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Farm deaths, fire and raw cheese

Farm deaths, fire and raw cheese
Refreshments by Craig Handley, a finalist in The Alice Prize 2024. Image: The Alice Prize.
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Anna Rogan
Anna Rogan Tallarook, Victoria
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Welcome to our newsy newsletter keeping you up to date with regional headlines that matter, plus other delightful things from life beyond the city.

Regional news round-up

Danger on the farm

Thirteen people have died on Australian farms this year, according to Farmsafe Australia. That’s more than 40% of the annual tally for 2023, prompting calls for greater investment in farm safety education and awareness. Full story

Farmers face a disproportionate risk of death at work, with the agriculture, forestry and fishing industry representing 2% of the workforce and 22% of all worker fatalities (source). Farm machinery, including tractors and quadbikes, is involved in 40% of all farm deaths, but Farmsafe Australia vice chair Ruth Thompson says complacent attitudes also play a part. "The old, 'I've done it a million times this way and I've been fine' [is the issue]," Thompson says. Full story.

Isolation, physical demand and mental load could also contribute to farm injuries, says executive director of health and safety at WorkSafe Victoria, Narelle Beer. "We're experiencing a significant increase in injuries on farms and they're all men and most of them older men … I think they have so much on their minds … and it's hard work and there's a lot of pressure. They are usually working in isolation and there's not somebody there to talk through a problem and make sure something doesn't go wrong," says Beer. Full story

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Forest litter fuels fire debate

NSW state coroner Teresa O’Sullivan has delivered the findings of her two-year inquest into the 2019-20 black summer bushfires. The coroner made 28 recommendations to overhaul firefighting systems, including remodelling bushfire risk classifications. Full story

Meanwhile, an academic paper exploring forest litter has sparked debate among Australian ecologists. In the paper, veteran ecologist Professor Mark Adams argues that models used by government agencies to estimate forest litter, and therefore guide fire risk, are fundamentally flawed. But other ecologists, including Associate Professor Phil Zylstra, strongly disagree, saying Adams’ position is a “distraction from the real issue”. Full story.

Australian wine flows in China

The Chinese government officially abolished export tariffs on Australian wine last Friday, reopening the doors to a significant market for local winemakers (full story). During the past two years, the Chinese authorities have been slowly lifting trade barriers with Australia. Live lobsters and beef are now the only products blocked by Beijing (full story).    

Tree change or sea change

New research has revealed Australia’s most affordable regional towns for home buyers and investors. In no particular order (they’re considered on par, rather than ranked) the top 10 regional towns are: Mackay, Toowoomba, Townsville, Dubbo, Tamworth, Griffith, Ballarat, Shepparton, Wodonga and Burnie. Full story.

If it’s a sea change you’re craving, affordability can be harder to achieve. But it’s not impossible, according to The Sydney Morning Herald, which has released a list of affordable spots near Australia’s top 10 beaches. If you drive as far south as is humanly possible on planet Earth, for example, you’ll find Cockle Creek, Tasmania, where the median house price is just $610,000. Full story

From outlier to champion

A semi-hard raw sheep’s milk cheese with “herbaceous, citrus, and floral notes” has taken out the coveted President's Medal at the Sydney Royal Show. It was illegal to produce cheese from raw milk in Australia until 2016. The winner, Pecora Dairy in Robertson, in the NSW Southern Highlands, was the first to obtain a licence to make the product when regulations eased. Full story.

Never let a good crisis go to waste

It’s not a news week in the cost-of-living crisis until you read about some new thing that has become shockingly expensive. Last week the cost of Easter chocolate hit headlines after it was revealed that a worldwide shortage of cocoa has seen prices more than double in five years. Full story

But it’s not all bad news. The decline in global production offers a chance for boutique producers, such as the bean-to-bar Australian Chocolate Farm we featured in Galah Issue 09, to break into a previously crowded market. Full story.

This week's newsletter is sponsored by Westfund 

Tell us about it

Genevieve, an on-the-ground Galah and group editor of Region Media, weighed in* on the What even is regional? conversation on Galah Digital

“As a person from Cootamundra who works in Canberra during the week, I've come to understand that the ACT is full of people like me who may work (and even live) in the national capital but see themselves as firmly tied to communities like Goulburn, Cooma, Yass, Boorowa or beyond.

“It actually makes Canberra function like a big country town, but people who don't live here don't understand that AT ALL. All they see is public servants and cliches, when the reality is running into people all the time who know what the price of wool is, wonder if I've met their Aunty Beryl and are heading to the Yass Show this weekend.

“Regional is not an exclusive definition. There are eight million people living outside major urban centres and plenty of research to show that few of our stories end up on national media. That's the true gulf, not trying to exclude people who live in the ‘wrong’ kind of community outside the big cities.”

*Did you know you can comment on Galah stories, articles, and newsletters on Galah Digital? We love hearing what you think and now you can tell us, and everyone else, all about it. See you in the comment section!

Galah goss

Beef Week

Every three years, for just one week, Rockhampton in central Qld hosts the renowned regional festival, Beef Week. Beef is big news, and this year we’ll be sharing all the hot beef goss, stories and fashion care of on-the-ground Galah reporter Ella Smith.

Out and about

We’re celebrating the Galah book at very special events across the countryside. Annabelle will be out and about in Goondiwindi, Avalon, Toowoomba, Merricks and Barwon Heads in May, with more locations to come. You can find more information and book your ticket on the Galah book events page. And if you have an idea for a cracking event, let us know at info@galahpress.com

It’s official

Pre-sales have ended and the Galah book is now officially launched and available at all the best bookstores, find your local here. We'll let Leigh Sales do the talking...

What's on

Bushfire Came Through Here by Naomi Hobson, a finalist in The Alice Prize 2024. Image: The Alice Prize.

The Alice Prize

The biennial regional art award, The Alice Prize, contributes to one of the largest regional collections of Australian art, including works from leading artists from the past 50 years. An exhibition of this year’s finalists is showing now at the Araluen Arts Centre, Alice Springs, NT until 12 May. Read more. Congratulations to friend of Galah, Craig Handley, whose new work Refreshments was named a finalist. We first shared Handley’s work in Galah Issue 02, which you can read online here.

Tastes of the Goulburn

Explore food, wine, beer, spirits, and produce from one of Victoria’s best-kept regional secrets. Enjoy free tastings, local stallholders, live music, chef demonstrations, and free kids activities at Tastes of the Goulburn in Seymour, Victoria, on 27 April. Read more.

Food-writing memoir workshop

Writers, aspiring writers, foodies, and cooks are invited to join food writer Barbara Sweeney for a weekend of guided writing workshops to record family food stories and treasured recipes. Hosted at Coolah Creek, the workshop includes accommodation, hearty country meals, drinks at twilight, good company around the kitchen table, and plenty of time to focus on the creative process. On 4-5 May, Coolah, NSW. Read more.

In the flock

Georgia Angus in the wild. Image: Orien Humennyj-Jameson.

Georgia Angus, author, artist, nature nerd 

Interview by Emma Hearnes

A self-described nature nerd, Georgia Angus is the author and illustrator of 100 Australian Birds, 100 Australian Butterflies, Bees, Beetles & Bugs, and Birds with Personality. These beautiful compendiums are an ode to Angus’s admiration for birds and love of bushwalking—and an open invitation to readers to connect more meaningfully with nature.

When you picture your books out in the world, how do they look? 

Battered. I love the idea of my books being taken out into the bush to be used, scribbled in, dog-eared, and passed between friends and family members. It’s very appealing to me to have functional art as a legacy and to think of my work being part of the palimpsest of Australian nature observers and recorders.

You tell stories about birds, bees, and insects in your books. What story do you tell about yourself? 

Daily actions that reflect your values make a big difference. Some days it feels like a story, other days it feels true.

What difference does knowing the names of birds make?

If we know the names of species, we are well equipped to advocate for their protection. If you don't have the language to talk about the difference between the silver gulls you see at the Queen Vic Markets and the hooded plovers on the Gippsland coast, it's hard to imagine how you might give them space in the environment. You don’t need to be a scientist; you only need to be curious.

What's the birdsong of your hometown? 

Every spring the common koel arrives in my hometown in East Gippsland, migrating south and away from the heat. They have a very distinctive call, so it would always signal the change of the season for me. The region around my hometown is amazing for biodiversity, so the mimicry of superb lyrebirds, the clear, glassy song of golden whistlers, and the descending notes of white-throated treecreepers are also nostalgic calls to me.

If you were a bird, what would you be?

I’d like to imagine I could be like a nankeen kestrel, which can hover over the landscape and see things from an informed perspective. But most of the time, I’m probably an Australian ibis – a once-wild creature now naturalised to an urban environment, with a strong predilection for the slightly trashy trappings of modern life.

One last thing

Hand to the Land

Mental health challenges affect almost every person in Australia. If it’s not you, it’s someone you know. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, two in five Australians have experienced a mental disorder at some time in their life.

For people experiencing mental health challenges in regional and rural areas, where services are limited at best, the role of community as a support network is vital, but prevailing stigma around mental health prevents many from seeking help. Full story.

Twenty years ago the Walkers lost their sister and daughter, Jessica, to suicide. Today, they lead Hand to the Land, an initiative of Jessica’s sister, Victoria, to raise funds to improve mental health literacy through the Country Education Foundation’s (CEF) rural and regional network. 

Together, Hand to the Land and CEF are equipping communities with the knowledge, confidence and skills to support each other. Learn more about the Walkers’ heartbreaking story, find out about Hand to the Land, and make a donation to support mental health literacy in regional and rural Australia. Read more

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