Council and sustainability

If you want to know the aims and objectives of local council you can download a comprehensive guide in PDF format from www.thehills.nsw.gov.au/Services/Our-Community. It contains informative sections on governance, community support, arts and culture, wellbeing and volunteering.
You have to admit that our council strives to be inclusive and accountable; each section details action points for council to take. The Sustainable Communities Plan is a mine of information for anyone living local.

Go west

Penrith is a short drive from the Hills area and has lots on offer. You can watch a show at Panthers or the Joan Sutherland Performing Arts Complex, get active at the Whitewater Stadium, relax on the old paddle wheeler, Nepean Belle, or cycle around Penrith Lakes. Penrith Museum of Fire and Penrith Museum of Printing are perhaps less visited venues, but both are really affordable and enjoyable.
The Museum of Fire is very educational and makes a great family afternoon. The displays are brought to life through the knowledgeable guides, who are mainly serving or retired firefighters — nothing like getting information from the horse’s mouth!
As well as being entertained, you may also get some tips that could save a life. Open seven days a week (except public holidays), wheelchair access, group bookings welcome, adults $10 and concession $8, 02 4731 3000.
If you are interested in the world of typography, printing and media, and out Penrith way on a Saturday, the Penrith Museum of Printing could be just your port of call. The museum is in the Penrith Showground complex and has a great collection of historic printing presses and related machinery, which is fascinating. Small group tours can be booked and demonstrations of old letterpress printing are given. Open every Saturday from 10am-2pm (other days by appointment only), 0415 625 573, www.printingmuseum.org.au.

Red Cross telephone friendship

If you know a friend or neighbour who lives alone and finds it difficult to get out and mix with people, the Red Cross provides a wonderful support service called TeleCHAT. The service is free and available to anyone.
Social connection is vital for people living alone, and a chat with a friendly volunteer could be something they look forward to all week. Volunteers are matched with participants and telephone contact is weekly. A rapport is gradually built up and some lasting friendships are often made. Everyone needs someone to talk to, or perhaps just a companion to listen.
Visit www.redcross.org.au/telechat.aspx for a fact sheet and more information, or call (03) 9345 1800.

Your boots are made for walking

If you prefer to explore the local bushland and tracks at your own pace instead of with a walking group, you will never get lost again!
Council has developed maps for popular tracks from Baulkham Hills to Lower Portland.
Maps display cycling, walking and cultural information plus nearby carparks and facilities. Spring is a great time to start peeling off those extra layers and get moving while the weather is still cool. www.thehills.nsw.gov.au and search for Tracks and Trails.

Discounted movies

There is nothing better than a good movie with your partner or a group of friends. If you are over 60 you are eligible for Event Cinemas’ Seniors loyalty membership.
There is no joining fee, all tickets are $8 and the seventh movie is free. The membership also has advance screenings and morning tea with selected films. You can only apply for this online, and your card will take a couple of weeks to reach you. www.eventcinemas.com.au/member-programs/join.

Your pet does not have to go it alone

Research has shown that the companionship of pets can reduce anxiety and depression in older people, particularly when they live alone. However, this ownership is often tinged with anxious thoughts such as, “What if I am too sick to care for my dog?” or “What will happen if I have to be in hospital for a few days?”
The RSPCA has developed a great initiative to help seniors in this situation — the Pets of Older Persons (POOPs) program. POOPs helps seniors over 65 by looking after their pets in times of emergency. They help with vet treatment, urgent boarding needs, grooming and vet assistance.
The RSPCA also extends this program to seniors in palliative care. This fantastic scheme is much needed, and its main aim is to keep pets with their owners as long as possible. The program is subsidised. (02) 9782 4408, poops@rspcansw.org.au. ❐