Mackay Region Entertainment News

A Blissed-Out Way To Spend Australia Day

A Blissed-Out Way To Spend Australia Day

One of the country’s finest hip-hop acts is coming to Mackay, and we can’t think of a better way to ‘bliss out’ on Australia Day than to jump and jive to Bliss n Eso. In what is a truly national tour, the three-time ARIA-award winning group will take their electric energy and unmatchable flow to audiences in every Australian state and territory throughout January to April 2022, making a special stop in Mackay on Australia Day.

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Jingle Jail For Bravehearts

Jingle Jail For Bravehearts

Can you believe that in one month it’ll be Christmas Day! Amazing right! It’s a time of reflection on what’s important to you, spending time with family, helping the community and of course Santa. But before we get there, we have to have our ducks in a row. One easy way is to volunteer your time. I do it and I love it. I volunteer at the PCYC, Blood Bank, YIRS, Mackay Tourism, Zonta, Meals on Wheels, Mackay Basketball, plus many others.

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Mackay Rising Muso Wins Big

Mackay Rising Muso Wins Big

A local Mackay born singer-songwriter was announced last month as the winner of Australian Country singer Kasey Chambers national Instagram competition. Zoe McLellan, a 19-year-old Pioneer Valley and Mackay resident, won the competition which asked contestants to upload a minute-long video of them performing their original song and tag Kasey Chambers.

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Events Guide

Events Guide

Sarina Art Gallery Exhibition Until October 29, from 10am to 3pm The Sarina Art Gallery will launch its latest exhibition with local artwork on display. The free exhibition features artists Joy Hold, Pam Ellis, Katherin Murray, Jenny Tibbett, Susan Day, Tahra Carniato and Julie Anderson. The three-week exhibition will be open until October 29. www.sarinafieldofdreams.com.au

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Frocktober - Got Loud!

October 28, 2021

Image: Ladies getting loud at Mackay’s inaugural Frocktober. L to R: Kim Ford, Sharyn Bunt, Deanne Woods, Carmel Grech, Pam Houston, Emily Dalglish, Deonne McMurtrie, Joanne Ashford, Brenda Windsor and Natalie Lorraway. Photographer: Alyce Holzy Photography

It’s considered a silent killer, but there’s no keeping quiet when it comes to ovarian cancer.

Mackay’s inaugural Frocktober was a kaleidoscope of colour as bold and beautiful ladies wore their brightest dresses to create visual noise for the theme ‘Let’s Get Loud’.

Frocktober is the campaign that empowers women around Australia to channel their creative flair through their favourite frocks, all while raising urgently needed funds for the Ovarian Cancer Research Foundation’s innovative research projects that help to shine a light on ovarian cancer.

Nearly 300 Mackay women showed their support for the cause last weekend at a chic cocktail-style party at the Mackay Turf Club where their voices were more than heard.

Fabulous Frockers

The philosophy of Frocktober, is that something as simple as the clothes we put on our back has the potential to start important conversations, raising awareness of the lack of early detection methods, of women’s experiences, and of how we as a community can do more to support ovarian cancer research.

Bringing the inaugural Frocktober event to Mackay were fabulous frockers Jody Euler and Patrice Bettini. The ladies were made Queensland ambassadors for the Ovarian Cancer Research Foundation off the back of the inspirational work they had done previously with the Nude Lunch.

When Jody heard the theme of Frocktober was Let’s Get Loud, she knew she and Patrice had to bring the event to Mackay. The cocktail-style extravaganza was a sold-out success, leaving ladies wondering, what will Jody and Patrice deliver next year?

One thing is certain, the ladies will never stop shouting about ovarian cancer and the change that is needed for better outcomes.

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Lockdown Led To Debut Album About Love

October 22, 2021

Presenting dreamy, atmospheric tones in his nu-folk music, the multi-instrumentalist Upile Mkoka (aka Weathered) is a natural performer, penning songs well past his years.

The talented artist released his debut album last week, thanks to a Regional Arts Development Fund (RADF) grant.

Upile Mkoka has been writing, releasing, producing and performing music under the moniker of ‘Weathered’ for over 10 years now. His personal approach to writing brought to life through folk sounds has created something totally unique.

The Rockhampton-born, Tanzanian-Australian has shared stages with the likes of Icehouse, Busby Marou, ILLY, RUFUS Du Sol, Ash Grunwald, Brad Butcher and more.

His unique sounds have been capturing the hearts of listeners for a number of years now garnering airplay on a number of stations across the country, not to mention an influx of streams through Spotify playlists and the likes. His live show is even more captivating - bringing the songs to life in their own way and taking the audience on a journey from applause and sing-along's to intimate moments left speechless and teary-eyed.

After moving to Mackay in January 2020, the singer-songwriter spent lockdown writing more songs and applied for a RADF grant to fund his full-length album, ‘Until This Love is All That Remains’. He co-produced the album at his home studio in Bucasia, and spent two weeks with Aria-nominated producer Mark Myers at his studio near Atherton Tablelands.

The album features other QLD musicians including Zeek Power, Tristan Barton, Mark Myers, Josiah Birrell (GOVS) and Upile’s wife Rebecca as well as Colorado singer-songwriter Grace Stailey.

Mackay’s RADF Committee member Peter McKenzie said “It’s great that RADF could fund this project and help Upile release his music.

“I think it’s an important boost both for the music scene of Mackay and for regional Queensland.”

Upile is a big believer in the regional arts scene.

“I’ve lived in regional Queensland all my life and have seen so much hidden talent and potential.

“I’m really excited to release this here and am so thankful to RADF for all of their support,” says Upile.

Weathered’s music is available to listen on all streaming platforms. It's clear to see that Upile is certainly pioneering a sound for the region and beyond.

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A Flurry Of Colour, Culture And Cuisine Coming To Queens Park

October 22, 2021

Photo: Global Grooves is back in Queens Park this weekend to make the most of the sprawling green spaces and established shade trees. Photos Supplied: Mackay Regional Council

Delicious delicacies from across the globe will be on offer at Global Grooves tomorrow, with Queens Park coming alive with a feast of flavour in a kaleidoscope of colour.

It’s one of Mackay’s favourite festivals, where celebrating the diversity of our region’s residents has never been so delicious. Indian, Sicilian, Sri Lankan, Thai, Italian, Pacific Islands, Fijian, Filipino and an assortment of other exotic cuisines will be on offer between 3pm and 8pm.

Mayor Greg Williamson said the aroma floating on the breeze from Queens Park would likely be enough to draw a crowd.

“From Asian dumplings to woodfired pizzas, Sicilian cannoli, butter chicken, curries, barbecue and traditional hangi-cooked food, the Global Grooves menu will be tremendous!” Mayor Williamson said.

“Your taste buds really can go on a world trip, and that’s one of the big drawcards of this event – it brings these communities together and provides access to this authentic cuisine, all in one location,” he said.

The Mayor said it was great to be back in the newly upgraded Queens Park in 2021.

“Queens Park really is the home of Global Grooves and provides plenty of green space for families to spread out and experience the global music and dance performances,” he said.

“And what a range there is this year – more than a dozen performers and dance groups will take the stage.

“It’s a special day for many of them, as they rehearse for months before the event and put a huge amount of effort into their traditional costumes, and it really shows.”  

MECC and Festivals manager Andrew Bobeldyk said, this year, the Festivals team had decided to make the event a showcase of local multicultural talent.

“With border closures, booking an interstate or international headline act was always likely to end in disappointment, so we have gone all-out to highlight local talent – whether that’s from our multicultural communities or local performers with global music influences,” Mr Bobeldyk said.

“The other thing we’ve tried to highlight this year is the workshop teepee,” he said.

“You can learn salsa and Latin dancing or African drumming, and the kids can get their face painted and join in a story time session.”

Entry to Global Grooves at Queens Park is free.  For more information, follow Mackay Festivals on Facebook.

Global Grooves is proudly supported by ABC Tropical North and the Queensland Government.

Global Grooves Full stage lineup:

3.00pm                 Anette Worthington

3.30pm                 Welcome to Country, Mayor welcome

4.00pm                 Whitsunday Thai Community

4.10pm                 Mackay and District Pipe Band

4.30pm                 Mackay Chinese Association Tai Chi Sword

4.40pm                 Claddagh School of Irish Dance

5.00pm                 Thai Aussie Community Mackay

5.30pm                 Ji Aaya Nu

5.40pm                 Viva Acoustic

6.10pm                 Nepalese Australian Association of Mackay

6.25pm                 QLD Multicultural Lions Club

7.00pm                 Mackay Filipino Australian Community Inc.

7.15pm                 Mackay Chinese Association Tibetan Dance

7.30pm                 VaMa Music

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Nations Naughtiest Puppet Slips Into The Sugar City

October 7, 2021

A genuine legend of Australian television made his way to Mackay last week ahead of his performances at the Mackay Entertainment Centre (MECC) in late October, Agro and “the bald man under the table”, Jamie Dunn, are back, live on stage in a naughty, throwback show in their home state of Queensland.

Agro’sMackay Connection

Last week, the puppet, Agro, and the puppeteer, Jamie Dunn, arrived at Mackay’s MECC ahead of Agro: Up Late, the outrageous show where Australia’s most famous and self-described ‘bathmat’ hosts an evening of hilarious, off the cuff comedy where a man under a table talks out of his hand.

Making a name for himself originally on the television show Wombat before moving onto Agro’s Cartoon Connection, the ‘accidental puppet’ stormed the 90’s children’s television scene and has returned in a new format in his long and storied career.

Agro holds the honours of the Logie’s Most Popular Children’s Program, winning for 11 consecutive years on two separate shows, Wombat and Cartoon Connection.

Dunn never intended on becoming a puppeteer though, falling into the role when he was a struggling singer-songwriter in Brisbane.

“I wouldn’t call it a puppeteer, just a guy that puts his hand up a puppet’s bum,” Jamie said.

“I wrote a song for Agro and copied the [original Agro’s] voice in the middle, then they rang me on the Friday night and said, ‘can you do Agro in the morning?’ and I said no problem.

“In our business, you don’t say no to anything, otherwise you won’t get a wage, even if it’s $63 dollars a week!”

Agro’s Cartoon Connection had two hosts, but none meant more to Dunn than Anne-Maree Biggar who hosted alongside Dunn for five years in the late 80’s and early 90’s on Agro’s Cartoon Connection, where they formed a friendship which has lasted 32 years.

“She still leaves messages on my phone, ‘I’ve had another bad day and you haven’t wrung me!’ with that same voice,” Dunn said.

It has led to a three-decade career including multiple television shows and now a travelling live show, which Dunn runs alongside Big Brother’s ‘Ben from Brisbane’.

Agro: Up Late started when Dunn and Agro had a resurgence after a YouTube video of Agro’s antics on a Christmas Industry Tape of outtakes hit 4.5 million views.

Dunn was reflective on an earlier time in his Agro career, when his popularity took him to another medium, hitting the airways in the segment ‘Agro to the Rescue’ on hit105’s breakfast show between 1990 and 2005.

In Agro to the Rescue, Agro and Dunn would provide support to families or individuals who needed it most, and in total raised around $11 million for children’s hospitals.

“With the children’s hospitals around Australia there has been some real confronting, honest life moments that you get,” Jamie said.

“We were sweating in the first few months; we didn’t think we would make five thousand.

“There’s been some great moments.

“I think, no matter how evil or difficult [Agro] makes it, in this puppet heart is a heart of gold – which may be a pinch of me and a lot of him.”

Agro: Up Late is running on the 30 October, 2021 at 7:30 pm in the MECC Auditorium, where you’ll find a man underneath a table, holding up a puppet with a cackling audience, and you can purchase your tickets on the MECC website.

Images and story by Declan Durrant

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Time To Get Agro

August 12, 2021

He’s an Australian nineties icon, lovingly referred to as the nation’s naughtiest puppet. He’s interviewed Prime Ministers, high-profile personalities and pop stars, with unforgettable one-liners and puns.

Now Agro is out of the bag, has been dusted off and is on tour to celebrate his 30th birthday with a special ‘adults-only’ night of naughty hilarity.

After 30 years in the business, Agro and “the bald man under the table”, Jamie Dunn are back together, live on stage and headed for Mackay!

Hosted by Big Brother’s ‘Ben from Brisbane’, Agro Up Late is a stroll down memory lane where fans can hear the naughtiest and funniest Aussie showbiz stories behind an accidental puppet that became an Aussie icon.

Part of Agro’s quick wit is what gets him into trouble, but that’s what makes the puppet so popular. As Anne-Maree famously asked, “You know what happens when you get naughty don’t you?”

“Yes, the ratings go up,” Agro quickly replied.

And he’s not wrong.

Agro was hugely popular with kids, but parents and grandparents loved him too.

Cartoon Connection which launched Agro to fame won seven back-to-back Logies. The stage show Agro Up Late is part Q&A and part Cartoon Connection to give audiences a rare look behind the scenes and the opportunity to come face-to-face with an Australian television icon.

It’s definitely only for adults, with Mr Dunn laughing saying “I can guarantee Agro will never make an appearance in children’s television again.”

Agro sprang back into the limelight in recent years after the video ‘Agro Outtakes’ went viral, showing the naughty side of the puppet. The video has since attracted over four million views online and was the catalyst behind Mr Dunn creating the adults-only stage show.

“Who would have thought that old Agro outtakes would have been viewed by more than four million people?” Mr Dunn said in amazement.

Since making a comeback, Agro was seen presenting an award at the ARIAS, guest hosting the mini golf show “Holey Moley” and also becoming the new face of Uber Eats.

One of Agro’s greatest moments was interviewing former Prime Minister, the late Bob Hawke, despite the awkward exchange.

“I’m sure Prime Minister Hawke had been grilled by some of the best, but he was really nervous around Agro,” Mr Dunn said.

“I made it a rule after that, that a puppet shouldn’t interview another puppet.”

Mr Dunn’s favourite interview was with KD Lang.

“She’s not what people would expect,” Mr Dunn said.

“She was a lot of fun and really enjoyed Agro’s character.”

Mr Dunn also said an interview with Jason Donovan was an awkward encounter because he kept looking at Jamie instead of Agro.

“Every time he would look down at me, Agro would say ‘What are you looking at down there?’ and Jason actually replied ‘There’s a man down there,’” Mr Dunn laughed.

And to answer a question that has been on the minds of Agro fans, Mr Dunn confirmed that ‘Vation’ is indeed Agro’s last name. Agro Vation.

Agro performs one show only at Mackay Entertainment Centre on Saturday October 30 with the show now on sale.  Grab your tickets now online or at the box office.

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Mackay In For A ‘Reel’ Treat

July 22, 2021

After disruptions in 2020, Mackay International Film Festival is back with an exciting line-up of one-off screenings for Mackay audiences.

The 9th Mackay International Film Festival kicks off on Saturday night with The Furnace, a new Australian film in the western genre that highlights the forgotten history of outback Ghan cameleers. In this story, a young Afghan (Ahmed Malek) teams up with a mysterious bushman (David Wenham) who holds Crown-marked gold bars. The film will be screened at the Pinnacle Playhouse on Saturday 24th July at 7 pm. Tickets are available online through TryBooking.com (return coach transfers and meal package available for those who want to be driven) or at the door (cash only).

The annual Mackay International Film Festival was launched in 2012 by Film & Arts Mackay (FAM), and this year’s film festival showcases a selection of new productions from across the world that won’t make it to regular Mackay cinemas.

Film & Arts Mackay grew out of the Friends of the Library Society, a group that had been running monthly film nights since the early 1990s. FAM continues to offer independent and arthouse films from across the world in their monthly screening events and annual film festival.

Other films on offer at this year's festival are two multi award-winning gems, Minari, playing on Friday, 30th July, and Another Round playing on Sunday, 1st August at BCC Mt Pleasant.

The opening gala film, Minari is the endearing story of a Korean family settling into regional USA. The film won Golden Globe and BAFTA awards in 2021, as well as Academy Awards for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for Youn Yuh-jung who plays the role of the newly arrived grandmother.

Tickets to the gala event include a post-screening light supper and drinks.

The closing film, Another Round, is a Danish comedy starring Mads Mikkelsen, whose characters drunkenly stumble their way through a social experiment that is bound to go wrong.

Other highlights suggested by FAM President and festival programmer Sally Marsden are the Italian documentary, The Truffle Hunters, a must-see for lovers of good food and Italian countryside; the crowd-pleasing underdog adventure Heroic Losers from Argentina; and Cousins from Aotearoa New Zealand, a moving story about whanau (family) between three estranged Maori cousins.

With some of the sessions predicted to sell out, people are urged to book their tickets online as early as possible. Individual tickets start from $17 (7-movie saver passes are available). Full program and ticket details can be found on FAM’s website filmartsmackay.weebly.com or on their Facebook page.

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Lions Pop Rock Mime Back Again

July 22, 2021

A dance spectacular is headed to Mackay for both primary and secondary schools with the Lions Rock Pop Mime event confirmed for 6:30pm on Saturday 24 July, at the Mackay Entertainment and Convention Centre (MECC)

At least fifteen schools and their pupils have been busy practicing their dancing of all sorts for months in preparation, putting the final touches to their programs before they face off against each other.

Lions Club of Mackay have hosted the event for 35 years, until that streak was broken in 2019 due to COVID-19 restrictions, much to the disappointment of the schools.

Usually hosted outdoors, the well-loved, spectacular event is making its indoor debut at the MECC Plenary Halls.

Sadly, because of the need to go indoors, Lions Club has been forced - for the first time - to charge a nominal fee of $10 per seat, with tickets now available through the MECC Box Office, which you can pick up to support these local artists in training.

Rock Pop Mime attracts a large crowd each year, and this will be particularly the case as we transition this year into this new venue setting.

Each act will be judged on originality and creativity, mime accuracy, movement and coordination, costume, participants’ enjoyment and overall impression.

Mackay Lions Club is extremely excited to be bringing back the Rock Pop Mime this year, and understands that the excitement in schools is enormous too.

The Lions are happy to be providing enjoyment to the community in giving back in a way that they wouldn’t normally do.

It’s a night to come along and enjoy, supporting this spectacular cultural event with some fantastic entertainment.

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Mackay Gets Ready To Rock With The Base Coats EP Launch

July 22, 2021

Mackay Music beware – local band The Base Coats have been plugging away, and are almost ready to release their first Extended Play Record (EP), the self-titled ‘The Base Coats’ on 21 of August at Haunt. The collection features their sizzling vocal powerhouses Swoon and Fez, the dirty bass of The Fox and the genius guitar riffs of Joshy J.

Cheryl Peppin and Andrew Obst, as a duet of Fez and the Fox, joined forces with Angela ‘Swoon’ Smith and Josh ‘Joshy J’ Notting to create the Base Coats back in 2019 to instant success, winning the Regional Passport to Airlie Beach Festival of Music, and now, after a big writing and producing period during COVID, they’re ready to launch their EP.

They’ve slowly been releasing singles off the EP, with Run and Wild Card already out now.

Recorded at Heliport Studios in Buderim, Queensland with the help of producer James Russell, the EP has a gritty edge to it, starting with lyrics that sing from the perspective of the scorned lover.

“We’ve all been there, we’ve all had our hearts trampled and it sucks – there’s nothing more exciting than to write a song about that and get back at those people that did those things,” Cheryl said.

“It’s a therapeutic way to deal with your stuff.”

Backing it is each member of the four-piece band’s unique sound, that combine to craft their own style, with a little inspiration from modern heavy rock like Violent Soho, and the classic blues acts of Gin Wigmore and Larkin Poe – which bring together a sound that’s close to classic Aussie rock, but its own breed as well.

“It was a lot of fun – it’s sort of dirty blues but there’s lots of elements of the Divinyls and Baby Animals,” Joshy J said.

“A little bit of twangy rock-a-billy guitar; we went for a really raw and gritty edge to it – we’re really proud of it.”

It was recorded live and what you hear is what you get – there is no difference between an in-person Base Coats performance and their EP, it’s a real representation of the band’s sound; their comradery, journey and spontaneity a great part of that.

At the launch, local artist Jonte will be performing, and the Base Coats will be filming the film clip for ‘I’ve been there’ – a track on the EP – so everybody who gets a ticket to the launch can be a part of Base Coats history.

Check out their Facebook page to get tickets to their EP launch, or find them on Spotify, Apple Music, iTunes, or Bandcamp and become a Coat Hanger.

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Colourful Friends About To Fly The Coop

July 22, 2021

From the Bluewater Lagoon to the Mackay Showgrounds, locals have noticed some colourful friends perched on the horizons.

Six giant Gouldian Finches, complete with party hats, flew into Mackay last weekend for the Mackay Festival of Arts. But their unusual migration is almost at an end, these fantastic finches will fly the coop on Sunday 25 July.

Take a tour of the CBD this weekend to see them all before they fly away, they are perched atop Artspace Mackay, Bluewater Quay, Bluewater Lagoon, Rydges Mackay, Caneland Central and Mackay Showgrounds.

The work made its world premiere at Brisbane Festival in 2020 when Brisbane Festival artistic director Louise Bezzina commissioned the colourful Messengers of Brisbane installation as a beacon of hope for the city following an extended COVID-19 lockdown.

Mayor Greg Williamson said Louise Bezzina herself was a Mackay export.

“Louise actually used to be the Mackay Festivals coordinator many years ago, so it’s tremendous to be able to connect with her again and secure these amazing artworks for our festival,” Mayor Williamson said.

Ms Bezzina said the giant Gouldian Finches were glorious visual reminders to look up and smile, to experience a moment of joy and to celebrate.

“The Messengers will not only inspire and invigorate regional communities but will help bring locals and visitors to regions that are emerging from the interruptions of COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions,” she said.

The captivating artwork was created by internationally renowned visual artist Florentijn Hofman.

Based in The Netherlands, Mr Hofman worked with Brisbane’s UAP (Urban Art Projects) to bring his concept and designs to life for the major commission.

“This work breathes hope for better days. It symbolises celebrating life and being positive... especially during this period,” Hofman said.

Once found across northern Australia in their millions, in recent decades the population of the Gouldian Finch has declined dramatically to an estimated 2500 mature individuals.  It’s hoped that these installations will help to raise the profile of this declining species. For more information, head to australianwildlife.org/wildlife/gouldian-finch/

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Shooting Stars In Mackay Radio

July 15, 2021

Image: The Star 101.9 radio team celebrated becoming the region’s number one radio station and breakfast show.

Breakfast show host Rachel Zonta with newborn daughter, Aubree

The survey results are in and a Mackay radio station is ecstatic with the news that they have shot to the number one spot across multiple categories in the radio ratings.

Star 101.9 claimed the coveted top spot, named the most listened to radio station in Mackay and the Whitsundays with Grant Broadcasters reporting that 45,900 listeners tune in each week.

Star’s General Manager, Paul O’Connor said, “I’m overjoyed with the result.

“The team have executed our leaders in local strategy flawlessly and now they can enjoy the rewards,” Mr O’Connor said.

Grant Broadcasters reported that their Star breakfast show increased their result from a 16.6% in 2019 to become the outright number one show on a 21.3% 10+ and that the show is also number one in the 25-54 demographic with a 25.5%.

The breakfast team is made up of Sam Blacker and Rachel Zonta, who is currently on maternity leave, and Kayley Baker who is filling in for Rachel.

Sam said they were incredibly grateful to their listeners and to their management team.

“We’re so pleased we could repay the faith placed in us by the management at Star with a number one result today” said Mr Blacker.

The Mackay and Whitsunday Life team would also like to extend congratulations to Ms Zonta, who welcomed her daughter, Aubree, to the world on 23 June, 2021.

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Mackay Music Watch Out

July 1, 2021

Mackay’s pop future is looking bright with Jonte Tupaea, the young top pop talent broke onto the scene with the release of his debut EP ‘Experiences’ last week.

The Year 11 Mackay State High School student can’t wait for the world to hear his finest works to date, all in one place.

The EP was recorded with Jonte’s producer Josh Beattie down in the Gold Coast and the tracks combine hooks and instrumental with themes of the teenage experience; love, loss, the highs and lows of friendships and all of the struggles of growing up.

At just 16, Jonte is a prodigy, having performed at Airlie Beach Music Festival, and has received two RADF grants for his music production.

He won the Fast Track To Fame Award from ‘Fast Track Talent Showcase’, and has locked in the opportunity to open for Isaiah at the MECC later this year.

It has been an incredible journey for Jonte, and he was proud of being so close releasing his first album after a life-long love affair with singing.

“I grew up with music, ever since I was little, my family would have parties and big sing alongs– since I was four, wherever I could, I would be singing,” Jonte said.

“It’s so nerve wracking releasing a song and my favourite part is seeing the feedback, as well as my friends, family and all these people listening to it all the time.

Jonte’s first two singles were released back in 2020, and with this EP he’s bringing those songs together, with two new songs: ‘Love Hate Relationship’ and ‘Lay Me Down’.

“These next two songs: one of them is really mellow and the other is sad, piano ballad – they show the aspects of me as an artist.

“For someone just starting out as an artist, I’m still trying to find my sound and I’m excited for everyone to be on that journey with me.”

“Listening to these songs, the EP is based off my life experiences and it’s a whole rollercoaster, from a happy song to sad song and I love all of them.

“It is surreal and I’ve been dying to listen to the whole thing all at once on the distribution platforms.

Jonte’s plans are to keep gaining experience, and one he finishes Year 12, he hopes to head to Melbourne to accelerate his musical talent and career.

You can find Experiences on iTunes, Spotify, Apple Music and anywhere you get your music. Stay tuned for the physical launch that Jonte has planned for later in the year.

“I’ve got some big-gigs coming up in Brisbane: Big Sound and hopefully Buskers by the Lake.”

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Next Stop: Avenue Q

June 24, 2021

After SOLD OUT performances of their hit stage show of Mamma Mia, Mackay Musical Comedy Players are backing up with a hilarious new act.

The adult comedy Avenue Q is set to be on stage this September, with an impressive lineup of local talent already cast for lead roles.

Actors and actresses were told they would need to practice with a sock puppet before their audition, so this performance is already shaping up to be a unique experience.

“In Avenue Q, the puppeteers are on full display for the audience,” Director Vicky said.

“Actors' facial expressions will need to be in line with that of the puppet, so the audience will be experiencing both at the same time.

“Most of the puppets are American, so actors will need to practice their accents.”

Keep an eye out on Mackay Musical Comedy Players’ Facebook page for updates.

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You Woodn’t Believe What You’ll Find At The Expo

June 24, 2021

Caption: Neville Ruddel finishing a Lazy Susan for the Mackay Woodturners Craft Expo raffle.

One of the best things about the art of woodturning is giving a beautiful piece of nature a second life.

The Mackay Woodturners Association is holding its annual Expo, made all the more special this year since COVID-19 prevented it from running last year.

The Expo has something for everyone, whether you’re interested in taking up the skill as a hobby or you’re wanting a unique gift made from wood. There will be examples of woodturning, scroll sawing, intarsia, wood carving and pyrography. Purchase a unique gift or enter the raffle.

The Woodturners Association meets regularly, every Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday mornings from 8am until 12pm.

Woodturners Expo

Snow Wright Court (Opposite the Wakeboarding, near the BMX club)

Saturday 10 and Sunday 11 July

9am – 3pm

FREE ENTRY

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Let Tutti Entertain You

June 24, 2021

Caption: All-female vocal ensemble Tutti is performing at the Conservatorium of Music next month.

Local vocal ensemble Tutti is proud to present “Swing and Song” this July at the Conservatorium of Music Mackay.

But who is Tutti?

Tutti is an all-female vocal ensemble under the direction of Jan Whelan. Jan is known around town not only for her work with the Mackay Choral Society and Mackay Musical Comedy Players but also her accompanying work with soloists, school choirs and music ministries. Jan started the ensemble back in 2002 as a small ensemble and trio and quartets.

Over the years many vocalists have graced the stage all over North Queensland under the name Tutti.

The ensemble has competed several times in competitions across Queensland and have been described by several leading adjudicators as “spectacular” and “glamorous”.

Current vocalists of the group include some well- known members in the community, performers, teachers and key members of other performing groups.  All the members of the group have some knowledge and expertise in different music styles and the delectable combination of these voices is purely stunning. The program is filled with luscious harmonies and different song genres including swing, latin, ballads and folk.

Swing and Song also includes guest artist Belinda Rooney on flute. There is something for everyone.

Tutti is excited and thrilled to present Swing and Song to Mackay audiences on July 3rd and 4th at the Conservatorium of Music Mackay.

Tickets can be purchased through try booking http://www.trybooking.com/BOYEI

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Constant Creek Croc Doesn’t Do Yoga

June 17, 2021

Michelle Wilson’s debut children’s book ‘Crocs Don’t Do Yoga’ started out on the muddy banks of Constant Creek, north of Mackay, with one of Australia’s most famous crocodiles.

Michelle had been out fishing with her daughter, Summer, and had heard tell of a big croc that was often seen lazily sleeping on the shore of the creek, and she immediately came up with a name: Connie the Croc from Constant Creek, who would become the main character of her children’s book.

Later on, Michelle saw her mum and her daughter playing a game where they pretended to be crocodiles snapping at each other and the idea grew from there.

That was how the book was born, and Michelle started the writing process over a year ago as she worked part time as a primary school teacher.

“I thought at the time that there weren’t enough picture books in the market for country kids; it was important for me that the pictures were accurate of Constant Creek and the mangroves,” Michelle said.

“It was inspired by our local environment and the beauty of those mangroves – I really wanted to give regional Queensland a voice.”

Connie the Croc is the main character of Michelle’s book, and she certainly has a couple things in common with her real-life counterpart.

“[Mackay locals] love hearing about the crocodile, and I’d love to hear people start calling it Connie!”

Connie is lively, to say the least, and she has trouble controlling her emotions, but luckily some more mindful creek dwelling creatures, like the humble yabby, have a simple solution to keep her calm and happy: yoga.

“She’s just a bit sassy – so that’s why she’s still friends with the other animals in the creek; we can all be a bit of a Connie, it’s nice that the other creatures are friends with her and want to help her with tools and ways to be calmer,” Michelle said.

Michelle is going to be back in Mackay to officially launch the book, which has been sold since late May by new publishing group Larrikin House, who she thanked greatly for the opportunity they’ve been giving new writers.

“It’s a book for Mackay and I’m going to come up and do a launch at Let The Children Play Toyshop in Mackay on the 13th of July; I do plan on visiting the schools in the area as well to share the story.”

It’s being sold online by Booktopia and at bookstores around Mackay, including the Let The Children Play Toyshop.

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Bonded Like Brothers - Ten Tenors On Tour To Mackay

June 17, 2021

World-famous Australian export The Ten Tenors will be playing at the Mackay Entertainment and Convention Centre on 8 July, as part of their 25th anniversary tour.

The Tenors started all the way back in 1995 as a celebration of Channel 10, and this concert tour will be a celebration of one of Australia’s longest running and most enduring musical groups.

They started as a one-night-only group of men from the Queensland Conservatory, who got together; it was too good a thing to do just once, and they started touring in Queensland, for several years.

The rest, as they say, is history.

They’ve come a long way since their first performance, where they had a repertoire of only four songs – and they have lots of stories to tell from over the years.

“The camaraderie and feeling of being a Tenor can be likened to the combination of the best parts of a strong family bond and a secret society rolled into one,” said producer and long-time manager of The Ten Tenors D-J Wendt.

“I think that’s why the group has gone from strength to strength over the past 25 years.”

The Ten Tenors are itching to reconnect with old fans and new with a show that revisits the full history of the group’s catalogue of 15 albums and over 4000 live performances.

“We haven’t been all together since we said goodbye to each other in Brazil on March 17, 2020. We are ecstatic about the idea of doing shows again, especially to celebrate our 25th anniversary,” said long-serving Tenor Jared Newall.

“I’m amped; I’m ready to get back out there and start doing shows.”

Jared and the band were so excited to be back in Australia, after spending their previous tour – over 15 months ago – in America before the enormous hiatus.

“The crowds are incredible, and we get such a great hometown reception; even the style of touring is quite different.

“When we get to do shows in Australia – I don’t want to say that we work extra hard, because we always give it our all – but we definitely don’t take it for granted; we give it everything we’ve got.

This 25th anniversary tour is a blessing for fans across Australia – and a much-anticipated return to the stage for the group.

“We know we have to earn it every single night; we’re going to be savouring each and every show.”

Tickets available via www.thetentenors.com, get them before they sell out!

WIN - TICKETS TO SEE THE TEN TENORS LIVE IN MACKAY

Mackay and Whitsunday Life has 4 tickets to give away to a lucky reader to see the Ten Tenors in Mackay at the MECC!

Keep an eye on the Mackay and Whitsunday Life Facebook Page this week to enter the draw.

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Open Day Fun With Fair Rides And Fireworks

June 11, 2021

Clowns, superheroes, carnival rides and educational information. These were a few of the highlights at Mackay Christian College’s 2021 Open Day.

Choosing the right school for your child is one of the most important parenting decisions you can make. Mackay Christian College understand this, which is why its open day is such a success. As well as the opportunity to introduce children to a school in a fun way, it provides a variety of displays showcasing what MCC has to offer students.

Tish Scholtz from MCC said that the children most enjoyed the fairground rides and fun activities, but that the day was a success with a great turnout.

“There was a great selection of stalls, and visitors could feast from a variety of food vendors.

“MCC's Creative Academy delivered live music on the outdoor stage to show parents the variety of music on offer at MCC.

“There were also performances previewing our upcoming "Matilda the Musical", Mrs Scholtz said.

The Open Day concluded with a spectacular fireworks display.

“Our Open Day would not be a success without the hard work from the MCC staff, community support, and local Mackay business sponsorship.

“We look forward to seeing you at Open Day 2022.”

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Ladies - Pull Out Your Plush PJ’s

May 27, 2021

After last year’s successful fundraising event, the ladies of Soroptimist International of Mackay are at it again with their second Big Girls Pajama Party!

“We asked the ladies who attended last year and they all had a wonderful evening hanging out in their pjs watching a movie on the big screen so we thought why not do it again?”, says Soroptimist President, Kirsty Mawer.

“We’re lucky to have been able to secure the movie ‘The United States vs Billie Holiday’ - it’s based on a true story and showcases how one woman didn’t give up on her dreams despite all the obstacles in her way,” Mawer explains.

“This event is the perfect opportunity to gather some ladies, don your pj’s and relax. The best part? Knowing that money raised from the ticket sales goes toward local community projects,” she said.

Despite the challenges of Covid, the members of Soroptimist International of Mackay have been busy with their projects and programs all while learning to adapt and change to the needs of the community.

“We’re very keen to keep up the community service so this event will be something fun that women can get behind. Sometimes we all just need a night out with our friends to catch up and connect.”

The exclusive screening of “The United States vs Billie Holiday” will be on Saturday, 29 May from 7pm. Tickets are $33 per person and can be booked online only at www.trybooking.com/BRISZ

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STORIES COME TO LIFE WITH STORYTELLER’S MAGICAL TOUR

May 27, 2021

Mackay storyteller Roslyn Campbell is performing a series of puppet shows at libraries and venues across the Isaac region until Friday 18 June 2021.

Featuring dancing hands and realistic puppets the shows are part of the popular First 5 Forever program and sure to be a hit with our region’s younger residents.

Isaac Regional Council Mayor Anne Baker said First 5 Forever is about supporting parents to be their child’s first and most important educator.

“We are very excited to be welcoming Roslyn Campbell to the Isaac region and to offer her story time events to our young residents,” Mayor Baker said.

“The First 5 Forever initiative is about empowering parents to connect with their children through reading, playing and learning. Roslyn’s story time events, along with her use of puppets and costumes will educate and entertain.”

This is a free event for Isaac residents and registration is essential. For more information on dates and times and to secure your spot, visit https://speakup.isaac.qld.gov.au/storyteller-tour

A partnership between the State Library of Queensland, the Queensland Government and 74 Queensland Local Governments, the First 5 Forever initiative is largely delivered through local public libraries and Indigenous Knowledge Centres.

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Event's Guide

May 27, 2021

Friday May 28

MAD Mountain Bike Classic

Rowallan Park, Farleigh

The MAD Mountain Bike Classic will be held at Rowallan Park where competitors can ride the rock gardens, dodge the bush turkeys, and enjoy the lush rainforest.

Friday, May 28, to Sunday, May 30

A Taste of Ireland

MECC Auditorium    

Hot off its premiere New York City run in 2020 and with over 120 shows in 2019 across Australia and New Zealand, ‘A Taste of Ireland - The Irish Music & Dance Sensation’ finally returns down under. Book at https://bit.ly/3y7NLXr

7.30pm

Piano for beginners

Gordon White Library  

Explore the magic of music! This mini workshop is perfect for beginners and will introduce you to the fundamentals of piano in a relaxed environment. Keyboards will be provided for use during the class. Book your spot at https://bit.ly/3ybFFgj

1.30pm to 2pm  

Saturday May 29

TAB AMATEURS RACE DAY – FUN | FASHION | FILLIES.  

Mackay Turf Club

Luke Geiger Duo, FREE Photobooth, Fashions on the Field, Buses to MOJOs afterparty. General admission from $20 pp online. Book at mackaytickets.com.au.

From 11am

‘Botanica 2021’ Flora in Fauna exhibition

On display until Sunday, June 27

Lagoons Café, Mackay Regional Botanic Gardens

The artists of Mackay’s Botanical Art Interest Group present some of their encounters with ‘fauna in the flora’ in diverse artworks.

Kucom Theatre

CLUB NIGHT

Your opportunity to try theatre in a welcoming environment.

From 7pm

Artspace exhibitions

Leigh Schoenheirmer: Iterate | Elaborate

Donna Maree Robinson & David Pyke: Continuum

Tension(s) 2020: Tamworth Textile Triennial

Open now until Sunday, July 25

Monday May 31

Reconciliation Week Screening

The Emu Runner (M)

Dudley Denny City Library

Join us for our special screenings that will leave you thinking about how we can create a nation strengthened by respectful relationships between the wider Australian community and

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. For adults aged 18+. Book your spot at https://bit.ly/3vdbFPD

1pm to 2.30pm

Tuesday June 01

The Midnight Gang, DBCT Theatre Season

The MECC, Auditorium

The team behind The 13-, 26-, 52-, 78- and 91-Storey Treehouses, Mr. Stink and Billionaire Boy bring David Walliams’ bestselling book to life on stage, in a celebration of friendship, love and the power of the imagination for children 6+ and their families. Tickets on sale at https://bit.ly/3hClySI

6pm – and Wednesday, June 2, at 9.30am and 12.30pm

Wednesday June 02

Greater Whitsundays Farmers’ Market

Bluewater Quay

The market is a showcase our region’s amazing produce direct from the farmer.

7am-11am

Thursday June 03

Reconciliation Week Screening

The Spear (M)

Dudley Denny City Library

This story follows a young Aboriginal, Djali, as he journeys through his community to understand what it means to be a man with ancient traditions in a modern world. For adults aged 18+. Book your spot at https://bit.ly/3wigwPm

5pm to 6.30pm

Wonderland Spiegeltent Festival Hub

Popcorn Underground

Welcome to the immersive world of Popcorn Underground starring the obscenely intelligent, beautifully filthy and rib-crackingly funny Reuben Kaye in an explosion of high camp and filthy humour. Reuben Kaye is an international star, actress, model and award-winning cry for help with his band The Kaye Holes. The creme de la creme of the cabaret world. A magical experience!

Thursday, June 3 until 13 – Various times

Friday June 04

Grandparents Support Group

Northside Uniting Church – Bedford Rd.

A support group for grandparents helping to raise or look after their grandchildren.

Bring your own craft or simply enjoy afternoon tea. For more information contact Annette - 0423092357 or at suttonannette@hotmail.com.

Afternoon tea from 1:30pm

Akmal

Friday, June 5, at 6.30pm

Akmal returns with an hour of hilarious, unfiltered stand-up comedy. Come and witness one of Australia's best comedians in full flight!

To book visit https://www.wonderlandspiegeltent.com.au/mackay

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Do You Know What A Group Of Cats Is Called?

May 27, 2021

If you do, then book your tickets now to the first ever Alligator Creek State School Trivia Night.

Vie to become the school’s first trivia master while raising money for a great cause. Thanks to the major sponsor, Dalrymple Bay Coal Terminal, first prize for the winning table is $1000!

The P&C are chasing a goal of $30,000 to resurface the school’s top carpark, currently more of a dustbowl than a safe place to pick up and drop off the kids. The trivia night is one of their main fundraisers for the year.

You can book a table of 8 or an individual ticket - Tickets are $20 per person (that includes table nibbles) and are on sale now at www.eventbrite.com.au (just search Alligator Creek State School or Trivia Night).

Dinner is sorted with the Rotary Club of Sarina cooking their delicious BBQ Burgers, Sarina Community Bank Branch Bendigo Bank are running the bar and there will be delicious desserts provided by the parents and carer’s of the school.

Plus, plenty of other prizes and giveaways and wonderful raffle thanks to NewsXpress Sarina.

This is an 18 plus event.

Book your tickets now or just come along on the night to buy a ticket at the door, you’re in for a great Saturday night of fun, food and trivia!

For more details email pandc@alligatorcreekss.eq.edu.au or call Ange on 0428 719 318

Oh, a group of cats is a clowder!

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Sarina Teeming With Artistic Talent

May 27, 2021

Pretty creations for young girls are the last thing you’d expect from a driver of one of Mackay’s massive export coal trains.

But that’s exactly what Toni Gascoyne is making in her spare time when she’s not in charge of one of the huge trains which deliver thousands of tonnes of coal to our ports.

“I call them hair pretties,” she said.

“I use lots of ribbons, sparkles, and glitter. I love to create them in many different colours so they are eye-catching. I design them, do all the preparations and put them together myself by hand.

“They are all pretty much unique.”

Toni used to do various crafts but now concentrates on her young girls’ creations with a sideline into an unusual musical instrument – a three-stringed guitar.

“It’s called a cigar box guitar. Originally they were made from cigar boxes, and other junkyard style pieces. I’ve got a couple and I’m putting some together. It sounds just like a guitar, but I don’t play very well yet.”

Another talented Sarina artist is gaining international attention.

Kathy Murray has been displaying her artwork and jewellery at the Sarina Arts and Crafts Centre for some time, and has recently added a series of new paintings and sketches.

She said the new works had proved popular with tourists visiting the centre, and she had sold several to international visitors.

The works are available in various sizes from postcard upwards to suit a variety of purposes.

Kathy is one of about 70 crafters displaying their works at the centre, which is open seven days a week 10-3 Monday to Friday and 10-1 weekends.

By Charlie Payne

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Catch Bella’s Live Gig Before She Heads On Tour

May 27, 2021

Homegrown talent doesn’t come much brighter than 16-year-old Bella Mackenzie.

She is about to embark on a regional Queensland tour, giving fans and lovers of live music the opportunity to see her perform here in Mackay before she hits the road.

Bella released her second single last month, ‘Ain’t For You’ which she used gig money for to cover the production costs. The making of the single was partly funded by the RADF program by the Mackay Regional Council and the rest she paid for herself, which is no easy feat considering she’s still at school.

Bella’s unique upbringing inspired her to pursue her passion for singing and songwriting.

Growing up at her family’s hotel The Black Nugget in Moranbah, Bella said that seeing a diverse range of musicians performing live music every weekend motivated and inspired her.

“We had lots of local entertainers and touring music acts come through the hotel, which I would listen to, watch and sometimes join them up on stage. Entertaining people and making them happy was ingrained into me from a young age,” Bella said.

It’s hard to fathom this musician is only 16 when you see her impressive resume of stars she has performed with and events she has sung at. She wowed hundreds of people at the MECC earlier this year at the Australia Day Awards, as part of the entertainment alongside country music legend Graeme Connors. She was also a nominee of an Australia Day Award that night.

Bella’s ticketed event is being hosted by the Seabreeze Hotel who have encouraged the young artist to reach for the stars. This is Mackay’s best chance to see Bella perform before she hits the big time and is lured to the bright lights of a big city.

She will be backed by a full band who will join Bella in performing a host of her original songs.

She says the performance is a chance to give back to the local music community who have embraced and nurtured her passion for performing.

“This show means jobs for the supporting act, band and sound crew, the businesses setting up lighting and equipment and to give local hospitality a boost. Gigs like this are important to nurture new talent while renewing Mackay’s live music scene.”

Bella is passionate about supporting local businesses and giving local tourism exposure. The video which is getting airplay on the CMT Music Channel was filmed in Mackay by locals.

Bella has won a host of awards for her musical talent and songwriting skills across Australia and internationally. Her most recent award was to be named in the Highly Commended category at the 2021 Queensland Music Awards and she was also named the Overall Junior winner of the Charters Towers Country Music Festival for the second year running.

Her ticketed event at the Seabreeze hotel on 12 June caps off a busy month for Bella, who toured with Toyota Australia Starmaker winner, Sammy White and Brooke Schubert; and she also opened the party at the Nebo Rodeo.

Event Details

12 June – Seabreeze Hotel – Lamberts Beach

Tickets are $20 adult and $10 student (family friendly event) and can be purchased from Bella’s website: www.bellamackenzie.com.au

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It’s Back! Talent Galore To Perform At Festival Of Arts

May 20, 2021

No one should be belting out “What about me?” once they get a “Bo Peep” at the official Mackay Festival of Arts program.  

Instead, leave that to the experts – the Festivals team have announced Shannon Noll will be rocking this year’s G&S Engineering Wine and Food Festival and Festival Club After Party.

Mayor Greg Williamson said the 2021 Mackay Festival of Arts had it all – rock and roll; jazz; disco; opera; acrobatics; gigantic, illuminated puppets; tuk tuks; a world premiere musical; an X Factor winner; giant Gouldian finches and much more.

“This festival is the celebration of local talent, culture, colour, music and food we all need in 2021,” Mayor Williamson said.

“And it might well be one of the most exciting and diverse festivals the team have delivered,” he said.

“For the young, and young at heart, we’ve locked in Shaun the Sheep’s Circus Show, Charlotte’s Web and some fun silent disco tours complete with a funky ‘disco guru’ tour guide.

“As for musical talent, the program is alive with it – from X Factor winner Isaiah Firebrace to the Aussie pub rock icon that is ‘Nollsy’.

The Mayor also said for those who like their music in the theatre, there’s the all-local creation Heading North, the Joel Bow production featuring the writing of S.K. Munt and music of Graeme Connors.

“And Opera Australia is presenting Bizet’s Carmen, complete with thrilling Spanish colour and rhythms, amazing sets and vintage-inspired costumes,” he added.

“With Shannon Noll headlining the line-up of 13 tremendous musical acts, this year’s event will undoubtably be a standout and a great 20-year milestone.”

Of course, DBCT Illuminate is also back!

The Mayor said installation 4.0 would be spellbinding in its new venue along the Bluewater Trail.

“It will be our most interactive DBCT Illuminate yet and will feature ‘String Symphony’, a giant illuminated puppet, hand-woven using more than a kilometre of rope,” he said.

Grab a hardcopy festival program from the Box Office or check it out online at themecc.com.au/festivals

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