Whitsunday Region Community News

Daisy Winifred Hinschen MBE   “If you want a trouble-free wedding just call Aunty Daisy.”

Daisy Winifred Hinschen MBE “If you want a trouble-free wedding just call Aunty Daisy.”

Daisy Hinschen (née Andersen) was born on October 8, 1900. At age 21, she married Richard John (“Whitty”) Hinschen, a member of a local family. After a short time up north, the Hinschens settled on their cane farm at Hamilton Plains just over the present site of Shepherd’s Bridge.

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It’s Under Eight’s Week!

It’s Under Eight’s Week!

St Catherine’s Catholic College kicked off the annual Under Eight’s Week celebrations on Tuesday as the first to host their day in the region.

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A New Coastal Connection

A New Coastal Connection

A brand-new walking track is on the way to the region and set to link two towns in Cape Gloucester pending approvals from Queensland Government.

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 Two Legs Good, Four Legs Bad

Two Legs Good, Four Legs Bad

This week Whitsunday Regional Council completed a decade of its feral pig culling program in the region.

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New Airside Signage Greets Tourists

May 20, 2022

The pre-existing signage was removed and damaged during the airport expansion in 2019 and due to Covid budget restrictions, was not replaced until now.

“We haven’t had an arrival sign for quite some time and that was due to Covid and costs around operations,” said Chief operating Officer Aviation and Tourism Craig Turner.

“So now that we are back on track, we’ve taken it to Council and got a great sign which shows the new branding and also has three images which reflect the destination – and we will have those as part of the arrival experience.”

The new signage comes following negative community feedback on the matter and Council now view signage as a critical part in presenting the Whitsundays to arriving passengers.

An artist’s impression of the new airside signage

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Chamber Chat

May 20, 2022

Election Breakdown and Meeting wrap

This weekend, Australia goes to the polls after a bitterly fought campaign on both sides that dipped into the farcical more than once. Neither leader looks good.

And although the transgender debate grabbed a lot of headlines, the real issues concerning the Dawson electorate have been identified in a recent survey. The survey highlights the vast dichotomies in a region that relies so heavily on mining, agriculture and tourism. Often the attitudes of residents in different regions will be at odds to each other.

Interestingly, for an electorate that tends to lean strongly towards the LNP, Scomo barely edges out Albo as preferred Prime Minister. The accelerating rise in cost of living is the major concern, China is being perceived as a growing problem and trust in politics is at an absolute zero.

Attitude to climate change was a surprise with twice as many voting to abandon Net Zero by 2050 compared to committing to it. On the security and trade front – China in the South Pacific is the biggest concern although expanding international trade is also a key issue. When it comes to COVID,  80 per cent felt that maintaining health protections and economic recovery from COVID was more important than removing mandates.

On the social front, healthcare is the biggest concern, whilst the biggest issues in the cost of living rise was petrol and groceries. Affordable housing was predictably a strong concern.

When it comes to Economic Policy, the preference was to expand manufacturing supported by regional investment in infrastructure. The skills shortage is a huge barrier to growth.

Focussing on the future, the Chamber event on Thursday, May 12, hosted Rob Cocco from Regional Development Australia (MIW) and WRC Economic Development Manager, Gary Warrener. Rob detailed the economic road map developed for greater Whitsundays which was developed in consultation with local stakeholders. Number one enabler for growth in the region was the need to improve transport infrastructure.

Garry Warrener explained his role within council and discussed several diverse projects and investment opportunities WRC is trying to attract to the region. A genuinely proactive approach to underpinning the economic success of the Whitsundays.

Contributed with thanks to Whitsunday Coast Chamber President Allan Milostic.

General Manager Bowen Gumlu Growers Association Ry Collins, Megan Taylor from Kapow Interactive, Rob Cocco from Regional Development Australia (MIW) and Councillor Jan Clifford

Whitsunday Coast Chamber President Allan Milostic and WRC Economic Development Manager, Gary Warrener

The Chamber of Commerce meeting last week

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May 20, 2022

Cheryl Speirs


My concern, being the owner of a fairly large cleaning company, are the amount of displaced people that I’ve seen in the last two years, but especially the last six to eight months. There’s a real crisis for housing for people on low income. The cost of everything else has gone up, and it’s gone up exponentially.

I’ve heard of people living in cars. The government needs to do either or: address affordable housing, rentals especially, or the price of living in this country. They need to address the homelessness situation because it’s out of control.

John Cunningham


What the government can do is increase the minimum wage. Pensioners I know are travelling alright, but we’re still paying high rents and we need a bit more. They need to help the homeless, too. Once upon a time it was preferable to buy than rent and now people can’t afford to buy, let alone to rent.

Give people a subsidy of some sort – a genuine one for people who really need it, or places that can be turned into emergency housing. You can’t blame the landlords, they’re in it for the money too and following the markets.

Mark Rose


Everything is going up. Do we really need to pay a thousand dollars on a car registration, that much money in rates? You just about need to have a high-income job to continue to exist. Those big bills that people don’t want and are not looking forward to each year.

I’m paying $1,600 dollars each year in rates; where’s that money go? Why am I paying that much money? Everything is a thousand dollars: rego on a six-cylinder car. It won’t be long that, if you don’t have a high-end job, you won’t be able to afford a motor car. Surely, they can do something to change it.

Kirsten Robson and Zoe Bowley


Zoe: More support in terms of buying your first home. Helping people get into the housing market. They need more support. Property prices are so ridiculous that its scary to think: what’s the next generation going to experience if we’re struggling?

Kirsten: If we struggled so hard to get in, how are they ever going to do it? We’ve managed to buy our first homes, but it wasn’t easy. It’s been a big issue for everyone, I think. Some people aren’t even able to afford rent, so how can they think about starting their lives?

Heather Brown


Living in a rural mining town doesn’t mean we are all rich coal miners. Something needs to be done about the constant rises in fuel, groceries and rent. The increase in community members seeking emergency food relief and food vouchers has hit an all-time high. Our community hub is struggling to keep up with the demand. There needs to be rent and mortgage rate caps for owner occupiers. Every goods and service that we need to survive and thrive should be taken out of the control of people who only see a means to augment their own wealth.

Leanne Abernethy  


As the tourism industry in Bowen relies so heavily on the drive market, the price of petrol is certainly a major issue. The fuel excise was reduced by the Federal Government at the end of March but only for six months. The rate was reduced to 22.1 cents per litre but motorists are still paying more than 40 cents per litre for fuel than they were this time last year. I believe a continued reduction in fuel excise would be welcomed by tourists and locals.

Sydney Moxham


Cost of living; that’s a big one. A good question – it’s hard and the position [the government are] in, what the hell can they really do about it? It’s worldwide, that’s the problem. Federal Government can’t really do anything about some of the things that would affect it. The state government is the bigger problem than federal with their charges like rates and registration. We should have one government, that’s it, we have too many!

There are a few things they control but not the things that count. It’s been too late for too long. We’re in big trouble.

Daniel Lever


I actually don’t have an answer; it’s a great question. If you push the minimum wage up it may get worse – people will charge more for other things. It’s a tough position because what do you do? House prices, rent, groceries are going up, but why are they going up? Is it because of the whole Covid situation and extra money in circulation pushing the prices of everything up? How do you fix something that’s already been done? Raise interest rates and make money harder to get? That may just make it worse too. It all may just be something that we can’t undo.

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Labor Dives Deep In Reef Election Promise

May 20, 2022

Labor leader Anthony Albanese ventured to the Great Barrier Reef on the election trail last week to pledge a further $194.5 million in funds for the natural wonder.

Mr Albanese’s prospective government had already committed $163 million to restoration and protection of the reef in November last year at Coral Sea Marina and announced on Friday last week an additional $194.5 million on a visit to Cairns.

The announcement arrived at a salient time for the reef as it suffered its sixth mass bleaching event (read our coverage on page 14).

The additional funds are promised to be used in programs including working with farmers on land management practices, $85 million for reef restoration projects, ad research into thermal-tolerant corals in partnership with the Australian Institute of Marine Science.

“Seeing the wonder of the Great Barrier Reef is a highlight for so many Australians,” Albanese said.

“But parents and grandparents are worried their children will not be able to see this incredible natural wonder for themselves.

“That’s why it’s so important we act on climate change and species protection – to protect the reef and the tens of thousands of jobs that rely on it.”

For the Whitsundays, Mr Albanese has promised expansion of the Crown of Thorns culling programs to protect tourism sites.

The program reduces crown-of-thorns starfish numbers down to threshold levels that promote coral growth and recovery.

Labor have promised an investment of almost $1.2 billion in reef preservation and restoration by 2030.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk welcomed the announcement from her party-mate.

“It’s clear Anthony Albanese will work in real partnership with our government, landholders, experts, industry, traditional owners and reef communities,” she said.

Scientist reports have identified that the reef would need almost $1 billion annually in support to recover.

In May, Liberal MP and Federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley defended the Coalition’s management of the reef, calling it “gold standard”.

Ms Ley said the reef was the best managed in the world.

Labor Candidate for Leichhardt Elida Faith, Anthony Albanese and Labor Senator for the ACT Katy Gallagher who all travelled out to the reef with on Friday

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Friend Convicted For Brogden Murder

May 20, 2022

Last week the Supreme Court heard how Gavin Parnell had known Jay Brogden for approximately 12 months when he was forced to murder his friend on a fishing boat by a drug dealer they had both been working for.

It has been almost 15 years since Mr Brogden’s disappearance and his body has never been found, nor has anyone been convicted.

But that all changed when revelatory details were exposed last week detailing how Mr Parnell, who has long been suspected of the 21-year-old’s murder and was arrested in September 2019, stood in front of the supreme court and admitted he fired the shot that killed his friend.

Mr Parnell told the jury that the deadly encounter began when he ‘vouched’ for his mate during a conflict with an Airlie Beach ‘drug kingpin’ who had accused Mr Brogden of stealing a large amount of methamphetamine.

The pair were then invited out on a fishing trip with the kingpin, in what Mr Parnell believed was an innocent trip out to sea.

This soon turned violent, however, when the drug boss started yelling at Jay, accusing him once again of stealing the drugs.

At this point, Mr Parnell allegedly felt a gun push into his back and a sawn-off shotgun, which was held together with duct tape, thrust into his hand.

He was then told to shoot Mr Brogden.

In court, Mr Parnell described the scene – a petrified Mr Brogden breaking down in tears and Mr Parnell shaking with fear and urinating himself.

Amidst the yelling, the shotgun fired, hitting Mr Brogden in the back right side of his head.

Mr Parnell broke down in court when he told the jury how he was forced to push Mr Brogden’s body off the boat and then vomited in the courtroom when he described cleaning up the blood.

After this, court was briefly adjourned, returning sometime later for the cross examination.

At this point, crown prosecutor Nathan Crane asserted that Mr Parnell had known the true purpose of the boat trip was to discuss the missing drugs and that he had been told they needed to take Mr Brogden somewhere quiet.

During the proceedings the court heard from 30 witnesses, including Mr Brogden’s family.

After all evidence was heard the jury, which consisted of eight women and four men, began deliberating into the evening.

It took them six hours to conclude that Mr Parnell was guilty, and he was given a life sentence, less the 960 days he had already served since his arrest.

Mr Brogden’s family were present at the time and were relieved to finally receive some closure as the week-long court proceedings marked the end of a 15 year wait to see a murderer brought to justice.

21-year-old Jay Brogden disappeared from Airlie Beach in 2007

Gavin Parnell was convicted of murdering Jay Brogden

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Proserpine Benefits From Willcox Promise

May 20, 2022

Local school children and visitors to the Proserpine Dam are expected to benefit from additional facilities thanks to a two-part promise from LNP Candidate for Dawson Andrew Willcox, who announced targeted funding for two key community projects last week.

Proserpine State School will receive $50,000 to contribute towards an additional playground for year three to six students who share one facility. Currently, some grades only receive access to the playground for an hour a week.

“The kids at Proserpine State School have had to be on a roster for outdoor play because there simply isn’t enough play space and equipment to cater for them,” said Mr Willcox.

“The P&C have worked hard to raise the funds they need so their kids get to play outside every day, not just a couple of times a week.

“They have done a terrific job and put together about $45,000. Their aim is to buy and install new playground equipment with a soft-fall surface and ultimately also put up a shade sail.

“This funding will help them do just that.”

In addition, Mr Willcox has pledged $1 million for stage 2 of the Lake Proserpine Recreation Facility, a project he was passionate about when he was Whitsunday Regional Council Mayor.

“One of the commitments I made to the Proserpine community before becoming mayor was to activate Lake Proserpine, to better utilise this great natural asset in the region,” Mr Willcox said.


Stage One of activating the campground saw the addition of new public toilets and showers, bush camping sites, fire pits, updated picnic facilities and fishing pontoons.

“This $1 million commitment will fund Stage Two of the Lake Proserpine Recreation Facility – Camping Area Expansion, which will see the establishment of 10 cabins, powered caravan sites and a camp kitchen in the southern area camping ground,” he said.

“This will provide more accommodation capacity right at Lake Proserpine to make it easier for people to stay in the area and try their hand at catching that barra.”

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On The Beat

May 20, 2022

Drink Driver Smashes Into Bollards

A 24-year-old Jubilee Pocket woman has had her licence suspended following an incident where the vehicle she was driving crashed head-on into the protective bollards outside Night Owl convenience store in Airlie Beach at 1.45am last Sunday.

Police laid charges immediately and the woman will face Proserpine Magistrates Court on May 23.

The woman was breathalysed at the scene and returned a breath test reading 0.237 per cent BAC, four times above the legal limit.

She has now been charged with high range drink driving offences.

Sergeant Jessica Leech said that drink driving has direct consequences on you and those around you.

“Please arrange alternative plans for transportation if you are planning to drink and make sure you and other road users get home safely,” she said.

The car ploughed into bollards near Night Owl

Stolen Motorcycle Strathdickie

A Honda CRF250 motorcycle was stolen from a Gregory Cannonvale Road, Strathdickie address on Sunday last week and Police are urgently seeking information.

It is understood the vehicle was stolen between 8pm on Sunday, May 8 and 5.30am Monday, May 9.

The motorcycle has a Queensland registration 072TJ.

If you have any information in relation to the location of the vehicles or the offence itself, please contact Policelink.

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Pothole Palava

May 20, 2022

Whitsunday motorists were battling heavy rain and potholes last week during the unseasonal deluge which saw 47.2 millimetres fall in Proserpine in a 24 hour period.

As usual, Hamilton Plains was a source of frustration with un-seen potholes causing flat tyres in multiple vehicles, resulting in a hazardous situation when they pulled over to conduct repairs.

One local resident, Rachel Bott, said that she was driving home in the dark when a pothole appeared from nowhere.

“It was very dark, and I didn’t see it,” she said.

“I wasn’t going fast; I literally didn't see it until I fell in it - there were at least four of us who had wrecked tyres at the same time.”

Some emergency vehicles pulled over to check on everyone’s welfare and when a paramedic came by she informed Ms Bott that she had passed the sight four times that day and the pothole had been there each time.

This created some frustration for Ms Bott who believes that Council should have sent someone out to fix the potholes earlier, before it got dark.

“The paramedic already knew it was there, so she was able to avoid it in the dark – the rest of us had no idea it was there,” said Ms Bott.

“It was a very dangerous situation, and I didn’t want to even attempt to change my tyre without someone watching out for me – I could have got run over!

“I will be contacting TMR, Hamilton Plains is such a disgrace.”

A Whitsunday Regional Council spokesperson said that while TMR are ultimately responsible for most local roads, including Hamilton Plains, it is Council that repair the potholes after a heavy rain event.

“Council roads crews from our depots at Proserpine, Bowen and Collinsville were working in the rain to repair multiple potholes across over 1200 kilometres of roads including Proserpine, Airlie Beach, Bowen, Collinsville, Mt Julian, Lethebrook and Dingo Beach,” said the spokesperson.

“Council crews are out and about during the rainfall event to undertake urgent repairs, but it is TMR is responsible for the standard of Hamilton Plains road.”


Council road workers fixing the potholes

The pothole that gave Ms Bott a flat tyre

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Growers Suffer Brunt Of Deluge

May 20, 2022

The region’s farmers have suffered after unseasonably heavy rainfall last week destroyed some 30 per cent of their yields, potentially costing the local industry $50 million dollars.

The growing belt that runs from Bowen up through the Burdekin saw varying degrees of more than 200 millimetres of rainfall.

President of Bowen Gumlu Growers Association, Ry Collins said that amount of rain has two major repercussions:

“We’ve had little rivers open in farms; a lot of the topsoil has eroded away. Those little rivers and crevices, they’ll have to be releveled and do civil works to those properties,” Mr Collins said.

“More importantly, the crop not far off being harvested doesn’t take that much water well.”

With typical production season beginning planting in February, March, and April, the bulk of crop in Bowen was to start harvesting this week.

Of that crop, tomatoes, melons, and corn are the likeliest to have been affected by the downpour.

“It’s too early to say how much will be lost. They’re only getting out assessing it today. But I would say on average 30 per cent of their crop will be no good,” Mr Collins said.

The Whitsunday region annually produces around $450 million dollars in agricultural revenue.

Mr Collins said the region wasn’t alone in suffering: Queensland wide the unseasonable weather brought 200 millimetres to places like Bundaberg, which is a key fruit and vegetable region.

“Coming into this season with the floods, we knew there’d be a shortage of fruit and veg, meaning the prices will be higher. This only adds to that,” he said.

“Less product on the market means higher prices.”

Bowen Gumlu Growers Association have reached out to Agriculture Queensland to articulate the impacts.

A Department of Agriculture and Fisheries survey has been sent to local growers to build the picture for state government on what’s happened and what potential support can flow through.

Mr Collin’s said there’s little to be done other than to “get the shovel and tractor and get going.”

“At the end of the day, it is weather, and there’s not much we can do about it. The time of year it’s come, we don’t normally get that at our busy period,” Mr Collins said.

“There’s some financial pain attached to that, but the growers will get going again

Fields flooded heavily during this week’s downpour, which President Bowen Gumlu Growers Association Ry Collins said may be the worst since Cyclone Debbie (Pictured here)

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May 20, 2022

The leadership of the country is now in the hands of the people as polling stations across the nation open their curtains to millions of voters tomorrow. Each individual vote will contribute to deciding the next government and also the next Member for Dawson.

Scott Morrison and Anthony Albanese may be the front runners for the country, but the tight race for the Dawson electorate is being contested by LNP candidate Andrew Willcox and Labor candidate Scott Morrison, with One Nation candidate Julie Hall, the UAP’s Christian Young, Ciaron Patterson of the Katter Party, Paula Creen from the Greens, and Jim Jackson of the Great Australian Party hot on their heels.

Pre-Poll Proves Popular

Pre-polling stations across the nation are greeting an unprecedented number of early voters who are all keen to skip the Saturday crowds and possible COVID exposure.

The polling station at Whitsunday PCYC was a hive of activity on Wednesday with representatives from rival parties spruiking their agendas but retaining a friendly camaraderie.

More than two million Australians voted a week out of the election and experts are predicting that up to 50 per cent of all votes will be cast before the big day.

This does, however, mean that half of the overall voting population still need to pass through the polling stations on Saturday.

Here is a list of all the places to vote locally tomorrow:

•St Catherine’s Catholic College (Primary Campus) - 96 Renwick Road, Proserpine

•Cannonvale State School – 58 Coral Esplanade, Cannonvale

•PCYC Whitsundays – 2489 Shute Harbour Road, Airlie Beach

•Hamilton Island Resort – Resort Drive, Hamilton Island

•Bowen PCYC – Corner of Hay Street and Queens Road, Bowen

•Queen’s Beach State School – 37-39 Tracey Street, Bowen

•Collinsville State School – Devlin Street, Collinsville

Shane Newell from the LNP, Hilary Sutton from the Greens, Don Campbell from Labor, Julie Stokes from the United Australia Party and Danny Robes from One Nation at the early polling station last week.

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May 13, 2022

Why not grow from seed?

Seeds are affordable - $3 will buy you a packet of seeds of your chosen vegetable or herb with enough produce to last you the entire season (and more). The only time I would start with seedlings, is if I have left it late in the season and need to get a head start. That is not now. You still have time to plant from seed.

If you are worried about the time, the effort or not knowing enough - don’t!

It’s no more effort or challenge than transplanting seedlings. With seedlings you’ll have your spacing sorted but transplant shock could also mean a few losses. Thinning out your new plants can be really challenging (if you want to keep them all) but I’d rather thin out than head back down to the nursery to buy more seedlings, wouldn’t you?

When paying somewhere between $4 - $9 for six seedlings, if you do the math, it is worth giving growing from seed a go.

Most vegetable and herb seeds will germinate within 7 – 14 days. It is very rewarding when you see the first sight of “green” popping out of the ground, knowing that this little sight of life will feed you before long - and that you did it yourself!  

Without your love and attention, it would not have got this far - you also have the knowledge that your produce is chemical free and that the abundance you collect, can be shared with family, friends or even strangers.

Alternatively, you can venture out into a new interest – preserves, jams, drying or share the love of food through meals to share which is my favourite way to share my home grown vegies and herbs.  

What you need to know about growing from seed:

The most import thing is water but that goes for seedlings as well - you must ensure that your soil remains moist - it must never dry out.  

On the flip side, moist does not mean “sodden” (I hesitated to write that after the Whitsunday May downfall), if recent rains have seen your vegie patch get off to a sad start, get seeds and throw them in your vegie garden and do a sun dance – just make sure no one is watching!

Fun fact:

Radish is one of the fastest growing vegetables taking only 3 -4 weeks to reach harvest time when growing in the right conditions

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Empowering You, For Life!

May 13, 2022

Welcome to the first monthly update from Whitsunday Suicide Prevention Network (WSPN). Each month we’ll provide insights into the projects and programs WSPN is running and supporting in our communities and the ways you can get involved as we focus on eliminating suicide in our communities and region. A huge thank you to Mackay and Whitsunday Life for their support in publishing these updates.

This month we provide a brief update on a couple of our projects, upcoming events and outline how you can support WSPN projects.

Projects and Programs

The Resilience Project (TRP) Early Years Program – We’re really excited to be providing funding of $14,456.10 to support the North Queensland Cowboys to introduce TRP Early Years Program in two early learning centres in the Whitsunday Region. This is a groundbreaking initiative for The Resilience Project, the Cowboys and WSPN for the benefit of young people and their families across our communities. Delivery of the program is expected to commence over the coming weeks.

Free Counselling Services – WSPN funds counselling services for the family of anyone in the Whitsunday Region who has taken their life or attempted to take their life. We have agreements with qualified, experienced counsellors enabling support to be provided when needed. This service has been provided several times over recent months. With the pandemic continuing to cause mental health issues WSPN is anticipating ongoing demand for this service.    

Upcoming Events

Community Suicide Intervention Training – WSPN is coordinating free suicide intervention training by CORES Queensland with a number of sessions scheduled in the coming months around the Whitsunday region. The next session will be in Cannonvale on Friday, May 27. Check the WSPN website for more details.

Bowen Breathwork Sessions – Facilitated by Megan Mattingley and Donna McLachlan the free WSPN breathwork sessions are being held at 6pm every Monday at Kevla Espresso & Health Food Bar. Check the WSPN website for more details.

Cannonvale Breathwork Sessions – We have had to temporarily stop the weekly breathwork sessions in Cannonvale. We hope to restart these sessions soon.

How you can support WSPN

We really value your financial support to ensure that WSPN programs can continue and grow. As WSPN is a Deductible Gift Recipient, your donations of $2 or more to WSPN are tax deductible. To make a donation, click the button on the home page of the WSPN website.

Paul Burke, Treasurer of WSPN

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B Kinder Day Coming Up

May 13, 2022

The fifth annual B Kinder Day is fast approaching, and organisers are excited to see Whitsunday schools participating again this year, along with many local businesses and individuals.

This Wednesday, June 22, thousands of people - both within our community and around Australia - will be actively spreading kindness by writing messages of love to others, passing toys of kindness, planting sunflowers, visiting nursing homes and more.

This special day was inspired by a young local girl named Billie Kinder who tragically lost her life in a horse accident when she was 12 years old.

After her passing, Billie’s mum, Danny Mayson-Kinder found some beautiful artwork, poems and stories that her daughter had created, then compiling them into a book called “hope”.  

The feedback was incredible, and Danny discovered that Billie’s words were instigating conversations with children on deeper issues and creating a huge impact.  

It was this feedback that inspired Danny to create the flyhighbillie charity and b kinder day to spread love, kindness, and compassion around the world to reduce mental health issues, bullying and suicide.

Since inception, the annual event has been a huge success with more and more schools and businesses joining each year.

If you would like to get involved simply head to flyhighbillie.org for full details.

You can purchase a b kinder day card for $1 and send or give it to someone you care about, there are also b kinder day balloons which you can use to create a themed event space.

All proceeds from b kinder day are re-invested to fund the b kinder workbooks, a special program designed by teachers to promote kindness and mental health in schools.

Billie Kinder (right)

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UAP Making The Rounds In Whitsundays

May 13, 2022

United Australia Party (UAP) candidate for Dawson Christian Young was on the hustings in Proserpine and Cannonvale over the weekend as the election trail heats up.

Meeting with locals on Saturday and Sunday, the Dawson hopeful discussed the party’s election promises, especially the UAP’s hard-line approach to mandates.

“We know there are a lot of small business owners here in Airlie Beach, compared to Mackay, and the small business owners have been significantly affected by mandates,” Mr Young said.

“We hear from them that they have lost staff, lost income, so we stand for the abolishment of mandates.”

Mr Young also maintained the UAP’s promise of a 20 per cent reduction in company and income tax for businesses and individuals based 200km outside major cities.

Like other parties campaigning for the seat, Mr Young has noted the enormous diversity in Dawson, even in travelling from Proserpine to Airlie Beach.

“The feelings out there is that people are sick of the major two,” Mr Young said.

“They say they’re going to do this for the farmers and that for the farmers, but when the rubber hits the road, they don’t feel they’re getting any help, only barriers.

“It was still around the control the government was enforcing on farmers, and that’s what we’re all about: freedom, freedom, freedom.”

Tom Avery, Koii Minimulu, Karen Oni, Rochelle, Bek, Jaydon, and United Australia Party Candidate for Dawson Christian Young

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People’s Poll

May 13, 2022

Bruce Hedditch


The industry that needs support is Tourism. If the future Federal Government is sincere in their attempts to assist the Tourism industry, and particularly small business, they will create incentives to assist the sector to grow and unburden the shackles of red tape applied by the three tiers of government.

It needs financial support to actually allow tourism businesses to grow and expand.

The next Federal Government should consider creating a Whitsunday Special Tourism Economic Zone that will provide special support to tourism businesses in our area.

We are always told small business is the leading employer in the nation, then the time has arrived to actually support small business in Tourism.

Mike Muller


I feel Tourism needs the most attention from the Government moving forward. Mining and Agriculture have for the most part had little set back from the past two years of the Covid pandemic.

Tourism has been savaged by Covid and has yet to come back to pre-Covid levels, especially when looking at the overseas market. Airlie Beach’s economy has been primarily focused on the backpacker market over the years and they are yet to return.

I feel the Government could help this by lending support to marketing and directly targeting the backpacker market to try and attract Backpackers back to Australia.

This would greatly help the Airlie Beach economy get back to pre-Covid levels of overseas visitors. This would also greatly help both the agriculture and hospitality sector with finding employees. There are acute labour shortages in both these sectors around the country.

Jamie-Lee Bishop-Kinlyside


I think that, between the three, agriculture is the one that needs more love. We need to grow food more than we need to grow more cafes or better service. We shouldn’t be looking at mining either, because we should be planting trees and planting fruit and vegetables, not digging up big holes for whatever it may be that we mine now or in the future.

I think they could do with some tax-free benefits in agriculture, especially for when they’re buying new farm equipment. Farmers are the backbone, so we should incentivise their work.

Paying less tax on whatever their tax would be for the year could be one way. The things they need are grants, too. For them to be able to buy feed, grain, equipment, more land – they need government grants for those.

Tony Barbagallo


It’s hard to split them because they’ve all got their importance. I was brought up in the agricultural area of the Burdekin and we spent a lot of time here [In Airlie Beach], and obviously tourism is critical. And mining, I’ve got many, many people I know who rely on mining – family members, clients, etc. So, it’s very hard to split them.

Tourism was the one that has been greatly impacted [by Covid], so it’s the one that really needs to fire up. It’s very hard for small businesses here in this region that need support so they can do that.

Things to help them get on their feet, like grants because they’ve probably gone out and borrowed as much as they can in those two years. I think, with a grant, if they were able to expand their business or market reach, that would be something that would be a direct benefit.

Karen O’Donnell


Mining. I think it gives a bit more [economically] to the community. A lot of the little country towns are struggling – the mining towns – and they keep taking things away from them. We used to make all our own steel and now we get rubbish from China instead. I know [mining] isn’t really good, but they should be helping those communities.

Helping out those towns in general, even if that means transitioning out of mining, but just helping them out in some way. Really, they’re the backbone of the country.

You see all the little mining towns are struggling so much with everything being taken away from them. I think the government should be helping those places with doctors and hospitals and things like that. I know the environment gets a lot of attention, but these little country towns need help from our government.

Adam Downton

Airlie Beach

Tourism, especially after lockdown. It’s vital to get tourists back on the ground to help the local economy. I think that, from my experience staying at the Mirage recently, the place is fully booked but they’ve got fewer staff than they would normally. That’s not different anywhere around town.

The staff shortage is a big issue, I think. I know there are people around here struggling for work and it’s easy to say, ‘well, be more adaptable.’  I think people need to be incentivised to look at these different industries if they haven’t worked in one like tourism before. The pay might not be as good in tourism and I think that’s where a government can help out in things like training and cost of living.

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Conservation Council Slams New Marina

May 13, 2022

Local environmentalists are concerned that the new Shute Harbour Marina Resort development, which is due to go ahead this year, will cause extensive damage to the fragile ecosystem at the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.

Whitsunday Conservation Council spokesperson, Tony Fontes, said that the project will destroy large areas of mangrove forest and seagrass meadows which are irreplaceable.

These areas are critical fish nurseries and the primary food source for dugongs and many sea turtles.

“Shute Harbour is an environmentally sensitive area and home to healthy coral reefs as well as iconic and endangered species including the dugong and sea turtles,” he said.

“Should this project go ahead, it is one more reason to list the Reef ‘In Danger.’”

Mr Fontes believes that a major issue will be the required dredging which will cause a serious water quality problem for the local marine life, particularly the coral reefs flanking the islands of Shute Harbour.

The $350 million Shute Harbour Marina Resort has been in the planning stages for over 20 years and developers say they have received all the necessary environmental and government approvals to begin construction within a year.

The project is set to include 58 managed resort dwellings with private marina berths, a retirement resort and facilities, a 400-berth marina, 100-room hotel, and 44 room backpackers’ accommodation.

It will create almost 700 jobs – 450 in the construction phase and 250 jobs ongoing and will be the first marina in Airlie Beach for 16 years since the construction of the Port of Airlie.

The picturesque Shute Harbour

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Inquest Into Bailey Pini Death Begins

May 13, 2022

A colonial investigation into the death of 13-year-old Bailey Pini is underway and the Magistrate is examining whether he was receiving adequate supervision at the state-run care centre in Sarina where he had been staying for the month prior to his death.

It was almost a year ago that Bailey and his 14-year-old companion stole a vehicle from the care centre and drove over 200 kilometres to Bowen.

It is believed that Bailey had no pre-existing driving experience and sadly lost control of the vehicle just a few kilometres from his grandmother’s house, where it is believed he was heading.

Bailey died at the scene and the passenger survived.

It is understood that Bailey’s behaviour had been spiralling since the death of his mother the year before after she endured a short battle with cervical cancer.

He had been sent down to the state-run care facility in Sarina where it was hoped he would receive counselling and that his behaviour would improve.

Unfortunately, he did not get that opportunity.

In order to prevent this happening again, the level of supervision at state-run care facilities will be investigated to ascertain whether the children living in these ‘share house’ environments need to receive 24 hour supervision.

Currently, a supervisor will sleep at the premises. No-one needs to be awake throughout the night.

The question is, could Bailey’s death have been avoided if a supervising adult had been awake?

There is also a concern about whether the environment at the care facility was a catalyst to unruly behaviour instead of a supportive and safe place for him to live.

Investigations are continuing.

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Vote Now For Top Town!

May 13, 2022

Voting has now commenced for the Top Tourism Town Awards and once again both Bowen and Airlie Beach have been shortlisted.

Bowen is a finalist for the Top Tourism Town category and Airlie Beach is up for the Top Small Tourism Town.

This means our region has a chance to win both awards which would be a huge achievement.

The Top Tourism Town Award winner will receive a $25,000 strategic consulting and capacity building package provided by EarthCheck and the Top Small Tourism Town Award Winner will receive a $7,500 tourism consultancy and development package provided by The Tourism Group.

Tourism Whitsundays Chief Executive Officer, Rick Hamilton, said he was thrilled to see both towns become finalists.

“Soaked in the beautiful Queensland sun, Airlie Beach and Bowen offer vibrant towns, friendly locals and unspoilt natural surrounds. Visitors never have to look far for lush rainforests, award winning beaches, spectacular coral reefs and amazing experiences,” he said.

“I’m confident that with Airlie Beach and Bowen named as finalists in QTIC’s Top Tourism Town Awards, thousands of visitors will be encouraged to visit the region and enjoy The Whitsundays, in the Heart of the Great Barrier Reef,” Mr Hamilton said.

Every vote counts and the community are encouraged to help support our tourism industry by adding their own vote to the competition.

The process is simple, just head to the Tourism Whitsundays Facebook page and follow the link.

Select Airlie Beach for the Top Small Town and Bowen for the Top Town.

Then in a few words, let everyone know why you love these towns so much and enter your details.

All voters enter the draw to win a $2,000 Apollo Motorhome travel package.

Voting is now open and closes on Monday, May 23.

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Whitsunday Woman Lost, Daughter Abandoned In Mexico

May 13, 2022

A Whitsunday woman, who had been living in Mexico for the past nine years, was reported missing last week when her two-year daughter was found alone outside a church in Cancun, her mother nowhere to be found.

Tahnee Shanks, a 32-year-old Conway woman, had been travelling the world for several years until she found a home in Mexico with partner Jorge Aguirre Estudillo.

The couple separated a year ago and Tahnee had plans to return to Australia with her daughter Adelynn, but unfortunately just six weeks before they were due to depart, she went missing in suspicious circumstances.

It is understood that Tahnee had been on holiday with Jorge and their daughter, travelling from their hometown of Merida to a tourist hot spot but had somehow diverted to Cancun where their Adelynn was found alone.

The couple have been missing since May 3 and police are now investigating a burnt-out car that matches their number plates which was found in Puerto Morelos, 40 minutes south of Cancun, on the same day.

Jorge Estudillo is of interest to police; he was deported from the United States for attacking a police officer and has been subject to multiple domestic violence complaints from other women.

Tahnee’s brother, Ben Shanks, who lives in Mackay, said he has grave fears for his sister’s wellbeing because she would never want to be away from her daughter and it is uncharacteristic for her to be off social media for such a long period of time.

Just days after Tahnee’s disappearance, Ben travelled to Mexico with his mother Leanne and was immediately united with his niece.

The Australian Embassy had organised an Australian passport for Adelynn and once other official documents were confirmed, they returned to Australia where they will look after the young girl.

Family friend, Ella Stower, set up a GoFundMe page for the family to assist with travel expenses and hopefully find Tahnee.

Over $30,000 has now been donated and the family left the following message.

“The Shanks family would like to express our deepest thanks to every kind donation and please know that each one has been acknowledged and appreciated from the bottom of our hearts.”


Tahnee Shanks and daughter Adelynn in happier times

Tahnee’s mum Leanne and brother Ben, united with ‘Addy’ in Mexico

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Coalition Commit To $80 Million For Bowen Pipeline

May 13, 2022

In a campaign visit to the region that saw Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce stop in Bowen and Proserpine, the Nationals Party Leader committed $80 million to the construction of the Bowen Pipeline.

Alongside Liberal candidate for Dawson Andrew Willcox and Senator Matt Canavan, the Deputy PM made the announcement that the proposed pipeline would receive $80 million towards its construction from this year’s budget.

The pipeline, which the Bowen Pipeline Company say will deliver water security in northern Queensland - protecting and creating jobs in the agricultural sector - would comprise around 100 kilometres of underground pipeline built from the Burdekin River to Bowen.

Although the commitment was brimming with fanfare, the funding, and in turn the construction, is subject to a detailed business case and demonstration of value for money and public benefit.

The business case – costing $5 million – is still pending, but Mr Joyce said he “wasn’t about waiting for things like that” and that this was about “supercharging” the region.

“This pipeline will be capable of transferring 100 gigalitres of water every year to agricultural, industry and community water users in the Bowen region,” he said.

The Bowen region is Australia’s largest winter vegetable growing area, supplying 19 varieties of vegetables and fruits to Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria.

The project has stated it will support the existing agricultural operations, but also enable irrigation of up to 40,000 hectares of additional land and support the creation of up to 3,000 jobs in the horticulture, agriculture, and aquaculture sectors.

LNP candidate for Dawson, Andrew Willcox said this project will also promote economic growth across the Bowen region and beyond by supplying water to the Abbot Point State Development Area.

“I’m thrilled with this commitment from the Coalition Government. Water security on this scale is a game-changer for primary industries in our local region,” Mr Willcox said.

“[It will] enable a $300 million yearly increase in horticultural production in the Bowen region, along with supporting water security for communities and businesses in Bowen, Inkerman, Gumlu and Guthalungra.”

Senator Matt Canavan, Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce, Liberal Candidate for Dawson Andrew Willcox

Barnaby Joyce, Director of Bowen Pipeline Company Sean Brown, and Andrew Willcox

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Mr Coull Kick Starts Driving Program

May 6, 2022

Young adults from across the region who would have previously found it challenging to accrue the necessary hours to pass their driving test will now have the opportunity to access a vehicle and learn to drive for free with the Whitsunday Braking the Cycle Driving Mentor Program.

Newly appointed coordinator, Declan Coull, will be managing the program which is operated from the PCYC Whitsunday.

At just 18 years of age, Declan is young for the role but Youth Club Manager Sergeant Billy Li said that he came with some impressive credentials which more than qualified him for the job.

Driving go-karts and competing at events across West Australia and South Australia since he was 10 years old, Declan has impressed many driving professionals with his talent.

During this time, he won the Future Star Award, an award from the Australia Institute of Sports and several championships.

Last year he initiated a Defensive Driving Course to help teach young drivers’ life-saving road safety skills.

He is also competing in the Australian Formula Three this year, which will be televised nationally.

With a passion for helping people, and a talented racing car driver himself, Declan was ideally suited to take the role of the Braking the Cycle Whitsunday coordinator.

Under his guidance, disadvantaged youth who do not have access to a supervisor or a vehicle will now be able to apply for the program which can offer up to 90 minutes in free driving practice with a qualified mentor each week.

Applicants simply need to be over 16 and have a minimum of 10 hours driving experience.

Steve Fraser has volunteered his time to mentor young learner drivers with the program and is looking forward to helping out.

"I am really excited to be part of this ground-breaking program,” he said.

“Many young people have no opportunity to actually begin to get their driving licence due to one reason or another and I believe a current driving licence is crucial to anyone wanting to break into employment.

“I really hope that I can make a difference to the lives of some young people.”

If you would like apply for this free program simply email Declan on btcwhitsunday@pcyc.org.au.

They are also looking for additional driver mentors who need to have a minimum of one year driving experience and be willing to get a blue card. If you have some spare time and would like to help young people, please reach out.

Sergeant Billy Li from Whitsunday PCYC and Braking the Cycle Coordinator for the Whitsundays Declan Coull

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Agriculture Industry Celebrates At Gala Dinner

May 6, 2022

Over 100 of the region's leading growers, agribusinesses, industry figures and dignitaries attended the Bowen Gumlu Growers Association (BGGA) gala dinner at the end of April, with the community enjoying the opportunity to connect.

Held at the Bowen State High School, the event was attended Queensland Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries, the Hon Mark Furner, Member for Burdekin, Dale Last, Acting Mayor, Mike Brunker, Councillor Michelle Wright from Whitsunday Regional Council and Burdekin Regional Council Mayor, Lyn McLaughlin.

The flagship annual event proved very popular – the theme of theme of the night was ‘growing forward’ and guests were indulged with plenty of dishes inspired by the local provenance.

Commodities grown in the region included local prawns, corn fritters, seasonal greens, pumpkin salad and of course a special mango infused desert.

BGGA General Manager, Ry Collins, said the event was about coming together, moving past the challenges faced and continuing to be faced by the industry.

“It’s about celebrating the success of our local farming businesses and highlighting the opportunities to move the industry forward and continue to be a driver of the regional economy,” he said.

BGGA President, Carl Walker, presented at the event and used his address to highlight the focus on agriculture at the upcoming federal election, the importance of the sector and food security in light of recent supply shortages as well as the role of government in supporting the industry in the region.

“No matter what the result of the upcoming federal election is, we want the leaders of the day to know we’ll work with them to address issues facing the industry and our consumers and support the actions needed to move forward together,” he said.

BGGA is the regional industry body representing agricultural growers, producers and businesses in North Queensland.

This event was a platform to extend thanks to its members, partners, supporters and government for their role in continuing to support the association, playing a part in overcoming adversity and continuing to strive toward a better future for local farmers, businesses and the community.

Troy Walker, BGGA President Carl Walker and Councillor Michelle Wright

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May 6, 2022

How often do you feed your vegetable plants? What do you feed them? Do you know what the three numbers on the fertiliser packaging means to your vegetable garden?

So, your seeds are out of the ground (if not be patient, it can take 2-3 weeks), you’ve watered them daily and kept them protected from the harsh midday sun with a shade cloth.  

They are surrounded by sugarcane mulch to keep the soil from drying out and weeds have been kept at bay - great job!  

If you haven’t had a chance yet, it is not too late to get started as temperatures are right for germination throughout the month of May for most vegetables in the Whitsundays.

Time now to start feeding your plants - Seasol is  great for encouraging root growth, it helps with transplant shock if planting seedlings and supports overall plant health and growth.  

I liquid fertilise most of my vegetable plants every 3-4 weeks with Seasol, an organic liquid seaweed tonic. Organic nutrient feeders such as Seasol do not contribute to water pollution and do not build-up in the soil over time and are therefore a great nutrient feeding option for your hungry vegetable plants.

There are some exceptions regarding when to start feeding vegetable plants, for example, I don’t start adding Seasol to my tomato plants until they start to fruit, otherwise I find they tend to put their energy into vigorous vegetation growth rather than fruiting (that makes it important to have good growing soil to start with).  

Yes, you can over fertilise plants. Be sure to follow the instructions for amounts of concentrate to add to your water. That’s important and not something to guess.

If you have ever wondered what the three numbers on your fertiliser label stand for - it is a ratio of three nutrients, all important to healthy vegetable plants:

N – Nitrogen (chicken manure, blood and bone, fish emulsion)

P – Phosphorus (blood and bone)

K – Potassium (kelp, banana peels, egg shells)

What ratio is best for your vegetable plants? Well, this is where it can get a little more complicated, as that is all dependant on the composition of your soil.  When I looked after a 70-acre orchard (Kiwi and Nachi Fruit), we would have regular soil tests completed to work this out. That would be a bit of an over kill for your vegetable garden. So, a 10:10:10 ratio covers all basis.  

Did you know:

If the lower leaves of your plants are yellowing and wilting, chances are you may be over fertilising.

Only 4 per cent of food grown in Australia comes from our backyards. You can make a difference today, start growing something you can eat.

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Chamber Chat – Election Talk

May 6, 2022

With the Federal Election looming in just a few short weeks, things are getting interesting as 45 per cent of voters still think Morrison would make a better PM than Albanese (37 per cent) yet Labor has maintained it 53 to 47 per cent lead over the Coalition on a two party preferred basis.

Locally, the seven candidates have been working hard with Andrew Willcox starting to look the favourite including a stroke of luck nabbing first place on the ticket. Remember, on the House of Representatives Green ballot paper you must number every box in order of your preferences and same with the Senate white ballot paper – although this can be in one of two ways, above or below the line on the form.

This election is a full preferential election. To win the seat, a candidate needs to get 50 per cent of the vote. How this is achieved is by eliminating the candidate with the least votes and distributing their voter’s second choice votes (and so on) until we have a winner. The point of the system is to elect the most preferred candidate rather than the one with the simple majority. Which is why parties distribute "how to vote cards" so they can influence to which party the second votes (preferences) go.

Now is the time to pay attention to what your local candidates are saying and doing - you need to decide who will represent the Whitsunday region the best.

On Friday, three Chamber committee members met with Minister Di Farmer (Employment, Small Business, Training and Skills Development) and spent an hour detailing the concerns and possible solutions to the major issues facing Whitsunday Businesses. Not surprisingly, these included, staff shortages, lack of housing availability, red tape and compliance costs, road and access issues locally.

On Saturday the Minister announced mental health packages available to small business to help combat the fastest growing concern in the sector. Also available from May 4 is Round 3 of the State government's Business Basic grants of up to $5000. Visit www.business.qld.gov.au for details

The next Chamber event will be on Thursday, May 12, 6pm at Mantra Club Croc.  Join us for networking and presentations with Regional Development Australia (MIW) CEO, Rob Cocco and WRC Economic Development Manager, Gary Warrener, covering the newly released Regional Development Roadmap and Economic Development in the Whitsundays. Book online with local tickets.

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Marathon Swimmer Inspires The Region

May 6, 2022

Chloe McCardel has an unbelievable story of achievement, adversity, and triumph and she was in the Whitsundays last week to tell that story to school children across the region.

Chloe shared her marathon swimming journey – a journey that has seen her traverse the English Channel a record-breaking 44 times – as well as her challenges, successes, and failures along the way.

She also spoke about her personal story as the victim of domestic violence in more than one relationship, and she says she hopes she is able to help children identify certain behaviours in their own relationships.

“Hopefully, (the talks) will help them see red flags in their personal lives or from their friends, because most of the people attending the talks are school age,” she said.

The children have been very engaged and receptive to her message.

“Feedback from the teachers has been really good,” she said.

The four-day tour of the region, led by ‘tour guide’ Sergeant Nigel Dalton of Mackay, took Chloe to schools in Bowen, Collinsville, Clermont, Moranbah, and Mackay across four days.

Chloe said that Sergeant Dalton showed her the sights as they made their way down the coastline.

“As we go along the towns, Nigel is showing me the local highlights,” she said.

Marathon Swimmer Chloe McCardel presented her story to schools of the region last week

Mackay’s Sergeant Nigel Dalton showed Chloe the sights of the region as they made their way down the coast. Photos: supplied

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OUR PIONEERING WOMEN Underestimated, underrated, undervalued …

May 6, 2022

In 1917, when Walter Perroux assembled a composite photograph of Proserpine Pioneers not a single woman featured. Proserpine was a male dominated area.  There were approximately four men to every three women, the Shire Council was entirely male as was the Hospital Committee.  There were no female professionals such as doctors, dentists and solicitors.  

Yet our district can boast of a tradition of wonderful women who, from its earliest time, played a major role in the development of the shire, not only in their traditional roles as wives and mothers but as active, essential members of the farming and business communities. Women such as these…

Mrs Mabel Brown came to Strathdickie in 1905, working as a domestic to help the family finances. On marriage, she not only raised seven children but fostered the daughter of her widowed brother and played an active role in establishing her husband’s cane farm.  

Mrs Phoebe Wilson, née Compton, was one of four girls and a boy who all took part in planting, cutting and loading cane. These girls were also being vigorously trained by their mother in general housekeeping skills. In spite of their large families, endless work and isolation, these women did their best to educate their children.

In these early days, Proserpine ladies were good managers, combining their demanding home duties with various social activities such as church groups, working for the hospital sewing group, the Red Cross and the Ambulance Association.

Mrs Sarah Compton, wife of the first Shire Chairman, encouraged a group of ladies, including Mesdames Bode, Sterry, Hinschen and Boxall, to display their preserves and craft work leading to the establishment of the Proserpine (now Whitsunday) Show.  

But eldest daughters were still expected to stay home and help and there was little opportunity to work outside the home except for domestic service. To become a nurse or a teacher, training was not available in the town and few families could afford to send their daughters away. Clerical work was mainly a male occupation.

For older single women and widows, life could be hard but many of the women of early Proserpine showed considerable enterprise using their skills to open refreshment rooms such as those of M Isbell and Mrs Furminger in Main St. Others provided accommodation such as Miss Amy Bode’s private boarding house.  In an advertisement on April 15th, 1911, Mrs G Taylor announced that she intended holding “A series of Assemblies in the Oddfellows Hall … every fortnight …Bright and up-to-date music.” Others offered dressmaking, tailoring, alterations, repairs and millinery services.  The more artistic taught music, painting and fancywork. Mrs McCartney, a widow, was a familiar sight in the 1920s, crossing the river in all-weather to give music lessons.

Some took on more professional roles. The local nursing home “Leumeah” was owned and run by Sister EM Frazer.  Others offered home nursing or worked as midwives. Female teachers were mainly from outside the shire but frequently married locally and made valuable contributions to the community.

When the first Proserpine Post and Telegraph Office was opened, it was administered by Mrs Maggie Tracey.  When the owner and publisher of “The Proserpine Guardian” died in 1915 his widow, Mrs Scott, took over the business. She managed it successfully until handing it over to her son in 1928.

These are just a very few of the district’s prominent women whose skills, courage and determination have enriched our community.

Story and photo courtesy Proserpine Historical Museum

A group of prominent Proserpine Ladies 1917

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May 6, 2022

Welcome to the Federal Election community commentary column – a platform for local voices to be heard, an opportunity for opinions to be aired and the ground level thoughts from the people that matter most – every day people like us!

For the next few weeks in the lead up to the election we will be asking a topical question to local people and sharing their answers with you in the People’s Poll.

Here is the first question:

Love him or hate him, George Christensen got behind a lot of projects for the region that may not necessarily have been the primary goal for his party. What project or initiative would you like to see the new Member for Dawson champion for the Whitsunday region over the next three years?

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$350 Million Dollar Shute Harbour Marina To Commence Within One Year

May 6, 2022

After “20 years in the making” the $350 million dollar Shute Harbour Marina Resort project was officially launched last Saturday, with the construction to commence within a year.

Two decades of negotiating approvals, red tape and protests ended with the announcement over the weekend that the master planned development was finally coming to fruition.

Managing Director of the South Australian based consortium delivering the project, Sam Wade, made the announcement to media at the site of the resort on Saturday morning.

The project is set to include 58 managed resort dwellings with private marina berths – which the consortium states there are very few of left on the eastern seaboard – a retirement resort and facilities, a 400-berth marina, 100-room hotel, and 44 room backpackers’ accommodation.

It will be the first marina in Airlie Beach for 16 years since the construction of the Port of Airlie.

It will include a village-style precinct. The Marina Cafe and Bar, Marina Club, Internet Cafe, Supermarket, Bottleshop, Marina Office, Chandlery, Marine Electronics and Charter already have tenants committed.

Mr Wade said the project was “almost shovel ready.”

“It’s an exciting day to launch this $350 million dollar project. We believe this will create a much-needed boost for the Whitsunday region,” Mr Wade said.

“It will create almost 700 jobs – 450 in the construction phase and 250 jobs ongoing.

“We think it’s going to be fantastic for the area, and it will be the closest mainland marina to the Whitsundays.”

Rob Taylor of Taylor’s Property Specialists and Bruce Goddard of Place Estate Agents in Brisbane were in attendance on the day, with the pair marketing the project jointly.

Mr Taylor said that the project had already attracted significant interest on both commercial and residential fronts.

Mr Taylor said the marina could fill the residential needs for the southern market in the region.

“This population of our little town is going to go up 36,000 to 50,000 in the next 13 years, as per projections,” Mr Taylor said.

“We’ve got to have opportunities available and this will help with a lot of opportunities.”

Mr Wade said that the marina’s construction has been meticulously planned due to the nature of the Whitsunday’s climate.

“As you can imagine with a project of this scale, it’s going to take some time, but we’re aiming to commit to construction at the start of the next dry season, which will be within 12 months,” Mr Wade said.

“Within two years, we’ll be able to sell the land plots for people to build their own waterfront, luxury dwellings.

“Following on from there will be stage 2, with the retail and residential plaza, which will be a further three years and onwards.”

Land and berth prices will start from $1.75 million.

Rob Taylor Taylor’s Property Specialists, Managing Director Shute Harbour Marina Sam Wade, and Place Estate Agents Bruce Goddard announced on Saturday that the project would begin within a year

An aerial view of the $350 million Shute Harbour Marina Resort development

More renders of the Shute Harbour Marina Resort

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Whitsundays TAFE Benefits From Agriculture, Aged Care, And Community Facilities

May 6, 2022

Hearts are breaking across the region as community members hear of the loss of 12-year-old Stirling Edwards-Bland who tragically passed away in a road accident on Sunday evening.

The young boy was travelling home from the NQ Games swimming meet in Townsville with his twin brother, Austin, and their mum Tracy.

It was about 6.40pm when the accident occurred, just 20 kilometres north of Proserpine and 30 kilometres from their home in Cannonvale.

It is understood that the family’s Toyota RAV4 was driving south along the Bruce Highway when a Nissan Patrol, which had been travelling north, veered over to the southbound lane causing the collision.

Stirling died at the scene and Austin was transferred by ambulance to Proserpine Hospital and then airlifted to Mackay Base Hospital with a serious pelvic fracture.

Tracy remained at Proserpine Hospital and was released on Tuesday.

Austin is still at Mackay Base hospital and surrounded by family who are all supporting each other throughout this terrible time.

The driver of the Nissan, a 45-year-old male, was the sole passenger of the vehicle and is believed to be in a stable condition.

Police are still waiting for toxicology results and Forensic Crash Unit investigations into the circumstances of the crash are continuing.

Stirling was a year 7 student at Proserpine State High School and the entire school community are devastated by the news.

As a small, interconnected community, the grief is widespread as many people knew the family either from school or various sporting clubs.

Both boys had been members of the Cannonvale Cannons swimming club.

“Our thoughts go out to our swimming family involved in a tragic traffic accident,” said a Facebook post from the club earlier this week.

“We have been advised to give the family time to process what has happened and respect the wishes of the family.

“We extend our thoughts and love to the family in this difficult time”

It is also understood that the family is involved with the Whitsunday Athletics Club where both boys have competed, and Tracy is one of the coaches.

Member for Whitsunday Amanda Camm MP took the time to reach out to the school and swimming community earlier this week and expressed her sympathies online.

“With a heavy heart our community’s thoughts and prayers are with the family, friends and students who are suffering with the tragic loss of their son, brother, mate and peer in the car accident at the Gregory River just north of Proserpine 24 hours ago,” read Ms Camm’s Facebook post.

“At this time there are no words - as a community we are here for each other.

“Our local school communities and many sporting clubs are all in grief. Today I’ve reached out to our School & Swimming community who are doing all they can to support our kids and families.”

If you know someone who is not coping or you would like to talk to a professional counselling service please reach out to one of these services:

Lifeline—phone 13 11 14 for free counselling and support (24 hours a day, 7 days a week). Lifeline also provides information about other grief counselling services.

The Compassionate Friends, Queensland - peer support for parents, siblings and grandparents after the death of a child. Call 1300 064 068 to speak with someone else who has experienced child loss and understands.

Parentline—phone 1300 301 300 for counselling and support for parents (8am–10pm, 7 days a week).

Kids Help Line—if you are aged 5–25, call 1800 551 800 for free counselling (24 hours a day, 7 days a week).

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LEADER VISITS REGION Local Member Flags Issues To State Opposition Leader

May 6, 2022

Our local member, Amanda Camm MP, took Opposition Leader for Queensland, David Crisafulli, on a tour of the Whitsundays earlier this week.

The pair connected with tourism industry representatives at key areas including Shute Harbour and Coral Sea Marina, meeting with stakeholders along the way to discuss issues and listen to what was needed in the community.

Fighting For Local Causes

During his visit to the region, State Opposition Leader David Crisafulli took the time to meet with Chief Operating Officer of Tourism Whitsundays Rick Hamilton, view the problematic boat ramp at Shute Harbour and attend the Community Health Campus in Cannonvale.

The purpose of his tour, hosted by Member for Whitsunday Amanda Camm MP, was to connect with industry representatives and gain a broader understanding of issues that are important in our region so that he can lobby for them in parliament.

One issue that Ms Camm prioritised was the boat ramp at Shute Harbour which she believes is poorly constructed, dangerous and unfit for use by local boat owners.

Despite consistent lobbying, the Member for Whitsunday says she is waiting to receive an adequate response from the Minister and the Department of Transport and Main Roads on how they are going to fix the facility.

“This is an example of infrastructure not well planned with poor design and lack of community consultation,” said Ms Camm.

“Residents have been waiting for these upgrades and improvements to the Shute Harbour boat ramp, to ensure safe access, parking and launch facilities.  

“I am urging Minister Bailey to come and visit the Shute Harbour Boat Ramp facility, to work with Whitsunday Regional Council and the community to deliver the necessary improvements.”

Another important issue Ms Camm raised was community access to adequate health care facilities.

With many Whitsunday residents seeking treatment at the Mackay Hospital and Health Service, Mr Crisafulli has become concerned about issues such as ambulance ramping and waiting times at the emergency department.

In addition, there are 1,534 people currently waiting for elective surgery and 8,000 waiting for specialist outpatient appointments.

It is hoped that Mr Crisafulli’s visit to the Whitsundays will flag these issues and help create some action.

Opposition Leader of Queensland David Crisafulli with Member for Whitsunday Amanda Camm MP visiting the Shute Harbour boat ramp last week

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A Forced Landing at New Beach A Curtiss P40 Kittyhawk fighter of World War 2

April 29, 2022

On the evening of Thursday, April 22, 1943, residents of Wilson Beach saw a plane with its landing lights on passing south along the lower reach of the Proserpine River and soon became aware it had landed somewhere along New Beach.

On this fateful day, two Kittyhawk aircraft were hopping their way along the coast, refuelling where they could, enroute to New Guinea from Bankstown, New South Wales. It was a routine trip - the Kittyhawks, which arrived in crates from America, were assembled then test-flown to be finally delivered to New Guinea or other war-zones. Usually there were two or more planes flying together – on this occasion, the pilots were Flight Sergeant John (Jack) Bowen McGrath and Sergeant Archie Gordon Boyd.

McGrath and Boyd had planned to land at Rockhampton but overshot the town and while then intending to make Mackay, they became lost. As the evening closed in, the pilots ran into heavy cloud and became separated. McGrath, low on fuel, decided to make a landing on New Beach to the south of the Proserpine River mouth. He had intended to land on the beach itself but misjudged his approach. Instead, he hit the water, 'pancaking' several times and losing his propeller and oil and glycol coolers in the process until finally coming to rest at such a speed the plane's back was broken and its engine was catapulted from its mountings about twenty metres in front of the fuselage. McGrath was very fortunate to escape with only minor injuries - ‘a couple of black eyes’, from having hit his head on the plane’s gun-sight which fortunately was covered with sponge rubber. Tragically, Boyd was never heard of again.

Meanwhile, locals, George Baxter, Dan Wilson, Henry Allan and Jack Allan, took to a dinghy and rowed across to the scene. They found McGrath, taking him back to George Baxter’s home, arriving at about 4 am on April 23. McGrath stayed with the Baxters until the following Monday when he was taken to the Proserpine Police Station where he was met by Air Force officers from Townsville.

During his stay with the Baxters, McGrath returned to the scene with an RAAF recovery team which had arrived from Townsville by truck. They travelled daily from what was then the Proserpine Hotel to the crash site where they had to work in the water, the wreck fully covered at high tide. Using the 11.8 metre launch “Gleam”, then owned by Bert Clarke, they retrieved the motor, propeller, guns, ammunition etc and, with the aid of a makeshift raft of 44-gallon drums, towed the salvage up the Proserpine River to a point approximately where the launching ramp opposite Flying Fox Island is located today. There they loaded it onto their truck and took it to Townsville. The fuselage of the Kittyhawk, its back broken, was left to disintegrate where it had landed, though many a souvenir was taken from it by locals.

Flight Sergeant McGrath later became a member of 76 Kittyhawk Squadron, flying in operations in the New Guinea war zone among the Trobriand Islands, New Britain and the Admiralty Islands. He survived the war and died aged 82 in Sydney in June 1999.

Story and photo courtesy Proserpine Historical Museum and Ray Blackwood’s “The Whitsunday Islands – An Historical Dictionary.”

The wreckage of the kittyhawk on New Beach

Locals holding part of the wreckage

The fuselage

A kittyhawk plane

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Magic In Her Hands

April 29, 2022

Mothers are nurturing, kind, beautiful, and always there for us which is why it is so important to make them feel special.

Mother’s Day is the chance to tell the most important lady in your life what she means to you.

There are special ways to say thank you: a card, a kiss, a hug voucher or promises to clean your room, but one thing has always been a class above the rest.

What says, “I love you, mum” more than a bouquet of flowers?

Karen Hill is the Whitsunday local expert in floristry. A 30-year industry veteran who not only offers the highest quality fresh flowers but has a list of credentials that will drop your jaw.

A New Zealander by birth, Karen trained to become a florist from a young age, perfecting her craft over a lifetime.

She knows flowers better than anyone.

One of her greatest achievements was not only meeting the Queen of England, but also making a display of flowers for her – and now she’s here in the Whitsundays to make flowers for your mum.

Local to the Whitsundays for nine years, Karen and her business Karen Hill Floral Design are offering more than 38 different arrangements: from seasonal jute bags, half dozen roses, to designer hampers and premium designs.

This Mother’s Day, Karen is offering a $75 dollar special for orders of seasonal flowers by May 6.

“We can’t wait to look after your mums and nannas; because nannas are mums too,” Karen laughed.

“We’re recognising all the mums out there, including myself. It’s a damn hard job.”

Karen said this Mother’s Day means a lot to her and her team, as they’re still going strong even in a Covid world.

“We’re proud that we’re still here and able to look after the community and we will always do that,” Karen said.

“So pop in and treat yourself and your mum this special day.”

Head to Karen Hill Floral Designs at Shop 11/157-159 Shute Harbour Road, Cannonvale to book your bouquet for Mother’s Day, or by calling 0497 804 684.

Renowned local florist Karen Hill with her daughter

Image: RJean Photography

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Sailing Club Re-Opens

April 29, 2022

Having shut its doors in January this year due to challenges with staff shortages as a result of COVID-19, the Whitsunday Sailing Club has officially re-opened to the public and is now operating five days a week.

This iconic Airlie Beach landmark, which hosts community events such as Airlie Beach Festival of Music and Airlie Beach Race Week, will soon house the $2.5 million Whitsunday Maritime Training Centre which us currently under construction and due to be complete at the end of the year.

For many locals, however, the sailing club is a lively location for relaxed lunches and evening meals with stunning views across the Coral Sea from their expansive veranda.

The venue has been severely missed by regulars and General Manager Robin Ross said he is thrilled to be back open after a few very quiet months.

“We are looking forward to welcoming the community back in the coming weeks,” he said.

“Everyone is invited to come along, and you no longer need to be a member or sign-in at the door – everyone is welcome!”

A soft opening over the Easter Weekend allowed new staff members to gain experience and settle into their roles.

With everything running smoothly, everyone is encouraged to come down.

The sailing club is open from Wednesday through to Sunday from 11am to 9pm (10pm on Friday and Saturday).

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Collinsville To Be Beautified

April 29, 2022

Stanley Street in Collinsville is receiving a revamp courtesy of $1 million from the Building Better Regions funding with the Commonwealth Government and secured by Whitsunday Regional Council.

The works are a component of the overall concept plan for Collinsville’s entire Town Centre, known as the Choose Collinsville project, which plans to refurbish Sonoma Street, Conway Street, Main Street and Anzac Park, starting with Stanley Street.

Whitsunday Council on Monday entered a consultation period for the projects initial phase, allowing members of the region to have their say from April 11 to 29.

On Monday, Council officers were at Lions Park to hear Collinsville residents’ feedback in person.

The works will commence in July 2022 and include new signage, furniture, pavement markings, wayfinding signage, and shade trees/landscaping.

Council have stated that the furnishing style and townscape improvements will be consistent with recent town beautification and main street projects, such as those in Airlie Beach, Bowen, and Proserpine.

Additional components of the Choose Collinsville project – those along Sonoma Street, Conway Street, and Main Street – will require further funding and Council said will be “completed in a future stage of the project.”

Those future works will include town entry statements, as well as creation of “a green oasis” around the town through the landscaping and planting of avenue and shade trees.

Residents can view the concept plan and participate online via Your Say Whitsunday, email or in person at one of council’s Customer Service Centres or public displays.

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KITCHEN GARDENS Norina Jane at Whitpro

April 29, 2022

How are you enjoying this perfect seed raising weather?

Seeds have been loving the rain and are popping out of the ground in force.

The rain means there is no need to water – great rewards for little effort at present.

It looks like we will be discussing thinning out in a few weeks’ time with a high rate of seeds germinating – this is a great problem to have but also be aware when spreading your seeds, that each one of these little seeds will become a vegetable or plant that will need space.

My father-in-law just shakes his head at my close plantings each year, so I still struggle with this aspect of growing, so be aware that you maybe just making more work for yourself later.

With the cost of food on the rise, what better incentive do you need to (at the very least)

grab a pot or even a foam box and spread some herb seeds in it.  

At $3 - $5 for a bunch a parsley, basil or coriander, that you often use part of and throw the rest away when it droops, why not grow your own? Pick as you need, no wastage and nothing beats the taste of fresh herbs.

How about growing lettuce? Loose leaf lettuce are easy to grow and can be harvested over time (so pick leaves as you need them).  Within six weeks from seeding, you could be picking leaves for your salads fresh from your own pot or garden bed, confident in the knowledge that they are chemical free.

At $5 a lettuce, do yourself a financial favour and grow your own!

So, if you haven’t started planting, do it now! It’s the last long weekend for some time

so, get the gardening gloves on this weekend and spread some seeds. We have an extensive range of non genetically modified or hybrid herb and vegetable seeds to choose from at Whitpro. With the recent temperature drop it is perfect germination weather.

For those interested in growing more than herbs, May in the Whitsundays is a great month to get seeding.

Not sure what you can plant in our climate at this time of year?

Here’s a list to get you started:

Capsicum, tomatoes, chilli, beans, beetroot, carrots, radish, zucchini, kale, peas, broccoli, cauliflower, corn, spinach, pumpkins, and melons

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Entertainment Centre Cancels First Shows

April 29, 2022

The Proserpine Entertainment Centre (PEC) announced earlier this week that, due to circumstances beyond their control, they would be cancelling the upcoming Melbourne International Comedy Festival Roadshow and The 13-Storey Treehouse performances which were due to be held next week.

Director of Community Services for the Whitsunday Regional Council, Julie Wright, apologised at the Council Ordinary meeting on Wednesday stating that they had issues with the smoke machine which needed to get fixed and then the Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES) inspectors were unable to sign-off on compliance.

A Council statement added that national staff shortages were to blame and matters beyond their control caused the building fire safety certificate to be delayed.

“This means that we unfortunately have no choice but to cancel performances until the relevant body can issue our certificate,” read the statement.

“The safety of our community is paramount and as such we must obey all health and safety building requirements.”

Councillor John Collins was outraged by the news.

“How can this happen?” he said.

“We are going to be the laughing stock!”

The Melbourne Film Festival was due to show on Tuesday, May 3 and the The 13-Storey Treehouse was due to be held on Thursday, May 5 and Friday, May 6.

Anyone who has purchased a ticket for the events will be refunded in full.

Refunds for online bookings will be processed automatically back to your credit card, there is no need to contact the Box Office.

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It’s All About The Prawns

April 29, 2022

Tassal’s Proserpine prawn farm is looking to up its production with a submission of plans to expand operations at its Whitsunday farm.

The farm, the largest in the country and which only recently brought in its largest haul in its three years of operation, is looking to fill more plates with more Whitsunday prawns.

In an effort to meet the ever-increasing demand, the company is aiming to produce 5350 tonnes of their black tiger prawns annually – up from their current roughly 3000 tonnes.

The current farm comprises 325 hectares of production ponds, and Tassal’s expansion would see the construction of a further 210 hectares worth.

The stage four expansion also includes plans for 59 hectares of water treatment ponds, two new pumping stations and inlet channels.

The planned ponds would be fed by the Gregory River and would be completed in stages: the first 69 ponds over 112ha and the second comprising 57 ponds over 98ha.

“Stage 4a is planned to commence in July 2022,” Tassals referral states, with the caveat the expansion obtains Commonwealth environmental approvals.

Tassal’s proposal states the new stages are connected to the existing farm and feed from the same intake channels, making them an extension, rather than an independent entity.

The company stated they were in the “early concept planning phase for future major expansion to the east of the existing farm”.

“While some infrastructure would be shared between the existing farm and future stages (e.g. hatchery facilities), the future farming operations would be largely independent,” the referral reads.

The completion of the project would see the creation of an extra 60 jobs on the site – not including those for local contractors who would benefit from the construction work.

The expansion would see the ponds operated from the mission control centre on the Proserpine site, which also runs Tassal’s two other farms in Mission Beach, Queensland, and Yamba, New South Wales.

The farm has seen constant progression in its operating system since Tassal, Australia’s largest aquaculture company, took over the once Fortune Group owned site in September 2018.

Alongside other aquaculture north of Rockhampton, the Tassal farm will contribute to the industry which is expected to be worth $1.34b by 2030.

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“Local Vision Deserves To Become Local Reality” With Shane Hamilton, Labor Candidate for Dawson

April 29, 2022

This week I want to focus on Airlie Beach, the holiday capital of Queensland. An area of natural beauty, ample opportunity and a community of doers that just get on with the job at hand. This collaboration and fostering of working relationships are key to our region’s growth.

As we look to casting our votes in a few weeks, it is time to take measure of what the role of an elected member actually is. For me, it is very clear. You work to serve the people you represent. Your word should be backed by your actions and this is something I’m willing to be judged on.

Politics should never serve as a platform for ‘pushing’ your own agenda. When an elected official fails to listen to their constituents on key issues; they are failing to do their job.

Spending the last 12 months engaging with Whitsunday residents and tourism operators, I am very much aware of the key issues and just as importantly the key opportunities for people living in this community.

As someone who manages projects for a living, I can honestly say I am excited by proposed infrastructure developments for the Whitsundays. I recently met with local tourism operators and land-based tourist attractions were at the forefront of the agenda. Our patch needs an attraction that will ensure people stay in the area while the weather is rough offshore.

Projects such as the Sky Rail, a Reef Discovery Centre (doubling as a cyclone shelter) and Indigenous Cultural Centre are just a few that will entice people to stay in Airlie Beach for longer. There is great potential here and I will be advocating for projects like these because local vision deserves to become local reality.

The reef is central to tourism, it supports 64,000 jobs in Queensland and generates $6.4 billion in income. Whitsunday Tourism is a huge part of this and preserving national assets like the Great Barrier Reef is an important part of Labor’s plan for a Future Made in Australia.

To immediately boost conservation efforts and jobs, Labor will commit $85 million to scale up ‘shovel-ready’ work for coral to coast reef resilience and land restoration projects in reef catchments. We’ve committed to funding the Reef 2050 program through to the end of the decade, committing an extra $63 million over the forward estimates. Australia’s incredible natural environment is part of who we are as a country and is a drawcard for tourists all over the world. We need to shore up the future of these natural assets just like we do other parts of the economy.

I will end this week’s column where I started; actions speak louder than words and the leaders of both parties have shown this.

In a clear demonstration that we are taken for granted and don’t matter, Morrison hasn’t set foot in the electorate. He’s flown over the top of us twice to Cairns for announcements. Then bunny hopped down the coastline for photo ops, skipping Dawson completely.  

Albo on the other hand, drove the length of Queensland recently. Spent three consecutive days in the Dawson electorate speaking with farmers in Bowen over a beer, had a working breakfast with tourism operators at the Coral Sea Resort and met with local industry and primary producers.

Only Labor will build a better future for the Whitsundays.

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Airlie Accident Causes Chaos

April 29, 2022

The entire Greater Airlie Beach area was brought to a standstill last Thursday following a once in a generation, freak accident where a semi-trailer span off the road in wet conditions, slamming into power poles which then ricocheted across the road, completely preventing any traffic from passing by for over six hours.

The incident took place at 11am on Thursday, April 21 directly opposite Whitsunday Green Golf Course and near to the Whitsunday Transit bus depot on Shute Harbour Road.

Due to electrical wires traversing the road and laying upon the vehicle, it took some time to free the driver and the road was not opened until 7pm.

At this point the build-up of traffic had reached as far back as Mount Marlow near Proserpine and in the other direction it extended as far as Whitsunday Shopping Centre in Cannonvale – a total of about 10 kilometres.

Initially only one lane was re-opened, and it took until 10.30pm that night for all accumulated traffic to pass.

Proserpine Highschool students and some primary school students who live in Airlie Beach, Cannonvale and Jubilee Pocket were stranded on the other side of the incident, their buses unable to leave the Cannonvale depot and parents unable to pick them up.

During this time, kind volunteers, local schools and teachers all banded together to help students get comfortable while they endured the six-hour wait.

Pop-up sausage sizzles fed the hungry and a movie screening kept them entertained, meanwhile worried parents were appeased by regular communication from the schools, friends, and updates via social media throughout the event.

As soon as the road opened, Whitsunday Transit bus drivers were ready to leave Cannonvale and make the long trip to the respective schools before starting their drop-offs around 10pm instead of the usual 4pm.

Darren Crossley from Whitsunday Transit said he was incredibly proud of the whole Whitsunday Transit team.

“Our entire team from operations staff, office staff, workshop staff and of course our incredible driving team went above and beyond to ensure every child was transported home safely,” he said.

An incredible outpouring of thanks was also given by the community to school teachers who had stayed to look after children, as well as emergency services, Ergon Energy workers and of course the patient motorists who endured a long wait.

“We live in a region where we experience weather events, challenges with access and at times we feel the practical reality of the lack of equitable infrastructure,” said Member for Whitsunday, Amanda Camm.

“At times in life things just happen that are beyond our control - what is for sure is that as a community we band together.”

The scene of the accident: the jack-knifed semi-trailer in Cannonvale at 11am

Ergon Energy fixing power lines at the accident site at 10pm that evening

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Bowen Mental Health Hub Opens

April 29, 2022

Over 100 community members, health care professionals and local dignitaries gathered to celebrate the opening of Bowen’s first dedicated Mental Health Hub on Wednesday last week.

The new facility provides a central location for people to access a range of NDIS and government funded programs and services to improve mental wellbeing and contribute to suicide prevention.

Operated by leading not-for-profit charity, selectability, the Mental Health Hub means our regional town has the same services as an urban centre, and market research prior to its opening identified a demand for this.

“We surveyed Bowen residents before establishing the Mental Health Hub and 93 per cent of respondents believed there was a need for a purpose-built facility in the region,” said selectability Bowen Regional Coordinator, Luana Land.

“In addition, 85 per cent said they know someone who would have benefitted from our services in the past 12 months and 70 per cent said they would have benefitted personally.”

Ensuring people have access to high quality mental wellbeing and suicide prevention support in their local community was a priority for the organisation.

“Everyone has a right to access services locally and we look forward to working with residents and groups to ensure that our services are flexible and in line with the needs of the Bowen community,” said Ms Land.

“If anyone is seeking mental wellbeing or suicide prevention support, please contact the Hub or drop in to see the team. You don’t need an appointment.”

Acting Whitsunday Regional Council Mayor Mike Brunker welcomed the opening of the Mental Health Hub and selectability’s commitment to improving the mental wellbeing of the region’s residents.

“Our diverse community needs access to the same mental health services available in larger regional centres. This new facility will provide locals with much needed support,” said Cr Brunker.

The Mental Health Hub is located 18 Herbert Street, Bowen.

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New High Rise Could Dominate Airlie Views

April 29, 2022

Local Councillors are concerned that a new 36-storey high-rise development could change Airlie Beach’s trademark ocean views and put extra stress on the intersection of Shingley Drive and Shute Harbour Road if plans go ahead for a 107-room luxury resort at the location.

The building plans for the Shingley Beach development request a height of 39 metres, which is 27 metres above the nominated height level and does not adhere to the Airlie Beach Town Plan development ideals.

“I am very concerned about this as we have not seen the full return of tourism yet and cannot see how we will manage that growth,” said Councillor Al Grundy.

“That intersection already requires treatment – why can’t we see applications come through that fit with the town plan instead?”

Located adjacent to Coral Sea Marina, the new complex would become a striking feature on the main road into Airlie Beach, and some concerned residents feel that the “magical moment you first see as you travel over the hill” will be changed forever.

One of these locals is Jack Stansfield who has owned a property at the neighbouring Marina Shores for the past 10 years and resided there personally for two.

“It will have a huge impact on the liveability of the area,” he said.

“My two major concerns are loss of aspect and over-shadowing of surrounding properties.”

He also believes the new development may lower the value of surrounding properties and ruin the privacy as well as create a vast amount of traffic during construction.

Council has been reviewing the development plans for the last year, considering factors such as increased traffic, capacity and height.

Whitsunday Regional Council Director Development Services Neil McGaffin said that it is not unusual for development submissions to ask for variations on nominated height levels.

“You will be able to see it,” he said.

“But it will not block out the entire view – there will still be sea vistas.”

“It will not be a complete eye sore because it has been designed so that the back of the building looks over the road and they want it to be as attractive as possible.”

Mr McGaffin did say, however, that there is nothing to stop the developers from on-selling the approved plans.

“Anybody that is in the property business wants to see it increase in value whether they keep it or sell it on is immaterial.”

A computer generated view of the new development at Shingley Beach

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From Ukraine With Love Proserpine Mother Brings Son Home From War

April 29, 2022

Yuliia Kuzma spent four days travelling across war-torn Ukraine to bring her 12-year-old adopted son Maxim home to Proserpine last Thursday.

Separated by 13,000 kilometers for almost two years during the Covid pandemic and then by the outbreak of war in the Ukraine, Yuliia was finally reunited with Maxim – her biological nephew - in the city of Kremenchuk last week.

Yuliia Kuzma had been planning to bring her adopted son, Maxim, to Australia from the war-torn Ukraine since the early days of the Russian invasion.

Last week, the Proserpine mother made what she said was a “last minute decision” to travel overseas and retrieve the 12-year-old, booking tickets to Warsaw, Poland in mid-April.

From Warsaw, Ms Kuzma headed to the border with Ukraine travelling with another Ukrainian family, and she said the volunteers at the Polish border almost brought her to tears.

Giving away items such as clothes, toys, and even dog food to refuges and their pets as they crossed the border, it soon became clear to Ms Kuzma that she was about to travel into a war zone.

From here she journeyed by bus to the city of Lviv, and from Lviv, she caught a train to her destination, Kremenchuk.

She met with other men and women during the journey.

“They told me the horrible stories of what they had experienced. It’s very hard to hear and accept it, that it is happening,” Ms Kuzma said.

“To see this happening to my country - it is so sad.”

Maxim had been staying in Kremenchuk with a guardian – one of Ms Kuzma’s close friends – with the city relatively safe because of its hydroelectric station, which provides electricity for 40 per cent of the country.

It has been an asset the Ukrainian army have been eager to keep secured, although there are still “five or seven” bomb sirens each day.

The horror of war was pacified by a human moment when Ms Kuzma was reunited with Maxim.

“He rushed from the second floor to see me, there were hugs and cuddles – it was so wonderful,” Ms Kuzma said.

There was a 28-hour drive back to the Warsaw border, followed by a 24-hour flight before Maxim arrived in the heat of the Whitsundays – a change from the -2 degrees of the Ukraine-Poland border.

Ms Kuzma said there are new challenges for Maxim now, but they are good ones to have: he must grow accustomed to Australian food and learn English.

“Everything will be good, I know it, because my family is whole again” she said.

“I have to thank the people of Proserpine, because I feel I have been blessed with everything.”

Yuliia and Maxim Kuzma

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ANZAC Day Ceremonies In Your Region

April 22, 2022

This ANZAC Day the community will gather to honour and pay their respects to all Australians and New Zealanders who served and died in all wars, conflicts, and peacekeeping operations, marking their contribution and suffering on our behalf so we may live better lives, lest we forget.

The Following services will be held on Monday, April 25.

Proserpine Service

Dawn: 4.30am at the Proserpine Cenotaph, 14 Main Street

March: 10.30am from the Proserpine RSL

Service: 10.50am at the Proserpine Cenotaph, 14 Main Street


Dawn: 5.50am at the Cenotaph on Herbert Street

March: 8.50am assemble, 9.15am step-off from the RSL on Williams Street

Service: 9.30am at the Cenotaph on Herbert Street

Airlie Beach

Dawn March: 8am assemble, 8.45am step-off from the Broadwater Carpark, near lagoon

Service: 9am at the Cenotaph on Airlie Esplanade


Dawn: 5.30am at Cannonvale Cenotaph on Coral Esplanade


Dawn: 6am at ANZAC Park Cenotaph on Stanley Street

March: 8.45am from Foodworks on Stanley Street

Service: 9am at ANZAC Park Cenotaph on Stanley Street

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We will remember them … Brothers in Arms - Proserpine’s Ryan Family

April 22, 2022

Did you know that Proserpine had its own “Ryan” family – four members of that cane farming family from Preston enlisted in World War One. But unlike the “famous” Ryan brothers who fought for America in World War Two, three of them losing their lives, thankfully all four of these brothers survived the war.

In this feature, we pay tribute to the sons of James and Bridget Ryan - Albert, Henry, James and Joseph.

RYAN, Albert (Mick) Michael (5th Light Horse Regiment)

Albert (Mick) enlisted on October 16, 1914 and embarked from Sydney aboard the “Persic”. He was one of the first to leave Australia for service abroad. On May 16, 1915, he landed at Gallipoli. A machine gunner, he spent five months in the trenches and was wounded twice; once seriously resulting in a shrapnel wound to the head. After seven months of being transferred to various hospitals and convalescent homes, he returned home and was medically discharged. Trooper Ryan was the first wounded soldier to arrive in Proserpine and was honoured with a hero’s welcome at the railway station and later at the Shire Hall in July 1916.

After the war, Albert married and moved to Home Hill. In World War Two, he was a private in the Australian Volunteer Defence Corps. He passed away on December 8, 1947 and is buried at the Home Hill Cemetery.

RYAN, James (Jim) Patrick (4th Pioneer Battalion 4th Division)

James (Jim) joined the AIF on November 20, 1914. He embarked on board HMAT “Shropshire” joining the 14th Battalion at Gallipoli on May 5, 1915 just eleven days before his brother, Albert. He was sent to the island of Lemnos as part of the Gallipoli evacuation. In March 1916, James was posted to the 4th Pioneer Battalion at Tel-El-Kerir. Here they were involved in engineering and construction such as field fortifications, military camps, bridges and roads.

On June 11, 1916, James disembarked from the “Scotian” at Marseilles, France. Not long after this, he sustained a gunshot wound to his left foot and it was twenty-two months before he returned to duty.  In a letter written to his brother, Mick, about his time on the Somme, he wrote: “I tell you I saw and heard more shells in France in about two hours than I saw in Gallipoli for the six and seven months I was there.” James was sent back to Australia on April 23, 1919 after five years of overseas service.

James married Mary Raftery in Proserpine and they lived at 5 Fuljames Street. He died on January 11, 1979, aged 92, and is buried in the Proserpine Cemetery.  

RYAN, Joseph (Joe) (12th Reinforcement 5th Light Horse Regiment)

Joseph enlisted on September 9, 1915 and embarked from Sydney aboard the “Suffolk” bound for Maadi, Egypt. After a number of hospital admissions due to abdominal lesions, he was returned to Australia aboard the “Clan McGillivray” on July 10, 1916.

RYAN, Henry Salisbury (29th Reinforcement 5th Light Horse Regiment)

Henry enlisted on September 3, 1917 and embarked from Sydney aboard the “Kyarra” enroute to the Suez, Egypt, where he began training as a signaller. Due to multiple illnesses, he did not see much action and was medically discharged on September 4 1919, initially returning to his parents’ farm at Preston. Later, he worked as a boilermaker at Babinda and South Johnstone Mills and then, a few years before his death, he returned to Preston where farmed cane. He died on May 14, 1933 and is buried in the Proserpine Cemetery.


Story and photo courtesy Proserpine Historical Museum

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Airlie Triathlon This Weekend!

April 22, 2022

Airlie Beach will be buzzing this weekend as athletes from across the state, and some from around Australia, compete in the Colorbond Airlie Beach Triathlon Festival – testing their mettle against each other in the spirit of camaraderie and community.

To the backdrop of our stunning Whitsunday vistas over 200 individuals, ranging from as young as six right up to people in their 70’s, will participate in an array of events that have designed to suit every age, stage, and development level.

The weekend begins with the Sebel Whitsundays Junior Triathlon where youngsters will swim laps of the Airlie Beach Lagoon, followed by a ride along Broadwater Avenue and a run along the Airlie Beach boardwalk.

Saturday also sees the return of the Coral Sea Marina Resort Ocean Swim, with distances ranging from 1500m and 750m.

“If you aren’t particularly confident in the water, then the ‘anything goes’ – a 750 metre swim may be for you. Wear your fins, use a pool bouy, even swim with a mask and snorkel,” said event organiser James Carman.

An event for the whole community to enjoy, the festivities kick-off at 1.30pm from the Broadwater carpark near the lagoon and the public are invited to come down, enjoy the spirit of the festival, get refreshments from the food vans, soak-up the entertainment and free amusements.

A firework display will also take place at 7pm that evening.

The serious racing starts on Sunday morning at 6am with the Sprint, Enticer and Olympic distance triathlons – once again the community are invited to watch the spectacle – either at the start of the race, the moment athletes sprint from their swim to mount their bikes or at the finish line.

“We have once again attracted a stellar male and female professional field including the nine-time Airlie Beach Triathlon winner Sam Betten and fresh off a win at the Husky Ultimate, Caleb Noble, and will result in a hotly contested race, from start to finish,” said Mr Carman.

The Colorbond Airlie Beach Triathlon Festival is on this weekend from Saturday, April 23 to Sunday, April 24 – for full details head to airliebeachtriathlon.com.au.

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April 22, 2022

When it comes to going to the pub, it’s been a strange couple of years. Firstly, we couldn’t even leave the house.

When we were allowed to go to the pub, we had to stay seated, check in, and wear a mask.

Thankfully, it appears as though we’re on the other side of these turbulent times, and to say thanks for sticking around, local pubs are giving away free burgers as part of the ‘Burger That Gives 2 Bucks’ campaign.

“You’ve shown resilience and supported us through these uncharted territories of mandatory mask-wearing and QR code check-ins,” said a representative from Hotel Metropole and the Grand View Hotel.

“That’s why you deserve to get back to your local to tuck into a BURGER THAT GIVES 2 BUCKS!”

The Hotel Metropole in Proserpine and the Grand View Hotel in Bowen are giving away 500 free burgers each from Tuesday, May 3 at 12pm.

For every burger redeemed, $2 will be donated to the SES.

How can you get in on this?

Simply head to the websites below to redeem a free burger from your nearest venue.

You’ll be asked to submit your details and, if you’re one of the first 500 entrants to do so, you’ll receive a code via SMS.

Take your code to the corresponding venue between May 3 and 31, bringing your ID with you, and enjoy your free burger while supporting the SES.

Go to the websites below to redeem your burger and get in quick!

Hotel Metropole Proserpine - www.hotelmetropoleproserpine.com.au

Grand View Hotel Bowen - www.grandviewhotelbowen.com.au

T & C’s apply.

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Lagoon Tragedy Blame Game

April 22, 2022

Court documents have revealed how the contracted lifeguard services, who were responsible for patron safety on the tragic day that a father and his five-year-old son drowned at the Airlie Beach Lagoon, allegedly did not have the relevant experience for the job.

The Whitsunday Regional Council contracted company, Ellmill Enterprises Pty Ltd, were initially employed to oversee security and then agreed to provide a lifeguard service.

They are now attempting to use their lack of experience to defend their blame in the double drowning.

It was October in 2018 when Yuanwei Zhang and his son Chenxi drowned at the lagoon, just metres away from lifeguards.

Wife and mother, Jie Tan, has now filed a $4.5 million dependency lawsuit claiming their deaths could have been avoided if proper safety measures were in place.

A sea of contradictory reports are something the court will process in length when official proceedings begin early next year.

These reports range from witnesses detailing how Yuanwei Zhang was a competent swimmer, smiling and laughing with his son, explaining the reason he was never flagged for concern by lifeguards.

Others state he may have suffered a medical episode and further reports suggest the ‘sudden drop’ to a 2-metre depth may have been the cause.

The biggest confusion, however, surrounds the fact that two Chinese tourists were able to slip below the water without anyone noticing or able to raise the alarm, especially with over 300 people reported to be swimming in the lagoon at the time.

Whitsunday Regional Council have since changed the lifeguard company responsible for safety and increased signage and warnings throughout the free community facility.

Tributes left at the site in 2018

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Brunker To Step In As Mayor While Willcox Away

April 22, 2022

Mayor Andrew Willcox has taken a leave of absence to “ensure there is no conflict of interest, perceived or real” while he vies for the seat of Dawson at the federal election on May 21.

He addressed his councillors and constituents in an open letter at Council’s ordinary meeting last Wednesday, indicating that with his selection as Liberal candidate for Dawson in the federal election, he would step aside.

As Deputy Mayor, Michael Brunker will fill the role of acting Mayor in Mayor Willcox’s stead.

Councillor Brunker’s position as Deputy Mayor was due to end on April 14 as part of the rotational nature of the office, which had previously been decided in April 2020, and has now been amended.

The amendment removed the concept of a rotating Deputy Mayor and extended Councillor Brunker’s term until such a time as Mayor Willcox returns to the role of Mayor, or another person takes the Oath of Office for the position should Mayor Willcox succeed and become our Federal Member.

“If Mayor Willcox comes back to Council, I would then resign as Deputy Mayor and council would select a new deputy mayor,” acting Mayor Brunker said.

“All we know is he’s going to come back, or he’s going to leave.”

Councillors voted on the decision to amend the rotational role, as well as whether Councillor Brunker would remain Deputy Mayor for the remainder of the federal campaign.

Councillor Michelle Wright said with the encroaching council budget “the need for stability, continuity and experienced leadership during that period is essential.”

Councillor Brunker was previously Bowen Shire Mayor and Whitsunday Region Mayor for a combined 22 years. He also ran for the seat of Dawson all the way back in 2010 for the Labor party.

Three councillors voted against the motion: Councillors Jan Clifford, Al Grundy, and Gary Simpson, splitting the vote, and the acting deputy mayor, Michael Brunker, broke the tie with a casting vote.

Councillor Brunker will act as Mayor until around May 25 - the current date of the earliest council meeting post federal election. Councillors will then vote on a new Deputy Mayor for the period of 12 months.

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Whitsunday Yacht Breaks Records

April 22, 2022

Whitsunday-based yacht Rex has set a new race record in the 57th Brisbane to Gladstone Multihull Yacht Race over the easter weekend.

Seven multihull vessels departed Brisbane on Friday morning, with Rex completing the course to Gladstone in 14 hours, 16 minutes, and 28 seconds.

Rex was the first to cross the finish line and won in OMR and PCF divisions.

Rex’s skipper Dale Mitchell says he’s still riding the high of the weekend.

“It’s still sort of sinking in,” he said.

“We knew the record was a chance…but didn’t want to put too much emphasis in that, more just wanted to go out, have a good hit out with the guys, and keep working into this boat,”

Dale was raised on sailing in the Whitsundays and met many of his crewmembers through competition.

He says six of the eight crew grew up sailing with and against each other in north Queensland.

“These days we all have such a common mindset and have sailed with each other so much that we keep finding ourselves on the same boats.”

Rex also finished with line honours in last year’s Brisbane to Gladstone race, completing the course in 16 hours, 47 minutes, and 25 seconds; more than two hours longer than this year’s efforts.

“We’ve been competing for a number of years on the owners’ previous boat,” Dale said.

Dale is now setting his sights on the Brisbane to Hamilton Island Yacht Race in August.

He says that scheduling conflicts won’t allow Rex and her crew to partake in Airlie Beach Race Week but he looks forward to Hamilton Island Race Week instead.

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Whitsunday Marine Rescue Club Expands

April 22, 2022

In a time of increased pressure on the vital and much-loved Volunteer Marine Rescue Whitsunday Club (VMR), the Whitsundays institution is set for expansion thanks to $420,000 from Federal Government.

Minister for Regionalisation and Minister for Emergency Management, Senator Bridget McKenzie met with VMR President Mal Priday on Saturday to announce the funding, accompanied by Liberal Nationals Party candidate for Dawson, Andrew Willcox.

Senator McKenzie said the demands on the rescue service have outgrown the club’s base of operations on Altmann Avenue in Cannonvale.

“It is vital that this club of around 50 dedicated volunteers has the appropriate technology and space to keep our boaties safe on the water, especially at busy times like Easter,” Minister McKenzie said.

“This funding means this beautiful Whitsundays holiday hot-spot continues to be protected by a highly skilled and capable marine rescue.”

Mr Priday said the development will expand the buildings top level, giving the region’s marine communications hub the space needed for regular rescue services, as well as full scale search and rescue operations.

It will include a kitchenette, multiple whiteboards and planning spaces, separate meeting rooms and other facilities.

“Last year we were 30 per cent up [on activations] and at the moment we are 60 per cent up on that and that's putting a lot of pressure on us,” Mr Priday said.

“We need to make sure we have a proper search and rescue centre. And that's part of what this proposal is: an expanded training room to provide better facilities for our volunteers. “

Liberal Nationals Party candidate for Dawson, Andrew Willcox said the expansion is a boost to the local Whitsundays communities of Airlie Beach and Cannonvale.

“The Whitsundays is one of the most attractive boating holiday destinations in the country, with high numbers of local boat ownership as well, so it’s essential that the hard-working volunteers who watch out for our boaties have the services they need,” Mr Willcox said.

VMR President Mal Priday  LNP Candidate for Dawson Andrew Willcox, Senator Bridget McKenzie, and VMR Volunteer Rodger Wodson aboard Coral Sea Marina VMR 1 Rescue Boat

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Flags Placed At 400 Graves

April 22, 2022

A contingent of the Proserpine Scout Group and Girl Guides gathered to mark the beginning of ANZAC day commemorations on Easter Monday, with many local volunteers giving their time to place flags at over 400 graves sites which hold the bodies of local service men and women who fought in wars.

The Proserpine Cemetery, adorned with bright flowers and green lawns, was a colourful and peaceful place for the kind-hearted individuals to honour those that served in the armed forces and had since passed away.

One of these was fifth generation Scout, Ryan Penhallurick, a young man who attended with his mother Tracy and her parents to honour Ryan’s great-grandfather, Rusty Norman, who he affectionately called ‘Old Dad’.

Small plastic flags were placed at grave sites by roughly 30 volunteers which included children, relatives and Scout Leaders.

Lyn Burke and Lloyd Fox started the ritual six years ago and had been placing flags by themselves for four years before enlisting other volunteers two years prior.

Ahead of the annual event, the pair spend time mapping out the grave sites of ex-service men and women and share some history of each recipient with an attending relative where possible.

They have also spent four years conducting military history research of the region and wrote a book documenting their findings.

This year local indigenous soldier Patrick Brady, who resides in the Catholic section, will receive a Commonwealth War Grave and his relative was present to place a flag at his grave ahead of this significant moment.

The flags will stay in place for four weeks and present a cheerful, respectful vista for community members attending graves or driving by the cemetery.

Nine-year-old Ryan Penhallurick with his grand-parents Margaret and John

Representatives from Proserpine Scout Group and Girl Guides

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Search Continues For Man Lost At Sea

April 22, 2022

It has now been two weeks since 36-year-old Lee Eastham disappeared from Pioneer Bay here in the Whitsundays on his three-metre tinny with his little white Jack Russel dog named Axel.

The alarm was raised on Friday, April 8 but it was too late to start the search that day, so rescue teams jumped to action the following morning.

Despite consistent efforts to find Lee or any debris that might be from his vessel, nothing has yet been found.

The RACQ CQ Rescue Helicopter, VMR Whitsunday, Water Police and countless boating locals have all been looking for any sign of him.

A Facebook group called the Lee Eastham Official Community Search has been established and is now being managed by an Australian Missing Persons Advocate.

Any locals cruising our waterways are encouraged to go onto this page and confirm where they have been so that a map of all the search areas can be collated.

“The map gets updated all the time, so people aren’t going to the same place,” said Tammy Leech who is a spokesperson for the family.

Lee’s parents, Gail and Michael Eastham drove through the night from their hometown of Hervey Bay as soon as they heard the news and have been holding a daily vigil at the Pioneer Bay Boat Ramp in Cannonvale ever since.

They were joined by Lee’s best friend Craig Jackson who has since driven Lee’s car back down to Hervey Bay.

The Eastham’s are no strangers to tragedy which makes this experience even more horrendous for the family.

They lost their other son to suicide in 2016 and three years later their family house burnt down.

Speculation has mounted that perhaps Lee suffered the same fate as his brother but spokesperson, Tammy Leech, said this would be impossible.

“It’s not suicide – he would not do that to his parents,” she said.

“He only went out to get a feed of prawns for his neighbours and there is no way he would have taken his dog.”

Lee is known to be a survivalist having been lost in the jungle in Thailand for some weeks a few years ago, so his family are confident he would know how to fend for himself.

“It has been some time now,” said Tammy.

“He must be very weak, so it is more important now than ever before that we all do as much as we can to find him.”

The official search has been scaled back so Lee’s family is relying on local boaties to continue looking in an area that could extend north as far as Ayr, if the tide were to have taken him there.

The family would like to thank everyone who has helped them so far and taken the time to look as well as offer support, including local businesses who have provided food.

There is also a GoFundMe page if you would like to donate to help with living expenses for the family while they are here.

The search continues and Lee and his loved ones are in all our hearts.

Information in this article was up to date as of 2pm Wednesday, April 20.

Lee Eastham has been missing for two weeks

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Proserpine Veterans Golf

April 14, 2022

What a beautiful day it was for golf last week, which attracted 25 participants for Proserpine Veteran’s Golf April Monthly Medal.  

The ladies’ winner on the day was Mandy Patterson (73 nett), second Lyn Muller (74), and the men’s winner with a fantastic score of 63 nett was John Oates, second was Peter Fox (72 c/b).

Nearest the pins for the ladies all went to Lyn (9th, 13th and 16th) while the men went to Neil Crawthorne (13th) and Peter Fox (16th).  

There were three chip ins on the day: Ken Granger, Neil Cawthorne and Nick Apruzzese.  

Least putts on the day for the men was Peter Fox with 27 and for the ladies Lyn Muller, Mandy Patterson and Elspeth Scotford all had 31.

Contributed with thanks to Paula McQuat

Mandy Pattersonn and John Oates

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Airlie Beach Parkrun

April 14, 2022

This week 73 people ran, jogged and walked the 5km waterfront course for Airlie Beach parkrun, with the rain holding off for most participants but came in a downpour for some.

Twenty first timers came out in force and seven participants recorded new personal bests: Doug, Trent, Nyrie, Roger, Carly, Irene and Lynne.

Astonishingly, Sylvie Martin and Margaret Coote completed their 200th parkrun.

The event was made possible by 17 wonderful volunteers: Nick Beecroft, Bob Barford (Run Director), Timothy McQuoid-Mason (Photographer), Kara Olver, Lesley Barford, Robyn Corrigan, Andrea Farley, Rebecca Hadley, Nathalie Blomme, Craig Boxer, Wendy McCall, Susanne Willmott, Ronald McCall, Laura Oates, Aiden, Lynne Oates and Geoff Newby-Butt.

It’s Easter weekend next week. We need a photographer, if you are available to take photos, or for any other volunteer role please send a message to airliebeach@parkrun.com.

Every Saturday Airlie Beach parkrun meets at 6:50am for a briefing at area D, Coral Sea Marina (adjacent to the top carpark). Parking is free in the lower carpark till 9:30am if a parkrun barcode is placed on the dashboard.

There are no winners at parkrun and nobody comes last – the Tail walkers do. Regular participation is rewarded rather than performance, with ‘parkrun milestone shirts’ available to people to recognise their achievements in coming along.

The full results and a complete event history can be found at https://www.parkrun.com.au/airliebeach/results/latestresults/

Further photos and details about registering can be found on the Airlie Beach parkrun Facebook page.

Contributed with thanks to Airlie Beach parkrun.

Kids were out and about for the 5km, enjoying their school holidays with some fitness

Andrea welcoming the first timers

The team of terrific volunteers

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Whitsunday Gymgoers Smash Their Goals

April 14, 2022

Fitness fanatics of the Whitsundays came to the end of their eight-week fitness challenges at the Base 51 Functional Fitness gym in Cannonvale this month.

The gruelling signature challenge was led by Head Trainer John Russolillo who said that the program “hits you from all angles.”

Splitting into two teams - Black Ops led by John and Sand Dogs led by fitness trainer Monique Pattison - the 40 challenge competitors set their personalised goals and smashed through them.

Based on their metrics and fitness, the coaches created 8-week programs that included everything from nutrition to strength training.

On Mondays and Wednesdays for eight weeks, they built their bases of strength, fitness, mobility, one rep max for squats and deadlifts, completed their first chin-ups or push-ups and more.

And come the end, whoever gained the most muscle and lost the highest body fat percentage was the winner.

John said that, although the physical side of things were important, plaudits needed to be given to the nutritional side.

“It’s the nutrition that helps massively and I have to shout out Manuela Modai - she does so much for the challenge and deserves a ton of recognition,” he said.

“I also want to thank Simon and Linda Lee, the owners of the gym because without them, none of it would be possible.”

Winners were announced at Anchor Bar in early April, with John’s team Black Ops claiming the top three competitors, as well as the overall winner Brian Wells, a 60-year-old paramedic and “an absolute legend.”.

Brian gained 4.8kg of lean muscle mass and lost about 2.5 per cent body fat.

“He’s made a lot of progress and he knows he can make more – he’s leaned out, but he was an ex-sprinter and a surfer, he just keeps going and getting accolades!” John said.

Mel Chapman came in second, having completed the challenge alongside personal training – her regular Monday and Wednesday, a Tuesday work out and a PT session on Thursdays. By the end, she achieved a personal best deadlift of 110kg.

Tracey Garett was the third-place finisher, also achieving excellent goals.

“She’s a great weightlifter who did a personal best deadlift at 115 kilograms, gained 1.5 kilograms of muscle and lost 1.5 per cent body fat,” John said.

John believes that the results speak for themselves, and that small group personal training is the future of gyms.

“It blends both worlds together seamlessly,” he said.

The next Base 51 Functional Fitness eight-week challenge will kick off in May.

John Russolilo, Monique Pattison, Brian Wells, Mel Chapman, and Manuela Modai celebrating the end of the eight-week challenge

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Collinsville Waterpark Creates A Splash

April 14, 2022

The new $1.2 million Collinsville Waterpark was officially opened to the public earlier this week and local children were excited to explore the free community facility.

With two thrilling water slides, a tipping bucket, water jets and shaded paddling area, the Collinsville Waterpark will offer a welcome and fun reprieve for families and tourists alike.

The equipment and the shade sails replicate the bright colours of Whitsunday Regional Council, whilst animal images and footprints tip toe over the anti-slip splash pad.

Mayor Andrew Willcox said the new waterpark was a great addition to the already existing Lion’s Park Precinct.

“One of the best features about this waterpark is that it is truly accessible to everyone,” said Mayor Willcox.

“The new fencing we have installed around that park also offers a safe haven for play, separating users from the road corridor.”

The new waterpark is the result of a Whitsunday Regional Council led Collinsville and Scottville community consultation in 2020 where over 100 submissions revealed that almost 50 per cent of people considered a new waterpark as their top priority.

“We listened to your feedback and today we are proud to officially open our $1.2million waterpark in Collinsville,” Mayor Willcox said.

The waterpark was constructed with funding from the Australian Government through the Local Roads and Community Infrastructure Program.

Mayor Andrew Willcox officially opens $1.2 million Collinsville Waterpark

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Pet Rescue Permanently Closed

April 14, 2022

Over three years Helping Hands Animal Rescue Bowen Incorporated helped close to 700 animals find their forever homes before permanently closing its doors last month

Helping Hands Animal Rescue Bowen Vice President Natalie McPhee said “life got in the way”, and the organisation slowly lost its lifeblood, the volunteers.

At its heights the organisation was a collection of 20 people, with its core committee of eight slowly whittling down to four and leaving them with little choice but to close.

“I had many people say they would volunteer, but the last meeting we had 15 people say they could help, but only one turned up,” Ms McPhee said.

“People want to work with animals, they don’t want to do the administrative side; they want to help, but they just want to do the fun stuff, not turning sausages and doing paperwork.”

Ms McPhee said that Helping Hands was almost a full-time job for many of its volunteers.

“Some mornings, by the time you do your family stuff, your work stuff, your rescue stuff, you’d be going to bed at 3.00am and getting up at 6.00am.”

“Those are the sacrifices you make.”

Members of the community expressed their sadness to see the organisation go, and Ms McPhee said the Facebook Page is still receiving messages asking for animals or asking for help with animals.

“It is really sad, even the Vets in town said it’s very sad to see it close, because it’s a service we need,” Ms McPhee said.

“Without us, it will put more pressure on organisations like Bowen Collinsville Pet Rescue.”

Helping Hands is redirecting any animal rescue or fostering enquiries to Bowen Collinsville Pet Rescue and Animal Rescue Whitsunday.

Helping Hands Animal Rescue Bowen Incorporated was forced to close in March due to a lack of volunteers

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Kids Meet The Police

April 14, 2022

Children at a local caravan park were excited to get some one-on-one interaction with our local emergency services last week when three police officers hosted a meet and greet session with holidaymakers.

Over 50 children flocked around the police car and were free to sit in the driver’s seat, wear a police hat, try on a bullet proof vest, and ask a barrage of questions to the accommodating officers.

Constable Jessica Leech said she was thrilled that so many children took the opportunity to engage with them and that she was able to pass on important information in a relaxed and friendly environment.

“It’s been really well received; all the kids have jumped in the car and put on the hats and had a really good time,” she said.

“We’ve spoken to them about who they call in an emergency and about safe bike riding.

“The aim is to create awareness in relation to what police do out on the streets but also for public safety – to encourage children to know who to call when there is an emergency.

“We are also here to create awareness and education around different issues that are relevant at the moment in regards to child offences.”

Handing out information packs to parents on cyber safety was an important initiative on the day.

“Children are very quick to learn, and they all love devices!” said Constable Leech.

“Kids absorb everything – they are like little sponges.”

Most of the children were holidaymakers from the eastern seaboard and some from rural communities to the west who had travelled to the coast for the Easter Holidays.

Topical questions on the afternoon revolved around what it takes to be a police officer and how many bad guys they had caught lately.

“The Whitsundays is a really good community with a low crime rate,” said Constable Leech.

“But, yes, we have caught a few bad guys!”Sergeant Nigel Dalton, Constable Kaitlyn Cousins, siblings Louie, Archie and Darci Kane and Constable Jessica Leech

Reef Thackray sitting in the police car and talking to Constable Jessica Leech

Sergeant Nigel Dalton fitting a young boy with a bullet proof vest

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Airlie Triathlon Next Weekend

April 14, 2022

After a two-year sabbatical, the Colorbond Airlie Beach Triathlon Festival is back in action hosting avid athletes in a weekend of sporting fun this ANZAC Day weekend.

This will be the 21st festival of its type, with up to 200 competitors expected to participate in a range of events over the two-day schedule.

The Junior Triathlon will kick-off on the Saturday with those who are over 12 years old competing in an exciting 350 metre swim at the Airlie Lagoon, followed by a 2-kilometre bike ride and a 1-kilometre run. The 6–12-year-olds can compete in a shorter course.

Saturday will also see an Ocean Swim take place, the perfect warm-up for many of the competitors.

An event for the whole community, the festival’s central hub at the carpark to the left of the Airlie Beach Lagoon, will be transformed into a festive arena on Saturday evening with an array of food vans, lively music and the fireworks are expected to kick-off at 8pm.

The main events take place on the Sunday with a Sprint, Enticer and Olympic distance Triathlon starting from 6am.

The community are invited to watch the excitement, either at the start or the end of the races or as competitors make the quick change from their ocean swims to mounting their bikes.

With 150 athletes registered so far, there is still time to sign-up if you would like to get involved in the challenge.

For more information and the festival event guide please go to airliebeachtriathlon.com.

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Bright Light Leaves Too Soon

April 14, 2022

A local community champion and inspiring mentor to many people navigating the often scary and unknown world of cancer treatment has passed away after a long and brave battle with the disease.

Karen Filby passed away at Proserpine Hospital on Saturday at 58-years-old.

First diagnosed with cancer in 2018, Karen had 15 tumours between both lungs and it had spread to her lymph nodes, spine, hips and left leg.

At this time, she was given just three months to live with no treatment options available in Australia.

Refusing to give up, she embarked on a mission to explore integrative medicine, connecting with a local reputable naturopath who referred her to a progressive clinic in Thailand.

Spending nine weeks in treatment in Thailand, Karen’s scans showed incredible results, the lung tumours had reduced from 15 to five and only one lymph node was now affected.

By November 2020 scans showed that miraculously Karen’s cancer was no longer active.

Deciding to use her experience to inspire and assist others Karen shared her story in Core Life Magazine and studied to become a counsellor specialising in oncology offering free consultations for many people living with cancer.

Tragically, a month after she received the ‘all clear’ Karen’s partner, who had been by her side throughout her treatment, passed away suddenly.

This took its toll on Karen physically and mentally and a few months later a scan showed the cancer had returned.

Despite her depleting heath, she continued to help others while she fought bravely until the end.

Karen is survived by her three siblings – Judy, Brian and Robert Filby - nine nieces and nephews, as well as countless friends who will all miss her dearly.

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New Water Tank Now Full

April 14, 2022

An exciting milestone has been reached at the Cannon Valley Reservoir with the first brand-new water tank full and ready to service our community, ensuring improved water security for our region.

The process took seven days and began last Friday, from 8am until 1pm each day, finishing up this afternoon.

The week-long fill period meant that the water needs of the community were still met without putting any extra stress on our water sources, or completely depleting our water storage infrastructure during the fill period.

To achieve this, Council isolated certain sections of the water network so they did not over pressurise the system (which could lead to bursts) and to minimise any risk of non-potable water entering the potable water network.

Council also monitored and flushed the network at strategic locations to minimise any potential effects on water aesthetics during the fill period.

Each of the two new water tanks holds 12.5 megalitres of water and will double the potable water supply to Airlie Beach and Cannonvale, providing greater resilience during severe weather events by giving us far greater water capacity.

The $7.5 million project is co-funded by the Whitsunday Regional Council and Australian Government’s Building Better Regions Fund.

The previous water tank in Airlie Beach was damaged in 2017 Cyclone Debbie and when the other two are fully operational it will be possible to make the necessary repairs.

The two water tanks at the Cannon Valley Reservoir

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It’s All About The Prawns

April 14, 2022

Tassal’s Proserpine prawn farm is looking to up its production with a submission of plans to expand operations at its Whitsunday farm.

The farm, the largest in the country and which only recently brought in its largest haul in its three years of operation, is looking to fill more plates with more Whitsunday prawns.

In an effort to meet the ever-increasing demand, the company is aiming to produce 5350 tonnes of their black tiger prawns annually – up from their current roughly 3000 tonnes.

The current farm comprises 325 hectares of production ponds, and Tassal’s expansion would see the construction of a further 210 hectares worth.

The stage four expansion also includes plans for 59 hectares of water treatment ponds, two new pumping stations and inlet channels.

The planned ponds would be fed by the Gregory River and would be completed in stages: the first 69 ponds over 112ha and the second comprising 57 ponds over 98ha.

“Stage 4a is planned to commence in July 2022,” Tassals referral states, with the caveat the expansion obtains Commonwealth environmental approvals.

Tassal’s proposal states the new stages are connected to the existing farm and feed from the same intake channels, making them an extension, rather than an independent entity.

The company stated they were in the “early concept planning phase for future major expansion to the east of the existing farm”.

“While some infrastructure would be shared between the existing farm and future stages (e.g. hatchery facilities), the future farming operations would be largely independent,” the referral reads.

The completion of the project would see the creation of an extra 60 jobs on the site – not including those for local contractors who would benefit from the construction work.

The expansion would see the ponds operated from the mission control centre on the Proserpine site, which also runs Tassal’s two other farms in Mission Beach, Queensland, and Yamba, New South Wales.

The farm has seen constant progression in its operating system since Tassal, Australia’s largest aquaculture company, took over the once Fortune Group owned site in September 2018.

Alongside other aquaculture north of Rockhampton, the Tassal farm will contribute to the industry which is expected to be worth $1.34b by 2030.

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Happy Rocks Thank Local Heroes

April 14, 2022

Community members are encouraged to celebrate local heroes in a new initiative from Happy Rocks Bowen who are asking everyone to paint a rock and present it to someone they admire.

‘Thank Your Local Hero’ is a chance for you to acknowledge and say thank you to the people in your lives who have helped you or come to your rescue, and made your life better, because that’s what a hero does,” said founder of Happy Rocks Nicole Rowan.

If you would like to participate, simply select your rock and paint it with a picture or a pattern that represents your feeling for your hero and present it to them while telling the recipient the reason they are so special to you.

Make sure you take a photo of the two of you together and post it on the Happy Rocks Bowen Facebook page along with a maximum of 75 words about why they are your hero.

The organisers will then choose some winners so your hero has the chance to win a range of prizes kindly donated by local businesses.

Sergeant Michelle O’Regan from Bowen PCYC presented Gemma Duncan with a rock last week saying that the initiative had reminded her that rocks last longer than the flowers she had intended to deliver.

“She is a hero because she is a warrior fighting for her own health,” said Michelle’s Facebook post.

“She is openly sharing her story and journey to remind others to be aware and check their own health.

“Gemma Duncan you are a beautiful soul and a quiet achiever - full of grace, resilience, determination, strength and positivity.”

The ‘Thank Your Local Hero’ competition is running throughout April so make sure you get involved and support this wonderful initiative.

Nicole has some spare outline rocks for anyone who would like to use a template to make it easy to colour - simply reach out through their Facebook page.

Image: Sergeant Michelle O’Regan from Bowen PCYC presenting Gemma Duncan with a rock last week

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Location Of Missing Man Remains Unknown

April 14, 2022

A Hervey Bay man who disappeared in a tinny with his dog on Thursday last week remains missing despite an extensive search by the emergency services.

Lee Eastham, who is 36 years old, was last seen launching from the Pioneer Bay boat ramp at around 4.30pm on Thursday, April 7 and was reported missing when he failed to return on Saturday afternoon.

The RACQ CQ Rescue helicopter conducted a widespread search of the area between Conway Point and Dingo Beach for about three hours for the missing man and his three-metre boat, but nothing had yet been found.

It is understood that he was based at a local campground and had made friends with neighbours who had looked after his dog for two nights prior to the disappearance.

Their Facebook post described Lee as a “lovely bloke” and the dog “so pleasant to mind”.

“We only knew him a few days and raised the alarm when he hadn't returned the following morning. We are praying they're both found safe and well,” read the post.

It is now understood that Lee’s family are staying at the campground and have connected with the concerned neighbours who are helping with investigations.

Many in the community have also come forward to assist where they can, one individual reported that she had seen a broken down vessel from her own yacht in the bay.

She was about to offer assistance when the motor came to life and he sped off.

Another local was filming a wedding at Whitsunday Volunteer Marine Rescue (VMR) when he saw a tinny matching that description.

He has now handed the video footage over to police who are encouraging anyone else with information to come forward.

The registration of the tinny is ZV7160.

Information in this story is up to date as of 2pm Tuesday, April 12.

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Can The Real Slim Shady Please Swim Up?

April 14, 2022

In late January this year a juvenile green sea turtle was brought from North Bowen to the Eco Barge Clean Seas Incorporated (EBCS) facility with wounds sustained from a shark attack.

Last week, that turtle – affectionately named Eminem – was released back into the Coral Sea from Cannonvale Beach, having recovered from his injuries thanks to the team of 14 dedicated turtle carer volunteers.

Named by EBCS Founding Chair Libby Edge’s daughter, Eminem was graced with the nickname when Ms Edge and her daughter drove to Bowen to save him, all the while singing along with the famous Detroit rapper the car radio.

With a cohort of kids in tow, the Eco Barge volunteers saw the successful release of the turtle Slim Shady on Thursday, who is just one of the over 221 sick or injured turtles to have received care at the charity’s Whitsunday Turtle Rescue Centre.

Ms Edge said it was a very special day which would not have been achieved without the volunteers and BSTAR, a Marine Animal Stranding Response group in Bowen.

“We safely rescued this turtle from Bowen and brought it down here to the Whitsunday Turtle Rescue Centre, and this is a bit of a celebration for our turtle volunteers today for helping fully recover Eminem,” Ms Edge said.

“He has a rear missing flipper and a few injuries, but he has healed himself quite quickly - it’s amazing, and it’s because of this team.”

Eminem was rehabilitated over 78 days, with donations to EBCS going directly towards his recovery. As well as funds from sales Ballistic Brewery’s Reef Pale Ale and Lager, with ten cents from every can donated to Eco Barge.

All turtles are listed endangered, with the green sea turtle amongst those.

Ms Edge said that Eminem was released because he had returned to full physical fitness, which included “eating Eco Barge out of house and home.”

“He’s now going to head over to near Pigeon Island, have a feast of seagrass and then, highly likely, swim back to Bowen,” she said.

Renee Carroll was one of the volunteers who nursed Eminem back to health, alongside her daughter Cleo Mazonka.

“That was the first release I’ve been a part of and it was emotional – there are tears, but happy tears,” she said.

“You love them, you care for them – I feel extremely happy and emotional.”

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Meet The Candidates

April 14, 2022

Seat Of Dawson Contenders Speak In Whitsundays

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has called the election for May 21 and with the incumbent Member For Dawson George Christensen stepping down from politics, seven candidates have come forward to vie for his seat.

Two meet and greet events were held in Cannonvale and Bowen this week, giving the aspiring candidates an opportunity to connect with the community and field questions on how they would represent the electorate if successful.

First Week Of Election Fever For Dawson

In Bowen State High School’s McKenna Hall on Monday evening, 100 residents attended the Dawson Electorate Meet The Candidate event in the wake of the Prime Minister’s announcement that the Federal Election would be held on May 21.

The aspiring candidates introduced themselves and their key political points. In attendance were Labor candidate Shane Hamilton, Liberal candidate Andrew Willcox, Greens candidate Paula Creen, Independent Phil Batty, United Australia Party candidate Christian Young, Katter Party candidate Ciaron Paterson, and One Nation candidate Julie Hall.

On Tuesday, the candidates also headed to Cannonvale for the same event with a new audience.

Retiring Member for Dawson George Christensen – who was unable to attend in person – gave an opening address via pre-recorded video and said that he hoped the incoming member was “passionate about protecting your freedoms.”

“I hope they will cross the floor to go against their party, even in the face of ostracisation,” Mr Christensen said in his opening address.

Each candidate was given an opportunity to sell themselves and spruik their key party points before pre-selected questions, followed by an opportunity for locals to speak with candidates one on one in a less formal setting.

In Bowen on Monday, Labor candidate Shane Hamilton opened with key infrastructure points for Bowen.

“For me, Bowen has the potential to be an energy superhub: if you think about the deep-water port and the potential to export hydrogen, massive ability to generate wind and solar, and create green hydrogen,” Mr Hamilton said.

He also echoed the sentiments of party leader Anthony Albanese that the realm of aged care was a major one for improvement nationwide.

“We care for people, we much prefer to give them a hand-up than a push down,” he said.

Paula Creen from the Greens followed, letting Bowen know that the Green’s values coincided with her own, and that she understood the task ahead of her.

“I know it’s a tough audience in Dawson, but I have a bit of grit,” she said.

Her major point was the introduction of renewable energy: “We want 100 per cent, publicly owned renewable energy by 2030,” she said.

Liberal candidate Andrew Willcox took to the stage next, mentioning his experiences as a third-generation farmer, a successful business owner, and current Whitsunday Regional Council Mayor.

He said – if he were to be successful – the creation of jobs and infrastructure would be his main concerns, making particular note of the Liberals commitment to Urannah Dam.

“This is not an election promise, it’s locked into the budget and building Urannah Dam will create thousands of jobs during the construction, and many more in its lifetime,” he said.

The only independent in the running, Phil Batty followed Mr Willcox.

“Do I think I stand a chance to win? No,” Mr Batty said.

Mr Batty said 94 per cent of people want more influence in local development, and he was running with the goal of bringing the plight of the organisation ‘Save our Foreshore’ to a wider audience.

Christian Young from the United Australia Party spoke on the Covid vaccination mandates and that his party would move to have all workers reinstated regardless of their vaccination status – as well as highlighting the need for more specialised doctors in the regions.

Ciaron Paterson of the Katter Party said that a vote for him in a minor party was to keep the “bastards” honest – in apparent reference to the major parties.

“We have a great success in lobbying for our constituents, such as the Hells Gate Dam,” he said.

One Nation candidate Julie Hall followed, and spoke on vaccine mandates, saying that her party would first and foremost organise a Royal Commission into the handling of the pandemic.

“While some of the mandates are being removed from the 14th, this is not good enough,” she said.

The questions that followed the 10-minute speeches given by each candidate were on topics chosen by those in the electorate: climate change, mining, mandates, and the digital identity bill.

In the next few weeks, the campaign trail will heat up for each of the candidates, with the nights in Bowen and Cannonvale just a snippet of election fever.

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Whitsundays Arts Festival Opens Exhibition Entries

April 8, 2022

The Whitsundays Arts Festival’s Art Prize Exhibition has opened its entries for artists Australia wide, giving them a chance to take home their share of the total prize pool of $11,200 for the 2022 Festival running September 17 to 30.

The exhibition – to be held at Coral Sea Marina Resort - is seeking submissions of works which respond to the theme ‘Memories.’

The finalists will be selected by a highly lauded judging panel of industry professionals who have had over 20 years of experience and are enthusiastic in developing innovative programs to grow artist platforms.

The year’s judging panel is being led by Tracy Cooper Lavery, Director of Gallery and Visual Arts at HOTA Home of the Arts Gold Coast - the largest public gallery outside of a capital city.

Ms Lavery said she was looking forward to seeing the work of the Whitsundays Art Prize finalists in 2022.

“Art Prizes both big and small are a fantastic opportunity not only to introduce your work to a larger audience but perhaps win an award or sell an artwork in the process,” she said.

Whitsundays Arts Festival President Jess Begun said in what has been another incredibly challenging year, they are asking artists to take a moment to reflect.

“To remember and reminisce on what the theme ‘Memories’ means to them - I look forward to seeing how artists have chosen to connect with the theme,” Ms Begun said.

In 2021 the Art Prize Exhibition received over 100 artwork submissions, with 53 finalists selected, and received over 1,000 votes in the People's Choice Award.

New this year is the inclusion of works from Australian artists working in any 2D or 3D medium, excluding photographs.

Entries opened April 1 and close on August 1, with finalists announced August 22.

For more information on Art Prizes visit: www.whitsundaysartsfestival.org/art-prize-exhibition-2022

Mayor Andrew Willcox presenting last year’s winner of Whitsunday Regional Arts Prize, Lisa Ashcroft

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A Bowen Local’s Focus On Memory

April 8, 2022

The English writer Virginia Woolf said that memories expand; “the past is beautiful because one never realises an emotion at the time.”

When Bowen local Cheryl Stanton saw her father lose sight of his own beautiful past in the fog of Alzheimer’s disease, she understood the fragility of memory and that the rose tint of yesteryear counts for nothing if it is lost.

A passionate photographer her whole life, Cheryl captured her family memories on film, and realised the potential of taking photography and the written stories of her life in combination to craft Life Story Books.

She’s now taking her Life Story Books online, assisting families to share their stories before they lose them forever, allowing future generations of families the privilege of reading them.

“I am sure all families can relate to the many stories they hear from their parents and grandparents,” Cheryl said.

“The laughter and passion, love and sorrow, heartbreak and despair, success and hardships, fun and adventure and the many tidbits of everyday life along the way.

“These are the stories that should be told and these are the stories that will be lost in time.”

Over 12 months, Cheryl sends clients one prompting question per week, like what is your fondest childhood memory? Describe your life at school in the early years. Tell us about your favourite family tradition? Or what was the fashion of the era?

You can choose from a suggested list of questions or write your own.

These answers are then compiled into a hardcover Life Story book – 200-page collections created for “all generations to enjoy.”

Cheryl said the prompting questions are also a fun way to reminisce, and a journey that loved ones can cherish.

“Every moment creates a memory; every memory creates a story.”

Cheryl Stanton is helping people across the country keepsake their treasured memories

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KITCHEN GARDENS Norina Jane from Whitpro

April 8, 2022

Why not start your own worm farm this Easter break?

It’s relatively easy - they eat your scraps and produce liquid fertiliser as well as a supply of worm castings that your vegetable plants will thrive off.

There are a few important things to know about worm farms:

1. We live in a warm climate and you can bake worms, so make sure they are in a shady position. Soil temperatures over 26 degrees may see loss of worm life.

2. Worms need water - a dry worm farm will die - so keep it moist but not wet.  

3. Be careful not to over feed your worms - you only need to feed them once or twice a week. Only add more food once the last batch has been consumed. My hint:  Blend, chop finely or shred your scraps before giving them to your worms.

4. You only need a small amount of worms to get started, as they populate easily.

Indian Blues are a good option for the Whitsundays, they cope with our warm climate better than some other species.

The three most important things to do when making your own worm farm:

1. When choosing your worm bin, make sure it has a large surface area. You’ll offer more oxygen and room to be active and feed with a wider tub. You can even use a polystyrene box.

2. Make sure you drill holes into the sides of your tub but remember to put mesh over the holes, so worms don’t fall out.

3. Three tubs are ideal - the bottom one to collect your worm tea (obviously no breathing holes in this tub!)

How to use it:

Worm tea is diluted to part to ten and then poured over your vegetable plants - put a tap in this layer or a hole with a bucket underneath it.

The middle layer is where you’ll put your worms - I use shredded paper in this layer that has been wet through and then squeezed out along with Coir (coconut fibre).

Add your worms, then cover them with a layer of damp hessian or paper.

The top layer is where your worms move into when the second layer is full - once they have moved home, you can use the second layers castings in your veggie garden.

Did you know:

Worms can live up to 20 years! A worm breathes through its skin. A worm has no eyes but it does have five hearts and a brain.

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Chamber Chat

April 8, 2022

Holiday season has hit and town is buzzing with visitors! Accommodation reports almost 100 per cent occupancy which means that tourist operators, food and beverage and retailers can all expect solid trade over the school holidays. More importantly, it is hoped that this will herald the start of more widespread visitation in general – with extra flights, access to the Whitsundays has never been easier.

The Whitsunday Coast Chamber participated in a couple of round table discussions during the past fortnight. The first Regional Policy Committee meeting for chambers in the Mackay, Isaac, Whitsunday region was held on Wednesday, March 23 with a view to establishing the most pressing issues limiting businesses in the greater region. Mandates, staff shortages and social housing being identified as needing immediate attention by government.

Locally, the Whitsunday Coast, Proserpine and Bowen Chambers met with Gary Warrener (Council Economic Development). Gary updated the Councils efforts to attract significant industry to the area whilst the three chambers also put forward ideas and solutions to local business issues. Several positive outcomes were achieved and the collaboration of all three chambers with council will better drive the local economy and ensure advocacy is targeted and unequivocal.

The Federal Budget was handed down last week and whilst there was a splash of cash for general population to "ease the cost of living" it did little to actually reduce the immediate business input costs pressures driving prices upwards. The relief will be short lived for the consumer as the cause of the problem was not addressed and only short term symptomatic relief was provided. That's what happens when there is an election around the corner.

The next Chamber event is shaping up to be a cracker with former Australian keynote speaker of the year booked in pending final confirmation. Save the date, April 21, 2022 – it will be an evening event focussing on customer service, culture and inspiration and one for not just business owners but managers and staff as well. Keep an eye out on our Facebook page and website.

From Allan Milostic, Whitsunday Coast Chamber of Commerce

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Containers For Pocket Money

April 8, 2022

An entrepreneurial young local who is paving the way for environmentally conscious residents is encouraging his neighbours to drop their glass and plastic bottles into his big red bin so he can take them to the Containers for Change depot.

This non-for-profit organisation recycles used bottles by receiving donations in exchange for cash.

12-year-old William Logan, who is a year seven student at Proserpine State High School, receives 10 cents for every eligible item he delivers to the depot and has raised over $1000 so far.

Starting out when he was just seven years old and living in Logan, just south of Brisbane, William was able to secure weekly donations from four of his neighbours.

Having moved to the Whitsundays three years ago, he began collecting again and in a twist of fate, his old neighbours happened to move a block away from his new home in Cannonvale.

Rekindling a friendship and a profitable business arrangement, the couple suggested William approach the body corporate managers at their apartment complex to see if it was possible to service all 12 units.

Jumping at the opportunity, William received permission and then delivered a personal note to each home.

Placing his red bin adjacent to the standard garbage bins the young man waited to see if anything would happen.

Fortunately, in less than a week his bin was full.

Estimating roughly 300 cans and bottles would fill the bin, he anticipates making $30 from each bin load and aims to save money to go towards a new car when he turns 16.

Dreaming of being a pilot when he is older, however, a portion of the money goes towards purchasing the latest model aeroplanes for now.

William is currently looking for new locations and apartment complexes that would like to donate to the cause. If you are interested, please contact him through his family business at Whitsunday Hearing – 4946 4906.

12-year-old William Logan

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New Entertainment Centre’s First Show On The Horizon

April 8, 2022

The doors are open and it’s time to pack the seats as the brand-new Proserpine Entertainment Centre (PEC) welcomes its inaugural show, The Melbourne International Comedy Roadshow.

Promising to home-deliver a belly-laugh inducing night of stand-up, sketch, satire, silliness and song, the Roadshow is hitting the highway to bring the freshest and funniest from its famous festival to Proserpine.

For 24 years the Roadshow has presented an all killer, no filler line-up of Australian stars and talented newcomers to comedy fans far and wide – and this year it will arrive at the PEC on May 3.

The rip-roaring road trip designed to satisfy all your comedy cravings will be sure to test the foundations of the newly reinvigorated PEC.

PEC General Manager, Katie Boyd, said they were still putting on the finishing touches for the venue but they were extremely excited.

“There’s been a lot of buzz about it,” Ms Boyd said.

“We’re very, very excited for our first show and the good news is we’ll have the bar running - who doesn’t love having a drink ahead of a comedy show?”

In Queensland, the Roadshow will head to 13 other locations, bringing with it the group of hand-picked, touring comedians selected from the Melbourne International Comedy Festival.

Book now for that much-needed live comedy fix when they roll into town.

Performances often contain coarse language, adult themes, sexual references, and material that may offend, and the show is recommended for people aged 15 years or older.

The Melbourne International Comedy Roadshow will arrive at the PEC on May 3

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New Entertainment Centre’s First Show On The Horizon

April 8, 2022

The doors are open and it’s time to pack the seats as the brand-new Proserpine Entertainment Centre (PEC) welcomes its inaugural show, The Melbourne International Comedy Roadshow.

Promising to home-deliver a belly-laugh inducing night of stand-up, sketch, satire, silliness and song, the Roadshow is hitting the highway to bring the freshest and funniest from its famous festival to Proserpine.

For 24 years the Roadshow has presented an all killer, no filler line-up of Australian stars and talented newcomers to comedy fans far and wide – and this year it will arrive at the PEC on May 3.

The rip-roaring road trip designed to satisfy all your comedy cravings will be sure to test the foundations of the newly reinvigorated PEC.

PEC General Manager, Katie Boyd, said they were still putting on the finishing touches for the venue but they were extremely excited.

“There’s been a lot of buzz about it,” Ms Boyd said.

“We’re very, very excited for our first show and the good news is we’ll have the bar running - who doesn’t love having a drink ahead of a comedy show?”

In Queensland, the Roadshow will head to 13 other locations, bringing with it the group of hand-picked, touring comedians selected from the Melbourne International Comedy Festival.

Book now for that much-needed live comedy fix when they roll into town.

Performances often contain coarse language, adult themes, sexual references, and material that may offend, and the show is recommended for people aged 15 years or older.

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Maritime Centre Sets Sail

April 8, 2022

Construction is underway for the new $2.5 million Whitsunday Maritime Training Centre with facilities forecast to rival the country’s best and expected to attract trainees from near and far.

Located at the Whitsunday Sailing Club in the heart of Airlie Beach, the new centre will increase the training capabilities fivefold by doubling the floor space of the entire club.

There will be five purpose-built classrooms, an engineering workshop and lecture theatre as well as a versatile boardroom which can be opened up to boast a substantial deck with expansive sea views.

While its first role will be training future mariners, the centre will also become a community hub and a multi-use function space for industry and community groups to hold meetings, workshops, seminars and more.

Director of Projects and Development, Terry Archer said that he is excited to see this game-changing facility come to the Whitsundays.

“This will make the Whitsundays one of the best learning maritime centres in the whole country,” he said.

“It will attract students from all over Australia and potentially South East Asia and the South Pacific.”

Training Manager, Kaye Williams, said that she is looking forward to expanding the services and no longer having to restrict numbers due to limited space.

“We will be able to expand our training offerings which will be terrific,” she said.

“The quality of our instructors is equal, if not better than, other training centres – we even have a Master 1 instructor which really stands out.”

The Whitsunday Maritime Centre will focus on ‘near coastal’ qualifications, inside the reef on vessels up to 45 metres in length.

Mariners can achieve their Coxswain ticket, Master 24 (5), Master 33 (4), Master 45 (3) and their MED 2 certificates from the centre.

The build is expected to be completed by the end of this year and, due to an increase in building costs, developers are currently securing more funding for fixtures and furniture.

Sailing Manager Ross Chisholm, Training Manager Kaye Williams and Whitsunday Sailing Club General Manager Robin Ross.

“This will make the Whitsundays one of the best learning maritime centres in the whole country,”

Terry Archer

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Whitsunday Airport Launches First Regional Bottle-o

April 8, 2022

Holidaymakers will now be able to arrive at Whitsunday Coast Airport in style rather than simply depart with ease, thanks to a new bottle shop and bar experience located in the baggage claim area.

The first of its kind in all of Australia, the new bottle shop and bar will enable arriving passengers to pick up a six-pack or a bottle of wine as they arrive, making the experience flexible and seamless.

“We had plenty for outbound guests but nothing for inbound, so their holiday doesn’t start until they get to Airlie Beach - but now it starts right here!” said Taste Whitsundays owner Kevin Collins.

“We noticed it had constantly been an issue where they say the baggage takes too long – now they will be saying – slow down I’ve got time for another champagne!”

Not only will inbound guests be able to enjoy the take-away and sit-down arrival service, locals who are picking up visiting family and friends, will be able to wait next to the baggage claim.

No more traipsing through baggage control, they can relax in comfort.

As a Whitsunday Regional Council owned facility, the innovative concept not only benefits those that pass through the airport, but it will also benefit rate payers.

“The more money we make, the more money pours into the rate base,” said Mr Collins.

“That means there is less money the rate payers have to pay for services – it’s a win win – and we maximise the potential of the airport to generate income for the rate payers.”

The new bottle shop is due to open today.

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The Resilience Project Comes To Local Pre-Schools

April 8, 2022

The Cowboys will soon be delivering the key messages of gratitude, empathy, and mindfulness to pre-school children in our local community thanks to funding from the Whitsunday Suicide Prevention Network (WSPN), which is bringing The Resilience Project’s (TRP) Early Years Program to local childcare centres.

With the aim of introducing positive mental health strategies at a key point in a child’s emotional development, the program teaches both educators and families how to live a happier life and instil an attitude of gratitude in everyday living.

This is achieved by involving parents and carers with the Early Years Family Journal to raise awareness of practical strategies to build resilience for themselves as parents and within their children.

The Journal includes a space for children to capture reflections of their learning as well as ways for families to connect and share activities together.

WSPN believe that the TRP Early Learning Program will greatly assist young children and their parents in our region to cope better with the current challenging times resulting from the COVID 19 pandemic.

“Research shows that if you practice the three principles of gratitude, empathy and mindfulness your mental health improves, you feel happier and your ability to cope in challenging times improves,” said WSPN Treasure Paul Burke.

This view is also supported by recent university research commissioned by TRP.

The research looked at the impact of the pandemic on the mental health of 80,000 young people who had used the TRP resources and 80,000 young people who hadn’t.

It found that the young people who had used TRP resources managed to maintain their mental health throughout the pandemic while the other group had experienced significant mental health issues.

The delivery of the Early Years Program in the Whitsundays will be rolled out initially to two regional early learning centres and is expected to commence in term 2, 2022.

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Ergon Invest 27.5 Million In Whitsundays

April 8, 2022

Ergon Energy greeted Airlie Beach residents with news they were set to invest $27.5 million into the local network.

The state-owned electrical company said that the Whitsunday’s role as a tourism hub for North Queensland meant the demand for electricity in the area is growing, creating the need for a major project to bolster the region’s electricity supply.

“The Whitsundays is growing and we’re growing with you,” The Ergon Statement reads.

“This project will refurbish and expand the Cannonvale substation and duplicate key sections of the 66,000-volt underground cable network between the Cannonvale substation and Shute Harbour, providing greater network resilience.”

Ergon said this investment will increase the network’s capacity and improve the security of the electricity supply for 8,000 homes and businesses.

The company has said the existing Cannonvale substation control building across from Banjos Bar and the Whitsunday Shopping Centre will remain, with an additional modular building to be built on the site closer to TAFE.

The duplicated underground cabling will “where possible” run adjacent to the existing line, but with development in the area having progressed significantly since that initial installation, the line route options may be different.

“We’ll be able to provide more information after our detailed design is completed,” the statement reads.

The works on the substation will commence in the third quarter of 2022 and the fourth quarter of the year for the duplication through Cannonvale, Jubilee Pocket, Mt Rooper, and Shute Harbour substations.

Completion is expected by the end of 2023.

More information can be found at https://bit.ly/3K5tt6s

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Shining The Light On The Whitsundays

April 8, 2022

Our local region will be in the spotlight once again when talented singer-songwriter, Karen Jacobsen, films three destination focused music videos right here in the Whitsundays.

Launching her new album on May 22, she will be filming the videos next week and has received a $9,000 grant from Whitsunday Regional Council to contribute to production costs.

Famous for being the Australian voice of Siri and the Destination Ambassador for the Whitsundays, Karen was originally from Mackay and spent the last 20 years living in New York.

In search of a safe haven during the pandemic, she brought her family back to Australia and ventured up to her home region, falling in love with the Whitsundays once again.

Dedicating much of her time to promoting the area, driving tourism where possible and championing cultural development, Karen has become a sophisticated mascot for all that shines in the Whitsundays.

Using her song-writing skills to further promote the region, she has filmed music videos on Hayman Island and at Coral Sea Resort.

Next week she will be filming two music videos for her new album.

The first song entitled, You Are The Greatest, will feature the Airlie Foreshore and show footage of Karen travelling along the boardwalk in a pedi-cab.

The next song and title track to the new album is The Slipstream and has special meaning for Karen.

“For a long time, I was looking around at the success that other people were having and it seemed like they managed to find some slipstream of energy and then everything just worked – it seemed so easy for them,” she said.

“I was trying very hard and wondering why I wasn’t experiencing that, and this song is really about that state of desperation and feeling lost.

“There came a point for me when I realised there wasn’t something that I’ve got to go and find out there, it is something I can find in here.

“I went from thinking, what’s here for us? To, what can I provide here?”

The filming for this video takes place with the industrial backdrop of Proserpine Sugar Mill, the quintessential country stage of the cane fields, and then finishes on the Cape Hillsborough beach at dawn with the wallabies.

Karen will be wearing a custom-made golden gown by Jason Chetcuti.

“This is a very fresh delivery of the tourism messaging,” said Karen.

“They are a lasting piece of artwork that capture a moment in time with original music and I am absolutely delighted that Whitsunday Regional Council sees the benefit.”

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Prossie Pilot Lives Grandfather’s Dream

April 8, 2022

Jetstar Pilot James Spruce has piloted flights to international and domestic locations across the globe, but his first landing at home in Proserpine last week was the most momentous he’s had so far.

His 94-year-old grandfather, Herbert ‘Jack’ Spruce, looked on as James landed the Airbus A320 on the Proserpine runway with proud tears in his eyes - having given James the flying bug as a young boy, Jack was seeing his grandson live his dream.

Jack and James Spruce’s affinity for flying has always been common ground, with Jack taking his grandson for his first flight at the age of 14, strapping the teenager into his light plane.

Watching his grandson land the Airbus A320 onto the Whitsunday Coast Airport strip as a professional was an emotional outing for the once amateur aviator.

In his flying days, Jack was known as “Spruce Goose”, and the now 94-year-old has lived in the Proserpine Nursing Home for the last 13 years, having had a major stroke which left him unable to communicate verbally.

A lifelong sugarcane farmer, Jack was an avid aero sportsman, flying light planes for fun on weekends and holding the position of Vice President at the Proserpine Aero Club.

Jack had often taken James out to see the Boeing 737s and James remembers his grandad saying, “If I had my time again, that’s what I’d be doing”, and James is now “living the dream” for his grandad having become a commercial pilot for Jetstar.

“It was those words that really stuck with me as a young boy,” James said.

“Ever since I became a professional pilot, I’ve always had a dream to return here and have him out on the tarmac and see me fly in in a large jet.”

Jack’s daughter Jacqueline organised the occasion which saw Jack out on the tarmac watching as his grandson flew into Proserpine for the first time ever.

“For dad to still be alive at nearly 94 to see this moment is very momentous,” Jacqueline Spruce said.

“He basically gave James the flying bug, because dad would come out to do competitions for flying and take James with him in the plane.”

The whole family came out to watch on the day, including Jack’s other son Kenneth Spruce.

James said that the feeling when he saw his grandad on the tarmac was emotional, beyond words, and “absolutely nuts”.

“Proserpine airport in particular is a bit different for pilots; so, you go back to the basics, stick and rudder kind of skills and manual flight, so landing here and having him see it – hopefully having him approving it was smooth – it was beyond words,” James said.

“I get to tell him about my flying escapades now, just like he did when I was a boy; I get to share that with him.”

A family portrait of Jack Spruce (Front), his daughter Jacqueline, and his son Kenneth with his wife Suzanne Spruce

Kenneth and his dad Jack heading to greet James on the stairs of the Airbus A320

It was a teary reunion between Jack and James on the Whitsunday Coast Airport

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April 8, 2022

The community are in mourning following the sudden death of 28-year-old Jed Farraway who tragically lost his life during a boating accident at Port Alma (south of Rockhampton) on Sunday.

The Jubilee Pocket man, who was originally from Calliope near Gladstone was known affectionately by friends as ‘Filthy’ - he was a Ringer by trade but had been currently working for a local concrete company.

Remembered as an adventurous and spirited soul, Jed will be missed by all who knew him.


An avid fisherman, Jed Farraway was returning to Port Alma boat ramp on Sunday, April 3 at around 7am with three friends when the vessel is thought to have hit a marker buoy and flipped over.

One man in his 20’s was flown to Rockhampton Hospital in a serious condition, another man also in his 20’s was treated for leg and back injuries, while the third man in his 30’s was treated for chest, leg and facial injuries.

Jed was reported missing at 7.53am.

The Coast Guard chopper, Water Police and Marine Assist Rescue began a lengthy search of site following the incoming tide to upstream to look in nearby creeks.

Many local boaties joined the desperate search, and it was one of Jed’s friends who found him in the water near the site of the accident at 5pm.

Jed is survived by his mother and father, Lieth and Gavin Farraway

One of his closest friends and adventure companions was Scott Pocock who had known Jed for eight years and lived with him for five of those, regularly returning to Jed’s family home for Christmas.

The pair travelled Australia together, mustering at large cattle stations and living a free-spirited life on the land.

“He hated sitting still – if anyone ever mentioned anything about an adventure – he was there!” said Scott.

“There was not a day that would go by that he wasn’t doing anything – he would walk into a room and within 30 minutes he’d have the whole room doing tequila shots and dancing – he could lift anyone’s mood.”

Known for enjoying the outdoors lifestyle, Jed loved fishing, hunting and catching bulls – he had 11,000 people on instagram and 4000 people on Facebook following his adventures and captured many of his amazing achievements with photos.

When reminiscing about their wild adventures, Scott and Jed had often discussed how lucky they were to still be alive and remarked on the chances of not surviving until their 30’s, words that have tragically come true for Jed.

“I remember him saying – ‘if I die don’t let Mum and Dad cry for me, I’ve lived a full life’ – he wouldn’t want anyone to be upset, just have fun for him and live their lives to the full,” said Scott.

Jed’s girlfriend, Terri-anne Buckleigh, echoed this sentiment in a Facebook post.

“I am going to live my life to the fullest just like you did and make you proud, Baby!

“I am so, so incredibly grateful for all of the love you have shown me, the amazing adventures we have been on - you have brought so much light to so many lives, and I know there are a lot of heavy hearts right now.”

Friends have set up a GoFundMe page in Jed’s honour with proceeds going directly towards the VMR and Capricornia Rescue Helicopter – so far they have raised almost $15,000.

Jed and his best mate Scott

Playing for his hometown Calliope Roosters

Surfing with girlfriend Terri-anne Buckleigh

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Sixty Years Ago - Proserpine Kindergarten - How It All Began.

April 1, 2022

It rained heavily on Monday 2 April 1962 but that did nothing to deter a total of 37 young children from attending the Proserpine Kindergarten on its opening day. No fewer than 51 children had previously registered with the association and an average attendance of 34.2 children per day maintained for several months until later in the year when an epidemic of measles swept through town.

The Proserpine Kindergarten Association had been formed on February 19 that year and the first president was Mr R E Horsford. Accommodation was the first priority. The Shire Council’s offer of the use of the old library building was accepted as suitable after some painting, fencing and the netting of a play enclosure. At such short notice, the association realised the difficulty of securing the services of a qualified kindergarten teacher. However, Mrs Shirley Robinson’s wide experience with children was looked on favourably and her offer to look after the children temporarily was accepted. A roster of mothers assisted Mrs Robinson until a fulltime assistant, Mrs Gloria Bloxsom, was appointed. Mrs Bloxsom had particularly useful skills, being a qualified hospital nursing sister and an accomplished pianist.

In the first year, morning sessions only were held at a cost of 2/6d (12.5 cents) per child for 3, 4 and 5 year olds. This included provision of fruit and sandwiches. At this point the kindergarten was totally self-funded by fees, hall rental, raffles and fundraising events. Money had to be found for wages, equipment, including a piano, and repairs and maintenance. The Education Department provided free milk to all children.

The year 1963 was an important one for the kindergarten. Mrs Pat Burns, a fully qualified teacher, was appointed, with Mrs Bloxsom continuing as her assistant. Affiliation was granted with the Queensland Creche and Kindergarten Association and an application for an annual grant of ₤150 was made to the Education Department. The numbers of registered children rose to 68 and afternoon sessions were introduced. Subsequent enthusiastic committees organised various fundraising activities such as fancy-dress competitions, concerts, the Bride of the Year, golf days and even a Find the Ball competition in “The Courier Mail”. Their main objective was to upgrade the building.

In 1967, the kindergarten moved into the old Windermere school building which had been relocated and re-erected in 1946 in the grounds of Proserpine State School behind where the Entertainment Centre now stands. It continued operating from that building for forty- five years.

On May 22, 2013. “The Proserpine Guardian” ran the following advertisement: “For sale: Proserpine Kindergarten has purchased its new building. Old building - must be sold.”

Proserpine Public Kindergarten has seen hundreds of children pass through its doors in the past 60 years.

Story and photo courtesy Proserpine Historical Museum.

Gloria Bloxom on piano and teacher Pat Burns with the children in 1963

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Green Power In The Whitsundays

April 1, 2022

The Whitsunday Climate Change Innovation Hub welcomed tourism operators on its deep dive of the latest renewable energy options available in its Green Electricity Information Session on Tuesday.

Part of The Hub’s Whitsunday Healthy Heart Project (WHHP) workshop series, the session was aimed at supporting the Whitsunday tourism sector and the wider community by showing them the options available for reducing their carbon emissions and improving sustainability.

Partnering with the Coral Sea Academy, The Hub brought together speakers from Ergon Energy, Green Energy Technologies, and Edify Energy.

The Green Electricity Information Session was hosted at The Lookout Lounge, Coral Sea Marina.

Lee Hawkins, Climate Change Resilience Officer at The Hub said around “50 per cent of the municipal or human sourced carbon emissions in the Whitsunday region comes from electricity consumption.”

“At this information session, the Whitsunday community learned more about how they can explore ways to reduce their direct emissions,” Ms Hawkins said.

Presenters at the event covered the gamut of climate change topics relevant to Whitsunday Business Owners and how they could change their approach.

It included optimising energy ratings for property portfolios, case studies on successful renewable energy installations, how to buy green electricity through the grid, and Power Purchase Agreements with local solar farms.

The talks of carbon emission reduction came at an incredibly salient time for the region as a Unesco Delegation oversees the Great Barrier Reef’s health ahead of a major decision which is due to be announced in July.

The Hub agreed that the Whitsunday Islands are one of three key locations with current projects underway as part of the Great Barrier Reef Foundation’s Reef Islands Initiative, which is working to restore critical island habitats to protect ecosystems and save vulnerable species.

The initiative is a 10-year program supported by funding from Lendlease, the Australian Government’s Reef Trust, the Queensland Government, and the Fitzgerald Family Foundation.

Climate Innovation Hub’s Olivia Brodhurst, Lee Hawkins, Edify Energy representative Manas Choudhury, Kon Flaherty from Green Energy Technologies Whitsunday, and Damien Krauklis from Edify Energy

Whitsunday Councillor Al Grundy attended, as well as Tony Fontes, Whitsunday Conservation Council Spokesperson

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Free Youth Expo Next Friday

April 1, 2022

The young people of the Whitsundays and their families are invited to Proserpine Youth Space next Friday for a fun afternoon of activities with the opportunity to chat with a range of local services.

Whitsunday Ballers are setting up their gel-blasting range for attendees to experience, a gladiator duel to challenge guests, and there will be free face-painting, fun workshops, demonstrations, games and prizes.

Many of the activities will be held by local youth service representatives who will be available for questions by young people and their families in a relaxed and easy-going environment.

“This is a great opportunity to see local services that help support youth all together in one place, so they know what’s out there to help them,” said Youth Space Coordinator Renee Buckley.

“There will be loads of fun activities too – we even have an obstacle course where you can time yourself going round the course with and without ‘beer goggles’ on so you can see the effects of alcohol on your response rates.”

Also in attendance will be PCYC Whitsundays who will be providing information about their new ‘Braking the Cycle’ program which helps kids attain their drivers licence by matching them with older mentors who assist with accruing the 100 hours needed to take the test.

Whitsunday Counselling and Support, MADEC, Selectability, Real Mates Talk, Lives Lived well and Headspace will also be present on the day.

The Lions will be cooking up a free BBQ for everyone.

The event kicks-off at 3pm on Friday 8th April and winds down at 7pm.

Youth Space is open from Tuesday to Friday throughout the school holidays from 11.30am to 5.30pm.

A home away from home for young people between the ages of 8 and 21, the centre has a pool table, TV, kitchen, arts activities and more.

Everyone is welcome anytime to the Youth Space centre located at 69 Marathon Street in Proserpine.

Free face painting

Free gel blasting experience

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Whitsunday headspace Launches

April 1, 2022

This Whitsunday’s newest mental health and counselling service for local youth was officially launched to the community last week with a formal ceremony followed by relaxed lunch.

Headspace Whitsundays, located on Proserpine Main Street, is a free service that offers early intervention and mental health support to those aged 12-25 years old.

The team offer face to face counselling for issues such as alcohol and other drugs, vocational support as well as sexual and physical health needs.

Over 50 people attended the event including Member for Whitsundays Amanda Camm MP and local elder, Aunty Sue with her son Ryan.

Members of the health industry, groups connected with the service such as PCYC, high school students and contractors who helped construct the space were also invited to the celebrations.

The launch party began with a Welcome to Country, smoking ceremony and storytelling by Aunty Sue and her son Ryan.

Afterwards, there were speeches and the cutting of the ribbon, followed by an opportunity for guests to take a tour of the facilities in small groups.

Lunch and refreshments were then served and young local musicians played music to entertain the crowd while everyone mingled and enjoyed the festivities.

Headspace Whitsunday is a is a satellite office which is open to the public three days a week from Monday through to Thursday.

With a Clinical lead, two clinicians, a Youth and Community Engagement Officer and a Clinical Receptionist as well as a Youth Reference Group the team have a wealth of knowledge which can assist with a broad range of issues.

Alannah Fitzpatrick (headspace Whitsundays Youth Reference Group Member), Abbie O’Sheehy (headspace Whitsundays Youth Reference Group Member), Amanda Camm (Member for Whitsunday)

Abbie O’Sheehy (headspace Whitsundays Youth Reference Group Member), Kiera Mansfield (Head of Centre Services, headspace National), Whitsunday Elder Aunty Sue, Robin Whyte (CEO – Northern Queensland Primary Health Network) and Luke Guazzo (CEO – Northern Australia Primary Health Ltd)

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Police Beat

April 1, 2022

Thieves Steal Yellow Ute From Bowen

Shortly after 8am, a yellow 1990 Toyota Hilux utility was stolen from a shed at a rural property on the Bruce Highway near Sandy Creek in Bowen.

At the time of the theft, the car was parked in the shed and was left unlocked.

The early hours robbery occurred on 17 March, and the yellow utility’s registration number is 655ZSJ.

Since then, the stolen vehicle has been linked to a stealing incident on Palmerston Street, Pimlico in Townsville on 19 March.

Police are encouraging anyone who might have information about the original offence or the current location of the stolen car to contact Policelink as soon as possible.

As well, local law enforcement has taken the opportunity to remind all vehicle owners that they need to ensure that their cars are secured at all times – even when unattended.

“If you witness any suspicious activity, at any time of the day, please report the matter as soon as possible,” Senior Constable Steve Smith said.

To report any information quote these reference numbers via Crime Stoppers: QP2200475569, QP2200482901.

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VMR Rescue Suspected Box Jellyfish Sting Victim

April 1, 2022

The brave heroes at VMR Whitsunday were tasked to attend a serious situation on Sunday morning when a man suffered a suspected Box Jellyfish sting at Butterfly Bay on Hook Island.

The individual was a guest on a charter boat vessel.

With the RACQ CQ Rescue Helicopter unable to attend the incident, the volunteers at VMR Whitsunday jumped to action, transporting Queensland Ambulance Service (QAS) paramedics to the remote location as quickly as possible.

Whale Song VMR2 was deployed first, racing the paramedics to the site at 37 knots and arriving at the scene in just 27 minutes.

Coral Sea Marina VMR1, the patient transfer vessel, followed shortly behind arriving 45 minutes later.

By the time the teams attended to the patient he had been transferred to Hayman Island Resort marina where he was being looked after by the island’s emergency care staff.

As soon as the paramedics arrived, they stabilised the patient which took roughly 45 minutes.

A third paramedic from Hamilton Island also came to support the crew, transported to the site on a fast charter boat to ensure there was enough assistance.

The patient was transferred to Coral Sea Marina VMR1 along with his brother and the pair were brought back to the marina, tying up alongside at 12.55pm.

The entire operation had taken less than two hours.

After the incident, a test uncovered that there was a troponin leak in the patient’s body – this is an enzyme that is released when the heart is under extreme stress like a heart attack – and it was likely the paramedics saved his life.  

“A great team effort by all concerned!” said Mal Priday from Whitsunday VMR.

“Di at the base, staff at Hayman Island Resort, the Hamilton and Airlie Beach paramedics, and both rescue boat crews – to help a patient that was in a very dangerous situation. Well done, everybody!”

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Bowen Crowned Capital Town Of Region

April 1, 2022

A surprise announcement this week caused discontent among many locals in the region who believe they should have been consulted before our northern-most township was named Capital of the Whitsundays.

Following discussions at a state level, all regions in Australia are now being asked to nominate a capital town as part of a nationwide movement that will see individual regions work more autonomously and with a more centralised approach.

The decision has been made using such credentials as which township showcases the best beaches, provides the most industry and income for its region, has the friendliest townsfolk and is generally better than the other towns in the region.

Mr Loof from Airlie Beach said that he has resided in the Whitsundays for 20 years and believes it should have been Airlie Beach instead.

“This must be a joke!” he said.

“Airlie Beach is the best town by far – we are the gateway to the Whitsundays – we have all the restaurants, bars and nightlife – we are the most progressive place to live by far!”

Ms Jan Kidd from Proserpine disagreed, saying that they should have picked a country town that is steeped in history and has a wealth of farming knowledge.

“Proserpine was the first town in the Whitsundays and therefore should be the one named as its capital,” she said.

A resident from Collinsville also voiced her concerns, stating that the mining town of Collinsville always gets overlooked when in fact it is the one bringing in all the money for the region.

“We have the mines here in Collinsville - it is all our hard work that makes the rest of the region rich, so we should be the best – I will be complaining about this for sure!” said Ms Longnose.

Meanwhile, many locals and business owners in Bowen are celebrating the news and welcoming the special treatment which will undoubtedly follow.

“This news is great for our town and finally means that we have an answer to the age-old question about which town in the Whitsundays is the best - now we all know it is Bowen,” said Mr Gotya.

“Hopefully this will mean that we get a larger portion of state and federal funding – because we deserve it!”

It seems that so far this rash move by the state is only breeding contention and divisive behaviour which is the opposite of its original intention.

Due to the uproar that has ensued, the state is asking for residents to stop calling directly on the matter and to please submit all correspondence in a calm and orderly fashion through the proper means and send all letters directly to aprilfoolsjoke@state.gov.au.

 “This news is great for our town and finally means that we have an answer to the age-old question about which town in the Whitsundays is the best - now we all know it is Bowen,” said Mr Gotya.

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What The Budget Means For Our Region

April 1, 2022

The Federal Budget was announced on Tuesday evening with an impressive $37.9 billion allocated for regional Australia, $1.7 billion of which is due to be spent directly on Central and North Queensland.

Some key highlights include $1 billion for the Great Barrier Reef to help protect its health and resilience - this is in addition to the $3 billion Reef 2050 plan.

A Gas Wells Trials initiative was also allocated $15.6 million in the North Bowen and Galilee basins, its aim is to improve gas recovery and lower production costs by trialling innovative gas drilling and well completion techniques.

In addition, the hospitality, agricultural, and tourism sectors will be able to secure more casual workers thanks to an extra 11,000 working holiday-maker visas available for prospective backpackers.

Infrastructure also saw substantial investment with significant improvements to the Bruce Highway, a $11.6 million spend over five years to Bowen-based North Queensland Water Infrastructure Authority, $80 million to the future construction of the Bowen Pipeline, and of course $483 million towards the construction of the Urannah Dam.

LNP candidate for Dawson, Andrew Willcox, said that everyone from Mackay through to Townsville will reap the rewards when the much-anticipated Urannah Dam goes ahead.

“We’ve got the good news on funding for some terrific projects and the biggest of these for me is almost half a billion dollars to build Urannah Dam,” he said.

“I’ll keep shouting this news from the rooftops because it is a game-changer for our region through the creation of about 1800 jobs, the opening up of 20,000 hectares of irrigated land for high value crops, the provision of water for our towns and for our mines and the potential to create hydro power.

“It’s a project that will transform our region and will reap benefits for future generations.”

Meanwhile, Labor candidate for Dawson Shane Hamilton said he is concerned that the vast majority of working families in this region won't get any relief from this budget.  

“I'm very sceptical that the Urannah Dam project will even get the funding - we have seen many times the LNP announce the shiny brochure but never deliver on their promises,” he said.

“It would have been good to see more on housing pressure relief - people can't find houses to live in at the moment, the cost of rent or purchasing a house is quickly getting away from people with many at risk of becoming homeless.  

“There is also no long-term vision on extreme weather proofing our region from cyclones or floods which would help lower insurance premiums and our service sectors have missed out with no additional public hospital funding keeping people on waiting lists for longer.”

Dissenting voices from Labour and other political commentators have noted that the budget can be viewed as a "short term cash splash" aimed at pleasing voters ahead of a Federal election.

The overall consensus, however, is that the budget is positive, reserved and realistic – in many ways Australia being the envy of nations around the world for how our unemployment rates are decreasing and our general standard of living improving as we emerge from COVID.

In Your Pocket

• A saving of 22 cents at the fuel pump for six months

• $420 cost of living tax offset for low-to-middle income earners

• $250 cost of living supplement for six million Australians

• Small businesses tax deduction boost of 20 per cent

• Incentives for small business to train staff and employ apprentices

• 20 weeks of paid parental leave (single parents included)

• Cheaper medicines and more regional medical centres

• More mental health and social services, aged care and NDIS funding

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April 1, 2022

The Airlie Beach Festival of Music has been voted Festival of the Year at the Queensland Music Awards, representing the Whitsunday region and carving a commanding place at the top.

After 10 years delivering music magic to thousands of people from their iconic main stage tent at the Whitsunday Sailing Club, the festival has been acknowledged among the best of the best in their field.

One of our region’s favourite local festivals has just been named ‘People’s Choice’ Festival of the Year at the Queensland Music Awards which was held at the Fortitude Music Hall in Brisbane on Tuesday evening.

The Airlie Beach Festival of Music has been running for a decade come November and organisers say this announcement is a wonderful way to celebrate 10 years of passion, dedication, and determination.  

“For a small boutique festival like ours to even get a look-in is a huge thing for us – it’s definitely given us an amazing kick-along for 10 years hard work,” said Festival Coordinator Ellie Hanlon.

“It was awesome to be up here and to be recognised alongside other big names – and then to take it out! – I really don’t know any words.

A small contingent from Airlie Beach attended the event, including Ellie Hanlon, Margie Murphy from Airlie Events and Passport to Airlie Organiser Stacey Robertson-Falvey along with Festival Ambassador Sarah McLeod from Superjesus.

Festival founder, Gavin Butlin, said given the event was one of only two finalists, and up against the much larger ‘Big Red Bash’, he was stunned, honoured, and humbled by the win.

“Ten years ago, this festival was just a dream and now look where we’ve come,” he said.

“I am so proud of what our small but dedicated team has achieved, and I can’t wait to make this year’s 10th anniversary festival our best yet.”

Around 400 people from the music industry packed the hall for the gala dinner event which saw over 20 awards handed out to winners from a range of categories which included song of the year, video of the year, highest selling single as well as winners from the different music genres.

Airlie Beach Festival of Music were thrilled to represent the region and take home the lucrative state award in honour of their popular event.

“To all our Airlie Beach Festival of Music family – thank you!” said Ellie Hanlon.

“We’ve got such a dedicated team – and to everyone in the community who comes along and supports our events – thank you!”

L-R: Margie Murphy from Airlie Events, Passport to Airlie Organiser Stacey Robertson-Falvey, Airlie Beach Festival of Music Coordinator Ellie Hanlon and Festival Ambassador Sarah McLeod from Superjesus

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Award-Winning Liquor Retailer Opens In Airlie Beach

March 25, 2022

The Reef Gateway Hotel in Airlie Beach has opened the doors of its onsite liquor retail outlet with a brand-new look this month.

The newest Harry Brown store is now part of one of Australia’s leading independent retail groups, providing independent store owners with the collective buying power they need to offer local customers great deals on the products they love.

The store is the biggest liquor retailer in the area, offering an impressive variety of local, national, and international wines, beers, ciders and spirits at competitive prices.

“We have tailored our range to suit local needs and have designed our store layout to help you find your favourite choice quickly,” Store Manager Steve Wright said.

“Whether you are shopping for a gift, the perfect match for your meal or searching for that hard-to-find bottle, Harry Brown staff are here to help.”

There are currently six Harry Brown outlets in Australia, with Airlie Beach the newest store, and the company was nationally crowned Best Retail Liquor at the 2021 Australian Hotels Association National Awards for Excellence for its Bracken Ridge Tavern store in Queensland.

For locals, it’s looking good and especially for those with a crafty brew inclined palette, as Harry Brown is especially well known for its extensive craft beer selection and is already offering an everyday special of 25 per cent off when purchasing any six single craft beers.

Steve Wright, store manager at the country’s newest Harry Brown

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Prossie Boy Wins Public Speaking Award

March 25, 2022

Our local Lions Youth of the Year winner, Mac Rogers, has returned triumphant, winning the Public Speaking Award at the Lion’s district championships which were held in Townsville last weekend.

The inspiring 17-year-old is the school captain at Proserpine State High School and this was the second year in a row that he had been awarded Lions Youth of the Year, beating participants from Bowen, Whitsundays and Collinsville to secure his place.

While in Townsville, Mac competed against six other students who came from as far afield as Cairns, west of Townsville and Mackay.

Representing Zone 9, Mac was sponsored by Proserpine Lions Club and was supported by 13 fellow Lions who also attended on the night.

There were four finalists from across North Queensland - Alannah Falvo, who represented St Stephen's Catholic College in Mareeba, was the overall winner.

Aurelia Woods from Trinity Anglican School in Cairns won the Community Service Award and Barnabas Juhasz represented Townsville Grammar School from Castle


Well known for his excellent public speaking skills, Mac was thrilled to take home the award that reflected his speciality.

“It’s been a really good opportunity to develop my public-speaking skills and I have met lots of interesting people, both Lions and students,” he said.

The Proserpine Lions Club would like to congratulate Mac on his achievements

and wish him well for his future endeavours.

Marc Rogers won the Public Speaking Award at the District Youth of the Year Finals

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Reef Turned White, Seemingly Destined For Danger

March 25, 2022

For the first time in recorded history, a mass coral bleaching event in the Great Barrier Reef is occurring during the usually cooler weathers of a La Nina year.

This serious event also happens to coincide with a ten-day delegation of two Unesco scientists who will be collecting evidence that will help decide whether to classify the reef “in danger.”

The Great Barrier Reef has seen six mass bleaching events and this will be the fourth in six years.

Chief Scientist of Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority Dr David Wachenfield said that the thermal stress has accumulated across the reef, with the worst affected area being the central one.

Aerial surveys by the Marine Park Authority are occurring this week over the major tourism areas, but Dr Wachenfield said the stress was less in these areas.

"The majority of reefs surveyed from Hinchinbrook to Bowen were severely bleached, with some mortality observed at some of these reefs,” Dr Wachenfield said.

"These thermal anomalies have worsened since the start of March, which is counter to what we would normally expect in a typical March.”

Spokesperson for the Whitsunday Conservation Council (WCC), Tony Fontes, said that a change of reefs world status to ‘In Danger’ would only serve to help.

“The Reef is in danger. No amount of government spin can change that. Recognising that the Reef is in danger is the best way to protect the reef,” he said.

“Global warming, fuelled by the burning of fossil fuels, has caught up to us.”

Bleached coral

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Tourism Operators Receive $12 Million Reprieve

March 25, 2022

Local tourist operators gathered at Coral Sea Marina last week to receive the news that, for the second year running, they would not have to pay an environmental charge to the Marine Park Authority.

This nominal fee is usually paid by each tourist who participates in a local tour and varies from business to business.

Jan Claxton from Ocean Rafting said that her company pays between $7 and $8 dollars per passenger.

“A lot of us are having to run discounts to keep staff and vessels running, so this will make a huge difference,” she said.

“We have eight boats and can take up to 230 people per day – when you add it all up over the last 20 years, it’s a couple of million!”

Minister for the Environment Susan Ley MP was joined by LNP candidate for Dawson Andrew Willcox and Chief Executive Officer of Tourism Whitsundays Rick Hamilton to make the announcement.

“I am delighted to say that the Treasurer has listened and is picking up the tab!” said Minister Ley.

“The Marine Park Authority will continue to receive the funds but you, the tourism operators, will not have to pay.”

Andrew Willcox said he was thrilled to see a 12-month extension on the funding.

“I have been lobbying for this and I am pleased to see that they have listened and that it’s come through,” he said.

“A lot of tourism operators have been absorbing the costs, so this is a huge help for that.”

Rick Hamilton said that the news is welcomed by the whole industry.

“It’s terrific news for the tourism industry – it’s been a tough few years for us,” he said.

“We are really looking forward to the next year when we will begin welcoming international tourists and cruise ships back to the Whitsundays.”

Minister Ley also announced that $15 million will be spent on improving the local marine environment through helping tourism operators to better monitor the area.

Minister for the Environment Susan Ley MP, LNP candidate for Dawson Andrew Willcox and Chief Executive Officer of Tourism Whitsundays Rick Hamilton with tourism operators at Coral Sea Marina last week

Minister Ley making the announcement with CEO of Tourism Whitsundays (left) and LNP Candidate for Dawson Andrew Willcox (right)

Minister Ley talking to Jan Claxton from Ocean Rafting

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Red Cats Bring Home Two National Awards

March 25, 2022

The celebrated champions of our region, Red Cat Adventures, were among three local operators to be recognised at the Qantas Australian Tourism Awards on the weekend.

Red Cats won gold in Adventure Tourism and silver for Major Tour and Transport Operators while Pinnacles Resort won silver for Self-Contained Accommodation and InterContinental Hayman Island Resort took home bronze in 5 Star Accommodation.

Julie and Asher Telford, owners of Red Cat Adventures, said they had been dreaming of winning the prestigious Adventure Tourism category for many years as this field of tourism symbolises the very foundation of their business.

“Although we’ve been privileged to win awards in the past at local, state, and national levels, this is our first gold in the Adventure Tourism category nationally,” said Julie.

“Without international youth markets to draw on, Adventure Tourism has been one of the hardest hit sectors, and what we personally - and our industry as a whole - have been through during the pandemic, cements this as the toughest battle of them all and consequently the most cherished win.”

For the Telford’s the awards represent not only their company’s success but also their resilience and ability to pivot and overcome adversity.

With 86 per cent of their business relying on international tourists prior to the pandemic, it was just a few weeks after the company had celebrated their gold and silver wins at the 2019 Australian Awards when news of the onset of COVID caused the value of their company to be halved overnight.

“We were faced with the devastation of losing the majority of our staff and what ensued has been an insane, emotional rollercoaster ride – at times elating, at others soul-destroying, but always raw and real,” said Asher.

“Instead of closing our doors and taking a rest, we slaved – we worked 10 times harder, and made a new business plan every time the rules changed.

“We sought opportunities from challenges, took calculated risks, and actually grew our company during Covid, evolving into a better, more efficient, more sustainable business as a result.”

The Telford’s want to say a huge congratulations to all the other award winners.

“Even to be in that room after such a turbulent two years is a massive achievement that everyone deserves recognition for,” said Julie.

At The Pinnacle Of Success

Bringing home silver in the Self-Contained Accommodation category, Pinnacles Resort were another local business who were elated by their success at the Australian National Tourism Awards last weekend.

Resort Manager, Sue Watson, said that the gala dinner, held at the Sunshine Coast Convention Centre last Friday was a great opportunity for operators to get together and celebrate successes after a challenging few years.

“The event was all you would expect - the best of the tourism industry and

a wonderful celebration,” she said.

“It has been a difficult couple of years, not only for the Whitsundays but for everyone in the industry so it felt good to be back to some sort of normal.

“We are so excited, and it was just amazing to be bringing home silver for

the Whitsundays!”

The InterContinental Hayman Island Resort won a bronze award in the Five Star Accommodation category and General Manager, Arpad Romandy, proudly congratulated the winners.

“It’s an exciting time for The Whitsundays tourism sector to continue to shine and showcase our unique experiences and products,” he said.

“The recognition of being showcased on a national stage and achieving a bronze award is an honour.”

Chief Executive Officer of Tourism Whitsundays said that while we may be a small region, our world-class offerings, iconic destinations and passionate operators shined on the night.

“Tourism operators in The Whitsundays consistently deliver high-level experiences, they are dedicated to showcasing the best of our region and I am delighted that we had three national finalists up for four awards,” he said.

Brent Jones and Susan Watson, Pinnacles Resort Managers.

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Proserpine Cenotaph Unveiled

March 25, 2022

Dignitaries, returned servicemen and the Proserpine community witnessed a momentous occasion as the new Proserpine Cenotaph was officially opened last Tuesday.

The old Cenotaph that previously sat in the construction zone for the new Proserpine Entertainment Centre (PEC) is now gone and in its place a revamped monument to those who lost their lives fighting for Australia.

The new memorial was celebrated with an Official Dedication Ceremony led by Proserpine RSL Sub-branch President, Jason Raiteri, and attended by Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, as well as Federal Member for Dawson George Christensen.

Both the Premier and Mr Christensen spoke solemnly on the meaning of war to the town of Proserpine and its older generations.

Mayor Andrew Willcox said the Cenotaph was co-created by Council and the Proserpine RSL Sub-branch, creating a traditional design which would have a greater impact on the community and be more functional for commemorative ceremonies

“The Cenotaph represents more than names; it is a tribute to the efforts and the hardship endured by our servicemen and women,” Mayor Willcox said.

“We wanted the new Cenotaph to be a memorial that our residents would be proud of.”

Twenty-one new names, including two indigenous soldiers, were added to the list adorning the cenotaph – each of whom lost their lives in battle.

“The Cenotaph represents a headstone for all those Proserpine Servicemen who were killed during service and lay in cemeteries across Europe and the Pacific,” said Mr Raiteri

“It is a special place for many local families with relative’s names engraved on the Cenotaph. It also provides the Proserpine community with an appropriate gathering point for commemorative ceremonies,” he said.

“The new Cenotaph will ensure that the names of all Proserpine’s fallen to date are forever displayed and their sacrifice will be remembered by future generations.”

Many of the regions’ veterans placed wreaths at the feet of the new cenotaph in honour of fallen comrades

Veterans were out in droves to respectfully herald in the new and improved Cenotaph

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Remembering Debbie – Five Years On

March 25, 2022

Mayor’s Message:

On Tuesday, March 28, 2017 Tropical Cyclone Debbie smashed the Whitsunday region and our recovery five years later is a story about the courage, spirit and resilience of our community.

For 48 hours torrential rain and winds up to 260 kilometres per hour smashed Airlie Beach, Bowen, Proserpine and wreaked havoc as far west as Collinsville.

We live in a country of cyclones and flooding rains, and in 2017 it was the turn of the Whitsunday Region, and its 35,000 plus community and thousands of stranded tourists, to struggle against what mother nature could throw at us.

As Mayor of the Whitsundays I am in awe of the amazing community spirit of our residents that were always willing to lend a hand to a mate or neighbour in the aftermath of Tropical Cyclone Debbie.

Mates helping mates is Our Whitsunday Way, but when a disaster as massive as Tropical Cyclone Debbie hits, it is up to community leaders to unite and lead the recovery.

In total, Debbie caused $2.4 billion in damage and fourteen deaths across Australia, primarily as a result of extreme flooding making it the most expensive and deadliest cyclone to hit Australia since Cyclone Tracey in 1974.

Looking back, 2017 was shaping up as a bright year for the Whitsunday Region with strong economic growth forecast.

We had record tourism numbers, one of the fastest growing regional airports in the country and possibly the largest-ever mine, rail and port development in Australia’s history.

But then mother nature threw us a curve ball!

TC Debbie was a horrific experience for our community but the support of the military, SES and emergency services was huge and we’re indebted to them for their dedication to serving our community in its hour of need.

The mission to source Federal and State Government funding to assist us to restore and build resilience into our region’s infrastructure and rebuild community assets has been a long journey.

However, five years later I am proud of the efforts of my Council to lead our region’s recovery and the relentless lobbying and advocacy to secure over $250 million in funding for new capital projects and restoration works.

This funding allowed us to improve key infrastructure, leading to increased resilience and making our community Stronger than Before.

We also brought forward several major projects to make our Whitsunday region better than ever.

We had only started to emerge from the shadow of Debbie when the world-wide Covid-19 pandemic struck.

2022 is hopefully the year our community can regain its mojo and it is off to a flyer with a new airline in Bonza announcing direct flights to Sunshine Coast, Toowoomba and Newcastle and the $18.8 million state of the art Proserpine Entertainment Centre officially opened on Tuesday.

My Council is confident that the Whitsunday Region is perfectly positioned for a bright and prosperous next decade and beyond.

Mayor Andrew Willcox

Whitsunday Regional Council

Projects Completed Since Cyclone Debbie

• Airlie Beach/Cannonvale Sustainable Water Pipeline and Cannon Valley Reservoir tanks $21.3 million

• Cannonvale Lakes boardwalk and landscape upgrades $700,000

• Bowen Sewage Treatment Plant $27million

• Increased capacity for network capability Ergon upgrades $360,000

• Airlie Beach Lagoon facility upgrades $2.5 million

• Bowen Front Beach Seawall rebuild $1 million

• Collinsville Water Park and Swimming pool upgrades $2.3 million

• Bi-Centennial boardwalk upgrades $900,000

• Proserpine Main Street upgrade and Proserpine RV Park $2.9 million

A washed-up boat on Airlie Foreshore with trees damaged by the cyclone and two sunbathers nearby

Mayor Andrew Willcox flying over the region shortly after the cyclone

Left to right: Major General Chris Field, Nicky Oatley, Sandy Oatley, Glenn Burke (all Hamilton Island), Steve O’Connell, Ian Haughton, Mayor Andrew Willcox, Inspector-General Emergency Management Alistair Dawson and Nathan Blain.

Volunteers clearing roads to allow emergency service vehicles through

Cannonvale Beach Park clear-up after the cyclone

Mayor Andrew Willcox discussing progress with Major General Chris Field

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Culture Comes Home!

March 25, 2022

Almost five years to the week that the Proserpine Entertainment Centre shut its doors following substantial damage in the wake of Cyclone Debbie, the new $18.8 million cultural heart of Proserpine has officially re-opened.

Proserpine Entertainment Centre – “Built Back Better”

With all levels of government working together to see the project come to fruition, the new entertainment centre tells a story of how Councils, State and Federal Government have all been united in rejuvenating the cultural heart of Proserpine.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said that she has personally followed the journey of the rebuild following her visit to the Whitsundays shortly after Cyclone Debbie.

She remembers talking to a group of local ladies who asked her what she was going to do about it and has since made it her mission to help in any way she could.

Mayor Andrew Willcox sad that initially they had expected to fix instead of rebuild the centre and estimated the cost to be around $500,000.

“This project was a bit like an onion – the more we peeled back, the more problems we started to find,” he recalled.

With structural damage proving too significant, it was decided to completely re-build the facility with $5 million funding from the Federal Government thanks to Federal Member for Dawson George Christensen and $5 million funding from State Government thanks to Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk.

It wasn’t long, however, before Council realised that the new building would cost significantly more and Mayor Andrew Willcox asked the state government to increase funding.

“This Mayor’s pretty good at knocking on my door, but that’s what you do when a community is so impacted,” said Premier Palaszczuk.

“I could see how much you needed a community centre to be built back and renewed and built back better and what you see now is a really modern, dynamic community and it’s good to have that infrastructure.”

Last year the State Government provided an additional $8 million in funding.

“Without you this project wouldn’t be where it is today, I can’t thank you enough,” said Mayor Willcox.

Federal Member for Dawson George Christensen said the facility was now a valued community venue, acting as an arts and cultural centre, local cinema, conference venue and a social activity hub.

“I am pleased to see the rebuilt centre open and looking better than ever,” Mr Christensen said.

“This is a fantastic example of Australian Government funding in action, increasing the liveability and amenity of our regions by delivering locally important community infrastructure.”

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Superjesus Frontwoman Announced As Face Of Festival

March 18, 2022

Dynamic rock vixen Sarah McLeod from legendary Australian band, Superjesus, has just been announced as the face of the 10th anniversary of the Airlie Beach Festival of Music.

Having wowed the crowd in 2019 with her full-band performance, the three-time Aria award-winner, returned as a solo act in 2019 with an additional unplugged-style set at the event’s boutique after-party.

She was also the star judge for the national ‘Passport to Airlie’ talent search.

An inductee to the South Australian Music Hall of Fame, and more recently immortalised in the Adelaide Festival Centre’s star-studded Walk of Fame, Sarah McLeod accolades are equally as impressive as her credentials.

Festival founder, Gavin Butlin, said he was immensely proud to announce Sarah McLeod as the 2022 ambassador, effectively cementing her as the face of the milestone anniversary event.

“Sarah is an artist who comes with both a loyal fan base and significant industry recognition, so this feels like a fitting tribute to our achievements in bringing live music to the heart of the Great Barrier Reef for an entire decade,” he said.

When the opportunity to be the 2022 ambassador arose, she literally jumped at it.

“I’m privileged to have played at so many great festivals and I know people love them all for different reasons, but the Airlie Beach Festival of Music is my personal favourite,” she said.

“The Whitsundays really is one of the most beautiful places on earth and I can’t wait to get back there.”

Tourism Whitsundays Chief Executive Officer, Rick Hamilton, said it was fantastic news.

“Having a high-profile ambassador as an outward ‘face’ is a powerful addition to any brand so I congratulate Sarah and the Airlie Beach Festival of Music on this partnership,” Mr Hamilton said.  

The Airlie Beach Festival of Music takes place from November 4-6 and early bird tickets can be purchased for $275 until March 28.

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Coral Sea Clean Up

March 18, 2022

Thousands of people across the country participate in annual Clean Up Australia Day events each year, and the local team at Coral Sea Marina Resort (CSMR) decided they were going to join in and make a difference in their own backyard.

In partnership with Tangaroa Blue Foundation and the Rotary Club of Airlie Beach, Coral Sea Marina Resort put the call out to the Whitsunday community on Sunday, March 6, to come and clean up a slice of paradise.

“The first Sunday in March is generally a scorcher in the tropics – and that was especially true this year – so we were thrilled to have a dedicated group of volunteers brave the heat and help us do our part by joining in Coral Sea Marina Resort’s Clean Up Australia Day event,” Kate Purdie, CEO of Coral Sea Marina said.

Ms Purdie said that, even with the scrupulous cleaning and maintenance practices of the marina, it was surprising to see just how much rubbish we found.

“After dedicated campaigns to reduce the use of plastic straws and plastic bags it was great to see fewer of them this year, but they have been replaced with disposable masks and shopping receipts among other items – a compelling reminder that the real issue is single use anything, not just plastics,” Ms Purdie said.

Volunteers, young and old, came out in heatwave conditions to do their bit and collect litter on land and at sea.

Collection bags were provided by Tangaroa Blue as part of their ReefClean program, with all the litter collected being sorted, monitored, and weighed with the data then being inputted into the Australian Marine Debris Initiative database for further analysis.

In total, 131kg of litter was collected, with the main items being plastic food packaging and hard and soft plastic fragments.

Clean up efforts at the Coral Sea Marina Resort Clean Up Australia Day Event

CSMR and Rotary Airlie Beach volunteers

More exceptional clean up volunteers

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Whitsunday Beauty Represents Queensland

March 18, 2022

A Whitsunday local will be representing not just the region, but the all of Queensland as a National Finalist in the Miss Grand Australia 2022 beauty pageant in July this year.

Born in Townsville, Paitin Powell moved to Airlie Beach 14 years ago with her family, and the young local woman will be heading to Sydney in a few months to compete against 19 other finalists from around the country for the title of Miss Grand Australia.

Miss Grand is similar to the Miss Universe and the Miss World competitions, where contestants are judged on their presentation through a series of criteria, such as their physical appearance, but also their intelligence, the eloquence of their speech, and more.

Gone are the days of beauty pageants that objectify women and enter the age of empowerment and representation.

For Paitin, the opportunity Miss Grand presents is to show the world that, regardless of where you come from, you can achieve your dreams.

“A lot of these girls who go into these pageants grow up or come from major cities in Australia,” Paitin said.

"I want to let girls from the regional areas know that you can be born in Townsville and grow up in the Whitsundays and still go on to represent Australia at the international level.”

Miss Grand will judge its competitors in three major categories: evening gown, swimwear and interviews.

“I’m so excited to be a part of this all again and to represent the region,” Paitin said.

Paitin will head to Sydney in July and said that she’s excited to work with Destiny Rescue, the sponsor charity Miss Grand Australia works alongside which has the mission to help children from sexual exploitation and human trafficking.

Paitin Powell represents Queensland at Miss Grand Australia 2022

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