60 Years of QLD TV

Days elapsed since Local Edition's end.

Friday, June 29, 2018

Kuttsywood’s Couch’s TENfor10: The 10 biggest QLD TV/Radio stories of our first 10 years.

Welcome, to a post that is celebrating a milestone. 2018, marks Kuttsywood’s Couch’s 10th birthday, and we found it fitting: that we’d visit a formula, this site has made successful twice (first in August 2009 (and still is this site’s highest viewed post) and again in May 2013 as part of digital switchover), lengthy lists: although, this time: it isn’t a top 50 marathon, instead this post is a simple top ten, that has taken over twelve months to collate, and nearly 120hrs of constant finetuning, to get to this point, upload, for all to see and look back on. Sit back, fasten the ol’ seatbelt, as we begin this trip down memory lane, as we go all out… as we look back at the last ten years that we have been around, with the stories of our own home town, both on the box and on radio, while also looking to the future.

We open our retrospective with a look, at our enduring content, especially as 2018, will mark the tenth mainline edition (which led to three one-shot spinoffs, Kuttsy’s Fare Pitch, Kuttsy’s Radio Pitch and the upcoming Kuttsy’s Pitch: #Bris3xit, and a fourth spinoff in planning phase) of a famed piece, on this site that originally was born out of frustration. Kuttsy’s Pitch, established in October 2009, in the wake of the Extra axing, was a simple plea, that Seven had to start making Brisbane the focus again, if they wanted to really make Nine regret the Extra axing. But: one line was clear from this site from the very beginning: Seven needed a Gold Coast presence, much like Nine had (at that point) for fifteen years. There was a glimmer of hope, around the time of BTQ’s fiftieth: Seven relocated their Gold Coast bureau, from Ashmore to the southern end of Surfers Paradise, three blocks down from Nine’s base at 50 Cavill Avenue. Kuttsy’s Pitch ended up becoming this site’s August tradition (all mainline Pitches, bar the original, the seventh and ninth editions were published in August): but the second/third/fourth editions only touched on GC news lightly.
That changed, when we switched from numbers to Roman numerals, with Kuttsy’s Pitch V (The Pitch to the Future): just as Bruce Paige was settling in on the Gold Coast, when I simply used this line from a BTQ news promo of the time, not long after Bill/Sharyn debuted as a duo: with a sharp as a tack response, right before the axing of Deal or No Deal.

“We’re everywhere you need us to be” Sharyn Ghidella, 2013 news promo (from Australian TV Fan on Youtube).
“Unfortunately for Gold Coast viewers, that is less of a statement: but more of a empty promise. Next year is five years since Seven moved out of their facilities at Ashmore, a facility that served them well, to 50 Appel St in Surfers Paradise. Also, this year is 20 years since Prime(7) launched the first local news service, on the GC, for the GC, that evolved into a 7/Prime co-production, fifteen years ago, anchored by Melissa Downes, before being axed in November 2000 (tucked away, in the slipstream of Local Edition’s failure), after Seven pulled the plug on their end of the deal earlier that year. There needs to be a major strategy by Seven to capture the GC market, and it needs to have started planning now, so it can all happen as soon as DoNd’s future is confirmed.” Excerpt from Kuttsy’s Pitch V: Pitch to the Future, 2013.

Naturally, that set the tone, of the next two years, first with “Kuttsy’s Pitch VI: The Big Time”, symbolically posted, 5,000 days on from Local Edition’s demise: whose look at the GC news output 7 was actually putting out, fittingly called “The G:C” (in reference to the G:link light rail system, whose opening week, we’d pin-point for closer scrutiny on 7’s output) discovered something remarkable. Seven, in one week, with a hour bulletin at 6pm, were not only airing less GC news than Nine, but had the awkward reality, that Seven spent more time doing weather reports with their newest acquisition: Paul Burt, than actual Gold Coast journalism.
As I said on Twitter, the night Seven acquired the rights to the Commonwealth Games: 

“World class cities have more than one news service. Unless 7 launches GC news by 2018: tourists, athletes etc. will all be watching Nine.” Tweet, August 19, 2014.

That line evolved from a standalone point of view, into a mantra. Something that served Kuttsy’s Pitch well, when we decided to use the fortieth anniversary of the Whitlam Dismissal… as our “God Save the Queen moment”: hence, Kuttsy’s Pitch VII: Unlucky7 in 2015, expanded the concept further: by sitting down, for six weeks straight (during the 2015 QLD election campaign, and was originally for the “Road to George St” series), counting how much GC news 7 was churning out, in a  similar period, to how regional stations get judged. It eventually duplicated the result of 2014, and was a mere snippet, in a post that was looking forward to 20yrs of GC news on Nine, and ways on how Seven could possibly crash the party.
I even drafted a rough response, posted here for the first time, which would have been sent into the Gold Coast Bulletin, around the time of The Chase Australia’s launch:

“So, Seven’s launching another gameshow.
2015 marks  fifteen years since Seven last had a proper news service on the GC, for the GC: anchored by a prospect by the name of Melissa Downes, who went on to Nine and become, after a lot of hard work: the #1 figure in television news in QLD.  I absolutely remember when Seven relocated to 50 Appel  St in Surfers Paradise, after a eternity at Ashmore, in October 2009 and execs made a bluster that a local news service on 7 would be coming in “the future”.
So why has Seven blown two great opportunities in two years to give the GC what a growing city deserves: competition in local TV news? I did a personal content survey of the current Seven 6pm product for 6 weeks earlier this year, around  the time of the state election (between January 7 and February 17 2015), and found that Seven was only creating 2hrs, 33mins of GC content over a entire six week period. At the same time, Nine ran 8 hours worth, all consisting of their highly successful 5:30 local news service that has for 20 years set the standard.
The Chase is not the answer: the answer is already working hard every Saturday and Sunday night, and has attracted better ratings than what Seven has received on weekdays for years. Go local Monday-Friday, and likely you earn back the viewers that steered clear, due to the lack of response when Extra ended in Brisbane, and a lack of response to the future, when it comes to the Gold Coast. If the lack of response continues to 2018, all the money Seven threw in for the Commonwealth Games rights will mean zero to the Coast, as they still will be arc welded to Nine, regardless of the outcome.” 
Draft letter to the Gold Coast Bulletin, originally planned to be sent September 2015.

Thank god, that was never sent, especially with the events of 2016.
2016 article about relaunch of BTQ GC news.
First, was in February 2016 (after QConfidential kept posting about Amanda Abate returning to Queensland during the silly season) and suddenly saw the starters gun be fired, a month after Nine celebrated 20 years of Gold Coast news: Seven was returning to the Gold Coast after fifteen years absence. Teasers suggested, that Amanda Abate or Kendall Gilding would be given the GC news role, but Seven was about to play a trump card, with a move literally designed to “divide and conquer”. Rod Young, who verdantly denied any changes were happening to the Kay/Rod duo (that had been shifted to weekends in 2013), back in March 2016, was asked to present a brand new BTQ Gold Coast news service (leaving Kay McGrath behind, in favour of a better commute, and return to working five nights a week), that would look nothing like the attempt from the late 1990s (something Seven steered away from in all promotion) and would air head to head with Nine on weeknights, and on it’s own, on weekends. A beefing up of coverage, also resulted: while Nine was rattled enough, to look at it’s own community ties (e.g. QTQ’s 50 Cavill operation joining the fledgling Gold Coast Open House event, from it’s second edition in 2016), increase it’s own promotion as well as adding a second presenter to their Gold Coast news service, Wendy Kingston: alongside Bruce Paige, all before Seven launched on July 4: 10 years to the night, Nine controversially replaced Rob Readings with Jillian Whiting. Ratings success favored Nine initially, although there were fears for the future of Seven’s weekend service, which were realised in late 2017, due not to ratings, but costcutting: but the only gains seen, weren’t on GC news services, but for The Chase’s Brisbane figures, with the GC problem solved, it somehow finally was able to thrive: something that could have saved Million Dollar Minute.

As for the first Kuttsy’s Pitch after the 7 GC News launch, it shifted the focus, more towards a long term Nine response to Seven’s Gold Coast advances: the theoretical return of Extra. A long, long way from 2009 indeed: especially, as Seven have narrowed the gap on the Coast to just under 10,000 viewers between Nine and their own bulletin on weeknights, while the current 6pm product in Brisbane was plumbing lows not seen since the start of the century, in the dying days of the Ghidella/McDonald partnership: with a resurgent, high definition Nine (now free to focus on Brisbane more: due to the 9 News Regional project for Southern Cross, placing a third local news service in some QLD regional markets for the first time since aggregation) rampaging past.

The biggest news story of late 2012, was the massive budget cuts Network Ten instituted in their newsrooms, to claw back money, after the failure of Ten’s big budget attempt at getting back into breakfast television (after a even more titanic failure: a news expansion in 2011 that eventually saw The 7PM Project extend to 1hr from 6:30… after the axing of two other products), entitled Breakfast, featuring New Zealander Paul Henry (likely hired because of his viral videos , than any relevancy to Australia). The network literally, pushed a thick broom throughout the newsrooms, and sacked a anchor, in most cities. Bill McDonald, who had been working at 10 since 1996 (after a run on 7), rising from sports presenting to the main newsreading gig (when Geoff Mullins retired in late 2003), was given the heave ho, by Ten, and then proceeded to go on a planned holiday for the summer silly season. It was this radio silence, during this holiday, that saw people thinking that Nine were interested in Bill’s services: however, it came to a screeching halt, when the Courier-Mail came out on the 19th of January 2013, announcing (mere weeks after Brisbane news director Rob Raschke was promoted to run Seven’s entire news operation) that Bill McDonald had rejoined 7, to read the weeknight news, alongside Sharyn Ghidella (who would be also given a shortlived gig hosting the 2013 revival of a QLD version of Today Tonight, after ten years of taking a joint Syd/Mel/Bris edition) while Kay McGrath and Rod Young were moved to weekends.
The problem of promoting Ghidella, and giving her a partner at the desk (let alone one coming from a station that was constantly third in news ratings), was simply something going against the grain of what Seven had “coached” viewers for six years after her arrival in 2007, into thinking, that Sharyn would eventually replace Kay McGrath, and Sharyn Ghidella would eventually read the weeknight 6pm news, alone, bringing Brisbane in line with Sydney and Melbourne. The ratings race in 2013, would turn out to be the tightest in many years, thanks to Seven’s move (inc. shifting weekday presentation to Sun-Thurs, a new news director, and preparations for the departure from Seven of John Schluter) which eventually saw the 2013 ratings year come down to the last Friday night of ratings (with Nine only one weekly win ahead of Seven going into that final week). Seven’s choice of lead story, that night suddenly killed their chances of the Bill/Sharyn duo claiming their first year. That lead story on 7 that night: a reheated take (claimed as a “exclusive”) on the Banyo level crossing incident, a year earlier. Resultingly, Nine won that night by 2000 viewers: sealing the 2013 ratings year, and giving Seven a loss in what many would have thought in January after McDonald was recruited, simply: as the “unlosable year”.
As I said on the Saturday after, the end of ratings:
“As predicted in Kuttsy's Pitch 4, on 20.8.12: (20)13 is a unlucky number for Seven. The Third Golden Era for BTQ... has ended.”

Editorial cartoon, from Mackay Daily Mercury, late 1990 (sourced via SLQ microfiche)
The seeds for this moment, began with a last minute change in December 1990, which saw potential Ten affiliate, Star Television (whose Rockhampton station was owned by Win Television in Southern NSW, while the Toowoomba station was owned by Northern Rivers Television, and preparing for a production shift to Coffs Harbour post aggregation) make a tectonic move, with WIN acquiring Star Toowoomba, and proceeding to gain affiliation with the Nine Network for aggregation: right under the nose of QTV in Townsville and Cairns, who had made major capital investment (including new station facilities in Cairns) towards being a Nine affiliate, having to take Ten programming instead. As the next 25yrs evolved, Win had developed a local news network, from Cairns to the Sunshine Coast, as well as returning to Toowoomba after the plans were dumped for a Coffs-based Toowoomba news service, while QTV ended up tied up with Northern Rivers Television, sacrificing their legacy brands, and eventually their news services (the TNQ/FNQ news service axing, along with the Ten Capital news axing in late 2001 sticks out, as triggers for the current news points system for regional broadcasters) with the now “Telecasters Australia” (branded as Ten Queensland and Ten Northern in their respective markets) being sold to “Old” Southern Cross in 2001, and eventually becoming Southern Cross Ten.
However: Win’s relationship with Nine, started to sour as the ratings for Nine did in 2007: with a fierce race for three licences on sale at the same time: with Nine making NBN Newcastle a O&O, at the expense of Win acquiring the Nine affiliates in Adelaide (bought from “Old” Southern Cross prior to the sale of it’s original radio assets to Fairfax Media, and it’s regional TV assets becoming part of a “New” Southern Cross) and Perth (bought from Sunraysia Television), making it a major bargaining chip in the long term.
And that long term investment, despite ratings woes: paid off for Win, when Nine acquired the Adelaide and Perth stations off WIN in 2013 (and proceeded to actually invest in them, inc. relocating from 50yr old facilities: something WIN never even looked to do) while granting a three year extension to their affiliation agreement with Nine. At the same time, “New” Southern Cross had evolved into Southern Cross Austereo, with the purchase of the Austereo network of stations, all in metropolitan areas, and suddenly became a organization that Nine wanted to deal with, especially with Ten’s hitrate with content after 2012, but it’s affiliation deal with Ten expired in July 2016. A last minute extension, of WIN’s deal with Nine in late 2015, suddenly brought the date of July 1 2016 into many peoples radars, especially those knowing WIN’s history of dealing with it’s metropolitan partner, and one blow too many, could end up sending WIN towards a divorce with Nine whether it wanted it or not. And, then, along came the 9Now streaming service, which streamed Nine’s product into homes nationwide. Win naturally tried to put a stop to it in a court of law, but was thrown out of the courtroom. 24 hours later, Nine threw it’s relationship with Win Television in the garbage, signing with Southern Cross, to move all it’s aggregated Ten-affiliated stations bar one (NRN in Northern NSW) to Nine programming, with a commitment to supply local news to those stations (which happened throughout 2017, thanks to the Nine News Regional project). Win was then forced to sign with Ten (a much larger deal, and also gave Ten access to some form of regional news in the majority of aggregated markets on a single affiliate for the first time in nearly twenty years) and the inevitable moves began towards July 1 being a switching day indeed. For starters:
-Southern Cross in southern NSW/ACT, VIC and QLD changed to Nine programming.
-Win in southern NSW/ACT, VIC (inc. Mildura), QLD, WA and TAS changed to Ten programming.
-The WIN/SCA joint venture in Tasmania, and the WIN/Prime joint ventures in Mildura and WA (all digital stations launched in the mid-late ‘00s) changed to Nine programming progressively after July 1.
-Southern Cross Ten in Northern NSW dropped the “Southern Cross”.
and –NBN in Northern NSW began to adopt a image as a Nine O&O, while beginning to phase out the NBN brand.
All these switches happened seamlessly, except for WA: where a loop replaced programming post July 1, while a deal with both WIN and Prime was negotiated. At the same time, the lame duck SCA-owned Ten affilate in Northern NSW would sit pretty, until Win knocked, and finally got into the Northern NSW market in September 2017, placing the company in a very important position, when Ten went into administration in June: the network’s primary affiliate, by a huge margin, wanting some say in how the network was rebuilt: something it never had with Nine (despite owning a stake in it’s previous content partner in the latter years of it’s relationship), due to it’s 14.99% ownership of the network’s shares prior to administration, which led to an failed bid for the network, alongside Lachlan Murdoch, being pipped at the post, by US network CBS, Ten’s largest creditor.

We now look back at a six month period between June 2009 and January 2010, where Nine implemented a long thought out strategy, to try and boost the success of their 5:30 half hour nationally, by removing Nine’s biggest success in it: the long running Brisbane Extra, while trying to revitalize their news service and looking to cut costs concerning childrens programming: all within a short time period. This perfect storm, began brooding on the horizon, when Nine launched for the second time, a sped up version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire (the first attempt, being a successful response to Seven launching Local Edition in 2000: but was not expanded upon), branded as “Millionaire Hot Seat” in April 2009, with the product initially airing at 5pm in Brisbane, due to Extra’s long term success: a sacred cow if you will. However, Nine’s next move would prove that even sacred cows can end up being led to slaughter.

Extra axing announcement, 17/6/2009 (from Riegs-TV on Youtube)
On June 17, 2009: it was announced that Brisbane Extra would wind up, on June 26, with a major redistribution of staff back into the newsroom, including Heather Foord (kicking off the musical weekend news chairs that QTQ has had since Extra’s demise), returning to present weekend news bulletins after retiring in late 2008. At the same time, Nine let go of Joseph May: after a incident weeks prior to the Extra announcement, and another big name was about to call it quits 30mins after the pretaped Extra axe announcement, albeit with a readymade replacement ready to go.

“Well before we go tonight, may I share some news that is very close to home. Over recent months, my family and I are contemplating life after television. After 40+ years in the business, it really is one I love, that’s a really big thing to get around. But, I’ve decided to start exploring the world, and I want you to know, I will be stepping down from this chair in a few weeks. A tough decision, but with the support of my family, and friends here at Nine, it is the right one. I’ll still be doing what I can to help out here at Nine, it really won’t be goodbye, but rather: see you later.” Bruce Paige retirement announcement, June 17, 2009 (video sourced from Riegs-TV on Youtube)

For those who kept tabs on newsreaders contracts (believe it or not: even back in 2009, very few of us did), one must realise the following when looking at Bruce Paige. When that announcement was made: Paigey had been off contract for six months, after signing a deal in September 2006 (in the wake of Rick Burnett, Rob Readings and John Schluter’s departures), that expired in December 2008. Nine signed away from the ABC (a surprisingly good picking ground for Brisbane commercial newsreaders) Andrew Lofthouse in December 2008, but didn’t put him in the weeknight role initially. However, Paigey’s retirement would give that opportunity to move in Lofthouse to weeknights. So the stage was set, for what seemed like a end of a era, on June 26… which was made even moreso by the deaths of the “King of Pop” Michael Jackson, and Charlies Angels TV series lead, Farrah Fawcett being the two lead stories on a extended bulletin on what was Bruce Paige’s final night at the Brisbane newsdesk.

“Yes, it has been another moment in history, I have had the opportunity to tell you about. It has been a wonderful journey, thanks to you for continuing to tune in over all those years, and please look after one another. But, now I have to say, that’s the news for you, this Friday, good night. (straight into Paigey farewell package).” Bruce Paige’s final words 6:45pm, June 26 2009 (video from our old Youtube home).

Nearly a hour earlier, the Extra team had said their farewells, culminating in a package of some of Extra’s highlights, with the most powerful sign in that package being that Doug Murray symbolically was the last one out, and switched off the lights on nearly eighteen years of tradition.

Hot Seat would soon move to 5:30 in Brisbane, and while Nine’s gamble on turning it’s 4:30 news into a magazine format failed spectacularly: lasting not even eighteen days, along with the influence of the ex-Extra reporters now embedded in the QTQ newsroom would be longlasting (inc. a few that returned to Nine, such as Shane Doherty): culminating in the rise of Amanda Paterson, ex-ACA, ex-Extra to the role of Nine’s Brisbane news director in 2016.

At the same time, another production team was working hard on the future, without knowledge that they would, within six months be part of the QTQ exodus. The Shak team was about to recruit a new presenter to the lineup, after losing two presenters in six months: the departure of “Eco”, aka Jacqui Duncan in early 2009 (leading to a radical format retool, in April of that year, that: 1. would work with a three-person ensemble, and 2. switch the program’s focus, from a garden shed, with viewer questions being physically answered, to a sharehouse situation with none of the input of the previous format: akin to developing a drama show, with unrelated interstitals), and then the departure of “Picasso” aka, Kendal Rae, just as the new format hit the three month mark:

The Shak post retool: Mark 1.

which in turn, led to Nine conducting a contest through TV Week to recruit a replacement. The arrival of Willow, aka Lib Campbell, however kept viewer interest there… until a fateful day, in January 2010: almost 7 months to the day, Nine announced the Extra axing and just over six months after the announcement of the TV Week contest to replace Picasso.
“Nitro! Theres sand EVERYWHERE!!!!! - Willow & Curio!” Tweet from @theshaksters on Twitter, January 12 2010.

The Shak post retool: Mark 2.
Just one day later: Nine announced it had axed The Shak: and would wind up the series, on April 21, of that year: with a unusual look for the final episodes: where prize segments would be demonstrated by kids. Viewers would then find out, a month after the program’s final episode, why kids had been doing the demonstrating for those prize segments. Nine had been stung by ACMA over a critical change made when the program’s format changed towards being more dramatic: the presenters were now demonstrating the prizes, as opposed to a brief glimpse of the prize in the older format: and was found to have breached the Children’s Television standards. Meanwhile, Nine shifted all childrens production out of Brisbane, in favour of outsourcing production of most C-rated product in NSW (mainly at Fox Studios) for seven years, until the triumphant return to Brisbane and in-house C production, in August 2017: with science-focused BrainBuzz, presented by Kellyn Morris (ex-Toasted TV), which premiered in early 2018.

Where Are They Now:
Extra, and The QTQ Newsroom
Josh Fajzullin: The last reporter standing, from Extra: who had the honour of presenting the final story for the program, in June 2009 before becoming the QLD reporter for thisAfternoon, then being brought into the newsroom. Josh since then, has been across the other commercial networks, working in Sydney for both 7 and 10, as a quiet achiever.

Doug Murray: Extra’s end signalled retirement for Dougie, who retreated to a property at Brookfield, in Brisbane’s west. A cancer fight silenced Dougie however: passing away on March 12, 2014. 

Heather Foord: A post-Extra return to the news desk, this time on weekends: wouldn’t last. Heather departed the news desk for a second time, two years to the day Extra ended: June 27, 2011. Since then, Heather has beaten the trail many former TV journos in Brisbane have trod: PR work and occasional public speaking events, including becoming a representative for the LGAQ: representing various local governments in Queensland.

Joseph May: The departure from Nine and presenting roles in 2009, was a blessing in disguise for Joseph, as it led to a interest in the production side of the television business. Today, Joseph is more at home behind the camera: as one of the people that literally makes the stars of The Voice, as a senior story producer, for the last few seasons of the hit show.
Bruce Paige: 
Paigey pointing his way, to 70. 
Retirement, didn’t last long for Paigey. Nine announced in 2010, that Paige had finally re-signed with Nine, on a two year agreement, initially with a Flashback clone, and then just as that contract was about to expire: a titanic move was made: Bruce Paige would return to a five night schedule, this time: anchoring Nine’s Gold Coast news service. That move was successful, and eventually was one of the spearheads that saw QTQ’s 6pm news finally climb back to #1 in 2013. Given a partner in Wendy Kingston, in the wake of Seven re-launching their GC news bulletins in 2016, Bruce Paige is still going strong: and most critically, is still healthy: approaching not just his 70th birthday in late 2018 (Don Seccombe passed away in 1993, at the age of 62) but his fiftieth year in the television game in 2019.

The Shak:
Jacqui Duncan: 460 episodes of great childrens television with The Shak, in a animal-focused role (with the occasional drift into comedy) between 2006-2009 was to be the launchpad for a talent that fought very hard afterward, to break out of the Eco mold that Nine created. Today, Jacqui is based in LA, and is working her hardest, finally being herself: including joining a sketch comedy troupe, Just Giggle It.

Kendal Rae: Kendal, as Picasso always seemed to be starstruck when interviewing a musician or a film star. Today’s Kendal would pretty much fit in as the perfect interview subject for the early Picasso, especially after making the move to the US, to try and make it as a actress. Kendal returned home to Queensland in 2016-17, to produce her breakthrough work: indie horror flick, “Out of The Shadows”: which premiered at the Gold Coast Film Festival last year, followed by a wider release in 2018. Other work that Kendal has done, includes the upcoming film “The Wheel” with David Arquette, as well as a major P&O campaign, to launch Pacific Aria and Eden in 2015, alongside Owen Wilson.

Lib “Willow” Campbell: How to replace someone like Picasso… It was left to a contest run by then-Nine owned TV Week, and Lib Campbell, was the one chosen to go forward as the replacement for Picasso. The role as Willow, ended up only lasting eight months, but proved to be a stepping stone, to greater ventures. Today, Lib Campbell is also LA based, and slowly carving out a career, with her latest project:  indie flick, Los Angeles Overnight, released online earlier this year.

Beau “Nitro” Walker: Beau Walker was expected to be the one with the most success in television once The Shak wrapped production: after all, he had a unique look that could be marketable, for things other than his surfing prowess. And for a while, it seemed it was all going to happen for Beau, especially after a relocation to Sydney to host Kitchen Whiz, until one fateful event happened: that saw the television dream for Beau end: when news broke of a issue at a Sydney nightclub in May 2012. Today, Beau still surfs, and is now the national sales and marketing chief at Label M Haircare, along with entering a bold new world: fatherhood later this year.

Drew “Curio” Jarvis: Compared to Beau (and even Lib, Kendal and Jacqui): Drew Jarvis, stayed in Brisbane, and made his own success using networks he developed over the time The Shak was on air: and was geared up for it two years before The Shak even ended: with the Lab Rats Challenge format, which was successful enough, for a rare event in childrens TV: a revival of the format, using one of the talent from the original incarnation on another channel (opposed to the Now You See It revival on Nine in 1998, which utilized the format, with a new host): with both Seven and the ABC commissioning series of Lab Rats between 2012 and 2014, with Drew being retained. Not long after the Lab Rats revival ended, Drew transitioned into behind the scenes work, with Network Ten’s Totally Wild and Toasted TV, before being thrust into another project, that would change the way people would think about children’s hospital entertainment, in very much the same way The Shak tried to change childrens television. Juiced TV, (developed by former Toasted TV and Totally Wild presenter, Pip Russell) would be that project, and Drew took that opportunity (working out of Brisbane’s Lady Cilento Childrens Hospital) and ran with it: 182 episodes later (they will be hitting episode 200 in October),  and attracting names such as Johnny Depp (while in SEQ filming Pirates of The Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales), the cast of Thor: Ragnarok (also filming in SEQ) and most notably: during the Commonwealth Games this year, Charles, the Prince of Wales and his wife, Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall. Juiced TV is now hoping to expand the concept: by eventually relaying it’s product to other paediatric facilities in QLD using the Juiced Box app (starting with Townsville Hospital’s childrens ward (notable for being part of the main referral hospital for FNQ: and is also home to the only Ronald McDonald House outside Brisbane) and eventually to other childrens hospitals, outside Queensland.

"Ian Skippen today, is sitting in a corner, sucking his thumb and rocking."
Jamie Dunn, press conference r.e. arrival at 4BC, late 2008.
The headlines said it all in late 2008: “Jamie Dunn is back”.
The first major programming decision that made news (after the move to switch Greg Cary to produce a local morning shift (for the first time since 1994) upon John Laws’s retirement in 2007 made little headlines) after Fairfax acquired 4BC, was a absolute shock. Why would 4BC literally acquire a FM music breakfast team to handle a talk format? That was the move the station made in October 2008, when they announced that the entire breakfast lineup of Zinc 96.1 (originally the flagship, of Prime’s Zinc network, now owned by Grant Broadcasters) on the Sunshine Coast, consisting of Jamie Dunn, Ian Calder and Courtney Burns, was moving to Brisbane’s 4BC (displacing the successful duo of Peter Dick and Ross Davie) in 2009. The new product debuted to massive fanfare, but was altered right from the start: with Burns being pushed to the background early on. When the first ratings survey of 2009 was released, however: 4BC breakfast had a major slump, from being two percentage points ahead of Spencer Howson at 612 at the end of 2008, to five percentage points behind the ABC. By the time, 2009 ended, 4BC had narrowed the gap, but Howson was still ahead, by around 2 percentage points. All throughout 2010, rumor kept swirling about the future of the underperforming team at 4BC, that had somehow torpedoed their relative success doing commercial news talk, especially after a poor showing at the start of 2010. Eventually, in October, just a week prior to the release of the second last survey of 2010, the Dunn/Calder era at 4BC ended, with a bang… with those final ratings results showing, a 7.5% rating at breakfast, still behind Howson: but the ink was likely drying… after the most titanic result, during the 2010 federal election campaign: a 15.3% share by Howson, only eclipsed by a 17.2% result in late 2015. 4BC today would see the heights of Dunn on 4BC breakfast: a 9.0% share in the the fourth survey of 2010… as the peak of the slippery slope, that led to the next big story at that station…

In August 2011, the biggest missing person story of our generation had finally hit it’s sad conclusion. The discovery of the bones of Daniel Morcombe (who had disappeared suddenly, in December 2003), in the Glass House Mountains area on August 21, was a news event in itself, with all stations covering the story, for a nation who had asked for eight long years, one question: simply, “Where is Daniel?” Nine’s cross that night, to it’s Brisbane studio looked as if they were flying back (complete with “Near Beerwah” on graphics): we wouldn’t know what it really was for 24hrs: after all: I initially thought it was a safety issue, in the wake of the fatal accident at Lake Eyre, three days before: that took the lives of, experienced ABC chopper pilot: Gary Ticehurst, ABC journalist Paul Lockyer and cameraman John Bean ACS, but by the time news time hit the next day however, two journalists at Seven utilized the camera on their tower, to keep a eye on Nine’s helipad, and revealed that at the time that cross happened: the helicopter was nowhere near Beerwah: in fact it had sat on the helipad, after landing earlier. Eventually, it led to a rapid investigation by Nine news executives in Sydney and upper-ups in Brisbane: which saw the network sack two reporters and a producer: (journos Cameron Price, Melissa Mallet and producer Aaron Wakeley), and the news director, Lee Anderson also quit, late on the Thursday night after the incident. Mallet eventually sued for wrongful dismissal, which Nine settled out of court (wanting to avoid a “Lifestyles of the Rich and Vocal” style legal case) and the four that left Nine, and the two Seven journalists that triggered Seven to keep a eye on the 9 helipad (Peter Doherty, and Geoff Breusch, as articles proclaimed at the time, both “aviation buffs”) have had major path changes through the nearly seven years since.

- Cameron Price: Was going to be promoted by Nine to a Sydney based role, prior to getting sacked over Choppergate. He instead used the already planned move to Sydney, to join Sky News, for a near five year stint, before joining Seven’s Sydney newsroom in early 2016.

-Melissa Mallet: After leaving Nine, she joined Seven’s Townsville newsroom in October 2011, before being sacked (not long after Nine settled): this time over taking leave, that the network would not let her have, to attend the announcement of the Boomers side going to the 2012 Olympics, with her boyfriend. Mallet however stayed in Townsville, this time moving to SCA’s radio newsroom, before joining the PR industry in 2014.

-Aaron Wakeley: After leaving television, he ended up working in the inner sanctum of the Newman LNP government, before moving to Sydney, and is now working in the media section of the NSW Dept of Innovation and Better Regulation: yes, that’s a real department, with a real minister.

-Lee Anderson: After, a brief comeback to Nine for the 2012 Queensland state election, Lee proceeded to join the QLD Govt’s media department, as it’s figurehead during the Newman Government’s run: eventually leaving when the LNP lost the 2015 state election: followed by giving evidence in a issue concerning a former LNP media advisor, before making a Lexy Hamilton-Smith style comeback (who switched from PR, back to reporting in 2014) to television, this time for Seven, in Melbourne as a producer (and potential candidate for news director, if the right circumstances allow) in mid-2015.

-Peter Doherty: Still plugging away at Seven, especially with that little segment that could: On This Day… I mean, Seven News’s Sunday flashback.

-Geoff Breusch: Ended up getting promoted to state political reporter for Seven when Patrick Condren returned to radio at 4BC for eighteen months. Loved George St so much, that nearly a year after Patrick came back to Seven, to his old job: he eventually left Seven, for government media work: rising to become the principal media advisor to the QLD premier.

Youtube compile of stories on 4BC sackings, April 2015. (Sourced from Joe Smith on YT)

This is more of a story of how Brisbane not only lost a generation of great radio talent (200+yrs of on-air radio experience alone (not counting behind the scenes), exited both 4BC/4BH between April 9 and December 31 2015): but also lost a pathway for a newer generation to try and be the next “big thing” in commercial talkback in Queensland.

The 2015 merger of Macquarie Radio (owners of 2GB, who had to divest by force 2CH) and Fairfax Radio (owners of 2UE, 4BC, 4BH, 3AW, 3EE and 6PR, who divested by choice 96fm in Perth) opened many new doors for 4BC initially: Alan Jones returning to 4BC for the first time since leaving 2UE, during the 2015 QLD state election, a guarantee (via common ownership of 2GB/4BC) of NRL on 4BC (after 4BC controversially axed the 2GB relayed NRL coverage in 2013: only to bring it back in 2014), as well as trying to maintain a reasonable ratings position: with breakfast/mornings far off the peak of the Dunn/Cary duo of 2010, (which peaked at 9.1% 5:30am-noon, survey 4 2010), let alone Peter and Ross/Laws duo eight years earlier. Then, the merger was completed, signed sealed and delivered in late March: ten days later, the greatest purge in the history of Brisbane radio began: with breakfast, mornings, weekend and evenings presenters at 4BC as well as one announcer at Magic 882, all being given their marching orders, alongside a swathe of production staff attached to those programs. The initial idea was to replace the failing shifts on 4BC with content from Sydney, 2GB’s Alan Jones and Ray Hadley, while keeping some shifts viable: but for MRN, it wasn’t enough: the next to fall was almost the entire lineup of Magic 882 in favour of networking in it’s sister station, Magic 1278 in Melbourne (leaving one presenter in Brisbane, producing a nights product for both cities, while changing the music format for 882 drastically with the network shift, which quickly gained the name within the industry, as “Tragic 882”) and the local afternoon shift on 4BC, being axed, in favour of taking 21hrs per day, out of Pyrmont.

As 2016 dawned, the future of the last man standing at 4BC, Ben Davis became a constant news story, yet he survived, while a tectonic move happened, when 2UE was converted to “Talking Lifestyle”, while “Tragic 882” had three Melbourne-based breakfast teams in a year. MRN finally put the “Magic” brand behind the woodshed, and on Feburary 27, 2017 replaced the 882/1278 shared format (briefly a 4BH/3EE/2CH format, prior to 2CH’s sale), with a expanded Talking Lifestyle format, with zero local programming in either Melbourne or Brisbane (which also saw Donna Lynch exit MRN, for PR work).

4BC’s ratings have not gone up the way MRN anticipated: the only gains have been in the 65+ demographic, although some content has worked, bringing Steve Price in to evenings, albeit with no promotion of the change from a 2UE-based evenings product, back in July 2015: (the way the Jones/Hadley change at breakfast/mornings should have happened) built purely enough through, word of mouth, Project and I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here appearances: but not enough to overtake a fully local 612 ABC, with or without Spencer Howson. As of Survey 1 2018, 4BC is only rating 5.6% (4BH at 1%, just prior to the redo of the Talking Lifestyle format… into a sports-based format), across the workday, while breakfast has not hit the magical 9% mark, that Dunn set in 2010: a far cry from the days when 4BC and 4BH (with a long term beautiful music format (bar a blemish in 1994): not the 4KQ imitation the post-2014 “Magic 882” eventually became) combined, both constantly rated higher than 4KQ and it’s now 30yr old classic hits format, across the workday. The 4BC/4BH brand destruction by MRN, also led to the second spinoff of the Kuttsy’s Pitch format, in October 2017: and was meticulously researched over the first two years of the MRN operation of both stations: Kuttsy’s Radio Pitch, is the post to read, when wondering what went wrong, and why #localradiomatters.

And a reminder: if you want to help the #localradiomatters cause, please sign the petition over at change.org.

Digital television as a medium, was first conceptualized in the early 1990s, just as Australia was expecting a analogue HD format war (similar to the VHS/Beta war of the early 1980s): either go with Japan’s established MUSE analogue HD system (first shown to Australians at World Expo 88 in Brisbane, in the Japanese pavilion) or the HD-MAC system under development in Europe. However, development of HD-MAC was instead diverted to developing a digital replacement for PAL analogue broadcasts, what became the DVB-T standard, which Australia chose to use, and launched on January 1 2001, with heavy restrictions: such as commercial networks weren’t allowed to operate any digital multichannels with separate content (only the ABC and SBS were allowed multichannels initally).

The first digital TV sets (the same size as the standard set today, 80cm wide) cost $10,000, a quarter of a average Australian’s annual salary in the year 2000: the set-top box option, cost $500, but takeup was sluggish, (compared to colour television 25 years earlier, whose takeup happened much more rapidly thanks to not requiring a new signal (especially in comparison to England's colour experience: which coincided with the move from 405-line, to 625-line transmissions: saw a much more contrived rollout) , along with the coincidental arrival of home video recording in the late 1970s) as the date approached that Australia was originally meant to switch over: 2008.

When Kuttsywood’s Couch launched in 2008, digital TV takeup in Brisbane and in regional Queensland were both estimated to be sub-50% of the viewing population of those areas. The highest takeup rates, were in areas that gained a new digital-only station run as a joint-venture with two existing broadcasters (all were originally, 10 affiliates, but with the “Big Switch” of 2016, saw Tasmania, WA and Mildura JV Ch 10’s (all owned partly by Win Television, whose legacy channel flipped to Ten content on July 1 2016) change to Nine content: only Darwin, and eastern remote areas still have a 10 affiliate that was digital-only from the start). Thus the decision was made by the federal government, to extend the timeframe for digital switchover, to the end of 2013, and do it region by region.

Freeview launch promo, 2008 (from amirrussalam on Youtube)

The first real effort, towards this: was by the broadcasters themselves. In late 2008, a unprecedented roadblock advertisement (inc. on the ABC) heralded the rebranding of FTA’s image, in the face of Foxtel’s advances (who had become the victor of the pay TV wars of the 1990’s, after the demise of Galaxy (gaining their satellite subscribers) in 1998, signing a content sharing agreement with Optus in 2002, as well as supplying content to regional operator Austar) and leapfrogged the commercial sector: upon the launch of Foxtel/Austar’s digital service in 2004, rapidly followed by the PVR revolution that Foxtel/Austar spearheaded, with the iQ (whose first/second incarnations was praised, however the initial release of the iQ3 was problematic) and Mystar (which was much maligned, yet provided a FTA digital tuner to country viewers: something which took Foxtel nearly a decade, and the inevitable merger with Austar to put in their satellite iQ3) as Freeview, with the promise of 16 channels for free, and better pictures than the current analogue signal: looked to the future.

Three key events helped drive the takeup of digital TV in 2009:
-First was the federal government assisting retailers to help drive the change to digital-only television: with the “Get Ready for Digital” initiative, marking products that had no digital tuners (needing a set top box), and TV’s with SD-only/SD+HD tuners, to assist consumers as well as training personnel, about digital: where previously, there had been a muddled mess. At the same time, the Department of Communications’s “Digital Switchover Taskforce” began surveying people about digital takeup: the first survey conducted by the taskforce in early 2009, noted that 50% of residents in the Brisbane switchover region (inc. Gold and Sunshine Coasts) and 46% of the residents in the Regional QLD switchover region (all of Queensland except for SEQ and people using the Optus Aurora domestic satellite service (that would eventually migrate to the VAST platform), which meant that a uphill struggle was ahead to try and convert the remaining 45-50% to digital.

-The second key event, was the post-GFC economic stimulus by the federal government (a decision criticised by many looking back on it, a decade on), which saw many households get a unexpected boost: which went to one place: television retailers, who couldn’t keep with demand for televisions (which saw people pass over set-top boxes for their existing analogue TV’s (that could only ever connect to AV/video ports of older sets), in favour of their direct replacement with new built-in digital sets) and also the new connections for it: notably HDMI cabling (eventually overtaking AV cabling as the dominant cables connecting devices to televisions: due to their simplicity, as HDMI carries both audio and video in the one cable, instead of three separate cables (video, and left/right audio) when using basic AV cabling), paving the way for other devices in the future, from games consoles to streaming pucks (e.g. Apple TV, Chromecast) to take advantage of these newer screens.

And finally, the third key event, the arrival in 2009 of five new standard definition multichannels: the first three from the commercial networks (One (from Ten, in HD, and simulcast for it’s initial 19 months in SD) in March, GO! (from Nine) in August and 7Two (from Seven) in November), a reworked SBS first multichannel (SBS2 (now SBS Viceland) which added general entertainment, to the schedule of the SBS World News Channel established in 2002 in June 2009) as well as the ABC3 (now ABCMe) childrens channel launch in December: as well as the rebirth of the ABC Kids preschool brand as a ABC2 block (which still exists today) which was the largest amount of new free to air channels introduced in Australia, since the launch of regional television nearly fifty years earlier. This also drove people to buy new television sets, just so they could see “what the fuss” was about.

By the time 2010 began: digital takeup soared, to 70% (up 20% on the same time in 2009) in Brisbane, and to 72% in regional Queensland (up a remarkable 26% on the same time in 2009, helped even more so, by the fact that only one multichannel (Ten’s ONE HD: which was launched on SC10 QLD in July 2009, three months after it’s Brisbane launch) wasn’t launched regionally in Queensland at the same time as Brisbane (due to 7 owning it’s QLD regional station, opposed to the two months Prime viewers waited for 7Two to launch in their markets), and we were steaming along towards another key milestone: the beginning of the switchover itself.

Mildura switchover (from Regional TV Australia Web Project on Youtube)
The 30 month switchover program nationwide began, on June 30th in 2010, in the Mildura region of Victoria, (not before the ABC launched ABC News 24: the first FTA broadcast 24hr news channel in Australia) and spread like wildfire, with regional South Australia switching over in December 2010, and regional Victoria switching over in May 2011.

The double disaster of the 2011 flood emergency and Cyclone Yasi didn’t dampen enthusiasm for the change to digital television: with digital takeup, in Brisbane in mid 2011, hitting 81%, regional Queensland digital takeup meanwhile, hit 84% in mid 2011: despite nature’s tribulations.
Queensland’s regions switched off on December 6 2011 (with a takeup rate of digital of 97% recorded post switch off: what turned out to be the highest takeup rate for DTV in aggregated Australia after regional NSW switched off.) also taking with it the RTQ analogue signal in Toowoomba (the last major station in Australia still using the channel 0 frequency: a unintended consequence of directly switching (then) DDQ 10 with TVQ 0 in September 1988.) while three more multichannels sprung up: Eleven, 7Mate and GEM in the 2010-11 financial year.

Southern NSW switched off in June 2012, while Northern NSW switched off in late November 2012, leaving people on the “analogue fringe” south of Tweed Heads, and still accessing Currumbin analogue transmissions holding out for another six months, until the beginning of a much more complex switch.

Brisbane and SEQ’s takeup rate, in late 2012: 92%.

April 2013, saw Adelaide, Perth and Tasmania convert, while many in Brisbane were carting their old tellies to e-waste centres, to get their tubes, metals and plastics recycled into brand new items. Some people who kept their old black and white tellies from the 1950’s and 60’s as antiques dragged them out, for their final viewing of analogue telly, recorded for the world to see.
Finally, the big day arrived: Brisbane’s switchoff, that came on May 28, 2013 at 9am sharp (with a digital takeup figure of 99%: the equal highest of the capital cities (shared with Melbourne), and of the nation as a whole (shared with Melbourne (where the switchover journey ended) and Mildura, (where the switchover journey began), with little fanfare on TV during the moment itself, other than 7 bringing out their old test card for those still watching: but internally, however there was fanfare. Seven brought out their very first engineer employed in Brisbane, to turn off BTQ’s analogue signal, while Nine brought in Hugh Cornish, Queensland’s first face of TV to turn off QTQ’s analogue signal.

Brisbane digital switchover highlights (from Australian TV Fan on Youtube)

Meanwhile, this site celebrated the end of the analogue era, the weekend before: with a intense lookback at some of the highlighting local moments, of the first 54 years of the television medium in Queensland (which also was the intital seed for “The Dial” (a complex exploration of TVQ from genesis to it’s fiftieth birthday in 2015: which also gave birth to Lost TVQ on Facebook, and is coming full circle later in 2018: with a Lost TVQ-branded post based on TVQ0/10’s World Expo 88 involvement), whose magnum opus (a top 50 list, the longest post ever written for this site: until now) is still this site’s second most viewed post, after five years.

The digital switchover task was finally completed (after regional WA and Darwin changed in June and July respectively), over two weeks in December, when Sydney, Melbourne and QLD’s outback were the final markets switched off, and on December 10, 2013: the great digital puzzle ended… and analogue television was no more. Bar a massive retune, post digital switch, everything has gone smoothly: although on-demand streaming is creeping up as a new threat, along with the increasing marriage between television and the internet, but with the introduction of limited MPEG-4 transmissions, there is now six FTA HD channels (once again simulcasting legacy channels like they were pre-7Mate/Gem/One/ABC News 24, as well as SBS Viceland), and nineteen SD channels (adding formats such as lifestyle, food, a retooled ABC2 post 7pm in late 2017 as a comedy channel and the most critical one: national over-the-air carriage of NITV , a indigenous Australian channel run under the SBS umbrella (similar in scope to S4C in Wales (a alternate version of the UK’s Channel 4, entirely in the Welsh language (complete with separate management), which gained carriage outside Wales (and the Channel 4 the rest of the UK sees also finally gained carriage within Wales, after 30 years of having Channel 4 content pre-empted for S4C content in Wales) for the first time after the UK digital switch in 2012), and Maori Television in New Zealand), while community television briefly had spectrum (after a very long fight to get it), before being forced off air in it’s entirety in 2017, by the federal government who were more interested in the monetary value of spectrum, than the community’s actual needs.

As for the devices we watch it on, the average digital television set (the same 80cm (32in) set from 2001), now costs $300-400, with the most expensive set: a top of the line, LG C8 4K UHDTV, with all the bells and whistles (inc. screen as thin as a dollar coin), 198cm (77in) wide, rounding out at a cost of $15,000: equivalent to the price of a brand new Kia Picanto with automatic transmission fresh out of the showroom (the car is incidentally, is 40cm narrower than the LG C8 TV.).
(Note: post-2009 Digital TV takeup figures are supplied through the archived Digital Ready website as part of the National Library of Australia’s Pandora database: http://pandora.nla.gov.au/tep/99321)

When this site was established a decade ago, watching television programs over the internet, in the form we see today was a distant dream. We still queued up at video stores, to rent the latest flicks on DVD, and on the upstart high definition alternative: Bluray, which had won a format war against HD-DVD in early 2008. The average price of an broadband ADSL plan between either of the big two internet/phone operators in Australia (Optus and Telstra), was $59.95, and that only got you, 12-15GB of data, before being slowed down: equal to downloading 4-5 HD movies on Netflix. Social media was Facebook, Youtube and Myspace: Twitter hadn’t reached prominence outside certain sectors yet in Australia (it took the Black Saturday bushfires in Victoria to bring Twitter into our viewing lives). And then, along came TiVo: a attempt to sell us a PVR, that didn’t have wireless built in (upcharge for a adapter), let alone allow viewers to adskip: and didn’t end up getting the iconic following that the brand got in the US, and died a quiet death in 2017.

However, it was Foxtel who would suddenly give us the answer to this convergence conundrum: the iQ2: brought Foxtel’s pioneering PVR into the HD era, and would become a workhorse: while the original iQ was superseded a mere three years after introduction: the iQ2 would take 7 years to be superseded (as well as the Foxtel purchase of Austar pushing out the development process further), by the iQ3.
However, the iQ2 delivered something new, once new satellites were launched: the ability to catch-up on Foxtel programming, via the internet (with Telstra internet customers being given unmetered content from these boxes), something that would take a while for the FTA networks to cotton on to. It was Plus7 and Fixplay (run by Nine) that would indeed introduce the catchup TV concept for commercial FTA in 2010: but were beaten, however for the title of “first FTA catchup service” by the ABC’s iView: launched 2 years earlier, at around the same time the Foxtel iQ2 hit the market. SBS and Network Ten were slow starters: launching their catchup sites in 2011, and 2013 respectively, while the rise of three key letters would suddenly pique interest in the Australian market by US VOD giant, Netflix, and would add pain to the FTA networks at the same time.

Those letters were VPN (virtual private network), and while this was happening: Australians became some of the world’s worst piraters of TV content (along with some legally using VPNs to access US streaming providers, Netflix and Hulu), a situation not helped by Foxtel’s Pay TV monopoly, on some US content such as HBO’s Game Of Thrones and our commercial FTA networks attitude towards American content they aired: notably, programs with huge fandoms (e.g. The Amazing Race: whose 14th season aired in Australia in 2009, two months after the season ended, and has suffered from a lack of same day airing as the US, and US Survivor: which Nine migrated to 9GO! upon the channel’s launch in 2009, and is today, not just airing same day as the US: but is now taking Survivor finales live, and has also revived interest in a Australian version, with Ten airing two local seasons, and is preparing for a third in 2018: after the first two attempts at a local version (one by Nine in 2002, one “celebrity” edition in 2006 by Seven) were critically panned).

The tipping point, was in 2012: where Australian total internet data usage doubled in the year after GoT became hot property: and hasn’t stopped growing… and then came the day in 2015, that would change it all, when streaming became big business down under. The arrival of Netflix in Australia, alongside the launch of domestic competitors Stan (a Fairfax/Nine joint venture) and Presto (a Foxtel/Seven joint venture) would end up rocking the television industry to it’s core, while better broadband, and a cheap alternative would drive piracy down, as people simply got used to paying $9-10 a month for a television library that they could finally control themselves. Stan and Netflix are successful (with Netflix being the clear leader), and the concept Netflix pioneered, not just a distributor, but producer of content: has seen Stan commission local drama/comedy for it’s platform to lure subscribers in, along with poaching content: most notably, March 2017’s shift of RuPaul’s Drag Race and it’s spinoffs, from Foxtel to Stan, after years of Foxtel underestimating a program’s fanbase, much like 7/9 did with The Amazing Race and Survivor respectively: famously stated when Foxtel sent legal notices to people who were hosting screening parties via a VPN... while Foxtel was holding off new episodes. However, for Presto: the disadvantage of being third cab off the rank in price (compared to Stan/Netflix), hurt it, and in January 2017 was shut down.

The next big thing was live streaming channels online: Foxtel pioneered it in 2012, for the London Olympics (and of all things, won a Logie for it in 2013): and was expanded to their mainstream product with Foxtel Go later that year. The FTA networks were slow towards doing online livestreaming. Seven and Nine launched full live-streaming services in 2016 (Nine’s in particular set off the chain of events that led to the WIN/Southern Cross affiliation switch), while the Tenplay site still offers limited live streams, and iView has progressively added streams. But: as Australians adopted the streaming device as a valued loungeroom member, Foxtel’s strategy to charge majorly using propriety equipment seemed odd, in the face of the rise of Fetch TV, as a purely IPTV platform (not to mention operating it’s own devices without the Foxtel monthly pricetag or expensive installation: a Fetch setup with the basics (inc. support for Netflix/Stan), costs a maximum of $400: without the need for technicians, dishes, cables and the like), and the second coming of Optus as a force in sport (thanks to the FA Premier League from the UK leaving Foxtel, for Optus/Fetch, but it has had some hiccups: the 2018 FIFA World Cup debacle, where Optus had to hand coverage back to SBS). Fetch TV also critically ended up getting the backing, of six ISP’s, to onsell their product (Optus, iinet, Dodo, iPrimus, Westnet and Internode) to try and get the edge on Foxtel/Telstra.

Today, the unlimited home broadband plan is a reality (with Telstra being the last major Australian ISP to offer unlimited plans, launching their unlimited plans in November 2017), as thousands each day are converting to the NBN, and the streaming boom has seen the commercial catchup services morph to offer more (with Plus7 becoming 7plus, in November 2017), while sport in Australia hasn’t yet followed the trend in America, where the sports leagues themselves offer streaming outlets domestically: (e.g. Major League Baseball’s MLB.tv, the NFL’s Game Pass, the NHL’s NHL.tv and the NBA’s League Pass, while the AFL/NRL offer the WatchAFL/NRL services (part-owned by Fox Sports) to overseas customers), while Australians have taken advantage of WWE and UFC offering streaming services (WWE Network, and UFC Fight Pass) to significantly reduce the cost of PPV (while gaining access to deep on-demand libraries): leaving a major dent in Foxtel’s PPV bottom line (which had charged $25-50 per showing for WWE/UFC PPV events): which is now purely boxing: but the lack of a official boxing streaming network for Australia-hosted fights, has seen notable events of people streaming illegally, for major fights, such as last year’s long awaited Anthony Mundine v Danny Green rematch.

Another factor that could come into the fold, sooner than we think: will be mobile. The first 5G mobile networks will launch in Australia within eighteen months: and will have the same hubbub that the first 3G networks, beginning with the eponymously named “Three” and Telstra’s “Mobile Loop”: did in the early part of the 21st century. However will a push happen towards a truly unlimited mobile network (including unlimited mobile data, like what exists in the US: where “unlimited cellular data” is almost a fact of life) when the move to the 5G era begins? I personally think that once 5G reaches some sort of saturation: you will see the current 3/4G network transition towards being geared to the unlimited data user (likely helped by the arrival of TPG (famous for their unlimited broadband, since 2010) transitioning into using it’s own mobile network with infrastructure as opposed to being a Vodafone wholesaler), potentially extending the life of 3G networks, to match or last longer than the GSM/CDMA network (whose final operator, Vodafone, shut down GSM operation in April 2018) which got us addicted to our mobile phones in the first place.

TPG launching it’s own mobile network, is a small part of the changing face of the net in Australia: Foxtel moved into the home broadband/telephone game with the NBN, while mobile operator Vodafone, has also done the same: with a major difference (other than not offering home telephone via the NBN), that is forcing Optus and Telstra to act: offering with all plans a NBN modem, with 4G mobile backup. The perfect merger of the strength of the NBN, regardless of how it’s carried: with a Vodafone mobile network far removed from the VodaFail days post Three merger (which also saw Vodafone swallow up wholesaler, Crazy Johns, to strengthen it’s outlet network). The future of the internet and television in Australia will simply be one to watch in the next few years: especially with the impending arrival of CBS All Access, as well as all the changes that a 4K future will bring: one that most likely won’t be delivered via the television antenna on the roof.

The biggest international sporting event ever staged in Queensland, is a fitting #2. But, who would have thought 10 years ago, when the bid for the Gold Coast to host the Commonwealth Games was first mooted, by the Queensland government, that it would indeed be a reality. Cararra Stadium (which proudly hosted the athletics at the Commonwealth Games) was still a mishmash of stands, a legacy dating back to when the Brisbane Bears played there twenty years earlier: in a stadium of demountables. It took another look by the QLD Government, and the return of both NRL (the GC Titans played out of Cararra for their first season, while a dedicated rectangular stadium was built at Robina) and AFL (with the Gold Coast granted the 17th licence in the AFL, in 2009, for a 2011 start) to the Gold Coast after lengthy absences, to suddenly bring attention to the Cararra site.

AFL Footy Show American Pie parody, re: GC17 announcement, 2009.
(Sourced from idliketoseethat, on Youtube)

As a condition of the GC getting what became the Suns, Cararra Stadium was completely torn down, and rebuilt as a 25,000 seat circular all-seater venue: and was thrust into the planning of the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games bid (with the capability to add 15,000 temporary seats). At the same time, Kuttsywood’s Couch made reference to the GC 2018 bid in it’s embryonic stages: first, at in a piece focusing on the Brisbane 1982 opening ceremony, in Feburary 2009, with this prophetic line at the end:

“But Brisbane may not wait long for a second Commonwealth Games. A QLD government backed bid, will probably bid for a Gold Coast Commonwealth Games for 2018, as was announced mid 2008. Imagine the wonder of the new Queensland showing off... with the best in technology in ten years time.” 
Excerpt from “50 Years Of Brisbane TV: Part 2-Shine On Brisbane, the 1982 Commonwealth Games opening ceremony.” Feburary 2009.
There was also a brief mention at the end of the 50 Years of Brisbane TV series, as a prediction: that it would not only happen, but indeed be successful.

Wide shot of event at Broadwater Parklands, as the GC2018 winning bid was announced:
(sourced from halfninedesign on Youtube)

It all came down to one day, in 2011. The Gold Coast, up against another bidder: Hambantota in Sri Lanka, for a decision on the Caribbean island of St Kitts at a meeting of the Commonwealth Games Federation, late evening on 11/11/2011 (which was early morning, 12/11/2011, QLD time), and the Gold Coast won the bid: 43 votes to Hambantota’s 27. The Gold Coast was naturally euphoric, and planning went ahead straight away to turn the GC’s bid book, into solid gold reality, in six years.  Kuttsywood’s Couch acknowledged the bid’s success, in a piece 24hrs afterward: asking about “five factors, Seven needed to own the GC”…

“In less than 2400 days, the Gold Coast will host the 2018 Commonwealth Games. I just hope we aren't still asking the question about the need for more competition in local news and more local bulletins for the Gold Coast in November 2017.” Excerpt from “The five factors 7 needs, to own the GC.” November 13, 2011.

As the preparations for the Commonwealth Games kicked into high gear, projects were chugging along, such as the long hoped and wished for Gold Coast rapid transit system along the coast between Griffith University’s GC campus, Gold Coast University Hospital(replacing an aging facility at Southport) and Broadbeach (what became G:Link, when it opened in 2014: and thanks to GC 2018: now links to heavy rail at Helensvale, aiming to reach Burleigh Heads, along with becoming a Gold Coast icon in it’s own right) while others made way for change: the Gold Coast Showgrounds and trotting track (affectionately known as “Parklands”) was resumed for the construction of the athletes village (and will be reused as housing (following the model of Newington in Sydney (which served as the Olympic Village in 2000), in 2019), the Southport pool, morphed into the Gold Coast Aquatic Centre, with the ability to expand seating capacity temporarily, for events, and a major new asset opened in Brisbane,: Queensland’s first indoor velodrome (named for Anna Meares), at Chandler: 400m away from the outdoor velodrome where Australian cycling dominated in 1982. As the venues were going up, Kuttsywood’s Couch took time to look at the broadcast, in 2012: although this line from the post is one that I kind of wish I didn’t make, expecting to be watching GC2018 on a realized broadcast of 3DTV…

“…as by 2018, 3D expertise may be just as important as HD expertise is in 2012.” Excerpt from “The race begins: GC 2018 Comm Games broadcast rights.” July 2012.

What was the 3DTV expertise, of 2012 is now the 4K UHD expertise of 2018, in case you missed it.

And, in the middle of this, a new image was sought, building off the bid logo: and we witnessed a cracker of a handover, during the closing ceremony of the Glasgow Commonwealth Games, in 2014, featuring Jessica Mauboy, Sally Pearson and Mick Fanning, all encouraging the world, to come down under in 2018.

Gold Coast handover: Hampden Park, 2014. (Sourced from DAE Global on Youtube)

The Gold Coast was thankful, it was a fine night weatherwise at Hampden Park: compared to the torrential downpour of rain, Vanessa Amorosi got in Manchester in 2002, for Melbourne’s handover.

The second time we looked into the upcoming event, was in 2014 (not long after the Glasgow closing ceremony), this time with transport (and became the seed for the first Kuttsy’s Pitch spinoff: “Kuttsy’s Fare Pitch”) and despite the woes that QR has had, since the long promised Redcliffe rail line opened in 2016, this site made a bold prediction on two fronts:

Prediction 1: “The first key project that needs to be shovel ready now: is a project which would deliver light rail to Parkwood, to connect with the Gold Coast interurban railway line. But this project has a hitch. Improved rail services to the Gold Coast, such as infill stations south of Helensvale can’t proceed, without the duplication of the Coomera-Helensvale section of line, which includes a bridge over the Coomera River, (that should have been duplicated when the Coomera-Ormeau and the Helensvale-Robina sections of line were duplicated last decade). A good idea to overcome this is to have the GC council, QLD and federal governments, whatever the stripe, and the operator of the light rail, GoldLinq, to come together and deliver this vital project, involving combining connecting G:link light rail at a Parkwood heavy rail station (with provision to extend to Westfield Helensvale (via the “Eastern Corridor” alignment), and the theme parks at Oxenford) and duplicated heavy rail between Helensvale and Coomera (linking two venues: one at Coomera, and one at Movie World at Oxenford, which would also be fed by a bus shuttle from Helensvale.) and most importantly, open up the way for a enhanced Gold Coast line, during the Commonwealth Games.” Excerpt from “Are we there yet? GC 2018 Commonwealth Games transport.”: August 2014.

Parkwood may have not gotten a railway station, but light rail to Helensvale (assisted by streamlined theme park services (with TX1 (Southern GC-Oxenford/Coomera), TX2 (Broadbeach/Surfers to Oxenford) and TX3 (Broadbeach/Surfers-Coomera) from the GC Hwy, as well as 720 from Helensvale station, being merged into one service, from Helensvale: TX7, upon opening of G:link service to Helensvale earlier this year, instead of a theoretical G:link extension to Movie World/Wet ‘n Wild) along with the elimination of one of Queensland’s biggest rail bottlenecks, has vastly improved transport to the Gold Coast coastal strip from Brisbane (and will be improved more when Cross River Rail is built).

Prediction 2: “And there is then the 4th generation rollingstock, due to be introduced in 2015. The rollout of the first 6 car sets (not 3+3), needs to have enough weight, so all GC-Brisbane services are using “UMU” (short for Unified Multiple Unit) sets during the Games, with EMU withdrawal, postponed until after the Commonwealth Games (to allow every available unit to be used), and ICE (trains originally designed for long distance travel) withdrawn before the Commonwealth Games.”
The NGR’s, or as we called them in the post “UMU” (to follow QR’s scheme of calling each class of electric urban rolling stock with MU (multiple unit) and a letter: E(lectric), I(nterurban) and S(uburban), the U standing for Unified)  have had a troubled history getting to the rails, and have finally entered service, in late 2017, along with the EMU withdrawal being delayed, due to the same NGR woes.

“There have been Queenslanders that have heard about nothing but Expo for months” Nick McCallum, then a Ten journalist, at opening day of World Expo 88, 30th of April 1988.

If you thought the last 18 months leading into Expo 88 (from Expo Oz’s reveal in November 1986, to opening day in April 1988) was hectic, nothing can be compared to the marathon that began, with just two years to go until the opening ceremony at Cararra. This marathon, literally kicked off, with a stunt that would make Expo Oz proud: with the unveiling of Borobi, the GC2018 mascot, rappeling from a surf lifesaving helicopter at Burleigh Heads, to a large crowd.

Highlights of the Borobi unveiling, (sourced from Official GC2018 Youtube channel)

Venues were finished off, along with another key reveal: the Queen’s Baton, in November 2016, shown off by Paralympian Kurt Fearnley, as the beginning of a new phase began: actually getting us to buy tickets, recruiting a volunteer army, along with the Queen’s Baton beginning a trip around the world, to almost every Commonwealth nation, kicking off at Buckingham Palace (alongside a Kombi van), in the hands of cyclist Anna Meares, after the Queen put in her message, which was eventually read out at Cararra, by Prince Charles, in front of a capacity crowd.
The advertising, that was flooding our airwaves in Queensland, in the year and a half leading into GC2018, was simple. “Greatness, rarely seen”.
“There is a kind of greatness, you only see at the Commonwealth Games. Where sportsmanship and superhumans come together” excerpt from the “Greatness, Rarely Seen” GC2018 commercial.

Greatness Rarely Seen 60sec commercial: (sourced from Official GC2018 Youtube channel)

(Incidentally, that line about “superhumans”, in reference to Paralympians: thank Channel 4 in the UK for that, who utilized it to promote their London 2012 Paralympics coverage, to lift the profile of the event. The term stuck in peoples minds so much, it was reused for the Rio Paralympics (including spreading to Australia, for the first commercial Paralympics coverage), and will likely be reused again in 2020 in Tokyo. “Sportsmanship and superhumans coming together” however, is a reference to the fact that the Commonwealth Games is one of a rare breed of multi-sport events that handle elite sport events and para-sport events as equals on the medal tally (and was proven even moreso: with 2018 featuring the first wheelchair marathon and first paratriathlon (which only became a Paralympic event in 2016) at a Commonwealth Games): opposed to the Olympics/Paralympics being separate events.)

Welcome to Greatness: featuring Rupert McCall, May 2017: (sourced from Official GC2018 Youtube channel)

At the same time, we constantly heard about the Queen’s Baton’s tour around the Commonwealth, the results of the ticket ballot, new sponsors signing up, the beginning of Cararra’s conversion to a athletics stadium, the handover of the Games Village at Parklands (the last permanent piece of the Games puzzle), the reveal of the marathon and triathlon courses, batonbearer announcements for the domestic leg, the medals being unveiled, 15,000 volunteers beginning the long training job, then getting their uniforms and accreditation: it seemed, almost every day there was a new story about the Gold Coast’s biggest story, all leading to the most important day of all, before the games: the beginning of the domestic leg of the Queens Baton Relay, in Canberra, on Australia Day, after the international leg was completed on Christmas Eve.

Highlights of the first day of the QBR domestic leg: (sourced from Official GC2018 Youtube channel)

The domestic leg of the Queens Baton Relay became a major symbol, that the games were coming near, culminating in huge crowds for the final week of the relay, going through Brisbane and surrounds. You could shed a tear for a moment of bravery by some, and think about the past with others: just ask anyone who went to Kybong, as the Baton made a stop in front of Matilda, from 1982. And as the baton finally touched the Gold Coast sands again, the athletes of the Commonwealth flowed in, to the Games Village at Parklands: to settle in, and prepare for competition.

The opening ceremony on April 4 at Cararra, was just as much a celebration of our indigenous heritage, as it was about the Gold Coast itself, with a stirring intro by Jack Thompson, leading into a look at the evolution of indigenous Australian culture, followed by a fun beachside scene, which led into the athletes arrival, surrounded by surf lifesavers, called one by one by a platoon of lifeguards atop a lifeguard tower, and and each team was accompanied by the future of the surf lifesaving movement: the Nippers of the Gold Coast, with a rescue board bearing the name of each country. As the baton run came to a close, it was given to hurdler Sally Pearson to pass it off, to Prince Charles, to open the games with the Queens Message.

Prince Charles reading out the Queen's Message, Cararra Stadium 4/4/2018.
(sourced from 7CommGames channel on Youtube)

And then, finally competition began: with some sad news, and a shock world record.
The sad news, was that Sally Pearson pulled out of the games, due to a injury: one she kept quiet for two days, as not to ruin the plans to use her as the final Baton runner.
The shock world record: over at Anna Meares Velodrome, where the Australian 4000m team pursuit team, didn’t just win gold: but broke a world record in the process for the event (breaking a ten year chain of constant British progression of the record), posting the first sub-3’50 4000m team pursuit result… ever: adding the new Chandler velodrome to the list of Australian track cycling’s holy grail of venues (alongside Dunc Gray Velodrome in Sydney, where the first ever sub-4’00 4000m team pursuit result was recorded at the Sydney Olympics) in a instant.

Throughout the games, however: it seemed like it was a gold rush. News bulletins filled with Australian success, and some tragedy: for example, shades of Jane Saville at the Sydney Olympics, with Claire Tallent’s shock disqualification in the womens 20km race walk while in the lead, with one lap to go. 

And there was some amazing stories, like Katrin Garfoot: who had trained on the GC’s road cycling time-trial course, and had previously never placed at a international event higher than third, not only won gold: but blitzed the world to do so. 

The hype of how Jamaica’s Yohan Blake, came into Cararra and GC 2018 with high hopes for a 100m gold, to carry the tradition of Usain Bolt and Caribbean runners on: only to come third, to two South Africans in the final. The final race of Kurt Fearnley’s storied career. 

The Broadbeach Boilover (the netball pool match on the 8th of April, between the Silver Ferns of New Zealand and Malawi’s Queens, which saw NZ handed their first ever loss at a Commonwealth Games, that wasn’t against Australia, and caused recriminations across the ditch when the Silver Ferns didn’t even medal). 

Bronte Campbell shockingly beating her sister Cate in the 100m freestyle at Southport. 

Brandon Starc, proving his family isn’t just cricket royalty: earning a gold medal in the high jump. 

The transport dilemma we all feared, ended up not eventuating (albeit with a few hiccups: like when everyone turned up earlier than expected to Broadbeach to be bussed to Carrara for opening ceremony), while some Gold Coast residents fled, people visited in droves: literally a sellout event everywhere you looked, including in the merchandise tents: where Borobi toys became so popular: they ran out of available stock five days before the end of the Games. 

Kurt Fearnley winning the wheelchair marathon, along with the rise of England’s netball side (inc. many players who chose to play in Australia’s domestic league) to beat Australia for gold on the final day of the games.

And although, the closing ceremony, and handover to Birmingham in England (given the 2022 event, after Durban in South Africa (the original 2022 hosts), was shockingly dumped three months prior to GC2018) was remembered for the lack of athletes celebrating and crowds hitting the road early, the games as a whole, will be remembered for the legacy it has delivered to the Gold Coast: in improved sporting venues, in improved transport (with a itch now, to extend light rail south, to Burleigh Heads), and most critically a improved identity: for a city for so long deeply associated with the tourism industry and it’s success in Queensland, along with the white shoe brigade and it's ilk as well as being a sporting graveyard, towards becoming a near-capital coastal regional city that can stand by itself (in a similar vein to how Newcastle and Wollongong do in NSW and Geelong in Victoria respectively) and punch above it’s weight, every single time it is given a opportunity.

And, it will happen once again: fairly soon. A honourable mention, will be made below, for what will be the biggest TV news story in QLD in 2018, outside the Commonwealth Games, which is in a league of it’s own.

On July 1, the first Logies ceremony held outside Melbourne in 32 years (and the first Logies ceremony ever, held outside the Melbourne/Sydney axis), will happen on the Gold Coast. But, it was a long and tiring road for Queensland to finally wrench Australian TV’s night of nights away from the Palladium Ballroom at Crown Melbourne after twenty years.

The first inklings of change from Melbourne, began with the separation of Nine/ACP (publishers of TV Week) from Crown Resorts (owners of Crown-branded venues in Melbourne, Perth and soon: Sydney in Australia, along with other foreign investments), in 2007 via a sale of non-casino assets to CVC, followed by a failed attempt by Queensland to lure the event north in 2009, eventually all culminating in the separation of ACP, from Nine (to eventually relist on the ASX under it’s own name) with the magazine portfolio (inc. TV Week and the Logies) sold to German-based Bauer Media in late 2012, with a airtight deal with Crown, that eventually expired in 2017.

In the year or so, leading into the contract expiry, there were offers from Darwin, Dubbo, even Western Sydney to take over the event, which had become subsidised by the Victorian Govt, to the tune of $1m per year. It was the Victorian Govt, however that had the final say: pulling funding for the Logies to be held in Melbourne in late August 2017, and would suddenly seeing the event in play for the first time in thirty years (which had seen the Logies held in six different venues in Melbourne, 1987-1990 and 1993 at the Hyatt on Collins (now Grand Hyatt Melbourne), 1991 and 1994 (first Sunday night Logies) at the World Congress Centre (Melbourne’s original convention centre, now demolished), 1992 at the Radisson President (now a combined Pullman/Mercure hotel) at Albert Park, 1995 at the Melbourne Concert Hall at the Arts Centre (named Hamer Hall in 2004) 1996 at Melbourne Park and 1997-2017 at Crown’s Palladium Ballroom (whose first Logies in 1997, held the record for latest ever held (May 18) until the shift to the Gold Coast.)

Queensland was canny at first: even jocular about their hopes…

“I could turn around and say that it’s fitting because it’s a tacky industry coming to a tacky city: it  goes hand-in-hand.” Gold Coast (Lord) Mayor, Tom Tate on the GC’s Logies hopes, 4/9/17.

But eventually, it was indeed confirmed that the GC had landed a four year deal for the Logies (a likely placeholder for Queensland, with the deal set to expire in 2022: perfect for the event to shift to Star Entertainment’s Queens Wharf project in Brisbane: set to be a gamechanger, and bringing into play a integrated resort to potentially rival Crown’s in Melbourne.

And now, we come to #1. All we can say about it, is this line.

"It took Brisbane years to learn to cope with a drought. It took only hours however, to learn to cope with a flood."

The only event, that is fitting enough to be number one on this list, about this site’s first decade, is not just the biggest Queensland story of our first decade, but also the biggest Queensland story of the first two decades, of the 21st century. To realize how a Brisbane River flood, in the 11th year of the 21st century overtook the greatest Brisbane River flood of the 20th century (Australia Day 1974) in folklore, you have to remember a quote, bandied around in the years prior to the Australia Day tragedy, after the completion of Somerset Dam.

“Somerset Dam will alleviate the flooding problem in Brisbane”.

That was a belief that saw Brisbane forge new housing development in what was then, the far western suburbs, alongside the river (Jindalee, Jamboree Heights etc.) in the 1960’s, only to be given a hefty baptism in 1974: where houses, mostly built from brick and cement, were literally swamped, and in some cases were barely visible above the Brisbane River’s expanse. After the flood subsided, work began towards building another dam: this time at Wivenhoe, just above the junction of the Brisbane River and Lockyer Creek. And again, people believed quotes, such as they did with Somerset.

“Wivenhoe Dam will alleviate the flooding problem in Brisbane”

And with that spirit, and a lot of hard work, Brisbane stopped turning it’s back on the river, embracing it’s river again, partly due to buybacks after 1974, partly due to successive Brisbane civic administrations investing in re-activating the riverfront, and urban renewal (beginning with Dockside at Kangaroo Point, the removal of wharves in the Brisbane CBD for highrise purposes and the post Expo 88 redevelopment of South Bank), while some areas began to intensely develop, on the floodplain.

A generation, of people who had moved to Brisbane, and Queensland since the demise of Joh, let alone 1974’s tragedy, were beginning to believe similar words about Wivenhoe to what people were told with Somerset, even after two major flood events were prevented by Wivenhoe dam, in May 1996 and Feburary 1999, along with the “Millennium Drought”: seeing Wivenhoe reaching just 15% of full supply capacity in 2007 (along with Brisbane reaching, level 6 water restrictions (no outdoor hosing), which saw residents begin to treat water as a precious resource: going from a average of 190L used daily per household, to a government-mandated 140L used daily per household). But with as with all droughts, it must finally break, and it slowly happened over eighteen months, with Wivenhoe Dam hitting near full supply, for the first time since 2001, in April 2010.

Queensland however, headed into a dramatic wet season, that kicked off in October 2010: with the first largescale flood releases from Wivenhoe Dam in ten years, similar in scope to the Feburary 1999 event. At the same time, QLD seemed to be wanting to flood, during that wet season. Between late November 2010, and January 9 2011, Queensland’s flooded towns read like a atlas, in some cases with new record peaks (Emerald, for example, reached a new record peak, of 16.05m on New Years Eve 2010) as well as major evacuations: Condamine and Theodore were the first QLD towns to ever be evacuated in their entirety by helicopter, and Queensland and Australia watched in awe. And it was with this, on January the 9th, 2011: a telethon was staged in Brisbane towards the QLD Government’s flood appeal, not knowing that the need for money would become a whole lot greater within a week, and at the same time would prove the myth that Wivenhoe Dam eliminated flooding in the lower Brisbane catchment (referring to the Brisbane River below Wivenhoe, which has Lockyer Creek and the Bremer River feeding into it) to be simply, a myth.

January 10:
As we all were likely returning to work, after the Christmas break, a new disaster arrived to our west with no warning what so ever. The first images we saw of this new disaster, weren’t from news crews.
The most famous images of the Toowoomba flood disaster on January 10, 2011: (Sourced from whitelightbringer on Youtube)

They were from the general public, the residents of Toowoomba who got the shock of the century, as a flash flood ravaged through the central business district, (a more awkward sight as Toowoomba is on top of the Great Dividing Range, in a watershed, although the town had been drenched all summer, leaving the ground with little time to dry out), and taking four lives with it, including 13yr old Jordan Rice, (along with his mother Donna): whose selfless sacrifice (asking for his younger brother to be rescued first) led to a posthumous bravery medal for Jordan, in 2015. At the same time, a extreme rain event occurred at the source of Lockyer Creek, again a area soaked all summer, suddenly turned Lockyer Creek into a slow moving ocean: what many called, a “inland tsunami”, and rose so quickly (towards the highest levels recorded in history: in the process knocking out flood gauges, most notably in Helidon whose flood gauge failed at just under 14m, nearly double the record set in 1974), people had to climb onto the roofs of their houses, and the helicopter army, that served with dignity in Theodore and Condamine, were now being called to make aerial rescues, in the Lockyer Valley.
Footage of outside the Grantham Hotel, of the ever rising floodwaters: which lifted houses off their stumps. (Sourced from Andrew O'Brien on Youtube)

However, despite all the best efforts of rescuers, in both Toowoomba and the Lockyer Valley, all up 21 people passed away due to the twin flood emergency (in some cases in the Lockyer Valley: bodies took months to find): seven more people, than the death toll, during the entire 1974 Brisbane flood, and making the Toowoomba/Lockyer Valley flash flood disaster, Australia’s worst flash flood event, in terms of fatalities, overtaking the Canberra flash flood of 1971, in which seven people passed away, after a sudden downpour, sent a torrent down Yarralumla Creek, towards a major intersection (which the creek passed under), in the the suburb of Woden Valley.

January 11:
The first stories of the Toowoomba/Lockyer tragedy... 11/1/2011 (Sourced from gypsywaze on Youtube.)

I still remember the morning of January 11 2011. The first signs of a media in motion had begun, getting into the Toowoomba/Lockyer story, while it was still bucketing down at home. I remember walking into a local supermarket the previous day (not long before the panic buying began), whose windows were so fogged up, you could barely see out of them. At home, days earlier, a unexplained ant invasion happened, and then we started to hear the news of the evolution of what had become a disaster. The Brisbane creeks dodged a bullet: however the falls on that day, were located north of the city. The Pine/Caboolture catchments, had rises, that were sudden, and deep. The North Pine River, below a full and spilling North Pine Dam, was causing major issues, shutting Youngs Crossing first (while the gauge glitched), and then, the twin road bridges at Petrie, eventually rising to the base of the railway bridge deck at Petrie (which was replaced by a four track concrete structure in conjunction with Moreton Bay Rail works in 2016): something rarely seen, since North Pine Dam’s construction.

The North Pine River at Petrie, just before 12pm 11/1/2011: (Sourced from leahmashe on Youtube)

The Caboolture River, hit record heights in the centre of the Caboolture CBD (putting the Morayfield Rd bridge over the Caboolture River under three metres of water), splitting the area into two.
Emergency lines crashed, mobile networks strained, as another area was preparing for a slower flood: Ipswich. With heavy falls, in the Bremer catchment, many people were caught unaware, (after all: the Bremer, hadn’t had a major flood in the system at Ipswich, since 1991, while the most recent flood event was 10m (registered by the BOM as moderate) in 2008) but, prepared handsomely. People who knew the risk, acted: especially in the Ipswich CBD. And, by next morning: a sight in that city, that hadn’t been seen in 37 years: water in the heart of Ipswich, would break many hearts, as the Bremer peaked, just short of it’s 1974 levels.
Meanwhile, Wivenhoe Dam spilled, as it filled, with the largest inflows in it’s history: something that is still judged about today.

TVQ news bulletin January 11, 2011 (sourced from Channel 10 on Youtube)

Wivenhoe storage 11/1/11: 175% capacity
Wivenhoe storage, early 12/1/11: 191% capacity

January 12:
The first anticipations, by the BOM were for a minor flood. The releases at Wivenhoe (which, if they hadn’t happened, would have triggered the “fuse plug” emergency spillway: causing a much deeper, 1893-style flood), combined with the record flood down Lockyer Creek as well as the Bremer River flowing at levels not seen since 1974, combined to give Brisbane residents a wakeup call, with some warning. Many people heeded the warnings, others didn’t do enough. Levels rose quickly, and the first visible signs were in the eastern Ipswich suburb of Goodna: whose retail strip, RSL club, and many houses (inc. two story houses) saw water reach rooftop level (while the railway line and Ipswich Motorway was also submerged): at 16.4m, 60cm short of the mark reached in 1974. Jindalee and Centenary suburbs were next: along with the Belbowrie area, who were isolated from the rest of Brisbane until waters receded. Jindalee, recorded heights 1.1m lower than 1974, but were enough to reach many more homes than 1974, due to development.

7 News aerial coverage of Brisbane's CBD, 12/1/2011: (sourced from Fabianamuso on Youtube)

At the same time, these images were being captured by news helicopters, not just locals, but those flown in from Sydney and Melbourne, to ease the strain on Brisbane news crews that had worked their guts out covering the regional QLD story (in a period where some vacation time is usually booked), who were now having to cover their own city (and in a few journalist’s cases (most notably, Lexy Hamilton-Smith at Fig Tree Pocket) their own houses) going underwater.

Lexy Hamilton-Smith's flood story, 14/1/11 (sourced from Channel 10 on Youtube)

South Bank’s beach was breached, by the flood, along with mass relocations of stock in the CBD’s riverfront restaurants (while Drift Café at Milton had it’s main pontoon slam into the Go Between Bridge), as well as damage to Pat Rafter Arena (where the Brisbane International had finished three days earlier), the Rocklea produce markets as well as the locker rooms and pitch inside Suncorp Stadium. Normality was simply drifted away with the flood, as boats replaced cars in riverside suburbs, people with mobile cameras snapping away at the sight of water in the suburbs, while others took to the water, to capture the images that would remain in the minds of many today (inc. an McDonalds restaurant at Milton, (near Suncorp Stadium) where people literally canoed right on inside.)

A canoe trip... inside McDonalds at Milton (sourced from dimboon on Youtube)

Yet there was still some humour: While Suncorp Stadium was filling, someone went to the effort, of putting a snorkel and floaties on the Wally Lewis statue outside: which ended up becoming yet another image of the 2011 floods worth remembering.

That next morning, we heard a heartfelt speech, from then Queensland Premier Anna Bligh, whose conclusion, summed it all up how we were all feeling, and how we should remain steadfast in our resolve towards the crisis, unfolding before our eyes.

“Can I say to Queenslanders everywhere: Wherever you are and there are so many places to list, if you are in central Queensland, if you're in southwest Queensland, if you're in western Queensland, if you're in the Burnett Region, the Darling Downs, Toowoomba, the Lockyer Valley, Ipswich or Brisbane, all of those places have been affected by floods and I say to every one of those people in those areas and to Queenslanders in other parts of the state: as we weep for what we have lost, and as we grieve for family and friends, and we confront the challenge that is before us, I want us to remember who we are.

"We are Queenslanders; we're the people that they breed tough north of the border. We're the ones that they knock down and we get up again. I said earlier this week that this weather may break our hearts and it is doing that but it will not break our will and in the coming weeks and in the coming months we are going to prove that beyond any doubt. Together, we can pull through this and that's what I'm determined to do and with your help, we can achieve that.” Excerpt from Anna Bligh speech, 9:30am, January 13, 2011 at EMQ HQ at Kedron. (footage sourced from ABC News Australia on Youtube)

January 13:

The first purpose of that press conference, however, was to inform the public of a miracle on the river, that had shades of the Robert Miller incident, in 1974. A 200m section of Brisbane’s floating Riverwalk (opposite the Dockside development, the former site of the Evans Deakin Shipyard where the Robert Miller was built), in the middle of the night broke free, of it’s moorings, and made it’s way downstream. A plucky tugboat, Mavis, driven by tugboat engineers Peter Fenton (who passed away in December 2011, after a tragic accident where a crate fell on him during a routine transfer) and Doug Hislop, gave chase, and eventually turned the Riverwalk section just enough, for it to pass under the Gateway Bridges, instead of the force of the water ramming it against the piers. The river peaked, at 4.46m, at the Brisbane Port Office (the historical measuring point for Brisbane flooding) at 3am on January 13: 99cm below the 1974 peak of 5.45m.
20,000+ homes and businesses were affected at the peak, along with damage to river infrastructure, both public (ferry network, Riverwalk) and private (the many private pontoons in the upper reaches that broke free, and floated out to Moreton Bay).

The cleanup was going to be massive: but technology helped boost spirits. A Facebook group quickly organized off a spur of the moment tweet, a major baking operation to assist the SES: what became Baked Relief (which has now become a common sight whenever disaster occurs). The most important call however, came out late January 13 from Brisbane City Council: a heavy equipment drive (bobcats, front end loaders, even trucks), alongside the army regiments of Enoggera, to help clear roads all throughout January 14 as water receded, to prepare for a key event, that lifted a lot more than mud out of homes: it lifted spirits even higher.

Salvation Saturday: January 15:

ABC News story on the first day of the massive cleanup task 15/1/2011
(footage sourced from ABC News Australia on Youtube)

The Saturday after the waters receded, was one of resiliency. Brisbane City Council quickly organized four centres for volunteers to register, at the Mt Coot-tha Botanic Gardens, Macgregor at QEII, Boondall at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre and at Doomben racecourse. They were expecting 6,000 volunteers for the weekend. They got 25,000 volunteers registered in Brisbane alone (along with countless others who went directly to where the help was needed: causing traffic jams in some cases) the second largest organized volunteer effort in Australian history: only the Sydney Olympics eclipsed it. And this “mud army” didn’t mind if they got dirty, as they brought their high pressure cleaners, hoses, brooms, mops, shovels and buckets, to clear out sodden possessions, rip up flooring, even removed walls to expose the timber skeletons of houses. These neighbourhoods sharing the pain, even had volunteers feeding the volunteers: after all, even a “mud army” marches on it’s stomach. And slowly and surely, the mud disappeared, but the memories remained ingrained… much like January 1974.

The Queensland Government, set out a inquiry into procedures concerning the management of the flood situation, and ended up bringing in new strategies, to handle the the flooding of the future. Wivenhoe dam levels leading into wet seasons in the years after 2011, were carefully watched, and became media events, while we began to be told: “If It’s Flooded, Forget It” when it came to flash flooding (which became even more important: after a incident in May 2015, saw five people lose their lives in one night in the Caboolture area, all due to driving into flooded creeks) and infrastructure was made more floodproof. But, the greatest story may yet be written: with a class action, currently happening in NSW (due to QLD’s legal system only just legalizing class actions in late 2016: too late for the 2011 flood victims), with Morris Blackburn Lawyers as the proponent, against the QLD Government, over potential compensation, heading towards the billions, and whether or not the dam operators at Wivenhoe operated the dam correctly.

But one thing will always spring to mind, when I personally think of our dams and flood security, is none other than the late Clem Jones: lord mayor of Brisbane, during the 1974 flood.
Clem ordered the gates of Somerset Dam to be shut, to try and ease Brisbane flooding, at the expense of the town of Kilcoy: right near the dam, and potentially put the city at greater risk if more rain fell. That decision led to the QLD Government, handing over flood mitigation, and control of Brisbane’s two main dams to experts in hydrology, instead of politicians. It is my personal belief, that if Wivenhoe’s gates were ordered to be shut, (similar to how Somerset was shut by Clem Jones in 1974) instead of staying open, after the Lockyer Creek torrent began to flow towards the Brisbane River, the fuse plug would have activated, due to the massive inflows into Wivenhoe overnight on January 11, and a much deeper flood would have affected Brisbane: with a lot more damage and visible reminders.

And yes, the visible reminders are still there: Drift Café, (the former Oxley’s on the River restaurant) never reopened in that location at Milton: and is still a shell, eight years later. Same can be said for legendary Brisbane party venue The Island (the former James Holt ferry which ran between Eagle Farm and Murrarie between, 1964 and 1986, prior to the Gateway Bridge’s opening), which was turned to scrap in late 2011 after barely surviving the flood. Café San Marco, at South Bank also never reopened, with the site’s vacancy still a reminder of what happened in January 2011 until it’s eventual removal in October 2017, to become open space: while our ferry infrastructure was heavily redesigned to be more resilient to flooding.

Unveiling of the Goodna Pillar of Courage, January 2012 (sourced from TenNewsQLD on Youtube)

Some 1974 flood memorials erected in 1999 by Brisbane City Council, (most notably the one in the City Botanic Gardens) now have markers for the 2011 level placed on them, while Goodna erected a “Pillar of Courage”, showing the height of the 1893, 1974 and 2011 floods, as a constant reminder of nature’s power. And, then there was the Riverwalk: although the New Farm-CBD section was rebuilt as a fixed structure in 2014, parts of the original floating walkway now serve as a jetty for the Sandstone Point Tavern.

And, of course the most critical legacy, of the flood of 2011, is how our emergency response to disaster is delivered in this country.

That speech by Anna Bligh on January 13, took place in a room at EMQ Kedron, alongside a Auslan interpreter, to better communicate emergency information to the deaf community, than rely on live captioning alone. In June 2018, the Free TV Code of Practice, was amended to mandate that Auslan interpreters, if used: are to be kept in the same frame as the speaker, in the process, recognising the importance of Auslan as a primary language for the deaf community: and delivering any emergency message much clearer, especially to those who may indeed need it the most.

We know, in 2021 there will indeed be a flood of memories: much like how 1984, and 1999 were for 1974: but one thing must be remembered. Brisbane is a city built on a floodplain. Flooding is a fact of life, you can try and tame it with dams and levees, but the threat still exists: and hopefully, when the next big flood happens: we hope that the lessons of 2011 have been learned by a river city which can end up in the river, once in a while.

"Love You Queensland" flood relief single by Harvest Rain Theatre Company, feat. Simon Gallaher, post 2011 flood. (sourced from Harvest Rain Theatre Company on Youtube)

Some final words from us.

I'd like to thank you all, for joining on this journey with Kuttsywood's Couch way back in 2008. It has been one a hell of a ride, our first decade. We hope, that we have many more memorable moments, in the decade to come. Kuttsywood's Couch... celebrating ten years of excellence.

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