Bega Valley Shire Council - 2EC

A third of Tathra properties now cleaned-up


Asbestos has been a major issue in the clean-up of the NSW Far South Coast town of Tathra, which had nearly 70 homes destroyed in a bushfire last month. 

The Tathra clean-up is going well with about a third of destroyed properties now cleaned-up, Bega Valley Shire Council’s Waste Manager Toby Browne has said.

Asbestos began being removed from the bushfire-ravaged town at the beginning of last week and is being trucked to the Eden tip about 50 kilometres south of Tathra.

Mr Browne says while the asbestos has had to be put into landfill, a lot of the material being delivered is being recovered.

"Around thirty homes were asbestos contaminated and they had to be landfilled, there's no question of that, and that's being done with the utmost care and safety, however the other 38-odd destroyed homes impacted were not asbestos and Council's is doing everything it can to recover brick, concrete and scrap steel in particular from that demolition waste stream, to reduce the amount of waste that's then going into the landfill.

“The brick and concrete can obviously be crushed into road-based or other types of gravels, the scrap metal has a market value so that will be on-sold as part of a tendering process,” Mr Browne said.  

Bega Valley Council welcomes new Councillors

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Bega Valley Shire Council congratulates the successful candidates in this year’s Local Government Elections.

Acting CEO, Anthony McMahon welcomed the incoming Councillors and thanked the outgoing Councillors for their dedication and commitment over the last five years.

“I’d like to congratulate all of the successful candidates and welcome new Councillors Helen O’Neil, Karen Wright, David Porter and Joy Robin to Council,” Mr McMahon said.

“Representing and advocating for the needs and wants of our community, as well as balancing those needs and wants against the limitations of budgets and resourcing, is a challenging but rewarding task.

“I’d also like to thank returning Councillors Russell Fitzpatrick, Tony Allen, Cathy Griff, Mitch Nadin and Liz Seckold who were re-appointed for a further term, for giving up their time yet again to support the community.

“I’m looking forward to seeing what can be achieved over this next term of Council.

“I would also like to thank outgoing Councillors Jo Dodds and Robyn Bain—both of whom chose not to stand for re-election—for their service, leadership and dedication throughout the last term of Council.”

Helen Oneil

The new Councillors for the Bega Valley Shire, announced by the NSW Electoral Commission on 21 December 2021, are:

  • Helen O’Neil (pictured)
  • Karen Wright
  • Russell Fitzpatrick
  • Tony Allen
  • Cathy Griff
  • Mitch Nadin
  • David Porter
  • Liz Seckold
  • Joy Robin

The first official meeting of the new Council will be held on Tuesday 11 January 2022 and will include the election of the Mayor and Deputy Mayor, and Councillor representation on Council’s various committees.

A comprehensive induction program will also be undertaken to ensure Councillors have a detailed understanding of the legal and policy framework, the challenges facing the local government sector, and the unique challenges and opportunities for our shire.

Due to the extension of the last term of Council by the Office of Local Government, the new term of Council will be two years and nine months, ending in September 2024, rather than the usual four years.

From 2024, the Bega Valley Shire will have a popularly elected Mayor, after almost 73% of voters voted in favour of this change.

Image Credit: Bega Valley Shire Council, Helen O'Neil Labor Team 

Bega Valley councillors vote for new mayor this week


Kristy McBain has stepped down as mayor to nominate for the Labor candidacy for Eden Monaro. The federal electorate will head to the polls over the next few months following the resignation of Labor's Mike Kelly due to ill health. 

A new mayor will be elected for the Bega Valley this Wednesday. It follows the resignation of Kristy McBain last week. Ms McBain has nominated to be Labor candidate in the Eden Monaro bi-election. 

Bega Valley Shire Council says the extraordinary meeting will be live streamed to council’s website.

Deputy Mayor Sharon Tapscott will take on the responsibilities of Mayor until Wednesday.

 The current mayoral term runs until 16 September this year.

The person elected as Mayor in September 2020 will then take Council through to the local government elections in September 2021.

Local government elections due to be held this September have been postponed until next year because of COVID-19. 

 Council says while Ms McBain has stepped aside as mayor, she will continue to serve as a councillor.

Bushfire disaster unearths young talented artists at Towamba Public School


Above: Firefly Forest by Arlie Richardson

The bushfire disaster has unearthed some talented emerging artists at Towamba Primary School, in the Bega Valley Shire. 

The region was one of the worst hit by the Border Fire and last week Bega Valley Shire's regional gallery launched an online exhibition of artworks from the students, called Fireflies. 

Some of the artwork is also being shown at the Wild Ryes bakery at Pambula, and there's a hope there can be a larger exhibition with all the artwork can be held later this year. 

Congratulations to all the students and the teachers, and mums and dads and carers who helped with this remarkable exhibition, and a special mention  to the students' mentor, artist Vickie McCredie. 


Above: Moriah Nelson's South East Forests 

Council to discuss timber optimisation hub proposal


Bega Valley Council will hold an extraordinary meeting next week to consider a development application for a timber optimisation hub at the Eden woodchip mill.

It follows the Land and Environment Court's ruling the approval given by staff under delegated authority last year was invalid.

The application centred on building a briquette and pellet factory at the mill.

Conservation group South East Forest Rescue challenged the lawfulness of the development consent that was granted despite widespread opposition.


South East Forest Rescue spokesperson Scott Daines said the approval would have increased and extended native forest logging on the South Coast over the next decade or more.

"Logging and woodchipping native forests is one of the greatest threats to the forests of the world, and one of the greatest contributors to climate change.

"The protection of our native forests is of urgent national and international importance in these times of global climate crisis," Daines said.


Also celebrating the court's decision was the South East Region Conservation Alliance.

Spokesperson Harriett Swift said there was overwhelming opposition to the proposal when it was put forward.

"There were more than 150 public submissions opposing the DA for the new mill, and only one supporting it, and that was a single sentence submission of just 24 words.

"This region has been through a lot over the past two years and we should not be making things worse by making a short sighted decision that will hasten climate change and make more bushfires more likely in the future," Swift said.

Images: Bega Valley Shire Council, Forest Defence NSW and Fir0002 at the English-language Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons

Eden's historic Hotel Australasia to be sold and restored

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Eden's heritage-listed Hotel Australasia is set for a makeover. 

Eden’s historic Hotel Australasia is a very close to returning to private hands after Bega Valley Shire Council yesterday voted to enter into the Contract for Sale and Side Deed with Irisha Pty Ltd and Rubycove Pty Ltd.

The agreed sale price has been incorporated into the contract, with the purchaser agreeing to carry out the restoration of the Hotel, use the restored Hotel, develop the laneway in accordance with the side deed, and register on the title on settlement, Council has said. 

A Restoration Work Bank Guarantee to secure the carrying out of the restoration work has been agreed with the purchaser.

The resolution follows ongoing negotiations between Bega Valley Shire Council General Manager, Leanne Barnes, and the developer.

“Throughout our negotiations it has been clear that Irisha Pty Ltd and Rubycove Pty Ltd are committed to and focussed on reinvigorating the site,” Ms Barnes said.

“Council has also taken a number of performance bond actions to encourage surety for the community through the restoration phase.

“Now 112 years old and listed as a heritage item under the Bega Valley Local Environment Plan 2013 this building is an absolute Eden icon, with the ongoing community interest showcasing this perfectly.

“It will be just wonderful to see it return to its former glory in the near future – the Eden community absolutely deserves that,” Ms Barnes said.

Fitzpatrick re-elected as Bega Valley Mayor

2022 Bega Valley Shire Councillors 2022

Bega Valley Shire’s new Council was officially sworn in at yesterday’s (Tuesday January 11) extraordinary meeting, with nine Councillors taking the oath or affirmation of office.

Councillor Russell Fitzpatrick was re-elected as Mayor and Councillor Liz Seckold re-elected as Deputy Mayor, until September 2023.

Acting CEO, Anthony McMahon congratulated the Mayor and Deputy Mayor on their appointment and welcomed Councillors to the various committees.

“Yesterday marked the official start of what will be a busy term of Council, and Councillors have already started an intensive induction process,” Mr McMahon said.

“Due to the delay of the 2021 elections, this term of Council will be two years and nine months rather than the usual four years, with the Mayor and Deputy Mayor serving one year and nine months before the next vote.

“I’d like to congratulate Cr Fitzpatrick on his re-election as Mayor, and Cr Seckold on her re-election as Deputy Mayor.”

Councillor Russell Fitzpatrick said it was an honour to be re-elected as Mayor.

“Representing and advocating for the needs and wants of our community, as well as balancing those needs and wants against the limitations of budgets and resourcing, is a challenging but rewarding task,” Mayor Fitzpatrick said.

“Over the coming term we need to keep improving our financial position, and carefully consider what grants we accept and what spending we prioritise.

“I’m looking forward to working with the new Council to continue to serve the community over this next term of Council.”

Councillor Liz Seckold said it was humbling to be re-elected as Deputy Mayor.

“I always say that working as a Councillor means living side-by-side with the people we represent. This means using the same services and infrastructure as everyone around you, and of course being there to deliver the best we can for everyone in the shire.

“I am honoured and humbled to again serve the people of the Bega Valley as their Deputy Mayor and look forward to working with a progressive and forward-thinking Council.”

Councillors also selected Councillor representatives for Council’s committees. A full list will be available in the meeting minutes HERE later this week.

Contact details for all Councillors will be available on the Council website HERE later this week.

Photograph: Councillors Tony Allen, Joy Robin, Cathy Griff, Karen Wright, Russell Fitzpatrick, Mitch Nadin, Liz Seckold, Helen O’Neil and David Porter.

Image Credit: Bega Valley Shire Council

Further Education Scholarship Awards presented

Further Education Scholarship Awards 2

Bega Valley Shire Mayor, Russell Fitzpatrick presented Further Education Scholarship Awards to students for 2020 and 2021, in recognition of the importance of developing local student’s skills and abilities.

This annual scholarship program supports young people seeking professional qualifications and careers while living in the Bega Valley through grants valued at $1,000 each.

"We want to encourage students to consider local further education options, whether it be university or vocational study, instead of thinking they have to leave the shire to pursue a career," Council’s Community Connections Manager, Anne Cleverley said.

2021 awardees:

  • Jessica Duthie from Bemboka will complete a Certificate III Pathway to Further Study at the Bega campus of TAFE Illawarra
  • Teah Strang from Merimbula is doing a Bachelor of Arts in Community, Culture and Environment at the Bega campus of the University of Wollongong
  • Zoe Pentin from Pambula will complete a Bachelor of Arts at the Bega campus of the University of Wollongong
  • Mirri Dalziel from Kalaru will study a Bachelor of Nursing at the Bega campus of the University of Wollongong
  • Makenzie Upton from Eden will study a Bachelor of Nursing at the Bega campus of the University of Wollongong.

2020 awardees:

  • Craig Pearce from Bega studied a Certificate IV in Agriculture at the Bega campus of TAFE Illawarra to further his career in the dairy industry
  • Sophie Kearn-Holman from South Pambula studied a Bachelor of Arts at the Bega campus of the University of Wollongong
  • Claudia Mitchell from Eden studied a Bachelor of Nursing at the Bega campus for the University of Wollongong.
  • Talina Brice from Bemboka studied a Bachelor of Early Childhood and Primary Education online at University of New England.
  • Tamika Gaudie from Bega studied a Certificate IV Education Support and Diploma of Early Childhood Education online at the Canberra Institute of Technology.

Grants for community events to recognise bushfires anniversary

Bega Multicultural Centre Potaroo Palace

In recognition of the second anniversary of the Black Summer bushfires, Bega Valley Shire Council has opened applications to the Community Recovery Contribution Program to support community-led recovery activities.

Council’s Director of Community, Environment and Planning, Alice Howe said a financial contribution of up to $2,500 is on offer to community groups or organisations for activities that reach bushfire-affected residents and property owners in their community.

“The Black Summer bushfires affected most of our shire for over two months. As we approach the start of the second anniversary, it’s important to recognise that every person, family and community is at a different place in their recovery journey,” Dr Howe said.

“This small grants program aims to help communities and individuals acknowledge their anniversary in a way that is meaningful for them, and to support their ongoing recovery journey.

“Events or activities should respond to an identified community need and have a positive impact for the local community or environment.

“Ideally, the outcome of these activities will be improved social connection, resilience, and health and wellbeing.”

Dr Howe encourages groups and organisations to work collaboratively across their community when planning recovery activities.

“If you’re not part of an incorporated group, but you have a great idea and are not sure how to get it off the ground, Council staff can help you,” she said.

Those requiring assistance can contact Council’s Community Development and Engagement Team on (02) 6499 2222 or email [email protected]

For first round consideration, applications need to be submitted by COB Friday 17 December.

Applications submitted after this date will be assessed weekly from 10 January 2022 until 31 March 2022 or until funds are expended.

Please note: No grants will be awarded between 23 December 2021 and 10 January 2022.

Activities funded through the Community Recovery Contribution Program must be completed and acquitted by 30 June 2022.

Image Credit: Bega Valley Shire Council

Green Shoots helping Tathra recover


The Koori Work Crew are doing a great job at Tathra. Photo courtesy Bega Valley Shire Council. 

A thriving partnership between Bega Valley Shire Council and South East Local Land Services is supercharging the Green Shoots bushfire recovery program in the Tathra area.

 The implementation of a remediation program is now well advanced, with the assistance of Local Land Services and the mobilisation of the local Koori work crew proving extremely valuable. Bega Valley Shire Council’s Acting Environmental Services Coordinator, Michael Fiedler, said the initial actions, that have included the installation of sediment traps and flow control devices, are focussed on preventing adverse and potentially significant impacts on the environment and community in the event of a moderate or significant rainfall event.

“The work completed so far has involved relatively cheap yet proven measures such as the placement of straw bales and logs in gullies, and the installation of sediment fences in vulnerable areas - fallen logs and dead trees have also been placed across slopes in heavily impacted areas,” Mr Fiedler said.

The mitigation measures will lessen the risk of gully and sheet erosion as well as landslip and will slow the movement of soil, sediment and ash from fire impacted lands into waterways or public and community assets. “So far over 600 straw bales have been deployed and 270 hectares of severely affected land treated, but there is so much more work to do.

“The urgency, necessity and value of the work being undertaken is highlighted by the fact that 120,000 cubic metres of soil was estimated as potentially being lost from the catchments immediately behind Tathra if nothing was done.

“It is also recognised that fire can have significant impacts on water and habitat quality by increasing nutrient loads from ash and sediment, resulting in potential fish kills as well as smothering and disrupting ecosystem processes, especially in the Bega River and its wetlands.

“There is also a risk soil and sediment loss could severely affect Tathra’s stormwater infrastructure and roads as well as increase the flood risk.

“With Tathra’s economy heavily reliant on tourism, the quality of the surrounding environments, including bushland reserves, the Bega River Estuary (a declared Recreational Fishing Haven), Tathra Beach and the scenic clifftop reserves areas have a vital role to play in attracting visitors to town.

“The works being undertaken will help ensure these important assets are protected and will assist their recovery in the future,” Mr Fiedler said. Further events and opportunities for the public to be involved in the Green Shoots program will evolve as the damage to natural areas are fully assessed and they are opened up to the public.

Merimbula Airport reopens on Friday


Merimbula Airport will re-open on Friday in a major boost for the Bega Valley's tourism sector..

Bega Valley Shire Council’s Project Services Manager, Daniel Djikic, said the drier weather over the past week has enabled the progress of work upgrading the airport's runway.

“The final seal and line marking have been completed and the final safety checks undertaken to ensure we can safely re-open the runway on Friday,” Mr Djikic said.

“We know the extended closure has been really inconvenient for the community, but we were at the mercy of the weather.

"By giving the runway those extra few days to dry out, we’ve been able to ensure the runway extension and resealing work is completed to a high standard and will last for years to come.

“There is still work to be done on the new General Aviation Precinct, as well as roadworks at the intersection with Arthur Kaine Drive, however the airport will re-open to travellers, airlines and general aviation users on Friday morning.”

The runway extension and strengthening project is an important step toward increasing the capacity and longevity of the airport, increasing tourism opportunities and making it easier for people to travel for business and leisure.

Council has been working closely with the airlines and emergency services throughout the project and would like to thank the community for their patience.

The runway extension and strengthening project has been funded through two grants from the Commonwealth Government, two grants from the NSW Government and a Council contribution.

Traffic control will be in place on Arthur Kaine Drive throughout the remainder of the works as required.

Image: Bega Valley Shire Council

Minister says Tathra recovery effort best he's seen

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Recovery Coordinator Euan Ferguson looking over the fire-ground.
The NSW Police and Emergency Services Manager Troy Grant says the Tathra recovery effort is the best he's seen. 
The Minister has been in Bega and Tathra today to thank Recovery Centre workers and to announce that $2million of the $10million state and federal disaster funding will go to Bega Valley Shire Council to cover the costs of the clean-up effort 
He says he believes the Tathra recovery effort will be a model for the future. 
"The Tathra recovery effort has been the best that I've witnessed, not only as emergency services minister but in the 22 years that I was involved in emergency services when I was a police officer and had some emergency services functions. 
"I think it's the speed, and the community coming along the journey led by Recovery Coordinator Euan Ferguson, and the Minister for Transport and Infrastructure and the Member for Bega Andrew Constance. They've identified issues quickly and responded in a very timely fashion, which has then given the community confidence," he said. 

Power outages and flood warnings as East Coast Low leaves


There are still widespread power outages across the region, and flood warnings, as the East Coast Low moves off the coast. 


Ulladulla and Brooman have recorded about 350mill of rain since Saturday morning. 

Flood warnings remain for the Deua and Bega Rivers...check the BOM for the latest warnings here: 

With plenty of water on the roads there are further warnings for motorists not to drive through flood waters. 

For road closures check Eurobodalla and Bega Valley Shire Council's Facebook and web pages and go to

Sapphire Coast not so sparkling for some

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The Bega Valley Shire is one step closer to getting more crisis and short-term accommodation following a housing summit yesterday.

The Social Justice Advocates of the Sapphire Coast says the Bega Valley Shire is closer to building extra crisis and short-term low cost accommodation, following a housing summit at Bega yesterday.

The housing summit comes amidst growing concerns nationally and locally about an increase in homelessness, with wages stagnant, the cost of living spiralling, and housing in the rental and buyers market beyond the reach of some.

Social Justice Advocates' Michael Brosnan was at the summit and said in the Bega Valley there is “about 50 people who are in need of homes each night.”

“Many sleep in cars, we’ve heard of older people sleeping in cars, we having people sleeping behind buildings and then there’s the young people who just move around,” he said. 

He said homeless young people couch surf and often don’t come forward to agencies or welfare organisations.

The Social Justice Advocates of the Sapphire Coast has six caravans, two rooms available, one in Merimbula and one in Bega, and a unit in Pambula for crisis accommodation. Mr Brosnan says their work is funded through a charity op-shop run for five weeks at Christmas time in Pambula each year.

He says the group has been lobbying the Bega Valley Shire Council for some time to provide assistance for the homeless. “One of the policies of the Council is that it provides affordable housing for all in the community, it’s actually a stated part of their brief. We’ve been lobbying the Council for quite a long while to extend this provision and make sure we accommodate those people who need it most.”

Mr Brosnan says at the housing summit yesterday Council went further on its promise to provide land for crisis housing, telling the stakeholders an audit of possible land and buildings had been conducted.

“What they will do is lease us land at a nominal rate, and then we will be able to partner with others to provide portable low-cost affordable housing,” he said. 

Mr Brosnan says his wish is for five houses, or units, to be built in different parts of the shire.

Villers-Bretonneux rises for Cobargo, Anzac bonds still run deep

Anzac Day brings an opportunity for reflection. A moment to remember history and how it can inform our future.

This Anzac Day, marks 102 years since Australian Diggers played a key role in liberating a small French village from German occupation as the carnage of the Western Front raged on in World War 1.

James from 2EC Mornings caught up with Bega Valley Shire Mayor, Kristy McBain about the donation from the  hamlet of Villers-Bretonneux.

Amazingly, the humanity tied to these events has been felt over a century later here in the Bega Valley in the midst of our bushfire recovery.

The hamlet of Villers-Bretonneux in northern France is home to a school that the people of Victoria (Australia) paid to have rebuilt following the conclusion of the ‘war to end all wars’ and is the final resting place for over 2,000 Australian and Commonwealth servicemen.

A sign writ large over the L’Ecole Victoria’ (Victoria School) playground is just one example of how this community on the other side of the planet has steadfastly and passionately passed down through the generations a love and respect for Australia and its people.

“Do Not Forget Australia” it demands of a reader and the people of Villers-Bretonneux certainly haven’t.

With the Bega Valley choking under a pall of smoke at the start of 2020, the people of Villers-Bretonneux, led by their Mayor Patrick Simon, were watching and almost instinctively planning what they could do to lend a hand.

While our brave firies continued to rush towards clear danger, battling blazing infernos seemingly relentless in their attack on the lives and property of our family, friends and neighbours; the people of this village over 17,000 kilometres away, were mobilising and diligently fundraising - doing what they could to reaffirm their solidarity with Australia and make our recovery just a little easier.

An online fundraising page received donations from more than 800 people and over 1000 people braved the winter chill for a solidarity march from the town centre to the Australian National Memorial and Sir John Monash Centre, where a school choir sang a song especially written for the appeal entitled ‘Australia, Stop Burning’.

By late February over $37,000 had been raised, with the proceeds now to be shared between the fire fighters of Robinvale in Victoria (Robinvale and Villers-Bretonneux have had a long-standing relationship) and the Bega Valley Community Disaster Relief Fund.

Bega Valley Mayor Kristy McBain will write to her French counterpart to thank him and his community for their generosity.

At the request of the Villers-Bretonneux community, the Bega Valley funds will be used within the Cobargo area.

Let this Anzac Day remind us how kindness and service, now and in the past, can grow and inspire communities near and far.

May we never forget Villers-Bretonneux.

Your Bega Valley Shire Councillors

BVSC Building Bega 1

The results are in for the local government elections in the Bega Valley.

The nine elected councillors are:

Helen O'Neal, Karen Wright, Russell Fitzpatrick, Tony Allen, Cathy Griff, Mitch Nadin, David Porter, Liz Seckold and Joy Robin.

Ms O'Neal who hails from near Cuttagee in the norther part of the shire, received the most first preference votes with over 15% of formal votes followed by Russell Fitzpatrick (13%), Tony Allen (12%) and Karen Wright (11%).

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First-time Councillor, Ms Wright said she's excited to represent her community.

"It's pretty big," Ms Wright said.

"I was also preparing myself to also lose and what kept going through my head was win or lose, I've opened up the way for the next young person, single mum, culturally diverse person, the next woman to go I can have a crack at making change and yeah I've done it."

karen Wright CRED

Ms Wright said there have been a number of challenges in her first campaign running for council.

"Some of the challenges running as a young candidate in an area with a demographic which is mainly older people it's been pretty challenging,"

"People have looked me up and down and gone 'do you really know what you're talking about, what life experience do you have'?

"I've had a number of older candidates and Councillors telling me 'you'll never make your quota, you'll just have to rely on us and preferences', but yeah I've certainly challenged some of that." 

Some of the key changes Ms Wright wants to bring to council are a focus on youth, addressing issues in the community around social isolation and accessibility and the environment.

"I'm going to bring my work and life experience and my passion and drive to council," Ms Wright said. 

"I'm really passionate about going out into the community and talking to people about what they actually want and doing real community consultation, so I want to hopefully create some change in that area," she said. 

"I'm ready to get into." 

Meanwhile Mat Hatcher has been elected as the new Mayor of the Eurobodalla after a close finish with Karyn Starmer and Rob Pollock.

The other results of the Eurobodalla Local Government Election are likely to be known by tomorrow (Wednesday December 22).

Image Credit: Karen Wright, NSW Electoral Commission