Mackay Region Community News

Film Festival’s Grand Finale

Film Festival’s Grand Finale

The 9th Mackay International Film Festival is in full swing, culminating in a fantastic finale of flicks this weekend. Two multi award-winning films feature this weekend, including Minari, playing on Friday, 30th July, and Another Round playing on Sunday, 1st August at BCC Mt Pleasant.

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Beachside Bliss In Bucasia

Beachside Bliss In Bucasia

With more than 30 beaches in Mackay to choose from, it can be hard to know where to begin. A cluster of the region’s most popular beaches can be found scattered throughout Mackay’s Northern Beaches, a collection of bustling beachside communities with an enviable coastline and a relaxed, carefree lifestyle.

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Fitness For The Family

Fitness For The Family

A personal trainer and exercise physiologist has created a welcoming environment for people from all walks of life in his Northern Beaches gym, where families are encouraged to put down the technology and pick up a healthy new habit. Stu has more than 30 years of experience as a personal trainer and has recently taken his knowledge to the next level with a degree in Clinical Exercise Physiology.

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Roadmap Developed For Regional Resilience

Roadmap Developed For Regional Resilience

Identifying a clear and robust vision for the Greater Mackay region was the focus of a workshop hosted by Regional Development Australia Mackay Isaac Whitsunday (RDA MIW) last week. As part of the Australian Government’s commitment toward long-term regional development, the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications contracted RDA MIW to work with regional stakeholders to create the region’s Development Strategy and Roadmap.

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Students Plant Seeds For A Sustainable Agrifuture

July 29, 2021

From bush tucker plants, geese and chooks to a greenhouse filled with lettuce to plots of land to regenerate soil – Mackay North State High School looks like any farm in the MIW region.

However, the high school has started to pave the way for more innovative agricultural studies to grow future industry skills.

Since its introduction to the curriculum in 2019, the subject is growing from strength to strength with more than 80 students from year 9 to 12 studying.

Recently students showcased their work in agriculture to Agrifutures Education and Program director Leigh Morgan and their modern farming methods, in particular their small aquaculture set up of raising red claw crayfish.

Agrifutures Education and Program director Leigh Morgan said the students have an incredible system for raising red claw crayfish, so they understand how the multimillion – dollar aquaculture industry works.

“One of the things I love about ag students is that they see a problem and come up with an innovative solution.

“That’s the type of critical thinking that moves a business forward towards an environmentally sustainable future,” Ms Morgan said.

Mackay North State High School Agricultural Studies Teacher Jannie Jarret said the students study a wide variety of innovative and sustainable practices to grow crops in the region’s climate.

Jannie said they have recently applied for a Sustainable Table grant to get their mushroom farm up and running and hope to build on the foundations of a circular economy model.

“The idea with the mushrooms is to use shredded paper already produced by the school as a medium. Another student group has a project that shreds all the documents in the school, which currently goes to landfill.  There is no end point for it for the paper, so my aim is to take that shredding and turn it into mushroom medium.

“The next step will be to grow the mushrooms on it and then use the mushroom compost on the paddock to regenerate the soil.”

Jannie has a passion for agriculture growing up on her family cane farm at Te Kowai, before studying Agricultural Science with honours at the University of Queensland. She said part of the role of Agricultural Studies was about getting students to think outside the box.

“At the moment everything is limited, our budgets and time, so that means we have to search out very economic and productive ways of doing things.

“We are trying to expose students to varies technologies that are used within the industry,” Jannie said.

Did you know that GW3 is home to the Agribusiness Futures Alliance project?

The purpose of the project is to develop a robust agribusiness sector for the future. The project’s focus is about connecting regional export capabilities, apply for funding that aligns with supply and value chain collaboration along with attraction and preservation strategies for the agricultural workforce.

For more GW3 regional inspiration, visit Transformation Region’s website

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Stunting Stillbirth A Focus Of Safer Baby Bundle

July 29, 2021

A new program providing education and awareness designed specifically to reduce rates of stillbirth across Australia has been launched at Mackay Hospital and Health Service.

Mackay HHS Women’s Health Unit clinic coordinator Fiona Bohn said the aim of the program is to reduce stillbirth rates after 28 weeks gestation by at least 20 per cent by 2023.

“Each day six families across Australia experience the heartbreak of losing their baby to stillbirth, a rate that has changed little in two decades, Ms Bohn said.

“Stillbirth changes so many people’s lives and we see firsthand the devastating impact it has on families. Sadly, on average, one baby each month is stillborn across Mackay HHS.

“The Safer Baby Bundle ensures best practices are in place to identify and manage the risks that can result in a stillborn baby.”

Ms Bohn said the program’s elements inform women and encourage them to reflect on their habits and actions.

“We know that educating and providing the right information to our expectant mothers will help them make informed choices for themselves and their babies.

“The program supports clinicians in the provision of best practice care by having conversations around the Safer Baby Bundle elements and personalising care throughout the mother’s pregnancy.

“This collaborative approach will help women have a safe and positive pregnancy, reducing the risks of stillbirth.”

The Safer Baby Bundle program focuses on five crucial elements of antenatal care expectant mothers should follow to minimise the risk of late gestation stillbirth.

These elements are smoking cessation support, detection and management of fetal growth restriction, awareness of decreased fetal movement, side sleeping after 28 weeks and shared decision making around timing of birth for women with risk factors for stillbirth.

Ms Bohn said that the Mackay HHS Safer Baby Bundle project team has been working closely with women’s health clinicians to implement the program.

“Clinicians have undertaken a suite of evidence-based educational resources on the latest clinical best practice in stillbirth prevention,” she said.

“The educational program covers each element of the bundle and includes both face-to-face skills development and eLearning.”

The Safer Baby Bundle has been adapted from a similar suite of resources delivered in the United Kingdom that achieved the 20 per cent reduction in stillbirth.

“Queensland’s safer baby bundle includes three from the UK (movement, restriction and smoking) and adds two elements – sleep position and timing,” she said.

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Nurture Your Health In Nature

July 29, 2021

Photo: Group fitness classes will be held on the Sarina Range as part of the Active in the Regions program.

Are you ready to get pumped in Paradise? From group fitness classes on the Sarina Range to yoga and pilates at Finch Hatton, there are a multitude of ways to get lean for less.

It’s all part of the Active in Regions program, where subsidised fitness classes are available in rural localities.

The classes are subsidised by Mackay Regional Council, with all classes only costing $5 each (excluding pool entry where applicable), with fees paid directly to the service provider.

Council’s representative on the North Queensland Sports Foundation Board (council’s funding partner for this program), Cr Laurence Bonaventura said it was fantastic to be able to combine the natural beauty of our rural areas with these subsidised fitness programs.

“Being able to make these classes accessible to our rural communities is great,” Cr Bonaventura said. “And at $5, it’s affordable to anyone in the community and will save residents considerably on the cost of driving to town for classes.”

He said there was also a real need for our region to shape up when it came to health and fitness.

“Rural residents have less access to trained fitness providers, so this is a fantastic initiative that helps provide some affordable fitness options to folks in some of the far corners of our region.”

Subsidised classes include child-friendly group fitness at Sarina Range, pilates and yoga classes at Finch Hatton, group fitness at Dows Creek Hall, aqua fitness at Sarina Pool and aerobics at the Sarina Field of Dreams. The program will run from July 12, 2021 to March 31, 2022.

For a full list of providers and locations and a timetable, head to

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Swap Puppy Treats For Puppet Tickets

July 29, 2021

Photo: Combining puppetry, live action and animation, New Owner takes audiences on a world of adventure through a dog’s eyes.

It’s not often you can swap dog treats for a theatre ticket – but that’s exactly what’s happening this week at the MECC.

The MECC is now a donation drop-off point for RSPCA Mackay.

Even better for pet lovers, if you donate (either at the MECC or RSPCA) the Box Office team will give you one free ticket to New Owner, a sensitive new show for all ages about the adventures of Bart, a boisterous puppy.

Combining puppetry, live action and animation, New Owner takes audiences on a world of adventure through a dog’s eyes.

Deputy Mayor Karen May said the RSPCA in Mackay did amazing work and this was a fantastic way council could support the organisation.

“This month marked four years since a rehomable dog was euthanised and two years since a rehomable cat has been euthanised at council’s animal management centre,” Cr May said.

“Without the tireless work of the RSPCA and other animal welfare and foster groups, this result would never have been possible,” she said.

“There will be a big drop-off box in the foyer and the MECC team will gladly accept non-perishable pet treats – like liver treats, biscuits and chews – grooming supplies, pet toys and dog waste bags.

“Of course, cash donations are always welcome.”

New Owner is on show at in MECC Auditorium on August 4 (6pm) and August 5 (9.30am) and is part of the DBCT Kids’ Theatre Season.

Limited tickets are available. Tickets are non-refundable. Terms and conditions apply.  

New Owner is by Arielle Gray and Tim Watts and is presented by The Last Great Hunt.

It is part of the DBCT Kids’ Theatre Season proudly supported by Dalrymple Bay Coal Terminal.

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Dig Into Mackay’s Prehistoric Past With UNEARTHED

July 29, 2021

Do you know what dinosaurs roamed around our region?

Unearthed will dig deep into Mackay’s prehistoric past in a celebration of science this weekend, with a FREE event at the Mackay Entertainment and Convention Centre (MECC) on Sunday 1 August.

Presented by Queensland Museum and BHP as part of their Project DIG partnership, the free community day will bring an action-packed program of STEAM inspired activities, demonstrations and performances for the whole family, including an exhibition of fossil discoveries made in the region unique to tropical Australia.

The event kicks off from 9am with a range of fun activities from robots to virtual reality, Minecraft competitions, holograms, origami and even the opportunity to pet a virtual dinosaur.

Leading researchers and scientists in the field of palaeontology will showcase a range of real and replica megafauna fossils that were found locally at South Walker Creek, near Nebo.

Megafauna are extinct supersized species of mammals, reptiles and marsupials and they have been uncovered at South Walker Creek by Queensland Museum and BHP scientists during annual digs over the past decade.

Queensland Museum palaeontologist, Dr Scott Hocknull has been leading the South Walker Creek expeditions with a team of staff and volunteers including geologists from BHP for more than a decade.

“The South Walker Creek site is one of a number of sites around the state that is being studied by Queensland Museum palaeontologists to learn more about this history of the Fitzroy River Catchment, one of the largest river systems in Australia that has flowed for millions of years and how it has changed the species over millennia,” Dr Hocknull said.

“My team and I are very excited to be bringing our fossil collection to Mackay and to demonstrate how new digital technologies such as photogrammetry, 3D scanning and 3D modelling are revolutionising the way we conduct our research, allowing us to reveal new data that can be shared with visitors and researchers worldwide.”

Dr Hocknull said it was a great way to introduce children to science.

“We aim to make it immersive, that the kids go away and feel that science is fun and interesting. A career in science is something they may never have thought of,” he said.

“One of the cool projects we were working on was with the Alligator Creek school to put their own fossil displays out. It will be fun to see their display and how they engage with the sciences in their own ways.”

Dr Hocknull said his love of dinosaurs as a kid led to a career in palaeontology.

“I’ve always loved dinosaurs. It was an engagement that I had with a palaeontologist when I was young that got me to pursue that.”

“If there’s a way that we, or I, can do that, then we’ll have done our job and that goes for any of the sciences – not just palaeontology.”

He said that Mackay had a huge amount of volcanoes while large dinosaurs roamed the Queensland outback.

“There were a huge number of volcanoes all the way down to Rockhampton from the Whitsundays. They spewed out ash and all sorts of materials that filled up the inland sea which is what’s preserving the fossils of the large dinosaurs that roamed inland.”

“The whole eastern seaboard plays a very important role in understanding the dinosaurs that lived in those open plains – especially in a highly volcanic region.”


For more information visit

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Metropolitan Laneway A Fresh Feature In CBD

July 29, 2021

A touch of classy cosmopolitan has arrived in Mackay’s city centre, with the freshly revitalised Fifth Lane providing a new space for outdoor events.

With festoon lighting, electrical provisions, new paving and water main works, the space has been future-proofed to provide a colourful area to host music events, dining and market stalls.

The $765,000 makeover has drastically improved the laneway’s condition and appearance, with Mayor Williamson saying the space will be the envy of our capital city counterparts.

“Our laneway was dirty and smelly and now it’s a beautiful space for residents and businesses to utilise,” he said.

“It’s also home to bright creative murals that come to life using the Zappar app, which is spectacular to see.”

Rabbit Hole Night Club Manager Riley Brinkman said Fifth Lane looked fantastic and he was keen to hold events there in the future.

Mayor Greg Williamson also thanked City Centre businesses for their support and patience during the project.

“The works took longer than expected due to the discovery of aged water infrastructure underground,” he said.

“Through the support of businesses council was able to replace the underground water service.”

If you are interested in holding an event in Fifth Lane, please email

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Seeing Green Creates A Cooler Place To Live

July 29, 2021

More than 100 volunteers took part in National Tree Day in Mackay last weekend, with fresh greenery planted along the Bluewater Trail under the Ron Camm Bridge.

To guide Mackay Regional Council’s approach toward future greening initiatives, an urban greening survey began last week and is now open for comment.

The survey is seeking feedback from the community on a planned approach towards enhancing and protecting greenery in our region’s urban areas.

Mayor Greg Williamson said council believed that creating greener neighbourhoods was an important priority for the region but wanted to ensure this view aligned with those of residents.

“Trees and other vegetation play a significant role in the community and provide a number of economic, social and environmental benefits,” he said.

“Greener neighbourhoods are cooler in summer, more attractive places to walk and cycle, they deliver a daily dose of nature closest to where we live, work and play, and offer many other benefits when carefully planned and managed.

“Council has a vision to become the best region in Australia for liveability and livelihood and we believe a planned approach towards urban greening could play a key role in supporting this vision.”

View the Mackay region urban greening area map and share your feedback by visiting and filling out the survey by Wednesday, September 1.

Residents can also request a hard copy survey by contacting council’s Community Engagement team on 1300 MACKAY (622 529).

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Bird Of The Year Becomes Critically Endangered

July 29, 2021

The fragility of our environment came to the fore this week with a presentation held at the Mackay Environment Centre on Wednesday evening by researcher Juan Mula Laguna.

Mr Laguna is a PhD candidate at James Cook University and studied environmental science in Spain before researching birds in Europe and Central America.

His presentation highlighted that the population of the Black-Throated Finch has plummeted, a sharp fall from grace since being named as the Australian Bird of the Year after voting by bird lovers all around the country in 2019.

The bird came to national prominence when the Queensland Government rejected a mining application’s Black-Throated Finch management plan after strong advice from scientists that the plan would push the bird further towards extinction.

The bird has been driven close to extinction by destruction of its habitat. Over the past 20 years about eighty per cent of the bird’s remaining habitat has been lost to development. Its largest remaining home is near a Carmichael mine site.

A recent survey of bird numbers at the site showed a decrease of 82 per cent in the Black-Throated Finch population.

“Our community was outraged when the Queensland Government approved Adani’s flawed management plan. It now appears that our worst fears are coming true,” said Mackay Conservation Group campaign manager, Sunny Hungerford,

“The presentation by PhD candidate Juan Mula Laguna provided detailed information about the Black-Throated Finch, and what it needs to survive.

“Once people hear about the plight of this unique Australian species, they will understand why its habitat must be protected.”

“Extinction is forever. We must not lose this beautiful bird.”

Mr Laguna has submitted a PhD thesis on the Black-Throated Finch and continues to work with other researchers on the species.

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Popular Rural Road Closed For Rehabilitation

July 29, 2021

Mixed feelings arose from the community when Mackay Regional Council announced that a popular back road would be closed for five months for rehabilitation.

The Glenella-Richmond Road is often used by Northern Beaches residents to avoid the congestion on Mackay-Bucasia Road and is also used as a quicker way to access the Bruce Highway to travel north.

However, the rural road has degraded to a point where it has become a safety issue. While residents are frustrated that the congestion on Mackay-Bucasia Road will most likely worsen, the Glenella-Richmond Road is in desperate need of repair.

Mayor Greg Williamson said that as part of the upcoming rehabilitation works, the road will also be widened, and culverts works completed.

On average, 2500 motorists use Glenella-Richmond Road daily.

Council crews will be on site from mid-August until December. with this road closed to through traffic for about five months, weather permitting.

Mayor Williamson said provisions had been made to ensure that the 2021 Hand Heart Pocket River 2 Reef Ride wouldn’t be significantly affected.

“Council has met with event organisers to ensure that the one-day charity ride will be able to go ahead as some of the courses navigate riders through this particular stretch of road.”

From mid-August, motorists will need to find alternative routes while these necessary works are completed.

Nearby residents should also expect some noise and dust disturbances, with various plant and equipment on site. However, appropriate controls will be put in place to manage any impacts.

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RACQ Bowled Over By Generosity (Good Feed Deed)

July 29, 2021

Our local rescue helicopter service has been bowled over by the generosity of a local sporting club, who held a charity day to raise funds to keep them in the air.

The Marian Ladies Bowls Club were joined by their male counterparts for a fun day of laughter and friendships on the green.

Novelty prizes were awarded to the winners to add to the hilarity.

Donations for RACQ CQ Rescue came from bowling club member donations, the sale of home-made cards and a raffle, won by Joyce Ditton.

Club Treasurer Judith Miller said it was an important benefactor to raise money for.

“RACQ CQ Rescue provide a very valuable and worthwhile service in our community,” she said.

Critical Care Doctor Ben Shepherd and Rescue Crewman Arno Schoonwinkel were on hand to receive the presentation cheque and show bowls club members Judith Miller and Joan Vickers through the rescue helicopter.

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Biofutures Roundtable Signals Collective Desire To Attract Industry

July 22, 2021

By Kevin Borg, Chairman, CANEGROWERS Mackay

Mackay’s sugar industry could sweeten the deal when it comes to attracting world players to invest in the region’s biofuture.

Representatives of key industry sectors and all levels of government gathered this month at the Resources Centre of Excellence to create an actionable plan. The meeting agreed the region already had the essentials to attract world players including plentiful biofeedstocks, green energy, good quality and reliable water, and access to ports and airports.

Biofutures is a subject that has been talked about for many years; however, now looks to be the most promising time I have seen in all my years in the sugar industry. We are being told that genuine commercial players are eager to look at our region to base their manufacturing and export operations here.

The idea is that manufacturers who currently use petrochemicals to make plastics and other synthetic products will use a clean green bioproduct in the future – and hopefully it will be made here in Mackay.

Australia is already the second largest exporter of raw sugar in the world and in Mackay we are in the box seat by producing one third of that tonnage annually.

There’s always going to be bulk raw sugar exported to a number of countries across the world.

But the cane we grow can also be a feedstock for a whole host of clean green biofutures opportunities.

Moreover, to feed 9 billion people across the world by 2050 we will need plant proteins to create future foods, that will be in addition to other protein sources currently available.

Cane growers will grow much more cane if they are guaranteed a return on it. The key is that the whole value chain from the farming business to end product processors must share in the income stream.

Of course, sugar cane is not the only crop with possibilities in our region. Others are the fallow crops that may be grown by growers in their crop rotations. With only short distance transport requirements to a processing plant here to produce biofuels, future foods protein production or a host of other bio products, including biomedical developments in the region, this could well be a gamechanger.

The first meeting has been a success in sharing information and collaborating between the different sectors.

It shows the promise of what may be possible with a collective mindset, a collective focus, and a collective energy to drive this opportunity forward.

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Jog Along Comes To Middlemount

July 22, 2021

Middlemount, it’s time to get jogging – so clean the dust off those runners and sneakers because Isaac Regional Council will be presenting a special ‘Move It NQ’ 8-week Learn to Jog program, commencing on Wednesday, 28 July.

The entirely free program will bring local fitness gurus to put participants through their paces with drills, exercises, and more with the aim of getting people jogging for longer, or perhaps, for the first time.

Isaac Regional Council is urging any who want to learn proper technique to make their way to Middlemount Sportsground from 6:45pm to 7:30pm every Wednesday.

Isaac Regional Council Mayor Anne Baker said this program is for everybody and no experience necessary.

“We’re so excited to partner with Move It NQ to bring this accessible program to the people of Middlemount,” Mayor Baker said.

“What I love about this program is that it’s tailored to each participant's fitness level and experience so even if you’ve never jogged before, you’ll be able to keep up.”

Between Wednesday, 28 July and Wednesday, 15 September, the Sportsground will be home to any interested participants, who can register for the whole program or on a weekly basis, pending availability.

Places are limited so interested participants are encouraged to register quickly at

The only requirements are that you must be over 14 years old to take part, and those under 18 years will require parental/guardian permission.

Move It NQ is one of the projects of the North Queensland Sports Foundation, aimed at supporting healthier and active lifestyles.

Mayor Baker expressed how grateful Council was to the Foundation for supporting health and fitness in regional Queensland.

“It’s great to see that Move It NQ is committed to providing opportunities for all North Queenslanders to participate in quality physical programming”, Mayor Baker said.

“Council is very grateful to the North Queensland Sports Foundation and the North Queensland Primary Health Network for funding and supporting this initiative”.

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Moving Forward In Faith

July 22, 2021

Holiness In The Ordinary

Australian Church Women Inc. is a network of committed Christian women dedicated to encouraging fellowship and service across denominational, national and international boundaries; promoting peace, understanding and unity through faith and love in the one God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. It provides opportunities for Christian women of different denominations to worship and serve together.

Fellowship Day began in the USA in 1933. They held luncheons and Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt was an early supporter. She wrote to the organizers saying, “I am glad that the luncheons are being held to bring church women together. Christians should exert to the full, their influence on this troubled world, and cooperation is the way in which we can do this.” These sentiments are as valid today as they were 88 years ago.

ACW is also responsible for the Winifred Kiek Scholarship Fund which enables women to study to better equip them for service in the church and community. The Scholarship is named in honour of the first woman ordained in Australia in the (then) Congregational Church.

Our Fellowship Day Service will be held on Friday July 30 at 10am at the Iona West Uniting Church, 7 Brook Street. I hope you will be able to join us, everyone is welcome.  

Anne Jennings

Mackay Unit Australian Church Women

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Here, There And Everywhere! Mackay’s Very Own Amazing Race

July 22, 2021

The Mackay Edition of the Amazing Race is kicking off on the 29th of August, and it isn’t a television show parade – it’s a locally started and operated event that was born from the beautiful sentiment of making likeminded friendships.

Mackay Random Adventures, who will be running the Amazing Race, started back in 2019, with Katelyn Edmonds and an idea - meeting like minded and adventurous people in the Mackay Region, with the group now host to almost five and a half thousand adventurers.

Katelyn started the group because it’s hard to find friends, especially when you’re an adult, and it’s even harder to find ones that share common interests.

It grew and grew, and last year they held their inaugural Mackay Amazing Race.

“Last year we had 34 teams participate and it was amazing to see all the costumes and dress up - we did not expect that at all!”

Mackay Random Adventures' version of "The Amazing Race" is not so much a race; it’s not about being first to the finish line, it’s an entirely point-based game.

The team with the most points, which are accumulated along the way, is the winner.

“It’s all about point scoring and using your brain, following the clues and riddles on the page to eventually get to the end destination,” Katelyn said.

“You could be the last team in and win the race because you have the most points – that’s actually what happened last year!”

The Amazing Race is coming to Mackay on August 29, starting at 9:00am.

The rules are simple: teams must consist of a minimum of two players, with a driver and a navigator – only one vehicle per team - and the registration fee is just $20 dollars.

The maximum number of players is how many you can legally fit in your car.

There’s no age limit; children and the elderly are encouraged to join in, and several iconic businesses are donating to the prize pool for the big day.

The Registration form is available here or alternatively you can find out more details by emailing

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Nude No More

July 22, 2021

An iconic social fundraising event on Mackay’s calendar reached national notoriety last year, but with sadness, the committee of the Nude Lunch announced that its journey had ended.

The decision was certainly a very difficult one for the committee to make, with many of the members having deep and personal connections with the driving force behind the Nude Lunch concept, the late Trudy Crowley.

After being diagnosed with stage 4 ovarian cancer in 2016, Nude Lunch Founder Trudy Crowley wanted to create a lasting and positive impact which could make a genuine difference. She lost her battle with the disease in 2018, but her legacy lived on in the events she helped to launch, such as the Nude Lunch.

Trudy’s wish was to shine a light on ovarian cancer to bring it out of the shadows. To expose it, talk about it and stop it from being a silent killer. Despite the Nude Lunch coming to an end, the committee said that it exceeded all expectations in bringing ovarian cancer to the fore.

In a statement the committee said, “Trudy’s mission in life was to raise awareness and much needed funds for the continued research to find better outcomes for women diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer.

“From humble beginnings from her hospital bed with a goal of $20,000 in the first year, to over $400,000 being donated by the fifth year, we think she’d be dancing on the moon and raising a toast with champagne in hand.”

As a result of the global pandemic The Nude Lunch reached a pinnacle sooner than imagined. While so many events across the globe came to a grinding halt, postponed or down scaled, the Nude Lunch did the opposite, thrusting it from a local spotlight into a national one.

“Despite the usual 800 seat event that had become Mackay’s signature social calendar highlight, the hive of excitement and activity was still present as we broadcast across the nation. We reached over 5000 people and raised almost $100,000 by those who had all styled their own parties to be a part of this incredible community of Nude Lunchers.

“However, it is with great sadness the Nude Lunch has decided to end its magnificent journey. The growth of the Nude Lunch required the dedication of a full-time team to ensure its sustainability and in consultation with the committee it was decided that this was just no longer possible.”

The committee thanked the community support the Nude Lunch had received over the past five years.

“To our incredible sponsors, the words thank you don’t seem enough. Not only has your financial investment contributed to making a difference, but your belief in our cause has changed lives.”

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Survey Checks On COVID Impacts In Community

July 22, 2021

A year ago, many of us were worried about our financial situation and future employment in the wake of COVID-19. 18 months on, the continuing impact the pandemic has on travel has now become our top concern.

And although most residents are faring okay financially, the impact on mental health and wellbeing remains a worry.

Concerns about vaccine development 12 months ago have also shifted towards concerns about the rollout of vaccines.

These are some of the main findings of a COVID-19 Community Pulse Survey conducted recently by IRIS Research on behalf of Mackay Regional Council.

This survey compared results with one undertaken by IRIS Research back in May 2020 about five months into the pandemic.

Mayor Greg Williamson, who is chair of the Local Disaster Management Group (LDMG), said council decided it should check back in with residents 12 months on from that original survey.

“That first survey provided benchmark results and this follow-up survey has checked in on how residents are feeling now and what the main areas of concern are,” Mayor Williamson said.

“Although concerns about the financial impact of COVID-19, including the impact on employment, have eased since May last year, there are still concerns about mental health and wellbeing,” he said.

“That is understandable when residents who responded to the survey rated the impact on travel and being away from family or friends as the top two concerns.”

Mayor Williamson said the recent survey showed Mackay was getting back to normal.

He said only six per cent of respondents felt at risk of losing their job, compared to 19 per cent in 2020.

“However, 17 per cent had still experienced reduced hours or income, compared to 27 per cent at the same time last year.”

Mayor Williamson said 74 per cent indicated they were not impacted financially by the pandemic, compared to 68 per cent in 2020.

“Only 17 per cent feel at risk of their financial situation worsening, down from 29 per cent last year.”

Just over 71 per cent are accessing the GP normally, up from 59 per cent last year; 13 per cent are schooling from home, down from 32 per cent; and 18 per cent are working from home, down from 27 per cent.

Deputy Mayor Karen May, who is chair of the LDMG’s Human and Social Recovery Sub Group, said the outlook for Mackay region events was also on the improve.

“In the survey, 70 per cent said they would attend a small event in the next three months, compared to 36 per cent 12 months ago,’’ she said.

“And 50 per cent would attend a medium event, up from 12 per cent, with 32 per cent saying they would attend a large event, which was up from eight per cent.”

The full survey results can be viewed at

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Transport Strategy A Key In Tackling Northern Beaches Traffic Woes

July 22, 2021

The daily gridlocked traffic grind entering and exiting Mackay’s Northern Beaches is one of the key priorities of a comprehensive new transport strategy for the Mackay region.

As one of the fastest growing localities in the Mackay region, ensuring the transport network can support the growing Northern Beaches community will be critical.

Figures released earlier this year from the Mackay Regional Council estimate the population in the Northern Beaches surging more than 50 per cent over the next decade.

Just looking at the hundreds of houses currently under construction throughout subdivisions like Plantation Palms, Royal Sands, Explorers Estate and Avalon could suggest this figure may be reached much sooner.

Member for Whitsundays Amanda Camm said earlier this year that more roadways to the booming growth area were a must.

“We already have serious bottlenecks and the problem is only going to get worse,” Ms Camm said.

Mayor Greg Williamson said an action of the strategy was for council to prepare a local area transport plan for the Northern Beaches to support current and planned growth.

“Council has committed funds to start this project this financial year and has started early discussions with Transport and Main Roads (TMR),’’ Mayor Williamson said.

“This is important as TMR has to do its own planning in relation to helping ease congestion on Mackay-Bucasia Road to and from the Northern Beaches,’’ he said.

Unfortunately for Northern Beaches residents, it was revealed that there will be no congestion relief any time soon.

Mayor Williamson added that TMR concluded that the Mackay Bucasia Road was not an immediate priority because the peak hour traffic only occurred twice daily.

“We are hopeful that state government funds of $150,000 will help to duplicate the Mackay Bucasia Road within the next five years. We will have good interaction with TMR over the next 12 months to understand what that timeframe may be,” he said.

“Council wants to work with the State Government to ensure that together our plans and investment will support the community and ease congestion.”

The Mackay Region Integrated Transport Strategy 2021-2036 was adopted by an ordinary meeting of council last week.

The Northern Beaches local area transport plan is one of about 27 actions identified in the document, with each to be worked towards over time.

“It is about ensuring we, as a council, are managing, planning and investing in the transport network so that it meets the broader council and community objectives,’’ Mayor Williamson said.

“By doing this we will support the economy and leave a positive legacy for the future.”

The full document can be viewed at

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Help Rusty Recover (Good Deed Feed)

July 22, 2021

Locals at PETSTOCK Mackay had the pleasure of meeting the resilient and ever brave Rusty and his owner Rochelle last week, and it was an incredibly special occasion as Rusty is an incredibly special pup.

Rochelle found Rusty splayed across the rocks at the bottom of a local cliff, where he had been thrown from in a horrible act of animal cruelty.

With Rochelle’s help, Rusty has been nursed back to health, but with the injuries Rusty sustained he needs a $5,000 surgery to continue him on that healing path, otherwise he will likely need the leg amputated.

Rusty received not only a care package from PETStock Mackay, full of goodies with a bed and extra stuff from suppliers, but also a promise.

They ran a fundraising raffle for him until Sunday last week to help pay for his surgery.

“It was really, really good, we had heaps of support from the community who came out to buy all of the raffle tickets,” Joe from PETStock South Mackay said.

“We haven’t counted the money yet, so I’m not sure of the exact amount but it’s going to be so helpful.

“We just really wanted to help out and make things positive on Rusty’s journey.”

Hopefully the funds have gotten Rusty and Rochelle over the line.

You can call Northern Beaches Vet Hospital directly to help pay for his bills as they have set up an account, or you can donate to the gofundme page set up here: where $1,575 has been raised at the time of writing.

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The Future Is Now

July 22, 2021

Building your business and futureproofing it to deal with transformations through technology. This is part of an exciting series of events this September from the Resources Centre of Excellence in conjunction with the Greater Whitsunday Alliance (GW3).

It’s about becoming part of the greater region’s transformative future by being part of a conversation with a consequence. Attendees at the first ever LeadIN Transformation is Now event series can look forward to an esteemed panel of engaging, industry leaders, providing an in-depth understanding of strategic priorities, key innovations and emerging technologies driving change.

Resources Centre of Excellence (RCOE) General Manager Steven Boxall said they were proud to deliver an event series to provide futuristic thinking to drive innovation across the region.

“The theme of the events is around transformation,” Mr Boxall said.

“Transformation is now, showcasing how proof of technology and innovation is creating new jobs. How data can drive a competitive advantage and how harnessing the right opportunities can make our region stand out, not just fit in.

“We’ve been able to attract a significant range of keynote speakers to the region to deliver events in Moranbah, Bowen and Mackay. In addition to the speakers, we have a range of successful business mentors with actual cases from within our region, across the state and across Australia showcasing significant success using data and technology.”

One of the keynote speakers is Anders Sörman-Nilsson (Global EMBA / LLB) who is a futurist and the founder of the think tank and trend analysis firm Thinque, which provides data-based research, foresight and thought leadership assets for global brands across four continents.

He is an awarded keynote speaker who helps leaders decode trends, decipher what’s next and turn provocative questions into proactive answers.

He recorded a message for the attendees of the LeadIN Transformation is Now launch, saying he is looking forward to showing attendees how humans can change their businesses to be doing less of the menial and mundane to concentrate on more of the meaningful and humane.

“Sustainable innovation is possible, where it is possible to raise the three ‘p’s’, people, planet and profit at the same time,” Mr Sörman-Nilsson said.

Other keynote speakers include Neil Glentworth and Professor Garnaut.

Neil Glentworth is the founder and chair of information and data management firm GWI. He is passionate about productivity at a macro level and is an active advocate of economic growth, and the creation of public and shareholder value.

Neil is known for his no-nonsense advice with a focus on practical ways to leverage data for social and economic benefit.

Professor Garnaut is a Professor of Economics at the University of Melbourne. He was previously a distinguished Professor of Economics at the Australian National University, the Director of the ANU Asia Pacific School of Economics and Management and was the longstanding Head of the Department of Economics. He is the author of numerous publications in scholarly journals on international economics, public finance and economic development, particularly in relation to East Asia and the Southwest Pacific.

Mayor Greg Williamson said the future was ours to own.

“That’s what this series of discussions will be about. To have three people of that calibre come to our town and deliver a futureproofing exercise is absolutely outstanding,” Mayor Williamson said.

“We as a community have to ensure our future together. Transformation isn’t another buzz word, it’s something we need to jump on board with.

“There is a very exciting future for us all.”

Attendees will be provided with the latest opportunities and insights to help personal and business growth. Through meaningful, region-specific presentations and real-world case studies across three themes, business leaders will leave inspired and empowered for growth in the region.

LeadIN Transformation is Now - EVENT SCHEDULE

Monday, 6 September > Whitsunday Bowen PCYC

Wednesday, 8 September > Isaac Moranbah Community Centre

Thursday, 9 September > Mackay Resources Centre of Excellence (RCOE)

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Australia’s Rock Poet Moved The MECC

July 22, 2021

In front of a sellout crowd, Paul Kelly demonstrated to his eager fans at Mackay’s MECC why he’s known as Australia’s rock poet.

Born on the floor of a Morris Minor outside an Adelaide hospital, Kelly has lived in the capital cities of five Australian states and one territory, taking pieces of each place with him in the words he weaves for his melodies.

With a catalogue of nearly 400 songs, Kelly has managed to chronicle a country’s travesties and triumphs within a variety of versus; from his rich appreciation of Aboriginal culture to the everyday things he sees in life; including little things and dumb things.

“I lost my shirt, I pawned my rings. I've done all the dumb things.”

This song above all garnered the greatest response, but the masterful singer-songwriter had the crowed entranced from start to finish. His songs spanning decades have captured the hearts of generations of country-folk-rock lovers nationwide. From his first solo album Post through to Please Leave Your Light On released in 2020, there’s no disputing his melodical talent, whether bursting out a powerful note or simply reciting poetry under the spotlight.

Throughout the decades Kelly has been referred to as a musical magpie, gathering up pieces of inspiration where he can find them. While on stage in Mackay, he gave a glimpse into his genius, talking about where the inspiration for Firewood and Candles came from (although he divulged that the real-life scenario didn’t have a happy ending) and exclaimed that yes, he does put tomato sauce in his gravy!

How to make Gravy is now known as one of the best Australian Christmas songs in history.

He was backed by his brilliant band which included his nephew Dan, a singer-songwriter in his own right who has been performing with his famous Uncle since 2002. And there was no missing the vivacious Vika and Linda Bull, whose distinctive voices and dazzling energy have seen them grace stages and studios for nearly 40 years.

Firing up the audience prior to Kelly’s arrival was Fanny Lumsden, who stunned the crowd with her spectacular vocal range. When a call came out from the audience of ‘My son thinks you’re hot,” she smiled and smoothed her floaty floral dress across her stomach to reveal a baby bump and replied, “Tell him I’m taken!” Which drew applause and laughter from the crowd.

Like a fine wine, Kelly demonstrated that things with class only get better with age. No doubt his next appearance in Mackay will also be sold out if this concert was anything to go by.

Review by Amanda Wright.

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July 22, 2021

Increasing Understanding Of Waterway Health

Image: The launch of the Healthy Rivers to Reef 2020 Report Card at the Mackay Harbour last week revealed the latest waterway health scores for the Mackay Isaac Whitsunday region. Photo: Reef Catchments

It’s a horrifying thought that an estimated 8 billion kilograms of plastic leaks into the marine environment from land-based sources every year, roughly equivalent to dumping a garbage truck full of plastic into the ocean every minute.

This is only one of the challenges facing marine scientists and community organisations who are working toward ensuring the health of the region’s waterways remain intact to preserve both the prosperity, lifestyle and natural environment that we depend on to work and play.

The latest waterway health scores for the Mackay, Whitsunday and Isaac Region were released last week at the official launch of the Healthy Rivers to Reef 2020 Report Card at the Mackay Harbour.

The Report Card, now in its 7th year, shows overall scores across our region, ranging from A (very good) to D (poor) for freshwater, estuarine, and marine areas.

Waterway Report Card Shows Consistency In Catchment Health

Attendees enjoyed the official launch of the Healthy Rivers to Reef 2020 Report Card at the Mackay Harbour. Photos: Reef Catchments

The annual Healthy Rivers to Reef report card details the environmental, economic, social and cultural health of the region's waterways, including the adjacent Great Barrier Reef.

It also raises awareness of the 2050 water quality improvement plan and helps regional communities to understand its waterways progress towards catchment management targets.

Federal Environment Minister Susan Lee congratulated the Mackay-Whitsunday-Isaac Healthy Rivers to Reef Partnership via a video message for the launch of the 2020 Report Card for its efforts in protecting the Great Barrier Reef.

“Your fantastic local actions are helping to improve the water quality of the Reef,” Minister Lee said.  

“Citizen scientists and all of you involved in this project are helping to protect its delicate ecosystem and helping to improve local environments in the process,” she said.

“Measuring the health of our waterways helps us understand the condition of our regional catchments and their impact on the health of the Reef. That's why regional report cards are so important.

“They also demonstrate the value of your effort to inform future decision-making and inspire projects.”

At the launch, it was revealed that overall waterway health scores have remained relatively consistent, with 14 of the 18 zones receiving the same grade as the 2019 Report Card.

The latest Report Card includes more citizen science data than ever before.

For the first time, the Report Card gives grades to litter, and includes Reef Check Australia coral cover data and a new Seagrass Watch site in Bowen.

“Community involvement in scientific research is expanding our understanding of waterway health in the region. Because of the contributions of our local communities, the 2020 Report Card is the most comprehensive Report Card yet,” says Dr Bonny Stutsel, Executive Officer (Healthy Rivers to Reef Partnership).

Litter was reported on using data from the Australian Marine Debris Initiative Database.

A network of volunteers and partner organisations contribute information on litter collected during urban, coastal and underwater clean-up events to the database. Litter grades were given to 33 inshore and urban sites across the Mackay, Whitsunday, and Isaac regions.

Most sites were graded ‘A’ or ‘B’.

“Pioneer Bay in Airlie Beach was the poorest scoring site, meaning that litter is putting significant pressure on the environment in this area,” said Dr Elly Pratt, Technical Officer (Healthy Rivers to Reef Partnership).

Seagrass scores also improved in all three monitored inshore marine zones, showing recovery after impacts from Tropical Cyclone Debbie in 2017.

“Reduced freshwater output from local rivers in 2019-20 positively impacted seagrass meadows across the region. This is great news! Seagrass is an important food source for dugong and turtles and is a critical nursery habitat for many fish species,” Dr Pratt said.

Coral scores were ‘poor’ for all inshore marine zones in the region.

“Reefs across the region were affected by a major marine heatwave in early 2020 and are still showing impacts from Tropical Cyclone Debbie in 2017,” Dr Pratt said.

The Report Card is produced annually by the Mackay-Whitsunday-Isaac Healthy Rivers to Reef Partnership. The Partnership is a collaboration between community, Traditional Owners, farmers and fishers, industry, science, tourism and government.

“This is the seventh year that we are telling the story of our waterways through report cards. Every year we are filling data gaps and improving our understanding of the region’s waterway and ecosystem health,” said Julie Boyd, Chair (Healthy Rivers to Reef Partnership).

Mackay photographer, Rebecca Hammer was announced as the winner of the Partnerships photography competition, with her photo of Dumbleton Weir featuring on the cover.

Launched in October 2014, the Mackay-Whitsunday-Isaac Healthy Rivers to Reef Partnership has come together with a shared vision for healthy rivers and Reef contributing to a prosperous and iconic region where people visit, live, work and play. The Partnership is a collaboration between community, Traditional Owners, farmers and fishers, industry, science, tourism and government who recognise that more can be achieved by working together.

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Vale Councillor Lyn Jones

July 15, 2021

Image: Councillor Lyn Jones was farewelled in Clermont this week after a battle with terminal cancer.

The Clermont community was in mourning this past week with the sudden death of Lyn Jones, who lost her battle with terminal cancer on Sunday, 4 July 2021.

A woman who dedicated much of her time to community, Mrs Jones was a Councillor with the Isaac Regional Council, who were deeply saddened by the loss of one of their colleagues.

"Lyn was a passionate and respected member of our council team, and her commitment to the Clermont community was unwavering during her terms,” Isaac Region Mayor Anne Baker said.

Mayor Baker described her passing as a great loss for her family, friends, and the Clermont community.

"Councillor Jones called it how she saw it. Her authenticity, selflessness and compassion endeared her to many.

“Lyn was not afraid to make tough decisions in the best interest of the community.

“Words will never do justice to the fierce woman Lyn was. She had the heart of a lion and stood tall in the face of adversity.

“I am devastated at the loss of our close friend and confidant. Her infectious laugh and humour will be missed."  Mayor Baker said.

“On behalf of myself, my fellow councillors, council staff and the Isaac Region, I extend our deepest sympathy to Straw, Sara, her grandchildren, Axel, Kris, Charlie, Robbie and their extended families.”

Her funeral was held on Monday 12 July and paid tribute to Lyn’s love of fast cars with a procession of V8’s and Straw Jones Transport trucks through town prior to the service. They drove past the lagoon, where she would walk her grandchild, Axel, most days before delivering her to her final resting place.

Vale Councillor Lyn Jones

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Digital Health A New Option To Relieve GP Pressure

July 15, 2021

Image: Rosemary Health doctors Dr. Ai Nhi Bui, Dr. Joseph Santos and Dr. Timothy Diep provide Australian-based medical services online.

Imagine a world where you didn’t need to make an appointment with your doctor to address non-urgent concerns?

That service is already here, with digital health platforms taking the pressure off GP’s when it comes to non-urgent medical appointments.

Rosemary Health launched last year and already Mackay is among the top ten regional centres to use the service.

Co-founder of Rosemary Health, Romain Bonjean says, “With Rosemary Health, we’ve created a solution that allows patients access to doctors and pharmacists on their own terms – anytime, anywhere.

“Not only is this great for patients to access timely care, but we’re also helping to take some of the pressure off local GPs.”

Digital health providers are helping to take the pressure off GP shortages in regional towns by providing patients access to online consults anywhere, any time. It’s ideal for people in remote areas, and also for those with busy lifestyles.

GP and co-founder of Rosemary Health, Dr Ai Nhi Bui says, “We know from industry insights that there is a strain on GP services in some regional towns across Australia.

“Often, when a town’s population is low, patients can expect to see increased wait times to access non-urgent medical care. We’ve heard of patients having to wait up to six weeks for these types of appointments. Digital health services provide patients with another go-to option.”

Statistics show that those living in outer regional, remote or very remote areas were more likely to report waiting longer than they felt acceptable for a GP appointment than those living in major cities (25.3% compared to 16.8%).

Rosemary Health has had over 4,200 patients connect online from regional towns since its launch last year, but Dr Nhi Bui stressed that the service isn’t designed to replace doctor visits.

“We know that visits to your GP are necessary and important for a number of reasons.

“We are, however, looking to simplify the process for patients who have either been assessed previously and need a rescript, or are looking for a convenient and private way to enquire about sensitive issues that don’t require a physical assessment,” says Dr Nhi Bui.

Through an online portal, patients can enquire with a qualified doctor about more than 20 different medical concerns and rescript services, ranging from diabetes, acne, sleep issues, heartburn, migraines, menopause, and hair loss. The patient’s treatment plan is sent back to them online and medications are delivered direct to their door.

No waiting rooms, no appointment times, just convenient service on the patient’s own terms.

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Classic Car Targeted By Thieves In Andergrove

July 15, 2021

Photo: The 1971 Falcon Fairmont which was stolen from an Andergrove shed last week.

An Andergrove resident was left feeling shocked and devastated when his prized 1971 Falcon Fairmont was stolen from his shed.

Bernie Huckerby said you can’t put a price on its sentimental value because it was the last car he ever wanted to restore. He had a passion for classic cars since he was a teenager and spent his life buying and restoring Fords.

Senior Constable Steve Smith said entry was gained into the garage attached to the home via a side door.

“Once inside, the unknown intruder opened the main roller door to the garage,” Senior Constable Smith said.

“A white 1971 Ford Fairmont sedan, with registration number S15066, was then stolen from the garage.”

The stolen car has ‘Mr Horse Power’ stickers on the front mud guard. It is described as ‘ultra’ white in colour with gold stripes on the drivers and passenger side of the vehicle.

Spotlights are fitted, as is a tow bar. It has new tyres with 12 slot chrome wheels and hub caps.

Mr Huckerby added that it’s possibly the only ‘ultra-white’ XY Falcon in Queensland and hopes the thieves don’t damage it.

“I would rather see it abandoned somewhere than smashed up or burnt,” Mr Huckerby said.

Anyone who may have information about the current location of the stolen car can call the non-emergency police number and quote this reference number: QP2101237363.

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Region’s Rescuers Thank Retirees For Lifesaving Donation

July 15, 2021

Image: (210708 Carlyle Gardens) Carlyle Gardens’ social club president Ray Steen presents RACQ CQ Rescue’s CEO Ian Rowan with a donation of $4319

Winner, winner from a chicken dinner! Residents of a Mackay retirement village recently made an ‘eggs-traordinary’ donation to local rescuers during their annual appeal.

RACQ CQ Rescue was grateful to be presented with a donation of $4319 from the residents of Carlyle Gardens at a function at the Mt Pleasant retirement village clubhouse earlier this month.

Village residents attended a fundraising dinner at a function back in June and sold raffle tickets to raise funds for the region’s rescue helicopter service. The subsequent donation towards the 2021 RACQ CQ Rescue Annual Appeal was presented to CEO Ian Rowan at an information evening held at Carlyle Gardens on Friday, 1 July.

Carlyle Gardens social club president Ray Steen said the dinner was well attended as residents were very keen to support the lifesaving service. Many were acutely aware of the work undertaken by the helicopter throughout the region.

“RACQ CQ Rescue does incredible work, day in and day out, and we often see it flying overhead. We are incredibly proud to play our part and support this community and a lifesaving service which we all hope to never have to use,” he said.

RACQ CQ Rescue CEO Ian Rowan said donations to the 2021 Annual Appeal, which runs from June to the end of July, helped deliver life-saving aeromedical and emergency helicopter rescue services to residents, workers, and visitors across Central Queensland.

“We are incredibly fortunate to receive such incredible support from the community and donations like this from the residents of Carlyle Gardens really help ensure we can have a world-class aeromedical helicopter service available anywhere, anytime throughout Central Queensland,” Mr Rowan said.

“RACQ CQ Rescue has to raise $5 million each year to keep flying and as a vital service in this region, it’s reassuring to know people see the value of donating and supporting our helicopter that is so vital in a time of crisis,” he said.

Mr Rowan said it cost more than $10.5 million annually to keep the world-class helicopter rescue service in the sky and a large proportion of this money came from community donations and sponsorship.

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Trio Qualify To Deliver Lifesaving Training

July 15, 2021

L to R: Tania Leeson, Barry Scoble and Gerri Kisser

Grapevine Group proudly announced three new safeTALK trainers to bolster their suicide prevention arsenal.

Tania Leeson, Gerri Kissner and Barry Scoble recently completed the course to qualify as certified safeTALK trainers.

Mrs Leeson, a Community Development Officer specialising in mental health for the Mackay Regional Council said safeTALK is a game changer.

“It’s an opportunity that council is excited to be involved with. “We want to see as many residents as possible know where to find local help and possess the skills to support colleagues and loved ones,” Mrs Leeson said.

Mrs Leeson will be able to provide training in community halls and libraries to the public and to council staff throughout the Mackay region.

For Gerri Kissner, suicide prevention is about reading the tell-tale signs.

“Knowing how to recognise signs that someone has thoughts of suicide and how to help, is something everyone in the community should learn. By attending a safeTALK workshop, people can help to lower the rate of suicide in their community.

“Everyone can contribute and by being a safeTALK trainer I can help spread the word,” Miss Kissner said.

And as a mining supervisor Barry Scoble believes the key to reducing stigma and the number of attempts from suicide is education.

“It is important for the mining industry to get the word out about suicide prevention especially with camp life having such an impact on men and women away from home.

“I’m part of my wife Sonya’s MAD Cow Coffee team and through the work she does with suicide awareness we’re giving back to the community as a legacy to our son who we lost to suicide.

“Thanks to this training, I am able to help get even more awareness out there after attending the course,” Mr Scoble said.

Debbie Knight Grapevine President was chuffed to add the three new safeTALK trainers to the fight against suicide.

“It’s important Grapevine keeps pace with demand and we're delighted to have three more trainers available to deliver group safeTALK training to organisations during the day.

“All of our trainers have undergone LivingWorks training and Grapevine is incredibly grateful for these volunteers who nominate to do this training. The support we have received towards this work is humbling—it’s testament to the strong community spirit in the Mackay, Isaac and Whitsunday regions,” Ms Knight said.

For local help or to sign up for safeTALK, download the Grapevine Group app or go to

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Financial Relief For Groups Doing It Tough

July 15, 2021

If you’re a not-for-profit in our region and have been impacted by COVID-19, Mackay Regional Council is extending a $250,000 lifeline.

Groups can apply for up to $2000 to help get back on track after hardships sustained because of the pandemic.

Mayor Greg Williamson said in council’s last budget, a $1.2 million special COVID-19 Recovery Assistance Grants program was widely taken up because of the impacts of the 2020 lockdown.

He said these $250,000 Hardship Grants were more targeted and focused on not-for-profits that clearly demonstrated a level of ongoing hardship, coupled with a demonstrated recovery strategy.  

“These grants are not designed as a stop-gap measure for groups but are instead aimed at allowing struggling not-for-profits to fund strategic initiatives that allow them to remain viable long into the future,” Mayor Williamson said.

“Funds can be used for activities like training volunteers to increase efficiencies, implementing new fundraising measures and even purchasing things like solar panels that help to reduce future running costs,” he said.

“Not-for-profits, whether community, creative, sporting, or environmental, are at the foundation of what makes Mackay such a great place to live.

“And right now, a lot of them need our help – their volunteer numbers are down, they’ve lost revenue from cancelled or downsized events and they’ve had to incur expenses to make their day-to-day operations ‘COVID safe’.”

Applications are open now at and close midnight Friday, 6 August.

Successful applicants will need to provide copies of treasurer’s reports for the last two financial years that demonstrate COVID-19’s impact.

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Lengthy Water Supply Interruption This Weekend For Marian

July 15, 2021

Marian residents and businesses should prepare for an 8-hour water interruption this weekend due to necessary maintenance by the Mackay Regional Council.

The interruption has been minimised as much as possible to the Pioneer Valley township with works taking place during the evening, from 10pm, Sunday, July 18 to 6am, Monday, July 19.  

The interruption is necessary due to works associated with the water reticulation system as part of Anzac Avenue’s water main replacement project.

Mackay Regional Council advised that the work is weather permitting and apologized for any inconvenience caused.

Residents should ensure they have adequate water supply during this interruption.

The water main replacement project is expected to be completed this month.

For more information on the project, visit

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Flanno 4 Charity

July 15, 2021

Australia’s most loved shirt, the iconic flannelette shirt. Better known as the flanno. If you don’t have one in your wardrobe, here’s the perfect chance to grab one.

These cold winter mornings lend the perfect excuse to invest in a piece of Australian culture, the highly fashionable flanno. But as well as a dip in the mercury, there’s another reason why you might see more people in flannel in Mackay.

Flanno 4 Charity is an initiative by local engineering company, TJU. They discovered an innovative way to give back to the Mackay community.

“We have designed flannos with the TJU logo and colours, ready to wear this winter season,” a representative from TJU Engineering said.

“We will be donating all proceeds raised to Chances Cafe, to help support the homeless community in Mackay that are reaching out for help.”

So not only will your flanno keep you warm, your contribution will go directly toward ensuring the homeless in Mackay are also kept warm and have a place to reach out to for a hot meal.

That’s got to make you feel warm and fuzzy from within.

TJU have made ordering easy, and we have made it even easier by sharing the graphic here in Mackay and Whitsunday Life.

Simply scan the QR code in the poster and make your donation of $30.

Then, text 0458 588 676 with your name, size of shirt, colour preference and address for TJU to send you your flanno. If you work at a Bowen Basin mine, include the name of the mine and TJU will send it to site.

Visit TJU Engineering Services on Facebook to view the colour options available and don’t forget to tell your friends, so you can all wear flanno together for a great cause.

“Thank you for helping us give back to the local Mackay community.”

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Check-In App Now Mandatory At More Places

July 15, 2021

If you’re leaving home, take your phone.

That’s the advice being handed down from the Queensland Government who have made it mandatory for more businesses to collect contact tracing information.

In addition to the hospitality sector, from last Friday (9 July 2021) the Check In Qld app was made compulsory for a number of new sectors, including shopping centres and supermarkets, beauty and personal care services and venues that attract large crowds.

From your hair salon to the gym, there’s a big list of places you will now need to scan a QR code to enter.


• venues that attract large crowds, such as stadiums, convention centres, theme parks, concert venues and cinemas.

• shopping centres and supermarkets.

• beauty and personal care service, such as hairdressing, beauty therapy and nail services.

• indoor events, such as cultural festival and expos.

• outdoor events, such as fun runs and fetes.

• leisure and recreation facilities, such as gyms, health clubs, indoor sports facilities and indoor pools.

• short-term residential facilities such as hotels, boarding houses and short-term holiday rentals.

• outdoor recreation, such as caravan parks, camping areas, zoos and aquariums.

• public-facing government services, such as customer service counters in government buildings, galleries, museums, libraries and community centres such as recreation halls.

• weddings, funerals and places of worship (only required if indoor).

• higher education institutions, such as universities, TAFEs and registered training organisations.

• adult entertainment venues.

• hospitals, residential aged care, disability service accommodation (applies to visitors, volunteers and contractors, not staff or patients/residents).

It would seem that now would be a good time to invest in a spare battery charger for your phone to keep in your gym bag or handbag.

If you haven’t downloaded the Check In Qld app yet, you can find it in an app store – Google Play for Android customers and the App Store for Apple devices.

If you do not have a phone, businesses will need to manually collect your information. Businesses can check in patrons who do not have a smartphone by using the ‘Check In Qld Business Profile Mode’ listed in the profile section of the app.

If a business refuses entry to patrons without a smartphone, the patron should enquire about use of the ‘Check In Qld Business Profile mode’ or speak with the manager of the establishment.

For more information, you can call 134 COVID (13 42 68).

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NAIDOC Week - Heal Country

July 15, 2021

National NAIDOC Week was held Australia Wide last Wednesday through Sunday, with the Mackay community paying their respects in observance of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture across the district with this year’s theme of ‘Heal Country’.

NAIDOC Week is a celebration of history, culture, and achievement, and ‘Heal Country’ focuses on seeking greater protections for Aboriginal and Torres Strait lands, waters, sacred sites and cultural heritage.

At Mackay Regional Council building, as well as at other locales across the region, these themes were respected and honoured with the NAIDOC Flag Raising Ceremony.

The Mackay First Nations community shared their songs, dance, stories, and culture with the Mackay community, as Mayor Greg Williamson raised the flag out the front of council building alongside First Nations representatives.

The 2021 Miller House Open Day and Sarina NAIDOC Celebration hosted its own flag raising, a welcome to country and ‘Heal Country’ showcase as well, with guitar, Torres Strait Islander Dancers and a barbecue lunch.

On July 9, Mackay was treated to a fantastic NAIDOC Street Parade as well, all in the name of ‘Heal Country’ followed by celebrations in Queens Park.

Storefronts were filled with Heal Country foyer displays which highlighted the importance of our own natural environment and its history.

More happened over the week, with Mackay Children and Family Centre hosting a 2021 NAIDOC Baby Show, and YIRS One Stop Youth Shop Inc. held their own NAIDOC Celebration as week, teaching cooking and creative art skills.

Caneland Central celebrated with Aunty Deb Clark (Yuibera descendant), Aunty Vikki Minniecon (Kabi Kabi woman) and Uncle Lyndon, with a traditional welcome to country, didgeridoo and dancing, and a special reading of The Very Hungry Caterpillar in Yuwi language across the whole week.

Local artist Jonte Tupaea opened for First Nations superstar and X Factor finalist Isaiah Firebrace at the MECC, and the celebration kept on going.

It was a weekend of sporting rounds too, with the NBL1 Mackay Meteors and Meteorettes heading to Brisbane to compete in the First Nations Round.

And, as well, Queensland and Australia’s own Indigenous tennis star Ash Barty won the Wimbledon Women’s Tennis Championships, capping off a fantastic weekend of NAIDOC Celebrations.

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July 15, 2021

Image: Shadow Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, Shadow Treasurer Dr Jim Chalmers, Dawson Labor candidate Shane Hamilton and Member for Mackay Julieanne Gilbert presented a united front against the trend of casualisation of the workforce at Komatsu in Paget last week. Photo: Amanda Wright

Federal Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese was in Mackay last week, tackling a range of issues from casualisation to COVID. He was joined by Shadow Treasurer Dr Jim Chalmers, Member for Mackay Julieanne Gilbert and Labor’s candidate for the seat of Dawson Shane Hamilton to spruik the party’s support of mining, saying the industry directly and indirectly supports one million Australians.

They met with tradies at Komatsu in Paget, a powerhouse provider of heavy equipment to Central Queensland mines, to reinforce the message of ‘same job same pay’ in the fight against casual contracts. Mr Albanese said his party unashamedly supports the mining industry and pledged that a Labor Government would create a cabinet position for the resources sector.

COVID, Casualisation And Cabinet

The three C’s were the main talking points for opposition leader Anthony Albanese when he spoke to tradies and members of the press at Komatsu in Paget last week, with the biggest revelation being that the Labor Government intends on creating a new cabinet position for the resources sector, should they win the federal election.

The Shadow Prime Minister spoke of the Government’s internal distractions taking focus away from real issues.

“The last time Parliament sat, instead of rolling out the vaccine, they concentrated on rolling the Deputy Prime Minister,” Mr Albanese said.

“Now as a result, we have the resources sector excluded from our national cabinet.

“Being here at Komatsu is an example of the flow on of jobs from the resources sector, a sector that is responsible directly and indirectly for employing a million Australians and providing $310 billion for our national economy, yet it's not in our cabinet.

“In a Labour Government, resources will be in cabinet, they will have a voice and Shane Hamilton will be a strong voice for this local economy and for the resources sector.”

Mr Albanese spoke highly of Labor’s candidate for Dawson, Shane Hamilton, saying there’s no better representation than a local whose worked in the mining industry.

“We want to make sure the people of Mackay have someone in Shane who will stand up for them in Canberra,” Mr Albanese said

“Someone who will stand up on interests like wages, like secure work, like making sure people have access to skills and opportunities.

“We're worried about the lack of secure work. There are too many people getting left behind. We want an Australia whereby everybody can get ahead with an economy that actually works for people not the other way around.

Mr Albanese said the seat of Dawson was important.

“We’ve held the seat in the past and there’s no reason we can’t hold it again,” Mr Albanese said.

“If we win Dawson, we change Government. It’s as simple as that.”

Mr Hamilton said as a boilermaker by trade, he understands the importance of a secure job.

“I want to make sure your workers’ rights aren't torn away by casualisation,” Mr Hamilton said.

“We need to make sure that people on every level are looked after in society, whether the issue is secure housing, or whether it's Medicare.”

Shadow Treasurer Dr Jim Chalmers spoke of the importance of regional areas in rebuilding the nation’s economy.

“If we want the national economy to recover strongly, regional Queensland needs to be a bigger part of the story,” Mr Chalmers said.

“Our playbook isn't about dividing the city from the bush, we want the entire Australian economy and society to succeed, and that means understanding what's happening in regional Queensland and places like Mackay.

“Our priority is making sure that as the economy recovers from the pandemic and last year's recession, that people actually get a slice of the action. We measure that in terms of good, secure, well-paid jobs.”

Mr Chalmers added that the current federal government have held office for eight years.

“Soon they will be asking for 12,” he said.

“In that time, we’ve had stagnant wages and job insecurity. We've seen casualisation with people getting paid different rates for the same work. That has to stop.

“We want a big national success story when it comes to the economy.”

Mr Chalmers was scathing of the current government when it came to how the COVID-19 situation has been handled.

“These lockdowns wouldn't be necessary if the government had done their job on vaccines and purpose-built quarantine facilities,” he said.

“There are large swathes of the Australian population locked down right now because of the failure to do those two important jobs. If only they were as quick to roll out the vaccine as they have been to rule out the request for support for workers and small businesses doing it tough.”

Mr Albanese added that he was pleased to see a business like Komatsu who supported the principle of ‘same job same pay’.

“It was great to meet the workers here, particularly the apprentices who are pursuing a career and pursuing their dream of a secure job.”

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Warm Up With School Holiday FUN this Winter

July 1, 2021

“Mum, Dad, I’m bored!”

Escape the constant complaining that comes with too much time on the couch and discover the plethora of activities available throughout the region these school holidays.

Artspace Mackay  

Drawing Still Life: Free holiday drop-in activities for all ages

June 26 – July 11 (closed Mondays)

Tuesday to Friday, 10am to 5pm

Saturday and Sunday, 10am to 3pm

Bluewater Lagoon

Open 7 days, from 9am – 5pm

River Street, Mackay

Greenmount Homestead

Homestead tours

Monday to Wednesday, 9am to 1pm

Last Sunday of each month, 9am to 1pm

Greenmount Road, Walkerston

Entry fees: adult $7, concession $5, student/child (5-18 years) $3

Meccano building on the verandah

Monday to Wednesday, 9am to 1pm, both weeks of school holidays

Greenmount Road, Walkerston

Games in the gardens

Monday to Wednesday, 9am to 1pm, both weeks of school holidays

Greenmount Road, Walkerston


Children school holiday activities

Ukulele for kids 8 – 12 years  

Wednesday, June 30, 2pm to 2.30pm, 2.45pm to 3.15pm, 3.30pm to 4pm at Gordon White Library

Thursday, July 1, 2pm to 2.30pm, 2.45pm to 3.15pm at Dudley Denny City Library  

Monday, July 5, 10am to 10.30am, 10.45am to 11.15am, 11.30am to noon at Walkerston Library

Bedtime Stories

Thursday, July 1, from 5pm to 6pm at Gordon White Library

Thursday, July 8, from 5pm to 6pm at Dudley Denny City Library    

Movie Matinees

The Croods – A New Age (PG)

Friday, July 2, from 2pm to 4pm at Gordon White Library

Dragon Rider (PG)

Friday, July 9, from 2pm to 4pm at Gordon White Library


Inspiring tomorrow’s innovators space 2101  

Friday, July 2, and Wednesday, July 7, from 9.30am to 12.30pm at Dudley Denny City Library

Berky the Brush Turkey meets #MackayRocks

Saturday, June 26, to Sunday, July 11

When you find a Berky Rock, we encourage you to bring it back to your local library to receive your own copy of Berky’s book “Birds Don’t Have Birthdays”.  

Strolling story in the Botanic Gardens

Saturday, June 26, from 11am until Saturday, August 28, starting near the Malta Garden

Young adults school holiday activities

WakeHOUSE Australia

Grom Squad

Every day of the school holidays for 6-12yr olds.

Mackay PCYC

Art and Craft Market & Expo

Friday July 2, 1:15pm – 4:15pm


Inspiring tomorrow’s innovators space 2101  

Monday, July 5, from 9.30am – 12.30pm at Dudley Denny City Library

Library After Dark

Friday, July 9, from 6pm – 8pm at Gordon White Library

Mackay ARC  

Monday to Friday, 5.30am to 7pm

Saturday, 6am to 6pm

Sunday, 8am to 6pm

193 Boundary Road, Ooralea


Isaiah Spirit

Saturday, July 10, 7.30pm

The MECC Plenary Halls

Mackay Regional Botanic Gardens  

Kids holiday craft workshops – Upside down hanging planters

Wednesday, July 7, 10am to 11.30am on the Tropical Sun Lawn

$5 per child, places are limited bookings essential

Tibbles hunt in the Tropical Shade Garden

Monday to Friday throughout the school holidays, from 9am to 5pm when the Gardens Visitor Information Centre is open.


Self-guided activities

Any day or time


Bocce with a buddy

Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm

Cost $5 for hire of bocce set ($50 cash only refundable deposit)

Butterfly Host Plant Trail

Tropical Shade Garden, Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm when Gardens Visitor Information is open.

Cost FREE.

Sarina Sugar Shed  

School holiday activities

Open seven days a week, 9am to 4pm

Tours run 9.30am, 11am, 12.30pm and 2pm

Entry prices range from $13 to $26.50, family and group booking rates are available

Field of Dreams Parklands, Railway Square, Sarina

Orchid House

Monday to Friday, 10am to 11am and 2pm to 3pm

Sunday, 10am to 2pm

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Close Call A Reminder To Look Up And Live

July 1, 2021

A close call resulting in a damaged power pole in the Burdekin earlier this month highlights the importance of planning work near powerlines and taking extra care during the crushing season.

An innovative new app released by Ergon Energy is designed to help reduce incidents and injuries at high-risk work sites, including Mackay and Whitsunday cane farms during the crushing season.    

After 146 incidents involving contact with overhead powerlines across the state in the last year, Ergon is encouraging machinery operators to plan and use the free app, which pinpoints the location of 1.7 million poles and 178,000 kilometres of overhead powerlines.

Community Safety Manager Aaron Smith says while people understand powerlines are dangerous, they don’t always take them into account during their risk assessments.  

“The Look Up and Live app is a simple, lifesaving tool that will help you determine which control measures are needed to protect you and your mates on site, from safety observers to physical barriers or requesting a planned power outage.

“Before you do anything, you should have a look at the hazards so you can determine your next step.

“Contacting a powerline can be deadly, cause serious injuries and damage machinery – we’ve seen pieces of plant and heavy vehicles burnt to the ground,” Aaron said.

Ergon is hoping to see more crews in the agriculture, construction, aviation and transport industries using the free app as part of their toolbox talks or worksite induction kits.

“There’s a reason our powerline mapping tool has won multiple awards for innovation - all the information you need to save lives is at your fingertips on your mobile device and we have used feedback from various industries to design an app that works for them.

“We’ve had some fantastic feedback from the aerial application industry that the Look Up and Live app is the best thing since the advent of GPS.

“It gives pilots another view before they do their own reconnaissance, particularly if it’s a farm they’re not familiar with, so they can have an informed discussion with the farmer about powerline safety,” Aaron said.

The app allows users to order powerline markers and request safety advice tailored to their site.

“Part of what we’re doing with the agricultural industry is encouraging farmers to take a step back and use the app to identify precisely where all the powerlines are on their properties, verify their heights and contact us for advice if they have any questions,” Aaron said.

“One incident or injury is one too many and we are working with high-risk industries to keep everyone safe around powerlines by careful planning.

“The Look Up and Live app is a powerful addition to the toolkit.”

“One incident or injury is one too many…”

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Export Products To Be Identified In New Agriculture Study

July 1, 2021

Key agricultural products for export from the Mackay Isaac Whitsunday region will be identified through research from Greater Whitsunday Alliance (GW3). The research will identify key export agricultural products and match those to complementary export markets.

Greater Whitsunday Alliance chief executive officer Ms Kylie Porter said the research will be conducted through project funding from the Cooperative Research Centre for Developing Northern Australia (CRCNA).

“This research is a key deliverable of the MIW Agribusiness Futures Alliance, which comprises of representatives from key agricultural industry groups, bodies and agencies,” Ms Porter said.

“Maximising our region’s agricultural export potential is an important focus for the future, and we need hard evidence and research to back future export activities.”

Ms Porter said GW3 is partnering with other key organisations to deliver this important work including North Queensland Bulk Ports, Regional Development Australia Greater Whitsunday; Mackay Airport, Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries and Bowen Gumlu Growers Association.

CRCNA CEO Anne Stunzner said the regional agricultural supply chain baseline project will build on our previous work with the GW3 which identified what the opportunities are for producers across the region.

“This second stage of work will build on this foundational work to strengthen the linkages between regionally grown high-value produce and markets and map the supply chain network required to do this effectively. Importantly, this work continues to inform a broader CRCNA-led collaborative supply chain project, where supply chain infrastructure is leveraged across northern Australia to optimise export opportunities for all.

Federal Member for Dawson George Christensen welcomed the investment into agricultural exports.

“Building on our capabilities in the ag space is a great step forward and I encourage farmers to engage in this process with GW3,” Mr Christensen said.

Ms Porter said the expected outcomes of this research will give GW3 the opportunity to provide data to the region’s growers for them to develop and improve their export capabilities and outcomes.

“This project will continue to support GW3’s advocacy work for future investment in our region’s export infrastructure and allow us to direct resources to support growers pursue diversified markets.”

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Get Your Island While It’s Hot

July 1, 2021

Most people settle for a Whitsunday escape, but others like prospective buyers of Victor Island, just a 20-minute boat ride from Hay Point, like to do things more extravagantly.

Victor Island is on sale through Cullen Royle in conjunction with Knight Frank Rockhampton, and it has only one house on it - with a six-minute helicopter ride from Mackay to reach the tropical paradise that is selling at a bargain price of $4.95 million.

It’s a secluded paradise, being totally private, but locals may remember that the island has been on-again-off-again on sale for many years, being such a specialty buy for anyone.

It’s one of only 20 islands, or parts of islands, currently for sale in the entirety of Australia, with the cheapest island, Worthington Island, going for $385 thousand and the priciest being the freehold portion of Dunk Island, a former resort that’s selling for about $20 million – making Victor Island a relative steal if you’re in the island buying market.

Owners Paul and Megan Sullivan have owned the island for about five years after a move back to Australia from Bali, buying it after being sold on the incredible privacy the one-house island offers.

The house, situated on an unspoiled highland with 360-degree panoramic views of the Coral Sea, is a recently renovated, four bedroom, fully licensed bed and breakfast that starts at rates of $1,550 a day, if you were looking for temporary rather than permanent relocation.

It has a desalination plant, a solar farm, a backup generator, and storage for up to 225 thousand litres of rainwater making it almost completely self-sufficient.

There’s a caretaker’s cottage and the island even has its own NBN and mobile service; it couldn’t possibly be more lavish.

It’s always good to remember that there’s always an opportunity for more paradise when you’re in paradise – but will someone snap up that opportunity this go around?

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A Sweet Boost To GW3 Board

July 1, 2021

With a focus on building resilience, Mr Jannik Olejas has been appointed as a director of the Greater Whitsunday Alliance (GW3) board. As Nordzucker Mackay Sugar’s CEO, Mr Olejas joins GW3 Chair Mr Tony Caruso and six other directors on the board to guide the strategic outcomes for the Mackay Isaac Whitsunday economic development organisation.

GW3 Chair Mr Tony Caruso said it was important that the GW3 board remains fresh and dynamic and offers a broad range of experience and regional representation.

“Jannik brings diversity to the GW3 board table with his strong ties to the agriculture and manufacturing sector.

“He has a wealth of experience both internationally and on a Mackay Isaac Whitsunday region level with his role with Nordzucker Mackay Sugar, which will strengthen the strategic work of GW3 into its next phase.

“Along with his commercial and analytical skill set, Jannik will be an asset to ensure the MIW region can continue to transform,” Mr Caruso said.

Mr Olejas was appointed the CEO of Mackay Sugar in April 2020, having previously held the role of General Manager from September 2019, following the completion of the subscription into Mackay Sugar by Nordzucker AG.

Along with working internationally with clients, suppliers and stakeholders across Europe, prior to moving to Australia, Mr Olejas held the senior management position with Nordzucker of Head of Agri Sourcing reporting directly to the CEO & CAO.

“I have worked extensively in the European Sugar industry and was part of the consolidation which has happened,” Mr Olejas said.

“I started in sales and marketing – both internal European as well as Export markets. Later I held responsibility for Agri Sourcing, which was the commercial and contractual relationships to the beet growers who supply to the Nordzucker Group.”

Mr Olejas said one of his visions for the economic development of the Mackay Isaac Whitsunday region was to build resilience based on “core assets” being its agricultural capabilities and the skilled workforce associated with the METS sector.

“Building a region which can attract people and their families due to opportunity, for all adults and kids in terms of careers, education and lifestyle,” he said.

Mr Olejas said what he hoped to bring to the GW3 boardroom was a focus on visible progress and to make change happen.

“I want to work to add analytical and commercial skills to the table aiming at building a sustainable future,” he said.

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Fish Migration Improved By Breaking Down Barriers

July 1, 2021

Fish aren’t commonly thought of climbing ladders, but that’s exactly what is helping to boost numbers of our favourite fish, once disruptive barriers are removed.

A next-level fish barrier project being carried out by Reef Catchments and Catchment Solutions will now investigate fish barriers in off stream coastal wetlands and update the stream barriers prioritisation report throughout the region.

Reef Catchments coasts and biodiversity officer, Carlos Bueno said the new project is built upon the work following the 2015 Mackay Whitsunday Fish Barrier Prioritisation Report, which led to the development of a Top 40 fish barrier sites for attention.

Some of that 40 had been given treatments like the construction of clever fish ladders that benefit a wide range of some of our favourite fish species.

“Catchment Solutions has been contracted to update the report with a new investigation of off stream wetlands, which are hugely important habitats for fish species that need to migrate between different habitats to complete their life cycle,” Mr Bueno said.

Catchment Solutions Fisheries Ecologist Trent Power said they would be using the latest high resolution photographic imagery in identifying new sites, particularly along smaller streams that were critical nursery habitats.

“Many barriers to fish passage within the region occur on coastal wetlands which often have small-ordered streams flowing into them or are located off stream along the margins of estuarine systems,” Mr Power said.

“Barriers on these critical nursery habitats were often ranked low, as the current prioritisation was biased towards large stream orders. Barriers on wetlands which contained no defined stream network were missed completely.”

The project benefits the environment, but there are also economic and community benefits.

The Mackay-Whitsunday-Isaac region is full of keen fishers, including a growing tourism base as a destination for travelling anglers. However, many much-loved local species like barramundi, sea mullet, mangrove jack and tarpon can face challenges making their necessary journey between waterways and ocean to breed and grow.

Simply: Aussie fish aren’t great jumpers when it comes to instream obstacles. Unlike the waterfall-leaping salmon of North America, which migrate upstream as adults to breed, our fish spawn in the sea and it’s the juveniles which must make the upstream migrations.

Removing barriers to fish migration is critical for these fish to make it into the coastal stream and wetland nurseries.

The fishes’ challenges come in the form of physical barriers, like choking aquatic weeds, weirs, culverts or road causeways across streams and wetlands. The 2015 Mackay Whitsunday Fish Barrier Prioritisation Report identified a staggering 3974 potential barriers to diadromous fish species migration across Mackay-Whitsunday. Our region has 48 freshwater fish species, and half of those are diadromous: migrating between freshwater and marine habitats.

Sea mullet and barramundi are a popular target for recreational fishers (including angler tourists) and comprise the highest value catches of Queensland’s inshore net fishery. Both these species rely on good access to coastal freshwater nursery habitats to maintain sustainable populations.

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More Than A Statistic - How You Can Help The Census

July 1, 2021

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) is currently recruiting 20,000 Census Field Officers across the country to help deliver the 2021 census, 4000 of the positions are available in Queensland, 151 of which are available in the Mackay-Isaac region.

Although the census can often seem a boring topic, it’s important to understand the incredible amount of useful and intriguing information that census provides.

It helps local businesses, non-for-profits, government agencies and all sorts with planning and organising their entire year – as well as the next four years after this one, with census data being collected only once every five.

Knowing the number of people living in regional and remote areas informs where doctors are needed, and understanding local births and languages spoken at home links Australians to the community services they need.

“An area like regional Queensland is great, not only to live, but to see the change – you drive down to the next community or town, and you can see the difference – census describes that,” Andrew Henderson, Census Executive Director and National Spokesperson said.

“Too often we talk about big picture stuff – but people get up in the morning, take their kids to school, access a community, and those services extensively use census data to continue doing what they’re doing.”

The Field Officer position is integral, as they assist the ABS at a local level, by delivering Census instructions and forms and by visiting households that have not yet responded.

Field Officers are a crucial workforce that will help people throughout Australia to participate in what is an incredibly important part of our society.

The ABS will recruit locally to ensure Field Officers are familiar with the local area.

“We want to recruit motivated people who are keen to tell their community’s story through the successful collection of Census data. Previous experience isn't a requirement and training will be provided prior to commencing the job.

“We are also recruiting people who can speak a language other than English as part of the job,” Mr Henderson said.  

It takes approximately 15 minutes to apply at

These roles are among 38,000 temporary jobs created to successfully deliver the 2021 Census on 10 August.

“We want to recruit motivated people who are keen… Previous experience isn't a requirement…”

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Mackay Has A New Police Dog On Duty

July 1, 2021

Mackay’s Police District has been propped up with some extra bite as the force welcomes new colleagues Sergeant Jacob Bates and Police Dog (PD) Griffin.

Sergeant Bates has been a serving the QPS for 10 years, with the last four years being served in the Rockhampton Police Dog Squad Unit.

He was born and raised on the Sunshine Coast.

“I was always determined to join the dog squad, I was fascinated with their capabilities,” Sergeant Bates explained.

“There is no technology which can replace them, and I love the bond which develops between the dog and the handler.”

Sergeant Bates was asked to describe PD Griffin’s personality both at work and also at home.

“He is a five-and-a-half-year-old purebred German Shepherd,” he said.

“He was born in Victoria and raised in Rockhampton.

“Griffin is a very energetic dog. He is loyal and also extremely hard working.

“At work, I could not ask for a better partner and away from work I couldn’t ask for a better mate.

“On days off, PD Griffin likes to have a swim at the beach, or he will come hiking with me.

“I enjoy photography and he will often join me as I take to the walking trails with my camera.”

About three years ago, Sergeant Bates was deployed to perform relief duty in Mackay for approximately one month.

He enjoyed working within the district so much that he has actively been looking for an opportunity to return on a permanent basis.  Now he has his wish.

Sergeant Jacob Bates and PD Griffin will be teamed up with Senior Constable Matt Bastin and PD Hornet who have served the Mackay District for several years.

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Mackay Netball Pays It Forward

July 1, 2021

The Mackay Netball Association are paying it forward with a $1,000 donation to Ronald McDonald House Charities North Australia that is set to support the charity’s expansion in the Mackay region and help keep families close in their times of need.

Mackay Netball Association Secretary Jenny Moohin said the donation follows the organisation's $2,595 Queensland Country Good for Good Community Grant which enabled them to purchase their new ice machine, offering greater convenience and ongoing time and cost savings for the association.

“Mackay Netball Association held Silly Sock and Crazy Hair days to raise money for Ronald McDonald House Charities and quadrupled our target with a donation of $1,000,” said Mrs Moohin.

“The installation of the ice machine thanks to the Queensland Country Good for Good Community Grant has helped us keep our costs down dramatically, so it is great to have the opportunity to pay it forward to Ronald McDonald House Charities.”

Queensland Country Bank Area Manager Bill Paton said he was delighted that a local association was one of eight community groups to have the opportunity to give back to the bank’s chosen charity and help support the work they do to keep families close.

“An element of Queensland Country Good for Good Grants involves the concept of paying it forward, with grant recipients partnering with the bank to fundraise 10% of their grant value for Queensland Country’s charity partner, Ronald McDonald House Charities,” said Mr Paton.

Ronald McDonald House Charities North Australia acknowledged the ongoing support they have received from Queensland Country Bank and said the donation from the Mackay Netball Association will help the charity expand their reach and contribute to the development of their Mackay Family Room.

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Always Move Forward, Never Back

July 1, 2021

Over 20 years ago, Luke Mallie was here in Mackay painting his very first mural at the Fitzgerald State School and now he’s back in the place that gave him his start, building a legacy through artistic expression with his newest Aboriginal mural at Mackay Christian College’s junior campus.

He completed the mural last week, taking him just over a week and a half to finish the original artwork, which will become the first thing the young students will see each day as they come to school.

“It was such a good opportunity to come back; I wanted to make it special and as fun as possible,” Luke said.

The painting is an excellent medley of colour and composition, with an undertone of freedom, life, and adventure with the posing of the kangaroo and the emu.

It depicts an emu and kangaroo that stand on each side of Uluru painted in traditional ‘x-ray type’ stylings of ancient Aboriginal artworks.

“The emu and the kangaroo represent the Aboriginal people, because they can only move forward, never backward.”

The kids helped Luke to complete the mural, putting paint on their fingers and adding their mark to the display on the bottom lines.

Kids came and went after school hours as Luke spoke with our reporter and pointed out to their doting parents which finger-mark was theirs.

“This isn’t the first time [I’ve made a mural interactive]; It’s cool to see them interact and they had the grade sixes come and help them hold their hands on their spots.”

“One of the teachers missed the right spot, out of all the kids it was one of the teachers that went outside the lines!

“They get to enjoy this for years, to know it’s there as they move through the grades.”

Luke’s main inspirations came from his own rich traditional Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture, with his descent tying back to the Kuku Yalanji Nation of the Daintree area north of Cairns.

It’s an inspiring piece on its own, but Luke also was commissioned to paint the school’s new yarning circle, as well as some poles within the school grounds – it was also finished just a short time after the school flew two new flags: the NAIDOC flags of the Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal peoples.

“More schools should have some sort of artwork, it’s good to be getting recognised and appreciated; there are more and more teachers doing lessons on Aboriginal culture.”

Luke will be coming back to do even more work around Mackay and he’s so glad to be back in an accepting community.

“Everybody has made so many positive comments; I hope I can come back and do some more.”

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Indigenous Culture At The Fore For LitChat

July 1, 2021

Imagine the warming blaze of a fire as storytelling is shared to display how life’s entertainment doesn’t need to be in front of screen technology.

The much-anticipated LitChat 2021 returns to the Whitsunday Voices Youth Literature Festival on July 15 at 4pm, providing teachers, librarians, and parents with practical advice on inspiring inclusive reading practices.

LitChat presenter Gregg Dreise is an award-winning author, musician, storyteller, teacher and talented artist. Gregg is a descendent of the Kamilaroi and Euahlayi Nations and has a love of sharing his Indigenous culture and messages of self-image, friendship, and kindness with his audience.

Gregg said that he “understands the challenges teachers and parents face on a day-to-day basis to engage students in reading and writing activities.”

“I hope to reignite a love of learning through inclusive teaching and writing by using humour and music to connect with the audience,” Gregg said.

Whitsunday Voices Youth Literature Festival Manager Tracey Gurdler said this important Educators Forum would provide teachers and parents with the tools and confidence to provide an inclusive learning environment, providing insight into cultural protocols and language.

“Gregg takes his audience on a journey to ancient cultures and stories,” Mrs Gurdler said.

“His passion for culture, music and storytelling is guaranteed to engage attendees and activate fresh ideas to develop literacy skills and inclusive reading practices, both in the classroom and at home.”

Ticket sales close July 13 – visit to purchase tickets and download the full Festival guide.

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Building Business In The Pioneer Valley

July 1, 2021

A free small business mentoring program is available for businesses in the heart of Mackay’s growing tourism center, the Pioneer Valley. Business owners in Finch Hatton and Eungella are being encouraged to take advantage of the six-month program to help them grow alongside projected tourism growth.

Mayor Greg Williamson said the aim of the pilot program was to support and empower local businesses and tourism operators in optimising their business.

“Once up and running, the Pioneer Valley Mountain Bike Trails are expected to attract 30,000 new visitors to the region annually and bring in an additional $18 million for the local economy,” Mayor Williamson said.

“We want to do our part in making sure that businesses in the Pioneer Valley are in the best possible shape for the influx of visitors to our region,” he said.

The six-month program will provide business owners with a detailed business assessment, one-on-one mentoring sessions, practical workshop style webinars and much more.  

Mayor Williamson said council was subsidising the pilot program so that local business owners can access and gain invaluable mentoring at no additional cost to their business.

The program will be delivered in a virtual capacity and facilitated by independent mentors, business and tourism experts, Sparrowly Group.

Places are limited for the program, so be quick to register - visit Applications close Friday, July 2 at 9pm.

For more information contact council’s senior economic development officer Nele Hahne on 1300 MACKAY (622 529).

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‘Burbing’ Phenomenon Inspires Free Exercise Platform

July 1, 2021

We did things a little differently in 2020. COVID-19 certainly forced us to think outside of the square when it came to many facets of everyday life, from finding alternative solutions for toilet paper to substituting our gym routine with a workout close to home.

Local sports clubs even found alternative ways for their athletes to train, like Mackay Athletic Club’s ‘Backyard Olympics’ which went viral across athletic clubs nationwide.

This trend of exercising close to home was coined as ‘burbing’, when restrictions meant we couldn’t stray too far from home to exercise. We began to find parks and walking trails we didn’t know existed in our own backyard.

This phenomenon has inspired Mackay Regional Council’s latest free online resource, called ‘Know your Burb’. Mayor Greg Williamson said that rather than give up on staying fit, many people used restrictions as an excuse to explore and discover every available path, track, park, piece of exercise equipment or sporting facility in their home suburb, so Council created an app to make this discovery even easier.

“With the advent of apps that let you track your run, ride or walk, people were able to create visual records of themselves ‘conquering their suburbs’ and visiting every part of their ‘burb,” Mayor Williamson said.

“One of the big things that came out of this was just how many council assets people discovered in their own areas – parks they didn’t know existed, basketball half courts, exercise equipment, cricket nets, you name it!”

Inspired by this wave of home turf discovery, council went to work creating a website that detailed the locations of all their assets in an easy-to-navigate, searchable map format.  

The Mayor said was launched on Monday, June 28, in time for the school holidays.

“To help launch this tremendous new resource, we will have activations in regional parks where residents can come along, check out the app and grab some Know your Burb merch,” he said.

“You can also go into the draw to win an Ultimate Adventure Pack valued at $500 by heading to and telling us in about 30 words what you have recently discovered in your ‘burb.

“There are also weekly goodie bags you can win simply by using #knowyourburb on social media when your post about your latest outing.

There are 105 public playgrounds, 21 basketball half courts, 271,000m of shared pathways and a dozen parks with exercise equipment in our region, so there is plenty of scope for residents to explore somewhere new.

“And now, thanks to Know your Burb, finding all those public assets has never been easier.”

Residents are invited to drop by any of the following park activations to grab some free Know your Burb merchandise – including frisbees – learn all about this exciting new website and enjoy a sausage sizzle (Saturday only):

Nell Baker Park, Marian – Friday, July 2, 9am to 10.30am

Field of Dreams Park, Sarina – Tuesday, July 6, 9am to 10.30am

Northview Park, Glenella – Saturday, July 10, 9am to 10.30am

Know your Burb is an initiative of Mackay Regional Council and is supported by the Queensland Government and the North Queensland Sports Foundation.

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Coal Struck At Carmichael

July 1, 2021

Bravus has now struck coal and exposed the first coal seam at its Carmichael Project, almost two years after it received the final approvals to develop the giant mine and rail project.

The company now has its eyes on the larger goal of getting coal to market, which it expects to happen later this year.

Bravus Mining and Resources CEO David Boshoff said it was an exciting day for the 2600+ people on the project; a day that has been in the making for over a decade.

“Throughout the last two years of construction and during the many years when we fought to secure our approvals, our people have put their hearts and souls into this project – it is wonderful that we have now struck coal,” he said.

“We have faced many hurdles along the way, but thanks to the hard work and perseverance of our team, we have now reached the coal seams.”

India will be a foundation customer for the Carmichael mine and is the fourth largest global user of electricity as well as the source of the biggest growth in global energy demand.

Mr Boshoff said Bravus had already secured the market for the 10 million tonne per annum of coal produced at the Carmichael Mine.

“The coal will be sold at index pricing and we will not be engaging in transfer pricing practices, which means that all of our taxes and royalties will be paid here in Australia. India gets the energy they need, and Australia gets the jobs and economic benefits in the process,” he said.

Carmichael coal will contribute to Adani Group’s burgeoning energy portfolio that is designed to create a sustainable energy mix, incorporating, thermal power, solar power, wind power and gas.

Mr Boshoff said, the Adani Group had secured its position as the world’s largest solar company, following last month’s announcement that Adani Green Energy Ltd (AGEL) has acquired SB Energy Holdings Ltd, which will see AGEL achieve a total renewable energy capacity of 24.3GW.

“The 24.3 GW would be enough energy to power more than 8.5 million homes, or nearly all the households in Australia (*9.2 million) each year.

“Adani’s solar farm at Rugby Run in central Queensland is part of this portfolio, with a total capacity of 65 MW going into the regional Queensland grid, equivalent to powering about 27,500 homes each year.

“As a global company we are walking the talk when it comes to delivering a sustainable energy mix,” Mr Boshoff said.

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New Recruits Commended For Career In Community Safety

July 1, 2021

Image: First Year Constables graduating at Townsville Stadium. Image credit: MP Mark Ryan.

Thirteen new police recruits are headed for the Mackay and Whitsunday district after two intakes finished training recently across the state.

Five new officers graduated last week at the Townsville Stadium after completing their training at the North Queensland Police Academy and a further 8 are heading to the region after graduating from the Oxley Police Academy.

Member for Mackay, Julianne Gilbert has welcomed the imminent arrival of these police officers to the region and congratulated the new officers on their decision to pursue a career in community safety.

“I’m looking forward to seeing these new first year constables out and about in our community, keeping us safe,” Mrs Gilbert said.

“I wish them all the very best as they embark on their new career in policing”.

“These new first year constables will be at the forefront of policing in Mackay. They will play an important role in maintaining the safety of residents and visitors to our region.”

“These new officers will be warmly welcomed into our community. We certainly appreciate the efforts of our local policing in keeping the community safe.”

Ms Gilbert added that the State Government is committed to keeping all Queenslanders safe by boosting police resources.

“We are rolling out 2,025 extra police personnel over five years to boost community safety.

“This includes at least 150 extra police officers for the Central Policing Region.”

From the five recruits from the North Queensland Police Academy, three will be sent to the Mackay Station while the other two will be stationed at Proserpine.

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Budget At A Glance

July 1, 2021

It’s that time of year, as Mackay Regional Council have unanimously adopted their 2021-2022 budget, which will put council back into surplus with a healthy $298 million budget, with cash balance for council of $122 million forecasted for the end of financial year 2022.

At a glance the budget plans to spend $109.5 million on capital works for the year, 57.9 million of which is being spent on renewing existing assets, $27m planned for new works, and 24.6m in upgrades.

As well, the budget is investing a further $1 million in Mackay events, $700,000 in community grants and $15.9m in a reduction in loans.

$7.4 million of the budget is being reserved for signature projects like Mackay Waterfront, mountain biking and the Northern Beaches Community Hub.

Most importantly for the average Mackay resident, it includes a 1.5 per cent rate rise, and a 2 per cent increase in fees and charges.

“We can’t go on delivering services – like every household – prices go up; CPI in Queensland is 1.5% and we have committed as a council to be lower than the Consumer Price Index, which we are in this budget,” said Mayor Greg Williamson.

“We have been able to limit that increase this year.”

Budget Boosts For Community Groups

Council’s 2021-22 Budget first port of call was a promise to provide $700,000 in community grants to non-for-profit sporting and community groups, with that grant money also including COVID-19 hardship grants for any of these non-for-profits that are struggling or have struggled over the last two years due to the pandemic.

These hardship grants are the very same that were first offered in 2021 as part of the council’s COVID recovery response and council have doubled down on their availability, continuing the program into 2021-2022 as part of a new grants policy.

The COVID-19 Hardship Grant is up to a maximum of $2000 and is going to be made available to these local community and sporting groups impacted by the pandemic.

Deputy Mayor Karen May said that the application process would be simple, with approvals delegated to the CEO.

“Applicants would just need to show hardship caused by COVID-19 through the provision of treasurers’ reports for the last two financial years.”

This new policy was added during councils regular meeting, separating it from previous grants, allowing community groups to acquire this grant as well as others in quick succession.

For example, as part of this new policy, a Small Equipment Grant has been separated from regular Community Grants to be its own grant program.

“That grant is available for not-for-profits to seek funds to purchase items up to $1500, such as computers, office equipment and kitchen appliances,’’ she said.

Cr May said council’s Community Grants would again be offered in 2021-2022 in three categories, including Community Grant, Minor Infrastructure and Minor Assets.

She said the council always received many applications for its Community Grants each year as they provided invaluable financial assistance for not-for-profit sporting and community groups.

“It is wonderful that we can offer $700,000 in Community Grants as part of the new budget.”

Council has also allocated another $1 million for its Invest Mackay Events and Conference Attraction Program.

“This funding initiative has been extremely successful in recent years in attracting events and conferences of state, national and even international significance to our region,’’ Cr May said.

“That in turn provides an economic boost for our region, especially for the accommodation, food and tourism providers,” she said.

Council Back To Surplus

COUNCIL’S $298 million budget is forecast to return to surplus in 2021-2022 following uncertain and COVID-impacted deficits over the past two years, and Council’s 10-year financial forecast is tipping an ongoing surplus for every year of this long-term model.

As a part of that return to surplus, a 1.5 per cent increase in rates revenue across all categories for 2021-2022 was adopted during the budget meeting.

“This is lower than the Consumer Price Index (CPI), which for March was 1.7 per cent,’’ Mayor Greg Williamson said

“The average residential ratepayer in Mackay will pay about $2967 for the 12 months,’’ he said.

“That is up from about $2924, so is an extra $43 for the year, or about 84 cents a week.

“Council believes the modest 1.5 per cent rise will ensure long-term financial sustainability, with no deterioration in services levels.

“This rate rise will ensure Council remains financially stable and can continue to deliver vital infrastructure projects for the community, as well as maintaining the existing network of assets, like roads, water, sewerage, parks and gardens.

“The moderate increase is primarily needed to finance increasing costs associated with maintaining our existing and growing asset base.

“Due to the cost of sourcing contractors and materials for projects increasing because of competition for resources in the current market, a small increase in rates is needed.”

Mayor Williamson said it would be good to return to surplus in 2021-2022 and council was in a healthy financial position, with further surpluses forecast for ensuing years.

“This budget is presented in a period of continued uncertainty due to COVID-19 that will have an effect on our region and also a profound financial and social impact nationally and internationally,’’ he said.

“This is a financially responsible budget for our ratepayers that will also ensure we continue to deliver on liveability for our residents.”

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Are Those Aldi Rumours Finally True?

July 1, 2021

It’s a question that regularly rears its head on community Facebook noticeboards, ‘When will Mackay be getting an Aldi?’

Finally, it seems the German discount supermarket chain does have its sights set on Mackay, with Mayor Greg Williamson confirming that Aldi representatives have made enquiries on suitable locations for both a supermarket and a distribution centre.

At Council’s ordinary meeting last week, Mayor Williamson dropped Aldi’s name when reading a list of what Mackay ratepayers wanted to be funded from the 2021 – 2022 budget.

The mere mention of Aldi had reporters in a spin. For years, consumers have been asking for the supermarket chain to arrive in Mackay, but the answer had always been the same. “For the foreseeable future we have no plans to open a store in Mackay.”

However, Mayor Williamson confirmed that Aldi representatives have been making enquiries in the district within the past six months and released more information during a radio interview with Sam and Kaley from STAR 101.9FM.

“I can confirm a few months ago they did sit down with me and since then they did make contact with our Director of Economic Development and Planning,” Mayor Williamson said.

“They are keen to open in Mackay, Townsville and Cairns and will most likely do that all in one hit.

“To do that, they need a fairly large distribution centre. But supply chains are disrupted with border closures, COVID has disrupted the building industry as well as logistics.

“The short answer is yes, they are interested in Mackay, Townsville and Cairns, but have a few problems to get sorted first of all. We’re working as hard as we can so they understand we want them in our community,” Mayor Williamson added.

The supermarket chain specialises in providing a limited range of goods at prices said to be below that of traditional supermarkets. Aldi has been competing with Australian supermarkets, such as Woolworths and Coles, since it arrived in Sydney, Australia, in 2001. It now has more than 550 locations nationwide.

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Time To Put This Issue To Bed

July 1, 2021

Pyjama Angel Maree Pett and her team at Hillross Mackay are ready to raise funds and make a difference on Pyjama Day.

Photo credit: Belinda McMahon (@Stormybeachbelle).

This July 23 is National Pyjama Day, and The Pyjama Foundation are urging you to put on your nighties, slacks, pjs or ‘jamies’ to get out there and support the 48,000 children in care that struggle on a daily basis Australia wide.

Our local businesses like Hillross Mackay and Pyjama Angel Maree Pett are just some of the Mackay, pyjama-based vanguard that are taking a stand and raising funds for this valiant cause.

Wearing Pyjamas To Bridge The Gap For Foster Care Kids.

By Declan Durrant.

Maree Pett and the team at Hillross have worked magic for the last seven years, making a meaningful change for foster kids in Mackay and Australia wide through donations and raising awareness as a supporter of the Pyjama Foundation.

On July 23, Pyjama Day, they’ll be putting on their ‘jamies for the seventh year in a row.

“We're not scared to get outside in our pyjamas and it’s marvellous when people ask why we’re in them, it spreads awareness for this great cause,” Maree said.

“As for businesses, I say go for it and sign up– it’s raising money for a great charity, but it also helps with morale, and you have so much fun.

“We put on lunch for the staff and it’s the most comfortable day of the year!”

Funds raised from Pyjama Day go towards the Love of Learning Program, where volunteers called Pyjama Angels are matched with a child in care and spend time each week focusing on learning-based activities.

Maree is one such Pyjama Angel, and she has been mentoring in Mackay, lending a set of ears and a shoulder to lean on in tough times for kids who have a challenging upbringing.

“The foundation and being a pyjama angel are all about educational outcomes and bridging that gap because fostered children are on the back foot with that sort of thing.

“The percentage that leads to homelessness and other social issues, it’s a real crying shame and to see foster children get a job that they love, or a driver’s license and become a good adult; that’s so rewarding.

Maree said that becoming a pyjama angel was one of the most rewarding things she had done in her life.

“Really rewarding, a lot more than I thought even at the beginning; it’s just incredible and you realise how lucky you are and how lucky your kids are,” she said.

“For anyone thinking of doing it, I think the important thing is to commit to it; these kids have so many disruptions in their life that you don’t want to become another one.

“I just say, give it a go. It’s so easy to do it and you are rewarded so much that it outweighs any sort of inconvenience or apprehension you might have – just go for it.”

One third of adults from a foster care background are currently incarcerated in Australia. One third of children in foster care graduate from year 12.

The Pyjama Foundation has been working tirelessly for 17 years to change these devastating statistics.

All Mackay businesses and schools are invited to register for Pyjama Day, supporting little people with big dreams, while wearing their snuggest pyjamas and raising vital funds for these kids in need.

The Pyjama Foundation CEO and Founder Bronwyn Sheehan OAM said the fundraising day is vital to the sustainability and growth of the Foundation.

"Each year our day continues to expand its reach, and with every new passionate supporter we are able to change another life," she said.

"Last year, despite the impacts of COVID-19, we had our most successful day ever raising more than $350,000 for our 'Love of Learning' Program."

Mrs Sheehan said with more than 48,000 children in care across Australia, there is a tremendous amount of work to be done.

"Currently, we are only reaching 1,400 children across the country," she said.

All funds raised by National Pyjama Day go directly towards supporting the Foundation to recruit, screen and train committed volunteers to make an incredible difference in the lives of children in care.

All registrants receive a free host kit for their fundraising event which includes stickers, bunting, posters, balloons and much more to support a successful event.

For more information or to register for this year’s event, visit

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Record Crowd Romp To Wetlands Weekend

June 24, 2021

With the huge personality drawcards of Costa Georgiadis and Matt Golinski, crowds were set to flock to the St Lawrence Wetlands Weekend, but even organisers were over the moon at the record-setting numbers.

Nearly 1300 revellers had an absolutely crab-ulous foodie and nature adventure at the award-winning three-day event, which showcased an array of food, art, educational and uniquely sustainable trinkets.

Popular television personality Costa Georgiadis and Queensland’s food ambassador and professional chef Matt Golinski delighted the crowd during the three-day nature adventure celebrating St Lawrence’s exquisite food produce and the breath-taking backdrop which is listed in the Directory of Important Wetlands in Australia.

Isaac Regional Council Acting Mayor Kelly Vea Vea said the Wetlands Weekend had pulled a record crowd once again following the success in 2019 where 720 attended.

“St Lawrence’s population swelled to more than six times its usual size as visitors were drawn from across the central Queensland region,” Cr Vea Vea said.

“The nationally significant wetlands certainly did burst into life with an immersive experience of creativity and education.”

The festival highlights included the Welcome to Wetlands wine and cheese evening, the historic Clydesdale horse drawn rides and the sold-out Greater Whitsunday Food Network Farm to Plate Dining Experience which attracted 150 foodies from the Mackay, Isaac and Whitsunday regions.

The festival attracted 504 campers and 65 glampers with 78 stall holders.

Cr Vea Vea said the region's core promise is - feel the quiet satisfaction of discovering unspoilt nature on a road less travelled.

“This event is a testament to that promise and a snapshot for everything Isaac has to offer,” she said.

Nebo and Isaac Coast Councillor Viv Coleman said the biggest thank you must go to the St Lawrence community groups without whom this event could not happen.

“Thank you to the award-winning St Lawrence State School P&C, the St Lawrence Recreation Group, St Lawrence Public Sportsground Committee and the St Lawrence community in general for your priceless support,” she said.

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The Coming of The Light 150th anniversary

June 24, 2021

On the 1st July, as a community at Holy Trinity Anglican Church, Mackay, we have an opportunity to join with Torres Strait Islanders in commemorating when the London Missionary Society and Melanesian leaders landed on Erub (Darnley Island) in 1871 and introduced the Bible to the people of the Torres Straits.

The commemoration will begin with a re-enactment at 1pm in the church grounds and followed by an Ecumenical service in the church at 2pm.

In an article she wrote for Anglican Focus, 2021 Queensland Senior Australian of the Year Aunty Dr Rose Elu said that it is important for all Christians to understand that Jesus was present in the local people before the Bible came to the Torres Strait.

“Our spirituality lies in the sea, sky and land and since time immemorial our people have believed in a creator, but we did not know that the creator was the Christian God,” Aunty Dr Rose said.

“The Coming of the Light made that connection, but we had already received God before the arrival of the English missionaries, as God was already with us.”

This year is a significant celebration and unique opportunity to learn and experience the culture of the Torres Strait.

Revd. John McKim

Rector, Mackay Anglican Cluster

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Viking Battles, Comedy Days And Pop Culture Festivals

June 24, 2021

Check out the exciting art and event projects on the horizon

Odin, the God of War, will be shining down on Eungella in October when the clamour of Vikings doing battle in full armour will feature in an exciting new event.

The Eungella Ancient Arts and Crafts Fayre was awarded a $6808 Regional Arts Development Fund (RADF) grant.

RADF Committee chair Cr Fran Mann said the Eungella Ancient Arts and Crafts Fayre would be the first of its kind to be run in the Mackay region.

She said the fayre would feature weaving, spinning, bead making, natural dyeing, wood chopping, basket weaving, blacksmithing, equine drawing, a highland pipe band and dancing, indigenous dancing and didgeridoo playing.

“The fayre will feature about 20 stalls, 15 workshops and demonstrations, and a Mackay-based re-enactment troupe representing the Viking people from 9th to 13th century,” Cr Mann said.

“This troupe will give active fighting demonstrations in full armour, do rune castings, demonstrate making chainmail and display a camp set-up,” she said.

Beryl Turner, president of the fayre’s organising body, the Eungella Community Development Association (ECDA), said Eungella currently had a monthly market, but the Association envisaged an annual mega fair.

“We aim to promote Eungella as a hotspot for traditional, environmentally friendly and sustainable arts,” Ms Turner said.

A Secret Tale Of War Survival Will Be Told

Also receiving funding, to the value of $4323, was Thomas Dunbar Barry.

Mr Barry will use the funding to write and edit his life story which has all the trappings of a Hollywood movie.

He said the project would tell of how he left England as a teenager and fought in the 4th Royal Tank Regiment in World War II and then learnt Italian so he could serve behind enemy lines in Italy and aid the local resistance to hinder the advance of the Germans.

“I was captured by the Germans and when the war ended was found in a tiny hut in unspeakable conditions by Canadian soldiers,” Mr Barry said.

“I was hospitalised for six months, during which time I could do nothing for myself,” he said.

Following the war, Mr Barry struggled to fit back into society in England and ended up returning to Italy, where he was welcomed with open arms, before emigrating to Australia.

“One of the first jobs I got was as a model for Myers, as I thought this would help me to become known and find a lucrative career,” he said.

“Speaking Italian was my saviour, as I was employed to help new Italian migrants who were coming to Australia in droves. It was here I met my wife, Ann, who to this day is the only one I have been able to tell my whole story to.”

All up, as part of this funding round, 15 applications were approved to a total value of $66,678.

Projects funded included a Jason Chetcuti Covid Collection, comedy workshops, a children’s art camp at Greenmount and a pop culture event, Mack Pop Con.

Minister for the Arts Leeanne Enoch said the longstanding RADF program would help to boost Queensland’s plan for economic recovery, supporting artists and arts workers with employment opportunities through $4.2 million in funding for regional cultural projects.

“The Palaszczuk Government is investing $2.08 million in RADF for 2020-21 and an additional $2.13 million will be contributed by 59 councils across Queensland,” Minister Enoch said.

“Each year RADF showcases the extraordinary innovation of the arts and cultural sector in regional communities, delivers rich arts experiences and provides important professional opportunities for artists and arts workers,” she said.

Also receiving funding were:

• Leah McLean – $4850 for Big Calm (concept development), an underway photography project

• Jason Chetcuti – $8000 for a personalised Chetcuti collection in response to COVID-19

• The Valley Theatrical Players – $3450 for Sounds of the Valley - Reconnecting our Community, a “local music soirée presenting local artists from the area to perform”

• Mandy Brown – $7380 for Laughter IS the best medicine comedy workshops

• Brooke Andrews – $812 for professional development of advanced glass working techniques

• Mack Pop Con – $3100 to plan an accessible and inclusive pop culture event in 2022

• Greenmount Homestead Art Camp – $5314 for a program for children to connect to local history, science, and nature through fun and engaging art experiences

• Kynan Sanderson – $3600 for adapting visual arts designs into a clothing line

• Lyn Laver-Ahmat – $6130 for a body of 2D artwork that depicts Regional Queensland

• Mackay & District Pipe Band – $6647 to collect and record stories and experiences of past-and-present pipe band members that have contributed to Mackay's Scottish heritage

• Janet Ambrose – $4000 for Under the Mango Tree, a new work by way of portraits and stories focusing on the multi-cultural community of Mackay

• Sharon Ruhle – $850 to attend an Advanced Skills for Kiln Formed Glass workshop

• Midge Point Craft Group – $2910 for a three-month arts and craft workshop program

The Regional Arts Development Fund is a partnership between the Queensland Government and council to support local arts and culture in regional Queensland.

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New Training Course Is Helping Sugar Growers Make Profits

June 24, 2021

By Kevin Borg, Chairman, CANEGROWERS Mackay

The CANEGROWERS Mackay/TAFE Pricing Essentials Course for cane growers in the Mackay region held in May and June was well supported. The highest percentage of students were women from cane farms and in this the Mackay district led all other sugar regions in Queensland.

A sign of the sophistication of the Australian sugar industry, compared with others all over the world, is that cane growers in Australia are uniquely able to forward price their own sugar.

That means they have greater control over the price they are paid for their cane by being able to capture attractive sugar prices when these occur during world market rallies.

To know what price they need to lock in on the market, growers must of course understand their costs of production and therefore what return they need to cover those costs and give themselves a profit. They also need to understand what level of risk they are prepared to wear.

In some years growers who have forward-priced have made up to $2.50 per tonne of cane more than those who have not.

Cane growers are not only able to forward price on the futures market but also have a choice about which company they want to market their sugar with. They can choose from either their own milling company’s marketing service (i.e. Queensland Commodity Services or Wilmar) or Queensland Sugar Limited (QSL), a member-owned service organization and Australia’s largest sugar marketer. Or they can apportion their sugar between the two.

To assist growers to capitalise on the benefits of these choices, CANEGROWERS has developed an independent Marketing Information Service providing the latest news about price movements in the international sugar market and the reasons behind these movements (where these can be ascertained).  

To provide practical education on the topics of sugar pricing and marketing, CANEGROWERS has also teamed up with TAFE Queensland and the Rural Jobs and Skills Alliance to create a training course called Pricing Essentials for Cane Growers.

The aim of the course is to develop growers’ skills and understanding to make informed sugar pricing decisions.  Thorough knowledge of how the sugar market works combined with a grower’s understanding of their own farm’s cost of production creates opportunities to make much needed profits. The first part of the course is called ‘Manage finances for new business ventures’ which assists the grower to gain an understanding of the overall financial position of their cane farming business. This in turn helps them to determine the level of risk that is acceptable to their business. CANEGROWERS has developed a Cost of Production tool and an enhanced version is included in the course to enable participants to gain a better understanding of their business overall.

Two Pricing Essentials courses have been run to date in Mackay/Plane Creek with very positive feedback from growers on the contents and the ease of presentation. The simple, common sense approach to the topic by the presenters has allowed the participants to obtain a good level of understanding of what can be a very complex topic.

CANEGROWERS will continue to remain proactive in these areas of training and education to assist growers to improve their bottom lines.

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Teacher Runs To School For Charity

June 24, 2021

Caption: Brenda Windsor ran from Koumala to Sarina, fundraising for the charity, Bravehearts. Later this year she will run seven marathons in seven days in seven different states across Australia.

A teacher from Sarina State High School ran more than 30km to school last week, to raise awareness for a group of charity runs she will be completing this year.

Mrs Brenda Windsor is no stranger to running marathons. She was an ambassador for Sarina’s Cruisin’ The Coast fun run earlier this year, and now has her eyes set on a bigger challenge.

“I'm taking part in Bravehearts' 777 Marathon - 7 Marathons in 7 States in 7 Days - to raise funds for the prevention of child sexual assault and exploitation.”

The teacher ran from her home in Koumala to Sarina State High to raise awareness for the charity event and has already received great community support, having raised more than $4,000 of her $10,000 target so far.

To donate, visit

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Whitsunday Anglican Students Top State In Speech And Drama

June 24, 2021

Caption: Diane O’Connell (centre) with students Millicent Notley, Alveena Haider and Medha Dammalapati and family members at the Speech and Drama Barbara Sisley Award presentations.

Whitsunday Anglican speech and drama students were recognised last week as Barbara Sisley Award recipients.

The awards are presented to the students who have topped Queensland in AMEB Speech and Performance examinations and Trinity College London Speech and Drama examinations.

Teacher Mrs Diane O’Connell prepares the students for their examinations and assists them with private speech and drama lessons.


Millicent Notley Year 4 – Speech and Drama Grade 1

Alveena Haider Year 5 – Speech and Drama Grade 2

Medha Dammalapati Year 11 – Associate Trinity College London Communication Skills, Maibry Wragge Memorial Award (for most outstanding candidate in the highest level in Communications Skills syllabus)

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CASA’s Pantry Is Bare

June 24, 2021

When we give, we contribute to the kind of world we want to live in.

This is the message from Mackay’s Community Accommodation and Support Agency (CASA) who are often the first port of call for people doing it tough.

CASA aims to strengthen households in the Mackay area by providing tailored housing and support services to achieve independence, stability and self-reliance.

They provide food for those in need, but their pantry is running bare.

“We are reaching out to the generous local community for donations of non-perishable food,” a CASA spokesperson said.

Items can be dropped off at the CASA office on the corner of Gregory and Alfred Street between 0900-1230 & 1300-1500 daily until 30 June.

The reward? It’s in the giving.

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Lost Graves Immortalised On Memorial Wall

June 24, 2021

More than 100 lost graves at the St Lawrence cemetery have intrigued many locals over the years. People have pondered what the life stories were of those lost souls and others wondered who would remember them.

One St Lawrence woman made it her mission to find answers to these questions.

Judy Baldwin with the assistance of close friend Norm Hannan, spent more than five years researching the 101 unmarked graves in St Lawrence cemetery. The unmarked graves were difficult to identify on the ground surface, either because they were never marked, or the grave markers have decayed, been removed, or been destroyed.

With the help from Isaac Regional Council and the Queensland Government, these lost graves are now immortalised on a respectful memorial and is installed under a timber shade structure within the cemetery grounds.

Isaac Regional Council Acting Mayor Kelly Vea Vea said Judy worked tirelessly to restore and repair grave markers at the St Lawrence cemetery, and keep the community informed of important events and the history of the area.

“Without Judy's photos and stories, which she spends a lot of time researching, many of us would be unaware, or have forgotten, people and events making up the rich history of the St Lawrence area,” Cr Vea Vea said.

“The effort in the past few years, with the assistance of another resident, to design and make a headstone for a long-gone child, is beautifully remarkable and reverent.

“The intention of the memorial wall will face the easterly direction, ensuring those names immortalised will always face the morning sun.”

Division 8 Councillor Viv Coleman said this had been a passion project for Judy and the Isaac coastal community.

“Some lost graves date back to the 1860s where St Lawrence was known as Queensland’s most northerly port which served as an access route to mines in the Clermont and Peak Downs district,” Cr Coleman said.

“We’re very proud to see this respectfully honoured in a way that will forever be immortalised in our community.”

The total project cost is $88,452 with $74,894 provided by the 2020-21 COVID Works for Queensland. The St Lawrence Cemetery Shade and Memorial Wall project is a joint initiative of Isaac Regional Council and the Queensland Government. The memorial was unveiled on Saturday 12 June 2021 at St Lawrence cemetery.

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Scramble Crossing Completed In Time For Show

June 24, 2021

Photo: Intersection upgrade now complete at Milton and Alfred streets.

A first for the region got the tick of approval from pedestrians as large crowds were able to disperse from the Showgrounds with ease following the Mackay Show last week.

A scramble crossing was installed at the intersection of Milton and Alfred streets, which allows pedestrians to cross the intersection in any direction, at the same time.

The traffic lights at the intersection stop vehicles in all directions and have a 30-second crossing timer which allows large numbers of pedestrians to cross safely.

Pedestrians are advised that it is safe to continue crossing while the pedestrian light flashes red, up until it stops completely.

Those familiar with this City Centre intersection know how busy it becomes when events such as the Mackay Show and visiting entertainment troupes and circus are operating in the area.  

The crossing will help to improve pedestrian flow and safety at peak operating times for the businesses operating within the Showgrounds precinct as well as Saturday’s farmers’ markets.

This intersection project was funded by the Australian Government’s Roads to Recovery program.

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Raising Dollars And Dust

June 24, 2021

Field Mining Services Director Jason Holt will be rallying behind a great cause this August.

His 1978 HX premier V8 wagon will race across the Simpson Desert to take part in the Great Endeavour Rally. ‘Holty’ will be part of team 'Old Bulls the Contractors' in Car 778 during the epic 10-day adventure for charity.

Before the team buckle up, they need to raise $30,000 which will go towards the Endeavour Foundation, and also build up supplies to keep them on the road throughout the journey.

“We're looking for business partners and people to support this great cause. Any donation you can spare, even that loose change floating around under your own car seat, is greatly appreciated.”


You can donate online via the link below or give Holty a call on 07 4952 6557.

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25 Years Delivering The Best For Breasts

June 24, 2021

Captions: The first woman to be screened at the Mackay BreastScreen service in 1996 was Sue Mitchell (pictured centre) who joined Mackay Hospital and Health Service representatives for the 25-year celebration.

With higher definition x-ray and faster results, Mackay’s BreastScreen service has markedly changed during its 25 years of providing lifesaving checks for women.

Mackay HHS Chief Executive Lisa Davies Jones said the service had grown significantly since opening in 1996 and had helped more than 40,000 women be aware of their breast health.

“In BreastScreen’s first year of operation in Mackay they screened 1948 women and this year we are looking at doing around 8500 screens,” she said.

The examination helps detect breast cancer in its very early stages when treatment can be more effective.

In 2013 the service expanded beyond the Wellington Street clinic with the allocation of a permanent mobile screening bus visiting communities across the health service.

“This has allowed us to visit rural communities on a more regular basis to make breast screens more accessible to women outside of Mackay.”

Sue Mitchell was the first woman to have a breast screen in Mackay 25 years ago and she’s still lining up for her regular mammograms.

Sue happily admits to nagging friends and neighbours to have the free check.

“It might be a little uncomfortable but any anxieties you have will be put to rest once you come here,” she said.

“The process is quick, you are in and out in twenty minutes, and the results get sent to your GP.

“Once you have your first appointment it just becomes routine. You’ll get your reminder every two years and the booking process is easy.”

Appointments are available at BreastScreen Queensland Mackay Service, Wellington Street from Monday to Friday including early morning, late evening and some Saturdays.

All BreastScreen images are read by two independent specialist doctors, and women and their doctor receive a letter with the results. It’s convenient, it’s free and no GP referral is required.

To make an appointment phone 13 20 50 or visit

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Advice From VMR For Boaties To Check Their Fuel

June 24, 2021

VMR Mackay was at sea for 16 hours on Sunday 13 June, responding to four calls for help. While the volunteers are there to help boaties in distress, they said some of their recent callouts could have been avoided with sensible boat maintenance.

The day started at 8am with an EPIRB activation for a fishing vessel near Calder Island, which had run out of fuel during the night and was unable to anchor. While towing the vessel to Mackay a second vessel reported engine failure just North of St. Bees Island.

As soon as the first vessel was in the Mackay Marina, DBCT Rescue 6 was refuelled and the crew headed to St. Bees Island. During transit, two more calls came in for “fuel issues”. One from a vessel 5 miles East of Prudhoe Island, and the other a further 10 miles Southeast.

It was well after dark by the time the crew reached the third vessel, and the storms made for rougher seas. With fuel provided, the crew continued onto the fourth vessel, provided fuel, and headed for home. It was just after midnight by the time DBCT Rescue 6 was refuelled and safely back in the VMR Base.

“We welcome all boaters to join VMR and drop by our base on a Saturday morning. If they have questions on basic boating, fuel calculations, radio procedures, etc, we were all new to boating once and we’re here to help.”

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Mackay And Isaac Join Forces In Tourism Brand

June 24, 2021

First Place – 2021 Mackay Isaac Tourism #myisaac photography competition: Sorghum field in Dysart by Jim Ogilvie.

First Place – 2021 Mackay Isaac Tourism #mymackay photography competition: Mackay Harbour by Ben van Moolenbroek.

Second Place – 2021 Mackay Isaac Tourism #mymackay photography competition: Slade Point Water Tower by Colby and Jess.

From an outback sunset to pristine tropical islands, both the Mackay and Isaac regions have unique natural draw cards when it comes to unspoiled destination tourism.

While the two regions have always worked closely with one another to market their attractions to the drive market, the bond will be made official at the start of the new financial year, with Mackay Tourism now branded as Mackay Isaac Tourism.

As part of the partnership with Isaac Regional Council, Mackay Tourism’s Isaac Region Tourism Development Officer Liana Jones is based in Moranbah and continues to help tourism businesses in the Isaac Region develop and grow.

Mackay Tourism chair Councillor Justin Englert said this change aims to recognise the growth of the tourism industry in the Isaac Region.

“Over the past few years, Mackay Tourism, in partnership with the Isaac Regional Council, has worked closely with tourism operators in the Isaac Region to help their businesses. This change of name identifies the hard work both organisations have put in to cultivate unique tourism experiences in the region.” Cr Englert said.

Mackay Tourism CEO Tas Webber said this change of name helps strengthen the relationship with the Isaac Regional Council.

“We’ve been working in close collaboration with the Isaac Regional Council to help tourism businesses and operators in the region. This change of name aims to recognise the hard work both organisations have put in to develop tourism products in Moranbah,” Mr Webber said.

“We look forward to working with the Isaac Regional Council to ensure the tourism industry in the region keeps growing. “

This change of name was announced at the ‘Discover our Home’ coffee table book launch in Moranbah on 15 June, 2021.

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Robots Battle In Festival Of STEM

June 24, 2021

Mackay secondary school students were feeling the ‘need for speed’ at the MECC last week as part of the Festival of STEM - F1 in Schools Competition, RoboCup Competition and Drones Display.

F1 in Schools is an initiative of Re-Engineering Australia Foundation Ltd, and is an international STEM competition in which students design, build and race a miniature car which is capable of reaching eighty kilometres an hour in under one second.

The Robot World Cup Initiative (RoboCup) is an attempt to foster AI and intelligent robotics research by providing a standard problem where a wide range of technologies can be integrated and examined.

As well as super-fast wooden cars designed by students and robots playing soccer, there were Human Powered Vehicles (HPV’s) on display, robots attempting to make it through a ‘rescue’ obstacle track and dancing robots among other STEM inspired creations.

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State Budget Promises Infrastructure Boom

June 24, 2021

Infrastructure, jobs, roading, social housing and health were the main focuses for Mackay when the Queensland Budget was announced last week.

Member for Mackay Julieanne Gilbert said the budget was about putting people first and being economically sensible while the local economy remains strong during the COVID-19 recovery.

“A key focus is on infrastructure with $672 million for the Mackay region which will create 2,100 local jobs,” Ms Gilbert said.

“The election commitments announced last year are all being delivered, and I'll continue to be a strong advocate and deliver for Mackay,” Ms Gilbert added.

Member for Whitsunday Amanda Camm said it was disappointing to see the re-announcement of projects like the Mackay Ring Road and upgrades to the Bruce Highway that have already been committed by the Federal Government with the State’s co-contribution.

“The feasibility study for the Mackay-Bucasia Road upgrades is not due until 2023/24, despite the need for this to be bought forward immediately,” Ms Camm added.

A snapshot of what's in the 2021-22 budget for Mackay:

Roads: Mackay Port Access road new lanes, Walkerston Bypass, Peak Downs Highway Clermont to Nebo, and Bruce Highway Mackay to Proserpine upgrades.

Health: $514 million for Mackay Hospital and Health Services, delivery of the new Sarina Hospital and Mackay Community Mental Health - new clinical spaces and therapy rooms.

Schools: $26.8 million for education + major upgrades at dozens of local schools.

Housing: $18 million for new social housing homes.

Transport: $5.4 million for a new bus station at Canelands.

Tourism: Cockermouth Island day tours from Mackay Harbour to start this year.

Sport: Building the Harrup Park Great Barrier Reef arena to attract tourism.

Industry: New manufacturing hub in Mackay to boost local manufacturing.

Trades: Expansion of heavy automotive facilities at CQU for a more skilled workforce.

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Best Friends In Need (Good Deed Feed)

June 24, 2021

Volunteers from Mackay Animal Rescue Society (MARS) arrived at Eimeo Road State School to the greatest gift of all: an enormous and incredible amount of donated pet supplies, prepared by the State School’s prep students in support of their rescue programs.

The Rescue Society were astounded by the beautiful gift.

The prep school students had been collecting the food and supplies for some time, and were rewarded with a special opportunity, as they each got to hug kittens and puppies brought by the Society.

Mayor Greg Williamson and Member for Whitsunday Amanda Camm MP attended on the day and also enjoyed the opportunity to cuddle up with the adorable MARS mascots.

MARS reminded all attending that adopting a pet is one of the most rewarding experiences; giving a pet their forever-home makes all the difference in the world.

The need is great at the moment for foster carers too, as MARS are always looking for more help in temporary housing and caring for their loveable rescue pets.

SMS here 0447 186 277 or check out the rescue societies website to find out how you can help today.

Photos: MP Amanda Camm and Mayor Greg Williamson. Supplied: Amanda Camm (Facebook).

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Relief For Sufferers Of Chronic Pain

June 24, 2021

Sufferers of chronic pain finally breathed a sign of relief when a new community pain support initiative was launched in Mackay last week.

PainWISE is a support group backed by a team of experts to help people with pain self-manage their symptoms.

It’s a staggering fact that one in five people live with pain, ranging from chronic pain and pain from chronic disease to surgery that hasn’t gone well, disabilities from accidents and more.

Because pain is invisible, many sufferers feel that their pain is not being acknowledged by their doctor, colleagues or family members.

PainWISE managing director Joyce McSwan said the aim of this initiative over time is to provide structured programs, information, resources, strategies and ideas to help with pain management.

Ms McSwan started the first pain support group in Mackay many years ago. She was able to develop a successful business model on the Gold Coast because of the significant increase in funding, but her passion is to bring the resources and knowledge into rural areas, starting with Mackay.

“3.24 million Australians are living with chronic pain. It’s not slowing down, it’s rising,” Ms McSwan said.

“20 percent of GP presentations in Australia are relating to chronic pain. There is a big need in the community, and one which doesn’t revolve around addictive medications.”

PainWISE is designed to be both a support group for people living with pain, as well as provide classes and an online resource, to give alternative ways to manage pain other than medication.

“Unfortunately, when people with pain aren’t guided or given support, every day three people die and nearly 150 are hospitalized, because of opioids.”

Ms McSwan said people in rural or regional areas are more likely to suffer from chronic pain.

“This is simply because people in those areas are more likely to work in labour intensive jobs. In Mackay we have a lot of people in industries such as mining and agriculture.

“When you suffer pain you have a higher chance of other co-morbidities, such as anxiety and depression, because of the emotion linked with constant pain.

“We need more community support for healthcare teams. The doctors and physios need support. We also need services to be accessible and affordable.

“Self-management offers the support and the tools for people to use movement, breathing and other techniques to treat their pain with the goal of reducing or eliminating medication.”

Mackay’s PainWISE classes will start on 7 July and will run weekly on a Wednesday.

For more information, visit

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Small Change Makes A Big Difference For Mackay Family Fighting Cancer

June 24, 2021

Jess Abdullah with her son Alfie have to travel to Brisbane every six weeks for Alfie to receive treatment for a rare form of cancer. Picture: Supplied.

A national charity has made a big difference locally, with a Mackay family receiving financial support from a supermarket chain to make regular trips to Brisbane for cancer treatment.

Redkite has been described as a lifesaver for Mackay mother Jess Abdullah, whose son Alfie was diagnosed with Retinoblastoma – a rare cancer of the eye, just before his third birthday, and right before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

With Alfie’s treatment at Queensland Children’s Hospital in Brisbane, the family has had to travel back and forth every month since, which has taken its toll both financially and emotionally.

“It’s a struggle not being able to see a light at the end of the tunnel and when we think how long this is going to go on for. We are still travelling to QCH every six weeks and there’s no end date for that. It’s very hard to be stuck on the cycle of coming and going all the time and it’s exhausting for everyone,” she said.

“When your child first gets diagnosed, it’s such an overwhelming time. Redkite’s financial services have been great, just knowing that there was some extra support there when we needed it. Being able to access Coles vouchers, or being able to fill up our car without having to worry about it has been one less stress for us.

“Those vouchers go a long way in helping Alfie with little things like picking out his favourite snacks to pack in his hospital bag for those long days at the hospital doing treatment and having surgery,” she said.

Redkite’s General Manager Fundraising Tatiana Issacs said that in 2020, Redkite supported 2,400 families across the country, and 500 in QLD alone, providing essential support such as fuel and grocery vouchers and counselling for family members.

“Childhood cancer can be completely overwhelming, and it’s clear that more than ever families needed our support. We strongly encourage people to pay a visit to their local Coles Express during Redkite Week, round up their bill to the nearest dollar and play a part in helping these families,” she said.

Coles Express QLD State Manager Evan Politis said Coles Express was proud to be fundraising for such an important cause.

“Many of our Coles Express team members have children of their own and are passionate about supporting a charity that does so much for families whose lives have been devastated by cancer,” he said.

“It feels good to know that the next time you need to fill up, when you visit a Coles Express site and round up at the till, you’re supporting a family and their child facing cancer.”


This week is Redkite ‘round up’ week. Coles Express customers in Queensland can make a direct impact on families facing childhood cancer.

Customers can choose to round up any purchase to the nearest dollar to help leading children’s cancer support charity Redkite provide vital financial, emotional and mental health support for QLD families, who are often travelling far from home to receive treatment.

Get that shopping done this weekend – Redkite week ends Sunday 27 June.

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Sculpting Pretty Pieces Of Jewellery From Pollutants

June 17, 2021

MACKAY artist Margaret Burgess is using her art in the battle against what she sees as one of the world’s major environmental issues – plastic pollution.

She says nature and the battle against plastics are the key motivators for her creation of beautiful things.

She uses recycled plastics in jewellery and sculptures, which she sees as a great way to engage people in the conversation about one of the world’s major environmental issues.

Margaret has recently joined about 50 crafters who display their creations at the Sarina Arts and Crafts Centre, and she also has artwork and jewellery at the Artist Collective at Caneland and Artspace Mackay.

“Plastics and the environmental damage they are causing are a major concern to me,” she said.

“Nature and life itself have been a constant source of inspiration for me, and I am now working with a lot of recycled plastics in my jewellery and artwork.

“Using plastics in art encourages people to engage in this major environmental issue and to look at their own relationship with plastics.”

Margaret said she had been on a creative journey for as long as she could remember.

“As a teenager I used to do portraits of my friends, and I picked up a paint brush again when my children were small. My eldest is now 40.

“I create original artwork; sculptures, prints, and jewellery.”

After attending TAFE for many years, when she learnt various painting mediums, sculpture, and printmaking, she attended art classes with the late Clem Forbes.

“Clem was an interesting tutor. He taught you how to think creatively, took us right out of our comfort zones and inspired us to be unique.”

By Charlie Payne

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“FAUNA IN THE FLORA” Botanical Art Exhibition

June 17, 2021

Go out in a garden and before long you’ll see movement, colour, legs or wings amongst the green. Flowers are often visited by butterflies, birds, moths, and bats. Turn a leaf over and you may find yourself face to face with a big Zodiac Moth caterpillar, a tiny white spider or a dazzling Harlequin Bug.  


The artists of Mackay’s Botanical Art Interest Group present some of their plant and animal encounters in their 2021 botanical art exhibition “Fauna in the Flora”.    


For those who wish to know more about the individual paintings, descriptive labels written by each artist give useful, interesting, and sometimes quirky facts about the plant and animal subjects.  


Two showcases contain behind-the-scenes tools, references, and test paintings that the artists use to create their detailed, realistic works.  


In keeping with the “Fauna” theme of this exhibition, viewers can also enjoy an insect collection and colourful portraits of native bees by Maya Harrison, BAIG coordinator and insect enthusiast.  


BAIG was founded in 2005 and is based at the Mackay Regional Botanic Gardens.  Many of the local native plants featured in the paintings can also be seen growing in the Botanic Gardens.    


The “Fauna in the Flora” exhibition is at the Lagoons Gallery / Botanic Gardens Cafe now until 27th June 2021. Open daily except Monday. Entry is free.

By April Kerr and Maya Harrison, Mackay Botanical Art Interest Group BAIG

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Coffee Table Collectable Showcasing Region’s Beauty

June 17, 2021

What makes our home special?

A group of professional and amateur photographers strived to answer this in a collection of images which have formed the Mackay and Isaac Region’s latest pictorial publication.

A coffee table book called ‘Discover our Home’ was launched earlier this week at events in Moranbah and Mackay.

The book has been described as “A collection of timeless memories from the Mackay and Isaac Regions that will leave you spellbound.”


Filled with photos and holiday memories from locals including the latest entries from the #mymackay and #ourisaac photo competition, this photography book will be a colourful addition to your home or business and displays the diverse landscapes of the region.

Mackay Tourism CEO Tas Webber said this book is a showcase of the diversity of unique experiences in the Mackay and Isaac Regions.

“The #mymackay and #ourisaac competitions provided us with some amazing pictures of the natural landscapes our home has to offer,” Mr Webber said.

“We have taken those pictures and included them in our new coffee table book which contains a collection of images taken by local residents.

“This book shows the beauty of our region from the eyes of a local.”

Details will be provided soon from Mackay Tourism about where to purchase the picture book.

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2021 Crush Underway At Plane Creek Mill

June 17, 2021

Cane trains are now operating around the clock in the Sarina region as the 2021 crushing season gets under way at Wilmar Sugar’s Plane Creek Mill.

The first cane went through the rollers at Plane Creek Mill on Tuesday (15 June), signalling the start of the crush.

Regional Operations Manager Craig Muddle said the factory was expected to process about 1.30 million tonnes of sugarcane this year – up on last year’s total throughput of 1.23 million tonnes.

He said the capital and maintenance teams had done a stellar job of getting the factory ready for the 2021 season.

“Our people have completed several major capital projects, most notably the new bin handling station, which represents an investment of $1.1 million,” Mr Muddle said.

“We’ve redesigned the bin handling station to simplify the uncoupling and recoupling process and improve reliability in this part of the factory.

“Another significant spend was $1.2 million on upgrades to Pan 6 and Pan 9, which will improve factory rate and sugar quality.”

Time To Switch Your Cane Train Brain Back On

Plane Creek Cane Supply Manager Jim Kirchner said the start of crush meant locos were operating 24/7 across the region.

“It’s really important that people approach level crossings with caution and look out for cane trains,” Mr Kirchner said.

“We’ve had a few months without cane train activity and people naturally become complacent.

“With the crushing season now here, we’re urging residents and visitors to switch their train brains back on.”

“We’ve had a few months without cane train activity and people naturally become complacent.

About Plane Creek Mill

Plane Creek Mill is located at Sarina, south of Mackay, and started operations in 1896. It crushes an average of 1.2 million tonnes of sugarcane a year, to manufacture about 180,000 tonnes of raw sugar. Plane Creek Mill’s boilers supply power to the adjoining Wilmar Bioethanol Distillery, where molasses is processed into industrial and fuel ethanol.

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Farleigh Reports Great Start To Crush

June 17, 2021


Farleigh Mill has had a good start to the crushing and is aiming for 10,000 tonnes a day. Harvester operators have commented that yields are on track with the estimate. Farleigh has crushed 49,326 tonnes to date (As at 10 June) with an average CCS of 11.35, and Purity of 83.40.

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Diesel Fitter Duo Create An Innovative ‘Flow’ On Effect

June 17, 2021

It is an early morning in Clermont and Ben Ellis and Travis Key have already opened the roller door to their Delta Fluidpower workshop.

The breeze whistles through, you can smell grease, metal, and determination.

You hear the tinkering of tools and a few laughs echo in conversation.

For these diesel fitters, the workshop is their comfort zone, they know the tools and machinery like the back of their hands.

But Ben and Travis are not your typical diesel fitters.

It is their innovative spirit and problem-solving minds that has created a game changer for hydraulic flow testing and control systems in the mining, agriculture, and construction industries.

The duo has designed and built the Dual Input Flow Meter Assembly (D.I.F.M.A) product, which is a portable, remote control testing device used to check the health of and adjust pumps and hydraulic systems.

In 2018 they were Highly Commended at the Queensland Mining Industry Awards Health and Safety conference for their innovation.

“Hydraulic testing is known as high-risk work, with the established methods, it requires fitters to be in close vicinity of high-pressure hosing and the D.I.F.M.A does away with that.

“The established method of testing is still widely used in our industry, it is not a good job it is hot, loud and you are working on top of high-pressure hosing. Our product eliminates that because you are standing 10 meters away,” Travis said.

The idea came to life while Ben and Travis were working on a mine site after an incident.

“I had the concept a few years earlier, at that stage we didn’t have the control systems available to do it. Then data loggers were really starting to be available on the Australian market,” Ben said.

Travis said the product had to be simple for the diesel fitter to use, which made it more complicated for them to build.

The duo has tested the product in a real-world environment on site at Glencore’s Clermont Mine, they have received positive feedback from the fitters using the D.I.F.M.A.

Ben said the support and encouragement from Glencore’s Clermont Mine has been a valuable and important part of their transformation story.

“Since we have started, we have had 2000 recordings of individual pump tests. We have that tracked history of multiple machines for the sites we have been using it at, which has created some impressive results of component life and the availability.

“There are less breakdowns, the machine health has improved, it is saving costs – there has been a real flow on effect.

“We have had guys who have sat with us for 10 minutes and stated that they learnt more about the hydraulic pump system in 10 minutes than they have in 10 years of doing flow testing the other way – it is amazing,” Ben said.

Both Ben and Travis admit when they started, they never planned to go this far.

“Evolving is the best way to describe us. We have found deficiencies in the old way of doing things and have created a product and a solution.

“That is what we will continue to do, find glaring holes in safety and see how we can fix them,” Travis said.

To learn more visit

For more GW3 regional inspiration, visit Transformation Region’s website

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More Events On The Horizon With New Wave Of Council Grants

June 17, 2021

The start of winter has brought the Isaac Region more than a chill in the air, with cool new opportunities for community groups to apply for major grants through Isaac Regional Council’s Community Grants program.

Mayor Anne Baker said Council’s Community Grants Program supports community events and activities, helping to develop resilient, adaptive, and vibrant communities.

“Local community groups and organisations now have four opportunities to apply for major grants a year, up from three in 2020/2021,” Mayor Baker said.

“We hope the more frequent grant rounds will help to re-activate communities after many events had a temporary hiatus during COVID-19 restrictions and allow more opportunities for Council to provide assistance to local organisations.

“Many of these organisations rely on volunteers and ongoing community support to deliver events and activities for the enjoyment of residents and visitors, and are vital to the social, sporting and cultural fabric of the Isaac region.”

Mayor Baker said while the changes to grant rounds only applies to major grants for funding of $1,000 to $5,000, minor grant applications are still accepted all year round.

“The organisations that put together some great events and activities are another example of the pure people-power which drives our local communities and make the Isaac such a great place to live.”

Applicants are required to head to and read the Isaac Community Grants Guidelines before proceeding with their application through the following categories:

• Minor or Major Grants – for community events and activities including exceptional circumstances for out of round applications.

• Individual or Team Development Grants.

• School Bursaries.

For more information please contact Council’s Customer Service Centre, available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week on 1300 ISAACS (1300 472 227), email for a copy of the Community Grants toolkit or call into your local Council office or Isaac Library.


Round 1: Opens Monday, 7 June to Friday, 16 July 2021, assessed at August 2021 Council Ordinary Meeting

Round 2: Opens Monday, 2 August to Friday, 17 September 2021, assessed at October 2021 Council Ordinary Meeting

Round 3: Opens Monday, 4 October 2021 to Friday, 18 February 2022, assessed at March 2022 Council Ordinary Meeting

Round 4: Opens Monday, 7 March 2022 to Friday 15 April 2022, assessed at May 2022 Council Ordinary Meeting

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Indigenous Youth Excited By STEM Initiatives

June 17, 2021

An educational STEM leader is leading the way in providing Indigenous youth with opportunities in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

CQUniversity STEM Education lead Dr Linda Pfeiffer said that when she sees Indigenous youngsters light up at with the possibilities of where science can take them, she can’t help but feel a sense of pride.

Dr Pfeiffer coordinates the delivery of CQUni’s Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) program and is especially fond of her role in the Yallarm (place of shells) STEM Camp, an annual camp Year 8 students.

She said projects like the Yallarm STEM Camp were vital for Indigenous youth education and science in general.

“There is a critical shortage of STEM skilled workers in Australia and there is a high need for future skills,” she said.

“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples have an ongoing relationship with science and engineering and were the first scientists.

“It is important to teach Indigenous kids about their history and culture so that they realise that they can have a future career in STEM fields.”

“Teaching STEM involves inquiry learning. The teaching involved in the programs involves the kid’s problem solving and working together to solve challenges. The teaching is student-centred and mostly team-based,” she said.

“I feel very proud when the kids get excited about the environment, STEM and their culture. Listening to some of the guest speakers talk about their journeys to become engineers through programs is very inspiring and humbling.”

She said the youth responded favourably to the Yallarm STEM Camp. A second STEM program called Buraligim Weiber (place of learning), was developed last year and will be implemented this year with the support of Australia Pacific LNG.

“During Yallarm this year we participated in Didirri time (deep listening) and it was very moving.

“At the end of the Yallarm Camp the kids were asked to sum up their day in one word and we were surprised by the responses: “cultural”, “connected”, “life-changing” were some of the responses,” she said.

Linda said National Reconciliation Week meant a lot to her as an educator.

“Indigenous education is critical to understanding reconciliation. Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians need to learn about Indigenous culture and history and the importance in education. That is why Aboriginal, and Torres Strait Islander Perspectives are one of the three cross curriculum priorities of the Australian Curriculum.”

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The ‘Veggie Man’ That Helps Women In Need

June 17, 2021

MIKE Jubow, 77, has been growing vegetables for women who have suffered or are suffering from domestic abuse for over two years now and he’s asking for your help to tend his garden.

Mr Jubow has worked with the Mackay Women’s Centre making vegetables for families in need ever since a fateful day when he saw the horrific aftermath of a domestic abuse case.

“I had offered to help out at some of the homing units that Mackay Women’s centre offers – fixing cupboards and squeaky doors – so, I was their fixing a shelf one day and a lady came in, covered in bruises and I just thought, ‘my god’,” Mr Jubow said.

“They told me they get cases like this all the time, so I said, ‘are these women getting enough to eat?’”

Then began Mr Jubow’s crusade where he planted an enormous garden, filled with mangos, bananas, pumpkin, potatoes, tomatoes, beans and much, much more.

Mike has helped all sorts of women at the Centre over his time and loves hearing the stories of how the veggies contribute.

“I was in the supermarket one day and this woman looked at me and she said, ‘you’re the veggie man down at the women’s centre! Thank you so much, now I’m getting good, fresh food every night.’”

“As well, there was a woman and her kids, they’d just escaped a bad situation and had nothing to eat, so the women at the centre gave them all sorts of things that I’d just taken in that day – it’s fantastic.”

Domestic abuse and especially hunger is something extremely close to Mike’s heart, as his father left his mother when Mike was five, leaving the family struggling and hungry on many nights.

“I remember one night, when all we had was onions – so we made an onion soup that was just water and a couple herbs; I was hungry by about 10 that night.”

Mr Jubow is looking for more helpers to come and tend the garden with him, which is an ever-growing project.

He currently has two helpers but would love for a sponsor to come onboard to decrease his own expenses, as it’s difficult as a retiree to balance living costs and the farming costs on a pension.

“It would be good to get more help – we just need someone to come on board and help out with some of the costs.”

“If we can get four or six altogether – we’ve got two regulars now and I take in the food each week on Tuesday and by the end of the week it’s all gone.”

You can contact the Mackay Women’s Centre to volunteer to help Mike with his garden – every little bit helps.

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Mackay Motels Big Winners From Energy Grants

June 17, 2021
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Remembering The Americans Who Lost Their Lives In Australia’s Worst Air Disaster

June 17, 2021

Last Sunday afternoon, members of the Mackay community commemorated the lives of 40 American GIs who lost their lives 78 years ago during World War Two, in what is the worst air disaster on Australian soil.

It was on 14 June 1943, 6:02am, when a United State Army Air Force B17C Flying Fortress, tail number 40-2072, crashed at Bakers Creek, six kilometres south of Mackay and one-kilometre northwards of the Bakers Creek Memorial, where Sunday’s ceremony was undertaken.

40 of the 41 men on board perished in the crash, with the other suffering life-long injuries until his passing.

Far from their homes, fighting a war in distant lands; they have been sadly missed.

The Fortress, known affectionately as ‘Miss EMF’, was en-route to ‘Maple’ (Port Moresby), with passengers who had spent 10 days of leave in Mackay after supporting Australians on the Kokoda Trail.

Honouring the lives of these men would not be possible without the volunteers of RSL Mackay Sub Branch Inc, and in particular Col Benson who coordinated over the service.

“We have come together as a community to pay respect to these servicemen, since the memorial was unveiled in 1992,” Member for Whitsunday Amanda Camm MP said.

“I was privileged to carry the flag representing a soldier from West Virginia today.”

American Air Cadets attended the ceremony on the day, in solitude with the Australian Memorial.

“We meet again, 78 years after the tragedy,” said World War Two veteran and guest speaker on the day Terry Hayes.

“The presence of the air cadets with us this afternoon is of real significance.

“[It is] in keeping with Mackay’s promise to never forget those who had spent their brief leave with us.”

Tomorrow, Australia’s US Ambassador, Arthur Sinodinos AO, will attend the US Army’s ceremony in Washington DC.

The American Memorial in Fort Myer, Arlington, Virginia, rests on a slab of donated Queensland granite and was unveiled in 2006.

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Mackay Environmentalists Call On Minister To Reject CQ Coal Mine

June 17, 2021

Mackay residents gathered at the office of Federal MP, George Christensen, last week to deliver letters calling for the Central Queensland Coal Project to be rejected due to the potential damage the mine could do to the Great Barrier Reef.

The proposed mine owned by Clive Palmer has already been rejected by the Queensland Government. A decision on whether the project will proceed must be made by the Federal Minister for the Environment, Sussan Ley, by 5 July 2021.

Mackay Conservation Group say that the independent scientific committee that reviewed the project slammed the proposal, saying the coal mine would present “very significant risks” to the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area and the Broad Sound Fish Habitat Area. The Broad Sound is Queensland’s largest fish habitat and on the Directory of Important Wetlands in Australia.

The proposed mine would be built in the catchment of the Styx River, south of Mackay, just 10 kilometres from the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.

It would be in the catchment of the Broad Sound, a fish habitat area of outstanding value that supports a rich diversity of marine species including fish, turtles, and dugongs.

Mackay cane farmer, Leonard Thompson, was among the residents who delivered letters to Mr Christensen’s office this morning.

“This project has been given a not suitable verdict by the Queensland Government. The independent scientific committee has also said it should not be encouraged,” Mr Thompson said.

Mr Thompson also expressed concerns about the climate impacts of a new mine on the Great Barrier Reef and inshore fishing grounds.

Mackay Conservation Group campaign organiser, Sunny Hungerford, said that the mine would have environmental impacts that can’t be mitigated.

“It is hard to think of a worse place to build a coal mine than on the doorstep of the Great Barrier Reef,” Ms Hungerford said.

“During a cyclone, coal contaminated water will make its way into the Broad Sound damaging the values of that outstanding marine habitat.

“The reality is that if we are to keep our planet safe from global warming, we must not open any new coal mines.”

Similar letter drops were held at other federal MP’s offices across the country, including the office of the Environment Minister.

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Shattering The Stigma Of Mental Health Goes Statewide

June 17, 2021

A determination to shatter the stigma around mental health has spread statewide thanks to the efforts of Mackay Hospital and Health Consumer Consultant Debbie Lattimore.

Ms Lattimore launched the Let’s Shatter Mental Health Stigma campaign in 2017 to raise awareness of the negative impact that stigma relating to mental illness has on individuals, their families, and their recovery.

She was recently nominated by her peers in Mackay Hospital and Health Service’s annual awards where she received the Non-Clinical Excellence Award for using her own lived experience to develop the campaign.

Her nomination said Deb is an exceptional contributor to the health service and the community.

“Even though it must be exhausting to tell her story over again, Deb teamed up with several external partners to spread awareness of the campaign.

“Whether she is dealing with a colleague, consumer or partner Deb really embodies the values of collaboration, trust, respect and teamwork.”

The Let’s Shatter Mental Health Stigma campaign was adopted by a popular Mackay coffee shop to encourage their customers to seek help if they needed.

She also worked with the Mackay Cutters Change the Game campaign to raise awareness of mental health stigma.

The campaign has since been adopted State-wide with several other health services also wearing the branded shirts.

Deb continues to run education sessions for health workers and other organisations and shares her own story with participants to help challenge mental health stigma and make people aware of how their actions and languages can impact others.

Ways to challenge and eliminate stigma:


o Know the truth – learn about mental health facts instead of myths

o Share what you learn with others

o Be aware of the impact of your attitudes and behaviour


o Welcome and encourage contact with people who have a mental illness to breakdown the fear of the unknown


o Highlight the injustices of mental health stigma and request change

o Speak up if you witness inappropriate behaviour or comments

o Understand the power of the words you use and use them to bring positive change

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Chief Executive Addresses Clermont Doctor Crisis

June 17, 2021

The Clermont community have lived with a stretched health service for years, but earlier this month the inland mining town lost its only locum doctor, leaving the town with general practitioners and telehealth services.

Mackay HHS Chief Executive Lisa Jones addressed the Clermont Community in a statement to reassure the town that recruitment was underway to ensure services weren’t compromised.

“Following the resignation of the MSROPP and MOROPP several years ago, we have been unable to recruit to these MOROPP positions. The HHS has continued to engage locum doctors to work across both the Clermont Multi-Purpose Health Service (MPHS) and the Private General Practice located onsite which has been practiced managed by Rural Health Management Pty Ltd for several years,” Ms Davies Jones said.

“Dr Sarah McLay opened an additional Private Practice, Clermont Country Practice, in Clermont in September 2019 and has also faced challenges in recruiting and retaining consistent medical staff.

“The Mackay HHS has been exploring alternative medical models for some time now with the aim of providing a long-term sustainable model that can support both public and private services.

“The new proposed model is a single Private General Practice with rotational medical staff to improve access to healthcare and provide an integrated holistic service which would allow the hospital on-call workload to be shared more evenly across multiple positions thus reducing fatigue and increasing recruitment and retention opportunities.

“We have been working closely with both Dr Sarah McLay (Clermont Country Practice) and Ms Sandra Corfield (Rural Health Management) in developing this integrated model with the aim of Dr McLay’s Private Practice being the single hub-practice for the community. We are working collaboratively in recruiting two potential medical candidates to work within the integrated model. Further recruitment is also being undertaken for additional positions.”

Member for Burdekin Dale Last said to leave the Clermont community without a doctor is condemning them to third world medical services.

“I wrote to the Queensland Health Minister asking her to take urgent steps to ensure residents in Clermont have access to the medical services they deserve,” Mr Last said in a statement on Facebook.

Ms Davies Jones said as the shared model evolves over the coming months, the Mackay HHS will continue to engage senior medical locums to work across both public and private sector.

“We will also continue to keep our partners and the Clermont community informed of the model development through established local stakeholder groups, formal communication and the Mackay HHs website.”

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Black Spots Upgrade Plans In Mackay

June 17, 2021

Sydney and Alfred streets intersection is in line for major renovations as The Australian Government announced its investment of half a million dollars to rectify the major issues with it under the 2021–22 Black Spot Program.

The Black Spot Program funds safety measures such as traffic signals and roundabouts at locations where a number of serious crashes are known to have occurred, Federal Member for Dawson George Christensen explained.

The Australian Government has committed $1.1 billion to the Black Spot Program from 2013–14 to 2023–24 to improve road safety across the nation.

The member said community input was critical to identifying key black spots in the electorate and keeping Mackay locals and anyone travelling through Mackay safe.

“Road crashes place major emotional and economic strains on all affected communities but particularly the families and friends of the victims,” Mr Christensen said.

“$503,500 will be invested to modify the geometry of the roundabout approaches and install new pedestrian refuges with traffic island protection and new signs, making it safer for both motorists and pedestrians to navigate this busy spot.

“Projects like this would not be delivered without the community’s vital input and I encourage all residents and motorists in the region to nominate projects for future funding rounds.”

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack said the State would receive $20.8 million under the Black Spot Program’s 2021–22 funding round.

“This major investment is part of the Australian Government’s commitment to building safer roads right across the nation,” the Deputy Prime Minister said.

“That is why the Australian Government has committed $1.1 billion to the Black Spot Program from 2013-14 to 2023-24 to improve road safety across Australia.”

Assistant Minister for Road Safety and Freight Transport Scott Buchholz said the 67 Black Spot projects across Queensland would make an important contribution towards reducing serious injuries and deaths.

“This new funding will see total investment through the Black Spot Program in Queensland rise to $189.2 million, demonstrating our ongoing commitment to improving road safety,” Assistant Minister Buchholz said.

“Even one death or one serious injury crash on our roads is one too many.”

For more information on the Australian Government’s Black Spot Program, or to nominate a black spot, visit

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Pharmacies Provide More Choice For COVID-19 Vaccination Rollout

June 17, 2021

Queensland pharmacies have become the first in Australia to offer the COVID-19 vaccine to the community, providing more choice in where people can get vaccinated.

The Pharmacy Guild of Australia, Queensland Branch’s Acting President, Chris Owen, joined Queensland’s Assistant Minister for Health and Regional Health Infrastructure Julieanne Gilbert MP in Sarina last week as the Assistant Minister received her first dose of the COVID-19 vaccination at the Discount Drug Store, Sarina.

Mr Owen said he was thrilled to be in Sarina with the Assistant Minister to promote the regional rollout of COVID-19 Vaccines through community pharmacies.

“I’m excited to be here in Sarina with Assistant Minister Julieanne Gilbert as we celebrate the fact that Queensland is once again leading the way nationally, being the first pharmacies in Australia to be able to offer the vaccine to community members,” said Mr Owen.

“Yesterday was a very important day for Queensland as our state became the first in Australia to extend the COVID-19 vaccination program to community pharmacies,” said Mr Owen.

Member for Mackay Julieanne Gilbert said that she was happy to roll up her sleeve to receive the vaccine.

“I want to encourage everyone to take up the opportunity to get the COVID-19 vaccination when it’s offered to them,” said Ms Gilbert.

“As a regional Queenslander myself, I am really pleased that the Queensland Government was the first State Government to utilise the network of community pharmacies to ensure equitable access to the vaccine in the regions.

“I want to thank all of the hardworking health staff, including our regional community pharmacists who are working tirelessly to keep regional communities safe.”

Mr Owen added, “Community pharmacies have a proud history of being at the forefront of supporting patients through the best primary healthcare practices.”  

“Anyone administering a COVID-19 vaccine in community pharmacies will undergo training with the Australian College of Nurses on this specific vaccine.”

For further information or to find a community pharmacy taking part in the COVID-19 vaccination program, please go to

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Charity Walk A Legacy For Local Football Legend

June 17, 2021

A lion of a man has left a legacy to be proud of.

Chris Auguston tragically lost his life to cancer earlier this year, but his memory will be cherished at Pioneer Valley’s Relay For Life this September.

After a long and brave fight, ‘Augy’ was known as a passionate member of the Mackay Lions Soccer Club with an involvement spanning more than 30 years. His playing career spanned from Juniors through to Colts and then on to the Senior ranks and he spent many years as a valued coach for both Junior and Senior divisions.

He was also the face of the 2020 Pioneer Valley Relay For Life, which was cancelled due to COVID-19. It didn’t stop his family and supporters from fundraising though, with a charity head shave supported by Wests Tigers last year raising more than $4,600 for the charity.

Chris’ son Jack, and Jack’s friend Donovan were the two that shaved their heads to raise money for the cause.

Chris lost his battle approximately four months later. The 2021 Pioneer Valley Relay For Life will now be held in his memory as someone who was a passionate advocate for his community in many fields.

The Relay For Life raises money for the Cancer Council Queensland.

More than $10,000 has already been raised for the 2021 Pioneer Valley Relay For Life which is set to feature entertainment as well as being a platform where cancer survivors can come together to form friendships and celebrate life.

It’s also an occasion for those with cancer to seek mutual connections and support for their journey, and a place for the wider community to remember loved ones lost.

The event will be held on September 4 at the Mackay Regional Botanic Gardens.

To donate to the Mackay Pioneer Valley Relay For Life or register to participate, visit the website at

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Successful Week For Queensland Police With Operation Mackay-Gillies

June 17, 2021

On the week of May 31 to June 6, Queensland Police ramped up their coverage of a 240 km stretch of highway through an increase in police presence and activity as part of Operation Mackay-Gillies.

Taking place along the Fitzroy Developmental Road, the operation focused on driver safety along the stretch of freeway between the Peak Downs Highway near Nebo and the township of Dingo.

During the operation, police conducted a number of static and mobile activities, totalling 145 breath tests, 28 negative roadside drug tests and a total of 29 infringement notices being issued for speeding, fatigue or logbook related incidents.

Over the course of the entire operation Queensland Officers were incredibly pleased to report that no drink or drug drivers were detected.

Whilst the Fitzroy Developmental Road may not have as extreme traffic volumes of some of the surrounding highways, it is by no way a road less travelled.

The operations goals were targeted at cutting down on deadly traffic crashes that occur in the area, as well as along other stretches of highway across the region, as Fitzroy Developmental Road is not immune to disaster or fatal and serious crashes that occur from time to time, even with its relatively low traffic.

The road has had many unfortunate crashes and accidents before, and it’s important to remember that even on less travelled roads, drivers need to be safe and abide by the rules.

Queensland Police wanted to highlight that, when travelling through the area or any area, it is important to plan your journey and take breaks at the recommended intervals to avoid fatigue; taking a break can save your life.

Senior Constable Nick Schmidt wanted to thank all road users that were doing the right thing and his fellow Police and Transport Inspectors that assisted with the operation.

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Spruce Up For Pretty Palms

June 17, 2021

Scheduled maintenance of palm trees in the City Centre will take place over the next week.

Palm cleaning will be carried out between 5am and 9am on weekdays and weekends on Victoria, Wood, Macalister, and Nelson streets, as well as Mangrove Road and Matsuura Drive.

Palm cleaning on Sydney Street will be completed on Sunday, June 20, and will take most of the morning to complete.

Full traffic control will be in place and some road/lane closures will be required during the work.

Residents are asked to obey all instructions from council staff and traffic control officers.

The work is part of the annual maintenance program in the City Centre.

For further information call 1300 MACKAY (622 529).

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Australian Ultra-Marathon For Children’s Charity

June 17, 2021

Bravehearts, Australia’s leading child protection charity, are celebrating their seventh birthday this year by calling every Mackay local to get running, with the launch of Mackay Marathon as part of their annual 777 marathon.

The marathon normally challenges 39 national runners to tackle seven marathons over seven days, in seven different states, but this year, there’s a big difference.

Bravehearts decided to run the event entirely in Queensland, having all seven marathons take place in seven different locations across the sunshine state, instead of the normal seven different states across Australia.

On 3 July, Bravehearts will be in Mackay, hosting the sugar capital installation of the 777 marathon.

It will start at 7:00am at Iluka Park, and runners who sign up will be able to complete either a 6km, 12km, 21km, or 42km distance.

Bravehearts representative Kayleen Johnston hoped that Mackay would roll out the red carpet to support this amazing cause.

“When you’re running, it’s obviously quite physically taxing, but also emotionally, so to show up at an event and there are a bunch of fresh, new faces to say well done – it makes your day and gives you the boost to run the marathon and keep pushing,” Ms Johnston said.

“The people who are running these marathons are superhuman; they’re determined to do what they said they were going to do to protect Aussie kids.”

Having cancelled last year’s major fundraiser due to COVID-19, now more than ever they need the support of the Mackay community to hit key fundraising goals this year.

The 777 Marathon is the charity’s major annual fundraiser, and all funds raised used to support vital counselling and support services.

Don’t hesitate to sign up for the event yourself, volunteer, or even just donate and show your support for these incredible people.

Register to race on their website for free, either virtually or in Mackay, or donate here:

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Machete Wielding Man Charged With Attempted Murder

June 17, 2021

Image: Mackay Country Stations Patrol Group Acting Inspector Sam Bliss addressed media in Mackay.

A dispute between neighbours escalated to vehicle damage and an attempted murder charge in the Isaac Region town of Dysart last week, after a 51-year-old man allegedly attacked another man with a machete.

Moranbah detectives allege the incident happened just after 4am on Tuesday 8 June at a Singleton Street address, which resulted in a 52-year-old man sustaining cuts to his head, face, and chest.

Mackay Country Stations Patrol Group Acting Inspector Sam Bliss said the victim had confronted the accused and was violently attacked, receiving significant injuries to the upper body.

“Parked vehicles within the victim’s residence were also damaged as a result of the attack,” Acting Inspector Bliss said.

The man was taken to Mackay Base Hospital with significant but non-life-threatening injuries and a crime scene was declared.

Leonard Trevor Westwood was arrested at the corner of Golden Mile and Silver K roads on the afternoon of the alleged incident and taken to the Mackay Watchhouse.

He was charged with one count each of attempted murder and evasion offence, along with four counts of willful damage before appearing before the Moranbah Magistrates Court on Wednesday 9 June.

Mr Westwood was remanded in custody and is scheduled to appear again on 11 August.

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A Cool Surprise For Summer House

June 17, 2021

The volunteers who run Summer House, the home of All Abilities Mackay, were over the moon to discover their grant through the Mackay Community Foundation had been approved, allowing the facility to install much-needed air conditioning.

Founder of All Abilities Mackay Bec Nicol said “Thank you so very much, we really needed it as it’s a huge ticket item due to Summer House being a massive space.”

All Abilities Mackay had struggled with sponsorship since the COVID-19 pandemic, but recent generous community contributions and grant approvals have meant the Summer House space has been able to come into its own in recent months.

Big W Mackay also recently donated 25 brand new outdoor chairs. Every donation helps.

The before and after shows how far this community space has come in 18 months, thanks largely to the huge amount of work from Bec Nicol and the volunteers from Summer House.

With the new air conditioner, Bec is hoping Summer House will be approved for a Federal Government grant to go towards their energy costs, to install solar. If you can help Summer House, get in touch via the All Abilities Facebook page.

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June 17, 2021

A local with a wealth of financial consulting experience and former civic leader duties has been appointed Chair of the Mackay Hospital and Health Board.

Darryl Camilleri is joined on the nine-person board by new members, corporate executive Annabel Dolphin and physiotherapist Tom McMillan.

Minister for Health and Ambulance Services Yvette D’Ath said both Mr McMillan and Ms Dolphin had strong records in serving the Mackay region and she welcomed both to the Mackay Hospital and Health Board.

“Both are civic-minded professionals with a genuine interest in representing the interests of Mackay residents,” Minister D’Ath said.

“I have no doubt Mr Camilleri will be an excellent board chair, having recently acted in the role.”

Mr Camilleri was deputy mayor of the Mackay Regional Council and has served as chair for a host of community and industry organisations.

“Ms Dolphin has an extensive background as company director and a business consultant specialising in human resources, business advisory and corporate governance,” Minister D’Ath said.

“Mr McMillan is a director of PhysioPlus in Mackay and the vice-president of the Australian College of Physiotherapists. Clearly his health background will be valuable to the board,” she added.

“We’re very fortunate to have such experienced and dedicated professionals on the Mackay Hospital and Health Board. I know that they will work hard to ensure the region’s residents continue to receive excellent health services.”

Existing members Professor Richard Murray and Suzanne Brown have been reappointed.

Mackay Hospital and Health Board’s members are:

Mr Darryl Camilleri (Chair)

Ms Annabel Dolphin

Mr Tom McMillan

Ms Suzanne Brown

Professor Richard Murray

Dr David Aprile

Mrs Helen Caruso

Ms Adrienne Barnett

Dr Elissa Hatherly

The 16 boards throughout Queensland are responsible under the Hospital and Health Boards Act 2011 for local performance of their health service and the delivery of public health services within their communities.

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EPIC RIDES It’s Show Season

June 17, 2021

Fairy floss and baby animals, dagwood dogs and adrenalin rides; the 2021 Pioneer Valley Show lived up to its reputation of being the best one-day agricultural show in Australia. Hundreds lined the arena to watch the parade, ponies, and wood chopping before live entertainment kept the crowd warm in-between showers until fireworks lit up the sky.

The rides were exciting, but none more so than the chance to have an adrenalin adventure ride in an Iroquois. The unmistakable thumping sound of the propellors made famous during the Vietnam War attracted hundreds of people throughout the day who were keen for the once-in-a-lifetime joyride.

View the gallery

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Learn How To Pull Some Serious Strings

June 11, 2021

If you’ve ever wanted to play an important role in one of Mackay Festival’s biggest spectacles, here’s your chance to pull some strings.

The Mackay Festivals team are looking for two exuberant individuals to help pull the strings of a giant illuminated puppet at DBCT Illuminate.

There are also opportunities for budding artists to join creative workshops to create puppets and displays for the Mackay Festival of Arts event.

Mayor Greg Williamson said the Spare Parts Puppet Theatre team were on the lookout for a couple of locals interested in puppeteering.

“These are paid positions that will offer budding puppeteers a fun and educational experience,” Mayor Williamson said.

“Successful applicants will interact with the public and work with the Spare Parts team to animate a giant hand-woven puppet, called String Symphony, that was created using more than a kilometre of rope,” he said.

Local artist Wanda Bennett said dates had also just dropped for the free community workshops at Canelands Central.

She said there would be two workshops a day on July 6, 8, 17 and 18 – one from 10am to noon and the other from 1pm to 4pm.

“Bookings are now open to join us to create your own lantern or UV arts and crafts creation to go on display at DBCT Illuminate,” Ms Bennett said.

“We have a lot of fun and supply all the material,” she said. “We’d love to see the whole family take part, as these are very much all-ages workshops and are great fun for young and ‘grown-up’ artists alike,” she said.

Spare Parts Puppet Theatre will also be running creative workshops at the MECC.

Mayor Williamson said the team would deliver two free puppet making workshops, on Thursday, July 22 and Friday, July 23 – both at 9am.

To book your spot in any of the workshops, head to

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Little Birds In The Coalfields

June 11, 2021

Mackay-based artists Karen Hurford and Natalie Field have brought their creative minds to the Coalface Gallery for the Little Birds Postcard Exhibition which started showing earlier this month.

Mayor Anne Baker said creative spaces are a great way for Isaac residents to get involved in art exhibitions and to get inspired.

“Being creative is a great way to keep the mind active and it’s great for our mental wellbeing. I encourage everyone of all ages to visit and get involved in this fantastic opportunity,” she said.

CQ RASN’s Regional Arts Project Officer Trudie Leigo said, “This festival is aimed at creating opportunities for artists, as well as our communities, as we all recover from COVID 19.”

The exhibition is open until 25 June 2021 at the Coalface Art Gallery in Moranbah.

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How A Potato Race Led To A Fight For Gender Equality

June 11, 2021

Gender equality issues sprout in the quirkiest of places.

When Melanie Tait returned to her hometown, Robertson, she discovered the country town’s annual potato race had a massive inequity in prize money.

Standing up for women’s rights, Melanie and her friends started to fundraise for the women’s prize.

“I couldn’t believe that in the 21st century the prize money would have such inequality for the men’s race and the women’s race so I started a GoFundMe page to raise funds for the women’s prize and thought the whole town would support it.

“But they didn’t.”

“What happened was a huge division – those who supported my campaign and those who hated it. It gave me an idea of how incredible people are who forge through a fight in their own community – who keep campaigning when it feels like everyone is against them. This inequality had been going on for years and I wanted to change it,” said Ms Tait.

Inspired by these events, playwright Melanie Tait decided to write a new comedy exploring the tensions between old and new, in country towns.

“While the idea [for The Appleton Ladies Potato Race] came from this incident, the play isn’t a direct retelling of that experience” Ms Tait said.

The Appleton Ladies Potato Race is led by five female characters living in rural Australia. It’s a funny play with a huge heart that is not afraid to pack a punch. It is about rejection and acceptance; seeing the world as it really is and at the same time, daring to ask if it can be something more.

Mackay residents can enjoy this funny, honest, and heart-warming story about upsetting the potato cart, and standing up for your principles live at the MECC on Thursday 17 June at 7.30pm.

★★★★ “It’s near-impossible to resist being charmed.” Time Out

This is an Ensemble Theatre Production.

Appleton Ladies Potato Race Thursday 17 June, 7.30pm

MECC Auditorium Tickets.

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Professor Calls For Reliable Vaccination Information

June 11, 2021

Vaccination is at the tip of everyone’s tongue lately, with COVID-19 presenting a lengthy list of questions regarding vaccination safety.

People need accurate information so they are able to make informed decisions about vaccinations, says James Cook University’s (JCU's) Associate Professor Lars Henning from the Australian Institute of Tropical Health & Medicine.

After studying biochemistry and working for three months in Tanzania where he assisted with a malaria project, Dr Henning made the move to study medicine despite having no intention to become a GP.

Instead, Lars specialised in Tropical and Travel Medicine and became a Global Public Health physician.

“We are looking for what’s the best approach for 90 to 95 per cent of the people. Overall, this is where most lives are saved, especially in resource-limited settings.”

JCU’s Bianca de Loryn interviewed Dr Henning on why vaccinations are important in today’s world.

Humans were first vaccinated more than two hundred years ago, and public health has come a long way since then.

“People often don’t appreciate the benefits, because they don't remember how it was, for example, when polio was still a huge public health problem,” Dr Henning says.

“Before the Polio vaccines were rolled out there were a lot of polio cases worldwide.

“Some people were paralysed, and they couldn’t even breathe. They would have to lie in what is called an ‘iron lung’, a machine that would take over the breathing for you,” he said.

Today, polio has been eradicated in all countries except for Pakistan and Afghanistan and there is a lot of surveillance going on to keep it that way.

Vaccines have contributed to the long life expectancy that we are enjoying now.

“The mortality in under five-year-old children was very high before vaccinations started, like for example polio, diphtheria and tetanus,” Dr Henning said.

In the end, if we get vaccinated or not, depends on us: we need to find reliable information so we can make informed decisions that are based on facts and not emotions.

“Vaccines are one of the most powerful public health interventions we have, and vaccines have saved millions of lives in the past decades,” Dr Henning says.

“Let’s keep it this way.”

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Home Away From Home: The Sarina Diner Is Still Cooking

June 11, 2021

A place steeped in history, Sarina’s diner, pie cart and community hub has a new lease on life, with the family owners Jojo Leeson and Pat Huamaha, who moved down from Brisbane to take over from Jo’s dad Rosco.

Rosco was eighty-five-years-old, and rose at 3am daily, firing up his tiny, tropical North Queensland diner where he would cook pies, bacon, steak and all sorts for Sarina locals for 43 years.

He lit the fire of the wooden stove in the cold morning air for four decades, until August last year when he finally hung up his apron and handed over the tongs and spatula to his daughter Jojo.

Jo had moved to Brisbane many years before, and originally had no plans to run the diner, but the place has sort of fallen into her hands and she now runs it with a host of helpers, as well as her partner Pat.

Taking over in August, she has a lot of plans for the shack, hoping to make it an even greater tourist attraction than it already is.

For Sarina locals, they are well aware of The Diner, but Jo has expanded the brand onto Facebook and hopes to do up the front of the store with a brand-new sign as soon as possible.

She’s already had some great success with new items on the menu like a breakfast burger, as well as bringing back the pies everyone loves.

The plan is to keep the old bones of the diner the same, merely maintaining the outside with a new paint job, as well as a re-matting of the bar top where customers come and chat, as well as grab a meal.

“Fixing things that need a little bit of TLC, but we’re not changing the place, we put some stainless steel at the back, because it’s cleaner - but it’s still the same,” she said.

The beating heart of The Pie Cart is still it’s wooden AGA stove, which is as ravenous for wood as the customers who come by each day are for pies and a good hearty breakfast.

Pat regularly cuts wood in the morning, which is supplied free to them by members of the community, he pops out the back to cut wood during the day as well to keep the stove cooking.

Jo jokes that she runs the place much more like her mum than she does her dad.

It’s a home away from home for many, becoming busier and busier as the weeks go by.

The customers pitch in on occasion in the kitchen, heading out the back to butter bread when it’s busy, or even do the dishes.

A group of regulars help Jo pick out the specials each week too, arguing over who had last week's turn.

“All the customers come and get their drinks; make their coffees and I’ve come to know that. It’s a meeting place, really - a meeting place for all sorts.

“We know everything about the customers, because we sit out here and talk to them; it’s a good business like that.”

There’s nowhere quite like The Diner anywhere in Sarina, let alone anywhere in Mackay and the Whitsundays.

It’s a meeting place, really - a meeting place for all sorts.

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Pain Management For Coalfields Communities

June 11, 2021

People living with persistent pain in Moranbah, Dysart and Clermont are being offered support through a new program at their local hospitals.

The Virtual Integrated Pain Centre provides people with access to pain management programs and is delivered with support of Allied Health Assistants at each facility.

Hinterland Allied Health Team Leader Rebecca McDonnell said the new program was devised by pain management specialists at tertiary hospitals and would start in May this year.

“Anyone living with pain who wants to improve their quality of life should ask their GP for a referral to participate,” Ms McDonnell said.

The program is delivered virtually with patients engaging in group-based telehealth and internet-based programs.

“The aim of the program is to provide high quality interdisciplinary pain management while tackling the tyranny of distance and isolation for rural and remote patients,” said.

Patients complete a combination of multidisciplinary group allied health treatments, delivered virtually and tailored to their individual pain management plan.

The program is designed to provide information and support about the best ways to actively manage persistent pain.

“The aim is to empower participants to take charge of their pain journey and rediscover meaningful activity to improve their well-being and quality of life.,” she said.

She said the group-based sessions would help people meet others with similar issues and talk in an encouraging, safe and supportive environment.

The programs operate in a ‘shared care model’ with participants encouraged to maintain regular contact with their GP.

The program aims to help participants to:

● Increase their knowledge and engage in evidenced based persistent pain management strategies

● Increase participation in valued activities including work, leisure, personal and social

● Increase confidence to actively self-manage pain

● Develop a plan and strategies that they can incorporate into their daily routine.

Topics covered are:

● Understanding pain

● Therapeutic movement

● Psychological well-being

● Unhelpful thoughts and beliefs

● Mindfulness meditation and

● Improving sleep.

Key dates are:

● Introduction and Choose Your Program: 19/11/21 and 03/12/21

● Manage Your Pain: 07/07/21 to 28/7/21 (four sessions of two hours a week)

● Manage Your Pain 03/11/21 to 24/11/21 (four sessions of two hours a week)

● Mindfulness: 10/8/21 to 31/8/21

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Coalfields Charity Ball Raising Funds For Mental Health

June 11, 2021

A stylish black-tie affair blended with the hospitality of the outback. Tickets to the Isaac region’s gala night of nights went on sale earlier this week and Mayor Anne Baker is urging guests to secure their tickets early before they sell out.

“It will truly be a night to remember, dancing and dining under the stars in the town centre, but we are also raising money for an important and vital cause,” Mayor Baker said.

The 2021 Mayor's Charity Ball will be held on Saturday, 7 August, under the night sky in Moranbah’s Town Square, featuring a sumptuous four-course dinner, live music and entertainment, prizes and much more.

Tickets are $200 per person and are on sale via Isaac Tickets -

The ticket price includes a four-course dinner, drink on arrival and entertainment by local band Mezzanine and Hamilton, direct from Brisbane which features Fiji Idol 2004 winner, Lai.

The gala event, which is an initiative of the Isaac Regional Charity Fund, is raising money for mental health initiatives in communities across the region.

“It is important that we work together to bring mental health out of the shadows and into the national consciousness,” Mayor Baker said.

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Dialysis Patients Praise Mackay’s Popular Kidney Doctor

June 11, 2021

“My life changed overnight with this diagnosis, going from working as an assistant manager at Flight Centre, my dream job, to being that sick I couldn't lift my arm to brush my hair.

“I was in and out of hospital for months with every complication you could think of. This was an extremely hard journey for me both mentally and physically.”

Peggie Radel knows how dialysis becomes a way of life for anyone with end stage kidney failure.

“Once you enter the doors there, your future is either a transplant or passing on,” Ms Radel said.

Renal patients such as Ms Radel and their families have voted kidney specialist Dr Danielle Wu and the Renal Team as the winner of the People’s Choice Award, at Mackay Hospital and Health Service’s annual awards.

People receiving kidney dialysis attend the Base Hospital two to three times a week for between four to six hours.

“The renal team are like an extended family for many patients. Not only are they professional, caring, and compassionate, they are a smiling face when things aren't going well,” Ms Radel said.

“They are a shoulder to cry on in tough times, and most importantly they are our life savers,” she said.

“I have been in many wards within the hospital, and I must say that without the love and support of the renal nurses, life would be so much harder for kidney patients.

“For me personally, I met Dr Wu and the renal team two years ago when I commenced hemo dialysis.”

Ms Radel has end stage kidney failure from a rare genetic condition that damages the kidneys.

“I have now been on dialysis for two years and still awaiting a non-live donor transplant. Without the care and compassion shown by all of the renal team it would have been so much harder.

“This team is truly amazing, and I honestly don't think they receive the gratitude or thanks that they should. Kidney patients are sometimes treated very differently to other patients as it is perceived that we have abused our bodies resulting in kidney failure. For many that is indeed not the case.

“The renal staff show care, compassion and respect. They provide friendship to those that sometimes are the only people a kidney patient may see in a week.”

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