/ 7 min read

Bonza, bones and a lot of beef

Bonza, bones and a lot of beef
Image credit: Getty Images.
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This week's regional news headlines and what's on around the country.

Regional news round-up

Grounded and stranded

In a blow for regional travel, this week budget airline Bonza joined the likes of OzJet, Tigerair and Compass with a spectacular crash landing into the graveyard of failed Aussie airline ventures. 

After weeks of turbulence, administrator Hall Chadwick took over Bonza's main operating companies on Tuesday. The swift repossession of Bonza's Boeing 737 fleet left passengers and staff grounded, while the airline continued to sell tickets online.

According to analysis by The Australian’s Eric Johnston, Bonza’s three mistakes were there for all to see. Firstly, the airline focused on regional routes rather than the lucrative "triangle" route between Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane. Secondly, the planes Bonza leased were too large and expensive for regional operations, forcing the airline to offer ultra-discounted tickets to fill seats—a strategy with diminishing returns. Finally, Bonza's Miami-based backers lacked the deep pockets and long-term commitment essential for a start-up airline. It seems the Bonza dream of challenging the Qantas-Virgin duopoly has left regional Australia stranded. Read more 

Newsletter partner

In partnership with not-for-profit organisation Sustainable Table, Stone & Wood has launched GOOD GRAIN, an industry development initiative raising funds for four regenerative ag, grain-centric projects. The fundraising will culminate in an industry-wide conference on Saturday 17 August at Stone & Wood’s Brisbane Brewery. Stone & Wood invites you to rally together for a good cause and empower Australia’s regenerative grain economy. Find out more at goodgrain.au

Lovely bones

A 50,000-year-old kangaroo skeleton has been discovered in eastern Victoria by a team of cavers, rangers and scientists. The near-complete fossil belongs to the extinct short-faced kangaroo species, Simosthenurus occidentalis, offering a rare glimpse of Australia's ancient wildlife. The find will soon be displayed at the Melbourne Museum—mark your calendars to see it face to face next month. Read more

Speaking of fossils, here's a quirky tidbit: Brett Graham, the Newcastle-born chef who recently snagged three Michelin stars for his London restaurant, The Ledbury, has a thing for collecting mammoth fossils. Talk about an interesting splurge! Read more

Top of the class

Cessnock High School has unlocked a new teaching approach that has schools across NSW taking notes. The model, introduced four years ago, has produced some of the most improved NAPLAN scores in Australia, with Cessnock ranking first in the Hunter region and 11th in the state for student growth. HSC scores also saw a remarkable 50% increase, student attendance and engagement tripled the state average, and teacher morale is at an all-time high.

The model uses a method called Quality Teaching Rounds, a collaborative approach where teachers observe and constructively critique each other's classroom techniques.

This success has inspired a new project to help 25 disadvantaged NSW public schools improve teaching quality, support teacher well-being, foster positive school cultures, and boost student achievement and equity. Read more

Old news

Broken Hill's last newspaper, The Barrier Truth, has closed after almost 130 years, depriving the NSW outback community of a vital source of local news. It's not just the staff and contributors who are hit hard by the closure—the whole town feels the blow.

It’s a grim turn after the city's only TV news bulletin vanished in April 2023, and leaves the ABC as the only news service in Broken Hill. The loss heightens the sense of disconnection, especially as social media platforms such as Facebook cut off news content. As the newspaper’s board scrambles for legal and financial solutions, it's anyone's guess if—or when—the Truth will return. Read more

More beef, please

Ella Smith, our Galah on the Ground at Beef 2024, with a heads up on what’s in store at Rockhampton this week.

Just in from Ella Smith, who will be our Galah on the ground at Beef Week:

Great athletes carb-load before a big race—but I'm fasting for mine. And by fasting, I've given up beef. For two months I've gone without my mid-week spag bol, my Saturday sirloin splurge, my Sunday roast, and my granny's curried sausages.

It's not been easy, but I’m preparing for the biggest event of its kind in the southern hemisphere: Beef 2024, on 5-11 May. 

The population of the central Queensland city of Rockhampton triples when more than 100,000 people from all over the world gather for the triennial, week-long, internationally recognised symposium that celebrates all things beef.

Set on a three-hectare site, the event attracts the who's who of the beef industry, from billionaire cattle barons and multi-generational family producers, to scientists, schoolkids, chefs, pollies and all the colourful characters in between. No one misses it. 

Hotels and pub rooms book out decades in advance, people are forced to pitch tents at the local footy ground, and commercial flights are so full that it's not uncommon for people to roll in by private plane or a feral ute. You do whatever it takes to get there. 

I've never been to Rocky, but I'm told there are six bull statues on the approach to town, and a bloke who rides his bull down the main drag. It's clear the place loves its beef. And, as Galah's on-the-ground correspondent, I'll be rolling in with an open mind, an iron deficiency and an empty notebook. Catch you at #Beef2024

Ella Smith

The Regional PR Co.

This week's newsletter is sponsored by Stone & Wood

Galah goss

Harvest at Hickson Pecans is in full swing, which has me dreaming of new-season nuts baked into cakes, biscuits and sprinkled over salads. @annabellehickson has been sharing bucolic scenes of the beautiful park-like farm (who knew?) and technologically marvellous machinery that harvests all those nuts. Also is it PUH-cahn or pee-CAN? (asking for a friend).

Meanwhile, editor Helen has been watching the March of the Fire Ants with growing dread. Latest news: a big infestation has been discovered at an army air base west of Toowoomba and within the Murray-Darling catchment, and experts warn that four states are at risk if the mega-pest enters the river system. Read more

And me, I’m off to bonnie Scotland to walk the 150km West Highland Way with my daughter. I’m dreaming of kippers for breakfast, cullen skink for lunch, and haggis, neeps and tatties for tea. Also hoping to keep all my toenails. 

A different type of marketing campaign

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So, this month, we’re giving you a challenge:

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What's on

Kulum Beach by Narelle Autio.

Beef 2024

A week-long celebration of all facets of the beef industry attracts producers, scientists, chefs, students, exhibitors, and everyone in between. 5-11 May, Rockhampton, Qld.  Read more

Into the Distance

Award-winning photographer Narelle Autio has assembled unreleased images from her archive, shot in 2003-2004 while on a road trip across Australia. Her complex compositions are a homage to the beauty of Australian life. Until 1 June, at Michael Reid Gallery, Sydney. Read more

Collage Forage

Cut X Paste and Emma Anna celebrate World Collage Day 2024 with a mushroom-themed online collage workshop that's suitable for all creative levels, from beginner to advanced. Join the livestream from Emma's home studio in the sultry Colombian Caribbean, with special guests and expert input from NSW South Coast growers, Milton Mushrooms. On Sunday 12 May. Read more

Stability, Grace, Endurance

This powerful exhibition features pottery, furniture, lacework, textiles and decorative arts from early Barossa migrants displayed with the work of present-day artists Sera Waters and Illona Glastonbury. Each has drawn inspiration directly from early Barossa handcrafted objects and stories. Until 3 June, at the Barossa Regional Gallery, SA.  Read more

One last thing

Keegan Payne and his million dollar fish Photo: ABC News, Matt Garrick.

Million-dollar barra

Top End angler Keegan Payne landed the catch of a lifetime this week, but it was his little sister who spotted the golden ticket: a small red plastic tag on the barramundi's spine. That tag was his ticket to the top prize in the Northern Territory's annual Million Dollar Fish competition.

Keegan, 19, who juggles two jobs while living with his family of eight in the Kimberley, was stoked about the "life-changing" jackpot. He plans to treat his family to an overseas holiday and stash the rest in the bank. To celebrate, Keegan's family checked into a hotel for the night, while he took off to his happy place—fishing, of course—to dodge the media fuss. Honestly, this interview with Payne is one of the most uplifting things I’ve seen all week.  Watch here

What’s new(s)?

We’d love to hear about the news, events and people that should be making the headlines in the Galah Weekly newsy. Share what’s new(s) in your neck of the woods with us at newsie@galahpress.com