Why you should stay in SA this holiday season

No 9am meetings, no peak hour bus commutes, pinging emails or packed soggy lunches.

The Christmas holidays are so close we can smell them, so pack the camper, fill the barbecue gas bottle and prepare to leave the office long behind.

You backed SA all year, you shopped local and supported all things homegrown.

But the number  of South Australians choosing to explore their own backyard could do with a boost.

“Our international and interstate visitors are up, but we’re not seeing as many South Australians taking advantage of the great holiday locations right on their doorstep,” says Tourism Minister Leon Bignell.

“SA was named as one the top five regions in the world to visit in 2017 by Lonely Planet, proving there’s no need to visit places like Bali or Thailand when we have some of the best beaches in the world right here in SA.”

So whether it’s a day-trip to Port Elliot (worth the bakery visit alone) or falling off the map for a while at the Innes National Park, choose SA not only as home – but for adventures too.

Why? Because summer in SA is the stuff that childhood memories are made of.

Here’s the Top 6 reasons to choose SA this holiday season.

The luxurious Amazon Star houseboat.

1. We have the River Murray.
The grand old Murray is a natural beauty winding its way though the Riverland and Murray Mallee before entering the Southern Ocean at Goolwa and the Coorong.

The Murray River is a haven for water-skiers, house-boaters and picnickers.

Bit of a history buff? Many river towns, including Renmark and Mannum, offer rides aboard paddlesteamers which have been chugging along for decades.

West Cape, Innes National Park.

2. We have the Yorke Peninsula.
White sandy beaches and freshly caught seafood? Sold.

Only a short drive away, Yorkes is a fisherman’s paradise, beachgoer’s delight and ice cream indulger’s haven. (The Moonta Coffee Barn and Gelateria is a must-visit).

Whether it’s reeling in southern garfish and blue swimmer crabs at Ardrossan or checking out a lighthouse or two at Corny Point or Cape Spencer, the YP is the place for a typical seaside summer getaway.

Peel Street is the perfect spot for bar hopping.

3. We have laneways.
Peel, Leigh, Bank, Gilbert, Ebenezer. The list goes on.

There’s nothing quite as thrilling as stumbling upon a hidden gem down a narrow laneway.

What’s more satisfying is that you’re bound to sip on local wines, gins, or whiskeys, as most holes in the wall are big on choosing SA. Looking for a new watering hole? Check out 11 bars you might have missed.

4. We have cricket at Adelaide Oval.
Cheer on the Adelaide Strikers at the oval this summer (head to the website for more info).

Even if you lack knowledge of the gentleman’s game the Big Bash League is an easy-to-follow game enjoyed by all.

However, get in quick as tickets are snapped up fast!

Underground ambience at the Desert Cave Hotel. Photo: Facebook.

5. We have opals.
Coober Pedy is a gem. (See what we did there?)

The Desert Cave Hotel in SA’s fascinating “opal capital of the world” is a unique accommodation experience, with a choice of above-ground or dug-out style living.

Old Timers Mine offers a fantastic insight into the history and labour that the first opal miners endured back in the early days.

Other outback places to visit include the Heritage Blinman Mine, a Mid North copper mine that thrived between the years of 1862 and 1907.

Cheers to the holidays!

6. We have (really good) wine.

Ever had the dreaded experience of desperately searching an interstate wine menu for an SA drop?

Troubleshoot that problem by never leaving!

With Adelaide being one of the Great Wine Capitals of the world, you’ll never be left dry.

SA’s globally celebrated wineries (of which there are more than 200) offer a range of experiences from cellar door wine tastings to grazing platers piled with fresh, local produce.

We’d love you to share your local holiday sights with us on social media by using the I Choose SA hashtag #ichoosesa

Visit I Choose SA to find out how you can support our State by choosing South Australian businesses, products and services.

[logooos_saved id=”13411″]


Sky is the limit for renewables outfit ZEN Energy

Local solar designer Josh Buckton knows too well that South Australia is on the cusp of a renewables revolution.

As one of clean energy company ZEN Energy’s solar designers, the young electrician-by-trade has made a career out of Earth’s truest renewable resource – the sun.

Josh’s job is to liaise with ZEN team members on the design, layout, installation and pricing of residential and commercial solar systems.

“I undertake a complete design and review of everything from residential to large-scale multi-megawatt rooftop solar projects, attend site inspections and ensure everything is installed to the correct standards,” he says.

“We are installing a large amount of solar systems every week … with a growing number of them for business and industry, which is picking up at a rapid rate.”

ZEN Energy’s Josh Buckton designs everything from residential to large-scale multi-megawatt rooftop solar projects.

According to the Climate Council, 31% of SA households have adopted solar technology.

Solar and wind power are the main contributors to renewable energy generation, with SA now holding a 53% share in renewable electricity.

Josh’s solar story began with a four-year electrical apprenticeship and various stints across Adelaide, including installing light controls in the world-class new Royal Adelaide Hospital.

But with renewable energy beginning to deliver an explosion of jobs and a boost in economic prosperity, he noticed all signs were pointing towards a career in solar design.

“We have plenty of opportunities here … the renewable energy sector has gone pretty crazy and SA is becoming one of the world leaders in sustainable energy solutions,” he says.

Josh has been a part of the ZEN Energy squad since July 2017 and is based at the ZEN Energy headquarters in the Sustainable Industries Education Centre at Tonsley.

This year has provided much inspiration for employees at ZEN – SA’s fastest growing company and a world leader in renewable energy and storage solutions.

In September 2017, ZEN made headlines when British billionaire and Whyalla steelworks saviour Sanjeev Gupta bought a majority stake in the company.

The result was joint venture SIMEC ZEN Energy, which will improve energy security and drop power prices for both the steelworks and other large energy users in SA.

SIMEC ZEN Energy will supply the State Government with 80% of its electricity needs in 2018, rising to 100% of its needs in 2019.

ZEN Energy is also behind a $1 billion solar, battery, pumped hydro and demand management project, totalling over one gigawatt of generation.

It’s tipped to be the largest solar and power storage investment in the country.

Josh says the uptake of renewable energy is not only evident in these economy-driving projects, but at all levels.

He says more businesses are adopting solar technology with an increased interest in smart energy storage.

ZEN’s battery storage solutions include grid connect systems (connected to the electricity grid) in addition to standalone systems that will “take you off-grid completely”.

A typical solar system involves photovoltaic (PV) panels mounted to a roof, and an inverter that converts direct current electricity into alternating current power.

Power not used in the home or business is exported to the electricity grid, earning the owner a small credit from their electricity retailer.

Systems with battery storage involve the unused solar energy being stored for later use when the sun is not shining, or for businesses to decrease their demand charges through smart energy management.

With SA expected to reach a 50% renewable energy target by 2025 and a zero net emissions target by 2050, green energy solutions are tipped to rejuvenate jobs and bring back cash flow into regional SA.

ZEN Energy founder Richard Turner.

ZEN Energy founder Richard Turner told Brand South Australia’s recent I Choose SA for Industry event that all eyes are on SA’s renewable sector.

“This is what we’re calling the new industrial revolution,” he says.

“This is where the long term, sustainable jobs are going to come from.

“When we start harnessing what is the best renewable energy resource in the world, the shift in prosperity that is going to gravitate to this state will stun us all.”

Another off-grid building on its way in SA

The world’s first off-grid multi-storey office building has been so successful its concept will be replicated elsewhere, according to the SA-based building tech company Fluid Solar Thermal.

Earlier in 2017 the $8m Fluid Solar House in Adelaide’s northern suburbs cut the cord to the state’s electricity grid, running since April on renewable energy.

The man behind the renewable breakthrough is Roger Davies who brewed the concept for several years before last year’s statewide blackout provided the “final trigger” for seeing the project through.

The result was Fluid Solar Thermal’s four-storey Elizabeth Vale headquarters and co-working spaces.

Fluid Solar House has been running off-grid since April.

The building is able to generate 250kW peak of solar thermal and electric power from a combination of PV solar panels, concentrating solar thermal tubes and rooftop wind turbines.

It contains 2200kWh of energy storage capacity comprising 90% solar thermal storage and 10% conventional battery storage.

Fluid Solar House is also part of Tesla’s car-charging network, with 11 electric vehicle spaces offering solar power from a 100kW array of panels on the building’s roof.

The building has been operating off-grid since April, saving the company thousands of dollars in power bills.

Dr Davies, a radiologist originally from Sydney, says a similar building based on the same concept is expected to be constructed elsewhere in SA.

“We have been engaged to build a similar four-storey building using the same principles,” he says.

Dr Davies came to SA to work in the world of medical imaging and loved it so much he “never went home”.

Moving into the building technology and renewable energy sector, he took notice of SA’s problematic power grid coupled with the community’s ability to embrace out-of-the-box solutions.

“I think people are now eager to embrace alternative energy solutions and storage and they’re open for change,” Dr Davies says.

“More and more people are looking to be autonomous.”

Greenery in the first floor atrium thrive inside.

Fluid Solar House’s 150kW concentrating solar thermal tube system captures and stores heat energy under its car park.

This energy is used to power the building’s heating, ventilation, air conditioning and hot water, while the lighting, lifts and appliances are powered by the 98kW solar system.

Dr Davies says the building’s design allows for comfort for its occupants, with the temperature floating between 22-24C.

The design and planning process involved analysing a year’s worth of data from the Bureau of Meteorology, he says.

“One of the beautiful features is that there’s enough light to allow the plants to grow and they are thriving in this environment,” Dr Davies says.

“I’m very excited – the team that put this together has done a fantastic job.”

The low impact living studios are built and assembled in a matter of days.

Fluid Solar’s building components are manufactured at a factory in Edinburgh, where it also constructs low impact living studios.

Dr Davies says seven of the small houses, up to 10.8m x7.2m in size, will be completed in the northern suburbs by Christmas.

The houses also run on renewable energy and are built and assembled on site in a matter of days.

Dr Davies says the houses would be perfect for use as emergency accommodation in the wake of natural disasters.

He says Fluid Solar Thermal is expected to double its workforce in 2018.

Jamestown’s Christmas wonderland

Hidden down some stairs and underneath a store in Jamestown’s main street is a magical Christmas wonderland waiting to bring joy and delight to its visitors each festive season.

With lights and bubbles, moving displays, music and, of course, Santa waiting eagerly to hear all the Christmas wishes, the Jamestown Magic Cave has been attracting visitors young and old for the past 26 years.

The brainchild of previous upstairs shop owners Pam Sparks, as well as Nell Turner and her late husband Max all those years ago, is now an institution in the area.

Its original visitors are now grown up and bring their own children to enjoy the enchanting display.

Lights and music, bubbles and interactive toys and, of course, Santa await visitors to the Jamestown Magic Cave. PHOTO: Alysha Sparks.

Up to 4000 visitors roll through the cave each year and delight in seeing more than 140 light and motion exhibits.

“Visitors come from near and far,” Pam says.

“We actually have people come from Adelaide just to visit the cave and they say they can drive to Jamestown, visit Santa without the queues, and spend the day in the town enjoying our country hospitality.

“From Adelaide to Port Augusta and Kadina and everywhere in between, people have heard about our Magic Cave and come along each year to visit.”

The best part of all, it is free.

Thanks to an amazing community effort with businesses and locals donating lollies, lolly bags and balloons for the children, along with hours of volunteer time, it is one of the last remaining free Christmas activities on offer.

Down the steps and into the Magic Cave, you will find a magical Christmas wonderland. PHOTO: Alysha Sparks.

Still led by Pam and her merry helpers, she says the effort is worth it to see the joy the Magic Cave brings its visitors.

“It’s really about keeping the spirit of Christmas alive,” she says.

“To see the young and young at heart enjoying it is just so great to see.

“Its location, underneath Glasgow House and down the cellar, makes it all that bit more exciting, a bit of an adventure.

“We believe, and people tell us, there’s nothing else quite like the Jamestown Magic Cave in South Australia.”

The Magic Cave is open Monday to Friday from 11am–1pm, then 2pm–4pm, and Saturdays 9.30am–11.30am. The last day to visit is Saturday, December 23 from 10am-2pm.

Entry is free (however gold coin donations are welcome). Take along some 20c pieces to enjoy a ride on the coin-operated reindeer.

For group bookings phone 0427 427 035.

[mappress mapid=”209″]

Like this story? Nominate a story from your region.
Click here to nominate >>

These inspiring regional stories made possible by:

Major Partner[logooos_saved id=”5491″]Program Partners[logooos_saved id=”17589″]Major Media Partner[logooos_saved id=”5506″]

Spring Gully out of the pickle with the help of SA consumers

Proof in the power of choosing local at the checkout is evident in the revival of one of South Australia’s most loved food suppliers, Spring Gully Foods.

Four and a half years after entering voluntary administration, the iconic SA brand is out of the pickle after clearing the debts which almost forced the company to close its doors.

Spring Gully Foods entered voluntary administration in April, 2013, with debts of more than $4.9 million following a sudden downturn in sales.

However, following an unprecedented public response which cleared supermarket shelves of its product, Spring Gully was able to trade its way out of trouble, even instituting a second shift to keep up with demand.

In July that year, it entered a Deed of Company Arrangement, agreeing to repay its creditors in full while continuing normal day-to-day trade.

I Choose SA ambassador and Spring Gully Foods managing director Kevin Webb.

Final payments under the agreement have now been dispatched to unsecured creditors, and Spring Gully has repaid debtors 102 cents in the dollar.

Spring Gully’s managing director, Kevin Webb, says the company’s turnaround was a testament to the spirit of SA and its support of local companies.

“One of the reasons we were able to trade our way out of debt was because of the support shown by the people of SA,” he says.

“They made a choice to choose SA and we are humbled by that decision.”

Local consumers wiped supermarket shelves in support of the local brand upon hearing of its downturn.

Kevin, an ambassador of the successful I Choose SA campaign, encourages consumers and businesses to look for the State Brand when shopping, as the logo ensures the company is employing South Australians and contributes positively to the future of the State’s economy.

If every SA household were to spend an extra $2.30 a week on local food and beverages, such as Spring Gully products, it could support up to 600 new jobs.

Kevin says it was a relief to be through the most traumatic period of the company’s history.

“It means Spring Gully can look to the future with confidence,” he says.

The I Choose SA campaign is now in its second year and like Spring Gully, more than 3,650 businesses have embraced and registered on the I Choose SA Business Directory, which allows consumers and businesses to find local products, services and suppliers.

Find out more at ichoosesa.com.au.

[logooos_saved id=”13411″]

Outback ambo a real community asset

First it was the outback cop and her sidekick roos.

Now it’s the outback ambulance volunteer and although Susan Pearl has no furry friends by her side – she agrees that life in remote South Australia is never dull.

The Blinman resident is the historic copper town’s first responder, providing locals with emergency medical cover until an ambulance crew arrives from 100km away.

Like some country areas, Blinman has no ambulance station and therefore relies on first responder volunteers like Susan who are first on scene in medical emergencies until an ambulance crew shows.

Former nurse Susan Pearl is the only first responder volunteer in Blinman, supporting the crew 100km away in Hawker.

The former nurse has lived in the Far North historic mining town for the past four years and also runs tours at the Heritage Blinman Mine.

She says she is rarely called to incidents in Blinman – considering its population is only 18 permanent residents – but is rostered on in Hawker when she travels there for training once a fortnight.

Susan also often drives 200km to Port Augusta to serve as a third ambulance officer in the crew.

With South Australia recording the highest population (21.4%) of volunteers among the states, Susan says giving back to her community is simply a part of life.

“When you move to a new community you have to give something back and I’ve always done volunteer work,” she says.

“I’d like to think my first responder role gives people a bit of peace of mind.”

If an incident occurs in Blinman, Susan’s pager will go off and she will gather her medical equipment.

At the same time an ambulance is dispatched from Hawker, 100km away.

Blinman, about 500km from Adelaide, is a historic copper mining town and home to only 18 people.

“Most people in Blinman live on properties and already have first aid training, but they don’t have all the equipment,” Susan says.

“The accidents I attend are mostly motorbike riders who have hit a kangaroo or emu on the road.

“It can be quite challenging because it’s not a controlled environment out here.

“It can be a freezing cold night, driving on slippery dirt roads, or it can be boiling hot with no shelter.”

Susan moved to the Flinders Ranges four years ago after travelling around Australia with her partner Simon.

The couple gave up “well paid jobs” in corporate careers to fulfil a desire for adventure and the outdoors.

Susan had worked in nursing and safety management roles over three decades, helping to improve support for nurses.

But in 2013 while camping in a remote area Simon died from a massive heart attack.

“I had to start life again,” Susan says.

She initially settled in Hawker and began pursuing her Certificate IV in ambulance officer training.

A job opportunity soon arose at the Heritage Blinman Mine, so she moved to the old copper town.

Susan is also manager of the Heritage Blinman Mine, which is open for underground tours until January 15, 2018.

As Blinman has no residential health service, she continued volunteering in the ambulance service as a first responder.

SA Ambulance Service’s Flinders regional team leader Janet Brewer says first responder roles only exist through “community empowerment”.

“Susan is not typical of the general ambulance officer volunteer model, as she is quite remote from her team (In Hawker),” she says.

“Her role only exists because Susan accepted the challenge of being a solo responder for the Blinman community.”

Janet says Susan is supported through the provision of patient treatment kits, a portable defibrillator, radio communication equipment and a reimbursement of travel costs.

She says the SA Ambulance Service relies on local volunteers.

“SA Ambulance is always inviting the community to continue to provide a local ambulance service, so as long as the volunteer has basic good health, a drivers licence and looking to acquire some basic patient care skills,” Janet says.

“They would find it an enjoyable and rewarding experience.”

[mappress mapid=”208″]

Like this story? Nominate a story from your region.
Click here to nominate >>

These inspiring regional stories made possible by:

Major Partner[logooos_saved id=”5491″]Program Partners[logooos_saved id=”17589″]Major Media Partner[logooos_saved id=”5506″]

Uniting Communities in the push for a carbon neutral Adelaide

South Australia’s largest service provider Uniting Communities is on the highway towards carbon neutrality.

The not-for-profit organisation has experienced a 35% reduction in carbon emissions and a $1.6m saving on energy and consumption costs in five years– and its shrinking carbon footprint won’t stop there.

Uniting Communities is undertaking a $100m, multi-use development in Adelaide’s CBD – a project that, once up and running, is expected to further drive down emissions.

Offering specialist disability rental and respite accommodation, retirement living and community spaces, the U City project will also include the organisation’s new headquarters.

Leading the client team building the 20-storey development on the corner of Franklin and Pitt streets, is 30-year experienced civil engineer and project manager, Gary Neave.

Gary Neave presents to prospective residents of the U City building.

Gary was seconded in to oversee the design and construction interface from SA project management business ProManage.

He works with local development managers Trice and national builder Built in the delivery of this unique project.

Gary says U City, designed to the highest possible efficiency and sustainability rating, will have a 55kW rooftop solar system, helping cement Uniting Communities’ role as a leader in carbon neutral initiatives.

“The residential components of U City are designed to achieve a 7.5-star rating for the Nationwide House Energy Rating Scheme,” he says.

“We’ll have double glazing on windows, lighting that turns itself off when you’re not there, and a central air-conditioning plant rather than split systems.

“We are going to put an embedded energy distribution network in the building so … we will sell the power through to our tenants and residents and aim to deliver power notably cheaper than they would get on the market.

“We are reducing the emissions footprint as far as we can.”

U City will have a 50kW rooftop solar system and a raft of other carbon neutral initiatives.

Uniting Communities recently became the first SA organisation and the first registered Australian charity to be NCOS Certified Carbon Neutral.

It’s also the Adelaide City Council’s inaugural Carbon Neutral Adelaide Ambassador, in support of the push for Adelaide to become the world’s first carbon neutral city.

An agency of the Uniting Church, Uniting Communities not only has an environmental conscience, but a social one too.

Its 1500 employees and volunteers support 20,000 South Australians every year through programs, including Lifeline.

While its sole purpose is to provide vital services to people who need them most, carbon neutrality is a key part of the organisation’s identity and culture.

Five years ago Uniting Communities’ management board decided to adopt a suite of internal practices to push a carbon neutral initiative.

Uniting Communities chief executive Simon Schrapel, left, Federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham, SA Climate Change Minister Ian Hunter and Uniting Communities board chair Susan King celebrate the carbon neutral certification.

This included a move towards a “paperless environment”, converting its transport fleet to hybrid vehicles and upgrading lighting and other appliances to LED.

Two of Uniting Communities’ aged care facilities – at Glenelg and Frewville – will have 100kW solar systems installed in 2018.

Uniting Communities is not Gary’s first dip into the world of green buildings and renewable energy projects.

Aside from personally leading two local $400m water infrastructure projects, the team at ProManage was also involved in delivering Sundrop Farms’ sustainable horticulture facility in Port Augusta.

The first of its kind in the world, the $200m facility produces more than 15,000 tonnes of tomatoes annually using solar power and seawater.

Gary says there’s no better place to gain support for large scale renewable energy projects than SA.

“There’s a lot of support in SA for something that’s out of the box in the renewable space,” he says.

“People are watching (SA) with a significant degree of interest … people are starting to take notice and being a part of that is not a bad place to be.”

A print to remember: when SA art meets fashion

What better way to support a South Australian artist, than to wear their work.

The Brand South Australia team has linked up with local artists Emma Hack and Vans The Omega to launch funky t-shirt designs for the I Choose SA campaign.

Visual artist Emma Hack’s print comes from her Geometric Collection, while street artist Joel Moore, behind Vans The Omega, selected one of his graphic prints currently on show at the Published Art House.

Emma has become one of Adelaide’s most prominent creative minds over the past two decades, and is renowned for her works in skin illustration and body paint.

The Emma Hack design.

She recently paired the world of art and wine by launching a gallery and drinking spotARTBAR.

Joel, an internationally recognised street artist, has splashed his signature style not only in Adelaide, but across the globe.

His creations are bold and perfectly balanced between shape and colour.

Guys and gals can grab the limited edition tees exclusively for $34.95 on Brand South Australia’s newly launched online store Shop South Australia.

The Vans The Omega design.

Shop South Australia also stocks State Brand and I Choose SA merchandise, along with an SA online marketplace featuring products from more than 40 local businesses.

The marketplace allows shoppers to find the best products from SA’s top local brands in one online location.

Brand South Australia CEO Karen Raffen says the team is thrilled to have the local artists’ work printed on the I Choose SA tees and launched on the Shop South Australia.

“We wanted to make it easy for consumers to support local businesses, so the marketplace is a natural progression of the I Choose SA campaign,” she says.

“South Australians are passionate about supporting local, plus when we choose local businesses, we’re helping support jobs in our state.”

Check out the cool tees here or visit the marketplace. Or do both!

Visit I Choose SA to find out how you can support our State by choosing South Australian businesses, products and services.

[logooos_saved id=”13411″]

Fancy a quandong pie at an outback café?

An itch for adventure was all it took for the Banfield family to swap city life in Melbourne for a popular bush bakery in Outback South Australia.

Peter and Mary-Lee Banfield settled in the town of Copley, 6km north of Leigh Creek, over a year ago to run the small but productive Copley Bush Bakery and Quandong Café.

The small settlement is mostly recognised for the bush bakery and its use of the crimson-red native fruit, grown in arid areas of Australia and known for its high Vitamin C value and tart flesh.

The bush bakery and quandong café is run by Peter and Mary-Lee Banfield, right, and their son James and his partner Hannah.

But the Banfields – who settled in Copley along with their son James and his partner Hannah – have big boots to fill when cooking the ‘wild peach’.

The bakery’s previous owners held the reigns for the past 25 years, over which thousands of tourists and travellers flocked to try a quandong pie with a dollop of cream.

“The previous owners gave us their recipe book and they continue to help and support us,” says Mary-Lee.

“The main reason that people come to the bush bakery is because they were told about the quandong pies and have to try them.”

In peak tourist season from late March to October, the Bush Bakery and Quandong Café churns out up to 500 quandong pies per day.

The bush bakery sells up to 500 quandong pies a day in the peak tourist season.

The quandongs are collected by local Aboriginal women who pick the cherry-sized sized fruit from trees in the area.

The pickings are then sold to the Banfields and made into the famous quandong pies, in addition to jams, sauces and chutneys.

In busier times of the year the café also whips up quandong ice cream and cheesecake.

“Some people are cautious of the pies because they’ve never heard of quandongs,” says Mary-Lee.

“But I’ve only had two people not like them.

“They’re like a big cherry and taste a lot like rhubarb when they’re cooked.”

Quandong sauces and chutneys are also available at the café.

The bush bakery and quandong café also cooks up an all-day breakfast, pies (including the much-loved chunky steak and pepper pie) and pasties.

According to the 2016 Census, Copley is home to 72 people. It features the Copley Pub, a general store, mechanical workshop, and caravan park in which the quandong café is located.

So what would persuade the Banfields to adopt the blistering summers and never ending horizons of remote SA?

It began when Peter was travelling to the Far North to work in the mining industry when he convinced Mary-Lee to visit.

“He always said to me, ‘come and see where I work’,” Mary-Lee says.

“So on Boxing Day in 41C heat we went and I loved it.”

One would be foolish to travel along The Outback Highway without stopping at Copley and sampling a Quandong delight.

The pair fell for the outback’s tranquility and laid back lifestyle, so much so they bought a house in Copley and frequented the small town as a holiday destination.

“The opportunity came up for us to run the bakery … it took a year to decide but we knew we wanted a lifestyle change and were looking for adventure,” Mary-Lee says.

“It’s relaxed and slow paced – after living in the city, life is very simple.

“The scenery is spectacular and the weather is fantastic compared to gloomy old Melbourne.

“Every day is a perfect blue sky.”

Mary-Lee says the café offers a “relaxed and friendly atmosphere” and a place of comfort for travellers needing to refuel.

“My philosophy is that if you live in the middle of nowhere you can still get beautiful, fresh food,” she adds.

[mappress mapid=”207″]

Like this story? Nominate a story from your region.
Click here to nominate >>

These inspiring regional stories made possible by:

Major Partner[logooos_saved id=”5491″]Program Partners[logooos_saved id=”17589″]Major Media Partner[logooos_saved id=”5506″]

How the Port Augusta community helped repower the town with solar

Port Augusta’s Lisa Lumsden was in the supermarket when news broke of the town securing a $650m solar thermal power plant – the biggest of its kind in the world.

The announcement of SolarRerserve’s Aurora Solar Energy Project came with the promise of 650 construction jobs, 50 ongoing positions and delivered an immediate boost in town prosperity.

“Everybody was congratulating one another,” says Lisa, a local councillor and former Repower Port Augusta chairperson.

“The community attitude shifted because we had a new future coming.”

The news of the 150mW solar thermal power plant came in August 2017, more than a year after Port Augusta’s northern coal-fired power station closed, marking the end of an era.

After a five-year push from community advocacy group Repower Port Augusta for a switch from coal to solar, the town was on track to becoming a renewable energy powerhouse.

The Repower Port Augusta Group with Premier Jay Weatherill, Energy Minister Tom Koutsantonis and SolarReserve CEO Kevin Smith during a tour of the community.

The Aurora Solar Energy Project, located 30km north of Port Augusta, incorporates eight hours (1100mW hours) of storage.

Construction is expected to start in the first quarter of 2018 and be completed by 2020.

It will involve a field of mirrors focusing sunlight onto a receiver at the top of a tower – the tallest of its kind in the world.

PHOTO: SolarReserve.

Liquid salt is pumped through the receiver where it’s heated to 565C before the salt is used to generate steam, drive a single turbine and generate electricity.

It’s designed to store between eight and 10 hours of energy, meaning it can operate when the sun is not shining.

Lisa says its widely recognised that the persistence and grit of the Repower Port Augusta Group helped secure the project.

The group advocated with both the Federal and State governments, held community forums with energy experts and worked with the local council, unions, businesses and environment groups nationwide.

The tower is the tallest of its kind in the world. PHOTO: SolarReserve.

“We were able to create a network of people around Australia to lobby for our town,” Lisa says.

“We want long-term jobs and we know that the coal-fired power station was going to close and that it wasn’t good for the environment.

“Our volunteers were putting in enormous hours and many sacrifices were going on behind the scenes.”

The Aurora Solar Energy Project is one of a handful of renewable energy projects in Port Augusta and expected to increase competition and lower power prices.

“The solar thermal plant will be the jewel in the crown but there are seven other projects under construction,” Lisa says.

“What we’ve got is quite incredible and the rest of the world will be watching.”

Current Repower Port Augusta chairperson Gary Rowbottom is a former Alinta Energy employee, having worked at the coal-fired power station for 17 years.

Repower Port Augusta chairperson Gary Rowbottom at a solar celebration event in September.

He watched the sun set on the Northern Power Station in 2016 but says the move away from coal was “crucial”.

“The cost of conventional (power) generation was going up, the cost of concentrating solar thermal down, and the convergenace of those relative costs reached a point where the gap was not much – with the benefit of no emissions and a reasonable number of jobs,” Gary says.

“I pushed the jobs line pretty hard myself, as that was a differentiating point from other forms of renewable energy, as was, in terms of scale, the amount of storage (mW hours/day) that concentrating solar thermal could provide.”

“There is no better place to build the solar thermal power plant than Port Augusta.”

[mappress mapid=”206″]


This I Choose SA for Industry story is made possible by sponsor, MinterEllison.

Like this story? Nominate a story from your region.
Click here to nominate >>

These inspiring regional stories made possible by:

Major Partner[logooos_saved id=”5491″]Program Partners[logooos_saved id=”17589″]Major Media Partner[logooos_saved id=”5506″]