Well done to the Enduro team who worked tirelessly for 6 months to make the Essential Energy Tathra Enduro such a success. Jake Iskov, Jane Corben, Richard Moffatt, Stacey George, Prue Kelly, Richard and Sally Gallimore and Andrew Johnson never gave up on the event.

There was a real spirit of co-operation between the Tathra community and John Dixon and the Land Council. Over a hundred people helped with the track building around Tathra. We received a huge amount of feedback about the track, with riders saying it was some of the best single track they have ever ridden.

We had 60 volunteers out on the course for the whole day on Sunday. The Uniting Church, CEFE and the Tathra surf club ran inspiring drink stations. The Wharf to Waves crew ran the timing on the day. This was a big job and it went incredibly smoothly. The VRA and Tathra RFS helped with traffic control and NSW ambulance were a very reassuring presence on the day.

Thanks to Drs Gabe Khouri, AJ Collins, Giles Ellingworth and Andy Piotrowski who helped with medical issues.

The Lions Club cooked sausages to perfection, and the Country Club provided the best possible venue for the occasion. Photography by Dave Gallen, Justine Forest, Judy Rettke and Kat Walsh, amongst many others.

Thanks to our major sponsors Essential Energy and Solar Energy Options. Also the Mumbulla Foundation, DECCW, Complete Hire, Tathra Beach Family Parks, Tathra Beach House Apartments, Tathra Newsagents, the local IGA, Col Funston, Magpie Music,Inside Sport Magazine, TORQ, Trek, Hayes Transport, the Bega Valley Shire Council, the Tathra Chamber of Commerce, the Tathra Country Club, National Parks, State Forests and the Wharf to Waves committee.

The riders appreciated how much of a community event the Tathra Enduro was, and we will get twice as many entrants next year. Thank you to the many hundreds of people who were involved. Apologies to those I have not mentioned.
Matthew Nott

Renewable energy not powering electricty bill hikes

Sharp rises in household power bills are being driven by rising network costs and retailer margins not renewable energy according to new analysis released today.

In a new report by independent energy market analysts ROAM Consulting, renewable energy schemes were found to only contribute between 4 and 7 per cent to power bills, at the same time delivering Australia ?s main response to the economic threat of climate change.

Clean Energy Council Chief Executive Matthew Warren said rolling out clean energy around Australia was the start of the transformation required to clean up Australia ?s electricity supply without imposing major costs on households.

?Electricity bills are going up, but renewable energy is not to blame,? Mr Warren said.

?While we are finalising the design of a carbon price, the national 20 per cent renewable energy target remains the single largest greenhouse gas abatement program in Australian history.

?Over the next decade it will cut Australia ?s greenhouse emissions by around 380 million tonnes of greenhouse gases as the contribution of renewable energy increases year on year,? he said.

Network costs, retailer margins and wholesale electricity prices account for more than 90 per cent of power bills, with necessary investment in network upgrades being the biggest single driver of power price hikes.

The report for the Clean Energy Council by ROAM Consulting, ?Impact of renewable energy policies on retail electricity prices?, showed the combined cost of large and small scale renewable energy schemes and state-based feed-in tariffs from 2011-2020 would make up 4-7 per cent of electricity bills.According to the report: ?Even in the most aggressive scenarios the combined renewable schemes are likely to contribute less than 10% of retail electricity tariffs.?Clean Energy Council

The recent announcement of a proposed wind farm for Eden is exciting news for our region and is already receiving strong support from the community..

The proposal by experienced wind energy company Epuron is to locate seven 135m tall wind turbines at the Eden Chipmill. That?s enough energy to power around 4000 homes. The site was chosen for one reason, it more than likely has the best wind resource in the shire, therefore the best return on the expected 30 million dollar price tag.

The other huge advantage of the site is that it is already cleared, has an existing road network for access during construction, the existing powerlines and substation will not need to be upgraded and the deep sea water port just metres away could be used to unload the imported turbines directly off the ship. This scenario means that for the construction period this development could be amongst the lowest carbon footprint wind farms in Australia.

The spin-off benefits for the community include the millions of dollars that will be spent locally on materials, services and hospitality during construction, as well as two permanent jobs required for turbine maintenance. And of course bearing in mind this project could provide a vital boost for our community in achieving the 50/50 by 2020 targets.

South East Fibre Exports, owners of the Eden Chipmill site, will have no financial involvement in the proposal other than the lease of the turbine sites. Epuron will be the sole investor. One of the many reasons Epuron was attracted to this type of development in the Bega Valley Shire is the overwhelming community support for clean renewable energy. Our region has embraced renewable energy in the form of solar electricity and hot water at the domestic level and is demonstrating national leadership in solutions to climate change.

CEFE support this proposal but it is still early days. There are environmental assessments to be completed and a community consultation process to go through. There will be a visual impact on Twofold Bay, however the designers have tried to minimise this by concentrating the turbines in a cluster instead of rowing them out along the horizon. The planning approval process will be largely through the local council with a portion requiring State Government approval. It is hoped that by the end of the year planning approvals will be through with construction to take place sometime in 2012.

With Eden also being selected to host an under water wave generator trial, we might all be looking a little further south for the next giant step in reaching the 50/50 by 2020 targets.
Derek Povel

Solar Power Bulk Buy

There are still good deals to be had for domestic solar power even after the NSW Government has reduced the feed in tariff (what you get paid for the solar power you generate on your roof) from 60 to 20 cents per kWh. Return on investment may be as high as 20%. Two companies pay an additional 6 and 9 cents per kWh respectively, and there are very good prices to be had for 1.5kWp installations and exceptionally good financing options.

The Federal Government subsidises the cost of solar power installations by paying renewable energy credits (RECs) for the first 1.5kWp, and the State Government has a gross feed in tariff system that pays 20 cents/kWh for all the power you produce. These incentives are in danger of being removed as there has been a misinformation campaign making the case that they are bad for the economy and an unrealistic response to reducing greenhouse gases.

It is now possible to buy a 1.5kWp solar system, interest free, for less than $3,000, with 5% deposit, nothing to pay for 3 months, and the remainder paid off with monthly payments over 12 months.

A 1.5kWp system in our area will produce about 2100 kWh of electricity a year, worth about $550 to $600.

The NSW Government has granted the electricity retailers large increases in the retail price they can charge domestic customers ? in the case of Country Energy the increase is 64% over the 3 year period, July 2010 to June 2013. There is no indication whether the feed in tariff will keep pace with these price increases.

There are many advantages to having your own solar power: it is a good investment that will contribute hundreds of dollars a year to help offset rising electricity prices; and it will increase the value of your home. And you will be playing a role in meeting the challenge of climate change.

The reason other countries have used incentives, especially feed in tariffs to drive the uptake of solar power, is to foster a viable industry, with education, research and local manufacturing. It takes time to grow scale and drive down prices.

At present solar generates about 0. 2% of Australia?s electricity. Double this once and you get to 0.4%. But double it 8 times and you get to 25%. And with the right incentives this could be achieved in 8 to 10 years. By then, the huge subsidies the fossil fuel industries still get will not be necessary for solar power. In fact, it is predicted that solar power will reach retail price equity right across Australia in 2 to 3 years from now.

Bill Caldicott

Tathra Enduro 2011 a success

Lewis Nott and Andrew Cleary cross the line together after a hard fought battle
Lewis Nott and Andrew Cleary cross the line together after a hard fought battle

29/3/11 THE Essential Energy Tathra MTB Enduro was a huge success on the weekend. Nearly 300 riders participated in the two-day event which was held around the forests of Tathra on the Doolaghral Course. Competitors from Dubbo, Sydney, Canberra, Wollongong, Nowra and Jindabyne travelled for the weekend and were joined by a host of locals who signed on.

One of the event organisers Matthew Nott said he was very happy with entry numbers. “Over half of our entries were from out of town so we got our message out there”, he said.

“We were pleased to attract so many people into the area. The feedback from riders was all extremely positive and there was lots of praise for the track”.

The event was headlined by star world champion trio Jason English, Brett Bellchambers and Tathra’s John Blankenstein.

The Enduro began on Saturday with race registration at the Tathra Country Club for the Bega Cheese Children’s Chase 2km, Solar Energy Options 10km, Doolagharl 20km, Goats Knob 50km and King Nelba 100km.

The first race, the children’s chase, proved to be very popular with 40 enthusiastic kids participating. Bega’s Sebastian Weber won the senior division from Charlie Todd. Charlie, however, turned the tables later in the day by winning the children’s 10km race.

The Solar Energy Options 10km prologue/time trial at 3pm proved to be an excellent warm up opportunity for three-time World 24-hour champion Jason English.

The Enduro’s major event, the King Nelba 100km event, started at 7.30am on Sunday morning.

The marathon race was taken out by English in four hours and 40 minutes but he was challenged by a group of five or six riders.

English experienced difficulties along the way, stopping to change a flat tyre, before powering home to victory. He said he was pleased with the course and recommended locals apply for the national championships in the future.

“It was an awesome track, it keeps you interested all the way”, English said. “The single track, climbs and roads are all fantastic. There were great bridges and it was a wonderful track”.

Blankenstein was the best performing local, finishing sixth overall, one spot ahead of 18-year-old Owen Turnbull.

The Goat’s Knob 50km, another popular event, was won by Canberra’s Brad Morton while the Doolagharl 20km race was won by 13-year-old Pambula rider Roly Stewart.

The event wrapped up with presentations at Tathra Country Club during the afternoon.

“We had good weather all weekend which was fantastic”, Mr Nott said. “We are really thrilled, it was such a good event for its first year. “I expect it will turn into a major event and we can double our numbers next year”.

Another organiser, Stacey George, said the Enduro was a huge success. “We received really positive feedback from everyone”, she said. “I feel very relieved and happy that everyone enjoyed it and I hope they come back and give it a try again next year”.

Ms George said the event was bolstered by a lot of work behind the scenes. “I just want to thank all volunteers and sponsors for their commitment”, she said. “From an operational point of view the event ran pretty smoothly.”

The Enduro successfully raised enough money to reach organiser’s initiative targets of solar panelling for the Tathra Uniting Church and Bega Landcare Office, and for other projects at the Tathra Surf Lifesaving Club.

Tathra’s triple treat

THE inaugural Tathra Mountain Bike Enduro has received a huge boost with three of the world’s leading endurance riders signing up for the March 26-27 race.

Two-time World 24hr champion Jason English, World 24hr Single Speed champion Brett Bellchambers and local World 24hr Age champion John Blankenstein will contest the challenging King Nelba 100km event.

With two weeks until race day, over 150 people have entered the Essential Energy Enduro, with entries still open for the 100km, 50km, 20km and 10km events.

Race director Jake Iskov said the presence of the top calibre riders was sure to attract other elite endurance cyclists. “I’m sure once news of their entry spreads we will have other top marathoners head down,” he said. “I also want locals to be inspired by their presence; not intimidated, as it?s not every day you get to race against the best of the best in your own backyard! Having people like Jason, Brett and John race is also an endorsement of the quality of the riding trails around Tathra and the Far South Coast.”

Port Macquarie rider English said Tathra’s mountain biking reputation was growing. “I have only heard good things about riding in Tathra,” he said. “I have friends who have been down to the south coast expressly for a mountain bike holiday and they were really impressed so I am expecting big things from these trails. However, looking at the start list makes me feel nervous about my form as there are some serious riders lining up. I imagine locals will get a big advantage especially because there is so much single track involved with this race.”

Bellchambers said he was excited to be racing in Tathra and looked forward to tackling the 100km race with only one gear.

Unlike other mountain bikes which feature 27 gears to aid riders up hills, a single speed bike has only one gear, adding a new dimension to racing.

“I have never been to Tathra before but I have heard the place is very pretty and that the trails are special,” 38-year-old Bellchambers said.

Bellchambers, the reigning World 24hr single speed champion and two-time Aussie single speed champion, said he was not daunted about tackling the infamous Vimy Ridge Road climb and Doctor George Mountain with only one gear option on his bike. “If I can’t ride it, I run it,” he said. I like single speed bikes because they are so simple, no gears to break! It’s a bit like being a child all over again.”

Blankenstein said he was also looking forward to a hit-out with a home town advantage. “It’s always good to have some inside knowledge about the tracks,” he said. “But this is a tough course. It’s a good course because it has a bit of everything but it’s the hardest 100km going round. I know all the hills and this is going to sort everyone out.”
Enduro ready to go

25/3/11 THE Essential Energy Tathra MTB Enduro is all set to go for this weekend, despite the record floods in the Bega Valley. Enduro organiser Jake Iskov said less than one per cent of the 100km of race trails were affected by the flash flooding, with the water levels expected to drop further over the next few days.

“The flooding is obviously something we could have all done without, but it is not dire for our event,” he said. “We have now ridden all the race trails and we’ve got crews out repairing damaged track, raking and chain sawing trees in preparation for the weekend.We have a few soggy sections close to the river, but that amounts to less than one per cent of the overall course. We were fortunate in Tathra that the 250+ml deluge experienced in the Bega River catchments bypassed us, with only some 40-60ml falling in Tathra and the surrounding Tanja State Forest and Mimosa Rocks National Park,” Iskov said.

Over 170 competitors have entered 50 and 100km Enduro events with further entries for tomorrow’s 10km prologue and Sunday’s 20km event expected.Competitors from Dubbo, Sydney, Canberra, Wollongong, Nowra, Jindabyne and a host of locals have all signed on.

Included in the start list are World 24hr Endurance Champions Jason English, Brett Bellchambers and local star John Blankenstein.

“It looks like we will get over 200 riders which are great,” Iskov said. “It’s encouraging given all the hard work that has gone into the event by the community.”

All on track

OVER 300 mountain bikes speeding through the bush around Tathra on a new single track ? that’s how the Tathra Enduro mountain bike race is shaping up. And much of its success will be due to the work put in by a group of local Aboriginal workers who have played a major role in constructing the track.

Organiser Dr Matthew Nott said the over 15 kilometres so far have been constructed on local aboriginal land as well as on crown land. ‘We received $4000 from the Mumbulla Foundation to help offset costs,’ Dr Nott said. ‘With one of the conditions being that we employed a team of Aborigines on the construction site, which has proved to be an outstanding success.’

Dr Nott said the grant not only allowed the Enduro organisers to employ the men, but helped with the purchase of tools and some materials for the track.

‘We’ve had the use of an excavator for free and four local excavator drivers have given their time as well,’ he said. ‘This whole project has demonstrated the way the whole community can work together for what will be a great event, not only for Tathra but for the whole Bega Valley.’

One of the problems to be overcome, Dr Nott said, was the terrain on which the track has been built.’This is steep and rocky and not easy to work on but everyone had handled it admirably,’ he said. ‘It’s been hard work, especially on the rocky ground, but it is coming together nicely.’

The group has been working each Monday and Wednesday while other volunteers have been working on most other days, including weekends.

?’t has been and will continue to be a very productive and enjoyable community partnership,’ Dr Nott said. ‘Once it is finished, it will be signposted and will have notices describing the Aboriginal history of the area. It has been really good to be working with the Local Aboriginal Land Council (LALC) on this and there will be benefits for all of us from it and hopefully will provide more opportunities in the future.’

Dr Nott said it was gratifying to have the track nearly ready for the big race and to have done it on a shoestring budget which is nearly exhausted now. It has been a huge effort by a very willing community.

According to those who know , the specialist mountain bike riders, the track will be up there with the best in the country once it is finished. ‘This is going to mean that Tathra will become a significant track for mountain bike riders of all standards and ability,’ Dr Nott said. ‘It will be a significant mountain bike riders’ destination.’

Chair of the Bega LALC John Dixon said: ‘This is a fine example of the community working side by side and respecting each other in the process to achieve the common goal of the partnership’.

The Bega LALC Board of Management must be congratulated on their efforts to ensure the Aboriginal community’s involvement in this bike track which is on a large portion of land that was transferred to the land council after being claimed under the NSW Aboriginal Lands Rights Act.

‘We must also appreciate the efforts of all the people who are associated with the Tathra mountain bike track and who were very patient in their dealings with the land council. Our people who worked on the track must also be congratulated as they have brought credit to themselves and made the Elders proud. Friendships have been made in this mutual partnership and we are all hopeful that benefits will flow onto the community at all levels.’