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ABC News 24 Australia Wide -

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Hello and welcome to Australia Wide. I'm Yassmin Abdel-Magied. This week on the program,
the strength of a good friendship.

MAN: Our story starts
70-odd years ago. I can remember
sitting on our back steps when Mr Chamberlain broadcast
that we were at war with Germany. We flew Mosquitoes
for the rest of the war. Here they are! I couldn't believe it. Over 60 years - we'd finally
come into contact again. As you know, it's a very special
10 days here at Newmarket... Also on the show,
the end of an era at Newmarket. GINNY STEIN: The hammer
is being swung at Newmarket for the last time. For the Inglis family, this final sale is a bittersweet
moment in a very long horse history. A horse sale has
a lot of magic about it. A horse can change people's lives.

And the rising young stars blazing
a trail on the football field. Since the AFLW started,
people are getting more interested. They're not just thinking,
"Oh, the boys can only play."

It's, like, kind of like my dream
to play on the MCG.

First today - in 2012, the tiny town of Girgarre
in Victoria's Goulburn Valley suffered a huge blow when Heinz, one of its biggest
employers, shut up shop. The community of only 190 realised
it had to find new ways to survive, and five years on,
the town is thriving.

Peter Lusted to find out
how Girgarre turned itself around.

PETER LUSTED: At first glance, Girgarre looks like
just another dying country town.

It doesn't have a pub, and the supermarket, butcher and cafe
have all been closed for years. So it's changed a bit around here,
Jan? It certainly has. Once upon a time, you could
come into this little old cafe here and buy
the most magnificent hamburger or a great sandwich for lunch, but those days have gone.

Many of the region's dairy farmers sold up and left the area
in the early 2000s due to drought. Things got worse 10 years later
when Girgarre's main employer, Heinz, announced
it was shutting its sauce factory, taking with it 146 jobs. Oh, it's a very sad day.
It's the end of an era. With the town facing a dire future,
the locals needed to act.

Our attitude was
that we had change - not somebody had
to change it for us. That if someone was gonna save us,
we had to save ourselves.

And idea put
to the Girgarre Development Group to start a farmer's market
was initially ridiculed, but the town needed something.

I think that's the difference
with Girgarre to a lot areas - that people will say,
"Well, let's give it a go." Morning, Jenny. How are we?
WOMAN: Hello. Good, thank you. We've come for some money.
Yeah, I know you have. (LAUGHS)
Oh, thanks very much. The first market was only small, but it has grown steadily
from six stalls to 150, and on its best days,
welcomes up to 2,500 visitors. Mummy - look, a baby chick.
WOMAN: Yeah. 10 out here. $10.
On the Bantam chicken. MAN: Yep!
12. 14. 16. The chook auction
is used to fund the upkeep of the local football,
tennis and netball facilities. We've probably easily generated
$50,000 or $60,000 to support
the local sports facilities. Other stalls fund
the Country Fire Authority, the RSL and a community car
for medical appointments. So we don't have to go sticking
our hands in our pockets and go ask the local shire
for money - we actually get our money ourselves. So... We work for it.

Girgarre suffered another blow when its kindergarten
was closed by the local council.

They there were concerns
that the primary school would be next and it would be all over
for the town. Well, the school
in any small town is the hub. You take the school out of the town, and suddenly the town
becomes an old town. But using money
raised at the markets, Girgarre kept the kindergarten open
for six months until another provider was found. There's always another option. You don't have to
take no for an answer. (COUNTRY MUSIC) The success of the markets
led Girgarre to its next idea...

..a music festival for people
who've never played an instrument. Well, that raised a few eyebrows,
I can tell you, in Girgarre.

To start with, we had
three musicians on a bale of hay with 12 people sitting around
enjoying their offerings, and then they started the workshops
the year after. But we've grown now to... Probably 800 or 900 people
coming through the workshops. It's a remarkable effort for a town that by its own admission
had no musical history. We never forget the beginners,
because this is where we started - at Girgarre, not knowing anything.

With so many new musicians
in the town and surrounding regions, they needed a regular place to play,
and Girgarre provided it. One, two, three, four. The music festival spilled over
into monthly jam sessions known as Jirgarre jams, attracting up to 100 people.

We get people, like, from Bendigo
and...Terang, Shepparton and Wangaratta,
Yarrawonga. It's amazing where they come from. # Talk about you and me # And the games he will play # Oh, oh. #

(LAUGHTER)
You gonna record that? (LAUGHS) The sound of the music, the sound of the laughter
and the sound of the fellowship is unbelievable
in a little community like ours. I think we might need you
on this one. A grant from Arts Victoria brought international artist
Graeme Leak to Girgarre to run a music program
at the local school. One, two, three. Here we go. And...

The program runs a junk orchestra. It required musical instruments
made from hard rubbish, and the community responded with
typical creativity and enthusiasm. (PLAYS RESONANT NOTES) This is an extraordinary instrument
made by a local man, Wallace. He's in his 80s. With a soldering iron, out
of the tin from the roof of his war, a working violin. Just beautiful. The appeal of the program
has helped the school of 35 children significantly increase its numbers. This year we've got 10 preps,
and that's unheard of. Like, I've been here 15 years and that's the best intake
we've ever had. And a couple of those families
chose our school because of our music program.

The Girgarre Development Group's
next goal is a 20-year plan to develop
this site into a botanical garden. We're all banded together as one
for the benefit of the community, so...it certainly is a community
that's surviving and thriving.

With Heinz long gone, Girgarre's had to come up with
creative ways to fund itself. But more important than the money that the markets, the Moosic Muster
and the Jirgarre jams have supplied is the community, the life and the
vibrancy they've brought to Girgarre. We've got a really strong community
of doing people. You give them an idea
and they make it happen. And when you put a filter
over the top of a great idea, the two marry together
so successfully. Girgarre believes
it has created a template for other towns facing extinction
to turn their luck around. What they've gotta do
is search for the ideas that can help empower
their own communities. 'Cause nothing's impossible -
we found that one out.

Peter Lusted reporting.

Our next story is testament
to the strength of a good friendship.

Two Second World War veterans
grew up next to each other on the outskirts of London. One flew with the RAF, and the other
was sent to Myanmar with the army.

Now in their 90s,
they both live in Australia, and had a lifetime of stories
to share when they were reunited in Adelaide.

MAN: When I first met Mike,
I suppose I was about 12 and Mike was about 10
or thereabouts. We were very close neighbours.

Yeah, this was an awfully
long time ago, don't forget. Our story starts, what...

MAN: Pre-war. ..about 12,5000 miles away and...
70-odd years ago.

That's real flying.
Yeah. When John came to Adelaide, I took him to Hindmarsh Island to have a look at
the old Tiger Moth training aircraft that he used to fly. It brought back
a lot of memories for him.

I can remember
sitting our back steps when Mr Chamberlain broadcast
that we were at war with Germany.

Didn't have any regrets
about the war then. I felt excited. I thought it was gonna make life
more interesting. Which it did.
It did.

We were very close neighbours,
almost touching, actually. It was so close we strung a telegraph cable
between the two houses and used to tap to each other
by the Morse key. Didn't we, Mike? Remember that?
Yeah, that's so. Later, that helped me
pass the RAF test. I knew a bit about Morse by then.

John went away to Canada
doing flying training. I was itching to go,
but I was too young. When the war started,
I was only barely 14. And, uh...

..when he came home again...

..he gave me all the gen
on how to pass the medical. And they said, "Sergeant Beeching,
your night vision is exceptional. "So you'll be going away to be
trained as a night fighter pilot."

They gave me 25 minutes
on a Mosquito and turned me loose, and, uh...that was a beginning
a wonderful friendship.

A letter arrives. Opened it up.

'Cause I had a number
and everything - I was in the RAFVR - volunteer reserve.

And it...thanked me
very much for my services. A real bullshit letter, you know? "But the army need good men
and all that, "and you've been transferred
into the army instead."

I was sent to Burma, where I joined
the 2nd Battalion Suffolk Regiment fighting the Japanese.

And there were still parties of Japs
moving about, but...very disorganised
and half-starved, and most of them
didn't have any medical care.

We flew Mosquitoes
for the rest of the war. They were not
the easiest aeroplane to fly. The seats
were extremely uncomfortable. They had armour plate
for a back rest.

After about two hours, three hours
flying, it was like an epidural. Your legs were just stone dead.

Basic job was, yes, was to find and shoot down
and German night fighters. They were mortified when
they saw the Mosquitoes in the air. In actual fact,
it was called Mosquitopanik, and... Panic with a 'K', you know. They just didn't come near us.

February 14th was the Dresden raid. We could see Dresden
from about 50 miles away. It was just one great mass of fire. It was dreadful,
absolutely dreadful.

And the biggest tragedy for me
was a week later, my dear mate Reg was shot down
and killed in a Lancaster on his last operation, and that was
within a month of the war ending, which was an absolute tragedy.

Couldn't make many friends
in the war because you didn't know whether you were gonna be sitting down to
breakfast with them the next day. But that was one of the things
at Bomber Command - I mean, that happened to everybody
in the end, and it did make one rather callous,
I suppose, which stayed with us
for the rest of our lives. I mean, the loss of people now, it's
never meant much to me, you know? I'd say, "Oh, if they're dead,
they're dead. "That's the end of that."

After the war, I moved to Australia and unbeknownst to me, John had
moved to New Zealand back in 1953.

My sister, who also lives
in New Zealand, saw a newspaper article recently about
a Bomber Command memorial which featured John. So she looked him up
and gave him a call.

This strange lady phoned up one day and she said, "Are you the John Beeching
who used to play with Mike Lockyer "in Noel Park?" I said, "Yes, I am indeed!" She said, "Well, I'm Sonya." I said, "How do you do?" And she said, "If you want to
get in touch with Michael, "his Skype address
is such and such." So...without any further ado at all,
I got on to the computer and within minutes, we were
virtually talking to each other, and from that day onwards - and this was about two years ago - we've been having
long, one-hour conversations, usually of a Sunday afternoon,
on Skype.

Here they are!
Oh, gosh. Here they are.
Here we are, dear boy. It's only taken 74 years. (LAUGHS)
(LAUGHS) I couldn't believe it. Over 60 years -
we'd finally come into contact again. Because I'd often thought
probably by now, he'd passed on.

He hadn't grown at all
and neither had I - only outwards. So we were both sort of very pleasantly surprised
to see each other. See each other. And of course I'd never met
Kate before, needless to say, so it was all very happy. Yeah, it was. Something we've both really been
looking forward to seeing, you know? It was great. Absolutely marvellous.

After more than 100 years, the auctioneer's hammer
has come down for the final time at Sydney's
famous Newmarket horse yards.

The fifth-generation owned business has been forced out due to rising
property prices and a lack of space.

Ginny Stein went along
to witness the end of an era. (AUCTIONEER CALLING INDISTINCTLY)

As you know, it's a very special
10 days here at Newmarket. We appreciate all of you being here to celebrate with us what has been a tremendous
100-year history of this complex. GINNY STEIN: The hammer is being
swung at Newmarket for the last time. Ladies and gentlemen, it's a running
ped, as you can see down the page. I think the colt speaks for himself. Outstanding type he is. Start me where you like. Who's got, what, 300 for him? In this final sales week, cashed-up
buyers ensured money flowed freely. And 425, and you're gonna miss him! At 425 - quick if you want him! 50. 450. 450. 450. Hey, come on - the good ones only
cost a little bit more, you know. At 475. At 475. What do they say, Brad?
At $475,000... ..I sell him. Done. Well, originally I think maybe I can
get him around $350,000 to $400,000, but... He looks really nice
and too attractive, and so, um...our client, we decide
to just go for a little bit more. Yes, the horse industry
in New South Wales, in Australia, is going as strongly
as any other part of the world. It's phenomenal, really. For the Inglis family, this final sale is a bittersweet
moment in a very long horse history. A horse sale
has a lot of magic about it. One way of looking at it is
a horse can change people's lives. This has been the centre of the
horse business in Sydney, hasn't it? Yes, it has. You might say historically, perhaps
even the southern hemisphere - certainly for Australia, given it's been the oldest
and most traditional place for selling the quality of the whole
crop of the yearlings each year, and breeding stock as well. What's your first memory? Having been coming here
since I was a little boy, my first memories are sort of...
are just always Newmarket.

I can go back a fair way,
unfortunately, to the old sale ring, the old open-air sale ring
with a wood-chip ring and, uh...and, uh...the great old
names leading yearlings those days - Darcy Waldron and Max Crockett, that always led the yearlings in. When the last lot is knocked down, not only for myself and family, but I'm sure for staff and ex-staff
and long-time vendors, it's a pretty momentous occasion. Ladies and gentlemen,
every so often, you see a horse that's been a beautiful foal
and a beautiful weanling. And here he is today in all his
glory, ladies and gentlemen. At $2 million. At $2 million. Would anyone else like to come in?
At $2 million. Here's your opportunity. At $2.4 million, I sell him. Any more? I'm selling this time. At $2.4 million, he goes... Done.

$2.4. Congratulations. Just hold your applause, please. Hold your applause.
We'll let the colt walk out. Remember him. You'll see him on the racetrack
and he'll win a very good race. Stonestreet, Culmore and Aquus.
Thank you very much. Thank you very much, team. Auctioneer Jonathan Darcy started
with the Inglis company 30 years ago. I started selling for the company
at the country sales. Some seven or eight years later, and I suppose I've been part
of the selling team here for the best part of 25 years now, so...it's, uh...it's
been an honour and a privilege to be able to stand up here and sell some of the fine horseflesh that we've had the pleasure
of offering over that time. For the Inglis family,
horses are their business. But as a fifth-generation
privately owned company, they have also built a reputation
on how they do business. JAMIE: I think importantly
what it does mean is that our forefathers sort of
laid an outstanding foundation for our business through, you know, dealing fairly
and treating people well and instilling that sort
of integrity into us that, you know,
the client is always right. Treat people well
and your business will go on. Because this is
a people's business - horses bring us together, but it's all about
treating people well. And so we've got a lot
to thank our forefathers for.

Moving from the city centre
out to Warwick Farm has not been an easy
decision to make. Horses were sold here, believe it
or not, before Inglis came here. So they were selling horses
here in 1867. At the same time, William Inglis
was selling horses for our company in Pitt Street in the city and decided to move out here
in 1906. All the way from Pitt Street
to Randwick? And, you know, back then people were
saying, "Gee, that's a long way. "You sure want to move
from Pitt Street to Randwick?" You know, and some people are asking
the same thing now about us moving to Warwick Farm. Reality is if we had more room here, if we had more room
and there was parking and... ..I don't think we'd be leaving. It's just that...
we've just outgrown it. The horses are moving out. New homes will soon be built -
for humans. ARTHUR: Yeah.
It's been sold to CBUS - Construction and Building Union
Superannuation, which represents some 700,000
Australian families' investments, and so they've got
a property division, which is a subsidiary of theirs, and CBUS Property have already
progressed a long way towards all the approvals
they need for medium density.

But the horses won't be forgotten.

There's gonna be a park
in the centre of it where our sale ring and famous fig
tree is - a half-hectare park. The Big Barn stays - the heritage-listed stable
we have on-site here and the curtilage around that. The old house stays, and there's
all the significant trees staying.

Ginny Stein there. The inaugural AFL Women's competition
was a surprise hit over the summer, attracting huge crowds
and even bigger television ratings.

And now it seems the success has
filtered through to the grassroots. What was once a fringe sport
is now enjoying a boom, with thousands of girls joining
junior AFL teams across the country.

Danny Morgan reports.

DANNY MORGAN: In times past, the names called out during training
at junior AFL clubs like this one might have been
Josh or Jacob or William. Yasmin! MAN: 10 seconds. But the Richmond Junior Football Club
in Melbourne's inner east is undergoing
somewhat of a transformation. Girls that did it last week, can you
go to the front of the lines, 'cause you're gonna show everyone
else how to do it. Two seasons ago, the club only entered teams
in the boys competition. This year it has enough players
for seven girls teams. One. Two. One. It's part of a nationwide trend - suddenly AFL for girls is cool, and it's not hard
to see the main driving force. What has changed is it's been
like the AFLW has been invented. Since the AFLW started,
people are getting more interested. They're not just thinking,
"Oh, the boys can only play."

The AFLW is the new Australian Rules
national women's competition. Sensing a growing appetite
for women's footy, AFL officials brought forward
the start date by several years, and have been stunned by the results. The first game in early February was
a lockout, attracting 24,000 fans. COMMENTATOR:
It's a new era in our great game. Among the stars who are becoming
household names is Emma Kearney, the Western Bulldogs midfielder who until now had been used to
playing in front of a
handful of family and friends. To run out in our first game
at Whitten Oval in front of tens of thousands
of people was incredible. And then obviously
winning that game, and you've got all the fans and...young boys and girls
at the fence wanting your signature or a selfie
or something like that... Yeah, it was just
an incredible experience. So today we're gonna be
doing some football. Um...who's watched
the AFL Women's competition? The secondary school teacher knows some of the children
hanging over the fence very well - they're her students at Mount Alexander College
in Melbourne's inner west. When I saw her and that game, I was, like, "Wow, surprise.
Can't believe she's at our school." She inspired me more than anyone. Like, she was amazing. Kick it back to me, Amren.

Yep, beautiful. As a teacher,
Kearney is better placed than most to gauge the impact the new
competition is having on young girls. When you've got
a national competition and how successful it's been, it's only going to encourage girls
to get involved. More girls are getting
really excited and starting to talk about it and
wanting to actually play footy now. Instead of having it like that...
Yep. ..try it on the sides of the ball. Mount Alexander College student
Jale Arik is one of many girls who took up
football at primary school age, only to stop soon after because they
were forced to play against boys. I would usually get injured
after games and so I just had to stop because there was not enough
opportunities for females. Nice and loud. Nice and loud, girls.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. Now that girls' teams are sprouting
up, she's contemplating a comeback. I love footy so much.
It's a good sport. Yeah, what's prompted you to go back,
or possibly go back and play? Miss Kearney.
She inspired me a lot to go back. Just a demonstration,
really quickly.

Bang. Beautiful tackle. Kearney herself gave the game away
as a 12-year-old and only returned eight years later when she could join
a local women's team. A talented cricketer who opens
the bowling for the Melbourne Stars in the Big Bash League, she may soon have the option
of becoming a full-time professional. At this stage, I'll still try
to balance doing both sports and also teaching. Um...it has its challenges. No doubt that I've been really
exhausted over the past few months with the Big Bash
and then the AFL season. Whether I go part-time, which, you
know, is definitely a possibility, and it's probably a good possibility because it means that financially
I'm in a good place with my sports - they're paying me enough
to be able to do that. So we're gonna do need a ruck
to start with, but everyone's gonna get a go. Getting girls to go back to footy
or try the game for the first time inspires Richmond under-12s girls
coach Lachlan Mosley. Earlier this year,
he won a local community award for his work encouraging girls
to play sport. His club is reaping the benefits. It's changed the culture
of the footy club a little bit - for the better, I think. Now that
there's so many girls around, it's probably
just made it a bit more... I don't know
what the word for it is - balanced or a bit more equal,
I suppose.

Giving girls an equal chance
to compete will be a challenge for clubs
and governments in the future, as booming numbers
stretch facilities. We've only got two change rooms, and on game days, when there's
girls...two girls teams playing and then two boys teams
or vice versa, it's a nightmare. That's, um...yeah,
it doesn't work, really. So we've gotta move forward on that.

We need more funding
at grassroots level, not just for the...you know,
facilities and things like that, but also good coaches. If we can't foster
the young juniors, then there's gonna be no skill there to then, um...bring into
that national competition.

In some ways,
these are good problems to have. I think that's so exciting that
young girls are taking up the game. You know, they're getting active
and getting fit and healthy, which is really important
in...in developing young females.

While participation is the main goal, it seems
the lure of a professional career is allowing girls to dream big.

I always wanted to play footy. Now I can go out there
and play some day. Very excited -
hoping I'll be in the AFLW one day. It's, like, kind of, like,
my dream to play on the MCG. COMMENTATOR: Bounces...through! (CHEERING, APPLAUSE)

Danny Morgan reporting. And that's all we have time for
this week on Australia Wide. I hope you've enjoyed the show. And remember, you can catch any of our stories
on iview or on our website. I'm Yassmin Abdel-Magied. See you next time on Australia Wide.

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