22 December 2023

A dozen news stories that had you clicking on Region Illawarra in 2023

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There’s been no shortage of news in the Illawarra over the past 12 months – from the contentious wind farm proposal to a deadly dog disease. Here are a dozen of our top stories from 2023. Guess what was number one?

12. Woonona pharmacy rises from the ashes to reopen front doors and welcome daylight
by Jen White

two people behind pharmacy counter

Owner and pharmacist Michael Goodman with retail manager Julia Crago at the reopened Amcal Plus Pharmacy. Photo: Region Illawarra.

Ten months after fire severely damaged Woonona’s Amcal Plus Pharmacy, the front doors have finally reopened, much to the relief of owner Michael Goodman.

Staff worked around builders while restocking shelves and welcoming customers back on 16 October. They were even pleased to hear the sound of Princes Highway traffic after months of working in a “cave” at the rear of the building.

12. Deadly disease spreading among dogs detected in the Illawarra as vets struggle with vaccine shortages
by Keeli Royle

Dr Kevin Calleja performing examination on sausage dog at Greencross vets.

Dr Kevin Calleja urges people to act quickly if their pet is unwell. Photos: Keeli Royle.

A disease that can be potentially fatal to our beloved pets has been detected in the Illawarra as local veterinary clinics continue to struggle with vaccine supply.

Greencross Fairy Meadow vet director Dr Kevin Calleja said sporadic cases of leptospirosis have been reported among dogs in the region, with parts of the Shoalhaven considered hotspot areas.

“Leptospirosis is a bacteria that’s transmitted predominantly in the urine of rats and mice. Animals can come into contact with that urine either by ingesting it or through a cut, and that’s how it infects them,” Dr Calleja said.

10. Top marks for students Walking on Sunshine for Southern Stars spectacular
by Jen White

Hundreds of students at Southern Stars rehearsal.

Students from 14 schools rehearse their Southern Stars act, Walking on Sunshine, at Illawarra Sports Stadium. Photos: Jen White.

More than 360 students have been Walking on Sunshine at the Illawarra Sports Stadium, rehearsing for the Southern Stars – The Arena Spectacular.

The spectacular show features about 3000 students from more than 100 public schools, showcasing dance, drama and music performed to a live orchestra by students from Year 2 to Year 12.

9. Whale sculpture tells story of Dharawal people’s cultural connection to Windang Island
by Kellie O’Brien

A new public artwork, titled Burri Burri, was unveiled at Windang

A new public artwork, titled Burri Burri, was unveiled at Windang on Monday with Shellharbour City Council Mayor Chris Homer, artist Nicole Talbott, Dr Jodi Edwards, sculptor Julie Squires and Chelsea Flood from Hanson Construction in attendance. Photo: Kellie O’Brien.

A two-metre bronze artwork of a whale on the Lake Illawarra Art Trail was unveiled during National Reconciliation Week, making it the biggest investment in a single piece of public art by Shellharbour City Council.

Council invested $135,000 to commission the artwork at Reddall Reserve, Lake Illawarra, titled Burri Burri, meaning ‘whale’ in local Dharawal language.

8. Watch as diver wrangles stolen GoPro from cheeky octopus in Jervis Bay
by Katrina Condie

Octopus with camera

The brazen thief was caught red-handed. Photo: Jervis Bay Through My Eyes.

An underwater photographer dived into action to retrieve a GoPro after it was stolen by a cheeky octopus in Jervis Bay on 5 July.

Maree Clout from Jervis Bay Through My Eyes managed to wrangle the camera and selfie stick from the brazen cephalopod after it was taken from 15-year-old snorkeller Jesse Loffel near Murrays Breakwall in the Boderee National Park.

7. Have your say on the proposed Illawarra offshore wind energy zone
by Jen White

A map showing the proposed offshore energy zone from Wombarra to Kiama.

A map showing the proposed renewable energy zone off the Illawarra coast. Photo: DCCEEW.

Illawarra residents were given two months to learn about the proposed wind farm development zone off our coast, ask questions and provide feedback to the Federal Government.

The Federal Climate Change and Energy Minister Chris Bowen announced details of the renewable energy zone during a visit to Port Kembla.

The proposed area is 1461 square kilometres, at least 10 km out from shore and up to 30 km off Kiama’s coast. It will have the potential to generate up to 4.2 GW, enough to power up to 3.4 million homes.

6. 12-month electric scooter trial rolling out in limited Wollongong areas
by Jen White

Couple riding e-scooters at North Beach.

Residents and tourists will soon be able to hire an e-scooter to get around parts of Wollongong city. Photo: Neuron Mobility.

Three hundred electric scooters were rolled out in Wollongong at the end of September as part of a 12-month trial.

The distinctive orange e-scooters are speed-limited and confined to certain roads and shared paths around the city and north to Sandon Point.

5. 400 sandstone steps link bush to beach as Great Southern Walk extends south
by Jen White

New walking track overlooking the ocean.

At the top of the new Great Southern Walk track from Bald Hill to Stanwell Park. Photo: Ben McNamara/DPE.

The first of three missing links in the Great Southern Walk has been completed, with a new 1 km track featuring more than 400 sandstone steps linking the bush to the beach.

The new section from Bald Hill to Stanwell Park connects the Royal National Park to the Illawarra Escarpment State Conservation Area.

The Great Southern Walk will eventually be a 67 km coastal track from Kurnell in Sydney’s south to the Southern Gateway Centre at Bulli Tops.

3. Breathing new life into steelworks’ No 6 blast furnace will cost a cool billion dollars
by Jen White

No 6 blast furnace at Port Kembla Steelworks

The $1.15 billion reline and upgrade of No 6 blast furnace will take about three years and create up to 300 jobs for Illawarra tradies. Photo: BlueScope.

It’s going to cost BlueScope more than $1 billion to get the mothballed No 6 blast furnace at Port Kembla Steelworks up and running again. Take a look inside the giant facility that will soon be buzzing with hundreds of new local tradies on site.

2. Smith’s Hill students shine in HSC with exceptional ATARs and a dozen All-round Achievers
by Keeli Royle

SHHS relieving principal Nicole Kaiserfeld with some of the school's all-round achievers, Zac Thompson, Jaquiline Jogen, Katie Short, Akira Naumovski and Euan Christopher. Photos: Keeli Royle.

SHHS relieving principal Nicole Kaiserfeld with all-round achievers, Zac Thompson, Jaquiline Jogen, Katie Short, Akira Naumovski and Euan Christopher. Photos: Keeli Royle.

School leavers across the Illawarra are ready to start planning for the future after receiving their long-awaited HSC results and some students have exceeded their own expectations by dominating in every one of their subjects.

1. Multi-industrial precinct and ‘super TAFE’ planned for 200 ha of Port Kembla Steelworks’ excess land
by Jen White

Artist's impression of BlueScope's proposed multi-industrial precinct.

Artist’s impression of BlueScope’s proposed multi-industrial precinct. Photos: BlueScope.

A parcel of BlueScope’s Port Kembla Steelworks – larger in size than the Melbourne CBD – will be transformed into a multi-industrial precinct and a potential “super TAFE”.

BlueScope on 20 November unveiled a master plan to develop 200 ha of non-steelmaking excess land adjacent to the steelworks.

Developed after 18 months of research, analysis and community engagement, the master plan will see BlueScope transform the surplus land into a next-generation multi-industrial precinct with potential to create 30,000 jobs in emerging industries such as clean energy and defence.

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