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Northern Rivers & Rural News

Rural Aid helps fill the ag worker shortage

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Rural Aid

Rural Aid helps fill the ag worker shortage

Australia’s most trusted rural charity, Rural Aid, is helping fill the agricultural worker shortage created by border closures and travel restrictions.
Rural Aid’s Farm Army website provides a platform where volunteers and workers apply for jobs that are listed by farmers needing a hand.
Since 2015, thousands of volunteers and workers have found meaningful work on Aussie farms through the Farm Army site.
The site has undergone an upgrade, making it easier than ever to find workers.
Southeast Queensland pumpkin grower Pauline* has had several volunteers help on her property after a tough few years dealing with flood, drought, mouse plague, personal injury, and covid-19.
“We couldn’t find any help. We would normally employ people but with the mouse plague here, the mice were eating our pumpkins faster than we could get them picked. We tried to find local workers, but we couldn’t get backpackers, and nobody could take us up on the paid work. We found it really difficult,” she said.
“With the Farm Army, we have had someone who was able to come and help us pick. It was lifesaver. Just to have another person on deck for my husband to work with… it just made such a difference to us.”
“With the covid stuff and time restraints, we haven’t had a chance to go out at all and have been probably quite isolated. But to have people on the farm, especially people who have a sense of farming, it just makes so much difference emotionally.”
Pauline is still looking for help on the farm, leading into pumpkin planting season.
“Everything that gives you a bit of hope, helps you to keep going,” she said.
Rural Aid CEO John Warlters said the Farm Army is a valuable resource in the current climate.
“We know finding workers for harvest is difficult at the moment, which is why we are excited to relaunch the Farm Army website now,” Mr Warlters said.
“The platform is great for filling other jobs too. Keep an eye out for truck driving work, farmhand jobs and caretaking and housesitting roles too.
“More than ten thousand volunteers, job seekers and grey nomads are already part of the Farm Army and receive regular job updates,” Mr Warlters said.
Retirees and Farm Army members Sandra and Peter Kearns have attended a few jobs on properties across Australia through the Farm Army platform.
“We were looking for something other than just being on the road and travelling on the road, we were looking for something meaningful, something rewarding,” said Peter.
“We’ve helped muster sheep, crutch sheep and we looked after farmer’s kids. We helped with schooling, baking, and cooking,” Sandra said.
The Farm Army is open to primary producers who are registered with Rural Aid. For more information, check out the Farm Army website www.farmarmy.com.au

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The Beauty of the Sugar Industry

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Harwood Sugar Mill Mural

The Beauty of the Sugar Industry

 

A recently completed mural at the entry to the 150-year-old Harwood Sugar Mill is stopping traffic and creating excitement in the little village with the oldest Australian owned sugar mill.

In the lead up to the 150-year celebrations, artist Nitsua, has created an artwork that reflects the blending of the cane growing and milling activities in the Northern Rivers, that exists thanks to the all-Australian partnership between the grower-owned NSW Sugar Milling Cooperative and family-owned Manildra Group.

The artwork was commissioned by Sunshine Sugar as part of the preparations to celebrate the significant milestone of 150 years continuous manufacturing operation and Australian ownership – all on the same location on the bank of the mighty Clarence River.

As Sunshine Sugar CEO, Mr Chris Connors commented: “Not too many businesses in Australia can say they have achieved such a significant milestone, which is why we are making the effort to celebrate and promote the resilient industry we have here in NSW.”

Sunshine Sugar and the NSW sugar industry have a line-up of community events and activities happening at Harwood (near Yamba) in August. The celebrations with culminate in a massive outdoor community event to be held at the Harwood Cricket Oval on Sunday 25th August.

Find out more at: 150th Harwood Mill Landing Page – Sunshine Sugar

 

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Local News

SANDY CREEK FERRY

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Sandy Creek Ferry at the Junction of Sandy Creek and Bungawalbyn Creek

SANDY CREEK FERRY

 

By Helen Trustum

Water hyacinth was a menace on the Richmond River including Sandy Creek. The first appearance of water hyacinth in Sandy Creek was in 1911. Nothing was done and before they knew it both Sandy Creek and Bungawalbyn were covered. A water hyacinth eradication board was formed, coordinated by Richmond River County Council.

Sandy Creek Ferry at the Junction of Sandy Creek and Bungawalbyn Creek

Sandy Creek Ferry at the Junction of Sandy Creek and Bungawalbyn Creek

Sandy Creek emerges about 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) north of the village of Busbys Flat. The creek flows generally east, crossing the Summerland Way at Coombell, then flows down through Yorklea, Tatham, Bora Ridge into Bungawalbyn Creek, before reaching the Richmond River at Bungawalbyn, south of Coraki.

In 1889 Messrs. McLean and Nicol explored the coal seams at Moonembar. A tunnel was opened at Moonembar, when the Richmond Hill Coal Mining Company was formed in 1891. A ferry was operating over Sandy Creek in 1889.

Sandy Creek Bridge at Tatham

Sandy Creek Bridge at Tatham

Reported in the Richmond River Herald 9/9/1889 it mentions the splendid crop of maize grown by Mr Thomas Birmingham on what was formerly swamp ground but due to draining, the ground was much easier to cultivate and would withstand much more wet weather than the riverbank. Special notice was brought to the attention on the flat close to Sandy Creek punt where there was always knee deep water there for months. These great results all were attributed to the drains sunk by Mr Yabsley.

In the Richmond River Herald 7/6/1907 some discussion was held regarding the location of the Sandy Creek Bridge and the state of the roads leading to it as well as the continued use of Sandy Creek Ferry.

Sandy Creek Bridge across Sandy Creek on the Summerland Way at Coombell

Sandy Creek Bridge across Sandy Creek on the Summerland Way at Coombell

A wooden bridge was built over Sandy Creek.  It was there as reported in the Government Gazette 8/5/1907. Due to the flood in 1931 the earth embankment in connection with Sandy Creek flood gate, was washed away in the February flood. Mr Murray Yabsley and Mr Arthur Pursey gave their services free to renew the embankment. When finished it held back over eleven feet of water in time of a big flood. A new floodgate was built.

There are two main Sandy Creek crossings, one there at the junction of Bungawalbyn Creek and the other 16km up at Coombell. Both Sandy Creek bridges were built by Kennedy Brothers from Lismore. The bridge close to Bungawalbyn was built in 1960 closely followed by the other one.

Sandy Creek Bridge on Bora Ridge Road

Sandy Creek Bridge on Bora Ridge Road

Not a lot is known of the Sandy Creek Ferry, but we do know it existed back in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s.

Ref: Terry Murphy from Bora Ridge, Mervyn Parrish and Headly Ellis from West Coraki, Ray Pignat from Coraki, Noel Thompson from Coraki, Richmond River Herald.

 

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Northern Rivers Rural Scholars Represent the Next Generation of Leaders

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DEAN CHAPMAN - 2024 Rural Scholarship program

Northern Rivers Rural Scholars Represent the Next Generation of Leaders

 

In a significant investment in the future of rural and regional communities, the RAS Foundation has selected a record 91 students for its 2024 Rural Scholarship program, including three scholars from the Northern Rivers region.

About the Scholarship Program

Now in its 14th year, the RAS Foundation Rural Scholarship program provides financial support to tertiary education students who are shaping the future of regional NSW by pursuing careers within rural or regional communities. This year, a record $516,000 will be distributed among the scholarship recipients to help ease the financial burdens associated with higher education, such as relocation costs, study expenses, and the inability to work consistently due to study commitments or placements.

Statement from the Foundation Manager

Cecilia Logan, Foundation Manager, expressed the Charity’s privilege in supporting the next generation of rural and regional leaders. “This year’s applicants are outstanding ambassadors for their communities and have the potential to create a positive and lasting impact in the regional sector through their chosen career paths,” she said. Logan highlighted the significant financial burden that pursuing higher education poses, especially for students from regional areas, and emphasized the program’s goal to ensure these students have access to the same opportunities as their metropolitan counterparts.

Scholars from Northern Rivers

  • Jacob Brentnall – Casino: Bachelor of Medical Studies/Doctor of Medicine
  • Dean Chapman – Fine Flower: Bachelor of Engineering (Honours)
  • Indigo Kesztler – Lismore: Bachelor of Dental Science

Lismore local Indigo Kesztler, studying dental science, aims to address the large healthcare gap in rural and remote communities, particularly in oral health. “There is a large healthcare gap in rural and remote communities within Australia, especially when it comes to education, affordability and long waiting lists associated with seeking public dental care. Once completing my studies, I hope to continue my work in rural areas and provide support to Indigenous communities and those who face barriers when it comes to accessing oral health care,” Kesztler said. The scholarship has alleviated the financial pressure associated with her degree, allowing her to focus more on her studies.

Financial Support

The RAS Foundation awards up to $6000 to full-time Rural Scholarship recipients and up to $3000 for part-time students, made possible through the generosity of donors like The Snow Foundation and UNE Foundation. Over its 17-year history, the RAS Foundation has invested over $9 million into rural and regional NSW through education and community grant programs, providing over 900 scholarships to students across Australia, including targeted scholarships for careers in regional journalism and the Australian wine industry.

Future Applications

Applications for the 2025 RASF Rural Scholarship will open on July 1, 2024, and close on September 22, 2024. The scholarship program is open to students across NSW and the ACT who are currently enrolled or applying for study in an accredited tertiary course at an Australian university, college, or TAFE, with no age or degree type restrictions.

The RAS Foundation continues to support rural scholars, ensuring they have the resources needed to pursue their academic and career aspirations, contributing to the strength and vitality of regional communities.

For more information, please visit www.rasf.org.au.

Meet the Northern Rivers Rural Scholars.

JACOB BRENTNALL
Casino
Bachelor of Medical Studies/Doctor of Medicine
University of New South Wales

JACOB BRENTNALL - 2024 Rural Scholarship program

JACOB BRENTNALL

Jacob is a fifth-year medical student studying at the University of New South Wales Rural Clinical Campus in Port Macquarie. His interests include anaesthetics, pain medicine, and general practice and he recently completed his Honours research project in acute pain management following hip fractures. Originally from the Northern Rivers, Jacob relocated to the Mid North Coast to study medicine with a strong passion for the rural and regional lifestyle and aspires to work in areas facing medical workforce shortages throughout his career.

DEAN CHAPMAN
Fine Flower
Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) (Flexible First Year)
University of Wollongong

DEAN CHAPMAN - 2024 Rural Scholarship program

DEAN CHAPMAN

Dean is excited to start his undergraduate Engineering degree at the University of Wollongong in 2024. A degree in engineering appeals to him as it will allow him to work on projects that improve the quality of life for many people. He has grown up on his family beef cattle property located at Fine Flower in the Northern Rivers where his family has been producing Australian beef for over 45 years. He enjoys exercising and keeping fit and his favourite sport is water polo but when on the farm, the best job is mustering cattle on the horses.

INDIGO KESZTLER
Lismore
Bachelor of Dental Science
Charles Sturt University

INDIGO KESZTLER - 2024 Rural Scholarship program

INDIGO KESZTLER

Indigo is currently in her fourth year studying dentistry at Charles Sturt University in Orange. Growing up in a small regional town in the Northern Rivers has highlighted the importance and need for supportive healthcare environments. Indigo recognises that costs often create a huge barrier for individuals in rural areas, leading to avoidance rather than prevention. She aspires to make a positive impact in rural communities through preventative care and the improvement of oral health literacy through education.

 

For more rural news, click here.

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