2022 in review: Local stories that made our year
From a housing crisis to a mayor's retirement, a footy league shake-up and River Murray floods, look back on the top news stories from the past 12 months.
It feels strange to reminisce right now – after all, 2022’s biggest story is still unfolding before our eyes.
But much more has happened this year than just the River Murray floods.
We’ve dealt with a housing crisis and a shifting landscape for local football and netball, celebrated the contributions of Murray Bridge’s retired mayor, and speculated about what exactly will happen to the old mill.
Take a look back over the top stories of the past 12 months below.
21 - The Murray Bridge council approves the construction of a controversial solar farm at Jervois.
24 - CFS firefighters line the South Eastern Freeway to pay tribute to volunteer Louise Hincks, killed in a fire in the South East.
26 - Mental health advocate Cathy Smith is named Murray Bridge’s citizen of the year on Australia Day. Draftsman Michael Holliday wins the equivalent honour at Tailem Bend.
29 - A crowd gathers on Murray Bridge’s riverfront at a 50th birthday party for Bertha the Bunyip, the one-of-a-kind animatronic attraction built by Dennis Newell. Mayor Brenton Lewis describes it as “embarrassing” that the district has such a low COVID-19 vaccination rate.
31 - More than 3000 houses and a new R-12 school are envisioned in a new, 20-year growth plan for Murray Bridge.
7 - The Australian Hotels Association names Murray Bridge’s Bridgeport Hotel the best in regional Australia. Tailem Bend Hospital’s emergency department reopens, almost two years after it closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
11 - Doctor Robert “Thommo” Thompson retires after 50 years of general practice in Murray Bridge.
12 - Sam Shahin announces that a $30 million drag racing venue will be built at the Bend Motorsport Park; it would soon be confirmed as a venue for the Australian Top Fuel Championship.
21 - An old steam engine at Sturt Reserve is moved for the first time in decades to make way for a riverfront shelter; another shelter near Murray Bridge Club would be opened two days later.
23 - Business Murray Bridge appeals for memberships after a long reformation process.
27 - Kelly Johnson opens a cafe, Lot 23, in a disused church at Mypolonga.
1 - Murray Bridge High School’s $20 million middle school building is officially opened, soon after the arrival of the school’s first year 7 students.
2 - The former Ridley feed mill on Mary Terrace, Murray Bridge is sold; speculation mounts about what it will become.
15 - Coorong councillors pass a vote of no confidence in Mayor Paul Simmons; a review would later find the vote had been “manifestly unfair”, but councillors never rescinded it.
19 - Liberal MP Adrian Pederick wins a fifth term in parliament at the state election. Nick McBride is also elected, though Labor rises to power under new Premier Peter Malinauskas.
21 - Callington residents ridicule a plan to build traffic lights at each end of the Erskine Bridge instead of a separate pedestrian crossing.
24 - Murray Bridge Community Centre staff announce their plans for the future of the community centre on Edwards Square.
25 - A new, $18.8-million visitor centre opens at Monarto Safari Park.
28 - Primary Industries and Regions SA detects a rare, mosquito-borne disease – Japanese encephalitis – in the Murray Bridge and Coorong districts for the first time.
29 - Monarto residents reflect on the 50th anniversary of Don Dunstan’s doomed plan to build a satellite city in the area – one which forced local families off their land, ultimately for nought.
31 - A morning tea at Tailem Bend raises more than $2000 for breast cancer patients.
1 - Bertha the Bunyip announces she will run for mayor, allegedly, in Murray Bridge News’ annual April Fools’ Day spoof edition.
8 - Unity College’s year 12 students take a turn on the red carpet for their formal at Murray Bridge Town Hall.
14 - Elliott Staiff, the tomato grower who started Murray Bridge’s love affair with glasshouses, turns 100. Murray Bridge Mayor Brenton Lewis announces he will retire at the 2022 election.
24 - Murray Bridge and Monarto’s Lutheran congregations join together to become one community.
26 - Illustrator Dave Atze gets his big break when he is commissioned to work with comedian Anh Do on a children’s book series.
27 - Murray Bridge News celebrates its second birthday by opening an office on Sixth Street and hiring journalist Viki Ntafillis thanks to a grant from Meta and the Walkley Foundation. By July we would be forced to move to Seventh Street, where we’d add Jane Intini and Michael X Savvas – Viki’s replacement – to the team.
29 - Six church members open the Hub at Darling Avenue, a food bank and community hub in Murray Bridge’s south.
1 - Local photographer Daniel Cazzolato is named one of three major winners at the Murray Bridge Rotary Art Show.
4 - World-famous chef Mark Best visits his old high school in Murray Bridge, hosting a cooking class with students and advocating for carp as an ingredient.
9 - More than 500 people petition the Murray Bridge council to keep its swimming pool open for longer each year. Rising property values - up 10.5 per cent in a year - leave Murray Bridge ratepayers with higher bills despite a council rates cut.
14 - A $46 million, 18-month refurbishment of the old Murray Bridge begins.
17 - The Coorong council promises more roads and footpaths in return for a property rate increase.
21 - Liberal MP Tony Pasin wins a fourth term in office at the federal election, days after facing his critics - and anger about vaccine mandates - at a public forum at Tailem Bend.
30 - The community rallies around Murray Bridge couple Keli and Mere Ravula, whose final appeal to stay in Australia after 10 years fell was rejected.
3 - Murray Bridge High School students celebrate their year 12 formal.
9 - Residents and community leaders speak out about the dire shortage of rental and public housing in Murray Bridge.
13 - Jervois volunteer Russell Nuske is awarded an OAM in the Queen’s Birthday honours list.
14 - Growers Swanport Harvest struggle to meet a national lettuce shortage.
20 - Almost 60 of Australia’s best chefs feast on local produce at Mypolonga’s Rio Vista Olives.
28 - Census data shows Murray Bridge becoming richer, but less diverse, religious or likely to volunter, and a hard place to find a rental property.
30 - The Hughes family sell their Tailem Bend newsagency after 80 years.
2 - Ngarrindjeri leader Walter Jackson wins a national NAIDOC Week award for caring for country and culture.
7 - Landlord Peta Smart suggests share housing as a way of overcoming the rental crisis.
14 - Vietnam veteran John Ali, last survivor of a secret mission in Cambodia, reveals his years-long fight for government recognition.
17 - Rockleigh residents gather for their annual neighbour muster.
21 - Wayne Thorley announces he will run for mayor of Murray Bridge.
2 - Basketballer Alex Wilson wins a bronze medal at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, England.
10 - Australian Portable Camps announces plans to build its own worker housing due to a lack of other options; Thomas Foods International says it will do no such thing.
12 - The biggest retail store ever to operate in Murray Bridge - a new Bunnings - opens its doors.
19 - A thousand free seedlings are snapped up within hours as part of a giveaway at Brinkley.
26 - Murray Bridge Players and Singers’ 2022 production, The Wishlist, opens at Murray Bridge Town Hall.
27 - Racehorse trainer Garret Lynch is named the best in country SA, less than three years after getting into the industry after a rodeo accident.
28 - Local Bill Robinson wins gold at the state road cycling championships at Mypolonga.
1 - Families gush about the positive changes happening at Fraser Park Primary School under new principal Kimberly Rathjen.
2 - Farmers are warned to be alert to the possibility of a foot and mouth disease outbreak in the Murraylands.
3 - Dancers celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Burdett Hall.
9 - A special little egg makes its first appearance in Murray Bridge for the Paint the Town Read program.
14 - The owners of Willow Point Wines announce plans for a 150-seat cafe at their cellar door.
10 - Mypolonga win the 2022 RMNA premiership, ending Imperials’ seven-season run. Merger talk intensifies in the RMFL after the Meningie Bears play their final game.
17 - Imperials win the 2022 RMFL grand final, defeating Jervois for the first time in nine attempts.
23 - A merger of Peake and Karoonda’s football and netball clubs is announced, prompting the collapse of the Mallee Football League and netball association. A warning is issued about high flows on the River Murray ahead of an expected peak in October. Locals are outraged after The Advertiser calls Murray Bridge a “meth town so bad that crims move on”.
24 - The pedal prix returns to Sturt Reserve, Murray Bridge for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
28 - Transportable buildings will be used to fill a need for public housing in Murray Bridge, the state government announces.
1 - Jervois Primary School celebrates its centenary.
2 - The Wellington Strawberry Fete returns after a two-year hiatus.
5 - The heated pool at Murray Bridge’s hospital reopens after having been shut for two years.
7 - Improvements to Wellington East Reserve are unveiled.
14 - Agreeable wins the 2022 Gold Cup. Bridge Clinic’s Dr Peter Rischbieth is named RDAA rural doctor of the year.
15 - Murray Bridge Darts Club celebrates its 50th anniversary.
16 - Mypolonga Uniting Church celebrates its 100th.
19 - An anonymous and defamatory letter, sent to thousands of residents, shakes up the Coorong council election campaign.
20 - Bank SA announces its plans to close the last bank at Tailem Bend.
21 - A Murray Bridge woman dies after a hit-and-run collision at Murray Bridge East. Mayoral candidates Wayne Thorley and Dawn Matthews clash at an election forum in Murray Bridge.
23 - The Monteith Institute takes its turn celebrating 100 years.
3 - The National Carp Control Plan is published after seven years of research, though there is no indication that governments will go ahead and release a virus into the River Murray.
4 - Mypolonga is named South Australia’s ag town of the year.
9 - The RMFL announces it will expand to nine clubs from 2023, welcoming the Southern Mallee Suns - a merger of Lameroo and Pinnaroo - as well as the Mallee Storm.
10 - The Department of Environment and Water warns that the 2022-23 floods may be the highest since 1956.
12 - Wayne Thorley is elected mayor of Murray Bridge. Paul Simmons becomes the first popularly elected mayor of the Coorong, fending off Neville Jaensch and Rosa Hillam thanks, in part, to the Coorong Unites campaign.
14 - Almost 250 people pack into Murray Bridge Town Hall for a community flood meeting.
15 - Oliver Todd’s killer is given a life sentence for his 2019 murder in Murray Bridge.
16 - Murray Bridge Club members lay sandbags around the riverfront building ahead of the coming floods; the SES would later build a Defencell wall around it.
17 - Historians launch a book about the East Wellington Cemetery.
19 - Murray Bridge’s Christmas parade returns to the streets for the first time since 2019.
2 - The Monarto Innovation Precinct opens in a warehouse formerly used by Big W.
5 - Emily DeMichele becomes the first student to graduate with a university degree from the Murray River Study Hub.
7 - Molly Bretag and Bruce Attrill are among the winners at the Murray Bridge Sports Awards. Mypolonga’s sporting clubs plan a $1 million clubrooms upgrade.
10 - The Tailem Bend Christmas Parade returns to its usual format after COVID-related interruptions.
11 - Thousands of motorcyclists descend on Callington for the annual MRASA toy run.
12 - Councillors slam a concept design for an agricultural artwork in Murray Bridge.
14 - Murray Bridge’s riverfront is closed and New Year’s Eve celebrations cancelled due to the rising floodwaters.
16 – Emergency service personnel come from around Australia to help flood relief efforts in the Murraylands.
20 - Boating, swimming and fishing in the River Murray is banned due to the ongoing floods.
21 - Jiron Blacket’s Christmas lights display on Garden Crescent is named one of the five best in the Murray Bridge district for 2022. The Toora levee becomes the first in the Murray Bridge district to fail.
26 - The Mypolonga levee is breached, flooding the agricultural flats there.
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