Mackay Region Community News

TAKING FLIGHT  Emergency Services Day Showcases Lifelines In Action

TAKING FLIGHT Emergency Services Day Showcases Lifelines In Action

By Amanda Wright The RACQ CQ Rescue Emergency Services Day soared to new heights as families from Mackay and beyond flocked to the event, held on Sunday, May 19 at Harrup Park. With the rotor blades spinning and excitement buzzing, the day was a true lifeline of support for our rescue helicopter service. Although the final fundraising figures are still up in the air, initial estimates suggest the event lifted around $12,000 – enough to keep our region’s chopper flying for a full hour. It's a cl

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The Cancer Confrontation Looms Large

The Cancer Confrontation Looms Large

Today marks a peculiar moment for me as I sign off, knowing that by the time this is in print, I will have undergone my operation to remove colon cancer. As I write this, I am a bundle of nerves, but I am also eager to reclaim my life. A life where I don’t constantly feel drained, where I no longer have to monitor my blood loss and wonder if it’s time for another transfusion. The road ahead is uncertain and full of bumps, I won’t know the extent of the cancer’s spread until after the operation,

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Local Performer Receives Amplifying Support

Local Performer Receives Amplifying Support

A local musician was performing at the front of a local supermarket, hoping to spread joy through his music, when an aggressive individual approached him and deliberately poured water over his amplifier. This malicious act occurred last week at Coles in Andergrove and quickly caught the attention of bystanders, prompting a Facebook post to condemn the incident and call for support for the musician, Joshua Vine. The response was overwhelming, with community members expressing outrage and compass

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Queensland Hydro Reveals First Look at Pioneer-Burdekin Project

Queensland Hydro Reveals First Look at Pioneer-Burdekin Project

Queensland Hydro has recently released artist impressions of the proposed lower reservoir of the Pioneer-Burdekin Project. These visualisations offer a first glimpse of what could become a significant renewable energy facility in the region. Queensland Hydro has said it will put in place mitigation strategies to reduce the visual impact of the project if it proceeds. "We committed to developing visualisations of the proposed Pioneer-Burdekin Project so the community could see how it may look. W

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Ride To Raise Supporting Mental Health Out West

May 23, 2024

Around thirty-eight riders set out on the epic RideWest biannual 1311km charity bike ride from Brisbane to Longreach in the month of April, which was designed to raise crucial funds for mental health support programs, in particular focus to rural Queenslanders and their mental wellbeing in the bush.

Successfully, this year’s event raised more than their target of $600,000.

Mental health services for the Royal Flying Doctor Service are extremely vital out west in 2024 and the $2 million that RideWest riders have raised over the past 13 years has been an enormous boost for the Wellbeing Out West program. This event was made possible with over a dozen support staff such as paramedics and police escorts on board to ensure a smooth trip for everyone involved.

Les and Shelley Hancock founded the RideWest organisation in 2010 after recognising the lack of resources and support for those out west who were struggling with their mental health. John and Petrea Sloman have also been instrumental in organising the event since 2016.

Participants ranging from 19 to 73-year-olds demonstrate that all ages are welcome, so long as you have the mental and physical fortitude to tackle the rewarding challenge.

We spoke with Mackay local, Bernie Bell, who participated in his first ever RideWest event earlier this year on the 19th of April, spanning eight days of cycling which he says was not only a physical test, but most importantly a mental one.

After conquering mountains in Nepal and pushing himself to his cycling limits, Bernie recalls a pivotal moment in 2014 that ignited his interest in riding. Initially drawn to the RideWest event for the physical endeavour, he soon discovered the profound camaraderie that arose from riding alongside individuals who shared the similar passion of combatting mental health.

“This is the first ride I’ve been on and it was just really fulfilling, the people were fantastic and it was just brilliant.”

Bernie said that it was quite an insightful trip, where riders shared their personal journeys and connected with each other after a shared meal on some nights, underlining that it wasn’t just an athletic challenge, but rather an experience where people of all walks of life could come together and acknowledge the very real effects of mental health.

“There’s a lot of mental health struggles out in the bush and there’s no facilities out west to cover it,” he said.

“You know on the coast, we’re pretty lucky, we can see a therapist or talk to somebody all the time, but out there, they don’t even have regular doctors, so it’s very difficult.”

With an eager mindset to enter into the next ride in 2026, Bernie is hoping to raise funds for the next RideWest event. Money raised will go directly to the RFDS and to those battling their mental health alone in rural areas.

If you would like to contribute to Bernie’s mission, you can donate at:
https://ridewest-2024.raisely.com/bernie-bell

Caption: Thirty-eight riders peddled from Brisbane to Longreach over a period of eight days to raise funds in light of mental health support in rural areas. Local participant, Bernie Bell says it was a “challenging, but rewarding” experience.

Caption: Bernie Bell embared on his first ever RideWest challenge this year, but loved every minute of it and is eager to enter again in 2026. Images supplied

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There’s No Excuse For Abuse Campaign Launched

May 23, 2024

An increasing trend of incidents involving verbal and physical threats against its staff has prompted Mackay Regional Council to act.
Council is standing up for its workers and saying it won’t tolerate this abuse.
It is about to launch a No Excuse for Abuse campaign, which will include radio and television ads featuring four council staff members, as well as posters at its facilities.
CEO Scott Owen said there had been an alarming increase in incidents involving threats against staff.
“This includes in person, over the phone and on social media,’’ Mr Owen said.
“Our staff are part of the community and are just doing their job. It is totally unacceptable to abuse, threaten or intimidate our staff, he said.
“Council will not tolerate this sort of behaviour.”
Mr Owen said there had been more than 165 safety incidents involving some factor of unsavoury interaction by the public in less than two-and-a-half years.
He said that included 40 in 2022, 96 in 2023 and 30 so far in 2024.
“Some of that increase is due to better reporting by staff, but the high numbers are alarming, especially as much of them were going unreported previously.”
Of the injury and near miss incidents reported to council in the past couple of years, 15 per cent were aggressive interactions with members of the public.
“This includes physical assault, threats, inappropriate behaviour, stalking, inappropriate physical contact and verbal abuse,’’ Mr Owen said.
“That is nearly as high as muscular stress injuries suffered by our staff, which was 18 per cent of all incidents reported.”
Mr Owen said as council’s campaign included real staff and not actors, it would not be putting the videos on social media.

“Unfortunately, social media is also where we see a lot of abuse directed at council and its staff,’’ he said.
“We don’t want to subject the staff who have put their hands up to front this important campaign to any abuse on social media.”

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A WIN FOR FAMILIES AND FARMERS

May 23, 2024

Federal Member for Dawson, Andrew Willcox, said common sense has prevailed, after confirmation the crossbench will block Labor’s “disastrous and ill-thought-out” fresh food tax in the Senate.
 
It comes after The Nationals spent the past year campaigning with farmers and industry against the tax, called a biosecurity protection levy, which Willcox said would have hurt both families and farmers in Dawson amid a cost-of-living crisis.
 
“This is a win for families, a win for farmers and a win for regional Australia,” Mr Willcox said.
 
“I am proud to have been part of a campaign to stop Labor’s fresh food tax as soon as it was announced in Labor’s bad Budget last year.

“I would like to thank everyone who supported The Nationals and joined our efforts to scrap this tax, either by signing our petition, backing our media campaign or helping to highlight just how disgraceful Labor’s reckless new tax would be.
 
“Not only would this tax drive up the price of fresh food in Dawson, with farmers forced to pass on costs, it would also undermine the entire levy system, causing chaos and confusion across industry.
 
“Families need food that is more affordable and our farmers need support to get food from paddock to plate. While Labor tried to introduce the exact opposite, The Nationals will always fight for common sense and for fairness in the regions.”
 
Mr Willcox added Agriculture Minister Murray Watt should be ashamed for even contemplating the idea, let alone trying to push it through and introduce the tax on July 1.
 
“The fact Minister Watt refused to listen to concerns and instead doubled down, carrying out a rushed and confusing policy which lacked in detail, is either lazy or arrogant,” Mr Willcox added.
 
“It was senseless when better alternatives were offered by The Nationals, such as an importer container levy, which would charge importers, not our own farmers, to pay for biosecurity risks being created as produce comes into the country.
 
“In what parallel universe would a government charge its own farmers to pay for the biosecurity risks their competitors are creating, just to raise $150 million over three years for consolidated revenue?

“I want families and farmers to know The Nationals have your back. We stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Australian farmers today and welcome news the Senate will reject Labor’s fresh food tax.”

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Take A Seat To Take A Stand

May 23, 2024

Last week, the CEO of the Red Rose Foundation joined the Mater Mackay leadership team to unveil Mater Hospital's first Red Bench to take a stand against domestic violence, in recognition of Domestic and Family Violence Awareness Month, this May. 

CEO of the Red Rose Foundation, Betty Taylor had the honours of cutting the ribbon as the official unveiling of the shiny red bench situated to the side of the main Mater Hospital entrance.  

“It’s such a bright red, you can’t miss it and it does send that signal of what we call a ‘beacon of hope’ because it says to a victim, ‘here’s an organisation that cares about domestic and family violence and wants to make a public statement against it’.”

Local QPS domestic and family violence representative, Tamara Cook spoke on the meaning behind these benches and the importance of them being visible across the community. 

Constable Cook said that “Domestic Violence is no longer a behind closed doors issue, it’s a major social issue but we’ve all got a part to play, and police can no longer do it on our own.

“Domestic and family violence is devastating to not only those directly involved but it affects all of us.

“Who would have thought that in 2024, we are desperately trying to repair basic human rights and the freedom to be safe in a relationship.”

“I encourage everyone of us to stand up against domestic violence, we have a role to play in ending domestic violence, whether it’s speaking out when we see something is wrong, supporting victims and survivors or educating others about the signs of abuse.

“We must all do our part to create a world where everyone feels safe and respected in a relationship,” she remarked.

The Red Rose Foundational moto ‘Take A Seat To Take A Stand’ is a simple yet meaningful gesture to offer community support and stand against domestic and family violence in hopes that small steps will soon enough make a big impact on this rising societal issue.

With the unveiling of this bench, the staff within the Mater Hospital aim to make it known to patients and their visitors that there is support for them or their loved ones if they are currently experiencing DFV. 

The presence of a Red Bench in a public location aims to raise awareness of domestic violence and provide an opportunity for this important issue to remain visible.


Supporters from various organisations united in their efforts to stand against the issue, including representatives from the Red Rose Foundation, QPS, Women’s Health Service, the Mater Hospital staff and Member for Mackay Julianne Gilbert. Photo credit Hannah McNamara

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Camilleri St Skate Park Connects Community Through Art

May 23, 2024

After a long stretch of confusion, fury and heartache, The Camilleri Street Skatepark wall mural has been completed for a second time, in hopes of creating an artwork that can be enjoyed by all for years to come.

Originally from Canada, artist Anita Laura now calls Mackay home with a passion for art and a love for the community, she emphasises that art, is something everyone can connect with on their own personal level.

Anita's aim with the Camilleri Street skatepark wall mural is to instil a sense of ownership for skatepark users and community members alike while encouraging all to enjoy public spaces and appreciate the local art.

Inspired by the local area, Anita created a piece that includes features of Shoal Point beach at low tide mixed with a perspective of skateboarders rolling into space to remind us of the connections that form around us.

“I tried to create a piece that included elements of the Northern Beaches, with the coral, the tides and the moon in there. I thought it’d be fun to be skateboarding up into space for the people who use the ramp,” Anita explained.

“The constellations remind us that we can each be a light in our corner and we’re all connected, and I just thought the hand with the tech deck was a bit fun to include because it makes the scale of the park suddenly seem miniature when you see the hand riding a tech deck on the skatepark.

“It’s lovely to be a part of a project that created something good out of something sad that happened.

“I just love that people can enjoy murals whether or not they know the backstory and hopefully the mural can be enjoyed by everyone,” she said.

The original artwork at Camilleri Street Skate Park was commissioned after the death of Northern Beaches teenager Will Baker, whose motorcycle collided with a courtesy bus in a tragic accident near the community of Blacks Beach.
The community had originally raised money to for the Baker family. The family said they would love to see those funds go back into community in a way everyone could enjoy. The idea for a mural at the skatepark ignited and the community rallied behind it. Unfortunately, due to miss-communication the artist began the work without the necessary council permits, so the original artwork was painted over back to a blank canvas. With the proper council permits, Anita has been able to beautify this place and see the community initiative come to life.

Anita reflects on the project's positive transformation, expressing gratitude for the opportunity to paint the mural, despite it being her first-time spray-painting. While she previously worked with acrylics and screen painting for murals at the birth centre and Fifth Lane, this experience marked her first attempt at spray painting, which she executed brilliantly.
The project has been a community-driven endeavour, met with joy and enthusiasm from locals who share one thing in common, an admiration for artwork and a sense of pride for the skatepark within the Northern Beaches community.

Members of the community are invited to attend the official Camilleri St Skate Park Festival on June 1st, from 2-5 pm at the Grind Shrine Skateboard Shop event, featuring live music, a skateboarding competition, learn-to-skate sessions, and art workshops - all free of charge, promising to be an exciting celebration of creativity and skate culture for all to enjoy.
You can find more of Anita’s artwork on Instagram and Facebook at: Anita Laura Art.

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Record Attendance At Mackay EDs

May 23, 2024

Mackay Hospital and Health Service (HHS) emergency departments have seen a considerable rise in presentations, with a nine per cent increase in attendance compared to the same period last year.
In the March quarter, there were 27,279 attendances to emergency departments (EDs) in the Mackay HHS region.
Despite the surge, Mackay HHS median wait times across all categories improved to nine minutes from 10 minutes in the March quarter of last year. 100 per cent of Category 1 patients were seen within the clinically recommended timeframe.
Mackay HHS recorded a slight increase in the number of patients receiving elective surgery (772) from the prior quarter and at the end of the quarter, 82.6 per cent of ready for care patients on the waitlist were waiting within the clinically recommended timeframe.
The health service received additional funding of $5 million in 2023-24 to reduce long waits for elective surgery, gastrointestinal endoscopy and specialist outpatients.
Presentations to the ED at Mackay Base Hospital are reducing thanks to the Post Operative Discharge Support Service (PODSS), which has helped to relieve pressure on the ED and provide better support for patients as they recover from surgery.
The PODSS team has already increased from one clinical nurse consultant to two and has seen more than 370 patients since the service began two months ago.
Future infrastructure will assist with catering for long-stay patients, with the investment of $10.4 million to repurpose the former Sarina Hospital site to care for a number of patients who require daily support, but do not need acute hospital care.
The refurbishment of the former Sarina Hospital site is set to provide 24 long-stay patient beds in the existing facility.
Mackay Hospital and Health Service (HHS) Chief Executive Susan Gannon said that the Post Operative Discharge Support Service (PODSS) at Mackay Base Hospital has been a great success and is helping to not only relieve pressure on the busy ED, but also provide better support for patients as they recover from surgery.
“Our PODSS team has already increased from one clinical nurse consultant to two and has seen more than 370 patients since the service began two months ago,” Ms Gannon said.
“They also estimate that about 50 per cent of patients have been able to avoid a presentation to ED as a result.”
Ms Gannon added that Mackay Base Hospital regularly has about 30 long stay patients in acute beds in the wards.

“In effect this is the equivalent of one ward of the hospital which cannot provide acute care,” she said.
“The answer is to find a better environment for them, which is why we will undertake a refurbishment of the former Sarina Hospital site to provide 24 long stay patient beds in the existing facility.
“The number of the most urgent Category 1 patients in our seven emergency departments increased by 50 per cent in the March quarter compared to the same quarter last year.”

Susan Gannon

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The Future Of Workplace Safety

May 23, 2024

Resource Industry Network (RIN) is thrilled to present its annual Safety Conference 2024.
This pioneering conference in Mackay elevates safety leadership in Central Queensland's minerals, energy, and resources sectors.
The Safety Conference, designed to bring together safety personnel, is the region’s exclusive source for current safety themes and innovations.
Hosted by Mick Crowe, Chief Operating Officer at Bravus Mining & Resources, the conference explains why safety fundamentally matters beyond mere compliance or regulation.
Attendees will be engaged in the thought-provoking breakout sessions and benefit from networking opportunities with accomplished safety professionals.
Exploring physical and psychological safety, mining companies, contractors, and suppliers will come together to inspect the human aspect of safety that drives organisational safety initiatives and impacts productivity, morale, and organisational success.
"Attending the Safety Conference isn't just about ticking a box; it's an investment in the well-being and future achievements of your team and organisation," says Dean Kirkwood, General Manager at RIN.
The safety conference will also feature an impressive lineup of plenary speakers, including Anthony Gibbs, CEO of Sentis, Paul Bowman, Head of Performance for the North Queensland Cowboys, and Naomi Rogers, PhD, a specialist fatigue consultant. These experts are set to deliver insightful presentations, sharing their extensive knowledge and experience to enhance safety practices across various industries.
This conference is intended for Health, Safety, and Environment (HSE) staff, including safety leaders and supervisors, who are passionate about enhancing safety culture in the workplace.

What: Safety Conference 2024
When: Friday, May 31st, 2024, 6:45am – 4:30pm
Where: Mackay Entertainment and Convention Centre (MECC)

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MACKAY GOES “GOOD DIFFERENT” WITH ALDI STORE OPENING

May 23, 2024

After much anticipation, ALDI brought its 'Good Different' shopping experience to Andergrove, Mackay with the opening of a new store on Wednesday, 15th May. This event marked the first ALDI store in the region, offering the local community a unique range of “high-quality products at exceptionally low prices”.
ALDI claimed that customers could trust that every item in their trolley was not only a great value but also of top quality. This guarantee contributed to ALDI winning Canstar Blue’s award for Australia’s Most Satisfied Shoppers eight times.
Bronwyn Post, Managing Director, Queensland, ALDI Australia, said, “We know the passion Mackay locals have for ALDI and how much they’ve been looking forward to ALDI bringing Australia’s lowest-priced groceries to the region. Now more than ever it’s important that Aussies have access to affordable groceries so it’s truly a pleasure for us to be able to reach a whole new community of people with our ‘Good Different’ shopping experience.
“We know for many customers visiting ALDI Mackay, it will be their first time ever shopping in an ALDI store. There are a few small differences they may notice that separate us from other supermarkets, such as our curated range of exclusive brands, streamlined operations, and our coin deposit trolleys,” Ms Post said.
“These differences allow us to cut out unnecessary costs and pass these savings on to customers. In 2023 alone, ALDI shoppers saved $3.4 billion on their grocery bills. That’s real money back in the pockets of Australian families."
“We look forward to welcoming the residents of Mackay to the store so they can discover the savings that can be made for themselves.”
In August 2020, ALDI became the first Australian supermarket to commit to 100% renewable electricity, achieving this milestone in June 2021. All ALDI Australia stores, offices, and warehouses are now fully powered by renewable electricity.
In addition to being fully powered by renewable electricity, in 2019, ALDI committed to reducing plastic packaging by 25% and ensuring 100% of packaging would be reusable, recyclable, or compostable by 2025. ALDI Australia recently won Finder’s ‘Green Supermarket of the Year’ award, recognizing the company’s ambition and progress in its sustainability efforts.

The new ALDI Mackay store features a vibrant produce section, showcasing fresh fruits and vegetables delivered daily. Photo supplied

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The Path To Reinvention

May 23, 2024

Whether early, mid or later in career, there’s many reasons why we may seek to reinvent our careers, and sometimes we may be forced to through redundancy or personal well-being. The ‘job for life’ is vanishing from the career landscape and it is reported that the average person tends to go through 3-7 careers throughout their working life, and more for upcoming generations. It helps to have a mindset that your career is a journey, not a destination.

Reinventing your career can be a transformational and empowering experience. Here are some steps to help you navigate this process:

   1. Identify your strengths and skills: List out your strengths, skills, and experiences as well as what interests you, what you enjoy doing and what you are good at. This can provide direction for your career change.
   2. Maintain mindset and persistence: Changing careers can be challenging. Maintain a positive mindset and be prepared for setbacks. Persistence is key.
   3. Set realistic goals: Set achievable short- and long-term goals to keep motivated.
   4. Do your research: Explore different career options that align with your interests and skills. Use career websites, register for career alerts from preferred companies and stay updated on work trends.
   5. Rebrand yourself with the job or career you want in mind.
   6. Leverage transferable skills: Identify skills from your current or previous roles that are transferable. Identify any gaps and seek out training - formal and development workshops. Take advantage of free courses.
   7. Build your professional network: Connect with professionals in the field you are interested in. Attend industry events, join professional associations, and engage on professional social networks like LinkedIn.
   8. Activate your search strategy: Update your résumé and LinkedIn profile, highlight relevant skills and experiences for your new career path. Be strategic – apply for positions that match your new career goals. Be sure to customise each cover letter.
   9. Gain practical experience: Look for opportunities to gain experience in your new field e.g. internships, volunteering, part-time work, or freelance projects.
   10. Plan your finances: Ensure you have a financial plan to support yourself during the transition e.g. saving money, budgeting, or finding part-time work while you retrain.

Reinventing your career is a journey that requires self-analysis, planning, action and persistence. With the right approach, you can successfully transition into a fulfilling new career path.

Any change not only requires you to plan but also to act. If you want a different outcome, you have to do things differently. If it all seems overwhelming, seek some assistance from a trusted personal career guide. CareerForce Australia can provide that individualised support - contact me at powerup@careerforceaustralia.com.au or 0409 894 131 to learn more.

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Celebrating Local Success – Congratulations To Our Graduates!

May 23, 2024

Community Bank Sarina Bendigo Bank would like to congratulate fellow team member Josie Dahtler on her recent graduation from CQUniversity! Josie is a Customer Service Officer at Community Bank Sarina who completed a Bachelor of Science studying online, which enabled her to stay local, and earn and learn.

Josie joined the banking team after completing high school from a competitive field of applicants. While at high school, Josie was a recipient of Community Bank Sarina’s inaugural Sarina State High School Scholarship Program, which she said meant “more than just money” to her, and her future prospects. "Through events and getting involved in the community, recipients like me can find chances to grow as individuals and future leaders. I'm thankful for the support Community Bank Sarina provided during my high school studies.”

Another local graduate success story was Elleni Williams, who received a Community Bank Sarina higher education scholarship, supporting her university studies. Elleni completed a Bachelor of Accounting, and appreciated the financial assistance and networking opportunities that the scholarship provided.

“Receiving this scholarship felt special. As an older student who hadn't been in high school for three years, I appreciated that the Bank recognised my education and work experience, which helped affirm that my career aspirations were valid and pushed me to keep going. The scholarship provided financial support but also gave me access to resources, connections, and experiences that made a big impact on my future career opportunities.”

Community Bank Sarina manager Charmaine Matsen said the focus of scholarships was to allow local students to live and work where they wanted, and still have the career they desired. “At the Bank, we always say you don’t have to leave to achieve! We’re all just so proud of Josie, and she is a real credit to our banking team.”

The Community Bank Sarina Scholarship program is all about providing an opportunity and additional support to those who want to learn. The team at Community Bank Sarina congratulates Josie, Elleni and all of the graduates on their hard work.

From Community Bank Sarina, Board Chair Karen May, Customer Service Officer Josie Dahtler, Deputy Chair Maree Franettovich and Manager Charmaine Matsen

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Rare Turtles Found On Beach South Of Mackay

May 23, 2024

In a ground-breaking event for local marine conservation enthusiasts, volunteers Stephen and Janet Boxall from the Mackay and District Turtle Watch (M&DTW) have achieved a significant milestone by documenting the nesting of an olive ridley turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea) for the first time in the region's history. This remarkable occurrence unfolded on the serene shores of Campwin Beach, located just south of Mackay, during the early days of December 2023.

“When we found out that it was an olive ridley we were over the moon, it was almost unbelievable,” Janet remarked.

Following their encounter with a small turtle on the beach during a morning survey, Stephen and Janet initially assumed it to be a young loggerhead. However, they wisely persisted in observing its unique gait and meticulously documented both the tracks and the nest.

Upon consulting with Lynette Gallagher, they discovered 90 eggs in an egg chamber, likely belonging to an olive ridley, a species not known to nest in the area. The eggs were then relocated to a safer spot, where not long after 34 hatchlings emerged, with 12 found alive and one lifeless.

Sister of Janet, Shirley Sidey cared for the nest during the Boxalls' absence and suspected the hatchlings might be olive ridleys due to discrepancies in appearance. After further examination and collaboration with sea turtle experts, including Dr. Col Limpus, it was confirmed on May 8, 2024, that the turtle and hatchlings were indeed olive ridleys.
Typically, Mackay's mainland beaches are frequented by flatback (Natator depressus) and green (Chelonia mydas) turtles, distinguished by their symmetrical breaststroke gaits. However, the Campwin turtle's unique nesting behaviour, characterised by an alternate gait, initially led to speculation that it might be a loggerhead (Caretta caretta) turtle.
This assumption was challenged upon closer inspection of hatchling photos, revealing the tell-tale olive ridley characteristics, including the presence of six or more pairs of large scales on the carapaces.
Additionally, Dr. Limpus noted the annual nesting of hundreds of olive ridleys on the western Cape York Peninsula, primarily south of Weipa, further emphasising the need for continued vigilance and conservation efforts along Australia's eastern coast.

Janet said, “We have had very heartening results in the number of turtles nesting on our beaches recently and we would hope that the efforts of the people in the previous decades have contributed to their survival.

“The contributions that Mackay and District Turtle Watch volunteers make to ensuring the survival of the turtles in our waters as well as their contributions to the data collected are invaluable.”

Local Mackay & District Turtle Watch volunteers have discovered rare turtle hatchlings known as ‘olive ridleys’ on Campwin beach, just south of Mackay. Photo credit: Mackay and District Turtle Watch

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Host A Pizza Party To Save Local Lives

May 23, 2024

For the month of June, Grapevine Group wants the Mackay community to hold takeaway pizza parties and to dine in at Laffos Bar and Pizzeria where every large pizza bought will see $5 donated as part of the Pizza for a Purpose fundraiser.
To launch Pizza for a Purpose, Grapevine will be at the front of Laffos at Caneland Central on Saturday, June 1.
The fundraiser will continue to support Grapevine’s critical work towards local suicide prevention training and awareness initiatives like their free lifesaving 3-hour safeTALK training available to the Mackay, Isaac and Whitsunday regions. The launch will include a well-being fair with mental health services and will also promote this year’s pizza party theme.
The event which runs from 9am to 1pm, will include pizza-making workshops, free face-painting, a pizza and paint session and balloon twisting for all to enjoy. The community also has an opportunity to win one of three $200 Caneland Central gift vouchers as part of Grapevine’s colouring-in competition.
“Fundraisers like this are essential so Grapevine can continue to run free group safeTALK sessions or 1-hour Suicide Mythbusters toolbox talks that can be delivered at workplaces, sports or community organisations,” said Grapevine Group president Debbie Knight.
To date, Grapevine has proudly trained 6800 locals in suicide prevention, but more training is needed. Grapevine thanks the official Pizza for a Purpose supporters including Laffos Bar & Pizzeria, Caneland Central and Bright Light Marketing.
“We’re so proud of the extraordinary work Grapevine does. Signing up for our third consecutive year to raise funds was a no-brainer,” Laffos Bar and Pizzeria owner Nicole Batzloff said.
“This time we hope to better the $11,000 generated last year, so we hope lots of local organisations hold a pizza party to help us raise even more.”
The pizza-making workshops will be held at 9am and 10.30am, and the pizza and paint session at 12pm. Join Grapevine Group on Saturday June 1 at the pizza party inspired launch. Book now for the pizza-making workshops, and pizza and paint session by visiting www.canelandcentral.com.au
For local help or to book into free public or group suicide prevention training, download the Grapevine Group app now or go to www.grapevinegroup.org.au
Get involved and make a difference by eating some delicious Laffo’s pizza!

Laffos Bar and Pizzeria donated $11,290 in 2023 thanks to the Pizza for a Purpose initiative
Every large pizza bought will see $5 donated as part of the Pizza for a Purpose fundraiser to the Grapevine Group. Photo credit: Amanda Wright

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How Much Stuff Can You Do In A Few Days?

May 23, 2024

You’ll be surprised that’s for sure.

It’s been a busy time over the last few weeks. Last week was my birthday, Dad’s been here for a few days saying gudday to the kids and spoiling his favourite son. Greg Williamson had his annual Charity Ball.

Aldi finally opened its doors in Beaconsfield which had what seemed like thousands rocking up just to check out how many ski jackets could be sold in the tropics, and the number of fundraisers lately have raised enough money to put enough fuel in the car for a week, for anyone coming in from the northern beaches. That’s a busy time.

Well, I am here to tell you now, it’s certainly not slowing down any time soon. It’s getting busier.

I’m busy in the 4MK breakfast studio trying to give away nearly $6K in the Secret Sound each day after 7am. Get cracking to win the money.

We’ll be busy tonight at the Mackay Golf Club for the Pro-Am Sponsors night. I’m sure I’ll get some great tips on how to play this fun game of white ball. It’s very similar to the other white ball game I play in hockey. Sure, their balls are smaller, but the idea is the same. Hit the ball, and hope it gets in the hole/goal as quickly as possible.

Next week it just does not stop either. Heaps of fun activities to be involved in. There’s another big NBL1 basketball game in Mackay with our Meteors and Meteorettes on the Friday night. Then on Saturday, it’s all hands-on with the third edition of Legends on the Lawn with Icehouse playing at Harrup Park on the Saturday.

Then on Sunday, I’ll be at the Mackay Harbour with thousands of others getting ready to run their hearts out for the annual BMA Mackay Marina Run. I’ll be running the half-marathon with my son for the first time which will be so cool. We’ve both been training for this run, so I hope we both finish without too much injury, and with a smile.

If you’re part of any of these fun activities enjoy it. Remember to smile.

Don’t forget if you’ve got a function or activity that the community can get involved in, let me know. It could be markets at Sarina, or even a fun run in Marian, or the opening of a new community group around Seaforth, flick me the information.

Remember if you see a tall man with orange shoes running down Sydney Street, he’s not being chased, he’s just trying to breathe. That’s all.

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

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Property Point 24 May

May 23, 2024

One of the most over-used terms in the news media is, “A parent’s worst nightmare”.
It’s annoying because the situation the reporter is describing is usually not a parent’s worst nightmare but something pretty bad. Bad, yes. Worst nightmare, no.
I won’t disturb readers by giving examples of “worst nightmares”, but you get what I mean.
Some years ago my wife, Sonia, and I went for a weekend break to the Coral Sea Resort in Airlea Beach and left our then-four-year-old daughter with my wife’s parents in South Mackay.
On our first evening away we experienced what news reporters would refer to as a “parent’s worst nightmare”.
We were relaxing in a water-front section of the resort and, around 5.30pm, rang my wife’s parents to check on how they were going with our daughter, Bianca.
My wife rang and I was sitting next to her, only hearing her end of the conversation.
After the initial “Hi mum, how are you etc”, my wife said “How’s Bianca?”
I couldn’t hear her mum’s reply but Sonia said: “You can’t find her?”
We exchanged fairly intense glances and I said “put her on speaker”. I discovered that the challenge in these situations is not to scream at your mother-in-law: “WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU CAN’T FIND HER?!!
We tried to stay calm and asked how long since they had seen her and she said it was about 15 minutes. They had a two-storey house and it would not be unusual for Bianca to be playing downstairs and out of sight for a short time.
The concerning thing was that Sonia’s parents had called out for her and gone looking but there was no sign of her.
Sonia’s mum said her dad was looking for her and we suggested she join him, call out, go past the neighbours etc but we said we will be calling back in exactly 15 minutes and please make sure you are ready for our call.
Several of the worst minutes of my life passed extremely slowly as my wife and I ran through the possible scenarios, all optimistic and none of them contemplating the unthinkable.
In about 10 minutes Sonia’s mum rang and said, “We’ve found her.”
Rarely does your state of mind go from one extreme (anxiety, deepest fears) to another (relief, joy, a celebration of all that is good in the world) in a space of a few seconds.
It turned out that Bianca had wandered next door to see people who had been long-time friends and supporting, friendly neighbours of my wife’s parents.
They offered her a drink and a biscuit and they had a nice little chat while my wife and I were quietly, desperately going out of our minds for about 10 minutes.
The irony, of course, was that the reason Bianca had disappeared for that short period was because her grandparents lived in a friendly neighbourhood where everyone knew and looked out for each other.
Bianca felt welcome and comfortable wandering over to the neighbours’ house and they were delighted to see her and have a chat.
It’s great to live in a suburb you love, with nearby neighbours you know and can rely on. It’s the terrific thing about buying a house, putting down roots, getting to know others in the street and knowing that everyone can identify who belongs and who doesn’t.
There is a natural crime-prevention antennae and a sense of community and safety that makes you feel at home.
The down-side is that when your kids are confident and adventurous and are feeling the neighbourly love, you can find yourself experiencing a “parent’s worst nightmare”.

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CEO Shares Vision After New Sugarcane Industry Partnership Forms

May 23, 2024

The new CEO emerging out of the partnership between two of Australia’s leading cane organisations has hit the road to meet with growers and members and share vital information about the integration.
Queensland Cane Agriculture and Renewables (QCAR) has joined forces with the Australian Cane Farmers Association (ACFA) in an effort to drive strategic and positive change across the industry.
Stephen Ryan has been appointed CEO of the joint venture and has recently completed a roadshow through the Far North Queensland and Herbert regions to explain the recent integration of the two organisations.
“This roadshow is about telling the members what we’re doing, what we intend to do, why we’ve done what we’ve done, how we can help them and what services we’re offering,” Mr Ryan said.
“Some of the comments and feedback we’ve been getting are very interesting, saying there are opportunities to do things differently which we’re trying to do.
“We’ve put together a regional focus from the Burdekin Head Office with a series of district committees and members to be grassroots driven but also have a presence in Brisbane with the Australian Cane Farmers Office.”
A canefarmer originally from northern New South Wales, Mr Ryan has been based in Brisbane and working for ACFA for 25 years.
With decades of experience liaising with growers from a member-based organisation, he looks forward to continuing this work alongside a powerful, local and centralised unit in QCAR.
“I’m what you might call an old hand in the industry now,” he laughed.
“I’ve been through a lot of scrapes and battles, deregulation and things like that.
“My experience is right across the industry in many different areas like policy, contracts, political negotiations and the local farming side of things.”
Mr Ryan has seen the sugar cane industry evolve over those decades and is focused on dealing with stakeholders as a unified organisation.
“It’s so important not to be fragmented,” he said.
“When you’re dealing with global partners, you have to be able to have the weight and the numbers behind you and you need to have enough people with specialties in different policy areas to be able to bring outcomes for the members.
“Different areas want different things, but I think the common thread is that if there are new processes and new products in the near future, they want to be able to have the ability to invest in that, to share in it and be part of the conversation.”
Mr Ryan will continue to hear from growers and members as the Roadshow continues through the Burdekin, Central Queensland and Southeast Queensland regions in coming months.
The final stages of the election and selection of committees have been completed ahead of the first board meeting to be held in the Burdekin today, Thursday May 16.
Chair Charles Quagliata said the sugarcane industry will see significant benefits from the partnership between QCAR and ACFA as the partnership leverages the collective expertise and resources of both organisations to strengthen the sugarcane industry.
“By joining forces, we are securing a stronger future for the growth of the sugarcane industry across Australia,” he said.
“This marks a pivotal moment for our industry and by combining our strengths, we can better serve our members and drive positive change.”
Mr Ryan concluded by saying the partnership signifies a new chapter for the sugarcane industry.
“We are committed to securing a prosperous future for all stakeholders through collaborative efforts,” he said.
“Together, QCAR and ACFA will spearhead positive change, nurturing industry expansion, and championing innovation, sustainability, and resilience within the sugarcane industry.”

Stephen Ryan
FNQ meeting in Babinda
FNQ meeting in Innisfail
Photos supplied

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Sugarcane Growers To Share In $4.38M To Improve Farm Run-Off

May 23, 2024

Six organisations will share in $4.38 million in funding from the Queensland Government to support sugarcane growers to implement improved management practices on their farms, boost productivity and improve the quality of water running off the land and flowing to the Great Barrier Reef.
The six organisations are:
   • Sugar Research Australia Limited (Wet Tropics and Burnett Mary regions)
   • Tropical Agricultural Services Pty Ltd (Herbert)
   • Farmacist Pty Ltd (Wet Tropics, Burdekin and Mackay Whitsunday regions)
   • Innisfail District Cane Growers Organisation Limited
   • Resource Consulting Services Pty Ltd (Mackay Whitsunday), and
   • Tully Cane Productivity Services Ltd

The organisations were selected following an open market process that invited agronomic industry experts to develop projects that will help sugarcane growers improve fertiliser use efficiency on their farms.
They will provide expert advice and support to help cane growers improve crop nutrient use through practices like refined fertiliser application rates, addressing soil constraints and farm management planning to save money and reduce the amount of fertiliser being lost to waterways.
The funding is part of a $125.1 million investment by the State Government to support agricultural industries including the cane, grazing, banana, horticulture and grain sectors to improve land condition, reduce losses to waterways and increase their business resilience.
Minister for the Environment and the Great Barrier Reef, Leanne Linard said that the state government is committed to protecting the Great Barrier Reef and the thousands of species who call it home.
“We know that poor quality water running off the land and out to the reef is a critical threat, and for many years sugarcane growers have been a key partner in our work to improve water quality, and I thank them for their ongoing support,” Minister Linard said.
“Growers have told us how much they value opportunities to work one-on-one with industry experts to gain valuable insights on how they can improve their productivity and profitability through improved farm management, which in turn benefits the environment through improved water quality flowing to the reef.
“That is why the government is pleased to provide funding for these organisations to work with growers to help them improve crop nutrient use, address soil constraints and enhance farm management planning to improve the quality of water flowing to the Great Barrier Reef.”
Minister Linard also said the government’s $125.1 million Sugarcane Practice Change Program builds on previous investments to focus on a whole-of-industry approach that works directly with farmers to improve land management practices across Reef catchments.
“There is another risk to the Great Barrier Reef – the election of a Crisafulli LNP government later this year. The LNP has no plans and no policies to protect the reef and the species who call it home and the Queenslanders who depend on it for work,” the Minister said.
Resource Consulting Services General Manager, Trevor Crook said, “RCS is teaming up with Farmacist to work with sugarcane producers through a program that places the business owners at the core.
“The program combines holistic management training, one-on-one business coaching and agronomic advice within a supportive learning environment to promote producer-led change in pursuit of their respective vision and goals. 
“Participants will discover and adapt techniques that increase profitability through improvements in the fertiliser efficiency of their farming systems.”

Minister for the Environment and the Great Barrier Reef, Leanne Linard, speaking in Mackay on the importance of reef and island preservation. Photo credit: Amanda Wright

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SUGAR MARKET STRUGGLING TO FIND SUPPORT

May 23, 2024

Simon Hood
Wilmar Manager Grower Marketing


The ICE#11 sugar contract continues to be weighed down by the growing 24/25 forecast global trade surplus.
The early start to the Brazilian harvest, and clear weather, has resulted in record breaking production numbers being posted in the UNICA half monthly production reports for April. Seasonal cane tonnages are up and so is the ratio of sugar to ethanol production, particularly for this early in the season. This is forcing analysts to revise their sugar production numbers for Brazil.
Additionally, much needed rain in Thailand is improving the outlook for this year’s crop to climb back above 10M tonnes of sugar production. Combined with incremental increases in tonnage for Europe, China and Central America, there is a growing consensus around another surplus year in sugar production.
The speculative money has sensed that the path of least resistance has been down, and has consequently moved to net short position on the market to around 50,000 contracts.
The good news is that global stocks are low and demand remains strong. Even with the significant pullback in prices, the forward market still exhibits a slightly inverted structure in which nearby prices are higher than deferred.
Australian sugar is selling well into our traditional Asian markets and the solid physical premiums paid for the 23-season crop look likely to be repeated into this year’s pricing. While Brazilian ethanol parity is still well below current market levels, the import parity for raw sugar into Chinese refineries is resulting in some fresh business and plenty of price checking.
Following the close of the 24 season pricing nomination date (April 30), the grower’s GEI sugar pricing mix has shifted back to traditional pool pricing mechanisms for price management. After a couple of years of record returns for our Production Risk Pool, this is not a total surprise.
Further, the large volatility of prices over the last 18 months has left some growers who forward price feeling a bit whiplashed. As with all choices, there are trade-offs.
For those in the pools you can never be sure of your final price until well after harvest has been completed, whereas forward pricing gives you certainty and control of your own income.

AUD Sugar Swap Price: 2024 season
AUD Sugar Swap Price: 2024, 2025 and 2026 seasons

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Thinking Safety This Crush

May 23, 2024

By Kevin Borg, Chairman, CANEGROWERS Mackay
The crush will start to roll out across the region next week, and things are getting busy across the industry. While final bolts are being tightened in what has hopefully been a very productive mill maintenance season, the community can expect to see machinery start to move around the cane rail and road network.
That can include looking out for anything from cane trains – we all know THAT jingle – to haulout tractors and trucks, to long vehicles moving cane harvesters and requiring pilot escort vehicles.
Depending on the weather, Mackay Sugar will lead out with a staggered start across the three mills, with Farleigh starting on 3 June followed by Racecourse the next day and Marian at full steam by 13 June.
Plane Creek has been delayed to 18 June from the original 11 June, as a result of industrial action in recent weeks. It is to be hoped that the parties can come to an agreement, and that the mill can perform reliably across the season after such a perilously late start.
Sugarcane is an important part of the regional economy and the region’s communities. CANEGROWERS wants to see everyone interacting with the sugar industry to get home safe every day, be it grower families, our harvest crews, mill workers, or members of the community sharing the transport networks with our industry.
Harvest season can be hectic, so we ask the community to be patient with some of our slower moving vehicles. Please don’t do the crazy dash overtake of a haulout tractor at 100km an hour on a back country road. Please don’t try to beat the loco that is approaching a crossing.
Everyone needs to be somewhere, so taking care will help all road and rail users to get where they need to, safely. As the saying goes: “better to be late than never”.
For those working the harvest, we encourage you to be mindful of all the necessary safety factors – being aware of overhead powerlines and making best use of the Ergon “Look up and Live” app; routinely thinking about always maintaining safe loading levels when filling bins, so to mitigate spillage; taking care along the roadways and in the sidings. Given the rain seems to be hanging about, we also remind driver to take great care to ensure that we do not track mud onto roadways, which creates a safety hazard for other road users.
Aside from safety CANEGROWERS Mackay has been working hard on our annual harvest labour campaign, and have just completed two Haulout Driver training courses. We are committed to industry safety and efficiency, and are proud to say that, with funding from the Queensland Government Skilling Queenslanders for Work program, we have trained 19 drivers new to the industry in basic safety and procedures, assisting them with practical experience on farm alongside theory work and Cert II Rural Operations modules. Anyone keen to take up work in the industry are welcomed to take a look at positions vacant or post work wanted on the www.mackaycanegrowers.com.au website Farm Jobs Noticeboard.
Here’s hoping for a successful - and safe - 2024 crush!

Be aware of rail crossings becoming more active
Haulout vehicles will be on the move as the crush rolls out from 28 May.
Pictures: Kirili Lamb

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A Plea for Freedom in the Face of Digital ID

May 23, 2024

Amidst the for and against opinions and murmurs of the 'Say No to Digital ID' rally in Mackay, Stephen Andrew, MP for Mirani emerged as the voice of dissent as he spoke on the potential reality of a dystopian future ahead.
With fiery belief, Mr Andrew painted a picture of a world where every move is traced and monitored from the cradle to the grave. The digital ID, he proclaimed, was not just a tool for convenience but a leash on freedom and a chain binding humanity to the whims of unseen forces.
Drawing from what he described as ominous contents of the parliamentary bill, Mr Andrew laid bare the stark reality of what could lie ahead.
The complicated contents of the bill leave one thinking the Digital Id Movement will be introduced for the good of the people, however protestors of the ‘Say No to Digital ID’ debate otherwise.

Fear and worry circulate the movement as some believe it will own all personal history such as births, marriages, medical history, education and behavioral activity as well as SIM card registration.

Alongside this, some proclaim that it is being implemented by design worldwide, inspired by the UN and the WEF and will be overseen by private sector overseas companies.

Concerns also rise, regarding a person who refuses to grant digital permission, with a potential consequence to be shut out of the economy as well as society by being locked out or denied access, a similar consequence seen in the COVID-19 debacle.

Others note the undeniable issues of power outages, storms and crashes nearby, which could lead to a surge of individuals facing difficulties accessing their personal information when it's most needed.

In his impassioned speech, Mr Andrew drew parallels to the coercion witnessed during the Covid vaccination drive, where choice was replaced with ultimatums and consent became a mere compulsion.
Further concerns indicate that there will soon be no ability to stand up for personal beliefs let alone basic rights.
Anti-digital ID activists are warning others about the social credit system and how the population is yet to be “in a digital prison from which we can never escape.”
As Mr Andrew rallied the crowd, he underlined the importance of pushing back against the invasion of our independence and rights. He encourages his fellow Australians to stand tall and reclaim what is rightfully theirs: freedom.
In his final plea, Mr Andrew laid bare the truth, that total control is not seized by the government but willingly surrendered by the people. It was a sobering reminder that the fight for freedom is not just a battle of words but a struggle for the soul of a nation.

Images from the No Digital ID rally held in Mackay

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Look Out For Loco’s

May 23, 2024

Mackay Sugar is preparing to commence its 2024 crushing season from Tuesday 28 May and this brings an important reminder for local residents to stay cane-train aware.
“It’s been a busy maintenance period and we’re excited to be making our final preparations for the upcoming crushing season,” said Carl Morton, General Manager Operations.
“As with every year, the start of crush means our locomotives start moving more frequently around our cane rail network.
“This makes it a timely reminder for everyone to stay cane train aware and be alert when travelling throughout the region,” said Mr Morton.
“Whilst our locos are active all year, they operate 24/7 during the crushing season. This means it is particularly important for people in our community to be cane train aware – we want everyone to get home safely,” explained Mr Morton.
Mackay Sugar’s cane train operations include 37 locomotives that cover more than 850km of railway track spanning from Wagoora in the north to Munbura in the south and as far west as Finch Hatton.
In addition to improving its locos, cane bins and rail infrastructure as part of the scheduled maintenance program, production at Mackay Sugar is set to benefit from yet another year of significant investment across several major capital improvement projects, with more than $34 Million spent on new and improved mill infrastructure over the past 12 months alone.
Mackay Sugar CEO Jannik Olejas said, “Nordzucker Group continues to see significant value in our business and the sugar cane industry and has confirmed its commitment to increase the levels of ongoing investment in the years ahead.
“On the back of a thorough asset analysis, we have identified several plant and process opportunities that we are excited to deliver. Many of these will see us bring in new technology and set us up for positive performance benefits in the years ahead,” Mr Olejas explained.

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Exploring STEM Pathways In The Resources Sector

May 23, 2024

There wasn’t a shovel in sight when Year 10 students from Pioneer and Mackay State High Schools set about digging up the benefits of studying science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) in senior school and the potential career pathways available in the resources sector.  
 
Year 10 students at both schools participated in a STEM Unearthed workshop recently which explored how further studies in subjects like geology, chemistry and engineering can lead to meaningful careers as geologists, metallurgists, mining engineers and more. 
 
The workshop was delivered by the Queensland Minerals and Energy Academy (QMEA) – the education arm of the Queensland Resources Council, with the support of BHP Mitsubishi Alliance (BMA). 
 
Linda Murry, General Manager of BMA’s Hay Point Coal Terminal said many of the students were interested in pursuing STEM studies in Years 11 and 12, with the idea of ultimately joining the resources sector. 
 
“We are keen to encourage and support the next generation of professionals entering the resources workforce,” she said.
 
 “It was great for our team members to have the opportunity to engage with students about the benefits of joining our exciting sector, which offers a rewarding career, competitive salaries and a great work-life balance.”
 
Mackay State High School Acting Principal, Matt Reeves, said the workshop was particularly valuable for students who were deciding on their subject selection for Year 11. 
 
“Talking to industry professionals about their career journey provides the students with a unique picture of potential careers they will not get anywhere else. 
 
I hope this workshop has ignited their interest in continuing STEM studies and ultimately a professional role in resources,” said Mr Reeves. 
 
Katrina-Lee Jones, QRC Director for Diversity, Skills and Education, said the STEM Unearthed workshop was popular with the students and industry. 
 
“One of the QMEA's goals is to highlight the great career opportunities available to students and create a pipeline of new talent for the resources workforce,” said Ms Jones. 
 

Year 10 students from Pioneer and Mackay State High Schools participated in the STEM Unearthed workshop

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Enough Is Enough Breaking The Silence About Domestic Violence

May 23, 2024

By Hannah McNamara

A solemn ceremony was held last Saturday as locals from all walks of life gathered in compassion to acknowledge the lives of those lost to domestic and family violence.

As the sun set, 40 Pink Crosses were displayed on Eimeo beach to symbolise the 37 women murdered so far this year, along with the other three, in honour of the guest speakers loved ones who were tragically murdered in previous years.

Among the crowd stood guest speaker Vicki Blackburn, mother of Shandee Blackburn, who has been fighting for her daughter’s murder case since 2013. Ms Blackburn spoke on her own childhood upbringing along with the traumatic incident of losing her beloved daughter Shandee to a violent attack that is still yet to be solved.

Josiah Benedito-Taotafa, a resilient young man spoke on the loss of his sister, commenting on her infectious, loving personality that was horrifically cut short due to an attack from her ex-partner. The young man tells his sisters story, as a reminder to look out for our loved ones if you suspect that they are involved in a toxic relationship. He ended his speech on the lyrics of ‘Keep Ya Head Up’ by Tupac, referencing the importance of respecting women and putting an end to hurting “our women”.

As the candle ignited, tears rolled down the cheeks of many and those who spoke of their experiences on the night, found solace in knowing they weren’t alone.

The number of deaths on the rise in regards to this societal issue has been confronting to say the least, but with the help of services like Broken Ballerina Inc and the support of the local community, it’s important to remember that there is hope in times of darkness.

The aim is to lessen the number of deaths to 0 but until then, organisations such as Broken Ballerina Inc and Queensland Police Services require your help to combat this issue.

Speak out against domestic and family violence and report to police immediately if you suspect that you or your loved one are in danger.

To continue their mission, Broken Ballerina is in need of community funding to help survivors of domestic violence find safety and support. Visit their Facebook page or donate via www.brokenballerina-inc.com.au

40 pink crosses were spread across the beach in commemoration of the lives lost to domestic violence this year. Photo Credit: Adam Sane

Vicki Blackburn, mother of Shandee Blackburn

Josiah Benedito-Taotafa bravely shared his sister's story in hopes of raising awareness against the signs of domestic violence.

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New Mural Reminds Us To Bee Mindful

May 23, 2024

The recent unveiling of the BEE MINDFUL mural marks the progression of Stage 4 within the comprehensive "Bee Corner" initiative, a nine-stage program spearheaded by the MKY City Heart Collective.

The program aims to extend connectivity throughout the community, linking directly to Wood St parkland. This was made possible through the generous support of grants, local business sponsorships, and the dedicated efforts of a resilient team of volunteers who fundraised for a year to make this masterpiece a reality.

In honour of World Bee Day in the month of May, locals gathered to view the highly anticipated reveal of the Bee Mindful Mural last Saturday, at 7th Lane on Wood Street.
Attendees explored the fabulous bee-themed mural, adorned with crochet bees and honeycombs crafted by Marian T, along with family fun workshops led by Let the Children Play and Bee Creativezzz.
The face behind the mural features Jess Bush, a model and actress known for her many roles in Australia's Top Model and StarTrek series as well as her profound ability to hand craft sustainable bee-themed jewellery - which originally inspired artist Scott Nagy to include her in the mural, creating a fully immersive 'BEE' project.
Artists Scott Nagy and Krimsone placed intricate details to signify meaningful and mindful components, including only a few bees in the mural, with a scenic but almost bare landscape correlating to the Pioneer Valley along with the floral food basket and the fragility of the ecosystem, given bees are critical pollinators and producers.
Event Co-ordinators of the BEE MINDFUL MURAL PROJECT, Bonnie McCarthy and Tammy Laval, shared their insights on the project, reflecting on the importance of bees in relation to National Bee Day and how we as humans are impacting their existence and the environment.

“We wanted to tell the story of our CBD bees, by muralising the bee's plight through this mural installation,” Bonnie emphasised.

Tammy added that “If we all made conscious efforts to improve how and what we use in our gardens, we are all making a difference in ensuring the longevity of these pollinators.”

The team extends a heartfelt thank you for the sponsors, grants list, Camilleri Family owners of Penney's Arcade and all involved in the magnificent masterpiece.

With multiple future plans in mind, the team are on the lookout for volunteers who would like to get involved. Visit MKY City Heart Collective for further information.

Caption: The highly anticipated BEE MINDFUL mural was officially unveiled last Saturday in honour of World Bee Day. Photo credit: MCHC Team

Caption: The talented artists behind the masterpiece: Scott Nagy and Krimsone

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ENJOY A DAY IN THE GARDENS

May 23, 2024

To celebrate Botanic Gardens Day, Mackay Regional Botanic Gardens is hosting a special community event to celebrate all things botanic.
The Botanic Gardens Open Day will be held on Saturday, May 25, from 8am to noon on the Tropical Sun Lawn.
This family-friendly event promises to be a delightful time for all ages.
Council's Libraries team will be on hand to entertain the kids with a range of fun activities, including the First 5 Forever van, craft activities, a baby space and a giant Jenga game.
There will also be scavenger hunts and you can complete Birdlife Mackay’s bird spotting checklist to go into the draw to win a copy of the Field Guide to the Birds of Australia book.
Plant enthusiasts are in for a treat with orchid, daisy and plant sales, guided walks, botanic art demonstrations and a range of botanic-themed community displays.
The Garden Friends will be in attendance and will be sharing information on our region’s vulnerable plants and the famous Bungee Jumping Caterpillars.
The Botanic Gardens Café will be open, and you can make a booking by calling 0401 677 164.
The Visitor Information Centre will also be open for assistance and will have a range of botanical books, earrings, cards and artworks available for purchase.
For more information visit mackayregionalbotanicgardens.com.au.

Did you know?
Botanic Gardens Day is an annual celebration first initiated by Botanic Gardens Australia and New Zealand (BGANZ) nine years ago. It is an annual day of celebration to highlight the role of plants in our lives and the important work botanic gardens and arboreta undertake every day to conserve them for future generations.
This year’s theme is ‘More than a garden – protecting our plants and landscapes.’ The theme reflects the fact that botanic gardens and arboreta are not only nice places to visit, but they also conduct ecological research, safeguard plant diversity through living collections and seed banks and educate and empower communities in environmental sustainability.

The Botanic Gardens Open Day will be held on Saturday, May 25, from 8am to noon on the Tropical Sun Lawn

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ICONIC MACKAY Celebrated At Mayor’s Charity Ball

May 16, 2024

Mackay's social calendar sparkled with generosity and community spirit as the Mackay Mayor's Charity Ball unfolded at the MECC last Saturday evening. The event, a cornerstone of philanthropy in the region, saw more than 400 guests gather in support of two vital local charities: Grapevine Group, dedicated to suicide prevention across the Mackay, Isaac, and Whitsunday regions, and the Australian Street Aid Project (ASAP).
This year’s Ball was all about celebrating Iconic Mackay – its features, history, events, and people. A highlight of the night came early in the form of a surprise performance by none other than Mackay's own musical luminary, Graeme Connors. As the audience swayed to the melodies of Connors' timeless tunes, the theme of celebrating iconic Mackay was brought to life with every chord, enhanced by Connors walking along a bright blue centrepiece to mimic Mackay’s Pioneer River.

The Mackay Mayor’s Charity Ball is the night of nights on the region’s social calendar, raising much-needed funds to support local charities. L-R: Cr Namarca Corowa, Cr Nathenea Macrae, Cr Heath Paton, Federal Member for Dawson Andrew Willcox, Mackay Life Editor Amanda Wright, Mackay Mayor Greg Williamson, Deputy Mayor Belinda Hassan, Cr Ash-Lee Johnson, Mackay Regional Council CEO Scott Owen. Photo credit: Liz Andrews Photography

Mackay Mayor's Charity Ball Lights Up The Night

In keeping with the spirit of celebration and giving back, funds raised throughout the evening were destined to make a tangible difference in the community. Mayor Williamson shared that the event, which has raised over $1 million since its inception, aimed to support two deserving charities over a two-year period to maximise its impact.
This year, the spotlight shone on the Australian Street Aid Project, founded by Mackay nurse Kayleigh Brewster in 2018, and the Grapevine Group, celebrating its 20th anniversary. Brewster expressed her gratitude for the ongoing support, emphasising the critical role of funding in providing essential services to the homeless population.
For Edie Weiss, training coordinator at Grapevine Group, the ball's significance extended beyond monetary contributions.
"This donation will enable Grapevine Group to offer medium and large businesses the opportunity to have their own in-house safeTALK Trainers on staff to help train more locals in suicide prevention," Weiss explained, highlighting the organisation's commitment to expanding its reach and impact.

More than 400 people gathered at the MECC for the annual Mackay Mayor’s Charity Ball. Photo credit: Liz Andrews Photography

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Bridging The Gap Or Falling Short?

May 16, 2024

While the budget brings welcome relief in the form of minor boosts and tax cuts, does it fall short of addressing the fundamental issue of the widening wage gap in Australia? While households may receive modest sums weekly due to the tax cuts, the stark reality remains: the cost of living continues to soar, outpacing any marginal increase in disposable income.
Not to mention, as ordinary Australians struggle to make ends meet, major banks continue to rake in billions in profit, much of which is funnelled overseas, exacerbating the economic disparity plaguing our nation. Is this a factor we continue to ignore?
Treasurer Jim Chalmers emphasised the budget's commitment to providing relief to Australian households while promoting economic growth, However, Federal Member for Dawson, Andrew Willcox, voiced reservations about the budget's neglect of regional priorities and infrastructure projects. He argues that while the budget promises relief for some, it fails to address the broader challenges faced by regional communities, leaving them economically disadvantaged and overlooked. Read more on page 3.
By the looks of things, we shouldn’t be holding our breath for the ‘Bruce’ to be fixed to an acceptable standard any time soon.
Now, while I don’t want my weekly editor’s note to read as a ‘dear diary’, I have felt your outpouring of support following my cancer diagnosis and I will do my best to keep you updated on my journey. I’ve been admitted back to hospital early to top up my blood levels, my haemoglobin was a shocking 59. With less than a week to surgery, I’m counting down the days and admittedly am a bit nervous about the journey ahead.

Amanda

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Willcox Slams Budget As Rubbish For Dawson

May 16, 2024

As the nation eagerly awaited Treasurer Jim Chalmers' budget address on Tuesday evening, anticipation mounted over the proposed measures to alleviate the economic strain gripping Australian households. The Federal Budget unveiled a multifaceted approach aimed at easing the burden of cost-of-living pressures while steering the country towards financial stability and prosperity.
At the heart of the budgetary agenda was meant to be a resolute commitment to provide "responsible relief" to Australian households grappling with escalating expenses. Treasurer Chalmers underscored the imperative of striking a balance between fiscal prudence and compassionate support, setting the stage for a budget focused on delivering tangible benefits to everyday Australians.
Central to the government's strategy was the announcement of a $9.3 billion surplus for the 2023/24 financial year, marking a significant milestone in Australia's economic trajectory. This surplus was noted as the first of its kind in nearly two decades.
In addressing rising electricity costs, each Australian household will receive $300 off their power bills, paid in $75 quarterly credits, from July 1. In combination with the State Government’s $1,000 lump sum, this means Queenslanders will receive a total of $1,300 over the next year.
The stage three tax cuts were a focal point of the budget, providing relief across all income brackets. Effective from July 1, the tax rate for the 19% bracket will decrease to 16%, while the 32.5% bracket will be lowered to 30%. Additionally, income thresholds for the two highest tax brackets will be raised. On average, taxpayers can expect a $1,888 tax cut or $36 per week in the 2024-25 fiscal year.
In a scathing assessment of the budget, Federal Member for Dawson, Andrew Willcox, has lambasted the government for what he said is as a blatant disregard for regional Australia, particularly the Dawson electorate. Willcox asserts that the budget has failed to allocate adequate funding for essential infrastructure projects crucial for the region's growth and prosperity.
“To say that I am totally underwhelmed would be the understatement of the century. Not once was Dawson mentioned in the budget. Nowhere in my electorate of Dawson was mentioned within this Budget,” Mr Willcox said.
“The Prime Minister said when he was elected two years ago, ‘no one would be held back, no one would be left behind’, but that’s only if you live in a capital city and not in Dawson,” he added.
“This year’s Budget has demonstrated again that not only has regional Australia had critical infrastructure ripped away, but will also bear the cost of higher mortgages, higher energy bills and higher food prices.
“Regional families will feel the pain in their wallets. Under Labor, regional Australians in Dawson are poorer and being hit with higher taxes, higher mortgage repayments and higher grocery and energy bills.”

He said that Labor spent $1.6 billion less on road and rail projects this year than it promised just five months ago in its Mid-Year Economic Fiscal Outlook.

“The Prime Minister and his Treasurer promised that this budget would be the “budget for the Bruce,” but disappointingly, the most dangerous section of the Bruce has been left out of this budget completely, with the $467 million promised just days ago going to the Southeast corner.

“Dawson has been betrayed in this Budget.”

Andrew Willcox, Federal Member for Dawson, holds up the budget with disdain, labelling it as nothing short of rubbish, highlighting a disregard for regional Australia and the Dawson electorate. Photo supplied

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Do It For Dolly Day

May 16, 2024

Across Australia on May 10, individuals along with schools and businesses alike participated in Dolly’s Dream to honour the late Dolly Everett, a young girl who sadly took her own life due to ongoing bullying.
Inspired by the tragic loss of their daughter, Dolly's parents initiated anti-bullying measures, aiming to empower and educate communities on kindness and bullying prevention which has since sparked a nationwide movement against bullying.
Mackay locals, students, teachers and businesses took part on the day by wearing the colour blue and donating to the cause.
Cheeky Little Monkeys Play Centre Mackay happily jumped on board to support the cause by encouraging locals to pop in, wear blue and make a bracelet or donate, with an additional offer to give back $2 for every entry made into the centre over the course of three days.
In an attempt to spread awareness and raise ongoing funds for the foundation, the Mackay play centre made a Facebook post to inform locals of the opportunity to get involved, with an emphasis that “together we can make a difference.”
Protech Mining & Maintenance also made the kind decision to support the Do It For Dolly Day by announcing that their office staff will be wearing the colours in honour of Dolly.

The company posted to Facebook, “Whether it’s a kind word or a helping hand, each small act of kindness could simply bring someone joy or make their day a little bit brighter.”

The sea of blue within classrooms and local businesses symbolised a united front against bullying.
May we remember this day, every day, and be kind always.

In loving memory of Dolly Everett, a 14-year-old girl who tragically took her life due to ongoing bullying.

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Awards Recognise Nurses’ Care, Compassion And Commitment

May 16, 2024

They are the heart and soul of the healthcare system and last Friday Mackay Hospital and Health Service recognised the care, commitment and compassion delivered by nurses across the region.

International Nurses Day is celebrated on May 12 each year on the anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s birth.

The annual Mackay HHS International Nurses Day Awards acknowledged nurses for their vital roles in our communities and dedication to achieving health outcomes for patients.

There were more than 1500 nurses working in hospitals, multi-purpose and community health facilities across the region, constituting more than 50 per cent of the workforce, Acting Executive Director of Nursing and Midwifery Paul McAllister said.

“International Nurses Day is a time to formally honour and acknowledge the incredible work nurses do on the frontline of care,” Mr McAllister said.

“We thank them for their care and compassion, healing touch and for always putting your patients first.

“Thank you for providing an empathetic ear and compassionate hand when a life-changing diagnosis is delivered; for the commitment, enthusiasm and professionalism you bring each and every day to our patients and communities.

“To all nursing students, enrolled nurses, registered nurses, midwives, nurse practitioners, nurse managers, educators and leaders – thank you for the work that you do and Happy International Nurses Day,” he said.

The Mackay HHS International Nurses Day Awards recognise staff who demonstrate excellence in practice and the significant contributions they make to their professions, their teams and the community across six award categories.

2024 AWARD WINNERS:

McFadzen Perpetual Award

This award is sponsored by the Auxillary and recognises the skills and contributions of a nurse from the Mackay Base Hospital. The award recipient will receive $1000 for professional development purposes. 2024 WINNER: Jenny Seymour, Clinical Nurse Consultant, Infection Prevention.

Clinical Nurse Specialty Award

The Clinical Nurse Speciality Award is sponsored by Robyn Nikolsky, a past nurse who is extremely passionate about the nursing profession who personally donates $250 to be spent on professional development. This category is for a clinical nurse across the Mackay HHS. 2024 WINNER: Chelsey Presley, Clinical Nurse Consultant Post Operative Discharge Support Service (PODSS) and Jeannine Gierke Registered Nurse, Intensive Care Unit

Clinical Excellence Award – Rural

This award specifically recognises a rural nurse who demonstrates an advanced level of skill in a rural hospital. They identify in an area of clinical nursing skills which directly improves patient care through direct care, education of the patients and staff, innovation, research or impact on community health issues. 2024 WINNER: Shannon Breckon, Nurse Navigator Northern, Bowen Hospital

Clinical Excellence Award – Nurse Unit Manager

This is a new category that specifically recognises a nurse unit manager who oversees day-to-day patient care, supervising, directing and developing our Mackay HHS nurse staff, while also educating and inspiring individuals to become leaders who act with integrity, fostering quality and research, promoting wellness and advocate for the best possible experiences for people and the communities. 2024 WINNER: Heather Skien, Clinical Nurse Consultant, Oncology Day Unit.

Excellence in Patient Care Award

This is a new category that recognises a nurse with excellent clinical nursing skills as evidenced by feedback from patients, peers and colleagues. 2024 WINNER: Dolores Ramsamy, Nurse Practitioner, Renal Unit,

CQUniversity 2023 Graduate of the Year Award

This award is to recognise the skills and contributions of a 2022 graduate nurse. The $500 prize is donated by CQUniversity to be used to improve knowledge and skills in nursing or midwifery. 2024 WINNER: – Sara Herringe, Registered Nurse, Emergency Department.

JCU Award – Outstanding Support Award (Department)

Bowen Hospital

JCU Award – Outstanding Support Award

Julie Philipson, Nurse Unit Manager, Patient Flow and Access Service

International Nurses Day Award winners from left, Dolores Ramsamy (Excellence in Patient Care Award), Heather Skien (Clinical Excellence Award – Nurse Unit Manager) and Jenny Seymour (McFadzen Perpetual Trophy)

Mackay HHS chief executive Susan Gannon and Dolores Ramsamy (Excellence in Patient Care award)

McFadzen Perpetual Trophy winner Jenny Seymour with Mackay Base Hospital auxillary members Brenda and Cameron McFadzen

Chelsey Presley (Clinical Nurse Speciality Award winner)

Heather Skien (Clinical Excellence Award – Nurse Unit Manager)

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Local Wheelchair Athlete Selected To Play For The Comets

May 16, 2024

Krystal DeMaid, a determined 23-year-old Wheelchair Basketball player has been recognised for her talent, by being selected to play for the Comets Women’s National League Team.

Despite having a background in netball, Krystal decided to take up basketball in 2022 and instantly fell in love with the sport. She then began to take it to the next level and joined the Mackay Machines last year in 2023. With the guidance of her coach, she embraced the challenges and pushed herself to achieve greater heights as a young athlete.
Krystal has achieved numerous milestones since embracing Wheelchair Basketball, securing both bronze and silver medals, along with a trophy and a hope for many more to come in future.
Whilst playing for the Mackay Machines, she caught the attention of the national Women's team, the Comets, who invited her to join their ranks. The opportunity to play at the national level came as a shock to Krystal, but she was deeply honoured and grateful for the chance to showcase her skills on a larger scale.
“I was so shocked if I’m being honest, just because I haven’t been playing for very long compared to everyone else who has been playing, but I’m absolutely honoured for the opportunity,” she said.
To prepare for the vigorous demands of elite-level competition, Krystal dedicates herself to intensive physical training, including weightlifting, park runs, and cardio workouts. She also hones her shooting skills on the basketball court, striving to improve her accuracy and performance.
As she prepares for a thrilling opportunity to train with the Comets in Brisbane on May 26 and compete for her first round in Perth for Comets on June 22nd, Krystal faces the financial burden of funding for her wheelchair equipment and travel expenses. While some costs are partially covered by the basketball organisation, she relies on community support to cover additional expenses such as flights and accommodation.
Despite the financial challenges ahead, Krystal remains determined to pursue her dream of representing Australia in international wheelchair basketball competitions one day.
Krystal says she is immensely grateful for the support she has received from the Mackay Machines and the broader community.
With the support of the community behind her, Krystal is eager to make her mark on the national and international courts as she inspires others with her remarkable dedication and skill.
Those interested in following her journey can find updates on the Mackay Machines' or Peer Motivations Facebook page.
Those who would like to contribute to her fundraising efforts can donate to her GoFundMe page under: Krystal DeMaid - Mackay Local Wheelchair Basketball Superstar.

Local 23-year-old Krystal DeMaid has been selected to play for the Comets Women’s National League Team. Image supplied

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Burdekin Labor Candidate Slammed Over Demise Of Glenden

May 16, 2024

The announcement by former Isaac Regional Council Mayor Anne Baker that she is running as the Labor candidate for Burdekin is both disappointing and damning for the Queensland mining industry, Energy Resources Queensland (ERQ) said in a statement last week.

“Last week’s hurried announcement highlights what we have said all along – Anne Baker needed a headline to leverage herself into State Parliament and that is why she concocted the save Glenden announcement,” ERQ spokesperson Paul Turner said.

In the damning statement, Mr Turner said that the former Isaac Regional Council Mayor and current Labor candidate for the seat of Burdekin “Did not save Glenden, and did not even care about it until it became a political hot potato.”

“Former Mayor Anne Baker stood by while Glenden deteriorated from a thriving mining town of 1300 to the current run-down and ignored town of 200.

“If anyone is to blame for the current state of the town, it is former mayor Anne Baker. While she effectively deflected that blame during her so-called “save Glenden” campaign, the facts speak much larger than her hollow words.”

Mr Turner said that during Ms Baker’s time as Isaac Mayor, the population of Glenden declined by 80 per cent. Under her watch, Glencore’s nearby Hail Creek mining camp was approved on August 22 by the State Government, meaning 1000 workers would live in that camp rather than Glenden itself. Yet the Byerwen camp owned by QCoal which had previously received approval and is already operational, had the conditions of that approval changed forcing its workers to live in Glenden after the town has deteriorated into a place that no longer has the services one would expect from a mining town.

Under the new legislation QCoal will be required to progressively move its workers from camp to Glenden from next year, with no remaining workers to be on the camp site after 2029.

Mr Turner went on to say that the supermarket, newsagent, pharmacy and almost every shop in Glenden has closed. The school’s year 1-12 population has declined to less than 40 students. There is no childcare centre, the golf club and bowls club both closed and the town’s rubbish dump is due to close at the end of June.

“Far from saving Glenden, former mayor Anne Baker doomed this town,” Mr Turner said.

“As Mayor, Anne Baker supported the 1000-person mining camp at Glencore’s Hail Creek which is the same distance from Glenden as the Byerwen mine she is now working to close.

“Anne Baker never spoke to the 800 workers at Byerwen, many of them who live in Isaac Regional Council and almost 60 per cent of whom live within two hours of Glenden or asked them what impact her political campaign would have on their lives and safety,” he said.
Member for Burdekin Dale Last said in state parliament last month, “Last week I spent time in Glenden where I spoke with residents and business owners, and eight months after that amendment passed through Parliament, I can categorically say that nothing has changed in that community and that community continues to wither on the vine and look for help and look for assistance, and it’s highly likely that nothing will change.”

ERQ is running a campaign to have the State Government overturn legislation it introduced with no consultation or reference to a Parliamentary Committee which will force the Queensland-owned and operating QCoal mining company to close its onsite Byerwen mine camp and force its 800 workers to live in Glenden.

A photo from QCoal shows the demise of Glenden with much of the town run down or overgrown

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FUNDING GRANTED TO HELP YOUNG INDIGENOUS DRIVERS

May 16, 2024

Mackay Regional Council has approved a $7500 Community Grant to help fund a program aimed at reducing incidents of road crashes involving Indigenous youth.
Clontarf's Mackay L-2-P Driving Program aims to help more than 40 disadvantaged young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander males who face barriers in obtaining driver education and a licence.
The grant was one of 15 Community Grants and 16 Small Equipment Grants approved to the value of $175,353.
Mayor Greg Williamson said council was pleased to be able to support the amazing work done by Clontarf Mackay.
“In Queensland, Indigenous Australians are up to six times more likely to be involved in a road crash than non-Indigenous Australians,” Mayor Williamson said.
“On top of that, in Queensland, 23.6 per cent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander fatal crashes had an unlicensed driver,” he said.
“When you consider these statistics, this program that aims to assist young Indigenous men to get a licence and become safe and competent drivers has the potential to change – and even save – lives.”
Also supported with a $7500 grant was the 2024 Friendship Games.
Mayor Williamson said the Friendship Games were a tremendous initiative of the Filipino community.
“The Mackay Filipino-Australian Association is inviting Filipino communities to come to Mackay from Cairns, Townsville, Bowen, Rockhampton and Gladstone for a weekend of sports and cultural activities,” he said.
“The sports will include basketball, volleyball, badminton and darts and the grant will assist the association to hire Mackay Basketball Stadium for the Games.”
Other exciting events that received grant funding were the Greater Whitsunday Communities Camilleri Skate Park activation project, the Eungella Ceilidh (a Scottish country dance), the 2024 Mackay International Film Festival and RADfest – a junior roller derby bootcamp and intensive training weekend.    

As part of this grants program, council also provides larger grants – up to $30,000 – to support not-for-profits with buying minor assets and undertaking minor infrastructure projects.
This round saw Bakers Creek Tigers receive a $30,000 Minor Assets Grants for an electronic scoreboard and East Mackay Australian Football Club received a $30,000 Minor Infrastructure Grant to install a storage shed.
For a full list of Community Grants Round Three grant recipients, including Small Equipment Grants, head to mackay.qld.gov.au/communitygrants.

Some of the young men from the Clontarf L-2-P Driving Program undertaking practical
driving activities at a recent education day

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St Joseph’s Participate In ‘Walk Safely To School Day’

May 16, 2024

Last Friday, students and teachers from St Joseph's Catholic Primary School joined in the nationwide event of National Walk Safely to School Day. This initiative, celebrated in primary schools across Australia, aims to promote a healthier, more active lifestyle among children by integrating walking into their daily routines.

Principal of St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School, Deb Mallet said it was a fabulous turnout. For the third time, St Joseph’s students, staff, parents and friends participated in the Walk Safely To School Day.

“We were lucky enough to have three police officers and two members of the Cutters join us for the walk, which was filled with lots of energy and laughter,” Ms Mallet said.
 
“Many thanks to Mackay Regional Council for supplying breakfast, 200 pedometers that were shared with the first 200 students to participate in the walk, with two Intersport vouchers as a raffle prize.

“How lucky were Noah and Michelle who won the vouchers! 
 
“Most of all, massive thanks to Mrs Jaz Housden, who coordinated the event from the walk itself to the delicious breakfast that we all enjoyed.

“Thanks also to our fabulous staff and parents who all helped with the walk, cooking and serving the breakfast,” Ms Mallet remarked.

St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School students, parents and teachers participated in the 2024 National Walk Safely To School Day. Images supplied

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Wings Of Opportunity Mackay Airport Supports Local Sporting Clubs

May 16, 2024

Mackay Airport has launched a new $25,000 initiative to support local sporting clubs.
Five deserving not-for-profit groups will receive $5000 each as part of the Mackay Airport Local Community Sports Grants campaign.

Nominations opened on Wednesday 8th of May and will close on Thursday 23 May.

Mackay Airport Head of Operations Adrian Miles said the new initiative recognised the significance and wide-ranging benefits of Mackay’s local sporting culture, particularly for school-aged children.

“We know how passionate the Mackay community is about sport and fitness, and that’s why we have created this program,” he said.

The campaign is aimed at supporting small clubs who rely heavily on fundraising and dedicated volunteers.

“We hope this funding will enable small organisations to upgrade their facilities and equipment, establish additional programs or provide new opportunities for kids,” Mr Miles said.

“My family have been heavily involved in local sport for many years and I have seen first-hand how beneficial sporting clubs are for wellbeing, social connection and community development.”

“The Mackay Airport Local Community Sports Grants campaign supports our region’s enthusiasm for sport and will help it continue to thrive. I encourage all eligible groups to nominate and we are looking forward to handing out $5000 each to five fantastic clubs.”

Nominations are open to local residents who are 16 years or older and can be lodged through an online form on the Mackay Airport website.

Successful applicants will be notified on Friday 7 June.

Mackay Airport Boosts Local Sports Clubs with new $25,000 initiative. Photo credit: Hannah McNamara

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Local Talents Bring Home Global Spotlight

May 16, 2024

In April 2024, the prestigious WIDA (World Irish Dance Association) World Championships took place in Belgium, providing a platform for Irish dancers worldwide to showcase their skills. The championship spanned approximately five days, beginning with the Grade Feis, followed by team events and later concluded in The World Championships.
Isabella Cummins, also known as Issey, began dancing at the age of 2. Since then, she has flourished into a phenomenal talent and is now a seven-year-old with a multitude of impressive accomplishments. Issey’s favourite part of her recent trip was not only winning, but also making new friends, travelling with her dance school and “having adventures”.  
Rebecca Cummins, Issey's proud mother says that “Watching Issey dance is unreal; I honestly can’t believe how amazing she is.”
Sarah Purnell, age 29, started her journey of Irish dance at the age of 5 in Mackay and since then, Sarah's dedication has led her to international acclaim. After winning the World Championships in 2021 and securing runner-up in 2023, Sarah continues to inspire as she embarks on defending her title in 2025. Beyond the stage, Sarah is committed to nurturing the next generation of dancers as an Assistant Teacher at Claddagh School of Irish Dance.
With a passion that began at the age of 4, Isabella Shields, now aged 15, performs at community events and is working towards her grade 6 Irish examination in September which consists of solo dancing, group dancing, general knowledge and speaking Gaelic. Bella also plans to compete at the World Championships in 2025.

Eilish Tierney, aged 13, started dancing in Galway Ireland in 2015 at the age of 4. When she moved to Queensland she joined Claddagh School of Irish Dance. Ultimately Eilish would love to dance for the rest of her life and make a career out of it.

Colette Shields, teacher and owner of Claddagh School of Irish Dance Mackay and Marian is extremely proud of all the girls for their hard work and dedication in the lead up to the event as well as their amazing camaraderie shown at the championships.

Results:

Isabella Cummins age 7
International Grade Feis: 1st Intermediate Premiership, 1st Intermediate Light Jig, 1st Intermediate Slip Jig, 1st Primary Slip Jig, 1st Beginner Trebble Jig, 3rd Primary Trebble Jig, 4th Traditional Set
World Championships: 1st Under 8

Sarah Purnell age 29
World Championships: 1st Under 30, 2nd 2 Hand under 30 with Isabella Shields, 3rd Solo Charity Trebble Reel (Show Dance).

Isabella Shields 15
International Grade Feis: 2nd Intermediate Premiership 2nd under 30 2 Hand, 5th under 17 2 Hand.
World Championships: 24th Under 15.

Eilish Tierney age 13
International Grade Feis, 1st Beginner Hornpipe, 3rd Primary Hornpipe, 4th Intermediate Slip Jig, 4th Intermediate Trebble Jig, 7th Intermediate Premiership.
World Championships: Recalled placed 15th under 13.

Sarah Purnell, Colette Shields and Isabella (Issey) Cummins
Eilish Tierney, aged 13
Isabella (Issey) Cummins age 7
Sarah Purnell age 29
Isabella Shields 15
Images Supplied

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New Director Catholic Education – Diocese of Rockhampton Appointed

May 16, 2024

Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Rockhampton, the Most Reverend, Michael McCarthy, has announced the appointment of Mr Michael McCusker as the new Director of Catholic Education for the Rockhampton Diocese effective from 1 July 2024.

The appointment of Mr McCusker follows the announcement by current Director Miss Leesa Jeffcoat, that after 23 years she will be concluding her time in the role at the end of 2024 and will be on leave from 1 July 2024.

In congratulating and welcoming Mr McCusker to the role, Bishop Michael took the opportunity to thank Miss Jeffcoat for her outstanding service as Diocesan Director of Catholic Education.

Mr McCusker is well known to many in Catholic Education having served as a teacher and principal in both the Diocese of Rockhampton and the Archdiocese of Brisbane. For the past 12 years, Mr McCusker has been a member of the Catholic Education Leadership Team in the Diocese of Rockhampton serving as Assistant Director: Schools - Northern Region.

“I am humbled by the faith and confidence that Bishop Michael has placed in me by appointing me to this role and I am looking forward to working closely with the wonderful people in our schools, parishes and offices to take forward the Mission of Catholic Education,” Mr McCusker said.

Mr McCusker also paid tribute to the amazing legacy in Catholic Education that Miss Jeffcoat had created over the past 23 years.

“I am very grateful for Miss Jeffcoat’s mentorship of me and with God’s help and the prayerful and practical support of the dedicated, talented and faith-filled people who serve in the ministry of Catholic Education, I look forward with hope to continuing her great work,” Mr McCusker said.

Miss Jeffcoat said she had been humbled to have served as Diocesan Director of Catholic Education for the past 23 years and was very grateful for the trust Bishop Michael had placed in her to serve as Director and for the care and support that he had always provided for her.

“I am delighted that Mr McCusker will be the next Director of Catholic Education in this Diocese. From working closely with him these past many years, I know him to be a man of deep faith who has the personal gifts and the professional skills to be an outstanding leader of Catholic Education,” Miss Jeffcoat said.

Pictured from left > Michael McCusker (newly appointed Director), Leesa Jeffcoat AM (current Director) and Bishop Michael McCarthy, (Bishop, Catholic Diocese of Rockhampton) with students from St John’s Catholic Primary School, Walkerston

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Mackay Medical Provider Suspended For Substandard Testing Of Coal Miners  

May 16, 2024

Resources Safety and Health Queensland (RSHQ) has suspended Harbour Road Medical in Mackay for six months due to substandard spirometry testing, affecting 135 coal mine workers. RSHQ's Director of Health Strategy and Compliance, Patrick Jensen, emphasised the importance of maintaining high-quality medical screening to protect workers' health and safety, especially in light of past incidents like the re-identification of black lung disease in Queensland in 2015.

The state's resources regulator, Resources Safety and Health Queensland (RSHQ), has sent a strong message to medical providers about putting the health of coal mine workers at risk through substandard medical screening.  

As part of a RSHQ campaign aimed at ensuring spirometry testing quality, Harbour Road Medical in Mackay has been suspended for six months following an audit of their lung function tests.

The audit revealed 30 per cent of the provider's spirometry tests were unacceptable and did not meet minimum quality standards, with 135 workers impacted by the poor testing.
The RSHQ audit found the spirometry practice failed to conduct the tests effectively, identify issues in the test results, maintain accurate comments which led to incorrect test interpretation and repeat tests multiple times to the same level as required.  
RSHQ's Director of Health Strategy and Compliance Patrick Jensen said the process had begun to contact all coal mine workers impacted by the audit findings, as well as the workers’ employers and doctors.

"We’re recommending all those affected workers undertake repeat spirometry tests,” said Mr Jensen.

“While we always work with medical providers to improve screening quality through education and advice, we don’t shy away from taking appropriate regulatory action where necessary to protect workers’ health and safety.” 
The operation of ResHealth, the mandatory digital system for the completion of health assessments, assisted in ensuring the quality of medical examinations. 
“ResHealth provides a centralised point for health assessment records, which has made the analysis of disease data easier and better allows us to conduct timely assessments of medical screening,” said Mr Jensen.

Mr Jensen said that RSHQ is undertaking a campaign to ensure spirometry testing is of a high standard.
“As part of the campaign we’ve ordered more than 5,000 spirometry tests across 100 practices in the last 12 months,” he said.
"The re-identification of black lung disease in Queensland in 2015 highlighted the importance of ensuring medical screening is of a high standard and the consequences when this isn’t the case.”
Harbour Road Medical was contacted for comment, however the organisation did not respond.

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Army Truck Makes Unexpected Pit Stop at Ampol

May 16, 2024

A military vehicle careened into chaos at a petrol station in North Queensland, leaving a trail of destruction in its wake.

It was reported by emergency services that at 5:15pm on Tuesday, authorities including police, firefighters and ambulance were called to the Ampol station situated on the Bruce Highway in Sarina, just south of Mackay.

Quick action from station personnel prevented any fuel spills, averting any potential risks of environmental disaster.

Shocked residents took to a popular Facebook page and released images of the aftermath, revealing the truck's impact as it toppled the forecourt canopy and upended a fuel pump.

While the immediate danger subsided, the repercussions linger. Firefighters are remaining vigilant and an engineer's assessment will be conducted to evaluate the station's structural integrity.

Despite the intensity of the collision, the situation is under control and no one was harmed.

Images flood Facebook posts as residents react in shock to the incident. Images sourced (Facebook)

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Aurora Australis Captured In Mackay

May 16, 2024

A captivating celestial display unfolded as the aurora australis, commonly known as the southern lights, adorned the skies across the country with stunning hues of pink, green, and blue. This rare spectacle, triggered by a severe geomagnetic storm, marked the first such event in Australia since 2003, captivating observers across the country.

The mesmerising light show, fuelled by sun-emitted plasma and solar flares in four distinct "coronal mass ejections," cast its brilliance over two consecutive nights, with particularly vivid sightings reported from New Zealand, Tasmania, and even the tropical region of Mackay, an extraordinary occurrence for the area.

Geomagnetic storms, caused by these mass ejections colliding with Earth's magnetosphere, created temporary disturbances and manifested as vibrant natural light displays in the sky. Here is how some locals captured the glow through their lenses.

Campwin Beach, taken by Janice Terrill

Walkerston Cemetery, taken by Claire Stribbles

The Leap, taken by Brittany Wedemeyer

Aurora over the cane, taken by Deb Ford

The vivid glow from Clermont, taken by Elise Dunckis

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COUNCIL RECRUITS CLEVER CANINES TO SNIFF OUT LEAKS

May 16, 2024

In a first for the local area, Mackay Regional Council will recruit the help of two very clever canines to detect water leaks.
Don’t worry, council hasn’t gone barking mad, Bubbles and Splash from NTS Group are two highly trained spaniels able to sniff out potential water leaks.
Together with the help of their diligent handlers they will cover approximately 63 kilometres of water mains in the City Centre precinct, South Mackay and East Mackay areas over the next two weeks.
Besides being adorable, these two pooches are incredibly accurate and quick at detecting a leak early and leading crews right to the source.
Splash specialises in potable water leaks while Bubbles can also detect wastewater leaks.
Mayor Greg Williamson said council was excited to hire the expertise of Bubbles and Splash to assist crews.
“This method has been used by other councils further south and is highly effective, not to mention cost saving,” Mayor Williamson said.
“Leaks can be detected without shutting down networks, digging up roads and interrupting businesses and households,” he said.
“A lot of the water mains in the City Centre area are aging mains that are prone to leaks. Using the dogs will help us to prioritise planned upgrades.
“The skills these dogs have is really impressive – they are able to sniff out chlorine in potable water so they can differentiate between water leaking from a pipe underground and all other types of water on the surface.
“This means the dogs can detect leaks even in heavy rain.
“The dogs are also particularly helpful in areas where it’s difficult to send out crews – like bushland where it can be hard to access – so this may be something we will undertake also.
“Once the dogs detect a potential leak, field crews can be sent out to investigate and repair.”
If you see Bubbles and Splash around Mackay over the next two weeks, you’ll know they aren’t barking up the wrong tree, they’re hard at work!

Handler Troy Meehan with Splash, the water leak detecting canine, from NTS Group with Mayor Greg Williamson putting Splash's unique skill to the test

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Property Point

May 16, 2024

You don’t get a second chance at making a first impression.
I can’t claim that as an original saying but it sums up one of the most important things to consider when selling a property.
It is one of the big points of discussion I regularly have with sellers as they try to work out how much time, effort and money they need to put in to get their property ready for sale.
The obvious point is that you only put money into something that is going to give you a significantly better return than the amount you have put into it.
If you have a long-term strategy to renovate bathrooms and a kitchen then that is great and if you have an old property in a good area the renovations can produce fantastic results in a growing market such as ours.
However, I am thinking more about the sellers who don’t want to undertake major work but, instead, want to put a bit of effort into ensuring they get the best possible return on a limited investment of money and effort.
You need to make the first impression a good one because buyers make their minds up about things quickly. The first 60 seconds are crucial. That’s not to say it’s the only thing that matters but buyers do draw certain conclusions very quickly.
I tell sellers to go for a drive and pull up at the front of their property with their buyers’ hats on. Buyers are looking for reasons to question the asking price. They are very good at making assumptions based on a first impression.
If you have got rickety old stairs with peeling paint at the front of your high-set house the buyers are going to draw some conclusions about your property. They have already started discounting the price based on the stairs and what they see as the inevitable other problems inside the house.
You need to have a critical look at the front of your house and assess what you could do in terms of pressure cleaning, painting, yard work etc that is not going to cost a fortune but will create a good first impression.
Another thing to take into account is that buyers never underestimate the cost of something that will need to be done to the property they are inspecting.
If the paint is peeling off the walls and the carpet is threadbare, the buyers will typically calculate the cost at much higher than the reality.
So, when a property is in need of a coat of paint and new carpet, it is often best to get it done before going on the market. I couldn’t count the number of times I have sold a property for a better than expected price simply because of new floor coverings or a coat of paint.
That is because there is another intangible feature of a property; how it makes the buyer feel. People remember how a property made them feel.
There are plenty of other things to consider when selling a property and I will, from time to time, go through them in my weekly column.
One thing I can say is that many of my best sales have come about when a seller has asked me to go to their property to do an appraisal and, as part of that, make suggestions on what to do to prepare their property for sale.
I get an understanding of what, if anything, a seller wants to spend and get to make suggestions that will bring the best return on their investment of money, time and effort.
The $20,000 underground irrigation system you are planning in your back yard might not be value for money.

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Energy Efficient Upgrades For Your Home

May 16, 2024

In today's environmentally conscious world, optimising your home's energy efficiency isn't just about reducing your carbon footprint, it's also about saving money and enhancing comfort. With a range of upgrades available, here are some efficient ways to transform your home into an eco-friendly space without sacrificing style or functionality:

Led Lighting: Start by replacing outdated incandescent bulbs with energy-efficient LED lights. LED bulbs consume less energy, last longer, and emit less heat, providing a cost-effective and stylish lighting solution for your home.

Energy-Efficient Appliances: Upgrade to ENERGY STAR certified appliances like refrigerators, dishwashers, and washing machines. These appliances are designed to deliver high performance while using less energy, ultimately lowering your electricity bills without compromising on style or functionality.

Smart Thermostat: Install a programmable or smart thermostat to optimise your home's heating and cooling systems. These devices allow you to create customised temperature schedules based on your lifestyle, reducing energy consumption while ensuring comfort throughout your home.

Solar Panels: Consider installing solar panels on your roof to harness renewable energy and reduce your reliance on the grid.

Water-Saving Fixtures: Install low-flow taps, showerheads, and toilets to conserve water and reduce water heating costs. These fixtures combine style with efficiency, offering sleek designs and optimal performance while minimising water waste.

Energy-Efficient HVAC Systems: Upgrade to high-efficiency heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems to improve energy efficiency and indoor comfort. ENERGY STAR certified HVAC equipment delivers superior performance while complementing your home's modern aesthetic.

Energy Audit: Conduct a professional energy audit to identify areas of energy wastage and prioritise upgrades. An energy audit provides valuable insights into your home's energy consumption patterns, helping you make informed decisions about energy-saving improvements.

By incorporating these efficient upgrades, you can transform your house into a stylish and eco-friendly home while enjoying long-term savings and comfort. With a focus on energy efficiency, you'll not only reduce your environmental impact but also enhance the overall quality of your living space.

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Harvesting Opportunities From Inaugural Sugar Cubed Conference

May 16, 2024

A brighter future for Queensland’s sugarcane industry was the focus as more than 100 growers and industry leaders gathered in Mackay last week for the inaugural Sugar Cubed conference.
The two-day event featured a lineup of expert speakers, many at the forefront of innovations in the sugarcane industry and the Australian bioeconomy.
Jet Zero CEO Ed Mason, Qantas Head of Sustainable Aviation Fuel Graeme Potger, KPMG Origins CEO Laszlo Peter, Coca Cola’s Head of Sugar Procurement Pete Greenwell, and head of Evidn behavioural science Dr John Pickering were among the speakers who shared insights.
The program covered a variety of topics, from the development of a sugarcane-based Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) industry in Queensland to strategies for creating a more profitable future for growers and improving market access for sustainably produced Australian Sugar.
Practical challenges around research and development, farm productivity, and harvest and mill reliability were also discussed.
Attendees participated in field trips, including visits to local sugar mills, farm tours, and a trip to Mackay’s bulk sugar terminal and biorefinery.
CANEGROWERS Chairman Owen Menkens emphasised the aim of Sugar Cubed was to provide growers with an annual industry event where they could come together to learn and discuss challenges and opportunities.
“There are so many vital and evolving aspects of our industry,” Mr Menkens said.
“From technological advancements to variety development, harvesting constraints, milling sector sustainability, opportunities in sugar supply chain traceability, marketing and trade access, the emerging bioeconomy, the list is endless and the opportunity to work together as an industry is now.
“But until now, we’ve never had a major forum where growers could come together to learn about and discuss these issues and explore the opportunities together.
“The Sugar Cubed Conference, which has been developed by CANEGROWERS, aims to address the big issues growers want to discuss and see how we can work collaboratively across the industry to bring about success for everyone.”
The conference kicked off with field trips on 8 May, followed by keynote speakers and panel discussions at the Mackay Rydges Suites on 9 May.

L-R: Pete Greenwell - Head of Sugar Procurement for Coca-Cola EuroPacific Partners (the largest purchasers of sugar in Australia), Matt Kealley – CANEGROWERS Membership and Innovation Manager, Graeme Poyger – Qantas Head of Sustainable Aviation Fuel, Ed Mason – Jet Zero CEO and Founder, Shannon Guy – QSL Grower Services Manager

Field trips across key sugar-growing locations in the Mackay region. Photos supplied

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2024 WOMEN IN SUGAR AUSTRALIA (WISA) CONFERENCE

May 16, 2024

One Hundred women gathered at the Hinchinbrook Shire Hall in Ingham for the 2024 Women in Sugar Australia (WISA) Conference from 28th to 30th April with the theme “Women Powering Agriculture.”
There were plenty of opportunities for the attendees to reminisce, renew acquaintances, and meet other like-minded women in agriculture, whether they were the ladies who worked alongside their husbands on the farm, or those who work in industries or companies that support the sugar industry.
A Meet and Greet on Sunday evening started the lively conversations of the women who were eager to network with ladies from Bundaberg, Mackay, The Burdekin, and Herbert River Districts.
On Monday we heard many inspirational speakers telling their stories about their association with business and how they managed to arrive at where they are today, and others that informed us on how the businesses that they work for can assist the sugar or agricultural industries.
The (Women in Sugar Herbert) WISH President, Leah Russo, welcomed all to the conference and was the Master of Ceremonies for the day. Leah is Board Member of Canegrowers and she thanked the Canegrowers organisation for the support that has been given to her to achieve her goals and she encourages more women to stand for election, as she said “There is nothing that they can’t achieve.”
Hinchinbrook Shire Council Mayor, Raymond Jayo pointed out that during the War years, many women were involved with the physical tasks on the farm as many of the men signed up to defend our country. Women have always supported their husbands in some way, and now with mechanisation there are many female haul-out operators and many have farm management roles. Mayor Jayo also informed us that the CEO of the Hinchinbrook Shire Council is the first female to take on this role in the shire. Women often bring different opinions to the boardroom along with their aspirations of perfection.
Ellen Cox, from Green Collar informed the audience about “Introduction to Reef Credits”, Clean Air, Clean Water, Biodiversity, and Healthy Soils.
“Sweet Future Taking Off” was presented by Pia Piggott from Rabobank. She said it is “Not Easy Being Green.”  She reported on Sustainable Aviation Fuel and Sugarcane stockfeed. Pia also gave a quick overview of the Sugar Marketing.
Jodie Mittelheuser, the Chief Financial Officer of Queensland Canegrowers, topic was “Women in Business and the Power of I”. She spoke about her journey to where she is today. Challenge, resilience, respect, confidence and patience are tools that are needed to achieve, she was labelled as a “Perfumed Steamroller” but over time she has been accepted and the title has been removed. She endured many business and family adversities which she has been able to overcome. Her message was “Be able to recognise when you need help.”
The Conference guest speaker was Kate Lamason CPA. She has a career spanning the seafood industry. She is passionate about fostering inclusivity and diversity in the seafood industry. She is a Co-Founder and Director of Little Tuna.
Lisa Hewitt from Elders Rural, outlined the qualities of people you need in Agricultural Industries. In the administration roles, 47 per cent are women. There is a push to change the title from “Women in Agricultural” to “People in Agricultural.”
Anita Davina and Dr Charissa Rixon from Metagen Australia, spoke on the “Simple Solutions to manage nutrient efficiency”.
Karen Edgerton and Lawrence DiBella represented Townsville Lime and Gypsum featuring “What’s your PH.”  Lawrence presented the seven Steps, Understanding the importance of soil, testing and monitoring, understanding nutrient availability, crop-specific PH, calcium and magnesium requirements, adjusting soil PH, calcium and magnesium levels, review the impact of the action and maintaining Soil PH.
Nina West from Wilmar Sugar's topic was “Engaging the next generation of women is sugar”.
On Tuesday the group assembled at RSL Ingham and boarded a bus to visit CD Nursery. Colleen Way gave us an account of the history of their establishment and an in-depth explanation on tissue-cultured sugar cane. We were able to see the various stages of the plants. This was followed by a tour of their green houses. She also specialises in growing Tassel Ferns.
It is CANEGROWERS NETWORK Mackay District’s turn to host the WISA conference in 2025 and a tentative date has been set for 31st March and 1st April.

Contributed by Mary Wallace

Ladies from the Mackay Canegrowers Network
Tassel Ferns
Painting in the Paddock

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Century 21 A Seamless, Stress-Free Real Estate

May 16, 2024

Century 21 Coast to Coalfields is now open servicing Mackay and Morabah, QLD, under the leadership of seasoned real estate professional Luke James Curtis.

With over 14 years of industry expertise, Luke and his experienced team are keen to offer a quality service and experience to buyers and sellers, along with high quality property management.  They can even help with home loans.

Luke expressed the following on what he hopes to accomplish with this new office, "Our vision for the new Century 21 Coast to Coalfields office is to revolutionise the Mackay property market.

“Backed by the Century 21 brand and fuelled by our passion for excellence, we're excited to redefine what it means to be a real estate agency in Mackay".

CEO of Century 21 Australasia, James Bell expresses excitement about this new venture, anticipating the positive impact it will have on the local real estate landscape.

"It's very exciting to see a new era of exceptional real estate and property management services coming to the Mackay region.

“We're proud to have such a dynamic team become part of our network and we look forward to seeing them go from strength to strength."

Century 21 Coast to Coalfields Mackay promises unparalleled real estate services, covering everything from transaction complexities to securing financing for various assets.

Situated in the heart of Mackay within the Century 21 Plaza building, the new office will serve as a centralised hub for delivering exceptional service. Supported by a dedicated team of agents who share his vision, Luke ensures clients receive top-notch guidance and results.
With a focus on personalised attention and comprehensive solutions, the office sets a standard for excellence in the industry, where every client's needs are met with professionalism and efficiency.

Their aim is to make your real estate experience seamless and stress free. They’re new and eager to go over and above for you!

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Balancing The Bad With The Good

May 9, 2024

Life's hurdles have a knack for showing up uninvited, don't they?

I have always believed in a balance in life, a yin and yang, that we must battle through the bad to truly appreciate the good. Well, over the past few weeks, I've found myself facing a series of challenges that have tested my strength in ways I hadn't quite anticipated. And I hope there’s a whole lot of good around the corner.

Firstly, I want to extend my sincerest thanks to everyone who reached out after hearing about my cancer diagnosis. Your emails were greatly appreciated, reminding me of the genuine connections we share within our community.

Unfortunately, recent scans have shown that the cancer isn't content to stay put in my bowel and has decided to explore a bit further. Surgery is still my next step in a couple of weeks, but it is looking like the road may be a bit longer with a few more twists and turns to navigate.

To add extra complexity and heartache to the mix, my little one has decided to join the chaos with a bout of Adenovirus and RSV. Because, you know, one illness just isn't enough these days. Unfortunately we’ve spent the long weekend in hospital with him as he battles for breath. So here I am, writing to you from the hospital cafeteria, trying to fight my heavy eyes with a lukewarm cup of coffee.

On a brighter note, as we approach Mother's Day, let's take a moment to celebrate the incredible women who bring love and light into our lives. May your day be filled with endless kisses and cuddles. And to those dusting off their dancing shoes for the Mayor's Ball on Saturday night, let's make it a night to remember, shall we?

I hope to see you there, if my little one has made his way home by then.

Amanda

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A Ray Of Sunshine

May 9, 2024

Porters have kindly donated a bench in honour and memory of Kennedy Elfverson, a young girl described as ‘a ray of sunshine’ who battled epilepsy and sadly passed away in February this year.  

The unveiling of the Friendship Benches, adorned in Kennedy's beloved colours, marked a heartfelt moment for the school community. Alongside this gesture, a successful fundraiser was held, generating over $2000 in support of Epilepsy Queensland.

The donation of a bench in honour and memory of Kennedy’s vibrant young soul, represents far more than just a physical object, it symbolises a community's collective love, remembrance, and commitment to supporting a cause close to their hearts.
Kennedy's infectious personality, marked by her courageous battle with epilepsy, touched the lives of many within the region and school community that had the privilege of knowing her.
Mackay West State School posted to Facebook, thanking Porters for donating the friendship bench in admiration of Kennedy.
Followed by “Kennedy will always be remembered by our students when we see her rainbow bench in the playground.”

Porters donated a ‘friendship bench’ in honour and remembrance of Kennedy Elfverson, a lively young soul who tragically passed away in February this year. Photo Credit: Porters Mackay (Facebook)

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Reckless Endangerment At An All-Time High

May 9, 2024

By Hannah McNamara

It’s no secret that crime, specifically in relation to theft and the unlawful use of a motor vehicle, seem to have progressively worsened within the region.

In regards to a recent head-on collision that unfolded early last week, a Suzuki Swift was stationary at a red light in Rural View when a 4-wheel-drive, allegedly driven by an unlicensed and under-the-influence driver, was reported to have run the red light, veering onto the opposite side of the road, resulting in a high-impact collision. The unlicensed driver who was allegedly under-the-influence was arrested and charged at the scene.

A witness who preferred to remain anonymous commented, “Something seriously has to be done, and soon, somebody could have lost their life and for what?”

While police confirm this incident was not linked to vehicle theft, the instances of stolen vehicles, dangerous driving and a threat to public safety remain an escalating concern.

Statistics from Mackay Police show that since 2001, crime specific to vehicle theft was the highest ever in the region last year in 2023, with approximately 631 cases deemed as an ‘Unlawful Use Of Motor Vehicle’.

Over a period of three months, between January and March this year, statistics show that there have already been 209 cases subject to this ongoing issue, not including the recent months of April and May which are yet to be tallied.

In response to these shocking numbers, our regional police services are doing everything they can to not only prevent the issue but keep the community safe.

While we steadily depend on our diligent police officers to combat this issue, Mackay District Crime Prevention Coordinator, Steve Smith, shared his insights on how we as residents, can do our part by preventing the issue in the most effective way possible.

Sergeant Smith said, “Car thieves are easily frustrated – for thieves to steal your car they need possession of your keys to do it.

“Where you store your keys in the home matters – the key hooks on the wall, the kitchen bench, a bowl on the table - it’s a bad idea to store keys in these places – keep them secured out of sight,” he added.

“I know people are likely tired of hearing these messages – but it’s far more frustrating to have your car stolen and damaged or worse.”

Alternatively, some other ways to prevent car theft is to ensure your doors are locked, take your keys with you, lock your wheel and install a GPS tracker.

“If you are doing all that you can to secure your car and the keys then the odds will favour you,” Sergeant Smith added.

“Outside of this, we want to work with the community to catch those responsible for stealing cars.”

In light of keeping clear of reckless drivers, it’s important to always stay vigilant when driving and report anything that seems out of the ordinary.

“If you witness anything which you believe to be suspicious, please tell us straight away.”

The 4-wheel-drive involved in an accident at Rural View last week where its driver was allegedly arrested for being unlicensed and driving under the influence. Photo source: Facebook

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World-leading Experts Set To Ignite The Decarbonisation Accelerated Summit Stage

May 9, 2024

What does a change strategist who has inspired 500,000 people across five continents; a national net-zero leader with in-depth knowledge of decarbonisation and a founder who combines maggots and biotechnology all have in common?

They are just some of the world -leading speakers and experts taking the stage at the Decarbonisation Accelerated Summit on Thursday May 23, at the Mackay Entertainment and Convention centre (MECC).

This one-day event, the first of its kind for the Greater Whitsunday region, will feature 30 influential speakers who are leading conversations across the decarbonisation movement.

Announcing the impressive line-up of speakers, Greater Whitsunday Alliance (GW3) Chief Executive Officer Ms Kylie Porter said the summit program was curated to feature world class experts who tackle tricky subjects with practical, positive advice.

“Our region is unique globally and these speakers have been selected because of their extensive knowledge base but also their enthusiasm to work with our local businesses to ignite their decarbonisation journey,” Ms Porter said.

“This is a unique opportunity for our region to not only learn from but engage with these global leaders.”

Ms Porter said the summit is targeting small and medium business owners and operators who are ready to take the next steps on their decarbonisation journey.

“Our region’s businesses will learn a diverse range of solutions and strategies for a low carbon future,” she said.

Resources Centre of Excellence (RCOE) Chief Executive Officer Mr Steven Boxall, CEO said the quality of our keynote speakers is a testament to the importance and urgency of the decarbonisation challenge.

“By bringing together these world-class experts, we aim to foster collaboration and innovation that will propel our industries towards a cleaner, more sustainable future in our region," Mr Boxall said.

The Decarbonisation Accelerated Summit opens at 8.30am with four keynotes throughout the day including change strategist Michael McQueen; ThinkZero founder and Managing director Cle-Anne Gabriel; Vice President of Climate at BHP Graham Winkelman and Founder of Goterra Olympia Yarger.

Michael McQueen, is a multi-award-winning speaker, change strategist, and bestselling author of ten books. With clients including Google, Toyota, and Mastercard, he has helped some of the world's most successful brands navigate uncertainty and stay ahead of the curve. Michael will share his insights into the shifts toward a decarbonised world and how local change can have a global impact.

Cle-Anne Gabriel is the Founder and Managing Director of ThinkZero. She is a sustainable development specialist, consultant, author, and public speaker, and a national leader in this space in Australia. Gabriel brings her in-depth knowledge of decarbonisation and net-zero strategies to the table to assist businesses in commencing their net-zero journeys. She will also explore case studies from her own experiences and where businesses have successfully changed to a decarbonised future.

Graham Winkelman, Vice President of Climate at BHP is responsible for BHP's public commitments to decarbonisation across both its operations and broader value chain. Graham will provide valuable insights into the role of government and long-term policy settings to support the transition to a lower-emissions economy.

Olympia Yarger is the founder of Goterra, where she leads the vision of redefining waste management with biotechnology and eco-friendly infrastructure design. Olympia will provide a passionate example of building products that allow businesses to meet a growing consumer demand for sustainable service provision and agile infrastructure capability.

The summit will also feature morning and after sessions, panel discussions, followed by breakout streams, where attendees can focus on various aspects of decarbonisation, including people, industry, environment, and opportunity. The afternoon session will involve more keynotes, a regional panel and roundtable discussions that will provide further inspiration and practical guidance for local businesses looking to thrive in a rapidly changing world. Also featured in the summit program will be some of Australia’s leading decarbonisation experts and leaders from industry and government including QLD Hydro, Clean Energy Council, Main Sequence, Sedgman, Cauldron and the Sustainable Minerals Institute.

The Decarbonisation Accelerated Summit will conclude with networking drinks at 4.30pm. For more information and tickets visit Decarbonisation Accelerated website.

The Decarbonisation Accelerated Summit is a joint initiative of the Resources Centre of Excellence (RCOE) and Greater Whitsunday Alliance (GW3).

Change strategist Michael McQueen

ThinkZero founder and Managing director Cle-Anne Gabriel

Founder of Goterra Olympia Yarger

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Celebrating Mackay's Outstanding Care Providers

May 9, 2024

Three Mackay Hospital and Health Service midwives have been acknowledged for
their dedication in delivering skilled and compassionate care to women and their families.

Staff from across the MHHS including the Mackay Base Hospital Women’s Health Unit took some time out on Friday to celebrate the midwifery profession and acknowledge the outstanding contributions of their colleagues ahead of International Day of the Midwife on Sunday 5 May.

The Mackay HHS delivers more than 1650 babies every year so it was important
to recognise the vital work midwives do for women, babies and families, Acting
Executive Director Nursing and Midwifery Paul McAllister said.

“Having a baby is one of the most significant and memorable events in a parent’s life and midwives play a vital role in helping care for that most precious of gifts,” he said.

International Day of the Midwife is a formal opportunity to recognise midwives’
ongoing commitment to maternal and newborn health and always placing women and families at the centre of care.

At an awards ceremony held at Mackay Base Hospital on Friday, three awards were
presented to staff acknowledging excellence in the profession.

The award recipients were:
• Emerging Midwife Award (postgraduate): Briony Sheahan, Mackay
Women’s Health Unit.
• The Outstanding Nursing and Midwifery and Leadership Award: Victoria
Noyce, Mackay Women’s Health Unit
• Exceptional Midwifery Care Provider Award (consumer/patient
nominated):
Nickey Pilgrim, Proserpine Hospital.

Midwifery is a very rewarding career where unique relationships are established with women to make a real difference to their pregnancy, birth and early parenting, Mr
McAllister said.

“Today we congratulate our colleagues and the recipients of these awards and thank all midwives for your dedication to midwifery and the valued role you play in bringing
new life into the world,” he said.

“It’s a privilege to be there at the beginning of new life as women become mothers and provide the best advice as families embark on the journey of parenthood.

“Midwives provide a safe place for women to discuss issues and build trusting
relationships throughout the duration of pregnancy, labour, birth and the postnatal
care.

“It’s through these relationships, midwives become trusted members of families and
communities,” Mr McAllister said.

International Day of the Midwife is observed each year on May 5 by more than 50
nations and co-ordinated by the International Confederation of Midwives.

Proserpine Director of Nursing Donna Martin, Exceptional Midwifery
Care Provider Award winner Nickey Pilgrim and Executive Director Public
Health and Rural Services Terry Johnson.

Clinical midwife consultant Victoria Noyce and Nurse Unit Manager
Maternity Kylie Clark

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DAWSON MP DELIVERS FUNDING FOR LOCAL VOLUNTEERS

May 9, 2024

Volunteer organisations in Dawson are set to receive a huge boost in funding as Federal Member for Dawson Andrew Willcox this week announced that the region will receive more than $66,000 in funding as part of the 2023-24 Volunteer Grants, which will directly impact 20 local organisations.
 
Mr Willcox said that these grants are critical in supporting and recognising the role that volunteers play within our community.
 
“Volunteers play a crucial role in our communities, and their selflessness and dedication to our region deserves recognition and support,” Mr Willcox said.
 
“Volunteering also provides an effective pathway to get people into jobs, helps break down the barriers of marginalisation and fosters community participation.
 
“To all the volunteers across the Dawson electorate, I say thank you and congratulations. You truly are the backbone of our society.
 
“This funding is well deserved, keep up the incredible work that you do,” Mr Willcox said.
 
The 2023-24 Volunteer Grants provide organisations with grants of $1,000 to $5,000 to benefit the work of their volunteers. Including to purchase minor equipment, provide training, cover fuel costs, promote awareness of volunteering opportunities or adjust policies and procedures to strengthen member safety.
 
“Any volunteer or community organisation who wishes to can contact my office via email at Andrew.Willcox.MP@aph.gov.au to be added to our grant list to receive information about any current or future grants.”
 
ON FARM CONNECTIVITY PROGRAM NOW OPEN!

The On Farm Connectivity Program is now open with rebates of up to $30,000 available to cover up to 50% of the cost of eligible smart farming technology.

Take advantage of this opportunity to help assist with monitoring livestock, improving water efficiency, optimising soil quality, and improving farm logistics.

To find out if you’re eligible, or to apply visit: http://www.business.gov.au/.../on-farm-connectivity-program

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Empowering Regional Students With Isaac Country Universities Centres

May 9, 2024

The Queensland Government has announced $2 million to enhance educational access for Isaac residents living in the heart of coal and agricultural communities.

Thanks to this funding, Isaac Regional Council will establish two Isaac Country Universities Centres in Clermont and Moranbah, joining 21 other regional communities across Australia.

These centres are strategically designed to bridge the gap between regional students and campus resources.

Students will have access to comprehensive educational support services, including tutoring, counselling, and academic guidance.

Isaac Regional Council Mayor Kelly Vea Vea said, “As the cost of living continues to rise across the country, leaving home and the regions to access higher education is getting harder. 

“Distance education can be challenging without the right support. This funding is about making sure our potential is not pre-determined by our postcodes.”

Whether students need assistance with coursework or study strategies, the centres will provide a safe and inclusive environment for learning.

“Isaac Country Universities Centres in Clermont and Moranbah will offer quality facilities, educational support, programming, and social networks for those undertaking university.

“Together we can ensure this access to opportunity is at our doorstep,” Mayor Vea Vea added.
The Isaac Country Universities Centres will bring like-minded students together, fostering a sense of community and collaboration.

By studying with a parent education provider while using the regional centres as a campus, students can overcome geographical barriers.

Regional and rural students are currently 20% less likely to seek tertiary education compared to their metropolitan counterparts.

However, the changing job landscape demands that 90% of jobs in the next five years will require some form of degree or qualification.

Deputy Premier and Treasurer Cameron Dick said that every Queenslander deserves opportunity regardless of where they live.

“This means opportunity to have a safe and secure home, access to quality and safe healthcare, good meaningful employment, and the ability to improve themselves through education.”

The national job shortage has led some individuals to prioritise employment over education.

The Isaac Country Universities Centres aim to reverse this trend by providing accessible educational pathways.

With only 13 per cent of Isaac residents holding a bachelor’s degree or higher level of education, there is a clear gap in support for higher education and vocational study in the region.

These study hubs will play a crucial role in addressing this disparity and empowering residents to improve their prospects through education.

Minister for State Development and Infrastructure Grace Grace said, “Earlier this year I was also proud to announce almost $40 million for the Isaac Regional Council to construct the Isaac Resources Centre of Excellence.

“Funded through the Resources Community Infrastructure Fund, this project will help advance technologies in the resources sector and enhance educational opportunities for the region.”

FAST FACTS
   • Queensland Government to invest $2 million to open Isaac Country Universities Centres in Clermont and Moranbah
   • The centres will provide more opportunities for regional Queenslanders to diversify their skills and reduce the cost of accessing education.
   • Clermont and Moranbah will join a nationwide network of 21 communities across Australia with Country Universities Centres

Isaac Regional Council Mayor Kelly Vea Vea at the announcement that $2 million will be funded by the State Government to enhance educational access for Isaac residents. Photo credit: Isaac Regional Council

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Commemorating The Spirit Of Zach Roberts In Zach Mach Challenge

May 9, 2024

Get ready for ZACH MACH, a multisport event designed for individuals ranging from weekend warriors to elite athletes, spanning from all ages, set amidst the stunning outdoors of Mackay. Rooted in the values of adventure, community, and health, ZACH MACH aims to unite participants in celebrating the spirit of adventure while promoting overall well-being.

This event pays tribute to the vibrant life of Zach Roberts, a remarkable young individual who had a profound love for adventure and people. Zach, cherished as a grandson, son, brother, and former student of Mackay Christian College, tragically lost his life in a traffic accident at the age of 18.

Nikki Giles, Event Manager for ZACH MACH touched on the importance of honouring Zach and his legacy at the multisport event, as participants gear up for 40k’s of mountain bike riding, 10’ks of kayaking, a 10km trail run as well as a 30km cycle to top it off located “in the beautiful Pioneer Valley,” Nikki described.

Mackay Regional Council Mayor Greg Williamson said “it’s not for the faint hearted, but we have almost 300 competitors this year which is absolutely outstanding.

“It’s about celebrating the beautiful environment we live in and that’s what ZACH MACH does, it compliments what we’ve done for the mountain bike track.

“People from all over Queensland are taking part in ZACH MACH and it’s a stake in the ground for our region,” Mayor Williamson added.

Get ready for an exhilarating, down-and-dirty challenge on May 11th and 12th! Take on nature's hurdles, traverse muddy paths, and dive into the excitement of tackling the elements.

Sign up for the ZACH MACH or MINI MACH Adventure Challenge either solo, as a duo, or in a relay team. Select the stages that resonate with your adventurous spirit, conquer them, and proudly vie for prize money in each stage you undertake. This is your adventure, play by your own rules!

Get ready to participate in the ZACH MACH challenge in commemoration of Zach Roberts, a cherished former student of Mackay Christian College who passed away at the age of 18. Photo Credit: Hannah McNamara

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Local Agency Named Best Creative Marketing Agency

May 9, 2024

From humble beginnings to a creative powerhouse, redhotblue is widely known for their radical thinking and strategic approach to marketing and design which has earned them the Australian Enterprise Awards title of ‘Best Creative Marketing Agency 2024’.

The team, led by Director Jody Euler, said that they were humbled by the recent award win that highlighted their extensive contributions and leadership of the industry over the past 26 years to everyone from small regional businesses through to multi-national organisations.

“We’re beyond grateful to have not only been nominated but having been awarded this incredible title. We truly love what we do, and I couldn’t be prouder of the team I’ve built around me who are the backbone of my business,” said Jody Euler, Director of redhotblue.

One of the standouts against the other nominees was redhotblue’s approach to their work which considers more than just outcomes and primarily focuses on building relationships and staying true to their values-based business model.

“We don’t shy away from honesty and bravery. While that is not always the easy road to take, it has really set us apart from others in the industry and gained us a solid reputation for high standards. It’s a highly competitive space and I have watched several businesses unable to withstand the landscape.

Especially in today’s digital world, the difference in what we offer is our custom and unique approach to our client journey. We get very deep in understanding their goals on a personal level, but also walk them through ideas that they wouldn’t have considered or thought of without us – we offer far more than the usual cookie-cutter approach,” she said.

Over the past 26 years, redhotblue has helped a range of clients, including not-for-profits, government agencies (Mackay Region Chamber of Commerce, Queensland Police, Central West Hospital and Health), numerous public health services (see Domestic Violence campaign–featured), professional services from consultants to lawyers and architects, fashion and cosmetic industries, hospitality, engineering, mining and heavy industry, shopping centres, retailers, political campaigns, and everything in between.

Redhotblue has proudly gained the recognition of several prestigious awards over the years, including the more recent Creative Agency of the Year 2023 [Central Queensland] and believed that the industry had advanced by removing the barrier of locality which had expanded their service area and positioned them amongst agencies in major cities.

“When I first opened my doors in 1997, my clients were all word-of-mouth and walk-ins. We are now lucky to have the opportunity to work with clients around the world,” she said.

“This has really changed and progressed the way we operate and opened a whole new world of possibilities for our industry. We’re beyond excited for what the future holds!”

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Beloved Nurse Returns To Mackay

May 9, 2024

After spending five years in the far north, Anne Scully has expanded her skills and expertise as an educator. Recently, she has transitioned to the Clinical Excellence Unit at Mackay Hospital and Health Service (HHS), where her focus is now on providing training in rural facilities within the region, following her previous tenure with the Torres and Cape Hospital and Health Service.

Partner Trevor Wall has also joined her at Mackay Base Hospital (MBH) as the maintenance coordinator for BEMS.

Driven by a passion for adventure, the couple decided to depart from Mackay after dedicating 25 years of service at the Mater Hospital and Base Hospital, heading north to begin a new chapter of their career on Thursday Island.

“Trevor had been up there on a variety bash and was just so impressed by the beauty of Thursday Island,” Anne said, “so when the role of nurse educator was advertised, I jumped at it and we dragged the two boats up north.

“I really grew as an educator working there. I had to work autonomously and was the sole nurse educator but was supported by co-educators for the outer islands,” Anne said.

“I was planning and delivering multiple education programs in the 26-bed hospital as well as all the mandatory and specialised training.

“It was a blessing really as it was a great chance to grow my skills as an educator, but it’s not for everyone.

While registered nurses (RNs) are the backbone of healthcare, nurse educators are the foundation, she said.

Anne takes great pride in instilling in new nurses a better understanding of the healthcare system and their patient’s needs.

She’s looking forward to “jumping in” and supporting the education needs of staff at rural MHHS facilities including Clermont, Moranbah, Bowen, Proserpine and Sarina.

It was the warm community welcome upon arriving in Mackay in 1990 that enticed her to stay and raise her family here. She felt the same coming back to Mackay earlier this year.

“We are back now to be good grandparents. The place has changed but the people are the same,” Anne said.

“Now I’m back, it’s wonderful to see so many of my former nursing students and how they have really grown into their varied nursing careers.”

Treasured healthcare educator, Anne Scully returns to Mackay after gaining experience in rural facilities within the region. Image Sourced

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Three Degrees Of Celebration

May 9, 2024

A Mackay family has celebrated a remarkable milestone last month as three of its members, spanning two generations, graduated at the CQUniversity Graduation Ceremony.
Mother, Suzanne Francisco, shared the graduation celebrations with her daughter Natasha Otto and son Reece Kinnersly. 
"I am extremely proud of my children and their dedication to their studies,” she said. 
“It's a rare and special moment for our family to witness us graduating together, underscoring the importance of education and perseverance."
Graduating with a Doctor of Education (EdD), Dr Francisco’s aptitude for academia has proven to be a source of inspiration to her children, holding an array of CQUniversity undergraduate and postgraduate qualifications. 
As a CQU alumnus, Dr Francisco previously graduated from a Bachelor of Learning Management (Primary) with Distinction in 2003 and a Master of Learning Management (Special Education) in 2008. 
Following a similar path into the education profession, Natasha graduated with a Masters of Education (Secondary) and a Diploma of Digital media. She also previously completed a Bachelor of Digital Media. 
Further proving the family’s dedication to academic excellence and lifelong learning, Reece also completed a postgraduate qualification, graduating with his Masters of Engineering Management. 
In 2010, the Chartered Engineer completed his Bachelor of Engineering (Co op) Mechanical with First Class Honours and a Diploma of Professional Practice. 
Dr Francisco emphasised their family’s beliefs on the importance of education in shaping the community.
“Both Reece and I are passionate about educating the next generation. In our spare time we have worked as sessional academics at the CQU Ooralea campus," Dr Francisco said. 
“We believe in the power of education to transform lives and uplift communities.” 
Dr Francisco added that her youngest son, Alexander was interested in continuing the family legacy. The current Year 11 student is interested in studying psychology after he graduates high school next year. 
By CQUniversity

L-R Alexander, Natasha, Suzanne and Reece

Dr Suzanne Francisco accepting her testamur from CQU Chancellor Mr Graeme Innes AM

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Rescuing A Feathered Friend

May 9, 2024

Mackay Pet Rescue Inc responded urgently to a distressing call concerning a male duck, known as a drake, found in a dire state at the Gooseponds late last week.
The rescue team arrived with a harrowing sight as blood stained the male duck’s neck and his movements were hindered by evident pain.
Without hesitation, the compassionate team sprang into action and took him under their wing to ensure the best possible outcome for his safety and well-being.
The drake was transported to the teams experienced and beloved carer, Robin Morgan, where she tended to his wounds and provided the duck with the comfort of her safe hands and loving care.
The drake is receiving the attention and treatment necessary for his healing and he is on the road to recovery under the influence of his caretaker, Robin.
Though his path to full health may come with challenges, the commitment of Mackay Pet Rescue Inc ensures that he will have the best chance to recovery under their care.
He will spread his wings once again and return to his home at the familiar waters of the Gooseponds once he has recovered from his injuries.

Mackay Pet Rescue rescued an injured male duck from the Gooseponds late last week. Photo Credit: Mackay Pet Rescue (Facebook)

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Did you know? Reef Catchments

May 9, 2024

Our Conservation and Communities team work on a wide
range of projects from wetlands to threatened species,
weeds, pests, drought resilience and working with the
Traditional Owners Reference Group.

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Reproductive And Maternity Leave Changes For Public Sector

May 9, 2024

The State Government marked Labour Day earlier this week by announcing new workplace entitlements for Queensland public sector workers, including a nation-leading 10 days of reproductive health leave.

The leave can be used for things like fertility and IVF treatment; chronic reproductive health conditions like endometriosis; preventative screening for things like breast and prostate cancers; and other treatments associated with reproductive health like hysterectomies and vasectomies. It will be in place no later than the end of September this year.

The Government will also begin to pay superannuation to those on unpaid parental leave to ensure new parents – and especially women – are not left with gaps in their retirement savings. Currently, superannuation is only paid during periods of paid parental leave.
From July this year, superannuation will be paid for every single week of the entire 52-week period of parental leave for Queensland public sector employees, whether the leave is paid or not.

Premier Steven Miles said it wasn’t good enough that the primary caregiver, predominantly women, are disadvantaged at retirement.

“That’s why my government will begin to pay superannuation to those in the public sector on all parental leave, paid and unpaid, to ensure the ongoing economic security of new parents, especially women,” he said.

“As Queensland’s largest employer, I am proud my government is leading the way when it comes to supporting workers and their families.

“It builds on other nation-leading policies we’ve introduced, like the first paid domestic and family violence leave, which has since been taken up by other employers.”

The 2023 Queensland Gender Equality Report Card shows that the average superannuation balance gap between men and women was 19.8% (2020-21 data) and only 13.9 per cent of Queensland women can rely on their superannuation as their main source of retirement income.

The government said it has no legislative power over the leave and superannuation arrangements of the private sector, but previous government policies – such as the country’s first paid domestic and family violence leave – have been taken up by other employers and in other jurisdictions.

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Grower Community Matters

May 9, 2024

By Kevin Borg, Chairman, CANEGROWERS Mackay
CANEGROWERS represents the voice of 76% of Mackay Sugar growers. Over 90% in Plane Creek. We’ve been successfully providing stable representation in this region since 1926.

Our members have always had the certainty of a Cane Supply Agreement that has been successfully negotiated and maintained by CANEGROWERS Mackay bargaining representatives. They have the weight of 100 years of experience and the resources to resolve issues arising out of that agreement to the satisfaction of members. We bring that same strength to dealing with any issue from farm gate through to our export markets.

Although giving top-level representation for our growers is our core business, CANEGROWERS is more than grower service and advocacy, it offers opportunities for growers to come together as a community and share ideas and time, whether through branch meetings, shed meetings, or through affiliated groups like CANEGROWERS Network Mackay.

Last week, nine members of CANEGROWERS Network Mackay travelled to Ingham to join around 100 women at the Annual Women in Sugar Australia conference. CANEGROWERS, and the district office CANEGROWERS Herbert River are major sponsors of the event, but it is also a coming together for the women in canefarming, nearly all of whom are also CANEGROWERS members.

It’s important to celebrate and support the community of growers. CANEGROWERS Network meets bi-monthly, and has for many years provided a space for women in farming to expand skills and knowledge as well as connect. They are their own organisation but also a vital part of the fabric of our grower community.

Branch meetings offer a different way for growers to connect. They are held monthly and are open to all members. There are branches at Racecourse, Calen, Marian, Plane Creek (Koumala) and Finch Hatton. Sometimes it’s as simple as a place to get together and discuss matters of growing and cane supply, sometimes it’s a critical rallying point as growers grapple with a major issue. It is the forum for putting forward your point of view.

Branch meetings are a way that issues can travel through from the grassroots membership and be addressed by the appropriate area committee, district board and on into State Policy Council where relevant. It’s a powerfully democratic grassroots model that has a clear flow of communication from grower across the organisation, but it’s also a way of being, a community of growers with common experiences, goals and issues.

We’re all farmers, and we need to stick together, and make sure that the meetings and opportunities happen, where grower families can get together and talk. That means more than just having a district office to go and get help. It's like having common areas where our members can come and have a coffee in the town office. It’s our members knowing that they can come find us at events like the local ag shows, and know they can have a chat, maybe grab a shady seat for a minute.  Our members are the backbone of their own organisation.

For CANEGROWERS Mackay, it’s always more than making sure that growers get a fair deal from millers, from governments, and from other parts of the industry. We are about a structure that supports the community that supports it: that’s how we came together 100 years ago, and we’ve only got better at it.

Members of CANEGROWERS Network Mackay travelled to the Women in Sugar Australia conference held in Ingham over April 30- May 1.  Photo credit: Kirili Lamb

Mackay Area Committee, with Mackay Sugar CEO Jannik Olejas, touring Marian Mill to view maintenance season works on May 2. Photo credit: Mackay Sugar

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Empowering Mackay’s Growers

May 9, 2024

Amidst the rustle of sugarcane fields, a significant agreement was reached on April 30, 2024, between Mackay Sugar and QCAR. This milestone marked the culmination of extensive negotiations, paving the way for a new Cane Supply and Processing Agreement (CSPA) that would govern supplies to Mackay Sugar's three mills in Farleigh, Marian, and Racecourse.

Deliberations spanning multiple meetings led to the formulation of an agreement that granted members of QCAR in the Central Region the authority to operate and supply cane under a distinctive Mackay Sugar/QCAR arrangement. While rooted in the robust framework established by Mackay Sugar with other Bargaining Representatives over the years, this agreement boasted notable additions, signifying a new era of collaboration and cooperation in the sugar industry.

The new agreement sets out a course for how the growth and supply of cane is to take place and observes the ever-changing expectations of consumers and the communities in which we operate.

It is increasingly important to be recognised as ‘environmentally sustainable’ by way of accreditation, holding up the standards which Australian sugar is globally recognised for. 

“It has been crucial to us, as a sugar producer and seller of sugar in global markets, that we have a partner who so clearly states their ambition around sustainable practices” says Brent Casey, Mackay Sugar’s General Manager, Commercial & Agriculture.

QCAR is dedicated to advocating and empowering Queensland agriculture producers by fostering sustainable farming practices for a prosperous future.

QCAR Director and lead negotiator in the Mackay area, Chris Punzell said, “Mackay growers have been eagerly awaiting an alternative cane supply agreement and enhanced grower representation.

“I was confident that this would materialise, and I am delighted that it has become a reality. By listening to the needs of farmers, we have successfully secured this agreement to benefit the farming community.”

QCAR Executive Director, Panikos Spyrou said, “With this agreement, we have provided our growers in the Mackay Region with contractual certainty – however we will, true to our spirit in Securing a Stronger Future, keep looking at ways to amend the CSPA to the benefit of both the growers we represent and the miller with whom we cooperate.

“Joined in this effort with Mackay Sugar we have pinpointed several mutually advantageous improvements to collaborate on for the 2025 crushing season. Interested growers can access these enhancements through QCAR,” Mr Spyrou said.

The agreement, which comes into force immediately, is in principle of a four-year rolling agreement that ensures stability and certainty for both growers and miller.

Mackay Sugar CEO, Jannik Olejas expressed his appreciation of the work done by saying, “I commend all parties involved in the constructive discussions that have led to this first agreement between Mackay Sugar and QCAR. We do acknowledge the innovative and open-mindedness that we have been met with and look forward to working together to ensure we have a relevant and balanced agreement in place at all times.”

Also in recent QCAR news, Panikos Spyrou, the Executive Director of QCAR, expressed his enthusiasm regarding Stephen Ryan's appointment as CEO, following the QCAR board's approval of his proposal.

The former CEO said, “I'm excited to have the opportunity to focus more intently on strategic initiatives and the specialised work I undertake for QCAR,” Mr Spyrou said.

“This shift allows me the flexibility to engage in additional activities outside the realm of QCAR's operations.”

(L-R): QCAR Member Tony Bugeja, Mackay Sugar Limited CEO Jannik Olejas (standing), QCAR Director and Lead negotiator Chris Punzell

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Giddy up!

May 9, 2024

Indulge Mum in a thrilling day at the races this Mother's Day weekend! The Amateurs Race Day promises an unforgettable experience of live local racing, vibrant Fashions on the Field, and an atmosphere buzzing with excitement on Saturday, May 11. Immerse yourselves in the glamour of trackside festivities. Sip champagne at the exclusive Champagne Bar or revel in the excitement from the Winning Post Trackside Marquee. For a more intimate affair, opt for a private Marquee or embrace the lively ambience of General Admission. Treat Mum to a day filled with thrills, laughter, and the joy of shared moments at the races.

Morning Tea, Hoy, and Mini Cent Sale
Come and celebrate Mother's Day with the Calen QCWA ladies. Enjoy a wonderful Morning tea followed by Hoy and a Mini Cent Sale on Wednesday, May 15 at 120 McIntyre Street, Calen. $10.00 admission for a 9.30am start.

Markets For Mum
Treat Mum to a delightful day out at the Eungella Community Markets, a vibrant showcase of local talent and produce. Indulge in a home-style brunch, sip on barista coffee, and explore an array of unique stalls offering everything from handmade crafts to artisan body soaps. With family-friendly picnic areas and a bustling atmosphere, it's the perfect setting for a relaxed Sunday outing. Join us in celebrating community spirit and the memory of Ruth Micallef. Sunday, May 12. 9am – 1pm.

Paint N Sip
"Generations Painting: A Mother's Day Celebration" at Northern Beaches Bowls Club promises delightful family memories. Join a Bottletops & Brushes' artist for step-by-step guidance in recreating a beautiful painting together. Indulge in a delectable High Tea Buffet and enjoy bubbly drinks upon arrival to set the festive mood. Sunday, May 12, from 2:30pm.

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Heartfelt Gift Ideas On A Budget

May 9, 2024

Mother's Day is a time to honour and appreciate the incredible women in our lives who have nurtured, guided, and loved us unconditionally. While spoiling your mum on this special day might sound like an expensive endeavour, it doesn't have to break the bank.
Firstly, consider the power of heartfelt gestures. A handwritten letter expressing your love and gratitude can mean more to your mum than any expensive gift. Take the time to reminisce about cherished memories, recount moments that have shaped your relationship, and share your hopes for the future. Your words will undoubtedly touch her heart and create a lasting memory.
Offer to cook her favourite meal or prepare a homemade brunch complete with her favourite snacks. Not only will this show your appreciation for her, but it will also give her a well-deserved break and some much-needed relaxation time.
Pro Tip – There are a range of lovely local establishments offering Mother’s Day menus and high teas. Tropical Phoenix Garden Restaurant and The Eight are affordable places to dine on a budget. If you’re looking for a special high tea or picnic, check out Vintage Farmhouse Kitchen.
Get creative with DIY gifts that are both thoughtful and affordable. Put together a personalised photo album filled with pictures of special moments you've shared together. You could also create a scrapbook, hand-painted mug, or custom candle using materials you already have at home. These handmade gifts add a personal touch and demonstrate the effort and thought you've put into making Mother's Day special.
Pro Tip – If creating a gift isn’t your thing, reach out to the talented team at Cherish Hampers. These unique hampers are individualised with lush goodies Mum is sure to love.
Plan a day of quality time together without spending a dime. Take a leisurely stroll in the park, have a picnic in the backyard, or embark on a scenic hike. Engage in activities that your mum enjoys, whether it's crafting, gardening, or simply relaxing with a good book. The key is to focus on spending time together and creating cherished memories that will last a lifetime.
Consider DIY spa treatments at home. Set up a relaxing atmosphere with scented candles, soothing music, and fluffy towels. Treat her to a homemade facial mask using ingredients from your kitchen, such as honey, yogurt, or oatmeal. You could also give her a manicure or foot soak to help her unwind and feel rejuvenated.
Surprise your mum with breakfast in bed, a bouquet of handpicked flowers, or a heartfelt playlist of her favourite songs. Don't underestimate the power of simple gestures that show your thoughtfulness and appreciation.
Spoiling your mum on a budget is all about creativity, thoughtfulness, and quality time together. Remember, it’s often the little things that mean the most and leave a lasting impression.

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Empowering Mackay’s Growers

May 9, 2024

Amidst the rustle of sugarcane fields, a significant agreement was reached on April 30, 2024, between Mackay Sugar and QCAR. This milestone marked the culmination of extensive negotiations, paving the way for a new Cane Supply and Processing Agreement (CSPA) that would govern supplies to Mackay Sugar's three mills in Farleigh, Marian, and Racecourse.

Deliberations spanning multiple meetings led to the formulation of an agreement that granted members of QCAR in the Central Region the authority to operate and supply cane under a distinctive Mackay Sugar/QCAR arrangement. While rooted in the robust framework established by Mackay Sugar with other Bargaining Representatives over the years, this agreement boasted notable additions, signifying a new era of collaboration and cooperation in the sugar industry.

The new agreement sets out a course for how the growth and supply of cane is to take place and observes the ever-changing expectations of consumers and the communities in which we operate.

It is increasingly important to be recognised as ‘environmentally sustainable’ by way of accreditation, holding up the standards which Australian sugar is globally recognised for. 

“It has been crucial to us, as a sugar producer and seller of sugar in global markets, that we have a partner who so clearly states their ambition around sustainable practices” says Brent Casey, Mackay Sugar’s General Manager, Commercial & Agriculture.

QCAR is dedicated to advocating and empowering Queensland agriculture producers by fostering sustainable farming practices for a prosperous future.

QCAR Director and lead negotiator in the Mackay area, Chris Punzell said, “Mackay growers have been eagerly awaiting an alternative cane supply agreement and enhanced grower representation.

“I was confident that this would materialise, and I am delighted that it has become a reality. By listening to the needs of farmers, we have successfully secured this agreement to benefit the farming community.”

QCAR Executive Director, Panikos Spyrou said, “With this agreement, we have provided our growers in the Mackay Region with contractual certainty – however we will, true to our spirit in Securing a Stronger Future, keep looking at ways to amend the CSPA to the benefit of both the growers we represent and the miller with whom we cooperate.

“Joined in this effort with Mackay Sugar we have pinpointed several mutually advantageous improvements to collaborate on for the 2025 crushing season. Interested growers can access these enhancements through QCAR,” Mr Spyrou said.

The agreement, which comes into force immediately, is in principle of a four-year rolling agreement that ensures stability and certainty for both growers and miller.

Mackay Sugar CEO, Jannik Olejas expressed his appreciation of the work done by saying, “I commend all parties involved in the constructive discussions that have led to this first agreement between Mackay Sugar and QCAR. We do acknowledge the innovative and open-mindedness that we have been met with and look forward to working together to ensure we have a relevant and balanced agreement in place at all times.”

Also in recent QCAR news, Panikos Spyrou, the Executive Director of QCAR, expressed his enthusiasm regarding Stephen Ryan's appointment as CEO, following the QCAR board's approval of his proposal.

The former CEO said, “I'm excited to have the opportunity to focus more intently on strategic initiatives and the specialised work I undertake for QCAR,” Mr Spyrou said.

“This shift allows me the flexibility to engage in additional activities outside the realm of QCAR's operations.”

(L-R): QCAR Member Tony Bugeja, Mackay Sugar Limited CEO Jannik Olejas (standing), QCAR Director and Lead negotiator Chris Punzell

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Why Vaccinate?

May 9, 2024

With a rise in viral and bacterial respiratory infections and deaths, it makes sense to vaccinate, yet many of us don’t! This Cold and Flu season is meant to be a coming together of various infections such as the usual suspects - Influenza, COVID of course (it isn’t going away as we now have a new one - XBB). Plus, some newcomers such as RSV which used to be only seen in kiddies under two mainly. And a rise again in the old foes such as Whooping Cough and a resurgence of Diphtheria.
So why you may ask do people resist getting vaccinated? Here are a few reasons.
   1. VACCINE FATIGUE We are all sick of getting them especially after all the COVID boosters.
   2. DISTRUST Some people have grown rightly or wrongly to distrust vaccines due to social media hype and confusing health messages around COVID and previously the MMR vaccine for children which has been thoroughly disproven to cause Autism.
   3. CAUSE ILLNESS However, a response if you have a vaccine of a high temp, runny nose etc shows your immune system is responding well. Also, in the cough and cold season you could already have a virus brewing, and then have a Flu shot and blame the vaccination. It's only a portion of the strains of flu and all dead so it can’t make you get the Flu!
   4. TOO BUSY Our lives are so full, that doing preventative health activities including seeing the GP or Pharmacists for a vaccination is low on the priority list.
   5. CONFUSION What should you be getting and when? Flu annually, Covid when new boosters come out, and then 10 yearly it’s the Tetanus, Diphtheria, Whooping Cough Vaccines, and Shingles after 50 if you had chicken pox as a child and many more examples.
   6. UNAWARE A teen or at the young adult stage doesn’t have it on their radar, they were told or made to have immunisations by parents, or school etc.
   7. UNSAFE There are always stories on the news or social media where a rare side effect has occurred from a vaccine. However, most people don’t put in perspective that it’s much more dangerous just driving daily.
   8. PERSONAL Other reasons exist too of course.
So, what is the answer?  In my humble opinion I believe ‘Knowledge is Power’ – so become an expert - this website has all the reputable studies and explanations you will ever need. That way you can decide for yourself or raise questions with your GP and ultimately protect yourself, your loved ones and those who can’t be immunised in the community.
After all, prevention is better than cure!
https://www.science.org.au/education/immunisation-climate-change-genetic-modification/science-immunisation

Yours in Good Health
Dr Mags Swenson

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Community Celebration To Feature Former Brisbane Bronco

May 9, 2024

Shane Webcke will be in the Sarina region this June, sharing the highs and lows of his illustrious career on the football field (including the Brisbane Broncos!), and of his life now as a farmer, family man, businessman, author, news presenter and guest speaker.

At the peak of his rugby league career, Shane was renowned as one of the best front rowers in the world. He represented Queensland on 24 occasions and represented Australia in 26 tests. He played for the Brisbane Broncos for 12 years and was named the Daly M Prop of the Year three times.

Shane swears he is “still a Bronco through and through”, having taken his work ethic from the football field to his farm in Southern Queensland, where he balances family life with his wife and three children, alongside his professional career behind the news desk at Seven.

Appearing as the keynote speaker for Community Bank Sarina Bendigo Bank’s community dinner to celebrate 19 years in business on June 8, Shane will share his knowledge, passion, and experience, and how resilience and sense of community have been shaped by personal loss and hardship.

Having tragically lost his father in a workplace incident when he was just 18, this experience instilled Shane with the importance of developing personal resilience.

“I had just started my professional football career when the news (of my father’s passing) meant my world had been ripped apart.”

“I share my passion and experience with many audiences across Queensland and Australia, in the hope it will motivate others,” Mr. Webcke said.

Don’t miss this opportunity to see Shane Webcke in person at the Celebration of Community Anniversary Dinner, tickets close May 12 – visit bit.ly/communitydinner2024 to book today.

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Three WWII Veterans Attend Sarina Parade

May 9, 2024

World War II Veterans are few and far between these days, however Sarina was honoured to see three of these national treasures attend the Sarina Anzac Day main service last month.

The three WWII veterans in attendance were; Mr Len Lister, 100, who served in New Guinea with the AIF 2/12th Battalion, Mrs Connie Turpin, 98, and Mrs Vonnie Deem, who will turn 101 in May.

The Sarina dawn and main Anzac Day services attracted large numbers, making the day a solemn yet beautiful occasion.

The Koumala service featured veterans, service personnel and students as well as horses and riders in Lighthorse uniforms.

Thank you to everyone who came out. It was amazing to see the Anzac spirit alive and thriving.

LEST WE FORGET.

Photo credit: Mackay Regional Council

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Have you ever forgotten how old you are?

May 9, 2024

My birthday is on the 17th, which is next week, and I’ll be honest, I just had to do the maths and work backwards on dates just to remember how old I was.

For the record, and for anyone playing at home with a Casio scientific calculator from grade 10 at Milton Street High, I am 55 years old, and that makes me 56 this time next week.

Whilst that’s great, I’ll get to cut a cake, and hear mates sing happy birthday in the office with horrible tuning, and open cards from my kids, but what is a birthday really? Can you tell me?

For me, as I live by myself, it is just another day. You get up, pat yourself on the back (if it doesn’t cause you to head to Physio Isaac), you go to work, come home, eat some cake, watch the footy and go to bed, then repeat in another 365 days! To me, that’s living!

This year however it will be different, my dad is coming up to celebrate with me and my kids. He decided he wanted to come up to Mackay again and see me and the grandkids, but only when it was cooler than it was in January! You remember then, right? Of course you do. Disgusting humidity, heatwave after heatwave, and every day sitting in the air conditioning just trying not to sweat on the dog sitting at your legs. I really wish I had a dog too.

Dad booked his flights (not Bonza, lucky him) and he said he wanted to be here for my birthday. So, I’ve done the hard work and gotten everything ready. Booked a table at Souths Suburban for dinner, locked in lunch at Eimeo and a few other excursions and treats so Dad will feel at home again (we all lived here from 1981 before he went back home to Sydney)

The birthday will be a nice time to spend with Dad, but the other thing that will be extra special will be that Dad will be here with me on the 3rd anniversary of Mum passing away. He reminded me on Anzac Day that that was the day that Mum went into hospital and never came home again. It was tough hearing it from your 83-year-old father, so I am glad we will be together on the 19th to help each other and remember the great times with Mum.

For whatever you have planned this weekend or next, savour each moment as you never know when it will be your last.

On that note, I’m off to the kitchen. Know a good chocolate birthday recipe?

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

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Kucom Wins Awards At One-Act Play Festival

May 9, 2024

Kucom took a popular David Tristram comedy to the North Queensland Festival of One-Act Plays (NQ-FOOAP), which was held in Townsville on the May Day long weekend. Last Tango in Little Grimley was first performed by Kucom at the old Shakespeare Street Theatre 30 years ago and is still one of the funniest and most relatable one-act plays about a struggling amateur theatre company – and last Saturday adjudicator Pamela Cassidy obviously agreed, because she awarded Kucom the trophy for Best Play, while Director Carolyn Roche received the Best Director award. The cast included Geoff Stewart-McLean, Tessa King, John Irvine and Bronwyn Grannall.

We congratulate the winners in the other sections – Townsville Little Theatre and Perry Studios. There were some wonderful moments, and some intriguing new scripts to explore.

Big thanks go to Kucom members Monica Stewart-McLean and Anne Clutterbuck and the crew at Townsville Civic Theatre for their technical support, to everyone involved in the festival for making us so welcome and helping us out with props and technical equipment - and to all the lovely people who came up to tell us how much they enjoyed our presentation.

We can’t wait to go back to the NQ-FOOAP in 2025!

Our next production

Following the one-act plays in February and the recent production of The Murder Game, Kucom’s 2024 season continues in July with The Appleton Ladies’ Potato Race, a comedy by Australian playwright Melanie Tait. Directed by Luana Royle, The Appleton Ladies’ Potato Race will be a Mackay Festival Fringe event.

Early Bird bookings opened on Monday 6 May, for one week only – there’s still time to grab the cheap tickets, the Early Bird won’t be flying away until Sunday night.

Season dates: 18, 19, 20, 25, 26 & 27 July at 7.30pm, with a matinee at 2pm on Sunday 21 July.

Book online at: https://events.humanitix.com/the-appleton-ladies-potato-race
Alternatively, if you’re not comfortable with online transactions you can also book your tickets by phone. Just call Kucom’s Public Relations Officer on 0419756840.

We’re looking forward to our road trip!

Contributed by Kucom Theatre.

Kucom’s 2024 season continues in July with The Appleton Ladies’ Potato Race, a comedy by Australian playwright Melanie Tai, book your tickets now! Photo Credit: Kucom Theatre (Facebook)

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Cracking Down On Crime State Government Announces Major Uplift In QPS Personnel

May 2, 2024

With Queensland Police statistics showing a steady increase of crime levels in the Mackay region since 2012, the State Government are aiming to combat the issue with the recent announcement of new Police Service recruits.
Queensland Premier Steven Miles came to the region last week to bring the exciting news that 900 positions over the next three years will be filled to fortify community safety in the Central Police Region.
This includes 57 new Police Officers for the Mackay, Whitsundays, and Capricornia regions.

Boosting Police Personnel
A Step Towards A Safer Community

On April 26, the State Government announced a significant increase in Queensland Police Service personnel, with an additional 900 extra positions announced over three years as a key component of its Community Safety Plan.
This investment will deliver 57 new police positions across Mackay, Whitsundays and Capricornia.
Premier Steven Miles said, “My government has a strong Community Safety Plan for Queensland. 
“We’re giving our frontline the resources they need to keep our communities safe, and ensure Queenslanders feel safe.
“The team in Mackay has completed over 5,000 engagements with young people and their families – an incredible effort that is making a positive difference in the lives of Queenslanders.”  
Commissioner of Police Steve Gollschewski welcomes the Government’s announcement on behalf of QPS and says the additional police personnel will boost the officer positions as well as the number of staff members supporting the frontline.
“Additional resources will assist us in our commitment in keeping the community safe and ensuring they feel safe,” he said.
This month, the Mackay Youth Co-Responder team marked three years of early intervention operations to help drive down youth offending and reoffending
Despite a globally tight labour market, Queensland is leading the nation when it comes to police recruitment.
Member for Mackay Julieanne Gilbert said, “We’ve already seen programs like our Youth Co-Responder initiatives making a real difference in our community.
“This expansion will mean that they can do even more good work helping our young people before they go down the wrong path.”
The comprehensive incentive package, combined with an aggressive recruiting campaign has seen the recruit pipeline improve by 200 percent in the last year.
The Queensland Police Service also advises that the number of police officers, combined with recruits undergoing training, is now the highest it has ever been in Queensland’s history.
Nearly 700 recruits are currently undergoing training and over 2,000 applicants are in the recruit pipeline, which is a record for Queensland’s Police Academies.
Commissioner of Police Steve Gollschewski encourages those that are interested in becoming a police officer to join QPS now.
“A career in policing is a career like no other, and the incentives currently available to applicants means there’s no better time to join the Queensland Police.” 
Concluding the announcement, Police and Community Safety Minister Mark Ryan extended a heartfelt thank you by stating “I want to thank our police officers right across Queensland for their incredible commitment to their local communities, because I know how much Queenslanders appreciate the efforts of police on their behalf.”

Premier Steven Miles speaking in Mackay last week.

Commissioner of Police Steve Gollschewski
Northern Beaches Sgt Mitch Benson
Photo Credit: Hannah McNamara

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Facing The Unexpected Journey

May 2, 2024

So, here I am, embarking on one of the toughest conversations I never imagined having to have. It's the 'how do I even start this' dialogue.

Of course, as with most things in life, the best way is to dive headfirst into the uncomfortable because, well, that's what I do. I talk, I write, I process my emotions. And this, is just another chapter in my story, another bend in the road that I must navigate. So, let's talk about it.

Last week, I received news that no one ever wants to hear: I've been diagnosed with colon cancer. Cue the awkward silence, the sense of shock, the avoided eye contact and the hesitant words even my closest friends struggle to find. But I'm not one to shy away from the tough stuff. It's part of my journey, part of my narrative, and now, quite a literal part of me.

Now, let's rewind a bit. While it’s uncomfortable to talk about health and private bodily functions, if this account helps one person to seek an early diagnosis then it’s been worth every awkward word.

About a year ago, my husband and I welcomed our little miracle into the world. Along with the joys of motherhood came the not-so-pleasant side effects, including everyone's favourite topic: hemorrhoids. So, when I started experiencing bleeding from 'back there', it was only natural for my GP to assume hemorrhoids. But as time went on, and the bleeding persisted, it became clear that something more serious might be at play.

Fast forward to two weeks ago when I found myself in the emergency department, feeling dizzy, nauseous, and utterly fatigued. Little did I know, my iron and hemoglobin levels were at a critical point, putting me at risk of cardiac arrest. And here I was, passing my constant fatigue off as just a normal part of motherhood mixed with the stress of a deadline-dictated career.

But life has a funny way of grabbing your attention, doesn't it? So, off I went for a colonoscopy, expecting to hear about hemorrhoids or maybe a polyp or two. Instead, I was blindsided with the news that there was a growth, believed to be cancerous, and surgery was imminent.

And just like that, my world was turned upside down. Tears streamed down my face as the reality of my diagnosis sank in. Thoughts of my little boy not remembering his mum, of the uncertainty that lay ahead, flooded my mind. Amidst the chaos, there was a strange sense of surrealism, a momentary disconnect from the gravity of the situation while I struggled to process the information.

As I navigate this uncharted territory, I have found much love in the unwavering support of friends and family. I have to say that the professionalism and care of the staff at Mackay Base Hospital has also been excellent.

And so, here I am, ready to face whatever comes next, armed with a healthy dose of humour, a sprinkle of optimism, and a whole lot of resilience. After all, I'm just a girl with a literal shitty cancer, ready for whatever this next chapter brings.

Amanda

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Mackay Dawn Service

May 2, 2024

Photo credit: Hannah McNamara

Northern Beaches
Photo credit: Hannah McNamara

Walkerston
Photo credit: Hannah McNamara

Mackay
Photo credit: Mackay Regional Council

Dysart
Photo credit: Isaac Regional Council

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Mackay Dawn Service

May 2, 2024

Photo credit: Hannah McNamara

Northern Beaches
Photo credit: Hannah McNamara

Walkerston
Photo credit: Hannah McNamara

Mackay
Photo credit: Mackay Regional Council

Dysart
Photo credit: Isaac Regional Council

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A Century Of Excellence Treasured Veteran Acknowledged

May 2, 2024

Norman Arthur Waterson, also known as 'Norm', has invoked great courage and resilience throughout his life journey, having served in World War II at just sixteen years of age, he now stands as an inspiration to those lucky enough to know him.
Born on December 11th, 1923, in Mackay, he attended Swaynesville School Sarina, laying the foundation for a life marked by service and dedication. His life story intertwines with the archives of history, particularly during his service in World War II from 1939 to 1945, where he displayed remarkable bravery and commitment to his country.
As a member of the Royal Australian Infantry Corps, Mr. Waterson boarded on a journey of duty and sacrifice that took him to the rugged terrains of Papua New Guinea from May 16th, 1943, to July 31st, 1944.
He then served in Bougainville from December 23rd, 1944, to May 2nd, 1946, showcasing his ongoing commitment to serve his country through courage and fortitude, earning him the respect and admiration of his fellow comrades and now the future generations that have come along since.
In a touching tribute during this year's dawn service on ANZAC Day, Mr. Waterson's contributions were recognised by Mackay RSL Sub-Branch President and Vietnam Veteran Ken Higgins OAM, who highlighted his extraordinary dedication and the enduring legacy he has imparted to his family and fellow veterans.
Among the heartfelt words spoken was the acknowledgment of Mr. Waterson's extensive service during World War II, spanning across the islands and northern Australia, where he served with distinction, followed by a heartfelt appreciation of his attendance on the day.
Ken Higgins said, “He certainly covered some country during the second World War up in the islands, in North Australia, where he served with great distinction.”

“Norm, we’re so proud to have you here this morning,” Mr Higgins remarked.
Present at the service were Mr. Waterson's grandsons, who attested to his inspirational presence in their lives. They spoke of him not only as a war hero but also as a beacon of family honour.
Ros Waterson, expressed profound gratitude, emphasising how his grandfather's legacy has shaped their lives and instilled in them a sense of pride and admiration.
“He’s been a big inspiration to us growing up, we’re very proud of him, he’s a role model and we get to carry his awesome name,” he said.
Throughout his lifetime, Norman Arthur Waterson has carried a mantle of responsibility with grace and humility. As a grandfather and role model, he has inspired countless individuals with his enduring spirit.
As we reflect on Mr. Waterson's remarkable journey, spanning a century of dedication and sacrifice, we extend our heartfelt gratitude for his service to our country. His impact on our community is immeasurable, and his legacy will continue to inspire and uplift generations for years to come.

When Mr Waterson was asked the secret to his longevity, his humorous response was "Rum," and his insightful advice for younger generations was: "just hard work."
Norman Arthur Waterson is not just a veteran, but a symbol of great courage and diligence.

(Left to right) Norman Arthur Waterson with Korean Veteran, Liu Burley and Mackay RSL Sub-Branch President and Vietnam Veteran, Ken Higgins.

100-year-old Veteran, Norman Arthur Waterson was acknowledged for his service at the Mackay 2024 ANZAC Dawn Service. Photo Credit: Hannah McNamara

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Remembering Finley Smith Gardian Memorial Plaque Unveiled

May 2, 2024

“As you got to know him, you couldn’t help but love him. He was loyal, a hard worker and he’d do anything for anybody - community minded and overall, a really good guy,” said Ben Phillips, Managing Director of Gardian.

Colleagues and locals alike gathered in front of the Gardian building on Wood Street to commemorate former son, brother, friend and colleague, Finley Smith.

Finley was a 25-year-old young man headed for a successful life and career within the confines of Gardian, having been brought into the real estate field by his father, who also worked for the company.

Unfortunately, Finley battled with Epilepsy and was medicated for the seizure disorder however he suddenly passed away on the 15th of February 2020.

In honour of his name and prosperous spirit, Gardian unveiled the Finley Smith Memorial Plaque on Monday, April 29th, at 12:30 pm.

Finley’s father, Greg Smith spoke on his appreciation of the event and solemnly thanked the members of Gardian and the community for their ongoing support since his sons passing.

“This event provides both the opportunity to raise funds for the epilepsy cause and for all to get together and have some fun in memory of our son, brother and friend.”

The unveiling of the plaque is a commemoration dedicated to the enduring legacy of Finley Smith, a cherished member of the community and a beloved colleague at Gardian. Finley's dedication and contributions to the organisation were immeasurable, leaving an indelible mark on all who had the privilege of knowing him.

In addition to the plaque unveiling, Gardian is excited to announce the upcoming Finley Smith Memorial Cup, scheduled for June 15th. This annual event, now in its third year, serves as a fitting tribute to Finley's memory, bringing together members of the community in remembrance and celebration as well as giving back to Epilepsy Queensland.
Bridget Franettovich, close friend of Fin and Gardian employee said, “We’d love any support that we can get, we’re still on the hunt for sponsors and businesses to donate raffle prizes - that really helps with driving donations.

“It’s a super fun day and it’s a day designed around an ideal day for Fin, and what he would have loved.”

Gardian unveiled a Memorial Plaque on Monday, April 29th in loving memory of Finley Smith. Photo credit: Hannah McNamara
Ben Phillips, Managing Director of Gardian
Finley’s father, Greg Smith uncovering the plaque in honour of his son

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Blessed Beyond Belief Sarina Woman Wins Saturday Gold Lotto

May 2, 2024

In a lifechanging event, a Sarina woman has been left overwhelmed with joy after scoring
$1.6 million in last weekend’s Saturday Gold Lotto draw. The lucky woman says she feels “truly blessed” and is excited to be able to give her adult children a kickstart in life.
 
The Sarina resident secured one of the three division one winning entries in the Saturday Gold Lotto draw 4463 on April 27, 2024. Each winning entry in division one received $1,648,240.31.
 
“I’m just so overwhelmed and pretty excited,” the woman exclaimed when speaking to an official from The Lott.
 
“This is amazing! I can’t believe it. 
 
“Normally, my routine is I put on my ticket and check it before bed on Saturday night or first thing Sunday morning.

“But I had a bit on Sunday morning, so I didn’t check my ticket until later.
 
“I always go with a 50-game QuickPick. I’ve probably been playing off and on for about 20 years.
 
“It’s just phenomenal. It enables me to help my kids get their first homes, it enables me to fix up our own home bit and I’ll be able to retire a little earlier than planned.”
 
The winning numbers in Saturday Gold Lotto draw 4463 on 27 April 2024 were 1, 26, 7, 20, 39 and 34, while the supplementary numbers were 8 and 10.
 
Across Australia, there were three division one winning entries in Saturday Gold Lotto draw 4463 – two in Queensland and one in Western Australia.
 
In 2023, Saturday Gold Lotto created 176 millionaires across Australia.
 
During this time, there were 303 division one winning in Saturday Gold Lotto entries across Australia that collectively won more than $436 million.

In 2023, more than 122.7 million wins took home more than $3.76 billion in prize money from their favourite games at The Lott, including Saturday Gold Lotto, Monday & Wednesday Gold Lotto, Powerball, Oz Lotto, Set for Life, Lucky Lotteries, Keno (SA), Super 66, Lotto Strike and Instant Scratch-Its.
 
Last financial year, Australia’s Official Lotteries contributed more than $1.6 billion via state lottery taxes and donations to help community initiatives, such as hospitals, health research, disaster relief and education.  

“I’m so blessed. A lot of people are doing it tough at the moment. I feel truly blessed. It’s like the universe is shining down on me and I’m so grateful,” the winner remarked.

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Driving Mackay's Tech Potential With AI Innovation And Networking

May 2, 2024

Split Spaces Mackay was recently awarded $77,500 in funding to excel in a new era of innovation and technological advancement within the region. With a focus on driving Mackay's tech potential forward, Split Spaces is always evolving and making crucial changes that will benefit businesses and entrepreneurs alike.

One key initiative facilitated by this funding is the development of comprehensive strategies to harness the power of technology for business success. Through workshops and training sessions conducted over the next 12 months, Split Spaces aims to equip local businesses with the knowledge and tools needed to integrate technology effectively into their operations.

From AI workshops to discussions on building tech-centric strategies, businesses will learn how to enhance efficiency and productivity, ultimately driving growth and competitiveness in the market.

The grant opens up opportunities for strategic partnerships with major investors, who share Split Spaces' vision for fostering innovation and entrepreneurship within the region. By securing support from these partners, Split Spaces can expand its programs and services, providing even greater support to businesses across various sectors, from digital design to recruitment.
Critical action points stemming from this funding include the identification and launch of initiatives aimed at addressing gaps in the regional innovation ecosystem. By seeking input from key stakeholders, Split Spaces will develop targeted interventions to enhance overall innovation outcomes, creating a more beneficial environment for tech-driven growth and development in Mackay.
Split Spaces is hosting an upcoming one-day event on May 13th, celebrating Small Business Month. This event invites individuals to delve into interactive learning experiences, workshops and insights shared by guest speakers from across Australia.
On May 16th, a Tech and AI Innovation Networking Event will be held, commencing from 3pm at Split spaces, with a main focus on leveraging technology and AI for regional business expansion and growth.  
Facility and Events Manager of Split Spaces in Mackay, Kirra Tully expressed her excitement for the upcoming events.
“We host quite a few networking events so that people can get together and mingle and it’s just a fun and busy space.
“The idea around it is to alleviate the fear around the AI tools and trends, because at the end of the day you’re not going to be replacing a person you’re just going to be improving your business.”

Kirra Tully, Facility and Events Manager of Split Spaces in Mackay.

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Aged Care And Dementia Community Forum

May 3, 2024

Debbie Jackson and her family are living through the pain of seeing a loved one battle the later stages of dementia.

Her husband Gary, who is 61, started to deteriorate in January last year following a series of brain bleeds.

By the end of 2023 he was diagnosed with vascular dementia and given a life expectancy of just twelve months.

It’s been a difficult time for Debbie who was caring for Gary at home until the physical and emotional toll became too great.

“We had 24/7 support at home, but he couldn’t understand why we needed that and he’d get so angry and have outbursts of abusing me,” Debbie said.

“I knew that wasn’t really him speaking but it doesn’t stop the hurt.”

Gary is now a patient at Mackay Base Hospital’s G2 ward but Debbie, who visits him every day, said he’s not aware of his surroundings.

“It’s really hard,” Debbie said.

“If I go into the hospital and he says ‘hello’ and he stays awake for most of the visit, I tell the kids that dad had a good day that day, and they know what that means.”

The couple have three children and three grandchildren.

“The grandkids visit but they say, ‘that’s not Grumps anymore’,” she said.

“They feel they lost their dad and granddad a long time ago.

“He sleeps 80 per cent of the time, and some days he’s just staring straight through you.

“Other days I think he recognises me. But he doesn’t talk much anymore and when he does it often doesn’t make sense.

“He was a man of about 105kg and now he’s close to 70kg; there’s nothing of him.”

Debbie is sharing some of her painful experience to raise awareness ahead of an Aged Care and Dementia Community Forum which is being held in Mackay on May 17.

This free event is a shared initiative of Mackay Hospital and Health Service and North Queensland PHN, and it will provide an opportunity for carers and family members to identify and navigate age-related issues.

Following an introductory session with a geriatrician (specialist in aged care) there will be opportunities to attend optional workshops around living with dementia, communication and preparing for the final days. Light refreshments will be provided.

To find out more and to register for the event, look for the QR code on the adjacent advertisement or call Kayla from NQ PHN on 0488 223 301.

Gary and Debbie Jackson in recent times. Photo supplied

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Building Community With The Legendary Neighbour Campaign

May 2, 2024

The 2024 Legendary Neighbour Campaign marks a heart-warming celebration of community spirit and neighbourly kindness. With over 70 residents participating in the campaign, the outpouring of stories and sentiments showcased the true essence of what it means to be a legendary neighbour within the region.
Mackay Mayor, Greg Williamson says that, “My Legendary Neighbour Campaign has been going for several years now.”
“It started off by celebrating neighbours who are getting together and it’s evolved over the last couple of years into actually incentivising neighbourhoods where new people have moved in.”
Among the successful participants, were individuals like Regan, who expressed a heartfelt commitment to looking after his elderly neighbours, and Caitlin, who sought to cultivate a sense of community in her new town.
Caitlin recently moved to Mackay from Middlemount and took up the opportunity to meet her new neighbours by entering the campaign, in hopes of becoming more involved with the community and interacting with other families in her street.
Regan from North Mackay nominated to get to know his neighbours more, to create a stronger bond, both socially and for potential future emergencies.
“It’s good to get to know them more, that way if they ever need a hand with anything they don’t feel as bad to come over and ask for a hand,” Regan said.  
Last week, these deserving recipients were delighted to receive their Legendary Neighbour Packs, each containing a $100 MeatCo. barbecue voucher along with all the essentials needed to host a memorable gathering.
The contents of the packs symbolise not just material gifts, but tokens of friendship and camaraderie, facilitating opportunities for neighbours to come together, share stories, and forge meaningful connections.
Mayor Greg William highlights the importance of the campaign, stating, “It’s about building resilience so that they feel comfortable interacting with you, particularly in times of emergency.”
“Resilient communities are communities who know their neighbours and look after them,” he added.
Mackay Regional Council extends their heartfelt gratitude to MeatCo. for their generous support of the campaign which is aimed at building more connected communities that look out for each other and are more resilient in times of natural disaster.

Caitlyn scored a Legendary Neighbour Pack and is eager to get involved in the community after moving to the region not long ago.

Regan is looking forward to getting to know his neighbours, to build connection for friendships as well as in the case of a future emergency. Photo Credit: Mackay Regional Council.

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Property Point

May 2, 2024

For a long time the strategy for selling properties in Mackay was very straightforward… list at a specific price, usually with a 9 at the end.
So properties would list for, say $499,000 or $549,000. It was very easy for everyone; sellers wanted to get as close as possible to the mark and buyers understood that but also knew the sellers were not looking for more than that.
As the market has changed and prices have gone up, agents such as me have changed the pricing advice to sellers.
You will often see my properties, and other agents, listed as “By Negotiation” or “Offers From” a particular price, say Offers From $499,000 or Offers From $649,000.
One of the main reasons for these strategies is to avoid putting a ceiling on the price at a time when the market is going up.
As much as we real estate agents love buyers and hate to play favourites, the truth is a listing agent like me works for sellers.
Don’t get me wrong, I love helping buyers and trying to line them up with properties that might suit them.
I enjoy taking the buyer through the process of buying a property and making sure they are given the information and assistance they need to make it as straightforward as possible.
But there is one central legal and ethical responsibility a listing agent has; to ensure they get the best price for their client, the seller. We need to create competition that ensures we get the best price for a client.
If we were listing a house, in a stagnant, plateaued market and recent history told us that similar properties sold for between $520,000 and $540,000, it made sense to list at $549,000.
But markets are dynamic and they don’t remain stable. Mackay’s market has changed and competition from buyers has pushed prices up this year.
That’s where pricing strategy comes into it. By listing at “Offers From” we are not creating a price ceiling in a rising market.
I might be selling a property in West Mackay, for example, and note that recent experience and statistics tell me similar properties have sold for between $470,000 and $500,000.
I will also be aware, in the current market, that prices are going up so I could well suggest to a client that we list their property at Offers From $499,000.
That price lists it in the ballpark of where statistics tell us it sits in the market but the “Offers From” strategy ensures there is no ceiling on the price. It allows us to create a competitive environment in which buyers can come forward with their best offers without the limitations of a set price.
Another option is to list at “By Negotiation”. Again, the strategy is to enable powerful marketing to create a competitive environment among buyers and for them to come in with the price they are willing to pay to prevent missing out on the property.
The auction method is another way of taking the price away and leaving the market to compete unrestricted by price guidelines.
I understand that all this can be frustrating for buyers who want to know exactly what price the seller wants.
But the seller’s understanding of where their property sits in the market can change once their property is listed for sale and the last thing we want to do is underprice a property.
Oscar Wilde wasn’t talking about real estate when he referred dismissively to someone who “knows the price of everything and the value of nothing”.
But while value is in the eye of the beholder, in real estate we need to ensure it aligns with price.

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Secure Your Space

May 2, 2024

I feel saddened by the number of posts in our community Facebook groups about people’s cars and other possessions being stolen by people breaking into their homes.

It was 4 weeks ago now that I woke up one beautiful Thursday morning, stumbled out of bed wiping the sleep from my eyes on the way to my coffee machine to discover a bunch of cupboards open.

I noticed my housemate’s bedroom door was closed and locked, despite her being away on a trip to Brisbane at the time. I assumed she must have come home during the night, so I inspected further out the back of our house and a window had been ripped out. My first thought – “oh no the poor thing got home and couldn’t find her keys, so she’d broken in”.

I was sorely mistaken.

Upon further inspection her room was in ruins, things strewn across the room and some expensive personal items missing. But strangely enough, other expensive items that were larger than the laptop or drone taken remained untouched. Not only did it confirm that we were broken into while I lay asleep in my own bedroom but also that their intended target was most likely my car keys. Everything else seemed to be an opportunistic cash grab.

I’ve never been more grateful for my extra cautious grandmother that day who was always telling me to take my handbag and keys into my room at night in case someone was to break in.

I’m still dealing with the feeling of being so grossly violated while home alone, fearing all the bumps in the night and the weird feminine energy this event put my usually independent self in to – I now find myself wanting a man around, should it happen again.

I don’t know what the solution is here, but it feels like it’s becoming more frequent and in areas we don’t often see as much crime in our city.

Lock up and take extra precautions to be safe guys.

Kaley

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Sustainability Grants Get Farmers On The Front Foot

May 2, 2024

The Federal Government has announced new grant funding for farmers to tackle sustainable agriculture at the grassroots level.
Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Murray Watt, said the Climate-Smart Agriculture Program Small Grants are designed for individuals as well as farming, community and Indigenous groups to lead on-ground projects.
“The Albanese Government is committed to supporting farmers as they respond to climate change and become more sustainable into the future,” Minister Watt said.
“We are helping ensure that climate-smart agriculture techniques become a normal part of the industry. This will take effort from every part of the sector, with farmers and community groups working hand in hand.
“Sustainable, climate-smart agriculture is not a one-size-fits-all situation. What works in one part of the country might not be effective in another.
“And sustainability can mean many things – anything from better natural resource management, to reducing chemical use, or even improving soil health.
“This is the beauty of these grants – they will target what works at the local level, accounting for differences in soil composition, rainfall, and business models.
“They can be used to try something new or to scale-up something that is already working.
“They are open to individual farmers and community groups of all stripes, and I want to encourage any Indigenous community organisations to get involved, given their long-standing dedication to caring for country.
“These grants are part of wider sustainable agriculture measures from the Federal Government, including next month’s Sustainable Ag Summit where 150 groups from the sector will come together to work on a path forward to reduce emissions, while improving productivity and profitability.
“I’ve seen the drive from the agriculture sector to respond and adapt to climate change. Many farmers are already implementing measures that are designed to drought-proof a property or save a farmer money, which can end up improving on-farm sustainability.
“I’m looking forward to seeing the results of these grants.”
The grant round opened on April 30.
To find out more, visit: Climate-Smart Agriculture Program – DAFF online.

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New National Partnership Set To Strengthen Sugar Industry

May 2, 2024

Driving strategic and positive change across the sugar industry is at the forefront of a collaboration of two of Australia’s leading cane organisations. By combining their strengths, Queensland Cane Agriculture and Renewables (QCAR) and the Australian Cane Farmers Association (ACFA) aim to better serve their members and secure a stronger future for the industry. Leveraging their collective expertise and resources, the partnership seeks to strengthen advocacy efforts and achieve more for sugarcane growers.
QCAR Chairman Charles Quagliata said the sugarcane industry will see significant benefits from the partnership between QCAR and the Australian Cane Farmers Association.
“By joining forces, we are securing a stronger future for the growth of the sugarcane industry across Australia. This marks a pivotal moment for our industry and by combining our strengths, we can better serve our members and drive positive change,” Mr. Quagliata said.
“Both QCAR and ACFA are committed to strong advocacy for sugarcane farmers, as well as supporting our growers to ensure they get the best possible outcomes for themselves and the next generation.”
The partnership will leverage the collective expertise and resources of both QCAR and ACFA to strengthen the sugarcane industry.
ACFA Chairman Don Murday said the unified approach will amplify the voice of the industry and enhances advocacy efforts to achieve more for the industry.
“We have a laser-sharp focus on working with both State and Federal Governments to ensure the interests of the industry are being considered and met,” Mr. Murday said.
“As part of that push, we are establishing district committees that will have a focus on enhanced regional representation to address some of those challenges and opportunities that aren’t currently being prioritised. The partnership shows our confidence in our collective credibility and capability to enhance outcomes for our members and the broader industry.”
Stephen Ryan has been appointed CEO of the joint venture.
“This signifies a new chapter for the sugarcane industry. We are committed to securing a prosperous future for all stakeholders through collaborative efforts,” Mr. Ryan said. 
“Together, QCAR and ACFA will spearhead positive change, nurturing industry expansion, and championing innovation, sustainability, and resilience within the sugarcane industry.”
With a shared commitment to advocacy, sustainability, and resilience, this collaboration is poised to lead the industry towards greater success and resilience in the face of challenges and opportunities.

QCAR and ACFA pre-dinner get-together

QCAR and ACFA post-general meeting dinner

ACFA Chair Don Murday, QCAR ACFA CEO Stephen Ryan and QCAR Deputy Chair Christian Lago

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‘Unfair’ Toll On Local Farmers And Families With New Fresh Food Tax

May 2, 2024

Last week, on April 23, a Senate committee studied the potential impact of Labor's proposed fresh food tax, highlighting concerns about its repercussions such as increased cost-of-living and higher grocery prices.

Michelle Landry MP and Federal Member for Dawson Andrew Willcox said the fresh food tax, which is due to be implemented on July 1, is as an attack on families and farmers throughout Dawson and in the Capricornia.

Mr Willcox said the biosecurity protection levy will force farmers to pay for the biosecurity risks of international importers.

“This Senate inquiry and its outcome is crucial because this new tax will impact almost every single family and approximately 1,500 farmers and farm managers in our electorate of Dawson,” Mr Willcox said.

“The new tax makes absolutely no sense. It will hurt families in our electorate, and right across Australia at a time they can least afford it and farmers who are already under pressure.
  
“Farmers will be forced to pass on costs, meaning families will feel more pain at the grocery checkout.

Mr Willcox questioned the proposal, stating “In what parallel universe would a government charge its own farmers to pay for the risks their competitors are creating?”
 
Michelle Landry MP stands firm on the matter and said that every family and farmer deserved to feel angry that the fresh food tax had already been passed in the House of Representatives.

“The Nationals will continue to fight this senseless new tax,” Ms Landry said.

“We will fight for families and we will fight for farmers, especially when it comes to taxes that impact food prices.”

Nicholas Holland, a local grazier emphasised that farmers are already battling significant challenges and will now have to deal with another layer of bureaucracy hitting their bottom line.

“This Fresh Food Tax is unfair to Australian farmers. Why should we be forced to pay for the
biosecurity of international competitors?

“The levy will add another layer of pressure to our already tight margins, which inevitably
will force the producer to pass the cost onto consumers,” Mr Holland said.

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Discover the Magic Journey 'Into The Woods' with Mackay's Finest!

May 2, 2024

Join us as Mackay Musical Comedy Players & Dalrymple Bay proudly present their captivating production of "Into The Woods"!
 
Set in a mysterious forest, this musical mash-up of classic fairy tales follows the intertwining stories of Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Jack and the Beanstalk, and Rapunzel, as they each venture into the woods to fulfill their deepest wishes. But as their paths cross, they encounter a cunning Witch who sets them on a quest to reverse a curse and find happiness.
 
Immerse yourself in the magic at the Central Queensland Conservatorium of Music on May 23rd, 24th, and 25th, 2024, for an unforgettable journey filled with wonder and whimsy.
 
Directed by the talented Vicky Bobeldyk, with Suzannah Elliott Haynes as assistant director and Sandy Conroy as the Musical Director, this timeless tale weaves together beloved fairy tale characters as they journey "Into The Woods" to chase their dreams and desires.
 
Featuring a stellar cast of local performers, including returning stars like Josiah Benedito-Taotafa, known for his previous role as Seymour in "Little Shop of Horrors", Danielle McCully as the Baker's Wife, Anthony Edwards as the Baker, and Cicely Baira as the Witch, this production promises to captivate audiences with their exceptional talent and community spirit.
 
Despite challenges like the MECC’s temporary closure, our community's spirit remains strong! Our dedicated cast and crew have worked tirelessly to bring this show to life on a different stage, ensuring that the magic of "Into The Woods" shines bright for all to enjoy. Their commitment reflects the heart of our community, promising an unforgettable experience for all ages.
 
Don't miss out on this incredible community event, tickets are selling quickly! Tickets are available from $24 to $48. Be sure to grab yours from the links on the Mackay Musical Comedy Players Facebook page. Let's come together as a community and create memories that will last a lifetime!
 
Tickets are available through the Mackay Musical Comedy Players website, or by visiting https://www.trybooking.com/events/landing/1199116 .
 
Join us in celebrating the rich history of Mackay Musical Comedy Players, who have previously delighted audiences with productions like Shrek, Mamma Mia, and The Addams Family. Let's continue this tradition of excellence and support local talent as we venture "Into The Woods" together!
 
If you are having difficulty purchasing tickets, please contact Andrea Bye on 0427 552 615.


Pictured (top to bottom and left to right): Georgina Baira, Billy Anderson, Danielle McCully, Anthony Edwards, Josiah Benedito-Taotafa, David Goodwin, Elise Doherty and Meg McDonald

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Look Up and Live: too many contacts with powerlines  

May 2, 2024

Ergon Energy Network and Energex are asking everyone to Look Up and Live after an alarming number of contacts with poles and wires already this year. 
 
“It’s frightening that we are only a few months into the year and there’s been 175 potentially lethal cases of vehicles coming into contact with poles and wires on our networks,” Area Manager Chris Graham said. 
 
“So many of these incidents could have been avoided with a bit more attention given by the driver of the vehicle or equipment. 
 
“Sometimes people are so focused on a task they don’t see the inherent dangers around them. 
 
“It just takes a momentary lapse in concentration and suddenly you’re facing the risk of electrocution, so it’s important to take the time to assess the area you’re working in, especially the location of any power poles or lines.” 
 
Motor vehicle accidents make up almost a third of the contacts  (58 incidents) while road transport accounted for 36 incidents, vegetation management 25 incidents earth moving activities caused 18 incidents. 
 
“Ergon Energy Network and Energex are continuing our safety campaign, asking people working around powerlines to Look Up and Live and if you accidentally contact a power pole or wires, STAY in the vehicle if safe, CALL Triple Zero and WAIT for help.” 
 
“You really need to look out for powerlines when you’re working because poles and wires can blend into the surroundings, but the risk is real and if you ignore it the consequences can be devastating. 
 
“If you are involved in an incident that brings down powerlines, stay in the vehicle, call Triple Zero and wait for help.”

Breakdown by area 

South East Queensland 
57 
Central Queensland  
27 
North Queensland 
23 
South West Queensland 
19 
Wide Bay 
17 
Sunshine Coast  
17 
Far North Queensland  
15 

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Flickerfest Celebrates The Best Of Aussie Shorts

May 2, 2024

Get ready for an unforgettable cinematic experience as Flickerfest returns to Mackay!

Mark your calendars for Saturday, May 11th, at 7:30 PM to engage in the Best of Australian Shorts. Please note the change in schedule, as this event typically takes place on Fridays.

Celebrating its 33rd year, Flickerfest, Australia’s only Academy® Award and BAFTA qualifying short film festival, and the country’s largest Australian & International short film competition, screens the best of shorts from Australia and the world, selected from 3,400 entries; ensuring the presentation of A-list short film programmes recognised amongst the best in the world.

Flickerfest screens for 10 days under the summer stars at Bondi Beach in January, with selected highlights of the most entertaining and innovative short films from Australia & around the world touring the country on a 40-venue national tour from Feb - Oct 2024.  

Flickerfest returns to Mackay with this annual one-off chance to see the Best of Australian Shorts programme officially selected for Flickerfest National Tour, before these films continue their journey around the world.

Don’t miss out on this chance to immerse yourself in the artistry and creativity of short filmmaking. Book now for an evening of entertainment, inspiration, and discovery at Flickerfest’s Best of Australian Shorts.

Booking in advance not only assists with planning and catering but also ensures a seamless experience on the night, with reduced queues.

To secure your spot, tickets are available online at  https://www.trybooking.com/CRFEP

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Sweeten Mum’s Day With Mint and Mauve Confectionery

May 2, 2024

Indulge in sweet delights from Mint and Mauve Confectionery, your go-to for Mackay-based baked goods this Mother’s Day! From heavenly cheesecake brownies to melt-in-your-mouth fudge and heart-shaped brownies, Mint and Mauve have got your cravings covered. Pre-order your favourites by May 8th to secure your goodies, as stocks are limited. Plus, explore their new grazing boxes, perfect for a picnic or casual high tea, (pre-orders essential). For those last-minute surprises, you can visit their pop-up shop on May 10th at Canelands. Treat your mum to something special from Mint and Mauve this Mother's Day!

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The Art Of Gift Giving Cherish Hampers & Gifts

May 2, 2024

With a passion for gift-giving and a love for bringing people joy, Cherish Hampers & Gifts has intricately crafted the ultimate gift-giving experience for you, with multiple hampers and goodies on deck and an option to create your own, they’ll have the perfect gift for your loved one this Mother’s Day, along with every other occasion.  

What sets Cherish Hampers & Gifts apart is their heartfelt desire to include local products and support small businesses. In February 2022, the owners of Cherish Hampers & Gifts brought to life their vision of crafting beautiful hampers, using products from small businesses within the region as well as small businesses Australia-wide. Cherish Hampers & Gifts aims to create hampers that showcase Australian families, bringing joy to not only the purchaser and recipient but also to the families who crafted the products.

With Mother’s Day just around the corner, Cherish Hampers & Gifts has a wide range of gifts to suit your cherished mother. Whether they’re a green thumb in the garden, a master chef in the kitchen who admires cooking or just an overall selfless mum who would appreciate a little pampering, Cherish Hampers & Gifts has everything you need to give the best present this Mother’s Day.  

The most popular top-selling hampers are brimmed with locally sourced delights, including desired sauces, fudges and chocolates. With an extensive selection of pre-designed hampers and the flexibility to customise your own, this personalised touch allows you to create a unique hamper, tailored to ensure a memorable and meaningful gift-giving experience.

“Our Create your own option is one of our most popular hamper choices, customers can explore our large range of products to choose what best suits the recipient. This also offers the option to easily stick to your budget.”

It has also been said that there is a stocked fridge up to the brim with sought-after chocolates from the locally famous ‘The Chocolate Leaf,’ just waiting to be savoured so get in quick!

Cherish Hampers & Gifts champions multiple small businesses across the Mackay region and is continuously seeking out new suppliers to enhance its diverse offerings.  

Check out their clearance range for a great deal on locally loved items, featuring heavily discounted price tags that won't be restocked once sold out.

Need shipping options? They ensure convenient delivery within the Mackay Region, offer hassle-free click & collect options and provide flat-rate shipping across Australia, ensuring that their cherished hampers and gifts can be enjoyed by customers nationwide.

Celebrate Mother’s Day with Cherish Hampers & Gifts, where passion meets joy in the art of gift-giving. Show your love with locally sourced delights and support small businesses today!

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Giddy Up!

May 2, 2024

Indulge Mum in a thrilling day at the races this Mother's Day weekend! The Amateurs Race Day promises an unforgettable experience of live local racing, vibrant Fashions on the Field, and an atmosphere buzzing with excitement on Saturday, May 11. Immerse yourselves in the glamour of trackside festivities. Sip champagne at the exclusive Champagne Bar or revel in the excitement from the Winning Post Trackside Marquee. For a more intimate affair, opt for a private Marquee or embrace the lively ambience of General Admission. Treat Mum to a day filled with thrills, laughter, and the joy of shared moments at the races.


Morning Tea, Hoy, and Mini Cent Sale

Come and celebrate Mother's Day with the Calen QCWA ladies. Enjoy a wonderful Morning tea followed by Hoy and a Mini Cent Sale on Wednesday, May 15 at 120 McIntyre Street, Calen. $10.00 admission for a 9.30am start.

Markets For Mum

Treat Mum to a delightful day out at the Eungella Community Markets, a vibrant showcase of local talent and produce. Indulge in a home-style brunch, sip on barista coffee, and explore an array of unique stalls offering everything from handmade crafts to artisan body soaps. With family-friendly picnic areas and a bustling atmosphere, it's the perfect setting for a relaxed Sunday outing. Join us in celebrating community spirit and the memory of Ruth Micallef. Sunday, May 12. 9am – 1pm.

Paint N Sip

"Generations Painting: A Mother's Day Celebration" at Northern Beaches Bowls Club promises delightful family memories. Join a Bottletops & Brushes' artist for step-by-step guidance in recreating a beautiful painting together. Indulge in a delectable High Tea Buffet and enjoy bubbly drinks upon arrival to set the festive mood. Sunday, May 12, from 2:30pm.

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A Cottage Delicacy At The Vintage Farmhouse Kitchen

May 2, 2024

The Vintage Farmhouse Kitchen welcomes you this Mother’s Day to join in on a special celebration over May 11th and 12th to indulge in an enchanting Mother's Day High Tea that promises an unforgettable experience for guests of all ages.

At the heart of the Vintage Farmhouse Kitchen lies a welcoming Cottage in the midst of the Pioneer Valley, where High Teas are held and wonderful memories are made. Priced at $59.50 per person, this unique experience transports guests to a realm of homemade delights and artisanal treats. From the moment you step onto the cottage deck, you are enveloped in an atmosphere of warmth and hospitality, where every detail is crafted with care.

Treat yourself and your loved ones this Mother’s Day with an array of delicacies lovingly prepared by the skilled hands of the Vintage Farmhouse Kitchen team. Indulge with some freshly baked scones, topped with dollops of Chantilly cream with your choice of strawberry or raspberry jams as you sip on unlimited tea, coffee and cold drinks.  

Amidst the laughter and chatter, cherished moments are immortalised by the talented onsite photographer, Loren Vanzella, who captures a mini photoshoot, the essence of familial bonds and shared joy with each click of the camera. Call Loren on 0438130962 to book.

For those with dietary restrictions, the Vintage Farmhouse Kitchen extends a heartfelt welcome, offering alternative options to accommodate various needs.

In the essence of the Vintage Farmhouse Kitchen, Mother's Day transcends mere celebration, offering a unique space for homemade goodies, familial love, and cherished memories that linger long after the final crumbs have been savoured.

Mark your calendars and gather your loved ones for a delightful Vintage Farmhouse Kitchen experience this Mother’s Day, where laughter and heartfelt conversations are had and where the love for family, friends and not to mention scones, coffee and tea never ends!

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Meet The Chef At Flavours Of Vietnam

May 2, 2024

‘All Natural, All Fresh’ in an all-new location, with an all-new look, Flavours of Vietnam is now open on 18 Nelson Street. Specialising in Vietnamese Cuisine, this unique dining experience loved by many locals, trails back to 2018, when Owner Mina Dang first opened the restaurant with a spark of passion that ignited from her Vietnamese heritage.

From a young age Mina would often spend time in the kitchen alongside her mother, Kim, which later instilled a profound enthusiasm for culinary arts.

With over twenty years of experience in the culinary industry, Mina specialises particularly in Vietnamese cuisine, given the style she grew up learning as it was a large part of her culture.

Flavours of Vietnam is loved by many Mackay residents and visitors alike, in specific Mina says the most popular dish…that you should definitely try…is their assortment of Pho – a traditional Vietnamese Soup.

With great success, also comes challenges, and Mina finds the level of challenge fluctuates based on the location. She says that one of the primary obstacles encountered with Flavours of Vietnam involves securing the appropriate products, which can be particularly challenging in this region. To address this, Flavours of Vietnam has proactively engaged in direct sourcing from companies and arranged for dedicated truck deliveries to Mackay.

Throughout Mina’s career, she has cherished numerous memorable experiences, especially those shared with the friends she made along the way. She says she is very fortunate to remain in touch with many of them to this day and is grateful for their ongoing support in her business endeavours.

When she’s not perfecting her culinary expertise, she’s spending time with her family, who she says have been a constant source of support throughout her journey towards owning and operating her own Vietnamese restaurant. Along with other remarkable traits and interests, Mina says she is also quite creative and studied nail artistry in previous years.

Mina finds great joy in her customers who have supported Flavours of Vietnam since the day it opened in 2018, after years of planning a dream which has now come true, she is extremely grateful to be able to bring a part of her culture to the community.

“We’re very grateful towards the community and we pride ourselves on sourcing quality products and supporting the local businesses where we can.”

Looking for an extravagant place to dine this Mother’s Day? Mina invites you to experience the newly upgraded local favourite now at 18 Nelson Street Mackay and taste the culinary excellence that has been intricately crafted over the years to bring you the ‘Flavours of Vietnam’.

Mina with the support of her mother, Kim

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Home-Inspired Pork Belly Adobo A Crowd Favourite

May 2, 2024

When a restaurant produces over 1000 meals a day, the kitchen has to run like a well-oiled machine and at Laffos, it does. 
 
Hailing from the Philippines, Laffos' head Chef, Michael Palamores, and his team operate a highly efficient kitchen, turning over huge volumes of stock and meals daily. 
 
From purchasing and rostering through to equipment maintenance, Michael’s dedication to excellence is a rare commodity.  
 
However, the kitchen staff at Laffos true passion is what they put on their customer's plates. It must be fast, and it has to be fresh. 
 
They thrive on the challenge. 
 
So, when Michael approached Mark (Laffo) about putting his own dish on the predominately pizza and modern Australian menu at Laffo’s, Mark was thrilled to accommodate him. 
 
Michael’s pork belly adobo was added to the menu last month and the dish has certainly been a crowd favourite. 
 
A traditional Filipino favourite, Pork Belly Adobo holds a special place in Michael's heart, evoking memories of family gatherings and shared meals. With a modern twist, Michael has elevated this beloved dish to new heights, presenting diners with succulent pork belly bathed in a rich and flavourful adobo sticky sauce that is simply irresistible.
 
Since its introduction to the menu last month, Pork Belly Adobo has become a crowd favourite, garnering rave reviews and leaving patrons craving more. Served alongside steaming rice and crisp greens, this dish embodies the perfect harmony of flavours and textures, a true testament to Michael's culinary prowess and dedication to his craft.
 
As the community continues to flock to Laffos for fast service and fresh meals, Michael stands proudly behind his new addition to the menu, a testament to the enduring power of home cooking and the artistry of a talented chef.

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Crafting Unforgettable Events at The Dispensary

May 2, 2024

Introducing Bree Cook…the ultimate event manager for all your function needs at The Dispensary.
Bree’s Event Management career began right after she completed university, where she studied a Bachelor of Public Relations and Organisational Communications at Charles Sturt University Bathurst. With eleven years of experience up her sleeve, she has spent the past six years with NE Food and The Dispensary.  
What Bree loves most about her role, is that each event and function is unique and different. She says there are never two the same which always keeps it interesting. Her enthusiasm for organising and perfecting functions for her customers reflects from her desire to gather people together over food, wine and good company.  
Bree and the team at The Dispensary strongly aim to exceed customer expectations. They cater to their clients to the highest standard and to the best of their ability, ensuring the event runs as smoothly as possible.  
Expect the unexpected, as The Dispensary is known to put on quite a show and give it their all, boasting extensive attention to detail, high-quality food and top-notch customer service.  
Apart from her partner and her cocker spaniel, Maverick, Bree finds immense joy and satisfaction in seeing her vision come to life after months of planning and execution. As she reflected, "It is so fulfilling bringing a vision to life after months of planning and really executing it for the attendee or client."  
For her, each event, whether it be an engagement party, anniversary, or birthday celebration, is an opportunity to alleviate stress and make the process as simple as possible for her clients. With a commitment to producing the best outcome, Bree and her team consistently aim to transform the daunting task of event planning into a smooth and enjoyable experience, ensuring that every occasion is memorable and effortless.
Bree says The Dispensary function spaces really are one of a kind.  
Choose from The Residence, which has a rooftop deck and indoor lounge with an inner-city Melbourne feel. Another option is The Cellar, offering an unforgettable intimate experience that will have you coming back for more. Or lastly, choose the Dining Room - a perfect option for long lunches and seated dinners.  
All of The Dispensary’s upcoming events are released in their weekly email newsletter so if you don’t want to miss out, sign up to receive what’s new and coming soon. Some sell out very quickly so visit their website to access them. Additional promotions are posted on social media.  
If you require further information or you would like to learn more about their function packages, you can visit their website.  
To book a function or if you have any questions, an email can be sent to events@thedispensarymackay.com.au.

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Prime Minister Opens Riverside Revitalisation Project

April 24, 2024

Prime Minister Albanese has officially opened Mackay’s Riverside Revitalisation Project which has transformed the former industrial precinct into a destination locals and visitors alike can explore and enjoy.

The Prime Minister visited Mackay earlier this week on Monday to cut the ribbon of the Pioneer River’s new pontoon, using the opportunity to speak about the potential of waterfront activations to increase liveability and tourism opportunities. He joined Mayor Greg Williamson, Councillors, council CEO Scott Owen and other stakeholders for the official opening.

“I am delighted to be in Mackay to open this important revitalisation of the riverside,” the Prime Minister said.

“Parents with their kids, locals enjoying their beautiful river and tourists visiting this great part of the world will benefit from this revitalisation for so many years to come.”

The $9.7 million project was jointly funded with the Australian Government investing $4.1 million and the Mackay Regional Council investing $5.6 million.

Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government Catherine King said, “The Mackay Riverside Revitalisation is a great example of the Australian Government working in partnership to deliver critical local community infrastructure.

“This facility provides a new leisure, commercial and tourism offering to support the Mackay Waterfront project and bring fresh life to a former industrial precinct.”

The revitalisation includes the recently completed Pioneer River Pontoon at Bluewater Quay and the nearby River Wharves public area.

The opening included a ribbon cutting at the pontoon, where a Wildcat boat was moored, and a tour of River Wharves.

Mackay Regional Council Mayor Greg Williamson said that both projects have provided improved public access to the wonderful Pioneer River and were part of the Mackay Waterfront Priority Development Area (PDA).

“These projects will be catalysts for future projects, including private investment, along the riverfront,” he added.

“For example, Renew Mackay has recently unveiled plans for a major commercial and residential development on the Brisbane Street car park site adjacent to Bluewater Quay.

“The council-owned building at 8 River Street is also currently being demolished. It will be a prime site for redevelopment and in the interim will also be able to be activated for the community.”

Members from the public who were aware of the Prime Minister’s visit used the opportunity to question the PM about the Pioneer-Burdekin Pumped Hydro project as he walked past representatives from the ‘Save Eungella’ group. In his press conference Prime Minister Albanese addressed the issue, saying no application had been made to the Federal Government for the project as yet, and once it did, then community consultation would be held, however he did not engage with questions from locals as he left the Bluewater Quay.

Prime Minister Albanese and Senator Nita Green were joined by Mackay Regional Council Mayor Greg Williamson and council CEO Scott Owen to officially open Mackay’s Riverside Revitalisation Project. Photo credit: Amanda Wright

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Unveiling Adventure

April 24, 2024

By Amanda Wright

With the scent of fresh mountain dirt in the air as tyres tore through trails and the hum of wheels sliding across the high-speed pump track, the Finch Hatton Mountain Bike Trails were officially unveiled in a community ceremony last Sunday. This opening marked not just the inauguration of a new outdoor attraction, but the birth of a haven for mountain biking enthusiasts and the ticket to increased tourism potential for the Pioneer Valley beyond its natural assets.

Members from the MAD Mountain Bike Club, Mackay Cycling Club, Mackay Cycles and Corry Cycles united for the official opening of the Finch Hatton Mountain Bike Trails. Photo credit: Amanda Wright

Riding High
Finch Hatton Mountain Bike Trails Officially Open

Mackay Mayor Greg Williamson, one of the many driving forces behind the Finch Hatton trail project, expressed his joy during the opening ceremony to see the vision of two men from the local mountain biking club come to fruition.

"It was a fantastic idea that came to the council in 2016. Iain Masters and the late Jeff Rafferty from MAD Mountain Biking Club saw the potential of our top end of the valley, and how it could be transformed into a world-class mountain biking destination,” Mayor Williamson said.

"The whole Council at that stage, including the officers, said that this is going to be a great thing for the valley.”

Mayor Williamson also acknowledged former councillor Justin Englert for being one of the project's most passionate spokespeople over his two terms in council, advocating for its advancement at every opportunity.

The collaborative effort of the community, local authorities, and stakeholders over the years transformed this vision into a reality, culminating in the development of world-class mountain bike trails.

Mayor Williamson emphasised the economic benefits of the trails, saying, "These trails will put Mackay on the national and international map as a mountain bike destination."

He also acknowledged the significant financial investments made by both the state government and the council, amounting to around 13 million over several years.

“It’s too much for one budget, but over six or so years, it’s possible,” he said.

Member for Mackay, Julieanne Gilbert, expressed her delight at the project's completion, noting, "It's a wonderful day to celebrate."

She also commended Mayor Williamson's vision and persistence in pushing the project forward, stating, "Mayor Williamson has been talking to the state government about stage two with our paths and trails funding."

Stage two, will be an 82-kilometre network that spans from Eungella to Finch Hatton and takes in Australia's longest stretch of subtropical rainforest. Planning and investigation works are underway and will continue until 2025. Construction is forecast to commence in 2026.

The day's festivities included market stalls, food vendors, and family-friendly activities, with the community invited to bring their bikes, have a go on the pump track and check out the fantastic trails that are open for everyone to use.

"This is a fantastic occasion for us as a community,” Mayor Williamson said.

He also highlighted the historical significance of the trailhead site, which was once part of the original Cattle Creek mill, now restored to serve as the administration building for future events.

"The trailhead site will be a place where you start and finish your mountain bike adventure and enjoy a family day out.

“Finch Hatton will be the best trailhead town in Australia.”

As riders of all ages geared up for an exciting day on the trails, the Finch Hatton Mountain Bike Trails became a hub of community spirit. The bustling opening day showcased the importance of shared passion in bringing this thrilling project to life.

Representatives from Mackay Regional Council celebrated the official opening of the Finch Hatton Mountain Bike Trails. L-R: Cr Namarca Corowa, Cr Heath Paton, Cr Ash-Lee Johnson, Mayor Greg Williamson, Deputy Mayor Belinda Hassan, Cr Alison Jones, Cr Nathenea McRae, Cr Karen May. Photo credit: Amanda Wright

Mayor Greg Williamson and Member for Mackay Julieanne Gilbert revealed the plaque for the official opening of the Finch Hatton Mountain Bike Trails

The community enjoyed the festivities at Finch Hatton, strolling the markets or riding the pump track. Photo credit: Amanda Wright

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A Week Of Milestones For Mackay

April 24, 2024

In a momentous week for our beloved Mackay, we've witnessed the unveiling of two projects that herald a new era of prosperity and vitality for our region. With Prime Minister Albanese’s visit earlier this week, Mackay's Riverside Revitalisation Project was officially opened with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the new river pontoon, transforming what was once an industrial precinct into a vibrant hub for locals and visitors alike.
It's the start of a significant plan for River Street, which will eventually transform into a bustling precinct all the way to Binnington Esplanade and Town Beach, connecting the city's heart to our underutilised natural beauty.
But that's not all. Nestled amidst the verdant beauty of the Pioneer Valley, the Finch Hatton Mountain Bike Trails were also officially unveiled in a spectacle of excitement and anticipation. What began as a vision shared by two local mountain biking enthusiasts has blossomed into a world-class attraction, beckoning adventurers from far and wide to explore our natural wonders.
Beyond the ceremonial formalities of these unveilings lies an excited buzz: the economic windfall and renewed sense of purpose that these projects bring to our doorstep. As our region evolves and our tourism offerings expand, so too do the opportunities for growth and prosperity. It's a moment to reflect on how far we've come and to look forward with unbridled optimism to the possibilities that lie ahead.
Have a great week, Mackay!

Amanda

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Every Dollar Counts

April 24, 2024

During the months of January and February, Harrup Park committed to supporting the Far North Queensland flood relief.

For every main meal served in the Bistro during this period, the venue pledged to donate $1 towards the cause.

This initiative stemmed from the aftermath of Cyclone Jasper, which devastatingly caused destruction to numerous residential communities in Far North Queensland last year.

Each main meal ordered by guests and members during January and February contributed directly to aiding those who were affected by the natural disaster. Together, through collective efforts, the venue managed to raise an impressive total of $5,177 for Operation ClubsCare, a significant contribution to ongoing flood relief within the region.

Participating in Clubs Queensland Operation ClubsCare was a source of immense pride for the venue. It not only demonstrated their commitment to supporting the community in times of need, but it also makes a tangible difference in the lives of those who were impacted by the cyclone.

Sharing this remarkable achievement to Facebook, Harrup Park stated, “We are proud to have participated in Clubs Queensland Operation ClubsCare and thank our wonderful members for their support!”

Harrup Park raised a whopping $5,177 by donating $1 out of every main meal served to support the Far North Queensland Flood Relief. Image Sourced (Harrup Park Facebook)

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Just Keep Marching Combatting Veterans’ Homelessness

April 24, 2024

With an estimated 6,000 homeless defence personnel in Australia, the issue of veteran homelessness is a pressing concern that demands attention.
Shockingly, only 1.1% of veterans access homeless support services, compared to 3.4% of the general population. Current and former service personnel experience homelessness at a rate three times higher than the broader population, highlighting a significant issue that most are unaware of.
16-year-old cadet, Murray Macgroarty has taken on the mission to raise awareness and tackle the problem of defence veterans' homelessness head-on. His approach involves connecting resources, services and funds to veterans through a coordinated and comprehensive strategy.
‘Just Keep Marching’ symbolises the beginning of Murray's focused efforts to combat this pressing issue.
Driven by a deep desire to give back, Murray's inspiration has been fuelled by conversations with current serving members, diggers, community leaders such as Mayor Greg Williamson and the active support of organisations like the Mackay RSL and Finch Hatton RSL Sub Branches. Together, they aim to make a meaningful impact on the lives of those who have sacrificed so much in defence of our country.
“There’s not a lot of recognition for veterans’ homelessness,” Murray remarked.
“Those guys wouldn’t think twice about stepping in front of a bullet for us - in the defence of our country, so we should have a solid think about how we can give back to them.”
To support the cause, Murray will be embarking on a 382-kilometer march around the Blue Water Trail with former veterans, locals and supporters, to not only raise awareness, but to call to action a solution in light of defence veterans' homelessness.
By coming along, or joining Murray on his march, individuals can play a crucial role in making a difference in the lives of veterans who have served our country with dedication and sacrifice. It's time to continue the march from where our veterans left off, ensuring that they receive the support and care they deserve.
There is a $5 admission fee that will go directly towards veterans in need. Those who are interested in participating are encouraged to come along and support the cause and what better way to start than by coming together over a home baked afternoon tea, symbolising the unity and camaraderie that defines our country’s legacy.

16-year-old Murray Macgroarty will march an estimated 382-kilometers to raise awareness for veterans’ homelessness. Photos credit: Hannah McNamara

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Ronald McDonald House Launches Hospital Hospitality Cart

April 24, 2024

Following the announcement of the Mackay Base Hospital expansion project and subsequent relocation of the Ronald McDonald Family Room in Mackay, Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) North Australia are proud to announce a major extension for their care of sick and injured children in the Mackay, Isaac and Whitsundays region.
The Charity has introduced the launch of the RMHC Hospitality Cart, operating at the Mackay Base Hospital to continue servicing families with sick and injured children when they need it most.
The RMHC Hospitality Cart delivers care items at no cost to sick or injured children and their families in the Children’s Wards including the Paediatric Ward, Paediatric Oncology Day Unit, Paediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU), Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), and more.
Samantha Baker, Community Engagement Executive for RMHC Mackay and the Whitsundays said, “we have an amazing team of volunteers every week and it’s filled by kind donations from the community as well as our three amazing sponsors on board, which really helps with purchasing all the items and making sure it’s fully stocked every single day.
“Any family member that has a child receiving treatment here can get items off the cart, it’s not just for the patient, but also for the family and siblings as well,” Samantha added.
“We have so many amazing toys, snacks and meals for families at no cost at all so that just takes a massive financial burden off them and gives them and their kids some things to do.”
In the last 12 months, over 4,730 families have been supported by the RMHC Hospitality Carts, with over 15,290 care items supplied.
Volunteers say that “the children’s faces light up like Christmas when they see the toys.”

Dr. Charles Pain, Chief Medical Officer, Mackay Base Hospital with Samantha Baker, Community Engagement Executive for RMHC Mackay
RMHC North Australia Hospitality Cart Volunteers Sue Bartlett and Sue Trask
Photo credit: Hannah McNamara

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