Community News

Community In Shock After South Mackay Homicide

Community In Shock After South Mackay Homicide

Last night, tragedy struck in South Mackay with a devastating homicide that claimed the life of a 34-year-old woman and left a 66-year-old man seriously injured. Emergency services were called to the scene at 4.36pm where the incident unfolded at Robb Place. Initially, the area was placed under an emergency declaration as police launched a comprehensive search for the alleged perpetrator and residents were urged to remain indoors while the operation was underway. The boundaries under the Publi

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From Snow To A Trio Of Shows

From Snow To A Trio Of Shows

Winter is my favourite time of the year in Mackay! To be fair, when I lived in New Zealand, I loved winter too. Living at the base of Mt Hutt skifield in Mid Canterbury, we had regular blankets of snow, which I always found utterly magical. However, I have an even fonder love for winter in Mackay. No de-icing the car windscreen, no slipping on icy driveways and I still rarely need to hunt out a pair of socks. But what truly makes winter my favourite time of year here in Mackay, besides the stun

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BATTLE OF THE BATTERY Controversial Pumped Hydro Storage Project Divides Political Parties

BATTLE OF THE BATTERY Controversial Pumped Hydro Storage Project Divides Political Parties

By Amanda Wright Geotechnical drilling has produced “promising results” for the Queensland Government’s proposed pumped hydro storage project at Pioneer-Burdekin, but the project is stirring significant controversy within the community and across political lines. Following drilling by local Mackay-based company Twin Hills Engineering, investigations by WSP and SMEC have found very strong, coarse competent granite rock, which the Queensland Government claimed is ideal for dam construction, tunnel

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Gone But Never Forgotten  The Unexplained Mystery Of Abel Tasman

Gone But Never Forgotten The Unexplained Mystery Of Abel Tasman

By Hannah McNamara Sixty-four years ago on June 10, twenty-nine lives were claimed in one of the region’s most tragic, yet mysterious plane crashes in Australia’s aviation history. In the lead-up to the 65th anniversary next year, it’s important as a community to remember the history of our regional landmarks and learn about this catastrophe, one that is unheard of for some, but remembered by many. In 1960, the Fokker Friendship F-27 aircraft named Abel Tasman was set to arrive in Mackay aft

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Property Point

June 19, 2024

One of the good Australian sayings is that someone or something is “punching above their weight”.
The term is often used to describe an ordinary looking bloke with a good-looking girlfriend or wife … “gee, he’s punching above his weight”.
The phrase, I imagine, comes from the world of boxing, where fighters are restricted to a weight division.
Which brings me to a local bloke by the name of Liam Paro. Born and raised in Mackay, Paro won the world title in his IBF light welterweight division against the Puerto Rican world champion, Subriel Matias, in Peurto Rico on Sunday.
It was an exciting bout all the way to the 12th round, with the boy from Andergrove taking it to his more-favoured opponent right through the fight.
The fight finished with a final round climax that showed off Paro’s skills, determination and absolute elite level of fitness as he clearly asserted himself as the better boxer.
He won the bout with a unanimous decision that means he is now the world champion, Mackay’s World Champ.
Now, I’m not going to say that Liam Paro was punching above his weight because that would suggest that his victory was a surprise, maybe with an element of luck.
That would be untrue and unfair on a world champion who has never been beaten … that’s right, 25 wins from 25 fights. The bloke is a legitimate, well-deserved world champion who is definitely not punching above his weight but, rather, is getting the rewards that hard work and talent can produce.
But he is a kid from Andergrove and now he’s a world champion and deserves the highest recognition from this city for what he has achieved … hopefully that will happen in the weeks and months ahead because he deserves to be celebrated.
No doubt, as his achievement sinks in, attention will turn to Mackay.
It will be interesting because Mackay usually flies under the radar. In real estate this city flew under the radar for years.
But as our economy grew and rental returns started growing a few years ago, some of us in real estate made the observation that southern investors would soon discover the opportunities here.
With the economy powering ahead, rental vacancies tightening and a trickle of southerners looking here for a sea change, local people had real estate to themselves for a while. Southern investors did not seem to know about us.
It started to change last year but this year the flood gates have opened and southern investors have turned their attention to Mackay in a big way.
Investors see great value in Mackay in terms of the relatively low-prices, high rental yields, high average incomes, low crime rates and livability of the region.
I had an open house on Saturday that attracted 35 groups of buyers. Those people were all local or a local person looking on behalf of someone who is moving to Mackay.
However, I had a further 40 or so inquiries from southern investors. We ended up with eight offers on the property, most of which coming from investors.
There will be plenty of people who think this is a bad thing and I understand that because the external competition is creating additional demand that is pushing prices up for local people trying to get into the market.
Unfortunately, in a free market economy, demand and supply decide the price of things and, at the moment, real estate investors think Mackay is under-priced and they are looking to take advantage of the opportunity.
So, whether we like it or hate it, there is a new reality and this is a hot market … Mackay is punching above its weight.

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DIY: Transform Your Outdoor Space

June 19, 2024

Creating inviting outdoor living spaces through DIY projects can transform your backyard into a functional and aesthetically pleasing area for relaxation and entertainment.

Here are several creative ideas to inspire your outdoor makeover:

Cozy Outdoor Lounge: Begin with comfortable seating options like DIY pallet sofas or repurposed wooden benches with plush cushions. Add a handmade coffee table using a reclaimed crate or an old trunk topped with a custom-cut piece of glass.

DIY Hammock Corner: Create a cozy retreat with a hammock hung between two trees or posts. Customise it with handmade pillows and a small side table for books or drinks.

DIY Fire Pit: Build a fire pit using bricks or stones arranged in a circle. Line the bottom with gravel for drainage and safety. Enhance the ambiance with string lights hung overhead or solar-powered lanterns for eco-friendly illumination.

Vertical Garden Wall: Utilise a bare fence or wall by creating a vertical garden. Install wooden pallets horizontally and fill them with small potted plants or herbs. This not only adds greenery but also maximises space.

Outdoor Dining Area: Construct a sturdy dining table from reclaimed wood or pallets. Pair it with DIY benches or chairs made from old wooden crates or tree stumps - complete the setting with a handmade table runner, lanterns and outdoor dinnerware.

DIY Pathways and Walkways: Define pathways using materials like gravel, flagstones, or recycled bricks. Create a rustic look by embedding old railway sleepers or wooden planks for a natural, earthy feel.

Repurposed Outdoor Bar: Convert an old kitchen cart or dresser into an outdoor bar by adding shelves for storage and a countertop for serving. Use reclaimed wood or tiles for the bar surface and decorate with potted plants and hanging glassware.

Outdoor Movie Theatre: Hang a white sheet or use a blank wall as a projection screen. Set up seating with floor cushions, bean bags or homemade pallet sofas. Install outdoor speakers and a projector for movie nights under the stars.

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Half Of Wilmar’s Factories In Production

June 19, 2024

The last of Wilmar Sugar and Renewables’ four Burdekin mills were on track to start crushing earlier this week, on Tuesday.
General Manager Operations Mike McLeod said he expected the first bin to be tipped at Pioneer Mill near Brandon just after lunchtime on Tuesday, and the first raw sugar to be produced by Wednesday.
This means half of Wilmar’s mills will be in full swing by Wednesday, making sugar, molasses and renewable energy.
Inkerman Mill in Home Hill was first to begin the crushing season for the Wilmar group on Monday, 10 June. Despite an unexpected shutdown because of industrial action, Inkerman has already crushed 66,000 tonnes of cane and produced about 8,100 tonnes of sugar.
Kalamia and Invicta mills started crushing on Thursday, 13 June – a week later than originally planned because of industrial action.
Mr McLeod said Wilmar’s other four mills – Victoria and Macknade near Ingham, Proserpine on the Whitsunday coast, and Plane Creek south of Mackay – are all expected to be in production early next week.
The Sarina Distillery has been operating since 1 June, producing bioethanol for fuel and industrial products.
Mr McLeod said crews had worked hard to maintain throughput at the sugar mills that are operating, so growers could continue harvesting while fine weather prevailed.
“Everyone in the industry has an eye on the weather at this time every year, so we can’t afford to lose any time,” he said.
“Our people have worked hard to recover from the earlier stoppages and delays and, with everything going our way, everyone will have a good season.”
Wilmar’s eight mills are expected to process 15.59 million tonnes of sugarcane this year, to produce more than 2 million tonnes of raw sugar.
Representatives from Wilmar and union bargaining agents will meet for another round of bargaining for a new Enterprise Agreement on Thursday (20 June).
The parties will report back to the Fair Work Commission on Friday (21 June).

Wilmar’s Plane Creek site near Mackay and Proserpine site are expected to be in production next week. Photos supplied

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STEM Building Confidence For The Future

June 19, 2024

Students and teachers from a range of different Mackay regional schools gathered for the annual Festival of STEM, which proved to be a major success last Wednesday as attendees gathered to engage in the Whitsunday STEM Challenge.

This initiative explores the future of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) to prepare and equip generations to come with the knowledge needed to work with an ever-growing world of technology.

The Festival of STEM in Mackay is in its 7th year of competitions and is a range of competitions for primary and high school students including F1 in Schools™, Pedal Prix, Robotics & Drones. These events are proudly supported by Mackay Regional Council and BHP Mitsubishi Alliance (BMA).

F1 in Schools™ competition is the world’s largest STEM competition. Where students not only develop skills in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics but also problem solving, project management, communication, presentation marketing and entrepreneurism.

Mackay bats above its weight in these competitions and previously have had two teams of students' progress through the competition to qualify and attend the world finals.

Robocup has four categories junior and senior rescue challenges, soccer, and dance. These challenges promote a variety of skills that extend across a school curriculum including cooperative spirit, engineering, and IT skills, along with teamwork and organisational skills.

President of the Whitsunday STEM Challenge, Rowan Cahill said that, “the festival of STEM is all about giving an opportunity for all students across all sectors a chance to come together and showcase their abilities.

“It’s huge in the sense that these students will be looking at jobs in the future that at the current point and time don’t exist, with jobs that we can’t even foresee yet.

“The skills they learn, the teamwork, innovative thinking and problem solving is great but on top of that, as part of a lot of the competitions, they need to do presentations and interviews which means they’re learning communication skills and building their confidence.

“On the day, there was kids from state schools and private schools all gathered and working together because at the end of the day, they’re there to get involved and learn while also having fun.”

Students from all types of schools in the region gathered at the big shed, Mackay showgrounds last Wednesday to engage in innovative STEM activities. Photo s supplied: Whitsunday Anglican School

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A Tale Of Friendship In Khartoum Goodbye Julia

June 19, 2024

Get ready to be transported to Sudan as you engross this next film night of morality drama - Goodbye Julia.

Across the divides of rich and poor, Muslim and Christian, north and south, light-skinned and dark, Goodbye Julia tells the story of two women who forge an unusual friendship. It takes place in Khartoum during the last years of Sudan as a united country, shortly before the 2011 separation of South Sudan. Wracked by guilt, Mona — a northern Sudanese retired singer — tries to make amends for causing the death of a Southern man by taking in his unsuspecting widow, as her maid. Unable to confess her transgressions to Julia, Mona decides to leave the past behind and adjust to a new status quo, unaware that the country’s turmoil may find its way into her home and put her face to face with her sins. Winner of the 2023 Cannes Un Certain Regard – Freedom Prize.

In upcoming news, Film & Arts Mackay proudly presents an exciting line-up of 7 films.
Pinnacle Playhouse: 27th July as well as on ​22nd to the 24th of August at BCC Mt Pleasant Cinemas.

Bookings essential, please visit their website for more information.

What: Goodbye Julia
When: Friday 21st June 7:30pm
Where: CQU Conservatorium of Music Theatre

Step into Sudan's rich tapestry with Goodbye Julia, a compelling morality drama set against the backdrop of societal divides and unlikely friendships. Image supplied

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Celebrating Three Decades Of Mackay 50’s & Better

June 19, 2024

On Friday 24th May, about 100 members of Mackay 50's & Better celebrated their 30th year of community social events.

The party was held at Goosies North Mackay with what was described as a “lovely delicious 2-course luncheon”, with live music by guitarist Graham Day.

As hundreds of photos were displayed on the big screen, club members reminisced the special events and memories had throughout the years

Generous raffle prizes were gifted by Member for Mackay, Julieanne Gilbert and Chris Ashmore of City funerals, plus several lucky door prizes made for an enjoyable day out. 

Copies of "Tilly's Book of Memories" were also reproduced for guests on the day, in commemoration of Tilly, who was a very active member of the club until her passing. She organised many holiday trips around Queensland and New South Wales, as well as humorous concerts and skits around Mackay. Her book provided many delightful memories and photos of their antics. 

Andrew Willcox MP, Bonnie Hull and Betty White shared their unique stories of their involvement over the years, reflecting on the fellowship of the social club.

Margaret Edwards gratefully said, “I thank each and every one of our host of volunteers who made our big day such a success.”

If you are interested in joining, membership is free however, new members have to complete a membership form for insurance coverage and concessional prices. All venues are wheelchair accessible. Please phone 0400 242 779 for more details.

The next mag and meal luncheon will be held on Thursday, the 27th of June.

Members of Mackay 50's & Better gathered to commemorate three decades of shared memories and camaraderie. Images supplied

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IT’S SHOW TIME! The 111th Show Whitsunday At Proserpine Showgrounds

June 19, 2024

Dagwood dogs dipped in sauce, fairyfloss and fairground rides, side show alley and the dodgem cars. A cuddly chicken and a friendly goat, the horse parades and the orchid display – there is so much to see at Show Whitsunday!

Muster Dogs
“A Must”

This year Show Whitsunday will welcome a special guest with ‘Muster Dogs’ winner Frank Finger in attendance.

Frank will “bring the crew” and be in the main ring at lunch time and again at 3pm, to talk to the crowd and inspire them through his humble demeanour.

He’ll tell us how to raise dogs, treat them, how to care for them, his experiences and extra tips.

Show Whitsunday President, Donna Rogers is thrilled to have Frank and his dogs at the show this year.

“We are very excited to be hosting Frank Finger and his Muster Dogs team in the Whitsunday,” said Donna.

“Frank’s down to earth, humble persona is legendary, as is his love of a chat and I think the crowds will be inspired by his story and amazed by his gentle control of his muster dogs.”

What: Show Whitsunday
Where: Proserpine Showgrounds
When: Friday 21 June & Saturday 22 June from 7am

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Leader Of The Opposition Comes To The Whitsundays

June 19, 2024

Leader of the Opposition, David Crisafulli, held several public events in the Whitsundays on Monday this week, accompanied by Member for Whitsunday Amanda Camm.

The pair attended a special breakfast at Coral Sea Resort followed by an exclusive interview with Mackay and Whitsunday Life Newspaper.

They then headed into Proserpine and met with Councillors before being welcomed at the Tourism Whitsundays board meeting.

For the past 10 years Labor has been in power in Queensland, with Annastacia Palaszczuk Premier for the duration of that time.

David Crisafulli was nominated as Leader of the Opposition in November 2020 and will go up against current Queensland Premier Steven Miles in the State Elections which are due to take place later this year.

Locally, Amanda Camm will once again represent the LNP in her bid to secure a second term as our local member.

A Labor candidate for Whitsundays is yet to be announced.

Having made her bid public earlier this month, former Mayor of the Whitsundays, Julie Hall, is representing One Nation in the election.

“I am pleased to announce that I am running in the seat of Whitsunday with One Nation for the upcoming State election in October 2024,” she said.

Mackay and Whitsunday Life will be covering the upcoming election across our printed publications and also in a new series of videos on our YouTube Channel entitled ‘Life Publishing Group’ – Follow this QR code to watch the first video which features an interview with David Crisafulli and Amanda Camm in the first of our ‘Up Close And Political’ series.

Mayor Ry Collins, Councillor John Collins, Leader of the Opposition, David Crisafulli, Councillor Clay Bauman, Deputy Mayor Michelle Wright and Member for Whitsunday Amanda Camm. Photo supplied

David and Amanda at their interview with Mackay and Whitsunday Life Newspaper at Coral Sea Resort. Photo credit: Daniel Heggie

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Editors Note

June 19, 2024

Hi Everyone,

I hope you’re enjoying the cracking weather we’re having at the moment!

I know Leader of the Opposition David Crisafulli certainly did when he came to the Whitsundays this week and it was great to catch up with him and our local member Amanda Camm for a chat.

Feel free to scan the QR code on the page opposite if you would like to view the full video of our interview.

Every week I am amazed at the stories that come out of our region and this week was no different.

I have been in semi-regular contact with Shell Wardrope, the local mum who tragically lost her leg following a freak accident seven weeks ago.

When she finally arrived home and invited me up to their house for a chat, I was honoured to be welcomed into their home, especially since the family had been through so much and so recently.

When I arrived there I was amazed to discover there was no sense of bitterness, no ‘why me?’ or feeling of injustice (although I’m sure they certainly feel that sometimes too!)

Instead, what I found was an all-embracing sense of gratitude and acceptance – a feeling of making the best of everything life offers, even when something as vital as your leg is taken away.

When I told Shell I’d like to take a photo she asked if I’d like her to stand up and I simply love the photo we captured.

Instead of a weak victim to circumstance you can see Shell’s strong and powerful nature – her shoulders are back, head held high – she is proud to be here and forever grateful to be with her family.

As we all fall victim to occasionally complaining about our lot in life – our achy back, a tough day at work or a runny nose – let’s remember people like Shell who have been through hell and back, but still have a smile on their face.

While every hardship is of course relative and every feeling we have is valid, it sure does put our daily gripes into perspective.


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Brave Boat Conducts Mangrove Rescue

June 19, 2024

Earlier this week, a local sunset cruise company called Whisper Cruises, captained by Dale Tansley, was on one of their regular turtle-spotting sunset tours, when they heard a plea for help in the distance. To their surprise, after searching with their spotlight, they noticed a 24-year-old woman perched on a mangrove branch near Pioneer Bay.
Immediately, the brave crew and guests jumped into action, in hopes of rescuing the poor girl, who by this point said she had been stuck there for an hour. After some deliberation, the team didn’t think that they would be able to get in close enough to rescue her, so phoned Tripple Zero (000) for help.
Dale mentioned how the young woman appeared, “pretty freaked out” and was concerned about the potential crocodiles around her.
Despite not thinking the boat could get any closer, they were eventually able to get near enough to the woman to attempt a rescue. Everyone on board played their part, including the guests, one of whom helped her onto the boat, and the others who had blankets ready for the cold and panic-stricken woman. When the boat got back to shore police checked her over.
This was a courageous act from everyone aboard, Dale affirmed that he didn't “know what would have happened”, if they had not been there to save her. He added that had it not been an electric boat it could have had a very different ending, as they probably wouldn't have heard her cries for help.
Despite the eventful trip, Dale emphasised that the guests still got to see lots of turtles on their sunset tour.
Caption: Superstar Captain Dale Tansley who saved the day

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Rare Illness Strikes Local Dad On Life Support

June 19, 2024

Since November last year Collinsville local, Daniel Honnery, has been on life support at Mackay Base Hospital after a rare illness caused his body to completely shut down.

Daniel has been diagnosed with Guillain-Barre syndrome, a severe and life-threatening neurological disorder where the body’s immune system attacks the nerves.

He is experiencing what’s known as ‘locked-in syndrome’ where he is cognisant but unable to communicate. Over the months he has been able to open his eyes and can talk in a very soft whisper, but he is unable to breathe independently.

Guillain-Barre syndrome can take as long as two years to recover, and survivors often experience long-term side-effects.

This means Daniel has a long road ahead and the support of his family and the community is paramount.

Every day his girlfriend sits by his side and his parents, daughter and sister visit as regularly as possible.

His sister, Shannon Honnery, said “he is getting great care” at Mackay Base Hospital and that “they’re looking after him really well”.

Meanwhile, the community and family are rallying around to help.

There will be a multi draw raffle at the Collinsville Workers Club on Friday 19th July where stubby coolers and bumper stickers will also be for sale.

In addition, the Collinsville Bacon Busters event, which Daniel usually attends every year, is donating all the gate fees to help his recovery.

A GoFundMe Page has also been set up for Daniel and so far, $13,495 has been raised out of a $50,000 target.

On the page, friends speak of Daniel’s incredible personality and how much he is loved by those that know him.

“Daniel is an adventurous soul with a heart of gold, known for his lively and fun-loving nature,” it reads.

“He's the kind of guy who lives and breathes pig hunting on his days off, often with his daughter and mates.

“It’s almost certain that you'll find him getting bogged in some remote bush location, embarking on wild missions, or participating in light-hearted debates over a game of pool to determine whose dog reigns supreme.

“His unique talent lies in bringing people together and his contagious laughter is a constant source of joy wherever he ventures.”

In the run-up to the tragic diagnosis, Daniel had COVID and he thought it was taking him a long time to recover before he felt dramatically worse and was subsequently diagnosed with Guillain-Barre syndrome.

His sister, Shannon, said that prior to COVID you would only hear of one case every 10 years in the country.

“Since COVID came around, they’ve had four just in Mackay,” she expressed.

While there is no proven link, this connection does seem to signify there might be more to the story.

Daniel Honnery and his daughter in happier times. Photo supplied

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Strong, Resilient, And A Survivor Shell Wardrope’s Life After Losing Her Leg

June 19, 2024

When local mum, Shell Wardrope, took a stumble on her wet driveway in May this year she didn’t think the innocent fall would change the trajectory of her life forever. The rain had been pouring for some time and she raced outside to call her son in for dinner, tripping forward and landing straight on her knee. Within seconds she could see a large gash form and after examining the wound, her and her husband Ben decided to go to the local hospital where they received stitches for the injury and returned home later that evening.

Heading to sleep that night, the couple thought Shell had a simple injury that would heal gradually over time. This was until the early hours of the morning when she woke up with a throbbing pain in her leg. After inspecting her leg again they could see it was extremely swollen so they drove to the hospital to have it checked out.

This fast thinking could have saved her life.

Within minutes of arriving at the hospital, Shell’s health deteriorated quickly and before long she lost consciousness. Panicked and distraught, Ben was by her side when he was told that she had contracted a soil-borne bacterial infection and only had a 2% chance of survival.

Ben and Shell believe the soil-borne infection was caused by a common algae that can be found almost anywhere. Unfortunately for Shell, the gash on her knee allowed this usually harmless algae to enter her bloodstream. The algae then reacted with the white blood cells and created a flesh-eating bacteria which spread rapidly up her leg.

The medical team at Proserpine Hospital did everything they could to stop the spread of the infection which was progressing further up her leg by the minute. Shell was quickly transferred to Mackay Base Hospital where they determined they would need to remove her limb. This was done in sections, each time they hoped to stop the infection and save as much of her leg as possible.  

Eventually the infection did stop spreading, but by this stage Shell’s leg had been amputated from below the hip.

But she still was alive.

For the next four days, her prognosis remained at 2% and Ben prayed she would pull though, determined that she would continue the life they had created together.

Several days later, when he was at his most desperate Ben took to social media and shared their plight with the community, pleading with everyone to help bring her back.

“I put that text up to the community and it blew up!” he explained.

“Through everyone’s prayer over that night, she dramatically changed.”

Shell had been in a coma for 13 days and had no idea her right leg was no longer there when she woke.

During her time on life support she remembers being plagued by nightmares which included being plunged into a shark tank where her leg was bitten off. Waking up and seeing Ben and their son Ollie was all she could have dreamed of and, despite the adjustment, Shell said she is incredibly grateful.

“They tried to save as much of my leg as they could, but it kept getting higher,” explained Shell.

“They did an amazing job and what they did saved my life, for which I am eternally grateful.”

“It’s weird because I can’t counterbalance, I can’t just sit up and I often get phantom leg pain, that’s one of the hardest things which is strange because my leg is not even there,” she shared.

Ben said Shell is a “remarkable healer”.

“She’s on pretty much no pain medication whatsoever,” he explained.

“We’re pretty spiritual people and believe in holistic medicine and eating lots of natural foods which has been a big part of her healing, and she is feeling unbelievably well.”

Shell left hospital after just seven weeks. The same injury would take another patient an average of three months. This speedy recovery, however, has not worked in her favour. Her swift departure meant that adequate after-care has not yet been organised and they are waiting on NDIS to provide practical assistance. It’s a long road ahead for the family and they are having to consider what shape this new life will take.

At this stage Shell is navigating life on a wheelchair they are leasing but she is hoping to get a prosthetic leg one day, this however, costs over $100K.

The family has launched a GoFundMe page where the community can help towards aftercare necessities and support for the family while Ben is unable to work due to taking care of Shell.

In a few months’ time, they are looking forward to hosting a gathering where they want to meet with the community to say thank you for all the support. In the meantime, they wish to thank everyone who has supported them so far, every gesture has meant so much to them.

Ben, Shell Wardrope and their son Ollie. Photo credit: Rachael Smith

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Jetty Designs Well-Received By Paul Gellatly

June 19, 2024

The design agency behind the renovation of Bowen's historic jetty has come up with a novel way to avoid the astronomical cost of removing many of the structure's imposing concrete pilings.

North Queensland Bulk Ports (NQBP) put its renovation plans for the jetty to the acid test last week when it made its pitch to the town's Chamber of Commerce June meeting.

An audience of around 50 attended the chamber's June meeting to see NQBP CEO Brendan Webb unveil two design options, by design bureau Arup, with option one having the existing rock and concrete section of the existing jetty annexed to provide a straight structure with a loop at the walkway end, and option 2 featuring a curved design on a new walkway extending from the end of the existing concrete structure.

The now visitor-unfriendly jetty's future is a matter of deep concern for Bowen, where it has operated since shortly after the town's establishment in the 1860s.

As detailed in a previous issue of Mackay and Whitsunday Life, NQBP embarked on an exhaustive process with Bowen's community and interested parties to reach designs suitable to all interests.  

There had been fears about the potentially excessive cost of removing decrepit concrete pilings and Mr Webb said while they had "well and truly had their service life", they would be retained as they had become "part of the environment". He said their marine life-encrusted state made them perfect for the reef protection emphasis of the project.

First reactions from the meeting were good, and aspects of the designs, such as a mangrove boardwalk to be built in beach vegetation to the right of the entrance of the jetty as in option 2, led Mr Webb to remark that the final design for the project "might well be a combination of the two options".

Mr Webb said the design options for the future Bowen Jetty seek to offer residents and tourists a captivating space to connect with the marine environment and enjoy leisure activities.

He said the deck of the new structure would be raised by in excess of a metre as seawater was already lapping over parts of the existing structure when tides were high. When completed, the renovated structure would retain existing lower walkways to facilitate fishing during low tides. While he said some people may disagree about the reality of climate change, for planning purposes "it's a reality".

The design parameters included the raised deck height, jetty widening (for access by emergency services, for example, and easier access for visitors), highlighting of history and heritage, providing a 100-year design life, environmental considerations, planning, and providing the project within a $50M budget.

Of particular concern to Mr Webb is the user-unfriendly condition of the deck. "There's less ruts on the cape than there are on the jetty," he said. "What we're aiming for is a shaded area where people can meet up."

The renovated jetty would no longer allow for large vessel berthings as is currently facilitated by the NQBP arm of the jetty, which has been removed in both design options. Careful consideration also would be needed for any businesses located on the renovated jetty to avoid upsetting shore-based concerns. A feature of the jetty renovation could be 'pop up' stalls.

Mr Webb said NQBP would have a 50 per cent stake in the project and was liaising with the council for it to take a role too, to produce a facility that would remain in Bowen's hands. "You can't sell it; it's a great project," he said. And he doubted that a potential change of state government later this year would see the project cancelled as it was to be built on mining royalties won by miners who lived in Bowen.

Mr Webb said construction was slated to take place between 2025-2027.

Two million dollars were committed for this year and next for detailed design works.

Chamber chairman Bruce Hedditch said while he had been hopeful the existing structure could be retained, he had to bow to the inevitable and accept that the two design options offered the best compromise.

The Bowen jetty roadshow will continue with the project team to attend the Bowen Show on June 25.

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Missing Woman, Search Continues

June 19, 2024

Queensland Police have issued an appeal to the public for assistance in locating Celeste McGain, a 40-year-old woman reported missing since Saturday 1 June from the Whitsundays area.
Celeste McGain was last seen on Paluma Road in Woodwark around 2pm on Saturday 25 May. Since then, there have been no sightings or communications from her.
Concerns for Celeste's well-being is heightened as her disappearance is considered out of character by family and friends. However, it has not been marked as suspicious yet.
Described as Caucasian, approximately 175cm (about 5.74 ft) tall, with brown eyes and curly brown hair, Celeste was last seen wearing a blue skirt and a white shirt.
While she was last seen in Woodwark, Celeste is known to have connections to the northern New South Wales area.
Queensland Police are urging Celeste to make contact or for anyone with information regarding her whereabouts to come forward immediately. Assistance from the public in such cases can often prove crucial in locating missing individuals and ensuring their safety.
If you have information for police, contact Policelink by providing information using the online suspicious activity form 24hrs per day at or call 131 444.

Celeste McGain
Photo Supplied

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Life Beneath The Surface Art Exhibit

June 19, 2024

Art Whitsunday has just moved its most recent art exhibit from Mackay to Airlie Beach and it is now showing at The Heart Hotel and Gallery.

Entitled, ‘Life Beneath the Surface’ the exhibit is a collaboration by Art Whitsunday Inc. artists highlighting their personal interpretation of life beneath natural surfaces in the Whitsundays.

Surfaces could be portrayed as rainforest canopy, reef coral ledge, fresh or salt water, cloud, flowering sugar cane, cave roof, sand, ground, or sky.

The warm, wet tropical climate supports prolific life through recurring life cycles in rich ecosystems where plants, creatures, and microorganisms co-exist in light and darkness, often unseen by the naked eye.

Underworlds could be depicted imaginatively, realistically, in stylised or abstract styles.

Artist Sue Baker came up with the ‘Life Beneath the Surface’ theme and said it can mean many things.

“You hope people interpret it not literally, it can mean so many things, it can be people, it can anything,” said Sue.

Belinda Curry added that “It can be emotional state of mind, there are things that lie underneath the surface.”

“When I did mine (art work), it’s about what is lying under the surface, beneath us that we don’t really see.

“We see the surface layer, but we really don’t know what’s underneath.”

President of Art Whitsunday Inc. Glenda Vickers said she likes that the theme is left for interpretation.

“Each artist has interpreted that theme in their own way, some have told a story, others are very realistic and representational of realism but all with the Whitsundays in our heart,” said Glenda

Glenda added, “As a founding member of Art Whitsunday Inc. and as its current President, I am very proud of our recipient’s organisation with its history of nearly 40 years in supporting our Whitsunday regional artists.”

“I extend a very warm welcome to any Whitsunday artists who would like to join our organisation.

“Congratulations to all exhibiting artists.”

Belinda Curry, Ross Scanlon, President of Art Whitsunday Incorporated Glenda Vickers, Carolyn Shannon, Sue Baker and Claudia Gray. Photo credit: Daniel Heggie

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