Controversial Victor Harbor causeway works to pause for whales within 1 kilometre

Controversial works to replace the Victor Harbor causeway will be halted if a whale is spotted within 1 kilometre of pile driving, the South Australian Government has promised.

It follows warnings by Encounter Bay Right Whale Study (EBRWS) chief investigator Claire Charlton, from Curtin University, who said the bay was an established nursing ground for the endangered species.

“The noise from pile driving is an impulsive, low-frequency noise and it overlaps with the sensitive hearing range for the whales,” she told ABC Radio Adelaide.

“We are concerned about behavioural disturbances and the masking of communication.”

The causeway to Granite Island has long been a favourite for tourists.(ABC Radio Adelaide: Caroline Horn)

Whale exclusion zone increased

The Government wants to replace the 150-year-old causeway with a concrete and steel structure at a cost of $31.1 million.

In its revised Environment and Heritage Summary Report released in December, the Department for Infrastructure and Transport (DIT) said a 300-metre exclusion zone would be established during works to drive piles into the seabed.

If a whale, dolphin, seal or little penguin is observed within that zone, all pile driving works would cease and not recommence until the animals moved outside the zone and 30 minutes had passed since the last sighting.

A DIT spokesperson on Friday said a larger exclusion zone was being proposed for whales.

“The shallow water, combined with the modified piling gate to be used during piling works, will limit any potential noise impacts to whales to within 200m of piling works.”

‘Established’ calving area

The EBRWS considers Encounter Bay to begin south-west of Victor Harbor at Newland Head, from where it stretches nearly 40km to the Murray Mouth, east of Goolwa.

It believes that while the bay is currently listed as an “emerging calving aggregation area” for southern right whales — with fewer than three calves born in the area annually — locally collected data suggests the number was more than five.


The EBRWS subsequently wants the area to be considered an “established” aggregation area.

Dr Charlton said the causeway’s construction schedule should be moved so that it did not occur within the May to November whale season.

“It could have a really significant and lasting impact for the whales that are still really establishing in the area of Encounter Bay.”

The DIT spokesperson said a start date would be confirmed once the State Commission Assessment Panel process had been finalised.

“With the proposed precautions and mitigation measures in place … there should be no need to stop piling from May to November, as any whales spotted approaching or within the exclusion zone would result in all piling works temporarily ceasing,” he said.

Protest petition passes 10,000

The Government last year declared that the 150-year-old causeway “was approaching the end of its useful life”, despite having recently undertaken repair works so that one of the world’s last remaining horse-drawn trams could continue to operate.

A horse and a tram, with people sitting on the open-air roof, cross a wooden causeway.
The horse tram crosses the Victor Harbor causeway.(Supplied: Brian Walker)

It was also despite Freedom of Information documents revealing that the same engineering company that recommended the causeway be replaced in 2019, in 2010 outlined how it should be preserved due to its importance for tourism and the local community.

A protest petition launched last year against replacing the heritage causeway has attracted more than 10,000 signatures.

The DIT spokesperson said the Government had been undertaking engagement activities with the community and key stakeholders since 2019, including an information session, uploading information to a website, and housing a project team at the local information centre for face-to-face contact.

He said further public information sessions would be held on February 12 and 14.

“The department is committed to continuing to engage with the community throughout the project,” the spokesperson said.

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Kilometre Zero – Good Food Gold Coast

When it comes to running a food business, the ‘frontman’ counts. It’s essential to have a dynamic personality that people gravitate to, a natural charm that entices us off our seats.

Fortunately, Benita Salvatore, the proprietor of Kilometre Zero cooking classes, has personality in bucketloads.

“Ciao e Benvenuti!” Benita greets fellow foodies enthusiastically as they arrive. “Hello and welcome!”

Benita herself has arrived earlier, tool kits in tow to arrange her work area ready to take an Italian cooking class in our home. As host, all I had to do was arrange the dining table and drinks for guests. Simple!

A first-generation Australian, Benita spent her childhood at her mother and grandmother’s apron strings, listening and watching as they cooked recipes handed down through generations. Later the family enjoying the food they’d prepared as it was eaten around the communal table. It was inevitable that, as a young mum herself, Benita would turn out to be a great cook.

There’s nothing quite like Italian food to make you feel like part of a group. It’s like a great big hug. Eat Italian with friends, it’s said, and you’ll stay friends for a long time.

It’s that passion that Benita is keen to share with Gold Coast foodies, her face beaming even as she carries all the equipment and ingredients into our home to hold the class.

There are several options for classes ranging from two to three courses, menus originating in three different regions of Italy: Umbria, Lazio and Abruzzo, with prices per head outlined on the Kilometre Zero website, as well as dietary adaptions available on request.

Together with a bunch of five other foodies, we’re learning the tips and tricks for cooking up an Italian feast from Umbria, including making our own pasta at home, learning how simple it is to make bruschetta (with a little trick), cooking Napoli sauce to a family recipe, and tiramisu to a recipe from the other side of Benita’s family.

It’s always the asides that make a class for me, the little tips that I haven’t known, the shortcuts or substitutions that make a dish a cut above the rest. Over three and a half hours In Benita’s class, I learn how to improve the texture of my Napoli sauce, presentation tricks for tiramisu and the pasta-making equipment that could change my life!

Following the class, Benita emails us all the recipes for the dishes we made in class, her own family classics that will soon become our own home favourites.

Passionate about her heritage, Benita leads a class full of culinary tips and family stories. Several times she tells a joke and even breaks out into song as she cooks.

Using recipes simple enough to cook easily at home, this class is a total pleasure mostly because of our teacher. Benita’s enthusiasm for making fresh, simple, delicious Italian food makes us fall in love with Italy all over again…and we don’t even have to leave home to visit.

NOTE: Class details can be found on the Kilometre Zero website.

Good Food Gold Coast dined as a guest of Kilometre Zero.

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Asteroid space capsule completes 5 billion kilometre mission, touching down in a blaze of light in outback South Australia

A space capsule has landed in a blaze of light in the South Australian outback after travelling more than 5 billion kilometres on a six-year mission to collect samples from a faraway asteroid.

Scientists hope the mission will help answer some of the most fundamental questions about how our solar system formed and where elements, such as water, came from.

The Hayabusa2 spacecraft had successfully released the small capsule on Saturday and sent it toward Earth to deliver samples from a distant asteroid that could provide clues to the origin of the solar system and life on our planet, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) said.

Early on Sunday the capsule briefly turned into a fireball as it re-entered the atmosphere 120km above Earth.

The Hayabusa2 space capsule’s re-entry plan.(JAXA)

At about 10km above ground, a parachute was to open to slow its fall and beacon signals were to be activated to indicate its location.

Beacon signals have been detected, suggesting a parachute has also successfully opened and the capsule landed safely in a remote, sparsely populated area of Woomera, Australia, according to JAXA official Akitaka Kishi.

He said JAXA staff would use a helicopter to find the capsule.

A retrieval of the pan-shaped capsule, about 40 centimetres in diameter, was due to start after sunrise, he said.

JAXA officials said they hoped to retrieve the capsule by Sunday evening before a preliminary safety inspection at a Australian lab and bring it home early next week.

1 gram of material ‘enough’ to answer science’s questions

A rocket launches from a launching site.
Launch of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s Hayabusa2 space mission in 2014.(JAXA)

Launched from Japan’s Tanegashima Space Centre in 2014, it took four years for the Hayabusa2 spacecraft to reach its destination — the lumpy, diamond-shaped asteroid Ryugu.

Scientists said the asteroid was an example of the kind of meteorite that may have struck the early Earth to deliver the water and organic materials that make our planet habitable.

Australian National University space rock expert Trevor Ireland, who is in Woomera for the arrival of the capsule, said he expected the Ryugu samples to be similar to the meteorite that fell in Australia near Murchison in Victoria more than 50 years ago.

“The Murchison meteorite opened a window on the origin of organics on Earth because these rocks were found to contain simple amino acids as well as abundant water,” Dr Ireland said.

The spacecraft spent more than a year on the asteroid, where it picked up about a gram of space dirt.

Five antennas, four marine radar stations and a winged drone were in place to help scientists track the capsule down.

For Hayabusa2, it is not the end of the mission it started in 2014.

It is now heading to a small asteroid called 1998KY26 on a journey slated to take 10 years one way, for possible research including finding ways to prevent meteorites from hitting Earth.


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Three men arrested over theft of more than half a kilometre of copper cable in Adelaide

Three men have been charged with stealing more than half a kilometre of underground copper cable in Adelaide’s west after being caught in the act by an off-duty police officer this week.

SA Police says further charges are expected to be laid, after investigations at properties linked to the trio uncovered weapons, cash, illicit drugs including cannabis and a further 275 metres of stolen copper.

It is alleged that 450 metres of piping was stolen from Port Road at Hindmarsh over three days in late October, with the suspects using two trucks and winches to remove the cabling, estimated to have weighed more than a tonne.

Police found more stolen copper cable after searching three properties linked to the suspects.(Supplied: SA Police)

On Thursday evening an off-duty police officer noticed trucks parked at the South and Port Road intersection, with three men removing cables.

Further investigations revealed about 200 metres of copper cabling had been removed.

A 55-year-old Morphett Vale man, a 48-year-old man from Broadview and a 44-year-old man from Woodcroft were charged with theft and were refused bail after appearing in court yesterday.

Four lines of copper cable lay on the footpath next to a multi-lane road
The copper cable was allegedly stolen from Port Road which has been undergoing upgrades in recent years.(Supplied: SA Police)

Telstra South Australia regional general manager Mark Bolton said the copper network was crucial for communications across the state.

Investigations into the theft are ongoing.

Teenager arrested after city brawl

A teenager has suffered face and hand injuries after being slashed in a city brawl involving 20 people overnight.

The fight broke out near the Rundle Mall tram stop at 2:30am on Saturday.

The 19-year-old Magill was taken to the Royal Adelaide Hospital for treatment.

Police saw the suspect in Pirie Street a short time later on CCTV and arrested him in possession of a multi-tool allegedly used in the assault.

The 21-year-old Brahma Lodge man was arrested and is expected to be charged today.

Man arrested over taxi theft

Meanwhile a man has been arrested after allegedly holding up a taxi driver overnight.

Police say the man threatened the driver about 1:30am while travelling with three other people to Mawson Lakes.

The 27-year-old man from Taperoo stole the driver’s phone and cash before fleeing the car on Main North Road at Prospect.

He was later found by police and has been charged with aggravated robbery.

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Autistic teenager found one kilometre from home

The heartbroken family of a teenage boy found dead in dense Victorian bushland yesterday have broken down as they approached the scene of his death.

In a devastating detail it has also emerged the 14-year-old’s body was discovered just over one kilometre from the family home where he went missing on Tuesday.

William Wall was last seen at 6:45am on Tuesday morning after leaving his home in Launching Place, a town 54km east from Melbourne’s CBD.

He told his family he would be back in 15 minutes, which wasn’t unusual; the “fitness fanatic” would usually run 25 kilometres.

“There was nothing out of the ordinary, he’s left money at home, doesn’t have a myki or use public transport, his push bike is still at home,” Williams, dad, Shane Wall said earlier.

“It’s absolutely the first time he’s got lost. He’s a kid that sticks to himself, does all his school work, so this is really out of the ordinary.”

But more than 24 hours later, the Wall family was facing a heartbreaking walk of their own in wet and muddy conditions.

William’s body was found just before 5pm on Wednesday at the end of a residential street at Yarra Junction after a huge air and ground search mission that saw close to 100 personnel from Victoria Police and dozens of State Emergency Service units combine forces with locals.

The boy’s body was found by a member of the local boxing club.

Police say they are not treating the death as suspicious and will prepare a report for the coroner.

William was described as being 177cm tall, with a lean build and mousy brown hair. He was dressed in a dark hooded jumper, trackpants and had a hydration pack across his chest.

Family friend Tyson Truscott told The Herald Sun: “He was a great kid. There is nothing bad about him. He loved going for runs, he went flat out,” said Mr Truscott.

His family were pictured breaking down as they visited the scene of his death, exhausted and depleted after joining the search mission that saw rain and temperatures drop to 7C.

Just hours before, William’s father had fronted media in tears, asking locals to put out protein bars and fruit for his son and claiming his disappearance was out of character.

The mood on Wednesday night, according to reporter James Hancock in Warburton, was quiet and sombre.


The distressing news of his death came amid reports those who had wanted to join the search were turned away due to treacherous conditions.

William’s older brother Harrison, told Seven News he and other brother Jake were turned away after spending Tuesday night scanning the area on dirt bikes.

“We’ve been told by all the police, saying we’re not allowed to help because we’re past the five kilometre radius, which is going to put a bit more of a delay in finding him,” his older brother, Harrison, .

William suffered from high functioning autism and it was feared he may have become disorientated without food due to the length of time he had been missing.

Despite William’s body being located so close to home, in excess of 100 personnel from Victoria Police and the State Emergency Service had centred their search around the tracks along Warburton and the Warburton Rail Trail, which runs for approximately 40km across rough terrain. Specifically, they focused on a 10km radius around the area.

The O’Shannassy Aqueduct Trail in Warburton was also a focus, located 16 kilometres away from William’s home. Police said earlier they had received a number of tips of “credible” sightings around those areas.

Police at the station cited “quite treacherous, wet and slippery” conditions as the reason for not wanting extra help from the public.

A reporter at the scene as police delivered the news to frustrated volunteers described the mood as “tense”.

“This is not to do with COVID. We don’t want to bring this into a COVID conversation. What we are doing is focusing our search on Will,” Inspector Jason Goddard, local area commander for the Yarra Ranges police service, said.

Still, many volunteers searched on their own.

On Wednesday, Mr Wall said he had slept very little in the past 24 hours.

Mr Wall said William loved dogs, liked healthy food, and was a very energetic and athletic teen who could run 20-30km.

“It wouldn’t be that much of a stretch for him,” he said.

He said he had been overwhelmed by support from the community.

“This has just blown me away, the support from local people, Facebook, community noticeboards, it’s fantastic, it’s really top notch and the police and SES have been great.”

He said their family – including William’s two brothers, Harrison, 18, and Jake, 21, and sister Sophie, 10 – absolutely missed him

“Just come home, we want you home,” Mr Wall said.

“There’s heap of people around, I thank the police, his brother’s mates, they’ve all been out all night, and I just want everyone to be safe.”

The Prime Minister is among a number of high profile Australians to send their condolences, tweeting his “heart goes out” to William’s family after the “very sad news”.

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