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Murwillumbah News

WHAT’S GOING ON IN THE TWEED RIVER – NSW FARMERS WANT ANSWERS

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NOTICE OF MEMBERS EXTRAORINDARY LAND DEALING MEETING

WHAT’S GOING ON IN THE TWEED RIVER – NSW FARMERS WANT ANSWERS

By Sarah Waters

WHEN it comes to growing sugar cane there isn’t much Murwillumbah farmer Robert Hawken doesn’t know.

Still, the humble and jovial farmer jokes that after 50 years he’s just learnt how to do it right.

As a third-generation farmer in the Tweed, he considers himself a relative newcomer to the district compared to some of his neighbour’s families who have been in the business since the mid 1880’s.

His knowledge and expertise tell a different story though.

Mr Hawken, who is Chairman of the Tweed River Canegrowers Association, will keenly explain the history of sugar cane in Tweed, including how it used to be sent by boat or train to the Colonial Sugar Refinery (CSR) refinery in Sydney 150 years ago.

“When CSR had trouble getting enough sugar to refine, because there were difficulties, that’s when they said we will go and build raw sugar mills and we will mill it and make the raw sugar onsite where the farms are,” Mr Hawken said.

“In 1878 they built Harwood Sugar Mill; Broadwater in 1880 and Condong Sugar Mill in 1882.”

Mr Hawken, along with all North Coast Canegrowers, are part-owners of Sunshine Sugar – one of the few Australian companies that not only makes raw sugar but refines and sells sugar.

He is well-respected in the cane growing industry and his knowledge about farming on the Tweed landscape is vast.

The one thing, he said he would like to know more about though is the Tweed River and why it is not functioning like it used to.

Like many farmers in the Tweed Shire, he experienced substantial deterioration of his cane crop on his 280-hectare farm during the 2017 and 2022 floods.

Thirty-five per cent of his sugar cane crop (in tonnage) was lost in last year’s flood, which resulted in a financial loss of about $150,000.

But, compared to some of his neighbours and fellow farmers in the Richmond Valley he said he got off relatively lightly.

Mr Hawken, and a large contingent of the Tweed Shire community, now want to find out why the floods are getting bigger and what state the Tweed River is in.

“We know that the river does not have the efficacy that it used to have,” Mr Hawken said.

“We know that the flood heights are higher, and they are staying longer.

“Even though every flood is different, because a lot depends on what the ocean is doing … we are concerned that the primary function of the (Tweed) River to expel excess water into the ocean, isn’t being recognised and it is not doing its job.”

Mr Hawken said the 2017 flood was the biggest flood he had seen in his lifetime and then the flood in 2022 was one bigger than that.

He accepts floods happen and knows every year the Tweed River has flooded since the 1950s, but he believes something is going on that is not adding up.

“We know there has been torrential rain in the past,” he said.

“In 1956 there was a similar type of flood when there was 25 inches of rain (about 600mls) in 24 hours, which is phenomenal sort of rain, but there was nothing like the flood height and devastation and inundation that occurred in 2017 or 2022.

“What we want to know is why are the floods getting bigger and bigger and why is the river not expelling water efficiently into the ocean.”

NSW Farmers and Tweed community members recently welcomed the news that a study of the Tweed River will be undertaken by Australia’s National Science Agency CSIRO – pending the Tweed Shire Council’s application is successful.

Council voted unanimously at their April 6 council meeting to contact state and federal governments and request an urgent CSIRO study on the Tweed River.

If approved, a comprehensive hydrological and hydrodynamic study will take place, funded by the National Emergency Management Agency Fund.

The Tweed community, backed by Member for Lismore Janelle Saffin, rallied together to push for a CSIRO flood study.

There remains a level of scepticism by some community members as to why the study wasn’t done sooner.

Mr Hawken primarily puts it down to lack of resources and said 2017 would have been the year to do a full study, but ‘hindsight is a wonderful thing.’

“What’s motivated the community here is that the Richmond is getting a CSIRO study – and they certainly need it,” he said.

“Tweed Shire Council have done studies in the past, but they weren’t complete studies.

“The CSIRO people have told us that you need a completely detailed study both hydrological and hydrodynamic to find out just what is happening and how it (the river) will work properly.”

There are many theories circulating on why the river isn’t working efficiently.

Mr Hawken has his own ideas, which he hopes will be confirmed.

He said development over the years including roads, bridges and buildings have changed the landscape and put pressure on the flood plains.

As a result, the Tweed River has been constricted in parts and developments have been detrimental to parts of the flood flow.

“The planning of development is very important and there needs to be very careful consideration when it comes to development.”

He also believes silt in the Tweed River is a major factor.

“We know for a fact that the water doesn’t get away off the landscape as quickly as it used to.

“There is a suspicion, which we can’t prove, but we hope the CSIRO study may confirm that even though we’re having torrential rain, the torrential rain that we’ve had in recent years – such as the big flood in 2017 and this even bigger flood in 2022 – even though we’ve had that type of rainfall back in 1956, it just seems that the flood peaks are getting higher.

“The big question in everyone’s mind is desilting the river.

“That’s the big push that’s on – the river is in a very sad state.”

If the CSIRO study is approved, it is estimated it will cost more than $2million and it could take up to two years before it commences, due to the other studies which CSIRO are currently undertaking.

Mr Hawken said the wait is well and truly worth it.

“All I can say is that the Tweed farmers, and many other community members, are really looking forward to the results of this CSIRO survey and are very hopeful that local, state, and federal governments, will be supportive of the recommendations that CSIRO make.

“If you have a professional survey and professionally formulated recommendations, I think there’s little option but for council and state government to implement them.”

In the meantime, Mr Hawken is back to work on the farm and doing his estimates for the year, which he predicts will be down.

He still finds debris from last year’s flood stuck among his crops, but his level of optimism about the future of farming in the Tweed remains as strong as ever.

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Murwillumbah cat adoption centre set to close

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Friends of the Pound
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NOTICE OF MEMBERS EXTRAORINDARY LAND DEALING MEETING

Murwillumbah cat adoption centre set to close

 

By Sarah Wates

A Murwillumbah cat adoption centre, run by Friends of the Pound (FoP), will close its doors at the end of June.

The animal rehoming organisation is reaching out to the community, urging anyone with the capacity to welcome a cat into their life to consider adopting one.

For the past four years, Friends of the Pound has operated its cat adoption centre on Prospero St in south Murwillumbah.

Friends of the Pound President Sonia Trichter said unfortunately their lease can no longer be renewed as the owners have plans to change the use of the building.

“It will be sad to see the Murwillumbah adoption centre closed,” Ms Trichter said.

“People came there often, and we did adopt a lot of cats there.

“It’ll be hard for the volunteers in Murwillumbah too.

“They love animals, and they need something to do with their time,” she said.

There are currently 16 cats at Murwillumbah which need a home.

They will be relocated to Friends of the Pound’s Tweed Heads adoption centre, which is already housing 20 cats.

To make room for the incoming arrival of cats, the volunteer organisation has had to pay for extra cat enclosures to be made.

Friends of the Pound President Sonia Trichter

Friends of the Pound President Sonia Trichter has been volunteering with the non-for-profit animal rehoming organisation for 15 years.

It is also managing the care of hundreds of kittens, between foster carers and private shelters, until they are ready to find their forever homes.

Ms Trichter said the closure of the Murwillumbah adoption centre wasn’t ideal, especially as it came at a time when pet rescues across the country were overflowing.

“The economic crisis isn’t helping things, especially with the increasing rates of homelessness, which pets are also victims of.

“No one is mentioning anything about what happens to people’s pets if they can’t find housing.”

Friends of the Pound primarily dealt with the rehoming of stray animals prior to covid.

Now, they are also trying to rehome people’s beloved pets or care for them until their owners have found suitable accommodation again.

Recently, a lady who was escaping a domestic violence situation, turned up at Friends of the Pound with seven pets, including four cats, which needed to be looked after while she tried to find alternative accommodation.

Friends of the Pound have been caring for her cats for the past three months.

Ms Trichter said volunteers often heard a lot of sad stories as they tried their best to juggle the influx of animals amidst the challenging social and economic situation.

“We’re only a small volunteer group and we’re full.

“I think we’re all suffering from a bit of burn out, it gets to you after a while.”

Members of the community are encouraged to meet some of the beautiful cat at Friends of the Pound, 29A Prospero Street, Murwillumbah, and help find them a home.

Cat adoption prices are discounted 20 per cent with bedding and toys included for free.

The adoption centre is open from 10am – 3pm Monday to Saturday.

For more information please phone (07) 5524 8590 or email: info@friendsofthepound.com

 

For more Murwillumbah News, click here.

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Tweed Regional Museum to get major lighting upgrade

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Tweed Regional Museum Director Molly Green showing Lismore MP Janelle Saffin around the Omnia: all and everything exhibition.
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NOTICE OF MEMBERS EXTRAORINDARY LAND DEALING MEETING

Tweed Regional Museum to get major lighting upgrade

 

STATE Member for Lismore Janelle Saffin has welcomed a $140,000 NSW Government grant to upgrade lighting at Murwillumbah’s Tweed Regional Museum in its 20th anniversary year.

Ms Saffin congratulated Museum Director Molly Green on her successful application under the Infrastructure Grants Program, made possible by the Clubgrants Category 3 Fund.

This fund reinvests a contribution from the state’s registered clubs’ gaming machine profits back into community projects.

In a community recognition statement lodged in Parliament last week, Ms Saffin paid tribute to the professionalism and passion of Ms Green, Curator Erika Taylor and their dedicated support staff.

“It’s hard to believe it’s been two decades since three historical societies – Murwillumbah, Tweed Heads and Uki & South Arm – signed a Memorandum of Understanding to amalgamate under Tweed Shire Council’s management,” Ms Saffin said.

“Over that time, the museum has grown exponentially into one of Australia’s leading regional museums.

“Molly Green is blessed by having a 30-strong team of volunteers, known as museum ambassadors.

“Tweed Regional Museum has amassed a collection of more than 100,000 objects housed in the former Tweed Shire Council Chambers, built in 1915, and extended with a contemporary space in 2014.

“While the collection can also be viewed online, it is the high standard of rotating exhibitions for which the museum is renowned.”

Omnia: all and everything is a new major exhibition celebrating the 20-year milestone and will run until 23 November 2024.

Curated to redefine the traditional museum experience, Omnia invites visitors on an immersive journey through the vibrant history, dynamic present and promising future of the Tweed Shire.

 

For more Tweed Shire news, click here.

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Construction of Vital Stormwater Pump Station Commences in Murwillumbah

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State Member for Lismore and NSW Parliamentary Secretary for Disaster Recovery Janelle Saffin MP with, from left, Murwillumbah (Brothers) Leagues Club representative Dave Orr, Tweed Shire Mayor Cr Chris Cherry, Federal Member for Richmond Justine Elliot MP and Brothers’ Glenn Weaver inspecting construction of the new pump station.
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NOTICE OF MEMBERS EXTRAORINDARY LAND DEALING MEETING

Construction of Vital Stormwater Pump Station Commences in Murwillumbah

 

In a significant step towards enhancing flood mitigation in Murwillumbah, construction has begun on a new stormwater pump station situated behind the levee at Murwillumbah (Brothers) Leagues Club. This $1.626 million project is a collaborative effort between Tweed Shire Council, the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), the Reconstruction Authority (RA), and the NSW Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water (DCCEEW).

The new pump station is a key component of several initiatives being implemented in the Tweed Local Government Area under the Northern Rivers Recovery and Resilience Program (NRRRP). This program, funded by the Australian Government, allocates $150 million for flood mitigation and resilience projects across the Northern Rivers region, severely affected by flooding in February and March 2022.

The NRRRP aims to foster long-term resilience, ensuring communities are better equipped to withstand and recover from future disasters. Construction on the pump station began in early May and is expected to take approximately three months to complete, weather permitting. During this period, the levee wall and the dirt track behind the Brothers clubhouse will be inaccessible to the public.

The project includes the installation of two new pumps, each standing approximately two meters tall, capable of moving nearly 1,000 litres of stormwater per second at full speed.

Under the NRRRP, $6.67 million has been allocated for several additional projects, supplemented by $2 million from the RA. These projects include:

  • Wharf Street pump station upgrade
  • Lavender Creek pump station upgrade
  • New pump system within the East Murwillumbah levee
  • Detailed evacuation procedures
  • Alma Street modification
  • Earthworks across Lot 4 on Quarry Road and modification of Condong Creek

Construction activities began on May 9, 2024, with work scheduled from Monday to Friday between 7 am and 6 pm, and occasional Saturday operations from 7 am to 1 pm. Safety measures include site fencing around the construction area and the temporary closure of the levee wall and dirt track behind Brothers Leagues Club. Equipment transport will occasionally utilize the park gate at the end of Murwillumbah Street, which will also serve as a temporary haulage route.

State Member for Lismore and NSW Parliamentary Secretary for Disaster Recovery Janelle Saffin MP with, from left, Murwillumbah (Brothers) Leagues Club representative Dave Orr, Tweed Shire Mayor Cr Chris Cherry, Federal Member for Richmond Justine Elliot MP and Brothers’ Glenn Weaver inspecting construction of the new pump station.

State Member for Lismore and NSW Parliamentary Secretary for Disaster Recovery Janelle Saffin MP with, from left, Murwillumbah (Brothers) Leagues Club representative Dave Orr, Tweed Shire Mayor Cr Chris Cherry, Federal Member for Richmond Justine Elliot MP and Brothers’ Glenn Weaver inspecting construction of the new pump station.

Community and Government Leaders Speak on the Project

Justine Elliot, Member for Richmond: “This project exemplifies how government funding can support communities in taking necessary steps to improve flood protection following the devastating 2022 flood events. The NRRRP is delivering real projects in Tweed, ensuring communities like Murwillumbah are better positioned to recover from future severe weather events. I am very pleased to see construction underway with funding support from the NRRRP on this vital stormwater pump, which will boost flood resilience. The Albanese Government is committed to helping the Northern Rivers on the road to recovery and ensuring we are all better prepared for future events.”

Janelle Saffin, Parliamentary Secretary of Disaster Recovery: “This will make a significant difference to the lives and livelihoods of people living and working in Murwillumbah. It represents real action on mitigation measures, so communities are better prepared and able to recover from the devastating impacts of floods. It demonstrates a willingness from all levels of government to get on with the job of increasing community resilience to future disasters.”

Chris Cherry, Mayor of Tweed Shire Council: “This stormwater pump station is a vital component of Council’s flood mitigation strategy for Murwillumbah and aims to reduce the impact of stormwater flooding in the area. The pump station will not eliminate all flooding, but it will reduce the frequency and magnitude of nuisance flooding due to storm events. While we can’t stop flooding from occurring, the pumps will significantly improve drainage of the area following a rain event, helping to reduce the impact of flooding on local residents and Brothers Leagues Club in the future. Thanks to the generous support of NEMA, NSW RA, and DCCEEW, this project represents a significant step towards strengthening our community’s resilience to flooding.”

Clint O’Keefe, Chairman of Murwillumbah Leagues Club: “Flooding has long been a problem for us at Murwillumbah (Brothers) Leagues Club, and we are excited to see work start on building this new pump station. Brothers is an intrinsic part of Murwillumbah life – not only on match days but also as a centre for social gatherings. This pump station means we will be able to resume normal operations much quicker after a major rain event.”

 

For more Murwillumbah News, click here.

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