Council Happenings

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BRIDGE OPENING, THE ARCHINAL STORY

This week was a special one as far as celebrating Council’s achievements on our huge program of works to replace 23 timber bridges across the shire, but it was also one for the history books in celebrating a wonderful moment for one of the shire’s oldest families.

We had the pleasure of witnessing history this week when Archinals Bridge was officially declared open in the company of members of Council, locals and members of the extended Archinal family, the bridge’s namesake. Upper Hunter MP Dave Layzell even stopped by to join the Mayor in declaring the bridge officially open.

The $1.07 million new Archinals Bridge was the second bridge in this NSW Government funded program of works to open to traffic, which makes it a good one to use as the background to our program update announcement. It was originally built for £2000. The original project in 1940 was part of an initiative to bridge the 10 river crossings between Gresford and the Upper Allyn, with the aim to provide all weather roads for its residents.

As you will see from photos, the original Archinals Bridge was opened in 1940 and featured a young local girl, Ruby Archinal, cutting the ribbon to declare the bridge open. Ruby, now 89, returned to the bridge on Monday to inspect it’s now completed refurbishment with her brother Jim Archinal and reminisce.

It was so wonderful to see Ruby and Jim front and centre at Monday’s bridge opening. They were surrounded by the extended Archinal family and Ruby cut the ribbon as she did as a girl of 6 years at the original timber bridge opening.

As the story goes, Ruby remembers being thrust into the spotlight at the last minute – a gentle nudge in the back from someone in the crowd and up she hopped to cut the ribbon and declare the bridge open with the Mayor of the day.

It was fitting as the Archinal family had such a long history with the Allynbrook Valley.

Ruby spent her early life in the Upper Allyn River district on the family farm, named Shellbrook Creek. A 2000-acre mountain country beef property at the base of the Barrington Tops.

When Ruby married at the age of 20, she took up a new farm on the site of Lostock Dam. She was there 16 yrs before the land was acquired by the Wayer Board to build Lostock Dam. They then moved to Luskintyre where her family still farms today. Although it is her grandson’s family that is getting ready to take over in the coming weeks.

Her brother Jim spent most of his life at the original Shellbrook Creek farm after taking over from his parents. He remembers the original Archinal Bridge being built by the Beavis Building family, who are still building in Maitland.

Talk about coming full circle! It was a moment in history surely to never be repeated again.

Archinal’s Bridge is one of 23 bridge replacements taking place across the Dungog Shire and the opening on Monday signified 65% of bridges in the program either completed, under construction, about to begin works, or tenders awarded.  A great achievement for our infrastructure team. While we continue to forge ahead with our busy program of bridge works, it was nice to pause for a moment and celebrate the milestone with a great human angle.

Check out our video of the day here.

ROADS & INFRASTRUCTURE UPDATE

To keep the community informed about roads maintenance and repairs in the Dungog Shire, here is an update on where Council crews are working and what they are working on.

In the coming week there will be crews and contractors working on the following roads and bridges, pending weather: 

Road works

  • Webbers Creek Road, Paterson (west of Cemetery to top of Hill) – Road works complete;
  • Gresford Road, Vacy (North of Vacy to Gundaroo Intersection) – Pavement construction and stabilising works – Initial Seal scheduled for late December 2022;
  • Hooke Street, Dungog (Eloiza Street to Moore Street) – Pavement works – Initial Seal scheduled for late December 2022;

Bridge works

  • Gams Bridge Replacement – Side-track construction works – New bridge construction to commence in early 2023;
  • Fosterton Bridge Replacement – Bridge construction – Works ongoing and scheduled for completion in early 2023;
  • Thalaba Bridge Replacement – The bridge is scheduled to be open to traffic at 4.30pm Friday 2 December 2022 under roadwork conditions noting approach works will not be complete and further works will be ongoing under traffic – Works scheduled for completion in Early 2023;
  • Banfield Bridge Replacement – Bridge construction – Works ongoing and scheduled for completion in early 2023;

Capital Building Works and Other Construction Activities

  • Gresford Sports Ground Amenities – Construction practically complete with the facility scheduled to be available for use in mid-December 2022;
  • Dungog Library Additions – Construction continuing with works scheduled for completion in March 2023;
  • Dungog Showground Kiosk Accessibility Upgrade – Construction continuing with works scheduled for completion in early 2023;
  • Clarence Town Village Green Amenities – Construction continuing with works scheduled for completion in February 2023;
Maintenance Activities
  • Sealed Roads:-
    • Tar Patching – Stroud Hill Road, Marshdale Road and Flat Tops Road;
    • Heavy Patching – Dungog Road, Bingleburra Road and Gresford Road.
  • Unsealed Roads:-
    • Maintenance Works – Paterson River Road, Rumbels Road, Nelsons Road and Sheltons Road;
  • Parks & Sporting Grounds:-
    • Park mowing – Clarence Town and Paterson;
    • Sports Ground Mowing – Dungog, Paterson, Gresford and Clarence Town Villages.

VANDALS STRIKE AGAIN

A disturbing and potentially dangerous spate of vandalism acts has once again plagued our community.

This time it wasn’t wanton destruction of community property, but rather nuisance acts that caused real safety concerns over the past weekend in Dungog.

Last weekend vandals took to a number of council infrastructure and roadworks signage, equipment and facilities. The most concerning was adjacent to Frank Robinson Park in Dungog, where parawebbing (fluro plastic netting) and road closed signage was erected across Cooreei Bridge to mimic a bridge closure. This was discovered at 2.00am Saturday morning by a motorist who was lucky to avert an accident.

Timber fence panelling was also a removed and toilet facilities tampered with following reports of numerous people seen and heard in the park area in the early hours of Saturday.

Considerable numbers of roadwork signage and traffic cones were also removed from their locations and an attempt was made to tip over one of the electronic Variable Message Boards at roadworks site in Dungog.

So, is it the work of bored kids? Or members of the community set on disruption, either way Council will not tolerate this kind of behaviour in our Shire. Needless to say that the removal of roadwork signage is a considerable hazard, but the closing off of Cooreei Bridge could have been tragic.

The Police are involved, and we implore the community to be the eyes and ears. If you see something? Hear something? Say something!

Contact Dungog Police or crime stoppers. It won’t be long before someone gets hurt. 

ANNUAL REPORT 2021-22

Council held an extraordinary meeting this week and has endorsed the draft Annual Report 2021-2022. It is now available to view on the Council’s website.

I’m sure you will all agree, the 2021-2022 financial year was one for the books. With record grant funding received across a number of high-priority infrastructure projects, we have certainly been busy building a better future for our shire.

This year, we continued to forge ahead on the $19 million NSW Government’s Fixing Country Bridges grant program. The replacement of the 23 bridges is a mammoth undertaking, and will build new, stronger and more resilient river crossings that will ensure safer passage for all Dungog residents and visitors.

Projects like these make a difference to the day-to-day lives of locals. Better local roads in our regions mean safer trips to school or the shops, and more efficient journeys for freight operators and primary producers.

We also broke ground on capital works projects to enhance community facilities, including the heavily consulted $1.08 million Dungog Library extension project, which is scheduled for practical completion in March 2023. The Gresford Sporting Complex amenities project, worth almost $927,000, was also realised and should be complete by the end of the coming calendar year.

This year has also focused on setting an exciting vision for what our shire is going to look like over the next ten years, with considerable work and consultation undertaken from a cultural, economic and social perspective.

We continue to champion Dungog shire to all levels of government and through the development of a new Advocacy Strategy, which focuses on government partnerships that will enable economic growth in the region. Meaningful partnerships will support improved public and private infrastructure.

We are still feeling some of the aftereffects of the global pandemic, with materials for roadworks and construction difficult to procure, labour constraints a challenge, and the soaring costs of contractors impacting our improvement goals.

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