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Editorial November 12th 2021

Welcome to this week’s editorial, Thirty six years ago anyone arriving by bus to Tuross Head would have found themselves disgorged onto a wide shoulder at the edge of the highway. The driver would open the luggage section, pass a bag out, slam the door shut and then drive off into the night. This was before the days of mobile phones. There was a bus timetable but it was at best a guide. Sometimes the bus arrived early, sometimes it arrived late. You were lucky if you caught a bus out of Central Station in Sydney that arrived at Tuross (or any of the roadside verges along the highway that serviced our coastal towns like Sth Durras, Broulee or Dalmeny. In daylight you ran less risk of stepping off the narrow gravel shoulder into the adjacent ditch. In daylight you could also see if there was anyone parked nearby who was there to drive you the last leg home. But if you caught the bus that arrived after dark it was a different matter altogether. Add to the mix rain, mud, highway traffic and the good chance that you arrived with neither an umbrella or wearing a rain coat. The bottom line was that anyone wanting to catch an intra or interstate bus had to chance their luck in crossing the highway, day or night, wet or dry, dragging a suitcase. If you were waiting for a bus you might well have been standing alone, by the side of the road, in readiness to flag it down. For more than twenty five years I saw this at the Tuross intersection. Good people dropped off on the side of the road with a fond wave goodbye, or to alight from a bus and have to cross the equivalent of three lanes before lugging their suitcase into the back of a waiting car. Fortunately the powers that be recognised the risks to commuters and stepped in to build bus shelters. While the navigation of the highway crossing was not addressed at least the community had somewhere to stand when it rained. Having used the shelters on several occasions during torrential rain with accompanying horizontal winds I arrived at the conclusion that the open sided lattice served me as well as the bamboo hut bus stands with palm frond cladding you can find across South India that provide the barest of protection in the monsoons. But not to complain. Standing there soaked always brought back happy memories of travels abroad and being saturated at one exotic place or another. Generally though the new bust stands were a welcome addition. But in the case of Tuross Head their champion, Mr John Tilbrook, Secretary of the Tuross Head Progress Association, thought that Council and the State Government could do better. John had long lobbied Council to recognise the dangers associated with the highspeed Tuross intersection. He wrote repeatedly to Council and to the local Traffic Committee, only to be told that “It is a State Highway matter”. At one point the chair of Eurobodalla Council’s Traffic Committee said “There is no justification to do anything at that intersection. It is safe. And that is the final word”. Fortunately that response came from a one-term Councillor. The next chair recognised the risk and sat down and listened to the community. It was agreed that there was a continued risk of commuters crossing the highway, especially the elderly. With a positive outlook that something should be done that Traffic Committee chair worked with John Tilbrook to lobby for recognition and the funding to improve the intersection and, to relocate the bus stand from the highway into a safe carpark extension making drop-offs and pick-ups safe, irrespective of the time of day or the weather. Thanks to the letter writing of John Tilbrook, (below) formally representing his community via the Progress Association the issue was raised with the RMS and with the local Federal Member.

After several years of constructive discussions and the application for relevant funding from various agencies the Tuross Head bus stand has now been officially opened, by John Tilbrook. The opening of a little bus shelter in Tuross Head might not sound all that special but it is. The Tuross Head community had been told No, No, No on so many occasions. They had been told there was no safety issue to consider and that Council had neither the funds or the inclination to build a carpark and relocate the bus shelter. In terms of priority works it ranked low. Most communities might wander off at such advice, grumbling and mumbling. But not Tuross Head. They had an Association that consulted with its community. Under the guidance of their community they had a vision that included playgrounds, halls, tennis courts, cycleways, lookouts, BBQs, shelters and public toilets. It was this vision that they presented to every new group of Councillors. The Tuross community didn’t bother asking candidates “What do you envisage for Tuross Head?”. Instead they said “Here is our vision. This is what we want. Will you assist us in getting it?” As a consequence the Councillors soon learned not to underestimate Tuross Head as they were well represented by an active Progress Association prepared to climb over Council and go to the State of Federal government if need be. Unfortunately we only have a few Progress Associations across the shire representing the community (not businesses alone). Nelligen, Sth Durras, Long Beach/Maloneys, Tomakin, Broulee/Mossy Point, and Tuross Head. While Batemans Bay, Moruya, Mogo, Tilba and Narooma have Business Chambers the wider community aren’t necessarily represented. There may be conflicts arise between the vision of business and the vision of the community. Both need their own group. In the absence of a community group our Councillors are hopefully meant to fill that void. In the leadup to the council elections we might expect several shirewide meetings where the community can meet mayoral and councillor candidates present and answer questions. Only one event is scheduled. In Tuross Head. The Tuross Head Progress Association (THPA) has stepped up to host a “Meet the Candidate night” so that they can measure the line up, ask questions around representation, communication, integrity, capacity and a willingness to serve the community and best represent the community in the Council Chamber. We are fortunate that the THPA has secured a very capable, independent chair for the event. Key Questions have already been raised and provided to Candidates to prepare responses and the two hour event, for Monday 15th November, will have many more general, shire wide questions added. If you would like to attend note that the event is limited in space and that an early arrival to check in is required to ensure the event begins at 6:00pm sharp. Proof of Vaccination is required—No Vax—No Entry. The Beagle will be there to listen and report. It is hoped that we might hear candidates tell us of their vision, tell us why we should vote for them and lean what we might expect of them if they are elected. The forum will expose the candidates to a living, breathing community filled with a multitude of old gripes, new expectations and a steady stare to flush out scoundrels, self servers and the lame. Ideally we might have a better idea who to vote for after they run the gauntlet of public scrutiny. Until next— lei

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