Welcome to the last Sunday of 2018.
As prepare to farewell the year and see in a new one, it’s time to pause and reflect on 2018.
The year was defined by the events of March 17, which will forever be etched in the minds of so many after the St Patrick’s Day fires tore across 14,600 hectares of the parched south-west 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 year ahead will be full of challenges but we should enter it with hope and optimism. The region’s tourism industry is booming, our housing market is robust, Warrnambool’s CBD is showing positive signs after its makeover and our agricultural sector remains strong.
We have state government-funded projects in the pipleline – the redevelopment of Reid Oval and a new Warrnambool library plus we will continue to advocate for upgrades to Warrnambool Base Hospital and the breakwater precinct.
There’s plenty to get excited about.
One of the 2019 challenges rests with our councils, which must balance community expectations with tight budgets and ratepayers’ ability to pay. Warrnambool City Council has already foreshadowed making a case to lift rates beyond the state government-related cap. This week it began consulting residents on the prickly subject.
Here’s a selection of this week’s stories to kick off your Sunday reading.
On behalf of the team at The Standard, we wish you a happy, prosperous, safe and healthy new year.