Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Church in Weilmoringle

Welmoringle is not a place a lot of people visit. It's 100km from Brewarrina. The village consists of a few Aboriginal homes, a school and a shop, and the surrounding district has large pastoral holdings. With very little there it would be easy to wipe it off as a place that has died.

Yet Weilmoringle is a community that has worked extremely hard during the drought to maintain their social bonds and look after each other. One of the most successful ways has been their fortnightly get-togethers at the tennis shed. Once a month they have church as well as their lunch and tennis. Their very practical shed has been largely built by community volunteers, with very little outside money, and works extremely well as a meeting place.

Last Sun I was able to join the community for their church service, lunch and a talk by John Harper on recovering from depression. It was too wet for tennis but we still had a great day of worship, food and fun together. One of the most delightful parts of the service was that they literally "pass the hat" for the collection, but this just seemed to typify the community.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

4 out of every 10 irrigation farmers are considering leaving the industry


The NSW Farmers Assocation has surveyed 525 irrigation farmers in NSW in the Murray Darling Basin on how their felt about water allocations and the results were quite striking.

Worringly 38% indicated that they would leave Agriculture if there was not enough water to carry on their enterprise. This will have a colossal impact on our food production. Over two thirds (many of whom had been in their areas for over 60 years) were concerned that farming families would leave and towns would be impacted.

There does not seem to have been a lot of consultation with only 6% indicating they had been consulted as part of the Murray Darling Basin Commission planning, suggesting that local knowledge is not being taken into account.

If you would like to read the report you can find it here

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Valleys of Gold

Driving towards the Murray River last week I was struck by the panoramic wonder of the canola crops.

The day was clear and bright which leant a special glow to the paddocks on the right and left of me. On the Old Gundegai Road between Cootamundra and Gundegai lies a  series fertile of valleys that have been extensively planted down to canola.

The picture was breath taking as it was contrasted to the other, as yet green, cereal crops. I don't know if it is the extra fertility of the soil after the drought or the new varieties of canola or perhaps both, but the growth is phenomenal.

One hopes the all augurs well and the promise of these great crops are realised in a bountiful harvest. Any number of things may happen to spoil this harvest such as plague locust, bush fires, hail storms and the possible cessation of rain.

That is definitely the glass half empty approach. I prefer to think that with such great promise the bounty will be great and all will be well.

You have to have a little bit of faith!

Kel Hodge

Monday, 11 October 2010

Water such a controversal issue


If you live in the Eastern part of Australia you will no doubt have heard that the Murray Darling Basin Commission has released their draft report on water sharing in the Murray Darling Basin - and that it's very controversial.

Here in the bush the anger/frustration/apprehension is enormous. With predicted cuts of nearly 50% in some of the catchment areas the impact is likely to be huge. As one speaker said "its like give water to the environment and count the bodies later". I believe that some of the concerns in the bush are around the strong impression that instead of the "triple bottom line" approach (economic, social and environmental) only the environment has been taken into account.

To give you some idea of the impact, the Cotton Industry commissioned a report to look into the social and economic impacts of water cuts. In Griffith (a city of 27,000) a water cut of 50% will reduce employment by 19% and population by over 25%. If this is the impact on a major city then imagine what will happen in smaller places. I was incredibly disappointed to hear one of the Wentworth Group casually mention that small towns "will just have to close".

If you would like to read the report done by Dr Judith Stubbs you can find it a here. It's in a number of parts and looks at a range of communities and areas.

Friday, 8 October 2010

Hillston sheep sale very upbeat


Hillston held their sheep sale a couple of weeks ago and it was a very upbeat affair with both buyers and sellers very positive. I think this is a great measure of how much morale in the bush has risen with the good rain that has been regularly falling. Currently everything is looking fantastic with the crops thick and lush and great pasture everywhere. A spring like this one gives people confidence to plan for the future in areas such as their sheep flocks.

Thursday, 7 October 2010

A special experience


I went to Bendigo last week to a conference and while I was there had a few minutes to visit the beautiful Catholic Cathedral. Imagine my surprise when I entered and found a young man practising with a great competancy on the pipe organ. To be able to wander through this stunning building accompanied by fantastic pipe music was a very moving experience. If you happen to find yourself in Bendigo do make time to visit.

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Many Cultures, One God

I was asked to participate in the Uniting Church Cross-Cultural Conference at Wagga Wagga recently.

It was my first experience of of this sort of gathering which included people from Tonga, Samoa, Korea, Lebanon, Armenia, Turkey, Niue, India, Sri Lanka and some people from Anglo-Celtic origins.
I listened to the stories of these people who struggled with a new country, culture and church culture. It was an eye opener for me as my experience is more or less mono-cultural.

Most of the stories people told were of there hopes and dreams of coming to Australia and their struggle with holding onto the richness of their own cultures in the church environment, let alone in the wider Australian scene.

I found my conversations with various people, the food we shared and the worship we participated all contributed to a fantastic week end.

It was a pity more locals could not avail themselves of this experience as I am sure they would have found it as life giving as I did.

Kel Hodge

Monday, 4 October 2010

It's now or never!


With the river dropping rapidly, today was the last opportunity I was going to get to go over the weir, so after checking it out, doning a helmet and life jacket and summoning all my courage, off I went.

It was quite an adrenalin rush and I'm really glad I got the chance to have a go (and I'm really glad I didn't make a complete fool of myself in front of the teenage boys fishing on the bank!).
Thanks to Jenny and Joe for coming with me as backup.

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Chaplains Visit Hillston

Julie kindly offered the hospitality of her home, and the hospitality of the Hillston church community so the Rural Chaplains network could meet their last week.

It was a great time spent sharing and listening to each others stories about the ministries we offer in rural and remote NSW.

The network has only been meeting for about two years and it seems that trust grows as our relationships deepen and become richer.

Although we work in a variety of christian denominations with differing theological and ecclesiological standpoints, the important thing we offer in chaplaincy is a caring attitude to those we minister with and for this weekend it was each other!

Kel Hodge

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Lithgow In the Morning

It may seem to some that I have been off the air for some time. I have come to realise that time can slip away so quickly. I would plan to write the next blog and I would be away again. Oh well, better late than never!
Recently I was invited by the Lithgow Men's breakfast group to speak about the possibility of building a citizen's alliance in the Bathurst, Orange, Lithgow region.
I explained to the group that work was under way and a investigative meeting was being held in Bathurst on the 16th September.
As it turned out this meeting went well and there may well founded hope for the alliance into the future.

It was good to catch up with the men at breakfast which I might add takes real dedication in Lithgow during the colder months!

Kel Hodge

Friday, 1 October 2010

River is almost abanka


A gorgeous afternoon on Mon saw us get in the first kayak since last Autumn. Seems like such a long time since I have been on the river.

In the two years I've been here I've never had the river really running, but it is now.

Not a lot of work involved, just sit back and enjoy the ride! Now we're planning a ride over the weir. Nothing like a bit of white water rafting in Hillston.

To top it off all the birds were out and we saw kingfishers, willy wag tails, a duck with 8 small ducklings and many more.

A most enjoyable way to be in God's creation.


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