Friday, January 30, 2009

The hottest day that never was

NEW Norfolk sweated it out with a maximum temperature of 40.9 degrees today. This was probably the town's hottest day ever, but it will never be recorded as there are no official weather observations taken in the town.

At the same time as New Norfolk was peaking at 40.9 degrees at 3pm (in the shade at NNNewsCentral) official Bureau of Meteorology observations at Bushy Park and Ouse were 38.2 and 37.9 respectively. At Maydena it was 32.4. Hobart reached 31.1 degrees today and the state's top was 42.2 at Scamander on the East Coast.

New Norfolk's hottest January day on record was 39.4 degrees on January20, 1973. The same day equalled the town's hottest day ever, sharing the record with February 7, 1967 - the day of the 1967 bushfire disaster.

Weather observations started at New Norfolk in 1873 and ended in 1983. Since then the nearest readings have been taken at Bushy Park.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Busy year as our fire brigade turns 70

THE volunteer members of the New Norfolk Fire Brigade have put in another busy year, responding to 301 callouts in the year to January 28, 2009. According to figures published on the brigade's website today, the majority of calls (34 per cent) were to grass and scrub fires, while a further 32 per cent of callouts were false alarms.

With several days until the end of January, the local brigade has already responded to 33 callouts this month, including car accidents, grass and scrub fires and a structural fire, as well as providing support to nearby country brigades at incidents in their local areas.

New Norfolk is fortunate to have a highly-trained urban fire brigade under the leadership of brigade chief Colin Triffitt and his officers and members. Established 70 years ago, the brigade trains at 7pm every Tuesday at the fire station, Back River Rd, and new members are always welcome. For information about volunteering, send an email to:

The Derwent Valley is also well served by fire brigades in several surrounding districts. For information about volunteering with the Collinsvale, Molesworth, Magra, Lachlan, Gretna, Bushy Park, Westerway, Ellendale, Hamilton, Hollow Tree, Ouse or Bothwell brigades phone 6230 8400 or email

Monday, January 26, 2009

Locals honoured on Australia Day

COMMUNITY and sporting achievements were recognised in the awarding of Citizen of the Year and Sportsperson of the Year at New Norfolk today. Mayor Tony Nicholson named Jacky Whitehead as the Derwent Valley's Citizen of the Year for 2009 and Stan Harrex as the municipality's Sportsperson of the year. Councillor Nicholson also named the New Norfolk Rowing Club as the team of the year, in particular for the rare achievement of having three of its members selected to represent Australia at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing China.

The presentations took place during the local Australia Day observance which was held in sunny 23 Degree conditions on the New Norfolk Esplanade. Australia Day Ambassador Neil Roberts gave an often humorous address during which he reflected on his career as a sportsman, teacher, farmer and broadcaster, and what these experiences had taught him about citizenship, Australian style.

The mayor also presented certificates of achievement to Margaret Clark and Lexie Miller for their many years of voluntary service in various capacities. Lexie Miller struck a chord with the crowd when she mentioned there were no buses to New Norfolk on a public holiday and she had to impose on a friend to bring her to the town today.

Medal for local paramedic

FORMER New Norfolk paramedic Peter Berry has been awarded the Ambulance Service Medal in the Australia Day Honours List for 2009. Mr Berry, a local man who served at New Norfolk as the Tasmanian Ambulance Service's branch station officer for many years, is also a previous recipient of the National Medal (1995).

The Ambulance Service Medal was introduced in 1999 to recognise distinguished service by the men and women of Australia's ambulance organisations.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Layton and Sam fly the flag

TWO Derwent Valley men were finalists in the Australian of the Year Awards for 2009. New Norfolk's Layton Hodgetts and former Glenora man Sam Cawthorn joined fellow Tasmanian representatives Ronnie Burns and Peter Cundall in Canberra for today's announcement.

The Tasmanians did not receive any of the national achievements but having two Derwent Valley men among the finalists was a remarkable situation. Mr Hodgetts was the Tasmanian winner and national finalist in the Local Hero category, and Mr Cawthorn was the state winner and national finalist in the Young Australian of the Year.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Re-open Willow Court roads, councillor says

MOVES are being made to re-open roads within the Willow Court historic site. Several streets on the site were sold off to private owners when the Derwent Valley Council disposed of a number of heritage-listed buildings in 2003, but one councillor is now seeking to have the error reversed.

At the council meeting held in September last year, a local ratepayer asked who had approved the recent closure of several roads on the site, which had resulted in the users of several buildings on the site being told they must find alternative access. General manager Stephen Mackey said the streets concerned were privately owned and not under the council's jurisdiction. When reminded that the council had once owned all the roads on the site, Mr Mackey said they had only ever been private access roads and had never been "maintained" by the council.

The matter has been taken up by Councillor Richard Parker at recent council meetings. In November he asked that the council seek legal advice on how it could acquire the roads in question, and that the council initiate discussions with the owners.

Cr Parker raised the issue again at the January meeting and asked what progress had been made. Mr Mackey responded that if the council wished to go through a compulsory acquisition he would make the necessary arrangements. Cr Parker, who had proposed a consultative process rather than a compulsory one, said it was "very much in order" that the council try to acquire access.

The council was the first property owner to close roads at Willow Court, using railings and boulders to limit "hooning" and vandalism. Private owners have subsequently built fences across roads (see photo above) to protect their investments but this has unfortunately prevented lawful access to other properties on the site. This is another impact of the council's disposal strategy for the site rather than preservation of Willow Court in its entirety.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Bushfire closes part of Mt Field National Park

A FIRE near Ellendale has closed parts of Mt Field National Park to visitors today. The vegetation fire at Repulse, 11km north-west of Ellendale, is burning in an area west of the Broad River. The fire was reported at 6.30 yesterday evening and is now partly controlled by Forestry Tasmania fire crews, a bulldozer and a helicopter, according to the Tasmania Fire Service.

The TFS advises that based on the predicted fire weather conditions for today, the Parks and Wildlife Service has closed the Lake Dobson visitor services area and the remote walking tracks of Mt Field National Park. The day-use area around the Mt Field visitor centre and Russell Falls remains open

Today (January 22, 2009) has been declared a day of total fire ban in the south of Tasmania.

Visitors planning a trip to Mt Field can phone 6288 1149 for an update on any facilities closed due to the extreme fire weather danger today.

See the TFS website for up-to-date bushfire information here.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Australia Day in the Derwent Valley

AUSTRALIA DAY observances will be held at four locations in the Derwent Valley on Monday - New Norfolk, Bushy Park, Maydena and Hamilton.

11am: Activities at New Norfolk Olympic Swimming Pool organised by Derwent Valley Youth Future Action Team
11am: Start of Australia Day fun run and walk
11am: Croquet demonstration
11.30am: Free barbecue provided by New Norfolk Lions Club
11.30am: Derwent Valley Concert Band
noon: National Anthem and flag-raising ceremony
12.15pm: Fun run presentations
12.30: Address by Australia Day ambassador Neil Roberts
12.40: Australia Day Award presentations

11am: Activities at Bushy Park War Memorial Swimming Pool organised by Derwent Valley Youth Future Action Team

9.30am: Start of Australia Day fun run, walk and bike ride to Junee Cave, followed by a free barbecue lunch

Noon-3pm: Australia Day citizenship ceremony, awards presentation, address by Australia Day ambassador Glenn Baker, and a free barbecue lunch.

Feeling patriotic? Listen to the National Anthem here.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

AFL legend for Australia Day at New Norfolk

BROWNLOW medallist and former St Kilda captain Neil Roberts has been named as the 2009 Australia Day Ambassador for the Derwent Valley. Roberts will speak at the annual Australia Day observance on the New Norfolk Esplanade on January 26 and is certain to draw a crowd of fans of the red, white and black.

Roberts played 175 games with the Saints and captained the team for five years. He won the Brownlow Medal in 1958 and retired from football in 1962 when he started a new career in sports journalism. He has been inducted into both the St Kilda Football Club hall of fame and team of the century.

A qualified teacher, Roberts was the officer in charge of Australia's Mawson base in Antarctica from 1971-73. He is the father of Michael Roberts who also played for the Saints and followed his father into sports broadcasting.

Sponsored by Woolworths Supermarkets, the Australia Day Ambassador program provides a unique opportunity for people to meet inspirational Australian achievers. Expect to see Roberts on the New Norfolk Esplanade late in the morning on January 26.

Other events on the day will include the naming of the Derwent Valley Citizen, Young Citizen, Sportspersons and Community Event of the Year. The annual Australia Day fun run is on again and the entry form is available here.

Ethics chief questions council

THE chairman of the Derwent Valley Council's "code of conduct" panel has taken the unusual step of addressing the council during public question time. Mr Robert Walker was one of four ratepayers to question the council at its January meeting last week, but the detail of his query was not revealed.

Mayor Tony Nicholson announced to the meeting that Mr Walker had a question on the subject of the council's public perception. Then, in a break with normal procedure, the mayor declined to read the question to the meeting, saying it was quite long and detailed, and said he would take the matter on notice. This generally means the questioner will receive their answer in writing and the public will be none the wiser.

The New Norfolk News extends an invitation to Mr Walker to have his question published here, along with any answer received.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

"Organised crime" blamed for heritage thefts

DERWENT Valley Mayor Tony Nicholson has blamed "professional vandals" for the theft of historic items and damage to heritage buildings at New Norfolk. Four months after being asked for access to the council's inventory of historical items held at the Willow Court historic site, Councillor Nicholson has admitted that the inventory "may not now reflect the current items held".

In a letter dated January 12, Cr Nicholson continued: "Many steps were taken to protect these items including security, steel door structures and stronger locking mechanisms, but this unfortunately did not protect some of those items from professional vandalism."

Over a number of years local historians have been expressing concern about the security of heritage items stored at Willow Court, in particular the workings of a tower clock from Port Arthur, which are understood to have been completely destroyed while in the council's care. One of the large clock faces remains in a local gallery but the fate of two matching clock faces held by the council is not known.

The council cannot be held responsible for acts of vandalism, but the mayor's admissions clearly reflect a failure to find more secure storage for the priceless heritage items in the council's care. It must be asked what action will be taken to ensure there are any items left by the time the council opens Willow Court to visitors other than VIPs on personally guided tours with the mayor.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Cease closed workshops, council urged

UPDATE (January 15): As expected, the Derwent Valley Council has overturned a ratepayer motion calling for an end to the practice of closed-door council workshops. Councillors spoke strongly of the value of their workshops as information sessions and pledged that no decisions were made in those forums. The overwhelming vote followed the council being shown to have again failed to declare one of its workshops in the agenda for tonight's council meeting as required by law. Mayor Tony Nicholson said this was an "unintended oversight".

THE ORIGINAL STORY: AT its first formal meeting of the year, the Derwent Valley Council is likely to make short shrift of a ratepayer motion to cease holding closed workshops and instead conduct all its debates in properly constituted meetings. The motion was moved by Damian Bester at last month's annual general meeting and was carried with the unanimous support of the other three people in the public gallery.

The Local Government Act requires that any motion passed at its AGM must be considered at the next meeting of council. The council says its workshops are "permitted" under the Local Government Meeting Regulations 2005, and while they are indeed mentioned in the meeting procedures, the definition is not clear (see below). The regulations also require that the date and purpose of any workshops must be recorded in the monthly council meeting agenda.

Addressing the council AGM, Mr Bester said most matters discussed in closed workshops could have been debated in open council meetings and confidential matters could be heard in properly constituted "closed council meetings". He said it had been shown that the council did not always comply with the requirement to record the workshop topics in the subsequent agenda, and he reminded the council of the Local Government Board's own concerns about workshops (see below).

In response to general manager Stephen Mackey asking how he knew that some items discussed at workshops had not been disclosed, Mr Bester said this had been revealed by Mayor Tony Nicholson in recent Public Question Time sessions, with particular reference to a discussion about the Willow Court historic site.

The workshops motion will be considered at the council meeting to be held at the New Norfolk Courthouse at 6.30pm on January 15.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Summer day in the forest

Community radio nears reality

AFTER several attempts over many years, a community radio station for the Derwent Valley may soon be established. Derwent Valley Councillor and Valley Vision board member Jim Elliott advises that a frequency has been allocated and a public meeting will be held to discuss the way forward. Councillor Elliott said the organising committee was now looking for enthusiastic volunteers to fill a variety of roles. The meeting will be held at the Valley Vision office, 2 High St, New Norfolk, at 6.15pm on January 14. More information is available from Valley Vision project officer Ian Brown on 6261 8777.