1 March 2024

Finding corpses to drying prunes: Five ideas from Griffith residents worth spreading

| Oliver Jacques
Start the conversation
Sarah showing iPhone

Sarah Armstrong shows off her SparkDrop app. Photo: Oliver Jacques.

Griffith is set to host its first ever TEDx conference in August, an international public speaking forum that operates under the slogan “Ideas worth spreading”.

Organiser Sara Pixley says she would prefer to see Riverina locals take the stage rather than bring in outsiders.

READ MORE Businesswoman secures licence to host first ever TEDx event in Griffith

While TEDx speakers for the Griffith event are yet to be decided, Region thought it would be timely to reflect on five recent innovative ideas that have emerged from this town.

Finding long-lost corpses

Abby Molloy holds her research paper

Abby Molloy’s research could make a huge difference for victims’ families. Photo: Oliver Jacques.

Groundbreaking research by Griffith provisional psychologist Abby Molloy could make a difference for many victims’ families in an often-overlooked aspect of unsolved homicide investigations – finding the dead body.

“This can definitely make a big difference for families of victims … it’s very distressing for people to know their loved ones are out there alone and have never been recovered,” she said.

“We look at the psychological traits of the offenders … [and] try to find a pattern on what connects cases [of body disposals] and work out how that can help in future cases.”

Her research paper, Killer Situations: A Grounded Theory Analysis of Homicide Body Disposal Decisions in Australia, is aimed at helping authorities increase the chances of finding a body in murder investigations.

Teaching 300 Indigenous children how to swim

Piper at swimming pool.

Piper is also a champion swimmer herself. Photo: Supplied.

When 12-year-old Piper Stewart went to her local Griffith pool one afternoon, she noticed she was the only Aboriginal child there.

“I went home and I had a bit of a think, why [was I the only Indigenous kid there]?” she said.

READ ALSO ‘Give it back’: How Aussie taxpayers helped fund $70 million failed foreign hazelnut farm in Narrandera

“I realised that lessons cost a lot of money and it’s a problem getting to the pool for your lesson.”

She also noticed statistics indicating Aboriginal children were more likely to drown than non-Indigenous kids.

Piper started the charity Bambigi, the name being a Wiradjiri word meaning “to swim”. In the five years since the program commenced, more than 300 Indigenous children have learned how to swim.

Designing an app that measures and compares rainfall

Sarah Armstrong in a field with her two kids.

Sarah Armstrong and her two children. Photo: Supplied.

In 2022, Sarah Armstrong launched a social media-style free app called SparkDrop, which enables users to record and share rainfall levels (and photos) on their property while connecting with a network of people doing the same. The app allows people to instantly see rainfall levels in towns and farms near them as well as on farms far away.

While it’s operated as a great data sharing tool , Ms Armstrong has a wider vision to expand the scope and functionality of her app.

“I also want to see what else of use I can put on it, like job advertisements, an interactive map … and water prices,” she said.

Solving the mystery of her origin

Carmela and his sister embracing

Carmela and her long-lost sister Lynelle. Photo: Supplied.

Popular yoga teacher Carmela Naseby Pennisi was focused on a far more personal idea – solving the mystery of why she was born in Sydney when all her family is from Griffith.

“I remember asking my mum about it [as a child] and she said she had to go there because of complications with the pregnancy. I thought it was a bit strange but I never asked questions,” she said.

Much later, a bit of digging uncovered the truth. She was adopted.

“My adoptive parents loved me to death; they smothered me with affection … but I always felt a bit different. What was most upsetting is that everyone knew but me.”

As a result, she was able to connect with her long-lost biological sister, Lynelle, and discover a past she never knew existed.

Drying prunes a natural way

Ann Furner holding two packets

Ann Furner now coats her prunes in chocolate on her farm. Photo: Oliver Jacques.

Naturally Dried Prunes, located on a family farm near Yenda, is probably the only company in the world that makes prune products the way its name implies.

“Most producers put their fresh plums into a tunnel in a shed and they force hot air over them using gas,” owner Ann Furner said.

“But we use solar tunnels to dry our fruit naturally. That way we really reduce our carbon footprint; we only use a tiny bit of electricity to drive some fans.”

Ms Furner recently started coating her prunes with chocolate on the farm, creating a healthy, affordable product that is selling rapidly across the nation.

To find out more about the TEDx Griffith event, follow the group’s Facebook page, which will let people know when expressions of interest for prospective speakers will be open.

Start the conversation

Daily Digest

Want the best Riverina news delivered daily? Every day we package the most popular Riverina stories and send them straight to your inbox. Sign-up now for trusted local news that will never be behind a paywall.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.