In the lush mountain forests between the Bellinger and Kalang valleys on the Mid North Coast of NSW, lies a patch of old growth trees in all their ancient, 400-year-old glory. Renowned Tasmanian photographer and big tree climber, Steve Pearce of The Tree Projects, and professional arborist, Kai Wild, took a trip to explore and document this incredible (and threatened) area using “tree portraits”.Steve’s passion for forests, climbing and photography have seen him adventuring worldwide, taking photos for the likes of National Geographic, and forging new innovations in how we see and appreciate our natural world. He hopes that people will see these magnificent trees and be inspired to visit and protect Australia’s remaining native forests.
The first land selectors did not arrive on the river until 1863 and because of navigational restrictions Fernmount became the principal village. However, Boat Harbour as Bellingen was first known, was selected as the site of the first court house and lockup, and shortly after the village site was proclaimed as Bellingen in October 1870.
The Roy Rose Fire Shed was named after its founder from Thora Valley’s well-known pioneering ‘Rose’ family. This fire shed has served the Thora community for 50-60 years, and has many local stories of fighting fire fronts across this dense bushland valley. In recent times it has become better known as the Thora Fire Station, or Thora RFS and is currently captained by Todd Travers. We caught up with Todd to hear about his recent recruitment drive success and his new team, their award-winning trip and how this RFS Captain relaxes.What is your connection with the Bellingen Shire?I first visited Bellingen 23 years ago and was instantly drawn to the Shire. I continued to visit annually – usually to tie in with the community markets – for eight years until I bit the bullet and moved from the northern beaches in Sydney. That was 15 years ago and I haven’t looked back.Apart from driving that big red truck (every boy’s dream), what got you interested in joining the RFS?I joined in about 2014 because I like helping people, and I also saw it as a great way contribute to, and participate in this amazing local community. The RFS is the biggest volunteer organisation in the world and being a part of the RFS gives me the opportunity to help the community, not just on the fire front, but also at MVA’s (motor vehicle accidents), burn pile assists and, importantly community fire education.What are you doing when you’re not in Rural Fire Service mode?I work at the local Bellingen Hardware shop. I love spending time with my three beautiful children and my amazing wife Nerida. I also really enjoy playing the guitar.So this means you get discounts on hoses and buckets for the truck…?Only the red ones.And why haven’t we seen you busking around the Shire or strumming a tune in one of our venues?All I can say is Open Mic night at No.5 Church Street – watch out, I’m coming! (When I’ve practiced a bit more.)How did you go about starting a recruitment drive to build the troops?Starting about mid 2017 I put together Open Days at the Station, as well as taking the kids out on Sundays and doing fire information letterbox drops and a recruitment letter. We got 2 members on the first drive, then 4, and then another 2.So we now are nine:John Imrie (The Bear), Phil O’Brien, Stuart Scott, Shaun Robinson, Peter van Brussells, Jacob Cooper, Sydney Eyre, Sue Travers and me.It was, and still is a big commitment but well worth it. Rachel Eggins from Coffs Harbour Fire Control Centre worked effortlessly with me for guidance & materials to make it all happen.How should people interested in joining their local RFS go about it?They should call Coffs Harbour fire control centre on 6659 7800 and they will walk you through the process.Tell us about the submission and ultimately your win at the recent ‘RFS Region North’ for Best Crew Leader (Todd), Best Performing Crew and Best Presented Truck?Admittedly being a new crew leader and having all new crew members, I thought it would be a good learning opportunity to attend the northern region exercises. I consulted with the crew and mentioned that there were awards to be won. However with more experienced crews up there I wasn’t getting my hopes up too much. So we decided rather than focus too much on the awards, we’d go to enjoy the experience and learn a thing or two. I had to fight back the tears when they started handing out the awards. It was an extremely proud moment, not just for myself but for John, Phil & Shaun. As the underdogs, we rose to the occasion! It’s also a credit to all the staff at the CCHC (Coffs Harbour Fire Control Centre) and all the volunteers who work selflessly to guide and train us.Your most rewarding RFS experience?It’s a hard question. There are rewarding moments in most of the experiences, but in different ways. It’s mainly about being able to help – wherever we can.Do you have ‘Open Days’ where people can come along and kids can experience what a fire truck looks like up-close-and-personal?Yep and we pride ourselves on that. The next one will be 22nd September 10am – 4pm which will also be a community information day (Thora Open Day). There’ll be information on fire prevention, and updates on new rules for local property owners.What would you like to be remembered for?For being me (since I can’t be Bruce Willis).What really annoys you?Fruit loops being in the cereal aisle.So if they were in the sweets aisle instead?I’d be very excited! It’s where they belong.How do you relax?Meditation.What level of fitness does one need to participate in the RFS?There’s a job for everyone! You don’t have to join just to fight fires. There’s a host of jobs including administrative ones, so don’t be shy.In the movie Todd-gate, who plays you?Bruce Willis – uncanny resemblance I’m told. What do you think? Leave a ReplyName * Email *Website
Source: Bellingen Shire Council |
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Just so that Robert Gray is here in the room with us, then, from the start; just so you hear his voice; just so that his pastures, creeks and estuaries join us at the confluence of the McKenzie and the Willamette, let me read you some of my favourite lines from his poetry. They open his poem “A Day at Bellingen,” a work from the very centre of his oeuvre, from the heart of his third (of seven) volumes, Skylight (1983).
A Day at Bellingen
I come rowing back on the mauve creek, and there’s a
among the shabby trees,
above the scratchy swamp oaks
and through the wrecked houses of the paperbarks;
a half moon
drifting up beside me like a jelly fish.
Now the reflected water becomes, momentarily, white—
have paused, held in their hailing
and the long water is a dove-grey rippled sand.
A dark bird hurries
low in a straight line silently overhead.
The navy-blue air, with faint underlighting;
Has gauze veil hung up within it, or a moist fresh
I land in the bottom of an empty paddock,
at a dark palisade
(Gray 1998, 126)
There’s Robert Gray: doing what he does like no one else, this coastal pastoral, with its echoes of Gerard Manley Hopkins and the Zen masters; there he goes, stilling time, slowing it, at least, to the pace of a dinghy on dark water at dusk. There is his palette: dove-grey, mauve, magnesium white, navy blue. There are some of his motifs: the daylight moon, the saplings, the dark bird in flight, the rowboat, the hanging smoke. There is nature’s “wrecked house.” And there on the shore are the empty paddocks his voice grew up in.
AND THIS IS HAPPENING HERE !!! BIGTIME.
Ilona Harker earns a decent wage as a musician, arts therapist and music teacher.So she never thought she’d end up living in her car.”I’m a lady hobo or couch surfing in paradise,” Ilona said.”It’s a really embarrassing thing to say, like I need to be ashamed that at my age, with the job that I have, with the connections I have, that I would be like that. But I am homeless.”She was evicted from her last rental home in Byron Shire before Christmas after the real estate agent said the house had to be sold.”I’m pretty sure it got Airbnb’d. It didn’t get sold. I had six weeks to find a place. I couldn’t find anything. I put everything in storage, sold the stuff I’d just bought, lost thousands,” Ilona told the ABC.Ilona says the sharing economy — where people can rent out homes on websites such as Airbnb — is making it even harder.
Nick Warfield is a sculptor, maker and installation artist based on the Mid North coast of New South Wales, Australia. He lives in the coastal bushland 20 minutes from the Bellingen Valley with his partner Bell and their beautiful daughter Pleide. The scope of his practice encompasses sculpture, installation, furniture, decor, structure and workshops.
This series of swimming holes is just off the main road out to Glennifer about 25 minutes from Bellingen in the Mid North Coast of New South Wales, AustraliaWhere: The nearest major city is Coffs Harbor on the Mid North Coast in NSW. You drive into the hills just South of Coffs to a very left wing/hipster country town called Bellingen. Make sure you stop here and check out some of the local cafes and shops.Getting to the spot: Once you arrive in Bellingen take the road to Glennifer (go over the Bellinger River). If you travel for about 20 mins you’ll reach a place called the Promised Land — home of George Negus and David Helfgott. You’ll come to a rickety old bridge with a small church hall on your right with a sign saying ‘NEVER NEVER CREEK’ once you cross the bridge continue driving for about 60 seconds and take a right then drive all the way to the end of this road and you will see another bridge (which you cross) and then a bunch of parked cars. That is how you know you are there.
The Bellingen Gelato Bar. A great little space for a morning coffee.
“North Coast Boomerangs recruiting march”During World War 1, there were numerous recruiting marches… all but one of which, was in NSW… the exception being the Dungarees, which commenced in Warwick and ended in Brisbane. The idea was to inspire/encourage young men to join the armed services. To many who had never left their district, the possibility of travelling the world, must have seemed an opportunity too good to miss.Little did they realise just what they would be facing.My own grandfather joined one of these marches… but this story is about the North Coast Boomerangs, also called the Coastal Boomerangs.” Route: Grafton, Woolgoolga, Coffs Harbour, Nambucca Heads, Macksville, Kempsey, Telegraph Point, Port Macquarie, Taree, Bulahdelah, Raymond Terrace, Maitland.The ‘North Coasters’ started with only 27 men but gained 80 recruits at Coffs Harbour and, by the time they reached their destination, had 240 men – almost a 9-fold increase. In addition, it was estimated that over 500 men were induced to volunteer as a result of the march.Recruiting Marches 1915-1916″https://www.awm.gov.au/encyclopedia/recruiting_march/nc_boomerangs/
Most people had vivid memories of it having been a picture theatre, with Vince Lovell as the projectionist. Vince had been the town’s photographer back then too, and many people remember him taking their wedding and baby photos. Many of the archival photos of Bellingen which can now be found in Bellingen’s Historical Museum, have been attributed to Vince Lovell.This comment by Robert Braithwaite, was very typical of the responses that appeared “I think Vic Ball had it before Fishburns. Movie every Friday night, and Saturday matinee. Sommerville’s Cafe and Lovell’s Lolly Shop, were open on Friday nights and Saturdays for drinks and confectionery at interval. Certainly was Bellingen’s hub for entertainment in the 60’s and early 70’s, particularly for the youth.. good times”. Many of the errant youth also confessed to ducking off from the movie to take their date down to the river for a bit of hanky panky (my words, not theirs ;-)). Other sweeter memories surfaced: Mark Durbidge “I remember having my first kiss there at the pictures”. Rose Callaghan remembers well seeing the movie “Grease” there in 1976 because she had her appendix out the next day. I wonder if the excitement of the movie in sleepy little Bellingen, brought on Rose’s appendicitis?? Mike Marriott said it was “2 bob to get in” (his mum sent him off with the 2 bob tied in the corner of his hankie).
Source: Memorial Hall Memories
A million camphor laurel trees have spread throughout the Bellinger valley in northern New South Wales. It’s only taken them a hundred years. As one lover of Australia’s native bush says, ‘Big is beautiful in tree aesthetics. To a tree-lover they look magnificent, while to a lover of native forest they look like giant weeds.’ Nothing grows under a camphor laurel – or nothing much.
Source: BEAUTIFUL EYES | urungamaiden
A little poem I wrote before doing a wee show for the Urunga Lions Club last Sunday …
Now that I live in Urunga
Where two rivers meet the sea
I look around and feel younger
Than I really ought to be
The pace of life is not hurried
Plenty of time for a yarn
Nobody seems very worried
People are friendly and calm
One place I go to do washing
Like a good sick mother’s son
Can’t miss it unless you’re rushing
It’s run by Jo Brotherton
Stroke put our Mum in a wheelchair
Wet kylies, nighties and sheets
Each day, Jo would take real care
My angel of Bowra street
She handled the smell and my madness
With her cheerful cheeky smile
Respite from caring with sadness
Having a rest for a while
Now Ma’s party’s over at last
The old place is up for sale
My future dries tears for my past
My present is hitting the trail
I’ve enjoyed my time in Urunga
Where sickness helped me to see
This town has elders and younger
Whose kindness was brought to me
History. Mystery. Research-in-Progress.
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