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10 May, 2022

Flower thieves anger Yungaburra community

THIEVES have made off with more of Yungaburra’s beautiful hanging flower baskets, leaving the community angry and saddened by the blatant thefts.

By Robyn Holmes

Yungaburra Beautification Inc president Sue Fairley with some of the beautiful flower baskets that line the town’s streets.

THIEVES have made off with more of Yungaburra’s beautiful hanging flower baskets, leaving the community angry and saddened by the blatant thefts. 

This is the fourth time in the past few months thieves have targeted the flower baskets which are paid for through fundraising activities organised by the small Yungaburra Beautification group and supported by some of the businesses. 

In the latest incident, three baskets were stolen from the front of the toilet block and one from outside the Kookaburra Lodge Motel, while three others were damaged by a garbage truck. Footage taken by cameras outside one of the town’s businesses captured the alleged thieves pull up late one night in a Toyota Prado near the toilet block and blatantly remove the baskets and put them inside the vehicle.

 In all cases, the thieves cut the chains connected to the baskets. Police have been notified of the theft but have yet to find the culprits, leaving the town wondering what they can do to avoid a similar situation happening again. “The community is feeling very sad and frustrated – this is the fourth time in a few months that baskets have been stolen in front of the toilet block,” Beautification president Sue Fairley said. “We work hard to raise the money to supply and maintain them and it is disheartening that this is happening more frequently.” 

She said even though the theft had been devastating, it had sparked a morale-boosting response from the community. “The community has responded with support and generosity – we have even had lady who wants to donate $20 a fortnight to help pay for the baskets,” Mrs Fairley said. 

Kookaburra Lodge Motel owners Cindi and Mark Twomey said they were shocked to find one of the baskets had been cut from its chains, adding how much tourists valued the effort put in by the town to make it pretty. “We were so disappointed once we discovered it missing,” Mrs Twomey said. “We had some taken just before Mother’s Day in 2020 and it has now happened again. “Many visitors comment that the town looks so nice and we tell them of the effort that the beautification committee and many of the businesses put in to provide them.

 “We appreciate all the hard work that the committee does and the (Lakeside) nursery for helping to provide them.” Mrs Twomey said they had now installed motion sensor lights in the hope that would deter the thieves. 

Ms Fairley said the committee and quite a few of the businesses in town had put a lot of effort into fundraising activities such as weekly bingo events, goose raffles, and sausage sizzles to raise the money to provide the baskets. “We change them every six months so there’s quite a bit of work and cost involved,” she said. 

It was Mrs Fairley who originally came up with the idea in 2013 to decorate Yungaburra with the flower baskets to add to its village character and from those humble beginnings, the town now features 214 baskets dotted around the streets and parks. “I had been impressed when I saw them while travelling overseas and as Yungaburra is a village with 18 Heritage listed buildings, I thought that the baskets would enhance the village atmosphere,” she said. 

A small committee of five was formed, three of whom were still involved, and Mrs Fairley got to work to figure out how they could make the project sustainable from a financial perspective. She sourced second-hand equipment and started to host the bingo events, with support from the Yungaburra Hotel which provided the morning teas. “Successful community projects are accomplished when you have valued partnerships and the key to this project is the partnerships we have formed with local businesses like the Lakeside Nursery who put the baskets together for a discounted price, and the Yungaburra Butchery which provides all the fixings for the sausage sizzles on market days,” Mrs Fairley explained. 

She also thanked Tablelands Regional Council’s garden and parks crews who assisted in installing the first five pole prototypes back in 2014, and in the years since, installed 90 others. “Council then asked us whether we could install some in Kehoe Park and we ended up with 23 poles there and 46 baskets on the condition that council installed an automatic watering system which they did,” Mrs Fairley said.

“So there’s been a lot of work and commitment from everyone to make this project a success and now with these thefts, we want everyone to keep an eye out for odd behaviour near the flower baskets and report what they witness to the police immediately.”

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