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News archive

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

July, 2021

Roos prove too good

Originally published: Saturday, 31st July, 2021

South made a strong start, maintaining their intensity and scoring accuracy all game to take a 74-point win over the Bulldogs on Wednesday night.
The Roos small forward, Harry Butcher, put his skills on display, managing the first three goals of the game. His first came through a dribble kick, and for the second, he played on from a mark to weave in and out of defenders to kick from mid-range, and the third was a quick snap across-body through the uprights.
Fellow forward, Adam Slattery, managed his first of the night thanks to a good handball from Locky McKenzie after which Slattery put boot to ball over defenders hands in the goal square for a major score.
Late in the first term, North’s Mckaide Standley managed to put the blue and white boys on the board with a goal from directly in front after grabbing the loose footy.
At quarter time, South led 25 to North’s six.
Harry Butcher again opened the scoring for South in the second quarter, with his fourth goal from a snap kick. North’s Dan Kennedy goaled from deep in the pocket after earning a free kick from an opposition player holding the ball.
Adam Slattery kicked goal number two from an on-the-run kick as the last of the first half. South almost managed another goal on the siren, but thanks to the efforts of North defender Jet Johnson to touch the ball on the line, that was null and void as the siren sounded.
The Roos were ahead of the Bulldogs at halftime, 41 to 13.
South’s Locky McKenzie started the second half with an amazing run of play, going from almost one 50 to the other uncontested, to slot the ball through for a goal. Harry Butcher then kicked his fifth and final goal of the night from a set shot in the scoreboard pocket.
Adam Slattery kept his rhythm going slotting two back-to-back goals, the first from a perfect set shot kick and the second in a similar fashion.
The Roos four unanswered goals, allowed them to extend their lead to 52 points at three-quarter time.
The final quarter was again all South, with another four straight goals to finish off the game, while North managed three behinds.
The Roos first goaled through Marcus Purcell with a kick that dribbled through the big sticks, followed by Adam Slattery who booted his fifth and final goal from an on-the-run kick.
Ty Johnston goaled from a great kick after an unselfish handball from Harry Butcher before Locky McKenzie kicked his second goal for the last of the night.
The Roos showed immense intensity and seamless teamwork to run out winners by 74 points.
Their best players included Harry Butcher, Marcus Purcell, Bryce Langdon, Locky McKenzie, Adam Slattery and Mason McCully.
For the Dogs, it was Taz Lihou, Ethan Hocking, Yusuf Goss, Loachlan Turley, Shakur Johnson and Dan Kennedy who were best-on for their team.
Full-time score – South 14.6 (90) defeated North 2.4 (16).

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Ex-local climbs mountains for a worthy cause

Originally published: Saturday, 31st July, 2021

Artist Jarrod Prince is fundraising for Motor Neurone Disease (MND) Victoria by hiking in the Victorian Alps to help others and as a tribute to his father.
Sadly, Jarrod lost his father, Michael Prince, to MND last year and said that his father was a Broken Hill artist and a beloved man.
“He was a sweet, loving, creative man.”  
Jarrod hopes that people like his dad will be able to access the equipment that the fundraiser will supply.
“We struggled to get the equipment needed for palliative care and money raised on the hike will, hopefully, make it easier for people,” he said.
Jarrod said that it will be good to meet other fundraisers on the hike who understand the experience of MND.
“Some are still going through it with loved ones.”
To fundraise for people with MND, Jarrod will take part in ‘Three Peaks 2021,’ a 43-kilometre hike over three Victorian Alps peaks on October 23 to 25.
“That will be a pretty big weekend,” he said.
The 25 fundraising hikers will do some prior training for the hike with MND Victoria but they will be glad to rest at a mountain camp each night.
“We get a good night’s sleep.”
The hikers will need the rest. The first day’s hike will be 11 kilometres through the majestic forests of Mount Stirling, including a stop at Craig's Hut, a replica cattlemen's hut that was originally constructed in 1981 to 1982 for The Man from Snowy River film. Craig's Hut was rebuilt after the 2006 bushfires and re-opened to the public in 2008 and is accessible only by four-wheel-drive vehicles and a walking track.
Day two of ‘Three Peaks 2021’ will be an arduous 22-kilometre trek on Mount Feathertop, Victoria's second-highest peak at 1,922m. The views will include the Razorback, a high ridge linking Mount Feathertop to Mount Hotham.
On the third day, Jarrod will hike 10 kilometres on Mount Bogong. There are still historic cattlemen’s huts on the Bogong High Plains, which the cattlemen built for shelter as they drove their cattle up to the plains in summer.
Jarrod’s hiking fundraiser has already raised nearly $6,000 and he hopes to raise extra money for the hike by auctioning off two of his oil paintings next week.
“I thought it would be nice if someone could get something back if they intended on donating anyway,” he said.
Jarrod appreciates the many donations to his fundraiser, which he attributes to a lot of support from the art community and from Broken Hill.
“Broken Hill folk are behind me.
“It’s a good community and a tight one and people look out for each other.”
Donations for Jarrod’s fundraiser can be made at https://www.mnd.org.au/my-fundraising/6/jarrod-prince
For the fundraising auction of Jarrod’s artworks, visit
https://www.facebook.com/jarrod.prince1
or https://www.instagram.com/jarrodprince/?hl=en

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Bash pushed back to the future

Originally published: Saturday, 31st July, 2021

Some may wonder what life on Earth will look like when the Mundi Mundi Bash finally occurs.
The behemoth music festival, originally scheduled for August, was postponed two weeks ago until September due to the rising COVID case numbers in the state.
This week, with case numbers at a record high, organisers have been forced to postpone a second time, pushing the event further into the future, to April 21-23, 2022.
Organiser Greg Donovan hopes the dates will be final.
"We are very disappointed," he says, "but this seems to be the normal state of affairs for the music industry nowadays. In music, theatre and the arts, virtually every show carries a risk of being postponed. I guess we've just got to accept that that's the way it is at this point in time.
"We just have to be patient and let things take their course. Hopefully, a little further into the future, we'll see things returning to some semblance of normality."
Mr Donovan says that while the announcement two weeks ago of the new dates was made in good faith, it became apparent within a couple of days that September was not an option.
"No one could have predicted the situation we now find ourselves in with the Delta variant," he says. "We were on a high from staging the hugely successful and COVID-safe Birdsville Big Red Bash when we made our first announcement to postpone the Mundi Mundi Bash from August to September this year. And at that time we really believed it was achievable."
Mr Donovan says the extreme postponement until April 2022 serves two purposes; to leapfrog the gruelling temperatures of the outback summer, and to give the festival the best chance of outrunning the current COVID climate.
Broken Hill City Council Mayor, Darriea Turley, agrees with the decision.
"I think it's a good move to push the event back given the ongoing uncertainty that is being created by the escalating COVID-19 situation in NSW," she said.
"We're extremely happy with the proposed new dates as the event will fall between the Easter long weekend and the Anzac Day public holiday. The Bash will complement our own Heritage Festival over Easter and will allow visitors to enjoy an extended stay in the city without using too much leave.
"It has the potential to be a marquee week of entertainment and culture, and heritage in the city, so we hope organisers enjoy some better luck in their tireless efforts to bring this massive event to Broken Hill."
But Mr Donovan says the big winners in the latest development are the 250 port-a-loos that are already enjoying an extended holiday on Mundi Mundi Plains.  
"They're having their own dunny festival" he laughs. "They're safe and sound out on the Mundi Plains, all tarped up and covered, so they'll be happy little dunnies sitting out there enjoying the nice weather in Broken Hill."  
Tickets to the 2021 Mundi Mundi Bash will automatically transfer to the new dates in April 2022, ticket holders have the option to request a refund up until October 31, with new tickets for the April 2022 Bash to be made available later in the year, pending finalisation of refunded tickets.
And while Greg Donovan obviously can't guarantee that the 2022 date will be final, he says he's determined the event will at least happen in everyone's lifetime.
"Yeah, we've got a couple of artists who are getting on a little bit," he laughs.
"Obviously, they're iconic artists and we're fortunate to be presenting them. But who knows what the future holds for any of us, really."   

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Flame burns brightly under the golden arches

Originally published: Saturday, 31st July, 2021

The banners at the Broken Hill McDonald’s proudly announce that the Mac Family has arrived. But it would appear that McDonald’s Broken Hill, along with a number of other stores in South Australia, have been anything but good parents.
Australia’s largest private-sector trade union, the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association or SDA, has brought a case to the Federal Court against McDonald’s Broken Hill over the denial of break entitlements.
The action, lodged on behalf of 18 current and former workers of the Broken Hill outlet, follows an investigation conducted by South Australian representatives of the union who travelled to Broken Hill in early June and interviewed past and present staff members of the store.
As a result of that investigation, the union will allege that local operator, Moosky Pty Ltd, deliberately denied workers paid rest and drink breaks. But according to SDA South Australian State Secretary, Josh Peak, the investigation, and the resulting action, didn’t come easily.
“What we came across was a franchisee that was not only actively denying workers their breaks but was also actively impeding those workers the right to union representation,” said Mr Peak.
That impediment, which is certainly not in keeping with the best traditions of a city often cited as the spiritual home of Australian unionism, was multi-layered. The union officials were initially denied right of entry to the store. After securing a notice of a right to entry they were then confronted by a franchisee whose actions can best be described as openly intimidatory.
Actions that included sitting next to workers as they were being interviewed by the union officials with respect to their conditions, a tactic that Peak said understandably frightened the young staff members.
“We were forced to threaten separate legal action in the Federal Court to allow us to have an open conversation with staff without the franchisee present which is a pretty deplorable state of affairs.”
What became clear to the SDA after the local franchisee was given no choice but to back away was that the Broken Hill store has a history of taking advantage of young fast-food workers.
“Once we were able to talk openly with these young people what we found was a systemic lack of acknowledgement on the part of the franchisee with respect to the basic rights of his staff. McDonald’s stores are incredibly busy and hot places to work, to think that workers in Broken Hill, of all places, have been denied the right to a rest break is disgraceful,” Mr Peak said.
Peak said the union has now lodged actions against five McDonald’s franchisees regarding the denial of breaks and is seeking thousands of dollars in compensation on behalf of 372 workers across 17 restaurants, action that will ensure thousands of current workers receive their basic entitlements.
The SDA’s action, which is ongoing across all states, had so far collected formal statements from thousands of past and present McDonald’s crew members who have reached out to discuss their concerns about their time working at McDonald’s. But Peak says the action in Broken Hill is of particular significance.
“It’s very unusual. What we have in Broken Hill is virtually all teenagers. Young people exercising their rights in the face of open intimidation. It’s brave. To have these teenagers in a fast-food franchise standing together. That’s remarkable.”
The flame, lit in the city more than a century ago, a flame that had perhaps become a mere flicker, is once again, it seems, burning brightly.

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A man’s best friend destroyed

Originally published: Wednesday, 28th July, 2021

A Broken Hill man is still “devastated” by the killing of his pet dingo-cross at the hands of out-of-town authorities.
Local contract builder Jon Hanrahan had raised Lupo from birth, caring for the dingo-cross pup until it was seven years old. But an incident in January this year set off a chain of events that ended with the destruction of Jon’s companion in circumstances the 52-year-old is still uncomfortable about.
Jon says he was working in the Central Darling Shire with Lupo chained to the back of his ute.
“I’d finished work for the day and went back to where I was staying,” he recalls.
“There were some party goers around. A person walked past my ute and I told them not to get too close. Lupo was just lying there, minding his own business. The same person walked past a couple of times, and again I told them not to approach him. So I was sitting there, having my tea, when I looked over and saw them going, ‘Pretty puppy’, and trying to pat him. Lupo withdrew as far as his chain would let him, then he panicked and bit them on the hand.”
The resulting wound was significant enough to make Jon feel “pretty bad about it”, and he says he doesn’t have too many problems with the victim contacting authorities. Nor does he dispute the Broken Hill ranger’s right to pay him a visit.
“The next day I took Lupo back to Broken Hill,” says Jon. “The local dog catcher had heard about the incident, came around, saw the dog, and spoke to my mother. She told him what had happened, and he said he couldn’t see a major problem – the dog was obviously well looked after, plenty of room in the yard, not living on a chain. He saw that Lupo was playing with my mum’s little dog, so he wasn’t a vicious dog at all – just very protective of his space on the ute, ‘cos he’s a work dog.
“Then the ranger asked what kind of dog it was and mum told him it was a dingo.
“Next thing I know I had the Central Darling Shire ranger calling me and telling me I had to surrender the dog to be destroyed.
“There was no real option – I was told that if I kept him there’d be a massive fine, thousands of dollars, he’d be classed as a menacing dog and be forced to live in a cage for his whole life.”
Unable to pay the fine, and not wishing for his animal to be sentenced to life in a cage, Jon did what he’d been led to believe was the only thing he could do and surrendered the animal, the Central Darling Shire ranger removing Lupo from his home in Broken Hill the very next day. A spokesperson for the Central Darling Shire confirmed to the Barrier Truth that Lupo was then “euthanised”.
Since then, Jon has reflected upon what happened, and he now wonders if any of it was necessary.
“The Shire ranger told me it was illegal to own a dingo this side of Cobar,” he says. “I was surprised to hear that.”
A spokesperson for the Central Darling Shire Council assured the Barrier Truth that it was illegal to own a dingo, but when pressed for the “west of Cobar” statute the spokesperson was unable to provide it. (To be fair, after weeks of consulting with various local governments and animal authorities, the Barrier Truth encountered widespread confusion on the issue.)
The higher authority in NSW, the State Government, is explicit: the Companion Animals Act of 1998 classes “Canis lupus dingo, Canis familiaris dingo or Canis dingo” as animals that can be legally kept as pets “provided they are registered and microchipped”, which Lupo was; The Department of Planning, Industry and Environment states that the dingo is “the only native mammal that you can have as a pet without needing a licence from the Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) or any other state government authority”; and The Department of Primary Industries – under the auspices of the New South Wales Premier – publishes on its website a two-page manual on how to care for a pet dingo.
Kylie Cairns, Research Fellow at the Centre for Ecosystem Science at the University of New South Wales, and an expert on Dingo behaviour, disagrees that dingoes are untameable.
“It is possible for dingoes to be tamed and so be able to live in a home with a family or owner,” she says. “They are trainable and extremely intelligent, but dingoes are also very independent and so may not follow instructions if they don’t want to, or don’t see the benefit.”
Furthermore, in the case of Lupo, none of the usual protocols for the destruction of a companion animal appears to have been followed.

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Broken Heel steps back in time

Originally published: Wednesday, 28th July, 2021

Organisers of the annual Broken Heel Festival have been forced to bounce the date back to December.
The event, which began in 2016, has usually been held in September, but Managing Director of the Palace and Festival Director, Esther La Rovere, says the COVID situation makes the original date a little too close for comfort.
“We are moving our festival to the weekend of December 3 to 6,” she says. “We just didn’t really think, looking ahead, that we’d be able to operate the festival in September without restrictions.
“Also, I guess, very high on our priority list was to get that extra time so that our local community and the guests that are coming can be fully vaccinated. We don’t want COVID making an impact on Broken Hill, because we’ve been pretty much COVID-free for all this time.”
Ms La Rovere says refunds will be available for those who can’t re-adjust to the new schedule, but she doesn’t expect the final turnout to drastically change.
“About 1800 tickets had already been sold,” she says. “The change of date, obviously, might put a bit of a dent in those numbers, but it might also mean that we pick up a few people who, for one reason or another, couldn’t make it to the September dates.”
Ms La Rovere also stresses that the line-up of performers, including cabaret sensation Bob Downe, SOS ABBA and Aboriginal Australian electronic music duo Electric Fields, will remain unchanged by the postponement.
“We’ve only got two performers coming out of Sydney,” she says. “The rest are from Melbourne, regional Victoria, regional New South Wales and Queensland, so it’s unlikely COVID lockdowns will prevent any of them from coming.”
For those disturbed by the prospect of thousands of partygoers descending upon Broken Hill during a pandemic, Ms La Rovere hopes the postponement may ease their concerns.
“It’s all about safety, really,” she says. “One of the positive comments we always get about our event is just that welcoming feeling that our community puts out to our guests who travel here from far away to attend the festival.
“I’m hoping the delay in dates will ensure that the friendly, welcoming vibe is still present - it’s a standout comment we always get and it says a lot about our community. I really want to make sure that becomes known as a Broken Hill trait.”
The Broken Heel Festival will feature a detailed COVID plan, QR codes for contact tracing and touch-point sanitising. However, Ms La Rovere cannot guarantee at this point that those into bright lipstick will not be disappointed.
“Whether we all have to wear masks or not,” she laughs, “well, we’ll just have to wait and see.”

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Christmas time for the Bulldogs

Originally published: Wednesday, 28th July, 2021

Ben Victory was named North Football Club’s 2021 Top Dog at their annual Past Players Reunion on Sunday.
Victory said it was “humbling” to have received the title of Top Dog, and an honour he is very proud of.
“Yeah, I didn’t see that coming at all. I had my top three like everyone does, we all have little side wagers and stuff about who’s going to get it, so it’s pretty humbling.”
Victory became quite emotional upon hearing the announcement that he was this year’s Top Dog. He said it means a lot to him, having been a part of the North Football Club for a long while and seeing others receive this honour.
“I’ve just been around the club since I was a kid and played a lot of games and have loved being involved, love the people and the club,” he said. “So to be recognised with some of the names that have won it before me is just hard to explain really. It’s very humbling. It’s like - those people who I’ve looked up to - and to be recognised like that is crazy.”
The Top Dogs is awarded to someone with outstanding commitment to the club. Victory has played 255 Reserve Grade games for North, was President of the Club from 2012 to 2015, Chair of the Past Players from 2016 to 2019 and resumed the role of President from 2020 to present.
Last year with no football being played and no real club activity, Victory designed a business plan for the club where they traded profitability with no major Saturday night income stream.
Victory was modest in saying while he appreciates being singled out, he doesn’t do it alone.
Continued on page 7
“Just carrying on traditions really, keeping traditions going and also progressing as well. I think if you can progress the club and try to leave it in a better place than you found it when you contribute, that’s contributing well.
“But it’s not just me, it’s the committee. And over the last couple of years they’ve knuckled down and done the hard yards through COVID to keep the club in a good place while we were in a hiatus from football,” he said.
“It’s not just me, I think that you can get singled out but what we did last year is a massive achievement as a football club. And just our supporters, members and players to get behind what we did to put the club in a really good position financially and culturally.”
Victory is happy with how the club is going both on and off-field at the moment. “I feel like off-field it’s been a year that feels like we’ve started a football club from scratch. So I think we’ve made mistakes - well I have - and I’ve learnt from them… We’ve made mistakes along the way trying to feel our way back into football and how to run the club again. It feels like we’ve started fresh as a football club.
“On-field, I think there’s a bit of a changing of the guard with younger guys coming through and if we can pass those traditions onto them and the culture of what is the Bulldog spirit, then this year is going to be a great stepping stone for us. But also after what we did yesterday (Saturday), I think we’re in a lot better shape than what a lot of people think we are.”
Victory, like many other Northies, likes to refer to Old Timers as Christmas, “Exactly what I think it is, it’s Christmas for us. A lot of what happened yesterday (Saturday) with milestones and doing it for Pup (Mitchell) and the young guys and everything like that, Old Timers is more than just a party for us, you have to win for the old boys,” he said.
“We make a big thing of it, we always do. Sunday is not the same if you don’t give it your all on Saturday and you get the rewards for playing hard on Saturday. It feels so much sweeter on Christmas Day.”
Victory finished off by saying, “I’d just like to thank everyone who has been a part of the club, now or over an extended period of time. All the playing group, all the supporters, all of our members… And all the people that have gone before me.”

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Wilcannia win double in ORL Grand Finals

Originally published: Wednesday, 28th July, 2021

Wilcannia was well represented in the Outback Rugby League Grand Finals on Sunday. The Wilcannia Wildflowers took the win in the Women’s game over the Menindee Twisted Sisters, and, in the Men’s, the Wilcannia Parntu Warriors beat the Wilcannia Boomerangs, 32 – 24.
The atmosphere was electric at the Memorial Oval for the day of Grand Finals in the Outback Rugby League. Cars lined up, horns honked, and many passionate supporters screamed support from both sides of the oval.
NSW Rugby League Western Regional Manager, Evan Jones said he was impressed with the high standard of football on display in the Grand Finals over the weekend and the games brought a great atmosphere to town.
“I’ve been out to a few of the Grand Finals here, I think the weather probably put a few people off I guess with the cold winds, but considering the weather, it was a really good crowd today.
“And we know that’s going to happen when we have the river communities in the Grand Final, especially two Wilcannia teams, so we knew they’d be really well supported and people would make the trek in,” said Jones.
“It’s a great atmosphere and we really like being able to utilise Memorial Oval in Broken Hill for our Grand Finals. It’s a really good venue for watching the football and the addition of the cars and the atmosphere that creates is excellent on Grand Final day.”
Jones said this year has seen a strong competition, “The four teams that we had participating in this year’s competition, the standard of football had probably come a long way in the past few years as well. We used to have seven teams out here and, now that we’re down to four, the talent depth is a lot stronger across those four sides than it was,” he said.
“So obviously it’s predominantly an AFL town and we battle against that constantly, but the river communities support rugby league out here in a really strong way.”
Jones was really happy with the Men’s game on Sunday, “I think it was a fantastic Grand Final. Parntu looked like they were going to blow them away there when they got out to a 20-to-six lead, but the Boomerangs fought back and it pretty much came down to the last couple of minutes. I don’t think we could’ve hoped for a better game today.”
He said the Women’s game was a brilliant fixture as well, “The Wilcannia side was just far too strong today and I think they probably put their best performance of the season forward on Grand Final day which was good for them. Credit to the Menindee girls as well, they stuck at it under trying circumstances. It’s exciting, this is the first time in a few years that we’ve had the tackle competition out here from tag, and the girls really seemed to embrace the concept and that’s exciting in itself,” said Jones.
Wilcannia Parntu Warriors Player of the Match, Victor Ward spoke of his feelings to have won the Grand Final. “It’s good hey, it’s a good feeling. To come out in front of the home crowd and they came out to support us - it’s a good feeling.
Ward said there looked to be quite a few people in attendance, “I reckon pretty much the whole town is here, hey. It’s good that they’re out here to support us. I’ve got everyone here; my Dad, Nan, Pop, everyone - brothers, sisters - everyone is here,” he said.
“It’s good fun coming out and playing, it’s part of our life to come out and play footy, so yeah I enjoy it, it’s good. “It’s very important, coming out to play for all the family and everyone gets out and enjoys it together.”
Ward said from the Grand Final he was most proud of the team’s effort, “The boys stuck in at the end and the whole team was coming back. It’s a team effort and the boys dug deep and kept them out.”

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‘Bovine Covid’ sees cows forced to jab

Originally published: Saturday, 24th July, 2021

If COVID restrictions and the possibility of scary vaccinations are getting you down, spare a thought for farmland cows.
Always in a state of lockdown, cattle heading to Australia’s largest feedlot and processing group, JBS Australia, will soon be forced to undergo mandatory vaccinations as well.
And the move comes with the full support of every cow’s worst nightmare, McDonalds.
Of course, these vaccinations have nothing to do with COVID, but Bovine Respiratory Disease (BRD), which is the most common cause of illness and death in Australian feedlot cattle.
Just like COVID, BRD spreads quickly when viral hosts mingle with others, the symptoms, according to Meat and Livestock Australia, including “discharge from the eyes, nose and mouth, coughing, rapid shallow breathing” and - quite unlike COVID symptoms - “droopy ears”.
The vaccination program, which will be delivered on September 1, 2021, will see cattle jabbed with a vaccine known as Bovilis MH+IBR prior to feedlot induction.
Northern Livestock Manager at JBS Australia, Scott Carswell, says vaccination has become critical.
“The risk of BRD is at its peak in the first couple of weeks at the feedlot and the critical point of prevention happens on-farm prior to feedlot induction,” he says.
“That’s why we are making it mandatory from the 1st of September, 2021, that all cattle who enter our feedlots in Caroona, Prime City and Riverina have at least one shot of Bovilis MH+IBR from 180 days to 14 days prior to delivery.”
While human vaccination is always something of a controversial topic, the BRD vaccine mandate appears to enjoy universal and conspiracy-free support.
“McDonald’s is committed to working with suppliers that share our commitment to improving animal health and welfare practices,” said a spokesperson for the famous hamburger chain, which in 2019 purchased over 9 million kilograms (31,900t) of Australian beef.
“JBS Australia’s pre-vaccination program across their NSW feedlots will help accelerate the beef industry towards a greater level of best practice.”
Closer to home, grazier Angus Whyte of Wyndham Station, midway between Broken Hill and Mildura, says the vaccination program makes sense.
“That’s a commercial decision for them,” he says. “I don’t have a problem with it.
“If I’m selling feedlot cattle and want to make sure everyone can bid on them, then I wouldn’t have a problem with vaccination.”
But for anyone still not convinced, JBS will be offering an extra incentive, paying a premium for Bovilis MH+IBR pre-vaccinated cattle of $15 per head.
“At the end of the day, it’s a win-win situation for producers,” says JBS’s Scott Carswell.
“They get paid to pre-vaccinate with a product that could improve the performance of their cattle on-farm, and we get healthy and high-performing cattle delivered to our feedlots.”

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Farmers unite against bruises and burnout

Originally published: Saturday, 24th July, 2021

Farmers from the Far West are being urged to consider their best asset - themselves - during National Farm Safety Week.
Held each year, in the third week of July, to raise awareness of farm safety issues in rural communities, National Farm Safety Week will this year take an intergenerational look at farm safety and the risk profiles associated with farming at different ages.
“Farm Safety Week is an opportunity to start a conversation on the less discussed aspects of farming, such as physical and mental health, safety and well-being,” said NSW Farmers President, James Jackson.
“Farming is a rewarding but potentially dangerous occupation, and the more we talk about the risks and dangers, the better.”
Mr Jackson said the fact that farms tend to be family affairs, with properties passing through several generations of the same owner families, can lead to the passing down of old and potentially unsafe farming practices.
“Growing up on farms can provide great learning opportunities for kids,’’ he said, “but it can also expose them to some risks, and it’s saddening to know one in five fatalities on-farm are children under the age of 15.
“Half of all Australian farming fatalities are actually in the 50-and-over age category, despite the relative experience of these farmers.”
Mr Jackson said accidents are just one of many safety issues, the long hours and rigours of farming also giving rise to less obvious but equally important mental health issues.
“For many, farm work is a 24 hours a day, seven days a week occupation that has no clock-off,” he said.
“Farm Safety Week is all about raising awareness of risk factors associated with this sort of lifestyle, as well as reinforcing tried and true messaging about machine and equipment safety.”
Matthew Jackson of Tirlta Station, 110kms northeast of Broken Hill, is President of The Pastoralists’ Association of West Darling.
He said he works closely with NSW Farmers on issues that are affecting their shared community, and that farmers are much more conscious of safety these days than they were in bygone days.
“The PAWD are far more aware of the issues concerning employees’ physical and mental well-being on-farm,” he said.
“The attitude towards mental health has shifted. There are more conversations and acceptance of mental health issues in the workplace.”
National Farm Safety Week is run by Farmsafe Australia, a not-for-profit national entity connecting state farming organisations, peak commodity bodies, influential advocacy bodies and other groups that share a common interest in agricultural health and safety.

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Garrick racks up his 200th game

Originally published: Saturday, 24th July, 2021

In the space of 200 games, Mat Garrick has six premierships, four times as Best Dressed on Mad Monday and played a lot of footy with his best mates, all in blue and white.
Garrick said it’s exciting to have reached this milestone, for the club he’s played for his whole life. “It’s exciting, I think is the first feeling that comes to mind. It’s a bit of a relief too, it’s been a bloody long time coming, I missed a lot of games through injury and then COVID happened, but we’re here now and it’s an exciting time. It’s an honour to be up on the wall with Alf Pincombe and Lou Zanker,” he said.
Garrick recalled his first A-Grade game like it was yesterday, “It was 2005, Round 1, Friday night at the Jube (Jubilee Oval) against South. Jayden Kelly and myself debuted together. He went to the forward pocket, I went to the back pocket and the rest is history. I’m still doing my backline apprenticeship,” he said.
Garrick's innings with the Bulldogs has been a long one, playing with them since he was five. “A long time ago now - I’m 32 at the end of this year - so what’s that 27 years, so a bloody long time.
“I think for me, I didn’t really have a choice, I grew up a block away from the Jube and just got taken down to training by Dad. I made a lot of great mates there at an early age that I’m still great mates with now,” said Garrick.
“Luckily we’re all too dumb to go to uni so that’s what sort of made it so special is that we’ve got a big core group of friends that’s been together the whole way through, which has made it so much more special I think. And it keeps you coming back. We’re not getting paid to play so we just play for fun, and playing with your mates is what it’s about.”
Garrick shared a few of his achievements and highlights from his career so far, “I survived an earthquake on the footy trip in Bali - that was a big plus - best dressed at Mad Monday four times and a highlight was trying to teach Doug Dickson Hughes how to kick.
“But it took us about half an hour to work out that he was in fact a left-legger and not a right-legger so that was good for a laugh - I’ll never forget that. That’s a true story. It took ages. I said ‘Just try on your left leg’ and he started booting it everywhere and I was like ‘Oh God you’ve been kicking on the wrong leg!',” he said.
“I’ve been lucky enough to win six premierships so they’re obviously a highlight. But I like to refer to myself as the set of steak knives that come with a really good vacuum cleaner that you buy off the TV because I’m not that good but all my mates are so I’ve just cheated my way through them which is fine by me.”
Garrick said he’s been lucky enough to play alongside many greats, but singled out a few favourites.  “A bloke that I used to love playing with - he’s not around anymore - his name is Michael Veal. He was hard as woodpecker lips. I just loved the way he used to go about it. He’s been gone for a long time now,’ he said.
“Favourite teammates... the bloke that’s also playing his 200th this week, Matty Dempster, a massive congratulations to him. He’s pulled me out of the shit a lot of times down back and saved my bacon a lot because I’m not real fond of manning up, so Dumpy does it for me.”
Playing his milestone game on Old Timers weekend is special for Garrick but he was adamant that it’s their weekend and he just happened to be playing game 200 on it. “I think it’s really important not to lose sight of the fact that it is Old Timers weekend and we’re celebrating our 2000 premiership team. I don’t want them to get lost in myself and Matt’s achievement because the weekend is theirs and it’s all about them.
“But it’s definitely special, and it’s special to share it with Matty Dempster. He’s someone that probably doesn’t get spoken enough about both in our club and in the footy league because he was genuinely the first person picked in our team for ten years and we had a team full of guns, so he is very underrated.
“Massive congrats to Dumpy, looking forward to celebrating the weekend with him and the 2000 premiership team,” said Garrick.

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Dempster’s double century

Originally published: Saturday, 24th July, 2021

Matt Dempster today plays his 200th A Grade game for North Football Club, a milestone he says has been a long time coming.
Dempster said he is both excited and relieved to finally be playing, “After Saturday just gone, it sort of started to really hit because that was the one hurdle I had to get over and now it’s sort of all downhill towards it from here, so I’m pretty excited."
A Grade football began for Dempster back in 2004, “I can’t remember what round exactly, but I remember debuting at the Memorial against Central, and I’m sure in typical Memorial fashion it was probably freezing cold,” he said.
“It was an eye-opener for me. I have a soccer background and ’04 was my first year of playing and I was still getting my head around all the traditions and how everything worked.”
Having grown up on the North side of town, Dempster said playing for North was a “natural progression” for him. “I’ve always been a Northie in the area, grew up around the corner from the North School and had a lot of mates at school who were playing for North… Much to Dad’s dislike, he was a Central player back in the day, which I never really knew about, but it was mainly due to being in the area really.”
Dempster said the mateship of everybody at the Bulldogs is what makes the club so special to him, “We’re a pretty close-knit group. It doesn’t seem to matter who you go and sit with at the footy or at the club, everyone will pull a chair out for you, they’re just a real welcoming bunch of people.
“They just sort of take everything on board and take it as it comes - just a great bunch of people to be with,” he said.
With five premierships to his name, Dempster is proud of those achievements and a few, in particular, stand out as highlights of his career. “The premierships are obviously up there. There’s probably 2012; that’s a real good one in the memory, coming from a long way behind at three-quarter time and we ended up getting up for the win,” he said.
“And even though I didn’t end up playing due to injury, 2007 was another big one that hits home because of the way I was kept involved and stuff like that. Getting hurt late in the season, everyone still made sure the people who couldn’t play were still really involved and felt a part of it, which was great.”
Dempster sang the praises of his current playing coach,  as well as his former captain, as some of the best players he’s played alongside.
“Our coach at the moment Brett Johnson, he was always a star and still is. But you never knew with him, you’d always think that you’re nowhere near getting the ball and then he’d rocket this handball to you to put you on the spot. He’d always bring everyone into the game and knows how to lift you up,” said Dempster.
“Another one was our old skipper Codie Howard, just the way he presented himself on and off the field. He had the respect both ways - he respected everyone and got the same back. You could definitely tell when he wasn’t there on the field helping you out, it’s definitely a big hole that he left.”
“Opposition wise, there’s a lot of good ones that have been getting around, especially as a backman they always keep me on my toes. Cody Schorn at the moment is probably the dominant one getting around, he’s always a challenge to play on.
“And in past years, the likes of Loccy McGregor and stuff like that, they were tough little opponents to play on but they were fast and could jump and you can never give them any room whatsoever otherwise they’d just tear you to pieces,” he said.
Dempster said playing his 200th game on North Old Timers weekend, makes it even more special. “Old Timers behind the Grand Final if you make it, is the biggest game of the year for us, that’s for sure. To have the extra numbers and extra sets of eyes on you, it sort of puts the pressure on you a bit but everyone stands up to the challenge.
“It wasn’t planned to be on Old Timers originally, but, through injury at the start of the year and with work and everything, that’s just how it fell. So it had to be on Old Timer’s or I knew it wasn’t going to happen at all,” he said.
“It does make it that bit extra special - and to share it with Mat Garrick - he’s one of my backline blokes and I couldn’t ask for a better bloke to share it with.”
Dempster extended a “big shout out” to the North Football Club and his family, “To the footy club - just to thank them for all the years and everything with how they’ve looked after me injury-wise and however else. And, of course, the wife and kids for letting me still go out there and run around as the old bloke that I am.”

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Passionate Paull hits game 250

Originally published: Wednesday, 21st July, 2021

Last weekend, Jarred Paull's football career with Central Football Club came full-circle as he played his 250th game against North's Bulldogs - the very same team he played his first-ever game against.
Paull said it was fantastic to have reached this milestone, “It’s taken almost 20 years but I’m pretty pleased that it finally got here,” he said.
In a local tradition, Paull ran onto the field for his 250th game with his daughters Ester and Thea, echoing his love of family and the game, “When Marcia and myself got together and we started talking about when we wanted to have kids, I always thought that I’d have a little boy running around at some stage that I’d be able to kick the footy with,” said Paull. “Now obviously with two girls, they love their sport, they love playing with their netballs and I have something to look forward to once the footy is finished. But it might have to be not coaching footy anymore, it might be coaching a netball team.”
Paull’s first League game was at the Memorial Oval, almost twenty years ago. “I was playing Under 16’s, Under 18’s and A-Grade at the time, we played against North and there was a guy called David Pope and he was a really little guy and used to mouth off a fair bit over the years… We used to have a few goes at each other and call each other grubs later on.
“But in the first game, my first kick I can recall that he got me behind the play and I ended up kicking a goal for my first kick in A-Grade footy, so that was a good highlight to remember. I didn’t get too many kicks after that at all but I was just a young bloke that copped one in the back of the head when he’s gone to his first contest. But you learn and figure out that’s just footy. After the game, I remember he just shook my hand and congratulated me on my first A-Grade game.
“I think that’s the best part about Broken Hill footy, that every player just leaves it on the field once that last siren’s finished. The competitiveness of all teams is great and it’s a scrappy sort of footy at times in Broken Hill, but the players definitely put on a show for the people that watch and at the end of it they’re all willing to have a beer with each other, which is great,” he said.
Having played with the Central Football Club for many years, Paull has a special place in his heart for the club he considers family. “You get to meet a lot of people… Sport is a good way to network and find friendships. Those friendships last for a long time and you always keep connections with them,” he said.
“But it’s something, you get to the Central footy club and it’s like a large family - very welcoming. It’s a good place to be and I’ve seen a lot of great people come through there.”
Paull said he’s never been driven by wanting to win premierships. For him, it’s always been about camaraderie. “Everyone talks about winning premierships and things like that; like I was fortunate to win a couple of them, but I think the friendships that you gain from football is definitely the biggest thing that I feel like I’ve got out of it.
“I’ve not really been driven over the years of wanting to win flags, obviously they’re extras that come along… I think it’s more the teammates and the friendships are why I want to keep going back each year.”
Paull named three Magpie faithfuls as some of the best he’s played with. “Definitely Justin Heath - a close mate of mine. In his younger days he was an in and under player - used to get belted every week and used to front up, so definitely one of the best I’ve seen. I was fortunate enough to be there the night that he won the Lionel Johnston Medal.
“Brendan Cullen… he was an absolute warrior when he was playing - and the way he used to just bring us young blokes confidence up when they’re down - you’d just watch him lead by example and the passion he had for the game.
“Brent Rilen - when I was starting A-Grade footy he was just a guy that you’d look at and think, well, he’s not a muscly guy, he’s not a super fit guy, he doesn’t look like a footballer but, when he took to the field, I think everyone gained respect for him once they saw him play at least one game. It was great to play with him,” said Paull.
Paull admires and appreciates the persistence and patience of his wife Marcia and their daughters when it comes to football. “It’s tough when you work Monday to Friday and you get home at five o’clock and Marcia does as well. In
 footy season, Tuesday and Thursday nights, you could be up there for two hours and then all day Saturday. So to have the commitment of a wife like that - and the kids wanting to see me after the game - things like that are what I look forward to.
“I’d really like to thank her (Marcia) for the patience she’s had because obviously they’re long seasons and when it comes to preseason’s and things like that, it’s three quarters of the year that you commit to footy. When you’re not winning games it’s easy for you just to bail out. We’ve lost what? Twelve in a row now? But it’s still a place where I want to be and I just know that when I come home she’s had a big time looking after the kids and things like that. So I’m definitely thankful for the family and their support, for sure.”
Paull also shared a football-related admiration for his brother, Casey. “I’m really pleased that I’ve been able to see him do well in local footy… It took probably a 12 or 18-month period there where he got super fit and all of a sudden the South footy club gave him an opportunity to play some senior footy. I’m really pleased that he ended up getting 100 games of A-Grade footy and extremely pleased that he got to play in a premiership,” he said.
“I know how much hard work he’s done. I know he’s never going to get to 250 games because the body’s starting to shut down now but where he’s come from to get 100, a premiership and to now be a coach, I’m definitely proud of what he’s done.”

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UFO propaganda

Originally published: Wednesday, 21st July, 2021

The Pentagon’s June 25 report on Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP), the new name for UFOs, revealed that UFO propaganda was a decoy for secret military operations.
In June 1947, the first widely-publicised UFO report was by a pilot called Kenneth Arnold who saw nine lights skip across the air like saucers and a newspaper misquoted this as ‘flying saucers’.
In July, William Brazel found a wreckage of rubber strips, tinfoil and thick paper on his ranch, approximately 120km north of Roswell. Brazel took the ‘flying saucer’ debris to the sheriff of Roswell, who gave it to the US Army Air Force, the forerunner of the US Air Force.
It swiftly announced that it had recovered remnants of a flying disc from a New Mexico crash site but downgraded this the next day to a downed weather balloon.
It wasn’t until the 1970s that eyewitnesses and their children began claiming that aliens with bald heads, silver suits and three fingers had crashed near Roswell in 1947 and been carried away on stretchers.
Answers came in 1994 when the Air Force had to declassify all reports about the Roswell incident for ‘The Roswell Report: Fact vs. Fiction in the New Mexico Desert’.  
‘Aliens’ were considered likely to be the Air Force’s later crash test dummies, which were bald, wore grey suits and some had broken fingers after being dropped from high-altitude balloons. The dummies were transported on stretchers because the manufacturer recommended this to protect electronic measuring devices in the heads and torsos.
The Roswell Report admitted that the crashed aircraft was actually from a secret, Cold War operation, called Project MOGUL. An aerial spying balloon, which listened to possible Soviet nuclear tests and missile launches, had crashed.
The Roswell crash again made headlines in 1995, when two billion people watched a black and white film, purporting to be 1947 footage of a top-secret, military alien autopsy.
In 2006, magician and filmmaker, Spyros Melaris, admitted he had helped create this hoax and he released a book about it in 2019. Sheep’s brains in raspberry jam were used in the money-making hoax.
Military UFO hoaxes were a decoy to hide what was actually occurring around Area 51, a US testing site at Groom Lake, close to Roswell. In 1955, the CIA chose it for secret testing of the U-2 reconnaissance plane. Later testing included monkeys and small animals in missiles and cloaked planes, which are undetectable on radar, a feature of UFO reports.
Areas of secret military testing produce a surge in UFO sightings and they boomed in 1952 and 1957.
From May 28 to October 7 in 1957, the US military conducted 29 secret nuclear tests near Area 51 during Operation Plumbbob.
The tests released an enormous amount of radioiodine, approximately 58,300 kilocuries, into the atmosphere over four months.
Protective coverings were tested on pigs, most of which survived. There was outrage when it was discovered that the U.S. government had been secretly testing nuclear radiation on humans. Civilians received 120 million person-rads of thyroid tissue exposure and more than three thousand nearby servicemen were exposed to radiation, with subsequent significantly elevated leukemia rates.
Richard Doty was a Special Agent for Counter-Intelligence for the Air Force Office of Special Investigations and has publicly announced that he kept military testing secret through propaganda and disinformation about UFOs.
In Doty’s 2016 interview with Dr Steven Greer, he said that his hoaxes included presenting children with anatomical defects as aliens, staging alien events in people’s homes and paying “snitches” in media organisations to control UFO and Air Force narratives.
Doty’s propaganda succeeded that of Project Blue Book, a secret UFO-reporting project between 1947 and 1969 which recorded 12,618 UFO sightings. 701 remain unidentified and the erratic movements and phenomenal speeds of some UFOs are the hardest to explain.  
A private investigator of the project, Dr Leon Davidson, said that quickly moving a mirror under a light causes these movements of the reflected beam on the ceiling. Erratic reflections from balloons, aircraft and clouds may be projected to clouds and haze, both from the ground and air.
More scientific explanations for UFOs were provided by acclaimed local astronomer, Trevor Barry, who has supported NASA’s Cassini mission to Saturn for a decade.
After more than 30 years and thousands of hours observing the night sky, Trevor has uploaded 6,453 data sets for Jupiter and his specialty, Saturn, yet he said he has never seen a single UFO.
“In all of that time, I have never seen anything that I could not explain.”
The scientific community generally considers it likely that we are not alone in the universe, as there are approximately 400 billion stars in our galaxy, with many likely to have worlds in the ‘Goldilocks zone’ of habitable conditions.
However, Trevor illustrated the need for scientific explanations before alien ones.
An excited Broken Hill lady phoned him about a UFO she had seen low in the western sky just after sunset, which was moving up and down and changing colours.
Trevor explained that it was Venus, so close to the horizon that light to her eyes passed through possibly three times the thickness of Earth’s atmosphere and the turbulence within it caused Venus to be displaced.
“The atmosphere was causing the light to generate a sinusoidal wave, so she was seeing Venus at the top, then at the bottom of that wave.
“The visible spectrum of 400 to 700 nanometres of reflected sunlight was being refracted by our atmosphere into its constituent parts of red, green and blue.”
The woman replied, “A relative of mine in another part of Broken Hill has also seen it and we are sure it was a UFO.”

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Light commercial vehicles scrapped under new plan

Originally published: Wednesday, 21st July, 2021

A new Grattan Institute report recommends the mothballing of light commercial vehicles so that Australia can meet its target of zero emissions by 2050.
Toward Net Zero - Practical policies to reduce transport emissions was released by the public policy think tank on Monday, and specifically fingered two of Broken Hill's most popular vehicles, Toyota HiLux and Ford Ranger, as leading culprits in Australia's contribution to climate change.
"The transport sector is responsible for nearly 20 per cent of Australia's emissions, and more than 60 per cent of transport emissions are from light vehicles (including the two most popular cars in Australia, the Toyota HiLux and Ford Ranger)," wrote the report's authors.
"So the best way to cut transport emissions is to supercharge the switch to electric cars."
The report suggests the Federal Government should "phase out the sale of new petrol and diesel light vehicles" over the next 14 years.
But retired Broken Hill mechanical engineer and former RAA road assistance operative, Andrew McGregor, isn't convinced.
"I'm not surprised they are responsible for two-thirds of transport emissions, because they make up about two-thirds of the national motor vehicle market," he says.
"Farmers rely on them, a lot of tradespeople rely on them, and without those two groups of people a lot of things are not going to get done."
Mr McGregor believes the report doesn't account for the realities of
life in the outback.  
"I really don't see an electric market working, particularly in rural areas," he says.
"The Tesla, for example, the straight-out electric car, is always having problems. Out here in the Far West, because of our remoteness and the vast distances you have to drive, if you get a battery failure it can be a major, major problem.
"The infrastructure and maintenance needed for battery charging stations alone are immense, and the costs are going to be added onto the price of food and other essentials.
"The manufacturers can be legislated up the ... y'know ... to stop producing these kinds of vehicles, but the thing is they haven't got a viable alternative at this point in time."
Mr McGregor says it's unlikely owners of light commercials will be tempted to surrender their vehicles within the 14-year window.
"I don't believe so, because a lot of these vehicles have longer warranties, like 10 years, and that's mainly why people are buying them," he says.
"Most people I've encountered purchased these vehicles because of the warrantees rather than the vehicles being fully practical for their purposes. Some of the small SUVs you see getting around come with a 10-year warranty, so if they're similarly priced to a little hatchback thing, why not buy the SUV?"
The report notes that while Australians spend an average of $40,000 on a new car, only three of the 30 electric cars available in Australia retail for less than $50,000 with "the crossover point - when the upfront cost of a battery electric vehicle is lower than an equivalent-performance petrol/diesel vehicle - is still some years away".

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Bulldogs give Magpies a blitzing

Originally published: Saturday, 17th July, 2021

The Bulldogs took no prisoners in Wednesday night's clash with the Magpies, finishing the game with a 107-point victory.
By the game's end, the Dogs had nine individual goal scorers, however, in the first term, it was all Kody Ellis.
Ellis got the game rolling when he booted his first of the night five minutes in, goaling naturally off his left leg from on the run. Goal number two came from a safe distance out from goals and again on the run.
For his third, Ellis booted a long-range set shot moments before the quarter-time siren to give North a 21-point lead at the first break.
The first quarter was a relatively scrappy one from both sides, whereas, in quarter two, things began to take shape. North's Mckaide Standley snapped an across-body goal before Harry Roach slotted one from directly in front.
Lachlan Turley booted another goal for the Bulldogs with a set-shot kick from the scoreboard pocket. Followed by a set-shot goal from Luke Barraclough and another on-the-run goal from Kody Ellis for his fourth.
It was 53 to nil in North's favour at halftime.
North's scoreboard involvement was more behinds than goals in the third term, from eight scoring shots they managed six behinds and just two goals. The goals came through B-Jay Adams and Samual Micallef.
The Bulldog's sat on 71 points at the three-quarter time break.
While they hit another six behinds, their accuracy improved in the last term with five goals. The first of the quarter came from Taz Lihou who kicked truly from a set shot, followed by Kody Ellis kicking his fifth and final goal for the night from a dribble kick across the goal line.
Taz Lihou then booted a second after turning his defender inside out to snap the ball through to uprights. Cooper Lawrence then added to North's goals tally after a great handball from Tasman McAllister. Lawrence then kicked another goal to go back to back for the last majors of the game.
North was impressive and ended up with a 107-point win over the Magpies.
The scoreboard didn't reflect the game. Despite their lack of scoring, Central showed consistent effort to chase the footy and were strong defenders. Their best players were Will Campbell, Nicholas Devoy, Sam Jackson, Garth McAvaney, Toby Davidson and Karson Cole.
For the Dogs, it was Taz Lihou, Cooper Lawrence, Kody Ellis, Jet Johnson, Iziah Nean and Samual Micallef.
Full-time score – North 15.17 (107) defeated Central 0.0 (0).

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What happened to Jason?

Originally published: Saturday, 17th July, 2021

Police are still investigating the mysterious death of renowned artist Jason Benjamin, whose body was found in the Murrumbidgee River in February after he had set off on a road trip from Broken Hill.
The 49-year-old had been living in Broken Hill since November 2020 and was planning to buy a property in Crystal Street.
But a spontaneous road trip with a stranger turned out to be the artist’s final journey, his body found by police in the Murrumbidgee near Carrathool in the Riverina region of NSW, three days after Jason left town promising friends he’d soon return.
Detective Justin Milne of the Murrumbidgee Police District says investigators are still grappling with what happened in the final moments of Jason’s life.
“It’s still under investigation,” he says. “The coroner’s investigation is still being run as well, so there are two investigations running concurrently.”
Jason’s body was found about two kilometres from his campsite, suggesting he had drowned before floating downriver to his final resting place. But an autopsy found no bruising or abrasions that would be expected after a journey down a river strewn with sharp rocks and overhanging branches.
A strong swimmer, Jason was unlikely to have been overwhelmed by the slow-moving Murrumbidgee, and a post-mortem toxicology report found no traces of drugs and very little alcohol in his system.
Detective Milne says police have yet to rule out suicide, but friends of Jason believe such a scenario to be unlikely.
“None of us believe that,” says Ian Barry, who had been friends with the artist for more than 35 years. “He was too forward-looking in the end.
“He’d just bought a new car, he was planning on buying an old pub in Broken Hill, and he was excited about his next body of work.
“He’d been through some very hard times in the last few years, but his whole demeanour changed in Broken Hill. He was happy there.”
Born in Melbourne in 1971, Jason Benjamin rose to prominence at the turn of the century, with Australian Art Collector naming him one of the 50 most collectible artists in Australia in 2000. He won the Archibald Packing Room Prize for his brooding picture of actor Bill Hunter in 2005, and actor Kevin Spacey bought one of his paintings on sight in 2001.
But Benjamin became most famous for his Australian landscapes, painted in a dreamlike style he called “narcotic realism”. Art scholar and former director of the Art Gallery of New South Wales, the late Edmund Capon AM OBE, once referred to Benjamin’s work as “beautiful, engaging, but nonetheless just slightly disturbing”.
The last time Jason was seen alive by friends was at a cafe in Argent Street before he set off on the last road trip of his life. When asked whether going on a trip with a stranger was wise, he responded: “I’m taking a leap of faith.”
A report is being prepared for the coroner.

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Swimmers and local celebs set to take a dip for a good cause

Originally published: Saturday, 17th July, 2021

This Sunday, the Broken Hill Aquatic Club is hosting an Everest Challenge and Big Freeze fundraising event for Motor Neuron Disease and Broken Hill Palliative Care.
Broken Hill Aquatic’s Meghan Millard and Ben Victory spoke of the reasoning behind the fundraiser and what the events of the day will involve.
The swim club had a member affected by Motor Neuron Disease and they wanted to help out in any way they could. “A member’s father-in-law was suffering from MND and we decided that we wanted to jump on board and do something,” said Meghan.
“The Palliative Care side of it came around because Janene (Speechley - Everest Challenge Expedition Leader) actually has a sister who is involved in that industry. And MND receive huge amounts through football and stuff, but it’s Palliative Care that needs the money and we wanted some to stay local.”
The first part of the day is the Everest Challenge which sees teams or individuals swim 20 kilometres which represents the distance from the base camp to the summit of Mount Everest. “So all the kids have split up into groups and there’s a 20-kilometre swim. As a group, they all swim a certain amount of laps to make up that 20 kilometres,” said Ben. “And they go out and get sponsorships to swim those kilometres that they do as well.
“We’ve got kids aged from five, all the way up to Brendan Cullen and Ben Clavel, who are like 45 so a broad age group,” said Meghan
As for the Big Freeze, there are 25 local ‘celebrities’ and Broken Hill Aquatic members headed down the slide and into a pool of ice. “So we’re utilising the big slide at the pool. We’re grateful to the YMCA for letting us use it,” said Ben.
“We’re filling it up with 75 bags of ice at the bottom of the pool there, so it’s going to be pretty chilly, that’s for sure.
“We’re grateful to the celebrities that have given up their time, a lot of club people are getting involved and the celebrities were more than willing to get involved. A number of them are dressing up for it, so it should be quite a spectacle. So a big thanks to them for getting behind it as well.
“Anyone who wants to come down and have a look is welcome on Sunday. You’ll get a good show,” he said.
The money raised from the fundraising efforts and sponsorships will be split evenly and shared between the two organisations, “It’s going down the middle, to MND and to Palliative Care in Broken Hill.
“If anyone wants to donate they can do so. Any last-minute donations would be fantastic,” said Ben.
Anyone wishing to make a donation can do so through the following bank details - BHA Fundraising, BSB 012 551, Acc 642723374.

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COVID risks creep in from Sydney

Originally published: Wednesday, 14th July, 2021

A traveller from Sydney has told of how he eluded COVID security measures to arrive in Broken Hill unchecked by authorities.
The man, who spoke to the Barrier Truth on condition of anonymity, says he flew to Broken Hill from the virus-riddled capital on the weekend with about 12 other passengers on a Regional Express Airlines flight.
“I’d come from smack bang in the middle of a Sydney ‘hot zone’,” the man said.
“I got my boarding pass in Sydney, went through security, walked out of Broken Hill airport when I landed and nobody asked a single thing.”
The man, who is currently self-isolating, says he tried everything he could to alert authorities prior to the flight, starting with a call to the National Coronavirus Health Information Line.
“A kinda’ confused young woman told me to call Broken Hill Airport, and when I suggested it would be closed she told me to call the Barrier Police,” he said.
“So I called the police, but the officer who took the call suggested I call the National Coronavirus Health Line again.
“In the end, I gave up.
“I just figured there’d be someone to meet me at either Sydney or Broken Hill airport – some authority who’d get details about where I was planning to isolate, so they could check that I was doing the right thing.   
“But there was nobody at either end.
“There’s all this talk about hard lockdowns and increased security measures, but I slipped from a COVID hot zone to Broken Hill in just under four hours with no questions asked.”
The man immediately took a COVID test at the Crystal Street drive-through clinic and continued to his isolation venue. But he wonders if the other passengers on his flight bothered to be so careful.
“I have no idea who they were or where they are,” he says, “and neither do the authorities, I suspect.”   
Despite the harsh travel restriction imposed on Greater Sydney, Rex Airlines continues to operate flights from the capital to Broken Hill, the airline website warning that “passengers must ensure they have necessary permission/permits”. It is unclear, however, whether Rex staff have the authority to demand such permits at check-in (the airline did not immediately respond to a request for clarification).   
The Barrier Truth observed Monday’s flight arriving from Sydney at 9.15am, alighting passengers moving freely from the airport with no police or medical personnel there to meet them. Inspector Yvette Smith of the Barrier Local Area Command says Broken Hill police are “not tasked to inspect permits,” and a spokesperson for Far West Health said that they are “currently not performing COVID-19 checks at the Broken Hill airport”.
The relaxed security in Broken Hill seems at odds with the panic that has seized other parts of the nation as Sydney’s daily caseload rose above triple figures this week, prompting NSW’s Deputy Premier John Barilaro to tell Sky News “we’ve lost control” of the virus.
On Monday, South Australian Premier Steven Marshall closed the state to travellers from Greater Sydney, due to what he described as a “seriously deteriorating situation in NSW”, while New South Wales Premier unleashed police patrols into the streets of the capital, declaring: “This is not the time to take any risk whatsoever”.
Yesterday, the ABC reported that NSW’s COVID-19 outbreak had spread to the state’s regions after an “essential worker” carried the virus from Sydney to Goulburn.
“Until now, the growing NSW COVID-19 outbreak has been confined to the Greater Sydney and its surrounds,” the report stated.
“Authorities had warned of dangerous consequences if the virus were to leak into regional areas.”
It’s a situation that has already alarmed Broken Hill City Council, the arrival of a 100-strong Sydney-based film crew this week causing Mayor Darriea Turley to contact State Ministers seeking urgent reform to travel regulations.
”I’m not sure it’s in keeping with the controls the Government is looking to enforce around limiting movement out of Sydney,” she said.

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The Northern girls know how to celebrate

Originally published: Wednesday, 14th July, 2021

Broken Hill women’s football has etched itself in the folklore of the game in the Silver City, with 20 of the 23 players and the majority of the coaching and support staff playing roles in the Northern Zone inaugural SA Country Football Championships victory at Victor Harbor last Sunday, July 11.
“The girls trained for over a month before the event,” Co-coach Tony Tidball explained.
“So to come away with a title is definitely pretty special.
“The coaching staff were keen to give the girls a professional outlook on representative footy.
“As a collective, it’s one of the most exciting things that has happened for Ladies football in the City and it was well deserved.”
On Saturday, the Northern Zone comprehensively won both their games, defeated the Central Zone in the first game of the tournament by 33 points, and then backed up to triumph against the Western Zone by 20 points.
“We had a lot of first-time representative players don the jumper on Saturday,” Tidball continued.
“In our line meeting on the night before and pre-season helped them deliver strong performances in both Saturday matches.
“Nikki (Phillips) from Central was crafty in the small forward and Sophie Palmer from West Robins was strong in the ruck.
“Another Central Magpie Ash Anderson was damaging across half-back.
“Our defensive structure stood up very well and was nearly impassable, especially in the first match.
“In the second game, Western Zone kicked the opening two goals of the contest very quickly.
“We regrouped and kicked the next five to win comfortably in the end.
“Hannah Muscat, being used in a mid-field-forward rotation, was our best in this match.
“Meg Ryan from South, our Irish connection in the team, playing her first season of the code, was really strong in this contest.
“Bec Deer from North Broken Hill Bulldogs was outstanding at full-back in this match as well.”   
The Grand Final on Sunday against Murray South East (MSE) was an epic.
The game ebbed and flowed all content, with the Northern girls needed to hold on to a slender lead in the final term.
After MSE forward Angela Broad kicked a goal with a couple of minutes left in the final quarter, the game was on a knife’s edge.
With the ball deep in the MSE forward line, the siren sounded sparking euphoria celebrations amongst the Northern team and staff.
“We were two goals up at three-quarter time,” Tidball confirmed.
“All the scoring and the wind was blowing towards the Southern End of the ground, where the all the scoring was.
“We had impressed to the girls about the importance of the structures and they delivered in a tense final term.
“Ashleigh Anderson was a clear best player in this game, while Rebecca Deer was strong in defence yet again.
“We send Macey Edgecombe to MSE key forward Ella Little in the second half and she played an important role quelling this dangerous player.
“We were pretty excited for the girls and Phil to be able to experience this win.
“The bus trip back home was eventful and exciting.
“The girls embraced the experience and concept.”
At the post-game presentations, co-coaches and Northern mentors Phil Neal and Anthony Tidball received the Women’s ‘Coach of the Championships’ award.
Veteran Nikki Phillips secured the Leading Goal Kicker accolade with six majors, two in each match.
In the 2021 Women’s SA Country Team of the Championships Phillips also won a position in the forward pocket, while Timeka Cox was selected at full forward and Sophie Palmer made it on a half-forward flank.
Both Rebecca Deer and Paris Ralph also were selected on the full backline.
The Northern Zone also made a special presentation to its Women’s player of the championships, Ashleigh Anderson.

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Defending the bush - The water warriors taking on the irrigation industry

Originally published: Wednesday, 14th July, 2021

‘Rod Thompson should be gut shot and left to die’, was written in grey paint on a white steel fence at the boundary of Rod Thompson’s 500-acre property.
Rod didn’t go to the police about it. “They don’t do anything,” he said and besides, the intimidation doesn’t bother him. Even if it did, he wouldn’t admit it.   
“They tried to pull the gate off [my property], then when they couldn’t do that, they come along of a nighttime and cut all the hinges off, then cut the gate in half and laid it on the ground. One of them actually threatened to come and smash me face in. I must be a threat to ‘em if they want to intimidate me. The only thing I do is chase water issues and the only thing that that’s gonna hurt is these cotton farmers.”
Threats to Rod’s life aren’t new to him. In 2014 he was diagnosed with prostate cancer and after battling it for a number of years he decided that if he was well enough, he’d walk the 400km to Thargomindah, a township over the Queensland border on the Bulloo River. In 2017, alone and unassisted, he made the journey to create awareness about the disease.  His walking didn’t stop there. In 2018 he walked unassisted to Wilcannia, 300km from Bourke, to raise awareness about the plight of the Darling River and the towns that had been without flows for nearly three years.
Thompson began his activism in 2016 when his garden died. Bourke was on water restrictions and the watering of lawns and yards was restricted to two hours a day. “I pulled the Dry Bogan down to water me garden... you can write that if you like,” he laughed.
He’s referring to a tributary of the Darling River called the Dry Bogan River or Little Bogan, which upstream becomes the Bogan River.
In 2016, the Bogan River was running at Gongolgon, but nothing was coming out at the junction of the Darling and Little Bogan. Rod walked the 24km upstream to collect photo and video evidence of a dam built by a local grazier, which was intersecting the flow of water destined for Bourke.
“NRAR wouldn’t do anything about it until I went in there and showed ‘em the water running in one end and not running out the other end. I took photos and videos of it and even did a little bit of song with it, ‘where does it come from, where does it go.... cotton-eyed Joe!’”
NRAR is the Natural Resources Access Regulator established in 2017 to address the non-compliance of water license holders and agricultural infrastructure in NSW.
The landholder was asked to remove the dam by mid-April 2019. In a press release at the end of 2019, NRAR suggested that there would be significant social and environmental benefits to be gained by the removal of the dam. Chief Regulatory Officer Grant Barnes stated that “removal of the dam could potentially improve Bourke’s water supply with replenishment flows, as well as re-establish fish passage from the Darling River. Native vegetation and wildlife along the Dry Bogan will also benefit”. The Dry Bogan had been dammed for 29 years. Rod believes that the now flowing Dry Bogan had kept Bourke off of water restrictions for six months during the latest spate of water restrictions.
For people who don’t live in these arid towns, it is difficult to understand how important water is to the social and mental health of communities. Bourke’s highest average temperature is 36 degrees and during the summer season is subject to heat waves of the high forties. During hot weather, there is very little for people to do except stay inside, under their air-conditioning units. Tending to gardens in the early morning or late evening is perhaps the only rhythm of activity that keeps residents balanced. So, when Rod says he got the Dry Bogan River running to save his garden, he isn’t kidding. Rod’s daughter Fleur Thompson, also a ‘water watcher’ who runs a Facebook page called MumDad which monitors water-related issues, explains, “for some people in Bourke, their garden is everything. Especially for the elderly... to lose your garden because of water restrictions while corporations can take what they want is wrong.”
The newly liberated Dry Bogan River was a small win for the town but it was not reported in the local press, nor did it garner much media coverage statewide. Rod suggests this is “partly ignorance. We get rubbished around Bourke by a minority of people that think the saviour for the town is cotton when you know the statistics say cotton supplies maybe five or six or seven jobs per farm. That’s not a lot of jobs. But you’ve got the propaganda machine...”
Rod is referring to the local media; 2WEB radio and its affiliated print newspaper, The Western Herald which was purchased by Jack Buster in 1997, a widely-lauded legend of Bourke cotton. Buster’s son-in-law Ian Cole, a former cotton-grower who was investigated by ICAC for his involvement in the 2012 Water Sharing Plan, is the chairman of 2WEB radio and the managing director of the Western Herald. Then there is the alleged collusion between public officials and the irrigation industry with ICAC investigating allegations that NSW public officials were in possible breach of public office during the purchase of water entitlements by the Commonwealth Government. ICAC could find no individual cases of corruption and instead concluded that the department’s partiality towards irrigators was a “misguided effort to redress a perceived imbalance caused by the Basin Plan’s prioritisation of the environment’s needs, which has had adverse effects on irrigators and their communities”. In other words, the issue has been conveniently politicised.
There is no better embodiment of this kind of political discourse than in the words of Barnaby Joyce MP, newly reestablished leader of the National Party, who in 2017 was recorded as saying: ‘We’ve taken water and put it back into agriculture so we can look after you and make sure we don’t have the greenies running the show basically sending you out the back door. That was a hard ask but we did it’.
People like Rod Thompson and his daughter Fleur are trying to contend with the label of ‘greenie’. “It’s something that’s been contrived for so long that people believe there’s a difference between me and someone who wants a job,” Fleur said, “I want a job but it doesn’t mean that my job has to be a cost to the environment.” This label of ‘greenie’ is a modern identity and makes little sense to an old Bushie like Rod.
Rod grew up living off of the resources of the land, “as young kids, three meals a week were wild pigeon, Satin bird soup and all that sorta stuff. There was no shops.” Protecting the environment is a family tradition born out of a reliance on its health and a responsibility to the land, “My grandfather selected a block up the end of Deep Creek, and he cleared it but not all of it. In those days [1912] you cleared and burned the lot. He kept 15 acres that is still virgin rainforest. Some environmentalists don’t even know they’re environmentalists.”
Rod Thompson typifies this kind of unconscious love for Australia’s unique ecosystems, particular the grasslands of western NSW which he romances through the history books, “when [Thomas] Mitchell came [up the Darling River] the Mitchell grass he described as being up to the guts of the horse... unbelievable.”
Many of these native grasslands have been decimated by extensive land clearing and over-grazing so during a 100km walk to Brewarrina, Rod collected Mitchell grass seeds and scattered the seeds on his 500-acre block in some effort to restore the grasslands along the river.
Rod Thompson’s story exemplifies the fact that regulatory bodies and governments are not adequately equipped to police environmental standards, and ordinary people such as Rod feel they need to take it upon themselves to tell the truth of what is happening to our river systems. In some cases, such people become targets, pariahs and victims as a result. With a dash of cynical humour, a man like Rod Thompson manages these consequences and is comforted by his conviction and the small role he plays in the larger picture, “I’m probably a fingerling in the river. There’s a lot of people in all these towns that don’t think it’s the right thing to do to speak out. I don’t understand that. Whatever they do to me I know there’s a lot of other people that are like-minded.”
With good flows down the Darling this year and water in the Menindee lakes, it is easy to forget that structurally not enough has changed to restore the health of our river systems and create equity between communities. Some claim, such as Maryanne Slattery, that water reforms that include the compromised Basin Plan have actually made things worse in some areas, particularly the Darling River. Contrary to how some politicians and lobbyists would like us to perceive our current situation, rain alone will not save the Darling River.

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Young basketballers turn up the heat

Originally published: Saturday, 10th July, 2021

Three young up and coming local basketball stars are set to travel to Adelaide in mid-July to attend a three-day high-performance camp and tournament.
Campbell Day, Will Stephens, and Jed Smith attended tryouts in Whyalla in October 2020 which resulted in all three boys being invited to be a part of the 2021 SA Country Under 13 Development Program.
As a requirement of the development program, the boys have attended three skills days that took place in Mount Barker where experienced coaches took the athletes through day-long training, focusing on developing their fundamental skills. The coaches program was under the direction of SA Country High Performance and Development Staff.
The training sessions have now concluded and the young basketballers will next head into a High Performance camp. They will be placed into teams led by High Performance coaches and compete against each other over a three-day tournament in Adelaide taking place from July 13 to 15.
The tournament is designed to provide the athletes with their first exposure to the process and procedures they will experience should they be selected in the Under 14 High Performance program in 2021. The tournament also includes a live-in environment where the athletes will room together in an active outdoor education facility under the supervision of staff, coaches and team managers.
The purpose of the tournament is player development, as well as an introduction to the player rules and conditions that exist throughout the SA Country High Performance program.
As well as regular travel to Adelaide to attend training sessions, the boys have been participating in intense weekly training sessions with Broken Hill Basketball Junior Development Officer, Jay Tonkin.

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Will COVID trash The Bash?

Originally published: Saturday, 10th July, 2021

With the Mundi Mundi Bash only weeks away, and COVID causing headaches in the capitals, some are asking whether the three-day music event could - or, even, should - be cancelled.
Organisers of the August 19-21 event, for which 10,000 tickets have been sold, are resolute, having just wound up the hugely successful Birdsville Big Red Bash.
“This event has gone ahead with full approval and attendance of Queensland Health with an extensive COVID Safety plan,” says event spokesperson, Kylie Edwards.   
“Protocols will be the same for the Mundi Mundi Bash with a system that has been refined at the Big Red Bash.  
“The team are working very closely with NSW to ensure all COVID safety protocols are met and patrons have a fun and safe event experience.”
But others aren’t so confident.
This week, NSW Health announced 38 new locally acquired cases of COVID-19, the highest number of cases in a 24-hour period for over a year, prompting the Australian Medical Association’s president Omar Khorshid to declare that NSW should lockdown hard “otherwise we will see a disaster.”
AMA (NSW) President, Dr Danielle McMullen, warns that overconfidence is ill-advised.
“The current COVID-19 situation in Greater Sydney is very serious and we are concerned by the increased transmissibility of the Delta variant,” she says.
“The regions have not been exposed so far, but we are mindful of the impact the disease would have particularly in areas with limited healthcare access.
“Thus we need to protect regional and rural NSW.
“We support NSW Health in evaluating the risk these events present and encourage public health officials to look closely at these events in coming days and weeks.”
Organisers of the Mundi Mundi Bash say the event will feature COVID marshals ensuring that punters maintain social distancing, contact tracing technology, dedicated medical staff (doctors, nurses and paramedics), COVID testing by pathologists and even an isolation facility should anyone become sick.
But none of these measures address the concerns of Wilyakali woman, Sandra Clark, who is more worried about the resident communities than the attendees of the festival.
“My concern is the amount of people that’ll be coming into Broken Hill,” she says. “I heard between 10,000 and 15,000 people are expected, from all states of Australia.
“Our indigenous communities have chronic health problems already, not just among the elderly but young people too, and I’m worried that if COVID came to Wilcannia or Menindee it would spread like wildfire because we’re close communities.”
The potential for the Mundi Mundi Bash to become a “super spreader” was brought into sharp relief at Birdsville, with high-profile artists Kate Ceberano and Ms Clark worries that not every one of the 10,000 ticket holders will be so cautious.   
“With the different strains of COVID that are going around, there’s a danger it could be brought out here to country because people travelling through will be using petrol stations, fast food areas, supermarkets,” she says.
“I can’t help but wonder if the Broken Hill community is ready for that. I know it will generate money, but there are things we need to weigh up regarding the health of our communities.”
A spokesperson for Broken Hill City Council says organisers of the Bash “have been in regular contact with Council” and the Local Emergency Management Committee.
“Both Council and local businesses are doing all they can to prepare for the influx of tourists,” the spokesperson said. “Business meetings facilitated by Council have been very well attended ... We’ve discussed everything from ordering extra food and petrol through to having more cash available in ATMs.
“It’s been extremely encouraging to see how proactive local businesses have been regarding preparation, and just generally taking advantage of the Bash coming to town.”
The spokesperson said the organisers were continuing to monitor the COVID-19 situation, “but we haven’t had any indication that they are considering cancelling
at this stage”.
“The Mundi Mundi Bash is going ahead,” Kylie Edwards firmly declares, “and the event team will roll out from Birdsville to Broken Hill ready to stage another event that sets the gold standard for COVID-safe festival going.”
Whether Birdsville’s COVID Safety Plan was a success remains to be seen. But Sandra Clarke isn’t taking any chances, stocking up on provisions so that she can remain indoors for the weekend of August 19-21.
“If COVID wasn’t around, it would be a wonderful opportunity for us to promote our community, but we can’t turn back time,” she says.
“It’s here and, if it gets a hold, it could wipe out a lot of our people.”

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When the Doctor’s out, the Angel’s in

Originally published: Saturday, 10th July, 2021

Few in Broken Hill are unfamiliar with the Royal Flying Doctor Service, the saviour of countless lives in Australia’s most remote places.
But, sometimes, there are medical problems the RFDS can’t fix - that fall below the “emergency” threshold required by the busy airborne medic.
That’s when Angel Flight steps in.
Established in 2003, Angel Flight does not carry aeromedical staff or medical equipment so does not act as an alternative to the Royal Flying Doctor Service or Air Ambulance. But its pilots are on standby ready to fly into rural and regional towns to help get the sick and injured to their city medical appointments.
Angel Flight CEO, Marjorie Pagani, says the charity has completed almost 50,000 flights since 2003, flying almost 20 million kilometres Australia wide, averaging about 20 flights a day.
“All flights are free and are provided by pilots who volunteer their planes and their time to help get their country friends to their specialist city medical appointments,” Mrs Pagani says.
“Once in the city a volunteer driver will provide transport between the airport and their appointment or accommodation.”
Mrs Pagani says anybody can apply for a free Angel Flight, but that those attempting to score a sneaky free holiday flight should not apply.
“A referral can be sent to Angel Flight by a patient’s health professional, such as a doctor, nurse or social worker, who is familiar with the patient’s medical condition.
“Flight Coordinators can then organise a flight within five-to-ten working days, and if the referrer is not registered with Angel Flight they can register quickly and easily on the Angel Flight website.”
Once a referral has been approved, a volunteer pilot and driver is organised and Angel Flight will notify the passengers of all arrangements.
“Passengers can fly multiple times if their condition requires them to attend a city medical facility for ongoing treatment,” Mrs Pagani says.
Flights can be organised from Broken Hill Airport to all capital cities.
Angel Flight is a not-for-profit charity that is funded by donations from individuals, community groups and organisations, with 85% of donations going directly into the flights (only 15% is spent on administration and overheads).
If you think Angel Flight might be able to help you or someone you know go to their website www.angelflight.org.au for further information or call on 1300 726 567.

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Bulldogs bank another win

Originally published: Wednesday, 7th July, 2021

The Bulldogs women got the win for their milestone players: Courtney Garnaut for 100 games, and Danika Rowlands for number 50.
North managed a 17-point win over the Robins, who was unable to convert on the scoreboard until the final quarter of the game.
The first term was a low-scoring affair with each side managing just a single behind. Despite the lack of goals, both teams showed great intensity and contest around the ball. The game was full of stoppages, with tackles emerging left, right and centre, to create a strong play.
North really got rolling by the second quarter, putting together a string of goals to give themselves a lengthy lead at halftime.
Young gun Ellie Simmons has really come into her own as a footballer after only starting to play at the beginning of this season. Simmons booted the ball off the ground from the goal square under high pressure to slot North's first.
Following that, Brooklyn Gibson was quick on her feet, getting her boot to ball in the goal square to put another major through for the Dogs.
Simmons again managed to score from the goal square for her second, after pouncing on a loose ball and getting it across the line. North led by 17 points at the main break.
The third term was also low scoring but offered high intensity, with Brooklyn Gibson kicking her second of the day to extend North's margin.
At three-quarter time, North 26 led West four.
The Robins were successful in turning their effort into a score with vice-captain Brydie Mannion booting a major from on the run to give West their first.
North's Cassie Robinson toed the ball across the line for a goal in response for the Dogs.
Mannion backed up her efforts to slot a second goal for the term, but not through lack of trying. The Robins went down by 17 points.
North proved too strong and managed to nab another win. The Bulldogs best players were captain, Rebecca Deer, Britt Tangey, Jasmin Callegher, Danika Rowlands, Makayla Berg and Ellie Simmons.
For the Robins, it was Brydie Mannion, Paige Cuy, Megan Cumming, Chloe Burke, Mel Moldenhauer and Jessica Dodds.
Full-time score - North 5 3 (33) defeated West 2 4 (16).

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NAIDOC Week flag-raising ceremony

Originally published: Wednesday, 7th July, 2021

NAIDOC Week is from July 4 to 11 and the flag-raising ceremony at the Civic Centre on Monday was a moving start.
The theme for 2021 is ‘Heal Country’ and the Welcome to Country by Wilyakali elder, Aunty Maureen, was embraced by all.
‘Heal Country’ was hauntingly conveyed in Cory Paulson’s didgeridoo performance, which stirred the crowd, and Cory explained how the didgeridoo is about connection.
“The didgeridoo is a historical instrument that was given from Mother Earth and when I play, it actually connects me to, not only my ancestors, but Mother, from whence the didgeridoo came.
“It heals me to country and connects me to country.”
Speeches about country included Taunoa Bugmy thanking National Parks and Wildlife for their research in protecting nearly-extinct species and bush medicine.
Healing country is a collaborative effort and the flag-raising ceremony has a message of unity for all Australians, according to Torres Strait Islander woman, Amelia Butler, who arrived in Broken Hill from Fiji in 1972.
“It’s for all of us to come together as one.
“We are supposed to help each other so we are supposed to be one, not separate.”
Aunty Maureen has a simple message about bringing community together as one.
“We just ask that we be respected and to listen to us.”
For more information on NAIDOC Week activities and updates due to Covid restrictions, visit https://www.facebook.com/BrokenHillNAIDOC

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A star on our doorstep - the life of June Bronhill

Originally published: Wednesday, 7th July, 2021

June Bronhill’s thrilling and moving life story is revealed in a new biography, A Star on Her Door, by Richard Davis.
Last week would have been the 92nd birthday of June Bronhill, the musicals, operetta and opera singer, who was born June Mary Gough in Broken Hill on June 26, 1929.
In the two months before June was born, an epidemic of infectious diseases swept over Broken Hill, with 61 cases of diptheria and other deadly fevers. Consequently, the Broken Hill and District Hospital was full so June was born in the front bedroom of the family’s home in Wolfram Street.
The wooden-framed bungalow, clad in corrugated iron, still stands but the hanging hessian bags, filled with water to catch the breeze, have long gone.
Also gone are the Sunday afternoon sing-songs, when family, friends and neighbours would gather at the Gough house around the piano.
In the early 1930s, before the advent of television, June’s father paid 45 pounds for an Australian-made Beale, upright piano. In 1935, 110 pounds was the cost of a stone house with four rooms in Piper Street, so music must have been highly regarded in June’s home.
When June was five years old, she heard her father playing an Irish song called The Dear Little Shamrock. As she was being put to bed by her mother, June sang the song word-perfect all the way through and her mother called out “George! The kid can sing.”
June considered that night as the start of her singing career and followed it with her public debut in 1935 at the age of six. At the Crystal Theatre in Broken Hill, which doubled as a movie theatre and concert hall, she sang Little Man, You’ve Had a Busy Day in a white tie and tails, with a top hat and cane, and she was very cheeky.
In 1940, when June was 11, June won a singing competition at Broken Hill radio station, 2BH, and was invited to join the Smilers’ Club. This involved approximately a dozen children singing in a concert in Johnson’s Picture Theatre every Wednesday, which was broadcast by 2BH.
The happy years abruptly ended when June was a teenager. Her father George had a health problem and wanted to spend time fishing so the family moved to the seaside town of Robe, in South Australia. However, June missed her life and friends in Broken Hill, including chop parties in dry creek beds, table tennis tournaments, trips to the movies and footy parties, camel rides and dancing.
She left Robe to return to Broken Hill and worked at Cox Brothers department store in Argent Street. June also spent her time in Broken Hill performing with visiting singers and soon realised that to be successful she would have to move to a big city.
June moved to her sister’s house in Bankstown in Sydney and prepared for the 1949 City of Sydney Eisteddfod, specifically for the two categories of Light or Coloratura Soprano Championship and The Sun Aria, which had a valuable cash prize from The Sun newspaper.
She comfortably won the championship but was devastated to be placed second last in The Sun Aria competition out of 180 singers, including 23-year-old Joan Sutherland. This was because June had broken the rules by singing in a different key so, after a hasty search in the conservatorium library for a copy of the aria in the correct key, June performed again and placed in the semi-finals.
To improve her singing technique, June began lessons with Marianne ‘Madame’ Mathy, an authoritarian and a disciplinarian whose lessons often ended in blazing arguments and tears.  One day, after a hard day’s work as a typist at the National Roads and Motorists’ Association (NRMA), June screamed back at Madame “You’re not going to make me cry, you bloody old b**ch!”  The teacher replied “My darling, this is vonderful. You have ze temperament to become a great singer. You are a very good girl and I love you dearly because you stand up to me.”
Two days before The Sun Aria competition in 1950, Madame gave her favourite student two Valium tablets for stress but June fell asleep on a train and woke up in the darkened train in Liverpool.  
Despite the mishap, June managed to win The Sun Aria and became a local celebrity. Broken Hill bookmaker Bill Welsh proposed a fund to help June travel overseas to further her singing studies and the Zinc Mine promised to match all funds raised.
June was so grateful that she wrote a letter to the editor of the Barrier Daily Truth, thanking the people of her home town for their support.
The author, Richard Davis, said that June had genuine caring for the people who supported her.
“June believed that, without the public, she wouldn’t have had a career. She felt honour-bound to be nice to the public.
“She always had time if someone stopped her on the street, for a chat or to sign an autograph.”
In 1951, June took that appreciation even further by changing her surname to Bronhill, a contraction of Broken Hill, eight months before she married Brian Martin.
After her wedding, June was dismayed to learn that the Zinc Mine had reneged on its promise to match funds for her overseas travels, citing the reason that her new husband was now responsible for her.
Fortunately, enough money was raised by the people of Broken Hill so that in 1952 June and her husband set sail on The Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company (P&O) liner, ‘Himalaya,’ to England.
Doors opened there for June and she worked with Eric Sykes, Harry Secombe and Benny Hill and she was the support act for Tommy Steele. However, it was an operetta at Sadler’s Wells Opera Company, The Merry Widow, which made June a star.
Returning to Australia, June starred in her first television role, an Australian version of Are You Being Served? It ran from 1980 to 1981 and John Inman reprised his role as Mr Humphries. June played Mrs Crawford, the Australian version of Mrs Slocombe.
The success of ‘Broken Hill’s daughter’ has been honoured in Broken Hill in several ways, including  naming June Bronhill Auditorium in the Civic Centre and Bronhill Street after her.
Many locals may not be familiar with the small street. It is parallel to a road named after another acclaimed local, Brookfield Avenue, which becomes the Silverton Road.
June is not the only member of the Gouff family to be honoured in Broken Hill.  Local, Don Mudie, was a long-time friend of the Gouff family and said that June’s brother, John, is featured on the mural on the side of the library.
“You’ll see a dapper man with a bow tie. That’s John.”
Richard said that Don Mudie’s local knowledge greatly helped him with writing the biography.
 “I am indebted to Don Mudie for providing research.”
Alot of research was required because of the variety of June’s work, which June had said she loved.
“My career has been so varied and I have loved the variety. It’s been wonderful to be able to do musical comedy, operetta, opera, straight plays, television, cabaret and clubs.
“You name it and I’ve done it.”
To read more about June’s adventures, ‘A Star on Her Door’ is available for purchase for $38 from ‘Under The Silver Tree’ bookshop at 29 Sulphide Street.
For future reading about another legendary, Australian opera singer, the author’s next book will be a biography of Dame Nellie Melba.

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Big 200 for Bulldog Captain

Originally published: Saturday, 3rd July, 2021

With five premierships to his name and the captaincy currently under his belt, Jake Borlace today adds being a 200-game player for the North Football Club to his football resume.
Jake Borlace said of the milestone game for his beloved club today, "I'm very overwhelmed. It's not something you set out for at the start of your career, but to have reached it makes me very proud for sure, definitely."
Having played for the North Football Club from his days as a young pup, Borlace has a lot of love for his Bulldog family, "Yeah, blue and white through and through," he said.
Borlace said it's the people that make the club special, and from that, he has many treasured memories.  "It's the people involved over the course of the last fifteen years. I've gained some great relationships and some great experiences that I'll cherish for the rest of my life."
Borlace said he remembers his first-ever game of senior football, which he's been playing now for fifteen years. His first game and his 200th game will both be against the Robins, "It was a day against West back in 2006 and I came off concussed. So, hopefully, that's not the same on Saturday."
As for his greatest achievements so far, both team and individual accolades are held at the top of his list. "As a team, I've played in five flags now, so each one of them is unique, and I have unbelievable memories of those," said Borlace.
"To be captain this year, on an individual front, is definitely a very proud highlight that I can take with me for the rest of my time anyway."
This season is somewhat extra special for Borlace given it's his first as a Father and as Captain, and now with his 200-game milestone. "It's been extremely different after having a year off with COVID. To take the field as a Dad and as a captain is definitely a new role, but our club's in a bit of a transition period at the moment and I'm glad to be leading that, for sure," he said.
Borlace said he's played with many important players across his 200 games of senior football, "I've got a pretty big, but pretty good hub of mates that I've been playing with for over the last ten years. So, without naming them, I'll just say that we've taken a great group through over the last decade and they'll be my teammates even off the field," he said.
Borlace is looking forward to leading his team out today in his 200th game, running onto the field with his son, Hunter.
"I'm very proud of the achievement for sure. It's held in pretty high regard within the North Football Club the 200 games, so to be a part of that club is a very proud moment for me."

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A fan-tastic writing practice

Originally published: Saturday, 3rd July, 2021

According to fanfiction writer Lori Emmett, writers who want to practice their craft without having to world-build or set up lengthy plots can benefit from fanfiction.
It was one of the genres presented at the Broken Hill Writers’ Festival this year, which was an initiative of ‘Under the Silver Tree’ co-op bookshop.
Fanfiction is defined by the Organization of Transformative Works as “…a work of fiction written by fans for other fans, taking a source text or a famous person as a point of departure.”
Lori said that fanfiction is a good way to practice writing imagery. If a writer wants to describe a storm at sea, fanfiction eliminates the need to write a context for the storm.
“You pick ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ or ‘Moby Dick’, you select the characters you want and then you just focus on trying to describe ‘it was wet and windy’ in as many different ways as you can.”
Lori said that readers already know the characters in those established stories and can picture them being hit by a sudden storm at sea.
“You don’t have to give a reason for the ship or the crew or the storm.”
She said that not having to write context can also make it quicker to write dialogue.
“A writer can go straight to ideas when a world already exists and doesn’t need to be built.”
In the science fiction television series ‘Star Trek: Voyager’, viewers already know and care about two of the main characters; Captain Janeway, who is captain of the starship, and a borg called Seven of Nine, who is a recovering human/robot hybrid.
“You don’t have to make characters or try and build up empathy for them with your audience,” said Lori.
She said that the characters in ‘Star Trek: Voyager’ could be transplanted to an Alternate Universe (AU) such as the most popular fanfiction trope or recurring theme, a Coffee Shop AU.
“One character will be the barista. The one you want them to pair up with will be the customer.”
In the ‘Star Trek: Voyager’ example, a fanfiction writer could write a conversation where Captain Janeway is a barista who teaches a customer, Seven of Nine, how to develop her individuality.
Lori said that fanfiction provides a rapid way to represent social issues and can educate and teach tolerance and acceptance.
“There’s quite a bit of fanfiction where people are using characters and a world that are already built and well-known to explore some bigger issues.
One way is through ‘headcanon’, a term used to mean a quality that is not part of the original story but becomes accepted when fans feel that it is or should be.
“I’ve read some really good Spiderman fanfic, where the author headcanons Spidey as autistic.’
However, fanfiction writers can’t just plagiarise established works and make a few tweaks.
“Credit must always be given to the original work and original authors, although, if you’re posting on a fanfic site, credit is generally assumed.”
A fanfiction site also provides a following for a writer and Lori said that publishers these days like to see published work and a following.
“They like it if you have a blog with a following of readers already established. Fanfiction can do the same things for you.”
Lori said that people might scoff at fanfiction but she sees it as important.
“It’s a way to represent, be represented, practice and learn and it’s one that anyone with the internet can access.
“Even if I’m wrong, it’s still a lot of fun.”
For more information on writing fanfiction, Lori recommends fandom.org
To register interest for future writers’ events, contact ‘Under the Silver Tree’ co-op bookshop on 8000 1942.

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Turley passes gauntlet

Originally published: Saturday, 3rd July, 2021

After over four decades in the health service, Darriea Turley is passing the gauntlet on. Mrs Turley had her last day as Community Engagement Manager for the Far West Local Health Service on Wednesday; after enjoying a career that has spanned 42 years.
She started her career as a nurse in 1979.
“I originally attended Hawksbury Ag College but I found it so hard to be away from home,” Mrs Turley said.
“My mother said I could only come back if I started nursing, the CEO of the hospital at the time allowed me to enrol.”
From there, Mrs Turley took part in external study, taking on social sciences and community development.
“I developed HIV/AIDS clinics for the whole of the Far West, from Lighting Ridge to Balranald.
“In 2004, I took the opportunity to become the community engagement manager for the Greater Western Area Health Service (now FWLHD).
“It was a great opportunity and I was able to develop health councils to allow the consumers voice to be heard.”
Mrs Turley also helped contribute to the volunteer programs that the health service runs.
In 2018, Mrs Turley was recognised with a Member (AM) in the General Division of the Order of Australia for her contribution to health, social welfare, and education, and her efforts to champion women in local government.
As a local government leader and stalwart supporter of diversity and gender equality, Mrs Turley has been an influential figure at local, national, and international levels for over three decades.
She said her interest in serving others grew from an early age, when she began volunteering with Lifeline after school.
“I remember volunteering for the first time when I was in high school, I attended Lifeline Tuesday afternoons with Reverend Brian Nicholls.
“My school friends and I would do whatever tasks Brian had for us, and then we would sit there talking with him about life and the universe.
“It was pure magic, it’s amazing how people inspire you at such an early stage.”
She had also received strong support from her family when it came to serving her community.
“A lot of it was thanks to my family, they were always very active in the community,” she said.
“Volunteering was just what you did! There were no questions - you just helped out at any event.”
After transitioning from school to the workplace, Mayor Turley said she maintained her keen interest in leadership and community service while raising a family.
“From there it was being involved in school fundraising committees, and just trying to go that extra mile for others at work,” she said.
“I started taking roles in leadership outside of work and undertook further study, and as a Fellow of the Australian Rural Leadership Foundation I had the opportunity to investigate community and economic development in other countries.”
Mrs Turley went on to become the first HIV/AIDS rural worker in Australia and developed associated programs across the Far West.
She was also one of the inaugural winners of the Gallipoli Scholarship, which saw her travel overseas and take part in innovative treatment and care training which would be utilised in the Far West.
“I was very grateful to be given that study opportunity.
I’ve always been passionate about trying to understand, improve and explore new opportunities to benefit our community and our region.”
After receiving her AM, Mayor Turley said she remained thankful to her family and workmates for helping her through every step of her life.
“I wouldn’t have been able to achieve any of this without the support of my husband Darryl, my children Johnathon and Curtis, and the support of my family,” she said.
“I am also very grateful for the support from NSW Health and my managers over the years. My career was important to me, and the work outside of Health was an unexpected opportunity that I loved.”
Mayor Turley also saved a special mention to her hometown and its residents.
“It’s humbling that a girl in the outback can receive such recognition. I love the life I have, and one of the biggest achievements - apart from my family - was to be elected Mayor of our great city.
“I have been serving the community on the Council since 1995 and I’m so proud the community has had faith in me for all those years.
“It has been a gift to be able to serve our community and other incredible organisations over so many years, and I would sincerely like to thank the community of Broken Hill for supporting me.”
Mrs Turley’s profile and achievements along with her considerable contribution to local council she has been the Manager Community Engagement, Far West Local Health District, since 2004; Sexual Health Coordinator 1996-2006, MERIT Program Developer 2004; HIV Community Worker 1990- 1997 and Chair Broken Hill and District Cancer Network.
 “I had planned to resign from the health service when I was elected mayor,” she said.
“But the hospital was seeking accreditation and I helped with that - which was delayed by COVID.”
Mrs Turley said she will be forever grateful to all the staff at the hospital.
“From the unsung heroes; cleaners, administration officers to the senior staff and former board members. I wouldn’t have the opportunities I’ve had over the years without support from NSW Health.”
Mrs Turley said she was able to grow within the service and never felt the need to leave.
“Broken Hill is my home and it is where my heart is, I never considered leaving the health service. But I do feel it is timely now.
“I can solely focus on my role as mayor and I wish whoever goes into those roles all the enjoyment and satisfaction I had over many years.”

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