2017 annual review

A look back on 2017

Glen Stoltenberg, Glenn Woods, Andrew Gordon, Max Gordon, front, Lindsay Gordon, left, and crane operator Dennis Hardy, right, with Lex Gordon as the veteran vehicles set off for the National Transport Hall of Fame.

Narrabri Shire well placed for future development

After another year of milestone events in business, agricultural and community life Narrabri Shire seems poised for further significant developments.

The year has seen businesses close or be bought by new owners, family farms change hands, retirements and changes in social organisations.

Community life moves on and the day to day changes, big and small, are chronicled in the pages of The Courier which has now notched up its own milestone as a 104-year-old independent newspaper.

Narrabri shire is a leader in innovative and successful agriculture

Agriculture underpins our economy and a major component is the cotton industry which is a Namoi Valley and Australian success story.

The $90 million redevelopment of CSD’s Shenstone processing plant at Wee Waa is clear testament to that.

The rise of new energy industries, coal and potentially gas, can be seen as fundamental change but they too will ultimately be woven into the fabric of the community.

Shire coal mines are reporting increased production with plans for expansion, notably the Vickery mine .

The Santos Narrabri gas project continues to move through its evaluation and approvals phases with an EIS for the multi billion dollar project underway. The coal, and gas industry if it proceeds as planned, will increasingly make their presence felt socially and economically and management of the issues and challenges ahead will need careful attention by our leaders.

Progress on the proposed inland rail corridor which will pass through Narrabri and the development of an intermodal hub in the shire are exciting major prospects for the community.

Funding for a business plan for the proposed intermodal complex has been granted. Major funding for roads leading into Narrabri has been announced.

Narrabri Shire is much better placed, by social and economic measures, than most country regions,as rural communities face new challenges and hardships and declining populations.

Comparisons between towns and regions are made with a mix of objective data and subjective local pride, but across the range of criteria Narrabri Shire remains a fortunate community with much to look forward to. There are wonderful opportunities which can encourage our young people to choose a future in their home shire.

Young people are returning to live and work in the shire.

Narrabri Shire enjoys a great sense of community, a deserved reputation as the friendly shire and is an inclusive and welcoming society to the many newcomers who are choosing to live here.

The cohesive mood of the Narrabri Shire Council, its leadership and a collaborative spirit of shared endeavour between elected representatives and staff continues to provide the basis to meet the challenges ahead.

The council has had a busy year.

Meanwhile, Narrabri Shire remains well placed for the future with much to be proud of and much for our community to be confident about as we enter 2018.

Flying high again

Mayor Cathy Redding and general manager Stewart Todd welcomed Fly Corporate marketing manager Geoff Woodham, right, at the service launch.

In a major and welcome step forward for the community’s future, Fly Corporate announced in July that a direct Narrabri to Sydney air service would begin on Wednesday, September 13.

The announcement came after years of air service limbo following the withdrawal of QantasLink in 2008 and unsuccessful ventures by two airline companies.

Narrabri Shire Council successfully negotiated the launch of the service after sustained talks with the airline.

The great Maitland Street makeover of ‘17

The year 2017 will be recalled as the milestone year in which Narrabri acquired a new main street.

The redevelopment of Maitland Street, albeit not yet completed, was a long awaited and historic change.

Maitland Street CBD business operators urged Narrabri Shire Council to create an avenue of Chanticleer pear trees. Above, Melissa Richardson, Dennise Simshauser, Kerrie Moss, Jodie Hill, David Pierce and Deb Michell-Smith.

The journey to the decision on the configuration of the CBD was a tortuous one.

The project was yet another chapter in the story of changes to Maitland street lights and trees over the decades.

Main street trees and lights have come and gone.

Many residents will recall the proposals years ago for a median strip. The idea was trialled with sandbags down the centre but this was not a success and the attrition rate on the sandbags led the authorities to abandon the idea.

Later, pebblecrete tree containers were installed. And raised, paved modules leading off from the kerb containing seats and in some cases, trees, had their day as well.

The last incarnation of the lights came with what was ultimately the ill fated installation of the ‘blue poles’ out on the street.

These were not a success, and the poles were backed into, damaged, and in some cases knocked over by cars.

The new movement for street lights saw council and community give much consideration to the right format for the future.

Options ranged through footpath mounted lights, with some necessarily having to be placed out in the carriageway, through to the median strip and lights which were ultimately decided on after public meetings, petitions and community debate.

The median strip is installed, the lights are in, now for the avenue of street trees.

With a decision to go ahead and the median strip finally built, the choice of trees was the next topic.

Planners initially proposed multiple species to provide diversity and suitable deciduous and evergreen trees for the seasons.

However, a strong movement led by the Narrabri Garden Club pushed for an avenue of single species.

The favoured species was the Chanticleer pear and a petition circulated by the Garden Club drew some 700 signatures in support.

However, when the vote came in council, an avenue of Zelkova trees was approved.

The trees will be planted when the hot weather subsides, probably in April according to the council.

When the trees are in and the lights are on, and the CBD section of Maitland street resurfaced, the town’s business centre will present a new environment to locals and visitors, one which will probably be the face of the CBD for decades to come.

Logans are building on tradition for the future

Narrabri business Logan and Co will celebrate its 130th anniversary next year.

The family owned enterprise has returned to its original business name but is embracing new technologies and marketing strategies to meet the challenges of the future.

Kate Logan with a 1930s Logan and Co made bed and wardrobe. Logans are planning a display next year to mark the 130th anniversary of the business.

It has been a big twelve months of changes for Logan and Co Furniture and Bedding - formerly known as Narrabri Homemakers.

Homemakers North abruptly went into receivership in late 2015, which propelled Narrabri’s local furniture store in its own unique direction.

“When we found out Homemakers North wasn’t in operation, we decided to make the family company name our store name as it was when we started in 1888,” said Kate Logan, now director of Logan and Co Pty Ltd.

Logan and Co began importing their own furniture, the first of which arrived at the end of 2016.

“Tim Logan, Katinka Atkins and I travelled to Vietnam in March 2016, and placed orders alongside Fantastic Furniture, Freedom and other large groups,” said Ms Logan.

Logan and Co have now also become members of both Furniture Court and Beds R Us, which has dramatically increased the buying options for the stores.

Logan and Co launched an online store on March 21 this year allowing the business to compete against the larger furniture chain stores like Harvey Norman and 1825 Interiors.

Record crowd for ‘best yet’ Nosh

The 2017 Nosh Narrabri won praise.

Many declared this was ‘the best Nosh yet’ but as committee president Darrell Tiemens said at the Long Lunch next day the committee was standing on the shoulders of Nosh organisers of years gone by.

Each Nosh is fine tuned and improved on the last, but all have been successful.

Council reviews a busy year

Operational Plan, Delivery Program and Resourcing Strategy.

These documents will guide Council projects for the four year Council term and were adopted at the June 2017 Ordinary Council Meeting along with Council’s budget for 2017-2018.

On a regional level, the council has continued to have an active voice through Namoi Unlimited (the Namoi Joint Organisation) and has worked with neighbouring Councils to provide collaborative regional planning and partnerships. We have maintained a position of vice chair of this group and kept Narrabri Shire’s voice strong at a regional level. The group is working on some very innovative projects for 2018.

It has been a huge year for the council infrastructure with many large projects brought to fruition with the assistance of State Government funding. Within Water Services, the council completed the Baan Baa Water Project, providing the community with a secure and reliable supply of high quality water that was funded through the Restart NSW Water Security for Regions Program. The infrastructure in place for this project is state-of-the-art and includes automatic water meters that have been rolled out across Narrabri Shire.

The installation of the automatic water meters has been a great win for Narrabri Shire.

The improved water metering technology will go a long way to saving water as it identifies individual property leakage through hourly meter reads.

Residents will be able to closely monitor their water usage and

savings will be made with manual meter reading no longer required.

A much anticipated infrastructure project was the start of Stage One of the Narrabri CBD Upgrade. In February 2017, Council resolved to proceed with a median strip and following much research and deliberation on the two designs was able to begin the works with the median strip and lighting now installed. The results of these works has been a great facelift to the Narrabri CBD which will be further improved with the planting of trees in Autumn 2018.

One of the most exciting announcements for the year was the commencement of the Narrabri to Sydney flights through Fly Corporate.

The announcement was made at the official opening of the new look Narrabri Shire Airport following major upgrades. After a sustained and unrelenting effort by Council, it was very pleasing to be able to secure the services of Fly Corporate.

It is a very good example of a well thought out and executed strategy by the council that has paid off for the community which now enjoy flights direct to both Brisbane and Sydney.

Throughout the year there have significant upgrades to bridges and roads across Narrabri Shire with over 60km of bitumen resealed and over 90km of re-sheeting on gravel roads.

Significant grants have been awarded to the council to upgrade timber bridges improving transport links within the Shire and keeping our roads safer for residents. Recently, NSW Government announced over $5 million in funding as part of the Fixing Country Road Funding for upgrades to Culgoora Road between Narrabri and Wee Waa. These works will complement the recently upgraded Wee Waa Lagoon Bridge and eliminate the need for costly detours.

The upgraded road is integral to the planned Logistics and Industrial Hub.

Over the last 12 months, Narrabri Shire has received a lot of positive political attention with visits from State Government ministers including the Deputy Premier of NSW John Barilaro and the Governor of NSW.

These visits have resulted in continued support from the government for major projects in Narrabri Shire such as the provision of a $300,000 boost to conduct an Inland Rail Optimisation Study for the establishment of a Logistics and Industrial Hub that has strong regional linkages and access to domestic and international markets.

Council has worked to be an advocate for the community, making in depth submissions on behalf of the community to the Murray Darling Basin Authority and the Santos Environmental Impact Statement.

Council has worked closely with stakeholders and the local community to assess the impacts and make submissions based on the community’s concerns.

Council has advocated for the expansion of the NSW Government air pollution monitoring network that will soon include a monitor in Narrabri to provide real-time data on air quality. This monitor will help alleviate concerns from the community and ensure the quality of our country air is preserved.

The Crossing Theatre had another successful year over 2017

presenting the community with a huge variety of shows for the whole family. Upgrades were welcomed at the theatre with new carpet and revamp of the Crossing Theatre Café. New digital signage has proven to be a cost effective way to promote upcoming events allowing quick and dynamic content changes.

Next year, The Crossing Theatre will be hosting the Local Government Aboriginal Network Conference as well as a huge range of other events.

The future of childcare in Boggabri is looking bright with the council recently accepting an offer from Boggabri Coal to progress the project. The council is also progressing the Boggabri Caravan Park, working closely with Boggabri Business and Community Progress Association. Council will be looking to re-tender the proposed upgrade of the park based on the five options discussed at the community meeting last December.

Playgrounds across Narrabri Shire enjoyed major upgrades with the Pirate Playground completed at the Narrabri Lake Recreational precinct and shade sails added to Ludowici Park in Wee Waa. Planning is also underway for the upgrade of Dangar Park in Wee Waa to begin in 2018.

Thank you to all our council staff for their great efforts throughout this year – it has been a very busy one.

Council is taking very positive steps for the future of Narrabri Shire which will continue into 2018.

On behalf of councillors, the general manager and staff I wish you a Merry Christmas and a happy and safe New Year.

A new era for Boggabri Coal

2017 represented a year of transition for Boggabri Coal. After completing a competitive market tender process in June, BGC Contracting commenced mining and equipment maintenance operations at the Boggabri open-cut mine on 1 December.

Idemitsu Australia Resources Chief Operating Officer Steve Kovac thanked all the personnel at Boggabri Coal for their tireless efforts in ensuring a smooth and safe transition to owner operations which included the commencement of BGC Contracting.

BGC Contracting CEO Greg Heylen said mobilisation of the $700 million, five-year contract was achieved with an outstanding safety performance.

“While meeting the start-date commitment is an important achievement, the team’s safety performance during the five-month project lead-up was outstanding,” Mr Heylen said.

“More than 30,000 hours of work was delivered, including the commissioning of equipment onsite, with zero injuries”.

Mr Kovac said that the contract is benefiting the region with key deliverables including maintaining a permanent residential workforce and supporting local content.

“A priority for Idemitsu across all of its operations is to maximise benefits and opportunities for the communities we operate in and I am pleased with the progress we’ve made at the Boggabri mine.”

“BGC through this contract has committed to a local spend of more than $10 million, including approximately $3 million with local suppliers, and more than $6 million with the local branches of national suppliers.

Mr Heylen said it was pleasing that so many local people and contractors had been engaged in the project.

“Apart from being a mark of good corporate citizenship, recruiting locally was an important factor in ensuring the safety of people on the project, the retention of valuable skills and the smooth transition of services culminating in the on-time contract start-up.”

Mr Kovac said recruitment is ongoing, with a number of vacancies remaining for maintainers and operators. “In the New Year we will be looking for operator trainees and I encourage any interested local candidates to contact BGC Contracting at (02) 9319 8520 or visit www.bgc.cc/careers if they are looking for more information on how to apply for these roles.”

BGC Contracting has invested more than $200 million in assets for the project, including excavators, dump trucks, graders and dozers as part of a new fleet to supplement Idemitsu’s existing mining fleet. BGC Contracting will operate and maintain both fleets to safely deliver the contract.

History preserved

Narrabri’s trucking history, which spans the growth decades of the district, will be a feature in the National Road Transport Hall of Fame at Alice Springs.

Narrabri has long been a transport hub, and at the centre of the hub has been one of the biggest country haulage companies, Gordon Roadways, run for decades by legendary industry figure Lex Gordon.

In 2015 Mr Gordon and his late wife and business partner Mary were inducted into the National Road Transport Hall of Fame.

Lex was inducted along with other Australian transport pioneers at a special ceremony which coincided with the 20th anniversary of the Hall of Fame.

He was accompanied by three of his sons Ross, Paul and Steve to attend the gala dinner and ceremony which saw his and Mrs Gordon’s name and story recorded in the Shell Rimula Pioneers Wall of Fame.

Mr Gordon had been invited many years ago to be inducted into the Hall of Fame when it started but was too busy running the business to get over to Alice Springs.

However, he plans to be there for the next induction in August next year.

In August this year several vehicles which had been a key part of Gordon Roadways long history also became part of the Hall of Fame as permanent exhibits.

A Diamond Reo semi trailer, a Toyota forklift and British Leyland truck were loaded on to a truck and taken to their new home.

They will join over 100 restored trucks and vintage cars, including many of the Australian Outback’s pioneering vehicles.

The early days of the thriving Narrabri district’s timber industry were recalled when a truck which once hauled thousands of tonnes of logs was finally retired to its new Alice Springs home.

Glen Stoltenberg, Glenn Woods, Andrew Gordon, Max Gordon, front, Lindsay Gordon, left, and crane operator Dennis Hardy, right, with Lex Gordon as the veteran vehicles set off for the National Transport Hall of Fame.

The British Leyland truck, imported from the UK and owned by Logan Timber and Hardware in those days, hauled logs from Pilliga and Mt Kaputar to Logan’s Narrabri West timber mill for many years during the 1940s and into the 1950s and 60s.

Veteran driver Les Townsend was usually behind the wheel.

The truck has been at the Gordon Roadways yard for the past 20 years after Mr Gordon bought it from Bob Foster.

The truck has now gone to the National Road Transport Hall of Fame in Alice Springs.

Other historic vehicles, a 40 year old Diamond Reo and a Toyota forklift used at Lex Gordon’s for 31 years have joined the Leyand truck on the journey to the Road Transport Hall of Fame.

Decades of transport history are embodied in the three vehicles.

“I had the Diamond Reo for over 30 years,” said Mr Gordon.

“For a big truck it could handle any load. I drove it myself in the early days.

“I had 70 or 80 trucks in the 1980s so I had plenty to do without driving a lot of the time.

“But I did drive for more than 40 years”.

Crane operater Dennis Hardy loaded the three vehicles onto the back of a Gordon Roadways road train to be driven to their new home by Mr Gordon’s son Lindsay and his wife Joanne.

Lex Gordon was about 14 when he climbed into the cabin of a truck to drive for his father’s haulage business and over the next 60 years built one of the largest family owned transport operations in regional NSW.

Narrabri remains the hub for Gordon Roadways, which nowadays operates some 40 big trucks across Australia.

Now, at 88, Mr Gordon’s lifelong contribution to the Australian transport industry together with his wife Mary recognised with their recent induction into the National Road Transport Hall of Fame in Alice Springs have had another dimension added with the exhibition of their historic vehicles in the Hall of Fame.

Boggabri progress

Boggabri Business and Community Progress Association embraces all levels of the community and works towards local development and improved social amenities.

President John Shaw noted at the group’s recent Christmas gathering that the organisation’s name had been recently changed to represent more people in the town and district.

The Association ran a number of successful events and supported others through the year including the Drovers’ Campfire and Spring Fair and last Friday the Christmas Carnival. Mr Shaw acknowledged the mutually supportive roles of Lions, Rotary and the Men’s Shed over the year.

A major win for the community came with the agreement of Boggabri Coal to underwrite the development of a Boggabri childcare centre. Whitehaven Coal will provide training support.

The achievement of the centre reflected the determination of Boggabri resident Cath Collyer, who led the push for the facility while a shire councillor and continued her advocacy in the subsequent years until success was achieved thanks to Boggabri Coal and Whitehaven.

In his speech to the Christmas gathering Mr Shaw said “we single out one person who has been tireless in their efforts for Boggabri this year, Cath Collyer.”

Milestone year for an expanding CSD

Cotton Seed Distributors Ltd (CSD) is celebrating another busy and successful calendar year, with a number of milestones and anniversaries, infrastructure and technology developments, and new appointments to both the board and staff.

In January, site works commenced for the multimillion dollar redevelopment of CSD’s ‘Shenstone’ cotton seed processing plant and laboratory, near Wee Waa.

An initial investment of $41 million was allocated for construction of the new infrastructure including the processing plant, storage facilities, laboratory and administration complex, with a further significant investment in cotton seed delinting and treatment equipment.

The redevelopment project is estimated at approximately $85 – 90 million, a significant economic boost to the Wee Waa community, as well as being the Narrabri shire’s largest ever non-mining development.

More than 100 people have been engaged in the project, many of them living in Wee Waa and Narrabri for months at a time, injecting a significant influx of money into the local economy. As one of only two new cotton planting seed processing facilities in the world, CSD has invested in innovation to ensure a robust and profitable cotton industry in Australia, today and well into the future.

Cutting the 50th birthday cake at the celebratory dinner in April, CSD chairman James Kahl, inaugural chairman, Frank Hadley, original board members Ralph Schulze and John Grellman, former chairman, and CSD managing director Peter Graham.

Completion of the redevelopment project is expected by mid-year 2018, and an official opening of the complex will coincide with the CSD Annual General Meeting in June 2018.

In April, CSD celebrated 50 years of service to the Australian cotton industry with a gala dinner at ‘Shenstone’, with over 300 guests, including past and present growers, staff and industry partners from around the globe.

An opportunity to reflect on the achievements of the past half-century, the dinner was also an opportunity for CSD to thank its founders, staff and customers.

CSD also celebrated the 10th anniversary of the Cotton Breeding Australia joint venture with CSIRO, which, since 2007 has seen $101.7 million invested in the research and breeding of future cotton varieties for Australian growers.

In July, CSD Farms Manager, Mark Cathcart was awarded the AgriRisk High Achiever of the Year at the 2017 Australian Cotton Industry Awards. Mark and his team manage CSD’s research and seed increase facility, CSD Farms, between Wee Waa and Narrabri.

Managing 20 to 30 different seed, product or technology trials in any given season, CSD Farms was recognised as an important link in the chain for the whole cotton industry.

CSD were proud to once again sponsor the Cotton Seed Distributors Researcher of the Year at the 2017 Australian Cotton Industry Awards, this year awarded to Queensland scientists Dr Paul Grundy and Dr Stephen Yeates.

New additions to CSD’s team throughout the year included the election of Tony Quigley and the re-election of Juanita Hamparsum to the Board of Directors, at CSD’s Annual General Meeting in June.

CSD’s commitment to supporting and driving the cotton industry into the future saw four new agronomists added to the Extension and Development team. Craig McDonald was appointed as a new E and D agronomist for the Macquarie Valley; while Larissa Holland, Jacob Booby and Lucy Burrows joined the team as Junior E and D agronomists for the Darling Downs, Namoi Valley and Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area, respectively.

CSD would like to take this opportunity to thank its members, customers, partners and supporters for their continued support in 2017.

We wish you all a safe and happy Christmas, and may 2018 be a successful season for the Australian cotton industry.

OAM award to Bill Heath

The award of OAM to Narrabri’s Bill Heath in June recognised a long and comprehensive history of service by Mr Heath to the Narrabri community.

His contribution to the betterment of the town, through his leading role in community organisations, charity work, local government, sport, the arts, clubs and other organisations and a successful business career, spans 72 years.

Mr Heath has been energetic, involved and entrepreneurial across many spheres.

It has been a busy life and Mr Heath, 93, remains actively engaged at many levels.

Whitehaven Coal - locally based, community focused

Whitehaven Coal’s story began in 1999 as a small Australian-owned company exporting some of the world’s best quality coal from the Gunnedah Basin.

Since then, we’ve become Australia’s largest independent coal miner, and with the community’s backing we have grown into the single largest non-government employer in the region.

Our 1500 strong workforce works across six mines including five open cut mines at Maules Creek, Werris Creek, Tarrawonga, Rocglen and Sunnyside, and one underground mine at Narrabri.

We prioritise local employment, with more than 75 per cent of our workforce living in this area.

Whitehaven is a major employer in the Namoi Valley.

Our priority is to give the community confidence in the safety of our mines, and to ensure that the opportunities for local employment and business are realised. It’s our commitment that as we grow, the region grows. A stronger Whitehaven means a bigger and more prosperous local community.

Our independent research has helped us understand the following issues that are most important to the local community in relation to mining:

Independent community research tells us our efforts are being recognised through increased community backing. In 2017, nearly two thirds of the community were either very positive or somewhat positive when asked for their opinion on Whitehaven.

Our research indicates Whitehaven has the best reputation amongst mining companies in the region and our reputation, like perceptions of mining, has improved over the last four years.

  • 72 per cent of respondents in the local area reported a meaningful interaction with Whitehaven in the last year. This includes attending one of our open mine visits, community meetings, visiting our website or seeing us in the media.
  • 70 per cent of people recognise Whitehaven’s community contributions. Whitehaven has contributed more than $1 billion to the local economy since 2012. The majority of people believe Whitehaven listens to their concerns.
  • While the results are positive, we acknowledge there is more to be done. Our next project in the region – the Vickery Extension Project – will be a mine built to benefit the community, and shaped around the community’s perspectives, thoughts and needs. We will keep talking and listening to local people to ensure support for mining and our operations remains strong.

    Whitehaven encourages all members of the local community to get in contact. If you have a concern, a question or simply want to find out more about us, we have a permanent office at 231 Conadilly Street, Gunnedah. Alternatively contact us by phone on 02 6741 9301 or visit www.whitehavencoal.com.au

    Work ethic and integrity key to Carla’s success

    Carla Baxter Real Estate had been established for just over one year when the business was announced as winner of the 2017 Narrabri Chamber of Commerce Bell and Johnson Business of the Year Award

    However, in that year the business has achieved significant success, the awards judges affirmed.

    Company principal Carla Baxter admitted she was overwhelmed to hear the announcement that her business had won the top prize.

    Warm applause from the strong audience of about 350 greeted the announcement of the winner.

    Ms Baxter has been in the real estate industry in Narrabri for 19 years and has operated her own business since August 2, 2016 last year.

    She attributed the success of her business, residential sales and property management, to an upbringing in which the work ethic was simply part of life and to the principles of honesty and integrity she had been taught by her parents Gary and Tania Baxter.

    Carla Baxter Real Estate team members and friends celebrate the double award of 2017 Business of the Year and Employer of Choice Up To Five People at the Narrabri Business Awards. Back, Max Hay and property managers Ros Hay and Leah Baguley, with Brett Dickinson. Front, Pam Sevil, Carla Baxter, Laura Baguley, Ashleigh Rose and Cameron Baguley.

    “Honesty is everything,” she said.

    Mentoring and encouragement by the late Len Sevil was fundamental to her career. And the hard work and commitment of her team, property managers Ros Hay and Leah Baguley was integral to the company’s success.

    Ms Baxter stressed that work, honesty and integrity were the basis of her business.

    “I grew up in a farm environment knowing that you work to pay your bills,” she said. Her adherence to the work ethic is well understood by her many clients and friends.

    Ms Baxter is acknowledged as one of the busiest people in Narrabri.

    “I am available, on call, 24/7 and most days I leave work after midnight,” she said.

    “My door is always open to everybody. Clients and visitors are welcome any time.

    “We don’t turn any business away which is within our licensed criteria to handle. No property is too big or too small and every client is equally important and is to be treated respectfully.” Ms Baxter can only estimate how many properties she has sold over her career.

    “A considerable number - hundreds,” she said.

    Seven girls - and partners - make their debut at traditional Lodge Namoi Debutante Ball

    Seven debs made their formal introduction to society at the annual Lodge Namoi Debutante Ball at Narrabri RSL in June. Pictured along with their partners and other invited guests are back, Paul Redding, Narrabri Shire Mayor Cathy Redding, Rhys Orman, Adam Hennessy, Toby Davison, Matron of Honour Christine Rex, Nicholas Ferguson, Jesse Bennett, Nicholas Tomlinson, Lachlan Trindall, Master of Lodge Namoi Worshipful Brother Joab Rushton, Jenny Quinlan, Right Worshipful Brother Neville Quinlan, front, Taylah Fogarty, Ella Ritchie, Abbie Bartlett, flower girl Kiera Rood-England, page boy Bruce Rex, Emily Rex, Lara Schmiede, Kira Orman and Kiesha Leonard.

    Kathy Bailey SIAHTO Woman of the Year

    Narrabri High school teacher Kathy Bailey was named SIAHTO Woman of the Year for 2017.

    The citation for the SIAHTO award said it was clear she was a worthy recipient.

    She had not only helped many Cambodians living in poverty but she has shown her students the value of education and how to appreciate what they have.

    Hall of Fame for Bash fundraiser Tracey Rex

    Narrabri’s Tracey Rex has driven tens of thousands of kilometres across the highways, byways and rough bush tracks of NSW over the past 15 years raising money for Variety – the Children’s Charity.

    Ms Rex has raised a total of more than $120,000 for the charity, all earned though her and supporters’ efforts.

    “It is really a tribute to Narrabri,” she said. “It is amazing the support we get from Narrabri. This year Ms Rex was inducted into the Newcastle Variety Bash Hall of Fame in recognition of her massive contribution to the Bash over so many years.

    Top honour to Narrabri optometrist

    Narrabri Vision Splendid optometrist Tim Duffy was awarded his profession’s most prestigious recognition, the 2017 Josef Lederer Award for Excellence in Optometry in March.

    The award presented by the NSW Optometry Association at its annual conference, acknowledges Mr Duffy’s services to optometry in regional NSW over three decades.

    It was the first time a ‘hands on’ optometrist in country NSW has been recognised with the award and is a unique honour from Mr Duffy’s professional colleagues.

    The award places the Narrabri optometrist alongside past winners, medical researchers and academics like Professor Brien Holden, 73, who co-developed the silicone hydrogel contact lens used in more than half of all contacts used worldwide, Prof Brian Layland who was instrumental in bringing eye care to Aboriginal communities across NSW and the Northern Territory, and other leaders in the profession.

    Mr Duffy admitted he was “astounded” to be announced as winner.

    “I am just doing the best work I can for patients as we have for the past 30 years,” he said.

    With Tim Duffy’s Josef Lederer Award plaque in March, optometrist Sebastian Egan, optical dispenser Ros Thorn, receptionist Ashlee Worley and Tim Duffy.

    Mr Duffy, originally from Dubbo, began optometry in Coonabarabran in 1984 and moved to Gunnedah in 1986. He took over the Narrabri optometry practice two years ago.

    “For 20 years Mr Duffy was the only optometrist servicing a large and diverse district,” president of Optometry NSW/ACT Christine Craigie told the conference audience.

    “Early in his career Mr Duffy developed excellent skills in diagnosis, management, treatment and referral of eye disease, and acquired the most advanced diagnostic and imaging equipment. He was an early adopter of the ocular therapeutics courses at UNSW and has since provided the best possible learning environment for students who attend his practice on rural placements.”

    The Lederer Award honour further confirms that Vision Splendid clients are recipients of state-of-the-art, best practice optometry.

    Vision Splendid draws patients in to Narrabri from a wide region across the west and northwest NSW.

    Big year for Narrabri High School

    It would be fair to say 2017 was a year of change for Narrabri High School.

    The biggest change was that principal Rod Jones left the school at the end of term one to take up a similar position at Peel High School in Tamworth.

    Then the new uniform was introduced, which sparked plenty of positive comment, something that was reinforced as the school became highly visible in the community through innovative initiatives such as the Random Acts of Kindness program run by the Student Representative Council.

    The school also wasn’t afraid to try new things educationally, offering specialist courses such as Certificate III in Remote Aviation (a qualification for drone pilots) and a partnership with Tafe to cater for those

    students who might have been in danger of disengaging from school but were able to study courses that could lead to apprenticeships.

    In his annual report, relieving principal Dinos Charalambous said that students had excelled and were backed by dedicated and skilled staff.

    “I believe the school has moved forward in many areas, and we should be proud of the achievements,” he said.

    Narrabri High School Year 12 students gathered for the Formal at The Crossing Theatre on Friday, November 17. In this photo taken by Snapped by Kylie Browne are, back row, Jack Brennan, Thomas Gett, Harrison Russell, Damon Steele, Drew Garden-Thorn, Lachlan Williams, Cody McFarland, Jack Penny, Liam Sims, Alexander Gett, Toby Laird, Jesse Stubbs, Derick Koutoumanos, Toby Sunderland, third row, Mitchell Hall, William Cain, Jack Rae, Brittany Young, Georgina Rutter, Emily Fielder, Lara Richardson, Billie Strong, Brianna Brown, Ryan Meppem, Jordan Dodds, Lachlan Coleman, Andrew Koutoumanos, second row, Toby Linehan, Mekenzie Parkes, Tenika Bakhuis, Grace Tomlinson, Ashleigh Dunn, Katherine Brown, Kayla Langfield, Lorraine Robinson, Abbey Tomlinson, Jenna Sunderland, Cassandra Hicks, Benjamin Freeman, Jason Little, Damon Gleeson, front row, Coby Cornish, Maddison Smith, Kinlee Hill, Lidia McAuley, Caitlyn Dewar, Dawson Anderson, Chelsea Wheeler, Olivia Bange, April Squire, Felicity Elford, Alana Trudgeon, Marika Ryan, Abby O’Brien and Alexandra Howard-Phemister.

    Narrabri gas project into EIS stage

    Santos’ proposed Narrabri Gas Project has been in the spotlight in 2017 as the urgency of bringing new gas supplies to market has been recognised by governments, gas producers and customers in New South Wales and indeed nationwide.

    The Narrabri Gas Project provides a perfect opportunity to add to eastern Australia’s natural gas supplies, providing reliable, affordable and clean energy for the one million NSW households and 33,000 NSW businesses that depend on it.

    More than 300,000 NSW jobs also depend on reliable and affordable supplies of natural gas.

    The Narrabri Gas Project would create approximately 1300 jobs during the initial construction phase and around 200 ongoing jobs, many of which will be locally based.

    The local community will also benefit from a Gas Community Benefit Fund totalling up to $120 million to support local programs and initiatives.

    Santos has really appreciated the support of State Member for Barwon, Kevin Humphries, who has described the Narrabri Gas Project as “the jewel in the crown for North West NSW” a “big game changer for rural NSW”, and as the project that “could help solve the power issues for eastern Australia.”

    In turn, our commitment is that, if it is approved by federal and state regulators, we will develop the Narrabri Gas Project in a way that is safe, environmentally sustainable and can co-exist with other land uses.

    The project is currently being assessed through NSW and Federal environmental and planning processes following the submission of Santos’ Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) in February this year.

    The EIS was the culmination of several years’ of scientific research.

    The EIS included detailed environmental surveys and a groundwater model described as “state of the art” by the CSIRO. Importantly, the EIS concluded the project can be developed safely with minimal and manageable risk to the environment.

    The EIS was placed on public exhibition earlier this year so that the community had the opportunity to ask questions and raise any issues.

    Santos is currently preparing a detailed response to submissions made by community and government stakeholders.

    We are confident we can ensure the Project is developed safely and sustainably in a way that addresses all of the issues that were raised.

    Our response will be thoroughly assessed by regulators and their independent scientific advisors before a decision is made about the Project.

    Santos recognises the importance of a robust assessment process and will abide by the outcome.

    Reflecting the renewed focus on bringing more gas supply into production on Australia’s east coast, Santos has brought the Narrabri Gas Project back into the company’s portfolio of core assets.

    As chief executive officer Kevin Gallagher said when he made the announcement in November, “Narrabri will play a very significant part in the east coast domestic gas story.”

    “We believe that the east coast of Australia needs gas and needs new gas to be developed to meet those market demands over the next few years,” Mr Gallagher said.

    “We can turn Narrabri into a flagship project that demonstrates how this industry can safely and in an environmentally friendly way, develop onshore resources and build confidence again in our industry to unlock these natural resources that are sitting on our doorstep.”

    “Santos has the track record and expertise to safely and sustainably develop the Narrabri project and deliver clean energy to NSW for many years to come.”

    On the ground near Narrabri, the reverse osmosis water treatment plant was commissioned and we were excited to begin our Leewood irrigation project.

    The Leewood irrigation project is just one example of how natural gas activities can support and improve agriculture.

    Groundwater in the area where we are operating comes from hundreds of metres below the ground and is about half to a third as salty as seawater.

    The reverse osmosis water treatment plant removes the salt so that the treated water meets all Australian and NSW irrigation standards and can be used for agriculture and stock.

    Santos NSW operations manager Todd Dunn and advisor landholder relations Mark Rodgers in Santos’s barley crop grown on the Leewood irrigation project near Narrabri.

    The Leewood irrigation project is helping to drought proof the region by freeing up other water sources for alternative uses.

    Our Wilga Park Power Station, fuelled by natural gas from our pilot wells in the area, continued to provide electricity into the local grid.

    On the community front, we supported a number of local programs and initiatives throughout the year, including Tamworth’s Westpac Rescue Helicopter, the Narrabri Blue Boars and the Narrabri Show.

    We were also delighted to be a major sponsor of Nosh Narrabri, which made its return in August this year and was a fantastic weekend of food and entertainment.

    Our local team has been working hard to ensure the Narrabri community is well informed about our operations and will continue their work as the environmental assessment and planning process proceeds into 2018.

    Finally, thank you to all those who have supported us in working towards a safe and environmentally sustainable outcome throughout 2017.