Mackay Region Community News

Stronger, Safer (Editor's Note)

Stronger, Safer (Editor's Note)

Resilience and compassion are two themes which burn brightly in this week’s edition, from initiatives to strengthen our homes to protect our most vulnerable to showcasing the power of unity and collective action. Annual gala Shades of Women brought together women from across the Mackay Region for an inspiring evening of empowerment and support. Not only did the event celebrate the strength and achievements of women, but it also raised crucial funds to aid women and children affected by domestic

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A Chain Reaction Of Kindness

A Chain Reaction Of Kindness

‘Paying it forward’ is a good deed that not only brightens someone else’s day, it can also initiate a chain reaction of good deeds and good vibes. Stacey Read recently witnessed this at BP Rural View. “To the very kind guy that paid it forward by paying for an elderly man’s fuel today at BP northern beaches,” she wrote on Facebook. “The gentleman whose fuel you paid for would like to say a huge thank you and thank you very much for your kindness. “He was very stunned and very grateful. “Wha

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Torch Relay For Legacy Centenary

Torch Relay For Legacy Centenary

A torch relay that has made its way from Pozières, France, through London and around Australia came through Mackay last Wednesday, May 31 to mark 100 years of Legacy Australia. 23 locals, all with a connection to Legacy Australia, carried the torch throughout the town, ending in a service held at Jubilee Park. “It shows the overall admiration that the public have for the veteran community who go out in uniform and carry out their duties for the nation and sometimes don’t come home,” said Vietnam

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Salvos Lunch Launches Appeal To Help Struggling Locals

Salvos Lunch Launches Appeal To Help Struggling Locals

The Salvation Army is urging everyone to get involved in this year’s Red Shield Appeal, with funds raised locally staying local to support community services and programs in Mackay. The Mackay Corps hosted a lunch last Friday, inviting the business community to come together and hear about the work of the Salvation Army and to help invest into the community. The event is the local charity’s major fundraiser of the year, seeking contributions to assist in funding programs like welfare programs,

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June 8, 2023

Mackay Regional Council is offering significant discounts to responsible pet owners who get in early to ensure their pet’s registration was up to date.

Mayor Greg Williamson said residents who register their cats and dogs during the registration discount period in June can claim a reduction in fees ranging from 30 to 50 per cent.

“Registering your pet is an important part of being a responsible pet owner as it ensures that if your pet goes missing, we have your most up-to-date contact details so we can return your pet to you as soon as possible,” he said.

“Pet registration fees are also put towards the costs of running council’s Animal Management Centre, which provides care for lost pets.”

Council is running a photo competition for residents with registered animals to celebrate the discount period.

“We are encouraging pet owners to share photos of themselves and their pets practising responsible pet ownership,” Mayor Williamson said.

“This could be anything from taking your dog for a walk on a leash, playing in an off-leash dog park or a photo of your pet sporting a collar with a council pet registration tag.

“We will choose one winner each week and they will take home a $100 voucher from a local pet store.”

Pet owners should receive their pet registration renewal letters in the mail soon.

Please call 1300 MACKAY (622 529) for more information.

Did you know?

Council is currently running a desexing rebate where residents can claim $150 off the cost of desexing their dog and $75 off the cost of desexing their cat if they have been desexed in the last 60 days. Visit for details.

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Making Connections While Creating Opportunities

June 8, 2023

A local artist has had his work showcased with the release of a second Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) unveiled by North Queensland Bulk Ports Corporation (NQBP) last week.

Launched during National Reconciliation Week, Acting Chief Executive Officer Belinda Kenny said the NQBP Reconciliation Action Plan 2023 to 2025 will further strengthen NQBP’s existing relationships with Traditional Owners in its port communities throughout Queensland.

“NQBP has been actively engaging and building relationships with the Traditional Owners of the land and sea at each of our ports over several decades,” Ms Kenny said.

“This includes the Traditional Owner groups of Juru at Abbot Point, Yuwi at Mackay and Hay Point and the Algnith and Wik Waya at Weipa.

“Our second Innovate RAP, endorsed by Reconciliation Australia, extends our engagement and is a further commitment to actions that aim to lead to positive outcomes for the broader Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities within our port areas.

“We are proud of our achievements to date which have included changes to procurement policies that have led to a $1.7 million spend with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesses last financial year, and also to significant employment opportunities during major projects.

“Working directly with Aboriginal businesses we have also facilitated business development and technical capacity as well as the further development of critical skills in environmental management. “We will strive to expand on these achievements in line with our vision for reconciliation in building sustainable and meaningful partnerships and relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.”

The RAP features original artwork Making Connections and was prepared for NQBP by artist and designer, Robert Paul, a Juru man born in Bowen.

The artwork shows NQBP’s four ports “making connections” - working with communities, and creating opportunities on country within the regions to which the ports’ trades are connected.

The different patterns within the port symbols depict many interested trading parties and show how NQBP is connecting Queensland to the world through its ports.

North Queensland Bulk Ports Corporation (NQBP) RAP Working Group members launched the second NQBP Reconciliation Action Plan 2023 - 2025 during National Reconciliation Week. From L-R – NQBP’s General Manager Commercial and Maritime Services Darren Brownsey, Luke Galea, Board Director Andrea Ranson, John Clark, Debbie McDonald, Luke Sorensen, Rachel Turvey, Emilie Power and Julie Keane

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Moving The Mob Piloted In Mackay

June 8, 2023

After 11 years of unemployment Butchulla man Brian Darby is thriving in his new job at Thomas Borthwicks & Sons.

Brian secured employment after taking part in Moving the Mob, an intensive pre-placement training program created to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the Mackay region.

Powered by MRAEL through IntoJobs (part of the IntoWork Group), Moving the Mob has been co-designed with First Nations Program Facilitators to provide support and assistance specific to the needs of unemployed First Nations people, in a culturally safe environment.

Previously, 46-year-old Brian struggled to keep a job for more than a week but he loves his new role as a packer at Borthwicks.

"I love it.

“At the moment, I am stacking boxes of meat onto pallets and that suits me fine. It keeps me healthy and makes me stronger. I like to do work that builds my body and keeps me fit."

Brian's favourite thing about Moving the Mob program was learning self-respect and budgeting.

"Basically, how to keep everything balanced in life. It was really good communication between everyone involved; goals were all set out and what we wanted to achieve in the course. It was a very happy-natured course."

MRAEL Business Growth Partner Jason Allen said MRAEL consulted a range of First Nations representatives when developing the program to ensure it was both culturally safe and appropriate to reflect First Nation People’s specific needs.

“Our program is not about accreditation, it's not about even employability. It's more about their story and where they are at and empowering them to get to the next stage. The program is designed to motivate, engage, and develop a personal ‘story’ of each participant so we can further develop them to gain employment.”

The program covers off on personal and employment related goal setting and skills around money management, health and wellbeing, work readiness, local labour market information and access to further accredited training based on each individual needs.

With the pilot program held in Mackay, Mr Allen said MRAEL aims to expand the program to other Queensland regions and across Australia.

“We want to launch this across Australia to help as many First Nations people as possible to reach their employment goals.

“We’re looking forward to seeing this program roll out to other First Nations communities and support their unique needs.”

The next program will run in July, with applications closing on 30th June 2023. For more information call Intojobs Mackay on 1300 115 627.

Moving the Mob participants

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June 8, 2023

Stronger, Safer, More Affordable Homes

By Amanda Wright

Quick Points

● $20 million Federal Government boost for Queensland’s Household Resilience Program.

● Builds on State Government’s $50 million of investment in the program to date.

● Up to 1,100 additional low-income homes in North and Central Queensland to be safer and more secure.

● Reduces insurance premiums by building resilience to natural disasters, especially cyclones and severe storms.

Hundreds of Mackay and Whitsundays residents will now have increased access to assistance in fortifying their homes, thanks to a much-anticipated expansion of the Household Resilience Program. This initiative, designed to support low-income homeowners in cyclone-prone coastal communities, has received a welcome funding boost that will extend its reach to even more households.

Launched by the Queensland Government in 2018, the Household Resilience Program has already proven its effectiveness by assisting over 4,300 vulnerable households in strengthening their homes built prior to 1984. By reinforcing these structures, residents can better withstand the extreme weather conditions experienced in the state.

Member for Mackay Julieanne Gilbert MP said, “Many Mackay and Whitsundays people remember only too well the devastation of Tropical Cyclone Debbie in 2017, both of which caused major damage to older homes.

“To date, 433 households in the Mackay region have been awarded grants of up to $11,250 to cover 75 per cent of the total cost of resilience works.”

One notable outcome of the program is the reduction in insurance premiums for participants. Recent data revealed that approved works achieved an average reduction of 10.3 per cent, demonstrating the program's success in mitigating risk and enhancing overall household resilience.

This is good news for locals, like Mackay homeowner Audrey Wardrop who said the program has been a “real Godsend”.

“I knew the old roof needed to go – but getting the money when you’re on a pension is difficult.

“Now at least I can go to bed and sleep and not have to worry when I hear the wind.

“It meant I didn’t have to worry about tradesmen turning up or all the other pieces that go with a major bit of work like this.

“It really was wonderful, and I am so happy and so grateful.”

The new funding injection of $20 million from the Federal Government will enable the program's extension for up to three years, providing an opportunity for more families to benefit. It is estimated that this additional funding will facilitate resilience works for approximately 1,100 more homes.

Federal Treasurer, Jim Chalmers said that building more resilient homes is the key to building stronger communities in north Queensland.

“This boost will help more people to put protections in place to limit the damage when storm season rolls around,” Mr Chalmers said.

“Disaster response and recovery is important but if we can make homes more resilient and resistant to the kind of wild weather which has become more frequent in these parts in recent years, Queenslanders will be much better off.”

Eligible works covered by the program encompass a range of vital upgrades and replacements, including roof, garage door, and house frame enhancements. Additionally, measures such as roof structural strengthening using external over-batten tiedowns, as well as window protection installations like cyclone shutters or screens, are part of the program's offerings.

Low-income Queenslanders who own older homes located within a 50-kilometer radius of the coast, spanning from Bundaberg north to the Northern Territory border, are encouraged to explore the opportunity and consider applying while funding remains available.

Mick De Brenni, Energy, Renewables, Hydrogen Minister and Public Works and Procurement Minister, local resident Audrey Wardrop and Member for Mackay Julieanne Gilbert MP

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New GM To Tackle Areas Of Demand For Mental Health

June 8, 2023

Leading mental wellbeing and suicide prevention not-for-profit charity, selectability, has welcomed a new General Manager, service development to support its continued expansion in regional Queensland.

The new General Manager, Matt Kinnane was appointed to create and develop multiple new services to meet the diverse mental wellbeing and suicide prevention needs of regional Queenslanders.

CEO, Debra Burden said the rapid growth of the company prompted the move, which required a dedicated industry expert.

“We are delighted to welcome Matt to the executive team,” Mrs Burden said.

“Matt’s proven track record in disability across North Queensland leaves him well-placed to drive the expansion of our services.

“The new services will address areas of demand and unmet need across our footprint.

“Services like social housing are particularly important with the current housing crisis leaving many of our consumers homeless or in insecure housing.”

Matt Kinnane said he was delighted to join the selectability team to lead the development of new services.

“selectability has seen substantial growth in the last 12 months, so I am looking forward to working with a strong workforce to improve the wellbeing of our consumers,” Mr Kinnane said.

“I am thrilled to have the opportunity to apply my skills and experience to deliver new services to the individuals and communities that need them most.

“I have been a part of this sector for a long time, and I am passionate about creating opportunities for those in regional and remote areas, ensuring they have access to high quality support locally.”

Mr Kinnane brings over two decades of strong leadership to the selectability executive team, including extensive experience in finance, social services, and disability.

General Manager for Service Development Matt Kinnane

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NQBP Community Fund To Boost Port Communities

June 8, 2023

North Queensland Bulk Ports Corporation (NQBP) launched its 2023-24 Community Fund today, Friday June 9.

A total of $60,000 in funding is available for initiatives across NQBP’s port communities of Hay Point, Mackay, Abbot Point (Bowen), and Weipa.

NQBP Acting Chief Executive Officer Belinda Kenny said the annual NQBP Community Fund supports local groups and organisations in delivering valuable initiatives that make a real difference in their communities.

“NQBP values the importance of giving back to the communities in which it operates and has proudly provided more than $1 million in community sponsorships and donations over the last decade,” Ms Kenny said.

“The NQBP Community Fund provides funding opportunities for community events, programs and activities that benefit our communities and promote the goals of NQBP.

“Last year, the NQBP Community Fund supported nine community initiatives including sailing experiences and barista courses for persons with disabilities, science and technology school projects/education, and more.

“We’re proud to see the NQBP Community Fund at work within our port communities, with each initiative promoting our values of Excellence, Unity, Respect, and Integrity.”

Pine Islet Lighthouse Preservation Society president, Brian Osborn, said the sponsorship received via the 2022-23 NQBP Community Fund has enabled the volunteer group to complete a Conservation Management Plan for the historic lighthouse located at the Mackay Marina.  

“With NQBP’s support, we have been able to obtain expert advice on the nature and extent of works required to repair and maintain the Pine Islet Lighthouse and preserve the iconic structure’s heritage values,” Mr Osborn said.

“The Lighthouse is almost 140 years old and is a key piece of the local maritime history, so it is wonderful, and quite fitting, to have the local port authority (NQBP) supporting the Lighthouse’s preservation.”

NQBP is a Queensland Government-owned corporation responsible for the ports of Hay Point, Mackay, Abbot Point and Weipa in far north Queensland.

The NQBP Community Fund is open to non-profit groups and organisations, and registered charities, and seeks to support events, programs and activities that align with NQBP’s vision to be a global leader in the sustainable facilitation of port trade and its values of Excellence, Unity, Respect and Integrity.

Applications that identify a community or environmental need, and are consistent with or promote the principles of diversity and inclusion are encouraged.  

Applications for this year’s NQBP Community Fund close on 10 July 2023.

For further details or to apply visit

Proud 2022-23 NQBP Community Fund sponsorship recipients Pine Islet Lighthouse Preservation Society volunteers Stephen Wallace and Brian Osborne standing alongside the iconic Pine Islet Lighthouse

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Teacher Turns Heart Attack Into IT Career

June 8, 2023

Shaun Killian is obsessed with studying, reading, improving his knowledge and using it to help others.

A teacher for most of his life, Shaun ran into health complications that altered his path and led him to a career in web design, starting his business WEBsmall Website Design in 2021.

Shaun started teaching in Collinsville in 1991 and spent most of his teaching career as a Tech Coordinator.

“As schools got more and more invested in technology, I remained as Computer Coordinator in many schools and was comfortable teaching teachers about it as well as teaching kids,” he said.

Shaun’s long career as a teacher came to an end in 2012 when he had a heart attack in front of his year 7 class at a Sarina primary school.

He waited four years for a heart transplant and used this time to spread his wings and expand his knowledge.

“I was constantly studying and reading research about effective teaching, and I turned it into user-friendly advice based on research in a blog, so I learned how to do everything myself,” he said.

Shaun underwent a heart transplant in 2016 but it wasn’t without complications, ultimately spending 495 days in hospital and losing both of his legs.

After six months of focussing on his health back in Mackay, he decided he wanted to capitalise on over 15 years’ experience in websites and embark on a new career.

“I started helping friends and colleagues with websites and working on a few more of my own,” he said.

“The thing I get from work is helping people, whether it’s helping kids learn or helping small businesses grow, and it was a way I could help people given my physical circumstances.”

WEBsmall Website Design assists small businesses to launch or grow their online presence, offering more than just a website.

“I actually want to help them and to do that, I need to understand the business, the business owners, what they need from a website and give them advice as if their business is my business,” Shaun said.

Whether it’s launching a new website or improving a current one and increasing clicks, Shaun loves to see people and businesses succeed.

Visit to find out more.

Shaun Killian learning to use prosthetic legs after losing his following a heart attack. Photo supplied

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Local Boilermaker Stars In National Sugar Campaign

June 8, 2023

A local third-year apprentice boilermaker from Mackay Sugar’s Marian Mill is one of the faces of a new digital campaign launched by the Australian Sugar Milling Council (ASMC) to highlight the training and apprenticeship opportunities available throughout regional Queensland and the sugar milling industry’s significant economic and social contributions to the state.    

Maddy McConaghy is one of eight apprentices from Queensland sugar mills to feature in the campaign, which coincides with the start of the annual sugarcane crushing season in Queensland. Ms McConaghy said the apprenticeship was providing her with the opportunity to learn new skills and maintain her work-life balance.

“I learn lots of new skills and I get to be home every night,” she said.

“Each day brings new tasks. Lots of mill repairs, fabricating new pipes, and getting to use a big range of welding equipment.

“Everybody works really well together and it's a great work-life balance.”

ASMC Chief Executive Officer Rachele Sheard said the sugar industry is the lifeblood of many regional communities along the Queensland coastline, supporting over 19,000 jobs and injecting close to $3.8 billion directly and indirectly into the state economy.

“The sugar manufacturing sector is part of the economic fabric of regional Queensland communities and offers attractive and skilled career pathways,” Ms Sheard said.

“This campaign puts a face to our apprentices and highlights the important role the factories play in providing training and career opportunities, financial security and a great lifestyle in regional Queensland.

The Sugar Milling Apprentice campaign will be promoted through social media, industry events and partnerships, and also profiles apprentices from Tully Sugar, Wilmar Sugar’s Victoria Mill (Ingham) and Pioneer Mill (Brandon), Mackay Sugar, and Isis Central Sugar (Bundaberg Region).

Ms Sheard said she hopes the campaign will help raise awareness of the important role the sugar industry plays in Queensland’s economy and inspire more young people to pursue apprenticeships in the industry.

“Having diversified sources of employment and investment has never been more important for our regional communities, who without the agriculture sector, would have been severely impacted during the pandemic.

“Not only do our sugar factories offer rewarding career pathways and financial security to regional Queenslanders and their communities locally, but we are a progressive, future-focused sector that will make a significant contribution to our state’s renewable energy agenda over the next decade.”

Minister for Skills and Training, Brendan O’Connor, endorsed the Sugar Milling Apprenticeship campaign, highlighting the importance of securing the next generation of skilled workers.

“The sugar industry is so important for Australia, and we need the next generation of skilled workers to support it into the future,” he said.

“An apprenticeship in the sugar sector can lead to a rewarding, secure and well-paid job in a vital Australian industry.”

Maddy McConaghy

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Plane Creek Productivity Celebrated

June 8, 2023

By Kevin Borg, Chairman, CANEGROWERS Mackay

The Plane Creek milling area covers a lot of country- the coastal strip from around Alligator Creek all the way down to Flaggy Rock and on to Clairview, and that country takes in a lot of productive cane growing land, along with many very good farmers.

Just over a week ago, the cane-growing community came together to celebrate the Plane Creek Productivity Services Productivity Awards, celebrating the achievements of growers in the 2022 harvest.

The top performer and winner of the Arthur Gardner Shield for Best Producer for the Season, Koumala grower Mark Sant, pulled in a very high 18.75 tonnes of sugar per hectare. That’s a massive 33% above the average for the Koumala zone.

Productivity is one of the most important parts of farming- it drives profitability, but celebrating the growers who can really produce a great crop is important. The Productivity Awards Highlight those top achievers, for the benefit of their fellow growers. For sure, no-one gets into growing cane to win awards, but there is a lot to learn from growers with high productivity achieved within sustainable systems.

It makes you think, as a farmer: what can I learn and do better myself? How can I achieve results like that also? As an industry, we are trying to produce more but with less inputs. If someone is achieving good results sustainably, then there is something to learn there, it gives us something to take note of, and aspire to. It’s the start of a conversation between growers about how we can improve productivity.

The PCPSL Productivity Awards are an important event for the milling area’s growers- it’s always a great family night, with a strong community spirit, and this year’s event was no exception. This year, the Awards were held in Carmila, giving Carmila State School P&C a fundraising opportunity in providing a BBQ dinner for around 150 people who attend.

Every year, the event is held, in turn, in Koumala, Carmila or Sarina, with the state schools of each town benefitting through that fundraising activity. CANEGROWERS Mackay joins other sponsors in supporting the awards, and congratulates all award recipients. We also congratulate the PCPSL team, who wade through productivity records to determine the district's top producers.

If the Mackay Regional community is keen to see some great cane- don’t forget to take a look at the Show Cane competition displays as we come into Ag Show season- and we encourage all our growers to think about entering some samples of their best cane at the Pioneer Valley, Mackay and Sarina Shows this year.

2022 Season Plane Creek Productivity Award Winners


Plane Creek: Paul McDougall (12.24 TSH)

Dawlish: Manuel Muscat (15.82 TSH)

Main Line: Alan McFadzen (13.74 TSH)

Cliftonville: Jake Galea (13.97 TSH)

Yukan: Phillip Borg (15.46 TSH)

Koumala: Mark Sant (18.75 TSH)

Bolingbroke: Trevor Sleeman (13.79 TSH)

Turnors Paddock: John, Anne and Rob Hand (15.18 TSH)

Mt Christian: Fred and Janelle Axiak (16.60 TSH)

Ilbilbie: Joe Quattromani (15.21 TSH)

West Hill: Rodney Hindle (12.78 TSH)

Carmila West: Rodney Hindle (13.93 TSH)

Carmila: Russell and Chris Thompson (12.11 TSH)


Arthur Gardner Shield - Best Producer of the Season:  Mark Sant (18.75 TSH)

Best Producer over Five Years: Phillip Borg (15.46 TSH)

Cane Growing Excellence Award: Mark Sant (18.75 TSH)

Highest Average Rel. CCS by Farm: George Sammut (13.9CCS)

Next Generation Grower: Sam and Nick Axiak

Best Harvesting Group: Troy Steindl

Jim Pedersen Sustainable Management Award: Colin Bourke

CANEGROWERS Mackay Chairman Kevin Borg and PCPSL Chair Mal Langdon present the Cane Growing Excellence Award to Mark Sant and daughter Selena

From left, Wilmar Sugar Marketing Angus McKerrow Mal Langdon present Best Producer over Five Years, Phillip Borg with grandsons Ben Jack and Chris

From left NQ Farmshed's  Wayne Berginey PCPSL Chairman Mal Langdon congratulate Main Line zone winner Alan McFadzen

Kevin Borg presents the CANEGROWERS Mackay Next Generation Grower award, won by Sam (and Nick, absent) Axiak

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Family Fun Day

June 8, 2023
Photo credit: Sam Gillespie

Hundreds of families enjoyed a Sunday filled with family fun last weekend, with all proceeds donated to Mackay Hospital Foundation and local hospitals.

Presented by sponsors Gardian, Daly Bay, BMA, Mount Pleasant Shopping Centre and S.H. Tait & Co.

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Rolling Towards Glory

June 8, 2023

Sarina Ladies showcased their skills and determination in the finals of the Open singles and B Singles, delivering an exhilarating display of bowling prowess. In a tightly contested battle, Bertha Archer emerged victorious in the Open category, overcoming Sudi Blinco with a nail-biting score of 25-22. Meanwhile, Robyn Large claimed the title in the B Singles, triumphing over Ros Way with an impressive score of 25-9.

With these individual victories under their belts, the spotlight now shifts to the upcoming rinks games, where the ladies will compete as teams, vying for the ultimate triumph. As the tournament progresses in the following weeks, anticipation runs high to witness which team will emerge as the ultimate champion.

Ros Way and Robyn Large

Sudi Blinco and Bertha Archer

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Helping Locals Achieve Financial Goals

June 8, 2023

It's not every day that you come across individuals who go above and beyond to help others. Today, we shine the spotlight on Kylie Schulze, a remarkable individual who has been a vital team member of Community Bank Sarina Bendigo Bank for the past eight years.

In her role as a Customer Relationship Officer, Kylie's primary focus is personal lending, including personal loans and credit cards. What sets her apart is her genuine passion for assisting clients to achieve their goals, whether it's purchasing a car, and especially young people purchasing their first car, taking a well-deserved holiday, or undertaking home renovations.

“I understand that these moments are significant milestones in people's lives, and I take great pride in being able to help those dreams become reality.”

With over 20 years in banking, Kylie provides valuable insights, ensuring clients make informed financial decisions that align with their goals and aspirations. She cherishes the opportunity to get to know her clients and to be a part of their financial journey. For Kylie, it's about people, not just about transactions and numbers.

“I enjoy forming meaningful connections and making a positive impact on the lives of those around me.”

Outside of work, Kylie values her weekends as a time to unwind and spend quality time with her family. She also enjoys getting to know the Sarina community and supporting different local organisations.

“The Sarina Men’s Shed has been a favourite community group of mine for many years. They provide a safe and supportive environment for men to come together, share skills, and foster friendships. It’s a true asset to the community.”

We extend our gratitude to Kylie for her unwavering dedication, professionalism, and heartfelt commitment to helping her clients achieve their dreams. We are very fortunate to have her as a part of our team at Community Bank Sarina.

Contact Kylie at our branch on (07) 4943 2634 for a genuine approach to personal lending.

Community Bank Sarina Bendigo Bank is proud to support the local community. L-R: Ted Malone, Charmaine Matsen, Sheryl Brown, Karen May, Ann Fordyce, Kylie Schulze and Josie Dahtler

Kylie Schulze

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Porters Mitre 10 Mackay Constructs Triumph As Store Of The Year

June 8, 2023

Porters Mitre 10 Mackay proudly emerged as the triumphant victor of the hardware realm, crowned as 'Store of the Year' at the prestigious National Timber & Hardware Awards. This monumental accomplishment, awarded to the Mackay City Store in the Retail Store over 2500 sqm category, pays homage to their unwavering commitment to store standards and operational excellence.

Nestled at the heart of Mackay's thriving CBD, Porters Mitre 10 Mackay stands tall as the flagship store of the Porters Group. With an impressive array of offerings, including a bustling café, an expansive garden centre, and the distinction of being Mackay's sole Weber Specialist Dealer, Porters reigns supreme as the local community's go-to destination for all things hardware.

Hayden Cargill, CEO of the Porters Group, expressed heartfelt gratitude for this momentous feat and acknowledged the unwavering support of the local community. Cargill stated, "Taking out Hardware Store of the Year at the recent National Timber & Hardware Awards means a lot to our team and the Porters Family. Without the continuous support for our local community, we wouldn't be able to achieve such high recognition at a national level."

"I am incredibly proud of our entire team; it is a true testament to their hard work and dedication. It is an honour to be recognized as one of the best hardware businesses in the country."

L-R: David Little (National Timber and Hardware Association CEO), Hayden Cargill (Porters Group CEO) and Casey Blyton (Porters Group Retail Manager)

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Mackay Gastroenterologist A World Leader In Coeliac Disease

June 8, 2023

A Mackay gastroenterologist has been recognised on the world stage for his significant research in the field of coeliac disease.

Mackay Hospital and Health Service (HHS) Interim Chief Executive Dr Charles Pain congratulated Dr Robert Anderson receiving the 2023 Global Coeliac Disease Research Prize from the Coeliac Disease Foundation.

“It is indeed a high honour for Dr Anderson to win the international $25,000 Prize for Excellence in Coeliac Disease Research,” Dr Pain said.

“This recognises ‘an investigator whose research has made a significant impact on clinical, translational, or transformative research in coeliac disease’.

“The work that Dr Anderson has been undertaking over a number of years is changing the way that coeliac disease is diagnosed and treated, and it is a significant achievement for an Australian to receive this honour.

“Mackay HHS and the entire region is extremely fortunate to have a gastroenterologist of Dr Anderson’s calibre providing treatment here through our Specialists Outpatients Department.”

Dr Anderson collected his prize in person at an event in Chicago on May 9 ahead of International Coeliac Day which is celebrated on May 16 each year.

“The award I have received for excellence in coeliac disease research reflects how much Australians can contribute to global research when their programs are well resourced and focus on patient needs and good science,” Dr Anderson said.

“I have been very fortunate as a clinician scientist and later in drug development to have my research supported by public and commercial backers.

“Patients are my inspiration for discovery, and I can see great potential for Mackay Base Hospital to stimulate impactful patient-based research.”

Dr Anderson worked with a team of researchers based at Oxford University in the UK to determine the fragment, or T cells, that trigger coeliac disease.

As a co-director of Novoviah Pharmaceuticals in Brisbane, Dr Anderson is also working on the development of a simple blood test to support diagnosis of coeliac disease without the need for invasive intestinal biopsies.

If he can develop a very targeted response to coeliac disease, it will assist in treatment strategies for other autoimmune conditions such as multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis and lupus.

Dr Anderson is also the current president of the International Society for the Study of Coeliac Disease, and the first Australian to hold the position.

Dr Robert Anderson received the 2023 Global Coeliac Disease Research Prize in Chicago last month. Photo supplied

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Mackay Gets YarnBombed!

June 8, 2023

Did you notice a sprinkling of colour throughout the city centre over the last week?

Locals spotted dozens of knitted and crocheted pieces throughout town last week, leaving many in awe of the talented artists who installed them, and many more scratching their heads wondering who these talented artists were.

It was the work of Artists Connect Inc and YarnBomb Mackay, who installed the pieces overnight on Thursday, June 1 ahead of City Heart Fridays last Friday.

The result of two months of work and 57km of yarn, the installations included yarn bombing around the Canefire sculpture at the intersection of Wood and Victoria streets – “turning concrete into crochet” – as well as crochet on many surrounding light posts, bicycles and seven crocheted mannequins scattered throughout town.

“Some great memories (and lots of knitting and crocheting) were made at our get togethers over the past couple of months,” YarnBomb Mackay posted on Facebook.

“Anyone keen to contribute to another yarnbomb is welcome to join us every second and fourth Monday each month starting June 26th.”

Visit YarnBomb Mackay on Facebook for more information.

Mackay’s city centre was yarn bombed for City Heart Fridays last Friday. Photo credit: Sam Gillespie

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Kindness Factory

June 8, 2023

I attended a conference recently and was privileged to meet an amazing woman who has faced more than her share of adversity in her life, and despite this, believes her life was saved by the kindness of other people. Kindness Factory™ started from her story of courage, hope and adversity and is now a global movement.  

Kath Koschel was an elite cricketer and in 2011, made her debut for NSW against SA. Kath sustained a back injury and complications from surgery saw her nearly have her leg amputated. It was only her stubbornness that prevented surgeons from removing her leg after they discovered a small bleed in her abdomen that was limiting the blood flow to her leg. Whilst attending rehabilitation, Kath met Jim and they planned a future together, but Jim took his own life in 2012. Kath’s recovery from the mental and physical trauma was tough, but throughout it all one thing shone out … the kindness of others who simply wanted to help. Kath launched Kindness Factory in 2015 and hoped to reach a milestone of one million acts of kindness.

With her physical injuries continuing to heal, she competed in an Iron Man Triathlon with prosthetic discs in her back and signed up for another triathlon in 2016. While on a training bike ride for the event, Kath was hit from behind by a 4WD, breaking her back and sustaining life threatening and life altering injuries.

Kath genuinely believes that her life was saved in this instance by the kindness of other people. So many people posted acts of kindness on her website, and social media feeds were inundated with kindness, leading her to believe that we all have the capacity for kindness. The movement has now grown into a registered not for profit organisation operating across Australia and the USA and has logged nearly 4.5 million acts of kindness. Kath continues to strive for kindness everywhere she goes.

If you want to know more or want to log an act of kindness, you can find all the details at Kindness Factory –

Cr Fran Mann

Mackay Regional Council

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Who Said Winter Can’t Be Wonderful?

June 8, 2023

If anyone said to me that winter in Mackay is a period in which to curl up into a ball and hibernate for a few months, well they’ve got it drastically wrong.

Things are just crazy flat out basically until Christmas time, and I love it.

Take this weekend for an example. I have to play hockey on Saturday night, then I have to get over to the basketball and jump on the mic for the Meteors game. Then I’m up early Sunday to walk up Mt Blackwood and then get some running in after catching the bug last weekend at the Marina Run.

Next thing I’ll know it’ll be Wednesday when we will be doing the 4MK breakfast show out the front of the Lifeblood Centre on Sydney St for our Bloody Oath Day.

It’s going to be World Donor Day and we decided to roll up our sleeves and support the cause by getting the word out there, to see how many people around Mackay would become regular blood and plasma donors. I reckon there will be heaps.

I can’t wait to do the show on Sydney St next week and get heaps of people starting to save lives in their own way.

Fast forward to next weekend and there’s even more action around Mackay. There’s more Meteors and Meteorettes games to be had on Friday, Saturday there will be more hockey and a great night at Moranbah where I’m volunteering on the mic with a Trail to Triumph trivia night with Mat Britton which will be amazing, and then on Sunday the show season starts, with the annual Pioneer Valley Show kicking off in Finch Hatton.

This is arguably Australia’s biggest one day country show and we love it. Sure it’s fresh when you’re heading up the Pioneer Valley at 6 in the morning, but once the sun is out, the horses are smiling and the jackets come off, it’s really the best day out.

Oh, and I’ll be the bloke on the microphone again too, so if you hear someone describing the horses, cattle, wood chopping or the great amount of entertainment, that’s me. Come and say hi too.

When you add it all up this is the best time of the year. The weather is perfect, the events are everywhere, just wait for our Festival of Arts, oh, and the people, well we know how good you are! Just exceptional.

You can join Rob Kidd from 5am weekday mornings on 4MK 1026 AM in Mackay and Proserpine, 91.5FM in Airlie Beach or just ask your smart speaker to play 4MK on iHeartRadio!

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June 1, 2023

Mackay And Whitsunday Life Scoop State Awards

By Amanda Wright

The advertisement which launched a regional newspaper into the international spotlight has once again been acknowledged as an industry game-changer for its ability to spark conversation towards the enduring power of print media.

The ‘Jenny and Steve’ advertisement for Best Marketing Campaign was one of four awards scooped up by this very publication, Mackay and Whitsunday Life, at the 2023 Queensland Country Press Association (QCPA) awards and conference in Brisbane last week.

Showcasing its talent across all forms of print media, Mackay and Whitsunday Life was recognised for unique marketing capabilities, an excellence in delivering newspaper features, talent in advertisement design and its ability to keep the region informed and engaged with quality editorial content.

Owner and Publisher, Rebecca Douthwaite, said it was humbling to be recognised as a leading regional newspaper in what is only the second year of being in print for Mackay and Whitsunday Life.

“Delivering news without barriers so everyone in the community can stay informed has been at the heart of our publication since its inception,” Mrs Douthwaite said.

“We said we’d be ‘free and always will be’ and we’ve honoured that promise.

“It was an incredible feeling to be recognised for what we have achieved this past year, which is a testament to our team who strive daily to deliver news that people genuinely want to read.”

Mackay and Whitsunday Life Rewrite The Newspaper Narrative

Mackay and Whitsunday Life took home four state awards last week, recognised at the annual Queensland Country Press Association (QCPA) awards and conference held in Brisbane.

A star-studded affair, the conference was opened by Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk who emphasised the importance of regional newspapers in keeping a wider audience informed. Olympic swimmer Julie McDonald OAM delivered an inspirational speech on what it takes to reach the top, and attendees were left in stitches with the hilarious comedian, Dave O’Neil, as the MC of the awards dinner.

Thinking outside of the box and taking risks is the key to success of any advertising campaign. Mackay and Whitsunday Life was awarded gold in the Best Marketing Campaign for printing the infamous ‘Jenny and Steve’ advertisement. Award judges said it set a new benchmark for the way regional and community newspapers should market themselves.

“Mackay Life was a great example of how this risk taking can have huge rewards and help a campaign exceed even the highest expectations,” the judges’ comments read.

“A standout campaign that combines great, innovative creative with simple execution. A real game changer.”

Whitsunday Life scooped silver for the ‘Best Newspaper Feature’ with its Great Barrier Reef Festival advertising extravaganza, with judges saying it was “eye catching and fun”.

“The front cover of this feature really caught my eye,” the judge said.

“Stories were very informative. Highlighting each event gave me a great insight into the festival. A lovely feature supported by nicely designed advertising.”

Mackay Life was recognised for editorial excellence with a bronze award for its Homelessness feature, saying the campaign had a clear aim, to connect homeless people to services that can support them.

“It comprised a good mix of stories, including those that presented personal insights that humanised the issue,” the judging comments read.

Lastly, the design team was recognised with a bronze for the Best Locally Produced Advertisement, for a Mother’s Day ad designed for Karen Hill Floral Design.

The QCPA conference and awards night broke several records including receiving the most nominations for awards ever.  Delegates travelled from across regional Queensland and from all eastern states to attend, including Mareeba in far north Queensland, Dubbo and Narrabri in central NSW, Gippsland in Victoria and the Barossa and Clare Valleys of South Australia.

Mackay and Whitsunday Life won four awards at the Queensland Country Press Association (QCPA) awards and conference, including a gold award for best marketing campaign. L-R: Journalist, Sam Gillespie, Mackay Editor, Amanda Wright, Owner and Publisher, Rebecca Douthwaite, Advertising Sales Manager, Mike McCann, Whitsunday Editor, Rachael Smith, Owner, Paul Douthwaite. Photo credit: Demie Wigham

Comedian Dave O’Neil was the MC for the Queensland Country Press Association (QCPA) awards and conference

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Be A Voice For Generations

June 1, 2023

As National Reconciliation Week wraps up on Saturday, June 3, local organisations Murri Watch, Murri Court and Binga Birri invited residents of Mackay to gather and learn about shared histories and cultures as society works towards achieving reconciliation in Australia, with a Reconciliation Bridge Walk taking place on Monday.

The National Reconciliation Week 2023 theme is “Be a voice for generations”, encouraging all Australians to be a voice for reconciliation in tangible ways in our everyday lives.

Murri Watch Senior Officer Jenny Timor, who has a Torres Strait Island and South Sea Island background, said the National Reconciliation Week creates further awareness of local Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and South Sea Islander culture.

“It’s an opportunity for all of us of all backgrounds to focus on who the Indigenous people are, to ask questions, to begin conversations, to have events in local schools and community,” she said.

“It’s all about showcasing Aboriginal and Islander culture and all the positives.”

A large group walked across the Forgan Bridge with signs, flags and banners, including schools, local organisations, members of parliament and police.

“We have a lot of community groups and people from the community in general who, by showing up today, are in support and appreciation of reconciliation and what it means to reconcile with each other, to demonstrate that we are equal in our differences, which is probably the crux of reconciliation,” Ms Timor said.

“People are continually moving forward in their own small ways and every year more people are beginning to become confident to approach and ask questions.”

A Reconciliation Bridge Walk was held in Mackay on Monday to mark National Reconciliation Week. Photo credit: Sam Gillespie

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SOS: Wedding Ring Lost On Cockermouth Island

June 1, 2023

A Mackay resident has put the call out to the community after her dad misplaced his wedding ring on Cockermouth Island.

Emmy Lou was on the Wildcat Mackay tour with her parents last Friday, saying “it was an amazing tour”, but shared on the Mackay Noticeboard Facebook group that her dad lost his gold wedding band while on the tour.

“My parents have been married for 48 years and my dad has never taken his wedding ring off once,” she wrote.

“They are the most sincere, committed and loving couple ever.

“I’ve never seen my dad so upset.

“When you marry your best friend it symbolises love, commitment and affection, so when you lose your wedding ring the feelings of sadness and guilt are apparent.”

After combing through videos and photos taken on the day, Ms Lou concluded that the wedding ring was lost while stand-up paddleboarding on the island.

She’s put the call out to the community to keep an eye out when visiting the island.

“I know this is a long shot, but I have read stories where people have found their wedding rings after losing them in the ocean,” she wrote.

“If anyone happens to go to Cockermouth Island on a tour/privately and is fortunate enough to find this I’ll be ever so grateful.

“If anyone out there does this stuff as a professional job with a metal detector, I would love to chat to you.”

Cockermouth Island

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Talk about perfect timing! (Editor's Note)

June 1, 2023

It was a delightful coincidence to jump right back into the swing of things at work just as we were gearing up for the Queensland Country Press Association (QCPA) awards and conference in the vibrant city of Brisbane.

Sure, it came with its fair share of challenges, like finding discreet spots every few hours to pump breast milk (shout-out to all the multitasking supermums out there!).

The highlight of it all? Reconnecting with my amazing colleagues and sharing countless laughs that brought back the feeling of camaraderie. And let's not forget the icing on the cake – our publication scooping up not one, not two, but four prestigious awards! Talk about feeling proud as punch!

But that's not all we gained from the conference. We had the privilege of listening to Queensland Premier, Annastasia Palaszczuk, who reminded us just how important regional newspapers are to our beloved communities. She assured us that the government is committed to keeping those ink-stained pages alive and kicking, ensuring that even the most vulnerable among us have access to vital news. Read more about this on page 7.

Industry expert speakers reignited our passion for doing what we do. They preached the gospel of positive press, urging us to steer clear of clickbait and exaggerated headlines aimed at nothing more than grabbing eyeballs. It was heartwarming to witness a shift in the industry, with more publications focusing on giving readers what they truly desire, instead of playing tricks on them.

It feels fantastic to be a part of an industry that values authenticity and understands the pulse of its audience.

As we embark on this new chapter, we promise to keep the creative juices flowing, delivering news that engages, entertains, and enlightens. We're stoked to have you all by our side as we navigate the ever-evolving world of media, one thrilling story at a time. Stay tuned, folks!


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Budget Losses For Local Councils

June 1, 2023

Dawson Councils are set to lose government support, after the Federal Government slashed funding for local councils in the May Budget, says Federal Member for Dawson, Andrew Willcox.

Mr Willcox is concerned local councils will be unable to provide the facilities and programs their communities need, and ratepayers will be forced to foot the bill on large-scale community projects, as he says support from the Federal Government wanes.

“There are 537 Local Councils across Australia who are set to lose out from Labor axing support in the May Budget.” Mr. Willcox said.

“A budget is all about priorities, and it’s concerning that local councils aren’t near the top of Labor’s list.

“I understand there’s a long-term goal for local councils to achieve 1 per cent of tax revenue through Financial Assistance Grants, and this is something I am fully supportive of.  Yet in the May Budget, the funding was reduced to 0.5 per cent, which is half of what’s needed.”

“Cost of living is biting at the heels of Australian families, and this move is set to force ratepayers to foot the bill of more community projects. This could also mean councils may have to increase rates to help pay for those projects.”

Mr Willcox is also disappointed to see future phases of the Local Roads and Community Infrastructure Program (LCRIP) be scrapped.

“The LCRIP was the previous Coalition Government’s way of assisting Councils to work directly for their constituencies,” Mr. Willcox said.

“When I was Mayor, the Coalition provided us with $6,437,903 over the previous four phases of the program. This gave us the support council needed to develop plans and deliver projects for the Whitsunday community, when and where it was needed most.

“This was the same right around Dawson, with the Townsville City Council receiving $16,824,146, the Mackay Regional Council receiving $13,328,688, and the Burdekin Shire Council receiving $3,698,445 over the previous four phases.

“This funding was vital for Dawson residents. Bureaucracy always slows down progress, and the LCRI program made sure that project delivery was streamlined and efficient.

“I’m urging Labor to get out of the road and let our local councils work for their people.”

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36 Years Of Whitsunday Anglican School

June 1, 2023

Whitsunday Anglican School celebrated its thirty-sixth-year anniversary with a whole-school celebration recently.

The school joined in a celebration service and, like all good birthday parties, enjoyed music performances, balloons and cake.

Principal Andrew Wheaton said the ‘Celebrate Whitsunday’ birthday event incorporated many school traditions – including the Run for Cover relay where students join for a running relay that covers the entire school grounds.

This initiative was inspired by a famous run that occurs around the Great Court of Cambridge University each year and was initiated by previous School Principal Mr Bassingthwaighte.

“It is our Whitsunday Way to come together to honour the legacy of staff and students over the past thirty-six years and to look towards our future,” Mr Wheaton said.

“Our exceptional teachers who support our students on their learning journey, set strong foundations over many years to ensure our students continue to grow and be the best version of themselves.”

The service, led by The Venerable Christopher Wright OAM Archdeacon, included a special presentation of staff members who have achieved considerable years of service with Whitsunday.

“We were proud to acknowledge some of our staff members who have been with the school for 30, 20 and 10 years. An amazing achievement of commitment to our students,” Mr Wheaton said.

“The wider Whitsunday School community are also to be congratulated for the important role they play in the lives of our students.”

Whitsunday Anglican School is a vibrant co-educational day and boarding school with a philosophy of personalised learning that drives an education of excellence.

From Kindergarten to Year 12, the school provides high quality teaching, and the time and support needed to promote each student’s individual success.

Whitsunday Anglican School is proud of its reputation as a leading Queensland School and our ability to support students to follow their pathway of choice.

36-year celebrations at Whitsunday Anglican School. Photos supplied

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June 1, 2023

Maggie’s 30-Year Journey Of Compassion In Palliative Care

Mackay’s Maggie Fenner has retired twice from nursing – but her love for her work at Mater Private Hospital Mackay keeps her coming back.

Maggie has been part of Mater’s palliative care team for three decades and says the area is a ‘blessing’ to work in.

This week (May 21-27) is Palliative Care Week – a time to increase awareness of palliative care and celebrate the staff who work in the sector.

“Palliative comes from palliare, the Latin word for a cloak, because you really are embracing people, making them as comfortable as possible, as they approach the end of their life,” Maggie said.

Maggie was 40 when she completed her first shift in a palliative care unit and she soon decided to specialise in the field.

“I did a few evening shifts in the palliative care unit and I gradually got more and more interested in it,” she said.

“I was lucky to go to England to learn about Dame Cicely Saunders, who pioneered the idea of palliative care worldwide – and I was also fortunate to meet her.”

Dame Saunders founded the concept of ‘total pain’, which encompasses a person’s physical, psychological, social, spiritual and practical needs.

“Cicely worked closely with soldiers from the war and wanted to better understand their pain,” Maggie said.

“She became a doctor, before also starting a hospice to ensure these people didn’t die with physical or mental pain.”

While Maggie continues to be passionate about palliative care, her other love has required her to take a step back from full-time work.

“I look after my disabled husband, who is an ex-doctor, which is really my top priority. However I really enjoy sharing any knowledge I can with the team here and am still learning off them too,” she said.

“I’m down to about four or five hours a week of work, when I am able to get a carer for my husband, but it’s so lovely to come in because it is like a big family here.”

Maggie’s colleague, palliative care unit Registered Nurse Amanda Barnes, agreed.

“You form real connections with not only patients but their families too, because providing palliative care to a patient is not generally a fast process, it can be months,” Ms Barnes said.

“We are so privileged to be with these people and their families at this time in their life – in many cases, there are no cures for the conditions these patients do have, so both the patients and their families do become like a second family who you want to make as comfortable as possible, giving them the comfort they need before the end.

“Maggie has taught us a lot – she’s been hands on for so long and has so much knowledge that even now when she can only come in for a few hours at a time we value them so.”

Mater Private Hospital Mackay General Manager Elizabeth Thomas said Palliative Care Week offered a timely opportunity to recognise Mater’s full-circle compassionate care.

“Mater Private Hospital Mackay has proudly offered palliative care services to the Mackay and Central Queensland community for decades now, and it is a service we are proud to continue providing into the future,” Ms Thomas said.

“We are fortunate to have an incredibly passionate palliative care team, with more people just as dedicated as Maggie and Amanda, who provide the exceptional compassionate care Mater is known for.”

Members of Mater Mackay's palliative care unit - Sarah Smith, Maggie Fenner and Amanda Barnes

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RACQ CQ Rescue Launch Annual Appeal

June 1, 2023

RACQ CQ Rescue completed 638 lifesaving missions in 2022.

Whether it be a horror highway crash, a sinking boat, a lost bushwalker or a workplace accident, RACQ CQ Rescue is the best chance of survival for residents, workers and visitors in our region when injury or illness strikes.

June 1 marked the start of the 2023 RACQ CQ Rescue Annual Appeal, aiming to raise $250,000 for the community-funded rescue helicopter service.

RACQ CQ Rescue CEO Tim Healee said community support was critical to saving lives and was imperative given the service’s undertaking to upgrade the rescue helicopters to improve their speed, range and performance across Central Queensland.

The service’s annual running costs are around $11 million with a large proportion coming from community donations, payroll deductions and sponsorship.

“The revolutionary new platform of two Leonardo AW139s, scheduled to arrive in mid-2024, will ensure our fleet here in Mackay are among the most advanced and best-equipped emergency aircraft in Australia,” Mr Healee said.

“This will allow our service to fly twice as far and about 30% faster, reaching patients in remote and rural locations more quickly and safely.”

The RACQ CQ Rescue flight crew know first-hand the value of the service and how every minute counts in a life and death situation.

“Anyone who donates during Annual Appeal becomes a hero to this organisation - anything we do or any time we fly has the potential to be lifesaving,” RACQ CQ Rescue pilot Leigh Wilkinson said.

Donate to the 2023 Annual Appeal today at or phone 4998 5232.

RACQ CQ Rescue anticipate the arrival of two new helicopters in 2024. Photo supplied

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Premier Backs ‘Absolutely Vital’ Regional Newspapers

June 1, 2023

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has described regional newspapers as ‘absolutely vital’ and as the ‘lifeblood of their communities’ before offering to help ensure that a larger share of the Queensland state government advertising budget be directed at communicating with regional Queenslanders through independent regional newspapers.

The Premier made the comments at the Queensland Country Press Association (QCPA) conference in Brisbane last week, referring to the ‘resurgence’ of independent newspaper publishers in Queensland as a contributing factor.

The announcement from Premier Palaszczuk follows the recent Victorian government commitment to ensuring one full page of government advertising is placed in every regional newspaper every week.

The Premier’s pledge also aligns with key findings from a recently released Deakin University report on media innovation which found that, “Securing the future of quality and reliable news and information platforms in non-metropolitan areas is in the national interest.”  

The Deakin report refers to numerous senate inquiries examining aspects of rural and regional news since 2016, as well as the Digital Platforms Inquiry, conducted by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and a parliamentary inquiry into the future of local newspapers, and concluded that, “Simply put, it is now widely understood that local news matters to our democracy, but it has struggled and requires support.  Our research suggests government policies and advertising spending is the single most influential factor in providing baseline surety to the long-term sustainability of small, independently owned news outlets in rural, regional and suburban Australia.”

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk opened the 2023 Queensland Country Press Association (QCPA) conference where she spoke about the importance of regional newspapers to communities

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Dedicated Dee Primed For Kokoda Challenge Hike

June 1, 2023
By Chris Karas

A casual fun run back in 2012 to get back into fitness was the springboard for charity work and half marathon success for St Patrick’s College Mackay school counsellor Dee Trannore.

Just two months after giving birth to her eldest daughter Evie, an adventurous Dee lined up for the 8km Marina Run in Mackay with a group of friends – eager to get back into top shape. “I enjoyed the experience and completed the course in just under 45 minutes,” Dee recalled.

Buoyed by an encouraging time in her maiden run, a rejuvenated Dee backed up again the following year by entering in the Half Marathon category. It has become a regular custom for the dedicated mother of two who has participated in ten of the past eleven Marina Runs – sparking an interest in long distance events.

Having moved on to ultra marathons in recent years, the talented Trannore has participated in some gruelling events such as the Gold Coast 50km in 2020;  the 55km Mountain Ultra Marathon at Eungella in both 2021 and 2022 where she finished second in the Female category; second and third placings at the Whitehaven Beach Half Marathon; the spectacular Surf Coast Century 100km ultra-marathon race in the Great Ocean Road region of Angelsea in Victoria and the Hamilton Island Hilly Half earlier this year.

Dee has worked as a counsellor in Catholic Education – Diocese of Rockhampton for the past seven years and has competed in ultra-marathons with close friend Kathy Parrish, Finance Officer at St Mary’s Catholic Primary School and Mackay locals Emily Dalglish, Natasha Weekes and Jenny Harmer.

“I use running and planning the training for these marathon events as part of my self-care and looking after my mental health,” revealed Dee.

“The adrenaline rush and runners high you receive when crossing that finish line has such a positive impact,” she said.

“Here in Mackay the running community is so supportive and inclusive particularly On The Run Mackay and Running Mums Australia and being involved has enabled me to build so many friendships” Dee added.

Her next major assignment is to complete the Kokoda Challenge with teammates Natasha Weekes, Sarah Jensen and Jenny Harmer on July 15.

“My teammates and I will be hiking some of the harshest terrain on the Gold Coast Hinterland to raise funds for the Kokoda Youth Foundation’s life changing Youth Programs,” quipped Dee.

“It is a demanding 96km hike from Nerang to Springbrook National Park – Conservation Park with teams expected to complete the course in 39 hours,” she said.

“We will be embodying the spirit of Kokoda by walking in memory of our Australian diggers and aim to finish in 30 hours” Dee added.

The Kokoda Youth Foundation is a Gold Coast charity that runs experiential Youth Programs, inspiring young Aussies to reach their full potential. The foundation takes kids from all walks of life and provides them with free programs that have life changing capabilities. These kids are fondly known as the Kokoda Kids.

For further details log on to:

A super fit Dee climbs the stairs at Bells Beach during her 100km Surf Coast Century ultra marathon race on the Great Ocean Road in Victoria

Mackay ultra marathon warriors Kathy Parrish and Dee Trannore

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June 1, 2023

Whitsunday Wealth Festival Hub To Ignite Mackay's Artistic Spirit

As the Mackay Festival of Arts gears up for another spectacular season, anticipation fills the air for the unveiling of a remarkable addition. The Whitsunday Wealth Festival Hub promises a surreal wonderland of comedy, live music, and locally crafted brews, all amidst the vibrant Mackay Civic Precinct. Get ready to immerse yourself in captivating shows, unique experiences, and the exquisite Mackay Festival Hub Lager, exclusively available at this exhilarating event.

Local brewery, Red Dog, are so excited about the event that they have been perfecting a one-off recipe – Mackay Festival Hub Lager – that will only be found on tap at the Hub.

Kicking off on Monday, July 3, and running through until Sunday, July 9, the Whitsunday Wealth Festival Hub will be home to two must-see interactive shows – High Tea with Booff and Le Coup.

High Tea with Booff will be a uniquely dark and immersive experience of comic theatre featuring an eloquent, other-worldly host with a larger-than-life personality.

Le Coup is billed as fight night at the circus that will feature sword swallowing, daring aerial feats, tap dancing, acrobatics and more – all under a lavish Ukiyo tent.

Mayor Greg Williamson said the Whitsunday Wealth Festival Hub would be a centralised one-stop, pop-up destination that would showcase the essence of the Mackay Festival of Arts.

“This will be a vibrant hub for entertainment, socialising, live music and street cuisine that will bring people together to have a great time,” Mayor Williamson said.

Whitsunday Wealth managing director Matt Neill said one of Whitsunday Wealth’s key values was community and they were excited to get behind an event that will deliver something new, fun and different for the community.

“It’s also great that the Hub will be centrally located and will have some really original options for festival goers,” Mr Neill said.

“I will absolutely be down here myself with my wife and two boys,” he said.

Red Dog Brewery co-owner and brewer Jamie Woods said the Red Dog team was really excited to be getting into the festival space with their big red truck bristling with beer taps.

“It (the truck) gives us the opportunity to take our beer on the road and bring it to people at all the big festivals around the region,” Mr Woods said.

“We can’t wait to have our beer that we brew here in Mackay on tap for Festival goers and we’ve come up with a recipe specifically for the Whitsunday Wealth Festival Hub that will be a one off.

“You won’t get this beer anywhere else, so you will have to get down to the Hub to try it.”

The new Red Dog Brewery truck will be pouring a special one-off beer for the Whitsunday Wealth Festival Hub.  Pictured from left, Red Dog Brewery co-owner Jamie Woods, Whitsunday Wealth managing director Matt Neill, Mayor Greg Williamson and Festival and Events coordinator Sarah Porter

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Acceptable Behaviour

June 1, 2023

The Key To Breaking Domestic Violence Chain

Broken Ballerina Inc conducted its third annual Candle Lighting ceremony last Sunday at Eimeo Surf Club grounds in memory of murdered domestic violence victims.

The Mackay-based advocacy group has been established for five years with domestic violence survivor and founder Jules Thompson and husband Peter at the helm.

Their strong message to the community is “domestic violence isn’t acceptable for both men and women.”

Jules and Peter established the Broken Ballerina Foundation back in 2018 and commenced raising funds and awareness for survivors of domestic, family and sexual violence.

This was Jules’ way of helping victims as she faced her challenges alone and she wanted to show that there is a way out of the cycle and domestic violence.

Jules and Peter were joined at the Candle Lighting Vigil by committee members Maree Sturdy, Hannah McNamara and Queensland Police Service Domestic and Family Violence co-ordinator for Mackay District Rowena Lacey along with Whitsunday MP Amanda Camm, the Shadow Minister for the Prevention of Domestic, Family and Sexual Violence.

Twenty year old Hannah – a survivor of sexual violence – joined Sgt Lacey and Senior Sgt of Northern Beaches Police Mitch Benson as guest speakers at the event.

The tireless Broken Ballerina committee help to support Jules in her mission of making a difference in the lives of victims of domestic violence and disadvantaged people in our society.

Senior Sgt Benson expressed his gratitude for the invaluable role played by Jules and her organisation in assisting those in need.

“In regional areas like Mackay the Queensland Police work hard to provide assistance to victims of domestic violence. However sometimes we find ourselves confronted with limited services – it has been during these moments that Broken Ballerina becomes a lifeline for aggrieved persons,” Snr Sgt Benson revealed.

“Through their community engagement initiatives they equip individuals with the knowledge and tools to identify signs of domestic violence and offer support to those who may be experiencing it. Their work in prevention aligns with our overall vision of creating a safer community for all – free from the cycle of domestic violence” he added.

Sgt Lacey told the gathering that May is Domestic & Family Violence Prevention Month and an opportunity to raise awareness, encourage members of the community to support respectful relationships and promote a culture of non-violence.

“It’s up to neighbours and friends to support and protect victims and parents and teachers to work against the patterns which foster violence” she said.

Jules urged all parents to teach their children what is acceptable behaviour.

“I want to show people that whether they struggle with drugs or alcohol, if they are being abused or dealing with another traumatic situation, there is hope and there is help” says Jules.

Broken Ballerina committee members Jules and Peter Thompson, Maree Sturdy, Hannah McNamara and Sgt Rowena Lacey with Whitsundays MP Amanda Camm at last Sunday’s Candle Lighting Vigil for murdered domestic violence victims at Eimeo Surf Club

Queensland Police Service Domestic & Family Violence Co-ordinator for Mackay District Sgt Rowena Lacey with Senior Sgt Northern Beaches Police Mitch Benson

Broken Ballerina committee member and sexual violence survivor Hannah McNamara with boyfriend Adam Sane and her parents Marilyn and Paul McNamara at the Candle Lighting Vigil

Broken Ballerina supporters pay their respects at the Candle Lighting Vigil at Eimeo Surf Club

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A Turtley Awesome Time Of Year

June 4, 2023

Step aboard the adventure of a lifetime and set sail through the stunning Whitsundays, where dreams transform into reality. Locals know that this time of the year is a truly magical time to explore, with sun-drenched days blended with a cool ocean breeze.

But, did you know that as a local, you can claim some amazing deals and discounts by joining a secret club?

Ok, it’s definitely not so secret, but it is turtely awesome and, best of all, it’s free to join.


Let’s see where this club can grant you access to, at a fraction of the regular price.

Get Ready For An Adventure

Picture yourself basking in the sun-kissed glory of Whitehaven Beach, its pristine shores beckoning you to dive into a world of pure bliss. Feel the exhilaration as you glide through the crystal-clear waters, immersing yourself in the vibrant coral wonderland of the Great Barrier Reef.

Get ready to unleash your spirit of adventure and embark on a journey that will leave you breathless, for Cruise Whitsundays is here to show you that the Whitsundays are not just a destination, but an enchanting way of life.

Exclusively For Locals (But You Can Invite Your Mates)

The Whitsundays – a paradise boasting Whitehaven Beach, Hamilton Island, and the Great Barrier Reef. It's a place where locals are blessed to call home, and now, Cruise Whitsundays invites you to share in the magic with their extraordinary Turtle Club. Experience year-round discounts on their Day Cruise and Resort Connection services, ensuring you and your out-of-town guests have the time of your lives.

Living in one of Australia's most incredible regions means you often welcome visitors from afar. Cruise Whitsundays understands the joy and expense that comes with playing host, which is why they've extended the Turtle Club discount to include your visiting family and friends. And the best part, Cruise Whitsundays allows you to enjoy these discounts all year round! Yes, even during school holidays! Helping you make it more affordable to keep the kids entertained.

Fun fact – for every local Turtle Club membership, you can invite five friends to join you for the same discounted rates. That means a couple could invite 10 friends to join them for a Whitsundays adventure, with each booking enjoying the same generous discount.

Unlock the benefits of Turtle Club membership* and enjoy the following discounts throughout the year:

• Immerse yourself in adventure with a remarkable 30% DISCOUNT on Cruise Whitsundays day cruises* for Turtle Club members and up to five additional adults and children.

• Journey effortlessly on Resort Connections to Daydream Island, Hamilton Island Marina and Hamilton Island Airport, with a 20% DISCOUNT on Cruise Whitsundays transfers for Turtle Club members and 1 companion.

• Fill up before your adventure and Savour culinary delights with a 10% DISCOUNT at the delicious Cruise Whitsundays Cafe, exclusively for Turtle Club members.

• Pick up some sweet merchandise and enjoy a 10% DISCOUNT at the Cruise Whitsundays shop.

• Additional incredible Local Love discounts throughout the year.

Day Trip Destinations And Island Escapes Await

Great Barrier Reef

Venture beyond the shores of the Whitsundays to Reefworld, Cruise Whitsundays’ extraordinary multilevel reef facility located at the breathtaking Hardy Reef, a mesmerizing 39 nautical miles from the coastline. Dive into an underwater world of wonders as you snorkel, swim, and explore the awe-inspiring ecosystem of the Great Barrier Reef. Whether you choose to embark on a diving expedition or opt for a ride in a semi-submarine or the underwater observatory, your encounter with this iconic Australian gem will leave an indelible mark on your memory. Indulge in a delectable buffet lunch and relish more time for exploration before bidding farewell to this majestic marine wonderland.

Whitehaven Beach

Prepare to be captivated by the crown jewel of the Whitsunday Islands – the enchanting Whitehaven Beach. Embark on a cruise through these picturesque isles and spend blissful hours on the dazzling white sands of Whitehaven. Take a refreshing swim in the crystal-clear waters or simply bask in the serenity of this pristine paradise. It's an essential Queensland destination that promises to leave you in awe of nature's unparalleled beauty.

Camira Sailing Adventure

Feel the wind in your hair as you set sail on the azure waters of the Whitsundays aboard the magnificent Camira, an impressive 85ft ocean-going catamaran. Dive into the underwater world, snorkelling alongside vibrant marine life. Embark on a hike to the lookout point, treating your eyes to the breathtaking vistas of Hill Inlet. Leave your footprints on the iconic shores of Whitehaven Beach and indulge in a mouth-watering BBQ lunch onboard. The Camira Sailing Adventure promises an unforgettable day filled with thrilling experiences.

Hamilton Island

Take a day to immerse yourself in the wonders of Hamilton Island at your own pace – the perfect opportunity to embrace the island's natural beauty. Embark on a hike through the scenic hills, explore the boutiques and galleries along the vibrant Marina Village main street, or simply unwind by the pool or beach, indulging in the true essence of island living. From tantalising dining experiences to vibrant shopping opportunities, Hamilton Island offers a plethora of choices to satisfy every wanderer's desire. Allow yourself to be swept away by the island's charm and let the rhythms of this tropical paradise rejuvenate your soul.

So, get ready to embark on an unforgettable journey, where adventure meets tranquillity, where you can discover your personal sanctuary amidst the beauty of the Whitsundays.

Turtle Club benefits are reserved for residents of the Port Douglas, Cairns, Townsville, Whitsunday, Mackay, Sarina, and Gladstone regions.

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Revitalising Mackay's Waterfront

June 1, 2023

Major Tenders Awarded For PDA Development

Mackay's Waterfront Priority Development Area will flourish with the announcement of two successful tenders last week at an ordinary meeting of council.

SMC Marine Pty Ltd was awarded the tender for the $2.44 million construction of the Pioneer River Floating Pontoon at the Bluewater Quay.

Woollam Constructions was successful in the tender for the $3.75 million design and refurbishment of 8 River Street (formerly Maria’s Donkey and more recently the Don Daniels restaurant site).

Together these will be the third major project in the Mackay Waterfront PDA. The first was the Queens Park redevelopment, followed by River Wharves, which is the first of three stages in the Riverside Revitalisation project.

Mackay Deputy Mayor Karen May said the revamp of 8 River Street would add to the appeal already added by the announcement of Red Dog Brewery at the old Ashtart site.

“Woollam Constructions will undertake a full structural refreshment of the building with the aim of refurbishing it as a food and beverage facility,” Cr May said.

“The building remediation will aim to enable the site to accommodate a variety of hospitality uses, such as café, restaurant, bar and function capabilities.”

The Pioneer River Floating Pontoon will be constructed by SMC Marine at the end of Brisbane Street, near the Bluewater Quay.

Cr May said the pontoon would enable a more centralised access to the river for commercial and non-motorised watercraft to load and unload for a day of recreation.

“By enabling more people to access our beautiful blue water river we are continuing to grow the liveability of our region,” Cr May said.

“This pontoon will promote access for river cruises, barbecue boats, and jet skis as well as recreational vessels such as kayaks and tinnies,” she said.

“The Mackay Waterfront project had been developed by council to improve the tourism aesthetic, liveability and economic activity in Mackay’s CBD and waterfront areas.

“Council’s Mackay City and Waterfront team are working with the community and local businesses to roll out a series of placemaking and activation activities across the city centre and waterfront areas,” she said.

This artist’s render of the Riverside Revitalisation project shows the floating pontoon, pictured top right near the Bluewater Quay, and 8 River Street in the centre

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Mackay Crush Soon Sparking Into Life

June 1, 2023

The 2023 sugarcane crush is officially underway in the north of the state, with harvesters roaring into life across the Atherton Tablelands last week; as growers, harvesting crews and mill workers start the race to get Queensland’s 30 million tonnes of cane cut and crushed by the end of November.

Mackay’s mills are anticipated to fire up within the next fortnight.

"The weather is pretty spectacular at the minute. We have blue skies and cool temperatures, so perfect weather for harvesting," CANEGROWERS Tableland Chairman Claude Santucci said.


"The early cut cane from last year is looking really nice…if we can keep this weather and the mill has a good run, I'm hopeful we can have a pretty good 2023 season."

Tully Mill was the next cab off the rank when it fired up last week, with the remainder of Queensland’s 19 sugar mills coming online over the coming weeks.

Latest estimates put the crop at 30.55 million tonnes of cane, producing between 4 and 4.5 million tonnes of sugar, the majority of which will be exported to overseas markets in Japan, South Korea, and Indonesia.

With the world sugar price hitting record highs and forecasters predicting a drier winter this year, growers are optimistic that 2023 could be a bumper year for the industry, CANEGROWERS Chairman Owen Menkens said.

“Last year we were pretty optimistic going into the crush, with prices on the up and a great crop in the paddock, but unfortunately things didn’t pan out the way we wanted,” Mr Menkens said.

“Poor weather, workforce shortages, and poor mill performance in some areas combined to cause major disruptions that ultimately led to the crush running through Christmas and well into the new year in some districts, and around one million tonnes of cane left unharvested.”

Mr Menkens said there was a very positive feeling around the industry at the minute, with the industry on the verge of a transition to a range of new and growing opportunities in the bioeconomy that rely upon sugarcane for feedstock.

“The export of raw sugar will always be the foundation of our industry, but we know there are many other complimentary opportunities that are emerging for the industry and we hope that this coming season, combined with a strong price, will provide the basis for new and increased investment into these exciting projects.”

Harvesters are on the move and mills are a hive of activity as the sugar crush season readies itself throughout the Mackay region. Photo credit: Amanda Wright

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Jet Fuel Industry Set To Soar

June 1, 2023
By Amanda Wright

The Queensland Government has teamed up with Qantas to unlock the state’s potential to produce sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), a critical component in airlines reaching net zero emissions by 2050.

Under a memorandum of understanding signed last week, the Queensland Government and Qantas will work together to further grow a local SAF industry.

This will include exploring how to fully leverage sugarcane and agricultural by-products for biofuels production and the potential for developing new feedstock sources and processes.

More broadly, the parties will focus on developing a Queensland-based SAF supply chain.

SAF is yet to be produced in Australia at commercial scale.

Qantas currently uses green aviation fuel sourced overseas and is targeting 10 per cent SAF in its fuel mix by 2030, and about 60 per cent by 2050.

In March this year, the State Government, Qantas and Airbus announced support for Jet Zero Australia to commence a feasibility study for a new biorefinery in Queensland, which could produce up to 100 million litres of SAF a year.

Deputy Premier Steven Miles said that growing Queensland’s SAF industry is one of those opportunities that will fuel Queensland’s economic future and contribute to decarbonisation targets.

“With our rich supply of feedstock and skilled workforce, Qantas, and the world, has recognised Queensland as an ideal location to establish an Australasian SAF supply chain,” he said.

CANEGROWERS Mackay CEO Kerry Latter said the Deputy Premier’s announcement is positive for the sugar industry.

“This is a great opportunity to have our own sustainable aviation fuel industry and develop fuel security in Australia by manufacturing here in Queensland with a sustainable, locally-grown product,” Mr Latter said.

“It has great potential to develop into an export product.”

Mr Latter added that the government has continued to talk up the Mackay-Whitsunday region as a primary focus for development as a primary bio-futures manufacturing hub, and its sugar industry as a feedstock.

“The important factor is that all in the value chain, from paddock to port are rewarded: this will give growers the incentive to invest and increase their production to meet the demand,” he said.

“Mackay holds a strong position in the biofutures space, having been home for the QUT Bio-commodities Pilot Plant at Racecourse mill, which has been a proving-ground for a range of processes and technologies.

“Mackay is well known for its large cane industry, excellent engineering and manufacturing sector, and port capabilities. We are central to sugar producing regions up and down the coast and so, although a greenfields location for fuel production, certainly offer logistical advantages transporting feedstock.

Mr Latter said the emerging SAF manufacturing sector, as with the emerging plant-based protein food manufacturing sector, both look to sugarcane products as a feedstock.

“There will be opportunities and high demand for the produce of all sugar-producing regions if the biofutures sectors are enabled to become as big as they could be.”

An Australian SAF industry could be worth $3 billion annually by 2030 and could create up to 15,600 jobs – mostly in regional areas – nationwide by 2050.

CANEGROWERS Mackay CEO Kerry Latter

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Forging Futures

June 1, 2023

Mackay Regional Council's 2023 Apprentice And Trainee Intake Program

Embark on a transformative professional journey with Mackay Regional Council's 2023 Apprentice and Trainee intake program. Gain invaluable on-the-job training, propelling your career towards a prosperous future.

Mackay Regional Council is offering an additional nine new positions as part of its 2023 Apprentice and Trainee intake.

Workplace diversity and flexibility are a major focus of the Apprentice and Trainee intake program.

Mayor Greg Williamson said, "The Apprentice and Trainee program offered by Mackay Regional Council provides a valuable opportunity for successful applicants to gain on-the-job training."

"Council is a fantastic place to work, and we encourage people from all walks of life to consider taking on a role in our workforce," Mayor Williamson added.

"This time round, roles will cover everything from event management to boilermaking and legal services – there is certainly something to pique everyone’s interest," he said.

"The apprentice and traineeships often lead to full-time work at Mackay Regional Council, and we are very proud to say we have many of our past apprentices and trainees still working here even 10 years later."

The mid-year intake is being coordinated by Hays Recruitment, with opportunities in a variety of industries at Mackay Regional Council, including:

● Business trainee

● Apprentice boilermaker

● Legal Services trainee

● Community Services trainee

● Event Management trainee

● Civil Construction trainee x 2

● Apprentice chef

● Apprentice plumber

Mackay Regional Council encourages applications from Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people, anyone re-entering the workforce, those from a non-English speaking background, individuals with a disability, impairment, or long-term condition, school leavers, or adult workers wishing to change careers or gain new skills.

Applications for the mid-year 2023 Apprentice and Trainee intake at Mackay Regional Council are open now, and more information can be found at or at

Applications close on June 9.

2022 Live Production Services trainee Eddie Tiller is now working full-time in council’s Functions and Events team at the MECC

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Annual Safety Conference A Powerful Tool

June 1, 2023

In Creating Safe Work Environments

With the theme of ‘Shifting the Focus: Step back and look at things differently’, Resource Industry Network’s 2023 Safety Conference delivered practical tools and information pertinent to workplace safety while sharing expertise and skills on how delegates can put their new knowledge into action in their own workplaces.

The annual conference remains a powerful tool in helping businesses create and maintain safe work environments and this year’s event was no different.

Taking place on Friday, May 26 at the MECC, the event delivered an impressive line-up of industry leading experts ensuring conference-goers left up to speed with the latest knowledge in their respective safety topics.

Guest presenters for the plenary sessions included safety expert, leading scientist and best-selling author Professor Sidney Dekker, safety leader Petrina Hilton, Sentis CEO Anthony Gibbs and Cameron Stevens from Pocketknife Group, who presented on the topic ‘Debunking what it means to use technology in WH&S’.

The 2023 Safety Conference also included a selection of breakout sessions on topics including Identifying and Managing Psychosocial Hazards in the Workplace; Using Recognition to Drive Improved Safety Performance; the Mackay Cutters Culture and how they look at things differently; the Management of Fatigue within a Contemporary Resources Setting; the Anger Rage Regret Program and the Qld Government’s Regulator update on managing risks for coal mine workers.

Resource Industry Network general manager Dean Kirkwood said it was no secret that workplace safety had been cast under a huge spotlight this past couple of years.

“Workplace accidents take an enormous toll on families, work colleagues and the extended community,” Mr Kirkwood said.

“Given the rate of workplace accidents experienced in our industry, it is even more critical that business and industry invest their time to attend.

“We consistently have great feedback from the day, and it is well supported by the mining houses, industry contractors and local suppliers, all striving for safer workplace outcomes.

“Safety is about leadership.

“If businesses want to achieve improvements in health and safety, effective engagement with their workforces is vital.”

Resource Industry Network delivered the 2023 Safety Conference at the MECC last month

Professor Sidney Dekker

Petrina Hilton

Anthony Gibbs and Cameron Stevens. Photos supplied

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Getting Involved

June 1, 2023

Within The Wider Automotive Industry And What That Can Achieve

How many times have you heard employers say that “Kids today just don’t want to work” or “It’s impossible to find the right people”?

With Covid in the past, and as the new reality of business sets in, it is time to start asking different questions, of ourselves, our peers and our industry.

What can we do better? How do we learn from leaders within our industry?  Why do we need to judge industries that market to employees better?

The automotive industry for the most part has, undervalued the importance of growing stronger together.  There are organisations that are leading the way in change and direction.

Auto Ready Training and the Careers Expo run by the MTAQ and held locally at McCarthy Panel Works was attended by over 120 people.

Students, parents, teachers, trainers, suppliers, business owners and both local and state government representatives.

It is a true reflection of what ingenuity and positive push can achieve.

It is time to grow the Automotive industry together, reach out and get involved.

Over the course of the Easter holidays, 30 students had the opportunity to learn and understand about the workings around safety and mechanics of vehicles through hands-on experience with two qualified MTAQ trainers.

Daniel Yarnold, a student at Mackay Christian College said, “We’ve learned about safety, about mechanical components of a car – the brakes, electrical systems and so – we are pulling apart engines at the moment, and we are learning about crucial things we might need to know.

“I really enjoyed this week,” he added.

“I got to see the workplace, work with professionals from the industry and I am more interested in the industry now because I can see how it all works and get an appreciation of it.”

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Testing Their Mettle With Metal

June 1, 2023

Students from CQUniversity in Mackay recently tested their mettle in a workshop that challenged their metal fabrication skills. The task at hand? Crafting pot belly stoves from flat sheets of steel.

Courtney Pollard, a 25-year-old apprentice boilermaker at Mackay Sugar, expressed her delight in acquiring new skills and the gratification of seeing tangible results.

"To have something to bring home and be proud of is a huge highlight of being a boilermaker.

“I like the different variety of work we get to do in our training. It’s very refreshing learning new skills every day,” she said.

Meanwhile, Simon Nell, another student, brought some culinary flair to the workshop by treating his peers to sausages and a rack of ribs, cooked in his very own pot belly stove.

According to their instructor, Chris Weeks, the students approached the project with careful planning. In the initial week, they honed their skills in geometric development, learning how to draft various templates. In the following week, they put their designs into action, transferring the templates onto 5mm sheet plates and expertly shaping the steel through pressing and rolling techniques. The final stage involved assembling the parts and allowing room for creativity in designing doors, hinges, smokers, and lids for the stoves. Some students demonstrated exceptional inventiveness in their designs.

Weeks expressed his satisfaction in witnessing the students' progress and growth over the years.

“Once they see the finished product they are super proud and the best part about my job is seeing them progress over the years and ultimately transform into the young tradespeople of the future.”

The workshop not only fostered technical skills but also instilled a sense of pride as the students beheld their completed pot belly stoves, tangible symbols of their craftsmanship. With their dedication and creative spirit, these students exemplify the promising future of skilled trades.

Fourteen Metal Fabrication students built pot belly stoves as part of the final week of their training at CQU Mackay

Devlin Robinson

Joshua Urmson

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Music For Motivation

June 1, 2023

It’s another JAM-PACKED weekend around Mackay and the Whitsundays!

There’s plenty to keep the family entertained around the district over the next few days.

The Mackay Hospital Foundation’s Family Fun Day is happening this Sunday from 10-2pm at BB Print Stadium, the Star team and I will be there so come and say hi!

I’ll also be at the BMA Mackay Marina Run on Sunday from 6.30am-9.30am gasbagging at the finish line. Remember there’s still time to register if you haven’t convinced yourself just yet to take part – it’s for a great cause with funds raised supporting the Leukaemia Foundation.

To get you ready for whichever run you’re taking part in – whether it’s the 3km kids dash, 5km fun run or one of the more advanced runs – I have shared my top 3 songs from my personal playlist that motivate me when I get out to pound the pavement.

1. Drake – Sticky: this one sets a good pace for me and honestly, I feel cool when I’m listening to it which means I can focus less on how much my legs are hurting and more on putting one in front of the other!

2. Doja Cat – Woman: If you’re looking to get your heart rate pumping this one has a rate of 108 BPM and if you want to go faster, move yourself to the track double time for a 216 BPM run.

3. Cardi B – Up: You’re probably starting to sense a theme here; my playlist is multiuse. You can use it to get ready for a night on the town or to motivate your workout. Cardi B’s Up has a very distinct rhythm and upbeat tempo that is a great song to put on when you feel yourself slowing down and struggling through the last legs of your run.

I hope that my list can assist you in crossing the finish line a little faster and with a bit more of a spring in your step!


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Taking On The Tax Man, Tradie Style!

June 1, 2023

Are you ready to tackle tax time?

From that morning iced coffee to grabbing the tools you need, it's important to know which of these expenses are claimable. Lucky for you, Porters Mitre 10 has your back with the ultimate guide to help you determine which expenses are eligible for claiming.

Let's start with protective clothing. As a tradie, personal protective equipment (PPE) is your trusty sidekick, and the best part is, it's tax deductible! Whether it's steel-cap boots, safety glasses, gloves, hard hats, and any other essential safety gear that shields you from work-related risks, you can claim them as deductible expenses. Safety first, folks!

Now, let's talk about tools and equipment.

Good news! You can deduct the expenses for the tools and equipment you need to get the job done.

If their value exceeds $300, you can claim a deduction for their depreciation over time. For costs under $300, you get an immediate deduction. That means your ladders, tape measures, hand tools, power tools, and all their useful accessories are eligible for tax deductions. Isn't that handy?

And for all the tradespeople who brave the great outdoors, there's a ray of sunshine for you too! You can claim a portion of the sun safety expenses directly related to your work. Sunscreen, sunhats, sunglasses – all the essentials that protect you from those harsh rays – can be included in your deductions. Stay safe under the sun!

By understanding and making the most of these deductible expenses, you can minimise your tax liability and potentially increase your tax refunds. Keep those records accurate, and don't hesitate to consult with a tax professional to ensure you're maximising your benefits.

Ready to stock up on all your tradie essentials? Head over to Porters Mitre 10 and explore our full range in-store. Your future tax refund will thank you!

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June 1, 2023

May Help Construction Industry Weather A Perfect Storm

Rising material prices, labour shortages, interest rate hikes and rainy weather have created a perfect storm for the construction industry in the past 12 months, sending many builders to the wall.

Of all these factors, weather is the one that most people would cite as being beyond human control. However, a new study from Australia and the UK  suggests this may not be the case.

Engineers from Aston University, Birmingham, and the University of South Australia (UniSA) have calculated the potential cost savings for builders using modular production techniques where much of the construction happens offsite in controlled conditions.

Buildings are produced in modules in a factory, using the same materials and building codes, but completed in about half the time, with less waste and no building delays due to poor weather.

The researchers produced a cost model that estimated the impact of weather by season on each building activity, including portions of the build (such as bathroom pods) up to the entire structure.

The savings come in at approximately AUD$40,000 (£21,000) on a build worth $6.4 million (£3.4m). This 0.6 per cent saving may initially seem minor but takes on significant meaning in the current climate where average construction profit margins are just 4.2 per cent.

The findings are published in the International Journal of Sustainable Building Technology and Urban Development.

Co-author of the paper Dr Ki Pyung Kim, a senior lecturer in STEM at UniSA, says weather is often identified as one of the top causes for delays and subsequent cost increases in the building industry, affecting 45 per cent  of projects worldwide.

“By removing many of the onsite activities and replacing them with modules built offsite, builders can minimise construction delays caused by weather, thereby keeping the costs from blowing out,” Dr Kim says.

Incessant rain in Australia’s eastern states throughout 2022 led to construction costs ballooning, according to the Property Council of Australia, exposing builders to unbudgeted increases and heavy losses.

However, rainfall is the not the only key weather pressure for the construction industry.

“There are many pressures on the construction industry right now, including lack of skilled labour, reductions in profit margins, lack of sustainable materials and low productivity. The financial implications of weather are rarely considered except in extreme cases as the client normally bears the cost,” Dr Kim says.

While modular construction techniques have several benefits – including faster builds and a more controlled working environment which protects high-quality materials from the weather – there are some drawbacks: a limited supply chain and lack of flexibility in both design and supply. The upfront costs of modular components are also expensive, but this needs to be weighed up against losses incurred by weather holdups.

“The global housing sector is dominated by traditional construction methods, but the industry is approaching a crisis point – particularly in relation to a skills shortage – that may force a change to modular and other offsite techniques,” Dr Kim says.

“The Federal Government has set a target of delivering one million affordable homes over five years from 2024. To ensure this target is met, Infrastructure Australia has mandated modular construction for 80 per cent of social housing projects by 2030.”

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Chow Down On Pizza For A Purpose

June 1, 2023

Laffos Bar and Pizzeria is helping to ignite a compassionate movement that combines gastronomic delight with social impact. Throughout the month of June, Laffos will pledge a generous $5 from every large pizza sold to the Grapevine Group, bolstering their unwavering commitment to local suicide training and awareness initiatives.

The Pizza for a Purpose campaign will launch with a tantalizing pop-up restaurant extravaganza on Saturday, June 3, aiming to galvanize the community and raise awareness for the cause.

The funds raised by this noteworthy initiative will play an instrumental role in sustaining Grapevine's life-saving courses, including the invaluable free 3-hour safeTALK training. With these resources at their disposal, Grapevine can continue equipping individuals with the knowledge and confidence to identify warning signs of suicide and provide essential assistance to those in need.

Grapevine Group President, Debbie Knight, passionately emphasises the significance of this training for the community: "Training like this is vital for the community. It's all about being aware of the warning signs of suicide and feeling confident to assist someone who is struggling,” Ms Knight said.

The free group safeTALK sessions or 1-hour Suicide Mythbusters toolbox talks are also available and can be delivered at workplaces, sports or community organisations.

“Without our supporters we would never have been able to reach our milestone of having 6,500 locals go through the training program.

“Getting this many people in the Mackay, Isaac and Whitsunday regions trained is a testament to how much the community cares about each other.” Ms Knight said.

Members of the public are encouraged to go down to Laffos on June 3 for a raft of pizza-eating competitions with all food supplied by Laffos.

From 9.30am selected children between the ages of 7 to 11 years will enter a pizza eating competition with the chance to win a $100 Caneland gift voucher prize. This will be followed at 10am by a supporter’s pizza eating competition with Pizza for a Purpose's valued sponsors. Then at 10.30am selected children from 12 to 16 years of age will have their own pizza eating competition and will also be in the running to win a $100 Caneland gift voucher prize. Between 11am and noon, 12 lucky Star 101.9 winners will have Laffo himself serve them lunch of pizzas and platters.

For more information on this competition, visit Star FM’s Facebook or

Mark (Laffo) Laffin

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June 1, 2023

Mackay recently celebrated National Volunteer Week (NVW), which is Australia’s largest annual celebration of volunteering. I recently had the pleasure of celebrating with some of our volunteers during NVW and I have to say, what a sense of joy and kindredship was enjoyed by all (myself included). It was lovely to sit in the company of these wonderful individuals all contributing to their community in such a positive manner, and actually having fun! The joy of getting my hands in the dirt and planting daisies at the Mackay Regional Botanic Gardens was immeasurable and took the cares of the world away (at least in that moment).

It is widely known that being a volunteer has lots of benefits to the overall wellbeing of an individual. Volunteering can provide a healthy boost to your self-confidence, self-esteem, and life satisfaction and it can alleviate symptoms of depression. Doing good for others and the community, provides a natural sense of accomplishment. You can find friends, connect with your community, and learn new skills.

Our council recognises and values our many volunteers for their contribution, unique talents, skills, and knowledge to enhance the services we provide to the community. We have opportunities for you to join as a volunteer in any area of interest to you, the individual, whether that be within our libraries, museums, gardens, arts, or entertainment centre. All you need is a genuine interest, time, and a passion for your community.

Of course, there are many worthwhile organisations in our local community who would more than welcome the services of caring volunteers.

I truly believe our unpaid volunteers are often the backbone and glue that holds a community together. Volunteering allows you to connect to your community and make it a better place. Even helping out with the smallest tasks can make a real difference to the lives of people, animals, and organisations in need.

So, why not volunteer your time to a worthy charity, organisation, or service right here in our amazing community.  The benefits could just give you a whole new outlook on life, energy, and enthusiasm you didn’t know you had. You will get back far more than you give.

Cr Pauline Townsend

Mackay Regional Council

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Top 5 Challenges Women Face In The Workplace

June 1, 2023

Women have made great strides in the workplace in recent decades, but they still face a number of challenges. Here are the top 5 challenges women can face. By understanding these challenges, employers can better support their employees to succeed.

1. Unequal pay. Women in Australia still earn less than men for doing the same work. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, women earn 81 cents for every dollar that men earn. This gap is even bigger for our indigenous women. For example, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women earn 63 cents and women from culturally diverse backgrounds earn 74 cents for every dollar that white men earn.

2. Lack of advancement opportunities. Women are underrepresented in leadership positions in Australia. According to a study by the Workplace Gender Equality Agency, women hold only 25 per cent of senior management positions and only 15 per cent of CEO positions in ASX 200 companies. This lack of advancement opportunities is due to a number of factors, including unconscious bias, lack of sponsorship, and work-family conflict.

3. Sexual harassment. Sexual harassment is still a problem in the Australian workplace. According to a study by the Australian Human Rights Commission, 1 in 5 women have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace. Sexual harassment can have a devastating impact on women's careers, mental health, and physical health.

4. Work-life conflict. Women are more likely than men to be responsible for caregiving duties, such as taking care of children and elderly parents. This can lead to work-life conflict, which can make it difficult for women to balance their work and personal lives.

5. Unconscious bias. Unconscious bias is a type of prejudice that people hold without realising it. This bias can lead to women being treated differently in the workplace, such as being passed over for promotions or being given less challenging assignments.

These are just a few of the challenges that women face. It is important to remember that these challenges are not insurmountable. There are a number of things that can be done to address these challenges, such as:

• Enacting pay equity laws. Pay equity laws would help to close the gender pay gap.

• Creating more opportunities for women's advancement. Companies can create more opportunities by providing mentorship and sponsorship programs, and by developing flexible work arrangements.

• Providing training on sexual harassment prevention. Companies can provide training to help employees understand what constitutes sexual harassment and how to report it.

• Supporting work-life balance initiatives. Companies can support work-life balance initiatives by providing flexible work arrangements, such as online meetings, work-from-home days, and by offering on-site childcare.

• Raising awareness of unconscious bias. Companies can raise awareness by conducting training programs and by creating a culture of inclusion.

By addressing these challenges, we can create a more equitable and inclusive workplace for all.

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Finch Hatton Mumma Wins Big

June 1, 2023

A local condiment connoisseur has taken out four awards at the recent Mr Chilli Awards 2023.

This is the fifth year Michelle Camilleri has secured several places in the competition, open to the chilli community of Australia and New Zealand, saying “in the chilli business, this is huge.”

“When you are doing something you love, you don’t need recognition, but I must say I was super excited to receive the email to say I had won again,” Michelle added.

Michelle started her business, One Hungry Mumma, in 2015 while on maternity leave and in no rush to return to work, although she never imagined what it would become.

She started creating her own range of sauces, chutneys, pickles and spices utilising the fresh produce from her Finch Hatton garden.

The business grew to become Michelle’s full-time career, her unwavering passion for good produce, quality ingredients and connecting people through a simple home cooked meal on show.

While Michelle's condiment line of products found on shelves locally and online are still her heart and soul, Michelle and her husband Dave have expanded their business in Finch Hatton to include cooking classes, small group themed dinners and catering with the hope to educate, inspire and connect her community and visitors to their region.

One Hungry Mumma Mr Chilli Awards 2023

Chilli Jam

Spicy chilli jam – 1st place

Chilli Salt

Holy Habanero Salt - 2nd place

Chilli Peanuts

Mumma’s gone nuts - 2nd place

Chilli Salsa

Salsalicious - 3rd place

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F’Empire State Of Mind

June 1, 2023

With Shirlz Russell of Build Your F’empire

‘Empowerment’ is the number one word that arises when I discuss my 10 Point Checklist for Personal Financial Wellbeing.

I call it a ‘Wellbeing’ checklist because it’s about feeling happy, content and empowered about your finances.

This is basically the way me and my family operate in our lives; a tried and tested guide to managing finances responsibly and realistically.

It’s a simplified method aiming to eliminate any fear or stress you may feel about money.

One of my top tips is to establish a bills account to take away the pressure away from the everyday.

This can be achieved by figuring out how much your bills cost per your pay cycle, putting that money away each time you get paid and setting up as many direct debits from that account as you can so that when bills come in, there’s no stress.

Another contributor to that financial stress can be credit card debt.

Where possible, try to reduce those consumer type loans and prioritise these debts each pay cycle – interest free is a great tool, providing you pay it off within the timeframe.

Being adequately insured is also very important while reviewing your insurance regularly to identify any savings to be made.

Insurance is often something people drop when their budgets are tight, but being insured is a huge contributor to financial and mental wellbeing.

Budgeting is basic, we all talk about it, but not many people actually have one that is honest and correct.

It’s important to make sure that absolutely everything is included and its important to stick to it, especially if you’re working towards financial goals.

Included in my budget is ‘play’ money where I pay myself an allocation of the budget to go towards things like getting my hair done, going out for coffee, that sort of thing.

This way, it’s an allocated amount and I’m not overspending and if I do overspend, I’m aware of it.

If you’re interested in learning more about my 10 Point Checklist for Personal Financial Wellbeing and would like a PDF copy of the list, reach out to me at

My 10 Point Checklist For Financial Wellbeing

1. Establish a Rainy Day Fund

2. Pay Bills from a Bills Account

3. Prioritse Credit Card Debt

4. Review Insurances

5. Budget Correctly and Realistically

6. Pay Yourself

7. Familiarise Yourself with your Superannuation

8. Discuss Legal Will & Estate Planning

9. Grow Your Assets

10. Plan Your Retirement

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Tender Awarded For Mackay Base Hospital Expansion

May 25, 2023

In a significant development for healthcare in the region, the tender for the Mackay Base Hospital Expansion has been awarded to BESIX Watpac. The $250 million expansion project aims to provide an additional 128 beds, catering to the growing demand for healthcare services. This expansion is part of the State Government's ambitious Queensland Health and Hospitals Plan, which has seen substantial investments in new hospitals and increased bed capacity across the state.

Last week, Shannon Fentiman, the incoming Health Minister, visited Mackay Base Hospital to announce the appointment of BESIX Watpac as the lead contractor for the expansion project. The project will encompass paediatric, medical, and surgical wards, effectively equipping frontline hospital workers with the necessary facilities to meet the rising demand for healthcare in the region. Additionally, the expansion will ensure that Mackay residents have convenient access to a comprehensive range of health services closer to home.

Minister Shannon Fentiman expressed her gratitude to the dedicated healthcare professionals and highlighted the significance of the expansion.

"I'm honoured to visit our hardworking frontline health workers on the ground here in Mackay and thank them for all they do,” Minister Fentiman said.

“We are one step closer to delivering this important capital project as we welcome BESIX Watpac onboard as the lead contractor.”

Julianne Gilbert, Member for Mackay, hailed the announcement as a positive development for the community and the wider region.

"This is an exciting announcement for my community and the surrounding region,” Mrs Gilbert said.

“This is a great step forward not only for Mackay but also for the wider communities of Proserpine, Bowen, Collinsville, Dysart, Moranbah, Clermont, and Sarina.  

“We future-proofed the hospital, ensuring sufficient land was available to expand. Once again there will be views of the beautiful Pioneer River and Bluewater Trail for our patients and staff."

Dr. Charles Pain, Interim Chief Executive of Mackay Hospital and Health Service, emphasised the importance of meeting the growing demand for healthcare.

"These additional 128 beds will help us meet the rising demand for healthcare in the region and improve the flow of patients from the emergency department to the wards,” he said.

“The existing facility has served us well for decades, but as our community continues to grow, it's imperative that our hospital grows with it.

“The Women's Health Unit and the Child and Adolescent Unit are looking forward to moving into brand new wards, and this will ensure care is provided in a contemporary environment,” Dr Pain added.

“The location of birth suites on the same level as the surgical department will also allow for a smoother transition of care for some birthing women."

The Mackay Base Hospital Expansion project is expected to create 610 local construction jobs, providing an economic boost to the area. The project is scheduled for completion in the second half of 2026, marking a significant milestone in enhancing healthcare services and meeting the evolving needs of the Mackay community.


• BESIX Watpac has been awarded the tender to deliver the Mackay Base Hospital Expansion.

• The $250 million expansion will deliver an additional 128 beds to support healthcare for the region.

• The project is scheduled for completion in the second half of 2026.

Read More

Buster Gives Back

May 25, 2023

Buster, a compassionate and caring individual, recently embarked on a heartwarming mission to make a difference in the lives of sick and injured children. Inspired by his own experiences at the Queensland Children's Hospital, the Children's Ward at the Mackay Base Hospital, and the Ronald McDonald Centre, Buster witnessed the struggles and challenges faced by young patients. Determined to bring some joy and comfort to their lives, Buster took it upon himself to raise funds for a special cause.

Through his dedicated fundraising efforts, Buster successfully gathered the necessary resources to purchase incredible gifts for the Children's Ward at the Mackay Base Hospital. These thoughtful presents, ranging from cuddly toys to books, were intended to put smiles on the faces of the young patients and provide them with moments of happiness during their hospital stay.

Buster's selfless act of kindness and his commitment to making a positive impact in the lives of others is truly commendable, earning his spot in this week’s Good Deed Feed.

The Mackay Hospital Foundation extended their heartfelt gratitude to Buster for his hard work, generosity, and unwavering dedication. His selflessness serves as an inspiration to all, reminding us that even small gestures of kindness can have a significant impact on the lives of those in need.

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Sit Down With Sam

May 25, 2023

Hi readers

Last week, from May 15-21, was National Volunteer Week, Australia’s largest annual celebration of volunteering. Mackay is full of not-for-profit organisations and selfless people who donate their time to keep them running and these people were acknowledged throughout the week, as they should be every day of the year.

On pages 16 and 17, you’ll find the stories of some of these organisations in our community. You’ll also find our weekly listing of volunteer positions currently available. If you have some spare time on your hands, I implore you to peruse these stories, find an organisation that aligns with your interests and get in touch about volunteering.

As a budding creative industries practitioner, my university years were filled with volunteering roles. My resume lists a variety of backstage and bar experiences at music festivals, internship tenures and freelance writing gigs to pump up that all-important portfolio. I currently volunteer at local community radio station 4CRM. While my show may only go for an hour, I probably dedicate about five hours a week to preparing the show and researching and sourcing songs. It’s my way of growing my experience and, even if it doesn’t lead to paid employment in radio, it’s really fun and I hope I always have the opportunity to contribute to community radio no matter where I am in life. Tune into my show ‘The Prekend’ on 4CRM 107.5FM on Thursdays from 8pm if you’re interested.

Whether it’s diversifying your skills and learning new things or meeting new people and finding a sense of community, there are innumerable benefits to volunteering, so get out there and give it a crack.

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100 Years Of Legacy

May 25, 2023

When one digger made a promise to another in the trenches of World War I, they inspired a decade of inspirational assistance.

Legacy Australia has been supporting the families of veterans since 1923 and in commemoration of 100 years, the Legacy Centenary Torch Relay will reach Mackay on Wednesday, May 31 after beginning its journey in Pozières, France in April.

The torch will be carried on a 7.1km route through town by 23 local torch bearers, all with a personal connection to Legacy Australia, including Sarina resident Kevin Plumb.

Plumb served in Vietnam from April 1967 to February 1968 and, upon returning, got involved in the RSL Sarina Sub Branch before continuing his work in welfare for veterans and their dependents.

“They go hand in hand, Legacy and the military,” said Mr Plumb, who’s role involves assisting widows with their War Widow Pension along with general assistance.

“I’ve been doing it for the last 30 plus years; not only for Legacy, but I look after the veterans themselves.”

Mr Plumb said the work he does gives him great pride in himself, and he is honoured to be bearing the torch next week.

“I’m walking for not only the widows but also for any of the men and women who’ve lost their lives during conflict,” he said.

The relay will begin at Mackay Town Hall on Sydney Street at 10:00am and make its way around town, through the streets and past schools before finishing with a ceremony at Jubilee Park at 12:30pm.

“It’s going to be a momentous day; it’ll never happen again,” said Legacy Mackay President Les Palmer.

“For me, it’s all for the families and making sure they’re comfortable, they get care, they get visits; it’s all about looking after the families of returned servicemen.”

Established in 1947, Legacy Mackay currently supports 170 local families.

Those interested in volunteering can contact Mr Palmer on 0437 451 635 or visit the office at 94 Nebo Road on Mondays and Fridays.

Mackay Legacy President Les Palmer is one of 23 torch bearers in next week’s Legacy Centenary Torch Relay. Photo credit: Sam Gillespie

CEO of Legacy Australia Matthew Granger with another torch bearer welcoming the torch to Australia earlier in the month. Photo supplied

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Industry Slugged With “Labor’s Tax Trifecta”

May 25, 2023

The cost-of-living crisis is reaching breaking point for many across Dawson, with local business owners concerned by an increase in taxes and levies imposed by the Federal Government on important industries.

Leader of the Nationals and Shadow Minister for Agriculture David Littleproud, and Federal Member for Dawson Andrew Willcox, toured the Whitsunday region last week on an industry listening tour, witnessing first-hand how Labor’s ‘Tax Trifecta’ is impacting rural and regional areas like Dawson.

Mr Willcox said that since the 2022 election, Labor has implemented more than seven new taxes on Australians, with three taking aim at some of our most vital industries: the Fresh Food Tax, the Truckie Tax, and the Tourist Tax.

Speaking with Leanne from Koorelah Farms, the MP’s heard how the ‘Fresh Food Tax’ is “throwing our agricultural industry’s confidence into doubt”.

“Labor has slung a triple tax attack on some of our most important industries, which operate right here in the Whitsunday region.” Mr. Willcox said.

“Farmers like Leanne are at the core of our regional industry, and yet they’ve been hit with a new $153 million bio-security tax.

“Under this new tax, farmers will pay for overseas competitors to import their products to Australia.  

“It doesn’t make any sense”.

David Littleproud and Andrew Willcox also attended a breakfast with the Bowen Gumlu Growers Association, who discussed how Labor’s ‘Truckie Tax’ was going to increase the price of produce at the checkout.

“Speaking with farmers in Bowen, we heard how the increase of the road user charge by 19 per cent over three years will hurt industry” Mr. Willcox said.

“Our trucks are vital to getting produce and product to market, and yet they’ve been slapped with a huge increase to their taxes.

“This tax is going to hike the prices for both the farmers we’ve spoken to here in Dawson, and the customers at the checkout.

While in the Whitsundays, Mr. Littleproud and Mr. Willcox also spent time speaking with local businesses in the tourism industry at the Whitsunday Coast Chamber of Commerce’s recent meeting.

“The ‘Tourist Tax’ will see less overseas tourists travel to Australia, and with Tourism Australia’s budget being slashed, it’s going to throw the strong future of our region into question.”

Shadow Minister for Agriculture David Littleproud (right), and Federal Member for Dawson Andrew Willcox (centre), toured the Whitsunday region last week on an industry listening tour, chatting to Wayne Born (left) from Koorelah Farms. Image supplied: Office of Andrew Willcox MP

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Dashcam Footage Sought Following Death Of Pedestrian Near Clairview

May 25, 2023

Police are investigating a fatal pedestrian incident which occurred on Saturday, 20 May, near Clairview.

At 6.45am police were called to the scene following reports a man had been struck by a truck on the Bruce Highway. Queensland Ambulance reported that the incident occurred near the Brandybottle Camping and Recreation Reserve.

A police spokesperson said in a statement that a 40-year-old suffered serious injuries and was pronounced deceased at the scene.

The Forensic Crash Unit is investigating the circumstances surrounding the incident.

Anyone who passed through the area at the time who may have relevant dashcam footage is asked to contact police.

The highway was closed from 8.30am until 11.15am while emergency services responded.

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Melbourne – Mackay Connection Wraps Up Historic Route Map Launch

May 25, 2023

As Bonza Airlines took to the skies last Tuesday, it crowned a remarkable chapter in Australian aviation.

The airline's maiden journey from Melbourne to Mackay signalled the culmination of an extraordinary achievement, with the completion of the largest route map launch in Australian aviation history.

The new twice-weekly route between Melbourne and Mackay, offering fares starting from $89, opens up exciting opportunities for travellers and local industries.

Mackay Airport CEO Richard Barker expressed his enthusiasm, highlighting the value of this direct connection.

“Connecting Melbourne and Mackay with direct flights will open up a raft of opportunities for passengers and local industries. This will be the only direct service flying interstate from Mackay,” he said.

“It has traditionally been a lengthy process to travel between these locations, and many people simply would have chosen not to do so. Mackay and Melbourne both offer attractive experiences for visitors, and I expect we will see many travellers taking advantage of these non-stop services.

“We now have all of Bonza’s routes flying from Mackay, including Cairns, the Sunshine Coast and now Melbourne, and these services are contributing 2,500 additional seats to the Mackay market each week.”

Carly Povey, Chief Commercial Officer at Bonza, said “Tuesday’s historic flight to Mackay from our second base in Melbourne marks the finish line for our initial rollout and the start line for Bonza earning the right to grow.

“Our focus now is firmly on improving our operations, earning the respect of customers and then, we will continue to add new routes and a third base to continue our mission of connecting communities across Australia.”

It’s good news for Mackay’s tourism industry. Forward bookings for Bonza flights, including the upcoming school holidays and public holiday weekend, are already strong. Victorians are drawn to the warmth of Queensland, fuelling demand for these direct flights. Povey commented, "Forward bookings are looking strong as Victorians appear eager to escape the winter chill for the warmth of Queensland."

Travelers are encouraged to download the Fly Bonza app, the exclusive platform for direct reservations. As Bonza continues to make waves in the aviation industry, their commitment to connecting communities across Australia remains at the forefront of their mission.

L-R: Mayor Greg Williamson, Bonza Chief Commercial Officer Carly Povey and Mackay Isaac Tourism CEO Al Grundy celebrated Bonza’s inaugural flight from Melbourne to Mackay on Tuesday evening. Image: Mackay Isaac Tourism

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Movement At The New Aldi Mackay Location

May 25, 2023

After years of planning and proposing, construction for an Aldi supermarket has started in Mackay.

The 1900 square metre store is being constructed on the corner of Beaconsfield Road East and Superior Boulevard in Andergrove and boasts the best of discount foods and quality products.

“We are excited to bring our unique shopping experience to the Andergrove community in 2024,” said an ALDI Spokesperson.

“The new store will offer North Queenslanders a supermarket experience like no other, providing shoppers with award-winning grocery products at unbeatable prices and iconic Special Buys together with fresh fruit, vegetables and bread delivered daily.

“We will update the community as plans progress.”

The proposal for the store was fast tracked by council in late 2021, and the store was set to open by December 2022, halted by building constraints and lack of materials.

“We welcome Aldi and the construction of the North Mackay store,” said Mayor Greg Williamson.

“Aldi’s confidence and enthusiasm with our region is fantastic so congratulations to them.

“A lot of people are looking forward to this Aldi development.”

Construction is expected to be completed by February 2024.

Construction for an Aldi in Mackay has started in Andergrove. Photo credit: Sam Gillespie

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The Gift Of Life

May 25, 2023

When Samantha Scott was six years old, she was diagnosed with a kidney disease, and by the age of nine, she underwent her first major kidney surgery.

But, at the age of 31, Sam was again given the worst news.

“I think the words were ’11 per cent total kidney function … you will need some sort of kidney replacement therapy’,” Sam said.

“I was in complete shock and disbelief as I had been told this was unlikely to happen.

“It was a very difficult thing to comprehend, as I was not sick and did not look sick.”

However, both of her parents were willing and ready to donate Sam a kidney.

Her mum, Jenny Scott, was the best match, and on February 22, 2011, the pair underwent surgery at Princess Alexandria Hospital in Brisbane.

“It was scary, and I was pretty nervous, but everybody was beautiful,” Jenny said.

“And I mean, I saved Sam’s life.”

Following the surgery, the pair were closer than ever.

“We’d tried to kiss each other but we couldn’t reach across our walking frames,” Jenny said.

Now 12 years on, Sam continues to be cautious.

“I am going to need another kidney transplant one day,” she said.

“I am just lucky to be alive and living my best life to the selfless gift of my donor, my mum, my hero.”

Jenny now volunteers with the Kidney Support Network.

“Check with your GP often,” Jenny said.

“Because kidney disease sneaks up on you.

“It can be a silent killer.”

Mother-Daughter duo days after kidney transplant surgery to save daughter. Photo supplied

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Family Fun For A Good Cause

May 25, 2023

Join Gardian Group for the annual Mackay Hospital Foundation Family Fun Day, back, bigger and better than ever in 2023.

With heaps of fun for the whole family, just $5 per person will get you unlimited access to the huge variety of activities and rides on offer, including Jurassic Sizzler, merry go round, King Flyer, mega jumping castles, Teacup Ride, bucking bull and more!

Plus, browse the market stalls and sample the delights from a variety of delicious food and coffee vendors.

Take a seat and enjoy the tasteful tunes of Australian Idol’s Noah Cookson as he serenades audiences with his blissful melodies.

There’ll also be the opportunity to pass the footy with Broncos, Maroons and Australia rugby league legend Sam Thaiday, who will be there enjoying all the fun.

All this and more for just $5 entry, cash or card accepted, with all proceeds to be donated to our local hospitals.

You can help the Mackay Hospital Foundation make a real difference in the community simply by attending this amazing event!

For those who can't attend the event but still wish to make a contribution to Mackay Hospital Foundation, donations can be made at the following link:

Get amongst all the fun of the Family Fun Day happening at BB Print Stadium this June.

WHAT: Mackay Hospital Foundation Family Fun Day presented by Gardian Group

WHEN: Saturday, June 4 from 10:00am to 2:00pm

WHERE: BB Print Stadium

TICKETS: $5 entry

The Mackay Hospital Foundation Family Fun Day returns to BB Print Stadium this June

Former Brisbane Broncos and Queensland Maroons prop Sam Thaiday will be getting amongst the fun

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Long Awaited Dream Comes True For Mackay Year 12 Student

May 25, 2023

For years, Year 12 student from Mackay State High School Dean Contemplacion has been envisioning being able to travel to Japan and experience the fantastic culture and heritage.

And this dream is about to come true, being accepted as a Youth Ambassador for a cultural exchange program with Mackay’s sister city, Matsuura, a city in southern Japan in the Nagasaki Prefecture.

Dean is one of 12 students to be selected for the exchange, having to write a 500-word essay, be interviewed, and have an endorsement from his school.

Once he returns, he will pen a report for the Mackay Regional Council.

“I’ve always longed for the day that I would fulfill this dream of mine and be immersed in such a wonderful community,” Dean said.

“Now that I am given the chance to go, I am so excited to immerse myself in their culture, eat and drink the same food as them, learn more about the history of the country, speak in their language, and witness the sights and wonders of Japan, the nature, and the cities.

“I want to make my 14 days there not just to strengthen the bond of Mackay and Matsuura, I want it to be about living as a Japanese native.”

The Matsuura Sister City Program began in 1989 and encourages a cultural exchange for Matsuura students as well.

Matsuura students will stay in Mackay with host families and experience Mackay and Australia with activities organised by the Mackay Council.

Dean will live with a Japanese host family and be heavily involved with activities organised by the Matsuura Council, and even attend high school for a time.

He will be able to venture to iconic Japanese sites, including Mount Fuji, Akihabara and various temples and shrines.

Dean is funding the 14-day trip himself, and will also venture to Tokyo and Osaka following the program.

“Being accepted as one of 12 ambassadors to go took great effort, and I believe being financially held back should not overshadow the qualifications I show to be part of the program.

“I am hoping for donations and the support of you and anyone else willing to assist me, I will be able to attend the trip in June 2023 and fulfill this long-awaited dream.”

Following the trip, Dean plans to return to Japan, and explore the country further.

“After the program, although I won't be able to go to university there, I plan to migrate there one day after my educational goals.

“Even if it's still a long way ahead, I already have my sights set to live there someday, and bring over family and friends, because I know that this is also my cousins' and friends' dream.”

“This is truly a once in a lifetime opportunity for me, I'll soon be in university next year, the busiest years of my life are about to come, and if there's one last childhood dream, I would want to fulfill before all that happens, it's this one,” Dean said.

Dean Contemplacion is excited to spend 14 days in Japan with Sister City Exchange. Photo supplied

Read More

National Walk Safely To School Day

May 25, 2023

Schools across the region took to the streets and walked safely to school last Friday for National Walk Safely To School Day.

“It’s just about getting exercise and a breath of fresh air,” said Mackay Christian College year 7 student Enoch Gallogray.

“It’s amazing to see everyone excited about exercising.”

St Joseph's Catholic Primary School Sport Captain Isobel Rippingale agreed, sharing some tips about walking to school safely.

“It’s important to be safe around road signs, lights, learn how to cross the road safely and look left and right at pedestrian crossings,” she said.

St Joseph's Catholic Primary School

St Joseph's Sports Captains Isobel Rippingale and Ryan McLennan

Mackay Christian College. Photo credit: Sam Gillespie

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Mackay To Host AFLQ Schools Cup North Queensland Championships

May 25, 2023

North Queensland’s emerging Aussie rules talent will get the rare opportunity to play at the state’s newest stadium with Great Barrier Reef Arena to host the 2023 and 2024 StreetSmarts AFLQ Schools Cup North Queensland Championships.

The North Queensland Championships will bring the best schools together from Cairns, Townsville, Mackay, and Capricornia to battle it out for a spot at the state finals later in the year across six male and female divisions.

“To be part of a competition that allows students to be part of a genuine statewide competition with approximately 14,000 other kids is a wonderful opportunity,” said AFL Participation & Programs Manager - Schools & Diversity, Damien Mitchelmore.

“Any opportunity to play at a championship event is an opportunity to be noticed.

“We were excited about the quality of the venue and the wonderful region that Mackay is, so we’re absolutely thrilled that Mackay Regional Council have supported us in bringing the event here for two years.”

Mackay Regional Council Mayor Greg Williamson said Mackay was well-known for growing and developing young and emerging athletes.

“We’re thrilled to have 13 schools and 33 teams participating in the StreetSmarts AFL Queensland Schools Cup this year,” Mr Williamson said.

“We expect that this will be a fantastic event for the Mackay region across the board; for local tourism, as well.”

The North Queensland Championships will be held at Harrup Park from August 15-16 leading into State Finals on the Sunshine Coast in October.

AFL Participation & Programs Manager - Schools & Diversity Damien Mitchelmore and Mackay Regional Council Mayor Greg Williamson. Photo credit: Sam Gillespie

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‘Post Summer Damage Control’

May 25, 2023

As the days get cooler and the summer tan fades, the potential signs of skin cancer become much easier for doctors to identify, making winter the perfect time to get your skin checked.

The tropics are notorious for damaging sun, with doctors advising Queenslanders to get their skin checked at least once a year, although if any changes are noticed on the skin between these checks, it’s important to see a doctor as soon as possible.

Things to look out for include any moles or lesions on the skin that have suddenly appeared or changed – whether that be growing in size, darkening in colour, itchy or simply looking unusual compared to other moles.

Offering skin cancer checks, diagnosis, surgery, sun damage repair and mole removal, the expert team CQ Skin Cancer Centre is here to guide you through the process.

Drs Keith Van Den Heever, Kerry Summerscales, Rajaswi Sainju and Htike Aung are all qualified with advanced university certifications in skin cancer medicine.

CQ Skin Cancer Centre is also the only clinic in the region offering total body photography, a full body mole mapping technology that takes a series of photos of the entire skin surface to be compared from a baseline image over years, immediately identifying anything out of the ordinary.

Experience shorter wait times and thorough service by booking your skin check this winter.

Find CQ Skin Cancer Centre at 11 Downie Avenue, Bucasia, contact the clinic at 07 4954 7755 or visit to book your skin check today.

The dedicated team at CQ Skin Cancer Centre urge Queenslanders to get their skin checked this winter

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“It’s Never Too Late To Follow Your Dreams”

May 25, 2023

In a world where dreams often lay dormant, one determined individual from Mackay defied the odds and embarked on an educational journey of self-discovery.

Sheena Shaxson rewrote the narrative of her life, embracing the transformative power of education to become a teacher.

"CQUniversity has given me the opportunity to follow my dreams and become a teacher," said Ms Shaxson, reflecting on her journey.

"Although my path took unexpected turns, I'm grateful for the support and guidance I received along the way."

Having initially enrolled in 1993 with aspirations of becoming a high school science teacher, Sheena's educational journey was put on hold. However, her determination never wavered, and more than two decades later, she proudly received her testamur at the recent 2023 Mackay graduation ceremony.

Recalling her transformation, Ms Shaxson shared, "I am vastly different from the person I was before I began my course.

“Returning to my studies as a mature student was challenging, but CQUniversity made the transition seamless with their unwavering support."

Through a Vocational Education and Training (VET) course and a Bachelor of Education (Primary), Sheena navigated her way back into the education environment.

"I started as a teacher aide, working closely with passionate teachers who inspired me to pursue my dreams," she revealed. Overcoming her reservations, she embraced the Bachelor of Education program.

Acknowledging the hurdles she faced, Ms Shaxson expressed her gratitude for the lecturers who provided the resources she needed and answered her countless questions.

"There were days when it felt like time wasn't on my side, but I learned to manage my schedule effectively, striving for a balanced life," she explained.

Financial assistance played a crucial role in her success. The CQUniCares Student Support Scholarship and the Australian Literacy Educators Association (ALEA) Mackay Prize provided her with the much-needed financial aid, enabling her to pursue her studies without financial burdens. Her exceptional academic performance in English earned her recognition from ALEA, further boosting her confidence.

As she embarked on her teaching career, Ms Shaxson felt grateful for the early recognition she received.

"I was offered a teaching position at a local primary school even before my graduation," she shared with excitement.

"Now, I have the opportunity to create a safe and nurturing space for my students, just like my teachers did for me."

Her story is a reminder that age should never be a hinderance from pursuing dreams and making a positive impact.

Sheena Shaxson. Image supplied CQUniversity

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50 Years Of Senior Citizens

May 25, 2023

This year marks the 50th Anniversary of Mackay & District Senior Citizens Association Inc.

To celebrate, we will be having a 50th Anniversary Ball at the Senior Citizens Hall, 58 Macalister Street Mackay on Saturday 24th June at 7.30 - 11.00 pm.

We would like you to wear something gold or black or something from the 70's era to mark the occasion.

Dust off those ball gowns and come along and trip the light fantastic to the live band playing the dance music.

For more information, please phone Val on 0408075877.

Also, we are having a 50th Anniversary Luncheon on the Thursday 29th June at Souths League Club, Milton Street, Mackay 11.30 for 12.00 noon lunch.

For information, please phone Lyn on 0419668652

You are very welcome to either or both of these celebrations.

Come along and have an enjoyable time with old and new friends.

Contributed by Lyn Coburn

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A Life Dedicated To Veterans

May 25, 2023

Once being discharged from the Australian Army in 1968, Kevin Plumb, affectionately known as ‘Kev’, became a member of RSL Queensland.

Now, Kev has committed lifelong service to RSL Queensland, being an active member since 1971, with the Sarina RSL Sub Branch.

He then moved to Vice President of the Mackay RSL Sub Branch, then promoted to President.

“I had a few issues from Vietnam, and my roles within the RSL gave me something to put my mind to,” he said.

Kev is dedicated to veteran care and welfare, often putting himself out there to correct issues that are brought to his attention.

“When I served, we had to pay for all our parcels and letters to come back to Australia, and the same applied for all incoming mail from family,” he said.

“I went to my State Member, then he went to his Federal Counterpart, and they made sure that they did away with any overseas postal costs for overseas service personnel and their families.

“That is something that continues to this day.”

This dedication to veteran advocacy also sees Kev volunteer as a Pension and Welfare Officer, helping returned veteran and servicemen and women understand entitlements, submit claims, and share their journeys.

In February 2023, Kev was recognised with the Meritorious Service Medal, the highest honour of RSL Australia, for his commitment to the veteran community.

“I can tell you truthfully, this was a total shock,” he said.

“It was a very emotional night, and I was pleasantly surprised.

“I just felt warm within my heart to think my effort had been acknowledged.”

Kevin Plumb, receiving the highest honour of RSL Australia for commitment to veteran affairs. Photo supplied

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Opportunities To Capitalise On High Prices

May 25, 2023

Simon Hood

Wilmar Manager Grower Marketing

GEI pricing mechanism selection for 2023 season closed at the end of April, with growers choosing overwhelming to stay with forward pricing as opposed to pool products. This is despite the Wilmar Production Risk Pool delivering growers a final price of 622/t Actual in 2021 and currently forecast at $718/t Actual for 2022 season!

We have done some high-level analysis of the 2022 season now that grower pricing has been finalised for the Call, Target and GMPRS mechanisms – with some outstanding results.

Across all regions, Target price growers achieved an average of $546/t Actual with a range of fixations from $388 - $850/t Actual.

For growers using the GMPRS option for the 2022 crop, the average was $653/t Actual (range $552 - $850/t Actual) for their final 27 per cent of production. To determine the all-up Actual price, growers need to add the Allocation Account for Target and GMPRS, which is currently forecast around $38.50/t Actual.

To help growers with forward pricing decisions, we are compiling a longer-term analysis on the ranges and outcomes of grower Target pricing results over the years, which we will distribute shortly. Already we have seen a wide range of prices offered across the current three forward years.

For 2023, our Target growers have been selling into the rising prices, with less than 10 per cent of nominated GEI tonnes still to be fixed.

Commitments to our popular GMPRS mechanism grew again this year. Indicative pricing opened around the $810/t Actual level with some growers locking a portion of the tail end of their crop in at these levels. Most are sitting back and waiting to see how the season unfolds before getting too heavily committed on price for the cane production that is most at risk of delivery.

Where to from here as far as price is concerned? Right now, both the AUD and #11 appear to have reached a happy place. The AUD is locked in a trading range of 66-68 cents while the market works out the next move on US and AUS central bank rates decisions.

Similarly, sugar is establishing a 25.50 to 26.50c/lb trading range as focus remains on the output of Brazil’s crush and the speed at which sugar can get to market. We know this hiatus won’t last long, but it is nice to take a breather after an extremely volatile time on both markets.

For any queries, please contact Proserpine Grower Marketing Consultant Shirley Norris on 0437 803 019. Plane Creek growers can contact Angus McKerrow on 0419 238 536.

Simon Hood

This graph shows the range of forward prices achieved by growers for the 2022 season, the average forward prices achieved, and the highest and lowest indicative prices for the season

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Crush just around the corner

May 25, 2023

By Kevin Borg, Chairman, CANEGROWERS Mackay

It seems as though the 2022 harvest has only just finished, but the 2023 harvest will roll out in the coming weeks.

Gear and heavy vehicles will already be moving around cane farming areas, and across the loco network, so it is important for the community to start thinking crush safety on the roads, and be on the lookout for harvest vehicles, and be patient if they encounter slower moving vehicles like tractors.

Every year, farmers send us dash cam footage of some crazy overtaking behaviour around haulout tractors, often wildly overtaking into oncoming traffic. We understand that everyone has places to be, and that coming up on a tractor when travelling at speed on a rural road can pose an obstacle. We urge drivers to expect that unexpected moment across harvest season, and be prepared to drive defensively: to be able to slow down and take a look ahead, and overtake safely and sensibly when safe.

If you are in any doubt about what tractor drivers and other road users are contending with- take a look at the dash cam stills with this column!

Likewise, take time for a proper look when crossing cane train lines. They are a long, large vehicle that CANNOT stop very quickly.

This year will bring an additional element, with Mackay Sugar introducing early and late lines. This will mean that haulout vehicles and locos will be on the move from as early as 2am and through to late night, adding the hazard of darkness. Please be very mindful of this when driving in cane farming and tramline areas.

Locos, haulout tractors, trucks moving harvesters- they are all part of a network that is earning export dollars for our region, and which is becoming more and more integral to the developing decarbonising economy as a sustainable source for fuels, bio-plastics, novel protein sources and more.

We also remind all those working in the sugarcane industry to take care- in the paddock, at the siding, on the road and in the shed. It would be excellent to see a harvest free of any significant workplace incidents. Families are the heart of our farming sector, and we want to see everyone home safe to theirs, every day.

Assuming all mills start on schedule, the crush will begin with Farleigh Mill on 1 June, then Marian Mill and Wilmar Plane Creek on 6 June, followed by Racecourse Mill on 8 June. Marian Mill will begin on one train, with the second scheduled to be running from 14 June.

Dashcam stills showing dangerous overtaking behaviour

Photo credit: Kirili Lamb.

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Orange Heroes Hidden In The Community

May 25, 2023

Orange was seen scattered across workplaces, schools and throughout the community on Wednesday, April 17 for Wear Orange Wednesday, a day to thank SES volunteers.

SES Mackay Group Leader Jo-Ann Clout said the day is a reminder to the community that the SES is training year-round and are ready to go should a disaster strike.

“It’s just about giving the community a heads up that there are people within their workplaces or neighbourhoods who are giving up their time to help out,” she said.

“Just because we don’t walk around in our orange uniforms all the time, doesn’t mean we’re not there in the community.”

SES Mackay Group will be at the 2023 RACQ CQ Rescue Emergency Services Day, an event at which Tatiana Hogan signed up to volunteer four years ago.

“I went for a look, I knew I wanted to do some sort of volunteering, but I didn’t know what exactly,” she said.

“The SES were there, and it just stuck out to me.

“I wanted to do something where I could help the community, be a part of a team, meet some new people, learn some new skills and this was the perfect place to do so.”

Upon signing up to the SES, volunteers go through three months of probation in which they complete core subjects including workplace health and safety, code of conduct training, storm damage and rescue operation training and first aid.

“There’s a lot of life skills you can use here, out in the community and for yourself at home,” said volunteer Warren Ponmoon.

“Even if you leave, you can help yourselves when it comes to storm damage and that’s one less phone call to SES.”

“As much as we provide a service, we’re also a training organisation, and in the background, we’re training people continuously, and that’s all done by volunteers,” added fellow volunteer Peter Schmid.

Mr Schmid’s favourite part about volunteering with the SES is the camaraderie and support.

“I think anyone can succeed in the SES,” he said.

“You come to a group that has this culture already, I think we can build resilience in people.”

For volunteer of 24 years Gail Hambleton, it’s the sense of achievement and satisfaction.

“It’s also that recognition you get,” she said.

“You feel good.”

For more information about volunteering with the SES, find State Emergency Service - Mackay Regional Unit on Facebook and click Sign Up.

The group will also be at the 2023 RACQ CQ Rescue Emergency Services Day happening at Harrup Park on Sunday, May 28 from 10am to 2pm.

Warren Ponmoon, Tatiana Hogan, Jo-Ann Clout, Gail Hambleton and Peter Schmid

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Not Just Horses

May 25, 2023

Situated among the trees in North Mackay, Mackay Riding for the Disabled (RDA) provides the unique experience of riding a horse to those living with a disability but the not-for-profit organisation is in desperate need of volunteers to continue the service.

The dedicated team of volunteers provide both recreational and therapeutic horse riding programs for children and adults with disabilities, facilitating fortnightly lessons to special schools, community groups and other participants.

Coach of 30 years Jody Burrows said that one rider may require up to four people to support them on that one horse.

“If we don’t have enough volunteers, the participants don’t get as long a ride as they normally would,” she said.

“It breaks my heart when we see horses tied up there with saddles on, people sitting there who would love to have a ride and not enough people to help.”

Ms Burrow’s role is an all-encompassing one, ranging from preparing the horses, managing volunteers, assisting riders and participants and making sure everyone has a wonderful day.

With a varying list of tasks required, many volunteers fill many roles depending on the needs of the animals, the grounds and the participants.

“As far as volunteering goes, it’s not just horses,” said Ms Burrow.

“We have a wide range of roles including gardening, bookwork, and kitchen duties.

“If you’re not a horse person, it doesn’t matter, because we train you.”

Mary Steel has volunteered in a variety of roles including maintenance, fundraising, and currently manages the horses, saying there are many benefits to the variety involved in RDA.

“You can get fit and healthy, you're outdoors, you can make friends, you learn a lot,” she said.

“Coming here as a volunteer, you learn about disabilities so you can then get a job in that field.

“What makes people feel good in themselves is doing something for somebody else without expecting anything in return, but you still get lots of thank yous, hugs and high fives.”

To find out more about volunteering with Mackay RDA, email or call 07 4944 0066.

“Come down, have a look and see what you think,” said Ms Burrow.

“We’ve got the facilities, we’ve got the gear, we just need the people.”

Volunteers fill a number of roles and complete a variety of tasks at Mackay Riding for Disabled

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Hospital Foundation Volunteers Celebrate 30 Years

May 25, 2023

Mackay locals, long time tennis friends and valued volunteers Mavis Liddell and Pam Keune both celebrated 30 years of volunteering at Mackay Hospital Foundation last week.

Ms Keune has a long history of volunteering, starting at both Friends of the MECC and Mackay Hospital Foundation after returning to Mackay from a stint in Townsville.

“Our youngest was just starting uni, so I didn’t have any schools or sports to get involved in, but I still wanted to volunteer,” she said.

From tuckshops to tennis canteens to the base hospital, Ms Keune has a passion for volunteering, filling roles in the hospital canteen, mail delivery, gift shop and information desk over the years.

“I just love helping people,” she said.

“Especially at the hospital, you have a lot of people who are very sad because they have people sick, so I try to do anything I can to help them.”

Similarly, Ms Liddell began volunteering as something to fill time while her son played rugby league.

A former employee of Queensland Health, Ms Liddell also started in mail delivery and covered a variety of roles over her 30 years.

“I like being with people and I like working in hospitals,” she said.

“There’s always somebody who needs help or information.”

Mackay Hospital Foundation recognised their volunteers at a lunch held last week during National Volunteer Week where 38 of the foundation’s 80 volunteers gathered.

Community Engagement Officer Brenda McFadzen said the lunch was an opportunity to thank the volunteers for their years of service.

“If we didn’t have our volunteers, we certainly wouldn’t run,” she said.

“I love the different personalities and walks of life, there are so many characters.”

Mackay Hospital Foundation is always looking for new volunteers to fill a variety of roles from the information desk, gift shop or convenience trolley to playing Santa at Christmas or the Easter Bunny at Easter.

Both Ms Keune and Ms Liddell urge others to get involved.

“You’ll get as much out of helping other people as they do,” said Ms Keune.

“You make lots of friendships along the years,” added Ms Liddell.

More information can be found at or at the hospital’s information desk.

Mavis Liddell and Pam Keune celebrated 30 years of volunteering at Mackay Hospital Foundation at a National Volunteer Week lunch last week. Photo credit: Sam Gillespie

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MARS Needs Fosternauts

May 25, 2023

For Out-Of-This-World Fostering Experience

When a lack of services for pets without a family became apparent, Mackay Animal Rescue Society Inc. (MARS) was formed, becoming a haven for the dogs and cats of the Mackay region since January 2011.

MARS is a not-for-profit registered local charity committed to providing animals with a second chance by taking them into loving and safe foster homes and providing them with the care they need until they find their new home.

Led by President Rachael Darmanin, Treasurer Sherrie Screen and Secretary Denise Home, MARS rehomed 451 dogs and cats in the last financial year.

“Foster carers are the backbone of MARS,” said Ms Home.

“We rely heavily on them as these wonderful people give a temporary home to cats and dogs in care, while actively assisting in finding a new forever home.”

All foster animals in care are health checked, microchipped, vaccinated, wormed, flea treated and desexed, with all vet costs covered, ensuring that all MARS fosters are healthy and ready for adoption when their perfect match comes along.

“I started fostering as too many dogs were being let down and forgotten,” said foster carer Kailey Anderson.

“By fostering, I have an opportunity to choose their forever family so they have a chance at a longer and happier life.”

“When your foster finds their new home there is no greater feeling than knowing you helped save a life,” added Ms Home.

Find more information about fostering and volunteering for MARS at or Mackay Animal Rescue Society on Facebook.

Foster carer Kailey Anderson with her foster puppies

Diana Ralph and Rachael Darmanin with their foster kittens at adoption day

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How many Rob’s can you fit into one room?

May 25, 2023

A lot if you take last night’s 4MK Rob’s Party at Magpies Sporting Club as an example.

We had a ball with a night that we’ve never done before. Filled a room with everyone named Rob. Sure, some people were officially named Rob or Robin, or Roberta based on their birth certificate. But we had plenty more there who were given a world famous Rob name for the night, and we loved every second of it.

We played a few games, gave out some prizes and we may have had a couple of drinks, but let’s not say how many because it was a school night anyway.

Tonight it’ll be a fun night with the launch of the Mackay Golf Pro Am and I guess I’ll get some tips of how to best shoot a 5 under at the Mackay Golf Course. Just for those who don’t know, I’m a hacker and 5 under would be great for anyone, but for me 5 over would be normal.

Remember over the next few weekends we are off to the basketball for some high quality NBL1 action with our Meteorettes and Meteors doing battle against Cairns, Logan and Ipswich. If you’ve never been to Candlestick Park before, have a look. It’s a fun night.

A reminder that the annual Mackay Marina Run is next week and then it’s pretty much show season. The Pioneer Valley Show at Finch Hatton will be my highlight as I’ll be on the microphone again having a few laughs, but then straight after we’re off to the annual 3 days festival that is the Mackay Show.

So many fun things to see and do around Mackay and the Whitsundays and as the weather gets colder and the days shorter, what’s not to love right?

Get outside and have some fun.

You can join Rob Kidd from 5am weekday mornings on 4MK 1026 AM in Mackay and Proserpine, 91.5FM in Airlie Beach or just ask your smart speaker to play 4MK on iHeartRadio!

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Property Point

May 25, 2023

A mate of mine posed a question to me the other day: When did it become okay to wear those branded fishing shirts out to dinner?

They’re definitely great for fishing in Queensland, with their protective long sleeves and collars but, according to my friend, wearing them out to dinner is a step too far.

The question is, has Mackay changed or is my friend a little bit precious? Perhaps pretentious?

My friend was born in South Mackay where, last time I checked, no one was complaining about fishing shirts in the dining area.

However, he now lives in a nice street in Mount Pleasant and has a white-collar job that requires him to mix in certain smart business circles. “Ooh la la,” I hear you say.

No, the truth is My Mt Pleasant Mate is not pretentious but he probably has changed from when he was a kid growing up on the streets of South Mackay.

I wasn’t in Mackay 40 or 50 years ago but I imagine those fishing shirts wouldn’t have been too prevalent then, even in fishing circles, and let alone in a dining area. My guess is that it would have been fishing in a pair of stubbies and a tank top or a t-shirt and probably not too much in the way of sunscreen.

So in some ways Mackay, along with My Mt Pleasant Mate, has changed. In others it hasn’t.

In summer, the shorts and singlet or t-shirt are still part of the uniform, along with those new-fangled fishing shirts.

My Mt Pleasant Mate hasn’t passed comment to me about stubbies and a singlet in the dining area but I think we all know how he’d view it. Being a real estate agent, I got to thinking what would he think about the way people should dress for an open house? What would he think about stubbies and singlets?

There is no dress code for an open house in Mackay … and I’ve got no problem with that.

I’ve seen people turn up in bikinis, speedos, stubbies without a shirt and one bloke who turned up with a towel wrapped around his waist and no top … not sure if there was anything underneath because I dared not ask.

One thing I know about Mackay is that the way someone dresses does not indicate whether or not he or she has the money to buy a property I am selling.

That quiet, barefoot bloke in shorts and a t-shirt looking at the shed out back turns out to be a retiring cane farmer who is very financially comfortable and is ready to pay cash for the low-set $600,000 Glenella property he is planning to downsize to with his wife.

In real estate, and in life, you don’t judge a book by its cover and you soon realise that it takes all types and all styles of dress.

So feel free to come along to my open homes in whatever makes you feel comfortable. I promise not to have My Mt Pleasant Mate at the door imposing a dress code.

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Greater Whitsunday Housing Summit

May 25, 2023

Greater Whitsunday Communities (GWC) and Regional Development Australia Greater Whitsunday (RDA) have partnered and initiated the Housing Summit to identify collaborative solutions to the housing stress being felt across the Greater Whitsunday region.

Stakeholders from across the housing industry came together in October 2022 to guide the project.

The first initiative in December 2022 was to hold a housing round table where the following key themes emerged from the consultation:

1. Availability and diversity of choice

2. Affordability

3. Consumer needs

4. Roles and responsibilities.

A social and emergency accommodation working group has also been established to investigate safe sleeping spaces, storage facilities and mapping possible options for repurposing of housing.

Urbis have been engaged to carry out a research component to identify the baseline data and look at the current and future needs of all sections of the housing supply chain. This research will help inform the solution-based co-design workshop that will be held at the Housing Summit.

The Housing Summit will be held on June 6, 2023, from 9am to 4.30pm at the Mackay Turf Club. To date there are 120 attendees registered to participate in the summit. The summit will use Urbis’ research to develop solutions to address the Mackay, Isaac and Whitsunday housing issues. The summit will also feed into the development of the Local Housing Action Plans along with a Regional Housing Action Plan.

The State Government recently announced funding that will be delivered through the Local Government Association of Queensland (LGAQ) that will enable all local councils in Queensland to develop local area housing plans. Our region will be working with the State Government representatives and LGAQ representatives to ensure our plans meet the State Government housing plan requirements.

If you have an interest or are part of the housing supply chain i.e. local governments, developers, builders, not-for-profit housing providers, industry bodies, financial institutions and housing support services, please consider registering to attend the summit to be part of the housing solution.

Contact Greater Whitsunday Communities to register for the Housing Summit on June 6.

Cr Karen May

Deputy Mayor

Mackay Regional Council

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New Group Aiming To Keep Community Informed

May 19, 2023

A new community group has been formed by a group of concerned residents from the Dawson and Capricornia electorates.

The Dawson.Capricornia Community Watch Group was formed about a month ago over concerns for policies passed down by the United Nations (UN), World Health Organisation (WHO) and World Economic Forum (WEF).

Member Pamela Holloway said the Dawson.Capricornia Community Watch Group is concerned about Mackay Regional Council’s membership with the ICLEI, formally the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives, an organisation that supports local governments to accelerate climate action and sustainable urban development.

The most significant issue, said Ms Holloway, is the proposed introduction of '15-minute cities'.  

“More like Surveillance Cities, because that's what they are,” she said.  

“They come right out of the WEF's 2030 Agenda handbook, as a mechanism to restrict and control us forever in the name of 'climate change and saving the planet’.”

Ms Holloway said the community watch group aims to ask the pertinent questions of Mackay Regional Council, as to why they are adopting '15-minute cities' into their planning strategies.

“We recognise that some parts of the 'Smart City' concept have benefits when the technology is used for the right civic reasons,” she said.

“But the overall picture is so all-encompassing and extreme that the outcome will be total control of you and your family and friends by the unelected elites of the WEF.”

“Our aim with the community meetings, is to talk about the Smart Cities initiative, so that the residents can make an informed decision for their future.”

The Dawson.Capricornia Community Watch Group is excited to welcome South Australia's Tim Dwyer as their live guest speaker via Zoom, with Q & A afterwards, for their first community meeting on May 26 at Mackay Sporting Wheelies.

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Valley Families Face Uncertain Future

May 18, 2023

Pioneer Valley residents fear being forced from their land as the Queensland Government forges ahead with plans to build the world’s biggest pumped hydro.

Concerned residents were joined by Federal Member for Capricornia Michelle Landry and Leader of The Nationals and Shadow Minister for Agriculture David Littleproud earlier this week, touring some of the properties that are set to be affected by the Pioneer-Burdekin Pumped Hydro Scheme.

Netherdale residents Charlene and Joe bought their property three months before Queensland Premier Annastasia Palaszczuk’s announcement in September 2022 and now face the prospect of a 60m concrete dam wall being built on their property.

“We bought the place for its beauty and pristine environment,” said Charlene.

“We are really disgusted with how we’ve been treated as landowners.”

Nationals Support Pioneer Valley Families

With 79 properties expected to be affected by the Queensland Government’s pumped hydro scheme, Federal Member for Capricornia Michelle Landry said affected families were reaching breaking point.

“This is the third visit I’ve made to the Eungella community since the Premier made a flying visit to Mackay to announce Labor’s plan to inundate prime agriculture land and pristine rainforest,” Ms Landry said.

“I have met with families who have broken down in tears and asked me what they can do with their lives if they’re forced off their land.

“Many of the properties have been in their family for generations.

“It’s heartbreaking.”

An upper reservoir is planned be built in the Eungella area while at the bottom of the Eungella range, a 60-metre-high dam wall will be constructed to allow for the lower dam.

Solar and wind farms are planned for the lower area as well, with negotiations between the Queensland Government and affected landholders beginning last year to discuss terms of property access to conduct studies as well as initiating negotiations for property resumption and compulsory acquisition.

“This is a process that we take seriously, of course, and we want to be respectful of those landowners,” Minister for Energy, Renewables and Hydrogen Mick de Brenni said.

“We’ve researched around 1,000 sites across the state and this one stacks up as simply the best pumped hydroelectric opportunity anywhere in Queensland, in fact, it represents one of the best opportunities in the world.

“Most importantly, this project delivers us a significant economic opportunity for north Queensland.”

Mr Littleproud said the community felt helpless.

“Labor’s ideology doesn’t match the practical reality and sadly it’s at the expense of Eungella locals,” Mr Littleproud said.

“It is senseless to destroy prime agriculture land and rainforest in this special part of Queensland.

“I urge Labor to listen to locals and to scrutinise this project properly before it’s too late.

“There is a place for renewables, but it is not here.”

Leader of The Nationals and Shadow Minister for Agriculture David Littleproud and Federal Member for Capricornia Michelle Landry visited Netherdale residents Charlene and Joe. Photo supplied: Office of The Hon David Littleproud MP

Leader of The Nationals and Shadow Minister for Agriculture David Littleproud toured Eungella earlier this week. Photo supplied: Office of The Hon David Littleproud MP

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Grasstree Beach Residents Concerned Over Hoon “Theme Park”

May 18, 2023

A group of Grasstree Beach residents have shared their concerns about activity occurring on state and council land surrounding the beachside community.

The man spearheading the campaign, who wished to remain anonymous, said the bushland behind and to the north of Hillside Drive stretching up towards Salonika Beach, including Mick Ready Beach, has become a “theme park” for people with motorbikes, four-wheel drives and offroad buggies.

“The area near Mick Ready Beach used to be fairly clear and people used to picnic all the time,” the concerned resident said.

“It was accepted practise … until the bikes moved in.”

The local relocated from the area in 2010 and, upon returning in 2021, discovered the issue had worsened, citing noise emanating from surrounding bushland, dangerous driving on the streets leading into the bushland, environmental damage, erosion, and litter as areas of concern.

The noise has reportedly been heard as early as 6:30am and late as 11:30pm, and vehicles have been seen speeding along Hillside Drive where vision over the hill is limited and families frequently walk.

The group of locals banded together and started a campaign, approaching police, Mackay Regional Council, Member for Mirani Stephen Andrew, and the Minister for Resources Scott Stewart.

“The problem here is the council owns the beach (Mick Ready Beach), but they don’t own the roads into it,” the resident said.

“That area is ‘unallocated state land’ and managed by the Department of Resources.

“It would seem that creates problems and limits what the police can and can’t do.

“Everyone’s pointing at everyone else.”

The resident reported that the Department of Resources installed steel gates to prevent unauthorised access, which have since been torn down.

He also claimed that local police have increased their presence in the town, but “could be a little bit more enthusiastic” in enforcing groups to move on.

A response from the office of Minister for Resources Scott Stewart stated the Department of Resources “will continue to work with the Mackay Regional Council and other agencies to promote responsible use of open spaces in this locality.”

The letter continued: “In 2023, Resources will also continue its work with other agencies to limit uncontrolled vehicle access to parts of the land where it is practical to do so, which may include a staged approach to re-installing gates or changing access arrangements to the land.”

The group of residents is calling for access to the area to be restricted.

Mick Ready Beach, north of Grasstree Beach, has become a popular spot for four-wheel drives, motorbikes and offroad buggies. Image supplied

Dirt roads through state land leading to the beach are clearly signed. Photo credit: Sam Gillespie

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Laptops Donated To Aid Distance Education

May 18, 2023

Seven laptops were donated to YIRS One Stop Youth Shop earlier this week courtesy of CQUniversity Mackay.

The pre-used laptops, all approximately 12 months old, will be utilised by students currently enrolled at Charters Towers School of Distance Education.

“At the moment, the students are rotating on a roster because we didn’t have enough laptops,” said YIRS Service Manager Deanne Chapman.

“The generous offer of these laptops is going to make a big difference.

There are currently 30 students studying in the program.

“Now everyone gets a laptop,” Ms Chapman said.

“It makes their workload easier and submitting their work a lot simpler.”

CQUniversity Mackay Campus Coordinator Leanne Williams said it’s important that no student misses out.

“Supporting students from our local community who don’t have access to laptops is really important for the university,” she said.

“Being part of the solutions to our students and giving that back, it really makes me feel fantastic about working for an organisation that does care about our students and also cares about what their learning journey’s going to be.”

Ms Chapman shared her appreciation upon receiving the laptops.

“It’s really great to have people in our community that are continually giving to our future,” she said.

YIRS Service Manager Deanne Chapman, CQUniversity Mackay Campus Coordinator Leanne Williams and YIRS Chair Rob Kidd. Photo credit: Sam Gillespie

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Sit Down With Sam

May 18, 2023

Hi readers

It was some time last year that I decided I was going to get into dancing. Rock and roll and line dancing have long been popular amongst my family. Whether it’s a wedding, a 21st or a 50th, there’s almost always a dancefloor and it’s almost always packed when ‘Man! I Feel Like A Woman!’ comes on. I’m sure I used to dance when I was younger but as I hit those pubescent years, I was suddenly “too cool”. I’m proud to say I’ve overcome that dancefloor hesitance. I wouldn’t say I’m better at dancing or more confident in my ability; I just stopped caring and had a good time. Although I wish I’d danced every time someone beckoned me to the floor growing up – I reckon I’d be pretty good by now.

I joined in on some line dancing workshops at NQ's Rock'n Country last year and this opened my eyes to how fun dancing is. I had a great time and even later went to some lessons held by Deb Wookey and Mackay Line Dancers out at Walkerston, who you would’ve read about a month ago.

Later in the year, I attended a dance hosted by Sugar City Rock n Rollers at Goosies. I had a dance with mum and gained much satisfaction every time we nailed a move. As Sugar City Rock n Rollers President Colin McPherson says on page 17, “You’ll always see rock and roll dancers on the dance floor with a big smile on their face.”

More recently, I attended No Lights, No Lycra, which seems perfect for dancers like me. You can read that story on page 17 and if you’re interested but still feel a bit apprehensive, like I was, I urge you to go along and give it a go. As I’ve learnt recently, nothing is quite as satisfying as a good dance.

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Brewery To Open On Pioneer River

May 18, 2023

With a prime location overlooking the Pioneer River and Forgan Bridge at Bluewater Quay, the former site of Lebanese Restaurant Ashtart has laid dormant for years.

But Mackay Regional Council is brewing something up for the site, selecting J&J Brewing Co Pty Ltd, better known as Red Dog, as the new licensee.

Red Dog Brewery aim to open their new taphouse and restaurant on the river in July, adding to their current location on Chain Street, which opened in April 2022.

Mayor Greg Williamson said the site was well situated on Bluewater Quay overlooking the Pioneer River and formed part of the Mackay Waterfront PDA (Priority Development Area).

“This is an excellent outcome for Bluewater Quay, and the City Centre more generally, to create new activation opportunities, with a business that already has local support and recognition,” he said.

“The Mackay Waterfront project has been developed by council to improve tourism, liveability and economic activity in Mackay’s CBD and waterfront.

“Red Dog will be a great addition to this key location between the City Centre and the newly established River Wharves in River Street.”

The new Red Dog site will complement the existing location in Chain Street, with Bluewater Quay becoming the main retail outlet and Chain Street the main production location.

Red Dog co-owners Jason Egan and Jamie Woods said the new location has untapped potential.

“Mackay has a great river, one of the best you see, and what better place to have a brewery than on a river?” said Mr Egan.

“It’s a great location, somewhere you can come with friends and close to town.

“We’re hoping we’ll get a new influx of different types of people, pick up a different market with this venue.

The owners are excited to begin canning their beers which will be available for takeaway at the new location, as well as offering a wider variety of beers, spirits and cocktails.

“If the locals support it, it’ll go well,” Mr Egan said.

“If they want something like this in the town, they need to embrace it.”

Mayor Greg Williamson (left) hands over the keys to a council-owned building at Bluewater Quay to Jason Egan, of Red Dog Brewery, and Louie the dog. Photo supplied

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New Mine Approved In Moranbah

May 18, 2023

For the first time since coming to power, the Labor Government has approved a new coal mine in the Isaac region, but new strict environmental regulations and timeframes are attached.

The mine, 28 kilometres east of Moranbah, was provisionally approved by the Federal Government and it is set to become the third mine operated by Bowen Coking Coal.

The company currently employs a 700 strong workforce and will be mining for high quality, high yielding metallurgical coal used for steelmaking.

The new mine is adjacent to the two existing mines.

The following strict new regulations apply:

1. The mine must not clear more than 25 hectares of land.

2. Impact on the native snake species must be minimised.

3. There must be an on-site fauna spotter.

4. The mine must maintain the property and land quality.

5. Operational timeframe is five years (compared to the standard 25-50 years)

It is estimated that the mine will produce half a million tonnes of coal a year and provide an additional 200 new jobs in the region.

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New Jetty Set To Open Up Keswick Island

May 18, 2023

Plans are now in place for a new jetty on Keswick Island and local residents say this will increase accessibility for all and reinstate a casual boating community that will revive the local tourism industry.  

Keswick Island Headlease Holder, Oasis Forest (China Bloom), has lodged its Development Application for the jetty with Mackay Regional Council and approvals have already been granted by the Queensland Government and the Australian Government through the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority.

It is hoped that works will commence by the end of this year and construction will be completed sometime in 2024.

Keswick Island Progress Association (KIPA) Spokesperson, Greg Chappell, said the new jetty would be a game changer for north Queensland boaties, day trippers and yachties.  

“People will now have a destination to spend time on land during their trips through the Cumberland Islands,” he said.

“Opening up Keswick Island’s access means more visitation, and more visitation means more dollars into the local Mackay economy.

“It will also spur a boost in building activity on the Island, and the benefits of this will flow to local builders, tradies, and suppliers.  

“We look forward to Mackay Regional Council’s support to expedite the final approvals required so construction can commence.”

CEO of Mackay Isaac Tourism, Al Grundy, welcomed the jetty application and said it was no secret that access is the first mandatory criteria to grow tourism on an Island.  

“The ability for visitors to depart Mackay and access Keswick Island via a jetty is the first step to growing the Island’s tourism potential,” he said.

“Mackay based marine tourism operators will be able to pick up guests from Keswick for day tour excursions to visit other islands, for snorkelling, beachcombing or to head off on fishing charters.  

“Keswick Island has potential to play a key role in our broader regional tourism strategy – an island on our doorstep that is easy to access and a tourism location that we are proud to showcase to the world. This development is a welcome contribution.”

New jetty promotes tourism on Keswick Island. Photo supplied

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Local Deaths Prompt Investigations

May 18, 2023

A 50 year old man has died on a private property in Ball Bay after suffering an electric shock.

Emergency services were called to the Cape Hillsborough property on Tuesday, May 16. It was declared the next morning that the man had been found deceased at the scene.

Workplace Health and Safety Queensland are assisting police in the investigation.

The week prior, a crime scene was declared and forensic examinations are underway after a fire broke out on a property at Eungella on the evening of Thursday, May 11.

Emergency services were called to a Schumanns Road property at approximately 5.20pm, to reports the dwelling was on fire.

Initial investigations indicate a woman in her 50s was inside the property, sustaining critical injuries and dying at the scene.

Investigations remain ongoing and anyone with further information is urged to contact police and quote this reference number: QP2300781943.

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Flowers Of Opportunity This Mother’s Day

May 18, 2023

This Mother’s Day, Mackay mums experienced the joy of receiving flowers, sold with love, by enthusiastic Endeavour Foundation clients who enjoyed the experience of participating in a worthy cause.

For the past 31 years, more than 70,000 chrysanthemums have been cultivated by the Endeavour Foundation at its Bundaberg Disability Social Enterprise for Mother’s Day.

The flowers are hand-picked, stripped, and put into 7000 bunches, many of which are sold locally while thousands more are transported to other Queensland regions.

A total of 300 bunches were sold here in Mackay and Endeavour Foundation’s Executive General Manager – Work Services, Eric Teed, said local mums and caregivers enjoyed receiving such thoughtful gifts.

“When you bought an Endeavour Foundation bunch for mum this year, you put a smile on her dial with a thoughtful gift,” said Mr Teed.

“But you were also giving the gift of employment.”

“You were ensuring people who face barriers to employment have a job that works for them so they can experience all the physical, mental, and social benefits that come with it.

“We believe everyone has the right to work and our social enterprises create meaningful employment and training outcomes for people who need extra support in the workplace.

“We’re incredibly grateful for the support of the community that made Mum’s Day bloomin’ marvellous with an Endeavour Foundation bunch this year!”

For the past 70 years the Endeavour Foundation has been dedicated to help build brighter futures for people living with disabilities.

Their programs currently support thousands of Australians with intellectual disability and help them live, learn, work and thrive.

It is initiatives such as this that further integrates those living with disabilities into the community, giving them the opportunity to participate and interact with a broader social network in a positive and fulfilling way.

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May 18, 2023


It’s coming up to 12 months since being elected, and what an honour it is to be chosen to represent our incredible region. Being able to bring your voice to our nation’s capital nearly every sitting week, being able to share your voice in our national debates, travelling to every corner of our beautiful electorate, and meeting so many incredible people are just some of the great perks of representing you!

But one of my favourite parts of the being the Federal Member is meeting people across the electorate and especially meeting those who volunteer their time to our communities.

Our volunteers are some of the most selfless people I’ve ever met, from the great people at Meals on Wheels, to our Crime Stoppers, our VMR’s, SES groups, our RSL’s, Rotary & Lions Clubs, and many other community groups and sports clubs.

These incredible men and women contribute so much to our region, while expecting nothing in return!

As this week is National Volunteers Week and its an opportunity for us to give back and say ‘thank-you’ to our incredible ladies and gents who volunteer their time. And with this year’s theme being ‘The Change Makers’, it’s the perfect time to acknowledge the power our volunteers have in driving positive change in our communities!

I have one thing to say to our amazing volunteers across Dawson: THANK-YOU!

Thank-you for working so hard for our communities!

Thank-you for being the backbone of our region!

And thank-you for always being there when our communities need you most!

This National Volunteers Week, if you see one of our fantastic volunteers, please show how much we appreciate them and appreciate what they do for Dawson!

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Live The Death You Please

May 18, 2023

Talking about death and dying won’t kill you, and neither will watching a film about it.

This is the message a new and inspiring documentary is bringing audiences all over the country during National Palliative Care Week.

A total of 60 cinemas in Australia will be showing ‘Live The Life You Please’ and Event Cinemas, Mount Pleasant is one of them.

The film follows the journeys of several individuals who experience end-of-life-care and it aims to change the public perception on death and what it means to be cared for in your final days.

Common misperceptions of palliative care include that pain is an inevitable part of dying, palliative care hastens death, you can only receive it in hospital, and it is on only available days before you die.

In fact, palliative care is known to prolong death, be filled with moments of intense joy and can be flexible to meet your needs, giving you the control on when, where and how you die.

By following the diverse range of stories in the documentary, audiences witness how palliative care can come with many positives.

“Their powerful stories will show you that palliative care is more than medicine. It’s about quality of life. It’s about providing physical, social, emotional and spiritual support to patients and their loved ones,” said a spokesperson.

“It makes the social and economic case for increased support of essential services including palliative care, aged care, community care, allied health and the support of carers at home.”

The film introduces audiences to the advocates campaigning tirelessly to make palliative care available to every Australian where and when they need it – be that in aged care, a hospital setting or at home.

At the heart of ‘Live The Life You Please’ is a series of unexpected moments of joy caught between caregivers, patients and their families.

Director Mike Hill said that people thought he was crazy for making a film about death, but that, having experienced such amazing insights, he would do it all over again.

“What I’ve learned is that talking or thinking about death won’t kill you. In fact, it will do quite the opposite - it will enhance your life,” he said.

“Making this film was an incredibly empowering experience. The infinite capacity for humans to grow even whilst grappling with life-limiting illness was inspiring.

“The film will make you smile, laugh, laugh harder and occasionally shed a tear as it shares the stories of a diverse range of Australians experiencing their last chapter.”

“I hope that people will use this film as a conversation starter to talk about a difficult subject, feel better about what the future holds and use that knowledge to live the life they please.”

You can see ‘Live The Life You Please’ at Event Cinema Mount Pleasant during National Palliative Care Week, May 22-28.

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International Nurses Day

May 18, 2023

Recognised For Making A Difference

International Nurses Day is an opportunity to celebrate and recognise nurses for their roles in the community and dedication to achieving health outcomes for their patients.

Celebrated each year on May 12 in recognition of the anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s birth, Mackay Hospital and Health Service marks the day with morning and afternoon teas and the annual International Nurses Day Awards.

“It’s really important to celebrate the achievements of our nurses and how hard they work 24/7,” said Nursing Director Samantha Sanders.

“They show up every day and they’re very passionate about what they do so we want to celebrate that.”

Emergency Department Registered Nurse Felicity Morris received the CQUniversity 2022 Graduate of the Year Award, completing her studies at CQU before entering the Emergency Department in her graduate year.

“I’ve had exposure to so many different presentations and I’ve been able to progress very quickly through my career,” she said.

“Nursing is such an integral part of the community and we do it day in and day out and we always put our patients first but it’s nice to have a day where we let the community know that we are here, and we celebrate our nurses.”

Surgical Nurse Unit Manager Lachlan Frank agreed after receiving the Nurse Unit Manager Clinical Excellence Award.

“I think this award demonstrates what we do as Nurse Unit Managers on a daily basis in supporting our teams but also we couldn’t do our jobs without the support of our teams,” he said.

“While I was the winner of this award, it really does demonstrate the hard work our staff do on the surgical ward every day.”

International Nurses Day Award Recipients

McFadzen Perpetual Award: Margaret MacDermott (Day Surgery Unit)

Clinical Nurse Specialty Award: Yolanda Gibbons (Paediatric Diabetes Clinic)

Clinical Excellence Award – Rural: Vicky Grams (Proserpine Hospital)

Clinical Excellence Award – Nurse Unit Manager: Lachlan Frank (GSU)

Excellence in Patient Care Award: Vincent Uy (Renal Unit)

CQUniversity 2022 Graduate of the Year Award: Felicity Morris (Emergency Department)

JCU Department Outstanding Support Award: Mackay Base Hospital G2 Medical Ward

JCU Department Outstanding Support Award: Proserpine Hospital

CQUniversity 2022 Graduate of the Year Award: Felicity Morris (Emergency Department)

Clinical Excellence Award – Nurse Unit Manager: Lachlan Frank (GSU)

JCU Department Outstanding Support Award: Mackay Base Hospital G2 Medical Ward

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Eco Tourism Receives $9.2 Million Kickstart

May 18, 2023

A total of six eco-tourism projects are set to receive a share in $9.3 million of state government funding and the Pioneer Valley Tourism Hub has been named one of them.

The Activate Ecotourism Infrastructure initiative will provide funds to kickstart an outdoor tourism hub that will accommodate up to 26 visitors in a brand-new lodge to be built in Finch Hatton.

It is hoped the lodge will complement the new bike trails in the area and open opportunities for guided fishing experiences at the nearby dams.

Member for Mackay Julieanne Gilbert said the announcement marks the start of an exciting time for tourism in the area.

“The natural environment of the Pioneer Valley near Mackay has amazing potential as an international mountain bike destination,” she said.

“Delivering more than 40 construction and ongoing jobs, the Pioneer Valley Outdoor Tourism Hub is about boosting access to the region’s outstanding fishing and hiking experiences.

“The Hub will also support future mountain biking tours and generate up to $3 million for the Mackay region’s visitor economy.”

Chief Operating Officer of Mackay Tourism, Al Grundy, said that he is thrilled with the announcement.

“It will be a great base for people coming the region to use the mountain bike trails,” he said.

“I think the project will really activate Finch Hatton and the Pioneer Valley.”

The Lodge will be utilised by tour guides and operators from across the country and it is set to offer a spotlight for the showcasing the natural environment of the Mackay hinterland.

Finch Hatton is the gateway to a plethora of tourist activities, from fully stocked dams to rainforests, scenic walks, bike trails and it is only 20 minutes to Broken River where you can view platypus in the wild.

“It’s really good for our region as it opens up some many more options for land-based activities,” said Mr Grundy.

“There will be a brand new building in town, right next to the bike trails so I think it will get a lot of use.”

An artist’s impression of the Pioneer Valley Tourism Hub, a two storey lodge that sleeps up to 26 people

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Desex And Receive Reimbursement

May 18, 2023

In a big move, Mackay Regional Council is trialling a reimbursement scheme for low-income earners to de-sex their pet cat or dog.

“Each year there are countless unwanted dog and cat litters in the region,” Mayor Greg Williamson said.

Through the program, eligible pet owners can receive a reimbursement of $75 to desex cats and $150 for dogs.

Pet owners must be a certain criteria:

- Be a resident of Mackay

- Hold an approved Queensland concession card, including seniors, sole parents, widows, students, carers, and health care cards

- Have a registered, microchipped and desexed cat or dog

- The pet has been desexed in the last 60 days

“Desexing also has countless other benefits including preventing uterine infections, lowering the risk of some cancers, and it can also reduce aggressive and territorial behaviours and your pet’s likelihood to wander.”

To learn more, visit

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Seven Marathons In Seven Days For Mackay Runner

May 18, 2023

Mackay local runner, Brenda Windsor, is taking on the mammoth Bravehearts 777 Marathon this June.

Brenda has been running for 12 years, after stumbling into the sport during a bootcamp fitness class. From there, she steadily increased her speed and distance, and is now set to complete her third Bravehearts 777 Marathon.

The 777 Marathon takes participants to all seven Australian states, over seven days, to complete seven marathons consecutively, to raise awareness and funds for Bravehearts and the one in four children who have been impacted by child sexual abuse.

The marathon acts as a major fundraising tool, as national participants must raise $10,000 each for the cause.

For Brenda, this is her third 777 Marathon, and is definitely not her last.

“After my first 777 marathon, I was like ‘Wow, did I really do that?’” Brenda said.

“I didn’t know what I was getting into, and it was just this real buzz.

“But this time, I know what I’m getting into, so that’s a bit different.

“I’m feeling good.”

Brenda will fly into Perth Sunday June 25, to finish the first marathon on the Monday, before completing marathons in Adelaide, Melbourne, Launceston, Sydney, Canberra and the Gold Coast on Sunday, July 1.

“Over the last nine years,” Alison Geale, Bravehearts CEO said, “the Bravehearts 777 Marathon has raised more than $2.15 million for our critical support and education services, and this year we’re hoping to raise the stakes and fundraise more than $250,000.”

Clear from being Brenda’s final marathon, she is set to participate at the Airlie Beach Marathon only two weeks after the 777 Marathon.

Brenda Windsor has competed in over 30 marathons and regularly trains with her grandchildren. Photo supplied

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Pleystowe Mill Reunion

May 18, 2023

1869 was the beginning of the Sugar Cane industry in the Walkerston area when cane was grown and supplied to Pleystowe Sugar Mill. The first sugar crushing season at Pleystowe was in 1872.

A distillery was added to the mill in 1873 in order to manufacture the quite popular - ‘Pleystowe Rum’. Allegedly, the distillery operated for just a few years.

In 1918 a disastrous cyclone hit the Mackay region dropping 84 inches of rain in just 6 days - 2134 mm! At that time there was another mill in the Walkerston area as well as Pleystowe - The Palms Mill, owned by Australian Estates. As it was badly damaged in the cyclone, its cane supply was consequently sent to Pleystowe Mill for crushing. The two mills were eventually amalgamated in 1925 to form Amalgamated Sugar Mills Limited.

In 1975 Pleystowe Mill became part of CSR – the Colonial Sugar Refining Company.

Sadly, Pleystowe Mill ceased crushing forever in October 2008 - after 139 years, having been the oldest operating sugar mill in Australia at the time of its closure. Today the Pleystowe Mill site provides a few centralised services, and spare parts, to other operating mills of Mackay Sugar – part of the Nordsucker Group.

During 2010, a few of the staff of the old Pleystowe Mill decided that it would be great with a ‘Back to Pleystowe’ reunion. This was so popular that it became a yearly event coordinated by two well-known Pleystowe Mill identities – Jim Ross and Bob Dolan.

During last year (2022) - Jim and Bob, after 12 years of a job well done and greatly appreciated by all past Pleystowe Mill workers – decided to hand the planning and coordination over to the ‘younger generation’ in the form of Mark Gayton and Ian Ritchie. These two are set to carry the traditional Pleystowe Mill reunion into the future, no doubt assisted by a few of the Pleystowe oldies.

The 2023 Pleystowe Mill Reunion was held recently, with approximately 70 people attending – mostly past Pleystowe workers, joined by a few younger people employed by Mackay Sugar. Once again, it was a terrific reunion with work colleagues and friends catching up with one another – there was even a few people who had not seen each other for nearly fifty years. Quite special, and very nostalgic!

The next Pleystowe Mill Reunion will be held on the third Wednesday of April 2024.

Contributed by Bente McDonald

Reunion organisers Mark Gayton, Jim Ross & Ian Ritchie

Reunion attendees John Smith, Terry Doolan & Bill Hamilton. Photos supplied

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Housing Roundtable Next Month

May 18, 2023

The second in a series of Housing Roundtables will be held in Mackay in June where attendees will discuss the key findings from the first iteration which was held in December last year.

The aim of the roundtable is to develop region-specific, place-based solutions to the housing crises in the Mackay, Isaac and Whitsunday regions.

The key findings from the first roundtable are availability and diversity of choice.

Greater Whitsunday Communities (GWC) and Regional Development Australia Greater Whitsundays (RDA GW) have partnered to deliver the sessions which will be attended by stakeholders from across the region.

Rob Cocco, CEO of RDA GW explained that housing is constraining economic development in the Greater Whitsunday region.

“We need more housing stock – to rent and to purchase, to be able to attract more workers to our region to deliver against the many economic opportunities we have,” he said.

“And we need to find ways to bring this stock online quicker than we have ever before.”

Carol Norris, Executive Officer at GWC said they have baseline data to help inform discussions at the summit and provide the evidence to support funding applications to access State and Federal funding schemes.

“The Summit will result in an Action Plan for our region, comprising many sub-projects across the housing spectrum,” explains Carol.

“This Action Plan will be co-designed, localised and outline relevant place-based solutions.

The Summit will allow us to hear the voice of regional community stakeholders and build their insights into the solutions proposed.”

The first Greater Whitsunday Housing Project Housing Roundtable was held in December. Photo supplied

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20 Years Of Artspace Mackay

May 18, 2023

Artspace Mackay is turning 20 this year, a huge milestone for the regional gallery.

For the last two decades, Artspace Mackay has been illuminating the best of exhibitions, artist talks, and workshops.

“I hear it time and time again from artists who come to exhibit here – we have one of the best regional galleries in all of Australia,” Mayor Greg Williamson said.

Since opening in 2003, Artspace Mackay has seen an estimated 600,000 visitors for across the world and Australia, hosted 343 exhibitions, and have collected 1200 works of arts.

Julie Boyd, Mayor from 1997 to 2008, was a strong backer of the project.

“We did a lot of surveying, across all demographics, before we built the gallery, and we asked people what they did when they went visiting new areas and almost every person said they visited museums and galleries,” Ms Boyd said.

“So, when you put the argument together, this space is about bringing people into our community as well as showcasing art to our local community.

“You can’t get some of the amazing travelling exhibitions that we get now without a proper gallery space.

Artspace Mackay director Tracey Heathwood said, “I am so blessed to work with an incredible team – they are all so passionate about what they do and we literally couldn’t open the doors without them.”

“I’d like to say a huge, heartfelt thank you to all of them.”

A big milestone for Artspace Mackay

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Women In Sugar Meet In Bundaberg

May 18, 2023

The annual Women in Sugar Australia (WISA) conference was another success, being held at the Bargara Cultural Centre, east of Bundaberg.

Seven members of Canegrowers Network Mackay District attended the conference, which has the theme ‘Women of Worth’.

The conference consisted for talks delivered by key individuals in and associated within the sugar industry.

The conference was officially opened by Stephen Bennett MP, member for Burnett, who shared challenges within the community, particularly with attracting young people to communities.

Mark Pressler, Chairperson of Bundaberg Canegrowers, shared issues with Bundaberg’s sugar industry, not dissimilar to Mackay’s own late cut cane.

The special guest speaker for the event was Georgie Somerset AM, president of Agforce Queensland, who spoke of her youth, of being 18-years old and not knowing what she wanted to do professionally. She shared that she believes that women have an invaluable place in the sugar industry and encouraged women to ‘Find Your Voice’.

She encourages the belief that changes happens, and to connect community despite geographical isolation, and invest in individuals and continued education.

For the Conference Dinner, the guest speaker was Angela Williams, membership and engagement practitioner of Canegrowers Isis and contributor to ‘Walking the Wire’ a publication to strength the financial stability of rural agribusiness women.

Angela spoke on holding critical conversations, unintended consequences, how more than two in a marriage is crowded, and the importance of succession planning.

The second day of the conference consisted of a trip to Bundaberg Brewed Drinks, One Little Farm Market, and Bundaberg Rum Distillery with a self-guided tour and tastings.

Other special guests for the conference included Lisa Deveraux and Cathy Mylrea from Sugar Research Australia (SRA), who spoke on gender and diversity, Glen Harris from Queensland Sugar Limited (QSL), who shared the market prices of sugar, global influences and organisations that buy and sell sugar.

RaboBank also presented on horticulture, sugar, and wine, as well as by products, including aviation fuel and tights global supply.

Mary Wallace of Canegrowers Network Mackay said, “The conference is an excellent opportunity for the ladies to share their experience with other likeminded women, on current issues and diversity within the industry.”

Marice Perna, another Mackay attendee, said, “I enjoyed catching up with WIS members from other districts.

“The bus trip with the ladies from here is always a highlight.

“I enjoyed the conference speakers from diverse sections of the industry."

The Mackay branch of the Canegrowers Network

The conference saw an excursion to Bundaberg Brewed Drinks, with a tour and tasting. Photos supplied

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Extra Taxes Announced For Farmers

May 18, 2023

Additional taxes for farmers are a feature of the Federal Budget which was released last week and Federal Member for Dawson, Andrew Willcox, says Australia’s agricultural producers deserve a help-up not a set-back.

He believes the May Budget has been used as a platform to unveil an array of new taxes, which will create extra expenses for Australian farmers.

One of these is the new ‘bio-security levy’ which is set at a rate equivalent to 10 per cent of the 2020-21 industry-led agricultural levies.

Willcox calls this the ‘Fresh Food Tax’ and asserts that it is charging Aussie farmers to quality-check international importers’ goods.  

“The Labor Government are charging Aussie farmers to make it easier for competitors to import their goods here. It’s charging farmers to quality-check their competition”, Mr. Willcox said.

“If an overseas importer hasn’t secured the safety of their product, the Government shouldn’t be punishing our primary producers for this.”

It is expected that this new levy will raise $153 million over three years and that it will fund increased bio-security measures.

Another tax that will impact local producers is the ‘Truckie Tax’ which is set to increase truckies’ diesel prices from 27.2 cents to 32.4 cents per litre.

This will then snowball into the price of transporting goods around the country and the price of products on the supermarket shelves.

“Labor is aiming to increase the road user charge by approximately 19 per cent over three years, making it that much more expensive to get produce from paddock to plate,” said Willcox.

“This will increase the price for both our farmers and the customers at the checkout.

“This isn’t fiscal management; this is daylight robbery.”

Additionally, the average energy bills for businesses, which includes farmers, are set to increase by around $1,700.

“What’s the incentive for our farmers to keep feeding our nation?” said Willcox.

“They’re paying through their teeth to operate, energy prices are through the roof, and all the Government can do is slog them with a raft of brand-new taxes.”

“Without food and fibre, the country starves and under the current rising cost of living crisis now is not the time to add more pressure on grocery and retail prices.

“I am urging Prime Minister Anthony Albanese to come and visit Dawson and see firsthand where his food comes from.”

Federal Member for Dawson, Andrew Willcox, is concerned about how new taxes will impact farmers. Photo supplied

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Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea at Porters Mitre 10

May 18, 2023

Porters Mitre 10 are inviting friends, family, and the community to come together, share a cuppa, and some delicious food to raise funds for those affected by cancer. For the past 30 years, Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea has been a fundamental community event that raises vital funds to make a big difference for those impacted by cancer. One in two Australians are being diagnosed with cancer before the age of 85, and the team at Porters Mitre 10 want to help change that – with your help.

The team at Porters Mitre 10 would like to invite the Mackay community to join them on Tuesday 23rd May from 9:30am until 11:30am at Charlies Café for Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea.

Director of the Trudy Crowley Foundation, Jacquie Camilleri, will be welcomed alongside one of the Foundation’s beautiful nurses as the event’s guest speaker to raise awareness of all forms of cancer that affect so many people and their families across the Mackay and Whitsunday Region.

The team at Charlies Café will be cooking up a storm - baking heavenly sweets, delicious scones, and fresh sandwiches to enjoy while sharing a cuppa and some stories along the way.

If you are unable to attend, you can still show your support by heading into Porters Mitre 10 Mackay and purchasing tickets to the Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea Raffle.

To purchase tickets to Porters Mitre 10’s Biggest Morning Tea, head to the Porters Facebook Page or see the team in-store. All proceeds from the Morning Tea and Raffle will be donated to the Cancer Council.

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Great Ideas For Your Home And Outdoor Lifestyle

May 18, 2023

Across three jam-packed days, Mackay Showgrounds will play host to the biggest outdoor, home and lifestyle event in North Queensland.

Running from May 19-21, Mackay Expo is the ultimate one-stop-shop for outdoor and indoor adventure, showing the latest and greatest in gear, technology, and accessories.

The best in camper trailers, caravans, boating, fishing and 4x4 accessories will also be showcased with access to the exhibitors ready to help craft your next big adventure, all in one convenient location.

Or if you're into sustainable living and looking for captivating home and lifestyle ideas such as sheds, spas, bedding, and more, the Expo’s got you covered.

Discover new holiday destinations you’re yet to lay your eyes on, sit back and observe as the experts demonstrate first-rate outdoor accessories, be enthralled with quality entertainment and ‘be in it to win it’ with some of the best major prizes up for grabs.

Gear up and get ready for an unforgettable experience at the 2023 Mackay Expo.

WHAT: Mackay Expo 2023

WHEN: Friday, May 19 to Sunday, May 21

WHERE: Mackay Showgrounds


Mackay Expo returns to Mackay Showgrounds this weekend. Photo supplied

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STAR 101.9

May 18, 2023

A few of us this week have been talking about our rents and mortgages with Star giving you the chance to Live Rent Free.

Some of us here are renters, while others like myself have a mortgage, but wondering how the renters can even have a chance to save up to be a home owner. The gap between what some people around Mackay and Whitsundays are paying per week is immense, there are people renting a room in a share house for under $200pw, and some of us have $1000pw mortgage.

It makes me think more of the year I moved out of home and rented a caravan in a caravan park for a few months at Port Pirie in SA and how that seemed really expensive. It actually was for a first-year radio announcer in 1994 earning around $21,000 a year. The first unit I moved into from memory was about $125 a week and it was a ripper, very basic, but new 2 bedroom with a decent sized loungeroom.

Moving to Mackay in 2005 I’ve lived in Eimeo, Mackay City, South Mackay, Beaconsfield and now Rural View … while searching for some of those places I looked at some total dives.

Finding a rental in a tight market is horrible, you’re looking for something nice and affordable, but you might end up in 1 star just because you need a place, and you need it now. The last time I was in that situation was around 15 years ago and to be honest it was like some agencies were treating tenants like cattle that could just be pushed around, not treated well and it was a struggle to get your full bond back. I hope things have improved.

If you want your rent paid for a bit, tune into Star, Scotty & Rach with Kaley’s Live Rent Free. And good luck if you’re looking for a new rental at the moment, or, like me, paying a mortgage and waiting to hear about the reserve bank’s next move.


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Property Point

May 18, 2023

The loss of someone close is devastating and knocks your world out of kilter. Everything feels different and you know things are never going to be the same again.

The great benefit of a funeral and a subsequent wake is that you get to share the grief and somehow it seems more bearable when you know there are others, people close to you, who feel the loss the same way.

The Gardian Group lost our CEO, Peter Phillips, on the 7th of May and his funeral was on Friday of last week.

Peter was a husband, father, brother, brother-in-law, son, uncle and cousin and nothing can compare to the pain felt by those closest. All you can do is support those who are suffering the most.

And that’s what we did. But Peter was also more than just a boss to the rest of us. He was our mate and Gardian people were able to be there for each other as well as for his close family members.

Everyone was in shock last week, stunned by the loss of a leader and mate. But we are a close tribe and we all gathered around, checked in with each other, sharing the pain of the loss.

But we also owed it to Peter to celebrate his life. He lived a big life, audacious and energetic and generous and entertaining and there are plenty of funny stories to tell and recall. And we’ll continue to do that.

Coming back to work on the Monday, the loss and feeling of something missing was there and that won’t change.

But as I went through the process of getting moving again, it was Peter who flicked the switch in my head.

I thought about what he created, a thriving business that includes a real estate agency, mortgage broking, insurance broking and financial planning, employing about 75 people in total.

And I imagined him thinking: I haven’t set up all this, built the business to what it is today for it to fall apart. You’ve got a friggin’ job to do so get to it and don’t hold back.

I know that’s what we will now do. There is a sense of duty to help the business succeed, help it grow and build on the success that is already there.

We have a duty to be the best we can be for our clients, work harder than ever, be more focused than ever on getting them the best possible result.

A few years ago, Peter was the driving force behind creating the words for what we call our Just Cause. It goes like this: “At Gardian, we pledge to give of ourselves by EXCEEDING EXPECTATIONS together, UNITING our family and community. Leaving ETERNAL footprints for all to follow.”

One of Peter Phillips’ legacies is he had already set out for us what to do now.

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Local Buying Foundation delivers economic benefits to the Mackay region

May 18, 2023

The Local Buying Foundation (LBF), a not-for-profit initiative established by BHP in partnership with C-Res, is positively impacting the Mackay region delivering economic benefits to local businesses and communities.

To ensure that the LBF funding opportunities target genuine community needs, an Advisory Committee was formed to provide guidance, inform, identify and support the investment and disbursement of the foundation’s funds whilst ensuring effective governance of the Foundation. The committee is a representative body made up of key stakeholders from across the LBF regions with an interest or skills and expertise in regional economic development.

I have represented Mackay Regional Council on the Queensland Committee since 2020 and have assessed many grant applications which have benefited businesses in our region.

The LBF, which has been active in the region for over 10 years provides funding in support of projects and programs which facilitate workforce development, innovation, and capacity building of business and industry to grow the potential of their regional economies.

The LBF is a critical element of BHP’s Local Buying Program, for every dollar spent through the Local Buying Program, BHP commits an amount into trust to the Foundation.  To date, LBF has distributed over $7.5 million into Mackay, Isaac and Central Highlands regions.

These grants have supported a diverse range of businesses, community events, networking, professional development workshops and workforce training programs, and have helped the local business community grow their capability and improve their competitiveness.

The LBF has championed business development in the region. In Mackay this includes GW3’s Grants Officer and the Trading Tracks program a partnership between the LBF, BHP and BMA and is delivered by Mackay organisation MARABISDA, it aims to build strong, sustainable Indigenous businesses through workshops and mentoring programs.

The LBF's commitment to supporting the Mackay region is unwavering and continues to impact the region's economic opportunities and growth.

For further details please feel free to contact me at

Cr Alison Jones

Mackay Regional Council

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Youth Council Elected Journey Begins For 12 Young People

May 11, 2023

After weeks of campaigning and four days of voting, 21 young candidates became 12 young councillors as the first democratically elected Mackay region Youth Council was announced last Sunday.

The Mackay region is the first in Australia to undertake the program with the assistance of Foundation for Young Australians (FYA), which follows on from two years of YOL1000, a youth survey program facilitated by the Mackay Regional Council.

“What they told us is they wanted some sort of a voice in the community that they love,” said Mackay Regional Council Mayor Greg Williamson.

“How better a voice can you get than a democratically elected council?”

Almost 1,400 people aged 10 to 17 placed their vote and had their say in who they want to see represent them in the first democratically elected Mackay region Youth Council.

Voting opened from May 2 to 5 with ballot boxes available at schools, libraries and throughout the community, while candidates campaigned with t-shirts and flyers.

“The last week of voting and campaigning’s been amazing,” said FYA Young Mayors Program Assistant Mackay Savannah Vella.

“We’ve travelled around to different schools and community places, put up ballot boxes, and had so many people turn up to vote which has been amazing.

“All of our young candidates have done such a great job of campaigning, not just to their own schools but to the wider community.”

Deegan McCormack said he was shocked and surprised to learn he was successful and is excited to grow his image and experience.

“I want to be a light that people can go to and talk about feelings and what they would like to see,” Deegan said.

Fellow youth councillor Stephen Miranda is the youngest in the program at 12 years old and based his campaign on improving mental health resources.

“It is very exciting to be elected as part of the first youth council in Australia, it’s anybody who wants to get into politics’ dream,” Stephen said.

“Mackay is a very rapidly growing city ... and if we’re already struggling with the services we have currently, I think it’s going to be catastrophic.”

Stephen made t-shirts and created campaign flyers that were put up throughout Sarina and Mackay.

“I think I managed to get almost all of the school to vote, and I think it’s insane how many people voted,” he said.

The 12 young councillors will begin their journey next week, their first order of business being an induction featuring a swearing in ceremony and a tour of country, preparing them for a year in office.

“It’s been a fantastic campaign, they’ve all learnt a lot out of the campaign, and now comes the hard part of trying to work together as a team of young people on the first youth council in Australia,” said Mr Williamson.

“We’ve said to them as a council when they’ve got some policies in line, they can come and brief the Mackay Regional Council and we’ll see how we can assist them from there.”

Mackay Region Youth Council

Henry Burrell

Lily Cheyne

Krystopher Gakowski

Ojas Goti

Deegan McCormack

Rory McPhail

Stephen Miranda

Evelyn O’Brien

Reuben Pulikkottil

Nate Ralph

Caitlin Rourke

Bridget Wright

12 young Mackay residents were welcomed into Australia’s first youth council last weekend by Mayor Greg Williamson. Photo credit: FYA / Leah McLean

FYA Young Mayors Program Assistant Mackay Savannah Vella. Photo credit: Sam Gillespie

Voting was completed throughout the Mackay region with the assistance of the Electoral Commission of Queensland. Photo credit: FYA / Leah McLean

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Sit Down With Sam

May 11, 2023

Hi readers

This week’s issue is absolutely packed with sport, although some stories are, unfortunately, more triumphant than others.

Firstly, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed watching the BMD Premiership Cutters smash their way through their inaugural season in the women’s competition, finishing third on the ladder with five wins and two losses. Their campaign came to an end last weekend, devastatingly close to a grand final appearance, when they went down in a closely fought semi-final in Brisbane – read the recap on page 26. It’s been a huge effort for their first season, one they should all be proud of. With many of the Cutters lining up for the North Queensland Cowboys in their first NRLW season later in the year, I’m excited to see what comes.

It was lovely to chat with Jane Deguara who competed at the Queensland State Masters Championship Regatta with three of her fellow Mackay Rowing Club members. It’s so good to see our local and comparatively smaller clubs succeed on the state stage, and I can’t wait to see what they achieve at Nationals in June. Read that story on page 10.

We caught up with 16-year-old Zac Uhr who is making waves in the wheelchair basketball scene after being elevated to the Australian Under 23 Spinners Program under the guidance of five-time Paralympian and former Rollers captain Brad Ness. Read his story on page 6.

Mackay Athletics and Cycling clubs had big weekends recently, and you can catch all the action on page 24.

On a personal note, I’ve had a successful week in sport with big wins at both netball and tennis, so watch out for a purple patch of form from me.

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Fashion Week Fever

May 11, 2023

Emersen Lamb said winning Miss Junior Teen Diamond International last year changed her life.

The year 10 student’s pageantry success left her inspired and hungry to chase her dreams of becoming a model.

This hunger led her to being accepted for a full month-long tour with Sunshine Coast-based fashion label Belle Le Chic, taking her to Los Angeles, New York, Mykonos, Santorini, Venice, Milan, and Paris.

“I feel like this trip is going to help me take the next step in my career,” Emersen said.

“It means so much to me, it’s such an amazing opportunity to be able to go.

“It’s so crazy to think that I’ll be overseas in a couple of months chasing my dreams in the big city.”

While on the trip, Emersen and around 20 other models of varying ages will participate in photo shoots and runways at New York, Paris, and Milan Fashion Weeks, while concerts, tours and sightseeing will fill the rest of the month.

While Emersen is only in the early years of her modelling career, she hopes to come home from the trip more confident and experienced.

She aims to be an inspiration for young women.

“I just want young girls to know that they can do anything they put their minds to,” Emersen said.

“I used to be a really shy little girl, I never thought I could do anything like this, but once I joined Brooke Lee Modelling, my confidence has boosted so much, and it’s changed my life.

Locally, Emersen is also a RACQ CQ Rescue Talent Competition Finalist, happening in June, as well as a finalist in the Miss Photogenic Australia Competition in July.

Local model Emersen Lamb will walk the runway at New York, Paris and Milan Fashion Weeks later this year. Photo supplied

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