31 December, 2020

Wingello Village News - January 2021

The Wingello Village News is here for January 2021.
Happy New Year. It's great seeing great clouds filled with moisture and not smoke!

See this month's  Wingello Village News.
This is the 143rd monthly newsletter.

What's happening this month:
  • We remember the dramatic events on 4 January 2020 when out of control bush fires swept through Wingello.
      Lastly, don't forget our weekday store opening times:
      We open at 7:30am and close at 4:00pm.

      Other articles published during the month:


      21 December, 2020

      Wingello Business College


      Over the last almost 12 years we have been helping young people obtain suitable qualifications for a great start to their working lives. Our staff have completed 13 certificate or diploma level qualifications in that time and now Sebastian and Rose are working on their Level III Certificates in Retail.

      A Level III Certificate is a higher qualification than HSC and can be used as a pre-requisite to get into university as two of our staff have done.

      The work based traineeships are part of the official apprentice/trainee programs supported by various levels of government support over the years. The employer and trainee sign agreements with the Apprenticeships organisation and an approved Registered Training Organisation (RTO) and the Certificate III normally takes about 12 to 24 months to complete. All the units are assessed and every couple of months the RTO visits and goes through the completed units and assigns the next ones.

      The work we do at the store is quite broad - retail, post office, restaurant and cafe - and covers all the important areas of food and workplace health and safety, marketing, presentation, basic accounting and business skills, customer service and more. This makes the training very practical and both us and the employee benefit by combining the theory and practice.

      As all our full time staff have previously completed their studies, they are able to assist the latest trainees with their turn.

      06 December, 2020

      Wingello Village News December 2020

      The Wingello Village News is here for December 2020.
      See this month's  Wingello Village News.
      This is the 142nd monthly newsletter.

      What's happening this month:
      • Council still hasn't learned that dead trees burn
      • Be ready for memories of the fires to pop up
      • Concert was great
      • Fire Brigade very busy with fallen trees
      • Father Christmas will be back on Christmas Eve.
          Lastly, don't forget our weekday store opening times:
          We open at 7:30am and close at 4:00pm.


          01 November, 2020

          Wingello Village News - November 2020

          The Wingello Village News is here for November 2020.
          See this month's  Wingello Village News.
          This is the 141st monthly newsletter.

          What's happening this month:
          • Rain and Sun make for a great Spring
          • Cicadas and Magpies are out
          • Dead Burnt Pine trees are disappearing. Yay!
          • Parcels, Parcels, Parcels - getting ready for Christmas
          • Wingello Public School news
          • Fire Brigade is getting ready for Summer.
              Lastly, don't forget our new weekday store opening times:
              We open at 7:30am and close at 4:00pm.


              04 October, 2020

              Wingello Village News - October 2020

              The Wingello Village News is here for October 2020.
              See this month's  Wingello Village News.
              This is the 140th monthly newsletter.

              What's happening this month:
              • Say G'day. It's an Australian thing.
              • Snap Send Solve  is working. Report all clean up tasks to our Council
              • Wingello Public School news
              • Fire Brigade is providing plenty of great information for villagers about home preparation.
                  Lastly, don't forget our new weekday store opening times:
                  We open at 7:30am and close at 4:00pm.

                  Additional news this month:


                  16 September, 2020

                  Graffiti is NOT a victimless crime


                  On late Sunday night/Monday morning vandals struck Wingello and sprayed or painted Graffiti on most public buildings and signs. The train station, bus shelters, fire station, park signs, village hall and Wingello Village Store were hit. It appears as if the work was interrupted when they reached the store as we only had a few dots showing they started but then left.

                  This is the first time in memory Wingello has been hit with this type of vandalism and is is important to understand the impact this has.

                  One would have thought in this time of COVID-19 the vandals would have stayed home and "tagged" or sprayed graffiti on their own homes!

                  We take justifiable pride in the visual beauty of our little village. In January we were hit with devastating fires which destroyed a dozen homes and many properties. The villagers have spent the last nine months clearing, rebuilding and regrowing getting a semblance of normality back in our lives as we prepare for the new upcoming bushfire season.
                  A bright spot was the great result that all our public buildings were spared any damage from the ravaging fires. Until now.
                  It is difficult to understand the reasons for people that spray rubbish on public spaces. There is no artistic value, no statement of belief, just an infantile scribble saying "I was here!"
                  It's a bit like a toddler discovering that markers work really well on the walls in the hallway at home. There is similar artistic ability and a similar respect for simple beauty. But toddlers have an excuse. They have not learnt the proper boundaries for living in civilisation.
                  Somehow these vandals missed on those important life lessons as toddlers and don't seem to have advanced in their understanding since then. 
                  But I hear people say, "It is just youth expressing themselves. Nothing was broken. We can't be too hard on these young people."
                  Now that is the problem right there.
                  Graffiti is NOT a victimless crime.
                  Leaving it on display basically lets everyone know we don't care about our surroundings. Why bother cleaning up the rubbish or repairing broken windows or fences if we can't maintain them ourselves. How can we get the council, or railways or any other public bodies to invest time and effort if we don't care about our village?
                  So to bring our village back to where we can enjoy the visual simplicity of our amenities, resources and costs have to be diverted to undo the visual damage.
                  The Village Store already cleared up their damage after spending money on anti-graffiti spray and time to apply the solution. The same for the fire brigade who would rather be preparing for more important things like training the fine batch of volunteers that have just joined the brigade.
                  The Council now has to clean up the hall and park and the Railway maintenance crews have to divert resources to clean up the marvellously restored and maintained historical railway station.
                  These costs and resources have meant other activities are delayed or costs are increased.
                  We are very fortunate that our village has such a good group of residents who care about Wingello. They are not impressed by the insult imposed on the village and hope that the lovely video footage of the vandals and all the evidence they left behind can assist the Police catching up with the fools. 
                  But we are resilient after surviving the fires, working together through the challenges of the COVID-19 impact and are getting ready for whatever life throws at us. 
                  It is great being able to call a place like Wingello "Home".

                  31 August, 2020

                  Wingello Village News September 2020

                  The Wingello Village News is here for September 2020.
                  See this month's  Wingello Village News.
                  This is the 139th monthly newsletter.

                  What's happening this month:
                  • Everyone is cleaning up and preparing for Summer. Are you?
                  • Get Snap Send Solve and report all clean up tasks to our Council
                  • Wingello Public School news
                  • Fire Brigade is providing plenty of great information for villagers about home preparation.
                      Lastly, don't forget our new weekday store opening times:
                      We open at 7:30am and close at 4:00pm.


                      01 August, 2020

                      Wingello Village News August 2020

                      The Wingello Village News is here for August 2020.
                      See this month's  Wingello Village News.
                      This is the 138th monthly newsletter.

                      What's happening this month:
                      • Apply for Bushfire support before it's too late
                      • Wingello Bush Fire Relief fund is open
                      • Store Open until 7:00pm on Fridays
                      • Wingello Public School news
                      • Wingello Village Association activities
                      • The Stonemason's Trail is open
                      • Fire Brigade is training lots of new volunteers
                          Coronavirus is still with us and we are taking appropriate precautions:

                          Keeping COVID Safe in Wingello
                          All about The Stonemason's Trail

                          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 end the week with some yummy food from the store.


                          25 July, 2020

                          Keeping COVID Safe in Wingello

                          We're still ready
                          The latest rules from NSW Health have been posted on their web site which means we need to add a little bit to our already COVID-19 Safe procedures. We understand that the best ways to slow or stop the spread of the virus (and even the common flu) is to maintain distance, wash hands and clean surfaces regularly. We have been doing these common sense processes since March.
                          Here are all the steps we are doing at the Wingello Store in line with NSW Health rules:
                          • The floor stickers are back. These let you know how far 1.5m (5 feet) is. There is plenty of room in the store to keep a safe distance, but still catch up with local news.
                          • All customers dining in need to fill in the COVID-19 contact sheet. This is maintained for each day and will only be used IF there is a confirmed case of COVID-19 in the store. At present there are NO known COVID-19 cases in our postcode 2579 (Bundanoon through to Marulan). Each person needs to write their name and contact number. Take-away or general customers do not need to sign in.
                          Contact list right next to the hand sanitiser
                          • Hand Sanitiser is available for all customers and visitors on the main counter and the Post Office bench. Most of this has been provided by Australia Post as part of their ongoing efforts to keep staff and customers safe.
                          • There is much greater than 1.5m (5 feet) distance between tables inside and outside the store. The central bench has no chairs, but it does serve as a good physical distancing device.
                          • Groups dining in can be no larger than 10 people.
                          • NSW Health asks for one dedicated COVID-19 Safety Marshall. ALL our staff are trained in what is required and we all will be ensuring that safe procedures are being followed, tables and menus are cleaned and sanitised and so on.
                          • Under the 4m2 rule, we can have 20 people inside and 20 or more outside. Also, most of our eating areas are separated making our store even better.
                          • We registered as a COVID Safe business 2 weeks ago.
                          • Menus are provided by us at the main counter. When returned they are cleaned and sanitized.
                          • Salt, pepper, sugar, sauces and other condiments are provided as required and once returned are cleaned. The tables are pretty boring now.
                          We continue to take our responsibility as the Post Office and Village Store seriously and always work to ensure the safety of all our staff and customers, not only in regards to the current virus, but also food and work safety.
                          Thank you to everyone for your great support!

                          18 July, 2020

                          The Stonemason's Trail

                          Since 2004 Ken McDonald has been creating artistic features throughout the Southern villages of the Southern Highlands in NSW. From solid pieces of local Sandstone Ken has shown his ability to draw out incredible images of local flora and fauna.
                          In July 2020 we have created The Stonemason's Trail for visitors to the Southern Highlands to experience these sandstone pieces of art up close.
                          Take your time and enjoy the lovely scenery as you explore the local animals and plants immortalised in sandstone starting in Wingello, through Penrose and ending in Bundanoon (in reverse works too).

                          Kenneth the Cockatoo

                          1. Kenneth the Cockatoo

                          Wingello Village Store

                          WingelloVillage Store hosts the largest carving of the collection - a 2 metre tall carving of the local Wingello yellow-tailed black cockatoo hungrily attacking a banksia nut. Detailed front and back, starting as two dimensional at the bottom and ending three dimensional right around the top you can almost hear the cocky gnawing away at the banksia tree nut. It is in the perfect position to see all the fine detail in the stone.
                          Christmas Beetle

                          2. Christmas Beetle

                          Penrose Public School

                          While sitting at his table one Summer, the inspiration for this bug crawled into Ken’s kitchen. It started as a scrap piece of stone from the quarry and was donated to the school by Ken for the children’s education and enjoyment.
                          It is in the gardens of the primary school.

                          Elizabeth the Lizard

                          3. Elizabeth Lizard 

                          Penrose Road/Willis St, Bundanoon 

                          Sponsored by Bundanoon Sandstone, this took over a fortnight to create in 2005. It started as huge 9 ft tall block until Ken discovered a crack after 2 hours work! “Lizzy" was a Bundanoon Community Association (BCA) idea.

                          4. Banksia Serata

                          Nancy Kingsbury Memorial Park

                          A native carving was desired and this lovely carving of the Banksia Serata fit the bill.
                          Gangang Cockatoo

                          5. Gangang Cockatoo

                          Bundanoon Train Station

                          The BCA wanted a Cockatoo carved out of stone. Once more Bundanoon Sandstone sponsored this work of art.
                          Wallace the Wombat

                          6. Wallace the Wombat

                          Railway Ave/Brigadoon Drive

                          Wallace is very popular and is often decorated at various times during the year.
                          A lot of persuasion was put on Ken to make another wombat. The base was an interesting piece of stone lost at the back of the quarry.
                          Lyre Bird

                          7. Lyre Bird

                          Railway Ave/Erith Road

                          The Lyre Bird was the first crafted in this series, created in 2004. Ken went through over 10,500 images of Lyre birds on the internet, followed by 362 drawings to get the right inspiration. It takes a lot of work to get something this effective.

                          8. Edna the Echidna

                          Welcome to Bundanoon

                          In 2008 Ken had a severe attack of shingles and lost over 30% of his body weight. But he was still able to complete this Echidna which is very popular with the children.
                          This was the idea of the Bundanoon Green Team.

                          About the Stonemason's Trail

                          The Stonemason's Trail is sponsored and created by the Bruggeman family of the Wingello Village Store. We have enjoyed the many sculptures created by Ken and wanted others to share that enjoyment.
                          You can start the trail from the North or South and travel along a straight route. The map shows which side of the road the statue is placed.
                          Ken posing with Wallace the Wombat at Christmas
                          Ken McDonald has been local in the Southern Highlands all his life. If you get the chance and meet him in the area, shout him a coffee or drink and let him regale you with his fascinating stories about his life in the Highlands.

                          15 July, 2020

                          We're COVID Safe at Wingello

                          Since the start of the Coronavirus Challenge we have been following recommended safety processes.
                          Now we are registered with the NSW Government as a "COVID Safe" business. Here are the steps we are taking for all our safety:
                          • "Social" distancing - there is plenty of room to maintain 1.5m (5 ft) distance within and without the store. We don't need stickers on our lovely new polished floor as we can see that our customers are maintaining their distances anyway.
                          • Tables are all over 1.5m apart, so groups can dine with appropriate distancing from each other. Based on the 4m2 rule, we can have 20 people inside and 20 people outside the store. The park is close by on nicer days.
                          • We have a new Contact Tracing Sheet. There is a separate sheet per day on which we just ask for a name and phone number. This is kept onsite and will ONLY be used in case of a known COVID case linked to the store for contact tracing purposes. We only require one name per group as you should all know everyone within your own group.
                          • Hand Sanitiser is available to all customers
                          • Menus are handed out to each group and sanitised upon their return when ordering.
                          • Salt, pepper and sugar are all now in sachets.
                          • Tables, doors and surfaces are regularly wiped down.
                          Together we can get through the latest stage of this challenge.

                          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.

                          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.


                              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.

                              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.


                                  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.

                                  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.


                                  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.
                                  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.


                                  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.

                                  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


                                  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.


                                  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.