Friday, May 31, 2024

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


Are we uninsurable?

As the cost-of-living crisis continues to bite insurance costs have risen, resulting in home and contents insurance being cost prohibitive for some Clarence Valley homeowners with prices ranging from $35.51 to $252.36 per week, while in some parts of the valley some companies refuse to insure homes ... To determine home and contents insurance costs across the region and if we are insurable, the Clarence Valley Independent sought quotes for a 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom, single storey home...


Big changes to address local housing shortage

The minimum lot size is to be removed in Hay township (both North and South Hay) and some primary production land will be rezoned to low density residential in a bid by Council to address the housing shortage … Council recently received funding under the regional Housing Strategic Planning Fund to undertake a planning proposal to change the Hay Local Environment Plan (LEP) which governs the land uses and zoning of properties.


Volunteers track local success with tourist trains

As they stood in the shadow of the heritage 1960s 621/721 class rail motor at Grafton City Station, volunteers from the Rail Motor Society reflected with heartfelt pride and passion on the unequivocal diligence and resoluteness of their ongoing work which enabled local railway enthusiasts to experience the sensation of travelling in historic style over the weekend.

Research - systems

To inform decision-making for Southern growers – New farming systems project

A new farming systems project is set to shed light on how farm management decisions affect profitability and sustainability to help southern region grain growers understand the upside and downside of their decisions. The five-year project involves nine field sites … covering different soil types and rainfall zones in South Australia and Victoria, as well as biophysical modelling and economic evaluation.

Research - fuel

Sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) opportunities on horizon for Australian agriculture: Rabobank

Growing global and local demand for sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) could spell good news for Australian agriculture, with the country’s farmers well placed to provide low- emissions feedstock to be used in future production, according to new industry research ... the largest contribution to cutting aviation emissions over the next decade will come from transitioning to the use of sustainable aviation fuel, which is commonly produced from agricultural products and by-products.

Research - grains

Growers to lead change to hyper profitable crops: GRDC

Field Applied Research Australia (FAR Australia) and the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) have launched a new project to transform on-farm profitability for wheat and barley growers in the high-rainfall zones of Australia. The project aims to close the gap between actual crop yields and the profitability possibilities in these zones.


Mamma Mia!: TAFE NSW Moss Vale helps Abba tribute band artist play new career tune

TAFE NSW Moss Vale is empowering a career musician and Abba tribute band bass player to call the tune on the next chapter in his career: as a farmer. Simon Tonks, 64, has enjoyed a long and illustrious music career, including stints as house engineer/producer at recording giant Sony Music, making records, mixing live shows, and writing television music.


Uni in Minlaton’s backyard

University is becoming more accessible for Yorke Peninsula’s next generation of tertiary students with the opening of a Uni Hub outreach service in Minlaton ... from tomorrow (Wednesday, May 29), this barrier will be removed, with Uni Hub now operating on the last Wednesday of every month from the YP Council office at Minlaton.

Regional development

Regional renovate to rent

Every country town has at least one building that lies abandoned or underutilised which could be turned into a house or unit that could attract another worker or family to the community. We have old train stations and roads boards buildings, there are abandoned shops in the main street, empty pubs, unused halls, even farmhouses close to town left to deteriorate.

Need a business? Build it and they will come

Don’t have a plumber, electrician, aircon mechanic, car mechanic, tyre shop, independent ag mechanic, hydraulic shop etc in your town? Then do something about it. The council or a group of farmers should get together to buy an industrial lot, build a lock up shed, offer it out for $1 a year then stand back and watch the rush.


Forest Wars – What lies beneath?: Peter Rutherford

Peter Rutherford. After reading Mark Poynter’s brief critique of The Forest Wars and the David Lindenmayer response, a few points seemed to need further exploration ... Many SETA members and others working in the forest industry have been curious as to what appear to be strong connections that Mr Lindenmayer has with a number of media reporters, who regularly report his opinions on native forest issues.

Council rates

Farm rates pain

Rachel Hagan. Primary producers and other residents have packed the Yorke Peninsula Council gallery to witness an impassioned debate about whether farmers should be asked to pay an increased rate across the next financial year. The special council meeting, held at Minlaton on Wednesday, May 22, became heated at times as councillors argued about whether to charge farmers higher rates than they currently pay to help cover the costs of services such as road maintenance.

Tax - Vic

A reprieve for regional patients: Doctor tax backflip

Regional Victorians can breathe easy after five years of advocacy and the Victorian Liberal-National Opposition’s criticisms embarrassed the State Government into pausing its $10 million doctor tax, the Shadow Assistant Minister for Regional Health, Dr Anne Webster, said at the weekend.


Ivanhoe region faces desperate financial outlook- $1.225M deficit for Central Darling Shire

Central Darling Shire Council will have an operating deficit of $1.225M for 2024/2025 and is facing an extremely strained and desperate financial outlook. It comes as Council prepares for a number of essential, but unaffordable expenses. General Manager, Greg Hill said this was happening at a time when an application for $1.3 million in Natural Disaster Declaration assistance for storm damage had been declined.


Torbay Glass Studio and Gallery – The art of glass

From little things big things grow and when Mark Hewson made a stained glass window for his new home in Torbay back in the early 1980s he was unaware that it would mark the beginning of a career that would span more than 40 years. Mark, and his equally-talented wife, Paris Johansen, have now designed, sculptured, moulded and soldered literally thousands of glass artworks.

Letters from Home

Letters from Home: The travelling Calendulas

Yes it sounds like a rival band to the group headed by Roy Orbison, but no... it's simply a dainty little yellow/ gold/ orange daisy you probably better know as English Marigold. It's a tough little critter with a smiling, pretty face that doesn't ask for much and once you have it, it's there forever...sneaking through the garden beds and into your heart.


The heart and soul of Casino on parade and why we love it

What is it about a street parade? ... Beef Week Street Parade draws a massive crowd into the CBD ... St Mary’s Primary School principal John O’Brien wore an 80s inspired outfit and with the students sang 80s hits Poison (Alice Cooper) and Girls Just Want to Have Fun (Cyndi Lauper) as they walked behind a truck where a gorilla(!) played drums.

Regional banking

Banks blow their chance to self-regulate by betraying trust

It may have taken 20 years but a Federal Government inquiry has finally made good on a warning that if the 'big four' banks did not improve their treatment of regional Australian customers, they would be stripped of the privilege to self-regulate. Many thought this day would never come but the most surprised must be the banks or they would have never behaved in the ways outlined in detail during a senate committee’s 15-month deep dive into the welfare and economic impacts of regional bank closures. 

Report calls for rebuild of financial services in the bush: Canavan, Colbeck, Rennick, Brockman

The Senate Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Committee released a report which recommends investment in the financial services available in rural and regional Australia to make up for the loss of services from bank closures in recent years. There are 596 Australian towns which once had a major bank branch but now do not have a bank branch at all. In most cases, our major banks left these towns with no plan on how financial services would be provided after a bank closure.


Yanchep tavern proposal deferred for up to three months

A tavern, to cater for 800 patrons, proposed for the corner of Marmion Ave and Peony Blvd has been deferred for up to three months with a shortage of parking bays one of the issues highlighted. To be called The Carnaby the $3 million tavern is proposed to operate from 11.30am to midnight seven days a week.

Flood recovery

Funding helps council forge ahead with 1500-blocks at Fairy Hill for flood-free housing

On a bright day, next to the bridge arching across the swollen Richmond River at Woodburn, an announcement was made about funding for affordable flood-free housing. The State Government is giving $245,000 to Richmond Valley Council to scope out what is needed for the 1500-blocks at Fairy Hill to proceed.


Low emissions truck trial has QFES leading the nation: Boyd, de Brenni

Two new prime movers are set to be delivered to QFES as part of an Australian first trial. The Volvo trucks - one running on Hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO) and the other electric – will support operational logistics at Caloundra and Townsville ... the HVO-powered truck comes with the latest 13-litre Euro 6 technology, allowing it to run on either the alternative fuel or regular diesel.

Flood recovery - SA

Recovery Pods help flood-affected communities rebuild: Watt, Champion

Recovery Pods have been deployed to help South Australians still recovering from the River Murray floods. To date, six of the self-contained homes have been deployed to help individuals and families who lost their primary place of residence, with more still available.


NT in top 3 regions worldwide for critical minerals potential: Lawler, Monaghan

The Northern Territory has 17 of the world’s most in demand critical minerals, including lithium, rare earths, graphite and copper and in independent report ranks the Territory in the top 10 globally for investment attractiveness, and 3rd globally for Mineral Potential behind WA and Nevada in the US ... An outcome evaluation report by Deloitte has shown that the first four years of the Resourcing the Territory initiative – introduced by the Territory Labor Government in 2018 – has helped significantly boost investment in resources exploration in the NT.

Biosecurity - pigs

Pig problem escalates: NSW Farmers

Farmers are reporting a fresh surge in feral pig numbers, prompting a call to escalate funding to fight the state’s feral pig problem ... “There’s reports of feral pigs weighing well over 100 kilograms charging through the paddocks, trashing food crops and killing calves and lambs at the drop of a hat”: NSW Farmers President Xavier Martin.

Biosecurity - fire ants

Dean addresses CWA on fire ants response

Kimberly Grabham. Dean Whitehead spoke at a recent meeting of Hay CWA in response to the threat of fire ants, and to explain the Fire Ant Eradication Program. Mr Whitehead said the objective in regards to fire ants is eradication, and a stringent process is followed to achieve this goal.


Special update – Avian influenza identified in Victoria: Animal Health Australia

We wanted to ensure you had the most accurate and up to date information as it comes to hand on the avian influenza incident in Victoria: On 22 May 2024, Agriculture Victoria confirmed a detection of high pathogenicity avian influenza (HPAI) H7N3 in poultry on a caged, barn, and free-range production egg farm in Meredith, Victoria.


Wheat prices drive up Rural Commodities Index: NAB

An increase in wheat prices helped lift the NAB Rural Commodities Index* by 3.2 per cent month-on-month in April, after the Index slipped 5.7 per cent month-on-month in March. NAB’s May Rural Commodities Wrap released today reports the Index is now around levels seen in April 2023. 


CCS in the GAB – Agriculture, rural communities and conservationists say no and now the science does too: QFF

The Queensland Government has rejected the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for Glencore's carbon capture and storage (CCS) project confirming the grave concerns raised by the Queensland Farmers’ Federation (QFF), industry and other representatives. The EIS assessment process has found that the science behind this project is inadequate, and the risk to the Great Artesian Basin (GAB) too great, meaning the precautionary principle must apply.


Rescue tubes at popular swimming spots

Clarence Valley residents who enjoy visiting the beach or popular waterholes now have the peace of mind of increased safety after rescue tubes were installed in eight locations to help save lives. The rollout of the rescue tubes over the past few months now sees the lifesaving devices available to the public 24 hours a day in case anyone needs to be saved from the water.


Kaniva District Hospital Ladies Auxiliary celebrates centenary

The Kaniva District Hospital Ladies Auxiliary marked their 100th Anniversary on Wednesday, 22nd May ... Chair Katherine Colbert expressed gratitude for the Auxiliary’s century-long support and highlighted its importance to the Kaniva community.


Voicing thanks for volunteers

A few notable profiles (and there are certainly many) include committed volunteers Andrea Coatsworth and Betty Taylor. Both Andrea and Betty were spotted out and about, giving of their time on separate occasions ensuring the historic Wycheproof Post Office building and surrounds, remain a well maintained and welcoming community and tourism precinct on Broadway.

Local resident finds fulfillment in volunteering at Maldon Hospital

Dale Tudor, a dedicated volunteer at the Maldon campus of Dhelkaya Health, shares his story to inspire others to join in giving back to the community. "After spending time visiting my dad here, I got to know the staff, and eventually, I decided to become a volunteer" ... Dale finds joy in connecting with both residents and staff.

Charity & volunteering

Op shop’s benefits reach far and wide

Look First Op Shop appreciates the patronage of many local customers, alongside the visitors from out of town ... The theme behind the name is that we look beyond the “four walls” of our homes, our town, our country as we contribute into our local organisations and overseas – Ukraine, Niger, Indonesia and Timor Leste.


Dorothy’s exceptional endowment

For 25 years now, the Donald District Hospital Foundation has been selflessly giving to the community ... now, the Foundation truly is seeing its generosity returned in kind. In a heartwarming gesture, the Donald District Hospital Foundation has been presented with a remarkable bequest of $635,000 from the late Miss Dorothy Onley.


Volunteers can fill many roles

This National Volunteer Week, the CFA and its partner emergency service volunteer organisations, acknowledge and thank the tens of thousands of Victorians for their unpaid contributions to their communities.


New recruit “Lance” brings life-saving message

This Volunteer’s Week, visitors to the Kaniva Wetlands and Fauna Park may notice a new addition to the flock: a sheep named Amb-ewe-lance, or Lance for short! Lance is here to promote a crucial message about first aid and community safety.

Public art

The new member of the Moooving Art herd is looking for a name

Greater Shepparton City Council, through its destination brand Shepparton & Goulburn Valley, is excited to announce a new addition to the Moooving Art herd.


Grafton to host Nestlé Golden Chef’s Hat Award regional cook-off

Australia’s longest-running culinary competition for emerging chefs is coming to Grafton ... Assessed to globally recognised standards, each chef will have two and a half hours to prepare and present two plates of a main course and a dessert to the panel of judges.


Pride of Toowoomba hits the rails

After many years of planning by DownsSteam, the engine "Pride of Toowoomba" made its first official trip to and from Wyreema on Saturday morning. After waiting for many years, steam train fans were not going to miss out on the chance to ride the rails aboard carriages hauled by the refurbished "Pride of Toowoomba" ...

Cattle breeding