An oddball problem

New maremma pup: The new 12-week-old female puppy at Flagstaff Hill, who will be named in an upcoming contest. Picture: Amy Paton
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WARRNAMBOOL’S Maremmas may be a tourist drawcard, but they’ve also been a problemfor some visitors this summer.

Incessant barking from the dogs at Flagstaff Hill has been keeping campers awake at night in the nearby Surfside Holiday Park.

Mt Gambier’s Lea Clark, who has been staying at Surfside for 36 years, said the nightly barking “had been going on for three weeks”.

She said the dogs were a great tourist attraction but“enough was enough”.

“Most nights we’d wake with the barking,” Ms Clark said.

“It’s a talking point in the park. Our whole aisle was talking about it, and the people behind us were having a big conversation about ‘those bloody dogs’,that they look good but we’d wish they’d shut up at night.”

On Wednesday night, Surfside Holiday Park campers finally got some sleep after the council responded to complaints.

“It was certainly a good night’s sleep last night,” Ms Clark said.

“It was quite noticeable that the dogs weren’t there.”

The council’s manager of visitor economy David McMahon said the dogs –Amor, Avis, Eudy and Tula – usually stay overnight with a flock of chickens at Flagstaff Hill as part of their training.

But in response to the complaintsmeasures have been put “in place to try and prevent the dogs from disturbing campers in the future”,” Mr McMahon said.

“With the increased activity at Surfside, the dogs have been barking more than usual as a way to protect the chickens,” he explained.

“While we need to make sure that our Maremmas’ guardian instincts remain sharp so they can continue to guard the penguin colony, we also need to respect everyone’s right to be able to get a good night’s sleep.

“When staying overnight at Flagstaff Hill, the dogs are now being kept in their enclosures rather than remaining in the paddock with the chickens.

“There is a farm where Eudy and Tula have previously stayed when not on the island, and they spent Wednesday night there.

“We have had no further complaints since we have put these measures in place.

“The dogs are trained to protect a flock of chickens at Flagstaff Hill. This is a crucial step which has allowed them to successfully protect the penguin colony on Middle Island.”

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How to turn the tide on the drowning toll

We have watched in dismay this summer as the tragic tally of drownings climbs higher.
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The death of little Henry Tran, ten days after he was pulled from a backyard pond in Sydney, brings the NSW toll to 20.

Even more tragicis that Henryis the fifth toddler to drown in a water-relatedincidentin NSWsince mid-December.

Closer to home, we have been unable to obtain an update onthe condition of a two-year-old boywho was pulled from a pool at Nowra Hill on Monday, but our thoughts and prayersare with him and his family.

TheRoyal Life Saving Society is at a loss to explain this spike in drowning deaths this year, which ithas described as “unprecedented”.

The drownings have occurred in the surf, in rivers and in pools and have affected people across all ages and swimming abilities.

There has been much publicity in recent years about beach safety and the dangers of rips.

While even a good swimmer can find themselves in trouble when swept into a rip, too often we hear that the victims are overseas visitors who see only the sparkling water, and not the danger that lies within it.

In rivers, for boaties and swimmers, sadly often alcohol is a factor in risk-taking behaviour that results in tragedy.

But let’s look at what we can control.

For most Australian children, learning to swim is a rite of passage.

We probably take it for granted that most children have access to swimming lessons.

A year of swimming lessons can cost up to $600, or $140 per term.

For the majority of familiesthis cost is nothing, so it might be hard to imagine that for some, this cost is out of reach.

In addition, newly arrived migrants might not priorities swimming lessons, because they don’t realise how important these skillsare for Australian children.

And of course there are parents out there who sadly don’t make their childrens’ safety a priority because they have their own issues with poverty and addiction.

None of these reasons or excusesare any fault of the children who are missing out.

The Nowra Family Support Service’s drive to raise money to make sure every Shoalhaven family has access to swimming lessons is a fantastic local campaign that deserves our fullsupport.

And it is at least something we can do to turn the tide on the drowning toll.

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Back on field for 2017

IN ACTION: Central Hotel’s Aaron Cronin, pictured last season, will be among those looking forward to the return of cricket this weekend. Picture: Kelly Manwaring
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Cricket will return to the district this Saturday with divisions 1 and 3 in action.

Division 2 will take to the field for the first time in 2017 the following week onJanuary 21.

This Saturday Central Hotel will play the Young Ones at Albert Park withMimosa to host the Crusaders at NixonPark.

In Division 3, theTemora Tigers will play against Cootamundra outfit the Albion Hotel at Nixon Park 2.

After an extra week to rest, Stockinbingal will be back in action on January 21against theAussie Hotel Scorchers at Keith Cullen Oval and Wallendbeen will take on theShamrock Hotel Leprechauns at Nixon Park 2.

Central Hotel captain Michael Cronin is keen to pick up where the team left off last year and replicate their easy victory over the Young Ones.

Gene Kessell was the star of the show then with six wickets and Cronin said if he can do that again they will be in with a good chance.

“Last time we played them, we bowled really good with Gene taking six wickets; we also fielded well and batted sensibly, we will need to do that again,” Cronin said.

He is looking forward to getting on the field after the Christmas break.

Central Hotel captain Michael CroninCurrent laddersDelta Agribusiness Division 1

Family Hotel Crusaders 54 [1.45]

Central Hotel 54 [0.99]

Aussie Hotel Coyotes 52

Mimosa Whirlwinds 45

S&C Young Ones 45

Dunk Insurance Division 2

Aussie Hotel Scorchers 52 [a game won yet to be added]

Stockinbingal 53

Shamrock Hotel Leprechauns 49

Wallendbeen 45

Blooms Chemist Division 3

Young Gunners 45 [1.39]

Temora Ex-Services Renegades 45 [0.96]

Albion Hotel All-stars 39

Young Hotel Saints 34

Temora Bowling Club Tigers 34

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Speak up on regional plan

Northern Tablelands MP Adam Marshall urged locals to have their say on the 20-year plan.As the state government begins to lay out its20-year plan for the entire region, Inverell residents are being urged to have their say.
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“I really want to encourage not just councils, but businesses, community organisations and individuals to at least take a look at the draft plan because it charts out the growth predictions for our region, the demands on health services, policing, infrastructure, roads, transport – the full ambit of state government services, infrastructure, responsibilities,” member for Northern Tablelands Adam Marshall said.

As the third largest community in the region after Armidale and Tamworth, Inverell has emerged as an important growing centre.

“The draft plan seeks to reinforce Inverell as a strategic centre by encouraging investment and economic opportunity, guiding sustainable growth and fostering a strong community,” Department of Planning and Environment media officer Mitchell Compton said.

Mr Marshall said the state government’s recognition of Inverell’s growth was significant andessential in mounting arguments for improved services.

“For example, the big push at the moment for a new police station in Inverell. What underpins that argument is the fact that this is a community that is growing and the number of police officers therefore are going to increase in Inverell. The current station’s not fit for purpose now, let alone in 10 years time when we’ll have a bigger town, a bigger district and more police based here,” he said.

“So these sort of plans are important because they can either help or hinder making cases to all levels of government for projects and for funding.”

The plan focuses ongrowingtheeconomy throughagriculturaland renewable energy, providing more jobs and greater housing choices, and protecting water, environment and heritage.

Locals can viewthe planat梧桐夜网planning.nsw.gov419论坛/NewEngland-NorthWest, or by visiting the Inverell Shire Council website. Submissions and feedback are open until March 20.

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Have your say on our region’s plan

Adam Marshall.
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AS THEstate government begins to lay out their 20-year plan for the entire region, residents are being urged to have their say.

“I really want to encourage not just councils, but businesses, community organisations and individuals to at least take a look at the draft plan because it charts out the growth predictions for our region, the demands on health services, policing, infrastructure, roads, transport – the full ambit of state government services, infrastructure, responsibilities,” member for Northern Tablelands Adam Marshall said.

The draft, which covers Armidale, Glen Innes Severn, Gunnedah, Gwydir, Inverell, Liverpool Plains, Moree Plains, Narrabri, Tamworth, Tenterfield, Uralla and Walcha, is the NSW government’s blueprint for the entire region for the next two decades.

AsTamworth and Armidale continue to grow, theyhave been recognisedas regional cities for the first time. Inverell has also emerged as an important area for the region as its third largest community.

Mr Marshall said the plan’s recognition of growth was essential in mounting arguments to the government for improved services. He said he couldn’t over-emphasisethe importance of the plan for the region.

“It really does paint a very positive picture about our region, and that’s important, because growing regions, vibrant regions, are regions which attract a lot of government investment,” he said.

“The draft plan outlines a 20-year vision for the region’s sustainable future that maximises the advantages of the area’s diverse climates, landscapes and resources, to create great places to live and a strong and diverse regional economy,” Department of Planning and Environment media officer Mitchell Compton said.

The plan focuses on five goals, which includegrowingtheeconomy throughagriculturaland renewable energy, providing more jobs and greater housing choices, and protecting water, environment and heritage.

“Aside from planning for the future, it’s actually a very interesting document, that goes into very fine detail about the breakdown of how our region is composed from a social perspective (and)an economic perspective,” Mr Marshall said.

Locals can view and comment on the planat 梧桐夜网planning.nsw.gov419论坛/NewEngland-NorthWest, or by visiting the region’s council websites. Submissions and feedback are open until March 20.

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Club gets emergency money

$250,000 has been giventothe Wellington Soldiers Memorial Club for an emergency centre upgrade.
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CARERS FOR ALL: Troy Grant (second from left) with some of the Wellington Soldiers Memorial Club board. Photo: NICK GRIMM

Minister for Justice and Police andMember for DubboTroy Grantannounced almost half a million dollars as part of the ClubGRANTS Category 3 Program.

The program aims to provideemergency relief infrastructure to help communities in the Central West during emergencies such as bushfires, storms and floods.

The money will allow the Soldiers Club board to purchasea back-up generatorand will provide upgrades to the electrical system.

Mr Grant said the ClubGRANTS Category 3program was implemented after it was noticed there was a gap in emergency service centres in smaller communities.

“Wellington has received the most significant grant from this round, and that’s because this centre can provide so much for the community,’ he said.

Soldiers Club president Shirley Drysdale said the grant will help become the emergency response centre the board knows it can be.

“If there are emergencies in and around town, we already have the facilities to feed and support people…this generator will go a long way to helping the community,” she said.

Soldiers Club secretary manager David French said in the even of an emergency, the club will now be able to provide 24/7 service to the community.

“The generator will assist us in providing emergency services.

“With a capacity of over 2000 people, we will be able to keep people safe, dry, cool or warm –whatever the situation may be,” Mr French said.

The grant was applied for in October last year.

The upgrades will start on March 1 this year and are expected to finish on June 30.

Other successful local projects in the ClubGRANTS Category 3 Program 2016/17 for emergency relief infrastructure include:

Forbes SES: $128,430for a new shed and hard-stand area to support sandbagging operations and training. The grant will mean sandbagging operations can continue in adverse weather and at night more easily. Access roads to the headquarters will also be sealed.

Molong RSL Club: $95,000to install a new kitchen, shower and secure automatic front door. The Club is the designated emergency accommodation facility for the villages of Molong, Manildra and Cumnock.

Yeoval and District Men’s Shed: $10,400for a generator, gas stove and electrical connections to make its kitchen viable in an emergency. The upgraded kitchen will be the only public accessible kitchen that can supply meals in the case of an emergency in the town.

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Wollongong man builds radio network to get NBN access

DIY NBN: Daniel Saffioti couldn’t get the NBN connected from across the road so he built a radio network with friends to beam in the NBN. Picture: ADAM McLEANThe last straw for Daniel Saffioti​ came in mid-2014 when the National Broadband Network installed a fibre pillar right in front of his house – but refused to connect him.
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The Commonwealth public servant had endured years of “awful” ADSL in Haywards Bayand now NBN was right on his doorstep but still totally inaccessible.

“It runs right past my house, and it goes to the new people in the estate, and it does not go to me at all,” he told Fairfax.

Mr Saffioti’s solution to slow internet may be the most creative yet.

Bugger it, he thought. I’ll just beam the NBN 12 kilometres to my house – right over that range of hills.

Mr Saffiotiis thechief information officerfor the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation, which means he gets to play with some exciting technology.

In the past, he’d messedabout with installing wireless bridges. Thesedevices, which come with their own mini radio dishes, allow internet signals to be beamed for up to 50 kilometres. For hardware built for business, they are “incredibly effective at an amazingly ridiculous price point,” Mr Saffioti writes onLinkedIn, where he detailed his DIY-NBN project.

They worked so well, Mr Saffioti decided to buy a few for his own use.

With those in hand, the other thing he needed was someone willing to share their NBN connection. Luckily, he had a friend based in nearby Kiama,one of the first townsin Australia to be connected to fibre.

That friend was good enough to agree to let Mr Saffioti share his connection, if he could work out how to.

While he and his friend werewithin the 50-kilometre range of the wireless bridge, they had a big problem: a big hill.

Or more specifically a patch of hilly country directly between their two properties.

The wireless bridgesneed line of sight for fast speeds. If Mr Saffioti couldn’t find a way to get line-of-sight, the connection wouldn’t be much quickerthan his slow ADSL, making all his effort worthless.

Luckily, Mr Saffioti’s friend had a cousin, and he just happened to live right in between the pair, elevated on a hill in Oak Flats. And he couldn’t get NBN either.

That meant he was only too happy to have a wireless bridgeset up on his house to bounce the signal – while also getting fast speeds himself.

Fully installed, the project beams NBN about 12 kilometres from Kiama to Oak Flats, and then about another threeto Mr Saffioti’s place in Haywards Bay.

The link has been running well ever since, with regular download speeds of about 70mbps down and 35 up. Total cost of the project: about $1000.

Originally, the high-speed broadband network only connected new homes in Mr Saffioti’s area. However, late last yearthe NBN got in contact with him to let him know he was now, finally, eligible to connect to the fibre network.

He’s considering it, he says with a laugh.

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Long grass a tough issue for councils to face

News that a family dog was killed following a snake bite in the backyard of a property in north Ararat shows the thick scrub and vegetation across the Grampians needs to be addressed.
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Not only is the loss of a pet animal a tragedy, but there would be even graver consequences if it was a child who was bitten.

Yes, living in the Australian country means dealing regularly with snakes.

It is also true, that the level of vegetation is at an unusual high due to the heavy rainfall and flooding experienced across the district in September last year.

There is a good chance the scrub will not reach similar levels in future summers, while the Country Fire Authority also says there is no fire risk posed by the overgrown grass.

But that is of little consolation now, with roadsides often covered in tall grass, and paths encroached upon around Ararat.

It is of little consolation to the family which lost a beloved pet.

Councils in the Grampians need to work with the state government to pin point who owns what land, who is responsible for maintaining it and who needs take action now in the worst affected areas.

More resources need to be put into action to complete slashing and mowing works along roadsides and in overgrown parks.

Beyond the danger of snakes there are other implications for the Grampians region.

Towns across the Northern Grampians Shire and Ararat Rural City rely on tourism as a major form of income.

They rely on well-kept and maintained parks and gardens to present an appealing sight to passing motorists.

When highways are surrounded by tall grass, or entries to town looking messy, it is to the detriment of tourism.

There is work that can be done by residents as well to help out and keep their towns tidy.

Councils have links on their websites, allowing ratepayers to lodge a request if they think works need to be done at parks, gardens, nature strips or bush land near their homes.

Some ratepayers even do their own mowing, taking the time clean up adjacent land that belongs to council, the state or is leased. Whatever the solution, councils cannot act if they are not kept informed of problems affecting residents.

Hopefully the death of more pets can be avoided with a bit more planning to reduce the scrub.

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Mental health beds ‘safe’

LOBBYING: Goulburn District Unions president Anna Wurth-Crawford (left) with union rep Stewart Chapman and Federal Senator Deb O’Neill at Bourke Street Health Service in December.
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Goulburn and District Unions (GDU) has voiced fears about the loss of mental health beds with Giles Court’s relocation to Kenmore Hospital.

The Southern NSW Local Health District announced this week that it would shift the Bourke Street Health Service’s 16-bed dementia unit and the Brain Injury Unit to the Taralga Road facility. Giles Court would be moved by Easter, with talks ongoing about the Brain Injury Unit. It comes ahead of the Health District’s complete shift of services, mostly to the redeveloped Goulburn Base Hospital.

But GDU president Anna Wurth-Crawford, a former mentalhealth worker in Goulburn, said staff at Kenmore had “no idea about the move.”

“Relatives (of Giles Court residents) are (also) very upset about it because they have further to travel and it isn’t central to town,” she said.

More importantly, she feared the loss of mentalhealth beds at Kenmore. The Hemmings Centre has 22 beds, currently at one-third capacity, and the Morgan Centre, 22 beds, with halfcurrently used. The Morgan Centre will accommodate Giles Court.

Mrs Wurth-Crawford said the Hemmings unit was a valuable rehabilitative outlet, including four cottages, for people with severe mentalillness, learning how to transition back to society.

She claimed clientsat Giles Court and the Brain Injury Unit were notassessed as patients under the NSW Mental Health Act. She believed this would have implications for the number of mentalhealth beds available at Kenmore.

But the Health District on Thursday “assured” the community there would be no loss of service, beds or staff through the move.

“The relocation will streamline and improve the quality of care to patients by having all clinicians, health staff and patients located on the one campus,” a spokesman said.

He said there were currently five patients in Giles Court, which was a Transitional Behavioural Assessment and Intervention Service. Further, it had not attracted full occupancy for “many years.”

“T-BASIS treatment is focused on specialist assessment and reduction of clinical and behavioural symptoms to enable aged patients to be transferred home, or to appropriate community residential support services,” he said.

With the move of 20 long-stay Morgan Centre patients into the community three years ago, 16 of the 32 beds had been temporarily closed. Available beds would meet the demand, plus accommodate Giles Court patients.

The Health District did not address The Post’s question regarding Giles Court’s patients’ classification under the Mental Health Act.

The spokesman said the Giles Court move had been under consideration for severalyears and planning started “well before the NSW Government announced funding for the Base Hospital and Health Service’s redevelopment.

“The move is independent but complementary to the redevelopment plans and the future requirement to relocate services currently provided at the nearby Bourke Street Health campus,” he said.

“Discussions about the potential relocation of the Brain Injury Unit are ongoing and no decision about itwill be made until consultations with staff and the community are given consideration.”

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Woodwork labelled a ‘rewarding hobby’

Great cause: The Hastings Woodworkers Guild president Robert Miles is pictured with a motorcycle intarsia which was made by a guild member to be a raffle prize, with contributions going towards helping those with Huntington’s disease. Hastings Woodworkers Guild president Robert Miles says the group is coming up with ideas to ensure that woodworking does not ‘die out’ as a hobby.
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“I can’t really see it dying out completely because there seems to be people who are interested,” he said.

“I think a problem from where we’re concerned is limitations on the time people have these days.”

He said if people are working, it can be hard to fit in the hobby around their busy schedules.

It would be a shame, Mr Miles said if the group don’t pass on some of their woodworking skills.

Mr Miles has a metal work background, so he sees woodworking as a nice change.

“I get a lot of satisfaction out of it andmaking things from wood as it has a nice feel to it,” he said.

There are currently 46 peopleinvolved in the guild, includingfive women members.

Mr Miles said it would be fantastic if more women joined the guild.

He said that every member is willing to help when needed to pass on their skills.

The group is open to people who may not have used tools prior to joining.

“Depending on what skill they want to learn or what type of woodwork they want to do, there is someone there to take them under their wing and show them around,” Mr Miles said.

Regular instructive sessions are run and cover issues ranging from topics of first aid to making a dove box.

The sessions usually follow the monthly meeting on the third Saturday of the month.

Mr Miles said the meetings are also an opportunity for members to show pieces that they may be working on, share ideas and discuss processes of how best to make something.

“The emphasis is on endeavour and accomplishment rather than competition,” he said.

Meeting days conclude with a meal shared by members.

Mr Miles said there’s a warmth and camaraderie which stems from the Hastings Woodworkers Guild, and this is key to making it such a special group.

“It is fun to belong to, is a vital part of the wider community and is a wonderful centre to relax in, learn some new skills and enjoy some fellowship,” he said.

Mr Miles said the social aspect of the group is important, as a lot of members may not have that aspect outside of the guild.

An exhibition of woodwork will be at the CWA rooms in Port Macquarieon September 29 and September 30.

One member John Kowenberg has made a motorcycle intarsia to be a raffle prize, with contributions going towards helping those with Huntington’s disease.

People can purchase raffle tickets or donate through the Facebook page‘Ride for Jeff’.

For more information about the Hastings Woodworkers Guild call 0457 413 201 orvisit the Timbertown shed in Wauchope.

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