Community News

ICONIC MACKAY Celebrated At Mayor’s Charity Ball

ICONIC MACKAY Celebrated At Mayor’s Charity Ball

Mackay's social calendar sparkled with generosity and community spirit as the Mackay Mayor's Charity Ball unfolded at the MECC last Saturday evening. The event, a cornerstone of philanthropy in the region, saw more than 400 guests gather in support of two vital local charities: Grapevine Group, dedicated to suicide prevention across the Mackay, Isaac, and Whitsunday regions, and the Australian Street Aid Project (ASAP). This year’s Ball was all about celebrating Iconic Mackay – its features, his

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Bridging The Gap Or Falling Short?

Bridging The Gap Or Falling Short?

While the budget brings welcome relief in the form of minor boosts and tax cuts, does it fall short of addressing the fundamental issue of the widening wage gap in Australia? While households may receive modest sums weekly due to the tax cuts, the stark reality remains: the cost of living continues to soar, outpacing any marginal increase in disposable income. Not to mention, as ordinary Australians struggle to make ends meet, major banks continue to rake in billions in profit, much of which is

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Willcox Slams Budget As Rubbish For Dawson

Willcox Slams Budget As Rubbish For Dawson

As the nation eagerly awaited Treasurer Jim Chalmers' budget address on Tuesday evening, anticipation mounted over the proposed measures to alleviate the economic strain gripping Australian households. The Federal Budget unveiled a multifaceted approach aimed at easing the burden of cost-of-living pressures while steering the country towards financial stability and prosperity. At the heart of the budgetary agenda was meant to be a resolute commitment to provide "responsible relief" to Australian

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Do It For Dolly Day

Do It For Dolly Day

Across Australia on May 10, individuals along with schools and businesses alike participated in Dolly’s Dream to honour the late Dolly Everett, a young girl who sadly took her own life due to ongoing bullying. Inspired by the tragic loss of their daughter, Dolly's parents initiated anti-bullying measures, aiming to empower and educate communities on kindness and bullying prevention which has since sparked a nationwide movement against bullying. Mackay locals, students, teachers and businesses

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Awards Recognise Nurses’ Care, Compassion And Commitment

May 16, 2024

They are the heart and soul of the healthcare system and last Friday Mackay Hospital and Health Service recognised the care, commitment and compassion delivered by nurses across the region.

International Nurses Day is celebrated on May 12 each year on the anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s birth.

The annual Mackay HHS International Nurses Day Awards acknowledged nurses for their vital roles in our communities and dedication to achieving health outcomes for patients.

There were more than 1500 nurses working in hospitals, multi-purpose and community health facilities across the region, constituting more than 50 per cent of the workforce, Acting Executive Director of Nursing and Midwifery Paul McAllister said.

“International Nurses Day is a time to formally honour and acknowledge the incredible work nurses do on the frontline of care,” Mr McAllister said.

“We thank them for their care and compassion, healing touch and for always putting your patients first.

“Thank you for providing an empathetic ear and compassionate hand when a life-changing diagnosis is delivered; for the commitment, enthusiasm and professionalism you bring each and every day to our patients and communities.

“To all nursing students, enrolled nurses, registered nurses, midwives, nurse practitioners, nurse managers, educators and leaders – thank you for the work that you do and Happy International Nurses Day,” he said.

The Mackay HHS International Nurses Day Awards recognise staff who demonstrate excellence in practice and the significant contributions they make to their professions, their teams and the community across six award categories.


McFadzen Perpetual Award

This award is sponsored by the Auxillary and recognises the skills and contributions of a nurse from the Mackay Base Hospital. The award recipient will receive $1000 for professional development purposes. 2024 WINNER: Jenny Seymour, Clinical Nurse Consultant, Infection Prevention.

Clinical Nurse Specialty Award

The Clinical Nurse Speciality Award is sponsored by Robyn Nikolsky, a past nurse who is extremely passionate about the nursing profession who personally donates $250 to be spent on professional development. This category is for a clinical nurse across the Mackay HHS. 2024 WINNER: Chelsey Presley, Clinical Nurse Consultant Post Operative Discharge Support Service (PODSS) and Jeannine Gierke Registered Nurse, Intensive Care Unit

Clinical Excellence Award – Rural

This award specifically recognises a rural nurse who demonstrates an advanced level of skill in a rural hospital. They identify in an area of clinical nursing skills which directly improves patient care through direct care, education of the patients and staff, innovation, research or impact on community health issues. 2024 WINNER: Shannon Breckon, Nurse Navigator Northern, Bowen Hospital

Clinical Excellence Award – Nurse Unit Manager

This is a new category that specifically recognises a nurse unit manager who oversees day-to-day patient care, supervising, directing and developing our Mackay HHS nurse staff, while also educating and inspiring individuals to become leaders who act with integrity, fostering quality and research, promoting wellness and advocate for the best possible experiences for people and the communities. 2024 WINNER: Heather Skien, Clinical Nurse Consultant, Oncology Day Unit.

Excellence in Patient Care Award

This is a new category that recognises a nurse with excellent clinical nursing skills as evidenced by feedback from patients, peers and colleagues. 2024 WINNER: Dolores Ramsamy, Nurse Practitioner, Renal Unit,

CQUniversity 2023 Graduate of the Year Award

This award is to recognise the skills and contributions of a 2022 graduate nurse. The $500 prize is donated by CQUniversity to be used to improve knowledge and skills in nursing or midwifery. 2024 WINNER: – Sara Herringe, Registered Nurse, Emergency Department.

JCU Award – Outstanding Support Award (Department)

Bowen Hospital

JCU Award – Outstanding Support Award

Julie Philipson, Nurse Unit Manager, Patient Flow and Access Service

International Nurses Day Award winners from left, Dolores Ramsamy (Excellence in Patient Care Award), Heather Skien (Clinical Excellence Award – Nurse Unit Manager) and Jenny Seymour (McFadzen Perpetual Trophy)

Mackay HHS chief executive Susan Gannon and Dolores Ramsamy (Excellence in Patient Care award)

McFadzen Perpetual Trophy winner Jenny Seymour with Mackay Base Hospital auxillary members Brenda and Cameron McFadzen

Chelsey Presley (Clinical Nurse Speciality Award winner)

Heather Skien (Clinical Excellence Award – Nurse Unit Manager)

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Local Wheelchair Athlete Selected To Play For The Comets

May 16, 2024

Krystal DeMaid, a determined 23-year-old Wheelchair Basketball player has been recognised for her talent, by being selected to play for the Comets Women’s National League Team.

Despite having a background in netball, Krystal decided to take up basketball in 2022 and instantly fell in love with the sport. She then began to take it to the next level and joined the Mackay Machines last year in 2023. With the guidance of her coach, she embraced the challenges and pushed herself to achieve greater heights as a young athlete.
Krystal has achieved numerous milestones since embracing Wheelchair Basketball, securing both bronze and silver medals, along with a trophy and a hope for many more to come in future.
Whilst playing for the Mackay Machines, she caught the attention of the national Women's team, the Comets, who invited her to join their ranks. The opportunity to play at the national level came as a shock to Krystal, but she was deeply honoured and grateful for the chance to showcase her skills on a larger scale.
“I was so shocked if I’m being honest, just because I haven’t been playing for very long compared to everyone else who has been playing, but I’m absolutely honoured for the opportunity,” she said.
To prepare for the vigorous demands of elite-level competition, Krystal dedicates herself to intensive physical training, including weightlifting, park runs, and cardio workouts. She also hones her shooting skills on the basketball court, striving to improve her accuracy and performance.
As she prepares for a thrilling opportunity to train with the Comets in Brisbane on May 26 and compete for her first round in Perth for Comets on June 22nd, Krystal faces the financial burden of funding for her wheelchair equipment and travel expenses. While some costs are partially covered by the basketball organisation, she relies on community support to cover additional expenses such as flights and accommodation.
Despite the financial challenges ahead, Krystal remains determined to pursue her dream of representing Australia in international wheelchair basketball competitions one day.
Krystal says she is immensely grateful for the support she has received from the Mackay Machines and the broader community.
With the support of the community behind her, Krystal is eager to make her mark on the national and international courts as she inspires others with her remarkable dedication and skill.
Those interested in following her journey can find updates on the Mackay Machines' or Peer Motivations Facebook page.
Those who would like to contribute to her fundraising efforts can donate to her GoFundMe page under: Krystal DeMaid - Mackay Local Wheelchair Basketball Superstar.

Local 23-year-old Krystal DeMaid has been selected to play for the Comets Women’s National League Team. Image supplied

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Burdekin Labor Candidate Slammed Over Demise Of Glenden

May 16, 2024

The announcement by former Isaac Regional Council Mayor Anne Baker that she is running as the Labor candidate for Burdekin is both disappointing and damning for the Queensland mining industry, Energy Resources Queensland (ERQ) said in a statement last week.

“Last week’s hurried announcement highlights what we have said all along – Anne Baker needed a headline to leverage herself into State Parliament and that is why she concocted the save Glenden announcement,” ERQ spokesperson Paul Turner said.

In the damning statement, Mr Turner said that the former Isaac Regional Council Mayor and current Labor candidate for the seat of Burdekin “Did not save Glenden, and did not even care about it until it became a political hot potato.”

“Former Mayor Anne Baker stood by while Glenden deteriorated from a thriving mining town of 1300 to the current run-down and ignored town of 200.

“If anyone is to blame for the current state of the town, it is former mayor Anne Baker. While she effectively deflected that blame during her so-called “save Glenden” campaign, the facts speak much larger than her hollow words.”

Mr Turner said that during Ms Baker’s time as Isaac Mayor, the population of Glenden declined by 80 per cent. Under her watch, Glencore’s nearby Hail Creek mining camp was approved on August 22 by the State Government, meaning 1000 workers would live in that camp rather than Glenden itself. Yet the Byerwen camp owned by QCoal which had previously received approval and is already operational, had the conditions of that approval changed forcing its workers to live in Glenden after the town has deteriorated into a place that no longer has the services one would expect from a mining town.

Under the new legislation QCoal will be required to progressively move its workers from camp to Glenden from next year, with no remaining workers to be on the camp site after 2029.

Mr Turner went on to say that the supermarket, newsagent, pharmacy and almost every shop in Glenden has closed. The school’s year 1-12 population has declined to less than 40 students. There is no childcare centre, the golf club and bowls club both closed and the town’s rubbish dump is due to close at the end of June.

“Far from saving Glenden, former mayor Anne Baker doomed this town,” Mr Turner said.

“As Mayor, Anne Baker supported the 1000-person mining camp at Glencore’s Hail Creek which is the same distance from Glenden as the Byerwen mine she is now working to close.

“Anne Baker never spoke to the 800 workers at Byerwen, many of them who live in Isaac Regional Council and almost 60 per cent of whom live within two hours of Glenden or asked them what impact her political campaign would have on their lives and safety,” he said.
Member for Burdekin Dale Last said in state parliament last month, “Last week I spent time in Glenden where I spoke with residents and business owners, and eight months after that amendment passed through Parliament, I can categorically say that nothing has changed in that community and that community continues to wither on the vine and look for help and look for assistance, and it’s highly likely that nothing will change.”

ERQ is running a campaign to have the State Government overturn legislation it introduced with no consultation or reference to a Parliamentary Committee which will force the Queensland-owned and operating QCoal mining company to close its onsite Byerwen mine camp and force its 800 workers to live in Glenden.

A photo from QCoal shows the demise of Glenden with much of the town run down or overgrown

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May 16, 2024

Mackay Regional Council has approved a $7500 Community Grant to help fund a program aimed at reducing incidents of road crashes involving Indigenous youth.
Clontarf's Mackay L-2-P Driving Program aims to help more than 40 disadvantaged young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander males who face barriers in obtaining driver education and a licence.
The grant was one of 15 Community Grants and 16 Small Equipment Grants approved to the value of $175,353.
Mayor Greg Williamson said council was pleased to be able to support the amazing work done by Clontarf Mackay.
“In Queensland, Indigenous Australians are up to six times more likely to be involved in a road crash than non-Indigenous Australians,” Mayor Williamson said.
“On top of that, in Queensland, 23.6 per cent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander fatal crashes had an unlicensed driver,” he said.
“When you consider these statistics, this program that aims to assist young Indigenous men to get a licence and become safe and competent drivers has the potential to change – and even save – lives.”
Also supported with a $7500 grant was the 2024 Friendship Games.
Mayor Williamson said the Friendship Games were a tremendous initiative of the Filipino community.
“The Mackay Filipino-Australian Association is inviting Filipino communities to come to Mackay from Cairns, Townsville, Bowen, Rockhampton and Gladstone for a weekend of sports and cultural activities,” he said.
“The sports will include basketball, volleyball, badminton and darts and the grant will assist the association to hire Mackay Basketball Stadium for the Games.”
Other exciting events that received grant funding were the Greater Whitsunday Communities Camilleri Skate Park activation project, the Eungella Ceilidh (a Scottish country dance), the 2024 Mackay International Film Festival and RADfest – a junior roller derby bootcamp and intensive training weekend.    

As part of this grants program, council also provides larger grants – up to $30,000 – to support not-for-profits with buying minor assets and undertaking minor infrastructure projects.
This round saw Bakers Creek Tigers receive a $30,000 Minor Assets Grants for an electronic scoreboard and East Mackay Australian Football Club received a $30,000 Minor Infrastructure Grant to install a storage shed.
For a full list of Community Grants Round Three grant recipients, including Small Equipment Grants, head to

Some of the young men from the Clontarf L-2-P Driving Program undertaking practical
driving activities at a recent education day

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St Joseph’s Participate In ‘Walk Safely To School Day’

May 16, 2024

Last Friday, students and teachers from St Joseph's Catholic Primary School joined in the nationwide event of National Walk Safely to School Day. This initiative, celebrated in primary schools across Australia, aims to promote a healthier, more active lifestyle among children by integrating walking into their daily routines.

Principal of St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School, Deb Mallet said it was a fabulous turnout. For the third time, St Joseph’s students, staff, parents and friends participated in the Walk Safely To School Day.

“We were lucky enough to have three police officers and two members of the Cutters join us for the walk, which was filled with lots of energy and laughter,” Ms Mallet said.
“Many thanks to Mackay Regional Council for supplying breakfast, 200 pedometers that were shared with the first 200 students to participate in the walk, with two Intersport vouchers as a raffle prize.

“How lucky were Noah and Michelle who won the vouchers! 
“Most of all, massive thanks to Mrs Jaz Housden, who coordinated the event from the walk itself to the delicious breakfast that we all enjoyed.

“Thanks also to our fabulous staff and parents who all helped with the walk, cooking and serving the breakfast,” Ms Mallet remarked.

St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School students, parents and teachers participated in the 2024 National Walk Safely To School Day. Images supplied

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Wings Of Opportunity Mackay Airport Supports Local Sporting Clubs

May 16, 2024

Mackay Airport has launched a new $25,000 initiative to support local sporting clubs.
Five deserving not-for-profit groups will receive $5000 each as part of the Mackay Airport Local Community Sports Grants campaign.

Nominations opened on Wednesday 8th of May and will close on Thursday 23 May.

Mackay Airport Head of Operations Adrian Miles said the new initiative recognised the significance and wide-ranging benefits of Mackay’s local sporting culture, particularly for school-aged children.

“We know how passionate the Mackay community is about sport and fitness, and that’s why we have created this program,” he said.

The campaign is aimed at supporting small clubs who rely heavily on fundraising and dedicated volunteers.

“We hope this funding will enable small organisations to upgrade their facilities and equipment, establish additional programs or provide new opportunities for kids,” Mr Miles said.

“My family have been heavily involved in local sport for many years and I have seen first-hand how beneficial sporting clubs are for wellbeing, social connection and community development.”

“The Mackay Airport Local Community Sports Grants campaign supports our region’s enthusiasm for sport and will help it continue to thrive. I encourage all eligible groups to nominate and we are looking forward to handing out $5000 each to five fantastic clubs.”

Nominations are open to local residents who are 16 years or older and can be lodged through an online form on the Mackay Airport website.

Successful applicants will be notified on Friday 7 June.

Mackay Airport Boosts Local Sports Clubs with new $25,000 initiative. Photo credit: Hannah McNamara

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Local Talents Bring Home Global Spotlight

May 16, 2024

In April 2024, the prestigious WIDA (World Irish Dance Association) World Championships took place in Belgium, providing a platform for Irish dancers worldwide to showcase their skills. The championship spanned approximately five days, beginning with the Grade Feis, followed by team events and later concluded in The World Championships.
Isabella Cummins, also known as Issey, began dancing at the age of 2. Since then, she has flourished into a phenomenal talent and is now a seven-year-old with a multitude of impressive accomplishments. Issey’s favourite part of her recent trip was not only winning, but also making new friends, travelling with her dance school and “having adventures”.  
Rebecca Cummins, Issey's proud mother says that “Watching Issey dance is unreal; I honestly can’t believe how amazing she is.”
Sarah Purnell, age 29, started her journey of Irish dance at the age of 5 in Mackay and since then, Sarah's dedication has led her to international acclaim. After winning the World Championships in 2021 and securing runner-up in 2023, Sarah continues to inspire as she embarks on defending her title in 2025. Beyond the stage, Sarah is committed to nurturing the next generation of dancers as an Assistant Teacher at Claddagh School of Irish Dance.
With a passion that began at the age of 4, Isabella Shields, now aged 15, performs at community events and is working towards her grade 6 Irish examination in September which consists of solo dancing, group dancing, general knowledge and speaking Gaelic. Bella also plans to compete at the World Championships in 2025.

Eilish Tierney, aged 13, started dancing in Galway Ireland in 2015 at the age of 4. When she moved to Queensland she joined Claddagh School of Irish Dance. Ultimately Eilish would love to dance for the rest of her life and make a career out of it.

Colette Shields, teacher and owner of Claddagh School of Irish Dance Mackay and Marian is extremely proud of all the girls for their hard work and dedication in the lead up to the event as well as their amazing camaraderie shown at the championships.


Isabella Cummins age 7
International Grade Feis: 1st Intermediate Premiership, 1st Intermediate Light Jig, 1st Intermediate Slip Jig, 1st Primary Slip Jig, 1st Beginner Trebble Jig, 3rd Primary Trebble Jig, 4th Traditional Set
World Championships: 1st Under 8

Sarah Purnell age 29
World Championships: 1st Under 30, 2nd 2 Hand under 30 with Isabella Shields, 3rd Solo Charity Trebble Reel (Show Dance).

Isabella Shields 15
International Grade Feis: 2nd Intermediate Premiership 2nd under 30 2 Hand, 5th under 17 2 Hand.
World Championships: 24th Under 15.

Eilish Tierney age 13
International Grade Feis, 1st Beginner Hornpipe, 3rd Primary Hornpipe, 4th Intermediate Slip Jig, 4th Intermediate Trebble Jig, 7th Intermediate Premiership.
World Championships: Recalled placed 15th under 13.

Sarah Purnell, Colette Shields and Isabella (Issey) Cummins
Eilish Tierney, aged 13
Isabella (Issey) Cummins age 7
Sarah Purnell age 29
Isabella Shields 15
Images Supplied

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New Director Catholic Education – Diocese of Rockhampton Appointed

May 16, 2024

Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Rockhampton, the Most Reverend, Michael McCarthy, has announced the appointment of Mr Michael McCusker as the new Director of Catholic Education for the Rockhampton Diocese effective from 1 July 2024.

The appointment of Mr McCusker follows the announcement by current Director Miss Leesa Jeffcoat, that after 23 years she will be concluding her time in the role at the end of 2024 and will be on leave from 1 July 2024.

In congratulating and welcoming Mr McCusker to the role, Bishop Michael took the opportunity to thank Miss Jeffcoat for her outstanding service as Diocesan Director of Catholic Education.

Mr McCusker is well known to many in Catholic Education having served as a teacher and principal in both the Diocese of Rockhampton and the Archdiocese of Brisbane. For the past 12 years, Mr McCusker has been a member of the Catholic Education Leadership Team in the Diocese of Rockhampton serving as Assistant Director: Schools - Northern Region.

“I am humbled by the faith and confidence that Bishop Michael has placed in me by appointing me to this role and I am looking forward to working closely with the wonderful people in our schools, parishes and offices to take forward the Mission of Catholic Education,” Mr McCusker said.

Mr McCusker also paid tribute to the amazing legacy in Catholic Education that Miss Jeffcoat had created over the past 23 years.

“I am very grateful for Miss Jeffcoat’s mentorship of me and with God’s help and the prayerful and practical support of the dedicated, talented and faith-filled people who serve in the ministry of Catholic Education, I look forward with hope to continuing her great work,” Mr McCusker said.

Miss Jeffcoat said she had been humbled to have served as Diocesan Director of Catholic Education for the past 23 years and was very grateful for the trust Bishop Michael had placed in her to serve as Director and for the care and support that he had always provided for her.

“I am delighted that Mr McCusker will be the next Director of Catholic Education in this Diocese. From working closely with him these past many years, I know him to be a man of deep faith who has the personal gifts and the professional skills to be an outstanding leader of Catholic Education,” Miss Jeffcoat said.

Pictured from left > Michael McCusker (newly appointed Director), Leesa Jeffcoat AM (current Director) and Bishop Michael McCarthy, (Bishop, Catholic Diocese of Rockhampton) with students from St John’s Catholic Primary School, Walkerston

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Mackay Medical Provider Suspended For Substandard Testing Of Coal Miners  

May 16, 2024

Resources Safety and Health Queensland (RSHQ) has suspended Harbour Road Medical in Mackay for six months due to substandard spirometry testing, affecting 135 coal mine workers. RSHQ's Director of Health Strategy and Compliance, Patrick Jensen, emphasised the importance of maintaining high-quality medical screening to protect workers' health and safety, especially in light of past incidents like the re-identification of black lung disease in Queensland in 2015.

The state's resources regulator, Resources Safety and Health Queensland (RSHQ), has sent a strong message to medical providers about putting the health of coal mine workers at risk through substandard medical screening.  

As part of a RSHQ campaign aimed at ensuring spirometry testing quality, Harbour Road Medical in Mackay has been suspended for six months following an audit of their lung function tests.

The audit revealed 30 per cent of the provider's spirometry tests were unacceptable and did not meet minimum quality standards, with 135 workers impacted by the poor testing.
The RSHQ audit found the spirometry practice failed to conduct the tests effectively, identify issues in the test results, maintain accurate comments which led to incorrect test interpretation and repeat tests multiple times to the same level as required.  
RSHQ's Director of Health Strategy and Compliance Patrick Jensen said the process had begun to contact all coal mine workers impacted by the audit findings, as well as the workers’ employers and doctors.

"We’re recommending all those affected workers undertake repeat spirometry tests,” said Mr Jensen.

“While we always work with medical providers to improve screening quality through education and advice, we don’t shy away from taking appropriate regulatory action where necessary to protect workers’ health and safety.” 
The operation of ResHealth, the mandatory digital system for the completion of health assessments, assisted in ensuring the quality of medical examinations. 
“ResHealth provides a centralised point for health assessment records, which has made the analysis of disease data easier and better allows us to conduct timely assessments of medical screening,” said Mr Jensen.

Mr Jensen said that RSHQ is undertaking a campaign to ensure spirometry testing is of a high standard.
“As part of the campaign we’ve ordered more than 5,000 spirometry tests across 100 practices in the last 12 months,” he said.
"The re-identification of black lung disease in Queensland in 2015 highlighted the importance of ensuring medical screening is of a high standard and the consequences when this isn’t the case.”
Harbour Road Medical was contacted for comment, however the organisation did not respond.

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Army Truck Makes Unexpected Pit Stop at Ampol

May 16, 2024

A military vehicle careened into chaos at a petrol station in North Queensland, leaving a trail of destruction in its wake.

It was reported by emergency services that at 5:15pm on Tuesday, authorities including police, firefighters and ambulance were called to the Ampol station situated on the Bruce Highway in Sarina, just south of Mackay.

Quick action from station personnel prevented any fuel spills, averting any potential risks of environmental disaster.

Shocked residents took to a popular Facebook page and released images of the aftermath, revealing the truck's impact as it toppled the forecourt canopy and upended a fuel pump.

While the immediate danger subsided, the repercussions linger. Firefighters are remaining vigilant and an engineer's assessment will be conducted to evaluate the station's structural integrity.

Despite the intensity of the collision, the situation is under control and no one was harmed.

Images flood Facebook posts as residents react in shock to the incident. Images sourced (Facebook)

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Aurora Australis Captured In Mackay

May 16, 2024

A captivating celestial display unfolded as the aurora australis, commonly known as the southern lights, adorned the skies across the country with stunning hues of pink, green, and blue. This rare spectacle, triggered by a severe geomagnetic storm, marked the first such event in Australia since 2003, captivating observers across the country.

The mesmerising light show, fuelled by sun-emitted plasma and solar flares in four distinct "coronal mass ejections," cast its brilliance over two consecutive nights, with particularly vivid sightings reported from New Zealand, Tasmania, and even the tropical region of Mackay, an extraordinary occurrence for the area.

Geomagnetic storms, caused by these mass ejections colliding with Earth's magnetosphere, created temporary disturbances and manifested as vibrant natural light displays in the sky. Here is how some locals captured the glow through their lenses.

Campwin Beach, taken by Janice Terrill

Walkerston Cemetery, taken by Claire Stribbles

The Leap, taken by Brittany Wedemeyer

Aurora over the cane, taken by Deb Ford

The vivid glow from Clermont, taken by Elise Dunckis

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May 16, 2024

In a first for the local area, Mackay Regional Council will recruit the help of two very clever canines to detect water leaks.
Don’t worry, council hasn’t gone barking mad, Bubbles and Splash from NTS Group are two highly trained spaniels able to sniff out potential water leaks.
Together with the help of their diligent handlers they will cover approximately 63 kilometres of water mains in the City Centre precinct, South Mackay and East Mackay areas over the next two weeks.
Besides being adorable, these two pooches are incredibly accurate and quick at detecting a leak early and leading crews right to the source.
Splash specialises in potable water leaks while Bubbles can also detect wastewater leaks.
Mayor Greg Williamson said council was excited to hire the expertise of Bubbles and Splash to assist crews.
“This method has been used by other councils further south and is highly effective, not to mention cost saving,” Mayor Williamson said.
“Leaks can be detected without shutting down networks, digging up roads and interrupting businesses and households,” he said.
“A lot of the water mains in the City Centre area are aging mains that are prone to leaks. Using the dogs will help us to prioritise planned upgrades.
“The skills these dogs have is really impressive – they are able to sniff out chlorine in potable water so they can differentiate between water leaking from a pipe underground and all other types of water on the surface.
“This means the dogs can detect leaks even in heavy rain.
“The dogs are also particularly helpful in areas where it’s difficult to send out crews – like bushland where it can be hard to access – so this may be something we will undertake also.
“Once the dogs detect a potential leak, field crews can be sent out to investigate and repair.”
If you see Bubbles and Splash around Mackay over the next two weeks, you’ll know they aren’t barking up the wrong tree, they’re hard at work!

Handler Troy Meehan with Splash, the water leak detecting canine, from NTS Group with Mayor Greg Williamson putting Splash's unique skill to the test

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Property Point

May 16, 2024

You don’t get a second chance at making a first impression.
I can’t claim that as an original saying but it sums up one of the most important things to consider when selling a property.
It is one of the big points of discussion I regularly have with sellers as they try to work out how much time, effort and money they need to put in to get their property ready for sale.
The obvious point is that you only put money into something that is going to give you a significantly better return than the amount you have put into it.
If you have a long-term strategy to renovate bathrooms and a kitchen then that is great and if you have an old property in a good area the renovations can produce fantastic results in a growing market such as ours.
However, I am thinking more about the sellers who don’t want to undertake major work but, instead, want to put a bit of effort into ensuring they get the best possible return on a limited investment of money and effort.
You need to make the first impression a good one because buyers make their minds up about things quickly. The first 60 seconds are crucial. That’s not to say it’s the only thing that matters but buyers do draw certain conclusions very quickly.
I tell sellers to go for a drive and pull up at the front of their property with their buyers’ hats on. Buyers are looking for reasons to question the asking price. They are very good at making assumptions based on a first impression.
If you have got rickety old stairs with peeling paint at the front of your high-set house the buyers are going to draw some conclusions about your property. They have already started discounting the price based on the stairs and what they see as the inevitable other problems inside the house.
You need to have a critical look at the front of your house and assess what you could do in terms of pressure cleaning, painting, yard work etc that is not going to cost a fortune but will create a good first impression.
Another thing to take into account is that buyers never underestimate the cost of something that will need to be done to the property they are inspecting.
If the paint is peeling off the walls and the carpet is threadbare, the buyers will typically calculate the cost at much higher than the reality.
So, when a property is in need of a coat of paint and new carpet, it is often best to get it done before going on the market. I couldn’t count the number of times I have sold a property for a better than expected price simply because of new floor coverings or a coat of paint.
That is because there is another intangible feature of a property; how it makes the buyer feel. People remember how a property made them feel.
There are plenty of other things to consider when selling a property and I will, from time to time, go through them in my weekly column.
One thing I can say is that many of my best sales have come about when a seller has asked me to go to their property to do an appraisal and, as part of that, make suggestions on what to do to prepare their property for sale.
I get an understanding of what, if anything, a seller wants to spend and get to make suggestions that will bring the best return on their investment of money, time and effort.
The $20,000 underground irrigation system you are planning in your back yard might not be value for money.

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Energy Efficient Upgrades For Your Home

May 16, 2024

In today's environmentally conscious world, optimising your home's energy efficiency isn't just about reducing your carbon footprint, it's also about saving money and enhancing comfort. With a range of upgrades available, here are some efficient ways to transform your home into an eco-friendly space without sacrificing style or functionality:

Led Lighting: Start by replacing outdated incandescent bulbs with energy-efficient LED lights. LED bulbs consume less energy, last longer, and emit less heat, providing a cost-effective and stylish lighting solution for your home.

Energy-Efficient Appliances: Upgrade to ENERGY STAR certified appliances like refrigerators, dishwashers, and washing machines. These appliances are designed to deliver high performance while using less energy, ultimately lowering your electricity bills without compromising on style or functionality.

Smart Thermostat: Install a programmable or smart thermostat to optimise your home's heating and cooling systems. These devices allow you to create customised temperature schedules based on your lifestyle, reducing energy consumption while ensuring comfort throughout your home.

Solar Panels: Consider installing solar panels on your roof to harness renewable energy and reduce your reliance on the grid.

Water-Saving Fixtures: Install low-flow taps, showerheads, and toilets to conserve water and reduce water heating costs. These fixtures combine style with efficiency, offering sleek designs and optimal performance while minimising water waste.

Energy-Efficient HVAC Systems: Upgrade to high-efficiency heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems to improve energy efficiency and indoor comfort. ENERGY STAR certified HVAC equipment delivers superior performance while complementing your home's modern aesthetic.

Energy Audit: Conduct a professional energy audit to identify areas of energy wastage and prioritise upgrades. An energy audit provides valuable insights into your home's energy consumption patterns, helping you make informed decisions about energy-saving improvements.

By incorporating these efficient upgrades, you can transform your house into a stylish and eco-friendly home while enjoying long-term savings and comfort. With a focus on energy efficiency, you'll not only reduce your environmental impact but also enhance the overall quality of your living space.

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Harvesting Opportunities From Inaugural Sugar Cubed Conference

May 16, 2024

A brighter future for Queensland’s sugarcane industry was the focus as more than 100 growers and industry leaders gathered in Mackay last week for the inaugural Sugar Cubed conference.
The two-day event featured a lineup of expert speakers, many at the forefront of innovations in the sugarcane industry and the Australian bioeconomy.
Jet Zero CEO Ed Mason, Qantas Head of Sustainable Aviation Fuel Graeme Potger, KPMG Origins CEO Laszlo Peter, Coca Cola’s Head of Sugar Procurement Pete Greenwell, and head of Evidn behavioural science Dr John Pickering were among the speakers who shared insights.
The program covered a variety of topics, from the development of a sugarcane-based Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) industry in Queensland to strategies for creating a more profitable future for growers and improving market access for sustainably produced Australian Sugar.
Practical challenges around research and development, farm productivity, and harvest and mill reliability were also discussed.
Attendees participated in field trips, including visits to local sugar mills, farm tours, and a trip to Mackay’s bulk sugar terminal and biorefinery.
CANEGROWERS Chairman Owen Menkens emphasised the aim of Sugar Cubed was to provide growers with an annual industry event where they could come together to learn and discuss challenges and opportunities.
“There are so many vital and evolving aspects of our industry,” Mr Menkens said.
“From technological advancements to variety development, harvesting constraints, milling sector sustainability, opportunities in sugar supply chain traceability, marketing and trade access, the emerging bioeconomy, the list is endless and the opportunity to work together as an industry is now.
“But until now, we’ve never had a major forum where growers could come together to learn about and discuss these issues and explore the opportunities together.
“The Sugar Cubed Conference, which has been developed by CANEGROWERS, aims to address the big issues growers want to discuss and see how we can work collaboratively across the industry to bring about success for everyone.”
The conference kicked off with field trips on 8 May, followed by keynote speakers and panel discussions at the Mackay Rydges Suites on 9 May.

L-R: Pete Greenwell - Head of Sugar Procurement for Coca-Cola EuroPacific Partners (the largest purchasers of sugar in Australia), Matt Kealley – CANEGROWERS Membership and Innovation Manager, Graeme Poyger – Qantas Head of Sustainable Aviation Fuel, Ed Mason – Jet Zero CEO and Founder, Shannon Guy – QSL Grower Services Manager

Field trips across key sugar-growing locations in the Mackay region. Photos supplied

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