04 July, 2020

Wingello Village News July 2020

The Wingello Village News is here for July 2020.
See this month's  Wingello Village News.
This is the 137th monthly newsletter.

Highlights:
What's happening this month:
  • Lots of improvements around the village
  • Store Open until 7:00pm on Fridays
  • Wingello Public School are back
  • Wingello Village Association AGM 25 July.
      Coronavirus is still with us and we are taking appropriate precautions:

      We're back and ready for Breakfast

      Lastly, don't forget our new weekday store opening times:
      We open at 7:30am and close at 4:00pm.
      Fridays we go to 7:00pm so you can have end the week with some food from the store.

      Enjoy!

      31 May, 2020

      Wingello Village News June 2020

      The Wingello Village News is here for June 2020.
      See this month's  Wingello Village News.
      This is the 136th monthly newsletter.

      Highlights:
      What's happening this month:
      • The Bushfires Cleanup Continues
      • More parcels than Christmas
      • Store pen until 7:00pm on Fridays
      • Fire Brigade having an interesting time.
          We have also published lots of articles this month regarding Wingello and this year's challenges:

          We're back and ready for Breakfast

          Lastly, don't forget our new weekday store opening times:
          We open at 7:30am and close at 4:00pm.
          Fridays we go to 7:00pm so you can have end the week with some food from the store.

          Enjoy!

          14 May, 2020

          We're back and ready for Breakfasts

          Welcome home
          We are ready for the re-opening stage of the Coronavirus restrictions.
          The floors are all beautifully polished (Thanks Danny!) and the front walls are patched and repainted too (Thanks Brendan and Sebastian!).
          The temporary changes where everyone used the side doors are now a pleasant memory and we have access to all our store.
          The first stage of the Coronavirus reopening restrictions means we are limited to only 10 people dining in at any one time. We still have full takeaway. Under the 1 person per 4 square metre rule we could fit 20 people in the store, so 10 people is easy. We have arranged tables so there is plenty of space.
          Our safety measures include:

          • Our menus will be handed to customers and once the order is placed, the menus will be sanitised with appropriate alcohol based sanitiser.
          • We have a white board recording how many are currently dining in. When it gets to 10, it's take away and as people leave, we can accept more in-store dining.
          • Our dishwasher is magnificent and cleans the plates and cutlery with water so hot that it steams upon exit and they dry themselves.
          • We will continue to regularly wipe down surfaces and common areas.
          • There is plenty of space to maintain the 1.5m "Social" distancing. It is really physical distancing as we are a pretty social lot and chatting from 5 feet apart is still quite friendly.

          Grande Breakfast
          Now we can dine in, our breakfasts are back on the menu. We know many of you have been waiting for a real breakfast for a while and we will be ready from 7:30am Friday morning 15 May.

          02 May, 2020

          Wingello Village News - May 2020

          The Wingello Village News is here for May 2020.
          See this month's  Wingello Village News.
          This is the 135th monthly newsletter.

          Highlights:
          What's happening this month:
          • Multi Sports Court is really coming to Wingello.
          • New playground for the primary school
          • Fireweed - get rid of it now!
          • Fire Brigade weekly meetings are restarting.
          We have also published lots of articles this month regarding Wingello and this year's challenges:

          Our submission to the NSW Bushfire Enquiry
          2020 - The year of the Great Reset
          Reconnecting and Preparing the family

          Lastly, don't forget our new weekday store opening times:
          We open at 7:30am and close at 3:00pm.

          Enjoy!

          14 April, 2020

          Submission to NSW Bushfire Enquiry

          This is the submission I am making to the NSW Government Bushfire Inquiry.
          Even though we are in the midst of the Corona Virus challenge, we want to avoid the maintenance problems that made the fires that swept through Wingello so dangerous.

          Our Story

          That's most of us.
          We have lived in Wingello for twenty years. Life in the country is good with fresh air and water and a good restful lifestyle.
          For all that time we have been reminded of the risk of bushfires and provided with plenty of good information from the local Rural Fire Brigade. The history of Wingello reminds us that we have major fires every 20 to 30 years - 1939, 1965, 1998 and smaller ones in between. Historically the risk has come from the West, fanned by hot weather and high winds, racing in from the direction of the Hume Highway. The causes have always been the same, drought and fuel load.
          This year the risk came from the opposite direction, from across the Shoalhaven Gorge. Normally a Southerly wind brings rain and a cool change, dousing fires and bringing relief. In 2020 the drought of 2019 had removed almost all the moisture so the Southerly wind brought no such relief. The Currowan fire started as a small dot which we noticed on the Fires Near Me app to which we paid little attention. After all, we don't get threatened by fires from the South. Then it doubled and doubled again in size and quickly grew in our direction. Suddenly we were at risk.
          In line with all RFS guidelines we prepared our home and the Wingello Village Store for the approaching fire and gathered equipment and supplies so we could defend against a possible ember attack. The majority of the village did likewise and the village was probably prepared as well as it could be.
          On New Year's Eve we had a preview of what we could expect when thick smoke from the fires on the other side of Shoalhaven Gorge blew across Wingello. Fortunately no fires crossed the Gorge but experiencing the debilitating effect that thick smoke had on breathing and seeing made the risk personal.
          Pretty - but dangerous
          On 4th January the Southerly wind would once again threaten to push the fires across the Gorge and then ignite the State Forest to the East of Wingello. A strong effort was made to ensure all those that weren't physically or mentally ready to face a fire left the village. With the assistance on my father in law, who is an active member of the Wingello RFB, we felt we were ready for the forecast ember attack.
          At around 7pm we saw the rising huge Pyro-Cumulus cloud and knew that this was real. Then at 8pm the cloud lit up like the sun was reflecting on it and we all though it was very pretty. Unknown to us at the time this was the cloud collapsing as the Southerly hit it and effectively vacuumed the fire from across the gorge and slammed it just behind the village with accompanying 80kph winds.
          Within 30 minutes thick smoke swept across Wingello and the sky was dark. There was no going out without goggles or masks.
          Over the next two hours ash began falling, then larger burnt leaves, bark and even branches and then we were working with our neighbours to extinguish embers and continue watering down everything on ours and our neighbours' properties.
          Red Sky at night - not a delight
          Then at 10:30pm the nearby sky was red and we heard the loud sound like a combination of a heavy freight train and a furnace. My daughter asked my father in law, "That's not a train is it?". "Nope," he replied and we had a quick discussion. We activated our fall back plan and all boarded our family Transit Van and escaped to the shop on the main street of Wingello, abandoning the house before the approaching full force fire reached us.
          Over the next hour we defended the Village Store putting out embers on our property and the neighbouring properties.
          At just past 11:00pm we saw a tree on the main road explode in fire from embers landing in the canopy. One of my sons came in at 11:40 and told me to look outside. There was fire raging on the property behind us, twice the height of their shed. I looked at the two tall trees at the rear of our property and considered the shop was a wooden building over 100 years old and made the decision to retreat, abandoning the shop.
          Time for Plan C - fall back again
          We all piled into our van and went to the front of the fire shed. We would not immediately leave via Murrimba road, the primary escape route, as its tree canopy is a fire-trap waiting to happen. While waiting to see if the escape route was clear we helped put out a small fire next to the rail line and saw fires on two houses down Garett Street on our home street of Camden Street. That view confirmed in our minds that our home would certainly be lost.
          We received word that the exit was clear so we left at 11:58pm, seeing burning houses and trees on the way out, the fire brigade frantically fighting the fires to stop it crossing the railway line and we were grateful to be alive.
          Later that morning we received the news that the shop had been spared and our house had also somehow survived.
          By the time we returned on Monday morning we realised there was the Miracle of Wingello, that although we lost about a dozen houses and many sheds and back yards, no one died or was seriously injured and Wingello would be able to rebuild.

          1.1 Causes and Contributing Factors

          The primary cause of the fires was a combination of drought and fuel load.
          Drought
          In 2019 the rainfall in Wingello was 397mm. Normally we get between 800mm and 1000mm. Everything was tinder dry and grass was crunchy. Moisture content of the soil was very low. This was the same situation across NSW.
          Fuel Load
          Native trees, especially Eucalyptus, drop twigs, branches and dry leaves all year round. In times of drought, they drop even more and often full limbs. As the year progressed, every windy day would see so many branches dropping and the fire brigade was regularly called to clear the roads.
          All this tree debris was effectively kindling just waiting for the right spark to start a fire.
          Contributing factors
          Bushfires are all part and parcel of country life. We have been warned every year to prepare our homes and families in case of fire. The main issue in the 2020 fires was the severity of the fires.
          A contributing factor was the inability of residents to complete their preparations due to regulatory hindrances to most of the cleanup. Council policies and deliberate negligence, NSW Forestry and Crown Land negligence allowed the fuel build up to reach catastrophic levels.

          1.2 Preparation and Planning

          The Rural Fire Service and the local Rural Fire Brigades go to great length to make sure we all know what to do to prepare. There are physical and on line resources, Open days and community meetings all aimed at ensuring we are aware of the danger of fire and what we need to do to prepare our homes and families.
          Thankfully a number of organisations greatly helped Wingello in its time of need. The railways provided much appreciated water gins that were used continuously through the night topping up the fire trucks. We also had access to a pump on Paddy's River which provided us with water too. So many other fire brigades were here on the night providing essential assistance to our own two trucks. All up the help we had on the night of the fire and following weeks of vigilance and mopping up were excellent.
          However, not everyone can share in the praise.
          Looking North - see the fiery fingers of death?
          Before I begin my analysis it is important to understand who I am referring to when I use the term "Council". I use the term "Council" to refer to those who are responsible for the decisions - the Councillors and General Manager. The actual Council workers are very much appreciated here - when they visit - and their work is good. The problem we have is with those that don't let them maintain Wingello.
          Looking East, showing some of the burned houses.
          If you look at the drone footage I have provided here you can see how the fires came into the village. Predominantly it raced up the roadside verges that have been unmaintained and unprepared by those responsible - Wingecarribee Shire Council, NSW Forestry and Crown Lands.
          Council policy puts the existence of trees above people. Even if the Council did not plant the tree, it will not let you remove it. If that tree falls and destroys property or injures a person, they take no responsibility.
          If the tree is on the roadside verges, there is NO maintenance. There is also Council policy that forbids locals from clearing up fallen branches on roadside verges and as the council won't clear the ever growing debris, the fuel load increases every year until we get fires.
          Another council policy banned backyard burning for properties under 4000m2. The fortnightly green bins are insufficient to handle the generated garden and tree waste.
          Throughout the village are a number of open areas and laneways that are apparently Crown Land. Over time these have been unmaintained and naturally seeded trees have grown large. No-one is allowed to remove these trees and so we now have another fire lane created which villagers are not allowed to touch and no authority will attend to.
          Those villagers whose properties border the NSW forestry can attest to the lack of maintenance of the undergrowth in and around the forestry trees.
          How to burn a village - by the Council

          Looking at the policies in place and deliberate lack of maintenance, the only conclusion we can reasonably gain from these actions and policies is that the Council wants small villages like Wingello to burn.

          1.3 Response to Bushfires

          Fires Near Me and Local Information
          The app "Fires Near Me" was useful, but the sheer number of fires and hence the number of people trying to access the app overloaded the resources and meant delays in information. Even so, the ability to determine the broad location of fires was very helpful and allowed us to monitor our situation in relation to the various fires near us.
          Getting specific local information was more difficult as our local brigades are all volunteers and do not have the resources to be on line regularly. This meant many were tuning into the fire radio scanners and trying to puzzle what was happening from the often technical or specific messages.
          Home Defence
          The fire brigade did a glorious effort to save Wingello. But there were also many villagers who stayed to fight and defended not only their homes but their neighbour's homes too. It would be great if there were more resources for the "Home Defence" people. They don't need the same level f training as the fire fighters who charge into the most dangerous of fires with all the appropriate gear and training. Some more basic fire and ember attack training with access to appropriate equipment could have made these Home Defence volunteers safer and more effective. I am not suggesting gear supplied by anyone, but the information where appropriate equipment and personal protective gear can be purchased would be most beneficial.
          Wingecarribee Shire Council
          We have about 200 burnt Pine trees in the main part of the village. Burnt Pine trees are dead pine trees. Despite many discussions and promises, these dead trees remain in place 3 months after the fire. As they begin to rot over the next few months they will start falling in strong winds and homes and people will be in danger. The money provided by the State Government has been allocated in many ways, but little actually spent for those directly affected by the fires in Wingello and Balmoral, the two villages hardest hit by the fires. And we see those deadly trees every day knowing whilst we are forbidden from touching them, the council won't do anything until they get the funding from someone else. "We have no money" is the often repeated claim by a council that wastes millions on bypasses and has "emergency" meetings to remove perfectly good trees in Bowral for a bypass few actually want.
          Financial and Other Support
          We have been greatly supported by the St Vincent De Paul Society, Red Cross, the Lions Club and even the Australian government for direct financial support. Many other organisations, large and small, have stepped in and provided a variety of support both material and with helping hands. And the excellent support by so many to help a fire affected town by visiting and buying goods and services has helped both the village and all those that are financially affected. Much of this has had to be deferred until the Corona Virus restrictions are eased, but the rebuilding was moving ahead very positively until March.

          1.4 Any Other Matters

          I would like to propose a number of initiatives to help Wingello and other villages better prepare for future bush fires. None of these requires more money, just a willingness of the Council to consider the lives of those in our villages.
          1. Back yard burning in the village
          The villagers of Wingello had been conducting back yard burning on our smaller properties in the village for many years wth no issues. We are not a suburban style place like Bowral, Mittagong or Moss Vale. We have many trees and bushes which create a lot of debris which need to be removed. The fortnightly green bins are insufficient for the waste generated by our bush village.
          2. Allow clearing of fallen branches on roadside verges
          The majority of the village uses wood fire heating in Winter. In the past we used to clear up fallen branches and twigs for use in our fires. This not only cleared up the ever growing kindling between the trees, but kept our homes warm in Winter. The claim that the ban (or only allowed with a permit) is for our safety is offset by the impact of a raging bushfire racing into the village.
          3. Limit the council ban on removing trees to those the council has planted
          If the council does not take responsibility for a tree, it should have no say in the tree's staying or going. Many trees here are planted by the resident. Why can't the resident then remove it and replace it with a new one if he wishes? Responding to the council's guidelines, a home owner is best to have NO trees, because planting one means that a tree that ages and becomes a danger is very difficult to remove as the council arborists make any removal very difficult. We want to live with trees, but we want to do so responsibly and maintain them.
          4. Home Defence training
          It would be excellent to offer basic fire training for those that do not have the time or ability to join the fire brigade. Often work or family commitments mean locals cannot be part of the fire brigade but they could benefit greatly from some proper training focussed on the defence of their home and those of their neighbours.

          Overall

          We were very impressed by our Wingello Rural Fire Brigade for their service before, during and after the fires. We are also thankful for the villagers who stayed to defend their homes and those of their neighbours. Finally we are very grateful for the community of Wingello and their generosity and selflessness exhibited during these fires and the cleanup and rebuilding effort which is still ongoing.

          12 April, 2020

          The Great Reset

          Even Wallace the Wombat is affected.
          2020 will be famous in future history books for "The Great Reset". That is what I am calling this historic time of change from what was before (about 4 weeks ago) and what will eventually take its place in how the world works. The economic, social and personal spheres of life will no longer be the same as what it was.
          This Reset has been coming for some time. Back in the 1930's, during the time of the Great Depression, many commentators realised that the existing economic system had fault lines built in and couldn't last. In basic terms, economics is the study of how the fruits of a society are distributed between labour, capital and property. In times past, labour has been most important and in many areas land (property) is vital, but since the rise of the industrial age and automation, capital has been a driving force. Our economic models however are still based on the balance between labour and property and have not adequately compensated for the rising influence of automation (capital). Agriculture used to require about 80% of the population and at times we still had insufficient food. In later years manufacturing involved a large percentage of the working population. Now these two major sectors providing all the food and products we need take only a small portion of the working population.
          The last hundred years or so has seen the playing out of a system that did not match the reality of what we were experiencing and it had to change. There are many ways it could have happened, but a self induced resetting of the world around us in response to the Corona Virus is how it has happened. It could have been much worse.
          You may think the Corona Virus is little worse than the flu, or believe it is closer to the Black Death. You can believe it is all a conspiracy by one group or another or just the result of human fear and populism. It doesn't really matter. The end result is the same. The world as we knew it is now no more and will never be the same again.

          This is not a bad thing.

          We now have the opportunity to re-evaluate all the important things in our lives. In the past (4 weeks ago) everyone was busy devoting most of their time and attention to less important things - careers, prestige, holidays, distractions and adoration from strangers. The important things like knowing and loving those we live with, our neighbours and our communities were at best an after thought to which we gave minimum attention.
          Humans are designed to be personal beings. We come into the world a product of a mother and father and start helpless, depending entirely on the love of our parents. Now that we are forced to be at home and not travel or go outside our domestic structures for validation and attention, we are beginning to learn more about ourselves and those we live with. We are seeing a great many examples of care for others in many communities around the world.
          As most parents are now forced to be at home all day with their children and are experiencing a new "School at Home" situation, this will develop into a better "Home Schooling" lifestyle where the most important subject will be getting to know each other better and sharing the life education journey together. This is not all about completing workbooks and assignments and on-line research. A true education is understanding who you are and the people and world around you. In the past the parents would be rushing off to work, the children sent to school or care centres with very little time to just be together. Now is the opportunity to know each other, observe your own strengths and weaknesses in your children and together work on the strengths and improve the weaknesses. After all, you're all in this together. The first month forced together is hard as you learn how to share a life rather than just a house. This sharing of family life transforms the house into a home.
          In Wingello, we had the mixed blessing of bushfires rage through our village, destroying homes and damaging many properties. No one died or was injured in the fires and having survived an existential crisis as a village, the community bonds became stronger. Our neighbours, many of whom before the fire were a mystery, became real people who suffered along with us and joined with us as we worked on rebuilding our homes and village. The fires in a unique way gave us a bit of preparation for the Great Reset.
          After the Great Reset a great many businesses, both large and small, will never come back. The combination of debt, rent and labour with thin margins will not survive the stopping of trade.
          In coming years you will be explaining to your grandchildren what life was like before 2020. They will be amazed and be disbelieving as you explain how life was in how you earned a living, travelled around the world yet didn't know your neighbours, willingly went into huge debt and more.
          I am not saying I know how it will all fall out and what the end result will be. The only thing I am sure of is that all the current predictions will be incorrect and the world will be an amazing and interesting place with a wide variety of new economic systems replacing our current system which is like a house of cards from which the bottom card has been removed. We have plenty of food and manufacturing capacity to provide everyone's wants and needs - it is just a matter of appropriate distribution and incentives to make it all flow properly.
          As you are now living in a Historic Event, take the time to record your experiences in some sort of journal, either manual or electronic. Write down what you are experiencing, what you expect and hope, how your life is unfolding. Future historians will be looking back on 2020 and The Great Reset to understand what life was like.
          This is what it is like living in a Historic Moment.
          Be thankful for what you have, enjoy life and take advantage of what you are being offered.

          06 April, 2020

          Re-connecting and Preparing the family

          Gather round me hearties!
          In challenging times it is important that everyone in the family is prepared as best they can be.
          In December, as the fires approached and posed a definite threat to our village, we used the time after dinner to have a number of family meetings. We normally use this dinner and after dinner time for often wide-ranging discussions of everything from what we did that day to favourite movies or foods or anything.
          In our crisis family meeting we have a more serious topic to discuss. In the case of the imminent fires we went through what was happening, what the threats were, our plans for defending the home and shop, what we would do if things didn't go according to plan and so on. As all the family was involved and they all were able to add in their comments and questions we were able to develop a good plan with multiple contingencies. As events turned out that worked very well, as we went from Plan A to Plan B and Plan C and evacuation very quickly. There was no confusion as we had already mapped out what we would do and followed the plan as we reacted to the changing conditions.
          We are doing the same with the Corona Virus and economic restrictions that are designed to reduce the spread of infection.
          In this case we had to cover quite a wide range of information, firstly about what the virus is and how it spreads and then the economic impact.

          Corona Virus (COVID-19, also know as the 'Rona)

          This is like the flu and spreads in a similar manner but has potentially deadly results, especially for people with pre-existing conditions. The sanitation and social distancing rules will help with any flu and should help to reduce transmission. One of the biggest problems that is being observed overseas is that up to half of those with the virus show no symptoms (asymptomatic) and we are only testing those that show symptoms. It is early days yet and no-one knows the full extent of infection, illness, death and recovery rates or anything as all the numbers are incomplete or polluted or made up (in some countries). All we know is that this can be deadly, especially for older people and those with other conditions, and is virulent. So we do our bit to keep everything and everyone as clean as possible and reduce places and means of transmission.

          Economic and family impact from the Restrictions

          The more immediate impact for us is the change in the economy. A great number of people are now unemployed. Most businesses are at risk of closing and many will never return after the end of the restrictions. My consulting business income is down 75% and the store is down 20% so far. As a family this means changes and we have discussed the impact. Our expenses are also down and our home running costs are very reasonable.
          There are no more family outings which makes the loss of the family van less of an impact.
          Luckily we are in Wingello, which makes staying at home much less of a drama than it is in places with a higher density of people. We can go for walks, do gardening and have space to do so much more. The store is a safe place to visit with our various measures in place and with delivery no-one here needs to be isolated.

          Re-connect your family

          In past times (i.e. 3 weeks ago) life was much busier and everyone in the household was going here and there and doing this and that. If you added up the actual time the whole family was in the house at the same time and not forced to do something else like homework or other work, it wasn't a lot of contact time. Now is the time to re-connect and get to know each other better. We are finding dinner time discussions - whether on more serious topics or just the normal wide ranging discussions - are an excellent way for the whole family to connect. The younger children listen in and often pop in a question or comment which adds to the conversation. Sometimes the comment is silly, but still funny and adds to the enjoyment of family time.

          So, don't waste this time. If we are forced to slow down, take advantage of the opportunity and do what you have always been meaning to do.


          03 April, 2020

          Wingello Village News - April 2020

          The Wingello Village News is here for April 2020.
          See this month's  Wingello Village News.
          This is the 134th monthly newsletter.

          Highlights:
          What's happening this month:
          • Stay home - and home is Wingello.
          • School news
          • Fire Brigade weekly meetings cancelled, but they are still responding to the call.
          We have also published lots of articles this month regarding Wingello's response to the virus:
          How we are handling the restrictions at the store
          2020 - Together we will win

          Enjoy!

          30 March, 2020

          How we are handling the Coronvirus Restriction - 30 March 2020

          We can do this!
          The latest restrictions to restrain the spread of Corona Virus (COVID-19) - also know as "The 'Rona" have been announced by the Prime Minister yesterday evening. We have also been paying attention to our customers and the Health Department to make sure we employ the best practices to continue to provide the best service we can to our village.

          We are an Essential Service

          Firstly, we will continue operating for the duration of these challenging times. The Wingello Village Store is an essential service in six different ways:

          • Post Office
          • Banking
          • Fuel (Unleaded 91)
          • Newspapers
          • Groceries
          • Food (Take Away only now)

          Corona Virus Safety Measures

          All of us are very conscious and practice the proper food and work safety, with all managers qualified as Food Safety Supervisors. Added to this are a number of new health based procedures as recommended by the Australian and NSW Health Departments.
          Hop this way and go out that way.

          1. Social Distancing. We have lovely stickers placed on the floor at 1.5m (5 ft) intervals. You can come in one way along the main benches and exit around the central bench area past the groceries to exit. We have plenty of space inside to accomodate customers using the 4m2 rule too.
          2. Cleaning - we regularly clean and wipe down all surfaces, door handles and other areas commonly touched by customers.
          3. Cash - we still accept cash. But to reduce risk, we have a dedicated person handling cash and post who does not handle coffee or food. All cash is placed in a small container between the customer and the cashier to reduce risk of inadvertent contact.
          4. All staff are now from our household. The reduction in business and general safety has meant we have had to lay off Becky for the duration. The only exposure we have to non locals is the once a week magical mystery shopping trip by us as we go to multiple supermarkets in Mittagong, Bowral and Moss Vale doing our Noah's Ark shopping (2 of this, 2 of that and so on) until we can meet our requirements.
          5. Closed front door - We cannot have the front door open as there is too much wind and dust from the train line which will affect our food safety and quality. The door pushes in, so feel free to back in or use your shoulder. On the way out use your hand or roll down your sleeve. We do wipe down the door handles very often.
          6. If you have any flu-like symptoms - Don't come in! Stay home and we can come to you.

          Trading Hours

          We have changed our trading hours. We will now be operating from 8am to 3pm every day. The hours after 3pm on weekdays have not been generating sufficient income to justify the wages. Much of our business is derived from Truckies, Tourists and Tradies. All three groups are now greatly reduced as most people move into isolation and are no longer travelling. We will continue to offer services so long as our patronage continues. This will be reviewed in the coming weeks.

          Deliveries

          So called "Single Use" bags are fashionable again
          We can do deliveries. If within bike riding distance Martin, Rose or Clare will deliver by bicycle, or if further we will use the car.
          The best way is to open an account with us and make a deposit. Then when you require anything we can put it against this account and bring out your order.
          We will use new so called "Single Use" plastic bags for your orders. These bags can then be used as rubbish bags like we all used to do.
          The order will be placed just outside your door, then we'll knock or use the bell to let you know we're there.
          We cannot deliver just your mail as we are not allowed as part of our Australia Post agreement. However, if you buy something else (milk, eggs, bread, newspapers, lollies food, etc) we will bring along the mail with us.
          On your bike, Martin!
          The important thing is that even though you are isolated - either by choice or direction - you do not have to be trapped. We can provide you with necessities and if there is something you need, we can do our best to pick it up when we go shopping.
          Contact us by Email, Telephone or Messenger.

          So there you go.
          That's our current plan - until things change again!
          Remember - you're not alone in Wingello.

          28 March, 2020

          2020 - Together we will win

          2020 is the year we get to face more than one existential crisis.
          (Existential Crisis means threat to our existence or basis for our way of life)
          We faced the fires together

          We Survived the Fires

          In December we had the looming threat of fire hanging over our heads. We had seen it ravage many other places throughout New South Wales and other States and as the month progressed, the fires were approaching from North East and South West. Then on New Year's Eve we had the preview and warning where thick smoke and some ash blanketed our village. (Here is an overview of what we faced then.)
          Then on 4 January the fire leapt across the Shoalhaven Gorge and slammed behind our village with full force and it was on for young and old. Through incredible bravery and fortitude our village fought and defended Wingello, losing some houses and many fences, sheds and yards, but no loss of life or injuries. (Our share of this fight is here)
          Then to continue the Miracle of Wingello our little village came together strong and worked to rebuild and support each other wherever we could.
          January was then a period of rebuilding amidst the constant threat of more fire attacks. The following Saturday 11 January was another close thing where the fire began advancing on four different fronts until the forecast heavy winds ended up being much gentler and stopped the fire fronts with a "Not today" breeze pushing the fire back on itself. The rest of the month was a series of ominous hot days, winds and controlled hazard reductions around Wingello and Penrose until finally we had the downpours of rain in February and the fire threat was lifted.

          Armed against the Corona Virus

          We will Survive the Virus

          The current situation with the threat of an invisible enemy, Corona Virus or COVID-19, is similar. Once more we are threatened with an enemy which can change our existence. We are following the recommended defence guidelines (as we did with the RFS Fire guidelines) through:

          • Isolation
          • Social Distancing
          • Frequent hand washing
          • Cleaning of all shared surfaces regularly

          Our normal way of life is changed and we chafe under the restrictions. We can't see friends, attend church, birthdays, funerals or weddings.
          But we have already been through one crisis and can see that together we can get through this one. We now know our neighbours and have faced a common enemy, the fires. We have seen that despite some differences they are quite small compared to the more important fight we face.
          Now that we know our neighbours and fellow villagers we are seeing so many acts of generosity and fellowship. Hearing someone is in need of that rare treasure, toilet paper, many of us are sharing. If our elderly neighbours are in self isolation, we are keeping contact.

          Local Businesses Really Are Local

          Suddenly the rest of the world is discovering the resilience of the smaller local businesses, those that have a stake in their location. They are the ones that provide sponsorship and support and attend local events. The big companies talk of doing the right thing even while they underpay their employees and suppliers, buy up all supplies so smaller competitors cannot get a look in, and then proudly proclaim their caring nature.
          Keeping up our spirits
          Small and medium businesses provide the bulk of employment in Australia - much more than the large corporations. Those large corporations which get so much support from the government have been shedding staff and reducing core services for quite some time. This government mandated short term cessation of the bulk of the economy affects all businesses and is throwing many many people out of work.
          The NSW "support" package is ALL aimed at larger companies. Most small and medium businesses are not paying Payroll tax.
          You can make a difference by supporting all the small businesses that are still operating. They are employing people and supporting their local communities too. The money they make goes right back to the locals and your neighbours.

          Support Each Other

          Most of us - just add Ariel and James
          By supporting each other as individuals we can make a huge difference. We have seen so many individual acts of kindness and support following the fires that we know that same supportive nature in Australia will triumph during these challenging times.
          Make sure your isolated neighbour is OK. Offer to get some groceries for them. You can still converse with each other from over 1.5m (5 feet) distance.
          Together we will get through this challenge. Our great response to the Fires show us that.



          25 March, 2020

          How we are handling the Coronvirus Restriction - 24 March 2020

          Cleaning, distance and safety
          The Prime Minister announced a new round of restrictions we are to follow in an attempt to contain the spread of the Corona Virus (COVID-19).
          Basically everywhere that groups gather has been cancelled. The key line is "Stay at home unless for Groceries, Exercise, Medical needs, Care/Support, Work that cannot be done from home."

          At the Wingello Village Store we continue to supply essential services of:

          • Post Office
          • Banking
          • Groceries (Bread, Milk, basic supplies)
          • Newsagency
          • Take Away food


          The latest directive by press release
          To make sure everyone remains safe under the NSW Health recommend protocols we are:

          • Wiping down all surfaces on a regular basis
          • Dedicated person handling cash and mail.
          • Crosses on floor to mark 1.5m (5 feet) distance (Social Distancing)
          • Anyone with flu symptoms is not permitted in the store.

          This means the outside dining areas are closed.
          You can contact us by

          • Phone (02 4884 4340) or 
          • Email (wingello@gmail.com) or 
          • Messenger @TheWingelloVillageStore


          If you have a Post Office Box here, you can sign up for Mail2Day which means you will get an email letting you know you have mail in your PO Box. It is a free service.
          We still have a few small PO Boxes available. If you hand in the application form here, we can arrange a reduced fee rate of only $40 a year plus a $20 establishment fee. Don't apply online or you will be charged the full rate of $135 plus $20!

          We have regular deliveries of bread, milk, meat, eggs and other supplies.
          You can order from Marulan Meats and they deliver here on Wednesday and Friday.
          If you want to ensure bread, let us know by 1pm on Sunday, Tuesday or Thursday as Bryants delivers to us on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

          We can continue to support you so long as everyone supports us. That way everyone wins in these challenging times.

          19 March, 2020

          Rolled but not Defeated!

          At rest after a flip and a half
          On Tuesday 17 March, Lana was driving back from Albury with Sebastian and we were expecting their return around 6 or so. Then I received a phone call from Sebastian at 4pm telling me they had been in an accident and Lana was bleeding but there were emergency people in attendance.
          I immediately left and met them at Wagga Wagga Base Hospital around 7pm.
          What had happened was Lana had a micro sleep and started swerving. Overreacting when trying to correct the drift, the van lost control and spun around 180 degrees now facing South. However, the momentum of the van moving a 110kph (70 mph) meant the van went sliding sideways through the median strip until it came to the upwards slope on the inner side of the South bound lanes. The van then flipped in the air, slamming down on the drivers side. Lana hit her head against the collapsing driver door, smashing her glasses and getting an impact cut on her head. The van then flipped another 180 degrees to land on the passenger side and slid across the road to end up on the far side of the South bound road.
          Once the van had stopped Lana was hanging in the air kept secure by her seatbelt. She looked down at Sebastian and saw blood was dripping on him from her head. She put a hand up to stop the bleeding but the blood didn't stop. Sebastian passed up some serviettes which didn't do much to stop the blood. Head wounds are notorious for profuse bleeding.
          On the busy Hume Highway no other cars or trucks were involved.
          My first view of Lana
          However within moments a truck driver, nurse, doctor and fire brigade fellow who all happened to be passing by, stopped and gave assistance.
          The truckie was first and helped pull out the smashed front windscreen, letting Sebastian escape.
          Once he was out, Lana undid her seat belt and fell to the passenger seat and crawled out the broken front window.
          By now the nurse was on hand and quickly lay Lana down and examined her. The nurse kept telling Lana not to go to sleep and asked her all the standard concussion questions. The doctor checked Lana's progress and the Truckie and Fire Brigade guy checked the car for any potential fire damage.
          Police and Ambulance arrived shortly thereafter. Lana heard one of the Ambulance fellows comment hat Sebastian was really cool reporting what had happened on the phone to me. He did very well remaining calm in an emergency.
          The paramedics offered for Sebastian to go in a separate ambulance, but he diplomatically requested to go in the same ambulance as Lana. Sebastian looked pretty horrid covered in blood that wasn't his. His main injury was a cut in his finger which ended up requiring 3 stitches and a number of minor bruises and cuts.
          The van at the wreckers
          I arrived at Wagga Wagga Base Hospital and tracked down Lana. My first view was seeing her lying on the emergency bed with head bandaged, blood everywhere and a neck brace that stopped her moving her head. But she smiled when she saw me which was a great sign.
          After much poking and prodding and tests the doctors discovered no bones broken, no sprains or spinal injuries. She had a small cut near her eye and eye brow caused by her glasses disintegrating when the van smashed into the ground the first time.
          The cut on her head was pretty ugly, but after a lot of cleaning away of dried blood and a good shower, they checked and there were no foreign bodies in the cut and were able to glue all the edges back together.
          Crushed but still roughly in shape
          Lana has lots of bruises and a sore head, but is otherwise OK.
          So what have we learned?
          The remains of Lana's glasses

          • When you feel tired, pull over!
          • Modern vehicles are really quite safe. Even though the Ford Transit Van is 13 years old, it was still designed well enough to retain basic body shape despite a roll or two.
          • Seat Belts save lives!
          • The generosity of strangers is once again refreshing to see. All the immediate passers-by stopped and rendered assistance.
          • First responders are once again excellent. Ambulance and Police were on the scene very quickly.
          • Wagga Wagga Base Hospital is amazing. Everyone we dealt with was friendly and supportive. They let me wander from bed to bed as I first saw Lana and then went to make sure Sebastian was doing OK and then back again. Many times!
          • It is really good having supportive family. Once the "Go" button was pressed we all went into action. I drove down, Peter covered for me wth clients, the others moved around shifts and organised dinner and all the normal things Lana or I would have done. Then when James had to come down the second day to help collect all the stuff that was in the van, we moved all the work shifts at the shop. 
          So now, we have to plan for a new family van with 12 seats in a few months or so once the insurance money comes in and we save the difference. All in all, a rather good ending to what could have been much much worse.
          2020 - so far so good.

          15 March, 2020

          Wingello and the Coronavirus

          We will clean everything!
          The Coronavirus (officially called COVID-19) is increasing its spread through Sydney and other areas of Australia, with 134 confirmed cases in NSW alone. (Up 22 today - 15 March)
          Australia has 249 cases and 3 deaths.

          This is NOT just another flu. It is spreading fast and based on the experience in other countries can have serious repercussions for up to 20% of those getting infected, including death (1% to 4%) and permanent loss of lung capacity. Australia has excellent medical facilities but we want to ensure we do not overload them. To do that we need to limit the infection rate and spread of the virus.
          That is why we are getting increasing levels of containment and mitigation attempts. No static events for 500+ people, self isolation of all people returning from overseas and more.

          What are we doing in Wingello?

          We want to make sure the people of Wingello are able to continue life and minimise the chances of getting the coronavirus.
          The store is well designed with plenty of space and area in which to move. We are continuing the cleaning of all benches and handles and areas people would touch throughout the day.
          If you are sick or in self isolation, stay home. Call us and we will deliver your mail and any supplies you may need.
          As a full Post Office we have banking facilities for most banks - deposits, withdrawals and so on. No need to go to Moss Vale or Bowral.
          If you need something and can't get out, let us know. We can add some things to our shopping list as we replenish each week. Woolworths Online delivers to Wingello too. (https://www.woolworths.com.au)
          We are working with our local suppliers to ensure deliveries and supplies continue through whatever occurs. We have also minimised our contact with others - also known as Social Distancing - to minimise the chance of spreading the virus. No hand shaking. Just the classic Wingello Nod and "G'day".
          Popping in to the shop for something to eat is also easy as we have lots of places all separated so you can maintain the recommended distance of 1 metre between groups. So this means Social Distancing does not mean isolation.
          We have learned from the fires in January that Wingello has a great community and we can work together to get through anything. We are still rebuilding from the fires and being in self isolation does not mean staying indoors. Going for a walk in the lovely fresh Wingello air and working in the garden are both great ways to get the most out of this forced holiday.

          Some important reading matter:
          Australian Health
          NSW Health
          Coronavirus: Why you must act now


          01 March, 2020

          Wingello Village News - March 2020

          The Wingello Village News is here for March 2020.
          See this month's  Wingello Village News.
          This is the 133rd monthly newsletter.

          Highlights:
          What's happening this month:
          • Lots of help, both financial and volunteers, for us to access
          • The fire brigade is getting lots of new members. Come on down.
          We have also published lots of articles this month regarding the fires:
          Councils encourages Fiery fingers of death through the village
          Wingello Fire 4 Weeks on (with high altitude drone footage of the village)
          In case of fire - put your gear in a good place

          Enjoy!

          16 February, 2020

          In Case of Fire

          Not to be put too far away in the Bushfire Season
          Now that we have had such lovely rain and all the fires near us are out, it is timely to remember we are still in the Bushfire Season until end of March. So with all the practical experience we have had this year, we have created our special "In Case Of Fire" box which we will put somewhere safe in case of need.
          We have learned that these items are very important if we intend to stay and defend, but also the fire may come without much warning.
          In addition to this box we will also need:

          • a non flammable hat or helmet
          • Woollen or Cotton clothing covering all areas of skin
          • Good non-flammable/non-melting closed shoes or boots
          • Batteries for torches and lights
          • First Aid kit that is appropriately stocked

          What's in the box?


          • Smoke Masks - P2 rated or higher. These are disposable and you should have more than one per person. Enclose them in a plastic bag to make sure they remain fresh and ready for use.
          • Safety Goggles - enclosed so that smoke won't get in your eyes. When the fires are nearby, the smoke is very thick and your eyes are instantly irritated. Keep some eye drops in your medical/first aid cabinet.
          • High Visibility Vests - these are important so others can see you better. This is because you should not fight fires alone!
          • Gloves - leather or otherwise flame proof. Embers and branches will be hot and you want to protect yourself.
          • Glow Sticks - We used these to place around the ends of hoses and other important fire fighting gear. When the flames are close and embers are thick it is almost like daylight at times, but when it is dark and you need to find the hose or bucket, glow sticks work well. Don't use red or orange as these are confusing!
          • Lights - Headlights were very useful so wherever you looked you had better light. A good torch also helped for longer ranges.

          Bushfire Survival Plan

          The other really important thing to have is a Fire Plan. Discuss your plan with the whole household and review it together. We did this a number of times before the fire and it meant when the call was made to retreat, we all knew where to go and what to do. In times of danger and uncertainty, a well understood plan can make all the difference between safety and tragedy.

          11 February, 2020

          Council Encourages Fiery Fingers of Death

          As we review the damage caused by the fires that swept into Wingello on Saturday 4th January, we can see the impact of decisions taken over the preceding years.
          The fiery fingers of death raged along the
          Council's unmaintained roadsides

          The RFS Information Is Excellent

          The Rural Fire Service has provided a wealth of information to the community including:

          • Annual Open Days - everyone is encouraged to pop into the fire shed for a free BBQ, jumping castle for the children and plenty of information about how fire can affect the village. Our local Firies are on hand to provide any assistance and information.
          • Annual Information Day in the Wingello Village Hall. There is a presentation showing the history of fires and the specific impact fire has had on the village, especially the 1965 and 1998 fires. There are plenty of maps and photos letting everyone know how fire has hit Wingello hard in the past.
          • Fire Plan kits - these are available from the fire station and at the Wingello Village Store. It contains lots of essential information about preparing your home and property, appropriate protective gear and equipment and plenty of information so everyone in Wingello can make an informed plan about how they will act when a fire approaches and hits.

          This has been of immense help and the availability of the Wingello Rural Fire Brigade when anyone had a question has been superb. There is really no excuse for a Wingello resident to not know what to do in case of fire.
          This was a prelude on New Year's Eve

          Local Preparedness was OK

          You can see the effectiveness by the number of houses that were prepared in accordance with the RFS information bulletins. This ramped up after the preview we had on New Year's eve when the town filled with heavy smoke and the threat of fire was just on the other side of the Shoalhaven Gorge.
          When the threat warning for the 4th January arrived, a much greater proportion of the village activated their fire plan and relocated for the night. Those left were better prepared to face the expected ember attack with appropriate masks, goggles and protective gear.
          We did not know that the fire had a new attack plan.
          These posts describe some glimpses of the defence of Wingello that night:
          Our Slice of the Fight for Wingello
          Not on my Watch!
          Dogged Defence
          The village's defences could have been better in a number of instances, but for all we could do we had one limiting factor.

          Wingecarribee Shire Council is Culpably Negligent

          At this point we can see what we as a village did on the night and beforehand.
          However, as we look at the drone footage and get a better look at what the fire actually did on the night, we can see the impact of many decisions that were out of our control.
          The Wingecarribee Shire Council knows we are in a high fire risk Shire. We know because they put lots of conditions and charges on anyone building here.
          Do you have a plan?
          Yet, while they are very quick to put restrictions and conditions on residents, they have done very little on their side to prepare. When the fires struck, they had NO plan as to what they should do once fires struck. The Shire has had fires many times over the years and we are firmly encouraged to have a fire plan, yet the council had NONE.
          To use an analogy, consider what a responsible person does that needs a car for work. You ensure that you maintain the car, you put aside an emergency fund in case something serious happens to the car and you have a plan in case the car breaks down. That is what a responsible person does.
          Yet, our council, whilst knowing we are in a high fire risk area and we have had bushfires hit in the past had NO plan, NO reserves and NO idea what to do.
          Our first exposure to the Council's poor response was when we started receiving lots of donations of food and clothing for those in the village that had lost so much. The Council made us fight to be able to use the hall. Once we gained access to the hall, we were able to distribute the donations - and even more importantly - use the opportunity to connect with fellow villagers and discuss each other's experiences on the night and subsequent days. The added stress of fighting for access did not help.
          Then as we looked at the drone footage of the village taken four weeks after the fire (Wingello Fire - 4 Weeks On) we realised the second part of the problem.
          The Council's policies had made the village extremely vulnerable to fire, despite our best efforts at preparation. When you look at the overhead footage, you can see the fire rushing into the village like fingers of fiery death straight into the heart of the village. The fire embraced the unmaintained roadside verge greedily spreading the fire onwards and then attacked the neighbouring homes.
          In the last few years the council has put in specific policies that contribute to their culpable negligence and effectively attempted to make Wingello a fiery death trap.
          Is this really an accidental policy decision?

          1. In the past, Wingello residents cleaned up the roadside verges, using the continual dropped branches and so on for firewood for our wood heaters. This is now forbidden unless a permit is given. Yet the Council will not do the required maintenance themselves. The amount of fuel that is in front of each resident's home is fearful.
          2. Back yard burning of excess plant matter has been a traditional method of keeping our properties clean. This was banned unless the property was over 1 acre, which meant the majority of the village was not allowed to do back yard burns. The fortnightly green bins are insufficient for the plant matter that is generated by the amount of trees in the village. Otherwise we are recommended to take the waste to the recycling centre - for a fee - 50 km away.
          3. Fighting to clear away trees on our property is expensive. $100 for the first tree and $50 for each additional tree just for the application. Then the council arborist visits and while taking no personal or corporate responsibility for the impact if a tree falls or causes damage, dictates whether the tree can be removed, or trimmed or must stay. If you wish to complain, land owners must take the council to court. Although this council always complains about lack of money, there always seems to be enough money for legal actions.

          This is our exit route.
          We are extremely fortunate to have such effective local Rural Fire Brigades in Wingello and Penrose. When trees fall, the brigades are very quick to clean up the trees so access can be maintained. Unfortunately, the council insists fallen branches be placed in a fuel pile next to the road. They have banned us from using the downed trees and branches yet will not step in and do the necessary maintenance themselves.
          All this information has been provided to the Wingecarribee Shire Council councillors and General Manager weeks ago. Other than talk, we are still in the same situation, but with the added burden of over 250 trees that are fire damaged inside the village.
          But, they tell us, It's OK. The Council is on it.



          02 February, 2020

          Wingello Fire - 4 weeks on

          That's a lot of burnt trees

          You can see how the fire raced into Wingello
          In order to reflect on Wingello four weeks after the fire raced through on 4 January, I was able to get some drone footage of the village from a good friend. This was taken on Wednesday 29th January and nothing has changed since then. I have loaded the higher quality photos here so you can click them to see the larger versions.
          Looking at the extent of burned trees and their pincer like thrusts in to the village I am more convinced than ever that naming this "The Miracle of Wingello" is pretty accurate.
          The people of Wingello are doing their best to recover from the night of fire. Those who have lost houses are understandably keeping to themselves as they work through all their options and plans for the coming months and years. Many in the village have been doing their best to give them all the help they can.
          Those who lost almost everything except for their houses are also finding things difficult.
          A lot of assistance is either means tested or depends on you losing the house. Others have quite a few hoops or conditions.
          Thankfully, St Vincent De Paul Society and The Lions Club have been very helpful with great person to person financial assistance, and other local people based charities are also stepping in to help with practical support.
          In the coming months, especially once the rains return, we have offers of help from many people to provide the labour we need to rebuild and replant and revitalise Wingello.
          Have a good look at these photos to see what a close call we had on 4 January.

          01 February, 2020

          Wingello Village News - February 2020

          The Wingello Village News is here for February 2020.
          See this month's  Wingello Village News.
          This is the 132nd monthly newsletter.

          Highlights:
          What's happening this month:
          • The bushfires hit Wingello hard from the South - a historically new direction. We survived and will rebuild.
          • The Fire Brigade have been VERY busy and the fire season isn't over yet.
          • A Wingello Community Meeting on Saturday 22 February
          We have also published lots of articles this month regarding the fires:
          A preview of the risk we faced from 2 January
          A summary of our slice of the fight for Wingello
          Our Firies defence of Wingello - Not on my watch!
          Our neighbours dramatic defence of homes
          Wingello's own Fire Relief Fund
          Remembering that the fire has not just a physical toll
          A tribute to the incredible community spirit of Wingello

          Enjoy!

          16 January, 2020

          Wingello - It's What We Do

          On the night of the fire and over the ten days since, so many people in Wingello have gone above and beyond in helping their fellow villager. I have pointed out a few on the store's Facebook page, but the trend is clear. We have a great group of people that call Wingello home.
          But there is one thing in common. None of them like being thanked, especially in public.
          When we approached our neighbours and thanked them, they shrugged and said, "That's just what we do." (More about their efforts here)
          The Firies in action (Stylised)
          The Firies who did a heroic effort holding the fire at the Railway Line and then saving more houses in the almost continuous mopping up operation, also get embarrassed at the praise and say, "It's just what we do." (A snippet of their massive efforts are here)
          The villagers with heavy equipment that instantly went to work helping the Fire Brigade clear up dangerous trees and areas to make it safe for us to return wouldn't accept thanks, saying "We didn't do anything special, it's just what we do."
          Someone needs to be there with all these gifts
          The various ladies who stepped right into the middle and assisted with distribution of all the donated goods, fought with council to use the hall and stayed around to provide a shared conversation with fellow villagers who have all been impacted by the fire argued, "What did we do? It wasn't much. It's just what we do."
          To the ladies who instantly went into action and helped co-ordinate emergency and long term accomodation for those who had lost their homes, they also answered that what they did wasn't worth thanking, "It's just what we do."
          To Snax On Trax (I'm mentioning them!) - whose livelihood has been hit hard as so many events to which they provide great coffee and catering have been cancelled - didn't worry about that. They leaped into action and began feeding the host of RFS and other volunteers who were cleaning up the town. They didn't get to see their home much until after they had fed everyone and provided the very important coffee! But when we try and thank them we get the same answer, "Don't be silly, it's what we do."
          Back in business!
          I was getting pretty upset at all this humble service to the community but I realised that when so many people thanked us for the live posting and information we provided and the help we organised, we also brushed the thanks aside and replied, "It wasn't anything important. It's just what we do."
          I can certainly confirm that the traditional notion of the quiet achiever and the can-do attitude that Australia is famous for has not been lost. It looks like it is instilled in us. In times of danger and tragedy, all of our past differences get placed into perspective.
          Residents of Wingello, and neighbouring villages of Penrose and Tallong who have had the borderline fires and continual threats of worse, are really brothers in arms, facing and having faced a common enemy, Fire.
          And helping each other get through this? It's just what we do.