There is much to reflect on in these extraordinary and challenging times, but also much to be thankful for.

First, we can be thankful we live in Australia.

Our free society is underpinned by our democratic institutions and while some have objected to the public health constraints forced by the pandemic our lives are better than those enjoyed in most countries.

The transition to a New Year may have been accompanied by some sense of relief that 2021 was finally over and done with but no amount of wistful or wishful thinking that a return to what many commentators have called ‘normality’ lies ahead of our nation in the immediate future.

The advent of 2022 has not been accompanied by politicians, economists, medical authorities or lifestyle forecasters brandishing magic wands and leading us back to sunny uplands of carefree and stress-free plenty and happiness.

But there is evidence now that better times are ahead.

The dramatic improvement in seasonal conditions and water flowing again into storages in this region and other parts of NSW is morale-boosting.

Narrabri Shire has a new council with seven of the nine elected members new to the role. The re-elected incumbents, former mayor Ron Campbell and former deputy mayor Cathy Redding, have been key members of a council that has made significant progress in laying the foundations for the future.

The community’s expectations will be that the new council will continue the progress on issues ranging from basic ‘roads, rates and rubbish’ through to the big picture items of infrastructure development.

It is well acknowledged that Narrabri Shire is strategically placed with opportunities ahead across the promise of the Inland Rail, the designation of the shire as a Special Activation Precinct – a recognition of its unique status – and the opportunities that energy industries may provide in coal, natural gas and, increasingly, renewables.

All this will be underpinned, as always in this district, by our agricultural industries which appear poised to enjoy good seasons.

Again, 2021 has been a year of challenges.

The determination and resilience of local businesses – large and small – and their staffs to weather the toll that the COVID-19 lockdowns and close-downs will be proud milestones in the wider scenario of Australia’s economic recovery.

We have been forced by circumstances to undertake new ways of doing things in Australia in many areas of economic and social life.

Anecdotal evidence abounds of how people have rallied, co-operated and contributed to ensuring that the common weal was maintained and enhanced during the difficult times.

The importance of community engagement of and co-operation has been raised to new levels.

But, we are not out of the woods yet.

The upsurge of COVID in the form of the highly contagious Omicron variant has highlighted once again that the COVID virus is persistent and extremely pernicious.

The introduction of protective vaccines against the virulent pandemic has been a triumph of modern medical science.

As we cope with a continuation of the absence of ‘normality’ into the future we can hope to be rewarded with brighter prospects and look forward to more joyful and wide-ranging celebrations at the 2022 year’s end.

To order photos from this page click here