Monthly Archives: September 2019

Open day celebrating Elmhurst Playgroup’s 30th birthday

stock photoELMHURST Playgroup will celebrate its 30th birthday this weekend with an open day for all families in the Elmhurst, Ararat and wider regions.
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The celebrations will involve a jumping castle, Kim and Jamie’s Mobile Zoo, Playgroup Victoria craft activities and games and food and drinks.

Playgroup representative Sally Roberts said while Playgroup is for children aged from birth to preschool, families with children of all ages are welcome to attend, as over the past 30 years families from Crowlands, Ararat as well as Elmhurst have participated, and all past and present members are invited.

“People who went to playgroup as kids are coming back with their kids,” Ms Roberts said.

The open day will be held on Sunday from 10am to 2pm at the Mechanics Institute in Elmhurst.

“The 30th birthday is special thing, especially for a small town,” Ms Roberts said.

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‘Railway house’ fire shocks community

GUNNEDAH man Don McDonagh is lucky to be alive after his iconic house burnt down this week.
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The house after the fire this week.

The Chief Havoc Hotel remains standing after the fire.

Don McDonagh with his collection earlier this year. Picture: Northern Daily Leader

Mr McDonagh was in hospital when the fire broke out at his Barber Street home early on Tuesday morning, destroying the house and badly damaging the well-known miniature railway in his yard.

The Gunnedah community has reacted with shock to the fire.

Mr McDonagh’s son, Bill McDonagh, who lives just two doors down, said flames were billowing “30 feet” out of the front windows.

“The heat was unbelievable,” Bill McDonagh said.

“Nothing could have been done. The trains all got melted.”

Bill McDonagh said the first he knew of the fire was when his dog started to bark and run around the house.

“It’s bloody lucky Dad was in hospital,” he said. “He wouldn’t have lived if he was there.”

He said his father had kept war medals and historic documents in steel cabinets which had remained largely undamaged by the fire.

For close to 30 years, Don McDonagh’s elaborate model railway and miniature town have been visited by thousands of children.

The house has now been cordoned off but the railway remains in the front yard. Bill McDonagh said there had been more damage to the railway than they had at first thought.

Gunnedah Mayor Owen Hasler said the family property was a huge loss for not only the family but the town as well.

“It’s a tragedy and no doubt he will be extremely upset and traumatised,” he said of Don McDonagh.

“It’s an obvious attraction in the town, and it would be a great loss if it couldn’t be salvaged or erected in another place.

“It has certainly been, like Don, an iconic feature of our community, and it would be sad to see it not resurrected in some form for our community,” Cr Hasler said.

Investigators and detectives have sifted through the remains of the ferocious blaze and have found no suspicious circumstances.

News of the fire brought a flood of comments on the Namoi Valley Independent’s Facebook site.

Rhonda Delander Eade wrote: “That is so terrible. Poor Don. I hope Gunnedah rallies around to help him.”

Niss Hill wrote: “So sorry to hear of this thinking of you Donny.”

Others, such as Dylan Ison, Susan Reid and Tristan Browne remembered visiting the house as a child.

“Horrible news, Don. Thoughts are with you and any help needed we will be there old mate,” wrote Matthew Hannay.

The famous working model railway was constructed by Mr McDonagh at the suggestion of his wife during Australia’s bicentennial celebrations in 1988.

It was originally meant as a “little train around the tree for the grandchild”.

Later, the model included two linked scale model towns with a whole range of houses and stores.

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BFL elimination final: Golden Square v Eaglehawk

Golden Square and Eaglehawk meet on Saturday night in the elimination final.BFL QUALIFYING FINAL: SANDHURST V GISBORNE
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Since 1995: Golden Square 27; Eaglehawk 19.

Last final: 2013 qualifying final – Golden Square10.9 (69) d Eaglehawk 8.17 (65).

This year’s meetings:

Round 7: Golden Square 20.12 (132) d Eaglehawk 9.9 (63).

Round 16: Golden Square 15.10 (100) d Eaglehawk 8.18 (66).

GOLDEN Square’s aspirations of a record-equalling sixth Bendigo Football League premiership in a row go on the line on Saturday night in the elimination final against Eaglehawk at the QEO.

The Bulldogs have won the past five flags, but there’s no safety net of a double chance this year after finishing fourth.

It has been an up-and-down season for the Bulldogs, who haven’t been able to win more than two games in a row, but they’ve had the measure of the Hawks in both their meetings by 69 and 34 points.

The Hawks were the talk of the BFL last week when they stunned Sandhurst at the QEO by 19 points to climb to fifth.

The Hawks had been given little chance of defeating the Dragons and they’ll again carry in the underdog tag on Saturday night against the Bulldogs, who are 13-0 in finals since losing the2008 grand final to Eaglehawk by a goal.

Bulldogs’ star Corey Jones has been a major thorn in the side of the Hawks both times this year, kicking nine goals and potentially earning six Michelsen Medal votes, while onballers Ben McPhee, Brodie Collins, Kevin Archbold and defender Brenton Conforti have all been pivotal for Eaglehawk the past fortnight.


Nick Carter (Golden Square) – “We’re in a different situation to the past few years and the opportunity for us is to build momentum.

“You never hit your straps in the first week of finals… finals footy is a different game and we’re going to come up against a side that has a similar motive to us in that they want to take the game on with quick transfer of play and attack on the footy.

“It’s going to be a red-hot game and an opportunity for both the seasoned and younger guys to step up.”

Luke Monaghan (Eaglehawk) – “We’ve been up against it after finals were taken out of our hands a few weeks ago, but we’ve just gone out and played footy and let the results take care of themselves.

“Fortunately, we got a good result last weekend to get ourselves in there and we hit finals full of confidence and belief.

“That’s on the back of winning two in a row for the first time this season against Maryborough at home, which is a difficult task, and Sandhurst at the QEO when they were vying for top spot.

“Two weeks ago it didn’t look like we’d be finals contenders, but we now get a crack on Saturday night and we’re keen to make the most of it.”


Golden Square:

Won: 10. Lost: 8.

Average for: 93.8. Against: 78.4.

Quarters won: 40/72.


Won: 9. Lost: 9.

Average for: 83.6. Against: 79.3.

Quarters won: 37/72.

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State of the art wheelchair brightens former Paralympian Goldfinch

Queanbeyan former Paralympian Murray Goldfinch with his new sports wheelchair. Photo: Joshua Matic.SINCE 2008 former Queanbeyan Paralympian Murray Goldfinch has been on the shy side, and has kept himself away from the public domain, but last Monday he was able to light up again after he received his first sports wheelchair.
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Potentially one of the largest wheelchairs of its type in the world, Murray will now look forward to playing sport again with his $8599 wheelchair, which he will use to play wheelchair basketball for the Canberra Chargers in the NSW Wheelchair Basketball competition.

As well as using funding from his Independent Accomodation Support Package, the Snow Foundation and Partners in Recovery from the Disability Trust came on board to sponsor Goldfinch for his new wheelchair.

But it has been a very hard past six years for the Sydney 2000 double bronze medallist Paralympian.

In 2008 he was bashed with a baseball bat, suffering spinal injuries, and unable to walk properly, was forced into a wheelchair.

The ordeal also brought on mental illness, and while he was still able to train in wheelchair basketball with his normal wheelchair, he was unable to play in matches as he did not have a sports wheelchair.

Due to his large build, he needed to specially-made wheelchair, and with the funds raised, he was finally able to purchase one this year.

Goldfinch said having his new equipment would raise his spirits dramatically.

“After my assault I became very depressed, as I had always played sports, and was no longer able to,” he said.

“Now that I can play, my dream is to make the Australian team, and hopefully be able to play in the Paralympics again.”

A separate injury ended the 30-year old’s shot put and discuss career in 2007, and a seven year full time stint at the AIS.

His disability was intellectual, but after Sydney 2000, intellectual disabilities were removed from the Paralympics, but he was still able to set a world shot put record in Canberra in 2005.

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Narooma Blues Festival – young talent to shine

When The Judds sang Maybe Your baby’s Got The Blues they could have been talking about the bold, young talent taking to the stage at this year’s Great Southern Blues Festival in Narooma.
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The festival that gave the John Butler Trio its first East Coast festival gig has gained a formidable reputation for fostering young artists and in October the latest generation of musicians will shine.

Leading the charge is The Montgomery Brothers, a band of teenagers led by 21-year-old guitar virtuoso Ryo Montgomery.

Hailing from Cairns and playing in the style of the Emmanuel brothers and Chet Atkins, the band is starting to make inroads in the industry with two albums and a recent tour of the USA.

Joining them at the long weekend event will be blues trailblazers the Johnny Rieger Band who will perform as part of an Australian tour.

Playing their own mix of modern blues and rock ‘n’ roll that has been called the new generation of blues, the German trio will combine with Australian soul and blues artist John McNamara to produce a thumping set.

Adding texture to the festival is South Coast artist Genevieve Chadwick who has been gaining exposure on the back of her debut album Riding The Wind, Forgetting Time.

Likened to Janis Joplin and Melissa Etheridge, Chadwick produces poignant songs through a mix of blues and roots music with her songs defined by rich melodies.

Winner of the 2013 People’s Choice Award at the Telstra Road to Discovery Finals in Tamworth and one of only three Australian artists selected for the global Playing For Change music project, Chadwick has the ability to touch the soul of her audience whenever she performs.

Rounding out the new generation of blues artists is the Perch Creek Family Jug Band, five energetic multi-instrumentalists and vocalists, four of whom are siblings.

Described as a psychedelic jug band with fearless spirit and imagination, the band has learnt its trade on the global stage and is making its debut in Narooma.

These great young acts will join a popular array of national and international artists performing on two stages throughout the three-day festival.

The Great Southern Blues Festival is being held on October 3-5 at Smyth Oval, Narooma.

General advance tickets are on sale and attendees are encouraged to book early as the festival has strictly limited capacity. Two-thirds of tickets have already been sold.

Tickets can be purchased for the full weekend or as individual day passes. For full information, pricing and purchase, go to or call (02) 4476 4848.

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