Women gather in St Arnaud

THE town of St Arnaud put on a show for the 2013 Women on Farms Gathering on the weekend.
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About 250 women from Victoria and southern New South Wales descended on the town for three days of workshops, tours, talks from special guests and local entertainment.

“The whole town got involved,” organising committee treasurer Margaret Batters said. “It was really great.

“There’s been a buzz around the town.”

Locals and visitors joined in the workshops, which ranged from embroidery and mosaics to succession farming.

Tours were held around the town, historical landmarks, public and private gardens and nearby farms.

A makers’ market which showcased local produce and craft was held on the Saturday morning.

“We showcased the town and district,” Mrs Batters said.

“We hope the women who came left with a wonderful insight into St Arnaud and district.

“Even the locals saw things they hadn’t been exposed to.

“Hopefully out of it, people will return with their families.”

Mrs Batters said the committee of 15 St Arnaud women spent two years organising the event.

She explained the name Women on Farms and its motto, ‘Iron women, hearts of gold’, had special significance for the group.

“It’s not necessarily just for women on farms,” Mrs Batters said.

“It’s for country women; women who live in rural towns.

“And our motto has been with us since the start. St Arnaud is surrounded by Ironbark forests. We were inspired by that.

“It was a great committee. We are so happy with the result and feedback we have received.”

Mrs Batters said the weekend also acted as a boost to the local economy.

“We used local businesses wherever possible with this, and had about 13 local groups help organise the catering.

“It will generate more money in the community.”

The 25th Women on Farms Gathering will be in Corryong next year.

The committee responsible for bringing the gathering to town. Pictures: Supplied

About 250 women attended the Women on Farms Gathering.

St Arnaud produce was put on show.

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MAYOR’S MESSAGE: Speak out on our future

AMALGAMATION is the topic of the week with release of the NSW government’s Future Directions consultation paper.
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I was surprised by the recommendation put forward by the government’s independent review panel to amalgamate Lake Macquarie and Newcastle councils, and to move Morisset southwards into a Central Coast Council, created by the amalgamation of Wyong and Gosford councils.

I want what is best for local government in NSW, but most importantly, what is best for the people of Lake Macquarie.

We need to build stronger and more sustainable councils through appropriate process and structural changes.

Lake Macquarie City Council (LMCC) is performing strongly and we are well placed to provide good quality daily services that residents expect.

We believe we meet the requirements for a sustainable and efficient council.

For several years, LMCC has been improving its efficiency and working towards financial sustainability, and our efforts and achievements have been recognised by IPART and NSW Treasury Corporation.

The deadline for public comment on the Future Directions for NSW Local Government report is June 14. Visit localgovernmentreview.nsw.gov.au

Another important conversation under way is the NSW government’s consultation process on the future of the Lower Hunter.

The government is developing a new plan for the way the Lower Hunter will grow over the next 20 years, and has released a discussion paper, Your Future Lower Hunter.

Your feedback will be used to help inform the draft plan, so I encourage you to have your say about what you believe our community needs.

Visit planning.nsw.gov.au/lowerhunter

LAKE FUTURE: Have your say by the June 14 deadline. Picture: Dean Osland

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Nick Brice’s legacy lives on 

Follow @BatemansBayPostTuross Head’s Nick and Danielle Brice have presented the second memorial award to an outstanding young firefighter in memory of their late son, Nicholas.
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The pair presented the Nick Brice Memorial Trophy for Training to Stuart McMonnies, of the Berowra Waters Rural Fire Service brigade.

“Young Nick” as his parents like to call him, was a member of that brigade but was tragically killed in an abseiling accident in August 2011.

“The award is given for going the extra yard in training,” Mrs Brice said.

“Young Nick was an extremely dedicated member who devoted a lot of time to training.

“Not only was he a member of the Berowra Waters RFS, he was also an active member of the Belrose and North Rocks Rural Fire Services, Dundas Army Reserves, Parra-matta State Emergen-cy Service, South Narrabeen Surf Life Saving Club and worked full-time with Energy Australia.”

Mrs Brice said Mr McMonnies, a cadet trainer, was a worthy recipient.

“Stuart was involved in the steering committee to begin with and then wrote and designed the training program in conjunction with Dave Kissick, the learning and development officer,” she said.

“Each week Stuart trained five new cadets in all aspects of being a bush firefighter, in particular fighting fires from boats.

“Berowra Waters RFS hopes to hold a skills competition against other brigades with cadets and also in the cadet section of the next state championships.

“Stuart recently married, lives in Berowra and works in a local family business in bushfire hazard reduction and building fire certification.

“Stuart told Nick and I he was inspired by Nicholas’s service to the community.

“We are very proud that young Nick’s legacy continues to live on.”

WORK GOES ON: Young firefighter Stuart McMonnies was the proud recipient of a memorial trophy, presented by Nick and Danielle Brice in honour of their late son Nicholas.

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Up, up and away as tourism grows

Tourism has proved itself as one of the fastest growing industries in the Mudgee region after the Australian Bureau of Statistics released its latest figures.
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According to the Bureau, Australia’s tourism industry grew faster than the country’s total economy last financial year, contributing more than $112 million dollars per day.

This outpaced industries such as agriculture, forestry and fishing, construction, transport, postal and warehousing the Bureau said.

Mudgee Region Tourism Inc. CEO Holly Manning said the Bureau’s figures back National Visitors Survey results that showed more than two million visitors spent $322 million on day trips in the Central West during 2012. She said the local visitor economy was one of the most valuable economic drivers in the Mudgee region.

“The visitor economy is not only one of the fastest growing industries in Mudgee, it also retains money within our towns,” Ms Manning said.

“Mining and housing may be seeing a dramatic increase in economic growth but there’s a lot of leakage when it comes to local spending. With tourism the money is retained locally both directly and indirectly. An example of indirect economic benefit is the cleaning businesses that clean local guesthouses and motels. There are huge employment opportunities within the tourism sector.”

She said Mudgee Region Tourism Inc was about to conduct its own survey targeting local businesses “to get some real figures” on how many people local tourism employs, along with the annual turnover of the visitor economy.

The Bureau’s assistant director of tourism statistics, Sean Thompson, said tourism Gross Domestic Product grew 5.3 per cent during 2011-12, compared to 4.9 per cent for the economy as a whole. “Overall, domestic and international tourism contributed over $112 million a day to the economy,” Mr Thompson said.

“Domestic tourism was particularly solid, up 8.3 per cent and showing the strongest growth we’ve seen since the late nineties. The increase was mostly due to people making more trips; domestic visitor numbers overall were up by 6.6 per cent, driven by a significant increase in day trips – up eight per cent – while overnight trips grew a smaller but still solid 3.4 per cent.

“Travel by householders was the reason behind two-thirds of the growth in domestic tourism, with the remainder being business related; however business trips grew at nearly three times the rate of household travel.

“Despite the high Australian dollar, international tourism also continued to grow; we continued the trend of record numbers of overseas arrivals with nearly six million international visitors – or over 16,000 people per day – making short term visits here during 2011-12. The increase was led by gains from China, New Zealand, Indonesia and Taiwan, and the number of Chinese visitors grew at double digit rates for the third year running.”

Overall, tourism employed 531,900 people throughout Australia in the last financial year, and contributed 8.1 per cent of Australia’s total export earnings.

The Bureau’s results also showed more than half (53.8 per cent) the people employed in tourism were females, and that cafés, restaurants and retail trade accounted for almost half (47.5 per cent) their employment.

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Abby Earl stars in A Place To Call Home

Follow @SalFoy Former Broulee student Abby Earl is receiving rave reviews for her turn as Anna Bligh in the new Australian drama A Place To Call Home.
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But, if not for an astute ballet teacher, Abby might just as easily have become a dancer.

“I remember my teacher saying to me, ‘Aaagh Abby! Your face moves more than your feet. You should become an actor’.”

Abby was only six at the time but her teacher’s words rang true and, by the age of eight, she was a regular on set with the Bay Theatre Players.

“That was a weird time for me,” Abby said, of her formative years.

“I really struggled for a long time. There was a lot of bullying. I was a very awkward teenager. I had acne and I was painfully thin.”

It’s hard to match the smiling face of Abby’s promo pictures with the small voice who, heartbreakingly explains, “I had no friends, and at lunchtime I would hide in the ballet studio”.

But great teachers can do great things, which is where Abby’s Carroll College teacher Paul Cullen came in.

“I already had this little fire burning inside of me, and I think he recognised it,” she said.

“He would give me plays to read, and encouraged me to act out scenes.”

Abby says drama and the arts became her “oxygen”.

“He opened up this whole new world to me, and I just ran with it,” she said. “Great teachers can change your life.”

And so can great role models, such as cast mate and “second mum” Noni Hazlehurst.

When asked to describe their relationship Abby, who snuck away from rehearsals for Bell Shakespeare’s production of Phedre to speak with the Bay Post/Moruya Examiner, said: “I will probably cry”.

“The first time we met she looked me up and down and said, ‘Ugh, so you’re my granddaughter’, and then she just burst out laughing and that night took me out for dinner.”

The pair became so close that Noni, one of Australia’s best-known actresses, made her a special promise.

“She said to me, ‘I will help you through this industry. You can call me at any time, day or night and I will be there for you’.”

And, when an exhausted Abby phoned her at 2am, close to tears, Noni was true to her word.

“It wasn’t an empty promise,” Abby said. “She is a very special woman.”

It’s the stuff of fairytales; a pretty young girl who, having overcome adversity moves to the big smoke and becomes an overnight success.

But nothing comes without hard work.

“My Mum and Dad were so proud of me,” Abby said, of Sunday night’s premiere.

“Dad said that when my name came up in the credits he thought his heart was going to explode.”

Prime 7 drama A Place To Call Home continues on Sunday night at 8.30pm.

“Anna’s character really comes out in the next episode, so I’m very excited for my parents to watch it,” Abby said.

NEW FAMILY: A Place To Call Home stars Brett Climo, Noni Hazlehurst, David Berry, Arianwen Parkes-Lockwood and Abby Earl.

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Electric car charger at Morisset

LAKE Macquarie City Council is likely to be the only customer using the taxpayer-funded new $80,000 fuel station being trialled at Morisset’s Auston Oval.
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Locals raised both queries and eyebrows over the installation which appeared unannounced, without any signage, next to the oval’s changing rooms in December last year.

Lakes Mail inquiries revealed the installation to be one of six French-made, 120-amp express-charging facilities installed between Newcastle and Sydney to fuel electric cars at a fast rate.

That rate is 30 minutes for 80 per cent full, giving a typical range of about 70 kilometres.

There are also 46 standard rate (15-amp) facilities scattered throughout the Ausgrid network for electric car users. They are, however, 12 times slower, needing eight hours to charge the car’s batteries – a task normally done at home or work.

An Ausgrid spokesman explained the project is all part of the federal government’s $100 million Smart Grid, Smart City electric vehicle trial.

And the council has a $48,000 all-electric Mitsubishi iMiev on loan from Ausgrid.

It’s one of 20 identical cars leased for use in the electricity provider’s trial which includes fleet and personal users.

“Lake Macquarie City Council’s trial electric car has clocked up more than 7000 kilometres in more than 430 trips,” the Ausgrid spokesperson said.

“The longest trip was 79 kilometres and in one year it charged up 2661kWh of power – about the same as a hot water system. Electric cars perform well on short journeys so they are well suited to the types of local trips made by council.

“The public can use the charging station providing they have an electric car and the appropriate charge card.”

A council spokesperson said LMCC had been operating the vehicle as part of the trial since 2010 and agreed it is unlikely to use the Morisset fuelling point.

“Council’s electric vehicle is mostly charged at the charge point at council’s customer service centre,” they said.

Council’s community development officer Tony Ellitt is a regular user of the electric car and praised its merits.

“It’s great for the type of local driving I have to do from day to day as part of my job,” Mr Ellitt said.

“It drives really well and most people can’t tell the difference. I would recommend it to anyone.”

PLUGGED IN: Lake Macquarie City Council’s senior sustainable living officer, James Giblin, about to charge the council’s electric car at the Ausgrid charging bay at Morisset on Monday. Picture: David Stewart

Trial setting a pace for smart cars

THE Australian government’s $100 million Smart Grid, Smart City trial provides a testing ground for new energy supply technologies, gathering information about the benefits and costs of different smart grid technologies across the country.

It aims to create more efficient, intelligent electricity supply and prepare for more cars plugging into the grid in the future.

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Writing workshops start at Toronto

DIRECTOR of Newcastle Writer Group and Hunter Writers Centre, Karen Crofts, will host a series of five writing workshops at Toronto Library, starting this Saturday.
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They will continue fortnightly until June 29.

The workshops will include practical writing exercises backed by advice on how to improve writing skills.

Library section manager, Joanne Smith, said the course is suitable for writers of all levels.

“Participants will learn the value of the first draft as well as how to start and maintain momentum while writing,” Ms Smith said.

“This valuable course is well suited to budding authors, local writers, students, poets and those wanting to record their life or travel stories.”

Bookings are essential on 4959 2077.

WRITE ON: The workshops begin at Toronto this Saturday.

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Son takes up late father’s battle with authorities

A LOCAL man has taken up his late father’s fight with authorities.
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When William Radimey, 85, passed away last December, it did not end the row with Lake Macquarie City Council and Hunter Water.

Kerry Radimey, 67, has vowed to pursue both organisations with a vigour that his frail father could not muster.

Mr Radimey said that though the council continued to allow “a dangerous jungle” to exist on Fassifern Street, Blackalls Park, it had sent his father a notice ordering that he prune tree branches which hung over the fence line on the property’s Faucett Street boundary.

“It cost my father a couple of hundred bucks to pay someone to do that work, and yet look at this,” Mr Radimey said, as he gestured towards trees growing on the street which hang over the fence into his father’s property.

“This is hypocrisy to the max,” he said.

Fassifern Street is designated a no-through-road, as the end of the street near Mr Radimey’s home is dense with foliage.

“This is like the Kokoda Track,” Mr Radimey said.

“Why isn’t the council maintaining this?”

He said the area was a fire hazard, and the steep slope through long grass made it dangerous for people walking through to Faucett Street.

Mr Radimey is also outraged the council charged his father $1800 for kerb and guttering along the Faucett Street boundary.

“But there is no access point to my father’s property from Faucett Street – it beggars belief,” he said.

Meanwhile Mr Radimey is challenging Hunter Water to do more to address an odour problem emanating from a sewerage-pump unit near the property.

The council’s response

A SPOKESPERSON for Lake Macquarie City Council said it requested that trees from Mr Radimey’s propertybe pruned because they were causing an obstruction for pedestrians.

Trees on public land, such as the road reserve in Fassifern Street, are pruned or removed only if a council arborist considers them a high level of risk.

“Council will prune its trees near Mr Radimey’s property if a resident reports concern about them and an arborist assesses them as presenting high risks,” the spokesperson said.

On the issue of charges, the council said it had charged Mr Radimey in accordance with the terms of its kerb and guttering, and footpath paving policy, and the the Roads Act of 1993.

That policy says, in part: “The contributions charged for kerb and guttering and footpath paving adjacent to corner lots will be a maximum of half of the total road frontages.”

The fact that there is no vehicular access to the property from Faucett Street has no bearing on the charge.

HYPOCRISY ALLEGED: Kerry Radimey says the Fassifern Street reserve on the other side of his late father’s fence is akin to the Kokoda Track. Picture: David Stewart

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Move to have Morisset join Wyong Shire

MORISSET would become part of Wyong Shire under a local government boundary shift being considered by the Local Government Review Panel.
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And the proposed merger of Wyong and Gosford councils into one Central Coast Regional Council is also again on the agenda.

The ideas have been pitched in the panel’s Future Directions discussion paper.

Wyong mayor Doug Eaton has been a longtime advocate of a Central Coast Regional Council.

“The main thing is that councils should reflect the real community boundaries and be structured in a way that makes them self sufficient, sustainable and accountable to their community,” Cr Eaton said.

“I believe a regional council will have a significantly greater strategic capacity that means, for instance, it can deliver on major regional projects without as much reliance on other levels of government.”

Cr Eaton also saw some merit in the proposed boundary change with Lake Macquarie City Council.

“To some extent, the suggestion to expand our boundary north appears sensible and I have long advocated Wyee should be in Wyong Shire as it relates to the Central Coast more than Newcastle or Lake Macquarie,” he said.

SHIFT: A proposed boundary shift would see Morisset become part of Wyong Shire. Picture: David Stewart

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Dobell Arts Festival on this weekend

THE 37th annual Dobell Arts and Crafts Festival will be unveiled tomorrow night at Rathmines, with a diverse array of artworks and fun activities planned for the weekend.
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Wangi Wangi Lions Club hosts the event at Rathmines Community Hall, in Stilling Street.

Keith Stewart, of Wangi Wangi Lions, said tomorrow night’s function would start at 7.30.

It is known as Early Birds’ Night, and is for patrons who want to be among the first to view this year’s exhibits, and to possibly pick up a bargain because all works on show are for sale.

Entry costs $5 for adults, and children are admitted for free.

‘‘This is a great opportunity to see and maybe buy works by some of our great local artists,’’ Mr Stewart said.

‘‘With Mother’s Day just around the corner, why not take the chance to find a unique present for her?’’

The festival is held in honour of the late Australian artist Sir William Dobell, a former Wangi Wangi resident.

The event continues from 9am to 4pm on Saturday and Sunday. There will be a line-dancing display on Saturday, and children’s activities, including free face painting and kite making, on Sunday.

For further information, visit the Wangi Lions Club website.

WIN IT: Local artist Bruce Naylor’s Wangi Point is the main raffle prize at this weekend’s Dobell Arts and Crafts Festival. Picture: David Stewart

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