Well, what a welcome to the New Year – continuing drought conditions, bushfires all along the east coast, and now flash flooding.

Whether it comes down to global warming, or just the cyclic nature of the Australian environment, we may never know.

However, I can assure you, the recent rainfall that the shire has had over the past few weeks, although scattered, has certainly bought a smile to residents – and farmers’ faces, which is priceless.

Much has happened since my last Mayoral column at the end of 2019, and I sincerely hope that all community members had a wonderful festive break, spent with family and friends, and relaxing in our amazing shire.

Schools have now returned within our towns and villages, and businesses have returned to their day-to-day routines as well.

It is hoped that the recent rainfall we have received will be able to let some families and businesses plan a more positive and optimistic year, with an encouraging outlook for the remainder of the season.

Plenty of follow-up rainfall is needed, but this is certainly a much needed kickstart for the shire.

Australia Day Ceremonies were held at the major centres of Wee Waa, Boggabri and Narrabri, and were all very well attended by community members, as I noticed while travelling to them with our 2020 Australia Day Ambassador, Len Pascoe.

As I spent time with Len during the day, and travelling between centres, he remarked many times about how resilient, loyal and tough rural Australian communities are, and no more reflective than now, where we have been faced with many environmental disasters, and the hardships in overcoming them and moving on with a ‘chin up’ approach.

Len, being a former international cricketer for Australia for many years, was a refreshing and yet authentic character to have met and share the day with, and he really enjoyed spending the day with residents and community members he met.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Les Knox for his efforts in bringing not only Len Pascoe, but also members of the 1985 Indigenous Touring Cricket Team (England) to Narrabri for the long weekend to showcase the Narrabri Shire to them on their 35 year team reunion.

I would also like to again congratulate the winners of the Shire Australia Day Awards, the seven new shire citizens who performed their citizenship ceremonies, and also to the Lords’ Taverners for organising their Shire Sports Awards for presentation at the Narrabri Australia Day Ceremony.

Len Pascoe was very impressed and even commented on what a great organisation the Lords’ Taverners was to assist the local sporting community with this type of award recognition.

Well done to Bill Wood and the Lords’ Taverners’ committee members for another successful and well run year, keep up the great work, it is greatly appreciated by the wider community.

The winners of the Shire Australia Day Awards were:
• 2020 Community Event of the Year – Narrabri Chamber of Commerce for the ‘Back to the ‘Bri’ initiative.
• Young Citizen of the Year Award – to Emily Shearin
• Environmental Citizen of the Year Award – Georgia Goodhew
• Citizen of the Year – was a tie/joint award, presented to Harvey Black and Peter Carrett.
• Shire Snapshot Photographic Competition Award – Highly Commended to Mrs Janet Dampney, and Award Winner – Mrs Paula Johanssen

Please note the following timely information and reminders after the rainfall event that the Shire has recently experienced:

Residents are reminded at all times:
• Bystanders at floodwaters are asked to keep themselves, children and pets at a safe distance away from the water, which is travelling at high speed, and be aware that their surroundings may be very unsafe, including ground subsidence, erosion and vegetation that can fall away underfoot and cause immediate harm to those being swept away in floodwaters.
Stay cautious, and consider the Emergency Services personnel that have to go in and retrieve these people, as they also have families and want to return home safely.

Road users are reminded that:
• Motorists are advised to proceed with caution on all Narrabri Shire roads due to the ongoing wet weather conditions.
• They may be liable for any damage that they cause to a road that is closed to their vehicle type.
• Travelling on roads covered with water is extremely dangerous and should be avoided.
• Road conditions can change without warning and drivers should travel with caution.
• Unsealed roads damage very easily when they are wet and only essential journeys should be undertaken until these roads dry out.
• Repairs to damaged roads are not usually possible until the roads and gravel stockpiles begin to dry out.
• Council prioritises repairs with higher trafficked roads usually receiving attention first.

Residents are thanked for their patience and understanding in the recent breach of the Killarney Street bore. Mulgate Creek received unprecedented intake in such a quick amount of time.

Through good management the bore was able to be maintained quickly and although there was still some seepage, and inconvenience, the ‘downtime’ could have been significantly worse, and I am very grateful and wish to thank the council staff – being supported by the shire’s emergency services and Narrabri NSW Fire and Rescue, who were out on site rectifying this issue as quickly as they did.

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