Mackay Region Community News

March For Freedom Gaining Momentum

March For Freedom Gaining Momentum

Freedom of choice, freedom of movement and freedom from fear. While some have been quick to label those rallying for freedom as ‘anti-vaxxers’, Mackay’s Worldwide Rally for Freedom organisers say this couldn’t be further from the truth.

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Students Shine At Holy Spirit Awards

Students Shine At Holy Spirit Awards

Let your light shine! This was the theme embraced by Holy Spirit College students at their annual Speech Night, where students from Years 7 through to 12 were awarded for their efforts throughout 2021.

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Local Book Gets Royal Treatment

Local Book Gets Royal Treatment

If you’d have said to local author, Michelle Wilson, that a member of the Royal Family would have read her children’s book, she would have said ‘get out of town!’ But that’s exactly what happened last week.

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Mackay’s First Responders Move For Movember

Mackay’s First Responders Move For Movember

Every minute, a man dies by suicide around the world, and although it may have rained during last Thursdays Movember Movement Event at Mackay Aquatic and Recreation Centre, the brave emergency service personnel who participated were undeterred in their mission to complete 60kms of swimming to raise awareness and funds for mental health.

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A Legacy Of Saving Lives With Udderly Great Coffee And A Chat

November 25, 2021

Cowbells called the newest member of the herd to the Mackay Farmer’s Market for the launch of MAD Cow Coffee’s full-fledged coffee cart, ‘Daisy’, part of the udderly good coffee crew's third birthday celebrations.

Owners Sonya and Barry Scoble unveiled the newest member of their bovine family with complimentary cupcakes adorned with the MAD Cow logo last week.

It has been a three-year campaign to destigmatise Mixed Anxiety and Depression - the MAD in MAD COW - for Sonya and Barry, who started the business as a tribute to their son Aiden after he sadly died by suicide.

With MAD Cow, Barry and Sonya have created a legacy for Aiden by continuing to tell his story over coffee and raising awareness for the issue of suicide in regional areas, as well as providing an ear for those who have a story of their own.

“We’ve managed to connect in some really positive ways in the community over the three years,” Sonya said.

“We’ve become a recognised source of help for people, and if someone doesn’t know where to go, they can come and see me and I’ll make them a coffee and we can sit and talk it out together and we let them know they’re not alone.”

Sonya says that, even though she’s not a professional counsellor herself, she knows the role that just listening and lending an ear can have.

“We know of 39 suicides we have directly prevented, and a number of stories where we’ve allowed people to open up to their loved ones after hearing our story or attending an event.”

Daisy’s launch also celebrated MAD Cow’s upcoming ‘Project Engage’, which Sonya says will allow them to further assist the local community and that Daisy will be a key part of that engagement.

Daisy was sponsored through GoFundMe, and through donations from Zonta Mackay, Shed Happens, Strategic Media Partners, Mackay Christian College Parent Association and more.

She will be at the Wednesday Farmers’ Market, Saturday markets and every second Sunday of the month at the Mt Pleasant Troppo Markets.

Sonya says the MAD Cow herd is always there to hear your story over a cup of joe.

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Apprentice Baker Rises To The Top

November 25, 2021

Early to bed and early to rise makes a person healthy, wealthy, and wise. In apprentice baker Felicity Stone’s case, rising before the sun each day has helped her to scoop a TAFE award.

After returning from a holiday to Africa, the former scientist signed up to study the Certificate III in Bread Baking. She won TAFE Queensland’s Bakery Apprentice of the Year Award for her outstanding efforts during her three-year apprenticeship with Coles Mt Pleasant in Mackay, beating many other baking apprentices all vying for the prestigious title.

“I’ve worked at Coles Mount Pleasant for the past three years, originally as a skilled baker before taking on the apprenticeship just over two years ago,” explains Felicity.

Her training blocks began at 4 am, and she gained practical experience in the state-of-the-art baking training facilities under the tutelage of world-class bakers who gave her the skills she needed to work in a commercial baking environment.

“Now that I’m qualified, and things are returning to pre-COVID normality, I hope to travel the world to experience aspects of baking that other countries have to offer,” Felicity said.

To win the Apprentice Baker of the Year Award, students are assessed on their attitude, ability and the quality of their assessments and baked products.

According to her teacher, Felicity displayed all these qualities.

“While she was enthusiastic and hard-working, it was her understanding of producing savoury bread, sweet yeast products, specialty flour bread and basic artisan products that set her apart from our other outstanding students,” said Richard Hibbert, Bakery Teacher & Workplace Training Officer, TAFE Queensland.

“On top of that, she has superior technical skills and a positive attitude that sets her apart.

An example of her positive attitude was her commitment to learning her craft, which saw her fly from Mackay to attend intensive four-day baking workshops at TAFE Queensland’s South Bank campus.

“Her attitude was obvious from the beginning – which reinforced our high opinion of her,” says Mr Hibbert.

“Her range of skills was impressive and was baked into every loaf she produced.”

You define your greatness. For more information about TAFE Queensland’s courses or to apply and change your career, visit or call 1300 308 233.

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A Paw Print On The Heart Of The Community

November 25, 2021

SARINA Kennel Club recently celebrated the opening of their new amenities block at the club grounds due to a significant contribution from Community Bank Sarina.

The total cost of the new block amounted to $180,000 with Community Bank Sarina investing a sum of $80,000 through a series of community grants as part of the Community Engagement Program.

The project was completed in stages and included the installation of a designated wheelchair-friendly toilet and shower to make the amenities block all-accessible.

Sarina Kennel Club Treasurer Jasmyn Grendon said the Club is continuously looking for ways to grow and improve, and frequently fundraises on weekends through raffles and sausage sizzles.

“We are so fortunate to have such dedicated members that put their all into the Club,” Ms Grendon said.

“We would’ve had to cook seventy-two thousand sausages to raise enough funds for this project.

“Thankfully we didn’t have to - we could not have built this amenities block without the generosity and the support of Community Bank Sarina through community grants.”

Community Bank Sarina Board Chair Karen May said that the purpose of the community grants was to show support and appreciation for all the hard work that goes into making the Club a success.

“The Sarina Kennel Club members are all so passionate and advocate tirelessly for the work that they do,” said Mrs May.

“Sarina is a wonderful community. We’re proud to support initiatives that will bring the community together and make it inclusive for all to enjoy. These substantial upgrades to facilities at the Kennel Club make it more accessible for everyone.”

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Catherine McAuley College Meet the Staff

November 25, 2021

Jeanette Refalo
Assistant Principal: Mission

Leading and guiding the mission and vision for Catherine McAuley College is a prospect that excites Jeanette Refalo, who has been appointed as the Assistant Principal: Mission for the new Catholic College.

As head of religion curriculum, her role encompasses the pastoral wellbeing of students, and she says she will use Catherine McAuley’s own practices for guidance.

“Catherine McAuley’s vision for education was of the highest, so academically we will be guiding the students to strive for excellence, whatever excellence means to that individual student.

“Being involved in the journey of creating a great Catholic culture at Catherine McAuley College is both exciting and challenging,” Ms Refalo said.

“Catherine McAuley was driven to assist the most vulnerable in her community and that’s a value I hope to instill in our students, to have the courage to serve those who need our help and to have the drive to enact the values of our college.”

Ms Refalo said the foundation staff and students have an opportunity to sculpt a strong, positive culture at Catherine McAuley.

“To offer a place of education and mission, open to all who seek our values, is what I hope for the College,” she said.

“Academic achievement and wellbeing are intrinsically linked, if a student is not feeling good socially and emotionally, it will be difficult for them to achieve. So, there will be a strong focus on fostering a resilient and welcoming place of education.”

Ms Refalo was born and bred in Mackay and her connections to Catholic education are strong. The house she grew up in is across the road from St Mary’s Catholic Primary School, the school she attended as a child. Her connection to the sugar industry is also strong and she is excited about the heritage of Catherine McAuley College being located at the former Sugar Research facility.

“I’ve always lived in Mackay and my family are here. My father owned a sugar cane farm in Marian, so we’re Mackay through-and-through,” she said.

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Splish Splash Ready For Summer Holidays

November 25, 2021

Image: The splash pad and children’s pool are now open at the Bluewater Lagoon. Images: Mackay Regional Council

Just in time for summer holidays, the splash pad and the children’s pool are open to the public at the Bluewater Lagoon.

These areas opened last Saturday (20 November).

The drop bucket, sprinklers and splash blasters are fully operational and will provide hours of fun for kids of all abilities.

Council contractors finished repair works earlier last week, which only allowed a few days to refill the lagoons and ensure the water chemistry is pristine and ready for swimming.

As soon as the water in both the main and top lagoons is ready, council will advise the public and they will be welcomed back to these areas.

The Bluewater Lagoon will be open every day (except Christmas Day) from 9am to 5.45pm until the end of March.

The facility will then operate from 9am to 4.45pm from April until it closes for winter.

As the Bluewater Lagoon is now open to the public, admission prices to Mackay ARC have returned to normal.

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Crematorium Set For Sugar Cane Home

November 25, 2021

Idyllic countryside to the south-west of Mackay is set for its very own pet crematorium, but not everyone is impressed.

Angry residents of the sprawling cane fields that comprise Victoria Plains are desperately fighting back against the planned expansion.

Back in April, local business Mackay Pet Cremations applied to Mackay Regional Council to transfer their operation from Balnagowan to Victoria Plains Road.

In their application, the business stated that the move would increase their distance from sensitive land uses and allow for more productivity, allowing them to cremate more passed away pets.

In October, council approved the plans, much to the chagrin of Victoria Plains’ residents, who believe it endangers their rural way of life, including Victoria Plains’ Charlie Fox.

Mr Fox, a retiree who has lived amongst the swaths of sugarcane in Victoria Plains for 20 years, said that his property is situated directly downwind of the crematorium.

“It’s supposed to be filtered but we’re yet to see it, and they’re in farming ground and they shouldn’t be here,” Mr Fox said.

“When the mayor passed it [at the council meeting], he says, ‘I reckon we all vote to this,’ and nine tenths of them have no idea what they’re voting for.

“It wouldn’t pass the pub test, to put it mildly.”

Mr Fox said that, now the motion has passed, it will cost him and other Victoria Plains’ residents $100 thousand to take it to the Queensland Planning and Environment Court for dispute.

He said that it feels like a wider problem and that the council needs “shaking up”.

His major concerns were regarding the changing of sugar and agricultural lands into industrial ones through material change of use.

“What’s to stop Fred Blogs from wanting to put something else [in the cane],” Mr Fox said.

“That’s what industrial areas are for, not cane land; how many sheds are popping up across the countryside in farming land wanting to do something besides farming?”

Originally, the recommendation from council officers was to reject the transfer of the business, which was amended to accept, with only councillors Martin Bella and Alison Jones voting against the motion.

There is precedent for the placement; out of the four crematoriums in the Mackay area, two are situated in rural zones, and have been cited as remarkably quiet.

With new crematory technology, most crematoriums are almost unnoticed, and documents submitted to council during the application said that “when operational, the cremator produces a low hum.”

“…no noisier than a leaf blower or rustling cane,” the document stated.

Mackay Pet Cremations owner Melanie Clark has said that their original property was not in line with accreditation standards, and that they have already been approved to build a shed on the property which will house the crematorium.

The new 20m by 12m shed is proposed to operate 6am to 6pm Monday through Friday and is located near the Mount Vincent Rifle Range, which Ms Clark said made it unlikely to be a preferred location for neighbours in the future.

They plan to continue to lease the cane crop around the crematorium.

Story and image by Declan Durrant

“It wouldn’t pass the pub test, to put it mildly.”

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Hospital Harm Exposed As Opposition Probe Ongoing Review

November 25, 2021

Image: Leader of the Opposition David Crisafulli and Member for Whitsunday Amanda Camm at Mackay Base Hospital. Image supplied: Amanda Camm

After an independent review was ordered into the Mackay Base Hospital obstetrics department after suggestions of patient harm, a probe into other departments has commenced following more information surrounding alleged malpractice.

The LNP have described a ‘horrifying 48-hours at Mackay Base Hospital’, with events on the 6th and 7th September 2019 thrust into the limelight during Question Time in Parliament earlier this week.

The LNP claim that whistleblowers have revealed three critical incidents involving at least one death, permanent patient harm and doctors leaving the hospital. The three incidents exposed were:

● A woman died after she was administered the wrong dose of a drug during anaesthesia for shoulder surgery which resulted in a fatal brain bleed.

● A patient had a stent inserted in the wrong kidney and suffered septic shock two days later. The doctor was stood down.

● An ICU patient suffered a heart attack which wasn’t picked up as a monitor was allegedly switched off and the doctor didn’t recognise symptoms during resuscitation. The doctor resigned four weeks later.

Leader of the Opposition David Crisafulli said these developments prove the Queensland Health crisis is far deeper than the Health Minister is willing to admit and said the grieving families deserve answers.

“The longer the Queensland Health Crisis drags on, the worse the stories get,” Mr Crisafulli said.

“Holes are already appearing in the Mackay Hospital Review, and it’s barely begun.

“Every allegation must be taken seriously, investigated thoroughly and someone must be held accountable.

“The Mackay public must have faith in their local hospital.”

He added that in an extraordinary development, senior hospital management have confirmed to the LNP that victims uncovered as part of the current review may be offered financial compensation.

Mackay Hospital and Health Service Chief Executive Lisa Davies Jones said any unexpected death in a healthcare facility is always fully investigated internally and externally by the Queensland Police Service and the Coroner.

“The unexpected loss of life is always a tragedy and I’d like to express my deepest sympathy to family members and loved ones on behalf of the hospital and health service,” Ms Davies Jones said.

“When there is an unexpected death, we offer our support to family members, as well as to our staff, who are also affected by this loss.”

Ms Davies Jones said that Mackay HHS also has internal processes for investigating any unexpected deaths or adverse patient outcomes.

“This process includes open and transparent communication with patients and or family members as we work to understand what has occurred, and to learn from that experience,” she said.

“I can confirm that all of the required investigations have occurred for the three cases referred to. It would be inappropriate for me to comment further on any individual patient experiences.

“I would like to reassure the community that they are in safe and caring hands when they visit any of our healthcare facilities, and I thank staff for their commitment to our community.”

Ms Davies Jones also added that it is important that the independent obstetrics and gynaecology investigation is allowed to occur and that any findings are not preempted.

Member for Whitsunday Amanda Camm said anyone who has a similar story (regarding harm or malpractice) about Mackay Hospital should speak up.

“I urge locals to come forward,” Ms Camm said.

“By speaking up, we can force change and improve the health system.

“No other Queensland families deserve to go through this.”

Shadow Health Minister Ros Bates said the incidents at Mackay Hospital are deeply distressing.

“As a nurse and former hospital administrator, I know how stressful and exhausting it is on the frontline,” Ms Bates said.

“If the Minister can’t fix the health system, then she needs to go.”


“The unexpected loss of life is always a tragedy and I’d like to express my deepest sympathy to family members and loved ones…..”

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Meet Mackay’s Man Of The Year

November 25, 2021

Recipient Don Leckenby, long-time Elder of the Presbyterian and Uniting Churches in Mackay, was recognised for his devoted work in his crusade against homelessness and was awarded Mackay’s Man Of the Year last week.

In the second ever DGH Engineering 2021 International Men’s Day Breakfast, sponsored by DBCT, hosted by Shed Happens Mackay, Mr Leckenby was the successful of three finalists thanks to his dedication in bettering the lives of others.

Officially awarded the Hastings Deering 2021 Mackay Man Of The Year award by Shed Happens Convener Frank Cowell, Mr Leckenby was extremely proud of the accolade.

“I feel very proud to have been awarded this, and it really does give some credence to my mission and my cause of helping the homeless,” Mr Leckenby said.

“I’ve been working in this area for many years and being signed up to the Shed Happens now I am proud to be able to help with the movement and help boys get back on their feet.”

The event was hosted by Shed Happens, who help men to tell their stories and to encourage other men to be good role models, to promote gender equality, and to work for a better world.

Shed Happens convener Frank Cowell said the nominees this year were of a very high calibre and any of the top three could easily have won the award.

With $3,000.00 being donated to local organisations like Chances Café, MAD Cow Coffee and Vinnies Men’s Shelter, the event was also a financial success, thanks to the generous sponsors and the 130 people who attended the breakfast.

St Paul’s Uniting Church recognised with delight the award to Mr Leckenby.

“The church rejoices with Don in the recognition of this award,” Rev. Dr Julia Pitman of St Paul’s Uniting Church, Macalister Street said.

“Don felt God call him to start a street ministry to disadvantaged people that is now continued by Orange Sky, a laundry washing service and chat. Well done, good and faithful servant!”

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“We’re A Nation Of Volunteers”

November 25, 2021

One of our region's longest serving State Emergency Service personnel members, Paul Kelly, was celebrated last month for 45 years of service at the SES Week Regional Awards. But being the humble hero he is, he brushes the accolade off as ‘not a big deal.’

An integral part of countless operations, Mr Kelly has seen both the region and the SES grow and change, and he’s stuck with them both through fire and flood, keeping his community safe through prevention and action. Having also given 50 years to the Navy Cadet’s, he believes that you can’t expect somebody to help you unless you help somebody else.

“People say, ‘what do you do it for?’ and my answer is, ‘it’s because I like it,’” Mr Kelly said.

“I had an idea that you take your turn in things – I’d put my hand up and say, yeah, I’ll have a go at that.”

That “go” lasted Mr Kelly four and a half decades of his life in Mackay and Mirani, where he was once SES controller, and he’s helped countless members of the community along the way.

The Three Ts: Training, Technology, And Transport

Paul Kelly will tell you that he doesn’t want to be famous, that his 45 years of service to the Queensland State Emergency Services (SES) is “not a big deal”. His time with the SES has spanned more than half of his lifetime, he’s responded to countless disasters and land searches, yet he is ever modest.

“The offshoot of that is I’ve always had this idea that you can’t expect somebody to help you unless you help somebody else.”

He was recognised for his service at the SES Award Week, where he received his fourth ‘branch’, a metal bar pinned to his SES service medallion, signifying his achievement.

Although he said his role at the SES wasn’t a big deal, Mr Kelly calls his orange SES coveralls a “Superman outfit.”

He has also been a part of the Navy Cadets in Mackay for fifty years, volunteering in multiple roles at the organisation.

What kept him around all that time was the camaraderie and helping others. He was 25 when he joined up, and now at seventy, the State Emergency Services in the region has changed quite a bit during his long service of volunteering.

“You’d be lucky if you had one vehicle to take you all [to a rescue],” Mr Kelly laughed.

“Now we’ve got all of these.”

He points to an armada of SES vehicles – trucks, vans, four-wheel drives - in the enormous training depot at the back of the SES’ Mackay headquarters on Ness Street.

It’s all about the “Three Ts”, training, technology, and transport now – that training being SES personnel’s compliances – accreditations in vehicle usage, safety, operation of machinery, first aid, etc.

It’s becoming safer, more impressive, and Mr Kelly said that he was glad to have been a part of its history, and that the time with the SES has been one of the favourite parts of his life – and reiterated that he did it because it was the right thing to do.

“If you like doing it and you’re getting something out of it, the fun comes from achieving and I just think that we sometimes lose sight of why we’re there,” he said.

“We’re a nation of volunteers; we’re always happy to help out, and it’s about trust.

“Somebody is trusting you to go and find somebody or an old lady over the road loses her roof, she needs someone to help her out.

“It’s just what we do.”

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Recycling – It’s Not Rubbish

November 11, 2021

Residents had the opportunity to learn more about recycling last week with tours of Mackay Regional Council’s Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) during National Recycling Week.

Mayor Greg Williamson said the tours were a great way to see what happens to our recyclables and why it’s important to recycle right.

“The MRF is a state-of-the-art facility that sorts our recyclables, including paper, cardboard, aluminium cans, steel cans, glass and recyclable plastics, and sends them to market to be turned into new products that we use every day.

“By making sure only recyclables go in your yellow-lidded bin, you can help reduce the amount of waste going to landfill and ensure good quality recyclables are sent for manufacturing.

“Our recycling is certainly not rubbish,” he said.

During the tours, residents viewed via an upstairs viewing room, how the facility separates all the recyclables that come in from around our region every day.

Our MRF processed 7727 tonnes of recyclables from Mackay region kerbside bins in the 2020-21 financial year. It also processed an additional 11,897 tonnes from commercial and other regional council collections.

Council also joined with REDGroup during National Recycling Week to host a webinar on what happens to your soft plastics after you place them in the REDCycle bins at Coles and Woolworths.

With every person in Mackay using about 19 soft plastic items each day, this presentation addressed the need for residents to start using the REDCycle bins more regularly.

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Powerlines Brought Down By Oversized Load

November 11, 2021

Around 570 homes and businesses in Paget were left without power last Friday when a prime mover carrying a wide load hit a power pole and brought down powerlines at around 7am.

Ergon crews were on scene quickly for emergency network repairs and before lunch had managed to safely restore power to the vast majority of customers affected by the outage.

Traffic was diverted for the majority of the day around the worksite at the intersection of Farrellys Road and the Bruce Highway, where emergency repairs were in progress.  

Some customers in the immediate vicinity of the damage had to wait a bit longer for their power to be reconnected until the repairs were complete.

An Ergon Energy spokesperson said they are appealing to all drivers and machinery operators to look out for power poles and powerlines because any contact with the electricity network can lead to serious injuries or electrocution.

“There have been hundreds of accidental contacts with electrical infrastructure across Queensland in the past year, including two involving trucks in the Mackay region this week,” she said.

“If you’re involved in an incident that brings down powerlines you should stay in the vehicle, call 000 and wait for help.

“Bystanders should remain at least 10 metres away from any fallen powerlines and report this life-threatening hazard to emergency services.”

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Council of Mayors Stand Up For Suicide Prevention

November 11, 2021

A concerning rate of suicide in the Mackay region prompted Mackay’s Mayor to tackle the issue by creating a taskforce in an effort to reduce the endemic.

The Council of Mayors Suicide Prevention Taskforce was established earlier this year in response to industry and community concerns in relation to local suicide rates, which was raised by the Whitsunday, Isaac and Mackay Suicide Prevention Community Action Planning group (SPCAP).

These key stakeholders were concerned that residents of the Mackay region were experiencing significant mental health distress, could be at risk of suicide, and experienced difficulties in navigating and accessing appropriate services and health care.

In 2020, this already fragile situation was adversely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, with the toll of uncertainty of the situation, the restrictions (including social isolation), and the heightened demand on an already stretched health workforce.

Consequently, Mackay Mayor Greg Williamson made a call to action to the Greater Whitsunday Region Mayors of Mackay, Isaac, and Whitsunday to form the Council of Mayors Suicide Prevention Taskforce.

The taskforce was a collective of local industry, regional councils, lived experience residents, First Nations People, and the local health sector.

After extensive research and consultation, the Greater Whitsunday Council of Mayors Suicide Prevention Taskforce Consultation Report was launched last week.

The report was presented to the Greater Whitsunday Council of Mayors (GW COM) by its Suicide Prevention Taskforce Working Group at a meeting the week prior.

Developed with the assistance of resources from the Northern Queensland Primary Health Network (NQPHN), the report has identified six key areas for improvement to inform the GW COM Taskforce’s recommendations to develop place-based, community led solutions for suicide prevention interventions.

The six areas for improvement provide a foundation for action that encompasses local, place-based interventions as well as longer term service system change approaches.

This report also highlights the increased complexity of suicide rates in relation to rurality and recommends consideration of geographical location when developing and resourcing interventions.

With the provision of preliminary funding confirmed for the Greater Whitsunday Council of Mayors Suicide Prevention Taskforce, the Greater Whitsundays Communities - the regional peak for social development - will progress action-planning activities that leverage the findings of this report and local intel.

It is envisaged that as a community collective, the taskforce with initial funding will deliver interventions to reduce and prevent suicide in the greater Whitsunday region.

For further information about the report or the consultation process, contact Deb Rae from the Mackay Whitsunday Isaac Suicide Prevention Community Action Planning Group.

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Trend Bucked By Bank Who Branches Out For Face-To-Face

November 11, 2021

While some major financial institutions are closing branches throughout regional Queensland, Queensland Country Bank has invested in a $285,000 refurbishment of its branch in Caneland Central as part of its commitment to offer Mackay locals face-to-face banking services.

Queensland Country Bank Chief Executive Officer, Aaron Newman, says the refurbishment has enabled them to increase the number of meeting spaces to offer members privacy and comfort to discuss their financial goals.

“As a member-owned bank we have the ability to make decisions that put people ahead of profits and our priority is servicing our members,” he says.

“The national trend shows us that most major banks are closing branches, but that’s not the path we’re taking.

“Our branches are important, and although we’ll continue to focus on all channels including our online service offering, we understand each member has their preferred way of doing business with us and there are times when they need to be able to meet face-to-face and have a meaningful conversation about their financial goals.”

This comes in the wake of the Federal Government launching a Regional Banking Taskforce to assess the impacts on regional communities and work collaboratively to identify possible solutions.

“As members of the Customer Owned Banking Association, we will continue to advocate for regional Queenslanders to have access to banking services,” Mr Newman added.

The refurbished branch in Caneland Central is now open to the public and includes a Queensland Country Health Fund retail centre.

Mackay Regional Council Mayor Greg Williamson joined other special guests and Members at the official opening of the refurbished branch.

“It’s great to see a respected member-owned financial institution expressing confidence in our region with the significant investment in renovating their branch,” he said.

Mr Newman says that while over the counter transactions may be decreasing in favour of internet banking, in-branch staff still play a pivotal role in servicing members.

“As a people-focused organisation, we’re committed to providing career opportunities to regional Queenslanders,” he says.

“Our Personal Banking Consultants continue to be trained and upskilled to assist members to ensure we are matching them with the products and services that best suit their needs.”

Mr Newman said that booming property markets and ultra-low interest rates mean it is more important than ever that regional Queenslanders have access to expert advice and support from their lender.

“We’ve seen a significant increase in activity throughout regional Queensland as a result of the property boom and low interest rates, so it is essential that we have an active presence in the market to support our members with their banking needs.”

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Isaac Residents Encouraged To Have Their Say

November 11, 2021

Residents in the Isaac region will have the opportunity to have their say on Isaac Regional Council’s services and facilities through an independent survey.

Independent market research agency – Taverner Research Group – has been procured to conduct the online and phone 2021 Community Satisfaction Survey.

The intent of the survey is to provide insights into the factors that drive satisfaction within the community and show Council the effectiveness of its operational service delivery.

Mayor Anne Baker said the survey has been designed to assess the performance of Council across a range of measures to identify ways to provide improvement or more effective service delivery to residents.

“It’s vitally important for residents to take part in this survey. If you get called, I encourage you to use this opportunity to provide your crucial feedback,” Mayor Baker said.

“If you say no, you are giving up your chance to help shape our future and help shape our strategic planning, especially through social sustainability and overall quality of life for our 17 unique communities.”

CEO Jeff Stewart-Harris said the 2021 survey has two elements.

“One is a random telephone survey of a statistical sample of Isaac households, representative of the population and their location,” he said.

“And two, is an online survey which all members of the community can complete.

“The survey questions may take up to 15 minutes to complete on either phone or online.

“Researchers will only be asking for demographic information not personal details.

“We appreciate you taking the time to genuinely assist us with your valuable feedback.”

Households selected at random for telephone surveying will be contacted by field researchers between 4.30pm and 8.30pm until Friday 19 November 2021.

This contact may occur via landline or mobile numbers (previously surveys have only used landline contact, but up to 30% of the population no longer have a landline phone).

To complete the online survey residents can visit and follow the links, ending Friday 26 November 2021.

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Catherine McAuley College Meet the Staff

November 11, 2021

Jim De Thomasis

Maintenance & Facilities Officer

Part of the team keeping Catherine McAuley College in ‘ship-shape’ condition is Jim De Thomasis, who has been with Catholic Education for eight years in similar groundskeeping and maintenance roles.

Jim said he’s excited to be working with such a large blank canvas as a Maintenance and Facilities Officer with Catherine McAuley College.

“There’s 10 acres here to look after so it’s a big job, but the soil is very good so we’re fortunate with that,” Jim said.

“There was cane growing here so it’s fertile and well drained.

“After the initial set up there will be the ongoing maintenance of the grounds and gardens as well as being on-call for general maintenance issues across the College.”

Born and bred in Mackay, Jim has the perfect background to look after the maintenance and facilities at Catherine McAuley College.

He went to St Joseph’s Primary School and then Christian Brothers College. He worked at his father’s service station before pursuing his dream of becoming a motor mechanic. After obtaining his apprenticeship he went into partnership with his father at the service station for 10 years.

In 1995, Jim and his brother then became the Honda motorcycle dealers in Mackay. In 2007 he went back to his trade while running a cane farm in Walkerston. This combination of working the land and mechanical know-how has ideally translated across to maintaining Catholic schools and colleges.

“I enjoy being outside, doing maintenance and having the place neat and tidy,” Jim added.

“I think Catherine McAuley College will become the benchmark for the diocese,” he said.

Jim’s own children went through Catholic education in Mackay, attending St Francis, Mercy, and St Patrick’s.

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Swapping Books For Brake Lights In Trade Pathway

November 11, 2021

If you get the right training, you’re more likely to get the right job.

That was a key message delivered to Pioneer State High School students by Minister for Training and Skills Development Di Farmer during her visit in Mackay last week.

“Our young people are more likely to stay in those jobs if they get real life experience in them first,” Minister Farmer added.

She announced the state government would be investing $7.65 million to extend its Gateway to Industry Schools Program. The program connects Queensland school students to industry partners from 10 major sectors, including advanced manufacturing, health and building and construction to minerals, energy and screen and media.

“GISP builds partnerships between schools and industry to help students gain valuable skills and experience before they leave the classroom,” Minister Farmer said.

“This is a program that’s given thousands of Queensland students the opportunity to explore their career choices while still at school and learn from leaders in their chosen field.

“Extending GISP means more opportunities for Queensland students to develop the skills and experience that will help them make decisions about their career and further education.”

Member for Mackay Julieanne Gilbert said 10 organisations would share in the $7.65 million investment, including the education arm of the Queensland Resources Council, Queensland Minerals and Energy Academy (QMEA).

“QMEA has done a brilliant job putting together the Oresome Trade Camp here at Pioneer State High School,” she said.

“We have 14 Year 10 and 11 students from Pioneer, Mackay Northern Beaches and Sarina State High Schools learning how to make a model car, complete with working headlights, brake lights and indicators.

“QMEA industry mentors and apprentices are talking to the students about the safety and performance expectations of employers in the resources sector, which I think is invaluable for setting these students up for success beyond the classroom.

“Not only does this program benefit students, it also benefits the sectors and communities who need to retain skilled local workers like ours.”

Chief Executive of the Queensland Resources Council Ian Macfarlane said he applauded the State Government for continuing this vital program that links industry with school students.

“The resources sector is facing major skills shortages in critical areas such as engineering and trades, and I know other industries are facing the same problem,” Mr Macfarlane said.

“GISP is a very successful program that helps open students’ eyes to many careers they might not have considered, especially female and Indigenous students.”

Minister Farmer said the program’s extension was a strong endorsement of the innovative projects delivered by industry partners.

“When this program started 15 years ago, we had 42 schools involved,” Minister Farmer said.

“We now have over 270 Queensland schools participating across the ten priority industries, advancing the careers of Queensland students and keeping more jobs local.”

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Water Wastage Down In Mackay

November 11, 2021

Water bills began arriving in letter boxes last week, and most residents would be in for a pleasant surprise.

It seems from March to August 2021 Mackay locals have been watching the flow of their h2o with time spent turning off the tap resulting in the community’s water usage coming under projected estimates.

During this period, 555mm of rain fell in our region, and consumption was down four per cent compared to the same time last year.

Mayor Greg Williamson said Mackay region residents were using 191 litres each during this timeframe.

“This is right on council’s target of 200 litres per person, so we are very happy with this,” Mayor Williamson said.

“But this usage still adds up to about 5400 Olympic sized swimming pools each year for the region.

“It’s essential we continue to monitor our water use and think of ways to save, especially as we head into a traditionally dry period, so that we can protect this precious commodity,” he said.

Residents are encouraged to monitor their water use by signing up to council’s free myh20 website at

Mayor Williamson said the myh2o website was the best way to avoid expensive water bills.

“As well as alerting you to leaks, the myh2o website shows you how much water you’re using each day, how much it’s costing you and how you can put plans in place to save,” he said.

“You can also set water consumption targets and if you go over you are sent a message via email or SMS.”

This round of water bill notices is due on Wednesday, December 1, 2021.

If you are experiencing financial hardship, please contact council on 1300 MACKAY (622 529) to discuss payment plan options.

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Cricket Community Pay Tribute To Coach Who Died In Kinchant Dam Tragedy

November 11, 2021

Tributes continue to flow throughout the Cairns community after a much-loved cricket coach, husband and father tragically died at Kinchant Dam last week.

63-year-old Steve Argoon played key roles in the Mulgrave cricket club and coached representative U21 players.

On Thursday 4 October, Mackay Police confirmed Mr Argoon’s body was recovered from Kinchant Dam after he fell overboard in the afternoon of Tuesday 2 October.

Witnesses on the edge of the dam saw Mr Argoon fall into the water from his tinnie while fishing approximately 200m from shore. Several people entered the dam in an effort to assist Mr Argoon, but when they reached the boat which was circling unattended, there was no sign of Mr Argoon.

The two-day search brought together specialist Police divers from Brisbane, the SES, VMR and RACQ CQ Rescue. The dam reaches depths of 10 metres in parts and the thick reed growth can make search efforts difficult.

Inspector Ian Haughton said it's a very difficult time for the family.

"In all of the circumstances of this nature, it's a challenging time for family and friends and that is no different to what we are seeing at the moment."

Police say there are no suspicious circumstances surrounding the incident and a report will be prepared for the coroner.

Mulgrave MP Curtis Pitt is one of many to have paid tribute to Mr Argoon on social media.

“The passing of Steve Argoon is extremely sad news,” MP Pitt said.

“Steve did so much for Mulgrave Cricket and was just a terrific man. I got to know Steve and Janet Argoon more than two decades ago when we went on a caving trip up at Chillagoe. Since then, it’s been amazing to see the Argoon family contribute enormously to the sport of cricket, particularly supporting women and girls.

“The thoughts of my entire family are with Janet, Travis and Cody, Gordon, Carolyn and extended family and friends.”

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Health Workers Stood Down For Failing To Produce Evidence Of COVID-19 Vaccination

November 11, 2021

More than 4,000 health workers across Queensland have been suspended and sent show-cause notices for not providing evidence of having received two COVID-19 vaccinations before 1 November.

Of the more than 108,000 Queensland Health employees the figure equates to less than 4 per cent who failed to comply with the deadline.

Health Minister Yvette D'Ath announced during a press conference in September that all Queensland Health Workers must get at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by September 30 and have received their second before the end of October.

“We will work with those staff who cannot or will not get vaccinated to find alternative arrangements and work through those arrangements with them, but it is important that we keep our health staff safe and the community safe as well as visitors and patients who come into our hospitals,” Minister D’Ath said during the September press conference.

In the Mackay, Isaac and Whitsunday regions covered by Mackay Hospital and Health Service, it was revealed that 170 staff were suspended from their duties, from the total of 3,351 health workers across the region, equating to approximately 5 per cent.

Deputy Chief Health Officer Peter Aitken said Queensland Health was contacting unvaccinated health staff.

"Staff are in the process of being contacted and some of those are in the exemption process and are getting worked through," he said.

He said the workers had been stood down on full pay for one week but warned that the arrangement was only for one week and that staff who hadn’t been contacted should talk with their immediate manager.

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Yoga Day For Hit-And-Run Victim’s Family

November 11, 2021

Yoga has been shown to provide a range of health benefits, but a local yoga studio is also paying it forward to the family of a man who was tragically killed last month.

Tranquil Yoga Mackay said the hit-and-run just over a fortnight ago sent shockwaves through the traffic control industry and left a family devastated.

“Brendan Moreland was killed in the early hours of the morning while working on upgrades to the Bruce Highway. The 35-year-old was controlling traffic when he was struck by a car,” a spokesperson for Tranquil Yoga said.

“The company that Brendan worked for, Workforce Traffic Control, are our neighbours here at Tranquil. We share an entry with them, and we share in their pain of losing someone.”

The yoga studio hosted a donation day on 8 November where members of the public could attend a range of yoga classes and pay a donation to go to Brendan’s family.

Donations can still be made at Tranquil Yoga Mackay to be passed onto Brendan’s family.

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Zwift As The Wind

November 11, 2021

From humble beginnings at his high school mountain biking club, one Mackay local’s star is rising in the cycling game as Alex Bogna heads to Spain to race his way to the very top of the sporting pantheon.

Alex, a St Patrick’s College alumni, began his journey in 2016, when he fell in love with cycling and quickly became one of Mackay’s best in just five years.

“I found road through a local road team called Jet Group and they’re basically an A grade team that have developed me up until last year,” Alex said.

The next step was to leave Mackay, which he did in December of last year, heading to the Sunshine Coast and joining up with a team, ARA Pro Racing Sunshine Coast – a continental team that races in Europe when there’s no COVID.

Alex is studying Clinical Exercise Physiology whilst cycling with the ARA team and has competed in U19 Road National Championships, placing 4th in the road race, racked up impressive finishes in Tour of Tweed and Tour Down Under, and has only been riding for the past five years.

It was when he unfortunately hit a roadblock with a shoulder injury and then COVID-19 that Alex started Zwift.

Zwift, a massive multiplayer online cycling and running physical training program, is used as a training simulator, letting users interact in an online platform where regular cyclists can compete in, for example, a simulated Tour de France.

Alex had already been partaking in Zwift for some time when the Zwift Academy: Road began this year, a global training program for cyclists of all levels, but more importantly, a worldwide talent identification competition which has placed multiple riders onto WorldTour teams since its beginnings in 2016.

Over the eight-week competition, 150,000 competitors across the world entered, and Alex was selected as one of the top 5 in the world.

Alex will fly to Mallorca in Spain to compete under the watchful eyes of the Alpecin-Fenix Cycling Team scouts, riders and staff for a chance to win a one year professional contract.

“I’m not expecting anything, I’m the youngest guy there and that can be an advantage or a disadvantage, I’m just going to try my best and see how I go,” Alex said.

“I’m more excited than nervous, I’ve always wanted to go over to Europe.”

For the cycling uninitiated, this opportunity presented to Alex would put him on the world stage; gaining a professional contract with Alpecin-Fenix Cycling team could lead Alex to compete in the real Tour de France and other European classics.

The Zwift Academy Finals start next week, and Mackay can watch Alex be a part of a seven-part video series made by the Global Cycling Network.

Come on, Alex!

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Young Testicular Cancer Survivor Moving For Movember

November 11, 2021

60 men are lost to suicide every hour across the world.

That’s the sobering figure which has inspired men’s health charity Movember’s ‘Move for Movember’ where supporters are asked to challenge themselves to walk 60km during the month of November.

Jahmayn Hicks is moving for Movember in what has been a momentous recovery from testicular cancer.

The Sarina State High School student was diagnosed with testicular cancer earlier this year at the young age of 16.

“After the diagnosis everything moved very quickly, doctors’ appointments, blood tests and multiple different types of screenings were scheduled in a matter of minutes, surgery followed only a few days after the diagnosis,” Jahmayn said.

His symptoms are common to testicular cancer.

“I had swelling, some pain and also back pain,” he said.

Jahmayn and his mother Pania will be walking the full 60km in one epic walk from Koumala to Mackay on 24 November. They have been practicing and have already walked 28km from Koumala to Sarina, and this Sunday will practice the Sarina to Mackay leg.

“We will walk through the night to beat the heat, passing through Sarina around midnight,” Jahmayn said.

Following Jahmayn’s surgery, he was relieved to hear he wouldn’t need chemotherapy, but will need to undergo regular testing for at least five years. He said that more conversations need to be had about testicular cancer.

“We need to raise more awareness in general about men’s health. I had no idea about testicular cancer. Regular checks and knowing the symptoms to look for is important,” he said.

Sarina business Third Ground Coffee House has been encouraging Jahmayn on social media and said the mother-and-son duo are unstoppable.

“They are such an inspiration!

“Get behind this young man and his family on their journey to raise awareness for men’s health,” Jana from Third Ground said.

Jahmayn will be having a sausage sizzle at Goode's Butchery from 8am tomorrow (13 November) to raise money for Movember.

To donate for Movember, go to @jahmaynhicks on Instagram and click the link in his bio (you’ll see Jahmayn is also quite the talented photographer), or visit

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Biofuel Bus Trial A BIG WIN For WILMAR

November 11, 2021

Caption: L-R: Kim Giles, David Ochoa and Pieter Van Vuren from Wilmar’s BioEthanol Plant in Sarina. Photo: Nell Thomsett – Photos By Nell

It may be the mining hub of Queensland, but Mackay will be the first city in the state to reduce its emissions by trialling bioethanol-fuelled buses in its public transport network.

Two buses built by BusTech on the Gold Coast will soon hit the road as part of a 12-month trial and will run on bioethanol fuel produced from locally grown sugarcane in Mackay.

The move is being hailed as a double win, for both the local economy and the environment, by decarbonising the transport sector to create a greener future.

Construction on the buses started last month.

The revolutionary trial will draw on the expertise of Mackay region locals, with Sarina-based company Wilmar Bioethanol Australia producing the fuel at their bioethanol refinery in Sarina.

Wilmar’s Ethanol and Trading Business Manager, Trevor Barr, said their business was ideally placed to be the leading biofuel producer for this trial, with a 93-year history of ethanol production at the Sarina distillery.

BusTech Group Executive Chairman Christian Reynolds said they are passionate about enabling transitioning to more sustainable modes of public transport.

“Our collaboration with Scania to manufacture the bioethanol-fuelled buses for use in Mackay is one of the many ways we collaborate with our customers to take ongoing steps towards lower and zero emission transport solutions across Australia.”

Biofuel Buses A Step Toward Zero Emission

Emerging Gold Coast manufacturer BusTech is building two state-of-the-art bioethanol-fuelled buses to be rolled out on the Mackay bus network.

Deputy Premier and Minister for State Development Steven Miles said the trial had significant potential to influence statewide demand for biofuels as a renewable fuel source for transport.

“The State Government is supporting Queensland’s emerging strengths in biofutures and biofuels to grow the industry, help drive investment and support local jobs,” Dr Miles said.

“This biofuel trial is an important step towards transitioning public transport to more sustainable fuel sources that supported local ethanol production, strengthened biomanufacturing capability and investment in the sector.

“It will also draw on the expertise of Queenslanders, with Sarina based company Wilmar Bioethanol Australia who will produce the fuel at their bioethanol refinery in Sarina, and Gold Coast-based bus manufacturer BusTech.

Sarina BioEthanol Distillery Plant Manager Pieter Van Vuren said the Sarina plant had been making bioethanol for almost a century and is Australia’s largest manufacturer of sugarcane-based ethanol.

“The bioethanol we make at Sarina is used in E10 fuel, as well as a wide range of industrial products, such as hand sanitiser, aerosols and pharmaceutical products,” Mr Van Vuren said.

“It’s a renewable product that’s made by fermenting molasses – a co-product of the sugar manufacturing process.

“We’re very proud to be part of a trial where bioethanol manufactured right here in Sarina is used to power buses in our own backyard.”

BusTech Group Executive Chairman Christian Reynolds said the business was proud to have a key role in the project.

“The local manufacture of these bioethanol-fuelled buses at our Queensland facility is a real testament to the advanced manufacturing and technical expertise in Australia more broadly,” Mr Reynolds said.

“We are proud to support the delivery of new mobility solutions powered by advanced technology, which deliver positive environmental and economic impacts for Australia.”

Wilmar’s Ethanol and Trading Business Manager, Trevor Barr, said the company's contribution to the trial continued a long association with Scania in promoting biofuels for heavy vehicles in Australia.

"Our team at the Sarina distillery are proud of our 93-year history of sugar-based ethanol production and it is only appropriate that we provide the fuel for the first formal trial of biofuel buses servicing our own region and community," Mr Barr said.

Scania Australia’s Director of Sales, Bus and Engines, Julian Gurney, said the business was excited to play its part in the bioethanol trial.

"As the global leader in the development of a range of alternative and renewable fuels for use in public transport solutions, Scania has been strongly supportive of this trial and invested heavily to bring this project to fruition," Mr Gurney said.

"This technology will make an impact in reducing carbon emissions with solutions such as bioethanol that can be seamlessly integrated into our current public transport networks.”

Minister for the Environment Meaghan Scanlon said construction of the buses was a big win for manufacturing.

“This trial is the latest example of the State Government's commitment to a greener bus future, with every new bus in South East Queensland to be zero emission from 2025 and regional implementation to begin between 2025 and 2030,” Ms Scanlon said.

“This is an exciting initiative for Gold Coast manufacturing, Queensland public transport, Mackay, and the state as a whole.

“Bioethanol is more environmentally-friendly than traditional diesel fuel used on many buses and will be produced in the Mackay region from locally grown sugarcane.

“We know public transport already delivers major environmental benefits and the use of zero-emissions buses only enhances the advantages of public transport.

“Research indicates that their bioethanol buses can reduce carbon by up to 90 per cent and there is an important role for biofuels as a steppingstone to zero emission transport technologies by 2050.

“Customers will see these two new buses operating across the entire Mackay bus network.”

The trial is being funded by Scania and the Queensland Government.

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Record Pool Result For Queensland Sugar

October 28, 2021

Image: QSL remained the largest marketer of Australian raw sugar, dispatching 43 export shipments to customers during the financial year. Supplied: Queensland Sugar Limited

Queensland Sugar Limited (QSL) has released its Annual Report for the 2020/2021 financial year, reporting a record shared pool result, reduced operations costs and no recordable injuries.

QSL Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer Greg Beashel said the past financial year had been a progressive and exciting period for the industry-owned raw sugar marketing and logistics provider.

“As the logistics provider for Sugar Terminals Limited’s six bulk sugar terminals, the QSL Operations team had yet another successful year serving the industry safely, reliably and efficiently,” Mr Beashel said.

“Handling over 3.8 million tonnes of raw sugar and loading 110 sugar shipments during the reporting period, the team successfully dispatched 99.1% of shipments in full, on time and within specification – an absolutely amazing and world-class result.”

Mr Beashel said a deep commitment to safety underpinned this effort, with the QSL team achieving a Total Recordable Injury Frequency Rate of zero for the reporting period.

“The QSL Operations team’s efforts to implement cost savings to offset inflationary and other unavoidable cost increases whilst maintaining operational and safety performance levels has also been very pleasing, not only absorbing such pressures but securing an additional $0.3 million reduction in actual operating costs year on year,” he said.

“This achievement, together with the QSL Operations team’s ability to successfully navigate the ongoing significant challenges presented by the global pandemic, ensured uninterrupted, world-class service once again for our industry partners’ operations.”

Mr Beashel said the QSL Marketing team also had a strong year, taking advantage of historically high physical premiums to secure a record shared pool result for the business, finishing at +$31/tonne sugar IPS weighted average (inclusive of Loyalty Bonus).

“Every grower and miller using QSL benefited from these additional returns, with the Shared Pool applied to all ICE 11 tonnage running through our system,” he said.

“As growers increasingly take control of their own pricing rather than using managed pools, our Shared Pool has emerged as our most important pool, delivering significant value regardless of individual pricing decisions.”

Key highlights for the FY21 reporting period included:


• QSL remained the largest marketer of Australian raw sugar, dispatching 43 export shipments to customers during the financial year

• Record 2020 Shared Pool of +$31/t IPS (weighted average), incorporating Loyalty Bonus

• QSL pricing pools surpassed the performance benchmark by +$39/tonne IPS net

• The US Quota Pool was QSL’s best performing pool, returning $702/tonne IPS net

• The February 2020 Guaranteed Floor Pool was QSL’s best-performing ICE 11 Pool, returning $493/tonne IPS net

• The QSL App was expanded to offer several new features, including payment information and payment notifications

• Increased finance facility flexibility was secured


• Zero recordable injuries during the period

• Reduced operating costs

• 99.1% of deliveries made in full, on time and in specification

• Unloaded 48,948 trucks and 47,798 train wagons of raw sugar around the state

• Loaded 3.52 million tonnes of sugar for shipment

QSL’s 2020/2021 Annual Report is available on the QSL website at

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Health Minister Visits Moranbah To Encourage Vaccination

October 28, 2021

‘Vaccinate with a mate’ is the message being repeated by local and state leaders in a race to get vaccination levels up in the lagging regions before state borders are opened in December.

Health Minister Yvette D’Ath joined Isaac Regional Council Mayor Anne Baker in Moranbah last week to encourage residents to grab a mate and vaccinate.

There has been a significant increase in the vaccination in the Isaac region over the past eight weeks.

Mayor Baker said while this is good to see, the Isaac region remains in the bottom quarter compared to the rest of Australia.

“With last week’s announcement that the borders will be opening for Christmas and international travel back on the agenda, we need to act now in order to protect our communities,” Mayor Baker said at Vanguard Health.

“We need to reach 80 per cent of the population vaccinated to protect the freedoms regional Queenslanders have enjoyed.

“I strongly encourage everyone who is eligible for the vaccine to roll up their sleeves, grab a mate and vaccinate.

“It is even easier to get vaccinated with outreach clinics right across the Isaac region on top of the ability to get the jab from doctors and pharmacies in each town.”  

Ms D’Ath said the more Queenslanders who are vaccinated, the less the impact will be on our health system.

“This virus will go into every single community once Queensland opens up,” Ms D’Ath said.

“The question is who’s going to get this virus - it’s going to be those people who aren’t vaccinated.

“While we have been visiting our rural and remote regions to administer vaccinations, we know not everyone has come forward to be vaccinated yet.

“There’s absolutely no reason to delay the vaccine – COVID-19 will come to our regional communities, it’s just a matter of time for the Isaac region,” she said.

“Head along to your nearest vaccination clinic, or if your community is serviced by a vaccination outreach clinic – please make it a priority to get vaccinated when they’re next in your community.”

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Win A Chance To Holiday At Home

October 28, 2021

A Mackay organisation beating boredom has teamed up with local businesses to gift a Christmas of experiences like no other. launched its competition last week, the ‘Christmas Hamper of Things To Do’. The lucky winner will be able to explore secluded islands, watch amazing entertainment, enjoy delicious food and experience plenty of fun and adventure for the whole family.

A variety of local businesses have donated amazing prizes to the competition. Mackay’s newest tourism experience, Wildcat Mackay has come onboard with a family pass for their all-inclusive day tour to explore Mackay islands.

Taste the best of Mackay with over $350 of vouchers at local venues, The Old Station Teahouse, Eimeo Hotel, Austral Hotel and Moss on Wood. Another awesome foodie experience can be enjoyed at the award-winning Sarina Sugar Shed.

Get your adrenaline fix at Sidetrax and The Wakehouse! Race around the track using vouchers at Sidetrax, Mackay’s Indoor Go-Karting Entertainment Hub and learn to wakeboard with a week of wake park fun. Experience the amazing local talent of Mackay with tickets to Haunt, Mackay's only permanent Dinner Theatre.

With one night’s accommodation including breakfast at Ibis Hotel, two night’s accommodation for up to four people at Comfort Resort Blue Pacific, and one day’s car hire provided by Ezy Vehicle Rentals, this year's competition is expected to reach people all over Australia looking to travel when the borders open.

“Once a year we invite our members to take part in this great Christmas competition. In return for their prize contribution, they receive increased exposure Australia-wide,”’s Co-Founder Kevin Patroni said.

“ was launched in Mackay and the Whitsundays, however it is a product for all towns and cities of Australia.

“We are super excited to launch this year’s annual ‘Christmas Hamper of things to do’ competition with prizes in our own hometown. We are proud to help promote the Mackay region across Australia to help boost the tourism industry and support local businesses in the region.”

Enter online at

Total prize value is $2,455.20 and the competition is drawn on 10 December.

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Mackay Artist Taking Region By Storm

October 28, 2021

A Whitsunday Anglican School student in Mackay, Mikayla Parrotta, has recently been awarded two Young Artist Awards, one at the Whitsunday Regional Arts Festival and the other at the 2021 Regional Arts Competition.

Mikayla, a Year 11 Visual Art student, has been painting since she was eight years old, and enjoys the hobby as a form of relaxation away from the pressures of school.

“I’ve got a painting on my wall that is very amateur,” Mikayla’s mum, Liz Parrotta laughed.

“It’s from when she was eight; she’s always liked painting from about that age and she has been developed more through art at school.”

Her Whitsunday Arts Festival award came for her acrylic painting depicting a boat in Cid Harbour in response to the theme: “Reflecting on Place”.

The family had hired a charter boat for a holiday last year in the Whitsundays and Mikayla painted her interpretation of a moment during that vacation.

She only started more serious painting last year when she was in grade 10 and school was becoming more intense and she was looking for an outlet.

Now, Mikayla has won the Young Artist Award at Whitsunday Arts Festival for $1000 dollars and the Youth People’s Choice Award for the 2021 Regional Art Competition for Flying Arts Alliance Incorporated, taking home $700.

Some of her works are on display in Cape Hillsborough Resort and are being sold by the owners who asked her to capture the kangaroos of Cape Hillsborough.

The People’s choice was a painting of herself and two of her friends having a picnic in the botanic gardens – another memorable moment.

Currently, Mikayla is painting a scene for a local family, a commission, but is unsure about a career in the field; at this stage she just wants to keep it as a relaxation.

“She’s nervous that if she turns it into a career there’ll be pressure and making a living out of it, that it might not be so relaxing,” Liz said.

The dining room has become her studio, and her mum says that it’s great, but she doesn’t get to use the table in there much anymore.

“Her grandfather was the artist so that skipped my generation,” Liz joked.

She paints roughly a piece every two months after 40 to 50 hours of work.

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Local Scammed Out Of Thousands On Social Media

October 28, 2021

Mackay Police are raising awareness and warning residents to stay alert to social media scams after a local was scammed out of a large sum of money.

Scams on social media are becoming more regular, as thieves are getting savvier at hacking people’s accounts. Another common scam is for the thief to copy someone’s account, then befriend that person’s friends before asking for money.

Recently, a person in Mackay was contacted through a social media app by a lifelong ‘friend’ offering what appeared to be an easy way to make some quick money.

Senior Constable Steve Smith said that the communication explained that if a particular sum of money was invested into a rare scheme almost immediately, the returns after a month would be beyond expectations.

“The offer was accepted by the Mackay resident and over a two-day period, the resident transferred sizeable financial amounts into the fake investment opportunity,” Senior Constable Smith said.

“A certain amount of personal information was also required to enable the transaction to occur, and this was provided.    

“As you may have already guessed, the money was not going to an investment opportunity. The hacker simply took advantage of a strong relationship which existed between two people to make some money, which they did.

“This is a type of scam that we have seen before in the Mackay Police District and across the country,” he said.

Top Tips To Stop Scammers

Police encourage you to protect all of your social media accounts with a strong passphrase (instead of a password) and two factor authentication (where available).

If you are ever offered an investment opportunity online from friends or family – do not act in any way unless you have made either phone or face to face contact with that person.

Always be suspicious of the offer unless that extra communication method has taken place.

Never be rushed into making a decision through fear of missing out. Always seek independent financial advice before making an investment.

Never provide identifying or financial information to someone you have met online.

If an offer sounds too good to be true – it probably is.

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Coalfields Critical Health Services Supported By Giving Day

October 28, 2021

Image: Mayor Anne Baker with Mackay Hospital Foundation's Peter Tait and Leonie Hansen

A $10,000 pledge to be shared across Isaac hospitals and health facilities in Dysart, Clermont and Moranbah will be an injection in the right direction.

The pledge from Isaac Regional Council is part of the Mackay Hospital Foundation Giving Day for much needed funds for equipment and projects and volunteers who had set up shop at Moranbah Town Square yesterday.

Mayor Anne Baker said Council is continuing to advocate for critical health services in the Isaac region.

“We are providing support to events such as these to raise awareness and funds for critical projects and equipment that will improve health outcomes for patients in the region,” Mayor Baker said.

“Giving Day was a 24-hour fundraising challenge that rallies our local community to support hospitals across Mackay Hospital and Health Service – we’re so thankful to everyone who made a donation and chose an Isaac region-based hospital and health facility.

The foundation is a dedicated fundraising organisation for the Mackay Hospital and Health Service region incorporating hospitals and health facilities in Bowen, Collinsville, Proserpine, Mackay, Sarina, Moranbah, Dysart and Clermont.

Council is classified as a match donor for the day which means that depending on the amount of matched funds received by the foundation, the donations from the community and organisations on Giving Day may be matched two, three or four-fold.

The funding is also utilised to support projects and equipment that will improve the health outcomes for patients with the region and providing comfort and convenience for patients’ hospital stays in the Mackay, Whitsunday and Isaac regions.

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Working On Hearts, Not Projects

October 28, 2021

Shed Happens Mackay are celebrating International Men’s Day on Friday 19th of November, inviting all blokes to come to their fundraising breakfast, with proceeds being donated to local charity groups.

International Men’s Day and Shed Happens share a similar ethos – celebrating the positive impact men can have on society, and the role they have in developing boys into quality young men.

Shed Happens started about 20 years ago in Brisbane, when truck driving instructor Ian ‘Watto’ Watson was teaching the art of shifting up gear and down gear, meeting a multitude of men who were changing careers for personal reasons: marriage breakdowns, moving houses, struggling as fathers.

He found power in the exchange of those stories and began having groups of men around to have a barbecue. Men who thought they were once alone learned that their experiences were common ones and Shed Happens was born.

As part of their third annual International Men’s Day breakfast, Shed Happens will also be announcing their winner for Mackay Man of The Year.

“Usually, people think man of the year is going to be some broad-chested, tall, mayor-type,” Frank Cowell of Shed Happens said.

“It’s really not – these men are average, good blokes.”

Frank has been involved in Shed Happens for thirteen years when he learned of it in the Gold Coast. He eventually moved to Mackay, bringing the word of Shed Happens along with him.

Frank calls himself the convener, for lack of a better word, organising the Shed Happens meetings in Mackay, but Frank is more of a conveyer than anything else; he spreads a message of shared experience, personal growth, mateship, and hope.

“No bloke ever went backwards with encouragement,” Frank said, echoing the motto of Shed Happens.

“People think it’s a place for blokes who are broken, for blokes who have had an addiction, a breakdown; that they’re rehabbing and then can go to Shed – it’s not – it’s a place for all blokes.

“I’m an average bloke, I’ve had a life, I’ve never had depression, and Shed is a good place for me; I can talk to the blokes who have experienced those things and empathise with them.

“It’s all about encouragement.”

Often confused with the Men’s Shed, Shed Happens has an entirely different format, where no workman’s tools or bandsaws are necessary – just your ears.

Meetings revolve around two interviews with members of the Shed who are asked if they want to share their life experiences.

Frank told our reporter the story of his first Shed session 13 years ago, where a man who had been in and out of jail for 20 of his 40 years on earth told his story.

“I reckon 30 or 40 blokes went and shook his hand and said, ‘Good on you, mate, you’re going in the right direction,” Frank said, choking back tears.

“That’s the essence of Shed, that’s why I do it.”

Shed Happens is for all men, and their International Men’s Day Breakfast is an opportunity to give to great causes, meet great blokes, and grow as a man.

Tickets are available via the SHED Happens Mackay Facebook page, where full venue and time details can be found.

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Mackay’s Best Views Are Up For Grabs

October 28, 2021

You can’t get any higher than Mackay Land Sales newest blocks in Rural View at the top of Bjelke Circuit which overlooks a panorama of ocean, sugar cane, and a growing community.

Owner Michael McEachern started Mackay Land Sales back in 1991, when purchasing Northview Heights, and now 30 years later, has four residential estates: Avalon, Kidston Cove, Lagoons Estate, and Premier Gardens.

Premier Gardens consists of land in Rural View, with many of the blocks of land already sold off to residents looking to be a part of one of Mackay’s fastest growing suburban areas.

“This used to be all Sugarcane when I bought it,” Michael said, as he pointed out across the enormous expanse, highlighting far off landmarks like Eimeo, Keswick Island, and almost all of Mackay.

This subdivision is a part of Mackay Land Sales enormous development across Rural View, with this end of Bjelke Circuit called Stage 17.

“There’s no subdivision around with these sorts of views anywhere in Mackay; I always think that looking at this view is better than your neighbour’s backyard,” he laughed.

“The beauty with these blocks, too, is that there’s going to be a path and a parkland, which connects to the rest of the subdivision.

Michael has been watching, as well as contributing, to Rural View’s slow transformation into its own entire precinct and knows that it's only going to grow more.

There are shops popping up all around, schools galore - Eimeo Road State School, Northern Beaches State High School, and St Brendan’s Catholic Primary School – as well as restaurants and shopping centres.

It’s not just a vista of progress that can be seen from the top of Bjelke either, with it still retaining the ‘rural’ of Rural View, with grazing land to its north with 30 head of cattle and rivers linking up to the Pacific.

This land is for the homeowner who wants unparalleled views; the very best views in the entirety of Mackay.

So do not miss this opportunity to own a piece of the Northern Beaches, Mackay, and more information about the land can be found at Mackay Land Sales website.

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Eighteen Year Anniversary Trek Remembers CQ Rescue’s Darkest Night

October 28, 2021

Last Sunday marked the 18-year anniversary of the CQ Rescue crash between Cape Hillsborough and Little Green Island in October 2003, which claimed the lives of three crewman.

A group of CQ Rescue staff, crew, and their families as well as the brother of lost crewman Stewart Eva, attended the honour ceremony.

They trekked up to the memorial plaque at Turtle Point lookout in Cape Hillsborough to honour the lost crewmen, their courage and their sacrifice on October 17th 2003.

The tragic day is remembered as the day when rescuers themselves could not be saved.

It was a dark night when the three RACQ CQ RESQ crew members were killed when their Bell 407 helicopter ditched into the sea off of Shoal Point.

Pilot Andy Carpenter, crewman Stewart Eva, and paramedic Craig Liddington were en route to Hamilton Island for a medical transfer, when fifteen minutes into the routine flight, they went down with speed and at high impact, with no warning.

There was no time for the men to even signal a mayday call.

Andrew Carpenter had begun flying helicopters in New Zealand where he was born, before life took him to Gladstone and to eventually joining the RESQ team in August of 2003.

Stewart Eva had been a team member of RESQ since 2002, joining after 10 years of service with the Australian Army, where he had flown in Army Black Hawks in Australia as well as in East Timor and the Solomon Islands.

He was also involved in special operations for the Olympic Games.

It has never been determined what the cause of the crash was, but the three, 31-year-old men died serving the public of Queensland and have an enduring legacy.

Statewide changes were made in the wake of the tragedy, with the incident prompting an Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) investigation, and changes that made aeromedical helicopters safer were implemented, as well as a string of other reforms.

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FIFO Ban A Win For Coalfields Communities

October 28, 2021

Image: Isaac Regional Council Mayor Anne Baker (right) with Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk. Picture: Supplied Isaac Regional Council

Australia’s first legislation banning 100 per cent fly-in fly-out (FIFO) workforces at large resource projects will be retained after a review confirmed its benefits for communities across Queensland.

Deputy Premier and Minister for State Development Steven Miles said the review found Queensland’s Strong and Sustainable Resource Communities Act’s 2017 (SSRC Act) legislative ban on 100 per cent FIFO workforces has so far been successfully applied to 71 large resource projects.

“The state government is the first, and only, government in Australia with legislation aimed at ensuring regional communities’ benefit from nearby large resource projects,” Mr Miles said.

“The review focused on assessing the key elements of the Act – prohibition of 100 per cent FIFO workforces and fair job access for locals,” Mr Miles said.

“Stakeholders have reported that positive benefits are already flowing to local communities thanks to the 100 per cent FIFO prohibition and there have been no complaints of employment discrimination,” he said.

Isaac Regional Council Mayor Anne Baker said the announcement provides resource communities across Queensland with certainty and gives their local workforces the comfort that there will be jobs for them into the future.

“It is great to see the government listened to our recommendations and is going to undertake further review of the effectiveness of the act after putting three large projects through the enhanced SIA process after they have been operating for a year,” Mayor Baker said.

“We are pleased to see the anti-discrimination provisions mentioned and in particular the work that will be done to improve awareness and perceptions of these.”

Mayor Baker has advocated for these protections over the last decade and believes all resources communities across Australia deserve the same protections now afforded to Queensland communities.

“What we would love to see is that this legislation picked up by the Federal Government and rolled out nationally,” she said.

Minister for Resources Scott Stewart said the review was based on extensive engagement with stakeholders directly affected by the Act, including the resource industry, local government, peak industry bodies, unions, local businesses, service providers and state government agencies.

“The legislation commenced in March 2018, and we committed to reviewing its effectiveness within three years of its implementation to make sure the Act is benefitting Queensland communities as intended,” Mr Stewart said.

“There are now 297 communities protected by the legislation.

“As part of the review, stakeholders reported the Act sets out a clear legislative framework and does not impose significant costs on the resource industry.”

Mr Miles said the Queensland Government endorsed the review’s recommendation to retain the Act.

It also welcomed recommendations for a further assessment of longer-term community benefits after more large resource projects complete the enhanced social impact assessment process and have been operating for at least one year.

For more information and to read the report, visit:

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Solving The ‘Wet Problem’

October 28, 2021

Dr Daryl Stephens, a urologist of thirty-five years, is inviting the elderly of Mackay suffering incontinence to a casual information session on the 2nd of November.

Having held positions as a consultant at the Mater, the Mackay Base Hospital, and a senior lecturer at JCU, Dr Stephens is an expert of the field, and says that the relaxed session will be a blessing to many of the elderly who suffer because of this ‘wet problem’.

He has worked mainly in rural communities both here and overseas in that time and is aware of the difficulties that come with geriatric urology practice.

“I love surgery and urology; it includes all age groups, men and women, and involves technical, camera-based surgery,” Dr Stephen’s said.

“This session, anyone can attend, it's an open forum. However, I want people to be aware I cannot give individual second opinions in a public setting.”

Dr Stephens wants everyone to know that there’s no shame in incontinence, and learning how to manage it is possible, with a number of newer appliances available to ease those processes.

“Incontinence has many causes, and as we age, all these causative illnesses become more common. However, a newborn baby has no control as well,” Dr Stephens said.

“We will put an emphasis on the hidden problem of overflow, how it can be easily diagnosed, and how simple measures can provide amazing relief for oldies and staff.”

The session will be held at the Mackay Base Hospitals James Cook University Campus in the k block from 6pm-8pm.

“It will be relaxed, interactive and I’ll try to make it entertaining,” Dr Stephens laughed.

“We have some very good backup presenters and appliance representatives, too. Plus we have food!”

If you work in a nursing home as a medical or nursing attendant, if you work with the elderly or if you are interested in managing incontinence, please RSVP to to book your space.

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Catherine McAuley College Meet The Staff

October 28, 2021

Michelle Crossland

HOD English / Humanities / Languages

“I believe you have to have passionate teachers to encourage the passion in the student.”

Bringing a depth of teaching experience from across the globe, Michelle Crossland says she is most excited to implement new ideas at Catherine McAuley College.

“It’s a new school with a blank canvas, which provides great opportunities to develop students holistically,” Michelle said.

“I would love the college to be known for its academic rigor and one of my aims will be to raise the literacy level.”

Born in the United Kingdom, Michelle taught in England for 18 years before moving to Mackay. She has been in Mackay for almost 14 years and said the move provided excellent opportunities and lifestyle for her three children.

“They went to school in Mackay and have all taken different life paths. My eldest is a fitter and turner in the mines and is studying a business degree part time. One is studying a master’s in criminology and criminal justice, and the other is doing a degree in social studies child protection.”

Michelle’s vision for Catherine McAuley College is for it to be a family-friendly school where parents and students feel comfortable in communicating with the school and teachers.

“As a parent I understand the kind of hopes we have for our children and the expectation of learning that comes with that. We have very passionate teachers at Catherine McAuley College who want to provide the best.

“I have great plans to include the community with our school, making use of local facilities, local cultural leaders and elders, and the local environment for a broad appreciation of learning within the community.”

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Tips To Avoid Halloween

October 28, 2021

Halloween is becoming more popular in Australia every year, but it’s not to everyone’s taste.

While some embrace the opportunity to get into the spooky spirit, others would prefer not to be bothered by trick-or-treaters.

To avoid a constant stream of doorknockers this Sunday, there are a few precautions you can take to lessen the interruption.

1 – Leave your porch light off. It’s a common indicator to trick-or-treaters that a porch light on means you’re participating in Halloween. So for that night, turn the outside lights off and where practical, keep lights off that can be seen from the front of your home. If trick-or-treaters think there’s no one home they’re less likely to knock.

2 – Head out for the evening. If the thought of trick-or-treaters raises your anxiety, it may be a simpler solution to head out for a few hours. A dinner out and movie at the cinema should mean the doorknockers are finished before you get home.

3 - Put up a sign. Some people might not know that you are not passing out candy just from your lights being off. Hang a sign on your front door that politely explains that you are not participating in Halloween.

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Homestead History Comes Alive For Halloween

October 28, 2021

Image: Greenmount volunteer and “friendly witch” Jan Menzies is getting into costume, and the spirit of Halloween, ahead of the family day on October 31. Supplied: Mackay Regional Council  

There will be a Halloween Fashion parade, witches hat ring toss and pumpkin carving at Greenmount Homestead’s Happy Halloween event this Sunday

With its rustic charm, lush gardens and popularity as a wedding venue, Greenmount Homestead might not seem like an obvious choice for a Halloween celebration, but it has a well-documented spooky history.

Museums support officer Angela Isnor said the Cook Family of Greenmount Homestead had left documentation that detailed their dabbling into spiritualism, clairvoyancy and communing with the departed.  

Combine the historical memoirs of clairvoyancy with rumours that the homestead may be haunted, and you have the perfect recipe for a spine tingling night of frights.

However, this Halloween, Greenmount will instead be a place of family fun, with story time, games, crafts and pumpkin carving. Families can learn more about the spooky side of Greenmount Homestead at the first ever Happy Halloween event on Sunday, October 31, from 9am to 1pm.

The homestead’s documented history with communication with the dead casts an eerie light on Greenmount which has excited ghost hunters and those with supernatural fascinations.

Museums support officer Angela Isnor said the Cook Family, especially Albert Cook, were highly valued for their supernatural talents.

“Albert Cook was in demand as a diviner for water, oil, shale and even sapphires; but apparently his talents also extended to clairvoyancy,” Ms Isnor said.

“The residents of Walkerston would bring Albert a possession belonging to their loved ones who were away fighting in World War II,” she said.

“Albert would hold the object and have clairvoyant visions of the soldiers in the theatre of war, and these visions would be of great comfort to the families.

“Albert’s daughter, Althea continued to explore spiritualism after Albert’s passing and was known to hold seances and participate in automatic writing, which is a form of spirit-guided writing where you can communicate with those who have passed over.

“On the day their mother passed, her brother Tom noted in his diary, ‘I saw Al [Althea] for a while. She had contact from Dad that Mum [was] ‘over’ and ‘free’.”

Purportedly, at this time of year, the veil between our world and the spirit world is at its thinnest. The dimensions overlap, making it easier to connect with the departed.

Mayor Greg Williamson said the Greenmount team had a talent for combining our local history with family-friendly fun.

“Angela Isnor has done a tremendous job spearheading this event and, being from Canada, Angela is making sure the activities will be sticking closely to tradition,” Mayor Williamson said.

“Families can learn how to carve a pumpkin, play a cornhole game and there will be a costume parade, of course, to show off the spookiest costumes,” he said.

“The Mackay Regional Council Libraries team will also be onsite with their trailer to host some spooky Story Time sessions.”

Entry to the Happy Halloween event is free and a coffee van will be onsite for refreshments.

Families are encouraged to come in their Halloween costumes and to bring a picnic lunch and snacks.    

Greenmount Homestead Happy Halloween event timetable

● Homestead open – 9am

● Spooky tours – 9.15am, 10.15am and 11.15am

● Story Time session – 9.45am to 10.15am

● Story Time session – 10.45am to 11.15am

● Craft activities – 9am to 1pm

● Halloween games – 9am to 1pm

● Pumpkin carving demonstration – 11.15am to 11.30am

● Halloween bingo – 11.45am to 12.15pm

● Halloween fashion parade – 12.15 to 12.45pm

● Event photography and photo booth – 9am to 1pm

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Doughraiser For CQ Rescue

October 28, 2021

Five local Domino’s stores, Domino’s Andergrove, Rural View, North Mackay, South Mackay, and Sarina, hosted a ‘Doughraiser’ last Wednesday, donating $1 from every pizza sold to RACQ CQ Rescue.

With this year marking RACQ CQ Rescue’s 25th Anniversary, Domino’s Mackay wanted to support the lifesaving service’s important role in the community.

“RACQ CQ Rescue has so often been there for those in our community during their time of need, having rescued thousands of people during their 25 years in service,” Domino's franchisee Carl Sheppard said.

The Doughraiser coincided with Rescue Chopper Week, which runs from October 19th to the 25th and allows RACQ CQ Rescue to engage directly with schools, community groups and local businesses on the importance of the rescue helicopter

“With RACQ CQ Rescue being a community-funded service, I think it’s vital that we support them and give back however we can,” Mr Sheppard said.

“Once you begin speaking to people around the Central Queensland area, you begin to realise just how many lives have been impacted by the assistance of RACQ CQ Rescue.”

Domino’s South Mackay will be holding an ongoing monthly Doughraiser for the service to help support the work they do for our community.

“Being a local business owner, I’m passionate about giving back to the local community, and I believe supporting a cause like RACQ CQ Rescue which has changed the lives of so many in our region, is very important,” Mr Sheppard said.

“We were proud to raise over $1,200 for the RACQ CQ Rescue during our Doughraiser, and feel very privileged to have been able to show our support for the important service they provide.”

The community is filled with those who have had first-hand experience of the vital service RACQ CQ Rescue provide, and Mr Sheppard said that he was delighted when so many people from the Mackay community came down to one of the participating Domino’s stores to enjoy a slice of their favourite pizza in support of the rescue service.

“It’s wonderful to see the community come together to support local causes, and I feel very lucky as a local small business owner to be in a position where I can bring the Mackay community together,” he said.

“I’m passionate about giving back to the Mackay community, so I’m proud to share Domino’s South Mackay will be continuing to support RACQ CQ Rescue with an ongoing monthly Doughraiser.

Mr Sheppard said that if any local causes are in need of a helping hand, he encourages them to reach out to one of the Domino’s Mackay stores directly, as they will always do what they can to help.

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Do You Watch The Flow Of Your H2O?

October 22, 2021

Image: Kylie Rogers and son Asher grabbing a drink of water from the tap. Supplied Mackay Regional Council

How many times per day do you reach for the tap?

On average, Australian’s reach for their taps 16 times a day and are running their taps for 12.2 billion minutes a week.*  Which is a lot of water going down the drain!

This week is National Water Week and residents and children can take part in a number of water-saving activities to help conserve our precious resource. Not only will it help community reserves during drought, but it’s better for your bank account too.

Students can take part in council’s water wise drawing competition. It’s open to kindergarten to year three students and year four to year six students and the winner of each category will win a water saving pack for their entire class.

Mayor Greg Williamson said water is such a precious commodity and it’s important we are all conscious of how often we reach for our taps.

“On average in the Mackay region we use about 191 litres of water per person per day, which equates to 5400 Olympic sized swimming pools each year,” he said.

“Some simple water saving tips include keep showers to four minutes or less, turn off taps when washing your hands, fix dripping taps and only water outdoors every second day before 10am after 4pm,” he said.

Residents and businesses can sign up to council’s free myh2o website ( and keep track of how much water you’re using each day, how much it’s costing you, put plans in place to save and be alerted to water leaks straight away.

For more water saving tips visit council’s website

*Research commissioned by not-for-profit Smart Approved WaterMark and conducted by YouGov

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25 Years Of Holy Spirit College

October 22, 2021

Mackay’s Holy Spirit College celebrated a fantastic achievement this past month, celebrating the Catholic co-educational College’s 25th anniversary with fun, style and the burying of a time capsule to be opened in another 25 years time.

The College, who’s students range from Years 7 to 12, celebrated with the gathering of those students and staff on Tuesday 12 October, commemorating the occasion with a sausage sizzle, a whole-of-school drone photograph and fun carnival activities – as well as the burying of the time capsule.

“We had such a wonderful day celebrating this significant milestone,” Holy Spirit College Principal, Mrs Alison Wales, said.

“Each item for our time capsule has been carefully selected to capture a glimpse of what life is like for students and staff in 2021; the College was buzzing with excitement as we joined together in celebration.”

The schools’ origins tie closely to Emmanuel Catholic School, and was officially established next to Emmanuel Catholic Primary School in 1996, and Founded by the Marist Sisters.

The College has grown from enrolments numbering 390 in Years 8 to 10 in 1996 to a thriving student body of over 1,000, now covering Years 7 to 12 in 2021.

Over 25 years, the College campus of 10.7 hectares has experienced its fair share of re-shaping and building projects, providing a modern infrastructure for the growing student population and curriculum offerings.

The College has been guided by four Principals over the past 25 years: Mrs Ruth Lang, Mr Vince McSherry, Dr John Lyons, and Mrs Alison Wales.

The college welcomed its 25th year, as well as all types of learners as they are nurtured and given every opportunity to develop their gifts.

Skilled and professional staff offer a quality education and extra-curricular opportunities in the areas of sport, culture, service, STEM, and academic development.

The College says it strives to achieve a sense of positive community for all, laying the foundation for a successful and fulfilling future for students.

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Lack Of Staff Forces Deck To Close

October 22, 2021

The Deck Steakhouse in Mackay Harbour has temporarily closed its doors after a staff shortage left them with no other choice, having struggled to fill their kitchen positions.

Owner Janette Paul said it has always been an uphill struggle to keep the restaurant open, and the battle to find staff has been going on for more than a year.

First Janette tried reducing open hours to cope with shortages of staff and only ran as a Friday to Sunday business, but still continually struggled to fill the kitchen.

Ms Paul said restaurants in the area had been experiencing the same kind of woes – they get a lot of applications, but maybe one in 10 answer the phone.

Janette believed that almost all applicants were simply doing so to keep their Centrelink payments, which require an active pursuit of employment through the submission of a minimum number of resumes.

Mrs Paul also said that pressure limited staff placed on those who remained created a chain reaction where if one left, the next would take on the pressure and soon leave themselves.

Those reliable staff that had stayed on and worked at the Deck have moved into Sails Sports Bar and the Lighthouse, which are owned by Mrs Paul as well.

The Deck needs five chefs and cooks to re-open the business, and if any reading can get in touch with either the Lighthouse or Sails Sports Bar, it would be vastly appreciated by Mrs Paul.

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Council Scoops State Award For Emergency Preparedness

October 22, 2021

Photo: Mackay resident Dave Conway chats with council employee Elisa Crooks about the P-CEP workbook

Inspiring projects building the resilience of Queensland communities to natural disasters were celebrated at the 2021 Get Ready Queensland Resilient Australia Awards held in Brisbane last week, with Mackay Regional Council recognised for its work to ensure people with a disability are better prepared in an emergency situation.

Deputy Premier and Minister for State Development, Local Government, Infrastructure and Planning Steven Miles said that Queenslanders are hit by more disasters than any other state in Australia and are famous for their ability to support each other to recover and rebuild.

“Many of the entries this year focused on responses to the COVID-19 pandemic and also preparing the most vulnerable members of our community and I was humbled by the efforts that individuals and organisations have put into caring for our community through difficult times,” Mr Miles said.

Research demonstrates people with a disability are two to four times more likely to die or be injured in a disaster.

Mackay Regional Council has been working tirelessly to improve the safety and wellbeing of people with disability during disasters through an approach of person-centred emergency preparedness (P-CEP).

It was for this reason that Mackay Regional Council was crowned joint winner in the Local Government category for the “P-CEP in Mackay” project.

Mayor Greg Williamson said the win was a testament to council’s dedicated team of

emergency management experts who have been busily working in this space.

“In the event of any emergency, what we know is, immediate action is required and we need to have the confidence that our community is not only trained – but ready to go,” Mayor Williamson said.

“Mackay is the first community to widely distribute the P-CEP workbook and instigate a comprehensive program of community engagement and capacity development,” he said.

P-CEP in Mackay has delivered training to 100 service providers and seen more than 4000 workbooks distributed to help people with disability create tailored emergency plans.

To learn more about P-CEP in Mackay and council’s timeline towards a person-centred emergency preparedness approach, visit

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Splash Of Cash To Save Summer

October 22, 2021

Structural issues had caused one of Mackay’s favourite summer havens to close, but as the temperature rises, so do the hopes of the community with the Bluewater Lagoon set to reopen in November.

Mackay Regional Council has completed investigations into structural issues at Bluewater Lagoon and has put a plan in place to enable the facility to be opened sooner than if a complete repair was done.

Local contractor WHF Group Pty Ltd has been engaged to complete patch work to the lagoon surface and this work has now started.

Mayor Greg Williamson said the patch work was a short-term solution to temporarily repair leaks in the lining of the surface.

He said this would allow the Bluewater Lagoon to be reopened for the Christmas school holidays.

“The December and January school holidays are our most popular time of the year, so it is important that the Bluewater Lagoon is open to the public during this period,” Mayor Williamson said.

"We can't pull the whole lining off and repatch it in time, that will take many months.


“This will give council staff time to organise a long-term solution to repair the surface of the lagoon and main circulation line.

“The scope of this work is currently being finalised and will be put to tender later this year, with work scheduled to be carried out during the winter seasonal closure in 2022.”

The pool was leaking a significant amount of water, equivalent to the amount held in an Olympic-sized swimming pool every month. Mayor Williamson said safety hadn’t been the initial concern, but with the amount of water being lost it could have caused more severe issues in the future.

Interflow is carrying out repairs to the main circulation line.

The roof of the plant room is also being replaced.

Locals are reminded that they can continue to enjoy free entry to Mackay ARC (Ooralea) on weekends while the Bluewater Lagoon is closed for repairs.

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All Frocked Up

October 22, 2021

A visit to Primal Coffee Roasters yesterday may have had patrons confused by owner Dan Shaw’s choice of outfits – an elegant, pink frock, accompanied by a gorgeous, frilled hat, and full makeup which Dan wore for a good cause, all in the name of Frocktober.

Frocktober runs through the month of October and empowers women Australia-wide to channel their creative flair through their favourite frocks, all while raising urgently needed funds and awareness for the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund (OCRF).

The idea behind Frocktober is that the only way to fight ovarian cancer, the silent killer, is to get loud.

The OCRF run innovative research projects, helping to shine a light on this terrible disease, and Primal Coffee Roaster’s Dan Shaw shaved his legs and pulled on his frilly frock yesterday after smashing his goal of $1000 in donations.

“I love hearing people come into my café and loving it, but I love things like this even more – when we can raise awareness for a good cause like this,” Mr Shaw said.

“It’s important because it’s not just the women diagnosed affected by the disease, it’s their families and friends who go on the painful journey too.”

Dan smashed his initial goal of $1000, reaching over $2000 in the days leading up to the event.

One Mackay local, Mark Mcgann, was so keen to see Dan in a frock, that he donated a whopping $500 dollars – the people of Mackay have spoken, and it is a resounding ‘get that man in a dress’.

“It’s for a good cause! I have a limited ego, and I said alright, whatever we can do for the cause,” Dan said.

“It gives a bit of humour to a great community and culture in and around the café, and if it means I’ve got to put a dress on and serve a couple coffees I’ll do it!”

Dan plans to keep raising the bar, and as a Real Mates Talk ambassador says he will be doing something special over the next months to raise awareness and funds for men’s and veteran’s mental health.

“I’m always up for anything; the beauty of having a front of house café like that, where I’m in the spotlight a bit, I want to use that for the benefit of the community.”

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Seriously Burned Filipino Sailor Winched Off Bulk Carrier

October 22, 2021

Image: RACQ CQ Rescue winched a Filipino sailor with a serious burn and infection off a bulk carrier at Hay Point last week. Images supplied: RACQ CQ Rescue

A Filipino sailor with a serious burn and infection was winched off a bulk carrier at Hay Point last week and flown to hospital by RACQ CQ Rescue.

The ill sailor, believed to be aged about 50, suffered a horrific burn to the upper leg about 11 days ago while on board the 230-metre-long bulk carrier MV Star Maria, which was enroute to Australia from Taiwan. It is believed the burn happened due to an accident with hot water in the ship’s galley.

RACQ CQ Rescue was tasked by Queensland Health last Friday at 10am after the sailor’s condition deteriorated rapidly due to a serious infection which required urgent medical attention. The bulk carrier was then moored 20km offshore in the Hay Point anchorage.

The rescue helicopter made radio contact with the vessel and proceeded to hover about 10 metres above the carrier to lower an RACQ CQ Rescue rescue crewman and a critical care paramedic to the deck below. The pair stabilized the ill patient as the helicopter orbited the area and prepared them for a winch retrieval into the helicopter.

The sailor was secured into an ARV (Air Rescue Vest) and was winched up in the hovering helicopter accompanied by the paramedic, all within 10 minutes of arrival at the moored vessel.

Within 40 minutes of leaving base at Mackay Airport, the sailor arrived at Mackay Base Hospital in a stable condition.

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Charity Walk Gets Pulses Racing

October 22, 2021

Friends and families impacted by childhood heart disease gathered on a hot, muggy morning last Sunday to take part in the annual HeartKids Two Feet and a Heartbeat Charity Walk.

This year’s brave ambassador was 9-year-old Rueben Drayton. He was only 8 years old when diagnosed with an aortal pulmonary septal defect, a rare heart condition. His mother, Tegan, knew there was something not right when Reuben was three.

“It was scary to get the diagnosis last year but with HeartKids support we’re getting there,” Tegan said.

The hole in his heart causes high blood pressure and can lead to heart failure. It can be fatal if left untreated, so Reuben underwent treatment in Brisbane. Recent tests show Reuben has improved, so the family wanted to give back to the HeartKids charity by organising its annual charity walk in Mackay.

After the 4km walk from John Breen Park around the North Mackay Gooseponds, families enjoyed a day of fun with jumping castles, a petting zoo, fairy floss, face painting and a barbecue. A truly heartwarming response to support those who receive a heartbreaking diagnosis.

View the gallery here

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Drive Market Revving Growth For Tourism In Mackay

October 15, 2021

Image: Unique locations in the Mackay Region like Finch Hatton Gorge are attracting a growing drive market to Mackay as Queenslanders search for new holiday locations. Image: Mackay Isaac Tourism

While some areas in Queensland have felt the effect of more than 12 months without international visitors, regions like Mackay have benefitted from locals with wanderlust.

National Visitor Survey (NVS) data released earlier this month has shown that despite changing COVID-19 restrictions across the country, tourism in the Mackay Region has continued to grow.

Holiday visitors to the Mackay Region over in the year ending June 2021, show a rise of nearly 9 per cent over the three-year trend and 3.3 per cent when compared to the same period in 2019, prior to the pandemic.

This rise in visitation is fueled by the growing Intrastate tourism, with the Mackay Region welcoming 831,000 fellow Queenslanders. This figure showed a growth of 2.3 per cent over the three-year trend.

Mackay Mayor Greg Williamson said these statistics demonstrate the strength and resilience of the region’s tourism industry.

“The Mackay Region’s tourism operators have been incredibly resilient over the past year and have showcased their incredible strength in helping the region grow in spite of changing COVID restrictions,” Cr Williamson said.

“Whilst the COVID-19 pandemic has ground many regions to a halt, it is wonderful to see the growth that our region has made.”

Additionally, spend per night in the Mackay Region has also increase to $125, growing by nearly 9 per cent over the three-year period and 6.7 per cent when compared to the same period in 2019.

Mackay Isaac Tourism Chair and Mackay Councilor Justin Englert said that it was pleasing to see the tourism industry increase its contribution to the region’s economy.

“The increase in money spent by visitors per night exhibits the growth our region’s tourism industry has made, even while suffering from COVID restrictions,” Cr. Englert said.

“As we recover from COVID-19, Mackay is well positioned to attract even more visitors, generate greater investment, create local jobs and support livability for our community.”

Mackay Isaac Tourism said these statistics comprise of data from June 2020 to June 2021.

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Zappar Brings Art To Life

October 15, 2021

If you’ve had the opportunity to stroll through Mackay’s colourful city heart, you will have noticed QR codes near some of the Fifth Lane installments.

These are to bring the art to life through augmented reality. Using a mobile device, the QR code introduces movement and sound to the art on the wall, for a magical interactive experience.

Mayor Greg Williamson said “Public art is a fantastic way to energise a community asset, attract visitors and boost community pride, all while telling a local community’s story and history in a creative way".

Music festivals, market stalls and dining are all possibilities now for the newly revitalised laneway in the City Centre. Fifth Lane located between Gregory and Wood streets underwent a $765,000 makeover to improve the laneway’s condition and appearance, with festoon lighting added for extra ambience.

Take a stroll and discover the colourful creations for yourself.

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Pedal Powered Breakfast To Fuel Active Transport

October 15, 2021

Photo: Jeanie Tucci enjoyed a free breakfast at council’s last Ride2Work breakfast event. Supplied: Mackay Regional Council

The initiative is a no-brainer, but make sure you remember your helmet.

In a bid to encourage more locals to be active every day, while also addressing the issue of increasing traffic congestion, Mackay Regional Council is asking residents to ‘get on their bike’ next Wednesday, 20 October.

Not only will the pedal powered activity fuel a flurry of endorphins, but cyclists will be treated to a hearty and healthy breakfast waiting for them at a range of venues.

Seven different locations, across the region, will be offering free breakfast options; from bacon and egg muffins at the harbour to breakfast wraps in Paget.

Plus, if you register before 5pm, Friday, October 15, council will shout you a free Ride Mackay branded cycling pack, including a bag, bottle and limited-edition towel.  

The Ride2Work initiative is part of the exciting Try the 5 get-active campaign and is designed to help change our reliance on cars to commute.

Mackay Regional Council’s Sport and Recreation Advisory Committee Chairperson Cr Michelle Green said two thirds of Australians didn’t get enough exercise to maintain their health.

“At the same time, traffic is building at an alarming rate as our population expands, so we have to do everything we can to get residents to consider active transport,” Cr Green said.

“We really want to get the message out that riding isn’t just for mamils (middle-aged men in lycra), it has a host of benefits for everyone,” she said.

“For example, not only is biking to work often faster than driving, especially during peak hours; it also saves you money, reduces emissions and lowers your risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, some cancers, obesity and depression.

“Add a free breakfast to that list and there’s plenty of reasons to get on your bike and leave your car keys hanging at home on October 20.”

Residents are encouraged to head to to register for the breakfast and select which venue they will be attending.

Everyone who preregisters will also automatically go in the draw for the Try the 5 competition, featuring $2000 in prizes.  

Breakfast locations on October 20 include:

• 5.30am to 9am - Memorial Swim Centre, City Centre - muffin, yoghurt and orange juice

• 5.30am to 9am - Pioneer Pool, North Mackay - muffin, yoghurt and orange juice

• 5.30am to 9am - Mackay ARC, Ooralea – muffin and yoghurt or bacon and egg muffin, coffee or juice

• 5.30am to 9am - Vintage Kiss Marian - breakfast and beverage

• 5.30am to 9am - Mother’s Pantry, Paget – breakfast wrap and beverage

• 6am to 9am - Third Ground Café, Sarina – breakfast wrap and small beverage

• 7am to 9am – Casu Jacks, Mackay Harbour - bacon, egg and cheese muffin or wrap and coffee, or a sweet muffin and coffee

Ride-ins are welcome on the day; however, preference will be given to those who have preregistered.  There will also be a QR code available at each venue to allow unregistered riders to enter the Try the 5 competition.

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SES Week Awards Recognise Dedication Of Orange Army

October 15, 2021

Through flood, fire and the times we may fear for our lives the most, the men and women of the Orange Army are the saviours protecting people and property. Their dedication and tireless effort volunteering for the State Emergency Service (SES) were recognised at an awards ceremony last week.

Representing Minister for Fire and Emergency Services, Mark Ryan, Member for Mackay, Julianne Gilbert, said the event recognised SES members, groups and units who provided outstanding service to their community in times of need.

“The Queensland SES has a proud history of helping, protecting and educating our communities,” Ms Gilbert said.

“SES Week is an important event in our calendar, as we honour the hard work and outstanding efforts of staff and volunteers across Queensland.

“Our volunteers give up time they may spend with family to help the community prepare and recover from disasters.

“I thank our SES volunteers and staff for their dedication and contribution."

“To back our SES, the government has increased its funding commitment this year by over seven percent bringing it to record levels.

“We will continue to support the SES now and into the future.”

The annual event provides an opportunity to honour the hard work and celebrate the outstanding efforts of SES members across the state.

QFES Commissioner Greg Leach congratulated the award recipients for their outstanding work with Queensland communities.

“Our SES volunteers selflessly donate their time to assist the community, often travelling long distances.

“To those thinking of volunteering with QFES, I encourage them to take the next step and enquire with their local unit and learn about the many roles available.”

“I thank all SES members for helping their communities prepare for weather events and get back on their feet following disasters.”

The SES has approximately 6000 volunteers who perform a diverse range of functions when responding to local, state and national emergencies.

Central Region SES Week Award winners:

SES Week Certificate – Erik Lindbergs, Mirani SES Group

SES Week Certificate – Charles Hamlet, Mackay SES Group

SES Week Certificate – Ronald McCall, Proserpine SES Group

SES Week Certificate - Peter Schmid, Mackay SES Group

Central Region Operational Response of the Year – Whitsunday SES Unit

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River Pontoon A ‘Quay’ Part Of Bluewater Plan

October 15, 2021

Image: Federal MP George Christensen (left) and Mackay Mayor Greg Williamson announced joint 9M funding of the Mackay Waterfront PDA - Riverfront Revitalisation Project from a fishing pier on the Bluewater Quay. Photo: Lee Brake, Mackay Regional Council

Vital funding has been obtained to kickstart a transformational project that will re-orient the city of Mackay to its beautiful blue Pioneer River and beachfront, opening up exciting new possibilities for tourism, retail and business.

Mayor Greg Williamson revealed that a key feature of the Riverfront Revitalisation Project would be a river pontoon, to attract paddle boarders and kayakers to use the Pioneer River as a recreational area which supports water sport enthusiasts.

It was announced that more than $4.3 million in funding for four different projects under Round five of the federal government’s Building Better Regions Fund was secured for the Dawson region, with Federal MP George Christensen saying the biggest funding injection would go to the Mackay Waterfront PDA - Riverfront Revitalisation Project - Stage one.

“I am very pleased to announce that more than $4.1 million in funding under this tourism-focused round of the Building Better Regions Fund will go to Mackay’s Riverfront Revitalisation Project,” Mr Christensen said.

Funding Secured For Revolutionary Riverfront Revitalisation

Tenders will be released late this month with anticipation that the Mackay Waterfront PDA - Riverfront Revitalisation Project will see its first movement early in 2022.

Mayor Williamson said it was a very exciting day for Mackay, with the Federal Government’s $4.1 million the key to starting the $9 million project.

“We’re putting in about $5 million also to kickstart this whole Waterfront project,’’ he said.

Mayor Williamson added that an exciting component of the development was the amount of public space that would be rejuvenated for locals to enjoy.

“From the area of the Fish Market back along River Street to Paxtons, that whole space will become a huge public realm component,” Mayor Williamson said.

As a nod to its heritage, some of the timber from the old warehouse that was demolished after being deemed unsafe will be used in an arbour within the public space. The area currently occupied by restaurant Maria’s Donkey will also be made safer to ensure overwater dining remains a key feature of the riverfront.

“As part of this funding we will also put a $2M pontoon into the river,” Mayor Williamson said.

“People have been crying out for decades to have something like this for kayaks and paddle boards. This is a fantastic way to celebrate this fantastic river we have.

“It’s great for our community and great for tourism,” he said.

Federal MP George Christensen said he is a strong supporter of Mackay Regional Council’s vision for the Waterfront PDA and has repeatedly advocated for the project in Canberra.

“This is about re-orienting the city to the water – the river and the sea – and in the process building on our tourism offering and liveability,” Mr Christensen said.

“It was one of the final things I wanted to leave the city with, to finish off my time as the Federal MP – a final gift if you like – to help diversify our economy by boosting our tourism offering.”

He added that it is a catalytic project which will transform our region.

“This adds an extra element to our region by adding tourism alongside the traditional mainstays of our region being sugar and coal mining.

“We will have a brand new experience on offer to visitors utilising the fantastic asset we have, the Pioneer River.”

The four proponents and projects to receive funding under the Building Better Regions Fund in Mackay and the Whitsundays include:

● MACKAY REGIONAL COUNCIL – $4,125,629 – Mackay Waterfront PDA – Riverside Revitalisation Project – Stage 1 (50 per cent of total project cost of $8,251,258).

● PROSERPINE GOLF CLUB – $145,000 – Irrigation and course improvement project (50 per cent of total project cost of $290,000).

● WHITSUNDAY REGIONAL COUNCIL – $32,250 – The Heart of our Identity: Whitsunday Arts, Culture & Heritage Plan (50 per cent of total project cost of $64,500).

● GREATER WHITSUNDAY COMMUNITIES * – $20,000 – Building Community & Economic Legacy in the region (total project cost).

* Formerly known as Mackay Regional Council for Social Development

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Barnaby Joyce said the Government is focused on ensuring our regions remain strong.

“We are continuing to work hard on behalf of Australians living in regional and remote communities,” the Deputy Prime Minister said.

“That’s why we’ve committed an additional $100 million under this latest round to take total funding to almost $300 million. This extra funding will support more projects, more jobs and create more economic opportunities in our regions to boost their recovery from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Funding for these projects in Mackay and the Whitsundays is a testament to the dedication of George Christensen; he’s a fierce advocate for his electorate, and he gets things done,” Mr Joyce said.

Under Round 5 of the BBRF, the Government has committed almost $300 million to support 295 projects across regional Australia, which will create an estimated 9,900 jobs during the project period.

This latest funding round takes our total support through the BBRF to $1.38 billion across nearly 1,300 projects.

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Marian RSL Celebrates 75 Years

October 8, 2021

Last weekend, in its 75th year, the RSL Marian Sub-Branch celebrated a fantastic achievement, with a full regiment of veterans, partners and families commemorating seven and a half decades.

It was around the start of 1941, when a group of returned diggers from the Marian area got together and decided to form an association, which at the time would be called the Marian Diggers Subbranch of the RSSAILA.

Over the night, the legacy these men left for all Australians, not just RSL members in Marian, to carry into the future and the memory of their service to this country were commemorated, remembered, so as not to be lost; lest we forget.

There is little danger of that in Marian, with the very streets named for many of the returned servicemen.

The original Charter of the RSL at Community Memorial Hall is still on the wall, dated as 18th September 1946.

The night celebrated and honoured, among many others, those on two honour boards inside the hall, which bear the names of men from the Marian area who answered the call into both world wars, as well as Vietnam.

Such as Sargent David Coyne, who in an act of bravery in the Great War which saved the lives of many, dove onto an unexploded grenade that had rolled back into the trench his men were seeking cover in.

There is a memorial in front of the sugar mill today that bears his name, and his son was awarded the Gold Albert Medal for his father’s brave act.

In 1918 Lt E Blackmur was awarded the Military Medal with Bar for Bravery, and was integral on his return in building the first RSL Hall; the street the hall stands on still bears his name today in honour of his service to his country.

Following World War One, a number of Fig trees were planted along the footpath of the main street and the names of servicemen were attached, there were 14 in total, all were killed in action.

A total of 63 men enlisted from Marian for the Great War, and many more were to follow in the wars to come. They are remembered by those who returned and honoured by those they fought for – especially so at the RSL’s 75th anniversary.

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Mental Health Satellite Service Officially Opens

October 7, 2021

Young people in Sarina and surrounds will now have easier access to mental health services with the official opening of a new headspace satellite service.

Member for Capricornia, Michelle Landry welcomed the announcement and said the service would be very well received.

“I want our young people in Sarina to know they are not alone on their journey,” Ms Landry said.

“headspace is here to deliver quality frontline support and ensure the best possible care for people who are at risk.”

“We know intervention at the earliest possible stage is important to reduce the duration and impact of mental illness, so I encourage young people in our community to reach out for the help they need.”

The headspace program aims to improve access for young people aged 12 to 25 years who have, or are at risk of, mental illness.

One in four people aged 16 to 24 experiences some form of mental illness every year, and three-quarters of all mental illness manifests in people under the age of 25.

Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt, said young people have been affected significantly by the impacts of COVID-19, and access to mental health services and support was more important than ever.

“There are more pressures on young people today than ever before and the expansion of headspace will be vitally important in providing services in Sarina,” Minister Hunt said.

headspace offers early intervention services across four key areas – mental health, related physical health, social and vocational support, and alcohol and other drug use.

Services provide tailored and holistic mental health support, working closely with young people at a crucial time in their lives to help get them back on track and strengthen their ability to manage their mental health in the future.

Services are co-designed with young people to ensure they are relevant, accessible and highly effective.

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Seated Yoga And Movie Matinee’s For Spritely Seniors

October 7, 2021

Forget only a week of celebration for the Isaac’s treasured seniors, 2021 is turning a challenging year on its head by celebrating the wonderful role seniors play in the coalfields communities with fun and activities for the entire month of October.

From seated yoga, trivia, luncheons and even a movie matinee, there’s something for all ages in Carmila, Clermont, Dysart, Glenden, Middlemount, Moranbah and Nebo this Queensland Seniors Month.

Isaac Regional Council Mayor Anne Baker said the month-long celebrations is a chance for all residents to recognise the knowledge, experience and value older Isaac residents bring to the region.

“I encourage all Isaac residents, regardless of their age, to take part in this year’s Queensland Seniors Month and enjoy the wonderful program of events and activities that make up this important celebration,” she said.

“This year it is all about making social connections. The last couple of years have been a trying time for all, and connections with each are more important than ever.

“Don’t miss out on attending any of the 15 free events this Seniors Month.”

Event details


Month-long Free entry to the Clermont Historical Centre and the Historic Nebo Museum All entrants who show a Seniors Card and have proof of Isaac residency will be granted free entry.

Sunday 10 October

9am start Bush Poets Smoko

Historic Nebo Museum Enjoy a yarn or spin a tale at this quintessentially Nebo event.

Register to attend by calling 1300 ISAACS (1300 472 227) or by visiting

Monday 11 October

9.30am – 11.30am Grandparents Day Pop-Up @ the Park

Perry Park, Nebo Grandparents play a big role in developing the literacy skills of their grandchildren. Sing, play and read at the special Grandparents Day First5Forever event.

Wednesday 13 October

1pm – 3pm Seniors afternoon tea at Clermont State High School The afternoon will include student-led workshops and recording of Senior stories by Media Studies students.

Registration is essential.

Register for the event by calling 1300 ISAACS (1300 472 227) or by visiting

Wednesday 20 October

10.30am – 1pm

Healthy Eating for Seniors – presented by Country Kitchens and Clermont CWA

CWA Hall, Clermont Lunch supplied. Places are strictly limited. To RSVP contact:

Aleks Lukovic,, 0405 571 219

Jenny Wilby, 0427 592 174

Wednesday 20 October

10am – 2.30pm

Carmila Health and Wellbeing Day

Carmila Memorial Hall

Take care of your health and wellbeing during Seniors Month. Join in with the service providers as they discuss and explore senior’s health.

Morning tea and lunch provided. Registration is preferred.

Register for the event and the bus by calling 1300 ISAACS (1300 472 227) or by visiting

Thursday 21 October 11.30am – 3pm Seniors Lunch on the Deck

Nebo Community Hub Enjoy lunch and company on the new deck at the Nebo Community Hub.

Registration is essential.

Register for the event by calling 1300 ISAACS (1300 472 227) or by visiting

Thursday 21 October 11.30am – 3pm Seniors Month Luncheon with Trivia

Civic Centre Park (Anzac Park) Dysart Free bus running to event from Middlemount. Bus will depart at 10.15am, returning at the conclusion of the event. Bring your own chair.

Registration is essential.

Register for the event and the bus by calling 1300 ISAACS (1300 472 227) or by visiting

Monday 25 October

9.30am – 11.30am

Grandparents Day Pop-Up @ the Pool

Glenden Pool Grandparents play a big role in developing the literacy skills of their grandchildren. Sing, play and read at the special Grandparents Day First5Forever event. Bring your togs and take a dip once the action is complete.

Tuesday 26 October

10am – 12pm Fun and Games with Technology

Moranbah Youth and Community Centre – MDSS Activity Room Enjoy a morning with technology, games and connection. Morning tea provided.

Registration is essential. To RSVP contact Jane – 4941 5164 or 0439 868 435

Wednesday 27 October

9am – 12pm

Fashion, Fun and Fab Seniors!

CWA Hall, Clermont Pop-Up Op Shop and Seniors Beauty demo. Good quality second hand and new clothing available. Bring a bag to fill with a new wardrobe, all clothes are free for Seniors to take home.

Morning tea supplied.

Registration is essential.

Register for the event by calling 1300 ISAACS (1300 472 227) or by visiting

Friday 29 October

2pm-5pm Seniors Movie Matinee

Glenden Rec Centre Join us for a screening of Going in Style starring Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine and Alan Arkin. Popcorn and drinks provided.

Registration is essential

Register for the event by calling 1300 ISAACS (1300 472 227) or by visiting

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Feel Good Grants For Community Groups In Need

October 7, 2021

The Domestic Violence Resource Service in Mackay is one of 16 not-for-profit organisations across the Mackay-Whitsunday region that will share in more than $410,000 from the latest round of Gambling Community Benefit Fund (GCBF) grants.

Attorney-General and Minister for the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence Shannon Fentiman visited the Domestic Violence Resource Service who received $34,317 to purchase a motor vehicle.

“Making sure organisations like the Domestic Violence Resource Service has the support to reach more women and families will benefit the local community,” Minister Fentiman said.

“The Service does incredible work providing much needed assistance such as counselling, court support as well as providing donations of food hampers and household items to vulnerable women and families in the Mackay region.

“We know during COVID-19 the demand on our hardworking domestic violence support services increased significantly.

“That’s why we provided a funding boost of more than $51,000 during the pandemic and a further $142,550 this year to support the wonderful work they do supporting women and families escaping violence.”

Member for Mackay Julieanne Gilbert shared the good news and congratulated the successful recipients.

“These grants deliver real services and projects that benefit our local community,” Ms Gilbert said.

“The funding will be used for projects such as new lighting at the Galaxy Netball Club, animal rescue training for the Queensland Fire and Emergency Service and new wakeboards for Watersports Queensland.”

Executive Director of the Mackay Domestic Violence Resource Service Linda-Ann Northey said this grant will help the service with transportation of furniture and household items for women escaping violence as well as increase their crisis support work.

“The new utility vehicle will assist us to more effectively manage the organisation of and participation in local community events, and to access items for vulnerable families,” Ms Northey said.

“We will be able to purchase the vehicle thanks to the Gambling Community Benefit Fund along with an extra $15,000 provided by the Aurizon Network.

“Our service couldn’t have done this on our own, and the vehicle provision will make such a difference to clients and services across our region.”

The Attorney-General reminded organisations that round 112 is open for applications until 31 October and that we are just one round away from 2022’s round 113 – the super round.

“Next year is an exciting year for the GCBF, with the first-time inclusion of a super round when grants of up to $100,000 will be up for grabs,” Minister Fentiman said.

For any questions about an application or using your grant, please contact or 1800 633 619 (free call).

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Sharing Is Caring When It Comes To Suicide Prevention

October 7, 2021

Keeping an eye on our friends has never been as important as now, with mental health challenges continually arising for many due to stress, isolation and worry caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

We all deal with challenges in different ways, and while we’ve been relatively isolated from the effects of lockdown here in Queensland, you never know what your neighbour is going through.

This month sees Grapevine Group launch its Sharing is Caring campaign by encouraging the community to get involved and download their free app then share it with colleagues, friends and teammates.

Grapevine president Debbie Knight said the life-saving app is a result of many years of hard work by dedicated volunteers.

“We hope the Mackay, Isaac and Whitsunday community download it and share it with as many people as possible because getting involved with the Sharing is Caring campaign can potentially save many lives.

“Through the app, people can find local help and also book free safeTALK training, access online suicide prevention training or learn warning signs,” Ms Knight said.

The Sharing is Caring campaign takes place for the whole month and includes Mental Health Week which runs from 9 to 17 October.

Grapevine Prevention Partner, Mackay Regional Council will hold their own Sharing is Caring Day for staff during Mental Health Week.

Formed in 2004 initially to raise funds for local suicide prevention training, Grapevine Group quickly identified the vital need for better promoted local mental health services.

In moving with the times, they now provide an app containing resources, information and local services to help prevent suicide which is available at people’s fingertips.

For 17 years the group has continued to spread the life-saving message and last year was acknowledged with a national award by Suicide Prevention Australia for their ground-breaking work and enduring efforts.

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A Diverse Array Of Exhibitors For Seniors Expo

October 7, 2021

From pickleball to pain management, home care to hearing tests and mobility scooters to Meals on Wheels – the 2021 Seniors Expo has it all.  

About 70 exhibitors will be onsite at the Big Shed in the Mackay Showgrounds for Mackay’s biggest seniors’ event.

Running from 9am to 1pm on Tuesday, 12 October, the event is expected to attract more than 3000 seniors – and soon-to-be seniors. There are lucky door prizes to give away and the shed offers a spacious layout with wide walkways and a high roof to keep noise levels down. Parking is easy and drop-off zones are provided for easy access.

Council is expecting an influx of attendees this year, after a hiatus in 2020 due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Mayor Greg Williamson said, this year, Seniors Month celebrated the theme of social connections.

“This expo is all about making connections, whether with a group you’d like to be part of or a sport or hobby you’d like to try, or maybe just with old friends that you haven’t seen in a while,” Mayor Williamson said.

“We’ve found that community members are interested in learning more about leisure and lifestyle activities as well as the more ‘practical’ considerations of growing older and staying active and healthy,” he said.

“And this expo really offers a tremendous mix – in the Big Shed this year you will find everything from senior-friendly sports and hobbies to retirement living and healthcare services.

“And it’s not just for those who already identify as seniors.

“We’d also like to encourage residents thinking about retirement to come along, because there will be lots of groups at the expo with volunteer and social opportunities for those with some free time.

“It’s always a great social morning too – there’s plenty of seating and food and drink available.”

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Keswick Is Open In Time For Summer

October 7, 2021

A popular island paradise off the coast of Mackay is once again open to day-trippers and holiday makers.

With the launch of the Keswick Island website, tourists and locals will now be able to book a stay on, or a day trip to the pristine island, in just a few clicks.

Keswick Island caretaker Scott Wilkinson said this new booking platform makes the island more accessible for tourists.

“We’re delighted to have the website up and running and consider it a really positive step toward more accessible tourism to the island,” Mr. Wilkinson said.

“It’s a great way for people to see current scheduling for the Keswick Explorer as well as alternative transportation options. Ultimately, it has opened a more streamlined, accessible booking platform.”

Keswick island, just an hour off the coast of Mackay located in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, boasts a plethora of national parks, tropical rain forests and white sandy beaches, with more than 80 per cent of the surface being protected bushland.

The launching of the website means it is easier than ever before to view transfer schedules and accommodation options on this magical island. It also provides direct booking links to both the Beach House and Keswick Explorer.

The Beach House is currently open for rentals, accommodating up to six guests across three bedrooms and offering panoramic views of Basil Bay’s beach. The Keswick Island team also offer complimentary use of the SUP board, kayaks and a golf cart for the duration of each stay.

Visitors to Keswick Island can book the Keswick Explorer, which operates on Mondays and Fridays (subject to weather conditions), or a helicopter charter from the website for transfers to and from the island.

Mackay Isaac Tourism CEO Tas Webber said this website represents a positive step toward increasing accessibility to the island and showcasing its natural beauty to visitors nationwide.

“Keswick Island’s new website will offer visitors easier access to booking a stay on the island and discover the amazing natural beauty that it has to offer,” Mr. Webber said.

“We will continue to work with the team at Keswick Island to increase tourism with a considered approach and to build new experiences for future visitors.”

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A Glimpse Back In Time

October 7, 2021

Mt. Pleasant Shopping Centre opened in October 1980 as residential development spread in the areas north of the river.

This image shows the completion of its first extension in October 1986, with further developments made in 1989 and 1997.

Image and information courtesy of Mackay Regional Council.

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Come On Mackay, Let’s Become The Best Region For Liveability and Livelihood!

October 7, 2021

The Mackay Regional Council has a vision to make Mackay the best place in Australia to live, work and visit. As part of the project, the council is embarking on a major overhaul of its Corporate Plan and wants residents to have their say to help shape goals for the next five years.

A phone poll of 400 residents is being done by Taverner Research Group, formerly IRIS Research, on behalf of Council to gain feedback on the vision and strategies envisaged for the Corporate Plan.

The poll will also double as a Community Attitudes Survey, benchmarking residents’ thoughts on council facilities and services against previous surveys, including the most recent in 2018.

Mayor Greg Williamson said Council was due for another Community Attitudes Survey, so had taken the opportunity to use it to gain community input into the new Corporate Plan.

“The first half of the phone poll will focus on questions related to Council’s vision and proposed Corporate Plan themes,’’ Mayor Williamson said.

“The second part of the survey will ask residents questions about council services and facilities to gain an understanding of community satisfaction in relation to what we deliver,’’ he said.

“Those scores will be benchmarked against previous Community Attitudes Surveys undertaken by IRIS Research on behalf of Council.

“If you’re not contacted by phone for the poll, there is an opportunity for anyone wanting to have a say to do so online.”

To have a say online, access the survey link on Council’s Connecting Mackay website at

Mayor Williamson said Council had just recently revised its Corporate Plan, which had been in place for five years, to meet legislative requirements.

He said that was only a minor revamp as councillors were working on new Vision and strategies.

“We’ve now adopted a new vision and have put forward some themes for strategies, so this new evolution of the Corporate Plan will be a major overhaul.”

Council’s new Vision is: “To become the best region for liveability and livelihood.”

It has three strategic pillars looking outwards, including: Invest and work; Live and visit; and Community and sustainability. Its two inwards looking strategic pillars are: Financial strength and Operational excellence. The new five-year Corporate Plan will be framed around these key themes.

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Sod Turned For Reef Arena Redevelopment

October 7, 2021

Mackay’s place as a national destination for AFL and cricket has been confirmed with the first sod turned last week on the $24.2 million Stage one of the Great Barrier Reef Arena redevelopment at Harrup Park sporting complex.

Federal Member for Dawson George Christensen said it will be a game changer for the Mackay region.

“We’re going to have people from all over Australia coming to Mackay to watch a game of cricket, which will be broadcast all over the world. It’s about making Mackay the regional capital for cricket in Australia, adding another arrow in Mackay’s bow for tourism sporting growth,” Mr Christensen said.

Member for Mackay Julieanne Gilbert said the redevelopment delivers a new covered grandstand, facilities for elite players, match officials and broadcast TV crews, plus room for an extra 10,000 spectators.

“Mackay’s Great Barrier Reef Arena precinct development includes the North Stand – a two-level grandstand with nearly 2000 undercover seats,” Mrs Gilbert said.

“With six sporting ovals, broadcast quality lighting, change rooms, and function facilities, Harrup Park is primed for a game-changing development.

“These works, in partnership with the Australian Government and Mackay Cricket Association, will create an international standard sporting venue capable of hosting major national and international games and carnivals,” she said.

“The venue has just wrapped up three hugely successful women’s One Day Internationals between Australia and India, so imagine what we can do once the redevelopment is complete.”

Stage one of the project starting now, is jointly funded by the State Government ($10 million), Australian Federal Government ($10 million) and Mackay Cricket Association ($4.2 million).

Ms Gilbert said completion of stage one was expected late next year and would also include new food outlets, toilets and change rooms, and a community events precinct.

“This will also be a fantastic venue for major sporting events, community cultural events, gatherings and concerts for use all year round,” Ms Gilbert said.

“Existing amenities will be upgraded, change rooms will be refurbished to unisex facilities, and the field upgraded to accommodate more international games.

“More opportunity to bring elite sport to Mackay benefits tourism operators and our pandemic recovery.

“Stage two of the Great Barrier Reef Arena development is currently in planning and expected to include a gym, community sport training facilities, room for regional sport programs and high-performance training capacity, which will be an asset in the leadup to the Brisbane 2032 Games.”    

Mr Christensen said the Great Barrier Reef Arena will not only create local jobs during its imminent construction but it promises to make Mackay the regional home of cricket in Australia.

“That means more sporting tourism for our region which in turn means more ongoing local jobs,” Mr Christensen said.

Harrup Park Country Club and Mackay Cricket Association Chairman Terry Doolan said the investment into the Great Barrier Reef Arena will create one of Australia’s best regional event destinations and community precincts.

“It will be a place that everyone in Mackay and the region will enjoy and be proud of for generations to come,” Mr Doolan said.

“It will attract visitors from around the state, nation and globe to enjoy the pleasures of reef, rainforest and region,” he added.

Cricket Australia’s Chief Executive Officer Nick Hockley said the commencement of Stage 1 of the Great Barrier Reef Arena development was an exciting milestone.

“We congratulate and thank all involved in the project,” Mr Hockley said.

“We have been thrilled to watch the Australian Women’s Team take on India at the Arena over the past week and with its transformation into a world-class venue, we look forward to seeing more and more cricket played there in years to come.”

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CLOSED – Kuttabul Transfer Station

October 7, 2021

The Kuttabul Transfer Station is now permanently closed, which took effect as of Monday, 04 October, due to low usage and increasing operating costs.

The operating hours at nearby transfer stations, Kolijo and Otterburn, have been increased to cater for Kuttabul residents.

Please use these stations or one of council’s other eight transfer stations to dispose of your waste.

Details are on council’s website

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Paint ‘n Schnit To Support The Arts

October 7, 2021

You’ve heard of paint ‘n sip, but what about paint ‘n schnit?

Don’t worry, there’s plenty of sipping too!

The kind restaurateur d'Artagnan Caldicott from Mackay’s Schnitty in a Box collaborated with local artist Grace Mc Donald from Azure Glass Mackay, to form Art Wine and Cheese (AWC).

As Australia went into lockdown, the tourist numbers dwindled. With many artists in Mackay and the Whitsundays seeing fewer and fewer people coming to studios and retail spaces to buy their art pieces, they chatted over a glass of red wine and a slab of fromager d'affinois with freshly baked sourdough. "We need art classes with this sort of amazing food" and as simple as that, AWC was born.

The mission was to create a safe, communal space for all artists, from beginners to professionals, to come together. AWC was born out of a desire to support artists all over the Mackay and Whitsundays area, and ever since then, that’s exactly what they’ve been doing.

Every Sunday at Schnitty in a Box, there is a different medium to explore, from glass and textile to paint and cake decorating. For only $69, you spend three hours learning a new skill, eating delicious food and supporting the local arts scene.

Visit to find out more.

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Hundreds Of Recycled Birds Grace The Caneland Skies

October 7, 2021

Over past months, Canelands Shopping Centre was home to tinkering artists who toiled over recycled rags, turning one person’s trash into a beautiful panorama of local birds at Plastic Boutique’s Native Birds Project.

The project aimed to engage people creatively, as well as show the impact of plastics on the environment and wildlife, and how recycling those plastics and other materials is necessary and can be beautiful.

The project began in July, when Plastic Boutique ran workshops for the community to create their own birds made from recycled materials, which eventually became part of the completed installation, which was unveiled last week.

The project was so successful that the original goal of 100 birds ended closer to 400.

Margaret Burgess, founder of Plastic Boutique and artist was blown away by the outpouring of support from the local community.

“We ended with 365 birds,” Margaret said.

“It’s overwhelming, the feedback has been so incredible that there are organisations that are wanting us to keep something like this happening on a more permanent basis.

“To have so many of the community embrace the project, over 800 people through, we worked across three regions delivering the workshops – to see the joy when it’s finished!”

It was a six-week project that was inspired by Margaret witnessing plastic flowing through Mackay after a heavy rainfall.

“If we could get something like this one a more permanent basis, we would go to the saddlers and the upholsters, signwriters and glaziers and get their offcuts and repurpose those,” Margaret said.

“We’ve got to do this before we get to the critical point.”

According to the World Wildlife Fund, 85% of Australian seabirds are affected by plastic pollution. An estimated one million die each year because of plastic ingestion or entanglement. In Australia we manufacture almost three million tonnes of plastic every year, but only recycle 12%.

The rags were donated by the local community, and the requested 50 kilograms of old shirts, trousers and other rags was beaten easily.

“We got a lot more rags than we did birds – a lot of them some really quality clothing with tags still on them,” Margaret said.

“We’re in the process of packaging those and sending them to remote communities where they don’t have op shops.”

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The Ultimate Sacrifice For Community Safety

October 7, 2021

September 29 is an important day in the lives of all police.

National Police Remembrance Day (NPRD) is for all police officers, staff and their families to remember colleagues and friends who they have lost.

In the lead up to NPRD, on September 28, police from the Mackay District gathered in the Town Hall Park to participate in a candlelight vigil.

The following morning on September 29, police and staff from the Mackay District marched from the back of Mackay Police Station to St Patrick’s Church on River Street.

Members of local parliament, retired officers, other emergency services and members of the public all attended the church service and paid their respects and to honour police officers from across the country who have lost their lives.

This year, the service also honoured Senior Constable David Masters who tragically lost his life in the line of duty in June 2021.

Superintendent Ian Haughton read the Commissioner’s address at the church service.

“Given the environment we are currently in, it is vitally important that we take the opportunity when we can to come together for important events such as this,” Superintendent Haughton said.

“To the family, friends, and colleagues of our fallen officers, it is my greatest wish that we continue to keep you as part of our police family and that we do you proud in honouring their sacrifice and memory.”

The single largest intake of police recruits in a decade entered the Oxley Police Academy last week, as the Queensland Police Service continues the biggest investment in policing in Queensland in thirty years.

Eventually, this investment will deliver more 2,000 extra personnel to the Queensland Police Service.

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Beachfront Bar And Restaurant Bucasia

September 29, 2021


When was the last time you fed your soul?

Palms gently swaying in the breeze, the chirping of parrots as they glide between nearby gum trees and the waves gently rolling in on the golden sand. There’s no better place to revive the mind and nourish the body than at Bucasia’s beautiful Beachfront Bar and Restaurant.

Choose from a selection of dining areas to suit the day – inside, garden-side, under the verandah or at a picnic table on the lawn shaded by palms with views of Bucasia Beach.

While it’s garnered a reputation as a popular place to grab coffee and cake to enjoy on the beach, many people are surprised at the huge variety of meals on offer for lunch and dinner. Chef-prepared plates of perfection regularly roll out the door to eager diners who either have their tried-and-true favourites from the menu or delight in the variety offered by the ever-changing specials board.

On a sunny Thursday I escaped the office to recharge my batteries for lunch and found myself soaking in the tranquility of the beachfront setting. The fresh breeze and being surrounded in nature was just what I needed mid-day to clear my head. I chose the grilled chicken breast which was an absolute feast for only $28.

A generous char-grilled breast which was succulent on the inside, topped with a silky bacon and mushroom cream sauce – with plenty of mushroom and onion as a topper. The accompanying salad was a powerhouse of antioxidants – roasted broccoli and fresh salad leaves with Spanish onion, carrot and olive to add a salty sensation.

If there’s one thing I believe people under-estimate about this wonderful eatery it’s the quality of the meals. There is incredible variety including vegetarian meals, and everything from a melt-in-the-mouth reef and beef to elegantly presented Mornay Moreton Bay Bugs (on the specials board). The specials board is ever-changing and the range of delicacies always delights. Whether you love a hearty plate of fall-off-the-bone pork ribs, or the delicateness of macadamia-crusted pearl perch topped with avocado, the options are inspired.

The pizza menu is one of the best in town and they even do meal-deals with pizzas, parmesan garlic flatbread and chips for an easy grab-and-go picnic on the beach or movie night. We’ve found there’s nothing better than sunset cocktails with friends and a pizza to share. The marinara pizza is highly recommended with generous proportions of calamari, scallops, prawns and mussels.

And if you’re a brekkie person, there’s no better place to relax with a big plate of fluffy pancakes or eggs benny after a stroll along the beach.

Search Beachfront Bar and Restaurant on Facebook for the full menu and special updates.

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Unlocking Gas Potential In The Galilee and North Bowen Basins

September 29, 2021

Image: L-R Whitsunday Mayor Andrew Willcox, Minister Keith Pitt, Member for Dawson George Christensen, Mackay Mayor Greg Williamson met at the Mackay Harbour to announce a new strategic basin plan for gas exploration. Photo: Amanda Wright

It’s been described as the beginning of a new economic frontier for the greater Mackay and Isaac regions, with the opening up of gas exploration in the Northern Bowen and Galilee Basins.

Funds are also being allocated for the creation of a gas pipeline to the Mackay region, to lower power prices and create further opportunities for manufacturing.

Minister for Resources and Water Keith Pitt joined Member for Dawson George Christensen and Mackay Mayor Greg Williamson in Mackay last week to officially announce the North Bowen and Galilee Basin Strategic Basin Plan.

“The Plan supports industry to develop the region’s major gas resources and is the second to be delivered under the Government’s Strategic Basins Plan Program,” Minister Pitt said.

“The North Bowen and Galilee basins are estimated to hold enough gas to meet Australia’s east coast needs for over a decade.

“The strategic plan supports the Government’s agenda for a gas-fired recovery and will help deliver affordable gas for Australian industries and households.”

Mackay Mayor Greg Williamson said that it was a crucial announcement for the region, to control energy costs in the future.

“What we know from a region that does a powerful amount of production for the Australian economy is that the energy costs are spiraling upwards. That puts us behind the eight ball to compete with a world market,” Mayor Williamson said.

“We desperately need to have a foot in the door for gas to enable us to be competitive. It enables us to have that stop-gap between the coal fired power stations and the green energy of the future.

“In that stopgap, it enables us to be competitive on a world stage. If we don’t have a gas pipeline we will be sandwiched in-between Gladstone and Townsville which leaves us high and dry in terms of energy prices,” he said.

“This is the powerhouse of Australia so this region needs to be secure in terms of energy prices for the future, and gas can do that for us.”

The plan includes $20.7 million of investment to unlock gas potential in the basins and will leverage more than $400 million in research funding and critical infrastructure upgrades.

The Plan includes:

• $15.7 million for gas field trials including innovative drilling programs to prove the region’s potential; and

• $5 million for studies to support development of a new gas pipeline to the region, co-funded by the Queensland government.

The North Bowen and Galilee Strategic Basin Plan is available on the Department’s website at

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Electric Cars On The Horizon

September 29, 2021

In an effort to strengthen the future of North Queensland, CQ University is leading the charge in training in renewable and new technologies at CQ University’s Ooralea Campus in Mackay.

Last Wednesday, Federal Labor Shadow Treasurer Jim Chalmers MP and Labor candidate for the seat of Dawson Shane Hamilton visited the proposed site of the Mackay Electric Vehicle and Energy Training Centre at CQ University.

Seeking a $9 million dollar grant to construct the new Mackay vocational training centre, CQ University Prof. Pierre Viljoen, Associate Vice President North Queensland and Hinterland Global Development Division met with the Shadow Treasurer and Labor Candidate to discuss that very grant.

The facility is a part of Central Queensland University’s Skills For The Future program.

“Obviously, we're going through a transition stage where cars are moving more towards an electric powered vehicle instead of the traditional combustion engine,” Mr Hamilton said.

The new training facility is projected, through construction alone, to contribute $9 – 12 million to the region and around a further $12.6 million in terms of expanded TAFE training activities.

Mr Hamilton said that they will be able to train local apprentices in the skills of the future, which means more jobs for locals, more jobs for the mining industry, and it will provide another pathway for people to have in the Mackay-Isaac and Whitsunday area.

“Anywhere else in Australia is not looking at this stuff yet and we're here leveraging on the back of our strong mining industry, to have jobs for the future that aren't even invented and when these jobs come in the next five or six years, we'll we actually ready, foots on the ground, and ready to go,” Mr Hamilton said.

The new, state-of-the-art facility would allow 100-120 new students a year to be trained in Mackay, addressing a skill gap as well as new opportunities in the electric vehicle and renewable energy industries.

“Training is how we turn the aspirations of the young people here into opportunity,” Mr Chalmers said.

“We want the region to grow. We want it to grow strongly in a way that creates those jobs and creates those opportunities for local people. And so what we're talking about today is making sure that as the economy changes, as the energy needs and skills needs of heavy industry changes, that we have the workforce ready to go so that people can get these great jobs.”

Central Queensland University is still awaiting funding for the construction of the new facility, and these discussions were undertaken.

Mr Hamilton said that the funding would come Federally, but it would also need the help of industry to come put it together.

“Those guys will lead the charge with the new technology and take it up into their industry. And what we're here today is to have the tradesmen and the apprentices coming through the fix that when industry does.”

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The Forefront Of Electrical Technology

September 29, 2021

CGC Electrical PTY LTD is one of the very best in Mackay for any kind of electrical work, and owner Chris Cooper is at the forefront of that, as well as being ahead of the curve when it comes to new electrical fittings and services.

Chris has been an electrician for 12 years, originally working for Main Roads on traffic lights, streetlights, and big information signs you see on the road.

For a change, Chris took the plunge and started his own business in 2014, moving back to his hometown from Townsville to build a company he’s proud of.

Over those seven years, Chris has perfected his craft, putting his head down and working hard to be at the forefront of every kind of electrical maintenance, repair, and installation.

“I’m very easy-going, I try to give my clients the best product and not stress them out with anything unnecessary,” Chris said.

“I never want to overcomplicate things, and I try to tell people that if you get the wholesaler gear, it’s much better and in the long run it won’t need repair.”

Chris has recently attained certification in the installation of ‘Smart’ Electrical equipment, and is excited to be bringing the new, innovative technology to Mackay.

“The smart home applications you can get now are exciting, you can talk to your light switches through a google home type of setup to turn off and on lights as well as dimmers - I really enjoy those,” Chris said.

“If the room gets to a certain humidity or temperature a sensor can send a signal to an infrared controller and turn an air-conditioner on to a pre-selected temperature.  “

Chris is proud that he and his business can offer customers a ‘Smart Home’ setting with his electrical installations, and is excited to bring that to Mackay.

“Bluetooth Power points, socket outlets on timers, I’m excited by all of that; the future is bright.”

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Small Businesses Encouraged To Apply For New Wave Of Grants

September 29, 2021

Image: Sarah Hayles of West of the Waves in North Mackay. Image supplied: Queensland Government

Small businesses in Mackay are being encouraged to see if they’re eligible for grants of up to $30,000.

The program, jointly funded by the State and Commonwealth Governments, provides grants to businesses impacted by Queensland lockdowns.

Minister for Employment and Small Business, Di Farmer, said Mackay and Whitsunday businesses should check to see if they were eligible.

“If your business saw at least a 30% reduction in turnover during the recent Queensland lockdowns, even though places like Mackay weren’t locked down, you could be eligible for a grant,” Minister Farmer said.

Member for Mackay, Julieanne Gilbert, said businesses should get in touch if they have any questions.

“We’ve had fewer than 50 applications from Mackay and we want to make sure businesses know what support is open to them,” Ms Gilbert said.

“Please don’t rule yourself out. You can call our Small Business Hotline with any questions you have.

“I want to be really clear: any eligible business or sole trader in Mackay that applies will receive the grant.”

Sarah Hayles of West of the Waves in North Mackay strongly encouraged other affected businesses to apply for the grant.  

“Lockdown makes people worry about the basics, food and shelter, they stop shopping for clothes and jewellery when they are staying home in their pyjamas,” Sarah said.

“I appreciate this grant so much; it was easy to do and it’s so incredibly helpful to tide me over a period of significantly reduced revenue.”

Ms Gilbert added, “There’s also one-on-one support available, through our tailored Mentoring for Growth service, Small Business Financial Counsellors and the Queensland Small Business Commissioner.”

For more information on eligibility and how to apply visit or call the 24/7 Small Business Hotline on 1300 654 687.

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Ergon’s Eye In The Sky

September 29, 2021

The buzz of low flying helicopters will fill the ears of Mackay locals, as Ergon Energy hovers over the powerlines across a large area of regional Queensland, undertaking aerial inspections of the network ahead of storm season.

Ergon patrols have already been underway in other parts of the state and will soon be heading to Mackay and Sarina.

General Manager Field Delivery Max Hogan said the flights were part of Ergon’s robust routine inspection process to ensure the network is ready for the arrival of summer’s storms and bushfire season.

“We’re looking for potential issues such as damage to poles, crossarms, wires and insulators that might need attention, as well as vegetation that might need to be addressed.

“The sooner we can pinpoint any issue or defects, the faster we can fix them, and some things are much easier to access and spot from the air,” Mr Hogan said.

The chopper inspections are high achievers, being able to do in a few hours what ground and foot patrols would take weeks to get through, and offering a high-resolution birds-eye view of any issues.

“The helicopters need to fly quite low over lines, and sometimes need to hover in an area so we can get a good look at any areas of concern,” Mr Hogan said.

“We’re also very conscious of minimising disturbances to livestock, so our pilots take care to avoid them wherever possible.”  

This round of scheduled inspections will be completed by early November.

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Overcoming Adversity To Help Others

September 29, 2021

Image: Mackay Base Hospital paediatric nurse Summit Krishna Shrestha. Image supplied: Mackay Hospital and Health Service

Born into a family that loves helping people, Mackay Base Hospital paediatric nurse Summit Krishna Shrestha was destined to become a health hero. But being male and Nepalese there are certain stigmas he has had to battle through to get where he is today.

“There is a lot of stigma about male nurses, especially in my country and culture,” he said.

“Some of my friends and even family members laugh and tell me to change career because it’s a ‘female’ job.

“It breaks my heart.

“When I was studying there were times, I thought of changing my path but once I started working, I appreciated working as a nurse more.”

Despite the barriers of being a male nurse Summit has many memorable experiences. One in particular stands out and has helped shape him into who he is today.

Summit was helping a boy who was diagnosed with a chronic medical condition. At that time, he was going through a rough period in his personal life.

“Before he went home, the patient came to me, hugged me and promised me that he will always keep doing well in managing the medical condition,” Summit said.

“That very moment, a 10-year-old boy taught me to keep moving forward with a positive mindset, no matter what life throws at you.

“It was very inspiring, and it was a turning point for me.”

Taking the ups and downs of being a paediatric nurse in his stride, Summit loves his job and can’t picture doing anything else.

“I don’t think that I will enjoy other jobs as much as I love being a paediatric nurse. I want to take a step in getting rid of the stereotype away,” he said.

“Also, I would like to take this opportunity to thank my family, co-workers and parents of paediatric patients for supporting me so that I can enjoy my work despite the cultural stigmas.”

Article with thanks from Mackay Hospital and Health Service.

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Making You Feel Brand New

September 29, 2021

Natural Body and Beauty, tucked away from the hustle and bustle of Evan’s Avenue, have been keeping Mackay beautiful for 25 years with a team of talented, compassionate therapists keeping you feeling your very best.

Owner Lynne has lovingly built the business into what It is today; with 5 private and serene treatment rooms, ultra-comfortable treatment tables, the utmost quality beauty machines, all complimented by the immaculate team.

Lynne and her daughter Candy, who works as Team Coordinator, have cultivated the space and the team to provide the very best of each service.

From those who have been with the business for many years, like Melanie and Lissa, who are both dedicated Spa and Beauty therapists, and both count their long standing customers as good friends, to newest members Nicole and Madison.

Nicole joins the team as the experienced laser and IPL technician in both hair removal and skin rejuvenation, which she is extremely passionate about.

Her wealth of knowledge is an asset to the team that all customers, new and returning, can trust and feel comfortable with.

Madison is the resident school-based trainee, who joined the team in January and excels in tanning, all things lash and brow, and natural makeup looks – her exceptional abilities perfect the team, who are the complete package when it comes to beauty and care.

At Natural Body and Beauty, they ensure they’re ahead of the curve and staying up to date with every new treatment or trend, making sure they are consistently on top of the newest and greatest cosmeceutical skin and spa treatments and offering the very best of brands.

With just one of their premier services like the 3-and-a-half-hour ritual sessions that include offerings like the signature ‘Sensory Journey’, the USPA Foot ritual, Bamboo Body Scrub and Coco Cream Body Wrap and much more, you won’t be disappointed in this full body experience that will have you feeling brand new.

Their newest venture is the IPL Skin rejuvenation and radio frequency skin tightening, which are perfect for addressing a number of skin concerns like acne, vascular, pigmentation and reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

“Our favourite of those services is the Ultrasound Body Contouring, which uses energy to increase the skin's natural strengthening process,” Candy said.

“It is able to shake the cell membrane and break down fat cells!”

“The increased tightening of your skin will smooth and revitalise elasticity – vital to beating the ageing process.”

The spas ethos is not only to create a beautiful appearance for their clients, but to nurture the spirit and relax both body and mind.

“We see it as a great privilege to have our guests visit with us and see them leave feeling wonderful,” Candy said.

“To relax, revive and renew.”

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Sharpen Your Way With Words

September 29, 2021

Image: Rebel Nation founder Jade McAuley. Photo: Supplied Rebel Nation

From expressing yourself on social media to gaining media coverage, every business can benefit from a solid foundation in copywriting.

Regional marketing agency Rebel Nation have publicly launched Copywriting Mastermind: Sharpen your way with words – a 6-week intensive digital course to help business owners and their team create better content to market themselves more effectively.

After an exclusive VIP launch earlier this month, there were eight spots remaining – with the course kicking off on October 18.

Rebel Nation director Jade McAuley said the Copywriting Mastermind “bridges the gap” in the digital training available on the market for regional small to medium businesses.

“Running a business in a regional area has a range of opportunities and challenges that are different to those experienced by our metro counterparts,” Ms McAuley said.

“One of those challenges is to upskill ourselves, and our team, with training that is relevant to where we live, and how we do business.

“This mastermind is our first digital learning product, and takes into account the years of training feedback and learnings we’ve collected from working with regional businesses face to face.”

The copywriting course will be delivered in an online collaborative mastermind format with weekly tutorials, lesson resources and homework – focused on not only delivering quality training material, but providing one on one mentoring and feedback, to ensure participants get as much value from their time and money spent.

“Masterminds are the perfect environment for people to learn in a small group – they have better access to the trainer but can also learn from each other. Being digital means that they’ll be able to go back and refer to the resources whenever they want a refresher, even once the course has closed.”

To register or for more information on the Copywriting Mastermind, visit

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Pink Flower Power

September 29, 2021

October is Breast Cancer awareness month around the world, and the publicity needed is rightfully so, as breast cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed in women, with the latest figures being that 1 in 7 women, and 1 in 700 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime.

It is projected that, in 2021, fifty-five women will be diagnosed each day.

In late September 2012 Barbara Riddel’s GP confirmed that a lump she had found in her breast was indeed cancerous, and by early October, after a mammogram, biopsies, and test after test checking for secondaries, she had a mastectomy and a removal of over 20 lymph nodes.

In 2019, Linda Caruana received the call no-one ever wants to receive to come in for further testing at Breast Screen. She went on to have two surgeries in November and December of 2019, 25 rounds of radiation, and is now awaiting a third mammogram.

This month, both women were the recipients of a hand-knitted and beautiful pink flower, which was bejewelled in its centre, from Marie Williams.

Marie, as a part of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, has knitted these flowers and hand delivered them to women across Mackay who have fought breast cancer battles.

Marie is a part of the SCOPE organisation of Mackay, and she has sewn her flowers for different causes and in different colours – teal for ovarian cancer, pink for breast cancer.

“You must wear pink,” Marie said.

“I do this for these women because it’s important, and it’s a very little thing for me to give back.”

Last week, she was in Canelands Shopping Centre where she hosted a fundraising stall with her knitted flowers and was selling tickets to raise money for breast cancer research.

For Barbara and Linda, it is small acts like these that have contributed to their being here today.

“I am a breast cancer survivor due to breast cancer research which has happened through the generous support of our community,” Barbara said.

Barbara herself has had four rounds of chemotherapy, and that of course came with some side effects, and she has come to be a part of Dragons Abreast Mackay, who bring women together who have fought breast cancer to help them recover from the side effects of lymphedema, which comes from having a mastectomy or lymph node removal.

The Dragon’s Abreast philosophy is that those who have had breast cancer and survived are already winners, because they are here, and they are able to participate.

“Our race is against breast cancer, not each other,” Barbara said.

“They are a group of women who can understand how you feel because they have been there themselves.

For Linda, she thanks her doctors who have helped her on her journey and says that October is the most important month of the year for her.

“If I can help anybody after what I’ve been through, just one person, then that will be enough,” Linda said.

Donate to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, or the Cancer Council.

And wear pink this October.

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Golden Glow For Local Mums In National Business Awards

September 29, 2021
Two Mackay mums-in-business have won big in the 2021 AusMumpreneur National Awards.

Out of a total of 420 finalists, Jody Euler and Jo Sainsbury were both awarded Gold in their respective categories, two of only 42 winners across the country that took out the top gongs on the night.

The AusMumpreneur Awards presented by The Women’s Business School celebrate and recognize Australian Mums in business, achieving outstanding success in business excellence, product development, customer service and digital innovation. The awards are designed to recognize the growing number of women who successfully balance motherhood and business in a way that suits their life and family.

What has always been a very glamorous physical event held on the Sunshine Coast was adapted into an equally glamorous digital event for 2021 due to COVID-19, where all finalists with their friends and families tuned in via a Facebook Live awards ceremony to find out who would take out the top spot for each category.

Jody Euler, Director of redhotblue Creative Agency, was named a finalist in a total of four categories, winning Gold in the Regional Business category. Jo Sainsbury, Director of Kickass Women, was named a finalist in two categories and won Gold for the One To Watch category.

Ms Euler said, “I’m proud to be representing Mackay in these awards.

“Things like this allow us to put Mackay on the map and gain National exposure for our region,” she said.

As a result of this win, I have also been invited as 1 of 25 AusMumpreneur finalists to write a chapter for their latest book due to 2022 launching on International Women’s Day.”

Ms Sainsbury added, “It’s encouraging to see so many women from so many walks of life and so many different backgrounds coming together.

“When we come together, we create change that’s positive for communities,” she said.

Not only are these wins a big deal for these two Mackay mums and their businesses, but it’s also an achievement that the region can be extremely proud of. Both Jody and Jo are now officially named ambassadors of the AusMumpreneur community.

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It’s Time To Nominate The Isaac’s True Blue Aussie Heroes

September 29, 2021

Image: Isaac Mayor Anne Baker, Australia Day Ambassador Jenny Woodward, Citizen of the Year 2021 Kim Lennane and Cr Jane Pickels. Photo supplied: Isaac Regional Council

Do you know a community champion? The quiet go-getter who works tirelessly behind the scenes for their neighbourhood, or the humble hero who strives for the best for their town?

Nominations for those who truly embody Isaac’s mantra of pure people power are now open for the 2022 Isaac Region Australia Day Awards, with nominations closing on Tuesday 30 November.

Isaac Regional Council Mayor Anne Baker said the annual awards are an opportunity to acknowledge and say thanks to some of the region’s most noteworthy residents.

“We are region rich in resources, but we are also blessed with the greatest resource of all - our people,” Mayor Baker said.

“We continue to show that our pure people power is helping our communities to thrive as we continue to help energise the world. In Isaac, we’re used to meeting new people and no-one stays a stranger for long.

“We enjoy sharing our enthusiasm and pride with each other. Australia Day award are a chance to celebrate that person we all think highly of.”

Mayor Baker said the awards honour those individuals, groups and organisations who have made a significant contribution to our social, civic, sporting and cultural life locally, nationally and internationally.

“Nominees can be from all walks of life from youth, to community groups, to senior citizens,” she said.

“We want to shine a light on the outstanding achievements of everyday people who make us proud to be Australian.”

Nominations for the 2022 Isaac Australia Day Awards are now open until Tuesday, 30 November 2021.

Regional Awards

o Citizen of the Year (age 27+)

o Young Citizen of the Year (aged 16-26)

o Community Event of the Year

o Corporate Community Contribution of the Year

Local Awards - Individual or Group Achievement Medallions

o Sport

o Achievement

o Culture/Arts

o Community Business Medallion

To nominate a deserving local, go to or visit any Council office for a nomination form.

The 2022 Isaac Region Australia Day Award winners will be announced at local celebrations on Wednesday, 26 January 2022.

“We want to shine a light on the outstanding achievements of everyday people who make us proud to be Australian.”

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The Sky’s The Limit When Creating Mackay’s Boulevard Of Dreams

September 29, 2021

Image: Federal MP for Dawson George Christensen is advocating for Mackay to receive more than $4 million to kick-start a reorientation of Mackay’s city to its waterfront. Photo: Amanda Wright

A waterfront lagoon, a surfing wave pool and a mini golf course are just a few of the attractions which could be incorporated into a long-term vision to reorient the city of Mackay to its waterfront assets.

This is part of a vision which starts with the Mackay Waterfront Priority Development Area (PDA) and could incorporate a sweeping boulevard from the river mouth to Bridge Road to open up a plethora of commercial and residential beachfront opportunities.

Federal MP George Christensen said the “Sky’s the limit” when picturing the possibilities, and before his term ends, he is fighting to secure funding to kick-start the project.

Mr Christensen is on a mission to secure funding to reorient Mackay to its riverfront and beachfront, creating new tourism and commercial opportunities for the region along with local jobs, in what will be a parting gift for his home city.

Mackay Regional Council have applied for more than $4million through the federal government’s Building Better Region’s fund to develop the Riverside Link on the banks of the Pioneer River in Mackay’s city centre and Mr Christensen has had repeated meetings to advocate for the project.

“The Mackay Waterfront is a priority development area for our city, and the Riverside Link Project is one component of that to enhance access to our beautiful blue river,” Mr Christensen said.  

“This is about re-orienting the city to the water – the river and the sea – and in the process creating a new industry for the city – tourism.

“I am a strong supporter of Mackay Regional Council’s vision for the Waterfront PDA development, and I have made it very clear in Canberra that this project is a prime candidate for funding under the Building Better Regions Fund, which in this steam has a strong focus on supporting tourism projects.

“This is one of the final things I want to leave the city with – a final gift if you like – to help diversify our economy by boosting our tourism offering.”

Mr Christensen said that by creating a blend of commercial and residential development with attractive open spaces along the waterfront, it would bring more people into town which would help businesses in the city centre as well as create new business opportunities.

“It’s low-hanging fruit for Mackay at the moment, people who are stuck in places they don’t want to be right now like Melbourne or Sydney, that would love to sell up their million-dollar property, move to a beautiful waterfront apartment in Mackay and spend their discretionary income from the sale of their home in our economy with the restaurants and shops on their doorstep,” Mr Christensen said.

“There are developers that want to move as soon as possible to develop major new buildings along the waterfront,” he added.

“It’s big-picture stuff but it’s about future-proofing the region to ensure there is a third pillar in our economy beyond sugar and coal mining.”

Announcements on successful BBRF funding applications are expected next month.

“This is about re-orienting the city to the water"

“There are developers that want to move as soon as possible to develop major new buildings along the waterfront”

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It’s Déjà Vu As Marian Water Wins Top Drop

September 29, 2021

Image: Mayor Greg Williamson, Water Treatment Plant Coordinator Brian Woods and Engineering and Commercial Infrastructure Director Jason Devitt. Supplied: Mackay Regional Council

The pure tasting flow of Mackay’s h2o has proven to be no fluke, with water from the Mackay region taking out the title of best tasting tap water in Queensland for the third time in four years.

Water from Mackay Regional Council’s Marian Water Treatment Plant won the title at the annual water tasting competition, held at the QLD Water Directorate Forum in Brisbane on 8 September.

Water samples from across Queensland were put to a blind taste test, where they are judged on taste, colour and smell.

Mayor Greg Williamson was presented with the winning trophy at last week’s council meeting by Water Treatment Plant Coordinator Brian Woods and Operator Michael Hills.

Mayor Williamson said it was no accident that Mackay water continued to win top drop.

“We are so fortunate to source our water from the beautiful Pioneer River, which originates in the tropical rainforests of the Eungella National Park and the Crediton State Forest,” he said.

“This win is also a credit to our water treatment team, who continue to work hard to ensure more than 6000 Marian and Mirani residents receive the very best tasting water.”

The Marian water will now compete against national water utilities at the Ixom Best Tasting Tap Water In Australia in early 2022.

Marian Water Treatment Plant water also won Queensland’s top drop in 2019. It went on to win Australia’s best tasting water in 2019 and came second – by just one vote – in an international taste testing in the USA in 2020.

Water from Mackay’s Nebo Road Water Treat Plant was named best in Queensland in 2018.

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Police Plead For Driver Care As Grim Death Toll Reached

September 29, 2021

Image: Acting Inspector Donna Stewart. Image credit: Cordell Richardson Photography

Last week a grim milestone was reached for the state, with 200 lives lost on Queensland roads.

That’s 200 families who received a devastating phone call, 200 groups of close friends whose lives will be forever changed, and 200 situations where emergency services have witnessed and dealt with excessive trauma.

Acting Inspector Donna Stewart from QPS said that in most circumstances, these crashes could have been avoided.

“The reality is that these people had family, friends and co-workers whose lives have changed in circumstances that, more likely than not, could have been avoided,” Acting Inspector Stewart said.

“Lives lost on our roads this year are on a trajectory to reach their highest number in over a decade. Two hundred lives have been lost so far this year, 14 more than this time last year.

“We are on track to surpass 300 lives lost by Christmas,” she added.

The largest increase has been on roads across Brisbane (+10), the state’s Southern (+6) and North Coast (+6) regions.

Police across the state are committed to reducing road trauma and the devastating effects it has on families and communities.

Factors such as speed, drink and drug driving, not wearing a seatbelts and fatigue are consistent contributors to fatal road crashes.

These are factors can be traced back to a decision made by an individual.

“The reality is there are not enough police cars to be on every road all day.

“It takes you to make the safest decision for you, your passengers and other road users,” Acting Inspector Stewart said.

“Road safety is a shared responsibility, and it will take all of us to reduce the impact of lives being lost on our roads.”

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Queens Park Skywalk Playground Open

September 29, 2021

Image: The Queens Park Skywalk Playground is open again after repairs were completed last week. Photo: Mackay Regional Council

Just in time for the school holidays, the Queens Park Skywalk opened to the public again last week.

The park was closed for longer than expected due to a lengthy wait for parts for repairs.

Mackay Regional Council thanked the public for their patience.

“We hope you have enjoyed exploring the other playgrounds in our region during this time,” a spokesperson said.

For more details on the playgrounds in the Mackay region visit

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New Probe Helps Mater Mackay Fight Breast Cancer

September 29, 2021

Caption: Mater Mackay breast surgeon Dr Wendela Schimmer (right) and breast cancer patient Angela Mulhern with the new neoprobe scanner at Mater Private Hospital Mackay

Mackay women battling breast cancer are set to benefit from new technology purchased thanks to the Mater Foundation’s RACQ International Women’s Day Fun Run.

Mater Private Hospital Mackay’s new GRC Neoprobe enables surgeons to identify and remove lymph nodes – and will be used on around 120 breast cancer patients from the Mackay region each year.

More than 16,600 Queenslanders took part in this year’s ‘Chicks in Pink’ event in March, including 225 Mackay residents who organised their own runs in the city for the first time.

And this October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month – a chance to focus on a disease that claims the lives of more than 580 Queensland women each year.

Mater Mackay surgeon Dr Wendela Schimmer said the advanced cordless neoprobe ensures surgery is more accurate for patients and enhances their post-operative recovery.

“Because neoprobes allow us to more precisely identify lymph nodes, breast surgery is more accurate and fewer lymph nodes are removed,” Dr Schimmer said.

“It is a critical piece of equipment for surgeons and demonstrates the advanced breast cancer treatment that women receive here in Mackay.”

The $92,500 neoprobe was purchased for the hospital by the Mater Foundation, which drew on $1,537,000 raised by the RACQ-backed fun run.

“This year Chicks in Pink ran in every Queensland city, including here in Mackay, and this fantastic equipment shows why every kilometre they covered was worth it,” Mater Foundation Executive Director Andrew Thomas said.

Registered nurse Catriona Muscat was among a group of 15 Mater staff who tackled a 5km course at Mackay’s Gooseponds to raise money to fight women’s cancer.

“We’re not running fanatics, but it was good fun and it’s rewarding to know that we helped breast cancer patients in Mackay and across Queensland,” Catriona said.

Breast Cancer Awareness Month and Mater

● Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women in Australia (apart from non-melanoma skin cancer) and the second most common cancer to cause death in women, after lung cancer.

● Survival rates continue to improve in Australia, with 89 out of every 100 women diagnosed with surviving for five or more years beyond diagnosis.

● Mater hospitals treat around 1 in every 4 breast cancer patients in Queensland.

● Around 50% of Mater Foundation’s Chicks in Pink funding goes towards breast cancer research at Mater.

● Around 25% is invested in new equipment and technology, with the remainder going to patient support services including therapy and support packages.

● You can support the Mater Foundation’s breast cancer program at

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Clean-up At The Southern Breakwater

September 29, 2021

Rescue and Advanced Divers from the Mackay Dive Club conducted a ‘Clean-up dive’ on the outer section of the Southern breakwater early last Sunday morning in a successful removal of waste and rubbish.

The divers removed years of fishing line, associated fishing tackle, and other items from the popular fishing spot, in a dive that also doubled as training for the rescue divers.

The Dive was supported by Volunteer Marine Rescue (VMR) Mackay, who provided boats to transport divers and stand watch on the dive area perimeter.

The dive provided a very real-life training opportunity for VMR crews, who retrieved the divers from the water, just as they would in “man-overboard” situations.

In one instance, the divers used a spine-board to simulate an injured person in the water and allow the VMR crew to retrieve the ‘injured’ party from the water.

With increasing focus on cleaner oceans and waterways, this dive is a step in the right direction, one where this habitat for marine life not only benefits the fish and other animals, but also improves the fishability for local recreational fishermen.

“The outer wall is a great place for local people without a boat to access ocean fishing and given the number of kids we see there, it’s probably the place where many local children learn how to fish,” Daryl Howland, who is a rescue diver with Mackay Dive Club and a VMR volunteer, helped initiate the project said.

“I’m sure there’s plenty of ‘first fish’ memories for locals on the breakwater. But over the years plenty of hooks and lures have been snagged on the rocks, and this means lots of tangled line.

“By cleaning up the fishing gear it’s like a reset on the area, to let both marine life and fisherman start over.”

Divers entered the water at approximately 7:15am, with the VMR vessels standing watch until the diver’s surfaced at about 8:30am and cleared the area by 9am.

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Misery For Our Old Folks

September 29, 2021

An INVITATION To Solve A Wet Problem

Wet old people are often in the ‘too hard’ basket.

We owe them their dignity

We are running a casual information session on the treatable causes of incontinence, how to manage it and information on some of the newer appliances available.

We will put an emphasis on the hidden problem of overflow, how it can be easily diagnosed, and how simple measures can provide amazing relief for oldies and staff.

The session is relaxed, informative and interactive. Plus we have food!

If you work in a nursing home as a medical or nursing attendant, if you work with the elderly or if you are interested in managing incontinence, please call Siobhan to book your space.

Dr Stephens is a urologist of thirty-five years standing.

He has worked mainly in rural communities both here and overseas in that time, and is aware of the difficulties that come with geriatric urology practice.

He has positions as a consultant at the Mater, the Mackay Base Hospital, and is a senior lecturer at JCU.

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Fresh Faces Build On Chamber Business Confidence

September 29, 2021

Image: 2021/22 Mackay Region Chamber of Commerce Committee. Image supplied: Mackay Region Chamber of Commerce

Business confidence is booming in Mackay and a strong committee heading the Chamber of Commerce hopes to keep momentum moving in the right direction.

With both familiar and new faces at the fore, the Mackay Region Chamber of Commerce appointed the organisation’s 2021/22 Committee what it described as a buoyant Annual General Meeting last week.

Three new members joined the nine-member committee with all current executive committee members retaining their positions.

“I’m thrilled to continue on in the role of President and really bring to life all of the groundwork we’ve done in the past year,” Chamber President Geoff O’Connor said.

“Our focus post COVID has been on internal governance and laying the foundations for the coming twelve months. We will continue to be a strong voice on advocacy issues that affect small business in our region as well as delivering networking opportunities and educational workshops that will benefit all local businesses.” said Mr O’Connor.

More than 40 local member businesses heard from industry leaders at the AGM as the Chamber delivered updates on key business, industry and tourism activity.

After an insightful Council update from Mayor Greg Williamson, which included a personal story of the Mackay Chamber’s beginnings, Kylie Porter, CEO of GW3, spoke of new and exciting economic development across key strategic areas such as aquaculture, aerospace and biofutures.

“The future of sugar isn’t what we add to our tea and coffee, there is a real opportunity to be a major player in bio-refinery and we’re seeing great movement for our region in this space,” Ms Porter told the audience.

Dean Kirkwood, General Manager of the Resource Industry Network, echoed Ms Porter’s positive sentiment by detailing the impressive rise of coal prices in 2021 and the role of the resource sector in driving the Covid-19 recovery on a global scale.

Members also heard the latest from Mackay-Isaac Tourism with Tourism Development Manager, Chrissy Evangelou impressing upon the audience the importance of promoting our region and the tourism offering we have.

“Promoting our region as a tourism destination is something everyone should be a champion of. We are all in tourism,” Ms Evangelou said.

The new Chamber committee is encouraged by the sense of confidence shared at the AGM and is keen to leverage this for the benefit of members and businesses across the region.

The 2021/2022 Management Committee is, President – Geoff O’Connor (SBB Partners), Vice President – Sarah Miotto (Spannerman Autocare), Treasurer – Liz Dent (DGL Accountants), Secretary – Cathy Sullivan (Mount Pleasant Centre), Madeleine Connors (NE Food | The Dispensary), Scott Jamieson (Enlightened Financial Solutions), Vicki Smith (Concept Consulting), Maree Sturdy (Treadwell Tyre Service) and Katie Duncan (McKays Solicitors).

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A Wheely Good Deed

September 29, 2021

Image: Maree and Jeff Sturdy from Treadwell Tyres sponsored a patient transport buggy at Mackay Base Hospital to make it easier for patients with mobility issues to get to and from their vehicles.

Anyone who has been through surgery, trauma or treatment can profess to the saying ‘baby steps’ when it comes to recovery.

Sometimes, those first few steps leaving the hospital can seem overwhelming. A short stroll that used to take mere moments, now feels like a mountain to climb.

The kind folk at Treadwell Tyres have shown that not only do they know their wheels, but they have wheely big hearts when it comes to looking after the most vulnerable in our community.

Mackay Hospital Foundation now has a new patient transport buggy, sponsored by Treadwell Tyres, to take patients to and from their cars when walking isn’t an easy option.

Treadwell Tyres owners Maree and Jeff Sturdy took the new buggy for a spin as it reached its new home.

Thanks Jeff and Maree for making hospital stays a little bit less daunting for those on a journey back to good health.

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A Full Tum For New Mackay Mums

September 29, 2021

Sometimes a nutritious meal and knowing someone is there to support you through a difficult time can make a world of difference. No two paths to motherhood are the same and a new service has launched to support those feeling vulnerable.

Meals for Mums, a program already operating through some of Queensland’s largest maternity hospitals, has now launched in Mackay for new and expecting Mums.

Ms Julieanne Gilbert, Member for Mackay and Assistant Minister for Health, Cr Greg Williamson, Mayor of Mackay and Professor Adam Scott, Chair of White Cloud Foundation gathered to launch the program in Mackay last week.

Ms Julieanne Gilbert, Member for Mackay and Assistant Minister for Health said she was pleased to see the Meals for Mums program now supporting the Mackay community.

“All new and expecting mums deserve a little help and we are pleased this program from the White Cloud Foundation is there to lend a hand.”

Mackay Hospital and Health Service Chief Executive Lisa Davies Jones said the Meals for Mums service is an invaluable boost for mums.

“Pregnant women and new mums are often isolated, lacking in extended family supports,” she said.

“This wonderful service from White Cloud Foundation will assist new and expecting mums with the most practical of all supports – nutritious meals to nourish the body and the mind.

“The Meals for Mums program saves these new mothers the time, energy and expense of shopping, cooking, and the cleaning up involved with meal preparation at one of the most tiring times of a woman’s life.”

Professor Adam Scott, said the Meals for Mums program provides home-delivered nutritious meals, giving practical mental health support to new and expecting mothers struggling with perinatal depression.

“At White Cloud Foundation, we know a little support when a mother is struggling can make a big difference.

“Free, home delivered, nutritious meals and other practical help can mean a lot for the whole family,” said Professor Scott.

“We work with nurses, midwives, social workers and other health care providers to identify mums who need some extra support, connect them with our service including accessing free meals.

“Last year, Meals for Mums referrals increased 66 per cent due to COVID-19, with 441 mums supported, and over 9,200 meals delivered. This year the program will help around 600 mums across Queensland, with well over 10,000 home-delivered meals.

“We are pleased that Mackay mums now have access to this program,” said Prof Scott.


Prof Scott said White Cloud Foundation’s recently launched, free Tele-Mental Health service is also available to all Mackay residents battling depression and anxiety.

“We have assembled a talented team of 40 allied healthcare professionals, from psychologists, social workers to exercise physiologists, mental health nurses and dieticians to provide tailored, holistic, clinical and practical care to treat depression from multiple fronts,” he said.

“This exceptional and experienced group of specialists works together to develop individualised treatment plans to manage symptoms of depression and anxiety, reduce risk factors, build resilience and provide patients with strategies to better manage their mental and emotional health.

“The service is delivered via technology using telehealth consultations (via phone or video calls), so Queenslanders can access the right treatment at the right time and at the right place.”

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A Step Toward Care Closer To Home

September 29, 2021

Will you step up to help Ronald McDonald House take a step closer to opening here in Mackay?

The call is out to be part of history and help families in their greatest hours of need as Mackay’s Ronald McDonald Family Room moves a step closer to opening.

Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) North Australia is appealing to the community to help reach their fundraising targets, as tenders open for construction of the Ronald McDonald Family Room at Mackay Base Hospital.

Chief Executive Officer Tamara South has urged locals not to miss the opportunity to be part of this milestone as the charity moves towards the construction phase.

“We are excited to be one step closer to establishing the Mackay Ronald McDonald Family Room, with the support of our partners at Mackay Hospital and Health Service, Mackay Hospital Foundation and of course the local community.

“Every day there are families from Mackay and surrounds who are enduring long days in hospital with an ill or injured child.

“By becoming a Founding Partner of the Mackay Ronald McDonald Family Room, you will be helping to provide comfort and support to these families when they need it most.”

Mackay Hospital and Health Service Chief Executive Lisa Davies Jones said the Ronald McDonald Family Room will be a welcome addition to Mackay Base Hospital’s Child and Adolescent Unit and Special Care Nursery for families of children undergoing medical treatment.

“Hospital stays can be a daunting and exhausting experience for our youngest patients and their families. The Family Room will offer a relaxing area to both local and out of town families who wish to take a meal break, utilise showers to freshen up or simply a space to relax away from hospital wards,” Ms Davies Jones said.

“We currently have more than 15 families who travel long distances each month for their children to attend appointments and undergo treatment at Mackay Base Hospital. These families in particular can feel quite displaced, so we want the Family Room to provide a sense of calm and normalcy while they’re away from home,” she said.

The Ronald McDonald Family Room will be constructed near the Children and Adolescent Unit and will be a home-like space run by volunteers, including a fully stocked kitchen, showers, laundry facilities and relaxation and play spaces.

Tenders close on October 8, 2021, with opening of the Ronald McDonald Family Room planned for 2022.

To pledge your support or become a volunteer, visit or Google ‘Mackay Ronald McDonald Family Room’.

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Getting Their Hands Dirty

September 29, 2021

To Save A Marvellous Market

Last week, the Greater Whitsunday Farmers’ Market was saved from closure, as a group of stallholders came up with the idea of starting a not-for-profit organisation to run the markets which have been a fixture of Bluewater Quay for more than six years. In just two short weeks, the Markets have changed hands, and a new committee will be formed to keep one of Mackay’s best weekly gatherings growing strong.

There was an outpouring of love from the community when the closure announcement was made, and the stallholders felt that the community they had built was worth saving.

“It Was Important For The Community”

Farmers at the Greater Whitsunday Farmers’ Market were as shocked as the public when it was announced two weeks ago that the vastly popular markets would cease activities after the 15th of September.

The Markets, at that time, were being run by Greater Whitsunday Food Network, who also took on responsibilities of promoting farmers in the region.

In a gathering of local growers, farmers and stallholders, the market was rescued through a team effort, as well as lobbying to Council.

Stallholders Karl Mau and Naomi Rayes were sent to the council to ask for support in keeping the markets running.

“We got the news at the same time as everyone else, and after the market last week we got together and decided what we wanted to do and approached the council,” Karl Mau said.

“Naomi [Rayes] and I were voted last week to be the representatives to go and see the council and get this ball rolling.

“They’ve supported us from the get-go when we were back over in Wood Street and were very keen to keep it going.”

From the public perspective, hardly anything has changed at the market – all the regular stalls were still there, the produce was as fresh as ever, and the sun came up just as it always did on Bluewater Quay and the Markets.

For stallholders, it changes things a little, but not much, with their fees now being collected in person rather than by an emailing system.

The new committee is yet to be chosen, but Karl and Naomi said they were proud to be able to connect locals directly with the growers.

“It’s a true farmers market, the producers here are the people who pick their produce, and we make that really clear,” Naomi said.

“When you’re coming here, you get to meet the producers and a lot of people love talking to them about our new produce, like for example, Karl has some new heritage tomatoes!”

Naomi and Karl said that they wanted to thank Council, who made them feel welcome and made the transition an extremely simple process.

Mackay Regional Council has been a long-time supporter of the Farmers’ Markets.

Mayor Greg Williamson praised the resilience of the Mackay community in banding together to ensure that the markets continued.

“To have a central location is invaluable for our local farmers so it’s a tremendous result for our community and economy,” Mayor Williamson said.

“It’s also important that we as a community continue to support our local food system and agricultural industry,” he said.

It’s a brand new season for the Market, and who knows what will grow and in what direction this new season of the market will go.

“The future is to take the baton from what the network started and keep it very grass roots, building those networks we have between stallholders, and we’d love even more producers to come and feel welcome to be here,” Naomi said.

The market remains open and is in safe hands, and will continue to be held each Wednesday from 6:30am-10:30am at Bluewater Quay.

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Historic Bill Passed Legalising Assisted Voluntary Dying In Queensland

September 24, 2021

Image: MP for Mackay Julieanne Gilbert delivered a speech in Parliament showing her support for Queensland’s Voluntary Assisted Dying laws last week

New laws allowing voluntary assisted dying in Queensland were passed by parliament last week giving terminally ill Queenslanders more choice.

Member for Mackay Julieanne Gilbert delivered a speech in favour of the new legislation.

“The bill allows terminally ill Queenslanders who are suffering the choice to die with dignity if this is what they want,” Ms Gilbert said.

“And dignity, choice, and compassion is overwhelmingly what the people of Mackay have told me they want from these laws.”

Ms Gilbert said the bill being debated before Parliament last week had been part of a long and considered process over many years.

“The Queensland Law Reform Commission undertook extensive research and analysis on voluntary assisted dying to provide the best legal framework for Queensland,” she said.

“The law is both robust and compassionate. It is evidence-based with strict safeguards in place. And it is patient-centered and practical.”

Ms Gilbert added that while VAD is a conscience vote, she had undertaken extensive consultation with the Mackay community on this issue.

“My community survey showed 85% of respondents in my electorate were in favour of safe legislation for voluntary assisted dying,” she said.

“I have also had many, many conversations over the past three years with people with a wide view of opinions - including people who want the bill to go further, and also faith-based people who believe there should be no legislation.

“Ultimately, I believe people should be afforded the ability to make their own decisions about their death without others’ belief systems being placed over their own personal decisions.

“This law is about compassion. It is about preventing unnecessary suffering. It is about choice.”

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk paid tribute to members of parliament for the dignified manner in which the bill was debated and the historic conscience vote that enabled it to pass.

“This is a deeply personal matter and we have heard the moving stories that prompted members to vote in the way they have,” the Premier said.

“We got to this point after years of consultation with the people of this state and expert advice.

“It was not rushed.

“Queenslanders will now have a choice that I know many families wish they had.”

Local church leaders opposed the legislation, saying God should decide the timing of death.

Rev. Dr Julia Pitman, Minister of St Paul’s Uniting Church said “God decides when we are born and God should decide when we die.”

“Let the creator of this beautiful world determine the start and end of human life.”

The church urges study of the Bible, particularly Psalm 121, which is often read at Christian funerals, which says, in verse 8: ‘The LORD will keep your going out and your coming in from this time on and forevermore.’

The Rev. Dr Julia Pitman had written to her local state Member of Parliament, Amanda Camm, urging her to oppose voluntary assisted dying.

The church also believes that suffering should be endured, not avoided.

“The Christ who willingly submitted himself to God’s will to die on a cross for all humanity is the model for our lives,” said Rev. Dr Julia Pitman.

“No one wishes suffering on their worst enemy, but God calls us to endure suffering, rather than to avoid it.

“Medical practitioners have the right of conscientious objection on moral grounds, which must be respected,” she said.

Deputy Premier Steven Miles said the Palaszczuk Government was boosting palliative care funding by $171 million over five years.

“Good palliative care starts the day a patient is diagnosed and will increase in intensity over time and as death approaches,” Mr Miles said.

“It comes after decades of advocacy by passionate citizens, themselves carrying the trauma of having watched relatives die in pain or facing a traumatic death themselves.”

To be eligible for voluntary assisted dying a person must meet all five criteria. They must:

• have an eligible condition

• have decision-making capacity in relation to voluntary assisted dying

• be acting voluntarily and without coercion

• be aged at least 18 years

• fulfil residency requirements

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Epic Walk For A Life Worth Living

September 24, 2021

Image: Matt ‘Fenndog’ Fennell is walking the length of Australia to raise awareness for suicide prevention and mental health. Image at the Mackay Breakwater captured by Leah McLean Photography who in collaboration with M2 signs have put Matt’s story on a billboard. Photo at Light the Lake by Amanda Wright

Blisters will be no barrier to Matt ‘Fenndog’ Fennell completing an epic journey to raise suicide prevention awareness. He is attempting to walk from Australia’s northernmost tip at Cape York to Australia’s southern East Cape in Tasmania.

Walking alone and unaided with only a backpack and a tent, Matt’s fundraiser named ‘Cape to Cape for a Life Worth Living’ will see Matt positively impacting people through every town he visits.

Fenndog stepped into the Mackay and Whitsundays region early in September and caught up with people at Airlie Beach, before pushing hard to make it to Mackay on 10 September for Mad Cow Coffee’s ‘Light the Lake’ event at Wakehouse Mackay.

He spoke in front of more than 100 people who had gathered to mark World Suicide Prevention Day and said that a lot of the world’s problems can be solved with a walk or a conversation.

“The walk that I’m doing is a metaphor for dealing with adversity in life,” Mr Fennell said.

“I’ve faced my own bouts of adversity in life and what better way to face it head-on with a big walk. I’m strong and resilient right now but that person didn’t exist in my life three years ago. I was in a deep, dark hole.

“I had mates that metaphorically were throwing ropes to me to get me out of the hole. I had my blinkers on and couldn’t see the ropes being thrown to me. In their persistence to help me climb out of that hole you’re now looking at a man about to walk 5,000km,” he said.

Mr Fennell said it was emotional for him because the start of his walk was close to the first anniversary of a close friend who died from a medical issue last year.

“This ring that I have on and the ashes I have around my neck his mother gave to me. He didn’t take his own life, but five weeks after his passing his partner took her own life. That’s coming up on the 22 of October.

“No one should ever blame themselves for the actions other people choose to make. I don’t like to say the word, I don’t like to give it power. But I believe there can’t be too many apps like the Tuf Minds app or too many resources out there to help people. There can’t be too many conversations just asking someone if they’re ok.”

After visiting Mackay, Mr Fennell continued his mission on foot to have a positive impact on people’s lives. He spoke to people at The Diner in Sarina and then stopped in at the Koumala Hotel.

You can support Matt’s journey at

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Skipper Meets Skippy

September 24, 2021

Queensland NRL legend Johnathan Thurston accompanied the Provans-Summons Trophy on a visit to the Cape Hillsborough National Park last Friday morning as the NRL Premiership Trophy Tour descended on Mackay ahead of last weekend’s Finals Series double-header at BB Print Stadium.

Thurston joined the trophy as it visited picturesque Cape Hillsborough at Sunrise, helping feed the local wallaby residents. It was Thurston’s first ever visit to Cape Hillsborough and the NRL great was excited to be bringing final’s footy to Mackay.

“ThisIs The Holy Grail”

It was a showdown of skipper versus skipper at Cape Hillsborough last Friday, when former rugby league legend Jonathan Thurston bounded onto Cape Hillsborough Beach to meet the ‘almost-as-famous’ resident wallabies.

Former captain of the North Queensland Cowboys, Thurston was an Australian international, Queensland State of Origin and Indigenous All Stars representative player and one of the best exponents of the game of rugby league.

He was on a tour with the Provans-Summons Trophy ahead of the NRL Finals Series double-header at BB Print Stadium and said it was a great reward for the people of Queensland who helped to keep the NRL season alive.

Thurston said, “It's part of history, having the finals here in regional Queensland. To bring the NRL Premiership Trophy to Mackay is very exciting.

“You don’t get to see this ever. The finals are always played at the big stadiums, this is huge for Mackay,” Thurston said.

“It is a great reward for what the Queensland Government and the Queensland people have done to keep the season alive and have the trophy going through the schools and the different regions.

“The people should be extremely proud of what they’ve achieved with the game up here.

"The footy is going to be top-level.

“This is the holy grail; this is what they’re playing for. The local kids won’t get any closer than this to the big games, right there on the sidelines watching their heroes play.”

Thurston has spent a lot of time in Mackay, but the highlight of this trip was being on Cape Hillsborough Beach.

“Being here at Cape Hillsborough, at sunrise, feeding the wallabies, that’s got to be the highlight of the trip,” Thurston said.

“I recommend anyone travelling through the area to experience it.”

He said his favourite place to visit in Queensland was Hamilton Island.

“It’s just a beautiful spot,” Thurston said.

Thurston and his wife were married on Whitehaven Beach and he added that the water was stunning.

Following Cape Hillsborough, Thurston visited Mackay’s Abbott Park Fields to the Steve Jackson Gala Day as part of the NRL Premiership Trophy Tour’s stop in Mackay.

Thurston met with fans and junior footy players as they had the chance to see the NRL Premiership Trophy up close as it toured regional Queensland.

The NRL Premiership Trophy Tour visited last weekend’s semi-finals double-header at BB Print Stadium, before visiting Moreton Bay/Redcliffe, Toowoomba, Ipswich, Gold Coast and Brisbane.

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There And Back Again

September 16, 2021

Striving to make a positive and lasting impact on the lives of Mackay residents affected by chronic kidney disease (renal failure), The Kidney Support Network in Mackay received a fantastic new support vehicle this month, which will make their job ten times easier.

The new support vehicle will be instrumental in transporting clients to and from their medical and dialysis appointments.

The organisation, built by volunteers, will benefit enormously from this newest addition which was funded through the State Government’s Gambling Community Benefit Fund grant.

Member for Mackay Julieanne Gilbert visited the Kidney Support Network Mackay to see the newest addition to the growing organisation.

Dialysis does the work that those suffering with Kidney failure can no longer do, removing the waste from your blood in those with chronic kidney disease, keeping those suffering alive.

The recommendation once receiving dialysis is to not operate a vehicle, as depending on which kind of dialysis the patient undertakes, it can be strenuous for the body.

It is possible to drive after dialysis, but many who require this appointment are aged 60 or older, as their risk of kidney disease is far higher – often, they no longer drive, or the effects of dialysis are greater on them.

Patients receiving kidney dialysis usually need treatment more than three times per week, and this vehicle will be an enormous help to those impacted by kidney disease in the region.

The organisation is entirely not-for-profit organisation, meaning they rely upon volunteers and donations to undertake their operations and this vehicle will be key to those operations.

If you can volunteer your time, donate goods, or if you’re a local businesses interested in sponsoring the organisation, connect with them through their email:

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Hospital Honours Former Director Of Paediatrics

September 16, 2021

Image: A Eungella Bottlebrush was planted, and a plaque unveiled to celebrate the service Dr Michael Williams gave at Mackay Base Hospital. Photos: Mackay Hospital and Health Service.

Former Mackay HHS Director of Paediatrics Dr Michael Williams has been celebrated for dedicating 40 years of specialist care to the region’s youngest patients.

Staff gathered with Dr Williams at the Mackay Base Hospital courtyard to plant a Eungella Bottlebrush and unveil a special plaque acknowledging his service.

Parents and children would remember Dr Williams for his calm and professional approach to paediatric care.

However, many may not be aware he started as a visiting medical officer and was the only paediatrician at Mackay Base Hospital in 1980. The team has now grown to eight paediatricians and a multidisciplinary team.

At the ceremony Dr Williams recalled memories of the Base Hospital’s single-story buildings with verandas, possum lights for nighttime and the Florence Nightingale wards.

Dr Williams now lives in Brisbane but still does regular telehealth appointments for Mackay.

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New Doctor Brings Continuity Of Care For Clermont

September 16, 2021

Recruiting doctors to rural towns had become more challenging amid the COVID-19 pandemic when international borders closed, meaning remote places like Clermont were relying on only one GP to service the entire town.

Dr Sarah McLay runs the town’s only private practice and was put under heavy strain when the hospital lost a locum doctor earlier this year. Families were then forced to travel out of town on many occasions to seek medical treatment when there were no doctors available.

Thanks to an attractive commonwealth-funded initiative to attract training doctors into rural communities, a new doctor has made the move to Clermont to ease the strain.

Clermont has been selected for a targeted recruitment program, managed by the Remote Vocational Training Scheme (RVTS) funded by the Federal Government, allowing a fully qualified GP to train in the town.

“I am very glad Clermont has welcomed a new doctor to the community and I encourage more doctors to make the move to Clermont” Ms Landry said.

“I have been contacted by many constituents in relation to lack of doctors and have been fighting hard to see rural and regional residents receive the same healthcare as people who live in metropolitan areas.

“Thank you to Clermont4Doctors and the entire Clermont community for your tireless advocacy for medical practitioners for your local community.”

Clermont4Doctors Project Coordinator Janelle Otto said the addition of Dr Uzo, from Brisbane, has not only provided the Clermont community with continuity of care, 24/7 hospital cover but also support to the current health team.

“Through the efforts of Dr Sarah McLay, Clermont has also recently received an RVTS Targeted Recruitment position which is a commonwealth funded initiative to attract training doctors into rural communities,” Mrs Otto said.

“The initiative offers a very appealing and substantial package for a doctor to relocate to Clermont to specialise in general practice for a 3-year term.”

The Remote Vocational Training Scheme aims to improve the attraction of GP trainees in rural and remote areas by providing salary incentives to doctors as they train towards GP fellowship.

The position in Clermont is one of 14 available under the 2022 targeted recruitment scheme and is worth almost $456,000 over three years and comes on top of wages.

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Mackay Lags Behind In Census Completion

September 16, 2021

Last month Mackay was identified as being one of the slowest regions in Australia to get the COVID-19 vaccination. It turns out that we’re not much better when it comes to filling out Census forms.

Census Australia has identified the Mackay region as an area where a number of households have not yet responded to the Census.

Those who fail to complete the census after being sent a notice to do so can face prosecution and penalties of up to $222 a day. Providing false or misleading information can result in a fine of up to $2220.

It is to everyone's benefit to submit their Census, as the data informs where services are needed, from housing and employment services through to transport and community infrastructure. Your personal information is protected by law and isn’t shared with anyone.

Even if you have completed your census, you can help the cause by checking on elderly relatives or neighbours to ensure they received the paper copy or help them complete it online.

Find helpful information at

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Safe, Affordable Shared Living

September 16, 2021

Connecting with other people can be hard at the best of times, and it can be especially daunting when moving in with another person. Will we get along, do our lifestyles match, am I safe in this home, are they clean? These are all questions that those looking for a flatmate consider, and a new Mackay program is ready to tackle those questions head on.

The Better Together Housing Program began in May and is very different to your regular flatmate finder platform: those signing up need to be over 55 and female.

The innovative program was co-created by two leading charities on the Sunshine Coast in partnership with women in the community and was primarily aimed at addressing the rising cost of living and risk of social isolation facing single women over 55 years old that were living alone.

The program is tailored at bringing women together in a safe and secure way, helping them to find shared accommodation – building on the principles of companionship, affordability, and peace of mind.

Greater Whitsunday Communities were given the opportunity to run a Mackay-Isaac and Whitsunday iteration of the program with Project Workers Lauren Pattie and Dorne Wallace getting the program underway as part of phase two, which is launching the program regionally.

“It’s essentially a for women over 55 with the main differences being that members need to have a police check or a blue card, just for peace of mind,” Lauren Pattie said.

“We promote that it be all face to face and facilitate that; our role as a regional host is organising what we call ‘getting togethers.’”

Currently, the ‘getting togethers’ are open for any women and is not exclusive to only members and there are no expectations.

“The beauty of this project is having it be very community driven on what the community’s needs are,” Lauren said.

“It’s really about women supporting women.”

Although not a housing program for those suffering from homelessness, the program does address the fact that women aged over 55 are one of the highest at-risk groups to experience housing issues.

The main influences on the growing figure of women over 55’s homelessness being the death of a significant other, not having as much super, or serious injury.

Through connecting women early on, helping them feel more comfortable with the idea of sharing their home, it’s a way to get in front of the potential threat of homelessness.

To find out more, you can enquire with Lauren Pattie at and participants can be women who own or rent their home but are interested in finding a woman to share with, or women who are looking for a new place to live with one (or more) other women, or even just meet new friends – you never know if you might love having a flatmate!

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A Favourite Farmers Market Is No More

September 16, 2021

“What are you cooking today?”

That was a regular question from vegetable grower Charlie Muscat who was one of the local farmers selling his produce at the Greater Whitsunday Farmers’ Market. He knew passionate foodies flocked to the Bluewater Quay market every Wednesday and he enjoys providing top produce for people who love to cook.

Sadly, Charlie and the other stall holders will no longer have the Farmers’ Market as a place to sell their food and artisan goods.

The Greater Whitsunday Farmers’ Market held earlier this week will mark the very last, as with great regret, the Greater Whitsunday Food Network Inc (GWFN) have announced their liquidation and an end to trading.

The Management Committee met last week to consider their financial situation and agreed they were, in the current climate, unable to generate the required cash flow to continue operations.

In the past 18 months, GWFN has struggled with diminished funding and income streams as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, leaving them with little choice but to close up shop.

The Management Committee recognised the support, both in-kind and financial, of a number of key partners and supporters throughout the region as they said goodbye for now.

The decision that it is unsustainable to continue running the Farmers’ Markets means many local growers have lost a venue to sell their goods, but the GWFN said they will still continue to provide the necessary support to their members in the current climate and help them grow.

“We will be looking to find ways for our growers to connect with their customers beyond next Wednesday and will keep everyone updated on future developments,” a GWFN representative wrote on Facebook.

“This was a difficult decision of the Management Committee who met yesterday and have since been putting in place the steps necessary to deal with the financial situation.

Stallholders and members were notified as soon as details were formalised and ready to share and the public were notified soon after.

“We would like to offer our deepest thanks for your support of GWFN. The Management Committee regrets that these events have come to pass and acknowledge their employees and volunteers for their hard work and contribution over the past six plus years.”

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Beachside Community Shocked By Stabbing

September 16, 2021

Image: Police set up a block on Blacks Beach Road near the construction site where a woman was assisted after being allegedly stabbed multiple times on the beach nearby. Photo: Amanda Wright

Detectives from Mackay Criminal Investigation Branch charged a 16-year-old male with acts intended to cause grievous bodily harm after an alleged stabbing at Blacks Beach on Monday 13 September.

In what is thought to be a random attack, a 23-year-old woman was sunbaking on Blacks Beach, when it is alleged the 16-year-old stabbed her multiple times in the head, neck, arms and legs.

The accused fled the scene and the injured woman headed across a sand dune towards Blacks Beach Road screaming for help. Two builders on a Blacks Beach Road building site came to her aid and called emergency services. She was taken to hospital in a serious condition however her injuries were considered to be non-life-threatening.

Detective Inspector Tom Armitt said the woman stated she did not know who the accused was.

“There was no prior interaction and she has not seen him before,” Detective Inspector Armitt said.

Police searched the area with multiple units immediately after the incident and the 16-year-old was charged that evening.

The juvenile was refused bail and appeared at the Mackay Children’s Court on 14 September.

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100 Trees To Celebrate 100 Years Of Soroptimist International

September 16, 2021

In 2021 Soroptimist International (SI) celebrates 100 years of global service organisation focused on educating, empowering and enabling women and girls.

Service clubs around Australia and the world have chosen different activities to celebrate this amazing milestone and SI Mackay is no different. On the 1st of August Soroptimist International of Mackay club joined with Mackay Regional Council to plant 100 trees to mark this auspicious occasion as part of Plant Ark’s National Tree Day.

“It was great to have long serving members as well as our newer recruits participate in the tree planting,” said SI Mackay President, Kirsty Mawer.

“This will definitely be a legacy project as we see the trees grow and provide much needed shade along the pathways of the Bluewater trail,” she said.

“The Council did an amazing job of hosting a successful event. They also provided a wonderful presentation about the selected plant varieties that will not only thrive in this environment but were deliberately chosen to provide shade for passersby, flowers for local wildlife or because they have some connection to the local area,” explained Mawer.

Soroptimist International of Mackay have left their mark with a commemorative plaque on a chair, strategically placed for those on the trail who needed a break.

Team Leader and Club Secretary, Wendy Logan said it was a great way to showcase our involvement and our service to the community to ensure longevity of the service organisation to continue to make a difference in our local area.

“We’re trying to get the younger generation involved by creating a volunteering culture that is fun and easy to be a part of. We’ve been involved with several schools in Mackay throughout the years and we believe it is important to get the next generation involved with organisations such as Soroptimist,” Logan said.

“Soroptimist International is supporting women and girls to achieve their full potential. We advocate for opportunities and issues which impact and improve their physical and mental well-being,” she explained.

“As always we are looking for new members. Anyone who is interested in promoting the Soroptimist values and keen to have a good time. We’re definitely a club that enjoys doing things as well as socialising,” Mawer said.

For further information about Soroptimist please visit the website at or find out about their many activities and next club meeting on their Facebook page @simackaynq.

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