The stories that made news in 2018
COVERING everything from political drama, to flood recovery and severe weather events, to the beginning and closures of business, the Northern Star has seen it all.
To celebrate the conclusion of 2018, we have compiled some of our biggest stories from throughout the year, as well as some of our favourite photographs.
- A New Year's Eve attack in Nimbin left a man in a critical condition.
- It was a stormy start to 2018 after storms tore through the Northern Rivers, causing widespread damage.
- The rental crisis in the Northern Rivers deepened, with families forced to live in motels or on the streets before they could find a property.
- Lismore City Council councillors came under fire for 'treating city with contempt' after three unsuccessful attempts at extraordinary council meetings.
- Cloudy skies disappointed Northern Rivers residents who missed the chance to view the a super-moon, blue moon and blood moon trifecta, for a once-in-a-lifetime viewing opportunity.
- A Lismore man narrowly avoided having his foot amputated after being infected with a frightening flesh-eating disease during a local camping trip.
- There were fears of blue-green algae contamination at Lake Ainsworth after 20 people fell ill after swimming.
- Tailgating trucks were brought into public discussion after an incident at St Helena, followed by an outcry from truck drivers who wants car drivers to be more aware of sharing the road with trucks.
- A Byron woman gave away an unused $3000 wedding dress to one very lucky Lismore woman after the offer went viral.
- A Central Coast man stunned local police after his Bruxner Highway breath-test showed he was nine times the legal limit, while also being unlicensed for nearly 30 years.
- An Evans Head man, who was disqualified from driving for the next 984 years, was caught behind the wheel again.
- The controversial Department of Primary Industries shark net trial came under fire from Ballina deputy mayor Keith Williams after a report showed only nine of 300 animals caught was a target shark species.
- Alstonville welcomed a long-awaited resident police officer after a long campaign.
- The man dubbed 'Dr Death' Philip Nitschke visited Lismore with his controversial workshop on assisted suicide.
- Byron mayor Simon Richardson labelled dramatic footage which aired on A Current Affair as 'damning', after it showed a naked, 16-year-old boy pinned down and beaten by four police officers in Byron Bay laneway.
- The drawn-out trial of Michael Phillip Martin came to an end after Martin was sentenced to a total of 37 years in jail for the 2014 murder of his father, Michael Anthony Martin.
- Tweed residents were horrified to find 15 slaughtered sharks left to rot at Fingal Head lookout.
- Tattersalls Hotel on Keen Street closed, leaving 15 employees jobless and 12 residents homeless.
- Lismore City Council's proposed Winter Olympics ski jump facility drew ire from local residents.
- Lismore secured $4.95 million in NSW Government funding to upgrade the Albert Park baseball complex.
- Byron Bay real estate agency Unique Estates collapsed, leaving up to 40 staff and a row of creditors unpaid.
- A macadamia factory was destroyed, and two firefighters injured, at Alstonville after 100,000 litres of oil caught fire.
- Ballina District Hospital was announced to receive a $7.35m upgrade.
- Ballina Chamber of Commerce announced the Ballina Prawn Festival would be cancelled for 2018.
- Three Ballina RSL staff members were praised after they jumped into action and rescued a woman from drowning in the Richmond River after falling into the river.
- Former Lismore gynaecologist Dr Glenn Allan Taylor attended Lismore Local Court to stand trial on sex assault charges.
- Lismore's Memorial Baths celebrated 90 years of operation.
- Casino woman Melissa Quinn was charged with four counts of obtaining financial advantage by deception after allegedly raising $45,000 in donations for cancer treatments she never had.
- The Northern Star printed a special publication One Year On, looking back at the March 2017 floods as the city continued to recover.
- A car stolen from Evans Head was found 400km away in Old Bar in Manning-Great Lakes area, after being involved in an 180km/h police chase and a collision at a roundabout.
- Lismore's heart shone at One Year On, an event marking one year since the devastating floods caused by ex-cyclone Debbie.
- Plans were announced for a $25 million equestrian centre at Lismore Showground.
- Lismore-based group community arts organisation LightnUp Inc was commissioned to create three huge lanterns for Brisbane Festival 2018.
- Surf lifesavers and shark aerial patrols were kept busy as 62 shark sightings were reported in five hours off North Coast beaches.
- A two-time Afghanistan and Iraq war veteran was bashed and robbed in Nimbin in a shocking attack on Anzac Day.
- The dark underbelly of unscrupulous landlords came to light after a woman reported a Byron Bay landlord was advertising a rental property in exchange for sexual favours.
- Nimbin celebrated MardiGrass.
- No Sand Mines for Lennox Head Action Group hosted a standing-room only public meeting in an attempt to stop a 3.6 million tonne sand mine on Newrybar Swamp Rd.
- Lismore-based dairy co-operative Norco lost the tender to supply milk to a number of health facilities including 16 of the 17 hospitals in the Northern NSW Local Health District to an overseas company. Following community outrage, this decision was reversed by NSW Minister for Health.
- Self-proclaimed 'Beef Capital of Australia', Casino hosted a record crowd of more than 20,000 people at their 10-day Beef Week festival.
- A disaster was averted after a popcorn machine caught fire in the foyer of Birch Carroll and Coyle Lismore, resulting in the evacuation of 107 people.
- Thousands lined the streets of Lismore's CBD to watch the 24th annual Lismore Lantern Parade,which concluded in The Quad, after Oakes Oval was unavailable.
- A yellow crazy ant infestation was discovered in Lismore CBD.
- There were dramatic scenes at Lillian Rock when protesters locked Telstra employees in the controversial mobile tower.
- Georgica residents were furious after being told that road repairs had been deemed 'too complicated and too expensive'.
- Oakes Oval reopened after a $3m upgrade, including a grandstand roof extension, expanded playing area, new change rooms and visitor amenities and an electronic LED scoreboard.
- The Outdoor Leisure Show wheeled into Lismore, raising much-needed funds for the local Westpac Life Saving Rescue Helicopter.
- Casino couple Alisha and her critically-ill fiance Lachlan Summers captured the hearts of many Northern Rivers residents as they tied the knot at Ballina in an emotional ceremony donated by locals.
- More than 50 workers were left without jobs and in the dark after high profile Ballina company Kimberley Kampers was placed in liquidation.
- There were dramatic scenes in Lennox Head in late July as Ballina Shire Council workers proceeded to chop down the highly-controversial 200 year old Moreton Bay fig tree on Castle Drive, despite months of protests and injunctions to prevent the loss.
- Move aside, Ballina's big prawn, Kyogle welcomed a giant bush turkey statue at the southern entrance to town.
- Tragedy struck after the local community rallied to find Damien Roadley, a man lost in Blue Knob's rugged bushland.
- Northern Rivers residents banded together to raise money for various drought appeals hosted across the region, in order to support farmers in need following announcement 100 per cent of state was drought-affected.
- Lismore City Council voted to provide rate-relief in the CBD by handing back an average $1000 per year to ratepayers.
- Kyogle dairy farmer Shane Hickey posted a video to Facebook about the systemic unfairness plaguing the dairy industry, which then went viral and made national news.
- Homes were threatened after a series of dangerous bushfires broke out south of Casino, destroying sheds and farming machinery.
- Alstonville and Wollongbar residents called for action after another tragedy at the black-spot intersection of the Bruxner Highway and Ballina Rd at Alstonville, followed by local politicians promising to take action.
- A 38 year old man was injured in a drive-by shooting in Casino, with the alleged shooter arrested the next day.
- Universal Medicine was dragged into the spotlight as a defamation case between leader Serge Benhayon and former member Esther Rockett kicked off in the NSW Supreme Court.
- The $14 million saleyard upgrade of Casino's Northern Rivers Livestock Exchange progressed to stage two of the grand plan to modernise the region's biggest saleyard facility.
- Byron Shire Council made the landmark decision to move the date of their Australia Day celebrations to the evening of January 25. Reactions were thick and fast, even drawing the ire of Prime Minister Scott Morrison who criticised the council for being "indulgent" and "self-loathing", and stripped Byron Council of the right to hold citizenship ceremonies.
- Southern Cross University's National Centre for Flood Research held a symposium to discuss the effects of the 2017 flood.
- A second chicken truck halted traffic in Goonellabah after tipping over in the same spot as only 10 months earlier.
- Two neighbouring homes burned to the ground in Lennox Head, with residents lucky to escape with their lives.
- Universal Medicine leader Serge Benhayon suffered a significant defeat in his defamation case against a blogger after a jury found many of her posts were true, including that he's the leader of a 'socially harmful cult'.
- It was a very wet week leading up the North Coast National while organisers waited with bated breath to see if they should cancel the event. As they say, the show must go on and the North Coast National went ahead as planned, albeit a bit more damp than preferred.
- Norco's $30m expansion to their ice cream operation was widely applauded.
- Amid scandal surrounding the Universal Medicine defamation case in the NSW Supreme Court, Serge Benhayon's wife Deborah Benhayon stood down from her position as Lismore Chamber of Commerce and Industry president.
- Beloved long-time Lismore resident Emily Betteridge was farewelled at a moving ceremony celebrating her life and contributions to the local community.
- Casino's former RMS building was sold for $1 by the State Government, to remain in community hands and be turned into an art gallery.
- The Wade Park playground in East Lismore was set alight and destroyed by vandals, with the popular playground expected to be shut for more than six months.
- A truck driver had a lucky escape after his semi trailer plunged off a bridge and into Maguires Creek at Teven.
- A chicken pox outbreak was reported at two Northern Rivers high schools, putting the health district on high alert.
- Ballina beaches were closed for 24 hours after a surfer was attacked by a shark.
- The Joint Regional Planning Panel has this week refused a $21m proposal for a four-storey development at the corner of Jonson and Browning streets in Byron Bay.
- Local MP Kevin Hogan announced his plan to call for a Royal Commission to investigate alleged price gouging by supermarket and petrol retailers.
- Lismore's Air Force Cadets challenged local police in a Freedom of Entry ceremony, the first in 75 years.
- More than 750 Northern Rivers school students went on strike to promote action for climate change.
- Furious police released a statement to drone pilots to take care where they fly their drones, after two incidents in the same week of drones preventing the Westpac Lifesaving Rescue Helicopter from leaving Lismore Base Hospital to transport critically-ill patients.
- Lismore City Council received mixed reactions from their long-awaited and highly-controversial rainbow crossing on Magellan Street.
- A NSW Supreme Court judge ruled in Esther Rockett's favour in the Universal Medicine defamation case and ordered Benhayon to pay the blogger's legal costs.
- 'Byron Bay has a big silver dildo in the middle of the roundabout' Byron Shire Council made national headlines after a surprisingly phallic-like sculpture was erected in the middle of the new Bayshore Drive roundabout. Council were quick to assure residents the statue was unfinished, and would look different once completed.