We will have plenty of opportunities over the next few days to think about the year that was and the year that will be.
It is a good time to take a step back and think about the good and not so good moments that shaped the region and our lives.
One night, March 17, will forever be etched in the minds of so many after the St Patrick’s Day fires tore across 14,600 hectares of parched landscape, destroying 24 houses, 57 sheds, 2439km of fences and 10,000 head of livestock. The speed at which blazes raced from paddock to paddock was frightening. Veteran firefighters described the ferocity as worse than 1983’s Ash Wednesday firestorms.
It was a miracle no human lives were lost. The resilience of those impacted has been incredible. In a flash their lives as they knew them were gone and only with time have they been able to begin rebuilding. As the compensation process drags on, survivors look to 2019 hoping for a speedy resolution.
The way the south-west community rallied around victims in the Camperdown, Cobden, Terang, The Sisters and Gazette areas was inspiring. The fires brought out the best in us. We should raise a glass to those fighting back and to those who lent a hand.
The south-west is a great place to live, work and invest and it is changing.
Warrnambool City Council’s generational transformation of Liebig Street was completed and while the project was over budget, the finished product deserves celebration.
The region is set to be home to a sports ground capable of staging AFL practice matches after then Port Fairy MP James Purcell delivered $7million for the project.
The state Labor government promised to fund a $16.3 million regional library in Warrnambool if it was re-elected. After its crushing victory, we look forward to a project timeline being revealed.
The biggest challenge for 2019 is convincing the state government to commit to a planned $400 million redevelopment of Warrnambool Base Hospital, which has outgrown its existing facilities.
We enter each new year with hopes of happiness, love and success. 2019 is no different. Happy new year.