Five hard goodbyes in 2012

In 2012 the Illawarra said a reluctant goodbye to these sentimental favourites.

LOYAL DRAGONS

In August, one of the region's favourite sons, Ben Hornby, quietly announced he would retire at the end of the season. The boy from Corrimal Cougars who went on to make his way through the Steelers junior ranks, captain an NRL premiership side, play for the NSW Blues and Australia was a true ornament to the game. Team-mate Dean Young also hung up his boots at the end of the season and, like Hornby, will be remembered not only for his prowess on the field but for his work behind the scenes.

PEREY'S BOOKS

Wollongong cultural landmark Perey's Books was forced to close in November after losing the fight against electronic opposition. The 20-year-old dealer of rare and second-hand books survived a change of ownership and two relocations, but struggled for custom in recent years as book lovers increasingly embraced e-books. Owner Jo Abrantes bought Perey's from its founder, Elizabeth Perey, having fallen in love with the store when she spotted it on her first day in Wollongong, nearly a decade ago.

REDBACK MUSIC

Wollongong CD store Redback Music closed in July after more than 20 years in business. Owners Robyn and Graham Letham made the decision with heavy hearts, after attempts to sustain the independent music outlet failed. Melissa and her siblings Rachel and James had worked with their parents at Redback since the family bought the business from John Jenkins in 2001. Mr Jenkins, a pioneer of independent music in the Illawarra, established the store in the Crown St Mall in 1988. The business had weathered the transition from vinyl through to compact discs, only to be crushed in recent years by online music downloads. 

SANDRA McCARTHY

Kiama’s longest-serving mayor Sandra McCarthy announced in July she would not contest September’s Kiama council election, bringing down the curtain on her 17-year career in local government. ‘‘In my heart I know it is the right time to go,’’ Cr McCarthy said. ‘‘I want some time for myself and my family, but I know I leave the council in a good position. I am happy and confident about that.’’ Serving a record-breaking 12 years as mayor, Cr McCarthy was highly regarded in local government circles and will be remembered for guiding Kiama through a stable period of local government in what was a tumultuous political time in the Illawarra.

COALCLIFF COKEWORKS

While northern Illawarra residents won't miss the trucks, noise and dust, the closure of the Coalcliff Cokeworks brings an end to 99 years of coke-making there. Illawarra Coke Company announced in December that the Coalcliff site will close in the first half of 2013, just a year shy of its 100th anniversary, due to a combination of factors, including the high Australian dollar, high input costs and low coke prices. Opening with 50 ovens, the first coke was produced on site in December 1914.

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