Community News

AN AUSSIE FIRST  Touches Down In Whitsundays

AN AUSSIE FIRST Touches Down In Whitsundays

The Whitsundays helped to make aviation history this week when the first ever Bonza aircraft landed its inaugural flight at the Whitsunday Cost Airport on Tuesday morning. With flights starting from just $49, Bonza aims to be here for ‘Allstralia’ and will open the Whitsundays up to new markets that would not have previously been able to access or afford a holiday to the region.

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TAFE’s Agriculture Centre Of Excellence  Opens In Bowen

TAFE’s Agriculture Centre Of Excellence Opens In Bowen

For the first time in Bowen TAFE’s history, a range of specialist courses in agriculture will be available thanks to its brand-new $3.4 million upgrade which was celebrated with the opening of its Agriculture Centre Of Excellence on Tuesday.

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Mother Resuscitates Four-Year-Old After Near Drowning On Hamilton Island

Mother Resuscitates Four-Year-Old After Near Drowning On Hamilton Island

RACQ CQ Rescue Helicopter transported a four-year-old boy to hospital after he was found unresponsive at the bottom of a pool on Hamilton Island at 1.06pm on Tuesday, January 25. The child – who was swimming in the main resort pool – reportedly gave his goggles to his mother on the side of the pool before disappearing once she turned her back.

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Lost Lady Seeks Kind Driver

Lost Lady Seeks Kind Driver

When Harry Russell was returning home from work earlier this week, he spotted an elderly lady walking around at the end of his road looking lost. Deciding to pull over and ask if she was ok, he was informed that she needed to get back up the hill, so he offered her a lift. The lady gladly accepted, and the pair drove up the hill.

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Editor's Note

February 2, 2023

Hi Everyone,

It was a great privilege to be nominated for an Australia Day Award this year and I was deeply honoured to walk alongside the other nominees at last week’s ceremony.

When I was made aware of my nomination for Citizen of the Year, however, I have to admit to you that I felt like a complete fraud.

What had I actually ‘done’ for my community this year?

Who had I served? What exceptional impact had I made?

Citizen of the Year is usually reserved for someone who has achieved something amazing, contributed in some incredible way or volunteered hours of their own free time for the greater good.

I had done none of this and, as a result, when I received my nomination, I felt like a fraud.

I was so embarrassed about others seeing me as a fraud as well that I barely told anyone, not even my workmates.

As the ceremony loomed, I hoped that I’d be forgotten, and I even tried to wriggle out of attending the presentations stating that I would prefer to take photos for the paper instead.

On the day I felt like a complete imposter, but then I was welcomed by the Council staff and assured that I did have a place there and that I was deserving of the nomination.

When I went up on stage with the other nominees, no-one was surprised to see me, in fact, the Mayor even smiled like she was glad I’d been nominated.

I now realise that even if it is just one person who sees the light in you, whose life you touch in such a meaningful way that they think to nominate you for an award – well that is plenty enough.


Quote of the Week: “Be the light you wish to see in the world” adapted from Mahatma Ghandi’s famous quote
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New Docs On The Block

February 2, 2023

Two new doctors have just arrived at Bowen Hospital and the young couple say they are excited to embark on a career that not only brought them both from Singapore to Australia but also brought them together in love.

Ruo Han Ngian and Maxswen Gozali met as students at the University of Queensland (UQ) where they studied medicine.

“We met in our first semester in our tutorial group, and it was very easy to tell we were both Singaporean. We became friends and later in medical school we got together,” Ruo Han said.

Following graduation, they decided to embark on a career in regional medicine after they graduated.

They are both excited about the opportunity to have their first rotation at Bowen Hospital and are looking forward to getting to know the staff, patients and the community.

“Everyone is so lovely and willing to help you, we think this will be a safe place to start our careers and that we will enjoy ourselves here,” Maxswen said.

For both Ruo Han and Maxswen, their path to medicine began later in life.

Ruo Han was volunteering in a low-income estate where a lot of elderly people weren’t going to doctors because they were afraid of expensive healthcare or didn’t read English.

“I thought if I had the skill set to be a doctor, I could come to them and solve a small part of the problem. That’s the training that I wanted to equip myself with and it’s why I chose medicine,” she said.

Maxswen was working for his father when he realised he wanted to pursue a career that was more meaningful for him.

When he tried medicine, he realised he loved interacting with patients and learning from other doctors.

When they came to Australia, they fell in love with the country and decided to stay.

Ruo Han is now planning to follow either a career in a medical speciality or anaesthetics and Maxswen is interested in surgery or emergency medicine as long-term career options.

Image: Doctors Ruo Han Ngian and Maxswen Gozali recently started at Bowen Hospital. Photo supplied

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Craft Brewer With Whitsunday Brewery Enters Administration

February 2, 2023

An independent Queensland-based craft beer company with a brewery in the Whitsundays has gone into voluntary administration, leaving locals wondering what’s next for its Cannonvale venue.

Ballistic Beer Co - which began its local operations in March 2021 after acquiring Whitsunday Island Brewing Company – announced the decision on Monday, stating it had suffered financially during the Covid pandemic and through a product recall late last year.

Speaking with an industry publication, The Crafty Pint, company co-founder David Kitchen said Ballistic hoped to remain trading after “a massive restructure”.

“The present intention is to continue trading,” Mr Kitchen told the publication.

“The aim of that VA [voluntary administration] is just to reorganise and restore the balance sheet. And we expect to be out of it in five weeks’ time, and onwards and upwards.

The company is a local favourite and national award winner, recently making it into the top 10 of GABS Hottest 100 Craft Beer countdown – one of the largest beer festivals in the world.

As well, it has garnered popularity locally for its Reef-themed beers and philanthropic donations to local charity Eco Barge Clean Seas.

Administrators at PKF Melbourne have been appointed for the company and in a statement said their present intention is to carry on Ballistic Beer Co’s activities and to continue trading.

“We are reviewing the company’s operations, activities and financial position to enable us to provide an opinion on the company’s future. It is expected that a proposal will be received and that, if accepted, will see the company continue into the future,” the PKF statement reads.

It has been confirmed that the administration will not be felt by its related companies, Ballistic Whitsundays included -- only Ballistic Beer Company and Ballistic Springfield will be impacted.

Mr Kitchen said in five weeks’ time, they expect “the company will be in a much better shape.”

“In the meantime, Ballistic will continue trading and our product is still available in venues and in bottle shops, national chains, and for wholesale. So that doesn’t change,” he said.

Local workers were contacted for comment.

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Making Your Region Yours With Councillor Clay Bauman

February 2, 2023

My commitment is to encourage and support a long-term vision for a vibrant and livable Whitsundays whilst keeping our unique visitor experience. I want to see more of the successful types of low-rise development that we had under our old town plan, and it is evident, with over ten times the number of people commenting on our planning scheme compared to the last consultation that the far majority of the public agree.

It is no secret that the current lack of housing is having a negative effect on residents, rent affordability, our available work force and hindering us on taking full benefit of the recent regional boom. Not one major accommodation development has begun since our new town plan took effect.

Building affordable housing and more purpose-built accommodation for tourists is a must to keep our economy thriving, and employment within the region growing. Many low-rise developments require less funding to begin, could be finished quicker and be more likely to employ local contractors than the high-rise developments which seem to be supported by very few.

I believe a better outcome would be facilitated by a clear, concise plan supported by the majority of our residents and visitors.

As Councillors we must focus on the long-term objectives for our region, but our job isn’t just working together to set a strategic direction, it is to also serve and provide for your day to day lives, from footpaths to parkland and the Council core of roads, rubbish and rates.  

Whilst COVID may have put us behind on delivery of some of our planned works, major projects such as Proserpine Entertainment Centre, Flagstaff Hill and Shute Harbour Terminal are open for business.

While I’ve been enjoying interacting with Council Officers, I am also working on opening channels of communication with the State Government to lobby for the Whitsundays, especially concerning the Shute Harbour Road works, Shute Harbour boat ramp and Hamilton Plains upgrade.

My place in Council is to do my best to make your region yours, and to help deliver the projects and plans which matter most to you. With budgeting for 23/24 underway, the one thing I need most, to do my job better, is feedback from you.

So please feel free to get in touch with me.

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Win $2100 Holiday Vouchers

February 2, 2023

Residents and locals are reminded that they have until the end of March to go in the draw to win $2100 worth of holiday vouchers to be spent in the Whitsundays and Mackay regions.

To participate in the Passport Competition, simply call in at all three Visitor Information Centres - Bowen, Proserpine, Sarina – and ask for a “passport” which you will need to get stamped at each of the centres.

Then place the stamped passport with your name and contact details in the box at one of the visitor information centres and you could be the lucky winner.

All three Visitor Information Centres have something unique to offer.

Explore the interactive information table display at the award-winning Mackay Region Visitor Information Centre at Sarina.

Enjoy the richness of the coffee that is being served at the Whitsundays Visitor Information Centre located next door to Whitsunday Gold Coffee Plantation.

Try a delicious mango sorbet at the famous Big Mango, located at the Bowen Visitor Information Centre.

The Passport competition is an initiative of Tourism Whitsundays, in partnership with Mackay Isaac Tourism and Bowen Tourism and Business.

The staff and volunteers at each of the three centres look forward to welcoming you and telling you all about what our regions have to offer.

Contributed with thanks to Leanne Abernethy from Bowen Business and Tourism.

Image: Sales consultant at the Bowen Visitor Information Centre, Melissa Beuzeville (right) gave a passport to Natalie Hansen from Shell Cove in NSW when she visited the Big Mango with her dog Molly. Photo supplied

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New Faces at The Boathouse Apartments

February 2, 2023

The Boathouse Apartments on the Port of Airlie is now under new management. Lea and Ross Andrews, from Victoria say that their family are thrilled to be managing the popular coastal-inspired holiday apartments.

Lea, who is an ex-school principal, and Ross, a registered builder by trade, decided to make a career and territory change to the sunny Whitsundays after pondering the idea for many years.

Having taken over the property from Mantra in June 2022, Ross and Lea manage the 32 holiday apartments at The Boathouse Apartments, which are now proudly independent, family-owned, and operated.

“We are really hands-on people and are dedicated to ensuring every guest experience is the best that it can possibly be,” said Lea.

For the past few months, they have been steadily renovating the rooms together with brand-new beds, a new key system, free WIFI, and updated air-conditioning.

They are also working with a local interior designer to infuse a streamlined coastal theme across all rooms, with signature photography showcasing the local area.

“We are so close to the water, but you don’t need to walk up the hill to see it as all of our apartments have water facing balconies,” said Lea.

“The Boathouse Apartments is in an ideal location that is a few minutes’ walk from Airlie Beach town centre and the ferry terminal, almost everything you need is on our doorstep.”

Port of Airlie also boasts two cafes, two restaurants, a small selection of boutique shops, and a day spa.

Image: Ross and Lea look forward to welcoming you and your family soon. Photo credit: Rachael Smith

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Are You Throwing Valuable Metal Away? Take It To Whitsunday Recyclers Instead

February 2, 2023

Do you have scraps of metal left over from jobs? How about old electronic goods and metal household items cluttering up the garage? Or are you embarking on a new project and need off-cuts and inspiration to get you started?

Whether you are looking to sell, buy or simply ensure your metal is recycled and reused – Whitsunday Recyclers in Proserpine is the place to go for all local residents, tradies, and business owners in the Whitsunday Region.

You can either request a free scrap metal bin to be dropped off and picked up at your business premises or you can simply come down to the yard at 19 Anzac Road, Proserpine, and talk to the friendly team.

The site is a treasure trove of metal goodies, and anyone is welcome to explore, search for items and make an offer.

Whitsunday Recyclers is a family-run business that was purchased by brother and sister team, Luke Purvis and Clare James, in December last year.

These long-term Proserpine locals are passionate about redirecting scrap metal from landfill and they have spent the last two months clearing the old cluttered yard so that customers will now experience an orderly and revived site with friendly and personal service.

“We are dedicated to diverting waste and providing an opportunity for everyone to recycle metal products so they don’t end up in landfill,” said Luke.

“We are helping to create change and are proud to provide the local community with a good local trader here in the Whitsundays.”

Brass, copper, aluminium, and any other type of metal can be processed through the site.

The products are then sold to larger companies, where they are further processed and re-manufactured into reusable materials.

At the Proserpine site, Luke, Clare and the team can receive a wide range of metal goods -from washing machines to air-conditioning units, electronic motors to old drainage piping – they will give you a fair price for every item and then process them down into raw metals before on-selling.

“You can find everything, and anything here – stainless steel benchtops, aluminium off-cuts, or even mesh for your chook pens!” said Clare

Simply browse the on-site shop or ask the friendly team for some advice, they will be sure to greet you with a smile and help you with anything you need.

How can Whitsunday Recyclers help you?

• Free bins for trades and businesses – regular drop-off and pick-up of scrap metal

• Bring in your old metal household items and receive a fair price in exchange

• Complete a home project by shopping for scrap metal at their on-site store

• Free bins for farmers so they can complete post crush shed clean-outs


Image: Bring in your scrap metal or shop for parts with Luke and Clare, the new owners of Whitsunday Recyclers in Proserpine. Photo credit: Rachael Smith

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Perfect Score For SeaLink

February 2, 2023

Celebrating its first year in business on a high note, SeaLink Whitsundays has just announced that they have received 100 per cent five-star customer reviews on TripAdvisor and Google Business Listings over the past 12 months.

The company’s Big Island Day Tour has proven popular with tourists who are looking to explore the islands in comfort on a vessel that is spacious and deliberately booked at less than capacity so that guests can enjoy a leisurely day without the crowds.

"What makes our cruise different is our passenger numbers are capped for maximum comfort with space to roam around each of the three levels to get the best vantage point,” said General Manager for SeaLink Whitsundays, Mr Rob Mitchell.

“Our vessel is also airconditioned for extra comfort and guests enjoy a premium lunch, morning and afternoon tea on board as part of the package.”

SeaLink has also recently added a half-day tour experience, Purely Whitehaven, with the choice of a morning or afternoon departure where guests get to spend more time enjoying Whitehaven Beach.

Mr Mitchell says that the team are thrilled to achieve the perfect customer experience scorecard from passengers and that it is a testament to the premium service provided by the entire SeaLink Whitsundays team.

“It is always great to read such positive feedback from our guests,” he said.

“The positive comments and ratings further fuel our drive and passion to continue delivering and growing our brilliant customer service and experience offerings.”

Image: SeaLink Whitsundays receives 100 per cent five-star customer reviews

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Council Caught Up In The Green Space Debate

February 2, 2023

The recent sale of Council owned ‘green space’ has caused concern among a local environmental organisation that believes our small patches of grassland should be protected from development for the benefit of the community.

Tony Fontes, from the Whitsunday Conservation Council, said that he was shocked to see so many pieces of natural land sold to developers without public consultation.  

“Is our Council so out of step with the importance of urban green space that selling our urban parks to developers is on the cards? Unbelievably, the answer is yes,” he said.


“It seems that the Council is so focused on development at all costs, they have forgotten the community.”

Mr Fontes points out that green spaces make urban environments more liveable by regulating temperatures, reducing runoff, increasing biodiversity, and decreasing flood risks.

He also states that parkland stimulates social cohesion and supports physical fitness and activities.

A Council spokesperson said that Whitsunday Regional Council also values green spaces within the community and currently has an urban green space network composed of over 129 hectares of recreation parks, 370 hectares of sporting facilities, and 278 hectares of nature reserves.

The spokesperson confirmed, however, that several vacant lots zoned residential and commercial had been identified for sale in November.

“These sites do not have a role in the greenspace network to help meet desired standards of service or the lifestyle and environmental needs of our community,” said the spokesperson.

“The identified blocks don’t have a role due to their small size, location in proximity to more suitable parkland, lack of biodiversity, and lack of recreational infrastructure.

“No existing parklands currently utilised by the community are part of the sale.”

Council states that it would prefer to spend money on further invigorating or increasing the services of recreational assets in larger regional and district parks, as studies have shown they have a greater attraction value that encourages people to get outdoors.

With these factors in mind, Council decided to shed surplus land assets that don’t have a role in promoting lifestyle or environmental benefits in the greenspace network.

They believe this will allow for more funds to re-investment in parks that will benefit the community further.

The land parcels that Council is selling, include:

o 2 Sinclair Street, Bowen

o 82-92 Santa Barbara Parade, Bowen

o 9D Dalrymple Street, Bowen

o 27-29 Queens Street, Bowen

o 31-33 Queens Street, Bowen

o Lot 5 King Street, Bowen

o 1 Industrial Road, Collinsville

o 42 Carlo Drive, Cannonvale

Image: Council state that the sale of small green areas will increase investment in larger parkland

Image: Council state that the sale of small green areas will increase investment in larger parkland

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Absolute Truth Your User Manual Of Life For Life

February 2, 2023

Bringing together three years of careful research, two years of dedicated writing and a lifetime of curiosity, local author Joab Russo, is proud to present his book Absolute Truth to audiences across the world.

Originally from Israel, Joab moved to Australia in 2006 with his young family in order to escape the political unrest and fear of terrorism in his home country.

As an Information Technology Specialist, he was granted a Skilled Migration Visa and was able to enjoy a successful career using his expertise in the field.

A calling to help others and a desire to explore the meaning of existence, however, led Joab on a path of discovery that culminated in the completion of his first book, Absolute Truth, in 2018.

“Finding issues and solving them is a passion of mine and I really wanted to do that on a personal level as well - I really wanted to do that with people - to connect with people and to help them,” he said.

“This book is a culmination of insights and understanding of spiritual and existential information that I have discovered and tested and verified throughout the years.”

Joab researched his book for three years and spent a further two years writing it to ensure it displayed the information efficiently and with quality in mind.

“I believe it provides the most undistorted, accurate and correct existential information available,” he explained.

“It is independent of any bias, any thought, any perception, any emotion, any belief – it is absolutely correct and accurate information about who, when, why and how you are at any present moment – it explains how only you choose and create your own reality.”

The book is divided into three sections and uncovers the mechanics of existence through theory, questioning mass beliefs and then applying the ideas to your own life.

Joab has sold over 1000 copies so far and he is currently working on translating the text into 12 different languages.

He is also writing a fictional fantasy novel which uses the information he collected and the insights he imparted in his first book to present the evidence in a different way through a story.

You can purchase Absolute Truth online in English, Italian and French.

Image: Joab Russo, Whitsunday local and author of Absolute Truth

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February 2, 2023

When Shakespeare asked the question, “What’s in a name?” (“Romeo and Juliet’) he was referring to the idea that names themselves are a convention to distinguish things or people, but themselves do not have any worth or meaning. But pioneering families of Proserpine, after whom the vast majority of early streets are named, might just beg to differ.

But while, most of the older street names in our district have a strong connection to the early movers and shakers in the area, the origin of name “Main Street” is a somewhat different story.

The first settlers in the Proserpine district were graziers. Soon the area now known as Proserpine town was encircled by cattle stations. Inside the circle of cattle properties was rich agricultural land through which the river flowed. Dense scrub covered the land between the river and what is now known as Faust Street, with giant blue gums and Moreton Bay ash extending all the way to Glen Isla and Breadalbane. The township developed rapidly after the establishment of the sugar mill, the opening of the railway between Bowen and Proserpine in 1910 and the completion of the Mackay/Proserpine rail link in 1923.

When it came time to map the town, for surveyors F Walker (a master of bushcraft who had traversed a great part of Qld in his capacity as first commander of native police and was friendly with the aboriginal people who respected and trusted him), J Chapman, W Crompton, O’Connell and others, it was a marathon job. They camped out in all kinds of weather, walked through long grass, swamps, gullies scrub, uphill and down. The first land selected and surveyed was Portion 193 which comprised all land between the river and Main Street and extended from Faust’s corner (where the Reject Shop is now located) to Glen Isla.

Main Street was the centre of the business area. By 1901, there were three hotels, a butcher, baker, two blacksmiths, a post and telegraph office, police station, one church and an assembly hall for entertainment purposes. In wet weather, the constant traffic of horse and sulky and horse and bullock teams with huge loads turned the street into a quagmire. In 1908, it was felt that the street needed to be improved to make it more weather proof and that it was also time for a name for the thoroughfare because Main Street was considered too vague. For the time being, however, the name remained.

It wasn’t until 1922 that the idea for a name for Main Street was once again raised at the suggestion of the manager of the Australian Bank of Commerce, Mr Spencer Briggs. Not all agreed but Robert Shepherd, Chairman of the Proserpine Shire Council, donated one guinea for a competition among the school children to submit a name for the street and head teacher, Mr Walke, arranged the competition.

At a council meeting in May 1922, however, the council decided not change the name of Main Street but Mr Shepherd still wished to honour his offer of a guinea to the competition’s winner.

And so, the story goes … One child, who was apparently confused as to what the competition was all about, got no further than writing “Main Street” at the top of her sheet of paper when the entries were collected by the teacher. Needless to say, this young pupil was very surprised to be the winner of the competition and to receive the one guinea!

“What’s in a name?”

Story and photo courtesy Proserpine Historical Museum.

Image: Main Street in the early days

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Reef Experts Assemble To Share Knowledge

February 2, 2023

More than 100 experts and leaders within the environmental management space converged in Cairns for the annual Reef Synthesis workshop to discuss the ongoing protection of the Great Barrier Reef.

Covering an immense area, over 1.3 times the size of New Zealand, ensuring the health and protection of the Reef is no small task and requires engagement and input from a diverse range of stakeholders, including government agencies, research organisations, natural resource management bodies, traditional owners, landholders and peak industry bodies.  

The Reef Synthesis provided stakeholders with the opportunity to present findings, create partnerships and learn from each other to ensure best management of the Reef.

Held over three days in November  last year, the workshop’s focus was ‘Connecting people, programs and landscapes’ and covered a range of topics such as enabling environments for improving practice, understanding Traditional Owner priorities and creating a vision for success, accountability and legacy. A number of representatives from the Whitsunday and Mackay region attended, including Bernie Cockayne, Program Manager for Reef Catchments in Mackay -

‘The workshop was a great opportunity to learn about work being conducted across the Reef. What I found most interesting was the work that many of our farmers, Traditional Owners and community organisations are doing to improve our Reef’s health. This included Jason Bradford, a farmer between Mackay and Sarina, who we’ve been working with to improve the health of wetlands on his property and the water quality entering the Reef. It was fantastic to see his hard work being acknowledged by receiving the Reef Conservation Champion Award’.

With such a prized and valued asset for Australia and the world, bringing together a diverse range of stakeholders is essential to learn from each other and build partnerships for the protection of the Great Barrier Reef.

One of seven natural wonders of the world, the World Heritage Listed area of the Great Barrier Reef covers a staggering 348,000kms2 starting from north of Bundaberg in the south to the tip of Cape York in the north, a distance of approximately 2,300kms. The world heritage area includes 980 islands, 3000 coral reefs and extends from depths of over 2,000m to the intertidal zone and seagrass meadows found along the coastline, including our own Whitsunday Coast.

For more information on the work being undertaken locally to manage the Reef, please visit Reef Catchments

Contributed with thanks to Chris Dench.

Image: The reef synthesis workshop. Photo supplied

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Romance In Paradise

February 2, 2023

Again, that day sneaks up on us.

What to do this year? Picnic in the park? Candlelit dinner for two? A bed of red rose petals spilling across the floor? No – no, not all that again. That’s a lot of picking up roses later.

If you’re bereft of ideas for Valentine’s Day – oh, that sweet, sweet, sneaky day – you’re lucky you live in a picture-perfect paradise; a postcard place, brimming with choices for the romantic.

Take your lover for a dip in turquoise waters that sparkle like diamonds, perhaps? Walk by a tropical forest while swaying lines of palm trees are a rhythmic serenade of your love song.

There are few places that can rival the Whitsundays in romantic regard. So, on Valentine's Day in the Whitsundays, sing your own symphony of love in a dream destination.

These are some of the best things to do on Valentine's Day in the Whitsundays:

1. Whitehaven Beach: One of the best beaches in the world is the perfect place for couples to relax, swim and soak up the sun. Pack a picnic and take it beachside for the day.

2. Enjoy a spa day: For couples seeking a more relaxed pace, head to the spa to unwind and rejuvenate. The Whitsundays offers a range of luxurious spa experiences, ensuring that you leave feeling refreshed and reinvigorated.

3. Take a sunset sail: What could be more romantic than watching the sun dip below the horizon, creating a mesmerizing and unforgettable backdrop for your romantic evening.

Whether you prefer adventure or relaxation, the Whitsundays has something for all your romantic tastes – and you don’t have to look very far to find it.

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Show Your Love With Opals

February 2, 2023

Sourced from an ancient inland ocean that is estimated to be 100 million years old, each individually cut and collected opal is completely unique and it is their swirling sparkles and transient shades of turquoise that make them so special.

Over 95 per cent of the world’s opals are from Australia and we are lucky enough to have one of the most prestigious suppliers based right here in Airlie Beach.

Having uncovered a $1.2 million treasure trove of opals on a hunt that was documented in a reality TV series on the Discovery Channel, owner of Opal Earth Sofia Andreou, looks forward to welcoming you to her local store.

For the past 62 years, the Andeou family has been a prominent name in the opal industry and each custom-made, award-winning ready-made piece of jewelry is hand-crafted by experts that the family has a long-standing relationship with.

Shop Manager, Joseph King, said that an opal is one of the most magical gems to give a loved one for any special occasion, especially Valentine’s Day.

“Of all the stones in all the world, the only thing more beautiful than the opal is the ladies that wear it,” he said.

“While a diamond might be a girl’s best, an opal is a lady’s best friend.”

Every customer at Opal Earth will be welcomed into the store and treated to personal service that can assist everyone from an opal connoisseur to a novice looking for something special.

From necklaces to pendants, earrings to rings, bracelets, and almost anything your heart desires - whatever your taste, passion, or persuasion, you can find it at Opal Earth.

How to pick the perfect piece:

• Find out what style she likes – you can choose between a light or a dark gem and each piece holds every colour of the rainbow

• Would she prefer a gold or silver setting, perhaps check other pieces of jewellery she owns

• If purchasing a ring, quietly find out your loved one’s ring size, you can bring another ring in if you like


1: Opal Earth owner Sofia Andreou models one of the unique opal necklaces

2: Airlie Beach Store Manager, Joseph King, looks forward to greeting you

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Nebo Barrel Racer Crowned Isaac’s Young Citizen Of The Year

February 2, 2023

A Clermont cattle grazier who shot to national TV stardom for building community bonds, a Nebo barrel racer champion and a rainbow gala event that is leading social change were among the major Australia Day winners in the Isaac region.

Layney Deguara has been named the 2023 Young Citizen of the Year for her passion and dedication to her sport, local club and her community. She accepted her award at a ceremony held in Nebo.



Frank Finger accepted the 2023 Isaac Region Australia Day Citizen of the Year award from Isaac Regional Council Mayor Anne Baker at Clermont Showgrounds during local Australia Day celebrations.

The national award winner of the ABC TV’s Muster Dog series has a persistent determination to the agricultural and tourism industry, love for his muster dogs and for sharing his stories with residents at MontCler.

Moranbah Rainbow Collective’s inaugural Rainbow Gala won the 2023 Community Event of the Year for breaking barriers and creating an inclusive, and socially aware safe space.

2023 Corporate Contribution of the Year is Dysart News and Post for demonstrating a strong commitment to their continuous support of local groups, sporting clubs and events.

Former Isaac Regional Councillor and long-time Dysart resident Nick Wheeler accepted the 2023 Spirit of Isaac Award for 44 years of countless achievements and contributions to his community.

Mayor Baker said recognising the outstanding work of Isaac residents is important as Council held eight ceremonial events announcing 51 award winners.

“Congratulations to Frank, Layney, the Moranbah Rainbow Collective, Dysart News and Post and Nick Wheeler, you are the cream of Isaac’s crop today,” Mayor Baker said.

“What we do everyday matters and today’s awards recognise the great things you do.

“Thank you to all our nominees and everyone who attended these events over the past 24 hours.

“We also welcomed 11 new Australian citizens as well and thank you for being persistent in your journey.

“Isaac is a region that celebrates our diversity with good intentions and we reflect on the past with acknowledgement.

“On behalf of myself, Councillors and Council staff, I would like to thank our 2023 Australia Day Ambassadors Lakeisha Patterson OAM and Kevin Hughes BM for being part of our celebrations.”

“A very special thank you to our Council team and community for their efforts in making these events happen.”

The 2023 Australia Day Awards is an Isaac Regional Council event assisted by the Australian Government through the National Australia Day Council.

Image: 2023 Isaac Region Young Citizen of the Year Layney Deguara with DeputyMayor Kelly Vea Vea and Cr Viv Coleman

Image: 2023 Isaac Region Australia Day Citizen of the Year FrankFinger

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