; the goal which put him just one goal away from hitting goal number 500.
The Roos had done the hard yards to get the win by thirty points in the end.
The Bulldogs suffered a few major injuries throughout the course of the game with Harry Clout the first to go down, while star juniors Kody Ellis (groin) and Samual Micallef (dislocated shoulder) are tough losses, as well as Keenan Ellis, who has been flown to Adelaide for reconstructive surgery after a blow to the cheek.
North’s best on-ground was new recruit Bill Ormonde who worked tirelessly all day, he was joined by Taz Lihou, Cooper Lawrence, Fletcher Kolinac, Ayden Pettit and Quinton Beavan.
The Roos best players included captain, Marc Purcell, Rourke Turner, Arlen Bird, Cody Schorn, Todd Davidson and Alex Johnston.
Former-AFL star Heath Shaw spoke post-match of how much he enjoyed the game and being back playing local football.
“First quarter was really, really good I thought from the boys and we dropped off in the second and the third and fourth were pretty even so I had a ball, I had a great time with the boys,” he said.
“Yeah it was a good contest with a bit of everything like local football is, a few biffs, arguing with the umpires and I definitely didn’t have my kicking boots on today I kicked 0 goals 4 or something so it was just good fun and it’s good to be here.
“I must admit I’ve got a bit of white line fever, when I get out there I just play footy no matter who it is and you probably would have seen me I cracked the shits a few times, because I do want to win and I do want to be the best player on the ground no matter whether I’m playing local footy or AFL footy, that’s just the way I was brought up. So I enjoyed everything and hopefully the boys enjoyed having me around, it was good fun.”
Full time score - South 9 14 (68) defeated North 5 8 (38).
Originally published: Wednesday, 19th May, 2021
For a small donation of just $5, people in the region can enjoy some high class entertainment at Maiden’s Hotel, this Saturday, with Taxiride frontman Jason Singh.
In conjunction with the Australian Horizons Foundation and Beef It Up Australia Jason Singh will be performing ‘Get Set in the Basin’ in Menindee on Saturday.
Jason had been touring around Australia when he was contacted by Beef It Up’s organisers.
“I’ve known the organisers for a couple of years, they saw I was touring and asked if I could take it to remote areas,” he told the Barrier Truth on Monday.
“I’ve done a number of regional gigs like Ballarat, Geelong, Bendigo but these places are remote.
“I said I don’t care where the locations are, I will turn up and play.”
The additional tour dates have included remote locations in Victoria and New South Wales throughout May, as part of the Beef It Up initiative, for which Jason is ambassador.
The Australian Horizons Foundation project sees a group of entertainers performing in the four communities of Barham, Blighty, Moulamein and Menindee to provide much needed nights out in these towns where residents are starved of live entertianment and enduring hard times because of the water issue relating to the Murray Darling Basin.
Jason will also be joined by Lloyd Polkinghorne who walked 303 kilometres for his ‘walk for water’ awareness campaign.
The night is set to be a fun one full of music and comedy.
Arguably one of Australia’s best male vocalists, Jason has hit the road in acoustic mode, performing the hits of Taxiride, along with his solo material and a selection of favourite classics, the two sets giving fans a double dose of his powerhouse vocals. And those memorable melodies that put Taxiride - and Jason - at the top of their game will be on show.
Expect iconic hits along with material from deep within the Taxiride catalogue - including “Skin”, “Saffron” and “World’s Away”.
Jason’s soaring vocals are currently being heard on rotation around Australia, with Taxiride’s anthem Get Set featured on Visit Victoria’s television ad campaign to promote the band’s home state.
He said the shows he has performed in Barham, Blighty and Moulamein have been amazing.
“We’ve seen townspeople, farmers, everyone. They’ve all come with great stories, sad stories and it’s all right in front of me,” Jason said.
“It’s been really emotional, it’s a different kind of show.
“It’s amazing to see how wrapped people are to see you and I am wrapped to be doing this.
“It’s been a really big eye opener, it’s such a big country.”
Jason said the shows have felt like a private party where everyone is invited.
“Come out and be a part of it, it’s a really good night.”
The show’s entry fee is based on donation which goes towards putting on other shows.
“For a $5 donation it’s not even the price of a latte.
“If they get enough donations they put on another night in another place; it’s like Pay It Forward.
“I hope they can get enough money to do more of these.
“The more people that can come the merrier.”
Beef It Up Australia is dedicated to supporting rural communities with social and economic support through the 1000 Paddocks campaign.
Proudly run by volunteers, you are invited to come and support Beef It Up as it pursues its mission. Mates helping mates.
The show at Maiden’s Hotel will get underway at 8.30pm but people are encouraged to come early and book for dinner.
Originally published: Saturday, 15th May, 2021
Retired AFL premiership player and loveable larrikin Heath Shaw, will line up today for North as they take on South.
Heath Shaw spoke with the Barrier Truth earlier in the week about how much he is looking forward to visiting and playing in the “AFL-loving” town of Broken Hill.
Shaw was well into his preparation for the big game this weekend doing some training with mates before making the trip.
“I haven’t played footy for a few weeks... It’s funny, when you do stop kicking the footy around for a bit, you do lose the ability. So you need to keep on top of it,” he said.
This will be Shaw’s first time in the Silver City for football or otherwise. “It will be my first trip to Broken Hill to play football that’s for sure. I can’t remember if I’ve been to Broken Hill and not played football so it probably will be my first time. But I’m looking forward to it.”
The opportunity came up through a friend of a friend who asked if a 35-year-old, retired, back-pocket wanted to come and play a game at Broken Hill,” he said.
“And originally my plans were not to play footy at all but I’ve actually signed with East Keilor for the year but doing this one-off game is something that a couple of friends have organised so I’m looking forward to it.”
Shaw said he is very excited to be pulling on a Bulldog Guernsey this afternoon. “I’ve heard a few little things about the club (NFC)...but, obviously, it’s a fairly AFL-loving sort of town Broken Hill, so, with COVID last year, we’re starved of football, so it’s actually good to get back out there.”
“I must admit, when I retired, I didn’t think I’d be playing football. But I’ve actually enjoyed training at local footy with my local club, East Keilor and having a kick. And my good mate Dale Thomas played at Ballan last weekend as well and he said he had a ball. So I’m looking forward to getting down to Broken Hill, having a kick around, trying to get a couple of kicks and then doing a little sportsman’s night afterwards which is always great fun.”
In a video posted to the North Football Club Facebook page earlier this week, Shaw expressed his desire to play in North’s forward line after 16 years in the AFL as a defender.
“Well, I did mention to a few of my former coaches, mostly in Mick Malthouse, that I’m a natural forward that was stuck on the half-back flank for 16 years whilst at AFL level. And I purely blame him because he was the one that actually put me back there and said ‘You need to learn how to defend’ and I never left the half-back flank.
“So just a point where I need to show them that I am a natural forward and there’s no better way to do that than to get back to local footy and hopefully lining up,” said Shaw. “I hadn’t kicked a goal before last year for the Giants, in about four and a half years so hopefully that streak doesn’t go as long as it did previously.
“At some point, even if he (Brett Johnson) does put me on the half-back flank, I’ll definitely make my way down there.”
Shaw hopes to utilise his years of AFL experience to help North get the win over South.
“I love the fact that it’s a bit of a rivalry game and we’re hoping to get a big crowd there as well...There’s nothing better than a local football rivalry. So if I can contribute a little bit, maybe a goal or two, or some experience down back, or even helping the coach out a little bit to get the win, then it’ll be a great day and a great result for both myself and the club.”
Last night Shaw attended the local Auskick night to have a kick with the kids.
“We sort of try to do as much as we can while I’m there for the weekend so it’s good that we get to go and do the Auskick on Friday night, have a little kick around with the kids and, like I said, the kids missed out on playing last year and it’s always good that, even though it is a retired AFL player, to get back out into the community and spread the love a little bit,” he said.
The North Football Club are hosting a Sportsman’s Night tonight at the club, as a member’s-only event.
“The sportsman’s night, which is always good fun and no doubt there’ll be a few stories told, but obviously pump up myself as much as humanly possible.”
Shaw is looking forward to running into a few Giants fans in his time in the Hill.
“A former teammate of mine, Isaac Cumming is from Broken Hill as well. So no doubt we’ll bump into a few family members of his at the footy if they’re not playing.
“I sort of had the feeling that there might be a few Giants supporters that Isaac has converted over the last few years. Hopefully, there’ll be a good little group there. And I know they’re playing Saturday night, so we’ll have one eye on the footy and one eye on the sportsman’s night Hopefully, it’s two wins for us on the Saturday.”
Life post-AFL football has been exciting for Shaw, with the ‘Heater and Daisy Show’ alongside his mate Dale (Daisy) Thomas, as well as recently wrapping filming of the TV show, SAS.
“I’ve just completed the filming of SAS a couple of weeks ago, so that was a unique experience as one of the best and toughest things I’ve done. So that’s on channel 7,” he said.
“And myself and Daisy have our little show that we do on Monday’s which is a bit of fun. I played AFL for 16 years and it’s all so very serious, so to do something a little bit more light-hearted and have a bit of fun around football - which I know and love - is great and I’m very lucky.
“I’m not even sure how we’ve got this show but we’re still going. We’ve done nine episodes and we’re going along okay and local footy has given us some good content for the show as well. Having a bit more of a relaxed lifestyle at the moment is great and I still get my fix of footy playing locally and doing some sportsman’s nights here and there as well,” said Shaw.
Shaw is determined to get the win with the Bulldogs this afternoon.
“Looking forward to getting on the little plane and making my way up to Broken Hill and, like I said, hopefully, there’s a big crowd there and a good game - not really a close game - I don’t mind and would be very happy if we’re a few goals up. I don’t want a close one, I’m more than happy to have a good game but not a close game, and hopefully, we get the win.”
Originally published: Saturday, 15th May, 2021
Live Music Month comes to an end this weekend, but it’s set to go out with a bang with some great shows by Silver City Comets and Tha Boiz.
Live Music Month is the brainchild of Cathy Farry, Regional Arts Executive Director at West Darling Arts, and Kathy Graham, band member of Smoke and Mirrors.
Cathy and Kathy devised the idea in a car driving home from Wagga Wagga as a way to benefit musicians, venues and live music fans after COVID lockdown.
Cathy Farry said that the project’s funding from Create NSW was for contemporary music “or whatever form music takes in your town”. Fourteen local bands and solo musicians will have performed at 14 venues in Broken Hill and Silverton and the variety of music genres in this town may surprise.
Cathy said that there were “quite a few pub bands and a bit of folk music”. In addition, Annette Northey performed on the piano at Broken Earth Café and My Dearest Dear played bluegrass at the Geocentre.
Leroy Johnson and the Waterbag Band played their musical fusion at the Broken Hill Pub last night, complete with double bass and Anthony Haywood on didgeridoo.
Tonight, Tha Boiz performs at The Old Brewery, with $33 dinner and show tickets and doors opening at 5.30pm. Cathy said that their eclectic style includes “a bit of funky rap.”
The Figs had to reschedule so they will perform a little outside of Live Music Month.
To close out Live Music Month, the Silver City Comets are performing this Sunday at 2.30pm at the Sturt Club.
Club manager, Doug Coff, said that patrons enjoy the live music and it is a good way to spend a Sunday.
“Instead of sitting back on the lounge on Sunday, falling asleep, people can get up, go out and enjoy the day.”
Silver City Comets’ frontman Craig Brealey is no stranger to the Sunday sessions and said that followers of the band used to enjoy their sessions at the Excelsior hotel but, unfortunately, it didn’t re-open after 2020.
“Like some other hotels, it was one of the casualties of the COVID shutdown.”
Unfortunately, social distancing and patron number restrictions have made it tough for venues.
“The clubs can’t get enough people through the door to drink enough to pay the band,” said Craig.
He sees the benefits for everyone when the government pays the band through West Darling Arts.
“The club gets a crowd and the band gets to play again.”
Followers of Silver City Comets are delighted to see the band in action again and with the same line-up of musicians. Craig hopes that the band’s hiatus during COVID will make the old favourites on the playlist sound fresh again, including some punk from The Ramones with Blitzkrieg Bop.
“It’s been 18 months since we last played so maybe people have forgotten what we did.”
Originally published: Saturday, 15th May, 2021
The government will fail students if a major reset of the education system isn’t done, according to the President of the NSW Teacher’s Federation.
Angelo Gavrielatos, President of the NSW Teachers Federation was joined by Dr Geoff Gallop (former WA Premier and Head of the Gallop Inquiry into Education in NSW) this week in the city as part of their tour to publicise the outcomes of the Gallop Inquiry.
In February 2020, the NSW Teachers Federation commissioned an independent inquiry into the work of teachers and principals and how it has changed since 2004.
The expert panel that conducted the independent inquiry in 2020 was chaired by Dr Gallop.
The other panel members were Dr Tricia Kavanagh, former Justice of the NSW Industrial Court and Deputy President of the NSW IRC and Patrick Lee, former Chief Executive of the NSW Institute of Teachers.
“We determined there were three very important questions we had to ask. The first one being; what is the actual work of teacher’s today and how has it changed since the last work value case?
“The second question we had to ask was; what are the support services available for teachers to carry out their job?
“The third question we looked at; what is the remuneration status of teachers today? How does it compare with other vocations?”
Dr Gallop said in regards to the first question they found there was an enormous increase in the volume, complexity and intensity in work for teachers.
“This was due to an enormous amount of change in education, the Commonwealth is playing a much bigger role, and we have the State Government with its own ideas.
“They introduced a major reform in 2012 called Local Schools, Local Decisions which was very controversial.
“You’ve also got the changing nature of population for government schools, a very significant increase of disabled students in schools, backed up by government legislation protecting their interests.
“Public schools carry the main responsibility for teaching our Indigenous children and teenagers, as well as English as a Second Language students, new refugees, etc.
“The intensification of the work as well as the complexity of it has also been affected by the mental distress that we see in many youngsters these days.
“They need a system to back them up.
“Work of teachers, very complicated, a lot of change, pressure and a lot of framework.”
Dr Gallop said historically schools had a specialist that would come in to help schools and provide support.
“In 2012, they all went and in came Local Schools, Local Decisions. That gave schools the power and the responsibility to deal with all of these issues to individual principals.
“In some parts of the state, it worked reasonably okay. But you start moving into difficult areas outside of Sydney, and you can give someone the money but they’ve got to have something to spend it on.
“There might not be the teachers available, there might not be the psychologists, and there might not be the advice on classroom strategies. So this inequality has developed with respect to support services.
“We recommend that we return to a system of direct support from specialist teachers and this needs to be linked in with a bigger effort to disadvantaged schools.”
Dr Gallop said the remuneration of teachers is well behind other professions.
“It’s a dangerous situation. We’ve got to attract the best and brightest into teaching.
“Teaching is a very challenging job. We need to attract people to do it.
“If the signal we are getting is you don’t get adequate support and it’s all too hard - why would we want to get into it?
“Add to that you are not being paid the same as other professions that compete with the government system.
“What do you end up with? Shortages.”
Dr Gallop said they have come back to traditional conclusions; that working conditions matter and remuneration matters.
“We’ve already had the opportunity to address the parliament and the Minister came along to hear it,” he said.
“The Legislative Council debated our report (on Thursday). We’ve put our report on the table and we think our recommendations are sensible - there’s 12 of them.
“We believe they need to be achieved over a reasonable time span of six years. The first is wages and more time for teachers to plan their lessons.
“The other changes you can phase-in in that timeline.”
Inquiries of this nature were previously conducted as “work value” cases in the NSW Industrial Relations Commission.
Each case between 1970 and 2004 found significant changes in the work of teachers and adjusted salaries to better reflect their expertise and responsibilities and
maintain the attractiveness of the profession.
In 2004, teachers were awarded salary increases of 12 to 19.5 per cent.
The NSW Government’s wages policy now prevents such work value cases from being conducted.
Mr Gavrielatos said it was important to have an independent panel look into the issue.
“These recommendations bring with them significant authority and weight, we will use it as a platform to support the union’s policy objectives,” he said.
“Those objectives are similar to the recommendations that are delivered.
“The report has confirmed what has been clear for all teachers and principals - mainly they have been toiling under unsustainable workloads without the time and support to do the work that is expected of them.
“And they are in an environment where their salaries have decreased dramatically.
“This is a toxic mix, which puts at risk the very essence of education; and that is a qualified teacher in the front of every classroom.
“We find ourselves at a pivotal point in the history of education in NSW - it shows a dramatic increase in student enrolments in the next 20 years.
“In fact, 200,000 additional students will be enrolled - that’s a 25 per cent increase.
“An analysis of how many teachers will be required tells us we will need 11,000 - 15,000 teachers in the next 10 years.
“If we’re going to meet the fundamental right of children, which is to be taught by a qualified teacher, a policy reset is urgently needed. It’s the government’s responsibility to do that to attract the teachers needed. We don’t have the luxury of sitting around navel-gazing - this is urgent.”
The panel received more than 1000 submissions from teachers and schools.
Originally published: Wednesday, 12th May, 2021
It’s somewhat of a rarity in Broken Hill but it’s something teams have got to be ready for when the Heavens do decide to open; wet weather football.
Memorial Oval became the ever-menacing Arctic Park once more as Central and South did battle for the two points.
With a missed opportunity last week against North, the Magpies were left knocking on the door of the winner’s circle on Saturday, falling to the 2019 reigning premiers by 25 points.
The match was sodden, it was scrappy, down and dirty - Coach Darren Smith said it was a tough game to win.
“Central’s had a good game plan, they scruffed it up a bit, we struggled at first,” Smith said post-game.
“It was a scrappy game and if we’ve got to win ugly, we will win ugly.”
It was a close fixture throughout the afternoon, with Central managing to go toe-to-toe with the visitors.
Despite South’s dominance at the stoppages with the likes of Marc Purcell, Lachlan Mackenzie and Todd Davidson in dominant form - the Magpies still found routes to goal with Josh Hanford playing one of his best games of the season so far.
The brief return of Jaylon Wingfield bolstered the black and white’s transition from half-back - but his appearance was only a one-off.
Coach Greg Wellington saying the side is not far away from getting that long-awaited win.
“They’re close to clicking. We’ve got to fine-tune our skills - that’s what’s letting us down,” Wellington told the press.
“I can see that they’ve got it in them. South’s a quality side. I think if we had that kind of performance last week, I think we would’ve got over the line.
“A little bit deflated. It’s not enough now to be competitive - we want that win. We want that taste of winning.”
With a ten-point lead to start the third quarter, South tried to put the game beyond the reach of Central by the final change.
But a few wayward shots and a good running goal from Hanford saw the favourites carry just an 18-point advantage into the last quarter.
A bright spark for the Magpies was fledgling, Nick Devoy.
The youngster snagged three goals, including two in the last quarter fight back to be one of Central’s standouts of the day.
Cody Schorn was pushing up the ground in a different role than we’re used to seeing - he still managed to jag three goals to his tally - Adam Slattery the only other multiple goal-scorer for South.
The Roos sit atop the A-Grade ladder on percentage while Central remains the cellar dwellers.
Here’s hoping for dry conditions for this weekend’s double-header at the Jube.
Originally published: Wednesday, 12th May, 2021
Australian novelist Peter Temple joked that it probably set the course of tourism in the country back twenty years.
When a young Martin Scorsese first saw it at Cannes, where it was nominated for the Palme d’Or, he is reported to have continually erupted, unable to contain his delight. So brutal, sadistic and raw in its portrayal of the Australian male under duress that the Pulitzer Prize-winning American film critic Roger Ebert said it made the Wild West look positively civilised.
The film is Wake in Fright, considered by many to be the greatest Australian film ever made. One that became, for decades the Australian cinema version of the Higgs Boson, a theoretical keystone central to the revival of the Australian film industry that most contemporary Australian filmmakers and cinema-goers had never seen.
It is 50 years ago this month that Wake in Fright was shown for the first time in Cannes and would go on to run for five months to rapturous reviews in cinemas across Paris. Based on the 1961 novel by Australian Kenneth Cook, the script for Canadian Ted Kotcheff’s film adaptation was written by a Jamaican who had never been to Australia, it was produced by a Norwegian-born Brit and starred an Englishman.
Yet despite the international flavour of its creative team, it could never be mistaken for anything but an Australian film, least of all because of the location used to shoot it. Broken Hill.
Wake in Fright follows a few days in the life of John Grant, a refined young school teacher from Sydney played by English actor Gary Bond. Indentured to his job in the outback for another year, Grant must pay off a thousand dollar bond to the education department before he can leave the outback life he loathes. He stops over in the intense and insanely proud mining town of Bundanyabba for a night, after which he’ll catch a train to the nearest airport and fly home to the big city for a holiday with his impossibly alluring girlfriend.
Unfortunately “the Yabba” gets its claws into him.
The film’s opening shot sets the scene. As the camera pans away from a shabby building beside a railroad track, we see only the distant horizon. As the camera returns, having taken in a full 360 degrees, we come to rest on a second building on the other side of the tracks. One building is the school. The other is the hotel. It’s clear that to get to either, people must travel a very long way. Isolation and the potential for danger that it implies is immediate.
Director Kotcheff, in an interview conducted in 2016, said the first thing he did when he landed in Broken Hill was take the editor of the BDT out to dinner.
“You do know that the men outnumber the women in this town three to one,” he recalls the editor telling him. “Oh my God, where are the bordellos?” Kotcheff asked.
“We don’t have whorehouses in Broken Hill.” “Is there a lot of homosexuality?” “Hey, hey, hey, we’re Australian,” said the editor. “We don’t do things like that.” “So what the hell do the men do for human contact,” asked Kotcheff. “We fight,” was the reply.
And that comment in many ways reflects the tone of the film. Brutal.
After a drunken night at the pub where he losses all his saved bond money, Grant finds himself trapped amidst culinary horrors, packs of grunting, shirtless men getting blotto, and a kangaroo-hunt in which actual kangaroos were slaughtered during filming. But the picture is as subtle as it is brutal, an accumulation of casually eloquent details against a background of deranged sadism. Like the opening scene in the pub where the gun-toting publican pours Bond’s soon-to-be stranded city slicker a beer with a head that fills half the glass only to then pour himself one, that is perfect. Or Chips Rafferty’s last, bravura performance as the local cop, at once sly and hospitable, giving off just a whiff of threat when he tells Grant that the two-building town is “a wonderful place - just a few suicides.”
Not only is it a great Australian film, but it also marked the changing of the guard. The first film for Australian cinema icon Jack Thompson and the last for perhaps for one of our greatest film stars, the wonderful Mr Chips Rafferty.
And while it was greatly admired at the time by the rising local film-makers Peter Weir, Bruce Beresford and Fred Schepisi, its portrait of desperate, violent, uncouth lives on the fringes of civilisation was not well received by popular audiences and it bombed at the Australian box office amid cries of “that’s not us.” By the mid-1990s it seemed to have disappeared from the face of the Earth.
That’s when the film’s editor, Tony Buckley, began a search that would last almost a decade, eventually leading him to some reels of film in a warehouse in Pittsburgh, sadly sitting in boxes marked “for destruction”. They were saved from the dumpster only when, as Kotcheff puts it, “two ladies from the National Film and Sound Archive flew over there with their handbags stuffed with money and paid the storage bill”. A print was restored and re-released in 2009. As if to underscore the film’s importance, it received a second screening at Cannes, only the second film ever to be so honoured.
Wake in Fright was remade into a television series just five years ago by Director Kriv Stenders of Red Dog fame. He did a fair job. But the original is in a different league. Raw and uncompromised, well-acted, brilliantly photographed and edited, it is a cinematic rarity. A film that goes for broke and says to hell with the consequences.
Prior to Wake in Fright, film production in Australia had slowed to a trickle and Rafferty had been forced to look overseas to sustain himself. “What else can I do but look to America for my future when there is still no assistance or help from the government,” he said in April 1966.
Wake in Fright was followed in 1972 by the Whitlam Government’s formation of the Australian Film Commission to support Australian production. Sadly, Rafferty had left us having died of a heart attack just weeks after completing the filming of what many described as his greatest performance.
Despite its being lost for decades, Wake in Fright left an indelible mark on Australian culture. It set the tone for the rebirth of contemporary local cinema, a seminal production that led to what would later become known as Australia’s cinematic “New Wave”. Its themes are still pertinent to the Australian experience, and its dense, expansive and simultaneously claustrophobic, sun-kissed look set a visual template that continues to influence a distinctly Australian cinema 50 years on.
Originally published: Wednesday, 12th May, 2021
The new vaccination clinic in Broken Hill which opened on Monday will accept walk-ins without an appointment for eligible people aged 50 years and over in the 1b and 2a priority groups.
The vaccination clinic will administer the AstraZeneca vaccine at the Broken Hill Aged Persons Rest Centre, at 254 Blende Street, for those priority groups defined by the Commonwealth Department of Health.
Phase 1b includes people 80 years and over, people aged 70 to 79 years, Aboriginal people aged 50 years and over, and critical, high-risk workers, including defence, police, fire, emergency services and meat processing.
Phase 2a includes everyone aged 50 years and over, and other critical high-risk workers.
FWLHD Chief Executive Umit Agis said, “We are certainly very excited to be able to be in a position to offer this to the community in partnership with General Practitioners in the community, so it is a big day.
“We are certainly urging people to come out. We have a daily capacity at this clinic alone of about 220 patients which we can certainly scale up depending on the level of demand.
“This is here and it’s another step to providing that safety net for the community as well as the broader population... It is important that we achieve herd immunity and to do that, we have to have a reasonable number of people coming through our doors.
“It is critical for the community to understand notwithstanding certainly the concerns that have been raised about AstraZeneca. I do want to still highlight that the incidence of blood clotting is a rare occurrence compared with the likelihood of adverse personal outcome as a result of contracting COVID-19. But ultimately people will make that decision for themselves,” said Mr Agis.
The clinic will operate Monday to Friday, 9am to 4pm. You can make an appointment for your vaccination by calling 1800 602 001 or emailing FWLHDfirstname.lastname@example.org You are welcome to attend without an appointment.
Anyone aged 50 and over is urged to contact their GP in the first instance when seeking to be vaccinated. The new clinic will be working alongside existing services run by local GPs and the Maari Ma Aboriginal Health Corporation, offering COVID-19 vaccinations.
Anyone who would like to receive the AstraZeneca vaccine and cannot do so via a GP can book to attend the Far West LHD clinic or attend in person with no appointment necessary.
The Far West LHD COVID-18 vaccination clinic is still offering the vaccine for staff.
Originally published: Wednesday, 12th May, 2021
A discussion with a Greens member and barrister has turned into a Twitter fight for Barwon MP, Roy Butler.
Greens MP Cate Faehrmann took a swing at Mr Butler on Twitter last week.
“Not impressed that @SffRoy just handed my Greens colleague legal advice commissioned by irrigators that is being used to sway members to vote against the motion to disallow floodplain harvesting,” it read.
Ms Faehrmann believed that Mr Butler was handing out legal advice from NSW irrigators and advocating against the disallowance motion.
Mr Butler responded on Twitter saying; “Not impressed that you have failed to represent what I said to David. Unmetered or unregulated take will hurt my downstream communities. Ask him, I don’t think he will lie”.
Mr Butler told the Barrier Truth after the fact, he had run into Greens MLC David Shoobridge and was speaking with him about the concerns of downstream communities.
He said that he handed the barrister some documents so as to gain a legal view.
“I’m not about having secret backdoor discussions, that’s not the relationships I want to form.
“I wasn’t trying to lobby. It’s not irregular to chat with members of parliament.”
Mr Butler said there is an urgency to get all stakeholders in one room to work out the best plan for the river.
“Metering and cap compliance need to be secured.”
After speaking with the Barrier Truth, Mr Butler also took to Facebook to explain the situation.
“A number of people have spoken on my behalf, a number of people have made assumptions about my actions,” Mr Butler said on Facebook.
“I would like to say from the outset that everything I do in Parliament I do in the best interest of the communities in Barwon.
“I am beholden to no group. Not now, not ever.”
Mr Butler said while the Floodplain Harvesting Regulations were disallowed last week, he didn’t get a vote in regards to it.
“More importantly – no one can amend the regulations. They can either be allowed or disallowed. There is a limited window for disallowance. Once that passes, no action can be taken by the Parliament.
“The regulations don’t contain end of valley flow targets – that’s a sticking point for downstream communities and the Upper House.
“End of valley flow targets bypass questions around modelling and should be part of Water Sharing Plans. If the rules are right, Government should not be worried about downstream targets.”
Mr Butler said he hasn’t received any legal advice.
“We do not know what will happen. Disallowing does not stop or prevent floodplain harvesting from occurring. The vote is not about banning floodplain harvesting, it is a vote on how it is regulated.
“My concern has been that with no regulation, unmetered take continues, in a way that has limited capacity restrict take. That’s bad for downstream communities.”
Mr Butler said there has also been quite a bit of discussion around his work with the Water Minister, Melinda Pavey.
“Much has been said about my working with the Water Minister. The fact is, the Minister is the only way I can get in place the metering of all forms of take and the ability to have CAP compliance enforced.
“Does that mean I agree with everything the Minister does – certainly not.
“I acknowledge that there is no trust in water management. Any trust that was there has been eroded over many years.
“The regulations won’t be supported until downstream communities have received a guarantee there will be flow targets along the river.”
Originally published: Saturday, 8th May, 2021
Round five of the Broken Hill AFL Season will be in full swing today at the Jubilee and Memorial Ovals as North take on West and Central and South go head to head.
In the Women’s West are still looking for their first win of the season but the Bulldogs won’t go down without a fight. The likes of Brydie Mannion, Ally Chambers and Ellie-Rose Wheeler will no doubt battler hard for the Robins. While in the North camp Bree Maguire, Rebecca Deer and Makayla Berg are always a force to be reckoned with.
Central and South’s Women’s sides are both coming off the back of extensive wins in Round 4 so this game will be an intriguing one to watch. For the Magpies Daisy Tyrell, Emma Camilleri and Shelby Raven will need to bring their best, as the Roos’ Melisa Keenan, Megan Ryan and Bronte Johns will bring a strong game.
The Reserves grade game in North v West will see a significant milestone in the North line up as Luke Reynolds plays his 200th Reserves game in the blue and white. This milestone in an already strong team will make the Bulldogs hunger stronger as well as having the likes of Tobias Hack, Ben Deacon and Tom McRae in their ranks. For the Robins the Cieslik brothers of Bryce and Zac back in the red and black will make for a handy inclusion as well as young Burke cousins Tom and Cooper.
Central Reserves come off a four goal defeat over North for the first time in years, while South suffered a narrow loss to the Robins in the previous round. The Magpies will hope to maintain their winning form while the Roos will no doubt look to regain theirs. Central’s Cassidy Evans, Sinele King and Loius Hann will need to be at their best, as South’s Tyson Schorn, Jarrad Burcher and junior, Ty Parker will be handy in trying to get the Roos over the line.
West went down to South in Round 4 while North managed a slim win over Central, when these two teams meet it’s always entertaining and a good match up across the board so today shall be no different. The Robins gain captain, Michael Westley back into their line up after a couple weeks out with injury, while Ethan Slater makes a return to local footy in his first game for West, against none other than his former club. The Bulldogs have Tyler McInnes coming back into North side, he always brings a spark when in the team. North’s Anthony Henderson currently sits on 498 goals, could he manage two today to crack 500? Each team will need to be on their game from the get go to get over the line.
The Magpies are still on the hunt for their first win of the season at League level, while the Roos have dropped just one against West in Round One. The Roos regain Cody Schorn in their line up, who works wonders in the forward line at any given opportunity, while young gun Adam Slattery makes a League level return today who will no doubt be dynamic for the Roos. Angus Collins is today playing his 50th League game for the Roos and will as always be strong out of defence. For Central Bill Shipway and Luke Neal both always battle hard for the Magpies and Junior players like Nick Devoy and Will Campbell will make for handy inclusions. Central veteran Justin Heath is named to play for the first time this season, no doubt a great boost for the Magpies.
Originally published: Saturday, 8th May, 2021
Guided walking tours of Broken Hill uncover gems of historical information that perhaps even a few locals may not know.
Speaking with guides from the Broken Hill Heritage Walk Tour, they recalled that Sturt Park was once called Central Reserve and remember hearing family stories about walking through the reserve to see monkeys.
That’s because there was once a mini-zoo in Central Reserve. In 1927, the gamekeeper of the mini-zoo said that the animals were well-fed but he recommended that the monkeys be moved closer to the kiosk.
Alderman A.S Rawling also recommended that the zoo should be reorganised or abolished altogether and this was approved.
Central Reserve underwent another change in 1944 when it was renamed Sturt Park to commemorate the centenary of Charles Sturt travelling through the region in search of an inland sea.
However, there was no inland sea, so Broken Hill citizens would keep cool at the parks.
Guide, Les White, said that every Broken Hill park had a rotunda and crowds would flock to hear a brass band play every Sunday.
Before the advent of television, brass bands provided one of the main sources of entertainment in Broken Hill. Les said that all schools had brass bands and, when the students left school, they then joined adult bands and this was how the bands replenished.
“In Broken Hill we never had a procession without two or three brass bands.”
The emotional sway of brass bands in the city was so pervasive that, 400kms from the sea, Broken Hill’s citizens were stirred to erect the city’s first memorial, which was to honour the heroic bandsmen on the Titanic.
Eight bandsmen from a quintet and a trio combined to play a hymn together on the night of April 14, 1912, as the Titanic ship sank. They played for as long as they could to comfort the passengers until all of the bandsmen went down with the ship.
The first four bars of sheet music of that hymn, ‘Nearer My God To Thee”, are hauntingly displayed near the rotunda in Sturt Park on the Titanic Memorial.
Musicians from one of Broken Hill’s four brass bands - the Amalgamated Miners Association - launched a public appeal for the memorial, which was quickly taken up by the citizens of Broken Hill.
The top of the memorial is a broken mantle or column. “This always symbolises that life is fragile and can be snapped at any time,” said Les. He usually snaps a stick in two to illustrate this fragility and a hush descends over the tour group.
Don “Ducky’” Delbridge is a tour guide with a compelling, personal story about the Titanic. Don’s wife’s grandfather was a butcher in England in 1912 and his friend was also a butcher. There was one position for a butcher on a ship bound for America and one on a ship bound for Australia. The grandfather flipped a coin with his friend to decide who should work on which boat.
“The grandfather travelled to Australia. The friend sailed on the Titanic and was never heard from again,” said Ducky.
In addition to the moving tales, the walk tour guides share some delightfully odd history about Broken Hill buildings.
Guide, Ross Howse, said that the GUOOF Hall letters stand for Grand United Order of Odd Fellows.
“It’s a Cornish saying. If a man was out of work, he was an odd fellow,” explained walk tour guide, Ray Quinn.
“He’d be crying in his beer at the end of the bar because he had been put off work and couldn’t feed his 15 children.”
As a response, Welsh and Cornish miners started benevolent funds for miners who were out of work.
Welsh and Cornish miners also built Wesley Church next to Sturt Park but rank was clearly maintained.
“Managers sat in the front pews and miners sat in the back pews,” said Les.
The church’s records show that miners were given Sundays off work but were expected to attend church and work opportunities were often secured in the church. “If you worked on the mines, it was ‘a good idea’ to be seen there by management,” said Les.
Most of the walk tour guides did work on the mines and mining anecdotes flavour their tours.
If the tourists enjoy the tours, they donate at the end and all donations support Broken Hill charities, including Silverlea, Palliative Care, Vinnies’ Soup Kitchen and the RSPCA.
The tour guides are obviously doing a sterling job because “tourists have donated over $20,000 in 18 months,” said Ray.
The Broken Hill Heritage Walk Tour is doing a call-out for more guides for the two-and-a-half-hour tours because of the increasing influx of tourists into the city.
“If anyone wants to become a walk tour guide and you know the guides, have a talk with them,” said Ross.
Otherwise, more information is available by contacting Carol McGavisk on 8088 3095.
Originally published: Saturday, 8th May, 2021
After the success of the recent Western Division Councils conference, they have named their new president.
Local Councillor Dave Gallagher has been elected as the President of the Western Division Councils of NSW after acting in the role for the last 18 months.
The ‘Western Division’ covers 42% of the state, and is comprised of Councils from Balranald, Bourke, Brewarrina, Broken Hill, Central Darling Shire, Cobar Shire, Walgett Shire, and Wentworth Shire.
The Mayors and General Managers of member Councils meet to coordinate and collaborate on matters of common interest in order to present a united front when lobbying the State and Federal Governments.
The Western Division AGM was held in Broken Hill last month with over 50 Council delegates and 16 State and Federal ministers from across the political spectrum in attendance.
“I was president for a number of years,” Clr Gallagher said.
“I was vice-chair last year and when Balranald went into administration, I was voted in as acting chair.
“I’ve occupied the vice-president/president position over the years.”
Clr Gallagher was elected unopposed as the president at the conference.
“It was a big success. We voted on 20 motions including water, dams, weirs, airport upgrades, lighting and future funding. Over 100 delegates attended and it was great for Broken Hill and the Western Division as a whole.”
Clr Gallagher said as president he will work closely with the executive of Councils, mayors, councillors and general managers to ensure adequate funding is allocated for Councils in Western NSW.
“This region is the most economic and prosperous place in NSW. The clothes we wear and the food we eat comes from Western NSW.”
Clr Gallagher said the conference was a golden opportunity to speak with many state ministers.
“We had great access to minister and the shadow ministers. It was an opportunity to speak with them face to face; which we hadn’t been able to do over the last year.
“We were able to speak with them about our concerns and I felt they really listened to us.”
He gave a lot of credit to the Broken Hill City Council events team as well for their organisation of the event.
“The team really showcased Broken Hill and gave the delegates a lot of places to visit. A lot of the delegates really enjoyed the Railway Museum; they didn’t realise how much history it had behind it.”
Originally published: Wednesday, 5th May, 2021
West brought their new found intensity to the game against South on Saturday but couldn’t get across the line with a 22 point loss.
The Robins were unable to continue their winning streak over the weekend as a renewed Roos side took them on.
Credit to West, they continued to hold their own.
The first quarter started out strong with Flynn Treloar kicking West’s first goal, followed shortly by Riley McInnes who had an opportunity for goal.
West’s new recruit Josh Appleby proved valuable following up with a goal.
However, South responded quickly with goals to Rourke Turner, Marc Purcell and Todd Davidson.
West remained competitive, but South were too good with another three goals.
West were 1 1 (7) and South were 6 4 (40) after the first quarter.
The second quarter saw McInnes score a goal for West quickly before Cohen Bates followed up with another.
Jayden White was scrappy in the forward lines and managed to convert another goal for the Robins.
Tall ruck Jack Burke also managed a goal and West were looking good.
South’s fellow tall man Mitch Henderson responded in kind with his own goal.
Before Appleby kicked another for West from the 50m line.
At halftime West were back in it 6 4 (40) to South 7 6 (48).
During the course of the first half West had suffered a number of injuries with Peter Christos, Michael Andruszkiewicz and Jake Trengove getting hurt.
Trengove continued the game despite that, kicking a goal in the third quarter.
Marc Purcell was silky smooth throughout the game coming out in the third quarter a kicking a goal.
Cohen Bates followed up with his own goal bringing West within a point of South.
Turner kicked another for South before Marcus Purcell, Davidson and Lachlan McKenzie kicked one each.
It was at this point that South started to run away with the game putting the pressure on West.
The West team of 10 years ago may have crumbled but this team stood their ground applying their own pressure and not letting it get on top of them.
Starting the final quarter, young Marcus Purcell kicked a goal followed by West’s Brock Ellis before another South goal and a goal to West’s Sage Hocking.
West couldn’t quite make it across the finish line with the final scores 10 9 (69) to West and 14 7 (91) to South.
West’s youngsters proved they were ready for the challenge with the likes of Sutton, Cieslik and Harvey all putting in the hard work.
Grose and White are invaluable to the team and continually put their bodies on the line for the game.
Without captain Michael Westley, older players like Daniel Milne stood up and took a leadership role.
Milne did that without being too vocal and led by example; he was in the top five best players for me.
When it comes to South you can’t look past Marc Purcell, the captain also leads by example and is all over the field doing what needed to be done.
Quiet achievers like Davidson, Arlen Bird and Alex Johnston make the game flow effortlessly.
South’s body-men Luke Lines and Dylan Browne managed to keep West accountable as well.
With Central’s effort on Saturday, West’s game against North this week will be the one to watch as the teams look evenly matched.
South 14 7 (91) def 10 9 (69) West
WEST FOOTBALL CLUB LEAGUE
Goal Kickers: J. White 2, J. Appleby 2, C. Bates 2, B. Ellis, J. Trengove, R. McInnes, S. Hocking
Best Players: J. Appleby, C. Bates, J. Cieslik, M. Nelson, J. Sutton, L. Harvey
SOUTH FOOTBALL CLUB LEAGUE
Goal Kickers: M. Purcell 3, T. Davidson 3, M. Purcell 2, R. Turner 2, M. Henderson, A. Slattery, R. Barker, L. Mckenzie
Best Players: M. Purcell, T. Davidson, A. Bird, J. Smith, L. Mckenzie, A. Johnston
Originally published: Wednesday, 5th May, 2021
A packed house, excited gallery staff along with a relieved and “slightly overwhelmed” group of artists were all in attendance at the first major post COVID opening at the Broken Hill Regional Gallery on Friday night.
A night gallery marketing officer Jade Kerin described as simply “fantastic.”
“We’ve obviously had small hybrid events over the past year but this was the first’s one where we were back to full capacity,” said Jade, who along with Program Officer Hester Lyon could hardly keep the smiles off their faces. And they had plenty to smile about.
Food and drink was back and the people were back with both levels of the gallery filled with what Jade described as a pleasingly mixed demographic.
“There were a lot of younger people which wasn’t typical pre COVID,” said Jade. “We’ve put a lot of effort into putting our publicity online. We’ve really worked to attract the younger demographic and I hope it’s a sign that’s paying off.”
And for the artists, the big crowd was the icing on the cake. Most of the shows in the exhibition had been postponed due to COVID which for some was deeply deflating. Coupled with the uncertainty as to when public events might be allowed, Friday night became almost like an extended celebration after 18 months of anticipation.
In all five separate, extraordinarily diverse shows are on exhibit, including Wiradjuri artist Dale Collier’s site responsive video work “This is Not a Mineral Mall” and Townsville artist Jonathan McBurnie’s The Garden, a sweeping, scatological exploration of the parallels between the constructed worlds of pro wrestling and our constructed versions of the self.
Local artist Ryan O’Callaghan’s show “Where to Begin” explores his particular interest in the principles of sequential arts including storyboarding, animation and comic books. And he does so with drawings that are rich, imaginative and technically immaculate.
Through inscriptions in stone, Wilcannia artist Ian Marr has responded to the 18th century drawings of Panga, a young Barkandji stockman, drawings which explore the complex relationship between the Barkandji and non-Indigenous station workers at Momba Station during the 1870s. It’s a powerful work, with Marr’s monolithic stone pieces acting as a counterpoint to the delicate drawings of Panga, pictures Marr himself described in his speech to open the exhibition as “filled with beauty and grace.”
“It’s so wonderful to be able to bring the work of this young man from so long ago into this present world. They are for me so present that I somehow have a feeling that he’s going to just appear around the corner at any moment”.
And finally there is “Wirtu’wirtulinya - Three Sisters”, which brings together the work of local indigenous artists Jade Cicak, Taya Biggs and Elisha Mangal, all of them exploring what it means to be a proud Barkandji woman in today’s world. And it’s an exhibition the staff at the gallery have a strong personal connection to with both Jade and Taya having been part of the Freshbark program, the gallery’s year-long mentorship program.
“Everyone in the gallery is thrilled for them. We’ve seen the journey they’ve gone on and then seeing their show and the joy and excitement on their faces. And their parents and family who have also followed them. It’s been very special to watch the passage of these shy high school girls who have grown in to artists.”
This remarkable collection of works from a remarkable group of contemporary Australian artists will remain on show at the Broken Hill Regional Gallery until Sunday the 4th of July.
Originally published: Wednesday, 5th May, 2021
Independent NSW MP Justin Field has moved to disallow the latest regulations on floodplain harvesting.
Last week, Mr Field slammed the introduction of new floodplain harvesting laws and indicated that he would move to disallow them when NSW Parliament returned this week.
New regulations were introduced by the NSW Government to allow floodplain harvesting licences to be issued across Northern NSW following public consultation late last year. The regulations establish the rules for the granting of licences to harvest floodwaters, requirements for measuring and also create new exemptions to allow some rainfall runoff to be taken without a licence.
“I said publicly that I would move to disallow them,” Mr Field told the Barrier Truth.
“Tuesday I gave notice, then we will debate and it will go to a vote.”
Mr Field said last year, a coalition in the Upper House voted against similar rulings and he hopes the same will happen again.
“There is uncertainty around the modelling which may see the needs of downstream communities pushed aside.
“Water could be taken from them and the environment.”
Mr Field said the State Government and Water Minister Melinda Pavey have gone ahead without listening to public concerns.
“Melinda Pavey has failed to listen to the concerns presented to her in the disallowance debate and the public consultation process. The issues that have been consistently raised about this type of taking, the uncertainty over the volumes of water and modelling, the need for first flush water to make it downstream communities - none of this has been resolved by these new regulations.
“We want to see regulations with floodplain harvesting licensing but we need to know how much water is being used. There needs to be rules in place to protect the community and environment.
“As it stands, there are rules that allow licensees to use 500 per cent of their allocation in any one year. It will mean that, once again, the greedy corporate irrigators will get to fill their dams before any water reaches downstream communities and the environment. It’s not good enough.”
The Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists have also raised major concerns about new reforms. While the practice of building dams and levees on private property to capture floodwaters is widespread in the northern basin, this is the first time floodwater harvesting will be licenced under the Water Management Act.
Wentworth Group member Professor Richard Kingsford, a river ecologist and conservation biologist, said billions of dollar’s worth of new water licences could be created without adequate protections for communities and the environment.
“Our rivers and downstream communities are so dependent on the floods that get onto the floodplains,” Professor Kingsford said.
“They are large enough to reach the floodplain eucalypt forests and trigger the breeding of native fish and then connect the river downstream, supplying different human communities.
“We have to get this right for the future of our rivers. These reforms officially sanction an entirely new licence class for water extraction, without safeguards to protect the health of our already stressed Murray-Darling Basin rivers.”
“New water licences for floodplain irrigation should only be created when the rivers can get enough water and this will clearly not happen under the proposed rules.”
The Nature Conservation Council has followed suit and urged all members of parliament to disallow the new regulations.
“Many of our rivers and wetlands are already in a perilous state and this new regulation that will deprive them of a huge volume of precious water will have drastic consequences,” Chris Gambian, Chief Executive of the Nature Conservation Council of NSW said.
“The environment movement urges all parliamentarians to vote to disallow this dreadful regulation and protect our rivers, wetlands and downstream communities.
“Floodplain harvesting diverts a huge volume of water away from our rivers into private dams, and handing our new licences without proper safeguards, sustainable limits and guaranteed downstream targets will be repeating the mistake of over-allocation of water that has already damaged the Murray-Darling Basin.
“Many of our wetlands, floodplain environments, and lakes, and all the animals and plants they support, rely on regular flood events.
“To allow irrigators to take up to 500 per cent of a licence allocation in a single year is a recipe for disaster and will see important floodwaters stolen from the environment and downstream communities.”
In the announcement last week it was revealed that Basin states will publish a report examining key projects including the Menindee Lakes and Yanco Creek Offtake Regulator Sustainable Diversion Limit Adjustment Mechanism (SDLAM) projects - two of the major projects within the Murray-Darling Basin Plan.
It was also announced last week that all ministers welcomed NSW’s proposal to accelerate five projects that will deliver up to 45GL by 2024, with the Commonwealth agreeing to fast-track funding in support of these projects.
Minister for Water Melinda Pavey said NSW has already done much of the heavy lifting, delivering on environmental outcomes for the Murray Darling Basin and has completed or almost completed 12 of the 21 SDLAM projects.
“NSW has today reached an agreement to rescope Yanco and Menindee projects within two months – it’s an historic day for both the environment and millions of people who rely on the basin to survive as we have been unable to move on these projects for almost a decade,” Mrs Pavey said.
“Menindee Lakes is the most significant native fish breeding ground in NSW and we have been raising these issues along with water management in the Lakes for almost two years, and this marks a great achievement by all Basin Ministers recognising that our communities need to drive these projects.
“Through the efforts of NSW to accelerate its projects, an estimated 75 per cent of the 605GL is on track to be delivered by June 2024.”
Originally published: Saturday, 1st May, 2021
The opening of the gates at Menindee last week saw the NSW Water Minister step into the local spotlight, and Melinda Pavey didn’t disappoint the throng that had gathered to witness the event.
It was a regal visit, a woman of substance meeting her people. Ably facilitated by a media advisor who terrorised the journalists on hand like a Hollywood-style Marine Sgt Major addressing a bunch of gormless, meek recruits.
And the film analogies continue.
In the acting world, there are players of all types. Those with gravitas and the lightweights, those with authenticity and the fakers. Our political leaders are want to use the performance analogy when talking about members of their ministerial team. Minister Pavey is what they call in the political game ‘A good performer,’ one who can sell a message, one who is unflappable in a crisis. And last Thursday, all of the Minister’s silken performance skills were on show.
It began before the camera’s rolled. A private stroll with an indigenous leader. Head bowed, empathetic. When the press conference was about to get underway and the Minister was miked up, like any true professional actor, she attended to her hair and clothing and volunteered a soundcheck to make sure that whatever she said would be of appropriate quality.
But like a B-grade movie, it was when she opened her mouth that the problems started. You see, Hollywood deals in fiction, and, so it seems, does Minister Pavey.
Speaking to the ABC, when asked about the heated conversations she’d had the night before at the Menindee pub, first, she buttered us up.
“I just love coming out here and even just spending a couple of hours. Sometimes those conversations can get a bit fiery.” A statement accompanied by an amused and slightly patronising chuckle. A sort of self-satisfied delight at meeting some “people”.
But just to be sure we didn’t get too far ahead of ourselves, she went on to make sure that we knew that she knows more than we do.
“I had some of my experts with me who put a few facts on the bone because there’s a lot of myths out here, a lot of blame and pointing directions to the north.”
Which frankly is where the problem is. If the water doesn’t flow down the system we tend, as a community, not to point south. But then she abruptly contradicted herself and pointed her own finger north.
“Sometimes I think Queensland could be doing more, installing metering. But we’re all a lot happier when there is big rain in the north.”
Which is where the water comes from. Then, like a conjurer performing a card trick, she subtly led the conversation away from questions of over-extraction in the northern basin by talking about compliance. With theatrical exuberance.
“We’ve lifted our game. We’re leading Australia now in terms of compliance. Even Mick Keelty said that. We should be proud.”
The Mick Keelty she was talking about was the former Federal Police Commissioner who was tasked by the Federal Government to look into the Murray Darling mess. Perhaps buried somewhere in Mr Keelty’s report there is a passing reference to NSW doing something well in that area. Who knows? What we do know is that the report, delivered in April last year, found that there was an absence of leadership, transparency and “a single point of truth” across the entire Murray-Darling Basin Plan. A view no doubt arrived at because State Water Ministers, including Pavey, refused to allow him to interview witnesses across borders.
It went on to refer to analysis that showed the “median annual inflow into the system over the past 20 years is approximately half that of the preceding century”. Again, a look at the map of the system shows that much of that flow comes from the north. Particularly from tributaries around what is referred to as the northern basin, the area of the highest extraction rates from the Darling, and from those tributaries before it reaches the river.
When asked about environmental flows on Thursday, Ms Pavey insisted that they are always in place. Mr Keelty disagrees.
“There were perceptions that environmental water licences had been prioritised and treated differently to irrigation licences, but the enquiry found that “the environmental water holdings are comprised of exactly the same types of entitlements that are held by irrigators. In times of drought, the delivery of environmental water is scaled back which “implies that the environment does not need water during a drought.”
This is exactly what happened during the recent drought - no water - even in response to the Menindee fish kill in 2019.
Then there was the actor who, like Iago in Shakespeare’s Othello, pleaded her case. “NSW has given back a thousand Gigalitres to the environment from our farmers. And it hurt.”
Perhaps it did hurt. But let’s unpack that statement. We don’t know where that water came from. Moreover, we don’t know where it went. If it was in fact 1,000 gigalitres, not for the southern basin and the Menindee Lakes, but for the environmental flows mandated by the Murray Darling Basin. It certainly didn’t come down the river, so presumably, it flowed into the Murray from the Murrumbidgee.
But given that reports over the past decade suggest that the system is bedevilled by patchy metering, unmetered takes and the lack of real-time, accurate water accounting, that is hardly surprising. It may explain why the Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists report published in 2019 found that in some of the years since the Murray Darling Basin Plan came into effect, the River Murray received up to 60% less water than expected, and the Darling River received as much as 80% less water, even when taking into account drought conditions. The Darling is principally under the control of Minister Pavey, who wants to have honest, mature conversations.
“It’s gotta change and it’s gonna change,” she said. Which was catchy, like a line from a musical before a big song. Then she burst the bubble. When asked when it was going to change, instead of singing Tomorrow she floored the crowd with, “Who knows if it’s going to keep raining. I hope it does.”
But the high kicker in all this was when she was asked how long we would maintain levels in the Lakes. At which point she mused on the ideas around what she called “dead water” and “active water.” In simple terms active water would appear to be water we can sell and use for agriculture, dead water is water like the stuff that currently sits in the Menindee Lakes, water that is vital for the sustenance of the complex ecosystem. Moreover, she made no commitment to keeping flows of “dead water” heading into the lakes, instead, throwing the responsibility for keeping the water in there to the Murray Darling Basin Authority, which controls flows in the Lower Darling Basin.
“There are some very big conversations the MDBA needs to start having with communities. They’ve started that. I think they got a real sense people were upset. Menindee has a right to this water as much as the people of Adelaide. This is a vital fish breeding ground, it is vital to culture, it is vital to the environment. It’s vital for all Australians.”
The issue with that statement of course is that control of the Menindee Lakes only ever falls to the MDBA when they achieve a certain water level and that level depends on flows. But the control of flows rests in the hands of Minister Pavey.
Perhaps if she had her time again she could have reworded the script to read something like this:
“There are some very big conversations I need to start having with communities. I haven’t started that. I’ve got a real sense people were upset. Menindee has a right to this water as much as the unsustainable agribusinesses of the northern basin. This is a vital fish breeding ground, it is vital to culture, it is vital to the environment. It’s vital to all Australians.”
Her crowning achievement, however, was her concluding statement. “I just want to have good conversations based on science and based on data. We have to listen to the science.”
I clarified the science the minister was referring to. According to her office, that science amounted to hydrological numbers on lake capacity and evaporation rates. And, I quote, in the following 2.5 years from the 2016-17 inflow event more than half of that water - 1,237 GL - was lost to seepage and evaporation from the lakes.
* 252 GL was delivered to government environmental water licence holders for release into the Lower Darling and Anabranch, for the benefit of the riverine environment, including native fish species.
* 388 GL was provided in releases on behalf of the Murray Darling Basin Authority (MDBA). (When the storage volume exceeds 640 GL the MDBA is able to call on water from the lakes until the volume drops below 480GL, and the lakes’ management reverts to NSW Government control).
* 189 GL was released by Water NSW for the Lower Darling as required under the operating rules for the lakes.
* 91 GL was delivered to Lower Darling customers holding a water entitlement licence.
* The 74 GL difference relates to the variation in starting and ending volumes for this 2.5 year period.
That, Minister, is not science. It’s accounting. And you can’t pull a science card and be selective about it. You either listen to the science or you don’t. Science that supports an ideology, science that tells only a part of a story, science that suggests that water in the Menindee Lakes is dead water?
There are several other significant scientific opinions floating around at the moment. None of which seem to have caught the ministers attention.
Let’s take the science around waterbirds. From a peak in 1984 of 140,000 birds at Menindee – one of the country’s major inland bird breeding grounds – numbers in 2019 had dropped to less than 20,000, a decline that has been steady over the past 20 years. Breeding events, which rely on cyclical, natural filling and draining of the lakes have also steadily dropped to below a hundred a year.
Or invertebrates. The science around the management of the system has shown that with levels being kept artificially high when water is available in the Darling and then drained too quickly or, with no flows at all, the natural concentration of invertebrates and other food sources for birds and fish are unable to develop.
Or the Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists who used science to investigate floodplain harvesting and the “water-saving measures” funded by the Federal Government and found a reduction in runoff and groundwater recharge that would have otherwise benefitted the environment.
And yes, the Lakes seep and water evaporates. That is the science - the reality of a delicately balanced ecosystem that is rapidily reaching a point of no return.
But, of course, the big science, the big elephant in the room that Minister Pavey wants to ignore is Climate Change.
“It didn’t rain for three years in the north,” said the Minister, “that’s never happened before.” But it will almost certainly happen again. According to the Bureau of Meteorology, “In the southeast of Australia, there has been a decline of around 12 per cent in April to October rainfall since the late 1990s.”
The report on Australia’s climate outlook continues by saying that “There has been a consistent decrease in streamflow at the majority of streamflow gauges across southern Australia since 1975.”
That report was researched before the recent drought, that drought of an intensity “that’s never happened before.” We cannot continue to farm the Darling Basin according to old science or even old accounting. There needs to be urgent, major reform. And that is the science Minister. Perhaps we can have a mature conversation about that.
As the performance ended and the minister strode away from the stage, I approached to ask her another question. I was met with the performer at rest. A mute response accompanied by a killer stare. Then, like a stage door Johnny who had lingered too long, I was shooed away by the Marine. Ah, Hollywood.
Originally published: Saturday, 1st May, 2021
The Roos and the Robins went head-to-head for the first time in the 2021 Under 18 season on Wednesday night and after a tight tussle all game, South came out on top.
However, it was the Roos who got on the board first with Daniel Ryan’s first goal and in what would be a great performance.
Then the Westies took their chances with three straight goals from Cooper Burke and Casey Ferguson with a long bomb to bounce through and Dylan Foggo.
South’s Locky McKenzie then kicked into action in the forward lines for two goals in a row. The first was a set shot from roughly 40 metres out which he slotted nicely. The second followed a burst from the centre to handball off to a teammate for a return handball, to boot one from the goal square.
Scores were all tied up at the first break, with both sides sitting on three goals and one behind.
The second quarter began in the same fashion as the first, as Daniel Ryan kicked his second of the game. West then kicked two goals with one from William Squire, followed by Nick Schofield who slotted one from right in front after a 50-metre penalty was paid.
The Robins took a narrow six-point lead into half time.
Each of these sides provided excellent run-and-carry across the ground, making for a fast-paced game with players showcasing their speed and agility.
The second half began with a South goal once again. Marcus Purcell sent one deep into their forward fifty to land on the chest of Ty Johnston who turned and scored.
After another 50-metre penalty, West’s Harper Bromson put one through the big sticks before Daniel Ryan kicked his third with a dribble kick through both opposition players and teammates, as they tussled for the football.
To finish off the third term in a reverse of the first goal of the quarter, Ty Johnston sent a kick into the forward to Marcus Purcell, who played on to kick his first. South managed a goal lead heading into the final break.
In the last quarter, the Roos kept pushing on while the Robins seemed to run out of steam. Locky McKenzie slotted his third to open the last quarter before Marcus Purcell scored a goal after unselfish kicks within the forward fifty from McKenzie, to Bryce Langdon and then to Purcell to kick the goal.
As the final scoring shot of the game, Purcell kicked his third late. Play stopped with two minutes to go after West’s Dylan Foggo laid a late hit on South’s Dakotah Daddow. As a result, Foggo was sent from the ground with a red card and on report while Daddow, who was knocked out, was seen to by St John’s and eventually paramedics.
For the Roos, Lock McKenize was named best afield after a hard running game and three goals to his name. Marcus Purcell and Daniel Ryan were also among the best players, after three goals each and both showing great effort throughout the game. Bryce Langdon, Locke Cole and Luke Collins were also impressive and among South’s best.
West was well led by the likes of Jackson Savage, Nicholas Schofield and Casey Ferguson who were relentless and strong across the ground. Tom Burke, Jarvis Doody and Tyler Chapman were among their best and battled hard for the Robins.
Full time score - South 10 4 (64) defeated West 6 2 (38).
Originally published: Saturday, 1st May, 2021
‘Palma non sine pulvere’, or ‘no palm without dust’ is the Latin motto of Broken Hill High School and its meaning is that there is no reward of the victory wreath of palm leaves without effort.
Last year marked 100 years of reward and effort for the school and, due to COVID restrictions being lifted, proud former students will be able to celebrate this week with the school tour, Roulettes’ aerobatic flyovers and tonight’s Centenary Ball.
The ball at the Civic Centre will be attended by former students “from away”, including Tasmania, Sydney and Adelaide.
Organiser, Marg Burrowes, said that some former students couldn’t travel home because of COVID restrictions but she expects many locals to join the school tour on Monday from 4.30pm to 6pm because “they still have the passion for the school.”
Marg studied for two years at Broken Hill High School, then two years at newly-built Willyama High School and her passion for the former is evident. “Back in our day, we were outside because we didn’t have phones.”
For Marge, the downside of being outside was that they also had to be outside in the rain. “But we didn’t have to worry about that too much because it rarely rained.”
Marg expects tour attendees to also rekindle their school memories. “Ex-students are really looking forward to seeing where they used to sit in the classrooms and if the halls they walked down are any different.”
The halls are generally the same but the blackboards have gone and students who beguiled the free times with handball will notice that the courts have moved.
Marg said that students became too competitive in A quad, especially when a teacher challenged them to a game. “We didn’t want the office ladies to have a ball come through the window.”
After A quad was repurposed as a passive area, which is a quiet sitting area for students, squares for games were marked out in E quad near the historic Maths building, which was built in 1907.
The school’s historic buildings will feature on the Monday’s school tour with assistance dogs Banjo and Cooper escorting the tour group. Interestingly, the 15-week-old pups have workers’ rights and are only allowed to work three days a week.
Their training will commence on Wednesday, and then all students will be shown how to treat dogs correctly, including not leaving food scraps out.
Later, they will meet year 11 and 12 students and then RSL members.
This will be followed by a Roulettes flyover above Broken Hill Racecourse on Saturday at midday, with the opportunity for the general public to meet the pilots in the Gary Radford Pavillion.
Marg applied very early for the Roulettes to travel to Broken Hill for the school’s centenary.
“It was in 2018, to make sure I was on top of the list.”
After waiting two years for the confirmation telephone call, which could only be two weeks before the event, Marg was dismayed when she missed it.
Marg has a poignant reason for inviting the Roulettes to mark the centenary.
“A lot of Broken Hill people had to go to war, including being conscripted.
“Broken Hill people were in the Rats of Tobruk and Z Force and on the Kokoda trail.”
Principal Ross Mackay said that people at the school are passionate about every ANZAC Day and Remembrance Day being honoured and there is always a formal assembly.
“We are honouring that in our celebrations with our ex-students.”
Principal Mackay believes that the school’s strength lies in its strong connection to the students and families and in providing an education that accommodates all students.
“For the high academic kids, we’ve certainly got things in place for them. For the kids that struggle a little bit, we certainly accommodate them and we know, value and care for every kid.”