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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.

August, 2021

Dob in a lonesome farmer

Originally published: Saturday, 28th August, 2021

People of the Far West are being encouraged to rat on lonely farmers who the Seven Network might approach for the next series of Farmer Wants a Wife.
The popular reality series, which began in 2007, sees bachelor landholders jostling for the attentions of single women, the “winners” getting to plough ahead as married couples.
The Seven Network has now announced that season 12 is on track for 2022, that they’re combing the land for contestants, and that any interested farmers should get in touch, as well as anyone who “would like to nominate a farmer”.
As matchmaking reality TV shows go, Farmer Wants a Wife doesn’t have bad odds; Brad and Stacie from season four (2009) are married with three kids, Scott and Clare from the same season are also married, Tenille and Frank from season seven (2011) are married with child, which is the same story for Sam and Jodie from season eight (2012).
However, season 11, which concluded earlier this month, ended in scandal, with losing contestant Hayley announcing two weeks ago that she was pregnant to farmer Will, who’d ended the series declaring his love for Jaimee, another contestant entirely.
But a bigger scandal is that, since the series began, not a single Far West farmer has been featured, the nearest being Gus from the central west town of Warren, way back in season one.
West Darling Pastoralists Association president, Matt Jackson, reckons the reason might be that Far West farmers aren’t so hard up.
“Maybe all of the farmers out here are already wanted by the ladies and there are none available to go on the show,” he said.
However, when pressed, Mr Jackson said it’d be “great” if the Far West was represented.
“So, I’ll dob someone in,” he ventured. “His name’s Matt Andrews, out on Avondale Station. He’s a ratbag, and he’s currently single, so I’ll put his name forward.”
Whether any other farmers really want a wife, or just want to ‘break the drought’, Farmer Wants a Wife is surely an opportunity too good to be missed. Those interested in applying should fill out the online form at farmerwantsawife.com.au

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Teaching, coaching and filming ads

Originally published: Saturday, 28th August, 2021

Local schoolteacher and Central footballer, Bill Shipway, is the latest face to appear in an internet AFL advertisement.
The ad, an AFL-Google collaboration, focuses on Shipway’s life in The Hill as an Under 9’s coach utilising the Footy Skills Lab app.
Shipway came to be featured in the ad through a friend’s family connection.
“I grew up in Sydney and my mate’s step-mum works for an advertising company,” he said.
“She was filming these ads and she was going all over Australia to film them.
“Because all the other states shut their borders to NSW, the only place she could really think of was to come to was Broken Hill. So, she contacted me because she knew that I lived out here and was hoping that I knew something about AFL and, sure enough, I did.”
About a month ago the crew travelled to Broken Hill to film Bill over the course of the weekend.
“They came to my house on a Saturday night after footy and filmed me in my house, doing a lot of computer stuff and pretending to look at a computer with heaps of close ups and stuff like that,” he said.
“The next morning, about 6am, they filmed me leaving my house and running around Broken Hill. We went to different places, down some alleyways, out the front of Shelley’s and then near the mines and stuff.
“We met the kids at 8am at the Memorial and we were there until about 11am, just shooting me using the app and getting the kids to do different skills and stuff like that.
Shipway said that, with his regular football schedule and the filming, it was a busy weekend, but that he had fun nevertheless, as did the kids from Shipway’s Under 9’s team.
“The kids absolutely loved it,” Bill said. “I’ve called them all in the past few days, and the AFL have said they’re going to give us a gift voucher for the kids.’
Shipway came to Broken Hill three years ago for a placement and is now a teacher at Central Primary School.
“I asked all my colleagues on the first day what footy club I should join and they all said Central,” he recalled. “I went down to Central training and, of course, it’s like the teacher’s footy club, so I fitted in pretty easily.”
“What I like about the Central footy club is that, straight away, I had a big family, I guess. It’s a pretty tight-knit football club with good people to hang around.”
Bill said Central’s lacklustre few seasons did nothing to dampen his enthusiasm for the club.
“I’ve played a lot of football in Sydney and haven’t been in many successful sides, so I guess I’m used to that,” he said.
“But I definitely feel like we’re going somewhere, especially culture-wise, and I think that will show on the field in coming seasons, especially with the involvement of senior players in the juniors and stuff like that.”.
This season was Shipway’s first time coaching locally, a job which he enjoyed.
“Over the course of the year, I’ve seen improvement in the kids and how they work together. At the start, they were getting flogged by every single team and by the end they’ve beaten every team,” he said.
“They’d come down to watch us play as well – me and Tyronne Grayson, he helped me coach that team – and hopefully next year we’re going to get as many senior players to coach all the junior teams, so we become a more tight-knit club and keep our juniors going forward.”

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Goodbye, Mrs McLeod

Originally published: Saturday, 28th August, 2021

She’s been in Silverton for 73 years, as pastoralist, publican, wife, mother, and tireless community worker. Now, Ines McLeod is leaving, to begin a new life on Evan’s Head near Lismore, NSW, to be nearer to her great-grandchildren, who need her in these times.
“Oh, it will be different, for sure,” she says, “so I’ll miss Silverton, but I'm going to have to miss Silverton. I mean, you can't just walk away 73 years later and not miss it.
“But there's a whole range of new things to do up there, and I'm going to have these great-grandkids next door, who I'm hoping to spend a lot of time with. I'm organizing little projects in my head already …”
As usual, 80-year-old Ines has approached the massive job of moving home with the vigour of a teenage girl, packing up her large Silverton house and its decades of stuff almost single-handedly.
“Use it or lose it,” she mutters, as her slim arms hoist another heavy box of books onto the back of a truck.     
It’s an image that will be familiar to anyone who knows Ines, a woman with boundless energy and a bushman’s determination to do things without any help – an ethic instilled in her by Italian parents who migrated here and built a life from virtually nothing.
“Dad came from Sovramonte, which is almost in the Dolomites, and Mum was from a little place called Castelfranco Veneto. But they didn’t meet in Italy - they met here.”
Life began for Ines in Broken Hill, where she was born and lived for two years before her parents moved to Adelaide, soon moving back for good.
“I was seven when they bought a poultry farm in Silverton. And that's where I started my journey in Silverton, at the age of seven.
“It was a big show,” she recalls. “I think he used to get 1500-odd chickens or something every year to replace any of the old chooks. My job, every afternoon, was to wash out these smelly four-gallon drums that were used to give the chickens milk.”
In 1956, Ines’ life changed considerably when her father purchased the Silverton Hotel.
“Dad bought the pub, much to Mum's horror. But I was a very, very happy little girl. I was chief barmaid at age 15.”
These were the days when Silverton boasted a population close to 300, so the pub was crowded most night. Ines, being social with the patrons, became proficient at the pub game of rope quoits.
“I joined the quoit club and finished up in the Australian championships. Got beaten by Daphne Braddock. That was pretty much the end of it.”
More importantly for Ines, ’56 was the year she met Colin McLeod, the man who would become her husband.
“He was at Mundi Mundi Station, working just as a station hand. Then a couple of years later, he became the manager at Mundi Mundi. When I first met him, he was still just a station hand. But we got married in 1960, and I went out there and spent 13 years there, on a property of 350 square miles.
I got chucked in the deep end. I had to cook for the shearers and all the rest of it, and I didn't even know how to boil an egg. Anyway, I don’t think I poisoned anybody.”
In 1974, Colin and Ines left the station and, like Ines’s parents before them, bought the Silverton Hotel, where they would remain until 2011. Ines was there at the very beginning of Silverton’s boom as a movie location.
“The first one they did was called The Golden Soak. It was based on a book written by Hammond Innes. Ray Barrett was in it, and Christiane Krüger, a very nice-looking young lady.”
Other films and TV shows followed, until the big one: Mad Max II. It came to Ines as a shock.
“I knew they were coming, but I'd sort of ... I knew it was going to be Mad Max and whatever. There was no veranda where it is - we had that closed off when they were filming A Town Like Alice – so I had just woke up one morning and looked out the window, and there were these blokes walking around with all that leather gear, with their arses out of their trousers. And I thought, ‘Ugh. What's going on here? What a weird turnout!’ But anyway, they turned out to be all nice blokes.”
Colin passed away in 2007 and, since then, Ines has lived in Silverton alone. But she’s never had a moment to spare.    
“I've done a lot of voluntary work,” she says. “Peter from the pub looks after me if I have plumbing problems or anything like that, so I'd go up there every morning and do all their recycling for them, all their cans, their stubbies, and their plastics. Then when Brian and Margaret had the café, they'd get swamped or someone wouldn't come out to work, so they'd sing out.
“I used to also do quite a lot at Penrose Park – spend two or three hours raking up leaves and tidying up all around the bird aviaries. I still volunteer to clean the public dunnies. I've been doing that for 14 years.”
Just recently, Ines was immortalised in Silverton, though it came as a surprise.
“They got a grant to put an activity centre near the youth hostel,” she said. “I went down there the other day, and there, in big writing, it's got: ‘Ines McLeod OAM Activity Centre’. They've named that thing after me. The weird part about that was, when they were talking about doing that project, I said, ‘I don't want anything to do with it, because I think we should leave Silverton like it is’.
“Ah, well,” she sighs. “There you go. You'll have to have a look at that, on your way out.”
Ines leaves next week, for a new life on the coast. She leaves behind a lifetime of work that has made Silverton and Broken Hill better places for her having lived here.
Goodbye, Ines McLeod. We love you, and when we need to remember you, all we have to do is look around.

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A Sydney Derby Grand Final

Originally published: Wednesday, 25th August, 2021

The 2021 Suncorp Super Netball Grand Finalists have been decided, and, to make things a little more exciting, it’s one of the greatest netball rivalries in recent times – A Sydney derby.
The Giants managed a three-point win over the West Coast Fever in the Preliminary Final on Saturday afternoon, 64-61. In their second chance to make the Grand Final, the Giants proved they have what it takes, after going down by a single point to the Swifts in the Semi Final the weekend prior.
The Preliminary Final saw the Giants get their lead early and manage to hold on. Giants defender, Sam Poolman shut down Fever’s star shooter, Jhaniele Fowler and was awarded the Nissan Player of the Match.
This 2021 Finals series is the first time both NSW teams have featured in the finals in the same year, and this will be the first time they’ve met in a Grand Final. Conveniently, on the same day the GWS Giants and the Sydney Swans meet in the AFL Elimination Final, a double derby day.
The match ups in each goal circle will be exciting and crucial in determining the winner, with the Giant’s Poolman lining up on Sam Wallace in the Swifts offensive circle, while shooter Jo Harten battles against the Swift’s Sarah Klau in the Giants goal circle. Two superstar shooters and incredible defenders.
The Giants relentless interceptor Amy Parmenter is a star in high pressure games, which is inevitable in finals netball and will suit her nicely. Her matchup with Swifts’ Paige Hadley will no doubt draw the attention of viewers.
While Jamie-Lee Price of the Giants is another well suited to strong, physical encounters which this game will likely be. Price is my pick to be a match winner, when she is on her game the Giants stand taller and play smoother, her influence in the mid court is noticeable - She will be instrumental in a Giants victory.
The Grand Final will be the fourth time the Giants and the Swifts have met this season, including their Major Semi-Final clash two weeks ago. In their Round 6 meeting, it was the Swifts who came out on top with a 12-point victory, but in Round 11 the Giants evened the playing field with a four-point win. Come the Major Semi-Final, the Swifts won by a single point in the dying minutes of the game to progress to the Grand Final.
It’s a credit in itself that both Sydney teams have even made the big dance, after fleeing Sydney prior to its lockdown and having been on the road and in various location hubs since - their efforts and dedication are admirable.
These sides are evenly matched across the board, with strong centre court players, relentless defenders, and accurate shooters in both the orange and red dresses. This game will go down to the wire in a battle for the 2021 Suncorp Super Netball trophy.
The Grand Final can be viewed live and free on channel Nine or on the Netball Live app. The game begins at 2pm (local time) on Saturday August 28, and it’s sure to be a cracker. If you’re going to watch only one game of netball this year, make it this one.
WHAT: Suncorp Super Netball Grand Final – Giants v Swifts.
WHEN: 2pm, Saturday August 28.
WHERE: Channel 9/Netball Live App.

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Empty roadhouses a worrying sight

Originally published: Wednesday, 25th August, 2021

Border closures and travel bans have stripped away the core customer base for several roadhouses near Broken Hill.
With additional restrictions enforced to combat the rising COVID-19 case numbers, the reduction of service has made it extremely difficult for some.
Usually, a vibrant haven for many tourists is now only being a rest-stop for ‘essential’ workers.
Little Topar Roadhouse owner Jo Lindsay believes its vital they stay open so it can offer respite for freight drivers who are generating the bulk of their income.
“If it wasn’t for the truck drivers, we would probably have the doors closed,” she said.
“Our fuel is twenty-four hours and they can few more hours up the road when they have a meal and a shower.”
Mrs Lindsay estimated her business is losing about $2500 per day, normally earnt at this time of year from a combination of tourists and freight drivers.
Little Topar, situated 78kms east of Broken Hill, closed its dining area to the general public to avoid crowding indoors and act as a safeguard.
“We need to protect the truck drivers because if we lose them, it will cripple us even more,” Mrs Lindsay said.
Just over 170kms north of Broken Hill, the Packsaddle Roadhouse is experiencing a similar misfortune.
The roadhouse has had daily visitors slashed by about 95 per cent since the lockdowns in NSW and hard border lockouts from South Australia and Victoria.
Owner Mia Degoumois said there was a significant drop in business following the rule changes.
“We had lots of bookings and it’s gone down to pretty much nothing only the essential workers,” she said.
“This should be our peak part of the year because it’s usually tourist season.”
Packsaddle altered operations to establish a “safety zone” for staff during its trading hours and now serve at the front entrance.
The management have decided to retain all three employees to stay prepared for an increase in business.
Staying open was not option for the Border Gate Roadhouse based at the centre of the NSW and SA boundary.
Owner Rhonda Hedger was very unhappy and said it was a straightforward decision to close temporarily to ensure her health is not in jeopardy.
“We already live isolated so we don’t want to put ourselves at risk…it’s not worth it,” she said.
“It’s a hard time for a lot of people but when it’s business and my health I get very emotional about the situation.”
The roadhouse was trading on weekends but were struggling before making the decision it shut on August 5.  
“We were lucky to even get one customer a day,” Mrs Hedger said.
“We cop it from both sides because we are right on the border…If no one is traveling to SA we pay the price.”
Border Gate plan to re-open its doors when travel restrictions are eased and are making use of this time to renovate the outdoor areas to attract new customers post-lockdown.
Business owners and staff will continue to rally and remain realistic about the future.
“We just have to ride it out…I think it will be a while before we get our tourists back but better to stay safe,” Mrs Lindsay said.
“At the end of the day we are fit and healthy,” Mrs Degoumois said. “We just have to stay positive and find odd jobs to keep us busy.”

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Wilcannia abandoned

Originally published: Wednesday, 25th August, 2021

The disaster unfolding in Wilcannia is to the shame of authorities in Government.  
It is not, as rumours suggest, the fault of the Indigenous people of Wilcannia, who for 18 months have been pleading for protection from the pandemic we all knew was coming.
That those false rumours have been given oxygen by the very politicians who have so failed the people of Wilcannia is a disgrace.
NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard has since said he “regrets” the comments he made during a press conference last week, where he called attendees of a funeral in Wilcannia on August 13 “selfish” and likened them to partygoers in Maroubra.
But “regret” is not an apology, or even a retraction.
In fact, Mr Hazzard went on to say that while “no disrespect was intended, it is crucial that everybody gets the message …” – in other words, while he was apparently regretful about what he said, he was happy to say it again anyway.
The damage has been done; it is now part of Australian folklore that the people of Wilcannia only have themselves to blame. That’s a lie.
FACT: On August 13, when the funeral in Wilcannia occurred, there were no restrictions in place that would have prevented such a gathering from taking place in regional NSW, and no public health orders by which police or the people of Wilcannia could have prevented others from entering the town from other parts of NSW.
FACT: The virus was not, as Mr Hazzard claimed, “spread from Wilcannia to other parts of the state”. COVID was brought to Wilcannia from somewhere else in NSW, as a direct result of the Berejiklian Government’s failure to adequately contain the virus in the regions by restricting movement earlier.
FACT: Far from being “selfish”, the people of Wilcannia have been heroic in their attempts to care for each other, with little or no help from Government slouches who were warned 18 months ago – by non-Government agencies like Maari Ma and the people of Wilcannia themselves (see photo above) - that disaster was on its way.
On April 8, 2020 – almost 18 months ago – the ABC quoted Maari Ma’s Justin Files as saying that while various local health and Aboriginal groups had contacted the Government requesting a lockdown, they’d received no reply.
"The NSW Government has the authority to do that [lock down] by a public health order and we're pushing as hard as we can for them to do that, not just in Wilcannia, but for Menindee and Ivanhoe as well," he said.
The Government never did respond, never mentioning Wilcannia in the national conversation, until now.
What makes the situation even more bewildering is that a fool could have foreseen this disaster before the pandemic even began. Wilcannia has been a public health crisis for years, its claim to national fame being that it has the lowest life expectancy in Australia (is anyone surprised a funeral might occur there?), with a desperate housing shortage (how, exactly, did Far West Local Health District expect positive cases to “home isolate” in a town where many houses are homes to ten or more people?), and a river, once the lifeblood of the town, that has been virtually destroyed by Government mismanagement.
This is not a rage at the people who work in the health system – the doctors, nurses, paramedics, and volunteers, who all deserve our thanks and praise.
Nor is it a slight on the people who receive gossip and pass it on – they can only believe what they’re told.  
But when the very people who’ve allowed this disaster to happen point the finger of blame at the victims of their failures, it’s incompetence at best.
In all reality, it’s probably something worse.

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Long live the King

Originally published: Saturday, 21st August, 2021

Barney Davey, long-time publican of the Family Hotel in Tibooburra, recalls a night in 1964 when, in the wee hours, he was woken by a woman’s singing on the back veranda of the pub, a gentle, mournful wailing that, nearly 60 years later, he still remembers vividly.
“You could sense something was wrong. I went down the stairs and saw it was Alice King, a veil across her face, just a cloth or something. She just said to me; ‘Millar, you gotta help Millar’.”
Frank Millar, better known as King Millar, was a Wankumarra elder who, along with Alice, the woman some say was his fifth wife, had made his way to Tibooburra from Noccundra in southern Queensland by horse and cart sometime in the 1950s. There the two constructed a home, a corrugated iron goondie on the banks of a creek bed that skirts the small town, an ephemeral waterway now known to all as Millar’s Creek. And by all accounts, he was in trouble.
Barney immediately called the local cop Jack Killen. When they reached the goondie the first thing the two men had to do was negotiate with Millar’s dogs. “Six of the buggers, stag houndy type things that weren’t too happy about us being there. I remember Jack wasn’t all that happy either.”
Millar and Alice lived off the land, save for the food that Barney would drop down to them from time to time. “Meat or fish, vegetables. Just every now and then to keep them going.” The dogs were the King’s hunting pack, trusty canines that could be relied upon to bring in a ‘roo whenever the old man, as he was then, needed to top up supplies.
Eventually Barney got inside and, after pacifying the hound that was lying beside the unconscious Millar, he called Killen in to help him lift the old man to the car. At the local hospital, it was decided to call the Flying Doctor and, somewhere that morning, either on the way to Broken Hill or in the Broken Hill hospital, no-one can remember precisely, King Millar passed away. According to Barney Davey, “We lost a gentleman.”
Steve Blore, born in Tibooburra and now farming near Thargomindah in southern Queensland, remembers Millar’s death and the generosity the King showed him as a boy.
“As kids, my brother and I used to go down to the creek and pay him and Alice a visit. He always had time for us. Tell us stories about the country and the old days. He’d talk for hours. We loved it.”
Older Tibooburra locals like Steve and Barney share similar memories of Millar, either of the fireside chats, of the King walking around town collecting native foods, or of his occasional stops in the street to have his photo taken by tourists, brass plaque around his neck.
That plaque, part of a practice of bestowing Western titles on those indigenous men the authorities deemed worthy, read: “Millar. King of the Wilson. 1st Sept. 1937.”
Steve was talking to a mate in Thargomindah one day when the conversation turned to the old man who had made such an impression on him as a child. Which got Steve thinking.
“He was great old fella and I started talking to locals about how we should have an interpretive board at Thargomindah to tell Millar’s story. I was banging on about it for months and one of my mates basically said; ‘Just stop talking and start acting’.”
Having had experience creating interpretive signs in the Balranald area, Steve bit the bullet.
“We did these large boards and that’s what we intended to do here. About five or 6,000 gets you one of those. And then I thought, well, you’ve got to have one at Tibooburra, too.”
From there, Steve started to spread his conversation across the border back to his hometown and the little project began to get slightly bigger, as did the story of King Millar and the respect the Tibooburra town’s people had for the man.
According to Steve, after his death “locals chipped in and hired an aircraft to bring him back to Tibooburra to be buried. That wouldn’t have been cheap.”
At the time, community funds ran dry, and Frank Millar currently rests in the town’s cemetery in an unmarked grave, a situation that Steve is hoping to redress.
“We want to get him a proper headstone. Nothing silly. Just something that demonstrates the respect the people had for him. We didn’t do much right by these old fellas. It’s time we did.”
While Steve is confident they will find a way to finance the boards, he’s joined forces with the Tibooburra town Facebook page co-ordinator, Ange Lawson, to see if they can raise the funds for the headstone through community donation. And while they’re at it, hopefully solve a mystery.
“When old Millar died his plaque went missing. It’s a long shot but maybe if we spread the word… You never know. It could be lying around in someone’s shed.”
And then there’s Alice. A Yandruwandha woman and, according to Steve, there’s some suggestion she was the great, great granddaughter of John King, sole survivor of the ill-fated Bourke and Wills expedition who was nursed by the Yandruwandha until he was rescued. It’s a tantalising piece of string.
“With the haste of humanity, history is largely forgotten. Particularly out here where it’s sort of passed on by word of mouth. Unless you talk to the right person and ask the right questions, this stuff would be lost to you. We need to get it before it’s gone.”
If you’re interested in the Tibooburra project and would like to donate toward King Millar’s headstone, please email Ange Lawson at lillie1238@hotmail.com

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AFL BH committed to a finals series

Originally published: Saturday, 21st August, 2021

With the extension of the lockdown in regional NSW, the AFL Broken Hill’s plan A has been scrapped and they’re looking at what comes next.
AFL Broken Hill Chairman, Andrew Schmidt said the announcement by the Deputy Premier that the lockdown would be extended for a further seven days at this stage, means that plan A is now thrown out the window.
“We now look at plan B, which is that we’ve been contacted by AFL NSW who are speaking with all the country leagues in NSW to say it’s important that we identify a finish date, a date on the calendar that once we get past it, is the point of no return,” he said.
“I today (Thursday) have emailed the four clubs, along with the board and the directors asking them for their thoughts and comments. Having said that, the board and all the clubs remain 100 per cent committed to at some stage, staging our finals.
“Some leagues in NSW have pencilled in the 18th of September because it’s the week before the AFL Grand Final, but the AFL is still contemplating as to whether they may push their Grand Final back to the 2nd of October so we’ve got to be a bit flexible with that.”
The extension of lockdown by another week is one issue AFL BH must deal with, “The other issue is, if we do come out of lockdown, whether or not the government will allow community sporting events to go ahead,” said Schmidt.
“As I said previously, the main concern for us as a football body is that everybody, not just the football community, but the whole community, the Far West is healthy, safe and that we can hold an event.
“Because if we hold a Grand Final, you’re bringing together 1,500 plus people, whether we’d be allowed to do that I don’t know.”
Schmidt said there’s currently a lot to work through.
“Obviously the situation in Wilcannia is concerning and more positive cases on Thursday, that has to be monitored. I would think if there are more positive cases in the Far West whether it be in Wilcannia, Menindee, Broken Hill or wherever, then I think it’s going to be unlikely they’ll lift the lockdown but we need to have something in place and know what the clubs are thinking.
“It’s a double edge sword, the lockdown could be lifted next week but there’s no guarantee that the Government will allow community sporting events to go ahead for a week or two.”
Schmidt said while the timing can’t be helped, it is frustrating.
“We’ve gone through the season, and everyone was so excited to see footy back and the new facility. We had a combined game, we took the Women away, we had players playing representative footy again in Broken Hill, the season really has been fantastic on so many levels,” he said.
“And to get to the final hurdle and sort of be stopped dead in our tracks, it very frustrating, but the main thing is that everybody is safe and healthy.”
In terms of moving forward, AFL BH will collate the information and feedback that comes from the clubs, “We can then as a board, look at and put a plan in place,” said Schmidt.
“So far the clubs, and it’s not often you get all four clubs to agree with each other, but all four clubs are in line with the board saying we’re committed to a finals series.”

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Lockdown causes shopping frenzy

Originally published: Saturday, 21st August, 2021

Supermarket outlets in Broken Hill are calling for calm and extra cooperation after a frantic period following the NSW regional COVID-19 lockdown announcement.
Local Woolworths and Coles stores saw a high increase of demand as community members prepared for last Saturday’s initial week-long stay-at-home public health order.
Food and household supplies not only rushed off the shelves in-store but many locals also opted to shop online, with pick-up and delivery options gaining a surge in popularity.
Woolworths Broken Hill store manager, Michael Walsh, urges customers to be considerate when buying groceries and said staff are working extremely hard to meet demands.
“As always, we ask customers to be mindful of others in their local community and buy only what they need,” Mr Walsh said.
“We have plenty of stock in our supply chain, and our team members are hard at work making sure it flows into our stores in large volumes for our customers.”
The retail giant has had to impose limits on items like toilet paper across chains state-wide to ensure there is "fair access" to essential products.
Stores reported that online features like Click&Collect also saw more orders placed as many avoid crowds and large queues.
“We ask that customers continue to stay calm, shop normally and be respectful to our hard-working team members,” a Coles spokesperson said.
“After a busy weekend with high customer demand, we are seeing shopping behaviour in Broken Hill return to normal this week.
“We also know that for some customers, coming into our stores may not be possible and we are seeing increased demand for Coles Online.”
Lockdown restrictions are set to continue after Broken Hill recorded its first positive COVID-19 case earlier this week.
Mr Walsh reminds customers to continue practising COVID-safe measures and provides some reassurance to community members.
“Our team will continue to support the Broken Hill community throughout the lockdown, both in-store and with our pick-up and home delivery services,” he said.

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Shearers union rams it to woolgrowers

Originally published: Wednesday, 18th August, 2021

The Australian Workers Union (AWU) has accused Australian woolgrowers of courting disaster with COVID.
The AWU, which represents the nation’s shearers, says some of its members have complained that sheds are ignoring the dangers.
Ron Cowdrey, AWU NSW Vice President and its shearing organiser, says it’s just a matter of time before there is a COVID case in a shed.
“With cases spreading into the regions, and the list of regional lockdowns escalating, regional employers have had to lift their game to prevent the spread of COVID-19,” Mr Cowdrey says.
“Shearing is considered an essential service and everyone needs to do their part to keep the industry operating.
“This ‘she'll be right’ attitude by woolgrowers is really a disaster waiting to happen - one positive case in a single shed will have a devasting impact on the industry.”
Mr Cowdrey says woolgrowers must follow the example of other businesses by taking a few simple steps to protect themselves and their workers: provide well-stocked hand-washing stations and sanitiser for workers; ensure all workers and visitors check in with a NSW QR code (or paper record) every day; ensure masks are worn indoors (except when shearing, which is classed as strenuous physical activity); enforce safe social distancing – 1.5m between workers (if that isn't possible between stands, use every second stand); disinfect and clean down high-touch surfaces and equipment between use.
The AWU says woolgrowers should also encourage all workers to get vaccinated in paid time.
“Workplace health and safety has never been more important,” Mr Cowdrey says.
“Our shearing organisers are actively supporting our AWU members in the sheds this season to make sure woolgrowers do the right thing.”
Sheep grazier Angus Whyte of Wyndham Station, midway between Broken Hill and Mildura, says it’s important to minimise COVID risks on-farm.
“Everyone has a responsibility,” he says. “It’s really important for health. It’s about good biosecurity.”
Mr Whyte says an all-property approach is essential.
“It’s important COVID doesn’t go through teams,” he says. “It’s not just about shearers saying they want a safe workplace. People need to make sure they minimise contact between [each other]; the shearers, the landholders and stock agents who visit and work on the property.
“If someone does come in with COVID, you want to minimise that.”

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South take advantage

Originally published: Wednesday, 18th August, 2021

The top-of-the-Reserves-table South handed the cellar-dwelling Central an almost 100-point loss to end their season on Saturday at the Alma.
Both sides were left a little confused at end of the third quarter when the siren sounded and the countdown clock still have five minutes to go.
In their respective huddles, the news was broken that the state was heading for lockdown.
The sudden siren, a result of quarters being shortened to ensure the A-Grade could finish before 5pm and we could all get home and stay there.
Jokes aside, it was a serious matter and it was good see the sides leave it all out on the field as the season faces an unpredictable future.
A slow start hindered the Magpies’ efforts to upset the hosts on their Old Timers Weekend.
South putting the foot down early, bagging five goals.
Deklin Langdon was a dangerous target up forward, he finished the game with five majors.
Central’s back six hit the ground running trying to fend off the mounting Roos offense.
Luke Clisby was a standout for the Pies off the half back line.
He provided constant drive out of the defensive 50 and pushed up ground to create scoring opportunities.
Central’s full back had a solid game, including a passage of play where he handballed to himself over a South attacker, kicked it to a teammate and like an aging rhinoceros on the African savannah charged to get the follow-up handball before hitting another target on centre-wing, whoever it was.
By half time South were home and hosed but Central had bounced back from their lacklustre opening, only conceding two goals, and scoring one of their own through Adam Rhodes.
Castar Morris rucked all day for the black and white and had a great game, Jason Chun another defender who held his own.
For South, it was a return to form in the last quarter, recording another five-goal haul to take their total to triple-digits.
Up from the back pocket and placed onto the wing, Dylan Semmens finished the game strong and was a key player in the late resurgence – Captain Sam Lines had another great match.
Central’s midfield veteran in Kieran Ralph chalked up his 200th Reserves game, while it was not the result he would’ve wanted, he was chaired off to a very good reception after putting up stellar milestone performance.
In rooms after the game, South’s coach Anthony Farquhar said the foot was taken off the pedal across the middle of the game.
“I think we started well and finished strong,” Farquhar said.
“That second and third quarter might’ve let us down a little bit but I was really happy with those four quarters overall, I thought our boys did really well.”
“I take my hat off to them, they put their hand up to play the game, some come off with injury but they’ll stay out there as long as they can.”
With Round 18 likely to be cancelled due to lockdown, we will wait to see what the gameplan is for 2021 Finals series.
Full time score – South 15.11 (101) defeated Central 2.3 (15)

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COVID disrupts Vietnam Veterans Day

Originally published: Wednesday, 18th August, 2021

It was on this day 55 years ago, in what can best be described as a non-descript rubber plantation near Long Tan, that for a small group of Australian soldiers, all hell broke loose.
While searching for communist forces who had attacked the Australian Army’s new southern Vietnamese base at Nui Dat the previous night, 108 men of D Company, 6th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment encountered a combined force of North Vietnamese estimated at over 2,000.
For two hours, the separated platoons of D Company fought off heavy enemy attacks in persistent monsoonal rain before regrouping. Despite being surrounded, they continued to withstand repeated assaults until, after three hours of continuous fighting, the besieged company was reinforced by the arrival of several armoured personnel carriers. Australian losses were 17 dead and 25 wounded as a result of what was a defining battle in a polarising war.
That day in 1966 is remembered now as National Vietnam Veterans Day. And in a cruel blow to Broken Hill’s small but tight knit group of surviving Vet’s, COVID has, for the second year running, rained on their parade.
“Nothing. We won’t be doing anything and that’s a great shame,” said local RSL President and Vietnam Veteran Des Kennedy. “It’s just a small ceremony these days. We usually gather at the memorial at four, have a small service and then go out to dinner. It’s small but it’s important to us.”
Important for a great many reasons. When that long and unpopular war ended for Australia in 1972, there was no victory parade, no bunting, no dancing in the streets. Rather than receive the nations embrace, Vietnam Vets were judged in a parade of public opinion, opinion that had savagely turned against the war long before it had been lost, public opinion that encouraged the government of the day to quickly put the whole sorry mess behind it, leaving the men that had endured Vietnam behind, misfits in some of the most unlikely quarters.
Bill Keenan remembers joining the RSL where as far as some members were concerned, he was an imposter, a soldier who hadn’t fought in a real war. “They used to say, ‘I’ll give you 500 reasons why it wasn’t a real war.’ 500 reasons were that only 500 of us died. I just didn’t feel like I fitted in.”
Many Vietnam Vets tell the same story, of having to deal with the truth of their experience behind closed doors while combatting the mythology, military and political, that grew up around the last ill-conceived war against communism. A complex web of public beliefs at odds with the actual experience of an ugly, close quarters, guerrilla war where the person you were talking to during the day could be trying to kill you at night, a war that a great many of us are well versed in when it comes to its politics, and determinedly ignorant of in its physical reality.
The sadder truth is that as a result of polarised domestic politics, we handled the Vietnam Veterans repatriation poorly, the Federal Government at best sluggish in their response to the impacts of post-traumatic stress on the men who served and stuttering in their acknowledgement of the health implications as a result of those men’s exposure to chemical herbicides like Agent Orange.
Allen Turner has worked for many years to assist Vietnam Vets in securing the support they need. A powerful presence, shaped, as we all are, by the experiences of his relative youth, Allen freely admits that he drinks too much and smokes too much. “My wife says I can come across as a bit aggressive too, he said.”
With only around a dozen of the original 68 Broken Hill veterans still with us, Allen is adamant that he will attend the service for as long as he’s able. And it’s got nothing to do with glory or war mongering. “It’s about remembering. Honouring those that went. War is ugly. No-one should have to go through it. A lot of them didn’t choose to go. It’s certainly not something to cheer about, but we should not forget.”
For Allan, Des, Bill and their fellows, the 18th of August is a day that allows them to gather and connect in an atmosphere of common experience, not to talk of war so much, but to spend time knowing that the personal burden of their very particular experience is shared. Just as it is a day of connection for the wives and widows of those that returned, women who have lived with men that have very particular ways of dealing with their demons.
“It’s very important for us to support our guys,” says Allen’s wife Deana, “and support each other. Unless you’ve lived with them you can’t really understand.”
There are a myriad stories of Vietnam veterans finding different ways of coping with the legacy of their experiences. Allen still has days when he can get “a little out of sorts.” According to Deana he just goes to his shed.
“He has an office down there and he has a drink. Watches television. I‘m not sure what he does really. I have learned to just let him be.”
Deana says they’ll be getting together for a dinner when the lockdown eases. And lockdown or not, expect a few “somethings” to appear on the Vietnam Memorial today. Lest we Forget.

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Treasure trove uncovered

Originally published: Saturday, 14th August, 2021

Local RSL Member Bill Keenan has spent the past 18 months carefully working through boxes and envelopes, “piles of material”, fastidiously cataloguing and arranging what is without question one of the most diverse and compelling collections of Australian war memorabilia outside the nation’s capital.
It’s been a labour of love for the Vietnam Vet who comes from an unbroken line of Australian servicemen dating to the First World War, and he’s managed to curate a mini museum to rival any in the country. A collection hasn’t gone unnoticed outside of the Silver City.
“The War Memorial came here and wanted to know if they could have a few things. We’ve got items in the collection here that they don’t have,” Bill said.
He’s not kidding. The small museum at the RSL club's Argent Street premises is a veritable Aladdin’s cave of military history highlights. Original bugles from the Gallipoli landing, brought back by men who were amongst the first ashore, make a striking stepping off point for a tour of the collection.
“Broken Hill guys were attached to the 10th Battalion, South Australian Regiment. They were there on day dot,” Bill said.
Each of the glass cases in the long room to the side of the main RSL hall has been beautifully laid out and in each is a collection of treasures, so many in remarkable, almost mint condition. Trench periscopes from the Western Front sit alongside amazingly intact medical kits, Aspro painkilling tablets still visible in their smoky coloured jars. Beneath the medical kit is an original battlefield map of the Somme region of Northern France and it too looks as if it was just handed out.
Alongside is a variety of military swords, British, Australian and German along with several extraordinary Japanese Samurai pieces that date to the Second World War. And just some weeks ago, a Boer War blade was added to the collection.
“We get things dropped off quite regularly. A lady brought it in. The man who carried it wasn’t originally from Broken Hill. We know his name was Shaw but he was with the British Army, so we have no records of his service. Still, it’s a beauty. A Wilkinson sword as all the British were. You never know what’s in people’s ceilings.”
Bill’s got boxes he hasn’t opened yet, and each time he does he finds something else that takes his breath away. The latest, a souvenir from the wreckage of the German Fighter Ace Baron von Richthofen, otherwise known as The Red Baron. Highly revered amongst German and Allied soldiers alike, the Ace of Ace’s crashed into a field in an area under Australian control in April 1918. It was there that a likely Broken Hill lad made off with a small section of his aircraft's fuel line as a memento.
“Typical Aussies. They all jumped out and grabbed a bit. And it’s ended up here,” Bill said.
Pride of place goes to the vast array of deeply personal items. Diaries, personal photographic collections, letters home, notices sent to loved ones advising of their sons passing. In one box Bill opened recently was an entire bereavement kit, a package of medals, death notices and food stamps that were passed on to the family of a deceased soldier along with a Memorial medallion, a brass disc inscribed with the name of a deceased soldier that became known as a Dead Man’s Penny, a “gift” each bereaving family received from a grateful King and country. All were untouched, still in the envelopes they had arrived in.
“They were probably just so devastated they couldn’t bear to look at it,” Bill said.
Each item comes with a local story and Bill is doing his best to research each piece, a job he finds a privilege. Although a complete collection of Confederate banknotes from the American Civil War has got him beat.
“I’m buggered if I know how we ended up with them. But there they are, every denomination of note from one dollar to one hundred.”
The local RSL members politely refused the war memorial request for items from the collection. It’s part of Broken Hill’s history and as far as they’re concerned, it belongs in the city. So rather than travelling to the War Memorial in Canberra, pop down to Broken Hill RSL at 399 Argent Street and have a look. If you’re lucky, you might just catch Bill opening a new box.

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Federal bucks in the pipeline

Originally published: Saturday, 14th August, 2021

A new water pipeline between Broken Hill and Menindee is expected to be completed in two years, with the Federal Government announcing it will pay for almost half of the construction cost.
Federal Member for Parkes, Mark Coulton, said the Feds will contribute $5 million to the $11.5 million Broken Hill to Menindee Graziers’ Pipeline project.
“This vital project will improve the quality and reliability of water infrastructure for Menindee graziers and support the expansion of agricultural industries right across the Far West,” Mr Coulton said.
“The project will involve a dedicated pipeline across 320,000 hectares of farmland between Stephen’s Creek Reservoir and Sunset Strip to support 16 graziers.
“Water is the lifeblood of our communities, and we are backing our farmers, especially in preparation for future droughts.”
The Broken Hill to Menindee Graziers’ Pipeline is one of 40 water infrastructure projects nationwide that will share in $108 million in federal funding.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development, Barnaby Joyce, said the cumulative impact for the National Water Grid will be significant.
“The National Water Grid Connections is all about driving the construction of smaller-scale projects over the next two years to provide short term economic stimulus,” the Deputy Prime Minister said.
“Collectively, these projects are expected to support over 7,000 hectares of irrigable land and connect 400 new customers. An additional 13,000 customers are expected to benefit from improved water access or reliability.
“Up to 1,175 jobs will be supported during construction, with over 2,550 ongoing and up to 500 more seasonal jobs set to be created nationally.
“The $3.5 billion National Water Grid Fund is paving the way to national water security while promoting local economic activity and job creation along the way.”
Terry Smith from Scarsdale station, 55 kilometres from Broken Hill, says the cash splash is welcomed news.
“It’s great news that the government’s going to stump up,” he says.
“We were basically victims of circumstance when they announced the pipeline was going to go from Wentworth to Broken Hill and no longer up to our properties.
“Now that the government’s going to back that up with a little bit of cash, it’s great news.”
Mr Smith says the old pipeline has been in need of replacement for some time.
“It’s just reached its use-by date,” he says. “It was put in, I think, in 1963 and it’s just sort of rusted, not fit for purpose.
“We use it predominately for livestock … at any given time we’d probably be watering up to 6000 sheep with that pipeline.
“And when you have sheep all drinking off that line, they could all drink 10-15 litres each a day.”
“So this is, hopefully, a restart.”

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A couple of hundred for Bird

Originally published: Saturday, 14th August, 2021

A six-time premiership player and a born and bred Southie – Arlen Bird today plays his 200th senior game in the red and white.
Bird said he feels excited to be playing his 200th game this afternoon, especially on South’s home turf of the Alma Oval and on Old Timer’s weekend.
“I sort of didn’t think it was going to happen, it’s taken a fair while. I think I started in 2007 and had a few little injuries along the way and obviously COVID, so it’s taken a while, but I’m pretty happy to get there,” he said.
Bird could easily recall his first A-Grade game for the Roos, yet it seems he and the group as a whole have improved in leaps and bounds since then.
“I reckon I had one kick for the whole day, and I think we got smacked at the Jube by North.”
Playing for South is something Bird has always known since he was just four years old he’s played in the red and white.
“Like I said, I think my first game was in 2007 for A Grade, but I played all my juniors with South since I was probably four years old, so a fair while now,” he said.
The South Football Club is special to Bird because it is made up of his best mates and great people. “It’s just such a great family culture, it’s like a big family out there. All such a great bunch of lads, and obviously great footballers. They’re all just good people.”
Bird is looking forward to playing on the Alma Oval for his milestone game and it coincidentally falls on the weekend of the new date of the club’s Old Timers, after it was postponed due to COVID restrictions.
“It’s pretty lucky...we should have a pretty big supporter base there. A lot of ex-A-Grade and B-Grade boys will be there, so it should be a great weekend.”
Given that it is South’s Old Timers weekend, Bird said that makes playing his milestone game a bit more special. “Yeah, a few of the boys were having a laugh because they reckon I’ve planned it pretty well, so yeah it should be a good Old Timers weekend.”
As far as highlights and achievements go, premierships and playing in Grand Finals are high up the list for Bird. “I’ve been pretty fortunate - I think I’ve played in six flags now, so the Grand Finals are always great. And obviously just the opportunity to play with some of my best mates and play against Broken Hill legends and with Broken Hill legends,” he said.
“Obviously the likes of Jordan Johns, Marc Purcell, Cody Schorn, Drew Hardy and against people like Jayden Kelly and Codie Howard and Justin Heath, like, they’re all great people and great footballers.”
When asked if he had a standout game or Grand Final that he most cherished, there was one Premiership that sprang to mind. “Probably 2014, I think we had lost four in a row to that point so that was kind of the drought breaker. So I’d say 2014.”

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Rigorous Roos claim another win

Originally published: Wednesday, 11th August, 2021

The Roos took a 15-point win over the Robins in the League match on Saturday afternoon.
It started in a fashion that looked as though the Jubilee Oval might have quite the game on its hands, with a couple of quick goals from both teams early in the first quarter.
West’s Brock Ellis goaled first from the scoreboard pocket after a perfect handball from Ethan Slater within the opening minute. Dylan Browne responded in a timely manner for the Roos with a set-shot goal, followed by a goal from Arlen Bird after a toe poke across the line from the goal square.
After that Ethan Slater kicked his first major of the game from a long-range bomb of a set shot. But from there the first quarter quickly became a showground for the Roos to do what they do best and run amok.
South kicked four unanswered goals to finish out the opening term. Young gun Adam Slattery started the run of majors with a set-shot goal after a free-kick from a sling tackle, followed by a captain’s goal from Marc Purcell from set shot after copping a high tackle.
Another South young gun, Locky McKenzie who was best-on-ground for the day then kicked back-to-back goals. The first from a perfect banana kick from deep in the canteen pocket and the second from on the run after a quick handball.
Thanks to the increased intensity from the Roos in the back half of the first term, they led the Robins 37 to 14 at quarter time.
The second quarter began with a huge goal from Jordan Johns, who booted a goal from the 50-metre arc, followed by Drew Hardy’s first goal from a set shot directly in front.
The Robins added two consecutive goals to their tally off the boot of Ethan Slater. He drilled a goal from just inside 50 metres for his second of the day, before his third came from a run into open goal after a handball over from Nathan Greenshields.
South’s Drew Hardy slotted his second goal before Slater managed a fourth from long range.
With three goals each for the quarter, at halftime, it was South ahead by 18 points at the main break.
The second half saw the Robins find their form and up their intensity, and with increased defensive pressure, the Roos managed just two goals for the third term.
None other than Marc Purcell kicked the opener of the second half with a run into the goal square for his second major of the day at the 10-minute mark. While the other goal for quarter three came from Drew Hardy for his third, an unbelievable dribble across-face.
Thirty points separated the Roos and the Robins at quarter time, 69 to 39.
West won the last quarter in terms of goals, managing to close the gap on South’s lead. The Robins’ Nathan Greenshields slotted from the goal square under immense defensive pressure from South. Brock Elliot added South’s only goal for the quarter with a snap directly in front.
From there, West managed to connect a trio of goals to finish out the game. Josh Appleby who was best afield for the Robins, goaled from an on-the-run kick before Nathan Greenshields booted his second from a set shot in the canteen pocket. It was Robbie Bates who was the game’s final goal scorer with an accurate set shot.
However, the Roos had already done enough to claim a 15-point win.
South’s best players were Locky McKenzie who put on a stellar performance. As well as Marc Purcell, Mitchell Henderson, Brock Elliot, Riley Schorn and Alex Johnston.
For the Robins, it was Josh Appleby, Daniel Milne, Cohen bates, Sage hocking, Codie McEvoy and Ethan Slater who were among the best players.
Full-time score – South 12.7 (79) defeated West 9.10 (64).

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Bye bye corsets, hello Rags

Originally published: Wednesday, 11th August, 2021

Locals who scored cameos will be glued to their screens tonight as the long-awaited TV series, RFDS, filmed in and around Broken Hill, premieres on the Seven Network.
 But nobody will be as satisfied with their screen time as Emma Hamilton, who plays the lead character, Dr Eliza Harrod.
“It's the role of a lifetime and I'm still pinching myself,” she says.
“To have the opportunity to work in the Outback, doing what I love with an amazing cast and crew … I couldn't wish for anything more.”
The 36-year-old actress shot to prominence in 2010 as the feisty Anne Stanhope in the acclaimed Showtime drama series, The Tudors, a role which threatened to typecast Emma and her classic looks into historical drama (prominent roles in The Musketeers, period drama Mr Selfridge and Shakespeare’s Richard III followed).
“I've worn a lot of corsets over the years, that's for sure,” she laughs. “RFDS is the first time I’ve had a character who had a comfortable uniform to wear – it's probably the most comfortable costume I've ever worn.”
In fact, Broken Hill played a huge part in releasing Emma from those constricting Elizabethan costumes, her breakout role as Julie in Last Cab to Darwin, for which she was nominated for an AACTA Award, convincing everyone she was a powerful contemporary actress who didn’t need a wig and make-up to wow an audience.
But it wasn’t until last year, when the shooting of RFDS began, that Emma got her first taste of Broken Hill (her scenes for Last Cab were shot in NT).
“We started shooting in July, and a lot of us, me included, were not expecting it to be so cold,” she recalls. “It was just ignorance of what the desert's like.
“We came up a bit unprepared for how cold it actually is out there in winter. And then we stayed through till October when it was a lot warmer. But what I love about the show is that it actually shows the weather – the characters aren't walking around in t-shirts in the middle of July, they're actually wearing coats and they are actually cold.”
Aside from the weather and the landscape, Emma hopes the series will bring attention to the good work the Royal Flying Doctor Service does.
“I think it's just the enormity of the organization and what they do,” she says. “The land out there is so striking. It's so big. That’s not at the forefront of people's minds, I don't think. If you live on the coast you've got those services at your doorstep, and you forget how big Australia is, how remote some places are.
 “I certainly have a much greater appreciation and understanding after having lived, albeit for a short time, in Broken Hill. Everybody you speak to in the Outback has an RFDS story, everybody. They're part of the fabric of the community out there. It's very humbling for an actor, portraying these people who keep communities safe. I found it quite emotional at times.”
Emma says some of the scenes she shot turned out to be personally confronting.
“There was this storyline, which appears quite early on in the series, where Eliza and Pete are helping a mother give birth on a plane,” she recalls. “I had only recently given birth myself, so it resonated quite a lot with me, that particular scene. I just kept thinking of my son.
“But, for once, I felt confident holding a newborn, the fictional newborn. Steve (Stephen Peacocke) wasn't quite sure how to hold the baby, but for once I actually knew what I was doing.”
Emma hopes RFDS will resonate enough with audiences to demand a second season – not just because she loves the job, or even loves Broken Hill, but because she can’t get enough of Rag’s Chicken.
“I've got so many fond memories of being in Broken Hill,” she says. “I absolutely loved it there. I loved the people, I loved the landscapes, I really loved it. And everyone was so welcoming.
“But the stand out would have to be Rag's. The chicken salt at Rag's is second to none. And you cannot get anything like that in Victoria.”

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Hoon drivers warned

Originally published: Wednesday, 11th August, 2021

Loud engines, screeching tyres and high-speed noises are the evening soundtrack for residents in Broken Hill.
Hoon driving is causing some disturbances in some parts of town and has now been called out by locals.    
Jason Diemer, 47, who lives near Argent Street, labelled the behaviour unnecessary and is confident the perpetrators are deliberately breaking the rules.
“It’s almost like they are testing the police because they come past at quite high speeds very often,” he said.
“They are definitely aware that they are breaking the road rules.”
Mr Diemer explained that he notices hooning about three to four times a week mostly after 10pm in the six months he has lived at the property.
“I started to be aware of it the minute I moved into the apartment,” he said.
“I hear a couple of drivers going past at high speeds, revving their engines and maybe even wheel spinning.
“It’s the high street in Broken Hill so it is a noise issue but also a bit scary if somebody has an accident.”
The local police, also stationed on Argent Street, are on the lookout to stop and punish all motorists who commit traffic offences.
Broken Hill Police Crime manager Kingsley Chapman sends a stern warning to anyone who decides to participate in reckless driving.
“Police are maintaining a visible presence on our roads and any (hoon) drivers can expect to be stopped,” Mr Chapman said.
“It’s an unnecessary risk that they take, and it carries substantial penalties.”
The penalties include heavy expiation notices and vehicle impoundment if guilty of the violation.
 Mr Chapman reminds all road users of the impacts of improper road usage with the entire community’s safety a top priority.
“It only takes a split second to make a wrong decision,” he said. “What may seem like two minutes of fun can turn into a lifetime of heartache.”
Jason Diemer would like to see a deterrent like a speed camera installed and expressed it would be a “big relief” if long term resolutions are introduced.
“It will be more peaceful definitely in the evenings and we won’t have to worry about major accidents if they lose control.”
Mr Chapman urges community members to report any information by contacting police or crime stoppers on 1800 333 00.

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Nevill notches up 100

Originally published: Saturday, 7th August, 2021

A huge lover of the game, her teammates and the club – Shae Nevill plays her 100th game for the South women’s team today.
Nevill said she is incredibly excited to be playing this milestone game, “Very humbling already - some of the kind words that I’ve already received - and I’m just really looking forward to the weekend.”
Nevill played in the inaugural season of the local women’s competition, “Well I’m one of those people that my 100 games have been spread across an extended period of time and that’s thanks to me moving to Adelaide to go to uni. So my first game was back in 2012 when the league first started, so that was some time ago,” she said.
“I remember the first season pretty clearly, and my style of footy has changed dramatically and my style in what I wore on the field has changed dramatically as well, but it was just a different kind of footy back then.
“It was girls that wanted to get out there and give it a crack and have fun, and now we’ve developed skills and developed a sense for the game and clubs in that have developed in themselves and it’s become just a really great, professional outfit, the local competition.”
When speaking about how she’s grown as a player, Nevill said “Well it’s funny you ask that. When you reflect on me as a player, I was one of those that started playing AFL when I was 15 and being someone who’s always been quite social, footy was a little bit the opposite for me, I went out and I just wanted to play.
“I lived for training. I lived for game day. But I really didn’t get around the social aspect of the club while I was finishing out high school. Following on from that, I really found this great connection with the community that the South Footy Club is, so I’d say my biggest growth was in that aspect,” she said.
“My leadership skills converted onto the field and I was able to really implement those aspects in life that I’ve developed elsewhere and just see that grow in a footy aspect. And skills-wise, I’ve improved out of sight out of mind, but I was lucky prior to footy that I was one of those kids that always kicked the footy in the back yard, so I had a taste before we started.”
To Nevill, the South Football Club is more than just a club, it’s a family.
“It’s a place that I love to spend a lot of my time and devote my time to. It’s given me so many opportunities as well as lessons in life and that I’m still getting every time I step foot in the club,” she said.
“So I’ve come to appreciate the aspects of the footy club that it can give to me and a big thing for me moving forward is making sure that the environment and the culture at the club can be experienced by all the people around me and the people that are coming through under me.
Nevill was South’s vice-captain in 2018, co-captain in 2019 with Sarah Gillespie and this year is part of the leadership group alongside Abbey Johns and Bronte Johns.
“Working into the leadership roles over the last few years has been something that I’m incredibly proud of and, particularly this year, we’ve seen new coaches come in and changes dramatically with the team dynamic, with new players and probably a generation of new players starting to roll through.
“So it’s been incredibly humbling for me to receive that role and play my part in establishing a culture that is a winning culture, but, at the same time, is a community that is safe for young girls to come through and for everyone to enjoy the great game that it is.”
Nevill was part of the South Women’s Premierships in 2016 and 2017, which sit at the top of her list of highlights and achievements. “Obviously the two flags, they’re memories that will stay with me for the rest of my life,” she said.
“Being a part of several of the representative teams and obviously winning the championships this year, that’s just unreal. Just different moments throughout each year. Every year has been very different, and the group has changed throughout time, but I’ve come to meet some of my best friends that will stay with me for the rest of my life, through this footy club. And developed, as I said, skills that, not only in a sporting or community sense but in a professional sense, that I’ll continue to develop as I progress through my career and social community life.”
Nevill is excited about how the team is tracking at this point in the season. “I’ll be honest, I’m really looking forward to the back end of the season. We’re putting it in on the track and our game plan is really coming to fruition, testing and trialling new things as we get into the back end of the year. But I think we’re ready to come home hard and give it our best crack come the finals series.”
Nevill extended a few thank you’s to those who have been there for the duration of her career so far. “A big thank you to the footy club, my coaches and the management around that aspect of things and also my family, who have probably been my biggest motivator in my footy career. And also my teammates, as I said, some of my best friends I’ve created through this team, but I’m lucky I’ve got 30-odd best friends now, every training and every game is a privilege to be a part of that team.”

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Tourism decline causing serious doubts

Originally published: Saturday, 7th August, 2021

Several businesses in the region have been left in limbo as a significant decline in local tourism begins to mount added pressure.
Fear of survival is now a growing concern as key performance indicators slump following a 60 per cent drop in visitors to Broken Hill and nearby towns last month.
The dip follows the stay-at-home order and travel restrictions in late June as a response to the soaring COVID-19 cases.
According to the Broken Hill Visitor Information Centre figures, 50 per cent of tourists who visit the region travel from the Greater Sydney area.
Historic Daydream Mine operator Kevin White claims his business is “absolutely dying” since the latest lockdown began.
“Normally this is the time of year that we make the money to see us through the December to March period,” he said.
The Silverton-based site’s turnover is currently down by 45 per cent and is predicted to decrease further.
The mine now only offers one tour each day, catering for smaller than usual groups of patrons as it attempts to generate enough income to cover vital expenses such as insurance.
Data from the Information Centre also outlined that about 200 people each week on average, were making enquiries in July, down from 800 the previous month.
Visitor Service Coordinator Patrick Kreitner said that the recent lockdown had directly impacted tourist numbers and increased uncertainty for business owners.
“We had high expectations that the good start to the year was going to continue, then we got hit out of the blue,” Mr Kreitner said.
“I would imagine a lot of businesses would be thinking about what they are going to do.”
Recent closures include museums, restaurants and other popular activities such as the Broken Hill Heritage Walk Tours.
Heritage Walk tour guide Gigi Barbe is unhappy she is not able to conduct the tours and donate proceeds from this volunteer work to charity.
“I have my fingers crossed future tours can take place because I really enjoy sharing my knowledge,” she said.
“They [charity organisations] understand that this is [a] hard time and are grateful for the funds raised so far this year.”
Pro Hart Gallery managing director John Hart is staying optimistic despite feeling the financial and logistical challenges as a result of travel restrictions.
“We know it will get busy, so I am not worried, but we don’t want it to go on for too long,” he said.
“At some point, we’ll get more people vaccinated and borders will re-open…there is light at the end of the tunnel.”
The art gallery lost 80 per cent of its daily visitors since the initial decrease in the final week of June.
Many other businesses in the Far West have had to make unwelcomed changes as they wait for a higher volume of people to resume visiting.
Menindee Regional Tourist Association president Rob Gregory admitted recovery will be difficult but is confident the residence and town spirit will play a vital role in the recovery process.
“It’s not the first time we have been in this situation,” he said. “It’s going to be a hard track, but we will try and make it back.”
Mr Gregory who also runs the River Lady Tour boat cruise along Menindee Lakes and the Darling River is temporarily not able to operate. He urges all nearby businesses to make wise spending choices.
“We are struggling and have to start digging into our savings,” he said. “Be careful with your finances until things turn around.”
Keeping people employed is now a priority for businesses that are having to modify shift hours during the lengthy period of low traffic.
The Daydream Mine has seven part-time staff on its roster while Pro Hart recruited three new employees to the team to meet the high demand earlier this year.
If the recovery does not go as planned when restrictions ease, some fear they may have to either cut staff or shut down completely.
“We always try and give them the hours but it’s getting to the stage we are not even covering costs anymore,” Mr White said.
“If it comes to a stage it doesn’t pick up after a quite period of time, it may be a possibility that we have to shut the door and close up.”
Current restrictions are scheduled to cease by the end of the month if case numbers reduce.

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AFL racism rocks the Hill

Originally published: Saturday, 7th August, 2021

Broken Hill has scored two ‘own goals’ in a nightmare week of racism in the AFL.
In what has been well reported nationally, locally born and raised Adelaide Crows star and former captain, Taylor ‘Tex’ Walker, has been fined $20,000 and suspended for six games following a racist slur he delivered while attending a SANFL match on July 17.
Closer to home, a senior member of the South Broken Hill Football Club has been accused of a vile racial slur that allegedly occurred during last weekend’s match between South Football Club and North Football Club.
The local AFL has closed ranks, neither club wishing to comment to the Barrier Truth on what is apparently being investigated “confidentially” by the league.
But the AFL’s protocols don’t affect Derek Hardman, Chief Executive Officer of the Barkandji Native Title Group Aboriginal Corporation, who points out that racial vilification is not just an AFL matter, but an offence punishable under the Federal and State Anti-Discrimination Laws.
“I was contacted by some community people in regard to the incident that took place,” he told the Barrier Truth. “So I’ve basically offered to take the matter up with the Human Rights Commission. We’ll see where that goes, I guess.”
Mr Hardman says the vilification was aimed at a North player who is in a relationship with an Indigenous woman, an offence that has community ramifications and goes way beyond the jurisdiction of the AFL.
“I don’t know what their stand is,” says Mr Hardman. “I’m only making a stand as a member of an organisation in the community, and the CEO of that organisation. We’ve got people who participate in the AFL, across four clubs, and if these things are happening then we’ve got to stamp them out.”
In response to a request from Barrier Truth, AFL Broken Hill released the following statement:
“AFL Broken Hill is investigating an allegation of racial vilification from a match held in Broken Hill on Saturday 31 July. The AFL and its affiliated leagues do not stand for any type of vilification and are assisting AFL Broken Hill in investigating this alleged incident. The investigation has commenced, the committee convened earlier this week for their initial meeting and will reconvene next week. The committee will work through all aspects of the allegation with the relevant parties.”
In the meantime, the national AFL has acted swiftly in the case of Taylor Walker, finding he racially vilified North Adelaide and former St Kilda player, Robbie Young.
“We are extremely disappointed at the language used by Adelaide Crows player Taylor Walker regarding current North Adelaide player and former St Kilda player, Robbie Young, at a SANFL match,” said AFL Players Association chief executive, Paul Marsh, in a statement released yesterday.
“Tex’s language was damaging and divisive, and there is no excuse for it. We are very clear on this – racism is abhorrent and there is no room for it in our game.”
Walker, the all-time leading goalkicker for the Adelaide Crows, admitted in a statement yesterday that, this time, he was out of bounds.
“There is no excuse or justification for the words I said. They are unacceptable and I take full accountability for that. I am deeply ashamed,” he said.
“I did not intend to cause harm, but I know and understand that I have caused deep hurt to the official who reported the matter and to Robbie Young, to both of their families and to the wider Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community.
“I apologise to all of them and to the Adelaide and North Adelaide football clubs.”   

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Magpies far too strong

Originally published: Wednesday, 4th August, 2021

The top of the Women’s Football table Magpies had no problems dispatching West in their Saturday fixture at Jubilee Oval.
The ladder leader was against their polar opposites; Central with 13 wins and one loss, West with 13 losses and one win.
It was business as usual for the premiership favourite, scoring four goals in the opening quarter, before adding three in the second to seal the game before the major break.
Hannah Muscat was an unstoppable force for the Magpies, a six-goal haul to the midfielder making her the best of ground.
With the grand day out in front of goals, Muscat has overtaken South’s Bronte Johns in the season’s Leading Goalkicker stat.
Muscat’s on 26, Johns' on 25 after snagging two in the Roos’ win over North.
The game was brought to a standstill in the second quarter when West’s Penny Billings and Central’s Shelby Raven collided in front of the “North” bleachers.
Billings managed to get back up shortly, Raven was slow to reach her feet and was taken from the ground looking groggy.
After the game, Central coach Sheldon Hall said all was fine with star on-baller, with her managing to return to the field.
“Thankfully no concussion, it’s just what happens when you run into the tallest player in the team, you’re bound to come off second best,” Hall said.
“She got a bumped nose, copped one in the nose, she had the third quarter off.”
“Came back on and played in the goal square for the last quarter.”
“St John’s: thank you for looking after us.”
For Central, Phoebe Knell was excellent along half-back and Katie Simmons battled hard against Billings in the ruck.
Billings was West’s BOG, but Brydie Mannion and Jordan Madigan deserve praise on what was a tough day for the Robins.
By full-time, Central ahead by 87 points, West with just the one solitary point to their name.
Full-time score – Central 13.10 (88) defeated West 0.1 (1)

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Green carpet rolled out for Uncle Norm

Originally published: Wednesday, 4th August, 2021

The Zinc Bowling Club has honoured Norman Ellice by naming a bowling green after ‘Uncle Norm, A True Old School Gentleman’.
Norm’s journey to this distinction began when he was a TAFE teacher of Fitting and Machining in Newcastle and was transferred to Broken Hill on Anzac Day, 1965, for his required four years of country service.
He said that Broken Hill became the number one city for him and his wife, Betty.
“The best thing that happened to me was meeting my wife and having my four children but the second best thing was when TAFE transferred me to Broken Hill,” Norm said.
“When my four years’ country service was up, Betty and I said ‘No, we don’t want to go back. We’re staying here'.”
Norm said that what made Broken Hill so special was the people.
“It was a different attitude to what I was used to in the city, with a lot of the teachers down there.”
Anybody who had Mr Ellice as a Fitting and Machining teacher at the Broken Hill TAFE Annexe would remember the respect he commanded. He said that he had a way of ensuring students paid proper attention.
“When I went into the first class I had to teach in Broken Hill, I remember writing my name up on the board in chalk and saying ‘While we’re here at tech, it’s Mr Ellice. Down the street at the football or the squash, it’s Norm’.”
Norm joined the Broken Hill Bowling Club (BHBC) in 1972 and serviced its huge air cooler, bowling green and machinery for the greens and he said that all of the club’s pieces of machinery needed maintenance.
“Some of the poles that were holding the wires and things up needed bracing. Lawnmowers need sharpening and adjusting. There was machinery that dug holes in the lawn and we had others that swept it.”
Later, there were synthetic greens to be watered and rolled.
“My great mate Les Garner and I did a lot of work on the one grass green and two synthetic ones,” said Norm.
He also ran social bowls and pennants as a selector and was made a life member in 1997.
When BHBC closed, Norm suggested that members distribute themselves to the three other clubs and he chose what was then called the Pasminco Zinc Bowling Club.
“I carried on doing here what I’d been doing all that time at the BHBC and I was made a life member out here in 2007.”
He also learnt to use the ride-on roller for the bowling greens and received a thank you letter from the club for donating his time and equipment to fix machinery.
However, Norm said that club members have been progressively taking up more of his duties.
“Age has caught up with me and the younger volunteers have taken over.”
Norm said that his greenkeeping successor, Trevor Barry, was well known to him.
“When Trevor got involved, I knew him from old because I taught him at TAFE.
“When he was at tech, I had no trouble with him at all.”
This was not due to Trevor’s innate obedience but because Mr Ellice slowly told him, “If you don’t behave, I’ll tell your Dad.” Trevor’s father was the Registrar of TAFE and that was enough to make him work hard at the Annexe.
Trevor must have felt he was back at the Annexe during a recent job at the bowling club, which required extensive welding.
“Uncle Norm turned up so we made him ‘Executive Officer in charge of Quality Control’ and he checked my welds as I did them,” said Trevor.
Trevor also said that he had progressed to calling his former teacher Uncle Norm, “because I love him. He’s brilliant.”
The President of the Zinc Bowling Club, Peter Gageler, said that everyone agrees.
“He’s a champion.  We all treat him as Uncle Norm.”
Just as Norm taught his students valuable life lessons, Peter said that Uncle Norm taught him to keep his feet on the ground.
“He kept me under control. He brought me back to earth.”
Peter and Uncle Norm became a winning bowls team and Peter went on to coach the Under 25s Australian Representative Side, which went to New Zealand. He was also Queensland State coach and coach of the Malaysian National Women’s side.
Peter said that he could not have achieved all this without Uncle Norm.
“Winning the championship wouldn’t have happened without him because he helped me all the way through from when I first started.
“I was sitting around playing social bowls because there were too many people playing pennants but Normy wouldn’t play pennants, he’d look after me at social bowls.”
Norm said that their situation is now reversed.
“From when I looked after him, it’s now gone full circle. He’s looking after me.”

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The bandicoots are back, and smarter than before

Originally published: Wednesday, 4th August, 2021

After more than 100 years of local extinction, the western barred bandicoot has returned to Sturt National Park.
The nationally threatened species - known by local Aboriginal people as "talpero" - once gambolled freely in the region now known as Sturt National Park, but the small, native marsupials became extinct in the region after ecosystem changes caused by rabbits and predation by feral cats and foxes.
Now, a founding population of talpero has been reintroduced to the area by the team at Wild Deserts, a collaboration led by ecologists from the University of New South Wales.
Their reintroduction is another major milestone in the Wild Deserts conservation project, which last year reintroduced bilbies and mulgaras into the national park.
"The season has been tremendous out here with the rains we had last year and then again in March," says UNSW's Dr Rebecca West, an ecologist based at Wild Deserts.
"These rains have helped create a highly productive system that is excellent for the reintroduction of this species."
The Wild Deserts team eradicated every last rabbit, cat and fox from two 2000 hectare feral-proof fenced enclosures within Sturt National Park, creating one of the largest feral-animal-free areas in Australia.
These enclosures work as 'training zones', where reintroduced vulnerable species can learn to live in the wild without dangers from predators like cats and foxes. When their populations start thriving, the animals will be released into a second training area with predators, where they will learn to become predator-smart.
The ultimate project aim is to release a "smarter" generation of bandicoots and other locally extinct mammals back into the wild.
"The reintroduction of this important species to the Corner Country in Sturt National Park is another huge step in our battle to halt and reverse the tide of mammal extinctions," says NSW Environment Minister, Matt Kean.
"Our aim is to re-establish ecosystems as they were before feral cats, foxes and rabbits wreaked havoc on Australian native wildlife."
Talpero are the smallest members of the bandicoot family, roughly the size of a guinea pig. They can be distinguished from other bandicoots by their fawn-coloured coat with pale stripes across their rump. The nocturnal marsupials dig for their food in sandy environments, making foraging pits to find seeds, tubers, insects and fungi.
The Wild Deserts team have introduced 10 talpero as a founding population, but they hope to add more members soon.
"If they keep doing as well as they are, then I think we will be able to add some more characters to the mix," says Dr West. "Hopefully that will re-establish bandicoots back into Sturt National Park into the future."
The Wild Deserts scientists will check in on the animals daily using radio tracking devices to ensure they're adapting well to their new environment.
"We have deliberately designed the Wild Deserts project to allow us opportunities for scientific monitoring to assess our management and the success of the species," says UNSW's Dr Reece Pedler, the Wild Deserts project coordinator.
"We hope to establish talpero in other parts of the Wild Deserts site - and ultimately into neighbouring areas of Sturt National Park or beyond. We have already recorded recruitment of young that were translocated in pouch and other young that were born at Wild Deserts."
Wild Deserts is part of a major NSW Government initiative to protect threatened native mammals via the Reintroduction of Locally Extinct Mammals project and the Saving our Species initiative. Next, the team plan to reintroduce other threatened mammals into the Wild Deserts enclosures, including western quolls, stick-nest rats and golden bandicoots.

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