Whitsunday Region Community News

New Indigenous Animation  Shares Creation Story Of The Reef

New Indigenous Animation Shares Creation Story Of The Reef

Passionate Indigenous owner, Robbie Congoo, is proud to release his self-funded 3.5-minute animated film about the creation of the Whitsunday Islands and the Great Barrier Reef. For the past year, the project has been underway, and the completed animation is now showing as a ‘Ngaro Dreaming Story’ video on Cruise Whitsundays tours. Robbie hopes the film not only opens eyes to Indigenous culture and history, but also encourages people to protect the local environment.

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Editors Note

Editors Note

Hi Everyone, One of my favourite parts of the job is meeting people who are so passionate about their mission in life that their energy is inspiring to be around. Their story is so engaging and meaningful that you can’t help but feel passionate right there alongside them. This happened to me earlier this week when I met Robbie Congoo, a proud Indigenous man who has just released an animated short film about local cultural history. I remember coming to Australia as a backpacker 20 years ago

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Community Rallies For Flood Affect NQ

Community Rallies For Flood Affect NQ

Upon hearing of the devastating effects of the flooding in North Queensland, following Ex-Tropical Cyclone Jasper, local business owners Jen and Beth Walters of Cartridge Universe Whitsunday, decided to rally the community together to provide necessary supplies to small communities. “We became aware of the state of Rossville and surrounds when our friend, Dave Charlton, put the call out for any donations to travel up with him on 22nd December 2023,” Beth explained. In December, Jen and Beth w

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Independent Inquiry Launched For ADF Helicopter Crash

Independent Inquiry Launched For ADF Helicopter Crash

An Independent Inquiry has been launched to investigate the fatal helicopter crash of an Australian Defence Force helicopter, which killed four Defence personnel. The ADF helicopter, the MRH-90 Taipan helicopter was undertaking training exercises in the Whitsundays as part as Exercise Talisman Sabre 2023, when it experienced catastrophic failure and crashed into waters near Lindeman Island, in July 2023. The four Defence personnel onboard, Captain Danniel Lyon, Lieutenant Maxwell Nugent, Warra

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Early Voting Opens

February 29, 2024

Early voting officially opens on Monday March 4, for voters wishing to escape the hectic polling booths on Saturday March 16.

Here are the locations to vote early in the region:


Shop 15 of Whitsunday Shopping Centre


Proserpine Whitsunday Freemason Lodge


Collinsville Community Centre


Bowen PCYC

All sites are open Monday March 4 to Friday March 15 (excluding weekends) from 9am to 5pm

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Fogerty Gets The Boot

February 29, 2024

The upcoming Country Fest Queensland, a North Queensland country music festival due to be held in Bloomsbury later this month announced this week that headlining act, John Fogerty will no longer be playing at the festival.

Event organisers released a statement saying John Fogerty will “no longer be attending Country Fest QLD.”

“We are working hard on a revised line up and will have more information coming soon,” the official statement on the events Facebook explained.

However, the Credence Clearwater Rival star John Fogerty released an opposing statement.

“I was ready to celebrate with you all for my one and only show this year in Australia, when Country Fest Queensland blindsided me yesterday by cancelling my appearance,” John explained.

“It was posted that I would not be appearing due to unforeseen circumstances.

“Well, I can tell you, my friends, I was not the reason for the ‘unforeseen circumstances’,” John continued.

“I was ready to come down there and excited to celebrate getting my songs back with you all.”

A fan commented on Country Fest’s Facebook page speculating that the event organisers could not afford to have the star attend while others are still committed to the event without John.

“Was going to the event no matter who was playing,” one comment explained.

“Rain, John or shine, I’ll be there!” said another.  

The event still boasts other big names such as The Wolfe Brothers, Morgan Evans and Lee Kernaghan.

Country Fest QLD explains that for ticket holders wishing for a refund due to the non-appearance of John Fogerty, that Oztix will contact all ticket holder via email for refund options.

Country Fest QLD is scheduled for Saturday and Sunday, March 30 and 31, at Bloomsbury.

John Fogerty has been removed from the line up of 2024 Country Fest QLD. Photo supplied

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Big Stories For The Region’s Youngest

February 29, 2024

A joint venture between Proserpine State High School and Whitsunday Shire Family Day Care (WFDC) has seen the creation of a new ‘The Whitsundays: Our Home, Your Adventures’ novel.

The idea came from the team of WFDC, as a way to celebrate the region, the community’s identity, and incorporate iconic landmarks in a children’s book.

“Our goal was to capture the unique charm of the region and involve the children in the process,” explained Amanda Brett, Coordinator with Whitsunday Shire Family Day Care.

“Collaborative efforts among Educators, children and students aimed to showcase not just physical landmarks but also the essence of the community. The grant facilitated the production of a high-quality book, serving as a keepsake for families and a source of community pride.”

Spanning over 18 months, from the initial concept to the point of publication and distribution, WFDC are now eager to spread the news of the project.

“The children at Whitsunday Shire Family Day Care are mostly under five and loved the project,” Kylie Smith, Coordinator with WFDC explained.

“They had a wonderful time learning about local animals and doing fun crafts with their Educators. Even though they didn't fully grasp the final product concept, their excitement peaked when they saw the book.

“Finding the animals they created in the book made them really excited. The project went from a learning experience to amazement for the children when they discovered their creations in the colourful pages.”

Year 12 student Alice Attwood worked closely with the students of WFDC.

“I think the book is a great idea and opportunity for the community to collaborate for kids to see different art textures and mediums. It will be great to show the book to our own children one day.”

Don McDermid, Principal of Proserpine State High School, is excited with the project.

“It has been such an incredible opportunity for our school,” he said. 

“Our students showed such excitement and enthusiasm through their work and appreciated the chance to demonstrate their artistic skill, interest in child care and ultimately their love of our Whitsunday Region,” he explained.

“It been an absolute privilege to work with Amanda and Kylie on the book release.”

The books are available for purchase for $20 each from the WFDC office, at 18B Chapman Street, Proserpine.

Back: Teacher Bhrett Bell, students Isabella Grenci, Sienna Thomson, Amelia Brain, Arthina Straker, Lilly Tarver, Emily Vique, former Teacher Tia Attwood, student Sophie Whish, Whitsunday Shire Family Daycare staff Kylie Smith and Amanda Brett.

Front: Students Alice Attwood, Millie Groom, Lexi Di Benedetto, Ella Williams, and Flynn Squires.

Absent: Students Ellizay Brett, Gabby Beach, Demi Vardanega, Alessa Penglase, Preis Boileau, Courtney Beard, Anaiyah James-Hankin, Jahla Thompson, Belamy Poles, Dominick James-Johnson, Zanthia Brimble-Jacobi, Olivia Whibley, Giselle Tronc, Jordan Welsh, and Natalie Cooper. Photo supplied

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New Grant For Whitsunday Foodbank

February 29, 2024

The Whitsunday Foodbank in Proserpine is welcoming a grant from the 2024 Ergon-Energex Community Fund.

The generous grant of $4,500 has already been allocated for the purchase of a new freezer for the not-for-profit venture, to allow community members to access frozen grocery items.

Chairman of the Board for Whitsunday Foodbank, Jeff Boyle, welcomes the gift.

“Our previous freezer has just died, and being able to replace it so quickly is great,” he explained.

“Our previous freezer was a classic chest freezer, which a lot of our customers overlooked.

“The new one is an upright, two-door freezer with glass panels, so that customers can see exactly what is in the freezer without having to rummage through a big chest freezer.

“It means they can see when we have steaks, or a chook, or meatballs in there without too much hassle.”

Expecting the delivery of the new freezer in the next few weeks, Jeff is eager to stock it full for the Foodbank customers.

“We see between 30 to 40 local residents shop at the Foodbank each week, and being able to better our offering is great.”

The items at the Foodbank are at greatly reduced prices, compared to main chain grocery stores, and are available for pension and healthcare card holders.

“And any families in need,” Jeff explained.

“The cost of the items covers the bare essentials of the shop, that being rent and electricity.

“This isn’t about profit but helping the community.”

The official opening of the Whitsunday Foodbank Proserpine, with Member for Whitsundays Amanda Camm, Member for Dawson Andrew Willcox, and Chairman Jeff Boyle. Photo supplied

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The Diamond Of Whitsundays On New York Bill Board

February 29, 2024

Since she was three years old, Roze has passionately pursued her dream of becoming a fashion model and she finally realised this dream when she appeared on a billboard during New York Fashion Week recently.

Answering a callout by former locals Belle Le Chic, Roze’s mum Katrina put Roze forward as a model to showcase Belle Le Chic’s new collection, the Goddess Collection.

In the two-day shoot, Roze was sure that photographer, Alexis Turner, knew her good side, and posed perfectly, the hope of appearing on a New York Times Square Billboard present on her mind.

“We knew that some of the models would appear on the New York Times Square Billboard, and then we were sent the picture, and it was amazing,” explained Katrina.

“Roze squealed, she was so excited.”

Roze’s commitment to her modelling career started when she stumbled across modelling videos, and just a year later, Katrina enrolled her in Brooke Lee Modelling lessons to help her perfect her craft and expand her skills.

“She is obsessed with the entire process. She knows her poses, her angles. Roze loves playing with makeup and practicing her runway walk,” Katrina explained.

Along with the Times Square Billboard, the Belle Le Chic dress she was modelling was named after her, a gorgeous gown which now is proudly displayed in their family home.

“We’re all so proud of Roze. It all comes from her, and we’re happy she is doing something she loves.”

Living on a property, Katrina explained that Roze lives the best of both worlds.

“She does her modelling, with the makeup and the hair, but at home, she’s a bit of a tomboy. She rides her motorbike, catches crabs, and works with her brothers. She loves it all.”

Progressing her modelling career, Roze will make appearances at the Cairns Fashion Week runway, and the Mackay Wedding Expo, sure to model gowns beautifully and with perfect confidence.

  1. Roze modelling the Belle Le Chic Roze Gown. Photographer: Alexis Turner Photography

   2. Roze on the New York Times Square Bill Board. Photo supplied

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Council Overrules Body Corp At Residential Estate

February 29, 2024

Whitsunday Regional Council has set a new precedent, overruling Botanica Estate’s governing body and body corporation recommendation, by approving an owner’s application for their property to be a short term accommodation listing.

Botanica Estate is a gated, residential community, with 48 residential lots.

Managed by Whitsunday Body Corp Management and the Botanica Body Corporate Committee (BCC), the committee opposed the application, on the grounds of personal safety, residential amenity and precedent.

“While a body corporate cannot enforce the council’s requirements, it can complain to council about the lack of compliance with the planning approval,” BCC’s official opposing statement detailed, in a letter submitted to Council.

“As Whitsunday Regional Council has local planning laws that are specific in terms of short-term occupancy rights, the Botanica Estate Body Corporate seeks to prohibit short-term letting through engaging the council to enforce its own planning laws.

Councillors Clay Bauman and Jan Clifford opposed this application.

“I believe that people have the right to enjoyment of their property, particularly in a gated community,” Cr Clifford explained.

“If we approve this, this will become another residential estate that is full of short term accommodation dwellings,” Cr Bauman said.

While Major Julie Hall explained her opinion on not supporting the application, citing that the Council’s proposed Local Law will need to further investigate such matters in the next Council term, however, in this case, it is not worth fighting when the Lot owners take Council to court.

“This will cost ratepayers money, fighting this in court,” Mayor Hall explained.

“Our current policy and planning do not allow us to select areas for these applications, so I suggest that the new Council look into establishing a short-term accommodation precinct, to better manage and decide applications.”

Two of the 48 lots in the Botanica Estate are already approved short term accommodation dwellings.

This application was approved by Council at their Ordinary Meeting on Wednesday, with a four against two vote.

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Proserpine Lions Youth Of The Year Winner Awarded

February 29, 2024

Three Proserpine youth have spoken their heart out, at the annual Proserpine Lions Youth of the Year competition.

The Lions Youth of the Year was created to enable and encourage student to take an interest in leadership, providing the opportunity to take an active and constructive role in their community.

The Youth of the Year Final includes one prepared speech, on the topic of their choosing, and two impromptu speeches.

The three youth at the Proserpine Youth of the Year embody community spirit and positive leadership.

Alice Pinni is a Year 12 student from Proserpine State High School, a current school captain and heavily involved in sports, arts, and culture, with aspirations of pursing a career in healthcare and dentistry.

Alice’s prepared speech was on the topic of ‘The Erosion of Empathy in the Digital Age’.

Hurley Diessel is a Year 12 student from Proserpine State High School, with commitments in committees at his school.

His passions include personal fitness and musical theatre and his prepared speech was on the topic of ‘Paying Attention to Attention’.

The third speaker was Mia Vloedmans, a Year 11 student from Proserpine State High School, whose passions include the Senior Leadership team, the Social and Cultural Committee, and Care Group representative.

Mia’s prepared speech was ‘Burden to Blessings’, speaking of her Type 1 Diabetes diagnosis.

“All three speakers were excellent,” explained Jane Bettridge, the Lions Youth of the Year Coordinator.

“These youth are truly inspiring.”

The first of the two impromptu topics were ‘Consider the recent phone ban in schools, and how has the school’s culture changed?’

“All speakers believed that the ban was positive,” Jane explained.

“They all felt that the school culture has positively changed, and more conversations were being had at break times.”
The second topic was ‘Do you agree or disagree with this statement: A sense of humour is essential?’

“They all believe that having a sense of humour is essential,” Jane explained.

In the tight competition, all the students spoke eloquently, and “The judges had their work cut out for them.”

Hurley Diessel was awarded the Public Speaking Award, while Mia Vloedmans was awarded the Overall Winner, and will represent Proserpine, next weekend, March 3, in Collinsville at Zones, going up against the youth winner of Whitsunday, Bowen, Ayr and Collinsville Lions.

Mia, Alice, Hurley, Member for Whitsunday Ms Amanda Camm. Photo supplied

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February 29, 2024

Questions Of The Week:


Who do you think is your biggest competitor? What do you admire about them and what qualities do you have that will ultimately make you better for the role?


If you could throw your support behind a particular local community organisation what would it be and how would you support them?


What’s your vision of the Whitsundays in 10 years? Tell us about the infrastructure, services and facilities you think are most important to the region and paint a picture of what you would like to see.

Tony Price

Division 2 Candidate


Clay Bauman delves deeply into council documents and reports. I excel in fostering constructive collaboration among fellow Councillors and Council Staff, earning their support and driving positive outcomes for the Whitsunday Coast. With two previous terms as a councillor and 45 years of local business experience, I bring invaluable communication and negotiation skills, region-wide connections and expertise to the table. 



While I support all community-orientated organisations, my priority is to ensure that the Greater Airlie Beach Masterplan 2022 is fully funded which will help many community organisations in Division 2. As part of this plan, the completion of projects including Cannonvale Lakes Park, Cannonvale Fishing Jetty, and the Cultural & Civic Hub (art gallery, library, customer service and disaster resilience centre) will enable families to engage in low-cost recreation, fostering community bonds and healthy lifestyles amidst our region's natural beauty.



In 10 years, I envision the Whitsundays with an Emergency Hospital and State High School on the Coast, improved road infrastructure, and upscale, medium-density dwellings for families, workers, and visitors. Vital aged care facilities and lifestyle communities will flourish alongside a world-class sporting complex which can host major events while benefiting local clubs and schools. Additionally, a thriving tourism industry with accessible island resorts will enrich the region, fostering sustainable growth and prosperity for residents to relish.

John Finlay

Division 6 Candidate


The qualities and attributes I have to undertake the role are my community values and involvement including economic development, my professional qualifications including Fellow of Certified Practising Accountants Australia and local government qualifications and my professional employment including owning and managing an accounting business in Bowen and the Whitsunday, former roles in Councils being Chief Executive Officer of Whitsunday and Bowen Councils and Director of Corporate and Financial Services. This combined experience will be important in the role as Councillor.


The community spirit in our region is built upon the amazing not for profit community organisations. These organisations include churches, sporting clubs, social welfare and support services, the arts, and others and are all worthy of support depending on their needs. This support can be in the form of assistance with applications for grants, concessions with rates and charges, and working together for the betterment of the community.




The vision for the Whitsunday Region is for the prosperous sustainability of the region in all areas of the community and economic and social development. The maintaining of current infrastructure and facilities and ensuring planning for future infrastructure for the growth of the region. Providing and encouraging economic development including small business, tourism development, major industry developments and supporting the social needs of the communities. Working together with the above will make for a prosperous vision for the region.

David Paddon

Division 6 Candidate


Defiantly apathy and lack of an economic plan for Bowen. Having now interviewed 100’s of residences they say candidates messaging is nonspecific, does not address “what will it do for me”.

I bring a career’s worth of experience in long-term planning and economic growth/achievements.

 Bowen is falling behind and if this continues, we can expect to see government serves and retail move to the southern end of the WCR. My solution is we need 200 more permanent long-term jobs.



If successful, my focus will be on driving jobs growth and none better would the decades old plans to expand the Marina facilities in Bowen and work with the local sailing clubs and community groups to achieve a level of congruity for this transformative project



 In 10 years from now the Whitsundays will double in population and therefor the WRC faces significant infrastructure projects, power, water, roads, telecommunications, hospitals etc and each of the major community centres will evolve in their own direction e.g. Airlie will continue as the region’s capital for tourism. Proserpine Evolves as the transport hub, with the airport, rail and major Highway, Agriculture will still be a major contributor to the town economy. Bowen Develop more industry, be the major marine repair facility, Mining and agriculture powerhouses.

Clay Bauman

Division 2 Candidate


My only competitor lives in Proserpine, and while I admire anybody who wishes to serve the community, ‘serve’ must be the key word. As a Cannonvale resident, with my deep understanding of our community's needs, coupled with a proven track record of navigating bureaucracy for real outcomes, my dedication to progress and ability to deliver results are what Division 2 needs. Voting Clay ensures a future where our community's voice is amplified and we move forward together, not backwards.



While Council has a limited budget that mostly comes from ratepayers, there is huge amounts of money available from external grants. I feel if Council assists with preparing grant applications, rather than just dolling out a few dollars, our community organisations would blossom with a sound financial basis. Teaching and helping someone to fish, rather than giving them a fish, is my plan to support all our clubs, charities and groups that benefit so many, thanks mainly to tireless volunteers.



My vision is for a better Council, lower rates and low-rise development. While my plan for the Cannonvale Civic Centre saves ratepayers millions, we must not forget less visible, yet critical infrastructure: roads, aging pipes, stormwater and networks for new residential developments. I'm already onto a sportspark plan, the challenge remains in extending services to the proposed Havengrand site. If 13 years ago Council had heeded professional advice to buy land closer to Cannonvale, we might already have the sportspark.

Ry Collins

Mayoral Candidate


I've been focused on my own race and what I can bring to the region but would think my biggest competitor is one who brings a wealth of current experience addressing our region's challenges and opportunities as well as deep commitment and roots into our community, qualities I greatly respect. I feel I offer a unique forward looking proposition, a fresh perspective, innovative ideas, and proven dedication to advocating for our region which sets me apart. I believe these attributes are crucial for addressing our community's needs.


All our community groups are incredibly important to our region and sense of place. If I were to pick just one, it would be housing. I would support organisations such as Whitsunday Housing Company, to further address the critical housing and accommodation crisis facing our community. By advocating for policy changes, securing funding for affordable housing projects, and facilitating partnerships between government, the private sector, and non-profits, I think we can make an impact in increasing accessible housing and accommodation options for our community.


I envision the Whitsundays as a leading region for the convergence of our traditional and future industries. A strong and growing economy known for embracing sustainability and community liveability where everyone still knows their neighbour. Key infrastructure investments in renewable energy, water security and digital connectivity will support our growth. Enhanced health, education, and transport services will ensure a high quality of life and help keep our kids here. I dream of a vibrant, resilient community where nature and progress coexist harmoniously.

Richard Evans

Mayoral Candidate


I respect all candidates' commitment to the election process, regardless of experience. Apathy among voters is our biggest competitor. Ratepayers seek change in council attitude and performance. If you want change, vote for it. My experience in politics and managing large organisations equips me to drive meaningful change from day one. There is no luxury of time to settle into the role. My expertise, policy positions, and action plans distinguish me and I’m on the record at www.richard4mayor.com



Our community organisations make an incredibly valuable contribution, like the VMR where I volunteer. Yet, housing availability and affordability demand immediate prioritisation especially for the vulnerable – single parents, elderly, and victims of domestic violence. Proserpine’s Tiny Homes initiative shows promise and worthy of support, as do other pathways such as reviewing town planning regulations, public-private partnerships, and workforce villages. As mayor, I pledge to explore avenues to support Tiny Homes that align with our community's needs and aspirations.



Navigating the complexities of the Whitsundays region requires multifaceted solutions. Restoring trust in local government is paramount. While projects matter, a cultural shift within council towards accountability is vital for effective management of rates and ratepayer satisfaction. I envision a Whitsundays characterised by heightened accountability for our mayor, councillors and council staff, instilling community pride with meaningful community interactions. In 2034 we will have a high performing, accountable, and respected council delivering more than just rates, roads and rubbish.

Phil Batty

Mayoral Candidate


I am sure each of the candidates have qualities to be admired but as I had never heard of Ry Collins or Richard Evans until the nominations for this election it would be disrespectful for me to judge and comment. I can say that I have the skills, the strength and the ability to take my passion for this entire region into the role of Mayor and truly make a positive impact to the lives of the residents both current and future generations.



Choosing one would be like picking your favourite child. An example of one of the many organisations deserving of support would be the Whitsunday Housing Company who are working hard to alleviate one of the biggest problems right across the region. They seek to provide affordable, safe, secure and accessible long-term housing for people in need and those wishing to gain meaningful work but housing is inhibiting those opportunities. I would support them with expertise, properly funded and budgeted support.


The big picture is a thriving, forward looking, environmentally and financially responsible, culturally aware, affordable, welcoming and still the best place in Australia to live and raise a family. That means starting now on the journey, planning for the schools, hospitals, roads and amenities that contribute to that lifestyle. We need to see an environment which is in better shape than it is today, we need to see agriculture and manufacturing grow to be the envy of Australia for its quality and leading edge practices.

Peter Hood

Mayoral Candidate


Residents of the Whitsundays; please go to https://www.facebook.com/100078511399893/posts/pfbid037o1k89zAt6DQBJUgKpqdKx6Yuu81frgmWAyYGKFxgncJj8edHmzfC6kZXaqQmCGql/ for my accurate answer. Or go to my Mayoral Facebook Page and see the Post 27.02.2024, “Search & Seek answers on matters for the Candidates.”


As a result of Whitsunday Life’s (WL) publication on matters for me two editions ago, my accounting practice is now providing no-charge assistance to 471 Whitsundays Residents in their dealings with Centrelink and the Tax Office. Up from 117 prior to the WL article coming out. I now have the ammunition I need to “convince” Centrelink to get their Community Assistance Bus rolling to all the isolated communities in The Whitsundays and beyond. Because Centrelink cares; yea right; they do now!


No Candidate can accurately predict anything on matters for WRC and our Communities until the successful Candidate gets to the truth of WRC’s financial position and quickly confirms the extent of WRC’s wastage of Community Resources. Yes, roads, housing and all the other feel-good comments that other candidates might sprout are automatic musts. It is a bit like the Miss World beauty pageant contestants all exclaiming their priorities for “world peace.” Of course!

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Leading Charge In Youth North Queensland Initiative

February 29, 2024

Bowen Gumlu Growers Association led initiative ‘New Realities in Agriculture and Aquaculture Project’ has successfully concluded, revolutionising youth engagement in agriculture and aquaculture by offering an immersive virtual reality experience.

The project allowed participants a window in careers in agriculture and aquaculture, utilising virtual reality, with the selected young people reporting newfound enthusiasm and appreciation for the diverse career opportunities in the industry.

"This innovative initiative has effectively bridged the gap between new technology and traditional industries for North Queensland's youth. Through virtual reality, we've provided a practical glimpse into the future of agriculture and aquaculture, sparking genuine interest, and understanding among young participants that we hope to continue to build upon for the future of our rural and regional industries" said Ry Collins, CEO of Bowen Gumlu Growers Association.

Supported financially by the Queensland Government’s Growing Workforce Participation Fund (GEPF), a critical component of the Back to Work Initiative, and was instrumental in enabling the ‘New Realties Project’ to bring virtual reality experiences to the youth, helping them gain insights into the vast potential of the agriculture and aquaculture sectors.

The Bowen Gumlu Growers Association looks forward to sharing the case studies, highlighting real life success stories and the positive industry perception change by the project.

“This will continue to shape the future of agriculture and aquaculture in North Queensland.”

Bowen Gumlu Growers Association is a not-for-profit industry association that represents growers, producers, and agribusinesses in North Queensland, with key activities including advocacy, industry development and delivery of projects focused on improving on-farm practices, commercial outcomes of farming businesses and the prosperity of the wider regional Whitsunday community.

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Better Your Business With QLD Government Session

February 29, 2024

The Department of State Development, Infrastructure, Local Government and Planning and Whitsunday Regional Council are inviting business to a Business Capability Development session aimed at supporting local businesses and industry in positioning for work throughout major project and business supply chains.

This session will include delivery of a Capability Statement Workshop and Tendering: Top Ten Tips presentation.

WHAT: Business Capability Development Sessions
WHERE: Whitsunday Regional Council Chambers
WHEN: Thursday March 7, from 9am
REGISTER: $50, available through https://bit.ly/3uczICX, with registrations closing March 4

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Rotary Club Of Bowen Celebrates Milestones

February 29, 2024

The Rotary Club of Bowen has officially celebrated 71 years of establishment, alongside the 119th anniversary of Rotary around the world.

While the actual birthday of the Rotary Club of Bowen isn’t until June, Club President Helen Woodhouse explained that the Club decided to “tag” along with the 119th anniversary of Rotary as their birthday function.

The group were delighted to see Federal Member for Dawson, Andrew Willcox, come along to celebrate the milestone.

“The idea of the event was to tag along with the Rotary’s birthday, share the story and legacy of Paul Harris, Founder of Rotary,” she said.

Helen Woodhouse was also awarded with her third Paul Harris Fellow recognition Medal, for her outstanding commitment and dedication to Rotary.

Helen was surprised by the award.

“I never expected it,” she explained.

Being her third Paul Harris Fellows Recognition Medal, Helen said that she is honoured by the recognition, however her work is primarily the promotion of the Club in the Bowen community.

“I have been the President for six years, and in June, I am stepping down.

“When I first stepped up to the job, we only had three members, and now we have nine. It is very important to keep our club going, and I am very honoured by this medal.”

Regular initiatives of the Rotary Club of Bowen include fundraising for Polio research and treatment, fundraising for local schools and for annual school awards, and the upkeep of Rotary Park at Horseshoe Bay.

The Club are also about to launch three Little Free Libraries, to be erected at high thorough fare points in Bowen, for residents and visitors to collect and return novels and literature at no cost.

“We’re a lowkey club, but with an increase in members, we’re excited to increase our efforts.”

If you are interested to join the Rotary Club of Bowen, please contact Club President Helen Woodhouse, on 0439 549 962 or via email bowen@rotary9560.org. Interested parties are welcome to attend their monthly meetings, on the first Saturday of every month.

  1. Guests of the Rotary Club of Bowen’s birthday celebrations

   2. Club President Helen Woodhouse with Merewyn Wright Former District Governor

   3. Merewyn Wright and Helen Woodhouse with Allan Church, Former District Governor. Photos supplied

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Shelters For Greys Bay

February 29, 2024

Greys Bay in Bowen is welcoming two new undercover shelters, ahead of the expected influx of visitors.

The shelters, which include a picnic setting, overhead cover and solar lighting, will allow visitors and locals to enjoy the beach in shade.

The first shelter will be placed at Greys Bay Lookout, with works beginning earlier last week, and expected to be completed by mid-March.

The second shelter will be in Lions Park, with exact times for the expected work to be confirmed, once materials arrive.

Both areas will be cornered off using temporary fencing, while the works are being completed.

“It is fantastic to see the Whitsunday Regional Council improving facilities in these areas,” explained Leanne Abernethy, Manager of Bowen Tourism and Business.

“Bowen is the heart of secluded beaches, so it is great for our tourism industry that we continue to update facilities around all our beautiful beaches and bays.”

Photo supplied

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Ask An Expert Are business plans a waste of time? 

February 29, 2024

This month’s Ask An Expert with Whitsundays Chamber of Commerce and Industry asks: Are business plans a waste of time?

Some Chamber Board members responded. 

Melinda of Melinda Louise Media believes that business plans are key to success. It provides a framework for strategic direction, identifies goals, timeframes to monitor growth and financial targets, and track progress. It can be revisited as the business grows and adapted to market and customer shifts. 

Are they a waste of time? 

“No way!” said Jannah of Scallywag Fabrication. “Often, it feels they are when you’re knee deep in customer deadline quicksand, but when you're trying to win a job, negotiating supplier pricing, comparing competitors, planning your marketing, thinking about your goals, or just looking at future cash flow, you’re drafting your plan in your head. Just write it down!”

Kim of Hummingbird Refrigeration, Electrical & Air Conditioning said “Definitely not, so long as you treat it as a dynamic rather than static plan and regularly review it. Don't overthink it!”

“You can’t drive a car without knowing where you’re going … that’s what a business plan is, the navigation map to the end point” replied Annette of PRD Whitsunday Real Estate.

Anthony of Airlie Beach Executive Services believes that business plans serve to reference the original idea, it's important to be able look back and see how you've tracked. 

Got a business question? Contact the Chamber to ask!

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Inspired To Thriive

February 29, 2024

Respected people-focused company, Shiift, celebrated year four by holding their first 2024 Thriive Event last week, bringing together over 40 women in an uplifting evening event which inspired conversations and self-reflection.


Participants were guided through a series of lively soul-searching activities, sharing experiences with their peers, and insightful observations about their journeys so far.


Thriive is a monthly women-only event held by Shiift, a local company which specialises in people, culture, leadership, and performance.


Their invigorating two-hour evening workshops are high-energy and packed full of useful content about how to navigate both hectic lives and demanding careers.


Held monthly, the first workshop focused on setting your future self-up for success.


Attendees were asked to imagine where they would be in five years and also 10 years’ time – asking the question – is the person you imagine similar to the person you are today?


Small group discussions were held, and animated conversations ensued followed by an opportunity for each group to share their thoughts with the rest of the room.


Workshop facilitator, Judy Porter, offered entertaining and thought-provoking dialogue on the topic and encouraged everyone to treat their future selves as a dear friend.


“By understanding and liking your future self you can make better informed decisions today,” she said.


“People who are more connected with their future selves are more successful and experience greater life satisfaction.”


The next event will take place on Thursday 21st March and will cover the interesting topic of ‘Finding Utopia For Introverts and Extroverts’.


All women are welcome and invited to join the group for monthly inspiration and connection that enables you to truly Thriive.

To find out more https://shiift.com.au/events/ 


Caption: Judy Porter from Shiift speaking at the most recent Thrive event. Photo credit: Rachael Smith



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Out And About With Jade From Tourism Whitsundays

February 29, 2024

Earlier this week, I travelled out to Collinsville to meet with people interested in building tourism in Collinsville. It was such a great trip, and I really enjoyed the short time I had out there. My colleague, Cait Fleming, and I visited to work with the established Collinsville Tourism Advisory Group and it was a really collaborative session. There are so many ideas that come out in sessions like this.

If you’re in Collinsville and interested in joining in on the group, please email reception@tourismwhitsundays.com.au and we’ll ensure you’re on the list for the next meeting date.

As a local who had previously only visited Collinsville briefly, this week’s trip opened my eyes to what is a little town with a lot going on.

There’s a community pool, waterpark and playgrounds, a free 72-hour RV Park, the Coal Face Experience – a look at the history of mining in Collinsville - and many more activities to do.

On my list for next trip is the No.1 Mine Site and Historical Society, I’m looking forward to it.

If you find yourself out that way, make sure you stop in on the Pit Pony for lunch or dinner – the Mango Chilli Prawns are delicious!

Caption: Jade Richardson from Tourism Whitsundays with Shayne Crump from Collinsville Community Association. Photo supplied

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A Decade Of Non-Stop Anchor Charm

March 1, 2024

A hidden oasis in the heart of Airlie Beach, Anchor Bar is celebrating a decade in business and the team are excited to invite locals and visitors alike to a weekend of birthday celebrations, in just over two weeks’ time.

And with a spectacular line up for the event, this will the celebration of the year!

“We have Chris Booroff and Friends ready to jam the afternoon away,” explained Josh Knutson, owner and operator of Anchor Bar.

“And a sweep of specials, with our Head Chef experimenting and showcasing his culinary skills with exotic and exciting dishes.”

And don’t miss the variety of delicious cocktail specials that Josh and his team have concocted, especially for this event. From sweet to sour and everything in between, there will be the perfect cocktail for your taste buds.

Open from 12pm, everyone is invited for this special event!

Anchor Bar first opened its doors back a decade ago when local couple, Josh and Leah Knutson embarked on a new venture at the old Terraces Bar which was an exciting local’s bar in need of revival.

Over the years, what Josh and Leah find the most pride in is playing a part in life’s milestones, of celebrations, and of memories.

“We’ve had christenings, then first and more birthdays,” Josh laughed.

“Birthdays, engagements, weddings, and everything in between, we love hosting special events and this is another one we are looking forward to sharing with our customers.”

WHAT: Anchor Bar Turns 10!
WHERE: Anchor Bar, 5 Golden Orchid Drive
WHEN: Sunday, March 10, from 12pm

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Eastwoods – A Feast For The Senses

February 29, 2024

It seems like the whole town has been talking about Eastwoods for several months now, so when I was asked where I’d like to go for my birthday dinner, I immediately knew where I wanted to book. I love Asian fusion cuisine and had been eagerly awaiting the moment I could devour some mouth-watering morsels at this popular local restaurant.

As soon as we arrived, we were ushered to our seats and served instantly by our waitress who eloquently detailed the cocktail of the day and specials list which she had memorised precisely. As a former-waitress myself, I was impressed by the service and doubly impressed when it remained equally proficient throughout the night.

Looking at the menu, every dish seemed exciting! A broad range of culinary delights from sticky pork ribs to raw hiramasa kingfish and spicy beef tartare. Despite being enthralled by the menu, however, I was unsure what to select. Thankfully, when our waitress returned, she explained that the dishes are meant for sharing so we enjoyed picking a variety.

Earlier that day, a friend had recommended the ‘Son In Law Eggs’ and, determined to be good to my word, we ordered them, along with the fried chicken wings for entree.

Brought to the table in rustic and charming kitchenware, both dishes looked like works of art and the tantalising aromas emanating from each was like a feast for the senses. Almost reluctant to break their beauty, we cut into the delicate looking eggs that were served with green mango chilli and sweet yellow bean sauce. The eggs were softly cooked to perfection and the sweet sauce left the tastebuds dancing in delight. I had never experienced eggs quite like this!

Next up were the fried chicken wings with lime leaf coriander house sweet chilli sauce and lime. The outer skin of the chicken wings gave a satisfying crunch when bitten into and the and the tangy sauce was punchy and vibrant. Again, some of the best I’d ever tasted.

For main course, we decided to share the Penang Curry with braised beef kipfler potato shallots and pickled cucumber. The meat and potatoes melted in your mouth and the sauce was deep and complex with a hundred flavours sending waves of bliss across your pallet. Meanwhile the pickled cucumber broke the flavour perfectly, its sharp tanginess a delicious contrast to the curry.

Sitting at our table afterwards with full and satisfied bellies, we felt absolute contentment. The rumours about Eastwoods are all true, a dining experience is an absolute delight and the food a lasting memory.

Food Review By Rachael Smith.

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The Bourbon Bar KC’s Newest Endeavour

February 29, 2024

The newest kid on the block is here and they are here to stay, with a fantastic turn out for the opening of their new Bourbon Bar.

KC’s very own Bourbon Bar is making waves in the bourbon-whiskey world, with experts and connoisseurs coming out of the woodwork to put these specially curated bourbons to the test.

Owner and operator, and chief whiskey-drinker, Geoff Small “Smally” is eager to showcase this diverse selection.

“While you are exploring the 74 islands of the Whitsundays, you might as well explore our 74 new bourbons as well,” he said.

“Come on a journey with KC’s and pair our new bourbon cocktails with one of our bourbon flavoured dishes.

“Bourbon, steak and live music seem to all go hand in hand and are the perfect mix.”

Head Chef Troy Fuller has risen to the task, creating a series of dishes which perfectly blend the rich bourbon with delicate flavours.

“We love this selection of bourbon dishes for now, but we are already brewing up our next pick of dishes that is bourbon infused,” Troy explained.

“So, keep your eye out for our next menu re-invention in 4 weeks-time.”


Bourbon, Kahlua, espresso, honey, cream, dash of cinnamon and coffee beans

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High Tea With Highly Acclaimed Author At Whitsundays Writers Festival

February 29, 2024

The return of the Whitsundays Writers Festival has just gotten better, with the announcement of internationally acclaimed author, Sally Hepworth, hosting a bespoke high tea book club, at My Rainbow Café.

Sally Hepworth is a renowned author, captivating hearts with her compelling storytelling.

With nine novels under her belt and over a million books sold globally, including her latest masterpiece, Darling Girls, Hepworth's literary prowess knows no bounds.

Festival President Karen Jacobsen expressed her excitement for the upcoming event, stating, “We are thrilled to welcome Sally to our Festival's Big Book Club High Tea.

“She is a talented author, and the event promises an afternoon filled with insight into her journey to literary success, including the exciting adaptations of her works to screen.”

The inclusion of Hepworth further enriches the Festival's stellar line-up, which already features distinguished authors such as Shankari Chandran, the 2023 Miles Franklin Literary Award winner, and renowned crime author Garry Disher.

“Our aim is to spotlight the remarkable success of Australian authors and showcase the extraordinary talent within our literary landscape,” Karen emphasised.

“The addition of Sally to the Festival’s line-up underscores our commitment to providing our community with unparalleled access to influential voices shaping contemporary literature. Stay tuned as we unveil more celebrated speakers in the coming weeks."

Save The Date

WHAT: Big Book Club High Tea
WHERE: My Rainbow Bakery, Shingley Beach
WHEN: Saturday, September 7, from 3.15pm to 4.45pm

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Collinsville State High Leaders Inducted

February 29, 2024

Collinsville State High School have officially inducted their 2024 Student Leaders, with a ceremony held earlier this month.
The student leaders embody poise, confidence, and an eagerness to serve the school with pride and determination.

Senior Leaders

Cooper Groocock

Claudia Lee

Jayme Lee

Darcy Teichmann

Senior Student Council Executives

President: Cooper Groocock

Vice President: Claudia Lee

Secretary: Darcy Teichmann

Treasurer: Mckenzie Grosskreutz

House Captains Boomerang

Senior Captain: Kayne Bird

Junior Captain: Alexie Collett

Senior Vice Captain: Matilda Lee

Junior Vice Captain: Natalia Bull

House Captains Woomera

Senior Captain: Stevie Lee

Junior Captain: Katie Sammon

Senior Vice Captain: Shianne McGregor

Junior Vice Captain: Yasmin


   1. Senior Leaders: L-R: Mckenzie, Darcy, Claudia and Cooper

   2. Senior Student Council Executives Back : Cooper Front L-R: Jayme-Lee, Claudia and Darcy

   3. House Captains Boomerang L-R: Kayne, Natalia, Matilda and Alexie

   4. House Captains Woomera L-R: Yasmin, Katie, Shianne and Stevie – Lee. Photos supplied

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A Family Holiday to Remember (Memories from Don Dinnie)

February 29, 2024

The end of 1939 saw our first real holiday. Arrangements were made with Ken MacPherson to take our family and the Jenkins family to Nellie’s Beach. When Ken arrived with the seven Jenkins, Colin Hinschen (Doris Jenkins’ brother), his friend Bill Hewson and the five in our family, it made a total of 14, plus Ken the driver. Ken’s truck was a one ton four-cylinder Chev with a tray body.  

We had borrowed two tents and used our empty 100-gallon tank to store clothes and food. So much had to be thought of - for instance, an axe to cut tent poles, a hurricane lantern, kerosene frying pan, billy cans, enamel plates, cutlery, pannikins etc. Being the first camping trip for both families meant a lot of sorting out so we did not double up, when everything plus people had to fit on a fairly small tray.  

We set off with the smallest kids in the middle perched on whatever was available and the men at the back getting covered with dust. There were countless gullies with the crossings virtually straight up and down. The women were scared of the creek crossings with high banks and would get out and walk.


We arrived mid afternoon and unloaded. The men cut tent poles, set up camp, then went on the truck with the tank, filling it about half full from the water hole. They slid it off on skids and that was our week’s water supply for drinking and cooking.

During the day, the grownups would go fishing at Nellie’s Point. Only having three fishing lines that they borrowed with a piece of rock or coral for a sinker, they would take turns to fish.  To get bait, Dad set me up with a grass tree rod, a cork and a perch line.  He would smash a periwinkle for bait and I would soon catch a parrot fish which would then be chopped up and proved to supplement the larder of schnapper, bream and cod. In those days, we always scaled but never filleted.

It was a real adventure, sleeping on the ground, eating off a camp fire. Most of the children had never seen the ocean.  It was a great time for everybody mixing together, sharing the work, we kids running around in the pools when the tide was out, swimming twice a day, probably the cleanest we ever were.

On Sunday, our neighbours, the Daffaras, arrived in their dickey seat Chrysler bearing fresh bread which was most welcome.

One evening, just on dark, there was a real scare. Our three-year-old sister was missing so we all scattered, calling her. Fortunately, while there was just enough light to see, Mum found her wandering between the beach and the scrub.

A chap, Len May, was camped a little further along. He and his mate, were going around to the gully at the end of Dingo Beach and Dad and I joined them. Len had a cast net and caught lots of small herring, whiting and mullet. Amongst them were small black eel tailed fish with a white stripe. Of course, I would have to pick one up! Talk about sting! Apparently, it was a type of cat fish. Len chewed up some tobacco and put it on my finger. It eased the pain somewhat but made me worry about picking up unknown fish in the future.

Eventually, the trip ended but this was to set a pattern for holiday trips to Dingo Beach for many years to come.


Text and photo courtesy of Proserpine Museum.

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Proserpine Golf Club Results

February 29, 2024

Larry Muller had 37 points in Tuesday's stableford event to beat Sean Gower by a shot. Anna Winterbourn edged out Nicole Cooper on 29 points. Pins went to Sean Gower, Diane Chard, Larry Muller and Tina Badenhorst.

Wednesday's two-shot winner was Anna Winterbourn with 31 points ahead of Tina Badenhorst; with the pins going to Diane Chard, Rehab Hull, Tina Badenhorst and Jacqueline Wall.

Sean Gower won the A division of Thursday's stableford by edging out Chris Brett on 37 points. John Strelec took out the B division with 36 points, John Oates was runner up on 35, and the pins were to Lewis Tuck and Gary Scotford.

Friday's Met run winner was Troy Leisch with 22 points ahead of George Steen on 19. Pins went to Elise Hodgson and George Steen.

The MBW A division winner was Scott Lee with 40 points ahead of Theunis Venter on 39. Marcus Heathcote won the B division with 38 points ahead of Jalen Jarvis on 36. Pins went to Joshua Mansley, Jayden Lloyd and Philip Batty.

Contributed with thanks to Tanya Bandow.

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On The Whitsunday Green 

February 29, 2024

This week’s 9-hole stableford saw Edwina Pettiford take first place with 22pts, second with 21 pts was Melinda Macleod and third place with 20 pts c/b was Scotty Hayes – Williams. 

Fridays 9-hole stableford saw Alan Clinch in first place with 22 pts c/b, second place with 22 pts was Ryan Kenny and third with 21 pts c/b was Tyson Flavel. 

Sunday was our Monthly medal 18-hole stroke competition, a great turnout which saw Adam Singleton in first place with a 46 NETT, second with a 49 NETT was Jimmy Miller and third place was Tyson Flavel with a 52 NETT c/b.

Nearest the pin was Sean Fogarty and Troy Pettiford. 

This Sunday 3rd March will be 18-hole stableford tee off anytime. 


Contributed with thanks to Whitsunday Green.

Ryan Kenny and Chris Bartlett. Photo supplied

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Editors Note

February 22, 2024

Hi Everyone,

Great to hear Bowen Pink Stumps was another huge success over the weekend and congratulations to the organisers, Bowen Cricket Association, whose event was once again able to be included in the top 10 of fundraisers Australia-wide.

Celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, the Bowen Pink Stumps event was made even more special by the attendance of cricketing legend Glenn McGrath who catapulted our small regional town onto the national playing field once again.  

Our journalist, Bronte, was present on the day and was thrilled to get an exclusive interview with the man himself, commenting that he was indeed, very tall.

Speaking of Bronte, this is probably a good time to let you all know that sadly she is leaving us to return to her home town after a year writing across all four of our publications, and in particular this newspaper.

Since she started, Bronte has been a ray of light, not only in the office, but also with everyone she has met in the community.

I am frequently getting calls or involved in conversation where Bronte’s name is raised and praised far and wide.

She will be fondly remembered for her year in the ‘hot tropics’ – her hilarious phone interviews with good looking local musicians, her pineapple hair styles when it gets too hot and her ability to make every one she spends time with feel great.

For me personally, I will miss the massively important role she played writing often dozens of articles every week, always ready to help, forward-thinking and jumping in to predict what the paper needs next.

Bronte will now be moving closer to family who she has missed greatly over the last year, and we wish her all the luck in the future.

She is not leaving until the second week of March so if you see her around over the next few weeks make sure you wish her well.


Quote of the Week: “Change is hard at first, messy in the middle and gorgeous at the end” (Robin Sharma)

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Spreading Love To All

February 22, 2024

The Year 12 cohort at Whitsunday Christian College spread the Valentine’s Day love last week, gifting students and members of staff with a rose on Wednesday, February 14.

The students were excited to get involved, hand delivering roses to all students, from pre-kindergarten to Year 11, and all members of staff.

“We thought that roses would be a great way to spread love and kindness throughout the school for Valentine’s Day,” the Year 12 students explained.

“Staff, students, and families responded really positively to our idea. The students were especially excited to buy flowers and write notes for family, friends, and even beloved teachers.

“Everyone was really supportive and onboard with our plans whether that was by assisting us in preparing the roses or buying roses. The excitement definitely showed when everyone got their roses on Wednesday morning,” the cohort explained.

“The response from the school as a whole was much bigger than ever expected. We ended up selling about 450 roses.”

Principal of the College, Kylie Langshore said she is proud of the students.

“Our students are leading with purpose and have a heart for service. Student-led initiatives have such impact on the College community I am excited to see the fruit of these.”

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Thirst Things First Agave Spirit Release Under Way

February 22, 2024

By Paul Gellatly

Bowen’s Chamber of Commerce has raised a jar to the health of Whitsunday region projects ahead of council elections in mid-March.

At its monthly meeting on February 14, the chamber heard addresses from Chris Monsour, agronomist and director of Prospect Agriculture, which operates a 250-hectare agave farm between Bowen and Proserpine; and Sean Brown, director of Bowen Pipeline Company, which is planning to build a 115-kilometre water pipeline from the Burdekin River to Bowen.

Chris Monsour told the audience of about 40 people that Prospect Agriculture's first agave harvest was in December 2023 and the resulting bottled debut has been on a limited release online, with Mr Monsour assuring  thirsty first customers that their purchases were being delivered "about now".

The focus of the first four years of the project has been to determine how best to harvest the plants to yield its heart, or pina, which has a 35 per cent  sugar content, about twice that of sugar cane. There is a range of uses for the processed pina, and one of the first is a trio of alcoholic beverages including whisky, vodka and agave spirit (known in Mexico as tequila).

Mr Monsour said agave had proved an ideal crop for the dry-region farm, although he conceded that "the Mexicans are probably not too happy with what we are doing".

The agave is harvested by a computer-controlled harvesting machine, which will process about 1000 plants a day, or a plant a minute, far faster than the manual harvest of Mexican tequila. The agave hearts are processed on site and according to Mr Monsour, "all the reports from those who know about spirits is that it is a very good spirit."

Mr Monsour said the international agave project was based on a slow-growing succulent crop (planting started in 2020) that was only really starting to get into gear now. New plantings were being added continuously and there are hopes that there will be a million agave under cultivation by 2025, up from about 580,000 now.

"If you laid the rows of agave end-to-end you would go from here to Rockhampton", he said

The farm is following green practices, with weed control being left to three goats, which Mr Monsour said gratefully were not eating the agave plants ... so far.

1: Bowen Chamber of Commerce chairman Bruce Hedditch (left) with Chris Monsour, Cr Julie Hall and Sean Brown.

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Local Family Fights For Brain Cancer Awareness

February 22, 2024

Raising money and awareness for a cause close to their hearts, local couple Jared and Sophie Russell have launched a campaign to encourage more donations to fund much-needed research into brain cancer.

Sophie’s father, Brendan who is in his late 50s, was sadly diagnosed with a Glioblastoma Multiforme grade 4 in August 2023, and since then the family have been passionate about raising both money and awareness.

Originally from Armidale NSW, Brendan (Brenno) is a regular visitor to the Whitsundays, enjoying the atmosphere at the Airlie Beach Hotel.

He now has plans to move to the region permanently at the end of the year to be close to his family.

Fortunately, his treatment has been excellent following a referral to a highly skilled Neurosurgeon, who did a fantastic job at resecting 95 per cent of the tumour at the end of August.

He has since undergone six weeks of radiotherapy and chemotherapy at Tamworth Base Hospital and is now completing more chemotherapy at home.  

“Dad has the best attitude and outlook on life, and we know he will fight this with everything he has!” said Sophie.

To support her dad and raise money for additional research, Sophie has been sponsored to shave her head for charity.

Brenno is flying up to the Whitsundays this week and will personally shave off his daughter’s hair in a special gathering which will include close friends and family.

“My decision to shave my head is to raise much needed funds to help further research advancement for brain cancer,” explained Sophie.

“My goal is to raise $10,000, if you would like to support my fundraising efforts it would be amazing! Any donation, big or small, would be greatly appreciated! Thanks so much!”

So far, she has raised $6,295 and hopes to reach her goal over the coming weeks.

If you wish to donate, please go to the hostyourown.markhughesfoundation.com.au and select Sophie Russell.

1: Brenno’s daughter, Sophie, will shave her head for charity this week. Photo supplied

2: Brendan was diagnosed with Glioblastoma Multiforme grade 4 in August 2023. Photo supplied

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Married At First Sight Showcases Airlie Beach

February 22, 2024

Married at First Sight Australia Season 11 couple Eden and Jayden checked into Airlie Beach, for their Episode 3 honeymoon.

The Australian branch of the Show, Married at First Sight follows a number of strangers from across Australia who participate in a social experiment and are paired together by ‘love’ experts.

While the participants are not legally married for the television show, the stars complete an unofficial commitment ceremony, enjoy a luxurious honeymoon, live together for a time, and at the end of each week, enter a commitment ceremony to declare if they will stay together or leave the experiment.

First airing in 2015, over 100 couples have been paired together, however only about 10 couples have managed to keep the spark and remain together following the conclusion of their season.  

Season 11 couple, Eden and Jayden join a short list of couples who have honeymooned in the Whitsundays with Married at First Sight, following their unofficial commitment ceremony, staying at Club Wyndham in Airlie Beach.

Eden is a 28-year-old Gold Coast based recruitment manager, who has been single for three years, following her previous partner cheating on her with her best friend. Now deciding to put her trust in the experts, she is looking for a partner who is ambitious, generous, and loyal.

Jayden is a 26-year-old Queensland kickboxer, who is used to keeping people at arm’s length, and is looking for a partner who is fit, ambitious and independent.

Eden and Jayden, staying at Club Wyndham. Photo supplied

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Community Mayoral Forum Come Along!

February 22, 2024

With the election race heating up, Mayoral Candidates are looking for every opportunity to engage with the community and The Whitsunday Conservation Council (WCC) are hosting a special event which is open to the public.

The Mayoral Candidate Forum is due to take place on 28 February, 6:30 pm start at the Reef Gateway Hotel in Cannonvale.

It is a free forum and everyone is welcome.


The forum theme is Sustainability and Liveability in the Whitsundays.

“As a Great Barrier Reef destination, the Whitsundays is second to none. But as tourism grows, so does the community. This growth is putting pressure on what we love most about the region, our natural environment,” said Tony Fontes from the Whitsunday Conservation Council.


“Our Council plays a key role in promoting sustainability and liveability in the Whitsundays. It is important that our elected officials recognise and fulfil their role. At the forum you will hear the candidates for mayor explain their vision and leadership for our region.” 


WCC is a community group operated by volunteers, with a supporter base of over 1,500 individuals. WCC works closely with Whitsunday Regional Council, advising on environmental issues and recently won their Environmental Achievement Australia Day Award.


The community is welcome to submit questions for the candidates through WCC. Simply email them to forum@whitsundayconservation.org.au by midday, Tuesday, 27 February. 


Doors at the Reef Gateway Hotel conference room will open at 6:00 pm for a 6:30 pm start.

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ELECTION FRONT-LINE Question of the Week:

February 22, 2024

Please share with us one personal experience during your campaign trail so far that has really reinforced the reason you are running for council?

Richard Evans

Mayoral Candidate

It's the moments of truth with residents throughout the Whitsundays that drive home a common frustration: the perceived lack of effective engagement and responsiveness from our Council. This sentiment echoes across regions and towns, signalling a clear need for change. We can either do more of the same, keeping the status quo or vote for change. I want to bring the Whitsundays Pride back, fostering a culture of leadership, unity and integrity. My integrity statement is on my website: richard4mayor.com. 

Ry Collins

Mayoral Candidate

During the last week I’ve had a number of meetings including two of similar focus, one with a Bowen resident and another with a local hospitality business who expressed a strong desire for a council that genuinely values community engagement, delivers a strong plan, and lives by its public commitments and code. Their passion on these issues was inspiring and underscored the community’s craving for transparency, accountability, and a council committed to embedding customer service at the heart of its values and organisational culture.

Peter Hood

Mayoral Candidate

Peter Hood and Phil Batty are the only two candidates that have been threatened with legal action from the Whitsunday Regional Council for getting too close to the truth, just like they did with Mr Allan Dufty when they labelled him a serial pest back in 2011. Allan is loved by the community. We are not going away; we will not be silenced, and I think the recent behaviour of the Whitsunday Chamber of Commerce and Industry has been disgusting.

Phil Batty

Mayoral Candidate

I approached a member of the public to tell him I was standing for Mayor and hand him a flyer. Immediately he reached for his phone, opened it, and showed me the screen from his notes. It said “Mayor Philip Batty”, he went on to say he read up and researched the profiles of all the candidates the night before and his take from that was Philip Batty Mayor. This was before seeing the flyer and a little more about my story and who I am.

Tony Price

Division 2 Councillor Candidate

Housing and accommodation are an issue mentioned all the time. There is a chronic shortage of 5–6-star accommodation all the way down to accommodation for staff and employees. Housing is too expensive so the Council as a matter of priority must look at ways to bring units, hotels, houses, and other forms of accommodation onto the market immediately. Maybe it’s a cultural shift whereby lots and houses are smaller or bigger densities used. This affects our ability grow and prosper as a region.

Clay Bauman

Division 2 Councillor Candidate


I'm encouraged by the support for my campaign, evidenced by the abundant “VOTE CLAY” signs in Division 2. All placed in accordance with Council’s guidelines at private properties with the owners' consent. This overwhelming support and other community feedback of appreciation for my council representation fuels my commitment to remain our voice in Council. It's heartening to see my efforts recognised collectively, motivating me to continue working towards our shared vision for the community's vibrancy, strength, and safety.

John Finlay

Division 6 Councillor Candidate

The experience of the overwhelming support of the community for my candidacy has really reinforced my desire to be Councillor.

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New Recruit For Cannonvale Police Station Meet Zac

February 22, 2024

The Cannonvale Police Station is welcoming its newest recruit, First Year Constable Zac Richters-Nielsen, who joined the team last week.

Relocating from Brisbane, Zac’s professional background was in banking before he decided to make a career change and join the police force.

“I have always wanted to be a police officer since I was a little kid,” Zac explained.

Zac has started his new position at Cannonvale Police Station and says he is eager to get on the ground.

“I bring a readiness and eagerness to learn,” he shared.

“I am excited to experience what policing in the Whitsundays has to offer.”

During his training, Zac most enjoyed working alongside other recruits.

“My favourite aspects of training would be the other recruits, working closely alongside likeminded people made the experience very enjoyable.

Being pushed outside my comfort zone and building on my own capabilities and skill set was equally as rewarding.”

Since relocating to the Whitsundays, Zac has most enjoyed venturing to the beaches, something very different from Brisbane.

In his spare time he enjoys going to the beach and being social with mates.

Whitsunday’s newest Police Officer is second from the left, with three other new first year constables and State Member for Mackay, Julieanne Gilbert. Photo supplied

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Revitalisation For Community Spirit

February 22, 2024

Terms 3 and 4 intakes of PCYC Whitsunday’s Get Set For Work Program have unveiled a refurbished dresser which has been brought back to life and is available for sale at the Whitsunday Neighbourhood Centre’s Furniture Shop.

Get Set For Work program coordinator Scott Lynch said he was looking for a project to complete with participates during the term, when the idea of renovating and refurbishing a piece of furniture came to mind.

“The Whitsunday Neighbourhood Centre generously donated us the dresser, which had been donated to them, and all together, we sanded, painted and refinished it,” Scott explained.

Rebecca Woods, the Executive Officer of Whitsunday Neighbourhood Centre welcomed the project, saying “All of us community organisations collaborate often, so this wasn’t the first time, nor will it be the last time that we all work together.”

“This is something that makes our town different, this collaboration, and it happens a lot more than people realise. Being a small town, we all rely on each other and network with each other,” Rebecca said.

The program participants worked with guidance from the Men’s Shed in Cannonvale, under the watchful eye of President Don McDonald.

“Scott rang us and told us he had some boys who wanted to get some hands-on experience and they were great,” Don explained.

“There’s was quite a bit of work to be done on the dresser, and we showed them how to do it, and then left it to them. The boys didn’t work quick, but it’s come out great.”

And Bunnings Airlie Beach generously donated the necessary products and treatments.

“Bunnings have a strong commitment to giving back to communities,” explained Kaci, the Bunnings Airlie Beach Activities Organiser.

“We’ve worked with PCYC and the Whitsunday Neighbourhood Centre before and we are always excited to get on board.”

The dresser was officially handed back over to the Whitsunday Neighbourhood Centre to be placed for sale in the Furniture Centre, ready for a new home.

“We wanted to do something to give back to the community,” Scott explained.

“It gave our participants something constructive to do, something great to complete and great skills to achieve. And now a number of this term’s participants have gone into trades, stemming from the skills they learned over this project.”

1. The dresser before the Get Set For Work team refurbishment. Photo supplied

   2. The completed dresser handed over to the Whitsunday Neighbourhood Centre. Photo: Bronte Hodge

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Proserpine High And The Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat Student Run Production Setting New Standard

February 22, 2024

Completely student led and student run, Proserpine State High School’s Seagrass Theatre and Music Company is gearing up for their 2024 production, reaching for new heights of performance, choreography, vocals, and costuming.

With over 90 students involved, including on stage, backstage, technical, front of house, and in the orchestra, the Seagrass Theatre and Music Company will be performing the inspiring ‘Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat’.

Established in 2021, Seagrass allows students to explore the whole theatre experience, and provides them with the opportunity to be in a production outside of the bi-annual whole-school musicals.

“Our passion for the theatre really led Seagrass to what it is today,” explained Year 11 student Allegra Bradley, the productions Head of Promotions, as well as one of the show’s narrators.

Telling the story of Joseph from The Book of Genesis, ‘Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat’ follows Joseph, who is betrayed by his brothers and sold into slavery. Created by Andrew Lloyd-Webber and Tim Rice, this is a must-see rock opera.

Year 10 student Wiremu Tairaki reprises his position as a minor role with a big character, coming on stage as the Pharaoh. This is his second school-based production, having performed on the school theatre stage initially with 2023’s production ‘Sweet Charity’.

“Theatre is something I am passionate about,” he explained.

Year 11 student Arwen Edwards-Bland returns to the stage with multiple roles in this production, often with 30-second quick changes and enigmatic characters. However, her biggest passion is choreography, having choreographed three of the dances for ‘Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat’, and teaching them to the cast.

In fact, Arwen’s future prospects involve moving into musical theatre, before opening her own dance studio and dance school.

“It’s always been a dream of mine,” Arwen explained. “Dancing is a passion of mine, and I really want to teach dance.”

With her natural talent for choreographing, Arwen is excited to take to the stage and showcase her skills to a packed audience.

Year 11 student Hayden Hudak comes on stage as Reuben, one of Joseph’s 11 brothers.

For Hayden, this production really excites him, as his passion aligns highly with the stage.

“I have been involved with Seagrass since its inception and have always been helping put together shows and helping at every single rehearsal,” he explained.

Hayden said he was looking to pursue theatre as a profession following secondary school, wishing to get onto Broadway.

Not surprisingly, Hayden’s childhood is closely tied with musical theatre, having been born in New York City, and spending time at the theatre with his parents. Hayden is well known amongst the cast and crew for his tips and tricks for the stage, and for always being a helping hand.

“We wish to thank Mr McDermid, Mrs Napier and all the teachers and staff who have assisted and mentored our students withing Seagrass,” Allegra explained.

Allowing equal opportunity for all students with varying interests, the Seagrass rehearses and performs from the purpose-built Performing Arts Centre at Proserpine State High School.

“It’s amazing how everyone gets behind us and supports us.”

‘Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat’ performances will be April 18 to 20, with three evening shows and one matinee on Saturday.

Tickets are going on sale in the upcoming fortnight. Keep updated via the Proserpine State High School Facebook page and website for more information.

Some of the Seagrass Theatre cast, ready for the ‘Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat’. Photo credit: Bronte Hodge

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A New Set Of Wheels For Local Legend

February 23, 2024

Around town, Jaime Sparke is a notable figure, a much loved local and dedicated music fan, whose influence and impact is felt within the waves of the beats in the street.

He has become a regular face on the Airlie Beach Main Street, having moved to the region over 10 years ago, the temperature and climate agreeing with him and his active lifestyle, with many a local recognising him and his furry friend, Rocco.

Jaime’s diagnosis of cerebral palsy has not hindered his passion for life, with his active lifestyle including his job with the Airlie Beach Hotel in Band Promotions, his love for the beach and being outdoors, and spending time with his Rocco.

However, his primary mode of transport, a 20-year-old Honda Jazz, has outgrown its appropriateness, no longer supporting his needs, or catering to his lifestyle.

“The car isn’t entirely accessible,” explained Ben, a member of Jaime’s support family.

“Every time we use the car, we damage a part of Jaime’s wheelchair, and the car. And having Rocko riding on Jaime’s lap is cute, but not ideal.

“For the safety aspect, we would prefer something with a bit more space, something easier for Jaime to get into, and that we’re not damaging his chair too much.”

The NDIS specify they will only make the necessary modifications to a brand-new vehicle, something which Jaime and his family is unable to financially afford at this time.

With this in mind, Jaime has decided to crowd fund his way to a new car, hoping that people will support his desire for comfort and freedom which, in turn will enable him to give back more to the community he loves.

Primarily communicating through sign language, Ben translated for Jaime, explaining that Jaime is looking forward to riding shotgun in the new car, as well as sleeping in the car comfortably when travelling around

“Jaime is also excited to go on more road trips,” Ben translated.

“On our last road trip, he got a lasting piece of memorabilia, a tattoo of Rocko that he just loves.”

Having a new vehicle will provide freedom and comfort to Jaime.

“Jaime’s a bit of a local celebrity, and we all appreciate the people who have donated to the cause,” Ben explained.

To donate to Jaime’s new ride, please scan the QR Code here.

1. Jaime Sparke with Rocco riding shotgun

   2. Jaime and Rocco at work at the Airlie Beach Hotel

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Feedback Sux! … Does it though?

February 22, 2024

Last month I confessed to my dislike for setting goals – this month I’m professing my love for feedback!


And not just positive feedback – feedback which, when phrased the right way, is constructive, motivating and provides a clear pathway to creating tangible positive outcomes.


Negative, positive, constructive, and those hideous 360s – all feedback can be fraught with danger if it doesn’t land the right way and can result in further discord in the workplace than previous. Here’s some simple rules in providing constructive feedback to help you navigate your way to successfully build engagement, trust and growth.


   1. It’s about the behaviour – not the person. Discuss feedback objectively rather than create a personal attack on a team-mate. i.e. “You’re always late” vs “Do you think your Ops Manager role could be ready to roll by 8am each morning? If so, what’s stopping this from occurring?” The second scenario creates a safe entity to discuss further rather than having to defend your actions (which may occur in the first scenario).

   2. Feedback is a dialogue – not a directive. This means you are entering into a two-way discussion where you need to invite them to contribute to the discussion. If you simply give feedback and end the discussion you have only posited your point of view. This can alienate many people and create resentment if they have not been given a space for their perspective and to be heard.

   3. Listening creates space to learn – so learn to listen rather than continually provide your perspective.

   4. Create trust in workplace relationships – to be open to critical feedback we need to trust the person has our best interest at heart

   5. How often do you ask for feedback on your own performance? Not only will you gain insights into how others perceive you, you will undoubtably find new areas to grow in.

   6. Positive effort should praise effort as well as ability – some people may never kick the goals you set out for them but should still be recognised for the amount of effort they put in to the job at hand.

   7. Strong workplace relationships are built on a culture of honest, respectful feedback

   8. And lastly, everyone loves receiving positive feedback, but many just forget to give it ... don’t be that person.

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Chamber Chat

February 22, 2024

Holy cow – blink and it is the end of February! 2024 is charging ahead! Have you settled in and hitting your stride? Or are you still trying to get a handle on the year?

An essential quality for everyone in business is endurance – from starting a new business, having big goals to achieve, or just your to do list. Endurance in businesses means owners, operators, and their teams have the willingness to stick it out and the ability to work through challenges productively. Like any endurance athlete, businesses need to work on their strengths, fitness, and resilience to be the best and on top of their game. Looking after you and your team’s physical and psychological health is a great starting point for endurance building. While the year might be moving quickly for some, we have many months ahead. 

Just in case you missed it, the Whitsunday Regional Council election campaign is on.

The Chamber congratulates all Mayoral and Councillor candidates for stepping forward and their commitment to serving our community. As in the past, the Chamber will once again provide our members the opportunity to meet the mayoral candidates to explore specific issues relating to business, industry, and economic development. Event details are available on our website. This will be a member only event – focussed on business and economic issues specifically relating to local business and industry.

Post-election, the Chamber looks forward to briefing our newly elected representatives on our Ten Point Advocacy Plan. The purpose of the Chamber’s advocacy plan is to reflect and clearly articulate the major issues of shared aspiration and concern for the Whitsunday business community as a way of influencing decisions across all levels of government.

With Allan Milostic, President, Whitsunday Chamber of Commerce & Industry

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In The Know With Bowen Chamber

February 22, 2024

By Paul Gellatly

At last week’s Bowen Chamber of Commerce meeting, Sean Brown, CEO of Bowen Pipeline Company, outlined his vision for a $600 million, 115km pipeline from the Burdekin to Bowen, using on-site extracted HDPE plastic pipeline yielding a 45 per cent cost saving and a five-million km reduction in B-double truck movements.

The pipe is to be extruded in 100m lengths and laid in a cutting that follows an old stock route for much of the way, which will simplify the approvals process. It will end at the Don River and will have 72 branches, many going to agriculture, which will ensure that the growing season can be extended from eight months a year to the entire year, and additional job certainty for farm workers. It will also allow opening up of a 400,000ha area south of Home Hill to high-value cropping.

BPC is in consultation with Sunwater to take a minimum of 80,000ML a year from the Burdekin dam total of 195,000ML available, providing a boost for agriculture, aquaculture, construction and others. The Burdekin water could also be used to top up Bowen's supply from Proserpine when needed.

Mr Brown said the company was seeking equity funding for the project, based on a model that he said aligned with industry expectations and timetables.

Another beneficiary could be the proposed HyNQ North Queensland Clean Energy hub, where water could be supplied for hydrogen production.

Mr Brown said the Federal Government had contributed $5 million to advance the business case, which was to be lodged in the next few weeks. He acknowledged the support of state ministers for agriculture, Mark Furner, and water, Glenn Butcher, and local member Dale Last.

"We hope that the (state) ministers will decide the project before the election," he said.

"We should be ready to start 12 months after that."

The meeting also farewelled Whitsunday Regional Council Mayor, Cr Julie Hall, who is retiring ahead of the March local government poll.

Cr Hall outlined some of her achievements during her term, which included expansion of the Proserpine airport terminal and increased flight services, and the Shute Harbour marine terminal, and the "tiny homes" project for older women.

Chamber chairman Bruce Hedditch paid tribute to Cr Hall for overriding the perceived alternating funding biases between north and south in the region, adding that: "You brought us all together."

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Is Our Super World Class?

February 22, 2024

Most countries have a system to encourage citizens to save for their retirement. In the USA they are called 401K Accounts, and, in the UK, they are called Pension Accounts. In Australia we call our system the Superannuation system.

Is our super system a good system? Would we get a gold medal in the ‘Super Olympics’?

When assessing a retirement system, the big questions are, how much investment choice and flexibility you have, and what access to your money you are giving up in return for the tax incentives offered. In Australia all types of super products operate under the same legislation around access and tax, but different types of products have more investment choice and better tax management. In this article we’ll focus on the overall system and next month we’ll delve into the different types of super products - industry funds, retail funds and self-managed funds.

Investment Choice. Like their UK and USA based competitors, Australian super funds can invest in a wide range of investments both directly and via managed accounts.  You can invest in traditional assets like cash, fixed interest, shares and property as well as the newer, less proven trading investments like currency and crypto.    However, all investments must be for the sole purpose of funding the members retirement and there are rules to stop schemes to derive any benefits from your super investments before retirement. In all three country’s systems it is possible to borrow or gear to help purchase investments in your super account. On these criteria, our system is pretty good and line ball with the USA and UK.

Where our system really shines is regards tax benefits and access. There’s always a trade-off for the generous tax benefits of super in losing access to your money until retirement. In our system the tax benefits are huge, personal marginal tax rates for the bulk of people working full time are in the 34.5% bracket ($45,000pa to $120,000pa) with higher income earners, like miners, often in the second highest bracket on 39% ($120,000pa to $180,000pa). Our super system is attractive in the accumulation period, pre age 60, where interest and deductible contributions are taxed at 15%. Even more so in the pension period post 60 and retirement where there is 0% tax on interest earned and 0% tax on pensions or lump sums drawn out.  Full, tax-free access to your money in retirement.  

Based on the unrestricted access to your money and a zero-tax rate in retirement, our super system is world class and takes out the gold medal at the ‘Super Olympics’.

If you think you could benefit from a discussion with a Financial Planner, give us a call on 49467359 of visit www.eclipsefp.com.au  

There’s no obligation, the first meeting is free and all fees are spelled out clearly in advance.  If you’re not sure, try coming to our Retirement Planning seminar in April, keep an eye on our Facebook page and this paper for details.

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Marketing Update with Laura Knipe From Tourism Whitsundays

February 22, 2024

This week marked the start of our latest campaign aimed at boosting visitation through the traditionally quieter periods. We have kicked off with a billboard outside Brisbane Airport and a sponsorship of ‘The Daily Aus’ newsletter and Podcast to target the under 35 demographic nationally.


If you travel outside The Whitsundays in the coming weeks and months, keep your eyes peeled for our world-class Whitsundays experiences and accommodation operators in ads on social media.

They are also on display banner ads on websites and on bus stops and billboards, on the radio and even on the television in our key market areas – Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne!

We’re giving a taste of The Whitsundays to all the soon-to-be shivering residents of Australia’s southern states and our fellow Queenslanders down south.


Last week I celebrated my one-year anniversary at Tourism Whitsundays, which also marks one year of living in The Whitsundays – where has the time gone?

In the last year I haven’t stopped pinching myself – I can’t believe that I am lucky enough to call this region home. If you haven’t been out to experience the beauty in our backyard recently, this is your sign to get out there!

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The Bowen Collective, Creating A Local Lasting Legacy

February 22, 2024

Are you a Bowen local, with a passion for the region, an interest in writing and storytelling, and desire to give back to the local youth?

If so, the Bowen Neighbourhood Centre has the program for you!

The idea for the Program stemmed from a team chat where it was noticed that Bowen’s youngest didn’t know much about local traditions and history.

“Our children don’t know a lot of the traditions that Bowen has, things that the older in our community just inherently know,” explained Stephanie Cora, Bowen Neighbourhood Centre’s Executive Officer.

“The Bowen Collective is about story, of sharing stories that are central to Bowen.”

From this conversation, the team decided to introduce The Bowen Collective as a short 10-week program, where locals get together to create, illustrate, and write children’s books, covering Bowen’s history, traditions, and folklore.

“It’s for locals by locals,” Stephanie said.

“Our goal is for these books to go into our local schools for students to read, for teachers to use, and for our children to grow more knowledgeable about the beautiful town they live in.”

Organised and hosted by Bowen Neighbourhood Centre, the Bowen Collective is looking for volunteers and participants to take part in the program.

Contact the Bowen Neighbourhood Centre for further information on 07 4786 2111, or info@bowennc.org.au.

Expressions of interest close Friday March 1

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Maintain Your Generator With Bowen Small Motors

February 22, 2024

With two more months of cyclone season on the cards on the first half of 2024, now is the best time to get cyclone prepared, with Scott and Lisa Raisbeck of Bowen Small Motors ready and prepped to get you and your family best equipped.

Scott’s number one necessity during a cyclone is a capable and appropriate generator.

“And even outside of cyclone season, we have enough power blackouts, that having a generator handy is great in any emergency,” he explained.

“However, having a generator is great, but making sure to maintain is the best thing to keep it going.”

Scott’s top tips for maintaining your generator:

“Use good fuel. We use 95 Octane, but don’t use 98, because it’s too high in octane.

“When you’re not using the generator for months at a time, change the fuel regularly. Or, remove all the fuel and leave it until you need it again in the summer months.

“If you prefer to leave it full of fuel, in the case of an emergency, get a good stabilizer, which makes your fuel last longer.”

Scott typically sees an influx of generator repairs as a warning is called for a potential tropical cyclone, for issues that are simple to avoid.

“Keeping your generator well maintained, with either a stabilizer in the fuel or empty when not used makes sure that no blockages can interfere with the carburettor,” Scott explained.

“It is also a good thing to check your air filters frequently. This is a simple thing but can cause a pain of issues.”

Scott Raisbeck, looking after your generator this cyclone season. Photo credit: Bronte Hodge

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Seniors To Stay Connected With Bowen Neighbourhood Centre

February 22, 2024

Perfect for the older Bowen locals, the Bowen Neighbourhood Centre is eager to launch their Stay Connected program which helps participants use technology effectively.

Designed for Bowen locals over the age of 55-years-old, the Stay Connected program is a weekly program, that will run for 12-months, with small, yet intimate classes, where the program coordinators can ensure each participant is confident and able to navigate the week’s topic effectively.

“We’ve designed this program to assist individuals to navigate the internet,” Bowen Neighbourhood Centre Executive Officer, Stephanie Cora explained.

The program will cover how to use different smart phones, including Apple and Android devices, iPads and tablets, and integral websites and apps that are incredibly useful to modern life.

These apps include MyGov, HotDoc and other health related apps, email, online shopping apps for Woolworths and Coles, and the Whitsunday Regional Council Disaster Dashboard.

“We have this program kicking off in March, so please register your interest today,” urged Stephanie.

The program will also include cheat sheets of the week’s session, so that participants can easily reflect and remember the completed topics.

“It’s so handy. Put the cheat sheet on the fridge and if you forget something, it’s just right there!”

Contact the Bowen Neighbourhood Centre to register today.  

Register your expression of interest by calling the Bowen Neighbourhood Centre on 4786 2111

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Share Your Story At Weekly Support Group

February 23, 2024

Anyone in the community that wakes up in the morning feeling sad, lost or alone is encouraged to reach out and come along to the On The Men-d Support Group which takes place at the Skatepark in Cannonvale every Wednesday.

Initially a men’s group, the support network is now open to everyone regardless of gender.

Established by qualified counsellor, Bob Eden, the informal weekly catch-up is an opportunity for people to share their thoughts and feelings in a safe and respectful space.

“It’s all about expressing your feelings and helping you heal,” said Bob.

“If you want to share, then share, if you don’t want to, then don’t, it’s totally up to you.

“This is a safe place of non-judgement where everyone will feel acceptance and validation.”

Bob started his own mental health journey in 1984 when he began suffering with depression, a condition he battled for 20 years.

During this time, he was “locked into anti-depressant addiction” and living in a system which he believes “wanted customers not cures”.

It took him many years to realise that what really helped him was talking and sharing his experiences with others.

This is the main impetus behind his support group where the philosophy of the talking stick offers everyone in the group a voice to share their stories if they wish.

The support group takes place every Wednesday at the Skatepark in Cannonvale at 10am.

There is also a meeting every Saturday at 7am via zoom.

For more information about the group, please contact Bob directly on fideliobob@hotmail.com or call him on 0458 772 726.

WHAT: On The Men’d Support Group

WHERE: Cannonvale Skatepark

WHEN: Every Wednesday at 10am

Caption: Bob Eden started the support group to encourage other people to share their stories. Photo credit: Rachael Smith

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STAY SAFE ON THE WATER!! Navigating checklist

February 22, 2024

• Check the weather, check the weather, check the weather! – and if you are in any doubt, don’t go out!

• Visibility: Operate slowly in rain, fog, mist, smoke and glare. Take special care when travelling at night as potential hazards are harder to see. Ensure you operate at a safe speed.

• Other boats: Slow down in busy areas and when near moored or anchored boats, and remember — working boats and larger ships may have difficulty manoeuvring.

• Navigation hazards: Slow down in shallow areas and when boating in unfamiliar water. Water depth can vary and change quickly, particularly around reefs.

• Wind, waves and currents: These may affect the boat’s stopping and turning ability. The type of motor, hull and design will all impact on the boat’s manoeuvrability.

• Check your navigation lights are working and fitted correctly and use them after dusk or in times of reduced visibility.

How to avoid marine incidents

Most marine incidents are avoidable, and are often caused through inattention, lack of knowledge and experience, or complacency of the skipper. Remember, if you are the skipper, you are responsible!


   • Know at least the basics of the give way (COLREGS) regulations on the water, and obey them at all times.

   • Make your intentions clear - actions must be clear and deliberate so other skippers can see your intentions. Never assume the skipper of another boat will observe the rules; always be prepared to take action to avoid a collision.

   • Keep a proper lookout – a proper lookout, through sight and sound and all available navigation tools, must be kept at all times. Slow down and take extra precautions in bad weather, restricted visibility and the hours of darkness to assist with the early detection of other boats in the area.

   • Assess risk of collision and take action - use all means available – sight, sound, radar, plotter - to assess whether other boats pose a risk of collision. If a risk of collision exists take early, positive action (changing course and/or speed) to eliminate the risk. Never assume the other boat will automatically ‘give way’.


   • Know the waterway – plan your trip and use navigational aids such as charts, GPS and navigation beacons.

   • Pay attention – many groundings occur because the skipper misreads a beacon through inattention.

   • Tides – the height of the tide may mean some areas are unnavigable at certain times. Check before you venture out.

Check out Maritime Safety Queensland’s free Recreational Boating Handbook, available from any MSQ office, or online at the MSQ website.

VMRW membership is cheap insurance at just $90. You can join online at https://vmrwhitsundays.com.au/join/ and your membership helps to keep us going in case you need us. We hope you don’t – but we are here 24/7/365 if you do!

Contributed with thanks to Whitsunday Volunteer Marine Rescue.

Caption: Hilarious images of boating mishaps. Please note; none of these happened in the Whitsundays. Photos supplied

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Editors note

February 15, 2024

Hi Everyone,

Well, the election race has certainly begun!

Over the past two days I have spoken directly with 26 different Local Government Election candidates, 13 from the Whitsundays and 13 from the Burdekin.

It has been a whirlwind of congratulations, conversations, and off-the-record statements which of course we won’t share in these pages.

What you will see this week, however, is an introduction to all the candidates and statements from current Councillors who are unopposed and will remain in their seat.

I am very excited to see who will become the next Mayor and, with some very qualified people standing for the position, I think it will be a tight race.

Over the next few weeks, we will be following the election race closely so if you have any questions you would like to see posed to any of the candidates, please email them through and we will find an answer for you.

I hope all the election campaigns will be run cleanly and fairly with all candidates focusing on their own race, spruiking what they can do for the region and the people rather than bagging their opposition.

Changing pace now, I’d just like to say how exciting it was this week to meet representatives of the local businesses involved with Tiny Homes Project.

Each of them has stepped forward to donate time, skills and supplies to help with the construction of four tiny homes for homeless women over 55 in Proserpine.

Do you have any skills you could bring to the table? Are you a retired tradesperson? Are you a small business that could find the time to give locally?

If so, please reach out to this incredible charity and get involved with making big changes in our small community.


Quote of the Week: “Sit at the table where they are talking about growth, goals and money. Not other people” (Unknown)

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Locals Supporting Locals Small Business Helps Build Tiny Homes

February 15, 2024

A small group of local business representatives gathered at the Whitsunday Housing Company earlier this week to discuss how they will contribute towards building four tiny homes for homeless women over 55 in Proserpine.

This meeting brought together some of the inspiring businesses which have decided to step forward and offer their skills and supplies to the Tiny Homes Project.  

The project is being run by local charity Whitsunday Housing Company and over the last 14 months it has raised just under $700,000 to construct the homes.

An initiative of several local women who have all put their energy and effort into getting this development off the ground, the Tiny Homes Project is an entirely locally driven campaign which is now close to fruition.

And thanks to the kindness of a number of local businesses, the costs of the project have decreased, enabling any additional money to be ploughed into extra housing.

It is planned that by June this year, the Tiny Homes Project will have broken ground and four modular homes will start to take shape.  

Development Approval will be sought from the Whitsunday Regional Council over the next few weeks, after which the soon to be donated land in Proserpine will be signed over to Whitsunday Housing Company.

From here Mark Thompson and Joanne Moynihan will oversee the next stage of the project.

“This landmark moment has been made possible with the help of a variety of grants, a sea of fundraising events, business sponsorships and partnering with local events such as the Mayor’s Ball” Fundraising Coordinator Sandy Clark said.

“I don’t think people realise how many folks there are living in cars but once you start getting involved with this sort of project, you get a bit of a fright,” said Anthony Wensley Manager from Stratco in Proserpine.

“This is a great initiative and wonderful to see locals supporting locals.”

“It’s a charity that is not government run, so let’s get behind it and help them!” said Ross Hammond from Hayman Electrical.

Narelle Stewart from Whitsunday Marble and Granite has been part of the project since inception and says the more people who get involved, the better it would be.

“It’s a fantastic project and the more locals get to know about it the more people will want to help,” she explained.

“There will be retired builders and contractors who might like to come in at the building stage to help out – I’m sure everyone would be welcome.”

If you are a tradesperson and would like to contribute your expertise or if you are a small business who would like to donate some supplies, please reach out to The Tiny Homes Project.

This is a direct, locally driven response to the housing crisis in the region and, together with the Whitsunday Housing Company, there are more plans to implement similar projects in different areas.

The Tiny Homes Project would like to sincerely thank everyone who has been involved with the project so far, big and small businesses, every donation has been appreciated.  

Caption: Some of the many businesses involved in the project. Luke Eacersall from Bunnings, Tim Gable from Woodman Group, Narelle Stewart from Whitsunday Marble and Granite, volunteer Fiona Donnellan, Joanne Moynihan from The Whitsunday Housing Company, volunteer Sandy Clark, volunteer, Shirley Lethlean, Ben Storer from Stratco (seated), Ross Hammond from Haymans Electrical, Anthony Wensley from Stratco and Dannii Gibson from Beaumont Tiles.

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Toxic Spill Caused Highway Closure

February 15, 2024

A truck rollover on the Bruce Highway, on Tuesday, February 13, caused a five-kilometre exclusion zone.

The truck was travelling on the Bruce Highway on Tuesday morning, when is rolled over at Bloomsbury, south of Proserpine, at 11.30am, causing a blockage for both lanes of traffic.

The truck was transporting ammonium nitrate, an agricultural fertilizer which is commonly utilised by mining industries for explosives.

The exclusion zone was established following the truck leaking ammonium nitrate, with police evacuating properties along Stafford Road, Campbells Road, Caping Road and O’Donnells Road.

The Bruce Highway was closed from 11.30am, with traffic diverted along Kunipipi Road an Midge Point Road.

By the morning of Wednesday, February 14, independent crews were cleaning up the spill, with representatives of the truck driver on site assisting.

At time of print, the highway remained closed, and emergency services were hesitant to release an time to expect the reopening.

The driver was transported to Proserpine Hospital in a stable condition, and paramedics remained at the scene to assist other emergency services.

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Local Election Feature Who’s Got Your Vote? Local Government Election Race Begins

February 15, 2024

At 12pm this Tuesday nominations closed for the upcoming Local Government Election and it was formally confirmed that four Mayoral Candidates have registered and two Councillor positions are opposed by a total four Councillor Candidates.

Richard Evans, Ry Collins, Peter Hood and Phil Batty have all announced their Mayoral candidacy.

Meanwhile the Division 2 seat, which encompasses Cannonvale, Cannon Valley and Woodwark, is contested with Councillor Clay Bauman the only seated candidate to be challenged by newly announced opponent, Tony Price.

The other seat up for grabs is Division 6 which includes the township of Bowen.

Previous Councillor of Division 6, Mike Brunker, announced his retirement last week and now John Finlay and David Paddon have stepped forward to vie for the newly vacated position.

The remaining seats are unopposed and current Councillors will continue with the new term.

Jan Clifford will remain Councillor of Division 1 which encompasses Jubilee Pocket, Mandalay, Flametree, Airlie Beach, and parts of Cannonvale.

John Collins will remain Councillor of Division 3 which is primarily Proserpine, extending to include Lake Proserpine, Andromache, Conway and Wilson Beach and Lethebrook.

Michelle Wright will remain Councillor of Division 4 which extends further inland, with Bogie, Collinsville and Scottville, Mount Coolan, and Gumlu.

Gary Simpson will remain Councillor of Division 5 which encompasses the localities of Cape Gloucester, Gregory River, Riordanvale, Sugarloaf, and the regional outskirts of Bowen.

The local government election is due to take place on March 16 and with three positions open for public vote, the campaign race is expected to heat up in the coming weeks.

To kick things off, have introduced a Meet the Candidates feature this week and asked each person the following questions:

   1. Who are you and what do you think qualifies you for the role?

   2. If you could initiate a project or address one issue in the region – what would it be and how you would go about it?

   3. What do you think the people most want now and how would you give it to them?

   4. Tell us what your first 100 days would look like if you were successful in your election bid?

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Richard Evans Mayoral Candidate

February 15, 2024

I wish to serve our Whitsunday community. I’m a seasoned leader with a 40-year track record in national politics and industry leadership. My leadership skills have developed from service as a federal member of parliament during the Keating-Howard years; championing national and small businesses and industry at a state and national level as Executive Director for the Franchise Council Australia, Australian Retailers Association, Australian Fashion Council, and Clubs Victoria; and my volunteer contribution with local Whitsundays community and cultural groups.

There will always be competing issues to address. The strategic priority is to unite the region. Let’s get a shared view of who we are, what we want to be, what to preserve and where we can progress. Let’s consolidate ideas, learn other perspectives, and set a plan that unites us all. From there, we can move confidentially forward together, taking the Whitsundays from the coffee table to the policy table, and create real positive change and opportunities for everyone.

I believe our community wants to be proud of our region where we live, work, learn, and play – Whitsunday Pride, if you like. Where we all know our rights and are responsible and respectful in looking after each other. That starts from the top, and our community expects integrity – honesty, trust, and transparency, to deliver on what we say – from its elected representatives and Council. That’s where we need to start, the integrity, unity and leadership of Councillors and Council.

First 100 days will include unifying Councillors on priorities, meeting and listening to our community, partnering with the Council CEO on governance frameworks for informed decision making and managing conflicts of interest, internal review of Council, and stakeholder briefings. There will be two major outcomes from the 100 days – (1) Ratepayer Engagement Framework, providing improved pathways for residents to productively engage with Council, and (2) Mayoral Strategy, a public plan for the community to hold me accountable during my term.

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Ry Collins Mayoral Candidate

February 15, 2024

I'm a passionate and experienced local advocate for our region with a strong and diverse business background. My current experience in addressing our economic challenges, promoting our best opportunities, coupled with strong family values and deep understanding of our community's needs, equips me to lead effectively. I'm committed first and foremost to listening, understanding, and acting on the concerns of our residents to drive outcomes, meaningful progress and growth.

Addressing the current challenges in housing and accommodation supply would be a priority, this issue is having a massive impact on the cost of living, community well-being and our ability to grow our region. We need to look at what levers we can pull and I would look to establish a working group to engage and collaborate with government, community groups and the development industry to increase affordable housing options, utilising innovative solutions and sustainable development practices to ensure long-term viability and community growth.

People are seeking relief from the rising cost of living and to live in a prosperous region with future opportunities. By leveraging my business acumen and advocacy experience, I aim to attract investment, support community groups and local businesses, work effectively with the councillor group to run an efficient and accountable business and implement cost-saving initiatives for our community where possible. I’ll work hard toward these goals, be a strong voice for the community in fostering economic and social growth, that is my commitment.

My initial focus will be on engaging with the breadth of our community to collectively map out urgent needs and priorities. I’m willing to engage and listen to anyone and will advance this feedback through council and through external advocacy. I'll seek to initiate a review of our current housing response and support an upcoming council budget that is considered and prioritises any actions that may deliver cost relief. Establishing a clear, actionable roadmap and vision would be crucial.

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Peter Hood Airlie and now Proserpine

February 15, 2024

45 years as Principal Accountant in public practice. 45 years registered Tax Agent. 45 years registered Company, Forensic and Asset Manager Auditor. 4,700+ clients throughout Australia. Lived and practised in The Whitsundays for 25+ years. 450+ clients in The Whitsundays; individuals, businesses, clients in agriculture and tourism. Clients Collinsville, Bowen, Proserpine, Airlie, Shute Harbour, the Islands. 1,600+ clients that work with Australian Councils on a near-daily basis. Worked with the Public Service Sector, including Councils, for 45+ years.



There are 100’s of projects for fixing in The Whitsundays importantly; housing, bad roads and bad roads flooding. But a significant priority that contributes to fixing the foregoing is to provide the impetus, incentives and opportunities that encourage new and existing businesses to grow and prosper. To make The Whitsundays more welcoming to new business entrepreneurs. Revamp WRC’s Regional Strategy and Planning Directorate and change its catchcry to; “How can we assist your goals and wants efficiently & effectively?”



A better quality of life and cash flows. As an accountant in public practice in The Whitsundays for 25+ years, my practice is now providing escalating no-charge services to struggling families and businesses, particularly to residents struggling with the technologies for dealing with Centrelink and other government offices. My practice provides no-charge attendance to those starting a new business or innovating their existing businesses. As Mayor, I would escalate the input of these skills and passions to the Whitsunday Communities. 



Not have the QLD Public Service stand-over goons “encourage me” (which is common practise for all Councillors and Mayors) to stay out of WRC hardcore business. I would say that Julie Hall might have much to say about this, and I know at least two WRC Councillors would admit (via whistle-blower protection) to the QLD Government's stand-over tactics to enforce compliance with their rules. Most of the other Councillors don’t have the fortitude to deal with these matters.

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Philip Batty Mayoral Candidate

February 15, 2024

My name is Philip Batty I first arrived in the Whitsundays in 2002. I have held senior executive positions for several very large Australian and international businesses during my 35 plus years in hospitality. My passion for the region is evidenced by my involvement in securing commercial flights and cruise ships to the region plus promoting the Whitsundays through a highly successful flash mob promotion, which I organised, reaching almost 2 million people around the world.

Affordable housing is a hot topic for the region and I believe there are opportunities to consider actions which will improve the situation and provide a long term solution which will grow the economy and make attracting both workers and enterprise to the whole of the shire. I will work closely with Council, State government and the local Housing authority to discuss these options and make plans to tackle the issue.

People of the Whitsundays want, and deserve, a Council who truly acts for their benefit. A Council which is accountable and responsible for the future prosperity of the ratepayers. My approach will always be one of integrity, honesty, transparency and passion. I believe I have the business acumen and the strength to lead a Council for the people.

My first 100 days of a 1460-day term will be to listen and learn then to question and listen and learn again. The decisions and actions made by any council should be made with a long-term vision for the overall benefit of the region. It is important to clearly hear and understand all the issues currently and foresee long term infrastructure needs and community expectations for many years to come. It is not a sprint but a strategic long term, never ending, plan for the future of the Whitsundays.

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Gary Simpson Candidate for Division 5

February 15, 2024

I am a long-term local sugar cane grower and have been proactively involved in the sugar industry for many years, including being a Canegrowers director and the inaugural Chairman of Sugar Services Proserpine.  I am the current Division 5 councillor and Deputy Mayor.

The one issue I would address is cost of living pressure. It’s not a problem that I can fix, but I will do my best to limit any changes to council fees and charges.

Honest representation, a good work ethic and a commonsense approach, which is what I am doing my best to give. I feel I have a sense of duty to the community and have something to offer for the benefit of others.

With my experience, I will be able to hit the ground running. The first thing on the books will be to set the budget for 2024/2025. I will continue to do my best to represent and advocate for Division 5, as well as the Whitsunday Regional Council area as a whole.

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Jan Clifford Division 1 Councillor (Uncontested)

February 15, 2024

I feel very honoured to be uncontested for the Division 1 seat and I am very much looking forward to the next four years working with and for the community.

I’ve got some big projects that I’ll continue to push forwards with, I would like to see a massive waterpark in Airlie Beach at the Airlie Beach Foreshore.

I am also advocating for the redevelopment of the Airlie Beach main street and I would like to see a multi-story carpark as well as a place of safe refuge for extreme weather events.

I would also like to have somewhere where people can fish safely from the land, probably somewhere near the VMR.

In addition, I will be overseeing ongoing issues such as street lighting and footpaths.

In the first 100 days I will begin lobbying for the waterpark and multi-storey carpark.

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John Collins Candidate for Division 3

February 15, 2024

I have owned and operated a small business, Downtown Butchery, in the Main Street of Proserpine for over 30 years and, together with my wife, Jill, raised four daughters. It’s been a privilege to represent Proserpine and the surrounding areas on Council since 2012. I believe that I have the experience and passion to continue contributing to Division 3 and our wonderful region.



I’m proud to say that I’ve achieved some major projects for Proserpine and surrounds but I’m not going to sit here and promise the world to be re-elected. The cost of living is worse than we’ve ever seen, and my goal is to keep rates as low as possible for residents, while continuing to offer great services for our community.



Of course, I will continue to advocate for projects like the Lake Proserpine Redevelopment, a Proserpine RV Park, seeing through the Wilsons Beach Swimming Enclosure rebuild and finding new ways for the younger generation to enjoy their spare time in Proserpine, but my main focus is not contributing to cost of living for families.



When I first ran for Council, I stood for transparency and common sense. These basic values are what I continue to stand by today and everyday around the boardroom table. For me, being your elected representative doesn’t mean getting my photo taken at an event, it means working to make a difference where it truly matters. My phone is always on, and door is always open to assist - no matter how big or small your issue may be.

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Michelle Wright Candidate For Division 4

February 15, 2024

As the current Councillor for Division 4, I have a four-year term under my belt already which brings a fair bit of experience. During my term, I’ve gotten to know a lot of people in my division. I understand that if they’re contacting a Councillor, they genuinely have a concern, so I always do my best to help as much as I can. I’m married with three school age children and have lived in Bowen my whole life, a fourth generation local.

The biggest thing that I would love to rectify immediately is the Ted Cunningham Bridge. We have been working on a resolution and by the end of the wet season we hope to make headway. People need to be connected; they need essential services, so we need to get this moving. Also, Yasso Point at Queens Beach has been a personal project of mine. After community consultation, it was decided that we need to take action to beautify the area and reduce hooning.

Most residents I’ve worked with over the four years say they want honesty and to know that you will turn up. They also want a good working Council that listens to the people and tries to action their concerns. Just to show up, every day, do you best and try your hardest for the community. Not everything is perfect, that’s why I am in the job, I’m in it to balance out community and council – to be the conduit between the two.

Based on the previous term, I worked as hard on the first day right up to the last day and I’ll be working like that again. The first 100 days will be spent getting to know the new Councillors, as it is important we work together for the betterment of the community. Our role is to hit the ground running, and I’ll be continuing where I left off, making sure I’m present and approachable in the community, a person to rely upon.

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Whitsunday Coast Chamber of Commerce and Industry Meet The Member

February 15, 2024

The ‘why’ of your business and other key lessons from Kapow Interactive

Ambi Middleton joined Whitsunday based digital marketing company Kapow Interactive in 2021, switching career paths after spending time in the maritime and health industries.

“No one day is ever the same at Kapow Interactive. One day I’ll be managing social media for a builder, the next I’m designing a website for a childcare centre.  It helps broaden, inspire, and entertain my creative side,” she said.

Ambi is a sponge for knowledge. She joined the 2023 Certificate IV in Entrepreneurship program delivered in partnership by TAFE Queensland, Chamber, and Whitsunday Regional Council.

“The course helped us acknowledge why we are in business, and where we want to go with it,” said Ambi.

Her top insights from the course are:

“Know your core inside and out. It easy to go about your everyday and forget the major reason your business exists.

“Plan for success. You can’t get ahead without planning how to get there. Regular reviews are essential as life changes frequently!

“Prioritise business development. These tasks often go to the second tier, so bump them up the list.”

Inspired by the course, Ambi is leading work to transform Kapow Interactive’s internal systems.

As a Chamber member, she has found the events and business support excellent.

“Walking into a room of strangers can be so daunting, but Chamber events are so inviting, and they make it so easy to meet like-minded business owners,” said Ambi.

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Clay Bauman  Candidate for Division 2

February 15, 2024

As a Cannonvale resident, I believe we can improve how council serves us. My background in film and television has sharpened my budgeting skills and departmental leadership, equipping me to tackle the diverse challenges facing our community. I'm very careful and thorough with all the paperwork and I’m very able to help with people’s questions and concerns. These skills and experience gained since becoming a councillor in 2022 make me a great fit for the role. 

The most difficult thing is to choose just one. My current priority is new sporting facilities for our growing region. We need plans in place to start applying for grant funding from State and Federal Governments, the sooner the better. Another project already initiated is the Cannonvale Civic Centre which will save us hundreds of thousands of dollars of rent paid for the current library and give us community facilities that we’ve never had in Cannonvale or Airlie Beach before. 

Division 2 is one of the fastest growing areas in Australia. Our infrastructure network needs improvement, especially the missing footpaths that are forcing more e-scooters onto our narrow roads. Recently I was successful in getting a wider road in a new residential development and planning to provide a complete footpath network, rather than more dead-end paths. I'll continue to work on making our infrastructure match our community's needs for safer travel with Paluma Road being my next focus. 


My last 300 days are the proof in the pudding. I will keep listening to the community and being their voice in council, holding council to account to provide a higher standard of service. Key in our first 100 days will be next year's budget. Last year I put forward reducing rate increases for all owner-occupiers which was adopted unanimously. There is about five times as much money allocated to be spent in Division 2 than when I joined council. 

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David Paddon

February 15, 2024

Being a successful business owner, I understand the challenges and opportunities that our business owners face daily in Bowen. I am dedicated to representing the vibrant spirit of our community, and I am particularly passionate about fostering the growth of local businesses.

I am reaching out to individuals who share a common vision for our community’s growth, prosperity and resilience. I believe that together, we can invest in initiatives that fuel growth, making Bowen an even better place to live and work.

Our local businesses are the heartbeat of Bowen, creating jobs, supporting families, and shaping the unique character of our town I believe in the power of local investment to stimulate employment opportunities ensuring a resilient and prosperous Bowen economy.

I would be honoured to hear your thoughts on issues that matter most to you and your vision for Bowen’s future. Your insights are invaluable in shaping policies that truly reflect the needs and aspirations of our community.

If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to reach out. Together let’s embark on a journey to build a stronger Bowen- one job at a time.

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John Finlay Candidate for Division 6

February 15, 2024

My professional qualifications, experience and community involvement include: Fellow Certified Practising Accountants, Bachelor Business Degree, Graduate Certificate Local Government. Employment: Manager SBB Partners (Accountants, Business Advisors) Bowen. Former Managing Director Rekenen Accountants. Council Positions: Chief Executive Officer, Director Corporate and Financial Services. Community: Current Treasuer - Bowen Community Centre, Bowen Collinsville Enterprise, Bowen Christian Outreach Centre. Former Bowen Senior Rugby League Treasurer, Bowen Community Council Youth Committee Chairman, Bowen High School Parents and Citizens President, Bowen Soccer Treasurer.

Community events bring the social capital of our communities together and facilitating/staging/involvement of events are projects that Council can support. A strong cohesive community brings prosperity both in economic and social wealth. Seek the input/strategies from the regional business groups for consideration and develop strategies conjunctionally to address or assist in implementation. Rates and charges are often spoke about and upon the review of Council’s financial strategies ensure the community is well informed of Council’s budget and financial position.

The community wants to know that the Council is being operated efficiently and effectively, maintaining the community facilities, future capital works, has prosperous economic and social development strategies. Community forums and sharing at business and tourism forums are avenues to inform the community.


Gain an understanding and review of the current financial budgets, financial plans of Council’s operations, business activities, and Capital Works Program and asset management plans in preparation of the budget for 2024/25. Gain a knowledge and review of Council’s Economic Development plans and activities to further business and investment growth in the region.

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Tony Price Division 2 Candidate

February 15, 2024

With a long history in the Whitsundays, raising our family in Cannonvale, I’m well positioned to represent our community. A business owner-operator of 45 years (Cannonvale and Proserpine) I’ve gained strong communication and negotiation skills. I’m community-focussed and bring experience as a former Councillor. My decisions are made in the best interest of Division 2 and region. I’ve organised major events and been on boards for Tourism Whitsundays, NQ Games and NQ Economic Development supporting sustainable growth to the region.

In 2009 I suggested, and council now own a 96-hectare site at Mount Marlow. The proposed Master Plan at the time included a motel, caravan/motorhome park, individual sporting fields for athletics, all football codes, cricket, basketball, netball, tennis, Olympic size swimming pool, club house, grandstands and barbecue area. Sport/event tourism is big business and would attract plenty of State and Federal Government funding heading towards the 2032 Olympics. My plan included rural-residential lots to reduce cost and support affordable housing.

Secured local employment so people can enjoy the Whitsunday lifestyle. Infrastructure and support of tourism is key, so we need to create the planning environment that builds less costly homes or rental accommodation and a road network that can manage the increasing traffic flow. I’d encourage Council to increase tourism funding and chase government grants. Increased tourist numbers means more high quality accommodation, more jobs, more flights into the area and more funding for investment in community infrastructure and development.

I’d introduce myself to schools (the voice of youth is often missing, but important) and most businesses in Division 2 to get a feel for concerns and aspirations. I’d talk to Tourism Whitsundays to understand growth and management ambition. Using my experience as a long time Councillor, I can ensure that our projects are not only on the table but high on the agenda. I’d meet with councillors and staff to develop a collaborative relationship to deliver our projects.

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Leading With Purpose Whitsunday Christian College’s 2024 Captains

February 15, 2024

across year groups being friends, and of assisting each other to better themselves and excel at their chosen passions.

This passion for achieving your personal best, and of helping each other is strong in the 2024 College Captains both Primary and Secondary School.

For Secondary School Captain, Zoe Shepherd-Smith, she decided to become a captain because she’s always admired the captains, since watching them from Prep.

“I’ve seen a lot of captains, and they have helped me develop my own leadership skills, and helped me grow in confidence,” Zoe explained.

“Now that I have the opportunity, I wanted to step up and become a role model for younger years and serve the school. I want to support everyone and make an impact.”

Zoe’s a regular contributor to the school, consistently lending her time and energy to help in productions, school projects and extra curriculars.

“I just want to help out whenever and however I can,” Zoe explained.

“I am always happy to step in and give a hand where I can.”

Zoe is joined by Vice-Captain Paige Whincop, who’s involvement lends itself in the form of advocacy.

“I want to be a voice for the students, and make sure their ideas are heard and we are able to accomplish things that they wish for,” Paige explained.

“I want to be a leader that gets things done, and advocates.

“I want to show every student that we can have fun at school, and that it’s great to get involved with the school and to help out.”

A goal of School Captains is the further Whitsunday Christian College’s community outreach, extending off the great work the 2023 Captains began.

“We want to keep that ball rolling,” explained Paige.

“We want to keep getting involved in the community, with another food drive, and bring in the Primary School. We’ve got fun ideas too, like a bingo night, to help our fundraisers.

Kylie Langshore, Whitsunday Christian College Principal, said she was thrilled to see the new leadership team take shape.

“It’s inspiring to have two strong and confident young ladies take pride in our school,” she said.

“These ladies are working hard to contribute and create positive change, and they have already been quite successful and influential within the school community.”

Alongside Zoe and Paige are the two Primary Captains Oliver Webb and Elliana Langshore who are excited to instil positive energy and happiness in the College’s Primary School.

For Oliver, becoming a Captain is something he’s always aspired to do.

“My brother was a captain,” Oliver explained.

“He inspired me, and I am excited for what we can do.”

Elliana knew she wanted to become a captain since Year 3.

“I tried my hardest, and I want to be a voice for Primary School,” Elliana explained.

This pair have big plans for the College’s Primary School, wishing to hold the inaugural Whitsunday Christian College Talent Show, to allow each and every student the opportunity to showcase their special talent.

“We want to be able to give students the chance to get up and show off their talents and to encourage each other,” Elliana said.

Ms Langshore is excited for these two young students to stand at the helm of the College’s Primary school, and is pleased to see them bringing enthusiasm and excitement to the role.

“Our College is cultivating a culture of encouragement, and Oliver and Elliana are prepared and excited to help each and every student to achieve their own personal best,” she explained.

These Captains will be joined by other school leaders, along with the revitalised Student Representative Club, to promote the goals and values of the College.

Led by Year 12 Student Jackson Riley, the updated Student Representative Club will more closely work with the College Captains, to collaborate across year levels and college leadership with the informed opinions of students.

The year of 2024 is looking bright for Whitsunday Christian College, led by the confident and capable hands of young people, who’s enthusiasm is palpable and ideas are running rampant, ready to cultivate the College’s culture.

   1. The Senior Leadership Team

   2. The Primary Leadership Team

   3. The Senior Captains

   4. The Primary Captains

   5. Senior Captain, Zoe Shepherd-Smith, with parents

   6. Senior Vice-Captain, Paige Whincop, with mother

   7. SRC President, Jackson Riley, with parents

   8. Primary Captain, Ellianna Langshore, with parents

   9. Primary Captina, Oliver Webb, with parents. Photos supplied

Advertising Feature

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Connecting Cultures At Whitsunday Multicultural Festival

February 15, 2024

Get ready to share and experience the many cultures that call the Whitsunday Region home, with the return of the annual Whitsunday Multicultural Festival.

Celebrating and sharing the cultures that are prevalent in our region, the Multicultural Festival is sure to have a large variety of food and drink, arts, music, and performances scheduled for the day.

Don’t miss the excellent cultural cooking, traditional dance, and amazing activities and celebrate our Whitsunday Way.

This year, the Whitsunday Regional Council is expanding its reach, welcoming community groups and organisations to register interest to be a part of the day.

To register interest, visit the Council’s Engagement Portal at https://bit.ly/Multiculturalfestival2024


WHAT: Whitsunday Multicultural Festival

WHERE: Bowen Foreshore
WHEN: Saturday March 23

Performers at the 2023 Whitsunday Multicultural Festival. Photo: Supplied

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Proserpine High Led By Capable Students

February 15, 2024

The 2024 School Leaders of Proserpine State High School have officially been inducted into their roles, at a special ceremony last week.

These students are now eager to begin their year of school leadership with prowess and confidence.

The School Captains, Reid Ogden and Alice Pini are two confident and capable leaders, and are joined with School Vice Captains Holly Perrin and Nathan Richards.

School Principal Mr Don McDermid said he looked forward to seeing all students thrive and reach their full potential.

“I encourage all students to use their leadership skills or simply be a role model to make a difference to those around them and help make our school a better place,” he said.

“Work hard to be the best you!”

2023 Graduates Sam Rogers and Shehara Bradely were also invited back for the special ceremony, where they were awarded for their academic prowess in 2023.

Sam was awarded Dux of the Year, as well as the Douglas Debney Memorial Bursary, on behalf of Wilmar Sugar for being named top male student for 2023.

Shehara was awarded the George Telford Memorial Bursary on behalf of Wilmar, for being the top performing female student of 2023.

Sam expressed his gratitude for the generosity of Wilmar towards himself and Shehara. He also acknowledged the support from the broader school community.

“The bursary provided will be a significant help as we embark on our first year of university,” he said.

“It’s a scary time, but support like this paves the road beneath our feet. It’s truly remarkable to belong to a community where local organisations like Wilmar are so personally invested in the dreams and pursuits of young individuals.”

   1. School Principal Don McDermid, Reid Ogden, Alice Pini, Holly Perrin, and Nathan Richards.

   2. The entire 2024 Proserpine State High School Leadership team

   3. Sam Rogers and Shehara Bradely, recipients of Wilmar bursaries. Photos supplied

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Heart Awards Open For Avid Writers

February 15, 2024

The revitalised Whitsunday Writers Festival has announced their Whitsundays Literary Heart Awards this week, just in time for Valentine’s Day.

With substantial cash prizes up for grabs, the awards will recognise and honour the diverse and talent writers, while paying homage to the beautiful Great Barrier Reef.  

With categories encompassing writing, poetry, and book cover design, the Whitsunday Literary Heart Awards is offering up to $10,000 in prizes across four categories, with finalists in each category to receive significant recognition.

Festival President Karen Jacobsen expressed enthusiasm for the initiative, stating, “Beyond assembling some of Australia’s celebrated authors in Airlie Beach, our festival aims to celebrate and champion homegrown writing and design talent.

“The Heart Awards epitomise our commitment to nurturing creativity and honouring the legacy of festival founder Gloria Burley,” she explained.

"We believe in celebrating the richness of Australian creativity in all its forms. The Whitsundays Literary Heart Awards are a testament to our commitment to recognising and rewarding the extraordinary talents within our community," remarked Karen.

The Heart Awards comprise four distinct categories, each offering a platform for recognition and celebration:

   • The Gloria Burley Award for Best Unpublished Manuscript

   • The Published Book Cover Design Award

   • Best Short Story Award (adult and under 18 years old divisions)

   • Poetry Prize

“The unparalleled generosity of these prizes solidifies the Heart Awards as a premier platform for Australian regional writers’ competitions,” Karen affirmed.

“Our festival stands as an example for recognising and rewarding creative talent, fostering a culture that champions the invaluable contributions of our artists.”

Complete details, deadlines, and submission forms are accessible on the Whitsundays Writers Festival website, http://www.whitsundayswriters.com/whitsundays-literary-heart-awards/

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Iconic Polocrosse Turns 35

February 15, 2024

For the past 35 years, people have been travelling to Bowen for the town's annual polocrosse carnival.

Polocrosse is a horsemanship sport that is a combination of polo and lacrosse and has been played in Australia since the 1930's.

The annual Bowen carnival will be held on July 27 and 28, 2024.

Representatives of the Bowen Polocrosse Club met with representatives of Bowen Tourism and Business this week to discuss the promotion of the 35th annual carnival.

Chair of Bowen Tourism and Business, Jenn Honnery said events like this added to the diverse range of activities available for our visitors.

"Bowen Tourism and Business is proud to support events that bring visitors to our region,” she said.

Manager of Bowen Tourism and Business, Leanne Abernethy, said all events provided an economic boost for the town.

"The Polocrosse Club is currently looking for sponsors as well as food vendors," she said.

"We are looking forward to working with the club to spread the word about the carnival so more people will come to Bowen and discover the many attractions in our region."

While the Club has yet to solidify their 35th anniversary celebrations, they are excited to welcome players, old and new, to the carnival.

“The Club was founded by just a few people who were passionate. The first President was president for over 20 years, before he took a step back, and a lot of the same committee are still on the team,” Jess Foster, a Committee Member of the Club, explained.

“We’re expecting big numbers for our Carnival, and our anniversary celebrations will be great, whenever we have them.”


WHAT: Bowen Polocrosse Club Carnival

WHEN: July 27 and 28 2024

CHATTING ABOUT POLOCROSSE CARNIVAL: Bowen Polocrosse Club representatives, Jess Foster, and Jessie Russell (and young Mackenley Russell) with Chair of Bowen Tourism and Business, Jenn Honnery and Manager Leanne Abernethy. Photo supplied

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Tourism Update With Rick Hamilton, CEO Of Tourism Whitsundays

February 15, 2024

Over the last month we have been working with Tourism and Events Queensland (TEQ) and the Department of Tourism and Sport on marketing campaigns to help the region recover the losses sustained in early December and late January from tropical Cyclones Jasper and Kirrily.

There are several campaigns already underway or finished, including; 50 per cent off deals with Bonza that finished on 14 February, deals were available on Whitsunday Coast to Newcastle, Sunshine Coast and Gold Coast routes.

Also, in market is TEQs whole of state campaign, Unmissable Holiday Deals which is on sale in February and March in our key markets of Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne.

Also, Virgin Australia have just launched an airfare sale from Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne to The Whitsundays starting from only $69 per person each way and, to Hamilton Island starting from $85 per person each way.

These are on sale until Tuesday 20th February and travel periods are throughout March and May.

These campaigns present an excellent opportunity for inter and intra state visitors to get to The Whitsundays at a bargain price and enjoy a holiday outside our peak periods.  

Internally, we are putting the finishing touches on a campaign that will be in market late February – March and spike again in April – May. These two spikes on top of our baseline Whitsundays awareness pieces will help us to drive visitation in our off-peak times. It will also help all the Southerners to escape the cold winter for our slice of heaven in The Whitsundays!

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10 Years Of Pink Stumps Bowen Cricket And The McGrath Foundation

February 15, 2024

What started as a simple gathering in 2014, to bolster the relationship between the Bowen Cricket Associations’ wives, girlfriends, and mums, while raising important funds for the McGrath Foundation, has grown exponentially in 10 short years.

Bowen Cricket’s Pink Stumps Day has become a much-loved feature on the Bowen community calendar, an event that is widely known and regularly sees over 300 ladies attend, dressed in their best pink outfits to support the worthwhile breast cancer charity.

In 2019, with Club President Danny Borgh, Pink Stumps Day outgrew the clubhouse, and a marquee was erected to house all the ladies.

“This really got the ball rolling to make the event a bigger thing,” Bowen Cricket Association President, Seth McIntosh, explained.

Under Seth’s presidency, the Pink Stumps Day has continued to raise its profile and has donated about $10,000 per year on average to the McGrath Foundation, a feat that Seth is incredibly proud of.

“The Pink Stumps Day is a staple in our calendar every year, and something all of the cricket community looks forward to each year,” Seth explained.

Bowen Cricket Association also hold a memorial test in February, to honour the deaths of two local club legends, Ducky Lea and Harold Watts.

In 2016, the Harold Watts & Ducky Lea Memorial Shield was inducted as a trophy, and a competition was played between their two-representative teams, the Raiders (merged with the Bears) and the Bulls. This was played last week, with the Bulls coming out on top.

“And, in 2020,” Seth explained. “A Pink Stumps Cup was inaugurated by Harolds Watts’ son Lee Watts, who was president of the club at the time, to open up the Pink Stumps Match to all teams in the competition. For 2024, this will be played between the Bulls and the Chargers.”

Now, with the 10th Anniversary of Bowen Crickets’ Pink Stumps Day, Seth and the team are excited to welcome the likes of The McGrath Foundation’s own Glenn McGrath for their 2024 event.

“Having Glenn attend, it’s more of a gift for the community, to recognise the effort and support they have shown the event,” Seth explained.

The importance of Pink Stumps Day is well reflected in the attendance of the region’s ladies, who attend to support the cause, and to be informed on conditions such as breast cancer.

“This is a day of public education,” Seth explained.

“The party and celebrations are just a trick to sit the women down and talk about something they usually won't put much thought into. You don't get many opportunities to do something like this, so making it an education-first event is important to me.

“It’s a bit of balance of not boring the hell out of the attendees, and getting your message across, and we always try and get the balance right.”

Seth would also like to take this opportunity to thank the team who were instrumental in organising the event.
“I wish to thank Stacey Patterson, Tamika Lindner, and Hannah Altmann for your tireless hard work, making this event as great as it is.”

Bowen Cricket Association’s Pink Stumps Day has consistently placed in the Top 10 of organisations in the donation board Australia-wide, and Seth is excited to see the 2024 fundraising be one of the highest they have produced for The McGrath Foundation.


   1. Member for Dawson, Andrew Willcox attending Pink Stumps Day

   2. The Ladies of Pink Stumps watching the Pink Stumps Match

   3. Pink Stumps, supporting breast cancer patients. Photos supplied

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Pink Special For Breast Care Nurses

February 15, 2024

For Karen Linich and Denise McCallum, becoming a McGrath Breast Care Nurse was an honour and a privilege, a decision that has allowed them to assist and support all breast cancer patients with quality care and upmost confidence.

Karen started her nursing journey at the age of 18, beginning her training in New South Wales, before she specialised in surgical nursing. She transitioned to clinical nursing and nurse counselling, primarily working within regional BreastScreen, where she excelled in the role for nine years.

In 2016, Karen and her family relocated to Mackay, and she picked up the helm of the Mackay region’s BreastScreen, before she moved into the role as a McGrath Breast Care Nurse in Mackay in 2020.

“I have a genuine heartbeat for people,” Karen shared.

“Being in the nursing role, my natural affection for people thrives, and my care blossoms and grows.”

Within her role as McGrath Breast Care Nurse, Karen works closely with the men and women in our region that are afflicted with breast cancer, primarily in the early treatment phase.

“When I look back on my career, I wouldn’t have thought I would work with breast cancer,” Karen explained.

“But now, I wouldn’t have it any other way!”

While she acknowledges that she cannot change the diagnoses, or change the necessary treatment, Karen is grateful for the influence she does have on her patients.

“I can’t change the situation, but if today, just today, I can make them feel that little bit better, that is the most important thing,” she shared.

“I am honoured and feel incredibly privileged to be a part of my patient’s cancer journey, demystifying the clinical information, as a listening ear, a helping connection, or providing tips for care.”

Karen is joined by Denise McCallum, who’s newer to the role but no less experienced. Having been a registered nurse since 2013, Denise signed onto the role as a McGrath Breast Care Nurse in 2023.

As McGrath Breast Care Nurses, Karen and Denise offer supportive care services, information, and resource.

“We are often a thread that holds people together, with their various specialist appointments,” Karen explained.

“We are forever grateful for the impact, even minor, we have on their cancer journey.”

Karen has attended the Bowen Pink Stumps Day since becoming a Mackay based McGrath Breast Care Nurse in 2020, and is always grateful to share her knowledge with ladies.

“Everyone has access to a McGrath Breast Care Nurse. Bowen is the northern end of our catchment, so myself and Denise service everyone from Bowen, Collinsville, Cannonvale and Airlie Beach, all the way to Drystart, Moranbah, Mackay and Saint Lawerence,” Karen explained.

“We are only as far away as a phone call.”

At the Bowen Pink Stumps Day, Karen and Denise will join the likes of Glenn McGrath, Mackay surgeon and Clinical Director of Surgery Mackay Base Hospital Dr Adrian Westcott, seeing Bowen patients in Proserpine Outreach clinics, amongst others sharing breast cancer awareness.

“We just want to be a speed bump in a patient’s health journey.”

Breast Cancer Statistics

1/7 Australians will be diagnosed with breast cancer in 2024

57 individuals will be diagnosed with breast cancer every day in Australia

In 2024, 20,400 women and 217 men are expected to be diagnosed with breast cancer

   1. Karen Linich, one of the friendly faces McGrath Breast Cancer Nurses in Mackay

   2. The McGrath Breast Cancer Nurses have helped over 127,000 families across Australia, since 2005. Photos supplied

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February 9, 2024

The Whitsunday Regional Council local government elections were delivered a curveball on Wednesday this week when the popular current Mayor, Julie Hall, announced she would not be running for the Mayoral seat in the next election.

Ms Hall provided a public statement citing her reasons for withdrawal were “putting my health and family first.”

“It has been a very hard decision and an honour to serve the people of the Whitsundays, I will complete my time as Mayor when the new council is elected and takes office,” she said.

Mayor Julie Hall will not be running for Mayor in the next election. Photo credit: Mackay and Whitsunday Life Newspaper

Goodbye And Thank You

Julie Hall was declared Mayor of Whitsunday Regional Council in August 2022 and for the past 18 months she has served the local electorate with the goal of being ‘the people’s mayor’ and increasing the connection between the community and Council.

During her tenure she introduced the engaging face-to-face community catch-up sessions, helped to facilitate a resolution to fix the long-standing issue of the Shute Harbour Boat Ramp and been a strong supporter and advocate for the Whitsunday Coast Airport among other significant local issues.

She also hosted the record breaking 2023 Mayors Charity Ball, raising over $105,000 for two local charities.

“A big thank you to the community for your support and it was a pleasure to serve you,” read her public statement.

“Having been elected against the odds and against three sitting members whilst only living in the region for just over three and a half years was a strong message to Council that the community had lost trust in the Council and wanted change.”

“I would personally like to thank Deputy Mayor, Cr Gary Simpson who supported my role as elected Mayor with the utmost respect and integrity as did my committed personal Executive Assistant, Mardi Mathieson.

“I can honestly hand-on-heart say to the community, I have done my absolute best, I have worked determinedly for the people and our community, and I hope Council will continue my legacy to always acknowledges the voice of the community first and foremost.”

Deputy Mayor Gary Simpson and Councillor Michelle Wright both expressed their respect and gratitude for Ms Hall.

“I thought Julie did a great job and it was quite unfortunate that she didn’t get as much support from other people as she should have,” said Mr Simpson.

Ms Wright said that she wishes Ms Hall “all the best in the future.”

Who’s Up For The Top Job?

Councillor Gary Simpson: “I’m happy to put my hand up if need be, I’ll do it, but I think there will be a few good candidates come forward in the next few days”

Councillor John Collins: “It’s not for me, I’m sure some other worthy candidates will put their hands up”

Councillor Michelle Wright: “At this stage in my life with a young family it’s not for me, but it is something I would be interested in down the track”

Councillor Jan Clifford: “I’m contemplating it, but I haven’t made my mind up yet, I think the community will benefit in having me at the table so it would be a risk” (because a Mayoral candidate cannot also run for Councillor and if they are unsuccessful, they would be out)

Councillor Clay Bauman: “I think the role of Mayor is a very important job and it’s not a decision that anyone should make lightly, I haven’t made a decision yet”

Councillor Mike Brunker: Stated he would not be running

As of going to print on Wednesday afternoon, the Electoral Commission of Queensland (ECQ) register had one official completed candidate nomination for Mayor which is Peter J Hood.

Any other candidates have until 12pm, Tuesday 13th February to officially nominate.

At this stage no-one has stepped forward to publicly announce, but it is expected more candidates will come to light in the next few days.

The Local Government Elections will take place on Saturday 16th March.

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Editors note

February 8, 2024

Hello Everyone,

Well, our newspaper deadline day certainly got hectic this week with the announcement on Wednesday that Mayor Julie Hall will not be running in the upcoming Council elections.

It will be very sad to see her go as I think she’s done so much for the community, and it would have been exciting to see what she could have done with a full-term.

I do, however, completely understand that health and family come first – in fact, I believe they are the two most important things in life.

I will remember Mayor Julie Hall for her genuine affection, ability to show her vulnerable side and her commitment to being the voice of the people.

When she first started her term in August 2022, she invited me for a coffee and a chat.

We sat for about an hour at a little café in Proserpine and discussed how we could both work together.

One of her questions I will always remember – “how can we deliver more for you?”

And I think that is one of the overarching statements that typifies her tenure; she was always asking how Council could better serve the community, for that is really what Council are there to do.

Often, in this role I’d imagine it could be easy to fall into agenda or self-promotion, so it’s been fabulous to see that she continued the good work of Andrew Willcox in serving the community with integrity.

I hope the next Mayor, whomever he or she may be, serves with the same attitude and is able to really unite Councillors who can appear fractioned at times.

On the next page you will see that we’ve asked each Councillor whether they’ll be running for Mayor.

It’s certainly going to be an interesting few days while we wait to see who comes forward and if there are a couple of wild cards out there who might take us all by surprise!


Quote of the Week: “As we look into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others” (Bill Gates)

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Sandbags Of Community Love

February 8, 2024

At the height of Cyclone Kirrily, with predictions stating it may indeed make landfall near the Whitsundays, Jen Frisby-Young arrived at the Cannonvale SES Site ready to fill and collect some sandbags for her family home.

With her husband away at sea for work, Jen headed to the sandbag location with two of her three young children. Once she figured out how the situation worked, she began filling her first sandbag and moved it to her car, when she experienced a touch of pain.

“I had just given birth two weeks earlier, and I thought I would be okay, but I felt that pain, and that was something I didn’t anticipate,” Jen explained.

Not one to reach out for help, but rather the person who jumps up to help everyone else, Jen was surprised when two other locals filling up sandbags interrupted her and offered their assistance.

“I told them I had just given birth and immediately they were like ‘Don’t you move, do not pick up anything’,” Jen explained.

“I was so overwhelmed, and I just started crying. I am usually the one to help, and to have these people recognise that I needed some help was just amazing.”

Turning to facebook afterwards, Jen shared her thanks and was pleasantly surprised by other locals sharing similar stories of good Samaritans lending a hand.

“A few of the stories featured the very same couple too, who were just helping anyone they could.

“It really is a testament to our community, of the great people we have in our community that just want to help where they can.”

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Whitsunday Australia Day Awards

February 9, 2024

Inspiring members of the Whitsunday community have been honoured at the 2024 Australia Day Awards held at the Flagstaff Function Centre in Bowen on Saturday.

The touching ceremony, which acknowledged many local individuals, was postponed from January 26 and re-scheduled due to Cyclone Kirrily.

Citizen of the Year - Christine Hinschen

Christine continues to be a beacon of the community, having managed and owned the Anglican Opportunity Shop, as well as being integral to leading local disaster efforts and helping those abroad.

Christine has aided citizens in Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands, as well as local organisations like Lifeline Gold Coast and the Women’s Refuge Centre which support financially and materially impacted individuals. Christine’s impact is immeasurable, and she is a true inspiration to the Whitsunday community.  

Young Citizen of the Year – Sam Rogers

Sam’s continuous impact and influence in the Whitsundays knows no bounds. Having represented the region in the Queensland Youth Parliament, Sam is also exceeding in a range of other fields. He is an international STEM leader and a National Science and Engineering award winner. Sam’s leadership within Proserpine State High School was humble yet far-reaching, his influence positive and genuine, marking him a strong inspiration for Youth Citizen of the Year.

Mayoral Award – Danzel Lewis

A strong advocate for First Nations peoples and a confident leader at Bowen State High School, Danzel is an inspiring influence in the region. Highlighting the importance of mental health and the impacts of bullying and domestic violence during his leadership addresses, Denzel created a culture of positivity and kindness within the school. Danzel's involvement in both school and community activities is extensive, earning him the school community service award for five consecutive years. He also became the first Indigenous student to complete a certificate III in Business with The Hillery Group.

Volunteer of the Year – Sheryl Gordon

Serving as Vice President of the Collinsville QCWA, Sheryl has shown dedicated, unwavering support for her community, going above and beyond with everything she does. Sheryl is a common face at community events, generously donating her time and culinary skills to various not-for-profit organisations and delighting all with her delicious, sweet treat creations. As busy lady, Sheryl works full-time maintaining a local business and overseeing her family’s cattle farm, but she still manages to find time for community involvement and is always a pillar of support for others.

Community Event of the Year Award – Baby Welcoming Ceremony – Bowen Lions Ladies

Celebrating one of the most momentous occasions, the birth of a new child, the Bowen Lions Ladies have created a celebration to welcome local babies to the community.

For over two decades, the Baby Welcoming Ceremony has seen over 500 Bowen babies presented by their parents and the annual event has become a cherished tradition for families in the community.  The Baby Welcoming Ceremony is a testament to the dedication and generosity of the Bowen Lions Ladies, creating a momentous celebration for generations to come.

Senior Sportsperson Award – Aimee Sulzberger

A regular on the sports track, Aimee’s athletic journey is astounding and inspirational. Having dominated competitions from the Townsville marathon to the Whitsunday Trail Festival, Aimee has been awarded gold for the North QLD Cross Country. What makes Aimee's accomplishments even more astounding is that she is a mother of three, pushing a pram with two inside and one on the front wheel. Aimee Sulzberger is undeniably a force to be reckoned with, exemplifying resilience, dedication, and a passion for excellence in sports.

Mayor Julie Hall, Citizen of the Year Christine Hinschen and Federal Member for Dawson Andrew Willcox. Photo credit: R Jean Photography

Young Citizen of the Year, Sam Rogers.

Sheryl Gordon awarded Volunteer of the Year

Bowen Lions Ladies awarded Community Event of the Year, for the Bowen Baby Welcoming Ceremony

Aimee Sulzberger awarded Senior Sportsperson Award

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Australia Day Award Winners

February 9, 2024

Junior Sportsperson Award – Lillian Kelly

Known for her work ethic, sporting prowess and academic excellence, Lillian is a powerhouse on the court, having travelled internationally to pursue her volleyball career. She excels with positive sportsmanship and is a dedicated player. This Proserpine State High School student was selected for the 2023 Australian Club U16 national volleyball team which is a testament to her dedication and skill. Lillian not only excels in sports but also maintains high standards academically, embodying excellence both on and off the field.

Environmental Achievement Award – Whitsunday Conservation Council

Providing invaluable conservation advocation and commitment to preserving the natural flora and fauna of the Whitsundays, the Whitsunday Conservation Council has been acknowledged for their efforts since starting the group in 2020. Operated mainly by volunteers, the Whitsunday Conservation Council boasts a supporter base of over 1500 individuals. Their focus is on education, information, and community involvement, this is evidenced through initiatives like free guided nature walks, monthly green drinks with guest speakers, educational market and school stalls.

Arts & Cultural Award – Gleezus: Teen Rock Band

The gale force winds of teen rockers, Gleezus, has taken the region by storm this year.

A sought-after act for every event, this band of four Bowen State High School students has continued to excel and promote themselves and their music. Having won accolades at events such as Foothills Youth Music Competition at the Townsville Folk Festival, and Young Whitsundays Got Talent, Gleezus has excelled and impressed all in their audience, and become a leading light for arts and culture in the region.

Collinsville Citizen of the Year - Kimberley Oliver

A single mother, Kimberley is always one to put her hand up to help. Becoming a Collinsville Lion five years ago, Kimmy became President after one year, making her one of the youngest presidents in Queensland. An active role in Collinsville, Kimmy and the Lions are always selling raffle tickets and seen in public, assisting at events and community organisations.

Collinsville Young Citizen of the Year - Sarah Wilson

An avid dancer and strong student, Sarah has continued to play an influential role in Collinsville, being Vice-President of Collinsville State High School’s Student Council in 2023 and completing a Certificate III in Early Childhood Education and Care during her final two schooling years. Sarah impresses with her sense of responsibility and drive to succeed. This is particularly seen in the dedication and commitment she demonstrates in supporting young people in the community.

Other Collinsville Winners

Young Sports Award - Cooper Groocock

Senior Sports Award - Almeroe de Nysschen.

Environmental Achievement Award - Collinsville Youth Coaltion - National Tree Day

Collinsville/Scottville Volunteer of the Year Award - Raymond Wallace

Community Event of the Year - QCWA Collinsville Branch – “Do it for Dolly” Day

Arts & Cultural Event of the Year - Scottville State School – “NAIDOC week” Event

Lillian Kelly awarded Junior Sportsperson Award

Whitsunday Conservation Council awarded Environmental Achievement Award

Gleezus awarded Arts & Culture Award. Photos: R Jean Photography

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Glenn McGrath Set To Attend Bowen Pink Stumps

February 9, 2024

The beloved Pink Stumps ladies’ day, hosted by Bowen Cricket, is back for 2024 and organisers are excited to announce Australian sporting legend, Glenn McGrath of the McGrath Foundation, will be attending the event.

Pink Stumps Day is held annually in multiple venues right across the country, and Glenn McGrath attends one each year, with the popular Bowen fundraiser thrilled to welcome him to the region, perfectly timed for their 10th anniversary celebrations.

The McGrath Foundation is dedicated to supporting thousands of McGrath Breast Care Nurse, which in-turn provide vital care to people with breast cancer, and their families.

Bowen Cricket has been hosting these fabulous fundraisers for a decade and is looking forward to once again welcoming hundreds of ladies for a lively and inspiring event which features guest speakers, charity prizes and lots of fun.

“It started with a gathering of wives and moms of the cricket association,” explained Club President, Seth Mcintosh.

“After a few years, it just grew and grew, until we needed to make it a marquee event, and now it’s so much bigger than that.

“And now we have the pleasure of welcoming Glenn McGrath to our day, this year.”

Also on the schedule for the event is a series of educational talks by breast cancer survivors, doctors and other experts, with the all-female guests given demonstrations on how to check themselves for breast cancer, and other key information and advice concerning breast cancer.

“We will also have Gleezus and other live musicians performing on the day, with a bar open all day, and table platters to snack on,” explained Seth.

“And all donations and money raised will go towards the McGrath Foundation.”

Having raised close to $9,000 in 2023, the Bowen Cricket team are keen to top that number this year.

“We welcomed close to 400 ladies to our 2023 event, and we wish to see so many more come, enjoy a good day with good company, good music, and learn more about breast cancer and ways to detect it and be educated.”

WHAT: Pink Stumps Ladies Day with Bowen Cricket
WHERE: Col Leather Sporting Complex, 67 Woodlands Road, Bowen
WHEN: Saturday, February 17, from 12pm to 7pm
TICKETS: Bank Transfer BSB: 654000 / ACC: 64166326. Make sure to print full name in the payment remittance

Cricket legend Glenn McGrath is coming to Bowen Pink Stumps Ladies Day this year. Photo supplied

Bowen Pink Stumps Ladies Day is always a popular event and 2024 is the 10th anniversary celebrations. Photo supplied

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Local Skipper Fined $15,000 For 2022 Charter Disaster

February 8, 2024

Private sailing charter company, Waltzing Matilda, and its skipper has been charged $15,000 following a three-day charter which saw the classic sailing yacht without adequate supervision, drifting away with passengers onboard in November 2022.

The charter boat had been hired for a 21st birthday celebration which ended in disaster when the skipper disembarked the vessel to venture to Hill Inlet, leaving some of its 13 passengers alone on the vessel.

The court found the vessel had been improperly secured, and drifted away, while the skipper, from his position on land, yelled instructions to the passengers on how to return the boat to shore.

Once on board again, the skipper turned the boat to Whitehaven Beach, however, it became grounded on some rocks.

The passengers escaped to a nearby tender, and the court heard how the skipper told them he did not want to call the Volunteer Marine Rescue for assistance.

The Australia Maritime Safety Authority stated that, "The skipper also failed to provide the required standard of lifejackets for the passengers, failed to properly secure the tender to the main vessel to ensure it would not drift away and allowed multiple safety violations to occur during the grounding.”

"The magistrate noted in court that the grounding would have been terrifying for the passengers on board," AMSA said.

The skipper was also operating the vessel without proper certifications, “assuming the role of master without the proper qualifications and reckless operation of the vessel which, amongst a litany of other serious safety issues, led to the vessel grounding near Hook Passage in the Whitsundays,” according to AMSA.

The skipper was charged with three offences under the Marine Safety (Domestic Commercial Vessel) National Law Act 2012, and was also charged for failure to pay the fines related to the incident.

The skipper also failed to appear at the Proserpine Magistrates Court for the hearing.

Waltzing Matilda Charter skipper fined $15,000. Photo supplied

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Award Winners Join Line Up For Revitalised Writers Festival

February 8, 2024

The Whitsundays Writers Festival is gearing for a grand comeback, with a schedule jampacked full of immersive celebrations of all things literary.

On the cards is esteemed 2023 Miles Franklin Literary Award winner, Shankari Chandran, winner of Australia’s premier literary prize for her debut novel, ‘Chai Time at Cinnamon Gardens’.

Alongside Shankari are several other highly regarded, award-winning Australian authors, who are excited to be in sunny Whitsundays for a weekend of literary prowess.

Karen Jacobsen, the Festival President, expressed her excitement, stating, “It's not often we have the opportunity to meet renowned national and international writers. This will be a landmark event for the Whitsundays and a golden opportunity for regional Queensland to add a substantial literary gem to its arts calendar.”

Alongside the schedule of workshops, talks, and luncheons, the weekend will also include the prestigious Whitsundays Literary Heart Awards. The Heart Awards provide well-deserved recognition and financial rewards to talented writers for best unpublished manuscript, short story, poetry, and book design. Submissions for the Heart Awards open February 14.

“This event will bring together creative minds in the picturesque setting of the Whitsundays. What better place to immerse yourself in the brilliance of Australian literature?” remarked Karen.

“I strongly advise securing your place at the festival and booking accommodation early to fully enjoy the wonders of the Whitsundays while indulging in the myriad of events the festival has to offer.”  

Save The Date!

WHAT: Whitsunday Writers Festival
WHEN: Friday, September 6 to Sunday September 8

Whitsundays Literary Heart Awards

Submissions Open February 14

Shankari Chandran confirmed to star in September’s Whitsundays Writers Festival. Photo supplied

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Shindig For Sugar

February 8, 2024

Get ready to fundraise for the Royal Flying Doctor Service and celebrate our fantastic sugar industry as the whole community gets together to pay homage to our quintessential local culture.

Hosted by Cut Out Party, the annual Sugar Bush Shindig is set to ignite the region, celebrating the conclusion of the sugar season, and saying cheers to the cane farmers and associated industries for a job well done.

With an exciting charity auction scheduled, the evening is going to be a lot of fun and will also offer time to reflect on the previous year and the progression of the sugar industry as a whole.

Announced prizes on the auction list include a massive prize pact from Canegrowers Proserpine, a 2-night stay at The Boathouse Apartments, and 2 Family Passes for Whitsunday Crocodile Safari.

And don’t miss your chance to be take on the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) Simulator, which will excite and showcase how RFDS team work, to provide essential medical treatment and intervention to our wider Whitsunday community.

Purchase your tickets now for the event for the summer, with all tickets including dinner and drinks, with an auction, lucky door prize, music and entertainment for the kids as added bonus.

WHAT: Sugar Bush Shindig
WHERE: Proserpine Showgrounds
WHEN: Saturday, March 9, from 5.30pm
TICKETS: $80 available through whitsundaytickets.com.au

The Cut Out Party team. Photo supplied

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Collinsville Turns Pink To Fight Breast Cancer

February 8, 2024

This March, Collinsville is turning pink, to celebrate International Women’s Day and help fundraise for the Mater Foundation, to fight breast cancer.

Part of the fundraising will include the annual fun run which will be held on Sunday, March 10.

This event has become a well-supported community tradition and aligns nicely with the Sea of Pink events which are set to take place across Australia over the same weekend.

With the 2023 Collinsville event raising over $9,200, the local Sea of Pink team were named Mater Foundation Community Heroes last year which was a huge honour for the region.

They are now hoping to repeat the same and ideally smash last years’ target.

For organiser Alice Randell, the event has been made more personal by the friends and family members diagnosed with breast cancer in the past year.  

“Organising this event has started conversations about breast cancer at work and at home,” Alice said.

“When women share their experiences, it empowers others to be proactive about their health.”

“As you get older, you begin to meet more and more people affected by breast cancer, and the importance of this sort of event grows today.”

Supported by Collinsville local businesses, the team will be hosted by the Collinsville Golf Club, with Collinsville QCWA branch catering a well-deserved breakfast, and the local butcher, Stanley Street Butchers, donating a dollar from every sale in February and March.

“It’s fantastic to see so much support from local businesses and community groups,” Alice said.

“With this event, it’s great as community groups get behind us, and do their own thing. The Collinsville Youth Coalition are having a Pink Pancake day, and we know more will get on board too.

“This community is so proactive to get behind us and this cause.”

At the time of writing this, the Collinsville team has already over 50 registered team members, and over $4,500 raised for the cause.

“If you’re interested in joining us and showing your support for women with breast cancer, please register for the event.

“With the Country Women’s Association putting on breakfast, and the walk only five kilometres, it’s such an easy event to get behind. We’re not all athletes and we try and make it a good atmosphere for a Sunday morning.”

To join the Collinsville Sea of Pink team or to show support, scan the QR code.

WHAT: Collinsville’s Sea of Pink
WHERE: Collinsville
WHEN: Sunday, March 10

Collinsville Sea of Pink were named Mater Foundation Community Heroes last year

Alice Randall donning the pink for breast cancer. Photo supplied

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On The Beat

February 8, 2024

E-Scooter Accident

A female e-scooter rider has been transported to Proserpine Hospital, following a collision between the e-scooter and a vehicle at 8am on Tuesday, February 6.

Occurring at the intersection of Shingley Drive and Shute Harbour Road, the female patient was transported to Proserpine Hospital in a stable condition, with head and neck injuries.

Senior Sergeant Shane Edwards, the Officer in Charge of the Mackay Whitsunday Highway Patrol Group, urges riders of personal mobility devices (PMDs) to be aware of the legislation and road rules of these devices on the road.

“These devices are designed to be ridden on footpaths or suburban back streets, not main thoroughfares,” S/Sgt Edwards explained.

“If a road has centre lines or islands, PMDs are not permitted on the road. On suburban roads, a PMD may go up to 25 kilometres an hour; on footpaths, maximum speed is 12 kilometres. Helmets are always required, and riders must not be using their phone or under the influence.

“There must also be no doubling on PMDs.

“Normal road rules apply to these riders. They must stop for stop signs and follow all road rules,” explained S/Sgt Edwards.

Neighbourhood Centre Donations Stolen

A series of individuals have repeatedly stolen donations dropped off at the Whitsunday Neighbourhood Centre over the last few weeks.

The thefts occurred during the night, with donations that had been donated to the Centre outside of office hours.

Whitsunday Neighbourhood Centre urge donors to drop off donations during working hours, “so we can remove temptation from these individuals.”

Traffic held up on Shute Harbour Road while services attended to the e-scooter accident. Photo supplied

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The Team Behind The Mango

February 8, 2024

The volunteers of Bowen Tourism and Business were honoured at a morning tea last week, where they were thanked for their dedicated service and lasting commitment to the town.

For Steve Fisher, better known as ‘Fish’, he began volunteering with the team following his retirement in 2015.

“I found myself lost, with nothing to do,” Fish explained.

And having caravanned across Australia with his wife, Chips, he knew he would be able to share recommendations and stories with visitors by volunteering at the Big Mango Tourist Information Centre.

“I find this so rewarding and personally fulfilling. I love the Big Mango, and I am grateful for everything Leanne and the team have been able to offer me.”

Other members of the dream team are Anne and Mark Steen and for them, volunteering is a way to give back to Bowen.

“We love showing tourists the best of Bowen and sharing knowledge and experience,” Mark said.

Bowen Tourism and Business has 18 active volunteers who welcome visitors at the Bowen Visitor Information Centre next to the Big Mango and the information booth at Bowen’s Front Beach.

Manager of Bowen Tourism and Business, Leanne Abernethy said the volunteers were an integral part of the organisation.

“They are so dedicated and passionate about our town and the entire region,” she said.

“We held the morning tea as a small token of our appreciation, and we presented each of them with a small gift. Some of them have been helping Bowen Tourism for more than 10 years!”

Bowen Tourism and Business volunteers at last week’s morning tea - Pam Skinner, Anne Skeen, Marie Bailey, Viv Clark, Margaret Hurst, Mark Steen, Janice Germain, Anne Mason, and Steve Fisher.

Leanne Abernethy

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Business Conference This May

February 8, 2024

Businesses from across the region are invited to register for the inaugural Whitsundays Business Conference which is organised by the Whitsunday Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and due to take place later this year.

The Conference will be held Friday, May 31 and will bring together the region’s business community and stakeholders for an inspiring day of education, sharing knowledge and experience.

The morning program will be hosted in Proserpine, with attendees invited to the subsequent afternoon of practical workshops and a Sundowner cocktail networking event in Cannonvale.

Organisers have already put together a sneak-peak of the program which promises an action-packed day of inspiration and motivation.

Start your day with networking and a series of thought-provoking sessions on Building Business Together; The Benefits and Impact of AI and Cybersecurity in Business; Features, Drivers, and Myths About the Future Workforce; and Driving Business Growth and Turning Business On Its Head.

The event has been possible with thanks to Bendigo Community Bank Cannonvale-Proserpine, Shiift, and Tassal through their local presence with the Proserpine Prawn Farm, Whitsunday Regional Council, TAFE Queensland Whitsunday Campus, and Mackay and Whitsunday Life Newspaper who have all provided their generous support in bringing this important regional event to life!

On another note, have you been enjoying our new article series featuring Chamber members?

Head over to the Chamber’s Facebook page to learn more about their members and the Ask An Expert series.

Got a business question you want answered? Visit the Chamber’s website or social media to ask your question for an expert response.

Did you know? You can join the Chamber any time, your membership is valid for 12-months from day of joining. We have five membership categories starting from $99 per year to suit a range of needs. We look forward to engaging you in Chamber life and the Whitsundays business community.

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Tourism Takes $35M Hit

February 8, 2024

The tourism industry is inching its way back to the black following bad weather events which have significantly impacted the expected visitor numbers and, in-turn, the amount of tourism dollars flying into the region.

Rick Hamilton, CEO of Tourism Whitsundays said it’s been a hectic few weeks for the industry.

“The past six weeks have been eventful to say the least - two cyclones, Christmas Holidays, Clipper Race and a long weekend,” he said.


“Unfortunately, we've taken a huge hit as a region with over $35 million in losses from the two cyclones that didn't hit us, and the weather events affected the Christmas holidays, Clipper Race and long weekend to varying degrees.”

While these impacts are frustrating to operators, they are also a common part of life for our resilient small business owners who are adept at bouncing back from weather events.

Mr Hamilton is currently advocating for some disaster support and is a discussing recovery campaign Tourism and Events Queensland (TEQ) and the Department of Tourism and Sport (DTS).

“I’ll let you know more on that when we have confirmation of the approach,” he explained.

In the meantime, operators are invited to take a quick survey to register their account of damage caused by TC Kirrily.

“The results of this will be submitted to TEQ and DTS,” said Mr Hamilton.

“The results of the survey will compound our bid for further funding to aid tourism recovery in The Whitsundays.”

Take the survey – scan this QR code!

Tourism Whitsundays CEO Rick Hamilton advocates for support post TC Kirrily. Photo supplied

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Building Memories Of Love Amy and Reece

February 8, 2024

The secret to love for this couple is quality time, with every momentspent together a cherished and loving piece of their wider puzzle.

Amy Dolman knewthat Reece Nesbitt was the person for her when she saw him walkingout of a restaurant one evening.

“He just walkedout of the Restaurant I was going to in his chef uniform and I knew Ihad found a handsome man to cook for me for the rest of my life,”Amy laughed.

Now, eightexciting years on, Amy and Reece keep their connection alive andthriving, passion in every moment of their time together.

They have spenttime travelling Europe together and creating long-lasting memories,of the good, the bad and the ugly, and of completing the simplemundane tasks together, like spending time at the beach together.

Amy and Reece’s top tip for a lasting and loving relationship:

“Keep going onadventures and keep having fun!”

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Unconditional Love With Greg and Nettie

February 8, 2024

It began with a workplace romance, with Greg and Nettie Dunlop meeting in the kitchen of a restaurant in Victoria, and since then, the pair have never looked back.

Now, with 30 years of marriage behind them, Greg and Nettie are as inseparable as they were when they first met, and for them, it’s not always about the romance, but a vow to each other.

“It’s not always about the romance but more of making forever memories,” Greg explained.

And great memories they have shared, with one of the more memorable being their 28th wedding anniversary.

“We took a private helicopter and flew out over the Whitsunday Islands, lunched and dined on Whitehaven.”

For this pair, no challenge is too big, always being there for the other, and being a stable, confident rock for the other to rely upon.

“Nettie and I have been inseparable for 30 years. We work, live and love together every day and appreciate every minute of every day,” Greg explained.

“When we are not working, we love just hanging out, keeping life simple, and enjoying each other’s company.”

And, of course, their romance hinges on their laughter.

For Nettie, “If you’re not annoying in some way during the day, life would be pretty boring - as long as it’s in a fun way.”

Greg and Nettie’s top tip for love:

“Unconditional love is patience and understanding of one another.”

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Sharing The Love Of Laughter Tim and Norina

February 8, 2024

19 years of being in a relationship has turned a romantic spark into a strong bond for Norina Jane and Tim Perkins, with their love for each other strengthening through their shared sense of humour.

“Sometimes you need humour, so you don’t kill each other!” They laughed.

It began with an interesting introduction, with Norina rummaging in the work fridge, while Tim was being shown through his new workplace, the Proserpine Airport.

“I was head in and bum out of the fridge grabbing the first-class chocolates after the flight departure and Tim walked in with his new boss who was attempting to introduce us, and he said ‘well, this is Norina’s arse.’ And the laughter began from day one!” Norina explained.

For this pair, they cherish the fun moments together, laughing at the adventures and shenanigans they get up to.

“I remember when we spent the night in a tent at the bottom of Ayres Rock, having no idea that it would get down to 1 degree!” Norina explained.

“With no blankets, we just barely made it through the night. We have never wanted to be so close as we were that night. If you are struggling with intimacy, we strongly recommend going to the snow ill equipped for the night. You can thank us later!”

In fact, laughing and playing around is one thing they love doing together and that now includes sharing some down time with their grandson.

“We love our time with our grandson, Rohan. It’s great to let go of all other responsibilities and clown around for a while”. That’s the humour shining through again.

“Making up songs and singing them to Tim’s beat, play-arguing over who loves him the most, chasing each other down the beach, building stick houses from driftwood and laughing with his interpretation of the world. Turns out he loves to laugh too!”

Tim and Norina’s tips for keeping the spark alive:

“Don’t take each other for granted, not even for a day. What you take for granted, you stop caring about.”

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WASHED UP! Boat Washes Up On Cannonvale Beach Following Cyclone Kirrily

February 1, 2024

A victim of strong winds, massive swells, and king tides, 25ft sailing yacht ‘Second Wind’ was set adrift in the Whitsundays on Thursday night when Cyclone Kirrily made landfall in the vicinity of Townsville.

The much-loved recreational cruising vessel which is owned by a local couple, Julien Gallaud and Eloise Tyler, was anchored in Whisper Bay when its anchor chain broke in the middle of the storm.

The stricken vessel was being battered by waves when the rescue operation took place. Photo credit: Rachael Smith

Washed Up, Hauled Out And Given A “Second Wind”

With Cyclone Kirrily looming over the Queensland coast last Thursday evening, the owners of ‘Second Wind’ prepared their vessel for the storm, anchoring her securely near the Whisper Bay Boat Ramp in Cannonvale.

As the weather worsened the couple returned home to take shelter and were able to watch their vessel from the veranda, using a pair of binoculars to get a closer view.

Soon after, they watched in astonishment as the anchor light disappeared from view and, at this point, they knew the vessel was in trouble.

“We prepared the boat so well, but then the wind changed, and we hoped the anchor would hold, but with the massive swell and king tides, the chain just kept rubbing and rubbing and eventually just gave way,” said Ms Tyler.

“It was horrible, my partner loves that boat so much and we were freaking out!”

“We were very concerned it would do some damage and we were really lucky it didn’t go into the rocks or the mangroves.”

Despite the misfortune of the event, the couple say they were extremely fortunate the vessel washed up on the coarse sands of Cannonvale Beach.

“It was the best thing for it, we were so lucky in many ways!”

Heading down to the beach that same evening, the pair saw the lower tide and knew it meant the boat wouldn’t move until the morning, so they went home.

Returning at 6am, they made a few phone calls and were eventually directed to Airlie Beach Crane Hire, which opened at 7am.

Steve McNair answered the call and, despite it being the Australia Day public holiday, he rallied the team and headed down to see if they could help.

Initially the tide was too low to allow the crane to reach the ailing vessel which was being rocked by a steady onslaught of waves on the beach.

Fortunately, within a few hours the king tide pushed the vessel up the beach, and they were able to attempt the rescue.

Mr McNair commented that it was challenging to rig it up and get the stays around it safely with “the waves coming over my head” at times.

When they eventually got it hooked up, however, the process happened quite fast and the large crowd watched excitedly as ‘Second Wind’ was given a second chance, and winched to safety, up over the beach fence and onto the dry land.

She was then moved onto a tow-truck and taken to the boat yard at Jubilee Pocket where she still remains.

Remarkably there is little damage, and despite assuming the costs would be high, the boat owners were elated to discover Airlie Beach Crane High waived their fees and did the job for free.

“We hate seeing people struggling,” said Mr McNair.

“So, all the boys said they didn’t want to be paid and we didn’t end up charging them.

“They were such good people, and everyone got an action-packed Australia, so it was all worth it!”

Mr McNair would like to thank his crew on the day, Graham and Gavin, plus Airlie Beach Crane Hire owner John Hassel for contributing to such an extraordinary experience.

The boat owners also wanted to say a huge thank you to Airlie Beach Crane Hire for all their hard work on the day, and also Airlie Towing and Tilt Tray Hire and Dave from Edge's Boatyard.

Owners of ‘Second Wind’, Julien Gallaud and Eloise Tyler, enjoy sailing recreationally. Photo supplied

The crane rig was lowered to over the vessel to secure it. Photo credit: Rachael Smith

Airlie Beach Crane High safely guided the boat over the beach fence. Photo credit: Rachael Smith

At one point the vessel was suspended in mid-air! Photo credit: Rachael Smith

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Editors note

February 1, 2024

Hi Everyone,

Last night I returned to the gym for the first time in about eight weeks.

Prior to this, I would aim to do some kind of fitness three times a week, often running with my crazy puppy during the cooler months.

Over the festive season, however, I switched to a ‘no rules’ diet and lifestyle - I could eat what I liked and be as lazy as I liked!

And while it was fantastic to make a pig of myself with chocolate croissants, endless rounds of shortbread and other Christmas goodies, I knew the journey back from this euphoric existence would be long and arduous.

By the end of my holiday, I was getting puffed chasing my son around and I knew it was time to rediscover fitness.

Yesterday, however, the idea of returning to the gym filled me with dread - but I did it!

And while I was at the gym, a friend I hadn’t seen for a while text me and told me she had just joined the same gym – “Great!” I laughingly replied, “See you at 6am the tomorrow morning.”

Within seconds, however, I was called to account when she responded with a yes – let’s do a boxing class! – gulp! What had I just signed up for?!

This morning, true to my word, I headed back to the gym and met my new gym buddy.

I took my first boxing fitness class, and it was absolutely fantastic! I will definitely go back!

In retrospect I now realise I’ve been flying solo in my fitness journey for quite some time and, I have to confess, it’s been a bit lonely.

Working out in a group and enjoying a bit of banter with a good mate was so much better than slogging it out alone.

The upcoming Whitsunday Sports Expo, which is due to take place at the Whitsunday Sportspark this Saturday, is a wonderful example of how our fitness journey is much more rewarding when shared.

I can’t wait to see what sports are on offer this year – hopefully I’ll see you down there!


Quote of the Week: “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take” (Wayne Gretzky)

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Fly Direct To Adelaide

February 1, 2024

The Whitsunday Coast Airport is rolling out the red carpet, welcoming visitors from Adelaide to our sunny part of the country, with direct flights offered through Jetstar to start in September.

Whitsunday Regional Council Director Commercial Businesses Craig Turner said it was exciting that, after months of negotiations, connectivity from the Heart of the Barossa to the Heart of the Great Barrier Reef would take off in September.

“Thanks to this partnership with Jetstar, our Whitsunday residents can now be sipping wine in the Adelaide Hills while Adelaide residents can now enjoy relaxing in the tropical Whitsundays with three direct flights weekly,” he said.

“We have gone from two airline partners and three direct flight routes in the pre-covid era to now connecting our community to eight direct destinations across five airline partners.

Mr Turner said the new Adelaide flight is part of our broader vision for strategic growth for WCA and an ongoing commitment to not only meeting current travel demands but anticipating and fulfilling the evolving needs of visitors and the community.

“This will be a huge breakthrough for our region as it opens a direct flight route for the 1.2 million people who in live in the Adelaide region.

“That is a huge catchment area that can now fly to the Whitsundays direct to enjoy sand, sea, and sun in our tropical island paradise, in the Heart of the Great Barrier Reef.

"I extend my thanks to the entire airport team, our partners, and our Whitsunday community. Together, we are writing the next chapter of air travel for the Whitsundays."

The new flights have gone on sale from the start of February, beginning at $149 per person, with flights set to land in September.

Flights Start At $149 Per Person!

The Jetstar A320 set to allow direct flights to and from Adelaide and Whitsundays. Image: Supplied

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Drunk Driver Buggy Crash On Hamilton Island

February 1, 2024

At approximately 10.30pm on Wednesday, January 24, a 37-year-old Grasmere man allegedly crashed his buggy at One Tree Hill on Hamilton Island. 

The individual sustained minor leg injuries as a result of the buggy flipping over.

Police on Hamilton Island, who had been deployed for the current weather event attended the scene and administered first aid to the Grasmere man. 

Police then conducted a breath test on the man, and he allegedly provided a positive result.

He was detained and taken to Hamilton Island Police station where additional testing allegedly revealed his breath alcohol concentration to be 0.156% – three times over the legal limit.

The man was then charged with driving under the influence of liquor. 

He is scheduled to appear at the Proserpine Magistrates Court on February 19.

Police are urging the public not to behave in a reckless way that adds pressure on the service to the community, especially during severe weather events.

Road Safety is always important and drivers should never get behind the wheel if they are under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

The vehicle flipped over and injured the allegedly drunk driver. Photo supplied

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New Year, New Bridge

February 1, 2024

More than a year after the brand-new $4.4 million Ted Cunningham Bridge collapsed following heavy rainfall, Council has finally proposed a way forward to re-build 50 metres of the bridge’s approach which was washed away in the incident.

Just before Christmas in 2022, the Ted Cunningham Bridge, which links the townships of Collinsville and Proserpine, was damaged and became impassable when flood waters washed away the easements.

At the time locals were very frustrated because they had already voiced concerns about the materials being used to build the approach.

Locals said that rock and dirt were utilised when they believed it to be essential that a cement causeway be constructed to prevent the approach washing away when flood level rose.

These concerns were realised just four days after the bridge was opened.

It has now taken more than a year for repairs to take place because both the designer and the contractor denied any fault, despite not conducting any flood modelling studies prior to the build.

Whitsunday Regional Council have been negotiating back and forth with the designer and contractor, but it is now considered too lengthy and costly to pursue the matter in court.

As a result, at last week’s Ordinary Meeting, Council agreed to pay a contribution towards the rebuild.

It was agreed that the CEO is now free to negotiate for Council to provide a contribution of up to 50 per cent or $200,000 for to re-instate the approach.

“It has been agreed that the best way forward for all is to reinstate access using a robust concrete causeway and share the costs between the parties,” said the report presented by Michael Downing, Acting Director Infrastructure Services.

“This method avoids a potentially protracted legal case that would only extend the time where the new bridge is not back in use.”

The contractor is currently having flood modelling carried out of the proposed causeway with the modified design and costs still to be finalised.

Mr Downing also commented that he is pleased to see the project move forward to “what should have happened in the first place.”

50 metres of the Ted Cunningham Bridge collapsed at the end of 2022. Photo supplied

The $4.4 million brand-new bridge has been un-useable for more than 14 months. Photo supplied

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Jan Clifford “Honoured” To Receive OAM

February 1, 2024

Women’s advocate and Councillor, Jan Clifford, was awarded The Order Of Australia (OAM) over the weekend, and the inspiring local leader says she feels “humbled” to receive such recognition.

“When I first found out, I could barely talk!” said Ms Clifford.

“I was just beside myself – and I am completely humbled, I don’t do it for the recognition or the thanks, I do it because I like helping people.”

Informed of her nomination in September, Ms Clifford says she has no idea which of the many groups she involved with put her name forward.

“I do know that they ring up every organisation that you have anything to do with and check whether you are a passenger or a driver,” she explained.

“I do lots of stuff for people doing it tough and it is an honour to be recognised nationally for everything I do.”

Ms Clifford was born in Melbourne and brought up in West Australia but moved to Airlie Beach in 1994 when she was escaping domestic violence, a subject she has been very open about sharing in order to help others.

Arriving in town 30 years ago, she began working in sales and marketing for South Molle Island before it went into receivership, and she started her own business.

Just a few years later in 1996, she won an Australian Federation of Travels Agents Award for Sales and Marketing, an accolade she still holds dear.

“I always liked to help people in their tourism businesses,” she recounts.

Ms Clifford was put into the spotlight again when she became a strong advocate for responsible development in Airlie Beach, joining groups such as Save Our Foreshore, Loot for the Lagoon, and Save Our Airport.

She was also a driving force behind the Airlie Beach Chamber of Commerce for many years and her experience across all platforms led to her current position as a Councillor for Whitsunday Regional Council.

“From the year 2000 onwards, I used to go to a lot of Council meetings,” she shared.

“I didn’t like the way the 4802 postcode was being treated by the predominantly Proserpinian Council, I felt they were making some bad decisions.”

Her attendance at Council meetings organically led to her candidacy and she was elected Councillor in 2008, a position she has held since then.

During her time as a public figure, Ms Clifford has been an active member of several organisations, including the Australian Local Government Women's Association, Australian Local Government Women's Association Queensland, Whitsunday Housing Company, and among several others.

Her most significant role is the President of the National Rural Women's Coalition.

“When I started work back in the dark ages, I would be lucky to get paid half as much as a bloke would get paid for doing the same job,” she recalls.

“There was no maternity leave and the pay gap was extraordinary.

“I have always been outspoken and demonstrated against things I believe in, and I will always continue to advocate for women and women’s rights.”

Ms Clifford will be awarded her OAM when she attends a formal ceremony at Parliament House, the date of this is yet to be announced.

Local leader, Jan Clifford, was honoured to receive an OAM on Australia Day. Photos supplied

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Vibrant Industry Leader Passes Away

February 1, 2024

The sailing community is mourning as one of its vibrant personalities sadly passed away just before Christmas, leaving behind her loving husband of 41 years.

Annie Judd was a beautiful woman who will be remembered for her engaging character, enthusiasm, and desire to spread love and joy to whomever she met.

She met her husband, John, in Port Lincoln four decades ago, the two of them were married in Thailand in 1992 and have been inseparable since.

They’ve enjoyed a full and exciting life, travelling the world, and running a successful marine business together for many years.

A lover of culture and travel, Annie was also a conscious community member, offering her help with a variety of local charities and events over the years.

She was farewelled by over a hundred people at a memorial service held at the Lookout Lounge, Coral Sea Marina, on Sunday.

Everyone wore her favourite colour orange, and her niece Kristen Zacher wrote a eulogy for her much-loved aunt.

Her words resonated with many people in the room as she described a woman who was always encouraging people to love and connect.

“She was the person keeping the Judd side of the family connected,” said Kristen.

“Calling to see how we were, asking if we had talked to others in the family and encouraging us to do so.”

Annie was also known as a great friend to many, known for her love, honour, loyalty, and kindness.

“We had the privilege of knowing a vibrant and energetic, down-to-earth, generous, kind, talkative person who had a fantastic sense of humour and faced any challenges head on and was willing to help those she loved in any way she could,” shared Kristen.

Our thoughts are with family at this very sad time.

Annie Judd sadly passed away on 9th of December 2023. Photo supplied

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Resort Complex Given Green Light

February 1, 2024

Whitsunday Regional Council have granted preliminary approval to the resort complex proposed for the Port of Airlie.

The complex, submitted by Meridien, detailed in their preliminary approval application, has specified 102 units of accommodation, primarily suited for family units, tours groups and sporting teams, with rooms for four or eight occupants in each.

Included in the proposed development is also a restaurant with waterfront terrace dining, a dive school and training pool, a bar with waterfront terrace, a waterfront lounge and function centre, a swimming pool, games room, communal laundry and kitchen, and a gym.

The proposed structure is made up of a four-storey building, with a maximum height of 18.8 metres at its highest points, and includes five flexible, non-traditional accommodation types.

Capable of accommodating up to 454 guests, the development’s preliminary approval means it can move forward with creating more detailed designs of the complex, which is set to be brought to Council to approve before construction can formally begin.

Council has previously entered an infrastructure agreement with the applicant, with the provision of constructing an additional 50 car parking spaces, on top of the already proposed 54 car spaces and two mini-bus spaces.

The complex plans must be resubmitted to council once more solidified plans are drawn up, for Council’s permission.

This complex is proposed to be constructed to the right of the Port of Airlie, on the vacant plot of land to the right of the Cruise Whitsundays Terminal.

Please note, this complex is unrelated to the high-rise complex that was approved by Council in 2021, which subsequently went to the Planning and Environments Court in an appeal launched by the group Save Our Foreshore.

This approved resort is planned to be 47.7 metres tall.

The Planning and Environment Court ruled in Council’s favour, and the complex is legally allowed to begin, however the applicant body, Meridien is currently in receivership.

Architect’s depiction of the exterior of the new complex. Images: Application Documents

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Jubilee Pocket Retirement Village Comes Closer To Fruition

February 1, 2024

A retirement village and residential subdivision has been seriously proposed to be constructed in Jubilee Pocket, with Whitsunday Regional Council moving to grant approval for an access through-road connecting Erromango Drive and Saint Bees Boulevarde, in preparation for the massive development.

The 640-metre-long trunk road is Stage 1 of the proposed works, with the 45-hectare plot of land to be subdivided into 197 residential allotments, and 230 multi-unit accommodation dwellings with a community centre for the adjoining retirement village.

Initially submitted to Whitsunday Regional Council in late 2022, the development was deemed as code assessable, therefore public notification was not required.

The development application, in particular for the retirement village proposal, explained that “A residential use of premises for accommodation for older members of the community, or retired persons, in independent living units or serviced units.”

“Where ancillary the use may include amenity and community facilities, a manager’s residence, health care and support services, preparing food and drink or staff accommodation.”

The proposed development layout. Images: Development application

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Meet Cindy Tonks Sales and Administration Assistant at Bowen Tourism and Business

February 1, 2024

When Cindy made the big relocation from the Central Coast of New South Wales to the beautiful beachside town of Bowen, she was pleasantly welcomed into town by friendly and accommodating locals.

“That’s the first thing that my husband and I noticed,” Cindy explained.

“We were walking down the main street and everyone was waving and saying hello to us! It was just so lovely.”

Now a member of the Bowen Tourism and Business team, at the Bowen Visitor Information Centre and beside the beloved Big Mango, Cindy’s new role is Sales and Administration Assistant, which sees her directly communicating with visitors as they check into the Big Mango.

Often recommending the best experiences for visitors, Cindy also assists Bowen Tourism and Business in promoting Bowen to wider audiences, through marketing and promotion, helping visitors book both local accommodation and experiences, and supporting the Manager and Bowen Tourism and Business members.

“I am still learning, but the team have been amazing, and I am so grateful to be here,” Cindy explained.

“We have felt right at home in Bowen, and we want to thank every single person for having us in this gorgeous little town.”

Manager of Bowen Tourism and Business, Leanne Abernethy said Cindy was a fantastic addition to the team.

“Cindy is only new to Bowen but loves the town and the region and has already learnt so much about our many  attractions.

“Her past experience in administration and her previous travel experiences,  coupled with her passion for tourism, have made her the perfect fit for the role.”

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Chamber Chat With Allan Milostic, President of Whitsunday Coast Chamber of Commerce and Industry

February 1, 2024

Despite some interesting reporting and forecasting, the Whitsundays is still open for business and has not been blown away or drowned in a rain bomb!

In late December we prepared for Tropical Cyclone Jasper. Last week, our focus turned to figuring out and preparing for what eventually became Tropical Cycle Kirrily. The Whitsundays fared well on both occasions, considering what might have been.

Both events reinforced the need and importance of staying vigilant, being well-informed, and calmly prepared for emergencies. We have posted details of free resources available to businesses on our website.

In times of natural disasters and emergencies, business insurance becomes an essential service and often a complex one.

Businesses need affordable and attainable insurance to operate freely, borrow money, employ staff, and comply with their statutory obligations.

To this end, the Chamber has lent its support to a 2024-25 Federal Budget Submission developed by the Townsville Chamber of Commerce in collaboration with a number of Northern Queensland Chambers. The submission offers four recommendations that aims to create parity in the insurance market for Northern Australia. We look forward to sharing the submission in full in due course.

As come to the end of January the Chamber looks forward getting stuck into 2024!

A wise business partner passed on some thoughts I would like to share when considering business aspirations for the new year.

Are you counting the minutes you work ….. or the impact of those minutes? Are your business metrics reflecting and measuring genuine progress…or just numbers to make you feel good? Is your business success measured in the steps you take or the destinations those steps take you.

We all often count the wrong things. Long hours don’t always mean productivity. Having lots of meetings is not as effective or productive as fewer well-structured meetings. Counting short-term gains can sacrifice the seeds of future growth - sustainable success is a marathon, not a sprint. Counting and slavishly following KPIs can lead to tunnel vision and neglect of qualitative factors like…Customer experience, employee well-being, and the bigger picture.

Quality over quantity. Work smarter not harder. Good advice for us all.

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Get to know the Tourism Whitsundays Team Dea Huvonen

February 1, 2024

What is your role at Tourism Whitsundays?

I manage the Whitsundays Visitor Information Centre located at the Whitsunday Gold Coffee Plantation in Proserpine. My focus is to assist travellers to our beautiful region and connect them with the local operators. I am also the go-to person for the fabulous Volunteer Cruise Ship Ambassadors. 


What is your ideal weekend in The Whitsundays?

My ideal weekend is to jump on one of my friends' boats and cruise between the islands while trying to spot dolphins and whales during the winter. Then making a stop on one of the islands for a wander, swim, and snorkel. We are so fortunate here to have that much natural beauty all around us. 


How long have you been in the Whitsundays? 

I have lived here 11 years. I came to Australia six months before that on a Working Holiday Visa and fell in love with the region during my road trip along the East Coast of Queensland. I have never looked back.    


What's the one thing about The Whitsundays you think everyone should know? 

If you have not yet experienced it, I suggest taking a scenic flight over the islands and the Great Barrier Reef. I will never forget the first time I saw the magnitude and beauty of the world's largest coral reef system; it took my breath away.  

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Brunker Retires From Local Government

February 1, 2024

After 25 years in office, Councillor and Former Mayor Michael Brunker is hanging up his hat and retiring from positions in local government.

With a career spanning advocating for massive industrial proposals to vouching for the little man at regular Council Ordinary Meetings, Brunker’s influence and hard work have left an indelible mark on the Whitsundays region.

Brunker started his adult career following in his father’s footsteps, working as a diesel fitter with the Collinsville mine.

Then, in 1994, he made the leap into local politics, running for Councillor for Collinsville, in an effort to oppose the plan to close the Collinsville Council Depot.

Having won the election and successfully combatted the depot closure, Brunker decided to progress his local government career further and campaigned for the role of Mayor of the Bowen Shire Council in 1997.

Having secured his first term as Mayor, he lead the Bowen Shire Council as it amalgamated with other local governments, to form the now Whitsunday Regional Council, and continued to be Mayor for over 15 years.

Brunker unfortunately lost his first and only Local Government election in 2012, running for a second term as Mayor of the Whitsunday Regional Council, however he returned to his seat as Bowen Divisional Councillor in the 2016 Local Government elections.

He has continued to hold this seat for two terms, until his political retirement in 2024.

A highlight of his career has been advocating for the 16,000 hectares at Abbot Point which was deemed a State Development Area in 2008, allowing the Port of Abbot Point to be established as a large-scale industrial development, which now has an export capacity of 50-million tonnes of coal per year.

Mike’s Local Government career is a testament to a local standing up for locals, of strong advocacy and dedication to his community.

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Little Diggers Receive Big Help

February 1, 2024

The Little Diggers Day Care Centre in Collinsville is now comfortably able to continue its services while awaiting government accreditation thanks to $10,000 worth of funding given by the Whitsunday Regional Council to help with operational costs.

The only day care centre in Collinsville is currently waiting for the government tick to be able to process the childcare subsidies that will offer parents on average between 50 and 85 percent off their childcare fees.

At the moment, parents are having to pay around $70 per day for the service which, committee member and Collinsville State School Principal, Matt Gee, says is often preventing them from re-entering the workforce.

In addition, the fees are also not currently able to cover the full operational costs of the not-for-profit business.

Established in 2019, Little Diggers is the passion-project of four dedicated committee members and parents who came together to ask a simple question – why is there no daycare in Collinsville?

The only small family daycare centre, that took four children in total, closed that year when the educator moved away and meant there was no-where in town for babies and toddlers to receive childcare so their parents could work.

“I was struggling to get staff members - when they found out there was no daycare,” said Mr Gee.

“Mining companies said they were also having the same problem; it was a real issue for us.”

This prompted Mr Gee and the rest of the committee to identify a disused pre-school at the Collinsville State School site as a potential location for the daycare and they subsequently received government permission to use the facility.

A combination of State Government, Whitsunday Regional Council, Glencore and QCoal funding and assistance soon saw the abandoned building transformed into the new daycare and Little Diggers was born.

During the entire process the small local committee were the driving force behind every aspect, and it is their dedication that guided the whole project forward.

“It was very exciting to see it come to fruition as it took four years to get it up off the ground!” said Mr Gee.

“If someone had told us in the beginning how challenging it was, I am not sure we would have done it, but I am very glad we did!”

The doors to Little Diggers opened just over a year ago and the daycare is now extremely close to receiving government subsidies.

When this happens it will be a game changer for the centre that currently employs six staff and has 19 children registered.

“We’ve got people on the wait list who can’t afford it at the moment,” shared Mr Gee.

“When the rebate comes in, we will be able to employ more staff, open 10 hours a day and take up to 27 children.”

Councillor Michelle Wright has been a strong supporter of Little Diggers, and says she is glad Council could help ensure its continued operation.

“It is a fantastic facility and, as a not for profit, they’re moving leaps and bounds ahead for Collinsville,” she said.

“It’s wonderful to have this service, well done to everyone involved.”

The graduating class of 2023 at Little Diggers in Collinsville. Photo supplied

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