Co-operation, please

David Lambert’s letter (Bay Post/Moruya Examiner 24/4/13) is worthy of the support of all residents, particularly those who have been denied bowling facilities.
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Michael Voce and I, as bowlers, made representations to the Mayor last December, before the Hanging Rock concept plans were exhibited.

We did not see the Batemans Bay Bowling Club site as being used in any other way than as it had been.

Mr Lambert has succinctly brought both concepts together.

I have made a submission to council on the Hanging Rock concept plans in terms similar to Mr Lambert’s idea.

Council can honour the altruism of the late Dr Mackay as well as achieve a large part of its aims in the Hanging Rock plan by acquiring the bowling club site and utilising it as he suggests.

The Hanging Rock plans are little more than a pipe-dream – commendable but impractical, unaffordable and not meeting the needs of anyone over 60, the largest and fastest growing group of citizens in the shire.

Of course, nothing will be achieved unless the Club Catalina board shows willingness and council joins it in meaningful negotiations.

I urge both bodies to move that way.

Neville Armstrong

Batemans Bay

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CBD phone lines back in service

Phone lines in and around Mudgee’s CBD were fully restored on Monday afternoon after almost a week without proper service.
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After a main line cable was cut by third party contractors in Church Street on Tuesday, April 23, Telstra technicians worked throughout the Anzac Day weekend to fix the problem.

Telstra spokeswoman Ingrid Just said yesterday the service was fully restored at 4.30pm on Monday.

The company had four technicians on site shortly after the outage was identified.

Ms Just said she apologised to customers for the inconvenience and frustration caused.

Local businesses including the Mudgee Medical Centre were without phone service for long periods last week.

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Politicians take on childcare shortage

Shadow Minister for Childcare and Early Childhood Learning Sussan Ley joined Member for Parkes Mark Coulton in a tour of his electorate this week to see the issues relating to childcare in the central west.
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The two Coalition politicians attended breakfast on Tuesday with the Chamber of Commerce before meeting with representatives of Mid-Western Regional Council, and visiting Imaginations Early Learning Centre.

Mr Coulton said that when parliament wasn’t sitting, the shadow ministers were able to travel to visit voters in the state’s regional electorates.

“It’s been fascinating,” Ms Ley said. “Every region of Australia is different when it comes to child care needs.”

She said the Coalition was interested in understanding “things we might need to pick up and run with if we gain government in September.”

Ms Ley said Narrabri, Mudgee and Dubbo in the Parkes electorate were some of the few areas with a shortage of child care places, with about 300 more places needed to meet demand.

Council’s economic development officer, Julie Robertson, said childcare was an important issue for the region, and the ability to provide early childcare facilities was a key factor in meeting the needs of residents and attracting newcomers to the region.

If the region could not provide childcare, she said people who found work in the region might keep their families based in a centre where childcare was available, and simply fly into the Mid-Western Region to work.

She said the proposed Mudgee Regional Early Childhood Hub would expand the region’s preschool facilities and provide a dedicated early intervention program, which would support children’s development and focus on individuals’ areas of need.

Ms Robertson said council and the Coalition visitors agreed that childcare needed a three-part local solution, involving investment in community facilities, encouraging private investment and encouraging more people to use and operate home-based Family Day Cares.

She said it had been good to have the time, understanding and sympathy of the person who may some day be the Minister for Childcare and Early Childhood Learning.

Gary Blogg, owner of Imaginations Early Learning Centre, said he was concerned by the possibility that the childcare rebate could be cut from 50 per cent to 30 per cent, making it harder for parents to afford care, while lower carer to child ratios and requirements to have more trained teachers raised providers’ costs.

“It’s a challenge – it’s a challenge for you guys if you get elected,” he told the visitors.

“If you want quality care, somebody’s going to pay for it.”

Nonetheless, he said pre-school education gave children a great start in life, reduced crime and improved their educational outcomes, and needed to be accessible to everyone.

“Where we can assist in reducing costs without detracting from the quality of care, those are the steps we should take,” Ms Ley said.

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The right plants for pool surrounds

SO you’re going to take the plunge – pun intended – and install a swimming pool.
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Don’t forget to make plans for the plants, too.

It takes a special breed of plant to make it as a poolside companion.

For starters, avoid plants that will hurt the children, or plants that the children will unwittingly hurt.

Native grasses such as lomandra and daniella work nicely near a pool, and can handle the rough stuff including misdirected beach balls.

Avoid plants with thorns or anything sharp.

The Pool and Spa Review Magazine website, poolandspareview南京夜网.au, says lion’s tail is a very popular plant, but is not such a good choice for the pool area because it has sharp leaf ends.

And speaking of harm, beware of bee-attracting shrubs, such as plants in the hebes family.

The website also advises against plants that are prone to pests and disease.

“You don’t want to have to spray pesticides and herbicides around pool water where contact with the skin or ingestion can occur,” the website said.

Another major consideration around the pool is maintenance.

The pool water will take up enough of your maintenance time. You don’t want to add to that time by fishing out discarded leaves, flowers, gumnuts or other debris.

For this reason, pine trees are on the don’t-even-think-about-it list for many experienced pool owners.

Ditto for some hibiscus plants (whose fallen flowers turn mushy very quickly) and some eucalypts and box trees. Plants with berries or fruits pose a similar problem, so be wary of lilly pilly varieties.

When it comes to saltwater pools, the Gardening Australia magazine website, at abc南京夜网.au, says to look for plants which can tolerate salty coastal climes.

“The general rule of thumb is to look for plants that have silvery, furry or waxy leaves,” the website said.

“Some good examples are agave attenuate, bromeliads, echiums, cycads and a mixture of palms which provide good shade. Other plants that work well in a saltwater situation are westringia, coastal banksia, Chinese hibiscus, olive and rosemary.”

And for around chlorinated pools, Gardening Australia says: “As a general rule, plants with tough, leathery leaves can better withstand chemical damage from things like chlorine. Think mondo grass, cordyline or star jasmine.”

Avoid plants that can potentially cause structural damage to pools. These include bamboos, taller melaleucas, the umbrella tree or the rubber tree.

Palms are a popular choice for poolside planting as they have a small root system, will tolerate full sun or semi-shade, and occasionally drop large leaves which are easy to collect and remove.

SPLASH OUT: Talk to your local garden centre for expert advice on the plants that will work best around your pool.

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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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