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Clarence Valley News

Flooded bridges cut off Coutts Crossing



Flooded bridges cut off Coutts Crossing

 Camp oven festival to go ahead

 By Tim Howard

 Residents around Coutts Crossing, cut off from Grafton, are keeping a close eye on weather patterns as more rain is predicted for the Clarence Valley this week.

The removal of the two timber bridges on the outskirts of Coutts Crossing has caused the township and outlying areas to be cut off.

Deputy mayor and Coutts resident Greg Clancy said the bridges, which were being replaced with modern concrete structures, would normally have kept the road open.

“The side access for the bridges during the building phase has gone under, cutting us off from Grafton,” he said.

This had personal ramifications for the deputy mayor and his wife Val.

“Val was visiting Coffs Harbour when road went under,” Cr Clancy said.

“She drove back to Grafton along the highway and the SES ferried her across to home because she had to access medication at the house.”

Cr Clancy said he suspected most Coutts residents would be in a similar position to his, provisioned well enough to ride out a few days of isolation.

“I know Allan, from the general store, was able to get into Grafton by going along the Glens Creek Rd to the Old Glen Innes Rd, but I don’t know how much stock he could bring back,” he said.

“Glens Creek Rd is a real mess and you’d only go that way with a good four-wheel drive.”

Cr Clancy said the town could be cut off for days as the Orara River is slow to recede.

“We’re hoping it goes down before the next rain system comes over and we can get into town to restock,” he said.

“Until then people have access to the general stores, so that should be good enough in the short term.”

The Bureau of Meteorology predicted flood heights at the Coutts Crossing bridges would remain at the moderate level in the early parts of the week.

It has also predicted another rain system would move over the North East of NSW on Tuesday bringing more rainfall until early next week.

On Sunday the BoM reported: “The Orara River at Coutts Crossing (Manual Observation) is currently at 9.55m and falling, with minor flooding. The Orara River at Coutts Crossing is expected to remain above the moderate flood level (9.00m) overnight Sunday into Monday.”

Mr Clancy said people coming down the mountain from Armidale were not aware the road into Grafton was cut.

“I’ve spoken to our (Clarence Valley Council) director of works, asking to have some signs put up at Ebor to let people know what’s happening,” he said.

The road closures could affect a large regional event scheduled for the Long Weekend.

The Clarence Valley Camp Oven Festival, at the Nymboida Camping and Canoe Centre, was due to begin on Friday and continue until Monday.

But a festival organiser, Laena Stephenson, said the festival the council said the road should be open in time for the festival.

“They promised it would be open by Tuesday,” she said. “But we’re going full steam ahead.

“We already have postponed it from the June Long Weekend because of rain.”

Ms Stephenson, a Nymboida resident, said the road closures had been creating havoc on the region’s back roads.

“People have been coming down the mountain road, saying there’s no signage warning of the road closures,” she said.

“We’ve had a ridiculous amount of traffic in the area and a lot of people have discovered the Glen’s Creek Rd to Old Glen Innes Rd into Grafton.”

She said the road was supposedly closed to all except local traffic, but users were not paying attention to this.

“We’ve had big log trucks using the road, and they’re just ripping it pieces,” she said.

“A friend of mind has been helping to repair culverts along the road, but he says as soon as they’re repaired another truck comes along and rips them up.”

Ms Stephenson hoped the council would install some signs to let people know of the problems.

“The Old Glen Innes Rd has been closed to traffic since July, but people are not taking any notice of it.”

Cr Clancy said there was also a workshop to assess wildlife recovery after the 2019-20 bushfires, scheduled for the Nymboida Hall.

“That one might able to be a Zoom or Teams event,” he said.

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Clarence Valley News





NSW BUDGET Cost of Living



The NSW Labor Government’s 18 June Budget does nothing to alleviate the growing cost of living problems in the Richmond and Clarence Valleys, although there is some good news for the region, according to Clarence Nationals MP Richie Williamson.

“Everywhere I go, every local I talk to, they all say the same thing: we’re struggling with rising costs – why isn’t the Government helping?” Mr Williamson said.

Mr Williamson said that he was all for working cooperatively with the Government, but there was mounting evidence Sydney Labor is “out of town, out of touch and the budget is out of control”.

“Calls to reinstate the $250 fuel card for regional seniors, students and apprentices have fallen on deaf ears, but Sydney seniors now enjoy $2-a-day Gold Passes on Sydney’s massive and massively subsidised public transport system as well as toll relief for Sydneysiders,” Mr Williamson said.

“Calls to save the Ulmarra ferry from Labor’s axe met a similar fate, at the same time as Labor is buying a fleet of new ferries for Sydney and took over another Sydney ferry service that has lower patronage than Ulmarra to Southgate.”

Mr Williamson did acknowledge the Government’s ongoing funding of the previous Liberals and Nationals Government’s Grafton Base Hospital rebuild, the allocation of $6.2m in the fight against White Spot disease in local rivers as well as a “welcome” $90m boost for the Resilient Homes Program, following the 2022 floods.

“These are crumbs compared to what Labor is lavishing on its Sydney heartland,” Mr Williamson cautioned.

“The Richmond and Clarence Valleys provide the timber for Sydney homes, the beef for Sydney dinners as well as the sugar and milk for Sydney cappuccinos.

“That needs to be acknowledged and we deserve our fair share,” Mr Williamson concluded.”


For more Richmond Valley news, click here.

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Clarence Valley News

At last. Shirley Adams gets her Way




Shirley Adams Way Sign

At last. Shirley Adams gets her Way


By Tim Howard

A jarring anomaly that has irked Clarence Valley residents from the moment it was first unveiled is about to be rectified.

Next month the name of the road that crosses the Balun Bindarray Bridge in Grafton will be changed from Shirley Way to Shirley Adams Way, finally giving correct recognition of the first female mayor of Grafton and a community champion.

Since November 2022 the section or road has been signposted as Shirley Way, setting off protests from every level of the community.

It has taken concerted efforts from Mrs Adam’s husband John, daughter Virginia, Clarence MP Richie Williamson and the Clarence Valley Council to get naming authority the Geographical Names Board to accept the community’s wishes.

The Adams family requested the approaches be renamed “Shirley Adams Way” to properly recognise Shirley Adams and ensure her memory lives on.

But the board refused the original request to use Mrs Adams full name because it had only recently introduced a ruling banning two word names because of the risk of confusion when directing emergency services units to specific addresses.

Since coming to office in March 2023, the Minister for Regional Transport and Roads Jenny Aitchison kickstarted a special process to allow for Shirley Way to be renamed Shirley Adams Way, in line with the family’s request.

After a public consultation took place earlier this year, Minister Aitchison last week approved the change in name and Shirley Adams Way will be the new name of the road from late July.

The minister said Ms Adams was the first female mayor of the then Grafton City Council, a former Jacaranda Queen, Jacaranda Festival President in 1976 and 1977, a Jacaranda Festival life member and was deeply involved in NSW Girl Guides, the United Hospital Auxiliary, Meals on Wheels, Clarence River Historical Society, Country Women’s Association, and many other organisations.

She was awarded an Order of Australia Medal in 1989.

“Last week I was pleased to approve the renaming of Shirley Way in Grafton to Shirley Adams Way,” Minister Aitchison said.

“This is a fitting tribute to Shirley Adams OAM who served as Grafton’s first female mayor and was also the first woman to lead the Country Mayor’s Association of NSW.

“In recognition of her services to local government and the Girl Guide Movement, Ms Adams also received a medal in the Order of Australia (OAM).”

Former Grafton Mayor Shirley Adams, with her husband John Adams

Former Grafton Mayor Shirley Adams, who died in June 2020, with her husband John Adams. Mr Adams has lobbied the government tirelessly for the name change on the bridge approaches.

The Minister said renaming the road was something she had supported since it first came to her attention.

“To honour Shirley’s legacy, it’s only right we rename this road, she said. “It’s come after years of campaigning and advocacy and is a great win for Shirley’s family and the broader Clarence Valley community.

“Everyone has always wanted the road to be renamed Shirley Adams Way and I am pleased that the NSW Labor Government has been able to make this happen.”

Ms Aitchison said the number of submissions calling for the change had been “overwhelming”.

“Given this and the special place Shirley Adams holds in the hearts of Clarence Valley community, I felt renaming the road to Shirley Adams Way was a simple, common sense way to honour the memory and legacy of a trailblazing woman,” she said.

“I am in awe of Shirley’s service to the Grafton and Clarence Valley communities.

“In coming weeks Transport for NSW will install new signage to mark the changing of the road name and the team will work with relevant organisations to notify them of the change.”

The minister has also reached out to the Adams family to notify them of the impending changes.

“I’ve spoken to Shirley’s daughter Virginia and she is just thrilled, she said.

“I’m looking forward to visiting Grafton to meet with Shirley’s family and friends to celebrate the renaming of the road when the new signs go up.

There has been bi-partisan support for the change, with the Minister acknowledging the work of Mr Williamson.

“I want to thank Richie Williamson MP and the Clarence Valley Council for their ongoing advocacy,” she said.

Mr Williamson said the change “just makes sense”.

“The name Shirley Adams is synonymous not only in Grafton but across the Clarence Valley and it is a fitting tribute to a remarkable lady and a dear friend who was a staunch advocate not only for her local community, but in encouraging women’s participation in public life and decision making,” he said.

“Shirley had a burning desire to make Grafton a better place and had a genuine love for the people of the city.”

Mr Williamson said the family would be relieved that the right decision had finally been made.

“I know her husband John Adams OAM and family are incredibly proud as is the community of Shirley’s legacy,” he said.

“The renaming of the road is a fitting tribute in honour and recognition of her service to local government, the girl guide movement and the wider community, and I look forward to the road officially being renamed with her family in the very near future.”


For more local Grafton news, click here.

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Clarence Valley News

Plan to turn ferry loss into $8.9mil windfall




Ulmarra Ferry Windall

Plan to turn ferry loss into $8.9mil windfall


By Tim Howard

A plan has been hatched to turn the Clarence Valley’s loss of the Ulmarra Ferry service earlier this month into an $8.9 million windfall.

A report from the Clarence Valley Council general manager Laura Black to the June council meeting on Tuesday said the loss of the ferry was a chance for the council to “advocate for compensatory funds” to fund infrastructure in the region.

Ms Black’s report noted the Transport for NSW advised the cost of replacing the ferry would have been $4million with annual running costs of more than $800,000 annually.

“Total funds sought are $8,883,950, to be allocated to Clarence Valley Council,” the report read.

The recommendation to the council was

That Council:

  1. writes to Local State Member Richie Williamson seeking his support in advocating for an allocation of funds to the Clarence Valley in lieu of continuation of the Ulmarra to Southgate Ferry service by Transport NSW.
  2. writes to the Minister for Regional Transport, the Hon. Jenny Aitchison requesting:
    1. funding totalling $8,883,950 to enable the upgrade of 5kms of Lawrence Road from Great Marlow to Grafton and, completion of the Ulmarra Riverside Precinct Bailey Park connectivity and Small Park upgrade and, completion of the Grafton Waterfront Precinct from Clarence Street to the Grafton Bridge.
    2. Transport NSW prioritises its commitment to design and deliver pedestrian access across Big River Way in the town of Ulmarra to facilitate connectivity in the town.
    3. Funds be made available to Transport NSW to prioritise the upgrade of the Pound and Villiers Street intersection to a signalised intersection as this is both a residual matter relating to the Grafton Bridge duplication and an intersection that will experience increased vehicular movements as a result of cessation of the Ulmarra to Southgate Ferry.

The report said a number of key projects in receipt of government funding had been underfunded.

For example the 5km Lawrence Rd – Great Marlow Rd to Grafton project had received $2.212 million, but the construction estimate was $7,341 mil, more than $5 million short of the mark.

Two projects in Ulmarra, the refurbishment of the riverside precinct of Bailey Park and the showground, Small Park were also in need of extra funding.

A full report on the council decision will appear in a future edition of The Northern Rivers Times.


For more local Clarence Valley news, click here.

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