Year in Review Part 4: A look at the stories that finished off the year from October to December

Jamie ThannooGeraldton Guardian
Local Telethon star Pippa May Funneman, 9, and her mother Rochelle Funneman.
Camera IconLocal Telethon star Pippa May Funneman, 9, and her mother Rochelle Funneman. Credit: Carwyn Monck/Kalgoorlie Miner/RegionalHUB

In some ways, 2022 ended very differently to how it began. Lockdown had ended and COVID was something many had become familiar with. Some things did not change: farmers were once again celebrating a great harvest and the Batavia Motor Inne continued to make headlines. Here are some of the stories that grabbed our attention in the last quarter of the year.


October kicked off with the Big Sky Readers and Writers Festival, bringing in talented authors from across the country including Emily Brugman and Geraldton’s very own Holden Sheppard.

Holden Sheppard
Camera IconHolden Sheppard. Credit: Supplied/TheWest

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Purple scooters have been a common sight throughout Geraldton these past few months. After its first month, the signs showed Beam’s e-scooter trial had kicked off to a good start, with the company revealing Geraldton locals had covered 90,000km in 29,000 trips.

The city’s relationship with Qantas took another turn for the worse when the company announced on October 7 it would be running a limited schedule of Geraldton-Perth flights until March 2023. With only a single flight on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, many professionals, including health workers, complained that the move increased their costs and cut into their working time.

A Geraldton District Court jury was locked in deliberation for 10 hours over the case of truck driver Richard Lindsay Murray, who was accused of being involved in an incident which caused the death of a cyclist and failing to report it to authorities. While the prosecution pointed to a number of inconsistencies in Mr Murray’s story, his defence argued there was not enough proof to incriminate him and in the end the jury found Mr Murray not guilty.

One incredible cross-country story came to an end in Geraldton on October 14, when “Camel Man” John Arthur Elliott, who had been travelling across Australia with a pack of camels and his dog for three years and six months, finished his trek in Geraldton.

Camel Man AKA John Elliott stops at Rocks Laneway for a beer break.
Camera IconCamel Man AKA John Elliott stops at Rocks Laneway for a beer break. Credit: Jessica Moroney/Geraldton Guardi/RegionalHUB

The 2022 Mid West & Gascoyne Major Projects conference saw many important figures talk about ambitious plans for the region’s future, but one announcement in particular stood out when Hydrogen Industry Minister Alannah MacTiernan announced work would likely begin on a hydrogen hub in Oakajee in 2024 after many years of delays.

BP's head of integrated solutions Justin Nash alongside Hydrogen Industry Minister Alannah MacTiernan following the State Governmen'ts Oakajee announcement.
Camera IconBP's head of integrated solutions Justin Nash with Hydrogen Industry Minister Alannah MacTiernan. Credit: Lachlan Allen/RegionalHUB

On October 18 we highlighted the important work of the Hope Community Services rehabilitation facility, which helps people recover from addiction with a community focused approach that gives residents an opportunity to build skills and responsibility.

In State-wide news, WA dug deep to raise $71.4 million for another successful Telethon fundraiser on October 22. At the Geraldton Guardian, we reported on the inspirational story of Pippa May Funneman, a Geraldton girl with cerebral palsy who has both raised money for Telethon and been supported by the fundraising efforts herself.

The problem of juvenile rock throwers became such a concern that Geraldton police officer-in-charge Chris Martin felt compelled to put out a warning that offenders would be arrested if caught.

The hype and concern around the return of cruise ships with the Coral Princess ended on an anticlimactic note when the boat was turned away due to bad weather on October 26, extending Geraldton’s luxury liner drought. The Coral Princess was set to be the first liner in more than two-years to arrive in Geraldton, but as the ship drew closer to port concerns grew as it was revealed that the ship was carrying more than 100 COVID-infected passengers. In the end, it was stormy weather rather than COVID that meant the ship skipped Geraldton, heading onwards to Fremantle.

Over in Canberra, the first Federal Budget of the Albanese government was delivered on October 25. The Opposition was quick to slam the budget as ignoring regional Australia, while City of Greater Geraldton mayor mayor Shane Van Styn said he was pleased after the government added $250 million to the $500 million previously allocated for regional infrastructure investments.


The death of Cassius Turvey, a 15-year-old Aboriginal boy allegedly assaulted in Perth, triggered sadness and frustration throughout Australia. Geraldton was no different, with more than 100 people gathering for a rally against racism on November 2 after a candlelight vigil earlier that week. “Children of this country of any ethnic background need to be loved, embraced, supported, appreciated and not hurt on any level. Let’s stand up for our kids,” one speaker at the event said.

Guests joined in a mourning circle, or crying circle, for Cassius Turvey at the Geraldton rally.
Camera IconGuests joined in a mourning circle, or crying circle, for Cassius Turvey at the Geraldton rally. Credit: Jessica Moroney/Geraldton Guardi/RegionalHUB

In a more positive story for a local Aboriginal community, a major agreement was signed on November 5 between the Wajarri Yamatji community and the government, giving permission for the SKA-Low telescope to be built in the Murchison in return for government support and the protection of heritage sites.

On November 10, disgraced former Geraldton police officer Michael Richard Tyler was sentenced to three years and six months jail after accessing, possessing and sending child abuse material earlier in the year.

The region’s sporting excellence was celebrated with the Geraldton Guardian Mid West Sports Awards on November 26. Two new inductees were added to the hall of fame — Olympian hockey player Fergus Kavanagh and AFL great Harry Taylor.

Harry Taylor is looking foward to giving back to the Mid West
Camera IconHarry Taylor was added to the Mid West’s sport hall of fame. Credit: Jake Santa Maria/RegionalHUB

Concerns about delays to Mullewa Community Hospital, which had been announced in 2016, were raised by MP Shane Love. The government attributed the delays to the pandemic and rising labour and supply costs, but confirmed its commitment to building the hospital.

The Batavia Motor Inne was again back in the news, after three fires broke out at the abandoned building between November 12 and 17, raising concerns for the rough sleepers staying there.

The third fire in three weeks at the Batavia Motor Inne.
Camera IconThe third fire in three weeks at the Batavia Motor Inne. Credit: Shane Van Styn/RegionalHUB

Geraldton’s boxing community was hit hard by the death of one of its leading figures, coach and promoter Paul Barrett. In a display of generous community support, almost $19,000 has been raised as of writing to help Mr Barrett’s family.

Abortion law could be a major debate in State politics in 2023 after the McGowan government announced on November 20 it planned to decriminalise abortion. Mid West politicians for the most part said they would not say how they would vote on the planned conscience vote until legislation was put forward, but many from both sides of the aisle said they welcomed reform.

Geraldton’s rock lobster fishermen were big winners after legislation passed on November 22 in Federal Parliament which opened trade between Australia and India, opening new opportunities for the lobster to be exported to high-end Indian restaurants and hotels.

Local nurses joined State-wide strikes on November 24 as the bitter dispute between the nursing union and the McGowan government continued. “We’re tired, we’re fed up, we’re exhausted, we went through being heroes to zero, we want to be heard,” nurse Alysse Kelly said.

Nurse Alysse Kelly
Camera IconNurse Alysse Kelly was among many pushing for better conditions. Credit: Jamie Thannoo/RegionalHUB

Some closure came to the family of Port Denison couple Lindsay and Valerie Baskerville, who died in a car crash, when 24-year-old driver Khel Robert Steel pleaded guilty to unlawfully killing them.

A controversial practice at two Mid West shires was highlighted when Shire of Perenjori chief executive Paul Anderson announced he intended to removed a reference to “pioneers who settled this country” from the shire’s welcome to country statement, while the Shire of Carnamah also removed a reference to early settlers from its welcome to country in November.

The month began with a rally against racist violence and ended with one against domestic violence, with the annual Walk Against Violence held on November 25.

After a year of delays, the State Government was eager to show work was back on track on Geraldton Health Campus upgrades as it announced expressions of interest were once again open.


Geraldton’s cruise ship drought finally came to an end when the Noordam arrived on December 1, and with it about 1500 visitors dropping in for the day.

Noordam cruise ship passengers reboard after a day touring Geraldton.
Camera IconNoordam cruise ship passengers go back on board after a day touring Geraldton. Credit: Jessica Moroney/Geraldton Guardi/RegionalHUB

Chapman Road’s “wiggle” layout, a section of road that curves between a set of traffic lights by the art gallery, is set to go after Geraldton council voted unanimously to remove it. Deputy mayor Jerry Clune said he had never had so many complaints over any subject during his time on council.

Up in the Murchison, construction kicked off on the SKA-Low Telescope, the astronomical mega-project which had been in the planning stages for 30 years. It will investigate some of the biggest mysteries in the universe.

An artist's impression of the completed SKA Low Telescope.
Camera IconAn artist's impression of the completed SKA Low Telescope. Credit: Department of Industry, Science /RegionalHUB

A new chapter in the saga of the Horizon Sculpture was made. On December 7 the landmark returned to Geraldton after being damaged 12 months prior, only for it to be vandalised 12 hours later by a teenager, egged on by his friends to take off the lid and jump inside. It didn’t take another year for the ball to return however, with sculpture reopening to the public two days later after quick repairs.

The Horizon Ball replacement is being refilled after it was contaminated by suspects caught on CCTV.
Camera IconThe Horizon Ball replacement is refilled after it was contaminated. Credit: Jessica Moroney/Geraldton Guardi/RegionalHUB

The State Government’s six-month fishing ban on recreational demersal fishing was announced this month after much debate, a move that was criticised by charter operators and tourism towns but welcomed by eco-tourism providers.

In another instance of crime tied to the Batavia Motor Inne, James Robert Sbresni was found guilty on December 9 of raping a 14-year-old girl at the abandoned motel. Sbresni had groomed the girl on Snapchat before travelling to WA from Victoria, passing through the tight border restrictions after lying on his G2G pass and forcing her through the ordeal in June 2021.

A late whites migration meant rock lobster fishermen were working under the pump to get roughly 1.15 million lobsters to customers in time for Christmas.

Luke Emery with two rock lobster.
Camera IconLuke Emery with two rock lobsters. Credit: Jamie Thannoo/RegionalHUB

Residents in the Mid West’s south were under threat when a two-day bushfire emergency began on December 13, burning more than 5500ha of land and threatening communities in Cervantes and Jurien Bay.

Geraldton locals rallied around a mural of UFC fighter Tai Tuivasa drinking a “shoey” after the owner of the Foreshore Hangout Lounge announced it would be painted over due to pressure from some in the community. In the end the outpour convinced him to keep it up.

Mid West farmers ended the year on a very high note, with signs showing growers had pulled of a second record-breaking year in a row. Earlier in the year it had looked like numbers wouldn’t be quite as good in the Mid West compared to the rest of WA due to a dry winter, but more rain in spring helped things bounce back.

Harvest underway at a property near Mullewa.
Camera IconHarvesting at a property near Mullewa. Credit: Justine Rowe

On Christmas Eve, tragedy struck when 17-year-old rising basketball star Justyce Potaka-Kumeroa died after the car he was driving struck a tree on Marine Terrace in Geraldton’s West End, causing it to catch fire.

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