Thursday, December 7, 2023

A platform for independent news and stories written by,
for and about people living outside Australia’s capital cities

Read the latest digital version of
local independent newspapers and magazines

Topics to watch


Allora lights up for Christmas

Congratulations to The Allora Community Circle for organising a wonderful Bush Christmas again this year. With the support of local sponsors and business houses as well as the community involvement Allora turned on a memorable event including the official lighting of the Community Christmas Tree ... It was an amazing experience as the kids flocked to see and touch a real live reindeer.

Welcome to Birchip Neighbourhood House

Make Christmas memorable and creative by spending time crafting, dining out, decorating, giving and having fun with your friends and neighbours this December at the Birchip Neighbourhood House.

Regional health - NSW

GBH redevelopment commitments confirmed amidst community concerns

A spokesperson for NSW Health Infrastructure has revealed planning for the Grafton Base Hospital (GBH) redevelopment is continuing, and confirmed there has been no change to the NSW Government’s $263.8 million investment commitment to improve health outcomes for residents of Grafton and surrounding communities ... following the recent release of the updated Clarence River Flood Model by CVC, there has been an increase in the Probable Maximum Flood Level across Grafton.

Regional health - NSW

60 new nurses to work in Northern Rivers

Sixty nurses from the UK and Ireland have been recruited to work in the Northern Rivers ... Indian national Kavitha Mathew will work at Kyogle Multi-Purpose Service ... “I’m very happy to work in Kyogle,” Kavitha said.

Regional health - SA

Push to reclassify Wallaroo Hospital

Wallaro Hospital should be reclassified to reflect its status as the major hospital in the Yorke and Northern Local Health Network area. That is one of the specific requests in the petition led by Member for Narungga Fraser Ellis calling for better health services in the electorate, which was signed by 10,688 people and presented to the South Australian Parliament in November.


Salvation Army’s Kaniva Corps closure

“The Salvos have played an important part in the Kaniva community for a long time, so it is sad to see them leaving. From the fellowship the church offered to the much-loved Op Shop and the many times they provided outreach and help, often completely unheralded, their departure will undoubtedly leave a hole in the community”: Tim Meyer, West Wimmera Mayor.


Thumbs up from visitors after Babinda Quarters gets a glow-up

After years of neglect, the glory days of Babinda’s historic nursing quarters have been returned with a new lease of life, transforming the Art Deco beauty into a popular guesthouse in the heart of nature’s playground ... In carrying on her mother’s tradition of bringing old buildings back to life, Maggie Perpetua Nelson’s daughter, Kim Marsden, undertook the considered renovation of Babinda Quarters, reimagining it into a fresh iteration oozing creativity, character, and a good dose of quirk.


Wallaroo sites welcome first lentil deliveries

Michelle Daw. Both bulk grain handling companies operating at Wallaroo have accepted lentils into their local storage facilities for the first time this season. T-Ports loaded export lentils from the port for the first time yesterday ... Viterra will load lentils — including from YP and Mid North growers — onto a vessel at Inner Harbour ...

Flood recovery

Demolition of flooded supermarket, new design plans with ‘submarine room’ almost finished

Woodburn IGA is being knocked down. Tanya and Neale Hundy have gone away during the demolition because it’s “emotional” to watch ... The IGA supermarket was renovated and modernised a year before it was flooded to the ceiling in the 2022 floods.


Aussie farmers are more prepared for adverse weather conditions now, than in the past five years: Kellanova ANZ

This World Soil Day, Kellanova ANZ, parent company of Kellogg’s, is shining a light on how farmers are preparing for the upcoming El Niño summer season, with soil health at the very heart ... New research reveals that 9 in 10 Aussie farmers already have a plan in place to deal with drier weather; Almost a third are confident the practices they use will help them prepare for potential drought.

Food security

What warning does Ukrainian history hold for world farmers?

Ukrainian agriculture has suffered catastrophic losses due to the war with Russia. However, compensation for these losses does not have clear prospects. This means that the prospects for the recovery of this sector of the economy are in doubt ... ARR.News asked US experts one question: What political decisions can be made by the USA governments to compensate for Ukraine's losses from the Russian invasion?


A government at sea: John Hassell

John Hassell. The ban on live sheep is inherently unfair and Australians can see it. Roger Cook can see it. Let’s hope for the Albanese Government’s sake they recognise it too before the next election. Underestimate Australia’s farmers at your peril.

Live exports

What really happened on the Awassi Express

Rick Wilson: Given the highly dubious morality and legality of Animals Australia's actions and the privileged relationship they enjoy with the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Senator Slade Brockman, who's with me here in the chamber tonight, and I wrote to Minister Murray Watt. I will quote verbatim from this letter, which was sent to Murray Watt on 27 November 2023 ...


CFS and MFS joining forces

South Australia’s Country Fire Service and Metropolitan Fire Service brigades are joining forces on northern Yorke Peninsula. After a fire at Moonta Mines ... prompted some community confusion about local CFS and MFS jurisdictions ... the services announced they would adjust their response areas when needed to protect the community.

Bushfire preparedness

A summer reminder from CFA and RSPCA … time to consider our pets

As the summer arrives, CFA, with RSPCA Victoria, is reminding Victorians to consider their pets and livestock in their bushfire survival plan. While families should always put their own safety ahead of their pets in an emergency, it is important to have bedding, food, and water ready to go for them should a fire cause concern.

Renewable energy

Locals put the wind up multinational energy company

The Southern Wimmera Renewables Research Association (SWRRA) formed in response to the announcement of plans for a wind facility at Campbells Bridge ... The association, made up by farmers and residents from the Southern Mallee, aims to accumulate and communicate information relating to the government’s plans for Renewable Energy (RE) within the region and the potential impacts, so that affected communities are adequately informed.


Killing koalas to “save” polar bears: Robert Onfray

In this article Robert Onfray details the lack of environmental scrutiny of the wind factories and pumped hydro projects built or planned in Queensland as the state sanctions the wholesale clearing of remnant native forest on the coastal ranges straddling the Great Dividing Range ... 10,178 hectares of koala and 6,744 hectares of greater glider habitats are set to disappear if all the renewable proposals in Queensland are approved ... "blunt force trauma" is to be used to euthanise injured animals or those that cannot be relocated, particularly koalas.

Nuclear power

The future is bright and nuclear: McArthur

The Victorian Labor Government voted against a private member’s bill seeking to repeal the prohibition on nuclear energy activities. Member for Western Victoria, Bev McArthur, spoke in support of the bill stating that the future is nuclear. “Nuclear energy is the cheapest and most reliable zero-emission clean energy source of minimal impact." ... As of June 2023 there are 57 nuclear reactors under construction worldwide and 21 are under construction in China. France announced plans to build six new reactors and to consider building a further eight.

Buloke Times editorial: Nuclear power – is it time?

We have believed for a long time now that Australia’s ban on the use of nuclear energy, for the manufacture of anything but medical isotopes, was not justified. Politicians will generally not talk about it. But now we have some data put on the table, for consideration by the powers that be ... Taking Finland as a guide, their power station when it came online produced a drop of 75 per cent in the price of electricity.


Water wars: Labor and Greens unite to drain rural communities

The environmental, economic and social value of water to our floodplain communities is once again washed away under a tide of political games ... Once again, South Australia leads the Feds around by the nose while glossing over the impacts of the barrages, the south east drainage scheme, the topography and even the estuarine nature of the area. 

Basin Plan deal: Let the ‘Hunger Games’ begin

The fate of regional communities in the Murray-Darling Basin now rests with a handful of Senate crossbenchers after the Labor and the Greens struck a deal to enforce another 450GL in water buybacks from farmers within four years ... "The Minister’s insistence that buybacks are not the only option is disingenuous at best ... To add insult to injury, it is well documented that any water recovered cannot physically be delivered where it is intended to go ... ": NSW Irrigators’ Council CEO Claire Miller.


Murray Darling Basin Plan rescued: Plibersek

“This is one the biggest things any government has done for the environment in a decade. I said from day one that I was determined to deliver the Murray-Darling Basin Plan in full, including the 450GL of water for the environment. That’s what I’ve done ... we’ve worked with people across the Parliament to strengthen this legislation and make it law ...": Tanya Plibersek.


Communities thrown under bus in Greens water deal: NFF

Farming communities fear a deal announced today between the Government and the Greens will see their concerns about water buybacks ignored in favour of cheap politics. National Farmers’ Federation President David Jochinke said when presented with the choice to listen to communities and negotiate on sensible changes, MMr Jochinke is currently in the Basin town of Shepparton where a major demonstration is underway with tractors and heavy machinery convoying in opposition to further water buybacks.

Strengthening the Restoring Our Rivers Bill: Plibersek, Hanson-Young

The Albanese Government and Australian Greens have agreed to strengthen the Restoring Our Rivers Bill ... “We’re talking about the largest inland river system in Australia, supporting threatened plants and animals and delivering drinking water for 3 million Australians. We have to get this right": Plibersek ... “As part of this agreement, the Greens have secured an independent audit of water in the basin to stop the rorts, inject integrity and restore trust after a decade of mismanagement from vested interests": Hanson-Young.

Premier Minns urged to distance himself from Albanese Government: NSW Farmers Association

The Albanese Government has allowed the Greens to dictate water policy that jeopardises the vitality of rural and regional towns across the Murray Darling Basin ... “Politicians have failed to listen to locals who have been warning them about the detriments of water buybacks": NSW Farmers Water Taskforce chair Richard Bootle.


Hamilton attacks misinformation bill

Federal Member for Groom Garth Hamilton has launched an attack on the proposed Government’s proposed legislation aimed at giving the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) a graduated set of new powers to combat misinformation and disinformation across the sector ... "But who gets to decide what is false, misleading or deceptive? Not you - the Government," Mr Hamilton said.

Firearms - WA

Shoot to kill the politics

The WA State government is due to introduce its new firearms laws next year with the explicit aim of driving down the number of recreational shooters (approximately 60,000) along with the number of licensed firearms (360,000) in the State ... While there is a correlation between the number of licensed gun owners in the community and firearms related deaths - think the United States (high) vs Japan (low) - no evidence has been provided that reducing and capping the number of guns held by each recreational shooter makes any difference at all.


Kaniva A & P Society – Wheat Crop Competition 2023

Judging of the district wheat crops entered into the Kaniva A & P Society competition was conducted on Monday November 20th by Hamish Mines – Agronomy Teacher Longerenong College/ Agronomist Driscoll Ag. Twenty crops were entered in the competition for 2023 made up of 5 Durum and 15 bread type wheats, 7 on heavy ground, 7 on mixed ground and 1 on light ground. An even spread of crops were inspected from Lawloit to South Lillimur, Serviceton and north to Dinyarrak.

Work safety

Feedlot fined $140,000 after telehandler operator electrocuted

A Wimmera feedlot operator has been convicted and fined $140,000 following the electrocution of a worker while operating a telehandler in 2020 ... The court heard the 29-year-old worker was using a telehandler to stack hay bales at the Gerang Gerung property in November 2020 when the raised boom and bale lifting attachment made contact with overhead power lines.

Ag machinery

Header demonstration

Last week Nhill and District Sporting Club hosted CLAAS Harvest Centre Swayn & McCabe for their CLAAS LEXION Auspro Header Demonstration in the community paddock on Park Street ... It was great to see the machine in action...

Ice cream

Norco’s ice cream factory’s sweet comeback

After being wiped out in Lismore’s biggest flood in living memory, the Norco Ice Cream factory reopened last Friday following a $100 million dollar rebuild. Challenges faced during the rebuild included securing electrical equipment due to global supply chain shortages...

Event management

Running an event – pros and cons

Unpredictable weather, compliance issues, increasing costs, the ever-present prospect of a COVID wave - these problems and more are faced by event organisers. As these problems become more difficult to negotiate, is there a possibility that the region might lose some of its events? ... To examine the logistics of holding a public event, the Times spoke to Mark Blythe ...


Beauties and the beasts

They would come from Queensland to Tasmania and all parts in between. Some would come ‘just over the hill there’ from a place called Perth. And as anticipated, in they came for the 35th Truck Show held last weekend at the Campbells Creek Sports Ground.


Notaras brothers honoured with Saraton Theatre ‘Blue Plaque’

The Notaras name now ranks in Australian history amongst legendary cultural figures including Sir William Dobell, Caroline Chisholm, and Dorothea McKellar, after Ioannis (Jack) and his brother Antonios (Tony) were awarded a Blue Plaque by the NSW Government for their contribution to the state’s history through their construction of the iconic Saraton Theatre.


Tourism silver and gold for Love Lord Howe!

NSW Tourism Awards were held at the White Bay Cruise Terminal in Rozelle ... Love Lord Howe was nominated in two categories; Tourism Restaurants and Catering Services as well as Excellence in Food Tourism.


Female tradies get head start

Eight young women have been given the head start they need in seeking a potential career in the trades sector. The Girls Can Too! program is designed to teach and empower the next generation of female tradies.


Director spreads the word from the hill tops

Hilltop provides motel style accommodation, at a heavily subsidised cost, to regional cancer patients undergoing treatment at the adjacent Cancer Centre and also their carers if required .. The Cancer Centre was expected to be treating 250 patients a week but this figure has already risen to 350 people.

Firefighting - Vic

Under the pump

Koondrook has a problem – the town is growing so fast and becoming so popular, it is in danger of outstripping the ability of its fire brigade to guarantee its protection. And not because there are not enough firefighters ... they just don’t have the equipment they need to protect their community.

Forestry - Vic

Calls to rethink timber closure

Dahlsens is one of more than 40 Gippsland and Victorian businesses connected to the forestry sector who have written a letter to the Premier, Jacinta Allan, urging a rethink of the policy to close the native forest industry, arguing the decision has several direct and perverse unintended consequences. The businesses represent all aspects of the forestry supply chain, from contractors through to sawmills, processors, retailers and furniture manufacturers, and have 40,000 voting members.

Forestry - SA

New forestry initiative to create workforce opportunities

A new State Government-funded initiative will support the Limestone Coast timber and forestry sectors to address current skill gap shortages and develop the ‘workforce of the future’. Minister for Education, Skills & Training Blair Boyer officially opened the Mount Gambier Skills Centre this week, which will have a specific focus on timber and forestry, with an accompanying field-based role working directly with industry.

Property - Qld

Stunning landscapes, unique natural values on Curtis Island to be protected: Linard

The stunning landscapes and unique environments of Curtis Island will be further protected and celebrated under a new Queensland-first partnership. The Palaszczuk Government has purchased the island’s Spadely Station from Bakara Investments Pty Ltd to add the land to Queensland’s protected areas estate, with the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service to partner with the company to boost eco-tourism and visitor numbers on the island.

Roads - Vic

Highway works set to start

Even though additional funding for local road maintenance was welcomed last week by Member for Indi, Helen Haines, and she said it must be made available as a matter of urgency. A case in point is the Murray Valley Highway between Corryong and Wodonga where motorists continue to face delays at two locations near Old Tallangatta where traffic lights have been installed and one lane closed where subsidence has occurred.

Roads - Vic

Cuts threaten road safety

The State Government cut $230 million from road safety programs across the past two years. At the same time it failed on its own targets to fix the road network, a Parliamentary inquiry heard last week ... This comes as Victoria is facing another horror road toll, with road deaths already 20 per cent higher than last year.

Emissions - Vic

Regional voices helping shape Zero Emission Bus roll out: Williams

The Allan Labor Government is working with regional bus operators to shape its nation-leading transition to a cleaner bus fleet, kicking off a series of industry roundtables ... All new public transport buses purchased from 2025 onwards will be zero emissions as part of the state’s wider goal to achieve net zero emissions by 2045.

Remote housing

Celebrating Christmas in new remote homes across the Barkly

Twenty-one families have recently moved into homes at Alpurrurulam, and three more five-bedroom homes will be ready in the next couple of weeks. The modular homes, built by Territory company Demountable Sales and Hire have been installed by Wilga Indigenous Corporation, which has provided employment opportunities to Alpurrurulam locals.

Hospital - SA

Aged care in doubt

The future of residential aged care in Ardrossan is in doubt as the local hospital tackles challenges which forced it to close its accident and emergency, and acute care ... "We also reluctantly realised our ability to provide sustainable aged care was doubtful and it was unlikely any other private provider would be interested in taking over these services": Ardrossan Community Hospital chairperson Margaret Tomsen.

Health - SA

PATS expands to prosthetic and orthotic appointments: Picton

South Australians living in rural and regional areas will now be eligible for financial support to travel to specialist Prosthetic and Orthotic clinics for health appointments, under an expansion of the Patient Assistance Transport Scheme ... To qualify for this service, people must attend either a public or private hospital or outpatient clinic...

World Heritage - Mines

Tentative listing on the Moonta Mines horizon

The state government has committed to nominating Moonta Mines for World Heritage Listing. The Australian Cornish Mining Sites: Burra and Moonta Mines is now one step away from tentative listing after Deputy Premier Susan Close announced the government would support the bid...

World Heritage - Goldfields

The Victorian Goldfields World Heritage new identity revealed

We are excited to announce that the Indigo Shire and Baw Baw Shire Councils are joining the Goldfields World Heritage Bid, taking the local government partnership from 13 to 15. Following the advice of World Heritage experts, the investigation area now encompasses not just Central Victoria but areas further afield…

History & heritage

Plans to demolish Euroa’s oldest public building forestalled

Today many in the Euroa community are celebrating a win for all who value the heritage and the broader history of their town. Just as importantly the Euroa Community has again proven the strength of a strong community voice in dealing with a large uncaring corporation. 

Flood resilience

Council approves raising home above permitted height to escape floods

A house on Woodburn-Evans Head Road that flooded in February-March 2022 needs to be raised by 2.6metres and this would put it above the permitted height limit ... This decision impacts other properties where owners are wanting to raise homes above existing maximum heights so they can reduce risks in flooding ...

Tidy Town

Tidy Town awards highlighting great success in our remote communities: Fyles

MacDonnell Regional Council township of Ntaria (Hermannsburg) has won the 2023 Northern Territory Sustainable Community Tidy Town accolade announced in Katherine ... where multiple remote Territory communities were recognised for their efforts in improving the wellbeing of their homes.


Concerns over council’s saleyards project

Livestock selling agents at Warwick are unhappy with the latest redevelopment plans for the Warwick Saleyards believing Southern Downs Regional Council (SDRC) has backed away from an earlier proposal. Representatives of the Warwick Livestock Selling Agents Association are reported to have walked out of an information session organised by the Council to update interested parties on the planned upgrade.


Is Allora Community Hall at risk?

Southern Downs Regional Council wants the views of the Allora community on a number of important matters including the Allora Senior Citizens Centre, Allora Library, Allora Sports Museum and Allora Community Hall.


Research begins to reduce shed of microplastics during laundering: Deakin University

A new collaboration between Deakin University researchers and Australia’s largest commercial linen supplier Simba Global is tackling a critical global issue, the spread of harmful microplastics through our laundry.

EVs - Vic

EV chargers for regional Victoria

As a part of the ongoing “Charging the Regions” project, Donald has seen the completion of its very own electric car charging station, located at 68A Woods Street.


20 years of captive care for Dryococelus australis

Rohan Cleave, Kate Pearce. A big thank you for hosting us on Lord Howe Island (LHI) in September, where we celebrated Threatened Species Day at the LHI Community School and a community event ... The LHI Stick Insect (Dryococelus australis) is one of the world’s most critically endangered invertebrate species. 


Making bore water fit for dialysis

Making scarce and impure bore water in The Centre’s outback fit for use in medical dialysis has earned Alice local Michael C Smith a Distinguished Alumni Award from Flinders University in Adelaide. “I’m proud that one of my designs is working today in Kiwirrkurra, Australia’s most remote Aboriginal community,” says Dr Smith.


Lego champs build on success and head to national comp

Four students from Kyogle competed in a Lego comp in Gladstone, Queensland ... Kyogle High School students Xavier Mazouin, Michael Hawthorne, Lucas Marychurch and Ewan Wilkie came third out of 18 teams in the FIRST Lego Challenge...


Vintage vibes and quirky finds

A Swap Meet is all about contradictions. Jewels amid the junk, gems in the garbage, riches in the rubbish and, of course, treasures in the trash. It always comes as a surprise to note the huge number of stalls and the amazing variety of goods on offer: it just seems to go on and on.


Animal education part of Epenarra students’ curriculum

Kate Foran. Students at Epenarra School, 200 kms from Tennant Creek, are learning more than just maths and English ... Barkly Vet Practice visited the Communities last month ... Dog numbers have been reduced through the desexing program with students monitoring a spreadsheet to keep the statistics and data.


Barkly vets head bush for vital pet services

Kate Foran. A dedicated crew from Barkly Veterinary Practice spent three weeks in some communities of the Barkly region recently, providing a remote service to pet owners who don’t often get to town. They visited Elliott, Marlinja, Ampilatwatja, Ali Curung, Murray Downs and Wutunugurra.


Club gets back on track

After being closed for the past seven years, a new committee hopes to restore the Khancoban Country Club to its glory days. The committee is intent on "nursing the club back to health." ... Named ‘The Weston’ the bistro is being run by Benjamin Weston, a young local who moved to Khancoban just over one year ago.


Safari Lodge in spotlight at Brolga Awards

The Safari Lodge Motel was represented at the annual Brolga NT Tourism Awards in Darwin after the business was nominated in the 3 - 3.5 Star Accommodation category ... The Safari Lodge has been owned by the Manungurra Aboriginal Corporation since 2018...

Best in dough – Mount Alexander Business Awards 2023

A balmy Wednesday evening last week at Theatre Royal in Castlemaine was the setting for the 2023 Mount Alexander Business Awards ... Rebecca Barnett’s Maldon Bakery just edged out Franco’s Restaurant and Splash Literacy as best new business of 2023.


Nhill caught in crime sweep

In a major nationwide operation against organised crime and illicit tobacco, Australian police have arrested 25 individuals and executed multiple search warrants across several states, including Victoria, New South Wales, and Queensland. The focus was on disrupting the activities of the Comanchero and Finks Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs (OMCGs). As part of this extensive crackdown, Nhill was included in the operation.