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Clarence Valley News

Ferry departs looking its best

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Ulmarra Ferry Decorations

Ferry departs looking its best

 

By Tim Howard

The residents of Ulmarra did their best to ensure their beloved ferry sailed into history looking its absolute best for its last day of service on Monday.

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The 74-year-old vessel, the latest to have crossed the Clarence River between Ulmarra and Southgate, made its last trip at 10.40pm on Monday, ending more than 130 years of history.

After making its last trip on Monday it’s scheduled to be towed to Harwood Marine where it will be decommissioned

Residents from Ulmarra and Southgate, who had fought the NSW Government since April to keep the ferry service, gathered on Sunday to dress up the vessel for its last two days of service.

Cr Steve Pickering, an Ulmarra businessman, has been one of the leading figures in the battle to save the ferry service.

He brought two notices of motion to Clarence Valley Council, calling for the council to urge the State Government to ensure the ferry service continued.

Residents also raised a petition which quickly attracted more than 6000 signatures which the Member for Clarence, Richie Williamson, presented to State Parliament.

Ulmarra Ferry Last Day

Ulmarra and Southgate residents have added some festive touches to the Ulmarra Ferry of its last day on Monday. The last crossing occurred at 10.40pm.

While Cr Pickering was disappointed the government ignored the clear wishes of the community most galling was decision to maintain a ferry service in Sydney, which compared less than favourably with the Ulmarra service.

“The same day the Clarence Valley community discovered that while the Ulmarra ferry service had been cancelled, the same government took ownership and operational control of the Lower Portland Ferry,” Cr Pickering said.

“The Lower Portland Ferry is in Sydney, transports fewer vehicles, costs more, and the equivalent trip by road is shorter than the trip between Ulmarra and Southgate via Grafton.

“To hear this information is devastating and unbelievable.”

Cr Pickering said to take a service from regional NSW and then use the cost savings to buy and operate a similar service in Sydney was not right.

“It’s not right for a government that is supposed to represent all citizens to so blatantly and obviously favour and support those who live in Sydney over our farmers, tradies, families, and tourists,” he said.

“Come on Jenny Aitchison MP, what is going on here? This decision was made before the decision to cancel the Ulmarra service was made.”

Cr Pickering said a Transport for NSW spokesperson had commented on local radio that the Portland service was different because the ferry in use was not near the end of its useful life and there was no sandbank issues.

“The thing about that is the government has known about those issues for a long time and done nothing to fix them,” he said.

“If they’d been serious about keeping the ferry service they would have had plans in place to replace it and deal with the silting problem.

“Instead they did nothing and just closed it down.”

Social media has also lit up with support for keeping the ferry service and many people taking time to have one last trip on the ferry and sharing the experience.

Ulmarra Ferry Decorations

The ferry leaves to cross the river during its last day of service on Monday. Transport for NSW decommissioned the ferry on Monday, ending more than 130 years of river crossings at Ulmarra.

Rumour the ferry was on the chopping block began to emerge early in the year and by aMarch Mr Williamson had raised a petition calling on the NSW Government to keep the ferry.

But before he could bring the petition to parliament the TfNSW director North Region Anna Zycki made the announcement the ferry was to close.

She said it had reached an age and condition where it was no longer fit to operate and ongoing river conditions also made the service untenable.

“The existing ferry has reached the end of its serviceable life,” she said.

“Because the existing ferry is now so old and requires so much repair, such a large restoration project would take about 18 months and cost an estimated $5 million, which is around a million dollars more than building a new car ferry.

“It’s effectively beyond repair, so this service would have been closed for that length of time anyway.”

Ms Zycki said silting on the southside of the river at Southgate was another problem for the service.

“The river is constantly changing course and there is nothing we can do to prevent the silt building up,” she said.

“We’ve dredged in the past, but it’s only a matter of a couple of weeks and the silt is back. It’s costly to do and has no lasting benefit.”

Ms Zycki said the number of cars carried on the ferry had plummeted since the opening of the second bridge at Grafton.

“When the new Balun Bindarray Bridge opened in Grafton in late 2019, patronage of the Ulmarra ferry immediately dropped by 46%” Ms Zycki said.

“It was anticipated that demand for the ferry would decline once the new bridge opened so it would largely replace the ferry service.

“The patronage hasn’t returned and the ferry – when river conditions allow it to operate – now carries on average about one vehicle per trip, costing taxpayers $22 for each vehicle journey.”

 

For more local Clarence Valley news, click here.

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Clarence Valley News

Clarence Valley Country Muster

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Clarence Valley Country Muster

Clarence Valley Country Muster

 

If you are missing the country sounds from Tamworth, fret not, as the Clarence Valley Country Muster is just around the corner.

Expanded from two days to four, the event will start on July 25th and go to July 28th at 11 Coulters Lane, Ulmarra, near Grafton.

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You will enjoy artists such as Jade Hurley, John, Lloyd, Jack Watson, Lindsay Waddington and Jamie Davis.

Special guest artists, Paul Ricketts, Winner of the Thornton Young Award and Nay McAplin, Winner of the Walk Ups in July, will also make an appearance.

Your comperes for the main stage will be Terry Gordon OAM and Ken ‘Chainsaw’ Lindsay.

And bring those nerves with you, as from 10.30am on Thursday, aspiring artists can take their turn on the microphone, with John Lloyd hosting the walk-ups.

All acts will be vying for a gig at next July’s event.

Now is the time to grab a group of friends or family members and book your spot by heading to their website www.cvcmuster.com.au or calling Wendy Gordon on 0432 741947.

Gates open for early arrival at the muster site on Tuesday, July 23.

For $120 per person, you can enjoy a full week of camping, camaraderie and entertainment at one of the best value-for-money festivals in the Clarence Valley.

Check out is Tuesday, July 30.

If you have a fire pit, bring it along as wood will be supplied.

There will be songs around the campfire, best dressed Christmas and party games and a big finale on the Sunday.

 

For more local Clarence Valley news, click here.

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Clarence Valley News

NSW BUDGET: NOTHING FOR RICHMOND AND CLARENCE VALLEYS COST OF LIVING CRISIS, BUT SOME WINS

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NSW BUDGET Cost of Living

NSW BUDGET: NOTHING FOR RICHMOND AND CLARENCE VALLEYS COST OF LIVING CRISIS, BUT SOME WINS

 

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.

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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

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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.

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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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