- 28 September 2018
The new Board of Regional Development Australia Southern Inland (RDA Southern Inland) met for the first time this week, which included a regional visit to the Upper Lachlan Shire. The regional visit was an opportunity for the Board to meet local community and business leaders and gain a greater understanding of the opportunities and challenges facing the Upper Lachlan region.
On Tuesday morning, the RDA Southern Inland Board met in Goulburn to welcome all new and returning board members. For the new RDA Southern Inland Board, there is a clear focus on collaboration, partnerships and achieving outcomes from the new Charter.
Following this, the Board then travelled to Gullen Range Wind and Solar Farm. Leo Pearce, Asset Manager at Gullen Range, showed the Board around the operations building and wind farm, allowing Board members to get up close to a 120m tall wind turbine. The Wind Farm, which consists of 73 turbines, employs 13 staff full-time and a number of contractors. The $320 million Wind Farm has introduced approximately 47 kilometres of road as well as a number of regeneration initiatives, weed control and feral animal control.
They are also the first ever co-located wind and solar farm, with the ability to power approximately 70,000 homes. The Solar Farm completed construction last year and consists of 42,000 solar panels.
“Cattle and sheep love wind farms,” said Mr Pearce, explaining that they are able to find shade in the heat of summer and seek protection and warmth in the depths of winter. The successful relationship between the Renewable Energy and Agriculture sector was on display throughout the visit, with Leo also outlining a plan to allow sheep to graze in between the solar panels in the near future.
In the evening, RDA Southern Inland hosted a dinner with Upper Lachlan Shire Council Councillors, local businesses and organisations at the Criterion Hotel in Crookwell. RDA Southern Inland Chair, Hugh Cooke, and CEO, Mareeca Flannery, opened the evening whilst Mayor John Stafford welcomed the Board to the Upper Lachlan Shire. Jo Marshall, from the Australian Agriculture Centre (AAC), then outlined the AAC Proposal to the room. The AAC is a facility that will educate, showcase and promote the agricultural industry to students, tourists and businesses. A feasibility study is currently being conducted.
John Klem, Chair of Tablelands Farming Systems (TFS), was the final speaker for the night and outlined the various exciting activities being undertaken by TFS. TFS provides farming information, training and workshops to local farmers and has recently received $500,000 from the Government for their soil moisture probes. This initiative is a partnership between the South East Local Land Services, Tablelands Farming Systems and Monaro Farming Systems that aims to provide farmers with better soil moisture information to help measure and guide management decisions.
The following day, the Board visited Lindner Socks in Crookwell, a four-generation, family owned and operated sock factory. Andrew Lindner emphasised the importance of the Lindner story as a unique and differentiating factor in their business. Andrew discussed a number of key topics with the Board including, the importance of supporting local business, creating a story with your brand, the throwaway society we live in and the importance for all stakeholders along the agricultural supply chain to communicate to one another.
The Board then visited the Upper Lachlan Shire Council Chambers for a meeting with Councillor Richard Opie. Mr Opie provided the Board with a comprehensive overview of the Shire, new developments, challenges and opportunities for the future.
The final visit of the trip was to Garry Kadwell’s farm. Garry, a fourth-generation farmer, showed the Board around his extremely impressive potato and prime lamb operation. Garry is also a sustainability advocate, having dedicated 32 per cent of his property to conservation areas and regeneration, including 32 hectares of wetlands built by Garry. Garry is one of six finalists selected for the Australian Government Innovation in Agriculture Land Management Award being held in Brisbane in October.
RDASI Chair, Hugh Cooke, said “the talent and expertise we have in our region is overwhelming. The projects we have had presented to us and the on-site tours and inspections we have done over the last two days have been really inspiring. All of us are now more enlightened and we will work hard to assist these businesses in any way we can”.
RDA Southern Inland would like to thank all businesses for welcoming the Board to the Upper Lachlan Shire. It provided RDA Southern Inland with an opportunity to experience first-hand the innovation and excellence occurring across the region.