The good, the bad and the ugly in 2013
Ned Kelly killer sentenced
JONATHON Stenberg was sentenced to 25 years behind bars for the murder and mutilation of Broadwater man Edward "Ned" Kelly. Stenberg, a man known to have had land in Broadwater and to have had disputes with Mr Kelly in the past, had shot Mr Kelly in the head before decapitating him on June 21 2012. Stenberg was found hiding in bushland at Berry Springs near Darwin nine days later. Mr Kelly's head was never found and Mr Kelly's sister says she hopes Stenberg takes his own life for the murder of her brother.
Deadly car crashes on our roads
Shaun Zagar, 28 and his children Kaleb, 6, and Zara, 5, were killed while waiting for a school bus at Dyraaba when a car driven by Malcolm Harris crashed into their parked car on June 4 2013. Court hearings heard that Harris was under the influence of a cocktail of drugs at the time of the crash, and was disqualified from driving until 2030. He is yet to be sentenced. In more horror on our roads, two gold coast students were killed when a B-Double rolled and crushed their car at Knockrow in June, while local woman Ivy Bowden and her six-year-old daughter Bella-Mae Bowden, died in a tragic car accident at Wollongbar in September.
Fatal plane crash at Lismore
Highly respected pilot, instructor and aircraft engineer, Wayne Fisher of Spectrum Aviation, was killed when the kit-built RV-12 he was testing for a local man smashed to the ground just after take-off on the morning of March 24 at Lismore Airport.
Kevin Hogan in, Janelle Saffin out
Nationals candidate Kevin Hogan beat out sitting ALP member Janelle Saffin for the seat of Page in the September 7 federal election. Hogan won with a massive 6.85% swing - more than double the state's 3.06%, taking the seat from Saffin, who had held it for six years.
Horror scenes were described as victims of abuse came forward for the Royal Commissions Inquest into child sexual abuse in Anglican and Catholic dioceses. Stories of abuse suffered at the North Coast Children's Home were heard at the Anglican inquest, while one of the case studies reviewed in the Catholic inquest involved a deceased priest from the Diocese of Lismore. In a letter to his parishioners ahead of the royal commission, the Bishop of Lismore, Geoffrey Jarrett, said his church will "work to ensure the whole truth is revealed" about "heinous" child sex abuse crimes committed by senior members of the Catholic Church, and urged victims to come forward.
Justice for Tanilla
In early December Warren Ross was found guilty of the murder of his partner's daughter two-year-old Tanilla Warrick-Deaves. Tanilla's father Adrian Warrick was living at Ballina when his daughter died in the care of her mother Donna Deaves and her de facto partner Ross on the NSW Central Coast in August, 2011. During the investigation, the public heard of the horrific details about the whippings, beatings and torment Tanilla suffered in the lead up to her death.
While Tanilla's mother was sentenced to at least nine years for manslaughter, the sentencing hearing for Ross has been set for February 2014.
After deciding in September not to fluoridate the town's water supply, Lismore City Council then reaffirmed its commitment in December to fluoridating the town's water supply with a tight council vote - six councillors voting in favour of fluoride and five against. Down in Ballina the council reaffirmed their decision to fluoridate the water supply, however in November Byron Shire Council voted in rejection of fluoridating their water supply.
Australia Day Floods
The Northern Rivers was hammered by storms and flooding from Australia Day through to the beginning of March. Many locals were forced to evacuate their homes, or were caught isolated for days due to floodwaters. In a heavy blow, a major land slip saw residents at Upper Coopers Creek completely isolated for nine days before an emergency access pathway was created. It wasn't until November that tenders were called to rebuild the road.
Ballina rescue boat goes down
In a dramatic incident, Ballina's Marine Rescue was destroyed while the crew were performing a rescue on the Ballina Bar in the early hours of April 15.
The boat flipped, leaving the crew and the crew of the motor cruiser they were trying to help stuck on the hull.
After an hour of waiting, the five people were rescued by the Ballina Jet Boat.
The Marine Rescue boat washed up at South Ballina several kilometres from South Wall where it remained for a few days. The broken remains of the motor cruiser it had been trying to help washed up a few hours later.
Ballina Marine Rescue finally got a new boat in November.
Jade in the Big Brother House
Love her or hate her, you've got to admit Ballina barmaid and model Jade Albany took Australia by storm when she entered the Big Brother House. From being part of a sham marriage to Drew before romancing Ed, Jade definitely had a rollercoaster ride in the House, and was named runner-up in the series. It wasn't her first reality TV experience either - she previously appeared on Italia's Next Top Model. Since getting booted from the house, Jade has been seen around Ballina, particularly at her old place of work - the Henry Rous Hotel.
Nathan Baggaley arrested... again
Disgraced Byron Bay-born Olympic kayaker Nathan Baggaley was arrested in a major amphetamine bust in Tweed Heads in early November, just two months after admitting he'd made mistakes, but was now "clean."
Baggaley, who is currently waiting in jail on six serious drug-related charges, had previously been sentencing to nine years jail time for dealing ecstasy back in 2009 - a term which was increased for possessing steroids inside jail, before he was released in 2011 after serving just two years.
The earlier part of 2013 was filled with CSG protest action - in January a blockade at Glenugie saw 25 protesters arrested during a blockade which had successfully barred Metgasco contractors from entering the site for 48 days.
During January and February, protesters gathered at Doubtful Creek, awaiting the arrival of a drilling rig, and sparking a blockade that saw more people arrested.
In October, John Creighton, a 60-year-old Kyogle Forestry Corporation worker, was killed in a freak accident at a logging site on a private property at Whian Whian.
Mr Creighton was killed when a tree branch fell from the forest canopy and hit his head.
Sadly, it was revealed by Mr Creighton's son that he was not meant to be working that day, and should not have been there.
Coffs Harbour MP, Andrew Fraser, later lashed out at "green ratbag" protesters who were onsite at the time of the accident, protesting against the logging. Mr Fraser blamed the protestors for Mr Creighton's death, stating that: "Mr Creighton was there trying to keep people away from the area when (the limb fell). Mr Creighton should not have been there. He did not need to be there. A family has lost their father because the greens failed to comply with work health and safety regulations."
Dancing Tommy on Australia's Got Talent
Byron Bay's dancing man, Tommy Franklin, stole Australia's hearts with his 'salty rain' dance on Australia's Got Talent. Tommy, who made it all the way through to the finals of the TV competition, said he wanted to inspire others into a happier life through his dancing, sharing his own story of struggle as a teenager involved with alcohol and drugs.
Metgasco rolls out
Following the CSG protests at Glenugie and Doubtful Creek in the early part of the year, Metgasco suspended
their operations in March, to the celebration of many. However, in October the company announced they would return to the Northern Rivers, with the company's managing director Peter Henderson stating that they wanted to start drilling its Rosella-1 well, 12 km to the northeast of Casino.
Rock Valley Post Office rebuilt
The small community of Rock Valley celebrated in July as their rebuilt post office was opened following a fire that gutted the building in September 2012. Built in 1930, the tiny 12x12ft post office was a loved feature of the town, so when it burnt down, there was really no question about it - the community instantly banded together to get the place back up and running again. And with a big community party and fanfare, they celebrated having done just that in July.
Lismore City Hall renovations
Lismore City Hall's $6 million redevelopment ($4.97m from Regional Development Australia Funding and $1.08m from Lismore City Council) opened in August, showcasing fresh entryways from both Bounty St and Ballina Rd into the new downstairs bar and box office area, as well as a new bar area upstairs. Inside the auditorium a repaired floor surface; new, more comfortable bank seating; a new lighting system; revamped air-conditioning; and a better sound quality thanks to the nifty use of soundboard on the roof, walls, and mezzanine level was to make the theatre experience at City Hall that whole lot better.
Big Prawn gets a makeover
The well known Ballina feature, which was built in 1989, survived yet another debate about the possibility of demise, and in fact ended 2013 on a high. It was moved 100m from its original location in March to make way for the new Bunnings store, and later in the year received a tail and a fresh coat of paint, making 2013 the year the Big Prawn recommitted its place in our hearts.
Native Title for Bandjalang
After 17 long years of legal proceedings, the Bandjalang People were recognised by the Federal Court of Australia as the traditional owners of land surrounding Evans Head, in the third and fourth native title determinations by the Federal Court of Australia in NSW's history. Under the determination they were given non-exclusive rights to hunt, fish, camp, take waters and perform traditional ceremonies on land that extends between Casino, Evans Head and Whiporie and includes significant portions of national park and state forest.
Our festivals once again rocked the region in 2013: Splendour in the Grass was in its first year back at the North Byron Parklands site at Yelgun, and while a massive traffic gridlock was reported, the overall message was one of enjoyment. Bluesfest's 24th year was a good one as they picked up a coveted Helpmann Award while the first ever Boomerang Festival was praised and organisers affirmed they would be back. The Falls Festival extended their locations to include Byron Bay for the first time, and the first ever Prawn Festival was praised by Ballina locals, even if they were plagued by rain.