10 January 2023

2022 Year in Review: News from around the Riverina

| Kim Treasure
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Police operations, flooding, strikes and rate hikes, there has been plenty happening in the Riverina in 2022.

Take a look back at 14 of your favourite news stories from the year that was.

14. Albanese to be first sitting PM to visit Griffith
by Oliver Jacques

Al Grassby, Margaret Whitlam and Gough Whitlam in Griffith

Al Grassby, Margaret Whitlam and Gough Whitlam outside the Yoogali Club in 1972. Photo: Griffith City Library archives.

Budding prime minister Gough Whitlam packed out The Yoogali Club in 1972, prime minister to-be Malcolm Turnbull had Griffith women “swooning” over him in 1977, but Anthony Albanese became the first sitting prime minister to visit the town in its 106-year history when he arrived on 26 August.

13. ‘I don’t even get to go to the toilet!’ Wagga nurses join the statewide strike over staffing ratios
by Shri Gayathirie Rajen

Nurses Strike

Wagga members of the NSW Nurses and Midwives Association protest outside the Wagga Base Hospital for a better nurse-to-patient ratio. Photo: Shri Gayathirie Rajen.

Wagga’s nurses and midwives walked off the job for the third time this year, calling for better nurse-to-patient ratios and fair pay.

Dozens of health workers took a stand outside Wagga Base Hospital, brandishing placards to a chorus of car horns from supportive commuters travelling along Edward Street.

The local members of the NSW Nurses and Midwives Association (NSWNMA) joined colleagues across the state in demanding urgent action to save a system that they say is at a breaking point.

12. Fears for Estella group without a new generation of community advocates
by Chris Roe

man smiling

Estella Progress Association president Bruce Durham hopes he’s not the last. Photo: Chris Roe.

COVID-19 restrictions and a lack of new members are to blame for the impending demise of the Estella Progress Association, according to current President Bruce Durham.

“Before COVID came in we did have a lot of interest,” says Bruce looking out across the floodplains from his place on the hill in the Settlers Village.

“We actually had a meeting up at the new school in the big auditorium up there and had over 100 people turn up.”

11. NSW Government refuses to pay Wagga tradies who helped build Spring Street public housing units
by Oliver Jacques

Richard Foley with arms crossed outside public housing dwelling.

Plasterer and councillor Richard Foley in front of the public housing project he worked on but wasn’t paid for. Photo: Oliver Jacques.

The NSW Government has refused to pay mum and dad tradies and suppliers for the work they did on the now complete public housing building at 16 Spring Street in Wagga.

While the sleek, two-storey, one-bedroom flats are fully tenanted, small businesses who helped construct the government homes say they have now been waiting more than a year to be compensated for their labour and materials.

10. Parking mayhem at Jubilee Park raises safety concerns
by Shri Gayathirie Rajen

Red Hill Road

Cars parked on either side of Red Hill Road. Photo: Shri Gayathirie Rajen.

A team manager involved in Jubilee Park sport was one of many parents concerned about people’s safety as hundreds converged on the venue.

With multiple games happening at the same time, the Jubilee Park carpark couldn’t accommodate all the vehicles involved, forcing parents to park on Holbrook and Red Hill Roads.

9. Wagga and Junee residents propose alternative solutions for Inland Rail Project
by Patrick Morrow

Two men with a map

Some Wagga residents have proposed their own solutions to reduce the impact of rail on the CBD. Photo: Patrick Morrow.

Riverina residents have been coming up with their own solutions to keep freight trains out of Wagga’s CBD following the Inland Rail Project forum held at Wagga and Junee libraries.

The Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) released its summary of findings for the Albury to Illabo section of the project, raising concerns over traffic disruptions and noise.

The ARTC concluded that the Wagga section of the Inland rail project would see minor, permanent changes to the road network at Edmondson Street bridge and would impact motorists with a 17-minute wait for the train to pass at the Fernleigh Rd crossing in Wagga.

8. Can’t stay, but nowhere to go for Wilks Park homeless
by Anna Maskus and Chris Roe

homeless camp

With few rentals available and long waits for social housing, Aaron and his partner Skye say camping in Wilks Park is their only option. Photo: Chris Roe.

The Wilks Park homeless community has been told to “remove your vehicles/tents” as Wagga council upholds conditions for camping on the flood-prone site. But some residents ask, where to?

7. Riverina council softens stance after residents’ outrage at proposed 52 per cent rate hike
by Oliver Jacques

Alison Egan standing arms crossed

Alison Egan sees herself not as the ‘leader’ but the ‘translator’. Photo: Oliver Jacques.

Leeton Shire Council general manager Jackie Kruger says she has heard “loud and clear” from residents that a proposed 52 per cent increase in general rates over the next two years could be a “step too far”, following a series of heated community information sessions on the topic.

6. High drama at Gumly Gumly to rescue man trapped under birthing cow
by Chris Roe

cow rescue

Rescuers working to free a man trapped under a cow at Gumly Gumly. Photo: Luke Baker (Forest Hill Rural Fire Brigade).

A joint rescue operation freed a man in his 70s, who was trapped beneath a cow.

Travellers on the Sturt Highway were surprised to see a large contingent of emergency vehicles heading at pace towards Gumly Gumly on Tuesday (28 June) afternoon.

A half-dozen NSW Ambulance road crews, a handful of police vehicles, the Volunteer Rescue Association (VRA) and the Rural Fire Service all rushed to a property off Graham Ave.

5. New cafe renovations to enhance and strengthen Turvey Park
by Shri Gayathirie Rajen

Artists impression of a development

Artist impression of the proposed alterations and additions for The Brew. Photos: Sewell Design.

Wagga City Council unanimously approved a $515,000 development application for Turvey Park cafe The Brew to expand its offering and improve accessibility.

Owners of the popular cafe sought approval for alternations to the existing building including the construction of a neighbourhood shop, a breezeway providing an accessible entrance, a deck area to the rear of the building and internal reconfiguration of the existing cafe.

4. Colvin Racing floods as river reaches 8.74 metres at Wagga with more rain on the way
by Chris Roe

Flooded House

Brodie Colvin says their house flooded at around 2 am. Photo: Chris Roe.

Flooding continued to affect parts of Wagga, including Colvin Racing Stables.

The Murrumbidgee peaked at 8.74 metres at Wagga Wagga following a slow and steady climb towards the predicted moderate flood level of nine metres.

3. ‘A good person who wants to do good things’: Kapooka’s Commandant reflects on three years at 1RTB
by Chris Roe


Colonel Andrew Deacon at Kapooka. Photo: Chris Roe.

Colonel Andrew Deacon says his role as Commandant of the 1st Recruit Training Battalion (1RTB) is a bit like running a busy train station.

“Because of the sheer volume, it’s all got to be programmed pretty tightly,” he explains.

“If all the platoons are trains, and recruits are the people on the trains, it’s all about keeping the trains on time.”

2. Outlaw motorcycle gang’s clubhouse dismantled, four charged after lengthy investigation
by Anna Maskus


Police seize Bandidos clothing, vests, insignia, patches and memorabilia. Photo: NSW Police

Murrumbidgee Police dismantled an outlaw motorcycle gang’s clubhouse and made four arrests after a lengthy investigation into criminal behaviour in the Riverina.

1. Police use taser to end 17-hour standoff with armed man in Travers Street
by Chris Roe

Police arrested a man after a 17-hour standoff. Photo: Shri Gayathirie Rajen.

A 17-hour standoff between police and an armed man on Travers Street finally came to an end. Here’s how it all unfolded.

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