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Local News

Local derby to open league season

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Local derby to open league season
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Local derby to open league season

 

By Tim Howard

Grafton league fans will get their first taste of local derby passion early this season when the South Grafton Rebels and Grafton Ghosts clash in the season opener at Frank McGuren Field, Grafton, on Sunday.

The Rebels, 2022 Group 2 premiers and beaten grand finalists in 2023 and the top four finishing Ghosts, have built impressive playing lists in the off seasons.

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For the Rebels the off season has cost them some key players, with promising teen half back Keaton Stutt, boom back rower Nick Torrens and power house centres James Torrens and Nick McGrady big losses from last year’s team.

But coach Ron Gordon has a reputation for overcoming mass departures and has lured a trump card back to McKittrick Park with the signing of former Ghosts captain coach Todd Cameron.

The signing of the hooker and goal kicker was a coup for Gordon.

“It’s great to have Toddy back.” Gordon said. “Toddy is one of the best players in the comp for the last probably 15 years.

“He’s a Rebels junior and he was always our toughest opponent as well when he played against us.

“Going back to last year, he was the difference. He scored three tries against us and, and put us away last year when we when we versed them in the first round of the competition.”

Gordon said Cameron fitted in well with the team and had plenty to offer on and off the field.

“The boys are just loving his company and just the experience he brings to the team,” he said.

Gordon has also lured one the stars of his grand final winning 2022 team, utility player Brian Quinlan, back to the club.

In the 2022 Rebels side Quinlan was an elusive winger, capable of destroying any defence.

Gordon said he was now looking at playing in the centres or at lock so he could get his hands on ball more often.

He said the Rebels had also been bolstered with the signing of a trio of Kempsey players.

“A couple of my mates that I coached in the big Aboriginal knockout in October a couple of boys from around Kempsey have come up to play for me this year,” he said.

”So I’ve got Richie Roberts. He was a captain coach of Port Breakers for about six years and took them to a couple of premierships down there and we got one of his best mates Conrad Lardner is having a game with us.

“And Richard’s younger brother, Paul Roberts, came up as well.”

Gordon said the club had picked up some exciting backline players in Dean Jones and Jack Welsh.

“Jack covers a number of positions,” Gordon said. “He plays in the halves, centres, fullback. So yeah, we picked up some really good players.”

Gordon was resigned to losing Stutt to the Ipswich Jets, but thinks he could be back for the odd cameo.

The coach has also dipped into the well of juniors talent, which he said was giving him some real selection head aches.

“I’ve got young Kailyn Squires who has come up from the Under-18,” he said. “He’s beating down the door for a starting spot in the back row.

“Briany (Quinlan), he’s the same he’s back row or centre and young Jye Boehme, he’s looking fantastic too.

“He’s put on a bit of size in muscle and he’s another bloke I could play anywhere.”

And Gordon said the form of veterans Grant “Stumpy” Stevens and Hughie Stanley was also exciting.

With Roberts his first choice lock, Gordon said it was time for Stevens to move to the front row, where his size and defensive technique would be best utilised.

“He took that time off to go and get his body right and he killed it all through the pre-season,” Gordon said.

“When we trialled against the Belambil, he played the full the full game at front row and he was  instrumental in that game.”

And he was looking forward to seeing what Stanley would do on the right edge this season, with Cameron feeding him the ball.

“It seems everyone we seem to put out there with Hughie, he seems to turn them into superstars,” he said.

“I think Hughie will have another big season. He will have a lot more time on his hands now with Toddy on his inside shoulder.”

Gordon said he has experimented with players in different position during the trials, but to test his  squad’s flexibility, but expected players to return to more accustomed roles for Sunday’s season opener.

Exciting fullback Keiron Johnson Heron had played halfback in the trials and Boehme had slotted in at nicely at fullback, which Gordon said had given him confidence that players could cover different roles if needed.

Local derby to open league season

Todd Cameron in the thick of the action for the Grafton Ghosts. He has returned to where it all started, the South Grafton Rebels for the 2024 season.. Photo: Gary Nichols.

This and the different and the depth in the club has pleased him more than anything in the build up to the season.

“Including the ladies tackle team we had we had more than 80 people out training on Tuesday night, our first night back at McKittrick Park, “ he said

“I think I trained a squad of 19 first graders and there were two blokes that were absent on the night, with apologies.

“Reserve grade had around about 24 players and I think the 18s were sitting just under the 20 mark;.

“It looks like there’s there’s a bit of depth there so that’s what we lacked last year.

He said playing a local derby first up would be good for the club, although injuries from a such a physical encounter early on could be a problem.

The Ghosts, have also rung the changes in the off-season.

The captain coach for 2023, rugged forward Adam Slater has become club president, allowing gun centre Dylan Collett to take over the captain coach’s role.

Slater said he would continue to play for the Ghosts, but decided it was time to get more involved in the club’s administration.

He said the Ghosts would miss a player of Cameron’s ability, but at this stage of his career you had to honour his wishes.

“He wanted to have a last season with the club where he was a junior and you have to respect that,” he said.

“Todd has been a champion player with the Ghosts and someone everyone looked up to.”

But the Ghosts have returned the favour, signing exciting half, Jordan Gallagher, who was voted the 2022 Best Player in the Clarence for his role in helping the Rebels to a premiership.

Slater said Gallagher and exciting Burleigh fullback Toby McIntosh were two of the most exciting additions to the lineup[.

McIntosh, who has proved a try scoring wizard in the Q Cup, will be help correct the Ghosts most glaring deficiency from 2023, getting across the tryline.

Although they finished third on the competition ladder, the Ghosts had a negative for and against record, only scoring two more points for the season than last-placed Sawtell.

“We knew we had to do thing differently and have been focussing on those aspects of our game,” Slater said.

But he pointed out that Collett, with 15 tries for the season, was second-top tryscorer in Group 2, behind Woolgoolga’s Sione Fangupo.

“With Toby coming into the team it will take some of the pressure off Dylan and give defenders some other players to worry about,” Slater said.

He said Cooper Woods would swap the 1 jersey for the 7 and Gallagher would play at five-eighth.

Slater said the club now had more depth in the halves than for a number of seasons with players like Wirri Boland and Tom Bowles also capable of stepping up if needed.

“We’ve got players like Oliver Percy and Cameron Winters committed for the season, which is pleasing for the club,” he said.

Slater said the Ghosts had kept most of their players from last season, but were delighted with numbers turning out in the lower grades and ladies teams.

“You’ve got to give credit to reserve grade coach Mal Scott for what he’s done this season,” he said.

“We really struggled in reserve grade last year and that put a lot of pressure on us in first grade.

“Mal’s got the numbers up in the squad and we’ve got a group of players who are looking to play in the top grade.

“That’s great for us, because we know we have to keep performing to stay in firsts and if someone’s injured we have a player who can slot in to replace them.”

Slater said the Ghosts would be raring to go for Sunday’s local derby.

“It doesn’t seem to matter with the Rebels how they’re going in the season, they’re always up for  these games,” he said.

“To me they are one of the highlights of the season and you always look forward to them.”

He said the club’s season launch on Saturday, with former Kangaroo and Manly forward Brett Kite as guest of honour had primed the players.

“Hearing the stories Brett has to tell about the game gets the blood pumping and makes you realise why you love playing the game so much,” Slater said.

Sunday’s local derby will be played at Frank McGuren Field, Grafton. Play begins at 12.10pm with women’s tackle game. First grade is scheduled to kick off at 2.40pm.

 

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Casino NSW News

Casino Showground Bookings Now Available

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Casino Showground Bookings Now Available

 

We are excited to announce that the recently revitalised Casino Showground and Racecourse precinct will commence accepting bookings starting from Monday, June 3rd.

With a generous funding injection of $12.8 million from the Bushfire Local Economic Recovery Fund, alongside contributions from various sources including the NSW Showground Stimulus Program, Drought Communities Funding, Crown Lands, and Council, the total investment in this redevelopment has reached $14.4 million.

This newly enhanced facility boasts a range of features including a spacious undercover arena, an outdoor sand arena, turfed areas, covered stables, and a state-of-the-art racehorse stable complex capable of accommodating up to 80 horses. Additionally, new parking areas for cars, trucks, and floats have been added for the convenience of visitors.

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Of notable appeal is the newly constructed racehorse exercise area, which includes round yards, a horse walker, and a 50-metre equine pool. These amenities are expected to draw considerable interest from equestrian enthusiasts and event organizers alike. Furthermore, enhancements such as powered event camping areas have expanded the facility’s versatility, allowing for hosting a diverse range of events including country music festivals, car shows, trade exhibitions, and markets.

Despite the official opening ceremony held on April 20th to commemorate the acknowledgment of government funding, certain essential construction tasks remain pending due to unforeseen circumstances. These include the high-voltage power upgrade, completion of the equine training area, and fencing installations crucial for ensuring the safety of all facility users.

Unfortunately, adverse weather conditions in the Northern Rivers region have exacerbated delays, saturating many areas of the facility and rendering them unsuitable for immediate use. However, efforts are underway to expedite the finalisation of these outstanding projects in alignment with the originally tendered project costs.

In tandem with these developments, the Council is set to deliberate on its Draft Revenue Policy for 2024-2025 at its upcoming meeting. This policy will outline the proposed fees for utilising the facility and will undergo a public exhibition period of 28 days following the meeting, during which community feedback and submissions will be welcomed.

We extend our gratitude to all existing stakeholders and potential users for their patience throughout this project’s completion, which has been hampered by unforeseen challenges. We eagerly anticipate opening all elements of this facility to serve the broader community.

For those interested in booking the venue, please visit the Council’s venue hire website.

 

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Evans Head News

Serenitas Celebrates Grand Opening of Multi-Million Dollar Clubhouse at Thyme Lifestyle Resort Evans Head

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Serenitas Celebrates Grand Opening of Multi-Million Dollar Clubhouse at Thyme Lifestyle Resort Evans Head

 

Serenitas, a leading provider of lifestyle communities and resorts for individuals over 50, proudly announces the grand opening of the state-of-the-art Clubhouse at Thyme Lifestyle Resort, Evans Head. The celebratory event saw enthusiastic homeowners joined by Mayor Robert Mustow and Serenitas CEO Rob Nichols, who officiated the ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Nestled in the tranquil coastal enclave of Evans Head, the Clubhouse epitomises refined living and leisure. Located near the historic Evans Head Aerodrome and a short walk from pristine beaches, Thyme Evans Head offers an unparalleled blend of luxury and laid-back coastal charm.

Rob Nichols, CEO of Serenitas, expressed his excitement about the new facility: “We are thrilled to be opening the Thyme Evans Head Clubhouse, inviting residents and their guests to immerse themselves in the pinnacle of luxury living. With its striking architecture, ties to Evans Head’s aviation heritage, and a host of premium amenities, this opening heralds the next inspiring chapter for the resort’s homeowners and underscores Serenitas’ unwavering commitment to excellence.”

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The multi-million dollar Clubhouse features an array of exquisite facilities, including a fully equipped gym, heated swimming pool, health and beauty studio, luxurious cinema, sports bar complete with darts and pool table, croquet court, and more. A standout feature of the Clubhouse is the sophisticated Evans Lounge, providing homeowners a serene setting to enjoy views over the aerodrome by a cozy fireplace.

“The Clubhouse caters to every taste,” added Mr. Nichols. “From our active residents utilising the fitness facilities to our social groups making use of the Art & Craft Studio and other recreational spaces for gatherings and events.”

Demand for homes at Thyme Evans Head has been incredibly strong, with sales surpassing expectations since its inception. Located in the highly sought-after Northern Rivers district of NSW, Evans Head has emerged as a coveted community known for its relaxed coastal vibe and pristine waters.

“Our homes have garnered significant interest and are selling at an unprecedented pace,” remarked Rob Nichols. “With prices starting from $615,000, we are preparing to release our final homes for sale, reaffirming Evans Head’s status as a desirable destination for discerning homeowners.”

For more information about Thyme Evans Head, please visit here.

 

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Local News

Ranger Nick Honoured with Australian Owned Achievement Award

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Ranger Nick Honoured with Australian Owned Achievement Award
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Ranger Nick Honoured with Australian Owned Achievement Award

 

In a competitive field of contenders, Ranger Nick emerged victorious, securing the prestigious “Australian Owned Achievement Award 2024” in the recently announced Australian Owned Business Awards on May 7, 2024.

Surprised by the announcement, Ranger Nick received a message from the judging panel praising his unwavering commitment to Australian ownership and excellence. The panel acknowledged the stiff competition and commended Ranger Nick’s business as a leader in its domain.

Reflecting on the unexpected news, Ranger Nick expressed his elation, stating, “I was on my way to the Capella Country Music Festival, after spending a few days in the scrub with no mobile reception, when I received the news. Needless to say, I am absolutely thrilled, flattered and honoured.”

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This accolade marks Ranger Nick’s third triumph in a year, following his recognition as a Finalist in the Australian Small Business Champion Awards and as a Winner in the Innovation and Sustainability Excellence category of The Australian Rural Business Awards.

Renowned as the charismatic Aussie Bush Cook, Ranger Nick embodies the authentic Australian spirit with his unwavering passion for Australian heritage and traditions. He has dedicated himself to sharing his camp oven cooking and bushcraft skills with fellow adventurewrs across the country and abroad.

With four published books, his own merchandise line, and notable appearances on television and radio, including Channel 7Mates’ “Step Outside with Paul Burt” and West Bremer Radio, Ranger Nick’s influence continues to grow.

Grateful for the support he has received, Ranger Nick humbly thanked his supporters, expressing his determination to continue his endeavors. “I extend my heartfelt thanks to all for your unwavering support,” he said. “I better pull up my socks and keep on going.”

Ranger Nick eagerly anticipates receiving his official trophy at the Dayboro Annual Show in early July, marking another milestone in his illustrious career.

 

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