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Thursday, November 27, 2008

Layton's our Local Hero

TWO Derwent Valley men are among those named as the Tasmanian recipients in the Australian of the Year Awards for 2009. New Norfolk's Layton Hodgetts has been named the Local Hero of the Year and former Glenora man Sam Cawthorn is the Young Tasmanian of the Year. Premier David Bartlett presented all recipients with their awards in Hobart last night. Peter Cundall is the next Tasmanian of the Year and entertainer Ronnie Burns is the Tasmanian Senior of the Year.

From an early age Layton Hodgetts developed a passion for music and after moving to New Norfolk in 1983 he discovered that there was little to do for those not interested in sport. In 1993, Layton started the Derwent Valley Community Band. The following year a cultural exchange saw the band go to Japan and perform as part of Band Expo. The band was soon invited to play at events across Tasmania and then in 1997 to attend the Calgary Stampede in Canada, this time as a marching band, an arena in which they had no prior experience.

Since then the band has toured to Austria, Czech Republic, Germany, France and Scandinavia, and performed at the ceremony to open China's participation for the Olympics and the royal wedding parades for Crown Princess Mary and Crown Prince Frederik in Denmark. Layton is now a judge for bands throughout the world and was awarded a gold medal for conducting at the 2008 European Championships. He is an inspiration to his community for his determination and passion to create something that they can contribute to and be proud of.

Sam Cawthorn grew up at Glenora with 10 brothers and sisters. At the age of 15 he left home and began mixing with street kids. He was kicked out of school but realised if he wanted to achieve his dreams he would have to turn his life around. Sam worked hard to put his past behind him and went on to pursue his goals of working in the performing arts and as a youth pastor. In 2006 Sam was involved in a head-on collision with a semi-trailer that resulted in his right arm being amputated above the elbow. He was lucky to be alive. As a result of his experiences he decided to help others by establishing the "Be Motivated" program which aims to provide young people with the necessary life skills to achieve the seemingly impossible. Sam invests those around him with confidence and self-belief. He represents the ability to remain positive and enthusiastic about life in the face of adversity.

The National Australia Day Council congratulated all finalists on their achievements and acknowledged the recipients of this year's Tasmanian awards for their outstanding contributions. All Tasmanian award recipients now become national finalists in their categories for the Australian of the Year Awards to be announced in Canberra on January 25, 2009.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

How others see us

THE Channel 9/WIN Television program Getaway featured a terrific segment on New Norfolk earlier this year. Presenter Catriona Rowntree mentioned right at the start how Tasmanians were quick to remind her of the town's "colourful past" but in her opinion the town and surrounding district is the next big thing in Australian tourism. She's right, of course. Watch it here.

History takes root

LINKS between New Norfolk and its Pacific Ocean namesake were reinforced today with the presentation of two Norfolk Island Pines by the Federal Member for Lyons, Dick Adams MHR. Recently returned from a trip to Norfolk Island, Mr Adams decided on a pair of iconic pines as the ideal gift to New Norfolk in its bicentennial year.

"In 1808 some of the residents of Norfolk Island were 'persuaded' to go to Van Diemens Land with offers of land, houses and convicts to help clear land, along with food and clothing from the stores for 12 months," Mr Adams said today. "These people formed the basis of the first white settlement in New Norfolk and we can only imagine what they thought as they entered the valley and saw what was then still uncharted territory."

Mr Adams said New Norfolk had been settled by a mix of convicts and free settlers from Norfolk Island in 1808, when the island penal colony became unsustainable. Governor Lachlan Macquarie named the fledgling settlement "Elizabeth Town" but the name "New Norfolk" was preferred by the settlers who wanted to preserve a link with their former island home.

"That link is still strong, and can be seen through the visitors from Norfolk Island who attended the Derwent Valley Autumn Festival this year and helped to celebrate the bicentennial," Mr Adams said. "It seems very appropriate to be there today and to present these two Norfolk Island Pine saplings to the Derwent Valley Garden Club to look after them while the Bicentennial Committee decides on a permanent place for them. As these trees grow strong in the fertile Derwent Valley soil, they should not only remind us of the historical links to Norfolk Island, but also of the strong future New Norfolk has," Mr Adams said.

Like many New Norfolk residents, Mr Adams has a personal link with Norfolk Island as he is a descendant of the islanders relocated to Tasmania. His ancestors settled near Launceston at Norfolk Plains, now called Longford. The Norfolk Island Pine has long been associated with New Norfolk and features prominently in the logo created for the town's bicentenary.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Another award for the Ashbolts

THE award-winning extra-virgin olive oil produced by Derwent Valley farmers Anne and Robert Ashbolt has been honoured at Australia's premier judging show, the 2008 Australian Olives Association Awards, adding to its impressive collection of medals.

Anne Ashbolt attended the presentations in Canberra late last month and was delighted to see Ashbolt's Extra Virgin Olive Oil maintain its perfect track record, having never missed a medal in any show entered in the last six years.

The farm at Plenty has been in the family's hands since 1906 and has been managed by Anne and Robert since 1980. In the late 1990s they decided to switch their focus from sheep and cropping to a high-value, low-impact and sustainable system of farming which has resulted in their award-winning olive oil and acclaimed elderflower concentrate and sparking refreshment, as well as the more recently introduced elderberry syrup. Read more at the Ashbolt website.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

"You have had your answer"

DERWENT Valley mayor Tony Nicholson has entered into his fourth month of stonewalling on the subject of the council's controversial Willow Court committee, and a third month of delaying access to an historical inventory.

Since August, Councillor Nicholson has been promising to provide an answer to questions about the location of the minutes of the Willow Court Special Committee, where the public may read those minutes, and when the committee's elections are held. Since September he has been "taking on notice" a question about access to an inventory of historical items transferred from the former Royal Derwent Hospital/Willow Court Centre to the Derwent Valley Council.

At tonight's council meeting, Councillor Nicholson responded to another round of public questions on both topics by saying the answers were being prepared and would be provided "in due course". He declined to say how long the preparation process would take and refused to provide a written confirmation of his undertaking.

"You have had your answer," Cr Nicholson said before moving on to other business. The contribution of general manager Stephen Mackey to the formulation of Cr Nicholson's answers is acknowledged.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Money for nothing

THE municipal council which gave away $100 million promised for a new bridge, and lost $500,000 intended for Willow Court, has had a financial windfall from the Federal Government... without even asking for it. In Canberra this week, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd announced special infrastructure grants of $250 million to local councils around Australia. The Derwent Valley Council will receive $242,000 but must first come up with a suitable project and have it approved.

Forest day enjoyed

ABOUT 40 people, mostly Derwent Valley residents, spent a lovely peaceful day in the Upper Florentine forest on Sunday. The day was organised by local enthusiasts to promote awareness of the forest. Informative talks were given about opportunities the Upper Florentine forest provides for people interested in photography, natural history and tourism ventures. The talks generated great interest and discussion amongst those who attended. People with experience of the forest showed others points of interest and features on a variety of walks. Due to the success of the day people expressed the desire that more such community days be held on a regular basis.

Join the big parade

THE New Norfolk Business Alliance’s annual Christmas Parade will be held on December 13 starting as usual at noon from Circle St. The Derwent Valley Concert Band will once again head the parade with the Derwent Scottish Pipe Band as the "tail-end Charlie". A Derwent Dollars Draw will be conducted as usual, with entry forms in the Derwent Valley Gazette for two weeks prior to the event. The draw will be held outside the Post Office around 1pm.

Event Coordinator Ngaire Glover said this year’s parade will have a bicentennial theme to celebrate the closing of New Norfolk’s 200th birthday year. To this end, family groups are asked to walk in the parade behind a banner containing their family name – in particular families with a long association to the Derwent Valley and surrounds are asked to join in.

Whilst it is expected that there will be the usual fine displays from the fire brigade, SES, ambulance, Norske Skog, Lions Club, Karate Club, dance groups, guides, scouts and cubs, new entries from schools and playgroups as well as individuals are also invited to enter. The Salvation Army’s Communities for Children’s groups have already booked a spot as well as several local businesses and sporting clubs. To book your spot or have any questions answered, contact Ngaire Glover on 0419 337 608 or email by December 1.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

But wait, there's more

JUST when it seemed there could not be any further reason to delay the re-opening of river traffic at the Bridgewater Bridge, the state Department of Infrastructure has found two more problems.

Trouble with expansion joints and a sinking southern abutment were revealed for the first time in a recent issue of the Derwent Valley Gazette. Until now, prematurely deteriorating suspension cables had been cited as the reason for keeping the lifting span out of operation for the last two years.

Massive counterweights which raise the bridge's lifting span have been locked in place since October 2006 when it was discovered the near-new cables were wearing out. The closed lifting-span means access to the upper reaches of the River Derwent are closed to all but the smallest craft.

Two years on, it has been revealed that repairs will not start until mid-2009 and will not be finished until late 2010. The four-year delay has opposition parties in a state, and caused a government minister to completely forget about earlier funding for an entirely new bridge. Thankfully the ABC was able to remind him.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Short memories

DERWENT Valley mayor Tony Nicholson made a lot of noise about the ongoing saga of the Bridgewater Bridge when he appeared on the ABC-TV current affairs program Stateline last week. Councillor Nicholson blamed the state and federal governments for dillydallying on the subject of repairing or rebuilding the river crossing, but seemed to have forgotten that the council had a hand in it too... agreeing in 2006 to the diversion of a large chunk of the $100 million allocated by the Howard Coalition Government for a new bridge. Where did it go? To a rail rescue package and the "vital" Brighton transport hub.