Mackay Region Community News

Calen Community Mourns Following Floodwater Tragedy

Calen Community Mourns Following Floodwater Tragedy

The community is rallying to support a young family who has been devastated by the loss of a wife and mother, 31-year-old Casey Munchow.

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Crafting Together For A Cause

Crafting Together For A Cause

The crafters of the Sarina Fibre Arts Group have pooled their talents to support the Sarina Arts and Crafts Centre.

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Mackay Band Marches In Brisbane

Mackay Band Marches In Brisbane

Mackay North State High School’s (MNSHS) marching band travelled to Brisbane last month to take part in the 2022 State ANZAC Day Parade for the 28th consecutive year.

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Igniting Isaac Conversations With Scarlet Seats

Igniting Isaac Conversations With Scarlet Seats

Park benches in Isaac’s open spaces have been painted red to prompt conversations towards ending domestic violence-related deaths in Australia.

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Tenders Sought To fix Leaky Lagoon

May 20, 2022

Last year’s patchwork repairs to the Bluewater Lagoon provided a short-term solution to leaks discovered in the lining, but now the Mackay Regional Council are seeking tenders for a permanent fix.

Mayor Greg Williamson said the current tender was seeking a long-term solution that would see the facility fully resurfaced during the winter maintenance period for all three pools.

“The work that was completed last year was a quick and temporary response so we could reopen the lagoon during the busy summer period,” he said.

“This project will ensure this facility continues to serve the needs of the community well into the future and it is expected to increase the longevity of the lagoon.

“With the implementation of the ongoing scheduled maintenance program, the lagoon should continue operating to its full potential.”

The Bluewater Lagoon will be closed from June 1 until August 31, 2022, to complete this work.

The café at Bluewater Lagoon will also be closed during this time.

Applicants are encouraged to apply for the tender through the QTenders website.

Submissions will close on Tuesday, May 31, at 10am.

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Funding Push For More Senior Living For Clermont

May 20, 2022

A twilight dream for seniors to live in their hometown of Clermont in a modernised aged care facility is being strongly advocated for federal funding reality.

Isaac Regional Council is joining forces with the Belyando Enterprise Network Inc on a project to help lobby for $2.993 million in funding for stage 1 of Monash Lodge refurbishment.

Mayor Anne Baker said aged care is a growing issue for the nation and residents prefer to remain near their hometown during their twilight years.

“Monash Lodge is a valuable aged care facility for Clermont and wider community that was founded and only made available through the generous donations and contributions by the community,” Mayor Baker said.

“The Seniors Living Project is a social innovation model that could have far reaching benefits across regional Australia.

“The proposed project would deliver much needed independent living accommodation which would enable older regional Australians to enjoy their twilight years in their hometown.”

Belyando Enterprise Network Inc’s John Burnett said the Monash Lodge internal refurbishment will include upgrading the existing 20-bed facility and to create 12 independent living units plus caretaker’s apartment for 24-hour onsite management.

“This project will create jobs during the construction phase, create more health and administrative roles but more importantly, keep residents in their hometown,” Mr Burnett said.

“The closest permanent aged care services in a non-hospital environment is either in Emerald or Mackay.”

The ageing population of Clermont continues to rise with about 25 per cent of its current population aged over 60 years old. Currently there is an undersupply of 96 allocations as of 2021 and then increasing to an undersupply of 187 places by 2036.

Mayor Baker said Council, who is the current trustee of the property, continues to work with community groups to reinvigorate Monash Lodge.

“The potential outcomes of the Clermont Seniors Living concept in occupying and renewing Monash Lodge presents as a significant cost and social benefit to the community,” Mayor Baker said.

“We have committed to an in-principle long-term lease agreement with the eligible lessee through a peppercorn rate of $1 per annum to facilitate and support these critical services within the region.”

Mayor Baker said Canberra needs to understand that regional Australia has the ability to be creative, to apply fresh thinking, to find innovative solutions to help its residents remain in their hometowns in their twilight years. Visit https://www.isaac.qld.gov.au/advocacy for more information.

Monash Lodge, Clermont

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Community Game Changer In Youth Politics

May 20, 2022

A Mackay year 12 student is well on his way to creating change in our community, getting involved in Queensland Youth Parliament as the Youth Member for Whitsunday.

Sebastian Padget is School Captain at Mackay Northern Beaches State High School and has added Youth Parliament to his repertoire of leadership experience, saying that serving as School Captain in primary school started his interest in politics.

“Even in primary school, seeing that there is the ability to create change, just sparked my interest,” Sebastian said.

“As the years have gone on I’ve got more interested in the way it runs, in the way we create change, and then this opportunity’s come up so I’ve taken it.”

He says he found balancing study, school captaincy, and Youth Parliament difficult but it has taught him a lot.

“I was thinking ‘no, this is the path I want to go down, we have to balance it,’ so that’s been really good to learn that and to learn how to do it effectively,” he said.

Sebastian travelled to Brisbane with his mentor and Member for Whitsunday Amanda Camm for the Queensland Youth Parliament launch weekend in early April.

Throughout the weekend, Sebastian and the other 92 Youth Members received media advice, learnt how to write bills, and learnt how to be effective leaders in their respective communities.

Sebastian says it was a great opportunity to network with other Youth Members and discuss the issues facing each of their areas.

“It was really cool to see our world views, how they’re a bit different, and the issues that we find are important,” he said.

Sebastian says Amanda’s mentorship, advice, and experience have been invaluable.

“She’s been absolutely incredible,” he said.

“We’ve had some really good conversations.”

One local issue that Sebastian is passionate about is Mackay Bucasia Road.

“Being in the Northern Beaches, we’re the major growth area of Mackay,” he said.

“We have a bit of a transport issue where we have one road linking Mackay to the Northern Beaches and if there was to be a flood, fire, cyclone, there’s going to be trouble in this area.

“Even with opportunities within Youth Parliament, I’ve been able to discuss the issue and raise it with council, discuss it with Amanda Camm, and we’ve been able to have some really cool discussions about how we create change even on a local level.”

Sebastian finishes year 12 this year and is looking to study Business and Law in Townsville next year and hopes to get as involved in the Mackay community as he possibly can.

“I’d love to serve in parliament, but I really want to get experience in the community before I look at something like that and I do believe that having a business and law degree would be quite a good combination,” he said.

“I’m really keen to see how local Mackay runs, how the organisations in local Mackay work, and how they push Mackay forward.”

Youth Member for Whitsunday Sebastian Padget is passionate about Mackay. Photo: Sam Gillespie

Sebastian with Member for Whitsunday Amanda Camm at Queensland Youth Parliament Launch Week in Brisbane. Photo: supplied

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More Bruce Highway Tragedies

May 20, 2022

Two more people lost their lives along the Bruce Highway in the Mackay and Isaac region within the past week, in what has been a horror month in highway deaths.

A 60-year-old man died following a traffic crash at Carmilla on 12 May.

Early investigations indicate at about 7.20pm, the Carmila man was the sole occupant of a car that was in the path of a bus travelling Southbound on the Bruce Highway when they collided.

Emergency crews rendered first-aid to the man, however, was later pronounced deceased at the scene.

The driver of the bus and one passenger (an employee of the bus company) were the only occupants of the bus, and they were not physically injured.

Two days later, a 53-year-old man died and a 41-year-old woman was transported to Mackay Base Hospital in a serious condition, following a single vehicle crash at Bloomsbury on 14 May.

Just after 6pm, initial investigations suggest, a Toyota Hiace travelling south along the Bruce Highway left the road and crashed into a tree, around 1km north of Midge Point Road.

The driver, a 53-year-old man, died on scene.

These tragedies follow a fatal motorcycle accident on the Bruce Highway at St Lawrence which claimed the life of a 50-year-old man on 6 May. On 18 April, a father and his teenage daughter were killed when their motorbike collided with a sedan on the Bruce Highway near Koumala.

RACQ CQ Rescue airlifted a 41-year-old woman to Townsville Hospital after a car collided with a tree near Bloomsbury. The 53 year-old driver died on scene. Image: RACQ CQ Rescue

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RSL Donates To 42nd Infantry Battalion Association

May 20, 2022

The RSL Mackay sub-branch has donated $4,000 to The Mackay Branch of the 42nd Infantry Battalion Association.

The Mackay Branch of the 42nd Infantry Battalion Association applied for a grant for $4000 from the RSL to assist with the costs of their annual reunion dinner, coming up in August.

“That’ll go towards our dinner, keep our costs down, pay for our room rent,” said Association President Garry Edwards.

“That’ll help us probably for a couple years, I should imagine, and it should be a really good year with another good turnout this year.”

The Mackay Branch of the 42nd Infantry Battalion Association was first formed in 1946 immediately following the end of WWII.

While the 42nd Battalion was originally a Central Queensland unit, the amalgamation of units and the drawing of reinforcements from all states in WWII resulted in the formation of branches of the Association in cities including Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Brisbane, Townsville, Rockhampton, and Mackay.

Due to the dwindling numbers of veterans in the other states, the Rockhampton and Mackay Branches are the only two which hold formal annual reunions.

“We’re just keeping the memory of the 42nd Infantry Battalion going,” said Garry.

Following the amalgamation of 31 RQR and 42 RQR in January 2008, membership has been extended to members of the new joint battalion.

The only personnel entitled to join the Mackay Branch of the 42nd Infantry Battalion Association are those who have given service in the 42nd Battalion or those who are currently serving members of 31/42 RQR.

Those interested in learning more about the Association are asked to contact Garry on 0400 242 779.

L-R Shane Edge, Garry Edwards, David Ward, Ken Higgins, Nichole Hood, and Liz Ward

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Scoot From A To Beam In No Time

May 20, 2022

Global micromobility company Beam will launch up to 300 e-scooters in Mackay following the successful tender application with Mackay Regional Council, with operations to commence in June.

The app-based e-scooters will be available in the Mackay City Centre, Waterfront, Bluewater Trail, Caneland Central precinct, Mackay Harbour, North Mackay, Mackay Base Hospital and Botanic Gardens. Beam’s service will feature affordable pay-as-you-go rates, with every ride covered by Beam’s personal accident insurance.

Mayor Greg Williamson said e-scooters would provide a fantastic transport option for residents and tourists to get out and about, exploring our region in a safe, convenient, and fun way.

“For visitors staying in the Mackay CBD without a car, or locals simply wanting to explore as much of the city as they can in a short period of time, an e-scooter is going to be a tremendous option,” Mayor Williamson said.

“The e-scooters may also provide assistance in easing parking congestion in certain areas like the Base Hospital precinct for workers or people attending events at the Botanic Gardens,” he said.

Beam’s General Manager (ANZ) Tom Cooper said the company is thrilled to be piloting Mackay’s first shared e-mobility trial.

“We look forward to partnering with the Mackay Regional Council to bring our safe, affordable and sustainable e-scooters to both residents and visitors,” Mr Cooper said.

“As micromobility becomes more commonplace in Australia, we believe its usage will only continue to increase exponentially, with more citizens engaging on the streets and leaving their cars behind.

“As we look forward to expanding our footprint, we are also committed to developing collaborative partnerships with local community members, small businesses and organisations, and engage in discussions around the safe operation of e-scooters to ensure the safety of both riders, pedestrians and other road users.”

Each e-scooter comes with a helmet, which must be worn, and safety rules must be followed, such as following vehicle laws, maintaining a safe distance between riders and pedestrians, and not riding under the influence of alcohol or other substances.

The e-scooters can reach a maximum of 20kmh. However, speeds will be limited in certain locations for safety reasons. These “slow zones" are set by agreed stakeholders and managed by geofencing.

Mackay businesses can now apply to be part of Beam’s free Booster program.

The Beam offering will include:

•Beam’s Saturn e-scooter fleet: Featuring tip-resistant dual-kickstands, triple electric and mechanical brakes, a bluetooth-locked helmet, and swappable batteries

•Beam Booster for Retail Support: Beam’s Booster platform utilises a blend of GPS-technology, in-app notifications and partner incentives to help stimulate economic activity at the local community level. Participation is free, with applications now open for local businesses via www.ridebeam.com/anz/booster

•Virtual Docking for Cleaner Streets: At Beam, we believe that the future of micromobility is docked rather than dockless. But a docked system does not require hardware racks fitted on the pavements. Fixed parking docks can be created virtually, using technology and GPS to direct riders to appropriate parking spots through a combination of guidance, incentives, and disincentives.

•Climate Neutral Operations for A Greener City: Beam is the only operator in ANZ to be Certified Climate Neutral, and has recently announced a pledge to go Carbon Negative by 2025. Beam is committed to continuing to lead the industry in sustainability, adopting technological advances to reduce its environmental impact.

Beam is the largest and safest micromobility operator in Asia Pacific, with operations in Australia spanning capital cities such as Brisbane, Sydney, Adelaide, Hobart and Canberra, and regional cities and towns including Port Douglas, Magnetic Island and Townsville.

The app-based e-scooters will be available in the Mackay City Centre, Waterfront, Bluewater Trail, Caneland Central precinct, Mackay Harbour, North Mackay, Mackay Base Hospital and Botanic Gardens.

Up to 300 purple Beam scooters will arrive in Mackay next month as an e-scooter trial was approved by the Mackay Regional Council last week. Images Supplied: Beam

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Shitboxes Roll Into Showgrounds

May 20, 2022

500 people in teams of two rolled into the Mackay Showgrounds last Friday in what is lovingly referred to as a ‘shitbox’, a car worth less than $1,000. While it looks like bogan heaven, these cars drove from Wollongong to Mackay for a cause, to raise money for the Cancer Council.

James Freeman who founded Box Rallies (Shitbox and Mystery Box Rally) after losing both of his parents to cancer within 12 months of each other said, “Shitbox Rally is not a race, but a reward for fundraising efforts. This is a chance to explore Australia, drawing teams from around the country to help achieve the extraordinary.”

250 cars took roads less travelled to explore the outback in an epic week-long journey traversing 3,600km of rough roads. There were diversions due to the deluge, but race organisers quickly penned a new route to ensure participants had safe passage despite heavy rain and flooding.

With more than $30 million raised since the rallies began, there was a $2 million goal for this rally, which was surpassed by the time the teams reached Charleville with the total already hitting $2.2 million with more to come.

With the race finishing locally in Mackay, not only did the local tourism industry get a boost, but St Vincent de Paul Society (Vinnies) became the beneficiaries of thousands of dollars’ worth of barely used eskies, camping mats, shoes, chairs tents and other ancillary items that competitors donated after the journey. Councillor Laurence Bonaventura, a former Shitbox Rally participant himself, was on hand at the finish line to help Vinnies volunteers with gathering the donations.

Cr Bonaventura also donated a hamper to the Shitbox Rally on behalf of the Mackay Regional Council to be gifted to one of the Rally’s award winners at the presentations held at the Eimeo Hotel.

A truckload of donations was made to Vinnies at the end of the Shitbox Rally. L-R: Terry and Ann Hilder, Kerry and Laurence Bonaventura. Photos: Amanda Wright

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Ks For Kay Charity Fun Run

May 13, 2022

He came to Australia because of a charitable deed, and ever since, Kay Nyenuh has paid that generosity back to the community tenfold.

“A complete stranger (at the time) made it possible for me to be here today,” Kay said.

13 years later, Kay has established himself as a regional health and fitness leader, having recently opened his third fitness centre in Andergrove. To celebrate, he is hosting a charity fun run Ks For Kay Charity Fun Run this Saturday morning.

“Join us on Saturday May 14, 2022, at the Bluewater Quay for our annual charity fun run to help raise funds for the Mackay Hospital Foundation. Distance this year will be 5Ks for Kay with 8K and 13K options,” Kay said.

“Walkers are welcome and there will be bacon and eggs for breakfast!”

Kay encourages walkers and runners to grab a ticket online so he knows how much breakfast to prepare for, but people are welcome to show up on the day. A minimum of $10 donation is asked for to support local charities.

Kay said he is where he is today because of the support of the local community, so it is important to him to give back.

“Giving back is something that is of second nature to me,” he said.

“Though we support other local charities, we mainly fundraise for the Mackay Hospital Foundation because it is a charity that I believe benefits everyone that lives and works in our region.

“Coming from a third world country where the healthcare system is almost nonexistent, I think it’s paramount that we do everything we can to support our local hospitals.”

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Raising Resilient Kids

May 13, 2022

Parents of Mackay will be empowered with the tools and strategies to guide their children through their formative years with two free parenting seminars hosted by Member for Mackay Julieanne Gilbert next week.

Positive Parenting Program, or Triple P, will run two free seminars on Wednesday, May 18, surrounding children’s mental wellbeing, decision making, and anxiety.

‘Raising Resilient Children’ will provide proven parenting strategies for parents to guide children in making good decisions in life and online.

The seminar will help parents problem solve with their children, manage screen time, and help cope with stress and positivity and will take place at the Andergrove Community Hall from 1:00pm.

Later that evening, Triple P will host a seminar packed with tips and ideas for parents to help children break free from anxiety, providing an understanding of child and teen anxiety and ways to support children in coping with anxiety.

This two-hour seminar at the Pioneer State High School Theatre starts at 6:30pm.

Both seminars are presented by Michael Herd who has worked with families as a primary school teacher, guidance counsellor, and registered psychologist for more than 30 years.

Having completed his PhD researching parenting support for families of premature babies, he has become a popular Triple P presenter and has trained Triple P practitioners around the world.

Aaliyah Talukdar, a representative from Parentline, will also be presenting at the seminars.

Parentline is a service of yourtown which provides virtual counselling to parents and carers from 365 days a year across Queensland and the Northern Territory.

Aaliyah's work as a Cyberbullying Consultant focuses on providing information and resources to caregivers about supporting young people’s online wellbeing generally, and if they're exposed to negative online experiences.

Triple P’s Raising Resilient Children Seminar is happening from 1pm-2pm on Wednesday May 18 at the Andergrove Community Hall and the Fear-Less Triple P Seminar takes place from 6:30pm-8:30pm at the Pioneer State High School Theatre the same day.

Go to www.triplep-parenting.net for more information and to book your free place.

Member for Mackay Julieanne Gilbert is hosting two free seminars next week on raising resilient children. Photo: supplied

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Ronald McDonald House One Step Closer To Caring For Families

May 13, 2022

Construction for Mackay’s Ronald McDonald Family Room began last Friday, the next step in providing Mackay families a safe space for respite when caring for their sick children.

Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) North Australia CEO Tamara South says the Family Room will play a vital role in the families of the region.

“To get here today, we have had an immeasurable amount of community and corporate supporters in helping to essentially make the Family Room happen,” Ms South said.

“Partnering with Mackay Hospital and Health Service and Mackay Hospital Foundation to deliver Ronald McDonald Family Room to help support the more than 2500 families that call upon Mackay Base Hospital each and every year.”

The two-bedroom house will be fully equipped with a kitchen, food, bathroom and laundry amenities, and volunteers for families to utilise, eliminating the need to leave their sick children while in the care of the hospital.

“It’s about providing that home-like environment steps away from a child’s bedside so there is no reason you need to leave these premises when you have a sick child,” Ms South said.

Amber Hollywood has utilised Ronald McDonald facilities in Townsville and Brisbane while caring for her 16-month-old Samuel and says she wishes Mackay had the facilities when Samuel was born.

“Samuel was in the special care nursery for the first two weeks of his life, and it was very hard, every day, having to leave him and go home when he was a newborn,” Ms Hollywood said.

“It’ll be really great for our family to have a place where we can go to recharge and refresh together, to get away from the harshness of hospital life.”

Local company Fergus Builders are leading the construction of the facility and Project Manager Adam Wright says the company is proud to be involved in the project.

“We jumped at the opportunity when we first heard about the tender,” Mr Wright said.

“It’s really special for us.”

Fergus Builders plan to fundraise for RMHC throughout construction.

Ms South hopes to have the project complete by the end of the year and the Ronald McDonald Family Room caring for families by Christmas.

L-R Fergus Builders Project Manager Adam Wright, previous RMHC North Australia guest Amber Hollywood, Local McDonalds Licensee Niki Ramsay, Mackay Hospital Foundation Chair Peter Tait, RMHC North Australia CEO Tamara South, and Mackay Hospital and Health Service Chief Executive Lisa Davies-Jones. Photo: Sam Gillespie

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Horror Road Toll Devastates Region’s Rescuers

May 13, 2022

“Absolutely gutted”.

The death of three people on the region’s roads in a 37-hour period last weekend was indicative of a horror increase in a spate of tragic road accidents this year, RACQ CQ Rescue pilot Leigh Wilkinson said.

RACQ CQ Rescue was tasked last Friday afternoon to a fatal motorcycle accident on the Bruce Highway at St Lawrence which claimed the life of a 50-year-old man. Initial investigations by Police suggest the rider was travelling along the Bruce Highway just before 5pm when he lost control and crashed into a barrier on the side of the Heifer Creek bridge.

Less than two days later on Mother’s Day there were two more fatalities within an hour of each other in two separate incidents.  

Jacob Betts from Dysart died following a traffic crash at Racecourse in Mackay. Police reported that initial investigations indicate at approximately 5.05am a motorbike and Toyota Corolla have collided at the intersection of Horse and Jockey Road and Meadowlands Road. The 24-year-old motorcyclist died at the scene.

Shortly after, a 27-year-old man was located deceased on the roadway on Sarina Beach Road near Grasstree Road. Jordan Blanch suffered critical injuries and died at the scene. The vehicle believed to have hit Mr Blanch did not remain at the scene. Police urge anyone who may have witnessed the incident or who has dashcam footage in the area at the time to come forward.

Prior to these tragedies, on Easter Monday, a 19-year-old woman was airlifted to Townsville after the motorcycle she was a pillion passenger on was hit by a car doing a u-turn on the Bruce Highway near Koumala. Her 60-year-old father died at the scene and the young woman later died in hospital.

RACQ CQ Rescue also transferred a 12-year-old boy to hospital in Mackay after a horror head-on smash between two cars at Gregory River a week ago. The boy’s twin brother died in the accident and their mother was taken to Proserpine hospital by ambulance.

Mr Wilkinson said all fatalities and serious injuries on the region’s roads were “enormously tragic”.

“For everyone who dies there are a huge amount more who are terribly injured,” he said.

“The reality of being in a car crash is a terrifying experience if you are seriously injured. The path to recovery is often very long and painful, sometimes taking years.  

“You are in serious pain. Your clothes will be cut off and you will be terribly frightened and traumatised. You really don’t want to be that person. There is the chance of permanent disability. People can have spinal injuries and they’ll have ongoing treatment for the rest of their lives.”

Mr Wilkinson said the rescue chopper crew were also impacted by the horror scenes they witnessed.

“Once I became a parent, going to incidents with young children became a lot harder to process,” he said.

“Memories and flashbacks, fatigue, mood swings can go on for a week while you process what you have been to. Adults can sometimes make poor choices, but children just don’t have a choice in the decisions that can ultimately change lives in a split second.”

Working in a regional area meant he and his colleagues could sometimes know the people they treated at crash scenes or their family.

“It really weighs on your mind. It definitely makes it harder if you have a personal connection,” he said.

“Please be careful on our roads. We really don’t want to meet you or your loved ones by accident.”“The reality of being in a car crash is a terrifying experience if you are seriously injured. The path to recovery is often very long and painful, sometimes taking years.”  

“For everyone who dies there are a huge amount more who are terribly injured.”

RACQ CQ Rescue pilot Leigh Wilkinson pleads for motorists to take more care. Image supplied: RACQ CQ Rescue

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Graduate’s Proud Achievement

May 20, 2022

After years of hard work and determination, hundreds of students graduated from their studies at the Central Queensland University (CQU) graduation ceremony last week, but one scholar stole the show.

Sherrie Price, a 29-year-old Mackay woman living with Down Syndrome, graduated with Certificates I and II in Information, Digital Media and Technology.

Sherrie says she couldn’t have done it alone, her support network brimming with pride.

“I’ve had lots of support,” she said.

Sherrie’s mother, Judie, says Sherrie’s picked up a lot of supporters throughout her three years of study, but Gerri Kissner assisted Sherrie throughout the whole process.

“Gerri’s been her support worker all the way,” Judie said.

“She’s virtually done the certificate as well.”

Sherrie’s support network came up with many creative ways to deliver course content where Gerri would learn the content herself and format it in a way best suited to Sherrie’s learning.

Discipline Lead for Vocational ICT at CQU Michael Menzies says it’s part of a process called reasonable adjustment.

“We cater for people’s individual needs,” he said.

“We can adjust the method by which the student answers or does their work so it’s within their abilities whilst still meeting the criteria.”

CQU Associate Lecturer Niveditha Dopathi says the course has developed Sherrie’s skills in more ways than one.

“During those three years, I can tell that Sherrie has improved her confidence a lot,” she said.

Judie shared her gratitude towards Gerri, Niveditha, and Michael for all their help throughout Sherrie’s study.

“Lots of communication, brainstorming, and coming up with ideas to help her,” she said.

“She’s taught me that a couple of the keys on the computer aren’t just for decoration.”

Gerri says that this is a huge achievement for Sherrie.

“It shows that people who aren’t in the mainstream can achieve anything with the right support,” she said.

Gerri is also involved in Neighbourhood Watch which Sherrie and Judie assist with, helping over 50s with computer literacy.

Sherrie also partakes in karate, tap dancing, and arts programs with Crossroad Arts, but now turns to every graduate’s favourite part: the job hunt.

L-R Gerri Kissner, CQU Associate Lecturer Niveditha Dopathi, graduate Sherrie Price, her mother Judie Price, and CQU Discipline Lead for Vocational ICT Michael Menzies

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RIN Awards Finalists Announced

May 6, 2022

The 2022 Resource Industry Network (RIN) Awards judging panel has meticulously looked through this years’ nominations and is excited to announce 16 finalists across seven categories.

With so many challenges facing businesses daily, the RIN Awards on Friday, May 20 at the MECC, are a positive way to celebrate the many accomplishments happening in the resources sector.

The awards truly are an all-inclusive celebration of the local resources sector and the achievements of its supply chain.

The Mackay-Isaac-Whitsunday region is home to an innovative world-class METS hub and the RIN Awards acknowledge, recognise, and celebrate their outstanding contributions to the industry and the community.

The 2022 RIN Awards Finalists

Safety Foremost Award (sponsored by Diacon Australia) • DGH Engineering • Ausgroup Industrial Services (QLD) Pty Ltd •

Connecting in the Community Award (sponsored by Local Buying Foundation) • Onsite Training Australia • QCCS Pty Ltd • Wisely Services Pty Ltd

Out of The Box Award (sponsored by METS Ignited) • BB Print • 4PS Software • Mainetec

Standing Out from the Crowd Award (sponsored by Onsite Safety Training Compliance) • Howard Nielson - DGH Engineering • Ben Colvin - Prochem Group of Companies • Ashleigh Vaughan - Richies Engineering Services

Striving for Diversity Award (sponsored by BHP Mitsubishi Alliance) • C-Res/Local Buying Foundation

Champion Culture Award (sponsored by Resources Centre of Excellence) • Field Mining Services Group

Chasing the Foreign Markets Award (sponsored by Trade & Investment Qld) • Mainetec • Vayeron • East West Lighting

The finalists reflect a broad range of initiatives around innovation, export, diversity, community, culture, safety, and individual excellence.

RIN congratulates all businesses and individuals who have secured a finalist spot, and thanks everyone who entered the awards this year.

“As an organisation that represents the resources services sector, we value the effort it takes to submit nominations and we wish everyone the best of luck on the awards night,” Resource Industry Network general manager Dean Kirkwood said.

“To say our sector has faced some challenges in recent years is an understatement. But in keeping with their resilient nature, they traversed every challenge with the resourcefulness they are renowned for.

“Off the back of a pandemic and many unknowns, once again it is understandable that the number of nominations in some of our categories have been impacted. But our judges have deemed those listed as worthy of finalist positions and we congratulate all of them and look forward to announcing the winners at our night of nights on May 20,” he said.

“We are now working hard to put the final touches on the Gala Dinner where RIN has secured ANZ chief economist Richard Yetsenga as the keynote speaker for this wonderful night of celebration. Richard will be joined by entertainer, performer, and voice of “Siri” Karen Jacobsen as our emcee.

“We invite the resources community to join us for this special evening where we firmly place the region’s resource services sector in the spotlight,” Mr Kirkwood said.

“This year we are fortunate to welcome Metarock as our major partner and Mackay Regional Council as our silver partner, and we thank them for their valuable contributions.”

2022 RIN AWARDS GALA DINNER AWARDS NIGHT

Friday, May 20

WHERE: Mackay Entertainment and Convention Centre

TIME: 6:00pm

TICKETS: Individual Members: $180 | Individual Non-members: $230 Member Table of 10: $1700 | Non-member Table of 10: $2200

REGISTRATIONS: www.rin.org.au/events

Jason Holt from Field Mining Services celebrates winning the Connecting in the Community category award in 2021  

Keynote speaker Richard Yetsenga – chief economist at ANZ  

Voice of “Siri” and RIN Awards emcee Karen Jacobsen

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Breaking The Abuse Cycle With Counselling

May 6, 2022

The road to recovery for domestic abuse survivors can be a long and painful one. Overcoming fear, a sense of betrayal and learning how to build self-esteem are steps towards healing, but without professional help, this journey can be difficult.

Broken Ballerina has helped many women and children escape from domestic violence, now the not-for-profit organisation is taking a further step to help survivors recover from the mental trauma with the goal of breaking the cycle.

Jules Thompson, Director of Broken Ballerina, said that helping women identify red flags in a relationship was key to breaking the cycle of abuse.

“I was born into domestic violence and I then married two abusers. So many times I would repeat the cycle.

“Thanks to Ibis Mackay and the Accor Group, we have received a $15,000 grant to pay for Broken Ballerina’s first counsellor.

“We can offer personalised trauma counselling for eight of our clients to help them to rebuild their self-worth and self-respect.”

General Manager of Ibis Mackay Adriette Meyer said the grant was possible through Accor’s Live Limitless Crisis Fund which was created to help people financially impacted during the COVID-19 health crisis.

“In 2022 they expanded that program to vulnerable people in the community, and in Australia we use that to support victims of domestic violence,” Ms Meyer added.

“Broken Ballerina was our chosen charity to provide the $15K to help them provide these counselling services.

“They provide an excellent service in Mackay that’s personal. It’s not just calling a helpline, Jules is there in the courtroom, she’s there to provide that personal service when they need it the most.”

Ms Thompson said the counselling is an intensive six-week program involving two-hour sessions with work to take home.

“It’s not a case of ‘come back and see us in a fortnight or a month’, it’s ongoing,” Ms Thompson said.

“We’re hoping to continue to receive support financially so we can continue this program for those who may still need treatment and new women who need this support.”

The counselling will be provided by Breakthrough Counselling and Support Services. Director Rebecca Snell said the goal of the counselling was to ensure these survivors had the opportunity to rebuild their lives.

“We want them to be able to create the best life possible and not fall back into those same habits to stop the cycle of domestic violence for them and their family,” Ms Snell said.

“The counselling will explore mechanisms that are hindering them and we help them replace those with beneficial ones.

“We also get them relationship ready so they can recognise healthy relationships and create healthy boundaries for themselves. It’s not just helping them in their lives but creating an impact for their children and the community. The bigger picture is that for generations to come there will be a better quality of life.”

Ms Snell said that when someone is a victim of abuse, it can limit their capability to think in a healthy way.

“Some are victims of generational abuse where generation after generation before them suffered violence. In their minds they don’t know what the first step of having a healthy relationship is,” she said.

A key part of the program is for the counsellor to visit the survivor at home.

“Some may be young mothers, they may not have a driver's license, they aren’t in a great position sometimes. We want to be able to go to them where it’s comfortable.

“Some of these women have a lot of trauma where even just going among the general public is debilitating for them with anxiety. We can help them in a safe space.”

Rebecca Snell, Jules Thompson and Adriette Meyer at the Ibis Hotel Mackay to celebrate a $15K grant to Broken Ballerina thanks to the Accor Group. Photos: Amanda Wright

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Woman Charged With Manslaughter After Alleged Teenage Overdose

May 6, 2022

A 36-year-old woman has been charged with manslaughter following an investigation into the death of a 15-year-old boy at North Mackay last year.

Police were initially called to a Malcomson Street address on September 30 after the 15-year-old was found unresponsive inside the premises.

He was subsequently transported to Mackay Base Hospital, where he passed away on October 1.

Five other children found at the property were also transported to Mackay Base Hospital for treatment.

Operation Tango Themisto was established as a result where detectives from Mackay Child Protection and Investigation Unit allege the 36-year-old woman and sole adult at the property, had provided large quantities of a strong prescription medication to the six children, leading to the 15-year-old’s death.

Last week, the woman was located in Brisbane City and charged with one count each of manslaughter and grievous bodily harm, and two counts each of negligent acts causing harm and supply medicines or hazardous poisons.

She appeared in the Brisbane Magistrates Court on April 28.

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Tourism CEO Drawn To Bright Lights In Brisbane

May 6, 2022

After six years of overseeing the region’s tourism growth, Mackay Isaac Tourism Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Tas Webber has announced his resignation from the organisation.

Mackay Isaac Tourism acting chair, Cr Justin Englert, said while the Board is sad to see Mr Webber go, they readily understand his desire to further his career and have accepted his resignation.

“Tas has been a fierce advocate for tourism in the Mackay Isaac region for many years and has implemented a number of initiatives to make the region stronger,” Cr Englert said.

“Tas has been offered an exciting new position in Brisbane and he leaves with the Board’s blessing.”

Cr Englert said organisational renewal is common after six years and although Mr Webber’s drive and passion will be missed, it is a great opportunity for Mackay Isaac Tourism to refresh.

“New ideas, new approaches and new thinking are a critical element of strong organisations, and we will take this opportunity to look forward to the next phase of the region’s tourism growth under a new CEO,” Cr Englert said.

Mr Webber said he is sad to leave the region he loves but he is satisfied with many of his achievements.

“Prior to the pandemic, the Mackay region recorded 13 consecutive quarters of visitation growth,” Mr Webber said.

“One of our most recent achievements was the formal partnership with the Isaac Regional Council which led to the renaming of our organisation to Mackay Isaac Tourism. I also think the building of relationships with Keswick Island has been extremely significant and there is more in this space to come,” Mr Webber said.

Cr Englert said recruitment for a new CEO will commence immediately, with an interim executive officer expected to be announced soon.

Mackay Isaac Tourism Chief Executive Officer Tas Webber

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Front Row Seats To The Game

May 6, 2022

There was a Mackay debut for the North Queensland Cowboys last month, but not where most would suspect.

Former Mackay North State High School student, Caitlin Lauga made her first appearance for the Cowboys Cheer Squad in their game against the Titans.

The Cowboys blazed to an easy 30-4 victory in that late April fixture, and it's impossible to know whether Caitlin’s debut in the Cheer Squad was the difference maker on the day.

Now Studying Secondary Teaching HPE and English at James Cook University in Townsville, the Mackay born professional dancer has quickly cemented herself in the cheer line-up.

A part of the Cheer Team and Dance Troup all of high school, Caitlin has been a dancer from the age of seven, and with her move up to the tropical north is fulfilling a childhood dream.

When she arrived in Townsville to study at JCU, a call was put out by the Cowboys seeking prospective cheerleaders, and Caitlin jumped at the opportunity.

With a certificate in dance as well, Caitlin was the perfect candidate, and three weeks later she was making her debut in front of the home crowd.

“I loved it. I had my dad and his friend come and watch, it was so great,” Caitlin said.

“Sitting on the field as well, the atmosphere is amazing and it feels good to perform, to watch the game and support the boys as well.”

The now Townsville resident joked about her rugby league allegiances.

“I actually was raised a Roosters supporter and my brother and dad are Broncos’ supporters,” Caitlin laughed.

“But, if the Cowboys are playing I’ll still support them.”

Her mum was eagerly watching away on television down in Brisbane and said she caught a snippet of Caitlin.

“They didn’t show much of us, but mum got a little glimpse of me and recorded it,” Caitlin laughed.

There are 18 cheerleaders in the Cowboys Cheer Squad, and Caitlin is extremely proud to be amongst their ranks performing in the pre-game cheers as well as the guard which ushers in the players.

“I didn’t think it was going to be possible to get in,” she said.

“I just want people to know that they shouldn’t be afraid to put themselves out there. It feels really good to be a part of this and to achieve this goal.”

Her next performance will be at the home game on May 21.

Mackay’s Caitlin Lauga is the newest cheerleader in the North Queensland Cowboys Cheer Squad

Caitlin with some of the group of 18 cheerleaders in the Cheer Squad

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New Opportunities Await At Jobs Fair

April 29, 2022

Are you interested in a new career?

The Mackay Jobs Fair will provide people looking for work with the chance to explore current job opportunities and connect job seekers with employers and employment service providers in the region.

All employers exhibiting at the Jobs Fair have job vacancies that they are looking to fill. The Mackay Fair is an opportunity for you to meet with employers and talk to them about real and current jobs, apprenticeships and training and career options in Mackay and the surrounding region.  

Not only are there jobs on offer, but there are also services available to help you find your next job. Take part in workshops for information and advice to improve your chances of getting a job or talk to a professional for résumé assistance, interview tips and job search techniques.

If you are struggling to find work, you can speak to local employment support services who can help you develop skills and confidence to increase your ability to gain employment faster.

To find out who is exhibiting at the Mackay Jobs Fair and to find out how to make your visit a success, go to dese.gov.au/MackayJF.

This event will follow the Queensland Government’s COVID Safe Event protocol. All attendees are required to be double vaccinated for COVID-19 and must be prepared to show vaccination status upon entry.

Event details

Date: Friday 29 April 2022

Timing: 10:00 am to 2:30 pm AEST

Location: Mackay Entertainment & Convention Centre (MECC), 258 Alfred Street, Mackay, QLD, 4740

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Diggers Remembered In The Coalfields

April 29, 2022

Isaac’s premier art space will transform into a private collection of historical military memorabilia as a moving tribute to Australian and New Zealand service personal.

Moranbah’s Coalface Art Gallery will give visitors a chance to uncover stories of the sacrifices made during Australia’s military conflicts and peacekeeping operations.

The Anzac Day 2022 exhibition is an eclectic mix of memorabilia collected by local military history buff Dave Law.

The exhibition features items relating to the service of Australians and New Zealanders in military conflicts from World War I to more recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan and peacekeeping operations in the Middle East and East Timor.

Isaac Regional Council Mayor Anne Baker said Mr Law’s collection is a credit to his passion and tribute to the sacrifices of Australian and New Zealand service personal made for their respective nation’s way of life.

“The exhibition is an incredible way to intimately understand how important it is to preserve our military history and share it with all ages – especially the younger generation,” Mayor Baker said.

Mr Law has visited many famous battle sites over the years including Gallipoli, Fromelles, Passchendaele, Pozieres, and Villers-Bretonneux.

“In 2016 I went to Vietnam with a number of the 6RAR Delta Company Veterans for the 50th Anniversary of the Battle of Long Tan,” Mr Law said.

“It is a great honour to walk in the footsteps of our forefathers and pay one’s respects to the many that have fallen for the freedoms and way of life we know today.

“This exhibition pays tribute to all men and women who have served in our defence forces.  We must never forget the sacrifices of the few for us all.”

Dave Law and Andrew Tomlinson from the Moranbah RSL Sub-Branch curated the exhibition, with support from ESS Support Services Worldwide and BMA Infrastructure and Asset Management.

Anzac Day 2022 will run from Tuesday, 19 April 2022 to Friday, 20 May 2022 at the Coalface Art Gallery, Monday to Friday between 8.30am to 5pm.

The exhibition will also be open for an hour following each of the dawn and morning services in Moranbah on Monday 25 April 2022.

Military memorabilia is on display at Moranbah’s Coalface Art Gallery. Image supplied Isaac Regional Council

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Northview Park Upgrades Complete

April 29, 2022

It’s a slam dunk!

The new full-sized basketball court at Northview Park is now open.

Located on Schapers Road, Glenella, the newly upgraded Northview Park is sure to be a favourite amongst Mackay families.

Mayor Greg Williamson said Northview Park was one of the region’s most popular parks and playgrounds.

“The installation of the new basketball court means there is now something for both older and younger age groups to enjoy,” he said.

This project was jointly funded by the Australian Government and Mackay Regional Council.

Australian Government funding of $305,000 was provided through the Local Roads and Community Infrastructure Program. This program supports local councils to deliver priority local road and community infrastructure projects across Australia.

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CANDIDATE DEBATE

April 29, 2022

This week, the Mackay Chamber of Commerce held a candidate’s debate, and I wanted to cover a few key points on what’s important for our region, for the benefit of those who could not attend.

One key area of focus was, understandably, the economy.

We strengthen our economy by investing in the things that create jobs and provide more work for our local businesses. The big focus in the recent Budget was on investing in our regions with $1.7 billion for our region – Central and North Queensland – alone.

I’m excited about building dams like Urannah and we’ve committed half a billion dollars to that. Further north we’re also investing in Hells Gate Dam to the tune of $5.4 billion.

As I like to say, when you add water, everything grows – not just the high value agricultural products but all our other businesses grow from the flow-on effects - our cafes, accommodation houses, small businesses and manufacturers. Building Urannah Dam will have an amazing effect on our region and provide jobs for generations to come.

Many people are concerned about debt and rightly so. But when we were hit with the uncertainty of the global pandemic which forced the world to stop and lock away in our houses for months, the Liberal Nationals Government stepped up to save livelihoods.

Our pandemic support went out to 4,300 businesses in the Dawson electorate, and 17,900 people in Mackay, the Whitsundays, Bowen, the Burdekin and the southern suburbs of Townsville, who would have lost their jobs, got the JobKeeper payment to keep them connected to their place of work.

While some people will just see debt, I see that as an investment in the future. It was also so important for people to have that job security for the sake of their mental health.

There’s a lot of other support for our businesses in the form of tax incentives as well.

We’re continuing the popular Instant Asset Write-off. Businesses invest in eligible assets and they can write-off the full value on their tax. This measure stands to assist the 17,900 businesses we have in Dawson and I know many have already taken advantage of this.

There’s also a new 20 per cent bonus deduction for training and upskilling workers, and a digital technology boost of a 20 per cent deduction on expenses such as computers, accounting software, and cyber security.

When it comes to the household economy you can look forward to extended tax relief. There are two components – a $1,080 low and middle income offset and a $420 cost of living tax offset. Who benefits from that? Well in Dawson there are close to 67,000 people who will be eligible for tax relief of up to $1,500.

Strengthening and growing our economy is the foundation from which all else flows. We can only continue to invest in community facilities, roads, health and education if we get the dollars into the coffers.

Our region plays a huge role in doing that through our strong resources sector, with coal exports tipped to bring in $110 billion this year. Coal is only the second export commodity to hit over the $100 billion mark, the other being iron ore.

Let me finish on a sobering thought.

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Deputy PM Talks Roads, Veterans In Mackay

April 29, 2022

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Barnaby Joyce was in Mackay last Tuesday to speak on several issues in the lead up to the May 21 election.

Mr Joyce’s first stop was Mackay Ring Road where he announced the Federal Government’s $33 billion commitment to road safety over the next four years.

The package includes $65.3 million for a new Heavy Vehicle Rest Areas Program to provide more vehicle rest areas on regional and rural roads, and to improve already existing heavy vehicle rest areas.

Announced in the 2022-23 budget, $180.1 million will be pledged to a Regional Australia Level Crossing Safety Program to improve safety at level crossings across Australia.

Funding has also been extended for three road safety programs, including $12 million for the Road Safety Innovation Fund, $10 million for Driver Reviver Site Upgrades and $4 million for Road Safety Awareness and Enablers Fund.

Speaking in Mackay, Mr Joyce said the Government was increasing its focus on making Australia’s roads safer.

“We must do everything we can to reduce deaths on our roads and spare families from the immeasurable impact these tragedies have,” he said.

“Roads are the critical arteries of our nation, not only supporting the movement of people but facilitating the flow of goods and commodities from regional businesses to supermarkets and ports.”

Assistant Minister for Road Safety and Freight Transport Scott Buchholz said the program will benefit heavy vehicle drivers and the broader community by helping tackle fatigue and reducing the risk of crashes and high-risk behaviour.

“The new Heavy Vehicle Rest Area program builds on existing programs of investment to ensure the viability, safety, sustainability and efficiency of Australia’s road transport sector,” he said.

Later in the day, Mr Joyce met with Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and Defence Personnel Andrew Gee, Federal Member for Capricornia Michelle Landry, and LNP candidate for Dawson Andrew Willcox to announce a $5 million contribution toward wellness facilities in the Mackay region to benefit veterans, Defence personnel and their families.

Veteran Wellbeing Centres provide a space to better help connect veterans to extensive support and advocacy services which Mr Joyce says is critical.

“Australians would not have our way of life if it were not for past and present members of our Defence Force and their families,” he said.

“We must ensure they are supported.”

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and Defence Personnel Andrew Gee said the $5 million in funding would be a welcome boost for veterans in the area.

“It’s part of our national approach to delivering integrated support services to veterans and their families by working with local organisations and the local defence and veteran community,” he said.

“Those on the ground know best what the community needs, and these centres are all about providing local solutions to local veteran issues.”

Federal Member for Capricornia Michelle Landry says we must always look after the men and women of our Defence forces and their families.

“Veteran wellness facilities are a vital hub for accessing health, education and employment support, and a place for our veterans and their families to connect with their mates,” she said.

“Today’s announcement will be fundamental in ensuring that local veterans can access a range of services right here in the Mackay region to help with their transition to civilian life.”

LNP candidate for Dawson Andrew Willcox says there are two projects in the Mackay region which could be supported.

“I am thrilled to see funding of up to $5 million which could be utilised to progress both the social and wellness centre proposed by Mackay RSL, and the PTSD Frontline proposal for a veterans hub at Kinchant Dam,” he said.

“These are great projects and I am keen to work with both proponents to ensure the maximum benefit for our veterans and their families.”

There will be a process in coming months to determine how funding will be allocated to achieve the best outcome for veterans in the Mackay region.

L-R Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Barnaby Joyce, LNP candidate for Dawson Andrew Willcox, Federal Member for Capricornia Michelle Landry, and Assistant Minister for Road Safety and Freight Transport Scott Buchholz

L-R Andrew Willcox, Barnaby Joyce, RSL Mackay President Ken Higgins, and Michelle Landry with members of the RSL Mackay Subbranch. Photo: supplied

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Harnessing Community Spirit For Beach Horse Race’s Triumphant Return

April 29, 2022

Adrenaline pumping, crowds cheering, and the sound of thundering hooves on wet sand. You can already feel the surge of energy that’ll hit Mackay Harbour Beach this June when the city welcomes back one of its most highly anticipated and fun-loving spectacles: the Mackay Beach Horse Races.

Taking place on a long stretch of golden sand against a glistening Coral Sea backdrop, retired thoroughbreds, stock horses, quarter horses and mixed breeds alike will delight patrons as they battle it out for the coveted title, while a host of new sights, sounds, tastes and experiences are guaranteed to entertain and enamour all who participate.

As one of the region’s most highly anticipated and fun-loving events trots back into town, the Mackay Beach Horse Races has announced it will be shining a spotlight on the local community in 2022, with the addition of major sponsors from the region, fresh new beachside events, Aussie talent and local artisans taking centre stage in a major bid to highlight the Mackay community.

**Breakout box – can go anywhere

MAJOR PARTNERS, LOCAL BUSINESSES, AUSTRALIAN ARTISTS, BEACHSIDE PARTIES & FASHION SHOWS COME TOGETHER FOR THE RETURN OF MACKAY’S FAVOURITE COMMUNITY EVENT THIS 10-12 JUNE.

Event organisers previously announced a key partnership deal, with Mackay Airport signing on as Major Presenting Partner for the iconic, one-of-a-kind event, ensuring punters from across Australia - and the world - have stress free access to one of the country’s most beautiful beachfront locations.

Mackay Mayor Greg Williamson said the Beach Horse Races, founded by the late Mick Pope, really was an “event like no other”. He said the event turned a national and even international spotlight on the Mackay region and would be a drawcard for visitors.

“The Mackay community loves this event, and everyone has been patiently awaiting its return,” he said.

“The event has something for everyone and our region is ready to welcome it back to our social calendar.”

Garry Porter, North Queensland Airports Chief Operations Officer said, “Mackay Airport is pleased to be a major presenting partner of the Mackay Beach Horse Races for 2022.

“Major events are key drivers of visitation to regional Australia and having an iconic event like this back on the Mackay events calendar will certainly boost visitor numbers and support the local economy.”

The Mackay Beach Horse Races will also welcome the region's most beloved boutique restaurant to the family.

The Dispensary is managing the VIP Deck (located on the finish line) and doing what they do best – exceptional food, beverages and service.

“This is the first year The Dispensary has been involved in the Mackay Beach Races with the desire to create an event that no one other than The Dispensary can deliver!” said The Dispensary’s Operations Manager Adrian Connors.

Mackay Surf Club offers a further VIP option for racegoers, pairing great views of the starting line with an extensive array of share platters, including hot and cold seafood options.

The community spirit continues with fashion shows set to highlight local designers and talent, pop-up food vendors offering local food options for all budgets and of course - the beach races!

ARTIST ANNOUNCEMENT

Australian artists from around the country will also descend upon Mackay for a series of live music events where local DJs will perform alongside major names from the Australian dance scene in a brand new pop-up Beach Club venue.

Australian producer, DJ, and vocalist Stace Cadet who has made a name for himself by creating music that promotes a joyous, euphoric experience will headline the new pop-up event, following on from the success of his massive hit single ‘Energy’, which blew audiences away and charted 21 in triple j’s Hottest 100.

Whether it be festivals like Beyond The Valley, sidebyside, or some of the most infamous disco dens around Australia, Mell Hall has got your dance-floor covered, and this June, she’ll be taking control of the beach side city, too!

Mackay will also welcome Kiwi Born, Melbourne based producer/DJ royalty Jolyon Petch! Having spent the past few years dominating the ARIA club charts and finding support in artists like Don Diablo, Diplo, Afrojack and more, the club mainstayer is set to dominate the beachfront party.

Melbourne based producer and ARIA nominee SGT Slick will also land in Mackay after spending several years in the USA which included high profile gigs and residencies from Los Angeles to New York City, Las Vegas to San Francisco, Boston to Atlantic City and beyond.

Six piece Little Steely Brothers will also be paying tribute to the classic hits of LRB, Steely Dan, Doobie Bros and Eagles, as well as iconic tracks from Boz Scaggs, Jackson Browne, Mister Mister, Toto, Jimmy Buffett, Huey Lewis, Pablo Cruz, Oingo Boingo, America, Beach Boys, and many more with their live show ‘Sounds of the West Coast’.

Considered regional Queensland’s cheeky, coastal answer to the Melbourne Cup, where sand replaces turf and you’re as likely to see a Hawaiian shirt as a ball gown, formalities and pretensions will be left at the gate as the region gets ready to revel among pristine beach scenery from Friday, 10 to Sunday, 12 June.

Horse and rider nominations are now open via the event website (mackaybeachhorseraces.com.au), where expressions of interest can also be made by volunteers keen to enjoy the seaside mayhem, vendors seeking prime on-site activation real estate, and sponsors looking to align with an iconic regional event or snap up corporate boxes.

Ticketing packages designed to suit all budgets, appetites and vibes have officially been released with offerings ranging from premium dining and viewing experiences within the Mackay Surf Club and The Dispensary VIP Deck venues, to down-in-the-sand, Euro-style Beach Club celebrations. General Admission options are also available.

For more information, head to mackaybeachhorseraces.com.au

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Northview Park Upgrades Complete

April 29, 2022

It's a slam dunk!

The new full-sized basketball court at Northview Park is now open.

Located on Schapers Road, Glenella, the newly upgraded Northview Park is sure to be a favourite amongst Mackay families.

Mayor Greg Williamson said Northview Park was one of the region’s most popular parks and playgrounds.

“The installation of the new basketball court means there is now something for both older and younger age groups to enjoy,” he said.

This project was jointly funded by the Australian Government and Mackay Regional Council.

Australian Government funding of $305,000 was provided through the Local Roads and Community Infrastructure Program. This program supports local councils to deliver priority local road and community infrastructure projects across Australia.

Works at Northview Park in Glenella are now complete

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Harrup Park Announces Next Stage Of Barrier Reef Arena Development

April 29, 2022

Stage two of The Great Barrier Reef Arena (GBRA) Development has been announced, with the expansion looking to accommodate a broader range of multi-use facilities.

The new Community Sports and Training Facility will focus on women’s sport, indoor courts, regional programs, and an all-abilities training centre, providing facilities for everyone from local juniors to professional touring athletes.

Two of Australia’s most talented athletes were announced as GBRA’s inaugural ambassadors in Beth Mooney hot off Australia’s 2022 ICC Cricket World Cup win and local legend and Gold Coast Suns AFLW star, Lauren Bella.

Leaders of Mackay Netball, AFL, Cricket, Hockey, Queensland’s Sporting Wheelies Association, and other community organisations also attended to show their support of the development.

“Together with stage one, (stage 2) will cement Mackay as a premier regional Queensland location for multiple sports including cricket, AFL, netball, numerous disability sports, and grow our regional sporting economy,” said Harrup Park General Manager Adrian Young.

Harrup Park and Mackay Cricket Association Chairman Terry Doolan says stage two will directly complement and expand upon the opportunities provided by December’s completion of stage one.

“Together with hosting great events, we have an even stronger focus on participation, education, and skills development,” Mr Doolan said.

“Our growing regional population and central Queensland location sees Mackay ideally placed to become a vital regional centre for community sport, education, and training from grassroots to elite level for people of all abilities.

“With its large-scale multipurpose precinct and connection with a diverse range of popular sports, GBRA provides a perfect base for competition, camps, clinics, carnivals, education, and training.”

Before Beth Mooney and the Australian Cricket Team won The Ashes and the 2022 ICC Cricket World Cup, they played a three-match ODI series against India at GBRA in September last year, which Ms Mooney says was one of the best crowds she’s played in front of.

“The whole team was pumped that we were coming up here,” she said.

“Mackay was really important to impact that generation of people we perhaps might not have reached in the last couple of years.

“The thing that excites me about this project is the community feel of stage two.

“It’s just a really exciting time for this region and something I’m so happy to be supporting.”

Mackay local Lauren Bella thrilled crowds at Great Barrier Reef Arena earlier in the year with her outstanding capacity in the ruck and around the ground for the Gold Coast Suns and says she loves returning to Mackay to inspire the next generation.

“I started when I was 11 and now going back to my junior club, you can see how much Harrup Park and GBRA have progressed, it’s been amazing,” she said.

Sporting Wheelies CEO Amanda Mather says the new GBRA Facility will be a perfect location to inspire the next generation of Paralympians.

“There’s so many opportunities to bring more of our great parasports into this region,” she said.

Mackay Regional Council Mayor Greg Williamson says he is proud that Harrup Park’s development is locally driven to benefit locals.

“I’ve seen, over the past decade, the passion and the drive that has taken what was a normal community cricket ground into what we are seeing developed today,” he said.

“We are seeing the best facilities coming to our town here at Harrup Park.”

The new Community Sports and Training Facility will include high ball courts and spectator seating, a gym, indoor training facilities, accommodation for regional sporting program participants, administration offices, and fully accessible indoor training facilities and construction is estimated to cost approximately $15-20 million.

L-R Harrup Park General Manager Adrian Young, Great Barrier Reef Arena Arena and Facilities Manager John Stock, Australian Cricketer Beth Mooney, Mackay Netball Association President Lyn Law, Mackay Netball Association chairman Allison Bugeja, Gold Coast Suns player Lauren Bella, Sporting Wheelies CEO Amanda Mather, Labor Candidate for Dawson Shane Hamilton, Mackay Regional Council Mayor Greg Williamson, and Harrup Park and Mackay Cricket Association Chairman Terry Doolan. Photo: Sam Gillespie

Great Barrier Reef Arena’s Stage 2 development will complement current developments and include indoor courts, accommodation, all-abilities facilities, and more. Images: supplied

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Culture And Colour Coming To 9th Lane

April 29, 2022

A new mural has been funded through the Mackay Regional Council AMP grant to breathe fresh life into a dull part of the CBD, adding to the city’s colourful laneway culture.

The location of the new artwork will be in the 9th Lane at the back of the 9th Lane Coffee Shop (Ninth Lane Grind).

Unfortunately, this project had been held up due to covid restrictions over the past year, so the project coordinator Jodie Connolly is excited that it has started to take shape this week.

The artist who is currently in Mackay, is a well-established muralist and place maker from regional NSW and goes by the street art name of “Happy Decay” (Bjarni Wark).

Jodie and Bjarni have been planning this mural since June last year and are looking forward to bringing some colour into a new area of the CBD.

“Off the back of winning a GOLD award for the ‘Best Australian Laneway’, at the Australian Street Art Awards 2022, we are delighted to be activating another space that can be enjoyed by the public,” Ms Connolly said.

“The work will be themed around the reef and the wonderfully coloured creatures that live in the ecosystem. The work is going to be extremely bright and serve as a reminder that we live in a beautiful area with incredible natural beauty that we need to look after.

“While there will be no formal community engagement for this while Bjarni is here, the public are welcome to pop into the CBD and the 9th Lane, grab something to eat or drink, do some shopping and visit the artists while they are working.”

To find out more about what is going on, please visit the Mackay Laneway Project on Facebook.

Bjarni Wark is Happy Decay

A mural pathway created by Happy Decay in Sydney. Images supplied: Happy Decay

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HSC Welcomes All!

April 22, 2022

Holy Spirit College, a Catholic co-educational College for Years 7 to 12, welcomes you to their Year 7 in 2023 Information Evening next Thursday 28 April, 5:30pm – 7:30pm. As you learn about the College, there will be family fun activities and a free sausage sizzle.

After 25 years in the Mackay community, Holy Spirit College continues to welcome all types of learners as they are nurtured and given every opportunity to develop their God-given gifts. Skilled and professional staff offer a quality education and extra-curricular opportunities in the areas of sport, culture, service, STEM and academic development.

Mrs Alison Wales, Principal, said “The College strives to achieve a sense of positive community for all, laying the foundation for a successful and fulfilling future for students. Year 7 students are welcomed into Holy Spirit College with experiences designed to make their transition into high school a positive, supportive and enjoyable occasion.”

Students are based in the Year 7 Hub which features a central courtyard and flexible learning, gathering and performance areas. Each room is fully equipped with a digital device for each student. This dedicated Year 7 Precinct also provides students with their home-base and sense of security that will then support them to expand their horizons as they move out and across the campus to participate in the full range of learning opportunities available at HSC.

Our Year 7 Transition Program is designed to provide a breadth of curriculum experience across all Learning Areas, while supporting students to make the change to secondary learning. A Core Teacher, who has pastoral as well as academic oversight of each class, provides support to students and their families. All students study a Core of subjects for the whole year with Rotational term subjects drawn from The Arts, Technologies, Language and Business Learning Areas.

Years 7 and 8 students at Holy Spirit College (HSC), are mentored by Year 12 students through the Adopt-A-Class program. Every week, during their morning Pastoral Care Group class, HSC’s youngest students are guided by Senior students through positive interactions like games and Q&A sessions. This program allows our Years 7 and 8 students to develop appropriate and supportive connections with our Senior students who look out for them and quickly become role models – inspiring them to find their own unique path into young adulthood.

The Year 7 Welcome BBQ is an annual event held for all Year 7 students and their families at the Bluewater Lagoon. This event is an opportunity for parents to meet other parents and teachers of Year 7 and provide an opportunity for students to bond and get to know other students who have joined us from other schools and locations, allowing them to establish a wider circle of friends.

As part of the Holy Spirit College Year 7 Pastoral Care program, students take part in a Team Building Day at Seaforth Pines Outdoor Education Centre and a Pastoral Care Activity Day at Holy Spirit College. The students will participate in a range of team building and leadership activities and a series of physical activities to develop bonding and team spirit among the Year 7 Pastoral Care Groups. Students will also develop group cooperation, trust, communication skills and problem solving skills.

For more information, contact: Natasha McCallum, Media & Communications Officer, Holy Spirit College, Ph: 07 4994 8600 Email: media@hsc.qld.edu.au

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Walk ‘Lifts The Lid’ On Mental Illness

April 22, 2022

Walk a long way – or just a little – every step counts for Rotary Mackay Corporate’s Lift the Lid Walk on Sunday April 24 in Mackay.

The walk funds research, through Australian Rotary Health, which delivers the knowledge and tools for local mental health organisations to use on the ground in Mackay.

Event organiser, Brendan Hughes, said the morning’s walk was not about distance but taking part and making a positive step toward better mental health outcomes.

“The course goes from Bluewater Quay to a turning point near the harbour on Harbour Road. But you can turn around any time you want,” he said.

“For those who reach the top of the course, there is a coffee voucher reward, which provides a bit of incentive for those able to walk the full distance.”

Check-ins and late registrations on the day start from 7am with the walk commencing at 9am.

Local mental health organisations will be at the Bluewater Quay start-finish point where participants can catch up for a chat about issues for themselves, friends or family before and after the walk.

“We have made great progress towards removing the stigma around mental health in recent years,” Mr Hughes said.

“This walk brings mental health into the open, starts conversations, and also raises money for that vital research.

“When we gain a better understanding of mental health, we can create better ways of dealing with mental health at the local level.

“We are very blessed to have such strong mental health organisations in Mackay who do a great job with awareness and advocacy.

“What we can achieve with this walk is help those organisations be even more effective in their work.”

Mr Hughes encouraged locals to register on the website – www.liftthelidwalk.com.au/mackay and make a family day of it.

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Shane column Regional Manufacturing

April 22, 2022

Let’s talk Aussie made and Aussie manufacturing. The iconic logo of the green and gold kangaroo is a choice we as consumers make time and time again; supporting locals, supporting jobs and supporting industry. Australians take pride in our work, and we recognise Australian Made as a quality product.

Throughout my career I have unfortunately seen firsthand the decline in Australian Made. As a boilermaker, I used to fabricate dragline tubs and revolving frames in a workshop right here in Mackay. Nowadays these items are fabricated in South Korea or China, often to a lower quality, then shipped over here. This is just one example of the many products we now buy back once the value adding has been completed by other countries and their workers.  

I get there may be some who point to high wages as the cause for driving manufacturing offshore. However, my vision for Australian manufacturing is to compete with Germany who are known for their high tech, high quality and highly engineered products. Australia has this same opportunity. We have some of the best technology, engineers and tradespeople in the world and match this with targeted marketing; we will not only be competitive but market leading. The Paget industrial area is proof of this with the private sector already taking up many opportunities, imagine how many more there would be if we had government assistance.    

The facts around manufacturing are staggering. How is it possible that we are ranked dead last in the OECD when it comes to manufacturing, but we are resource rich in people, minerals and energy?  Australian resources and energy exports were forecasted to reach a record $425 billion in 21/22. So essentially, we are the world’s quarry. We send our resources overseas to be processed and then we buy them back as products; products that we could be making here.

The pandemic exposed Australia’s dependency on the global supply chain. We were waiting on products, vital products such as medical supplies, that could have been made on Australian soil. In true Aussie spirt, our existing industries stepped up and adapted to meet this market demand with distilleries making hand sanitizer and fashion labels making PPE.  If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that Australian Made should be at the forefront of this election.

Labor is prioritising manufacturing this election. We want to make things locally again and create good, secure jobs along the way. Labor will invest $15 billion in a national reconstruction fund. This will drive investment into new industries and technologies. I personally believe Dawson could be an energy superhub. We already have a well-established coal sector but there is much more we can be doing. Our cane farmers have big plans for biofuels, bioplastics and laminated building products. Bowen could also be a massive hydrogen producer, exporter and power generator. All this backed by the industrial might of Mackay will mean more jobs in more industries.

We have a real opportunity here to bring back manufacturing, bring back Aussie Made and develop new industries along the way.

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A 70 Year Marriage Milestone

April 22, 2022

Sarina couple Les and Del Smith started something big when they married 70 years ago.

Their marriage has produced an astonishing 43 direct descendants in a five-generation family, including four children, 15 grandchildren, 22 great-grandchildren and two great-great grandchildren, so their platinum anniversary this weekend on April 24 will be a big occasion.

It could have been more, but Del called a halt after the birth of her four children – Lynette Nicholas of Toowoomba, Debbie Fay of Sarina, Robyn Metcalf of Bundaberg and Jon Smith of Brisbane – each born at separate locations as the couple moved north on transfers with the railways towards their ultimate destination of Sarina.

“Every time I moved I got pregnant,” Del said.

“We moved four times, every time I moved I got pregnant. We got to Sarina and I said I’m not moving anymore.”

Lynette, the eldest, was born at Maryborough. She has seven children and 10 grandchildren.

Debbie was born at Mackay and has two children, five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren; Robyn was born at St Lawrence and has four boys and four grandchildren; and Jon was born at Sarina and has two children and three grandchildren.

Les and Del’s adored great-great grandchildren are Piper, 6, and Finn, 3, the children of Storm and Dan Sweeney of Mackay, and the ‘great-greats’ of Debbie.

Les and Del were married by the Rev Allan Kidd at the Methodist Manse, Pialba, on April 24, 1952. Del’s friend Irene Searle was her bridesmaid and a man with the famous name of John Kingsford Smith (Les’s brother) stood as best man.

The family cannot find any photos of the couple from the wedding, as Del says they didn’t have enough money for a photographer.

The couple are both from the Hervey Bay region and first met when Del was 14, at a dance at the Pialba Memorial Hall.

Del was born at Childers, where she lived with her mother Jean at Apple Tree Creek. Her first job was at a Childers chemist before the family moved to Hervey Bay where she worked at a pharmacy until the couple’s marriage.

Les was born at his family’s home at George St, Pialba, where he lived with his mother Martha until his marriage.

He worked for the railways for more than 50 years, starting on February 1, 1949, with job titles changing from load porter to station master to area coordinator as he was transferred north.

An avid golfer from the age of 25, he cut cane to supplement his railways pay to buy golf clubs. His best handicap was 3, he was a Sarina club president and won six club championships, his first in 1975.

Les was also a keen cricketer, footballer and tennis player.

Del is known for her community service to a range of groups.

One of her great achievements was raising money with friends Marca and Glad for the Sarina Aged Care Residence before it was built. They raised $10,000 which the government matched dollar for dollar.

She also helped Meals on Wheels, worked for the show society and school committees, assisted with   bingo, volunteered for hospital fetes to raise money for Sarina Hospital, and school sports days at Sarina primary and secondary schools.

She was a long-time tuck shop convenor at Sarina State High School which her children attended.

Her favourite relaxations are playing cards and mah jong  - and no doubt keeping track of her growing family.

“We’ve lived in Sarina for 63 years and we’re nearly locals,” Del said.

By Charlie Payne

Del and Les Smith look back on 70 years of marriage with love. Photo: Charlie Payne

Del Smith when she was 16. This photo was retouched with paint, a custom at the time.

Les Smith in his army gear at the age of 18, when he was serving National Service. Photos: Contributed

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New Corporate Plan And Blueprint for Region

April 22, 2022

Mackay Regional Council has adopted a new Corporate Plan that provides an exciting blueprint for the region over the next five years.

The Mayor and Councillors’ Corporate Plan 2022-2027 is a major overhaul of the previous plan and developed through consultation with senior leadership, staff, and the community.

Mayor Greg Williamson said councillors were excited about the new and invigorated blueprint that was adopted at last week’s ordinary meeting.

“It builds on the previous work of the council and sets an exciting and innovative strategic direction for the next five years,’’ Mayor Williamson said.

“The plan includes many of our key projects already under way, such as the Mackay Waterfront, Pioneer Valley Mountain Bike Trails and Northern Beaches Community Hub,’’ he said.

“But it is a living document, so that means other key projects can be added throughout the life of the Corporate Plan.

“We firmly believe that we are on the way to creating Australia’s best region to live in, to work in and to play in. This Corporate Plan will help guide that journey for the council for the next five years.”

The new Corporate Plan has three outward facing pillars, including:

● Invest and work

● Live and visit

● Community and environment.

It also has two inward facing pillars, including:

● Financial strength

● Operational excellence

Mayor Williamson said council’s new purpose was to: “Create opportunity to thrive”.

He said council’s vision was: “To become the best region for liveability and livelihood”.

“Outlined in our new Corporate Plan are key themes and projects for the next five years to deliver that purpose and vision.

“We have also adopted indicators to measure our success against the goals we have set.”

A new feature of the plan is a section at the back outlining what residents could do for their community.

“This information ranges from responsible pet ownership to recycling right,’’ Mayor Williamson said.

The full plan can be viewed at mackay.qld.gov.au/corporate

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George Jumps From LNP To One Nation

April 22, 2022

There’s been no retirement from politics for George Christensen.

Mere days after resigning from the LNP as the Federal Member for the seat of Dawson, One Nation leader Pauline Hanson announced that Mr Christensen will join her party on the senate ticket for Queensland.

Senator Hanson said Mr Christensen had been an outspoken defender of the rights and freedoms which underpin Australian democracy.

“George has been a strong advocate for the fundamental principles of Australian democracy which have been trampled by our governments during the COVID-19 pandemic, and a great representative for the people of Dawson,” she said.

“Standing for Australians’ rights and freedoms obviously has no place in the Liberal National Party, but it’s top priority for One Nation and I’m delighted to welcome George to our team.”

Senator Hanson and Mr Christensen will also be joined on the ticket by former Adani senior executive Raj Guruswamy. However, with Mr Christensen third on the ticket, political analysts have said it will be near impossible for him to be elected.

Labor Senator Murray Watt accused Senator Hanson of chasing a taxpayer-funded payday for Mr Christensen.

“If you’re wondering why George Christensen is running number 3 for Hanson it’s easy,” Senator Watt tweeted.

"If he boosts her vote, her party gets more public funding.

"So Christensen gets more money if he runs and loses. One Nation gets more money if Christensen boosts her vote. And you pay."

Senator Hanson said that One Nation’s membership has grown exponentially over the past two years and her party is fielding candidates for all 151 seats in the House of Representatives at this election.

“We will continue to put Australia and Australians first by advocating for immigration to be reduced to sustainable levels, ensuring foreign-owned multinationals operating in Australia pay their fair share of tax, and reforming Australia’s family law and child support systems.

“And we will demand a Royal Commission into the management of the pandemic by all Australian governments.”

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Water Recycling Plant Upgrade Future-ready

April 22, 2022

Council have completed major overhauls to one of the region’s main water recycling plants which services more than 63,000 residents.

In what was a coordinated effort of spring cleaning between both council and specialist contractors, the Mackay South Water Recycling Facility (MSWRF) underwent one of the biggest maintenance projects ever undertaken by council at a water treatment plant.

Council said the Bakers Creek facility is an integral part of the region.

Mayor Greg Williamson said after council took management of the facility back in 2019, investigations were undertaken to assess its condition and asset life.

“It was essential the facility was maintained in order to continue to provide the best outcome for our water recycling scheme and to future-proof it for the growing population of our region,” Mayor Williamson said.

The key assets at this facility are its four sequence batch reactors (SBRs), or processing tanks, which treat the wastewater.

These SBRs are aerated by racks of pipe-mounted diffusers that pump air into the water to assist with breaking down the pollutants.

“In order to ensure the highest quality water was being produced, the diffusers across the four batch reactors were replaced,” Mayor Williamson said.

“This was a process that took place over three months and with a huge team effort between contractors, council’s own maintenance operations teams and our environmental and laboratory staff.”

Each SBR, holding over one million litres of water each, had to be taken offline and emptied one at a time so that plant operations could be maintained with only reduced capacity.

Once emptied, the solid waste remaining in each tank had to be removed – over 100 tonnes from each tank – in a massive operation for council and MSWRF.

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OP ED. From Andrew Willcox, LNP Candidate for Dawson

April 22, 2022

As we are now in the heat of an election campaign you are being hit with a lot of information on issues which are really important to us all.

While we were raised to think ‘if it’s in print, it must be true’ that sadly is no longer the case.

Though I would prefer to dedicate space to positive announcements from your Liberal Nationals Government, I must correct the record on claims made by the Labor candidate for Dawson in this publication (08/04/22).

The 22,000 seniors living in this electorate deserve to know the truth.

The Labor candidate made the claim that the Government “has not acted on a single recommendation of the Royal Commission (into Aged Care).”

This is an outrageous lie, and just one of many peddled by Labor in this campaign.

Let’s start by noting it was this Government, the Liberal National Government, which called the Royal Commission into Aged Care, and this Government has been responding to recommendations since the interim report landed back in November 2019.

We have a five-point plan which responds to all recommendations from the Aged Care Royal Commission and to date we’ve made an investment of $18.3 billion into the sector.

This includes funding 40,000 additional home care packages, 34,000 additional training places, 7,000 new personal care workers and 8,400 respite places and these are being rolled out this year.

The March Budget also included $340 million to embed pharmacy services within residential aged care facilities to improve medication management for the elderly.

Another Labor lie directed at seniors which I’d like to address is downright disgusting and cruel.

Labor politicians across the country are peddling the story that this Government will be ‘forcing aged pensioners onto a cashless debit card’.

The Liberal National Government has never proposed or even discussed such a plan, and anyone who tells you different is lying.

I’ve recently seen a Labor MP scaring our elderly by sharing this lie at a seniors forum.

The Labor candidate for Dawson has also peddled this lie on his Facebook page, and frankly he should be ashamed of sharing such rubbish.

A Queensland state Labor MP, the Member for Keppel, recently had to get up in state parliament and apologise for lying about this.

She was forced to apologise because her claims were completely false!

Here are the words of the Member for Keppel Brittany Lauga.

“I want to address a contribution I made on 30 November 2021 in MPIs (Matters of Public Importance). I made statements that the current Federal Coalition Government was planning to force every aged pensioner in Australia onto the Cashless Debit Card. I wish to withdraw this statement and apologise if in making this statement I intentionally misled the House.

So seniors, please be reassured that this is a Labor scare campaign, without a skerrick of truth behind it.

I want to finish on a note of respect.

On the eve of ANZAC Day, I wish to acknowledge the contribution of our current and former service men and women in putting their lives on the line and even paying the ultimate sacrifice to protect the people of our nation.

On Monday April 25 we will gather at various locations, and even quietly in our homes or on our streets to reflect.

At the going down of the sun, and in the morning, we will remember them.

Lest We Forget.

Andrew Willcox, LNP Candidate for Dawson

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Labor Prepares Workforce For A Greener Future

April 22, 2022

The Australian Labor Party, in partnership with Central Queensland University (CQU), has announced a funding commitment to establish an electric vehicle and sustainable energy training centre in Mackay.

$9 million has been pledged towards the Mackay Electric Vehicle and Energy Training Centre (MEVET) to be built alongside the Ooralea Trades Training Centre.

More and more businesses are looking to turn green, with mining operators such as BHP finding electric vehicles perform well both above and below ground while reducing noise and fumes.

MEVET will train the workforce to meet the growing demand from the mining industry for mechanics to convert and maintain hydrogen-powered vehicles, as well as hybrid engine maintenance and repair, maintenance of infrastructure such as charging stations, and installation and maintenance of alternative energy such as solar and wind.

MEVET will also cater to the growing demand for hybrid diesel-electric and solar-powered vehicles across both the marine industry and the private market.

Labor Candidate for Dawson Shane Hamilton made the announcement at CQU last week, speaking of the importance of preparing for the future.

“When I started out in the mining industry, it was all diesel engines,” Mr Hamilton said.

“In the future though, we know there are going to be more electric vehicles operating both above and below ground.

“I’m proud to have secured this funding, ensuring that local kids will have the opportunity to learn the skills needed to maintain these vehicles and work in secure local jobs right here in our region.”

The centre is hoped to train 100-120 skilled tradespeople each year.

The project will create up to 45 jobs throughout construction and 20 ongoing full-time jobs in training, administration, and support.

Mr Hamilton welcomed Shadow Treasurer Jim Chalmers to Mackay last week to make the announcement.

“As the national economy recovers from COVID we want regional Queensland to be a much bigger part of the story,” Mr Chalmers said.

“What this announcement today means is that as the needs of heavy industry change, the Mackay Whitsunday region will have the skills and the workforce to create good, secure, and sustainable jobs for locals.”

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Police Call For Dashcam Footage In Fatal Koumala Crash

April 22, 2022

The Easter road toll took a devastating turn on Monday morning when a motorcycle collided with a car near Koumala, resulting in a 60-year-old man passing away at the scene.

Police reported that the man was the driver of the motorcycle and his 19-year-old pillion passenger was flown to the Townsville Hospital with critical head injuries.

A 63-year-old woman, the driver of the car, had moderate injuries and was transported to the Mackay Base Hospital for treatment.  Police said the four passengers in the car were not injured.

The Forensic Crash Unit investigations are continuing, and investigators would like to speak to anyone with relevant dashcam footage from that area or anyone with information that could assist.

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Arrest Made In Violent Attempted Car Jacking

April 22, 2022

Mackay detectives have charged a 28-year-old South Mackay man in relation to allegations of a firearm being discharged in Rural View on Monday afternoon (April 11).

Police will allege at approximately 2.30pm in McHugh Street, a 34-year-old man was sitting alone in a vehicle when he was approached by a black SUV. It is alleged that a man and a woman were in the SUV.

A 28-year-old man from that SUV allegedly threatened him with a firearm in an attempt to steal the car and in the course of events a firearm was discharged injuring the man’s lower legs. Mackay Police said the men were known to each other.

The 24-year-old woman was arrested last week and charged with unrelated drug possession and possession of S4 and S8 medicine.

Investigations led detectives to locate the 28-year-old man who was subsequently charged with attempted robbery with violence.

He was denied police bail and faced Mackay Magistrates Court on April 14.

Investigations continue and there is no ongoing risk to the community.

Anybody who sighted a black SUV in the area or has relevant dashcam footage is urged to contact police.

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Vegetation Vandals Cost Ratepayers $7K

April 22, 2022

Two cases of extremely significant vegetation vandalism will cost the community more than $7000 to remediate, the Mackay Regional Council reported at its ordinary meeting last week.

The first case involved ongoing damage to foreshore vegetation on Haliday Bay Road dating back to 2013. The second case was in relation to at least 20 trees being cut down with a saw on O’Brien Esplanade at Shoal Point.

Mayor Greg Williamson said council would take immediate action to deter any further environmental damage.

“It is disappointing that we continue to see some residents in the community willfully damaging the environment to improve views to their properties,” he said.

“As a result, we will be installing a large billboard to block views at Shoal Point and we will restart the timeframe on the existing billboard in Haliday Bay.

“This sign will remain in place for five more years after 15 trees that were revegetated in 2020 were recently found damaged or removed.

“We will also install fencing behind the sign at Haliday Bay to prevent the area being used as a walkway.

“The damaged vegetation will be replanted at both sites, using a replanting rate of three trees planted for every one tree that was damaged.

“This means we will be planting 60 new trees in Shoal Point and 45 new trees in Haliday Bay.”

The cost to replant the vegetation at Haliday Bay, including a minimum six months of maintenance, is $2950. Ratepayers will also have to cover the cost of $1000 to install the new billboard at Shoal Point, plus an additional $3100 to plant and maintain the new vegetation at this location for at least six months.

Mayor Williamson said the vegetation in these areas not only provided critical habitat for fauna, but it also prevented erosion.

“Our foreshore vegetation helps stabilise the sand dunes and provides protection to coastal properties in severe weather events, such as cyclones, by acting as a barrier,” he said

“It is frustrating that some locals prioritise the view of the beach from their property over the stability, habitat and safety the foreshore provides.”

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Smart Transformation Of Sweet Building Earns Heritage Accolades

April 22, 2022

The transformation of the Sugar Research Institute into a new secondary school has earned a coveted gold award at Mackay Regional Council’s 2022 Heritage Awards.

Catherine McAuley College won gold in the Tom Casey New or Refurbished Heritage Place or Home category at a ceremony at Harrup Park Country Club on Thursday April 7.

The refurbishment of The Karl Langer Building, one of the region’s most significant and influential State Heritage places, has created a new Catholic secondary school.

Character and Heritage Advisory Committee Chair Cr Fran Mann said the judges noted this project was an outstanding example of council’s vision for the adaptative and sensitive reuse of heritage buildings.

She said special care was taken during master planning of the site to ensure the building and its vistas remained strong in the surrounding development.  

“Catherine McAuley College repurposing the Sugar Research Institute has paid homage to the world-class scientific research conducted from the facility in the late 20th century, revolutionising the sugar industry.”

The silver award in this category went to refurbishment of the State Heritage-listed Mackay Customs House.

Dean Williamson Dental currently resides and operates out of the building.

The award acknowledges how the design considered overcoming hurdles to repurpose the building while respecting the main heritage elements of the building.

Bronze went to BH Building Mackay, the main contractor on a project to restore the Cattle Creek administration building as part of council’s Pioneer Valley Mountain Bike Trails.

Mayor Greg Williamson said there was strong interest in the awards, with gold, silver, bronze, and highly commended awards presented in many of the categories.

“These heritage champions in our region deserve these accolades,’’ Mayor Williamson said.

“Their extraordinary work is helping preserve the history and heritage of our region and keep alive the stories of our past for future generations.”

Other awards presented included:

‘Berenice Wright’ Heritage Champion (Individual), Gold Award – Maryann Lister

Maryann Lister has hosted several informative historic bicycle tours to educate our community on different areas of our local history.

‘Berenice Wright’ Heritage Champion (Individual), Silver Award – Christine Vaughan

Christine Vaughan, of Yesterday’s Memories Museum, committed to creating a community display of Antique and Vintage Wedding Gowns, to celebrate the Australian Heritage Festival in 2022.

‘Berenice Wright’ Heritage Champion (Individual), Bronze Award – Shelley Engwirda

In 2021, Shelly Engwirda championed an Art Camp and History program for local children, based on the history and heritage of Greenmount Homestead. Shelley facilitated this program to make heritage accessible to children aged nine to 12 via artistic expression and practice.

‘Berenice Wright’ Heritage Champion (Individual), Bronze Award – Ian Hamilton

Ian Hamilton has had a lifelong interest in local, family and church history and heritage, with contribution to local history publications, as well as the fundraising for and maintenance of the heritage-listed property and grounds of the St Paul’s Uniting Church.

‘Berenice Wright’ Heritage Champion (Individual), Highly Commended – Leigh Mansfield

Leigh Mansfield has been recognised by her peers for her continuous demonstration of her immense passion for the history of the Mackay region. Leigh is a passionate, long-serving teacher at Fitzgerald State School, who is known for frequently hosting excursions to local heritage places and sharing stories of local history during class.

Heritage Champion (Organisation), Gold Award – St Annes Catholic Primary School

St Annes Catholic Primary School in Sarina has worked closely in 2021 with Yuwi custodians to develop a deeper respectful understanding of First Nations history within our region, and to deliver a body of work that reflects the school’s commitment to raising awareness of local indigenous history.

Heritage Champion (Organisation), Silver Award – St Pauls Uniting Church

St Pauls History Group, as a sub-committee of the Church Council of St Pauls Uniting Church, conducted research and delivered a weekend of community celebrations commemorating the 150-year anniversary of the church.

Silver Heritage Champion (Organisation), Bronze Award – Sugar City Art Deco & Modernism Society

The Sugar City Art Deco and Modernism Society is a new community organisation dedicated to the preservation and celebration of the city’s rich art deco history, including its buildings, events, fashion and transport.

Gold Heritage Media, Tours and Exhibitions, Gold Award – Mackay Family History Society

The volunteers of the Mackay Family History Society delivered two informative and immersive community exhibitions in 2021.

Gold Heritage Media, Tours and Exhibitions, Silver Award – BMA Hay Point Coal Terminal – 50 Years of Memories and Milestones 1971-2021

In November 2021, BMA’s Hay Point Coal Terminal proudly celebrated 50 years of operation in the Mackay region. To mark this significant milestone, a volunteer committee organised a 50 Years of Memories and Milestones open day event at the Hay Point Coal Terminal.

Heritage Media, Tours and Exhibitions, Bronze Award – ABC Tropical North Museums Series

Christy-Lee Macqueen championed a series of radio interviews, conducted with Museums staff and volunteers, as well as private collectors, throughout the Mackay region, to promote a deeper, more meaningful understanding of local heritage.

Heritage Media, Tours and Exhibitions, Highly Commended – Sugar City Art Deco Society

The Sugar City Art Deco and Modernism Society is a group of locals, passionate about our city’s unique historic buildings. The group was established to promote the history behind the buildings and aim to preserve Mackay’s rich Art Deco and Modernism architecture.

Heritage Media, Tours and Exhibitions, Highly Commended – St Pauls Uniting Church

St Paul’s Uniting Church celebrated the 150-year anniversary of the formation of the St Pauls Presbyterian (now Uniting) Church Congregation from the first meeting held on March 15, 1872. To commemorate this significant anniversary, the Church prepared an exhibition that was displayed in the Jubilee Community Centre for public viewing from March 11 to April 6.

Winners of the 2022 Heritage Awards with council representatives, including Mayor Greg Williamson and Deputy Mayor Karen May.

Leslie Crocker, Woollam Constructions project manager, accepted the Tom Casey New or Refurbished Heritage Place or Home gold award for refurbishment of the Sugar Research Institute building to create a new secondary school.

Megan Harris, of BH Building Mackay, accepted the bronze award in that category for refurbishment of the old Cattle Creek mill administration building as part of council’s Pioneer Valley Mountain Bike trails project.

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A Veteran For Life

April 22, 2022

After leaving the Air Force, Nichole Hood didn’t consider herself a veteran.

“For a very long time, I didn’t see myself as a veteran,” she said.

“As far as I was concerned, a veteran is someone who served overseas, and I never served overseas.

“When I was in, women weren’t allowed in frontline positions.

“It wasn’t until I was talking to someone, and they said ‘yes, you are a veteran.’”

Over the past three years, Nichole has become an active and respected member of RSL Mackay.

She is adored by her fellow veterans for her hard work, her positive attitude, and her love of a challenge.

Inspiring The Next Generation

Caption 2: Nichole on Graduation Day from recruit training. Photo: supplied

Nichole Hood grew up in Tully, “the wettest place in Australia,” she laughed.

After completing high school in Tully, Nichole embarked on a career in administration in the sugar mills before deciding to join the Air Force.

It was not long after ANZAC Day in 1989 that Nichole joined the air force in Townsville, and she flew to Adelaide that afternoon.

She saw it as an opportunity to leave Tully, an opportunity for adventure.

“It looked interesting, you know, a different way of life,” she said.

After three months of basic training in Adelaide, Nichole went to Wagga Wagga to complete her administration training before being posted in Canberra for six years.

Throughout her six years of service, Nichole looked after many administrative duties such as documents, leave, mail, travel, and accommodation for airmen and airwomen, officers, and active reserve squadrons.

After six years of service and reaching the position of Corporal, Nichole decided to leave the Air Force while she was still young enough to travel.

Over the next couple of years, Nichole travelled America and Canada solo and made lifelong friends.

“It was good just to go by myself,” she said.

“I just did my own thing and loved it.”

Nichole settled down in Mackay after her travels, halfway between Brisbane, where her parents lived, and home, and worked as a swim instructor.

She became involved in the RSL three years ago when members who were selling memorabilia invited her to a meeting.

She says it took her a long time to recognise herself as a veteran.

“That’s the mindset we’ve got to change,” she said.

“These young veterans that may have not served overseas, yes they are a veteran.”

The RSL is a place where Nichole can relate to people and chat to people about their experiences and stories.

In the role of secretary, Nichole looks after membership and communications with members.

“Yes, we do stir each other,” she laughed, “but that’s just the camaraderie.”

“You’re there for your mates, no matter what,”

On ANZAC Day, Nichole will be quietly reflecting.

“For me, it’s just a chance to reflect and say a silent thank you to our forefathers and foremothers that sacrificed so much just so that we can live this life that we’re living now,” she said.

“It’s probably the public’s way of saying thank you to us, too.”

“I didn’t sign up for the recognition, I signed up because that’s what I wanted to do with my life, I wanted to challenge myself.”

Nichole’s daughter is considering a career in the air force as well.

“She’s got the opportunities that I didn’t have when I joined.”

Nichole Hood is RSL Mackay’s secretary. Photo: Sam Gillespie

Nichole on Graduation Day from recruit training. Photo: supplied

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Funding To Support Local Fishers

April 14, 2022

Fisheries Minister Mark Furner visited Mackay earlier this month to announce grants to three local groups as part of the $250,000 fishing projects initiative.

The Mackay Recreational Fisheries Alliance will receive almost $2500 to replace equipment used in its schools’ fish program.

OneLife NQ will receive $5500 to provide tools to encourage local NDIS participants to be included in fishing clinics.

And Calen District State College P&C will receive $4100 to bring together rural students with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to share and teach culture, traditional fishing methods and caring for land and sea.

MP for Mackay Julieanne Gilbert congratulated the three groups on receiving the grants which will promote more recreational fishing throughout the region.

Councilor Alison Jones represented the Mackay Recreational Fisheries Alliance.

“This grant will continue the great work Mick Connolly and their angler education team do, working with local schools teaching our young anglers about sustainable fishing,” Councillor Jones said.

Councillor Alison Jones, Fisheries Minister Mark Furner and MP for Mackay Julieanne Gilbert

Mackay Recreational Fisheries Alliance, MP for Mackay Julieanne Gilbert, Councillor Alison Jones, Fisheries Minister Mark Furner

Read More

Abuse It; We May Lose It

April 14, 2022

Vandalism is becoming a frequent problem at Haliday Bay, with the swimming enclosure being a prime target for thoughtless vandals in recent years.

Over the last two years, the enclosure has been vandalised five times at a cost of more than $5000.

The most recent incident occurred in late February when council staff discovered a huge slash in the back of the net, which has now been repaired.

The net has also been removed from the posts on multiple occasions, making the structure unusable until staff are able to reattach it.

Unfortunately, it is ratepayers who must cover the repair bills on this popular community asset. It is also an inconvenience to residents who cannot use the enclosure while it is being repaired.

Residents are being asked to report acts of vandalism of community assets to council by calling 1300 MACKAY (622 529).

Haliday Bay enclosure. Images supplied: Mackay Regional Council

Vandalism to enclosure

Read More

Fun Run Returns To Sarina Beach

April 14, 2022

Preparations are powering full steam ahead for the 2022 Cruisin’ the Coast Sarina Fun Run, following the success of last year’s event.

Naming rights sponsor Community Bank Sarina’s Board Chair Karen May said that the aim of Cruisin’ the Coast was to provide a “carefree space for the community to get together after yet another challenging year faced by many”.

“Cruisin’ the Coast is a great way for families and friends to reconnect. Whether you want to walk or run, we just want everyone to enjoy the day at their own pace and be reminded of why we love our community so much,” Ms May said.

Registrations are now open to participate in the Cruisin’ the Coast Fun Run, to be held on May 22 at beautiful Sarina Beach.

There will be five separate events to choose from, including a new half marathon event for more serious contenders. Participants can choose to run or walk at their leisure, making this event suitable for all ages and fitness levels.

Sarina Surf Lifesaving Club President Neil John said the Club “couldn’t be more thrilled” to host Cruisin’ the Coast for the third year running.

Previous run ambassadors Brenda Windsor and Kay Nyenuh have once again been announced as the official 2022 run ambassadors.

“We’re really putting our all into making this a fun event to remember for our participants,” said Mr John.

“It’s been such a joy to see people gather on Sarina Beach from all over the region to enjoy an invigorating morning outdoors.

“We made sure there will be an event for people of all ages to enjoy. However, this year, we’ve introduced a new event – a half marathon - to spur some healthy competition amongst the seasoned runners.

“A big thank you to our naming rights sponsor, Community Bank Sarina, for their continued support of Cruisin’ the Coast.

“All in all, we just want everyone to bring their friends and family along to connect and have some fun.”  

For more information and to purchase tickets, visit www.sarinafunrun.com.au.

The 2021 Cruisin’ the Coast Sarina Fun Run was a successful event. Organisers are hoping this year’s event will be as well supported

Read More

WAR VETERAN

April 14, 2022

After a well-timed TV ad and a bet with his mother, Steve Haidle joined the Navy.

“The only part of the ad I remember is the submarine being in it and I said to Mum ‘I’ll be in there in a month’s time’, just jokingly,” Steve said.

“And I was, I joined up and I was on my bike down to Victoria.

“She told me ‘Do not ever come home if you get a tattoo’, so I never got a tattoo,” he laughed.

Steve was born in Wynnum in 1984.

He grew up in the Brisbane bayside suburb and got a job in the office of the livestock department with Queensland Bacon where he worked for 18 months.

At the age of 17, Steve joined the Royal Australian Navy in Brisbane City, a move that would see him serve in Vietnam.

“We Were Lucky And Unlucky”

Steve Haidle was sent to HMAS Cerberus at Western Port Bay in Victoria where he did three months of recruit school before being drafted onto HMAS Hobart in Sydney.

He had the goal of becoming a Physical Training Instructor but was instead made a quartermaster gunner in the seaman branch where he completed a test to aim Seacat missiles.

HMAS Hobart was sent to Vietnam in March 1967 with Steve on board.

He says about half of the men onboard were drafted onto another ship before its departure.

“We were sort of lucky and unlucky; lucky in the fact that we got war service, unlucky that we could’ve got killed,” he said.

The ship left Sydney with 330 men onboard.

Steve says the quarters weren’t too bad; cards and mahjong were played in the recreation area in downtime.

In his role on the ship, he would complete six-hour shifts on a lookout station above the bridge of the ship.

When it came to action stations, he would rush below deck where he would load 70kg bullets into a magazine to be automatically taken to a gun five decks above.

Steve returned from Vietnam in September 1967 and continued to serve in the Navy until 1975.

He returned to Brisbane after his departure from the Navy where he went back to work for Queensland Bacon for five years.

He made the move to Mackay in 1980 when he accepted an opportunity to manage the food and beverage section of the racecourse in Ooralea.

After 12 months in that role, which he loved, Steve worked in office equipment and bottle shops around Mackay before returning to Brisbane in 2004 and retiring in 2008.

He got married in 2009, a marriage that took him to The Philippines for six years before he and his wife came back to Mackay where he says he knows the area and the people well.

After leaving the Navy, Steve stayed active in the military community by getting involved in the Naval Association and the HMAS Hobart Association before joining RSL Mackay in 2018.

He says staying involved has been an important part of his life after the military.

“You meet new friends; you meet old friends,” he said.

“It’s somewhere you can go, and they know what you’re talking about, and you know what they’re talking about.”

As a committee member for RSL Mackay, Steve looks after purchasing, planning, and setting up merchandise and memorabilia.

He is currently working hard towards ANZAC Day, an important day to him.

“It’s a remembrance, to me.”

He is planning displays at Harrup Park and Parkside Plaza, and you will catch him selling merchandise at Parkside Plaza between Tuesday and Saturday next week.

On the day, Steve will be involved in the RSL’s activities including the dawn service, the march, selling memorabilia, raffles, and, of course, a few friendly games of two-up.

“We were sort of lucky and unlucky; lucky in the fact that we got war service, unlucky that we could’ve got killed,” he said.

“It’s a remembrance, to me.”

Steve Haidle will be selling commemorative ANZAC Day merchandise at Parkside Plaza next week. Photo: Sam Gillespie

HMAS Hobart’s company in Hong Kong in 1967

Steve’s role on HMAS Hobart saw him load 70kg bullets into a magazine before it was automatically taken up to a gun five decks above

Steve and a fellow seaman on their first night home from Vietnam in Sydney in 1967. Photos: supplied

Read More

A Hero’s Sacrifice Turns Into Heartbreak

April 14, 2022

A former stockman who fought in World War One returned home to Clermont to find his entire family tragically washed away in Australia’s worst floods.

More than 60 people were killed, making it the worst in Australia's history in terms of loss of life in December 1916.

Private Arthur Alfred O’Donnell enlisted in the army on 17 November 1916, 41 days before the wall of water travelled the creeks and hit the historic gold and coal mining town.

The horrific news of his wife, two children and mother-in-law’s drownings did not reach Pte O’Donnell until he was discharged and returned home in 1919.

Pte O’Donnell had survived frostbite in Belgium in 1917, several wounds in action ranging from a deep gash to the face to a gunshot wound in his left shoulder in France in 1918. He was awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.

Isaac Regional Council Mayor Anne Baker said unimaginable sacrifices such as Pte O’Donnell will be among the stories remembered this Anzac Day.

“We will again proudly stand shoulder-to-shoulder from the Isaac coast to the west in Clermont, Isaac residents to honour the nation’s most sacred commemorative services,” Mayor Baker said.

“Pte O’Donnell, who was in the 26th infantry battalion, was on his way to the battlefront in Europe when his wife Winifred, his children and his mother-in-law Sarah Foster, lost their lives in the Clermont floods.

“We cannot imagine the torment this man had suffered while on the battlefield to protect our way of lives today to only come home to have lost everyone he had loved most in this world.”

Clermont Historical Centre says little is known about the rest of the former stockman’s

Private Arthur Alfred O’Donnell, Mrs O’Donnell and their child. Source: National Library of Australia

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A ‘Cool’ Idea Closer To Reality

April 14, 2022

A plan for a permanent ice rink in Mackay has been gathering momentum like a snowball downhill after Danish ice hockey player and Mackay local Andreas Elkjaer skated the idea for the Sugar City.

Andreas, who moved to Mackay in June last year, was desperately missing the ice - a place he said “feels like home” - and decided that he would take it upon himself to get Mackay its first permanent rink.

That led Andreas to Frozen Wonderland ice rink owner Ken Jensen – a Bundaberg resident who in previous years had tried to start up rinks in Mackay, but struggled to find a suitable location. The pair started searching for a 1000 square metre space to put up the rink, and have had some promising sites already.

“I asked the question whether there was a possibility for an ice rink because I was curious, and I was putting myself out there,” Andreas said.

“Mackay, it’s not a typical winter sport city, so I was curious to how people would react.

“I knew there was interest but I was surprised by how positive people were and what a great interaction I’ve had with people.”

With simple criteria: A shed of around 1000 square metres and 20 parking spots somewhere in Mackay, Andreas took to Facebook to gauge how hot or cold locals would be on a permanent installation.

He received over a thousand responses.

“We have found two or three great options, which we’re keeping for ourselves, but there are good options out there; two or three that could meet his criteria,” he said.

Of those two or three options, Ken has already visited one site and is very positive about its potential.

“We’ve had a look at a site and we’re negotiating with the owner. We’re just looking at the bits and pieces of whether it would be feasible,” Ken said.

Ken is bringing the financial backing for the project, with his budget roughly $100,000 per year to run the rink – installing solar and insulation.

In previous years Mackay has hosted temporary rinks at the Mackay Entertainment Convention Centre and at Canelands, each time wildly popular.

Ken said that, with Councillors positivity about the idea, the rink could be up as soon as the July school holidays.

“I have everything required for the job – chillers, skates. It’s all sitting there and it’s a matter of ticking all the boxes,” he said.

“It’s a matter of waiting to secure the building and finding the staff and getting it all up and running.”

Andreas Elkjaer is a new Mackay local hoping to bring ice skating and ice hockey to the Sugar City

Read More

Teenager In Critical Condition After Beach Accident

April 14, 2022

A teenager is fighting for life in a Brisbane hospital after suffering severe injuries in a dirt bike accident on Sarina Beach last weekend.

RACQ CQ Rescue was tasked by Queensland Health to airlift the teenager who was reportedly in critical condition.

A RACQ CQ Rescue spokesperson said the 17-year-old rider lost control of the bike on the beach about 5pm on Saturday, April 9 and suffered facial and internal injuries as well as possible spinal injuries.

“The rescue helicopter landed on the beach to meet first responders and ambulance officers just 10 minutes after takeoff from Mackay,” the spokesperson reported.

“The aircraft did not shutdown as the patient was loaded into the aircraft due to the fast-incoming tide.

“The aircraft quickly relocated to an oval adjacent to the beach so the medical team on board, including a Critical Care Paramedic and doctor, could continue to work on the patient for about 50 minutes before flying the teen to Mackay Base Hospital in a critical condition.”

The severity of the injuries meant the teenager was later flown to Princess Alexandra Hospital. Their condition at time of writing was unknown.

A 17-year-old dirt bike rider suffered critical injuries after an accident on Sarina Beach. Images: RACQ CQ Rescue

Read More

Councillors Pitching In

April 14, 2022

Preparations for ANZAC Day at the Bloomsbury Soldiers Memorial Hall are now one step closer thanks to a generous gesture from Councillor Alison Jones and her husband Rick.

Rick recently gave his Sunday morning to repaint the hall’s flagpoles in preparation for the traditional celebrations held at the hall using paint donated by PI Technical Services.

The timely display of community spirit has been appreciated by all in the Bloomsbury region.

The Bloomsbury Soldiers Memorial Hall posted on Facebook, “we are so appreciative of Councillor Alison Jones and her husband Rick, who very kindly spent a recent Sunday repainting our flag poles in readiness for Anzac Day 2022.”

The Bloomsbury Soldiers Memorial Hall will host a dawn service on ANZAC Day from 5:30am.

In another terrific example of councillors contributing to the community, Councillor Laurence Bonaventura recently paid a visit to Calen News and General Store to pick up supplies for a very important job.

Laurence went out to Yalboroo, 50 minutes north of Mackay, to mow the bus stop, picking up supplies from the general store on his way.

The well-equipped store was able to provide everything Laurence needed, including safety wear, to get the job done and was happy to contribute to the project.

Rick Jones, husband of Councillor Alison Jones, recently spent a Sunday morning painting the flagpoles at the Bloomsbury Soldiers Memorial Hall ready for ANZAC Day

Councillor Laurence Bonaventura got everything he needed from Calen News and General Store before mowing the Yalboroo bus stop. Photos: supplied

Read More

Former Pilot Takes Controls Of Regional Rescue Service

April 14, 2022

With more than 20 years in the aviation industry, a former pilot has taken over the controls of our region’s helicopter rescue service.

RACQ CQ Rescue has announced the appointment of Tim Healee as the not-for-profit service’s new Chief Executive Officer (CEO).

With a wealth of experience in the aviation industry combined with a passion for charity work, Tim will take the reins of the Mackay-based rescue helicopter operation from Ian Rowan on April 26.

Tim, who was previously based on the Gold Coast and in North Queensland, is a former pilot who has more than 20-year experience in both senior management and the aviation industry.

He has worked in helicopter training centre management, aeromedical operations and most recently, as the CEO of a regional airline based in Far North Queensland. He has also been closely involved with charities across Queensland, helping to improve the lives of disadvantaged youth and marginalised communities.

Mr Healee said he was looking forward to leading a world-class organisation which was held in such high esteem by the community and by its supporters and further building upon the five-year stewardship of Mr Rowan who is retiring.

“I fully understand and have first-hand experience of the important role aviation plays in regional Queensland, but more specifically, how vital access to critical aeromedical care and retrieval is due to the sheer size and remote nature of this region,” Mr Healee said.

“I would also like to acknowledge the efforts of Ian Rowan over the last five years and congratulate him on delivering some great projects for the organisation. I also take this opportunity to wish him all the best for his future in his retirement.”

RACQ CQ Rescue Board Chairman Chris Wright said Mr Healee had extensive experience and knowledge in aviation and business management and would help ensure the Mackay-based rescue helicopter service continued its high standard of professionalism and providing the best aeromedical emergency service to the Mackay, Whitsunday and Bowen Basin communities.

“Tim’s vast range of skills will ensure RACQ CQ Rescue’s mission to deliver the most cost-effective, reliable, safe and clinically excellent patient rescue and transfer service will continue to be achieved,” Mr Wright said.

“On behalf of the Board, we welcome Tim to the role and look forward to working with him to navigate RACQ CQ Rescue to even greater heights.”

Mr Healee will commence work at the Mackay Airport hangar and operations centre on Tuesday, April 26.

RACQ CQ Rescue’s new CEO Tim Healee. Image supplied

Read More

A ‘Cool’ Idea Closer To Reality

April 13, 2022

A plan for a permanent ice rink in Mackay has been gathering momentum like a snowball downhill after Danish ice hockey player and Mackay local Andreas Elkjaer skated the idea for the Sugar City.

Andreas, who moved to Mackay in June last year, was desperately missing the ice - a place he said “feels like home” - and decided that he would take it upon himself to get Mackay its first permanent rink.

That led Andreas to Frozen Wonderland ice rink owner Ken Jensen – a Bundaberg resident who in previous years had tried to start up rinks in Mackay, but struggled to find a suitable location. The pair started searching for a 1000 square metre space to put up the rink, and have had some promising sites already.

“I asked the question whether there was a possibility for an ice rink because I was curious, and I was putting myself out there,” Andreas said.

“Mackay, it’s not a typical winter sport city, so I was curious to how people would react.

“I knew there was interest but I was surprised by how positive people were and what a great interaction I’ve had with people.”

With simple criteria: A shed of around 1000 square metres and 20 parking spots somewhere in Mackay, Andreas took to Facebook to gauge how hot or cold locals would be on a permanent installation.

He received over a thousand responses.

“We have found two or three great options, which we’re keeping for ourselves, but there are good options out there; two or three that could meet his criteria,” he said.

Of those two or three options, Ken has already visited one site and is very positive about its potential.

“We’ve had a look at a site and we’re negotiating with the owner. We’re just looking at the bits and pieces of whether it would be feasible,” Ken said.

Ken is bringing the financial backing for the project, with his budget roughly $100,000 per year to run the rink – installing solar and insulation.

In previous years Mackay has hosted temporary rinks at the Mackay Entertainment Convention Centre and at Canelands, each time wildly popular.

Ken said that, with Councillors positivity about the idea, the rink could be up as soon as the July school holidays.

“I have everything required for the job – chillers, skates. It’s all sitting there and it’s a matter of ticking all the boxes,” he said.

“It’s a matter of waiting to secure the building and finding the staff and getting it all up and running.”

Read More

A Hero’s Sacrifice Turns Into Heartbreak

April 13, 2022

Image: Private Arthur Alfred O’Donnell, Mrs O’Donnell and their child. Source: National Library of Australia

A former stockman who fought in World War One returned home to Clermont to find his entire family tragically washed away in Australia’s worst floods.

More than 60 people were killed, making it the worst in Australia's history in terms of loss of life in December 1916.

Private Arthur Alfred O’Donnell enlisted in the army on 17 November 1916, 41 days before the wall of water travelled the creeks and hit the historic gold and coal mining town.

The horrific news of his wife, two children and mother-in-law’s drownings did not reach Pte O’Donnell until he was discharged and returned home in 1919.

Pte O’Donnell had survived frostbite in Belgium in 1917, several wounds in action ranging from a deep gash to the face to a gunshot wound in his left shoulder in France in 1918. He was awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.

Isaac Regional Council Mayor Anne Baker said unimaginable sacrifices such as Pte O’Donnell will be among the stories remembered this Anzac Day.

“We will again proudly stand shoulder-to-shoulder from the Isaac coast to the west in Clermont, Isaac residents to honour the nation’s most sacred commemorative services,” Mayor Baker said.

“Pte O’Donnell, who was in the 26th infantry battalion, was on his way to the battlefront in Europe when his wife Winifred, his children and his mother-in-law Sarah Foster, lost their lives in the Clermont floods.

“We cannot imagine the torment this man had suffered while on the battlefield to protect our way of lives today to only come home to have lost everyone he had loved most in this world.”

Clermont Historical Centre says little is known about the rest of the former stockman’s life as he disappeared into obscurity after learning of the deaths of his family.

Mayor Baker said this Anzac Day, the Isaac region will pay tribute to the sacrifices of diggers past and present.

“We will honour the strong sense of solidarity, sentiment and pride as we come together to remember the ANZACs and all those who fought for our country,” Mayor Baker said.

Read More

WAR VETERAN Prepares For ANZAC Remembrance

April 13, 2022

After a well-timed TV ad and a bet with his mother, Steve Haidle joined the Navy.

“The only part of the ad I remember is the submarine being in it and I said to Mum ‘I’ll be in there in a month’s time’, just jokingly,” Steve said.

“And I was, I joined up and I was on my bike down to Victoria.

“She told me ‘Do not ever come home if you get a tattoo’, so I never got a tattoo,” he laughed.

Steve was born in Wynnum in 1984.

He grew up in the Brisbane bayside suburb and got a job in the office of the livestock department with Queensland Bacon where he worked for 18 months.

At the age of 17, Steve joined the Royal Australian Navy in Brisbane City, a move that would see him serve in Vietnam.

“We Were Lucky And Unlucky”

Steve Haidle was sent to HMAS Cerberus at Western Port Bay in Victoria where he did three months of recruit school before being drafted onto HMAS Hobart in Sydney.

He had the goal of becoming a Physical Training Instructor but was instead made a quartermaster gunner in the seaman branch where he completed a test to aim Seacat missiles.

HMAS Hobart was sent to Vietnam in March 1967 with Steve on board.

He says about half of the men onboard were drafted onto another ship before its departure.

“We were sort of lucky and unlucky; lucky in the fact that we got war service, unlucky that we could’ve got killed,” he said.

The ship left Sydney with 330 men onboard.

Steve says the quarters weren’t too bad; cards and mahjong were played in the recreation area in downtime.

In his role on the ship, he would complete six-hour shifts on a lookout station above the bridge of the ship.

When it came to action stations, he would rush below deck where he would load 70kg bullets into a magazine to be automatically taken to a gun five decks above.

Steve returned from Vietnam in September 1967 and continued to serve in the Navy until 1975.

He returned to Brisbane after his departure from the Navy where he went back to work for Queensland Bacon for five years.

He made the move to Mackay in 1980 when he accepted an opportunity to manage the food and beverage section of the racecourse in Ooralea.

After 12 months in that role, which he loved, Steve worked in office equipment and bottle shops around Mackay before returning to Brisbane in 2004 and retiring in 2008.

He got married in 2009, a marriage that took him to The Philippines for six years before he and his wife came back to Mackay where he says he knows the area and the people well.

After leaving the Navy, Steve stayed active in the military community by getting involved in the Naval Association and the HMAS Hobart Association before joining RSL Mackay in 2018.

He says staying involved has been an important part of his life after the military.

“You meet new friends; you meet old friends,” he said.

“It’s somewhere you can go, and they know what you’re talking about, and you know what they’re talking about.”

As a committee member for RSL Mackay, Steve looks after purchasing, planning, and setting up merchandise and memorabilia.

He is currently working hard towards ANZAC Day, an important day to him.

“It’s a remembrance, to me.”

He is planning displays at Harrup Park and Parkside Plaza, and you will catch him selling merchandise at Parkside Plaza between Tuesday and Saturday next week.

On the day, Steve will be involved in the RSL’s activities including the dawn service, the march, selling memorabilia, raffles, and, of course, a few friendly games of two-up.

“We were sort of lucky and unlucky; lucky in the fact that we got war service, unlucky that we could’ve got killed,” he said.

¬

“It’s a remembrance, to me.”

Read More

Teenager In Critical Condition After Beach Accident

April 13, 2022

Image: A 17-year-old dirt bike rider suffered critical injuries after an accident on Sarina Beach. Images: RACQ CQ Rescue

A teenager is fighting for life in a Brisbane hospital after suffering severe injuries in a dirt bike accident on Sarina Beach last weekend.

RACQ CQ Rescue was tasked by Queensland Health to airlift the teenager who was reportedly in critical condition.

A RACQ CQ Rescue spokesperson said the 17-year-old rider lost control of the bike on the beach about 5pm on Saturday, April 9 and suffered facial and internal injuries as well as possible spinal injuries.

“The rescue helicopter landed on the beach to meet first responders and ambulance officers just 10 minutes after takeoff from Mackay,” the spokesperson reported.

“The aircraft did not shutdown as the patient was loaded into the aircraft due to the fast-incoming tide.

“The aircraft quickly relocated to an oval adjacent to the beach so the medical team on board, including a Critical Care Paramedic and doctor, could continue to work on the patient for about 50 minutes before flying the teen to Mackay Base Hospital in a critical condition.”

The severity of the injuries meant the teenager was later flown to Princess Alexandra Hospital. Their condition at time of writing was unknown.

Read More

Former Pilot Takes Controls Of Regional Rescue Service

April 13, 2022

With more than 20 years in the aviation industry, a former pilot has taken over the controls of our region’s helicopter rescue service.

RACQ CQ Rescue has announced the appointment of Tim Healee as the not-for-profit service’s new Chief Executive Officer (CEO).

With a wealth of experience in the aviation industry combined with a passion for charity work, Tim will take the reins of the Mackay-based rescue helicopter operation from Ian Rowan on April 26.

Tim, who was previously based on the Gold Coast and in North Queensland, is a former pilot who has more than 20-year experience in both senior management and the aviation industry.

He has worked in helicopter training centre management, aeromedical operations and most recently, as the CEO of a regional airline based in Far North Queensland. He has also been closely involved with charities across Queensland, helping to improve the lives of disadvantaged youth and marginalised communities.

Mr Healee said he was looking forward to leading a world-class organisation which was held in such high esteem by the community and by its supporters and further building upon the five-year stewardship of Mr Rowan who is retiring.

“I fully understand and have first-hand experience of the important role aviation plays in regional Queensland, but more specifically, how vital access to critical aeromedical care and retrieval is due to the sheer size and remote nature of this region,” Mr Healee said.

“I would also like to acknowledge the efforts of Ian Rowan over the last five years and congratulate him on delivering some great projects for the organisation. I also take this opportunity to wish him all the best for his future in his retirement.”

RACQ CQ Rescue Board Chairman Chris Wright said Mr Healee had extensive experience and knowledge in aviation and business management and would help ensure the Mackay-based rescue helicopter service continued its high standard of professionalism and providing the best aeromedical emergency service to the Mackay, Whitsunday and Bowen Basin communities.

“Tim’s vast range of skills will ensure RACQ CQ Rescue’s mission to deliver the most cost-effective, reliable, safe and clinically excellent patient rescue and transfer service will continue to be achieved,” Mr Wright said.

“On behalf of the Board, we welcome Tim to the role and look forward to working with him to navigate RACQ CQ Rescue to even greater heights.”

Mr Healee will commence work at the Mackay Airport hangar and operations centre on Tuesday, April 26.

Read More

Councillors Pitching In

April 13, 2022

Left Image: Rick Jones, husband of Councillor Alison Jones, recently spent a Sunday morning painting the flagpoles at the Bloomsbury Soldiers Memorial Hall ready for ANZAC Day

Right Image: Councillor Laurence Bonaventura got everything he needed from Calen News and General Store before mowing the Yalboroo bus stop. Photos: supplied

Preparations for ANZAC Day at the Bloomsbury Soldiers Memorial Hall are now one step closer thanks to a generous gesture from Councillor Alison Jones and her husband Rick.

Rick recently gave his Sunday morning to repaint the hall’s flagpoles in preparation for the traditional celebrations held at the hall using paint donated by PI Technical Services.

The timely display of community spirit has been appreciated by all in the Bloomsbury region.

The Bloomsbury Soldiers Memorial Hall posted on Facebook, “we are so appreciative of Councillor Alison Jones and her husband Rick, who very kindly spent a recent Sunday repainting our flag poles in readiness for Anzac Day 2022.”

The Bloomsbury Soldiers Memorial Hall will host a dawn service on ANZAC Day from 5:30am.

In another terrific example of councillors contributing to the community, Councillor Laurence Bonaventura recently paid a visit to Calen News and General Store to pick up supplies for a very important job.

Laurence went out to Yalboroo, 50 minutes north of Mackay, to mow the bus stop, picking up supplies from the general store on his way.

The well-equipped store was able to provide everything Laurence needed, including safety wear, to get the job done and was happy to contribute to the project.

Read More

Game On (Editor's Note)

April 13, 2022

The election has been called for Saturday 21 May, which will make the next six weeks interesting to say the least. While it’s easy to become disenchanted or disengaged in the name calling and petty finger pointing, I’m looking forward to something other than COVID occupying the headlines every day.

The polling will pit Scott Morrison's Liberal-National Coalition against a Labor Party led by Anthony Albanese. While these two parties have always dominated the votes, I do wonder if the disruption to people’s lives caused by vaccine mandates and COVID restrictions will see a bigger swing towards the smaller parties who have spruiked freedom of choice.

In the lead-up to the election we will strive to provide balanced coverage for our region’s federal candidates to keep you informed of their policies and what it will mean for Dawson and Capricornia.

Some candidates have chosen to support our locally owned publication with additional advertising. Being a free publication, we rely on advertising to continue to provide free news to the community, so while at times it may appear one candidate may receive more coverage than another, they may be paying for that privilege. These spaces will be marked as advertising features and give candidates the opportunity to share their voice.

It’s important for us to be transparent so readers understand why a candidate may be represented more than others. Candidates who haven’t approached our newspaper to be included are also encouraged to make contact so the community can stay informed on who is standing for what.

Strap in and let the games begin!

We are interested in your thoughts, and Letters to the Editor can be sent to:  amanda@mackayandwhitsundaylife.com

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A Lovely New Library For Scrubby

April 13, 2022

A growing community in Walkerston has been treated to a new and improved library, located across the road from its predecessor.

Mayor Greg Williamson and students from Walkerston State School and St John's Catholic Primary School Walkerston did the honours of cutting the ceremonial ribbon in what is a new chapter for the library.

Since it first opened in 1977, this little library has been a hub for Scrubby. The move across Dutton Street to its new location in the Walkerston Shopping Centre on Creek Street has been a remarkable success.

A Mackay Regional Council spokesperson said “Memberships are skyrocketing, demonstrating that the community appreciate the increased accessibility, parking, space and new technology.

The opening celebrations included cupcakes and tours of the new facility.

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$1 Billion Mining Boom As Shovels Hit Ground At Olive Downs

April 13, 2022

Construction has begun on a $1 billion coal mine near Moranbah, which will create up to 1000 new local jobs.

Speaking from the Olive Downs coal mine last week, Resources Minister Scott Stewart said the project would bring significant economic benefits to all of Queensland.

“The Olive Downs mine is estimated to be worth $10.1 billion to the gross state product and will be an absolute jobs jackpot,” Mr Stewart said.

“At its peak, this mine will produce 15 million tonnes per annum of steelmaking metallurgical coal.

“This will be transported by rail to the Dalrymple Bay Coal Terminal, for export to key international markets such as Japan, India and South Korea.”

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Barnaby Joyce said increasing coal exports would make Australia wealthier and stronger.

“To become as strong as possible as quickly as possible, we must produce and sell more of the products that create wealth,” the Deputy Prime Minister said.

“Coal is one of our biggest export earners and a significant economic driver, helping pay for services such as our Defence Force, the NDIS, and hospitals and schools.

“If we don’t put coal on boats, Australians must choose which services and opportunities they don’t want because without that income, our nation will become weaker and poorer.”

Federal Member for Capricornia Michelle Landry said the Olive Downs mine will further drive the success of the resources industry in Queensland.

“In Capricornia during the 2019-20 financial year, the resources industry contributed around $1.1 billion in wages paid to 7,335 full-time jobs, with $4.5 billion in royalties shared across Queensland,” Ms Landry said.

“Around $2.7 billion was also spent on goods and services locally, benefitting around 1,306 local businesses.

“The resources industry is alive and well in Queensland and the start of another project will go a long way in assisting the state as we move into a post-COVID-19 economy.”

Isaac Regional Council Deputy Mayor Kelly Vea Vea said Olive Downs is symbolic of a strong future for metallurgical coal and the Isaac region’s communities.

“We welcome Pembroke to the mining community and thank them for bringing a new opportunity of such incredible scale to this region,” Cr Vea Vea said.

Pembroke Resources Chairman and CEO Barry Tudor said the official start of works at the project opened the door to new job and economic opportunities for Central Queensland.

“The high quality steel-making coal that will be produced from our mine will contribute to national and state economies as well as much needed infrastructure across the world, delivering economic benefits and jobs from a grassroots to a global scale,” Mr Tudor said.

“Importantly, Pembroke is committed to providing workers with an opportunity to live in towns near the mine including Moranbah and Dysart and is building sustainable futures for people in the communities in which Olive Downs operates.”

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FAST CARS For A Good Cause

April 13, 2022

Known for his extravagant lifestyle and wild parties, Travers Beynon, known as the Candyman, has a flamboyant style and the capacity to push boundaries. Arriving in Mackay last week with two of his many luxury cars, a Ferrari, and his famous gold Lamborghini, Mr Beynon is more than a successful business owner, he is an entrepreneur with a difference, one who sees no boundaries in living life to its fullest, but stays grounded by keeping close to his team and customers.

The fast cars have become a part of his brand, FREECHOICE, but it’s not the beautiful women, parties and exotic cars which define him. He’s also a loving father who enjoys the joy it brings to children’s faces when they get the opportunity to sit in his exotic cars.

Mr Beynon brought his cars to Mackay last week to celebrate the opening of a new store in Rural View as well as celebrate the first anniversary of his Bucasia store. His affiliation with Broken Ballerina saw Jules Thompson on the end of the tongs, providing free sausages for locals keen to get close to the fast cars.

CANDYMAN’S

Sweet Backing Of Broken Ballerina

Travers Beynon is a passionate lover of life who sees the beauty in everything – art, fashion, cars, women. He’s charismatic and campaigns for what he believes in: hard work, a positive attitude and a genuine desire to inspire others to succeed.

His brand FREECHOICE stands for accepting and celebrating the diversity in people’s beliefs and most importantly freedom of expression, freedom of speech and freedom of choice…FREECHOICE. It is this mantra which saw his brand align with Broken Ballerina who also advocate for people to live their lives free from fear with freedom of choice.

Mr Beynon said he’s always excited to bring community events to rural areas and loves the positivity he receives from locals.

“We really love Mackay, which is why this time I’ve transported up the Ferrari and the Lamborghini,” Mr Beynon said.

“The Ferrari was the first exotic car I bought in 2006, the Lamborghini in 2016. They really are part of the brand. 20 years ago I was doing store openings and I was in my suit handing out fliers, it’s part of who we are.

“We let the kids sit in the cars and get photos. The best part of the day is when you see the look on the kids' faces, and not just the kids but some of the adults too, it’s a great experience.”

He said his brand is proud to be affiliated with Broken Ballerina.

“It’s important to collab with the right people,” Mr Beynon said.

“The story behind Broken Ballerina is similar to the FREECHOICE brand. When I first came out onto the market, I had a lot of haters and a lot of people putting me down.

“Life should be about the freedom to be yourself.

“Freedom of expression is a fundamental human right; it allows dialogue on important issues in society and plays a vital role in the healthy development process of a society. Restriction of freedom of expression is the beginning of the end, the decline of a free world.

“It’s about not giving up despite facing adversity. When you get knocked down, you get back up and stay strong.”

Broken Ballerina Founder Jules Thompson agreed, saying she enjoyed working with FREECHOICE.

“We were asked to do the opening of the Bucasia store last year. They were so nice to work for that when we were approached to do the sausage sizzle this year we said yes, Ms Thompson said.

“FREECHOICE paid us to do that which goes to Broken Ballerina.

“We stand for the same thing, free choice. Being able to be free to live your life how you choose to.

“With fundraising opportunities like these we’re able to help people change lives and save lives, so they can live free from fear. We are the only organisation in Mackay helping domestic violence victims 7 days per week and we don’t receive Government funding.”

FREECHOICE stocks a diverse range of items. As you would expect, it has a diverse range of tobacco items, but it also provides nicotine-free vaping products, a large range of unique giftware and homewares, incense and candles, party products and adult items, even snacks and drinks.

“For us it’s about more than just the products we sell, it’s about the brand name, FREECHOICE, especially in the times we’re faced with today,” Mr Beynon added.

“Freedom of choice, freedom of speech. We are all mortals, and our demise is not negotiable nor predictable, so why not live our lives to the fullest.”

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Prestigious Award For Suicide Prevention Veteran

April 8, 2022

Grapevine Group’s training coordinator Edie Weiss had been awarded the highly regarded LiFE Award by national body Suicide Prevention Australia for her outstanding contribution to the Queensland community.

Some of Ms Weiss’ significant contributions include personally training more than 5000 people in suicide prevention through 164 safeTALK sessions, coordinating Grapevine Group’s 3-hour safeTALK training and the 2-day ASIST Intervention training for Run for MI Life.

Ms Weiss has worked as a guidance officer for St Patrick’s College and Catholic Education, volunteered as a Lifeline Crisis worker and contributed over 30 years to suicide prevention activities.

Ms Weiss has also devised her own toolbox presentation called Suicide Mythbusters which gives an introduction on the signs to look for, where best to find help and the skills to be able to support those experiencing suicidal thoughts. Her extensive experience with Lifeline and in the education sector has provided her a strong background to develop this extra tool for Grapevine’s suicide prevention arsenal.

“Edie’s work is exceptional in this field,” said Grapevine president Debbie Knight.

“She is so humble about the things she’s done and achieved as a volunteer that she probably wouldn’t want us to make a fuss over this special recognition.

“We should make a fuss though because she’s an inspiration with an incredible commitment that has undoubtedly saved many lives,” Ms Knight said.

This is the third time the Grapevine Group has been recognised with Suicide Prevention Australia’s highly regarded LiFE Awards. The first time was when Grapevine president Debbie Knight won the Community Engagement category in 2017 and the organisation itself was awarded the Communities Matter honours in 2020.

Grapevine Group’s training coordinator Edie Weiss had been awarded the highly regarded LiFE Award by national body Suicide Prevention Australia for her outstanding contribution to the Queensland community.

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Raw Metal Sends Steel Off To Sail

April 8, 2022

Raw Metal Corp Mackay loaded its first full ship with recycled metal on Friday afternoon last week, finishing up on Monday mid-morning having worked tirelessly for 64 hours to get the job done.

Loading up the clean scrap steel for recycling, the local company filled the ship's holds with 12 thousand tonnes, and General Manager Brett Crosby said they were more than happy with the outcome.

“Very excited; it was exciting for our whole team as our first ship - and it went off without a hitch. Everyone was extremely happy to be a part of this process,” Mr Crosby said.

The recycled steel, which will head to a mill in Vietnam, was collected and processed over three months and comprised everything from old machinery to washing machines and dryers and a “good mix of other household items.”

Ten trucks operated by local workers from Mackay completed the work along with about 10 internal Raw Metal Corp staff on two shifts.

“It was good for us, but also good for those truck drivers because it’s providing a bit of a boost to the local economy,” Brett said.

“As well, we made sure they were well fed, had a barbecue and a tent set up for food, a coffee van set up in the café for the whole three days of work.”

It was the company's first ship ever, which Brett said had been an aspiration for the business since its early days.

“It’s something we always wanted to do - now we’ve done one and we’ll continue to do more,” he said.

In three months, Raw Metal will fill another ship, and Brett said if any Mackay locals are looking at wanting to be a part of the recycling process, to send their material Raw Metal’s way.

Over 64 hours, Raw Metal Corp transferred 12 thousand tonnes of steel to ships in Mackay

Day and night the Raw Metal Corp group worked tirelessly

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Queensland Coal Driving New Export Record

April 8, 2022

The Queensland coal sector’s importance to the state and national economy has been highlighted in a major new report that forecasts coal will bring in record export earnings of $110 billion in 2021-22.

The resource is set to become just the second Australian commodity to break through the $100 billion annual export mark.

The figures are part of the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources’ March 2022 edition of the Resources and Energy Quarterly (REQ).

Minister for Resources and Water Keith Pitt said coal is making a significant contribution to a “very successful year for Australia’s resources and energy sector”.

“The latest REQ report has found that soaring demand and high prices for Australia’s coal will be a key contributor to our total resources and export earnings surging to a record high $425 billion for 2021-22,” he said.

Minister Pitt said critical global shortages in energy and some resource commodities have led to the high prices for some of Australia’s commodities.

Federal Member for Capricornia Michelle Landry said the new figures show the importance the sector held.

“The jobs and economic opportunities the coal sector provides are critically important to our region and the Coalition Government will ensure that continues well into the future,” Ms Landry said.

Senator for Queensland Matthew Canavan said nearly 92 per cent of metallurgical coal exports came from Queensland in 2021.

“[That] means billions of extra dollars in royalties and taxes to pay for the services we all rely on,” Senator Canavan said.

“We should be thanking our coal miners for the work they do.”

LNP Candidate for Dawson, Andrew Willcox said Queensland’s coal industry can continue delivering jobs in the region for decades

“There are 91 new major resources and energy projects in the pipeline in Queensland, which will deliver thousands of new jobs, especially in regional areas,” Mr Willcox said.

“The men and women working in the coal sector in the North and Central Queensland region, and throughout Queensland, have helped provide the bedrock for the state’s economy through the COVID pandemic.”

Minister Pitt said the efforts of Australia’s resources workers have helped put the country on track to deliver record high resources and energy export earnings.

“These earnings will keep the benefits flowing to all Australians, including through royalties the states use to pay for services such as the hospitals, roads and schools, we all rely on.”

The latest Resources and Energy Quarterly report is available on the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources website.

Federal Member for Capricornia Michelle Landry with LNP Candidate for Flynn Colin Boyce (right) and Senator for Queensland Matthew Canavan

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Renewal Works For Shakespeare Street Water Main

April 8, 2022

A new water main will be installed along Shakespeare Street between Rae and Hoey streets, with the project duration anticipated to take eight weeks.

The new water main will be installed along the northern side of Shakespeare Street and will reduce the risk of failure while increasing the water supply and reliability of the local network.

Water interruptions will occur during the project, however advanced notice will be given to directly affected residents prior to any interruptions occurring.  

Mackay Regional Council said the works will be completed under traffic control, with the work zone area reduced to a single lane when crews are on site. The area will reopen as two lanes at the end of each day.

Motorists and pedestrians are asked to please follow all signage and instructions in the area while works are completed.

For more information on the project, visit council’s project hub connectingmackay.com.au.

Project map depicting the water main work zone area on Shakespeare Street

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Care Army Seeking Volunteers

April 8, 2022

Volunteering is a terrific way to immerse oneself in and contribute to the community and now there’s a simple way to get involved.

Laura Anzurri fills the newly created role of Neighbourhood and Care Army Connect Worker, where she connects volunteers with organisations in need.

She says there are plenty of upcoming opportunities to volunteer and is always seeking people to help.

Care Army was created two years ago as part of the Queensland Government’s Covid-19 recovery plan and has been adapted to address the decreasing volume of volunteers in regional Queensland.

The initiative proposes opportunities to an established and growing workforce of volunteers to help the organisations that have experienced this decrease.

She recently ran a successful campaign for the SecondBite initiative, recruiting eager volunteers to pick up groceries to contribute to the Neighbourhood Hub for people who struggle to afford them.

She says volunteers get matched based on skills, passions, and ability.

“It’s not just filling a role, it’s something that a volunteer should feel strongly about,” she said.

“It’s a matter of finding the right match.”

Laura is passionate about mental health and says the social interaction and sense of community that volunteering provides is the biggest benefit.

“It’s a way to make friends, it’s a way to know different realities,” she said.

“You get to know people with very big hearts.”

Laura is new to her role but has volunteered in the past and is a perfect example of how volunteering can lead to further opportunities.

“Volunteering did the trick for me,” she said.

“It often opens paths for paid employment in different fields.

“If it worked for me, it can work for other people.”

Care Army is looking for people of all backgrounds to get involved. Scan the QR code below to find out more.

Laura Anzurri recently ran a successful volunteer campaign for Taiya Thaiday, Administration and SecondBite Coordinator at The Neighbourhood Hub. Photo: supplied

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Coach Quits Amid Match-Fixing Allegations

April 8, 2022

Magpies Crusaders United Football Club has suffered another blow, after the club’s new head coach Brian Murphy resigned, telling media he suspected a player’s family who resides in the UK of gambling on games.

Football Australia prohibits participants from betting on matches, with strict penalties including a lifetime ban a possibility if caught.

Mr Murphy handed in his letter of resignation earlier this week, saying “there was definitely gambling going on” and that he didn’t want his name associated with that.

Magpies Crusaders United Chairman Barry Jansen was visibly devasted by the allegation, saying he was completely unaware of any assertion of match-fixing until his meeting with Mr Murphy tendering his resignation.

“Magpies Crusaders is taking this matter very seriously and is committed to cooperating fully with Football Queensland and Football Australia’s investigation,” Mr Jansen said in a statement.

“As always, Magpies Crusaders wish to maintain the highest level of integrity and transparency but will be unable to provide any further comment as the investigation continues."

Mr Murphy alleged for the club to move forward and get a license to play next year they would need to do a thorough investigation.

Football Queensland has referred the incident to the Football Australia Integrity Department.

At the time of writing, Magpies Crusaders United will continue their QPL1 campaign this Saturday 9th April against Mitchelton FC at its home ground, Sologinkin Oval. Kickoff is set for 7pm.

Magpies Crusaders United Football Club Head Coach Brian Murphy (left) tendered his resignation this week, accusing a player’s family of gambling on matches. Image: Magpies Crusaders Facebook

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Drive-Through Vaccination

April 8, 2022

The Mackay Showgrounds vaccination hub recently facilitated its first drive-through COVID-19 vaccination, to give vulnerable members of the public with mobility issues a solution to get their vaccination or booster.

If you or someone you know has compromised mobility and would like to receive a first, second, booster or paediatric dose, you can call Mackay Hospital and Health Service’s COVID-19 hotline on 4885 5666 to book an appointment.

The Mackay Showgrounds vaccination hub is open 9.30am to 5pm weekdays, 7.30am to 3pm Saturday and 8.30am to 4pm Sunday.

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New Initiative Bridges Gap Between Industry And Education

April 8, 2022

Greater Whitsunday Alliance (GW3) are bringing a first of its kind, tailored curriculum to the region and rolling it out in classrooms to help students identify and prepare themselves for regional career opportunities.

The ‘For Greater Careers Education Program’ is a series of career modules aimed at helping high school teachers from year seven to ten support their students through the provision of regionally specific resources.

Greater Whitsunday Alliance (GW3) Chief Executive Officer Kylie Porter said GW3 worked with education consultants ‘Future Anything’ to engage teachers, industry representatives and young people to develop the program.

“[It is a] series of hands-on, career modules that are co-designed by the region, for use in classrooms across the Greater Whitsunday,” Ms Porter said.

“The first module developed is targeting year ten students, while development of modules for years seven, eight and nine is now underway.”

The program aims at building job readiness for high school students across the region and providing them with accurate information around the types of careers available in a large range of sectors including agriculture, aquaculture, mining, and even aerospace.

Future Anything Founder Ms Nicole Dyson said over 50 per cent of current jobs are being replaced or irrevocably changed due to globalisation and automation – making the program extremely timely.

“It’s never been more important to provide young people with a clear understanding of the ‘future of work’ and how to navigate a ‘future proofed’ pathway to industry,” Ms Dyson said.

“Current research indicates an average 12- year -old today will have seventeen different jobs over five different careers.”

The program is research backed by regional data and is broken down into four phases of learning.

The modules will enable students to understand the ‘future of work’ before they imagine real world pathway opportunities in region.

Students will map their future through to training and education opportunities, before making their career decision with a focus on action through work experience.

Ms Dyson believes the For Greater Careers Education Program will bring transformational change to the ‘careers education’ space in the Greater Whitsunday region.

“Quite simply, young people can’t be what they can’t see,” she said.

“This will, no doubt, see more young people getting employed faster - especially in their chosen fields, greater engagement of young people in industry in region - particularly in emerging fields, and a closing the skill gap between education and industry.”

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Tropical Trees Get A Trim

April 8, 2022

Mackay Regional Council staff began scheduled maintenance of trimming trees in the Mackay City Centre earlier this week, to keep the city’s tropical palms tidy.

Palm cleaning will be carried out over two weeks between 5am and 9am on weekdays and weekends on Victoria, Wood, Macalister and Nelson streets, as well as Mangrove Road and Matsuura Drive.

Palm cleaning on Sydney Street will be completed on Sunday, April 10, and will take most of the morning to complete.

Full traffic control will be in place and some road/lane closures will be required during the work.

Residents are asked to obey all instructions from council staff and traffic control officers.

The work is part of council’s annual maintenance program.

For further information call 1300 MACKAY (622 529).

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Leave Haste To The Easter Bunny These Holidays

April 8, 2022

An alarming spike in motor vehicle accidents has the region’s rescuers pleading for caution on the roads this Easter and during the school holidays.

From January to the end of March, RACQ CQ Rescue completed 146 missions, 11 of which were airlifting people injured in serious motor vehicle accidents in the region. This compared to only eight accidents in the first three months of last year and four in 2020, representing a very concerning upwards trend on the region’s road.

Motor vehicle accidents involving, car, trucks and motorbikes occurred across the length and breadth of the helicopter’s service region including Ayr, Moranbah, Collinsville, Nebo, Gargett and in the Whitsundays, with serious injuries requiring airlift to hospital predominantly including fractures, cranial and internal injuries.

RACQ CQ Rescue pilot Owen Maitland said the message was very clear to all motorists this Easter – leave your phone alone when you are behind the wheel.

“The fatal five, particularly distracted driving, speeding and fatigue, are still playing a large part in serious road accidents and subsequent severe injury in this region,” he said.

“Distracted drivers are far too common. Sadly, we see it every day. You only have to pull up at a set of traffic lights and see drivers talking on their phones or sending a text message. This is a very serious threat not only to themselves and their passengers but to other road users as well. Mobile phones cause major distractions for drivers, on both long distance trips or even just around town, and largely increase the risk of accident, subsequent serious injury and even death,” Mr Maitland said.

“Please, for the sake of your loved ones and other road users, set up the Do Not Disturb While Driving function on your phone so you can stay focused behind the wheel. When this is on, text messages, calls and notifications will be limited so you can focus on the important job of getting to your destination safely.

“No message, notification or phone call is worth the risk to life and limb on the road. While we love our job and serving this community, we don’t want to meet you or your loved ones by accident this Easter,” he said.  

Locally, a horror period of deaths on the roads recently included a doctor in her 20s who died in a head-on collision between a truck and Suzuki Swift on the Bruce Highway last month, a young man killed when his vehicle hit a tree near Kuttabul, west of Mackay, and a 44-year-old Clermont woman killed in a head-on collision on the Peak Downs Highway near Strathfield, both in February.

RACQ CQ Rescue is urging motorists to take care behind the wheel. Image supplied: RACQ CQ Rescue

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Veteran Celebrates 50 Years With RSL

April 8, 2022

Vietnam veteran and Mackay local Gordon McCall has been recognised for 50 years of cumulative service as a member of the Returned Services League of Australia.

RSL Mackay President Ken Higgins presented Gordon with a 50-year certificate as well as a certificate detailing his service with the Australian Army at an RSL meeting in Mackay on Sunday.

LCpl. Gordon Glen McCall joined the Australian Army on May 16, 1958, and trained in the 11th National Service Training Battalion, completing basic training in the Brisbane suburb of Wacol.

He then completed follow up training as part of the 42nd Infantry Battalion, Royal Queensland Regiment.

He enlisted in his hometown of Mackay in 1966 and served under the Australian Army Service No. 1411194.

He went on to train at Kapooka, Ingleburn in New South Wales, and Canungra in Queensland before being posted in the Ingleburn Reinforcement Unit.

From there, Gordon was sent to South Vietnam in 1967.

His operational postings in Vietnam included the Australian Reinforcement Unit and the 1st Australian Task Force Headquarters Light Aid Detachment before joining the 5th and 7th Battalions of The Royal Australian Regiment between 1967 and 1968.

Gordon returned to Australia and was discharged in 1969 in Brisbane.

His total Vietnam War service spanned from 1962 to 1972 and he is a life member of Mackay RSL.

Apart from his service, Gordon has been in Mackay all his life.  

After the war, he worked with the local fire brigade and enjoys retirement today.

RSL Mackay President Ken Higgins congratulated Gordon on the achievement.

“A 50 year achievement is a great effort,” said Ken.

“I’ve known Gordon for a long, long time and we are very proud of him for being a member of the Mackay RSL.”

Gordon thanked everybody for their well wishes and says the RSL has been an important part of his life after service.

“I joined the RSL when I got back from Vietnam,” he said.

“You get to see your mates every couple of weeks.”

RSL Mackay President Ken Higgins presents Gordon McCall with his 50 years of RSL service certificate. Photo: Sam Gillespie

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Mackay’s New Brews

April 8, 2022

Opening a brewery is everybody’s dream at some point.

Mackay-born Jamie Woods, affectionately known as Woodsy, has achieved the dream.

Woodsy opened Red Dog Brewery, alongside mates and business partners Jason Egan and Matt Lawton, last Friday to a rousing response from locals.

“It’s been great, mate,” Woodsy said on opening day.

“As soon as I opened the doors, we had 30 people in here.”

The bustling brewhouse is spread over two levels in an industrial space on the corner of Chain and Victoria Streets at the edge of the city.

The wide variety of beers on tap offers flavours seldom seen in Mackay pubs.

Opening day saw plenty of amber ales, pale ales, pilsners, Kolsch’s, and coffee porters poured, with an IPA and more exotic seasonal styles to come.

The menu also offers locally sourced spirits, colourful cocktails, and ice-cold slushies so there’s something for everyone.

Get Crafty With It

Jamie “Woodsy” Woods and Jason Egan were in Brisbane a couple of years ago and ended up in a craft brewery in Teneriffe.

Jason turned to Jamie with an idea that would change their lives.

“It was his idea, he just said, ‘maybe we should open one in Mackay,’” Woodsy said.

“We went to a few different breweries down there and said ‘yeah, we can do this in Mackay, but first we need to learn how to brew.’”

With no background in brewing beer, the pair learnt that it’s an ever-evolving process.

“I don’t think you ever stop; you just keep learning more and more.”

After their first beer in Jason’s shed, which took 18 hours to brew, they continued to evolve, experiment, and refine, finding their calling in the process.

“I got a bit of a passion for it over that time, trying to perfect it and get it better.”

A couple of years later, the boys opened Mackay’s newest craft brewery and taproom, but Woodsy says a lot more people were involved.

“It was a collaborative effort from a lot of people in town,” he said.

“It took a lot of people to get us to this point and without those people we wouldn’t be opening the doors today.”

The brewery provides a relaxed and social atmosphere in an industrial setting, with plenty of space to sit inside and out, live music, and food trucks out the front.

The variety of beers is the widest you’ll find in Mackay, with the amber ale being Woodsy’s pick of the bunch.

“We add hops to our amber ale, and it gives it a fruity aroma as opposed to a traditional amber that you’d get in the UK where it’s just a malty beer,” he said.

All beer is brewed onsite and sold exclusively through the brewery, with growlers and refills available if you want the Red Dog experience on your own back patio.

Woody says his vision is to provide a tastier alternative to the beer drinkers of Mackay.

“We understood that the Mackay market is a very traditional lager market for beer, but we want to be able to change that mentality – there’s other beer flavours out there,” he said.

“You can get a lot more flavour out of a craft beer than what you can out of the commercial stuff.

“Our vision is that more people drink craft beer.”

Red Dog Brewery Brewer and Co-Owner Jamie “Woodsy” Woods was stoked with the opening day turnout. Photo: Sam Gillespie

Locals were out in force to support the opening of Red Dog Brewery and sample their delicious beers. Photos: Sam Gillespie

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Labor To Dedicate Fund To Women’s Safety

April 1, 2022

Each year nearly 10,000 women and children seeking safety are turned away from accommodation and support services due to lack of beds and resources.

In response to these damning statistics, the Labor government has announced funding support for frontline organisations supporting women and children fleeing violence.

Mackay Women’s Services Executive Director Linda-Anne Northey welcomed Labor candidate for Dawson Shane Hamilton and Assistant Minister for Communities and the Prevention of Family Violence Senator Jenny McAllister to Mackay Women’s Services to make the announcement last Thursday.

“We recently just had our women’s forum and we’ve listened to the needs of women in our area through that forum,” Mr Hamilton said.

“We’ve come up with some really great outcomes.”

The Housing Australia Future Fund will involve building 30,000 affordable homes across the country, including 4,000 homes to be allocated specifically to women and children fleeing violence and older women on low incomes who are at risk of homelessness.

An additional $100 million will be allocated to the refurbishment and revitalisation of crisis accommodation across the country, with over $2 million to be dedicated to expanding crisis accommodation options in Central Queensland.

Labor will also invest in 500 community sector workers to focus on domestic and family violence, which will provide an additional 12 workers in the Central Queensland region.

Senator Jenny McAllister says this could help as many as 187 women and children to find refuge.

“Right across the country, we hear that women are struggling when they look to find accommodation for themselves and their children when escaping violence,” Senator McAllister said.

“I know that Linda-Anne Northey and all of the community service workers in the local area work incredibly hard to support every woman that comes through their door.”

Linda-Anne Northey says that providing somewhere safe to sleep is the first and most important step.

“All of our services work so closely together to value-add and to find resources out of almost nothing or to work together to make sure that there’s a cushion of support put in place, but to actually have a house or somewhere for people to go is a core start to making sure that people feel safe,” Ms Northey said.

Ms Northey says there is an ever-increasing demand for these services in the region, requiring an increase of dedicated social workers to support those in need.

“Unfortunately, in recent weeks, we’re getting more and more that are walking in, so we need more face-to-face workers being able to support the number of walk-ins and the response required,” Ms Northey said.

“Getting that extra accommodation, knowing that there’s housing, that basic survival need, and knowing that people will have an advocate to walk alongside them and support them through the system and support them to succeed in the move to that housing, absolutely fundamental and critical to their change of safety and to be in a better situation.”

Labor candidate for Dawson Shane Hamilton, Assistant Minister for Communities and the Prevention of Family Violence Senator Jenny McAllister, and Mackay Women’s Services Executive Director Linda-Anne Northey. Photo: Sam Gillespie

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GW3 Ambitions Shared By Queensland Parliament

April 1, 2022

Some of the Greater Whitsunday region’s change champions travelled to Brisbane to meet with a range of parliamentarians and key advisors to showcase the Mackay region’s strong economic credentials and the regional ambitions to attract new industry.

Greater Whitsunday Alliance (GW3) hosted a small delegation to Brisbane in March which culminated in a Greater Whitsunday Showcase event at Parliament House, attended by the Premier of Queensland, the Hon. Annastacia Palaszczuk, Treasurer Mr Cameron Dick, Leader of the Opposition Mr David Crisafulli and other key government Ministers.

The delegation included Isaac Regional Council Mayor Anne Baker; Whitsunday Regional Council CEO Mr Rod Ferguson; Red Cat Adventures Director Mr Asher Telford; Bowen Gumlu Growers Association CEO Mr Ry Collins; GW3 Director Mr Jordan Miller; Resources Centre of Excellence CEO Mr Steven Boxall and Nordzucker Mackay Sugar Mr Jannik Olejas.

GW3 Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Ms Kylie Porter said the theme of the delegation was Greater Whitsundays is for greater.

“One of the objectives of the delegation was to build the profile of the Greater Whitsunday region amongst parliamentarians in Brisbane,” Ms Porter said.

“The other was to discuss regionally specific topics including critical minerals testing, biofutures, aerospace, and the future of the gas reserves in the Bowen Basin region.”

Ms Porter said the delegation hosted five key meetings with Ministers and MPs in Brisbane, and hosted an event attended by 70 parliamentarians, industry leaders and key decision makers, co-hosted by Member for Mackay Julieanne Gilbert and Member for Whitsunday Amanda Camm.

“The role of delegates was to provide the ‘real face’ to parliamentarians: to tell an authentic story about our region’s vision for the future; how it is evolving and what that means to the Queensland economy.

“It was an incredibly useful trip and GW3 looks forward to leading more delegations in the future.” Ms Porter said.

GW3 delegates with MPs and Ministers at Queensland Parliament. Photos: Supplied GW3

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Locals Lobby Federal To Pony Up $2.7M In Nebo

April 1, 2022

It’s a little club which hosts an iconic event, and locals are calling on the Federal Government to giddy up when it comes to supporting the Nebo Showgrounds.

The Nebo community is calling for a $2.7 million commitment from federal candidates to back regional Australia and fund the Nebo Showgrounds Masterplan Stage 1 in this year’s election.

Isaac community groups and Council have joined forces to advocate for funding to revitalise the Nebo Showgrounds facility and futureproof one of the region’s most utilised assets with infrastructure, parking and camping upgrades.

Mayor Anne Baker said Nebo Showgrounds is a critical piece of community infrastructure in need of important upgrades and it is time for Canberra to take notice.

“This facility supports our grassroot industries, community groups and neighbouring towns hosting over 685 events annually,” Mayor Baker said.

“From the national events like the Nebo Rodeo to its role in supporting the agricultural sector, communities in regional Australia are built on places like the Nebo Showgrounds.

“We have ambitious plans, but we cannot do this on our own. Federal candidates committing funds to this project is a vote of support for regional Australia.”

The Nebo Showgrounds are booked out for more than 80 days of the year, attracting 20,000 visitors annually with an estimated local economy return of about $1.2 million.

Mayor Baker said there is a lot of potential for growth in existing activities as well as attracting new industry and events.

“This is why we have developed the Nebo Showgrounds Masterplan in consultation with community to maximise the facility’s full potential,” Mayor Baker said.

Local cattle producer Jarrod Deguara, who competes with his teenage son in team roping events at Nebo, said Nebo Rodeo is Australia’s biggest one-day rodeo, attracting 5,000 people from across regional Australia.

“To get federal support for this project would be phenomenal because the Nebo Rodeo is not just a community event … this is nationwide event,” the Nebo Bushman’s Carnival committee member said.

Joy Cooper from the Nebo Pony Club said Nebo Showgrounds are an essential place for the rural and regional communities.

“All of it costs money and we’re only little clubs and we can only do so much,” Ms Cooper said.

“That’s why this federal election we are calling on candidates to support projects that matters to us like the Nebo Showgrounds Masterplan.”

Visit https://www.isaac.qld.gov.au/homepage/276/nebo-showgrounds-masterplan---stage-1 for more information.

Local cattle producer Jarrod Deguara, who competes with his teenage son in team roping events at Nebo, said Nebo Rodeo is Australia’s biggest one-day rodeos, attracting 5,000. Images supplied: Isaac Regional Council

Nebo community is calling for Canberra to back projects that matter to regional Australia just like the Nebo Showgrounds Masterplan

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Mining, Manufacturing And Sugar. Meet Labor’s Federal Candidate For Dawson, Shane Hamilton

April 1, 2022

People will hit the polling booths in May. At Mackay and Whitsunday Life, we want you to know about the policies of this year’s federal candidates, commencing with our Political Life Column next week.

To kick off proceedings, we invited Shane Hamilton, Labor’s candidate for Dawson, to share with our readers why he put his hand up for politics and where he stands on mining, manufacturing and sugar.

Born in Mackay, Mr Hamilton has a wide breadth of understanding for the region as a whole. He grew up in Sarina and played rugby league for the Crocodiles until he was 19, having to give the sport a rest due to injury. Now, he coaches his son’s U6 Magpies team and gets just as much enjoyment nurturing the next generation from the sideline.

From Sarina, he spent a few years living up the Pioneer Valley in Marian, before his boilermaking career took him throughout the Bowen Basin where his future was forged in mining.

“People ask me where I stand on mining, it’s an industry I’ve built my career in and most of my extended family work in the industry,” Mr Hamilton said.

“The employment the mining industry generates is phenomenal,” he said.

“I know there’s rhetoric around Labor and the Greens and it’s false. As a person who has built a career in mining, there’s no better person than me sitting in Canberra to say what’s really impacting people in the industry.

“That’s a big part of the reason I’ve thrown my hand up for politics, because I’m really passionate about protecting the hard-working Australians out there.”

Mr Hamilton said it’s not in Labor’s game plan to shut down mining.

“It’s in our game plan to create more opportunities, by using mining as a baseload industry, but by looking at the big picture and asking how we create other jobs around it moving forward,” he said.

“My personal big push is regional manufacturing, bringing that back.

“We could be competing with the likes of Germany, building a name for quality, not trying to compete with places like China on price. I’ve seen steel towers shipped into Hay Point from overseas for big projects. As a boilermaker, I saw a lost opportunity in making that product here.”

Mr Hamilton said he believes sugar is another important part of the Dawson electorate and wants to fight for a fair go for farmers.

“My parents rented 160 acres in Sarina so we grew up with cattle and cane,” he said.

“Traditionally cane farmers don’t think a Labor bloke will understand them but it’s an area I’m really focused on and wanting to learn more about.

“Labor’s energy policies focus on lowering energy costs for farmers so they don’t have to think twice about whether they can afford to irrigate.”

Keep an eye out on our political column every week until the federal election to find out more from the federal candidates who opted in to take part in this opportunity.

Labor Candidate for Dawson Shane Hamilton with his wife Anita, son Beau and daughters, Farrah and Isabella

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Pool Evacuated For Suspected Chemical Spill

April 1, 2022

Traffic backed up past the Ron Camm Bridge last Friday when a suspected chlorine spill from the Memorial Swim Centre brought parts of Mackay’s CBD to a standstill.

An employee of the pool’s contractor Belgravia Leisure raised the alarm about a possible chlorine spill shortly before 7am.

This sparked a quick and major response from emergency services, including securing a safety perimeter and managing motorists in the area.

Investigations since determined there was only a minor leak on a pipe of the chlorine storage system.

“About three to five litres of chlorine had leaked into a contained pit, which was part of the system. This has now been rectified,” A Mackay Regional Council spokesperson said.

“There was also about 150 litres of liquid in a bunded area, but investigations have determined this was pool water and there was no leak.

“Once again, council wishes to thank emergency services and Workplace Health and Safety Queensland for their quick response.”

Council will hold further discussions with Belgravia about the incident.

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Medical Community Mourns Death Of Student

April 1, 2022

Another precious life has been lost on the Bruce Highway, this time a promising young medical student was the victim of the treacherous stretch of road between Sarina and St Lawrence last Sunday Morning.

Yi-Jing Zeng was a student at James Cook University where the news of her sudden death sent disbelief through the medical fraternity.

Yi-Jing was the Secretary to MINT, a Physician Interest Group at JCU consisting of medical students and junior doctors. Her colleagues paid a heartfelt tribute to her saying Yi-Jing was an exceptional friend to many of them.

“Our team is in need of some time to grieve and pay respect to our lost beloved executive member. She has been diligently working with us for what has been an incredible few months for MINT this year, with her leadership in rolling out our revived premium memberships and organizing the logistics for all of our events so far,” the group said in a statement.

“Her team spirit and positivity will forever stay with us and will be remembered for the kindness she always had to offer.

“We hope to support our colleagues in this extremely difficult time and the MINT executive team offers its deepest condolences to all of Yi-Jing’s dearest family and friends.”

The Australian Medical Professionals’ Society said they were devastated by the loss of the sixth-year medical student.

“Our sincere condolences to her family, friends and fellow students and work colleagues,” the group issued in a statement.

Yi-Jing had been driving her Suzuki Swift from Mackay, heading South on Sunday March 27.

Police reported that initial investigations indicate that at approximately 7.45am near North Inneston Road and Petersen Road, her Suzuki Swift collided with a truck.

Yi-Jing was the sole occupant of the car and reportedly died from her injuries at the scene. Locals reported that it had been raining heavily that morning.

Police said that the 60-year-old male truck driver was not physically injured.

The incident closed the Bruce Highway in the area for approximately three hours and the Forensic Crash Unit is investigating.

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Miner Killed In Underground Tragedy

April 1, 2022

A worker was killed in Moranbah North mine last Friday after suffering fatal head injuries in an event still undergoing investigation.

The 59-year-old father of two, Gaven Feltwell, was in the Moranbah North mine when the tragedy occurred.

Mr Feltwell was reportedly working on “ancillary work” moving an old piece of equipment in a roadway when he was struck in the head.

He was employed as a contractor for Mastermyne, a mining services firm, at the site owned by Anglo American mine.

"We send our heartfelt thoughts and prayers to his family, colleagues and our communities as we process this tragedy," Isaac Regional Council Mayor Anne Baker said in a Facebook post.

"Our hearts break all over again today. On behalf of Isaac, I extend our gratitude and support to emergency workers who were there for him last night."

The company has since suspended operations at the site while Resources Safety and Health Queensland investigate the incident.

Mr Feltwell was honoured by the Moranbah Community at the Moranbah Miners’ Memorial with a moving service last Saturday night. Mayor Baker laid a wreath on behalf of the community who stood for a minute's silence.

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Performances And Popcorn - The Stage Is Set For Youth Week

April 1, 2022

Buckets of popcorn, an outdoor movie and some live and loud local music are the treats for youth aged between 12 to 25 in the region, who are invited to kick back at three free events funded by council during Youth Week.

The free events will stretch from Melba House, Marian on Wednesday, 6 April, to Sarina’s Field of Dreams on Thursday, 7 April, and then to Bluewater Quay, Mackay on Friday, 8 April.

Each event will feature a screening of Space Jam: A New Legacy, as well as local performances from Sarina’s Tiffany Grace, and JONTE, who will be performing before the opening credits.

Mayor Greg Williamson said council’s youth development team had put a tremendous amount of work into the events and promised they would be great fun.

“Over three consecutive evenings, from 5.30pm to 8.30pm, we will set up the big movie screen outdoors, have some local up-and-coming artists performing live music and there will also be an outdoor art gallery,” Mayor Williamson said.

“The art gallery will feature photographs from young people that live in the Pioneer Valley and Sarina.

“Food will be available for purchase and, of course, there will be free popcorn for everyone!”

Mayor Williamson also said that the youth development team would be presenting the highlights from the YOL1000 project so far.

“YOL stands for Youth Out Loud, and it’s a project where the team is working to have conversations with 1000 young people from across our region to better understand the needs of our region’s youth,” he said.

Mayor Williamson said the group has already recorded more than 800 conversations.

Queensland Youth Week is the annual celebration of young people aged 12 to 25 years and the positive contributions they make to Queensland. This year the week will be held from April 1–11.

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Wetland Weeds Extracted By Excavator

April 1, 2022

A clever solution to an infestation of weed is reducing the need for herbicide while providing an alternative source of food for local graziers.

Reef Catchments is working to protect and restore wetlands south of Mackay, assisting landholders in the Sandringham Wetland Complex to manage their land and improve grazing practices.

As part of this project, which is funded by the Australian Government’s Reef Trust, a long reach excavator has been used in a trial effort to mechanically remove water hyacinth and put it into the adjacent fallow cane paddocks as mulch, as an alternative to spraying vast amounts of herbicides to control this localised infestation.

Reef Catchments and the landholder are now investigating if the mulch layer of aquatic weeds in the paddock will improve soil conditions and benefit the next cane crop, optimising the balance between production and ecosystem protection, promoting a healthier environment for the native birds and fish species, and reducing pollutants running off to the Great Barrier Reef lagoon.

The potential for biocontrol releases is also being investigated, which could deal with the infestation long-term, since the seed bank can be viable for up to 25 years.

The Plane Creek catchment, in which the Sandringham Wetland Complex is located, covers 2,539 square kilometres, and 28 per cent of the Mackay Whitsunday Isaac (MWI) region.

Reef Catchments is partnering with landholders in the Sandringham Wetland Complex to improve fish habitat, restore native vegetation and improve water quality. Reef Catchments has already assisted local landholders to implement more than 6.5km of new wildlife friendly fencing and 11 additional off-stream watering points to manage stock access in sensitive ecological areas.

Most wetlands in Queensland are on private land, and many are on properties that run grazing businesses.

Reef Catchments Project Officer – Conservation and Communities, Carlos Bueno, said “The Sandringham Wetland Complex provides many vital functions to the local coastal area due to its unique soil types and water holding capacity. Improvements and adoption of best management practices on these critical ecosystems can enhance the ecosystem and improve grazing productivity.

“Graziers value the Sandringham Wetland Complex for providing water and feed for stock, and reserves during the dry season or droughts. The impacts of grazing on wetlands can include reduced water quality from additional nutrient inputs, increased soil compaction and reduced native vegetation.”

Wetlands are the boundary between two different ecosystems, dry and wet, which means they have a unique role in nutrient exchange and water supply to surrounding lands. They also provide habitat, food, and shelter to many different plants and animals including endangered, vulnerable, and migratory species.

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Lifelong Learning For Carlisle Kids

April 1, 2022

Helping to prepare today’s children for the jobs of the future was the catalyst in driving an expansion to one of Mackay’s growing Christian schools.

Carlisle Adventist College on Holts Road in Beaconsfield officially opened a new two-storey building last week to allow for the growing number of students building a future in technology and home economic subjects.

The rooms are designed to nurture collaborative learning and encourage problem-based skill solving which is an important part of preparing children for STEM-based careers.

The landscaping also incorporates a yarning circle for students to broaden their depth of understanding in Aboriginal culture, particularly understanding local history connected to the region’s Yuwibara people.

Federal Member for Dawson officially opened the new building which was made possible with $500,000 in funding from the Federal Government.

The large food technology space on the ground floor includes a learning café, while the upper rooms will be used for robotics and technology.

Federal Member for Dawson George Christensen officially opened additions to Carlisle Adventist College last Friday. Images supplied: Office of George Christensen

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Key Points From The 2022 Federal Budget

April 1, 2022

The Federal Budget 2022 has dropped a cash bomb to ease the number one topic on the minds of ordinary Australians: the climbing cost of living.

It includes an extra tax cut for 10 million low- and middle-income workers worth up to $420 – while fuel excise will be slashed for the next six months.

Here's what you need to know.

Firstly, from July 1 this year, more than 10 million individuals will receive a one-off $420 cost of living tax offset, meaning eligible low- and middle-income earners will be up to $1,500 better off for a single income household, or $3,000 better off for dual income household.

Additionally, the Government has committed to helping Australians most in need by providing a one-off, income-tax-exempt payment of $250 to six million eligible pensioners, welfare recipients, veterans, and eligible concession card holders in April 2022.

The fuel excise will also be slashed by 50 per cent for six months, dropping to 22.1 cents per litre, which will see prices drop at the bowser over the next two weeks.

Another major issue addressed in the 2022 Budget is unemployment, training, and job security.

To help Australians gain more highly skilled and better paying employment, the Government is investing in the following measures to expand and upskill the workforce.

On top of the $1.5 billion Modern Manufacturing Strategy announced in the 2020-21 Budget, the Government will invest a further $1 billion into the manufacturing sector.

More Australians will be trained in key skills across key industries, with $2.8 billion committed to supporting apprenticeships, building on the $13.3 billion spent on apprenticeships and traineeships since 2013.

$3.7 billion in Commonwealth funding has been committed to a new skills agreement that has the capacity to deliver up to 800,000 additional training places for Australians.

The Budget also includes $2.2 billion for a research commercialisation action plan to bring industries and universities together and develop the next generation of innovative Australian companies.

Small businesses will have access to a new 20 per cent bonus deduction for eligible external training courses for upskilling employees.

The Government is also providing $1 billion for a new Technology Investment Boost to encourage small businesses to go digital.

Federal Member for Capricornia Michelle Landry says Australia’s economic recovery is leading the world.

“More Australians are in work than ever before and the unemployment rate is now forecast to reach 3.75 per cent in 2022, the lowest rate in close to 50 years,” Ms Landry said.

Federal Member for Capricornia Michelle Landry says the Government’s plan for a stronger future provides cost of living relief, creates more jobs, guarantees essential services, and keeps Australians safe. Photo: supplied

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Helicopter Rescue Off Dolphin Heads Saves Local Fishermen

April 1, 2022

Three Mackay fishermen were rescued by the RACQ CQ Rescue helicopter after their boat sank off Dolphin Heads last Friday evening.

The men, a 26-year-old from Rural View, a 34-year-old from Beaconsfield, and a 29-year-old from Slade Point, had spent the day fishing in a 16-foot centre console boat at a nearby island.

They were returning home when the boat started taking on water, reportedly due to a fault in the vessel’s bilge pump.

The trio started bailing water from the vessel before quickly roping together some jerry cans as a floatation device.

They then activated their emergency position indicating radio beacon (EPIRB) and RACQ CQ Rescue was alerted to the beacon by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority.

The Mackay-based helicopter was alerted to the EPIRB activation approximately 18 kilometres north of Mackay at about 5pm Friday.

10 minutes after departing the Mackay Airport, the rescue helicopter crew, including a Critical Care Paramedic and rescue crewman, spotted the three men in the water about 5 kilometres offshore.

An RACQ CQ Rescue crewman was winched down into the water three times to secure each survivor into a vest to be winched up into the helicopter as Dolphin Heads locals watched on.

The crewman said the exhausted fishermen were incredibly relieved to see help arrive from overhead after spending about an hour in the water trying to swim to shore.

They had already swum approximately three kilometres from the rapidly sinking vessel and were using the empty jerry cans to keep afloat.

Volunteer Marine Rescue Mackay also responded and assisted in the rescue.

All three men were physically unharmed and were checked by the paramedic on board before being returned to Mackay Airport.

The men were incredibly relieved and happy to be back on dry land and to be reunited with their grateful families.

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#BreakTheBias Of Financial Freedom

March 25, 2022

Sixty per cent of people who own shares identify as male, and sixty-one per cent of women agree with the statement “I find investing confusing”, versus forty-one per cent of men.

Liz, a 31-year-old high school teacher working and living in Mackay is one of the many women who feels that the investing world is a male-dominated one.

Her investing journey began three months ago, meaning she’s in the very early stages, and already she’s found that breaking the bias has been not only incredibly rewarding, but also empowering.

“I really believed it wasn’t something for me,” Liz said.

“I thought it was too hard, and exclusively for the smart or rich people – the grownups.

“I’ve never spoken to another woman about investing, and even at work it’s my male colleagues, and the male doctors at my partners work that are doing the investing.”

In a world of ever-changing gender roles, women like Liz are making headway in male-dominated industries, both through their own head-first dives into the world of investment, and through sharing their stories with others.

Her own story began when she and her partner were saving furiously for a deposit for a home loan.

“The market is insane and we don’t know what our long-term plan is, or whether we wanted to buy in Mackay,” Liz said.

“We decided we weren’t ready to make the commitment yet, and we had the deposit sitting there and we thought, should we invest it?”

Both Liz and her partner are quite risk averse, but Liz started doing a bit of research and heard of Sharesies, as well as micro-investing.

The Sharesies platform is an accessible digital investment platform was a no-brainer with over 500,000 people using the platform in Australia and NZ, with the aim of breaking down the barriers to investing.

Through the platform, Liz joined the investing world, and is now advocating to other women in Mackay to keep breaking the bias and join the world of investing.

“It’s been interesting [trying to convince my co-workers], my staff room at school is all female and I come in and tell them I’m investing,” Liz said.

“It’s interesting to see the reaction – they’re unsure about it. We don’t usually talk about money.

“They’re still on the fence, but I think I’ve convinced two of them that they should get started. I look forward to discussing my shares with them.”

Liz said that she feels more confident in her financial future and managing her wealth thanks to delving into the world of shares, and she is just one of the normal people in Mackay doing their part to represent in an often male-dominated world.

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Whitehaven Coal Contributes To Ukraine With Coal Donation

March 25, 2022

The Australian Government announced that they will be donating 70,000 tonnes of thermal coal to Ukraine in an effort to support the war-torn country’s energy sector earlier this week.

Part of a broader multimillion-dollar support package from the federal government, the coal is to be provided by Australian coal producer Whitehaven Coal, with several mining companies contributing to the cause.

Whitsunday Regional Council Mayor Andrew Willcox says the ability of one of Australia’s thermal coal producers to provide vital support to the people of Ukraine highlights the significance of the sector.

“We are all horrified by what we are seeing unfold in Ukraine, where so many lives are being lost, and whole cities being destroyed in this bloody conflict,” Councillor Willcox said.

“So to see that Australia has been able to respond to a call for help from the Ukraine and supply thermal coal to keep power stations operating, providing electricity at a crucial time, is amazing.

“Those who work in the coal sector are under-appreciated in their own country for the work they do to provide us with these vital resources.

“Today those workers can take comfort from knowing that what they do can contribute in some small way to assisting the Ukrainian people, and I for one am proud of the work they do.”

Ukraine specifically requested assistance from the Australian Government and Minister for Resources and Water Keith Pitt has thanked Whitehaven Coal for providing this assistance so promptly.

“This will make a real difference for the people of Ukraine by providing continued energy security, ensuring continued electricity supply to homes and industry,” Minister Pitt said.

“Energy supply will be critical to Ukraine’s ability to sustain its people and to continue to defend itself against appalling Russian aggression.

“At a time of great need, the Ukrainian Government sought assistance from Australia and I’m very pleased we’ve been able to provide that support with the help of our resources sector.”

Whitehaven Coal released a statement on Sunday expressing pride in being able to contribute the donation.

“Whitehaven is proud to be a part of this humanitarian effort and to help deliver the inputs for essential energy and heating in circumstances of extreme and ongoing suffering for the people of Ukraine.

“In a very tight supply market, Whitehaven has been able to commit this important shipment while ensuring contracted customer demand is met.”

Whitehaven Coal will also contribute $250,000 to the Australian Red Cross Ukraine Crisis Appeal.

Minister for Resources and Water Keith Pitt and Whitsunday Regional Council Mayor Andrew Willcox have expressed their pride and gratitude towards Australia’s contributions to Ukraine

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“It’s Not The End Of The World”

March 25, 2022

It is a regular occurrence that high school graduates will be lamenting on missing out in the final round of university offers at the beginning of March, but research suggests it’s no time to stress.

The skills and job organisation Careers Department research suggests that many school leavers are applying for university because they think it is expected of them.

“Our research shows more than a third of students (38%) graduate high school not knowing what they want to do as a career,” Co-Founder The Careers Department, Samantha Devlin said.

“Many students choose university preferences based on what they feel they should do, or conversations they’ve had with their parents.”

The figures also show that one in five students drop out of their first year of university.

“What this tells us, is that there needs to be a stronger focus on educating teenagers about what job opportunities exist and what career paths, scholarships, and work programs are available,” Ms Devlin said.

More than 600 schools across Australia have partnered with The Careers Department to provide students with insights into industries from education to economics, agriculture to advertising, food to fashion.

Last year, 76,000 students participated in the organisations virtual work experience programs, and more than 40,000 took part in The Careers Department’s face-to-face workshops, and this year a national tour of more than 100 locations across every state and territory would reach another 40,000.

Her advice to those who missed out today and do have their hearts set on a university degree is to find alternative ways to gain entry, including internships, graduate programs, diplomas, bridging courses, and vocational studies.

“Take the opportunity to research your chosen career path, contact different universities for advice, and look at work experience options. With borders now open again, it might even be the perfect opportunity to take a gap year and go travelling.”

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Bursary Boost To Kick-Start Your Career

March 25, 2022

Calling all university students; now’s your chance to get a head-start on your career through Mackay Regional Council’s popular academic bursary program.

The program offers university students the chance to gain valuable work experience and financial assistance.

Council has five academic bursaries up for grabs, worth $5000 each, plus paid work experience with a council team that aligns with your area of study.

Mayor Greg Williamson said the council hoped by offering these bursaries it would be able to retain these professionals in the Mackay region.

“Mackay is a great place to live and work and the academic bursary program gives students a taste of what it’s like to work in their chosen field and the opportunity to make great work connections,” Mayor Williamson said.

2019 Academic Bursary recipient Brodie French, who studied a Bachelor of Engineering (Mechanical), has gone on to work full time for council as a graduate engineer in the Water and Sewerage Infrastructure Planning department.

“While working with the Water and Sewerage Infrastructure Planning team over the last two years, I’ve gained an appreciation for the work that goes into making sure our community has quality drinking water and sustainable sewerage networks in the near and distant future,” Mr French said.

“The bursary allowed me to fund equipment for my final year engineering thesis and help with other on-going university costs, and the work experience gave me an on-the-ground perspective of how my studies were translated into the real world,” he said.

Applications for this year’s Academic Bursaries are currently open and close on Monday, April 4.

To be eligible for a council bursary, students must be from the Mackay region – preferably studying in the region – and in their second-last year of studies.

They must also be studying in a skills shortage area including:

> Engineering

> Planning

> Business (Accounting/Marketing/HR/Public Relations/Social Innovation)

> Business Services (IS, Procurement, Projects)

> Workplace Health and Safety/Emergency Services, Social Work or Environmental Science/Health.

To apply, go to www.mackay.qld.gov.au/academicbursary

For more details contact the Recruitment Team on jobs@mackay.qld.gov.au or 1300 MACKAY (622 529).

2019 Academic Bursary recipient Brodie French, second from left, is pictured with Mayor Greg Williamson and fellow recipients, from left, Jackson Lamb, Hunter Aitchison and Taitianna McGrath. Brodie and Taitianna now work full-time with Mackay Regional Council

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Guardian Property Point

March 25, 2022

I had the great fortune of living in Melbourne for about 10 years and there is a lot to love about that town. Superb restaurants, cool bars, a compelling brand of football, excellent arts culture and layered clothing among the delights.

Some readers might not be with me on the football comment but I think the rest stacks up. The “layered clothing” line reflects another, less admired, feature of the city … its weather.

The popular saying is that if you don’t like Melbourne’s weather, wait five minutes. Hence the layered clothing.

“Oh, the sun’s come out.” Coat off, scarf off, jumper off. That’s better. Dark T-shirt, dark jeans, black boots … fitting in.

Investing can be like Melbourne’s fickle weather, although the change doesn’t usually happen in five minutes. Whether you have invested in stocks or real estate, things change.

For Mackay real estate owners and investors, the climate changed around 2013.

The market plunged, rents dropped, sale prices fell and while some people were forced to sell, many held on to their properties. Well, you had to wait more than five minutes, but I can tell you the climate has changed again.

Prices are up dramatically from where they fell to during the downturn. About four months ago I sold a house for $570,000 that I sold for $476,000 in 2015, and the market continued to fall for another few years after 2015. Prices have bounced back dramatically and this is now a hot market.

One of the reasons is that thanks to a strong economy and the covid experience, a lot of people are moving to Mackay. But, due to the downturn, nothing was built from 2013 to 2019 so high demand and lack of supply has created a massive shortage of rental properties, with vacancies at under 1 per cent.

People moving to Mackay are finding there is nothing to rent so they are buying straight up. Others who have been living in Mackay for a while have decided they love the place but don’t like rent increases so they’re taking the plunge and buying.

And the supply side of sales is tight because very few people are leaving Mackay and selling. It’s a great place to live and the Covid experience down south has locked people into Mackay.

So, who gets an opportunity out of this? Investors. That property you bought years ago but couldn’t sell during the downturn is now worth a lot more than it was. You might want to put money into super, pay off your main property or put away some cash and, if so, now is a great time to get an appraisal on your investment to find out what it’s worth.

It’s also important to get good advice on the strategy for selling. Do you allow your tenants to sign another 12-month lease? If not, when do you give them notice? Do you sell with tenants in there or not? Do we need to freshen up the property or is that a waste of money?

Good, experienced real estate agents will have a strategy that gets you the best result.

Of course, as Melburnians know, the climate can change so give us a call at Gardian to get some good advice on what to do, and when to do it, to get you the best result.

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Theresa Creek Dam Reimagined – Have Your Say!

March 25, 2022

Residents and visitors are encouraged to have their say to help chart the next phase of one of the Isaac region’s premier recreational hubs.

Theresa Creek Dam – a family favourite near Clermont – is set to be reimagined as Isaac Regional Council seeks community feedback on the concept development plan this March.

The dam in the Isaac region’s west is a core social and economic pillar and the public consultation hopes to understand usage, the areas that need to be enhanced and what benefits the dam provides. This information will be used as a guide to create the Theresa Creek Dam Concept Development Plan.

Mayor Anne Baker said the concept development plan will focus on the recreational assets of the dam to help build a management strategy for the next 20 years.

“This community consultation is a fantastic opportunity as it nears 40 years since it was built. Here’s our chance to improve and enhance one of our region’s key recreational areas providing a boost to the local economy and attracting more visitors to Isaac,” Mayor Baker said.

“Clermont’s primary water source offers a kiosk, picnic areas, camping, boating, fishing, recreational water sports and birdwatching. Our families, our visitors enjoy the calm and beauty the dam has on offer and as a community we want to harness and protect that through a formalised process.”

Councillor Carolyn Moriarty said Council is seeking feedback to help shape its planning considerations for the dam’s recreational management.

“Any plans for the dam need to be balanced carefully with the ongoing water quality needs of our area and require state, federal or private investment,” Cr Moriarty said.

“Theresa Creek Dam has been a major drawcard and much-loved destination for our residents and visitors, this plan gives community the chance to have their say on what changes they would like to see.”

Residents and visitors can click https://speakup.isaac.qld.gov.au/theresa-creek-dam-concept-plan to have their say by 1 April 2022. Hardcopies of the survey will be available at Council libraries and offices throughout the Isaac region.

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Councillor Donates Pay Rise To Crossroad Arts

March 25, 2022

Mackay Regional Council’s Councillor Alison Jones donated part of a recent pay rise to local not-for-profit arts organisation Crossroad Arts earlier this week.

Councillor Jones says that, as a council, the Mackay Regional Council opted out of a pay rise set by the state government.

The pay rise was given regardless to stay on par with state-regulated remuneration.

“I just felt that, if we made that decision to not accept a pay rise, that I wanted to give mine back to the community,” she said.

Having previously worked in the disability sector and with family members with a disability, Councillor Jones says that Crossroad Arts is a very meaningful cause.

“It’s in my heart,” she said.

The donation came at an opportune time, as Crossroad Arts are currently holding their Annual Giving Program for 2022.

“It’s very generous,” said Crossroad Arts Artistic Director and CEO Alison Richardson.

“Last year we started our first annual giving program.

“This year the community champions, ReNew Mackay, are able to match what we make up to $5000, which is really great,” she said.

“It’s nice that more of a local business community is getting on board,” added Crossroad Arts Artistic Associate Autumn Skuthorpe.

Crossroads Arts is a local not-for-profit organisation and registered charity that provides inclusive art experiences for artists with disability with the goal of building a stronger community.

The 2022 Annual Giving Program will run until June 30, 2022.

To donate to Crossroad Arts, visit www.givenow.com.au/crossroadarts.

Councillor Alison Jones presents her donation to local artist Erin, helping Crossroad Arts on their way to their goal of $5000

Crossroad Arts offer a variety of workshops including making wearable art, filmmaking, and theatre

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Eat Walk Engage – A Trial To Prevent Delirium

March 25, 2022

Last week was World Delirium Awareness Day (16 March), bringing an opportunity to acknowledge the multi-disciplinary approach to prevent and promote delirium recovery.

Supporting vulnerable patients who are at risk of developing delirium is the focus of Mackay Base Hospital’s Eat Walk Engage (EWE) Program team.

Delirium (an acute confusional state) and functional decline (an increase in need for assistance with mobility and/or activities of daily living) are potentially common complications in older hospitalised patients or those with pre-existing cognitive impairment.

Eat Walk Engage (EWE) is a statewide program developed by the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital that helps patients by providing optimal nutrition and hydration (Eat), early and regular mobility (Walk) and meaningful cognitive and social activities (Engage) to prevent delirium and promote recovery in acute care wards.

Mackay Base Hospital EWE facilitators Megan Chapman and Caitlan Golder are supported by a multidisciplinary team of health care professionals including allied health and nursing.

“Delirium is very distressing for patients and their families. The symptoms are associated with poor outcomes including longer hospital stays, potential for admission to aged care facilities, and may heighten future dementia risk,” Megan said.

“The EWE program aims to further support our at-risk patients to mobilise early and regularly, to eat and drink adequately, and to keep their minds’ active through meaningful cognitive activities.”

Individual and group activities suitable to engage patients to reduce the risk of delirium have been developed by the team designed to align with interests and capability.

“Individual activities include activity packs with books, colouring pencils, decks of cards and magazines, kindly provided by the Mackay Hospital Foundation. While group activities comprising of bingo, painting, colouring, craft and occasionally tai chi are being facilitated for patients,” she said.

“Biographical tools which are essentially a snap shot of a patient’s interests are placed next to or above a patient’s bed. These may include a list of hobbies, their pet’s name or places they like visit to assist with topics of conversation.

“We also encourage families or carers to bring in familiar items such as clothing and photos or personal items they prefer.”

The EWE program is being implemented on Mackay Base Hospital’s G2 and F2 wards and focuses on patient activities as well as education, training and space redesign.

Article courtesy of Mackay Hospital and Health Service

Mackay Base Hospital EWE facilitators Megan Chapman and Caitlan Golder. Image supplied MHHS

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Providing Pathways For Regional Education

March 25, 2022

The Regional Queensland Council of Mayors is looking forward to working with the first Regional Education Commissioner to ensure regional residents have the same education and employment pathways as south-east Queenslanders.

Chair of the Regional Queensland Council of Mayors (RQCOM), Mackay Mayor Greg Williamson, has met with the first Regional Education Commissioner, Fiona Nash.

Mayor Greg Williamson said his meeting with Ms Nash showed great promise for the role of Regional Education Commissioner.

“This was an important step in having the voice of regional Queenslanders heard in the south,” he said.

Mayor Williamson will chair a forum for key Regional Queensland Mayors in April to hear from the Commissioner about her role and to provide an opportunity for the Commissioner to hear first-hand the impacts of education shortcomings on regional Queenslanders.

“It’s a travesty that regional Australians are less than half as likely to obtain a university degree by age 35 compared to those in metropolitan areas,” he said.

“The Commissioner’s plan to halve that gap by 2030 is a good start and I’m determined that regional Queensland people are involved in that process.”

Ms Nash said she would be a champion for regional, rural and remote education, working with stakeholders across sectors to ensure all Australians can access and benefit from a high-quality education, regardless of where they live.

She said her role would have a broad remit across regional, rural and remote student education from early childhood education to tertiary education to improve regional education outcomes

Regional Queensland Council of Mayors Executive Committee

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Don’t Be An April Fool – Grants Up For Grabs Now!

March 25, 2022

Community groups may feel a little foolish if they let April 1 pass by without applying for a council Community Grant.

All up, $189,000 is up for grabs in the latest funding round which will close at midnight April Fools’ Day (Friday, April 1).

Grants can be used by groups for a range of activities, purchases and projects.

Funding is available for small equipment (up to $1500), community initiatives, programs, events and upgrades (up to $7500) and minor infrastructure and assets (up to $30,000).

This means grants can be used for everything from buying simple office equipment to infrastructure projects, including concept development, as well as the purchase of large equipment, like vehicles.

This gives tremendous flexibility to community clubs and not-for-profit groups needing financial assistance.

To apply, and for full grant guidelines, head to mackay.qld.gov.au/grants

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RIDE TO SCHOOL DAY

March 25, 2022

Mackay Police have put a call out to motorists to be extra vigilant on the roads today (Friday 25 March) as ‘ride to school day’ will see an increased number of bicycles on the road.

Sergeant Nigel Dalton said it was exciting to see schools welcoming cyclists of all ages with a healthy breakfast.

“Cycling is a great way to keep fit and many young cyclists go on to ride for health and fitness for many years,” Sergeant Dalton said.

“Police all over the Mackay District will be assisting with Ride to School events and will be involved in briefing the children on bike safety.

“But all motorists need to be alert to what younger riders might do – many have little road sense so please be extra careful when you see young people on their bik

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Scotty’s In Iso

March 25, 2022

Like a lot of you, I'm doing home quarantine at the moment with Covid, and if you're in the same boat, I hope you're doing ok.

It's a strange thing knowing you'll get it at some stage, but then not being totally prepared for when it arrives at your house.

My wife's a teacher so she's around many different people every day, and we were sure she'd get it first.

After I had a Friday night with quite a few of my 6.4 per cent home brews, I thought my very slight headache and not feeling 100 per cent was due to my delicious hazy pale ale. But after playing a game of Saturday afternoon 3rd grade cricket for Pinnacle, and still not feeling right at 8pm that night, we tested my wife first because we thought she may have it, and me almost for a laugh. But it was the other way around with me positive and her negative; which is still the case three days later, and we've changed nothing with how we live, eat and sleep.

Since then, my 11-year-old son has Covid and my daughter too.

Day 4/5 for me today and I've gotta say, triple-vaxxed, I'm pretty much sailing through and feeling pretty good. It's feeling like a slight-medium head cold, but you go through stages of feeling really great, and then now and then a slight fever and just not feeling quite right. Compared to stories I've heard from friends that had Covid, I'm counting myself very lucky so far.

The Coles delivery truck from Rural View has stocked us up for the week, some friends have dropped off treats which we're very grateful for. Plus, the third test between Australia and Pakistan is on Kayo, so that's making home time pass a little quicker.

If one of your kids feels a little warm when you give them a hug, test them, because that's how we think it got into our home, and don't send them to school.

Stay well if you've got Covid.

Scotty

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Mayor Invites Community To Boogie On Down At Annual Charity Ball

March 25, 2022

Our very own Mayor, Greg Williamson, said he will be channeling his best John Travolta impersonation at this year’s Mayor’s Charity Ball, even if it means his wife, Annette, may disown him. It’s all part of the fun of the disco-inspired theme of this year’s gala event, to be held at the MECC on 14 May.

If you’re feeling hot on the night, fingers crossed it’s not Covid, organisers are asking attendees to channel their inner ‘Saturday Night Fever’ and boogie on the dance floor.

Mayor Greg Williamson said the disco theme should resonate with many of those attending.

“It will be plenty of fun as we raise funds for two great causes,” Mayor Williamson said.

This year’s ball will raise money for HeartKids Mackay, also a recipient last year, and Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) to assist with construction and operation of a Ronald McDonald Family Room in Mackay.

The launch for sponsors and recipients was held on stage in the MECC auditorium last week and tickets for the Ball are now on sale online through www.themecc.com.au.

The Red Tie band, as well as some surprise guests, will help create the disco atmosphere on the night. Emcee will be Channel 7 fishing personality Scotty Hillier.

There will also be the usual gala charity auction.

This 2021 Mayor’s Charity Ball raised nearly $100,000 for charity, split 50-50 between Domestic Violence Resource Service (DVRS) – a recipient for two years – and HeartKids Mackay.

HeartKids Queensland manager Holly Williams said the organisation was thrilled to be a beneficiary of the Mackay Mayor’s Charity Ball once again in 2022.

“Following the amazing success of the 2021 Gala, HeartKids was able to employ a support coordinator in Mackay to provide meaningful support to individuals and families within the Mackay HeartKids community, as well as foster strong connections within the local community to increase awareness of congenital heart disease,’’ she said.

“We look forward to increasing our connections within the Mackay HeartKids community throughout 2022 by growing our support opportunities and options for all families impacted by congenital heart disease.”

Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) North Australia chief executive officer Tamara South said she sincerely appreciated the generous support the local community had shown for the Ronald McDonald Family Room in Mackay.

“We are delighted by and incredibly grateful for the generous support the entire Mackay, Isaac and Whitsunday communities have shown for the Mackay Capital Campaign,” said Ms South.

“The construction of a Ronald McDonald Family Room in Mackay will make an immense difference to the lives of local families. It will give families with sick or injured kids a place where they can rest and recuperate and enjoy a much-needed break from the clinical environment of the hospital.”

Mayor Williamson said the 2022 event was off to a fantastic start, with corporate sponsorship of about $50,000 locked in.

The Mayor’s Charity Golf Day, hosted by Rotary Club of Mackay and sponsored by Enlightened Financial Solutions, will be held the day before the Ball on Friday, May 13.

Mayor Greg Williamson and representatives of 2022 Mayor’s Charity Ball recipients, Ronald McDonald House Charities North Australia Mackay and Whitsundays community engagement executive Samantha Lee (left) and HeartKids Queensland manager Holly Williams, get into the disco spirit at last week’s event launch. Image supplied: Mackay Regional Council

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A Man In Need

March 25, 2022

In early March, a collection of average blokes from Shed Happens Mackay assisted a man living in a Government Housing unit to move to the St Vincent De Paul’s Men's Hostel.

For over two years the man had been directed to clean up the excess gear he was collecting in his front yard but had not complied.

Shed Happens Mackay - a local men’s group helping men with issues of all kinds, including mental health - put the call out to its cohort to help him move.

The Shed Happens blokes responded to the call, as well as their regular sponsors DGH Engineering, who provided a truck with three men to help with the task.

Matt Cole from Empire Trailer Hire also provided the group with a free trailer to use for the day.

Frank Cowell, Convenor of Shed Happens Mackay said it was “a bit of a job,” but was another part of Shed’s continued involvement with the men’s shelter which they are ever proud of.

“He’d been evicted because he was a hoarder, and we were asked by Collin Cook at the shelter to help out, so we got together a few blokes,” Frank said.

They worked from 8am until 3pm and took a “fair bit” of stuff to the tip.

Sadly, the gentleman who’s home it was has dementia and wanted to keep everything.

There was so much that the group returned on Wednesday to finish the job.

Although sad, there is a silver lining and an altruistic tinge to the story, which Frank Cowell put perfectly.

“When you do that sort of task, the reward is in itself that you know you’re helping someone out, and the blokes that were there, they’re shed blokes that have the heart for helping others,” he said.

“Hopefully, he can get the help he needs there.”

One of five Shed Happens vehicles that was used to help remove the gear

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“BUILD IT FOR THE BEACHES” MP Launches ‘No Delays’ Petition

March 25, 2022

The lure to live by the beach is as strong as ever, evident by the rapidly growing cluster of subdivisions forming Mackay’s Northern Beaches. However, the idyllic lifestyle comes with a catch. There is only one road in and out, which becomes clogged and congested during twice-daily peak hours.

The Member for Whitsunday Amanda Camm MP has joined with LNP Candidate for Dawson Andrew Willcox, to launch the Build It for The Beaches – No Delays petition.  

Ms Camm said in 2020, the State Government put $750,000 aside for planning works to investigate options to deal with capacity upgrades and duplication for Mackay-Bucasia Road.

“Nothing has happened since this announcement and this planning work is not scheduled to commence until 2023/24,” Ms Camm said.

One in six Mackay region residents currently live in the Northern Beaches, which is more than 16 per cent of the total population. The current approximate population of the Northern Beaches is 21,000 people. By 2036, this is expected to grow by 43 per cent, adding more than 9000 residents.  

“The fastest growing population in Mackay needs a faster connection,” Ms Camm said.

“As it stands, there is only one way in and one way out for emergency services. This is unacceptable to adequately respond to the needs of this growing population.  

“The impacts are not just being felt by Northern Beaches residents, but the broader Mackay community.  

“The Mackay-Bucasia Road has become known for long delays, traffic jams and bottlenecks. This is now a daily part of the city commute for many locals.  

“With over 2000 estimated new constituents enrolling in the Northern Beaches since I have been elected to Queensland Parliament, we call on the Minister to upgrade this road immediately,” Ms Camm said.

Andrew Willcox has joined with the Member for Whitsunday on this campaign.

“Travel to and from the Northern Beaches of Mackay should be quicker and safer than what it is,” Mr Willcox said.

“If the State Labor Government has the money put aside for planning on Mackay Bucasia Road, what are we waiting for? Let’s get on with it.”

In response, Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey said the State Government has locked in funding for a business case on an upgrade of Mackay – Bucasia Road, which is due to start next year.

“This forms part of more than $1 billion worth of roads and transport projects we are delivering across the region, including the $120 million Mackay Northern Access Upgrade which will greatly improve access to the Northern Beaches,” Minister Bailey said.

“This petition is clearly just a federal election stunt,” he added.

“No more delays or excuses – let’s Build It for The Beaches,” Ms Camm said.

The Member for Whitsunday Amanda Camm MP (right) has joined with LNP Candidate for Dawson Andrew Willcox, to launch the Build It for The Beaches - ‘No Delays’ petition for an upgrade to the Mackay Bucasia Road

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Guardian Point

March 18, 2022

It was International Women’s Day the other week and somehow that made me think of a comment that real estate agents sometimes hear from male buyers: “Mate, I love the property, but the missus doesn’t really like it.”

On hearing that comment you might think there’s still a chance of getting a sale with this couple because at least the husband loves the property.

You would be wrong. You would be showing that you have no understanding of the husband/wife dynamic when buying a property. You are completely ignorant about who has the power.

If “the missus” doesn’t like a property, there is no deal to be done.

However, it’s a different story when the situation is reversed. Say the comment is: “Mate, to be honest I don’t really like the property, but the missus loves it.” Start drawing up the contract baby, we have got a deal!

It’s not quite that easy but I have definitely sold properties to couples when the man isn’t a big fan but the woman loves it.

I’m not sure if they include my observations during International Women’s Day speeches but I think the house-buying dynamic does say something about a healthy modern relationship and shows clearly that women do not take a back seat when the important decisions are being made.

It also serves as a warning to sexist real estate agents … underestimate the authority of a woman in a relationship and you are doomed to failure.

We’ve all seen the salesman who focuses on the husband and ignores the wife. It’s embarrassing. There he is joking with the husband, making eye contact with him, laughing at his jokes, slapping him on the back, treating the wife as though she doesn’t matter.

That salesman is like the last of a species on the verge of dying out. The world has changed and time has passed him by and he doesn’t know it. But it’s over for him and it’s the female buyer who is about to finish him off.

“Sorry mate, I reckon you’re great but the missus thinks you’re an idiot.” Chk, chk, boom.

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Cave Diver Announced As Keynote Speaker For Youth Literary Festival

March 18, 2022

Whitsunday Anglican School has announced Dr Richard Harris SC OAM as their keynote speaker for the 2022 Whitsunday Voices Youth Literature Festival and Literary Dinner.

Dr Harris is an Australian anaesthetist and cave diver who played a crucial role in the remarkable international rescue of a teenage soccer team from a flooded Thai cave system in 2018.

Dr Harris and dive partner Dr Craig Challen have recounted the heroic tale of the rescue in their book ‘Against All Odds’, and Festival Manager Tracey Gurdler says he will be huge for the town and the festival.

“He’s a hero,” she said.

“I think that the Mackay community will be able to come together to celebrate him as a person and an author.”

Dr Harris will speak to senior students at the festival and deliver a keynote speech at the Literary Dinner.

He is among 13 Australian authors attending as well as artists, musicians, a drama group, a slam poet, and a screenwriter, with the rest of the program and ticket sales to be launched on April 22.

The Whitsunday Voices Youth Literature Festival is the only festival of its kind north of the Sunshine Coast and welcomes approximately 5000 students from around the region, including 500 children from regional Queensland thanks to the Winchester Foundation.

“Sometimes being a regional community, you don’t expect to be exposed to the same sort of cultural activities as you are if you lived in Brisbane or Sydney or Melbourne,” Tracey said.

“To actually have something like this here as well that our kids can enjoy and benefit from, it’s fantastic.

“I love being a part of it.”

The 2022 Whitsunday Voices Youth Literature Festival will launch on Wednesday 13th of July with festivities taking place on Thursday 14th and Friday 15th July 2022.

The festival consists of book talks, workshops, performances, and author signings.

Heroic Cave Diver Dr Richard Harris has been announced as the keynote speaker at this year’s Whitsunday Voices Youth Literature Festival

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