My Year in Review by News Of The Area reporter Tara Campbell Opinion by News Of The Area - Modern Media - January 5, 2022 Attending the Gallery in Tea Gardens for the ‘Fabulous’ and ‘Mothers’ exhibitions. WHAT a year it’s been. I joined the News Of The Area team in December 2020, with a passion for journalism and a love for the Port Stephens and Myall Coast areas and it’s safe to say that a lot has happened since then. I’ve been quite lucky to get the opportunity to write about a range of topics, from openings of businesses like Medowie Social to seeing our local stars in shows such as The Addams Family at Young People’s Theatre or Star Struck. One of the highlights of my year was locating and visiting all our local ‘little street libraries’ to donate books and document the libraries for a series of articles. I’ve loved these libraries since I discovered the first one in Newcastle and so I spent a couple of days compiling lists, scanning community groups and trying my best to locate every single one in the area. I went on a full day trip, with a backseat full of books and ticked off every little street library in the area (there are at least twelve that span from Stockton to Bulahdelah). I’ve met some wonderful people throughout my year, and in May I even got to ‘ride in style’ on a 4WD-buggy-tractor combination to visit properties along the Karuah River for a showcase of work from the Karuah-Borland Landcare Program. In July I had the honour of interviewing Peter Fox, a former policeman and the whistle blower for the Royal Commission into Child Sex Abuse, which was the most significant interview of my career so far. We talked for over an hour about his career and what occurred after he published information that led to a Royal Commission, but also his resignation from the Police Force. I asked him whether, in hindsight, he would do it all again. Spoiler alert – he would. Working in the area has made me appreciate all the little things I hadn’t before, even though I’ve grown up in the area; the Bulahdelah bakery that sells the most incredible spinach and cheese pies, seeing Dingoes in Hawks Nest, and Jacaranda Avenue in Raymond Terrace when the trees are in bloom, just to name a few. I think however, the most notable moment for the year came from my visit to Oakvale Wildlife Park, during a time where most of the area was in lockdown and there was no one besides my guide and myself. I got to write an article about how animals are impacted by COVID-19 with the lack of visitors to zoos and parks, and Angela from the Park let me get up close and personal with some of my favourite animals. From travelling by boat to visit the lemurs, having meerkats climb all over me, petting a koala and a Texas Longhorn, it was one of the best days of my life. For the past year I’ve loved meeting all the local politicians, members of community groups, business owners and everyone in between and I look forward to another great year as part of the News Of The Area Team. By Tara CAMPBELL Meeting (and friending) lemurs at the Wildlife Park. The lemurs were quite happy to pose for photos. Petting one of the Koalas at Oakvale Wildlife Park. Meeting the Meerkats at Oakvale Wildlife Park.