Whitsunday Region Community News



For the past seven days, thousands of holidays makers have been unable to travel with local marine tourism operator, Cruise Whitsundays, who have had to cancel all experiential tours due to a staff strike. While the company hoped to resolve the issue following four separate proposals lodged with the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA), sadly the union announced a second week of strikes would commence early next week. The striking workforce were legally bound to return to duties this Thursday and

Read the full story
Editor's Note

Editor's Note

Hi Everyone, It’s been a huge week here at the paper as, not only have we been busy producing the newspaper you are holding, but we have also been working on the first edition of our new sister publication, Burdekin Life Newspaper. Over the past few weeks, we have welcomed three new staff members and moved our Mackay journalist to Home Hill where he has become our ‘man on the ground’. As I am writing this on Wednesday afternoon, our entire team are about to head up to the Burdekin to attend a

Read the full story
Daydream Island At The Heart Of Innovation

Daydream Island At The Heart Of Innovation

Daydream Island and Living Reef took centre stage this week, with Whitsunday Coast Airport announcing a partnership with budget airline Bonza, to launch a range of exciting holiday packages. These new opportunities will benefit both tourists and locals who will be able to book a range of experiences that include air-travel, accommodation, and experiences all in one booking. Tourists will be able to book their dream holidays in the Whitsundays and locals will be able to travel to the 21 differe

Read the full story
Big Celebrations For Collinsville CWA

Big Celebrations For Collinsville CWA

Collinsville Queensland Country Women’s Association (CWA) celebrated the grand opening of their brand-new hall last weekend, Saturday 23. With a fantastic variety of stalls making up their garden market, the women of the Collinsville branch were eager to show off the new faciality, which will become a community asset for years to come. “The celebrations included congratulatory speeches, ribbon and cake cutting and planting of fruit trees,” said a representative from Collinsville CWA. “There wa

Read the full story
Advertising Banner

Calling All Female Bowen Students

September 28, 2023

The Zonta Club of Bowen is excited to welcome applications for their annual Tertiary Bursary, worth $1,500.

The eligibility criteria includes; being a female student currently studying a tertiary course in second year or subsequent years, you must be undertaking fulltime or parttime study and attend a school in the Bowen district.

The 2022 Tertiary Bursary recipient was Elysha Harm, who is currently studying her Bachelor of Education, specialising in Primary Teaching, at James Cook University, with the bursary going towards her future students.  

Application documents are available from Lynette Klukas on 0400 600 224 or lynette.klukad@bigpond.com.

Applications are due by midnight Tuesday October 31 2023, and email through to bowenzonta@yahoo.com.au.

2022 Zonta Club of Bowen Tertiary Bursary recipient, Elysha Harm. Photo supplied

Read More

Flying Fox Issue Resurfaces

September 28, 2023

At Scottville Community Catch-Up

The flying fox epidemic was a big topic of discussion at the most recent Whitsunday Regional Council Community Catch-Up in Scottville.

Mayor Julie Hall said there was much discussion about the flying foxes that are nesting near houses in Collinsville causing issues for the residents.

“There has been a recent increase in flying foxes within Collinsville and Council have tried multiple roost deterrent activities focused on colonies within Carpet Street and Stanley Street,” she said.

“These include operation of mobile smokers at private properties in coordination with residents between 6am and 8am, trialing the use of tree irrigation systems and consistent noise and lights, however all attempts have failed to “move on” the flying foxes.

“Flying Foxes are a native Australian mammal protected under State Government legislation, but they cause major problems for residents when a large roost is established in a built-up area.

“At the Local Government National Conference in Canberra earlier this year I was successful in moving a motion at the National General Assembly calling on the Australian Government to develop with State Governments a damage mitigation permit process.

“We’re hopeful that the Federal and State Governments can outline a suitable process so Councils can act to relocate colonies they that are impacting our residents,” Mayor Hall said.

Other topics included bushfire resilience, roadwork and footpath upgrade work and disaster resilience and storm season preparation, with over 20 Scottville residents attending the event.

Council also asked for feedback regarding the placement of street seating in the Collinsville Main Street Upgrade.

The next Community Catch-up will be held at Shute Harbour on October 4.

Read More

On The Beat

September 28, 2023


Police have charged a 25-year-old employee of a licensed premise with theft, following a short investigation, after receiving a complaint of theft from a licensed premise in Airlie Beach.

The employee has been charged with stealing as a clinical servant and will appear before Proserpine Magistrates Court at a later date.

Drug Offences

On September 22, at 8.15pm, police intercepted a 27-year-old Cannonvale man who was acting suspiciously.

Once detained, Police located a black bumbag, which Police allege contained cocaine, cannabis, methamphetamine, MDMA, as well as morphine, Oxycontin nitrazepam, and other prescription medication he did not have authority to possess.

He has been charged with 15 drug offences, including supplying dangerous drugs and obstructing Police.

On September 23, at 3am, Police arrested a 24-year-old Cannonvale man in the Safe Night Precinct for public nuisance offences, due to his behaviour.  

Police allege that they discovered white powder believed to be cocaine, in his possession.

He has been charged with public nuisance offences, as well possession of dangerous drugs.

House Fire

In the early hours of Tuesday morning Queensland Ambulance Services attended a house fire on Hamilton Island. A woman in her 40s was assessed for minor smoke inhalation following the incident which took place on Coral Sea Avenue at 5.45am.

Read More

Where’s George?

September 28, 2023

Local mascot, George the Monkey, has gone missing from the main street of Airlie Beach and staff believe he has been stolen and hidden somewhere.

On Friday evening, George was not put safely away inside the office like he would normally be, and opportunists have taken advantage of the mishap and allegedly stolen him.

“The last known spot George was seen was on someone’s Instagram post at 2am,” said Fergus Dunk from Sailing Whitsundays.

“We haven’t gone to the police yet because we are hoping someone will come forward and do the right thing,” he said.

“And there is a reward if they do!”

George has been the company mascot for 15-20 years and the subject of many tourist photos.

“I always joke there are more photos of George than there are of Whitehaven Beach!” said Fergus.

“We often see kids race over to see George and they are always pleased to see he is still here – people just love him!”

“He’s a character in the business and we just want to see him to come back.

“If you know anything, please let us know.”

Local mascot, George the Monkey, was last seen at 2am with this man. Photo supplied

Read More

State Of Origin Takes A Pit Stop In Bowen

September 28, 2023

The New South Wales and the Queensland State of Origin Shields stopped off in Bowen earlier this week, as part of their regional State of Origin Regional Tour.

Encouraging and sharing the love of rugby league, the shields were brought to Bowen by former Queensland Maroons Shane Webcke, Josh Hannay, and Brent Tate.

Stopping off for a quick break at the Big Mango, the Shields started their tour in Toowoomba on September 20, hitting Mackay on September 23, before stopping over in Townsville.

Bowen Tourism and Business Manager Leanne Abernethy said that thousands of people, of any age and culture, stop at the Big Mango every year.

“To date, we estimate 1.5 million people have taken a photo with our Big Mango, and now we can say 1.5 million people and two shields!”

Read More

Stage 2 Of Boardwalk Upgrade Underway

September 28, 2023

Stage 2 of the Airlie Beach Boardwalk upgrade, from the VMR Boat Ramp to Shingley Drive, is well underway, with demolition works completed early last week, and the new materials ready to be laid.

The construction of the new boardwalk, using composite fibre materials, began on Monday September 25.

The eco-friendly material will extend the boardwalk’s life cycle and reduce maintenance costs.

The new boardwalk will also be wider by one metre, allowing better ease of travel for users and reducing conflicts between pedestrians, cyclists and scooters.

Expected to be re-opened in early December, pedestrians are welcome to use the detour, behind Mirage Whitsundays, via Altmann Avenue and Shingley Drive in the meantime.  

Once completed, the hardwood timber from the old Boardwalk will be retained for future projects, with the existing footings used to ground the new Boardwalk.

Stage 1 of the Airlie Beach Boardwalk Upgrade, between Sorrento’s on the southern end of the Coral Sea Marina and the Coral Sea Resort, was officially reopened in June, earlier this year.

Both Stage 1 and Stage 2 were supported by the Australian Government’s Local Roads and Community Infrastructure Grant, with the tender for works awarded to Plants Whitsunday.

Stage 3 of the Upgrade, along Broadwater Avenue, will be completed at a later date, when the Whitsunday Regional Council is able to secure grant funding.

The scaffolding is now in place and ready for Plants Whitsunday to erect the new Boardwalk. Photo supplied

Read More

Tourism Whitsundays Appoints Board Of Directors

September 28, 2023

Tourism Whitsundays is excited to announce its new Board of Directors for the 2023/24 term, at the TW Annual General Meeting held yesterday.

The AGM served as the catalyst for change for TW, welcoming four new members onto the Board of Directors, joining the existing directors of Julie Telford, Crystal Lacey, Jenn Honnery, Matt Boileau, Tom Young, and Daniel Gschwind.

Tourism Whitsundays Chief Executive Officer, Rick Hamilton said an Annual General Meeting is the time to reflect on the successes of the previous year.

“The Whitsundays has delivered records in visitor spend, length of stay and interstate visitation, this is an incredible achievement.”

Mr Hamilton added, “We’re looking forward to seeing increased international visitation in the coming year as a result of these collaborative marketing campaigns and the increased airline capacity and lower fare prices.”

Tourism Whitsundays Chair, Julie Telford is excited for the incoming board members and the year ahead.

“The 2023/24 Tourism Whitsundays board brings together well-known industry leaders and people with a personal investment in the tourism industry. Their experience in the local industry is invaluable as the organisation works toward the 2032 tourism plan.”

“I want to thank outgoing Board Members; Trevor Rees, Arpad Romandy, Greg McKinnon, and Craig Turner for their contribution to the Board over the last 12 months. Their knowledge and insights have helped navigate our industry through an extraordinary year of recovery,” Mrs Telford said.

Visit mackayandwhitsundaylife.com to discover which four local faces have joined Board of Directors.

Read More

Tourism Stats Show Strength

September 28, 2023

The Whitsundays has received a glowing report card from the National and International Visitor Survey (NVS and IVS), cementing the region as a popular destination for holidaymakers.

Over the year, prior to June 30 2023, The Whitsundays had 765,000 domestic visitors choosing to come into the region, an increase of 11.7 per cent from the last three years, and each spending on average 5.5 nights in the area.

While international visitor numbers are down, The Whitsundays welcomed 68,000 international visitors, spending an avenge of 8.6 nights, an increase of 1.7 nights when compared to the same period in 2019.

These visitors saw $1.3 billion in Overnight Visitor Expenditure (OVE), which is an increase of 29.3 per cent over the last three years, and a 51 per cent increase on pre-pandemic Overnight Visitor Expenditure.

The Survey also reflects the $1,724 individual spend per person, which is a 19 per cent increase over the last three years.

Tourism Whitsundays CEO Rick Hamilton expressed his excitement about these remarkable achievements, stating, "These results, while not record-breaking this time, underscore The Whitsundays' status as an unmatched holiday destination.

“As the economy tightens, we are seeing a slight decrease in expenditure, directly related to holiday spend in region. However, the length of stay and visitor numbers remain strong.

“We are immensely proud of our region's world-class tour operators, accommodations, and businesses that contribute to delivering outstanding experiences for all visitors, regardless of their budget," Mr Hamilton said.

Record numbers have been checking into The Whitsundays, for the year up to June 30 2023. Photo supplied

Read More

Race To Space

September 28, 2023

With Bowen Rocket Launch Site

Excitement is building ahead of the much-anticipated launch of Gilmour Space Technologies’ rocket ship, with the inaugural flight expected to depart from its base in Bowen before the end of the year.

If the launch is successful, Australian company Gilmour Space, could be the first to send a hybrid-rocket into space, and currently the race is on to see which global entity can get there first.

Hybrid rockets use a mixture of solid fuel and liquid oxidiser, and despite being commonly used at universities, they are renowned to be difficult to scale up.

“It’s new rocket tech and it’s hard to scale but we’ve managed to do it,” said Michelle Gilmour, Director Marketing and Communications for Gilmour Space Technologies.

“We chose the hybrid model because it is safer and cheaper to develop – we’re very close to getting the rocket on the pad which is the first step to success.”

Gilmour Space have built two rockets and are aiming to send two shipments to low-earth orbit in 2024.

Their plans are to increase this to between three to four in 2025 and up to 10 rockets in the years after.

Each payload will be transporting a satellite anywhere between 500 kilometres and 2000 kilometres into space.

They could contain communication, observation, fire detection, water management satellites, to name a few.

Mayor Julie Hall said the venture will contribute over $4 million into our local economy and create ongoing contracts for up to 20 local businesses.

"I am so excited that our region will get to be part of such a fundamental and life changing experience,” she said.

"We are expecting to see over 80 Space Tech officials and anywhere between 5,000 to 10,000 visitors arrive in Bowen for the official launch of the first information rocket.”

Whitsunday Mayor Julie Hall and Isaac Mayor Anne Baker take a tour of Gilmour Space Technologies’ base in Bowen. Photo supplied

Read More

Chamber Chat

September 28, 2023

There’s plenty of activity around town with school holidays filling accommodation places around the region creating a real buzz throughout both Airlie and Proserpine.

Airlie Main Street - Chamber met with Council CEO Warren Bunker last week regarding maintenance, restoration works, and traffic management in Airle Beach.

Our region welcomes around 900,000 visitors annually and there are plans to increase cruise ship visitation to over 100 annually. To ensure a world-class experience for both residents and visitors, Council is current seeking community input on upgrades to pedestrian safety, traffic flow, and parking within Airlie Beach precinct.

The Main Street of Airlie Beach has the potential to rival other renowned destinations, such as Hastings Street in Noosa. The needs of visitors and traders need to take precedence over through traffic. The Main Street should be considered as an access to the recreational facilities and business offerings provided in Airlie Beach and not as a through road.

We are strongly advocating increased precinct ambience and better presentation of street facades, better parking, and pedestrian safety by installation of pedestrian crossings, increased signage directing large vehicles and through traffic into Waterson Way, and better way finding signage in Airlie.

Vision for the Whitsundays – The research phase of our Vision for the Whitsundays project is open, and we invite you to have your say on our economic future. You can participate by providing a formal submission, completing a quick online survey, or participating in an engaging focus group. The Chamber team recently spent a morning with student leaders from the Prosperine State High School. Other focus groups happening in the coming weeks focus on Sustainability & Resilience, Future Workforce, Economic Growth, and Innovation. See our website for more details.

Chamber on Tap – Our recent event showed the Chamber’s commitment to economic growth in the region. An insightful evening was had by over forty attendees with topics covering a wide range of topics including mentoring for growth, business wellness coaching and more.

AGM – Our Annual General Meeting and Chamber Connect meeting is scheduled for 7:30am-9am Thursday 19 October at Whitsunday Green Golf Club and everyone is welcome. At the AGM, two major resolutions are being presented for consideration – a new name for the Chamber and Constitution that will set the foundation for a contemporary and inclusive organisation. Following the AGM will be a presentation by the CEO of Regional Development Australia Greater Whitsundays Rob Cocco providing. Registrations are now open, visit our website to book your spot.

Read More


September 21, 2023

Marine Workers Strike For Fairer Pay

For the second week in a row, marine staff from Cruise Whitsundays are on strike and, while their right to protest is acknowledged, many are frustrated that their behaviour has disrupted countless travel plans during the busy school holiday period.

Three vessels are unable to operate, multiple subsidiary local businesses and suppliers have been impacted and workers commuting to nearby resort islands have been unable to transit.

The strike is expected to last for seven days, for the school holiday period, impacting holiday plans for thousands of holiday makers and possibly the overall reputation of the Whitsundays as a holiday destination.

Frustrated marine workers are striking once again this week to demand fairer pay, requesting a 30 per cent wage increase to align with “industry standards”.

Meanwhile, the marine company they work for is scrabbling to accommodate disgruntled tourists and manage disrupted ferry timetables during one of the busiest weeks of the year.

Timed to cause maximum impact during a busy school holiday period, there is no doubt the workers have made their point, but their actions in causing such significant disruption to many innocent holiday-maker’s plans is sitting uneasily with many members of the community.

The initial protest began last Friday morning when about 30 Cruise Whitsundays staff members held a peaceful picket line at the marine terminal.

A representative, who requested to stay anonymous, said that the motivations for the strike are a last resort at the end of a long battle to ask for fairer pay.

“The right of the employees to negotiate a different agreement has been refused time and time again,” they said.

“They left us no choice but to engage with the maritime union and with the fair work commission.

“A lot of workers are literally one cent above minimum wage – they’ve had a year to get on the negotiation table and they’ve put us less than a dollar up.”

Meanwhile, Adam Hosie, Cruise Whitsundays General Manager said that since July 2022 they have implemented pay increases totalling six per cent and have now proposed an immediate further average increase of over five per cent and higher for those with longer tenure.

“The new wage offer, which was proposed to take immediate effect, would see crew pay rates between 4.8 per cent to 44.4 per cent above award, depending on their position, skill level, and tenure,” he explained.

A meeting between Cruise Whitsundays and the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) took place on Monday, but no resolution was reached.

“Workers left the meeting in bewilderment at a pay offer from the company that amounted to between $1 and $1.50 per hour for a small percentage of staff,” said MUA Queensland Branch Secretary, Jason Miners.

“The company’s offer is completely unacceptable, an unfair and indefensible position, so we have no choice but to take further industrial action,” he said.

Protestors also allege that the Current Enterprise Agreement expired in March 2022 and that Cruise Whitsundays are refusing to negotiate reasonable terms on any matters.

In response, Cruise Whitsundays says it acknowledges it has reached “its nominal expiry date” but contests that “the agreement continues to apply until a new agreement comes into effect”.

They also state that “over the course of these negotiations, Cruise Whitsundays has put forward multiple proposals for review by our Bargaining Committee and MUA representatives”.

“We have agreed to and resolved almost all matters presented, however we have not received any reasonable or sustainable wage proposals for review. Despite invitations for feedback from the MUA, we have not received any,” said Mr Hosie.

The biggest point of contention for protestors, however, is their perceived rate of pay compared to other marine staff operating similar tours in the same area.

Cruise Whitsundays’ marine workers protesting outside the terminal on Friday last week. Photo credit: Rachael Smith

An unusually quiet Cruise Whitsundays terminal that would normally be a hive of activity over the busy school holiday period. Photo credit: Rachael Smith

Holiday Plans Disrupted

“We are over at South Whitehaven Beach every day and SeaLink and Cruise Whitsunday are doing exactly the same thing, except there is a 30 per cent disparity in wages between the vessels across the board,” said the anonymous protestor.

“At least match SeaLink – come to industry standard, we are not asking for millions - for them to be able to afford to pay us properly it will be a dollar and a half to $13 extra on different tickets. We’ve done the maths, and it will mean putting the ticket price to Whitehaven up by just $7.50.”

Cruise Whitsundays alleges that despite repeated requests, the MUA is yet to produce any supporting documentation that demonstrates this claim.

The company also states that a 30 per cent increase is unsustainable for the business.

“The MUA claims a "30 per cent disparity in wages" between Cruise Whitsundays and other workers in the same industry but has provided no data or wage comparisons to other local businesses with Marine Tourism as their core business,” said Mr Hosie.

“While Cruise Whitsundays has continued to negotiate in good faith, presenting fair and sustainable offers, the MUA is steadfast in demanding an uplift of 30 per cent in pay rates across the board. “

Mr Hosie also asserts that increasing ticket prices does not directly correlate to wage increases.

“These ticket price calculations have been discussed with MUA officials and it was agreed that a number of factors had been overlooked in the calculations, resulting in significantly substantial increases being required to cover the requested wage increases,” he said.

In regard to accusations that staff are only being paid “literally one cent above minimum wage”, Cruise Whitsundays stated that “this as a result of current negotiation of pay rates being underway, and increases to our lowest level roles were applied from 1 July 2023 to ensure that everyone is paid at or above award until the new rates would take effect.  

“Subsequent discussions have seen agreement on a rates calculation that achieves well above award rates,” explains Mr Hosie.

While both parties are looking for a swift and positive outcome, it seems they remain poles apart in terms of what they are able or willing to agree to.

“Although only a minority of our staff are taking protected action, all of our staff are feeling the effects,” said Mr Hosie.

“From the Reservations team who must call and disappoint our guests, to the catering team who are unsure how to plan for the coming weeks, to the marine staff who are happy to accept the fair proposal and get on with their jobs, everyone is affected.

“Additionally, we are also mindful of the many local suppliers who rely on the consistent weekly work that Cruise Whitsundays provides.”

Rick Hamilton, CEO of Tourism Whitsundays said he deeply regrets the timing of the strike during the school holidays, when our beautiful Whitsundays are at their prime.

“It's disheartening to see this disruption during such a busy time, with many of our operators running at capacity,” he said.

“The Whitsundays have been thriving with 90 per cent occupancy and it's disappointing that this action has coincided with a time when guests had planned to make the most of their Whitsundays experience.”

Hundreds of families can no longer enjoy a day out on Whitehaven Beach with Cruise Whitsundays because of the strike. Photo credit: supplied

Read More

Editor's Note

September 21, 2023

Hi Everyone,

What a week for local breaking news!

To write the front-page story this week we’ve had lengthy conversations with both parties, in an effort to present a fair and impartial story.

On Friday last week I sat down with some of the workers from Cruise Whitsundays who are now in the midst of what is expected to be a lengthy strike to demand fairer pay.

This week, I have also had several conversations with Cruise Whitsundays who are understandably devastated by the actions of their workers.

For the full story, please read pages three and six.

While I will always defend people’s right to peacefully protest on matters that are important to them, I strongly disagree when these actions impact on other innocent people.

This week, thousands of holidaymakers have had their travel plans cancelled and, with other tours fully booked over this busy school-holiday period, many have been unable to re-book an alternative.

This means hundreds of families have come to the Whitsundays but are unable to see our beautiful islands.

Meanwhile, reports are flooding in that the workers who are on strike have been ‘protesting’ by drinking at a local pub wearing their campaign t-shirts.

I’ll let you come to your own conclusions on what you think about this.

In other big news, we have also decided to tackle the contentious issue of The Voice this week.

Thank you to all our contributors.

When putting this feature together, we contacted several First Nations People asking for their views but unfortunately time was not on our side, and we were unable to get the full representation we were hoping for.

We would, however, like to thank Peter Santos for his comments.


Quote of the Week: “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances” (Victor Frankl)

Read More

Work Boost For Local Youth

September 21, 2023

Although Scott Lynch’s job is all about equipping Whitsunday youth with the necessary tools to achieve their employment goals, he is always excited when a participant comes to him with an update of success, especially one with such a fairy-tale ending.

Scott runs the Get Set For Work Program, operating through PCYC Whitsundays, equipping 15 to 19 year-olds with skills, qualifications, confidence and support to find employment that aligns with their talents and skills, after leaving school.

It was here he was introduced to Xannon Smoothy.

At only 15 years old, Xannon was disenfranchised with his employment prospects, having deemed himself not able to finish high school and not good enough for real work.

“When I met him, he told me he wanted to return to school but was upset because he didn’t think he could,” explained Scott.

“He told me he’d like to be a tradesman, but he felt that because of his age and the fact that he was expelled from school would really hurt his chances, like it was some faraway dream.

“But it was obvious to me that Xannon was special, he had something in him, and we knew he would go far.”

Completing the 10-week program, Xannon immediately got employment at Mitre 10, on the floor helping tradies as they came into the store.

“But before that,” Scott said.

“I approached Tim Murphy, from TM Constructions.

“Tim had an apprenticeship going, and I wanted to put Xannon forward, but Tim was concerned as Xannon was only 15 and didn’t have a license yet.”

However, it wasn’t long before Tim wandered into Mitre 10 and met Xannon by chance.

This one encounter impressed him so much that he offered him a job.

“Xannon was the only kid to come up and ask if I needed a hand,” Tim explained.

“He’ll get to work and if there isn’t anything, he’ll grab a broom and sweep; that is something near impossible to teach anyone.

“He’s impressive, and he’s fit right in with the other boys.

“Xannon has great work ethic. Yes, he doesn’t have a license yet, and he’s got to build some muscle, but he’s willing to give anything a go.”

For Xannon, receiving this apprenticeship has meant a lot to him.

“This is something I’ve wanted for a while now; I’ve always found it interesting,” he said.

“The program helped me a lot. At first, I wasn’t sure, but it turns it, I was wrong.”

Scott knew it wouldn’t be long before a tradie saw Xannon’s potential.

Xannon was only with Mitre 10 for one month before Tim walked in the door with an offer.

“It was such a huge moment when Xannon rang us about the apprenticeship, and it was made extra brilliant by the fact it was with Tim.

“He’s just such a deserving kid, and it’s a remarkable story.”

Even Sergeant Billy Li, Youth Club Manager of the PCYC, recognised Xannon’s potential, offering him a leadership training opportunity.

“Unfortunately, he turned that down, but it’s been great to see him succeed,” Sgt Billy said.

For Scott, his participants have gone into marine trades, mechanic apprenticeships, and carpentry, with other participants returning to school.

To learn more about Get Set For Work, contact PCYC Whitsundays Club on (07) 4948 1144 or whitsunday@pcyc.org.au

Get Set for Work is one of eight programs that make up the Queensland Government’s Skilling Queenslanders for Work initiative.

Sergeant Billy Li, Scott Lynch, Xannon Smoothy, and Tim Murphy. Photo credit: Bronte Hodge

Read More

Airlie Beach Takes Home Silver At Australia’s Top Tourism Town Awards

September 21, 2023

Residents and tourism operators in Airlie Beach are celebrating this week following news that our local holiday town received the silver accolade in the Top Small Tourism Town category.

The Australian Top Tourism Town Awards were held in Canberra and Federal Member for Dawson Andrew Willcox attended the event along with Whitsunday Tourism representative, Aimee Cameron.

Presented by the Australian Tourism Industry Council (ATIC), the annual Awards program recognises and celebrates Australia’s best holiday destinations and honours communities across the country who demonstrate a commitment to visitor excellence.

Airlie Beach was successful at state level which enabled it to move through to the national awards.

Bowen was also nominated in the highly competitive Top Tourism Town State Awards due to the size of its population, but unfortunately did not win this year.

Tourism Whitsundays Chief Executive Officer, Rick Hamilton stated that being awarded silver confirms Airlie Beach is a world-class destination loved by Australians and is the perfect overseas destination, right on our doorstep!

“The Whitsundays is the most tourism-reliant region in Queensland with one in three jobs directly related to tourism. Winning silver in the Small Tourism Town category in the Australian Top Tourism Town Awards shows that Airlie Beach punches well above its weight.”

“Being recognised at a state level was a massive achievement for the region and our tourism operators. Being honoured at a national level as the runner-up Top Small Tourism Town in Australia is outstanding,” Mr Hamilton said.

These awards are an opportunity for state finalists to showcase their local towns to a panel of judges and have their town promoted on a national stage.

Regional Tourism Organisations, Local Tourism Organisations, and Councils in conjunction with accredited Visitor Information Centres submitted a state award submission in early 2023, with results announced in June.

Whitsunday Regional Council Mayor, Julie Hall said the award was excellent news for Airlie Beach and the broader Whitsunday region.

“Tourism is one of the three key pillars for our regional economy, and being awarded silver in the national awards is just a reward for the resilience and passion of our tourist operators and the leadership shown by Tourism Whitsundays (TW).

“Council are proud to be the major funding supporter for TW and look forward to partnering with them to continue promoting our Whitsunday region as one of Australia’s top tourism destinations.”

“This is not only recognition for Airlie Beach as one of Australia's best Small Tourism Town 2023 but also for Proserpine, Bowen, Collinsville, our islands and everywhere in between who all offer such a diverse range of visitor experiences,” she said.

Federal Member for Dawson Andrew Willcox and Whitsunday Tourism representative, Aimee Cameron attended Australia’s Top Tourism Town Awards in Canberra last week. Photo supplied.

Read More

Special Day Welcomes New Citizens

September 21, 2023

Citizenship Day was celebrated in style last week thanks to a special event hosted by Whitsunday Regional Council.

During the ceremony, a total of 35 conferees from 17 countries, including New Zealand, Philippines, Scotland, Spain, Turkey, Malaysia, South Africa, Italy, and Zimbabwe became Australian citizens.

The ceremony was held on Thursday, September 14 at the Reef Gateway Hotel in Cannonvale and is a key event in the Citizenship Day celebrations.

Mayor Julie Hall said the ceremony is one of hundreds of ceremonies taking place across Australia that will see thousands of people officially become new citizens on or around Australian Citizenship Day.

“Australian Citizenship Day is an opportunity for all Australians, whether by birth or by choice, to reflect on and celebrate what’s great about being Australian,” Mayor Hall said.

“Australian Citizenship Day provides an occasion for individuals, schools, and community organisations to reflect on the contributions of citizens to our local communities.

“I encourage everyone in the Whitsundays to reflect on and affirm their Australian citizenship today as we warmly welcome our newest citizens.”

Lisa Dunn from Zimbabwe was one of the people awarded her citizenship at the ceremony and she said that after 10 years living in the country, her and her husband were thrilled to make it official.

“We moved to Australia 10 years ago, we have two children who were born here, a home, businesses – so it was a relief to finally get it done!” said Lisa.

“The ceremony was beautiful, they did such a wonderful job and made us feel really welcome.

“We love living in Australia and it is such a privilege to become part of this society.”

Mayor Julie Hall welcomes 35 new citizens from 17 countries

A special green and yellow cake was shared by everyone as part of the special day. Photo supplied

Read More

The Voice

September 21, 2023

An Open Conversation

Andrew Willcox

Federal Member For Dawson

How do you think The Voice could benefit the country?

This is a really difficult question to answer because we know nothing about it yet. What would have been much fairer is if The Voice was legislated and all the details were provided, then Australians could make an informed decision as to whether they wanted it enshrined in our constitution.

One of the main issues with The Voice is that there have been no details provided on how it will work. Currently, we do not know what powers The Voice will have and who will hold that power.

What do you see as the negatives involved with implementing The Voice?

Australians are being asked to make a major change to the Australian constitution with little to no detail, and I believe The Voice will be legally risky and permanent.

I am fundamentally opposed to dividing Australia on the basis of race. I believe all Australians are equal and should be treated as such.

On a local level, how do you envision The Voice will impact the community?

I’m concerned, I’m already seeing this issue dividing my community.

I think that there will be very little advantages to my local constituents as this is a Canberra based Voice, and I believe the last thing we need is another layer of bureaucracy.

If you don’t agree with The Voice, what do you think could be a better solution?

I believe we should be coming up with solutions and programs for all our disadvantaged and marginalised Australians, and this should not be based on race, gender, or religion. Or anything else for that matter, our Australian anthem states we are one and free.

Do you think the current system is working? How have you seen it develop and evolve over the years?

I don’t believe the current system is working and that’s because its being led by Bureaucrats based in big cities. The money is being chewed up before it even gets to the people in rural and regional areas who need it the most.

Anything else you would like to add?

I believe before any changes are made an audit should be done on all existing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander programs to identify the successes and failures so we can move forward, we don’t need a bigger bureaucracy, we need a better bureaucracy.

I understand that this will be an emotional topic for many people, and I would request that everybody please be respectful to one another, after all we are all Australians.

Deb Barrow

Yes 23 Coordinator

How do you think The Voice could benefit the country?

An Indigenous Voice to Parliament will result in meaningful, targeted improvements in the areas of health, education, housing and employment for First Nations peoples.

The Uluru Statement from the Heart - based on years of consultations with First Nations communities - asked first for a representative Voice to parliament which would advise parliament on strategies and programs needed to address the issues specific to First nations peoples, and secondly that non Indigenous people walk with them to achieve better outcomes for current and future generations of Indigenous peoples.

This can only be a unifying show of respect and our humanity as a nation.

What do you see as the negatives involved with implementing The Voice?

If parliament works with good will to implement the Voice I can see no negatives.

On a local level, how do you envision The Voice will impact the community?

On a day to day basis the Voice will have no impact other than with those to whom its targeted.

What do you think would happen to the country if The Voice doesn't go ahead?

We will lose a once in a generation opportunity to finally recognise First Nations Peoples in the Constitution and to address the inequities experienced by many First Nations Peoples using strategies identified and implemented by them.

Additionally, we will be shamed globally and our reputation as a tolerant and humane country will be tarnished.

What do you think of the current system?

Over the years we have seen programs developed and funded and imposed on communities by bureaucrats and politicians - many well intentioned - which have failed to secure meaningful, practical, positive outcomes because they weren't implemented in partnership or by the people they were designed to help. The definition of stupidity is to do the same thing over and over again, expecting different results. This referendum offers the opportunity for change, a new way of doing things and a chance for First Nations Peoples to design and implement and achieve the outcomes they see as being key.

Anything else you would like to add?

There are parallels between this referendum and the plebiscite to support marriage equality. Again the majority is being asked to make decisions for others. The sky didn't fall in when marriage equality received a resounding yes, and it won't if the Referendum gets up.

Jess Begun

Founder of Whitsundays Arts Festival

How do you think The Voice could benefit the country?

I believe that by recognising Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander citizens in our Constitution, as a nation, we acknowledge truthfully our history and can move forward to create a more just and stronger unified nation. To this end by providing a voice constitutionally which cannot be rescinded, we become a more inclusive nation and provide our First Nation citizens the opportunity to have a say in decisions affecting their communities.

What do you see as the negatives involved with implementing The Voice?

Implementation of change is not easy. This change requires not only legislation in how to form the vehicle for “the voice” but requires a change of heart as well as mind.  People are hung up on the logistics and consequences of a yes vote. But simply put the referendum represents a change of heart. The logistics of how future First Nation policies would have to be tackled is complex whether there is a constitutional change or  just a legislative change. The referendum establishes the desire to recognise and give voice. It is a vote from the heart. The complex logistics is in the legislation would be there in any case going forward.

On a local level, how do you envision The Voice will impact the community?

I truly hope that the Whitsunday community will continue to promote the stories of our First Nation residents and provide more opportunities for them to be heard. There was a great response to Aboriginal and Islander content in the 2022 Whitsundays Arts Festival and more opportunities hopefully will be generated in the future. I also hope there will be consultation with our local First Nation residents in the issues affecting them including provision of health care and education. And the introduction of First Nation history, culture, and art practice in our schools would be a wonderful addition although I do applaud local schools that have already shown openness to this happening.

What do you think would happen to the country if The Voice doesn't go ahead?

I fear that it will set back the reconciliation of our nation. Rather than giving a positive heartfelt boost to our respect and appreciation of First Nation culture it will be harder to support the well being of those communities as it can be argued that the majority of Australians do not want change and support for those important issues of recognition, health, and poverty.

What do you think of the current system? How have you seen that develop and evolve over the years?

The current system is haphazard. Although there are now First Nation Parliamentarians their primary role is to represent their constituencies not speak for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.

Peter Santos

First Nation’s People

How do you think The Voice could benefit the country?

We don’t know, we want to see what’s on the other 22 pages first! Who knows what it looks like. There are all these people getting paid 300 grand each for the Yes Campaign – why are they paying non-indigenous people to do the Yes Campaign?

What do you see as the negatives involved with implementing The Voice?

If it comes in, it’s going to open up a can of worms. They’re going to ask where all the money’s gone and a lot of fraud and embezzlement will come out from previous governments. People who are only 1/18 indigenous are given money – why are they getting any money?

What do you wish you knew more about?

I want to know who’s going to be making the decisions – they are saying we’ll have better education, better health, more work – why is this not happening already?


Reasons To Vote Yes

1.      The Voice Came From Indigenous Peoples, not politicians.

2.      Recognition For Results

The Voice celebrates Indigenous cultures, Australian unity, and makes a difference for future generations.

3.      Better Quality Of Life

The Voice is set to deliver real improvements for Indigenous peoples in life expectancy, infant mortality and health, and education and employment.

4.      Unity

The Voice allows Australia to be reconciled with the past and moves forward for a better future.

5.      Save Money

When the Government listens to the people, we get better outcomes and use funding more effectively.

6.      The Time Is Now

The Time is now to create a great change for the future. Voting no will change nothing.

7.      Practical Advice

The Voice will advise practical steps to improve Indigenous lives, without getting caught up in short-term politics.

8.      Making Government Work Better

The Government will receive better advice and deliver better expectations. The Government will hold veto power. The Voice gives Indigenous peoples a say on issues that affect them.


Reasons To Vote No

1.      Legally Risky

The Voice is untested, and unknown.

2.      No Details

No clear details have been outlined about The Voice.

3.      Division

The Voice will divide Australian by race, in law and spirit.

4.      Won’t Help

The Voice risks overlooking the needs of regional and remote indigenous communities.

5.      Wide Scope

The Voice is able to make contributions to all Executive Government departments, agencies, and other bodies, like the Reserve Bank.

6.      Risks Delays In Decision Making

As The Voice’s scope encompasses all Executive Government, it will cause delays in decision making, leading to a dysfunctional government.

7.      What Comes Next?

Legal uncertainty and absence of details leaves unclear implications.

8.      Costly

Funding allocation has not been released.

9.      Permanent

This is a permeant move and cannot be reversed.

10.  There Are Better Ways Forward

The Voice is risky, untested and permenant. This is a rushed and heavy-handed proposal.


This information was sourced from the Australian Government Official Referendum Booklet.

Read More

New Graduates Hit The Ground Running

September 21, 2023

Last Friday night was a big night for Term 3 of the PCYC Get Set For Work program, with all participants officially graduating at a special ceremony.

Get Set For Work is a 10 week program for children aged 15 to 19 year-olds who are no longer attending school and undertake the program to attain skills to secure employment at the conclusion of the program.

Scott Lynch, the Get Set For Work program coordinator, was excited to hand the participants their graduation certificate, each successful in gaining invaluable skills and experience throughout the 10 week program.

“I know all four families are very proud of their sons, nephews, and grandsons,” Scott said.

“For a small cohort, they’ve more than punched above their weight and exceeded expectations.”

Zaine van Poelgeest was a “quiet achiever” and is looking forward to beginning his career in the marine trade, with a position likely with a major marine operator.

Oliver Wheway was successful with achieving a job interview with Big W, with a promotion already on the cards, however he is excited to continue his studies in IT and Cyber Security, with the ultimate goal to work in military cyber security.

“It has been an absolute pleasure to see you excel, Ollie,” Scott said.

Ethan O’Gradey was successful with securing employment with Big W, however he has his eyes set on a carpentry apprenticeship and pursuing UFC when he can.

“Ethan has a real promising future ahead to him,” Scott said.

Tristian Beaumont now has a probationary trial with Cruise Whitsundays and is looking to pursue a mechanical apprenticeship in the long run.

“Tristy has been the biggest improver on the program, with a lot of hard work and effort,” Scott said.

To learn more about Get Set For Work, contact PCYC Whitsundays, (07) 4948 1144 or whitsunday@pcyc.org.au

Get Set for Work is one of eight programs that make up the Queensland Government’s Skilling Queenslanders for Work initiative.

Sergeant Billy Li, Zaine van Poelgeest, Scott Lynch, Tristian Beaumont, Ethan O’Gradey, Oliver Wheway, and Declan Coull. Photo Credit: Bronte Hodge

Read More

Senior Connect

September 21, 2023

Aligned with Seniors Month, Whitsunday Regional Council Libraries are holding a series of innovative workshops, to help older locals with their digital literacy.

Not limited in their scope, the workshops will explore handling personal devices, managing online banking and online business, and how to use My Community Directory to build community relationships.

Beginning in the second week of October, the workshops each have one weekly session for three weeks.

Bookings are essential so contact your local library to reserve a seat.

Bowen: 4761 3670

Cannonvale: 4846 9400

Collinsville: 4785 5366

Proserpine: 4945 0275

Read More

Are You Retirement Ready?

September 21, 2023

Are you in the later stages of your working life?  

Starting to think of ‘pulling the pin’?  

If so, you should start assessing whether you are ‘retirement ready’.  

This means being financially ready as well as emotionally ready.

After 40 odd years of work, it’s a massive change to your psyche and daily routine to retire.  

The regular rhythm of getting up and going to work is gone and you need to occupy your days, weeks, months, and years.  

Have you started to develop a range of interests outside of work?  

It’s better to start getting into different things before you retire so you’ll have time to try different things and your mind has time to accept that this is what you’ll be doing more of in retirement.  

These interests could be sporting, social, clubs, volunteering, helping the kids and grandkids.  

Even in small towns, there are lots of opportunities to pursue things that you’ve always liked, even if you’ve never tried them before because you were too busy working.  

In our experience, moving gradually into retirement by going from full time to part time work can help make a smoother transition mentally.  

The super system is set up to help with this and you can access your super while still working.

Being financially ready for retirement means getting some answers to the big questions.  

Do we have enough cash, super or investments to fund the lifestyle we want in retirement?  

How much will we need for our day-to-day expenses and how much can we allow for fun money for what we want to do on top of that?  

What are the rules for accessing your super, making top up contributions from the sale of assets and how does Age Pension really work?

How does investing really work?  

What do they really mean by risk with investments and how can we minimise risk in retirement?

If you’re planning on selling a business to help fund your retirement, are you prepared for that?  

Have you consulted with your accountant and a Business Broker and got your figures and the business in a tidy position for sale?  

These things can take a few years if done properly.  

Is your estimate of the business value achievable and when combined with your passive investments, how does your overall pot look and will it provide the sort of income you’ll need to fund your planned lifestyle?

Retirement is a huge milestone in life and the better prepared you are the smoother it will go.  

Come in and have a chat to see if you’re on track.

If you think you could benefit from a discussion with a Financial Planner, give us a call.  

There’s no obligation, the first meeting is free, and all fees are spelled out clearly in advance.  

If you’re not sure, try our Financial Fitness Survey on our website at www.eclipsefp.com.au as it’s a simple free tool to help assess your financial strength.

Read More

Do You Want To Retire Five Years Early?

September 21, 2023

This question was something Deb and Paul Murphy had not really considered until they started receiving advice from Eclipse Financial Planning and realised they could pre-plan retirement to create enough wealth to retire early.

By seeking financial planning services almost a decade before they planned to retire, the Murphy’s set themselves up for a comfortable future.

“Previously, all our Super had been going into a Super Fund because we didn’t know how to manage it any better,” said Paul.

“By going to Eclipse it made it so much easier – we could see what was doing what and why, how to set it up and how to do it better.

“It was so good to get in and get it sorted early before we started retirement, and it has certainly made a huge difference.”

“What we were doing was ok, but this is next level!”

By following Eclipse Financial Planning advice, the Murphy’s have been able to fast track their retirement plans and are now looking forward to a life of leisure within the next two years.

Justin from Eclipse Financial Planning said it was so refreshing to have the opportunity to work with business owners in the years running up to their retirement rather than just once they’ve sold their business.

“Most businesspeople are so busy, they put off retirement planning until after they’ve sold the business,” he said.

“This means they often miss out on opportunities to save tax in the crucial last few years in business and in the way they structure the business sale.  

“There are also several key ages around this stage of life where some great opportunities are available.

“Early engagement provides your Financial Planner so many more opportunities to work with your accountant, solicitor etc to really maximise your retirement planning and put you in the strongest possible position in retirement.”

Paul and Deb Murphy can now step into retirement with ease thanks to Eclipse Financial Planning. Photo credit: R Jean Photography.

Read More

Whitsunday Life’s New Team Member - Meet Ruby

September 21, 2023

Mackay and Whitsunday Life Newspaper is excited to introduce our newest team member, Ruby Gorlick.

A born and bred Airlie Beach girl, Ruby is confident, competent, and dedicated to helping local businesses grow.  

Ruby has been with Mackay and Whitsunday Life and Core Life Magazine for over three months now, working as the Social Media Coordinator, creating lively content, and overseeing our online presence.

She is now stretching her wings and continuing to develop her professional skills by expanding her role to include Advertising Sales Representative, our on-the-ground staff member working closely with valued advertisers.

This new career path excites Ruby who is eager to ensure the best outcomes for all her clients.

“I am excited to get out and about, meeting with clients and making new connections,” Ruby explained.

“My new role has me organising advertising campaigns and selling features for clients.

“This is something I’ve always wanted to do, and I am so excited to learn from the team here and grow my skills.”

While still looking after the social media side of the business, Ruby’s new role has her overseeing the Whitsundays, parts of Mackay, and the Burdekin, working with clients and delivering exceptional advertising campaigns.

When she’s not hitting the streets with advertising packages for Mackay and Whitsunday Life and Core Life Magazine, Ruby is hanging out with friends, most likely on the beach, soaking up the warm sun.

“Everything about this area is great, and I’m excited to hit the ground running!”

Mackay and Whitsunday Life’s newest team member, Ruby Gorlick

Read More


September 21, 2023

Many of us have seen the advantages of awe from spending time in nature or doing something extraordinary that leaves us feeling revitalised and inspired.

It turns out studies back this up, showing that having the feeling of awe on a regular basis can enhance creativity and improve decision-making.

Awe is usually experienced as:

• A sense of something being larger in magnitude, vastness, or significance

• The need to assess personal beliefs held to make sense of the vastness or wonder that is being experienced

In other words, we often feel a sense of awe when we feel like a small part of a much larger whole.

Spend time in nature

Awesome experiences compel us to reassess our mental frameworks and force us into the present.

This can reduce the clutter of worries and ‘what-ifs’ so that we can clearly prioritise and make decisions that align with our values.

Listen to music

All of us are drawn to songs or genres of music that tap into our emotions.

To invoke awe, listen to the music that gives you chills or resonates with you on a deeper level.

Look to those whose inspire you

Many of us draw motivation from other people, whether they are family members, ancestors, distant role models, or current colleagues.

Take time to think about their accomplishments, resilience, or any other qualities that fill you with admiration.

Awe-inducing experiences are among the most powerful methods for personal transformation and development.

Make time in your everyday life to seek out experiences that give you the sensation of awe.

You will likely find a positive shift in perspective, along with a deeper connection to yourself and those around you.

Read More

Collinsville Tourism Advisory Group

September 21, 2023

By Tourism Whitsundays

The second Collinsville Tourism Advisory Group meeting took place at the Collinsville Community Association Centre on Tuesday this week.

The town is coming down off another busy caravanning season where travellers in caravans and RVs took advantage of the free 72 hour RV Park.

Representatives gathered from the Council run free 72 hour RV park and community centre for this month’s meeting, a bi-monthly event for businesses in Collinsville to meet with Tourism Whitsundays and discuss what activity is in place and what is coming for Collinsville.

Topics on the day included how to raise the profile of Collinsville and maximise tourism opportunities and events in the area.

“There is so much to see and do in Collinsville,” said Rick Hamilton, CEO of Tourism Whitsundays.

“The Coalface Experience, the Number One mine site, the historical society and multiple places to eat and relax – it is such a great location!”

With the caravanning season drawing to a close, Tourism Whitsundays are now focusing their marketing efforts to attracting people from the local and northern areas and planning for next year’s winter period.

“We are promoting Collinsville in print such as the local newspaper and magazine, digital in our visitor’s guide, in our Visitor Information Centre and also in national publications,” said Rick.

“Collinsville has a lot to offer, and we aim to raise awareness of each of these substantially as part of ongoing campaigns.”

The next Collinsville Tourism Advisory Group is due to take place in November and everyone is welcome to attend.

Shayne Crump - Collinsville Community Association, Cait Fleming, Brett Murphy – Whitsunday Regional Council, Jenn Honnery – Bowen Tourism and Business, Rick Hamilton

Read More

Cape Edgecumbe Upgrade Finally Underway

September 21, 2023

The Cape Edgecumbe Trail upgrades are set to begin next Monday, September 25, with Murray Bay Road to Rose Bay Lions Lookout closed until late October.

Horseshoe Bay, near the Rotary lookout is also set to be closed from October 30 until late December.

Upgrades to the trail include fixing eroded sections, new handrails, replacing damaged steps, widening the trail to a minimum 1.2 metres.

Whitsunday Regional Council Mayor Julie Hall said the Council recognise the significance of the trails as recreational assets, and these upgrades will make them safer and more accessible for everyone.

“The trails will be widened in sections to provide resting areas and improved ease of movement to cater for the diverse needs of our community,” she said.

“Works will be carried out within the existing footprint with selective partial re-alignments in specific areas to improve safety, track width, and erosion control.

“Works will be carried out in stages, with the remaining sections to be completed as grant funding becomes available.”

“We look forward to creating an enjoyable trail walking experience to enjoy the amazing views while preserving the natural beauty of this area.”

Manager of Bowen Tourism and Business, Leanne Abernethy said the Cape Edgecumbe Walking Trails were a wonderful asset to the region.

“It is great news that the tracks are being upgraded,” she said.

“This walk has fantastic views and is very popular with our visitors.

“We are very pleased that the track will be widened in some parts and that there will be hand rails and new signage.”

Sections of Cape Edgecumbe Trail will be closed from September 25 until Christmas for upgrades. Photo supplied

Read More

Chambers Promote Fee Free Education

September 21, 2023

By Paul Gellatly

Both Bowen and Whitsunday Coast Chambers of Commerce held events to promote and raise awareness of fee free education and employment opportunities last week, giving vital information to small businesses on how they can benefit from up to $20,000 of state government funding.

Both chamber's monthly meetings were addressed by Department of Youth Justice, Employment, Small Business and Training speakers, including Kim Carlyon of the Back to Work program; Jo McKee, a Mentoring for Growth (M4G) mentor; Julia Wheway from Bowen and Cannonvale TAFE; wellness coach Kristy Wilson; and Natalie Link of TAFE Mackay/Isaac.

Kim Carlyon talked about the benefits of the Back to Work program, with support for businesses in finding employees, partnered with TAFE.

Employers can receive up to $20,000 for hiring target group workers including youth (15 to 24), Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and the disabled, who had been unemployed for eight weeks, and long-term unemployed at 52 weeks.

Jo McKee said mentoring for businesses had proved invaluable after Cyclone Debbie devastated the Whitsundays in 2017 and provided free planning advice for business recovery through a network of 370 mentors, available through videolink or face-to-face sessions, concentrating on nine areas of focus.

"Sometimes you feel you can't open up about your business problems but if you have a plan, it helps ease the anxiety," she said.

Kristy Wilson said business wellbeing coaching had also proved helpful in giving business owners an avenue to discuss their problems.

"Most business owners are very isolated," she said, adding that in some instances the agency could offer access to mental health services.

Natalie Link outlined jobseeker support to get back into employment with job training to Certificate III level guaranteed.

Julia Wheway spoke about TAFE's readiness for Whitsunday area job requirements with its Health Hub and Agricultural Centre of Excellence, the latter of which featured a hydroponic 'vertical garden' capable of growing the equivalent of an acre of conventionally farmed produce into an area the size of a shipping container.

Ms Wheway said fee-free TAFE courses were available in 90 different programs in industry-accessible areas, which allowed people to learn and work in their home area.

A common theme with all speakers was that free supports were going begging in the Whitsunday area and that local support was essential in ensuring that funding was not mopped up by larger centres.

The Whitsunday Coast Chamber of Commerce event: Julia Wheway from Whitsunday TAFE, wellness coach Kristy Wilson, Jo McKee, a Mentoring for Growth (M4G) mentor, Gus Walsgott Vice President of Whitsunday Coast Chamber of Commerce, Kim Carlyon of the Back to Work program and Natalie Link of TAFE Mackay/Isaac. Photo credit: Rachael Smith

Warren Bunker, CEO of Whitsunday Regional Council and Councillor Clay Bauman. Photo credit: Rachael Smith

Julia Evans from Whitsunday Coast Chamber of Commerce and Fiona Erquiaga from Smooth Sailing Finance. Photo credit: Rachael Smith

Ruby Gorlick, advertising sales representative from Core Publishing, Mayor Julie Hall and Bronte Hodge, journalist with Core Publishing. Photo credit: Rachael Smith

Read More

Local Marina Partners With SeaKeepers Society

September 21, 2023

Coral Sea Marina has partnered with international not-for-profit The International SeaKeepers Society for marine conservation, promoting education, citizen science, conservation efforts, and research opportunities.

Coral Sea Marina has joined the effort, as a dedicated Marina Partner, the first in the South Pacific.

“We are incredibly excited to join the SeaKeepers’ Marina Partner Program, with a view to raise awareness and promote ocean conservation to our marina guests, visiting Superyachts and the wider boating community,” explained Joscelyn O’Keefe, Head of Marketing and Business Development at Coral Sea Marina.

“We are uniquely positioned on the doorstep of the Great Barrier Reef to facilitate participation in ocean conservation programs and the citizen science movement to both privately owned vessels and our commercial tourism operators.”

International SeaKeepers Society was founded in 1998 by a small group of yacht owners who were concerned by the deterioration of the natural landscape and has since evolved into a community facilitating scientific discovery, marine sciences, and raising awareness about global ocean issues.

“SeaKeepers is thrilled to have Coral Sea Marina as our first South Pacific Marina Partner,” explained Melissa White, Program Development Manager, South Pacific, SeaKeepers.

“Their efforts in being a Clean Marina and creating Coral Sea Academy as their commitment to educating people on protecting our marine environment, aligns with SeaKeepers’ mission.”

Ms O’Keefe says that by joining the DISCOVERY Yacht Fleet, the boating community can use their vessels and their time to make a real difference on the water.

“Whether by documenting encounters with marine life or capturing important scientific data whilst cruising the waters, partnering with The International SeaKeepers Society provides a way for everyday people to actively contribute to the crucial work of ocean conservation.”

Coral Sea Marina joins global effort for marine research, conservation, and education. Photo supplied

Read More

Council News And Views

September 21, 2023

Mayor Julie Hall will be joining Isaac Regional Council Mayor Anne Baker and Mackay Regional Council Mayor Greg Williamson for a tour of the Gilmour Space Technologies orbital spaceport near Bowen today.

The Greater Whitsunday Council of Mayors (GWCoM) were invited to visit the facility by Gilmour Space CEO Adam Gilmour as the construction of the ground support equipment infrastructure and equipment for a launch is nearing completion.

Formed in 2012, GWCoM is a collaborative partnership between Mackay Regional Council, Isaac Regional Council and Whitsunday Regional Council that is committed to welcoming investment and growing the economic value and diversity of the greater region.

Gilmour Space Technologies are a prime example and CEO Adam said the company plans to launch two orbital space vehicles per year from its Bowen spaceport from 2024 onwards.

In June this year Gilmour Space announced they had signed a $52 million grant agreement with the federal government to advance the development and commercialisation of new space technologies in Australia.

The funding will support a $156 million Australian Space Manufacturing Network (ASMN) project and will be co-funded by the Queensland government, Gilmour Space, and its partners.

“The funding will enable them to progress space manufacturing in Australia and particularly in regional Queensland which is exciting as there is a lot of potential for commercial opportunities globally,” said Mayor Julie Hall.

“Ground-breaking projects like the Bowen Orbital Spaceport will deliver jobs for locals and attract regional investment.

The Bowen Orbital Spaceport launch project has been ongoing since June 2018 and currently employs over 190 people.

More than $4 million has already been injected into the local community through working with local manufacturers, not only to buy more systems associated with the launch, but also to develop local supply chains to support ongoing operations.

Contributed with thanks to Mayor Julie Hall

Read More

Did you know? With Mayor Julie Hall

September 21, 2023

Yellow Crazy Ants have been detected across 81 ha in the Whitsunday Region.

These ants have a wide range of harmful impacts on our environment and in large numbers can disrupt entire ecosystems.

Whilst they are not dangerous to humans, they can seriously affect our liveability; invading homes, biting pets or people whilst we sleep.

YCA create what we call super colonies to take over an infested area, decimating native fauna and disrupting the reproductive processes of flowering plants.

YCA can be recognised by their yellow colouring as well as their 'crazy' and erratic movements.

They are often transported by vehicle movement or via construction materials and green waste.

To help reduce the current infestation levels, Council encourages residents to check with your regular pest controller when spraying your property if they inspect for YCA.

Furthermore, for all new builds and constructions, check if the material has come from Townsville or another YCA infestation area.

If so, request that the wood is treated before being used.  

For all sightings, we urge residents to notify Council immediately on 1300 972 753 or via email at info@whitsundayrc.qld.gov.au and to refrain from moving materials or vehicles in the location until an WRC can inspect and treat the area.

Read More

Ben Martin, Family Farm Reaches New Heights

September 21, 2023

Mangoes were always in Ben Martin’s blood, so it was no surprise that Marto’s Mangoes has skyrocketed to be a big name in the industry.

However, it wasn’t always set in stone, with Ben pursuing an electrical apprenticeship after Year 12, before working in the mines for a few years, then returning to the small family mango farm, and growing the family business.

“My parents started the mango farm in 1990, and it started very small, with only 4,500 trees on the original 20 acres,” Ben explained.

Over the next 30 years, they have purchased a number of other properties and have expanded their operations.  

One particular block, a neighbour came to them and asked to buy them out.

“Dad and I said yes, and Mum said no, so we bought it and called it ‘Mum’s block’!”

Now with around 30,000 trees, the farm continues to grow, with every member of the family is helping with the business.

Being a family business that believes in supporting the local community, Marto’s Mangoes are actively involved in the community.

They sponsor a number of sporting clubs in Bowen and are the Gold sponsor of the Bowen Seagulls Junior Rugby League Club.  

Ben believes that you need to give back to the community that has given him and his family so much.

They are also actively involved in the industry as well.  

Ben is the Chairman of the Australian Mango Industry Association, vice-president of the Bowen Gumlu Growers Association, as well as a director of Queensland Fruit and Vegetable Growers.  

“All too often you see people sitting there and complaining about the industry, when the only way to see change is to get involved and actually do it,” said Ben when asked about his industry positions.  

“They take a lot of time and effort but can be really rewarding at times”.

Ben, Ash-lei, Bernadette, and Gary Martin. Photo supplied

Read More

Quality Service With Small Town Charm

September 21, 2023

Kylie’s Family Dental has been servicing Bowen and the wider Whitsundays community since 2015, growing and evolving to become one of the best and most comprehensive dental practices, covering all dental services, including preventative, restorative and emergency dentistry.

At the helm of the practice is Dr Kylie del Solar, a born and bred Bowen local who returned to Bowen to establish the practice and raise her family.

Having studied at James Cook University for both nursing and dentistry, she is well versed in the medical world.

Initially studying nursing, Kylie returned to university to expand her skillset.

“I decided to return to university to become a dentist as I wanted to give patients the option to see a dentist who will make them feel safe and provide a reliable, honest and genuine service,” Dr Kylie explained.

Dr Cameron Born joined the practice in late 2021, after graduating James Cook University in 2019.

Also a Bowen local, Dr Cameron moved to Alice Springs to practice in rural communities before he made the move back to Bowen to be close to family.

“I always work with my patients to gain a complete understanding of their needs ensuring treatment is provided in a comfortable, relaxed and friendly environment,” Dr Cameron said.

Dr Renee Aitken joined Kylie’s Family Dental in November 2021, after spending two years in the Northern Territory, servicing the Alice Springs community in a private practice.

Developing a keen love of preventative and paediatric dentistry, Dr Renee brings with her a passion for achieving the best outcome for all of her patients.

Kylie’s Family Dental has a team of skilled, professional dentists, dental assistants, and reception staff to take care of you and your family dental needs in a relaxed and caring clinic.

Dr Renee Aitken, Dr Cameron Born and Dr Kylie del Solar, delivering exceptional dental services, to the Bowen community. Photo supplied

Read More

Unwavering Commitment

September 21, 2023

Bowen Community Person Of The Year Recognised

Bowen Neighbourhood Centre Coordinator, Stephanie Cora, has been awarded the Bowen NAIDOC Community Person of the Year, during National NAIDOC Week.

Awarded for her dedicated and continuous work for the Bowen Neighbourhood Centre, which she has been running for the past 14 years, Stephanie was surprised by the accolades.

“It is the greatest honour of the year,” Stephanie said.

A born and bred Bowen local, Stephanie began her time with the Bowen Neighbourhood Centre as an office manager, working her way up the ranks to become the Centre Coordinator.

She is a proud Traditional Owner and is always advocating for indigenous rights, social justice, and reconciliation, ensuring that the Bowen community is supported with every individual given the best opportunities on offer.

Receiving the award during the Bowen NAIDOC Week Celebrations, she is still unsure who nominated her.

“I have no idea who put my name forward; everyone I’ve asked says it wasn’t them!” she laughs.

The panel of judges said, “[Stephanie’s] selfless dedication to improving the lives of her community members makes her a deserving recipient of the 2023 Bowen NAIDOC Community Person of the Year award.

“Her unwavering commitment and passion continue to ignite hope, fostering a sense of pride and unity within the NAIDOC community, and leaving a lasting legacy for generations to come.”

Read More

This Summer Help Yourself To Bowen Blacklip Oysters

September 21, 2023

As the warmth of summer begins to resettle on the region, look toward Arabon Seafood for premium, freshest seafood offering.

Especially for oyster fans, with Arabon Seafood being the exclusive supplier of Bowen Blacklip oysters, farmed and harvested by John Collison.

Farmer John Collision began his oyster farm nine years ago, starting the operation from scratch, using techniques he learned from his southern New South Wales oyster farms.

Arabon Seafood owner operators Claire and Terry Must have been the exclusive selling partners ever since and the prime retailer of the big homegrown Bowen Blacklip rock oysters.

Now a consistent product in the region, Arabon Seafood regularly see the oysters fly from their shop counter.

“John harvests 30 to 40 dozen oysters a day, and we would sell that much a day too!” said Claire.

Shucking the oysters in house, and selling them by the dozen, the oysters are as fresh as you can get, with John harvesting them early in the morning, and dropping them by Arabon as soon as possible.

“They are absolutely delicious,” Claire said.

Being able to be stored in the fridge for a few days, Claire still recommends eating them the same day as catch.

“Kilpatrick is still a great option as well, to add a bit of flavour, but raw from the shell is my way to go!”

Ensuring the best fresh, farm to table Blacklip oysters, Arabon Seafood is keeping Bowen and the Whitsundays well stocked, perfect for summer.

Read More


September 14, 2023

Over the course of three days, over 600 people enjoyed the sixth annual White on Whitehaven event where fresh local seafood and French Champagne were served in plenty at the luxury long-table lunch held on its silica sands.

Behind many smiles, however, were a host of secret love stories, long-term anniversaries and a surprise wedding that captured the hearts of all attendees.

Tipped to become one of the most famous long-table lunches in all of Australia, White on Whitehaven was a huge success once again this year, with hundreds of guests flocking onto the sparkling sands dressed in elegant white, sipping champagne and eating freshly shucked oysters.

The brainchild of local restauranteur, Kev Collins from Fish D’vine, the event attracts people from all over the country, as well as locals, everyone coming together to enjoy arguably the best views on the best beach in the world.

“How wonderful it is to have this event here in the Whitsundays!” said Kev.

“We’ve had so many people come back year after year now and the feedback from this year has already been incredible.”

Holding a special place in the hearts of many, the event has also become a destination for couples celebrating anniversaries and it was also a wedding venue for one couple this year.

Kev said these personal connections give White on Whitehaven a deeper meaning and that he always gets emotional when people share their heart-warming stories with him each year.

“One lady told me she had terminal cancer and discharged herself from hospital to come to the event, saying it kept her alive knowing she could be here,” he said.

“It was really sad but very beautiful at the same time.”

White on Whitehaven also sponsors significant raffle prizes which, for the past three years, has helped raise $210,000 for Women’s Legal Services to help women fight domestic violence.

Marching band, The Natural Culture, with organisers of White on Whitehaven Long Table Lunch. Photo credit: Rachael Smith

Jill and Phil Jordan were married at the White on Whitehaven Long Table Lunch on Sunday. Photo credit: Rachael Smith

Read More

Editor's Note

September 14, 2023

Hi Everyone,

As we draw to the end of Festival season, I am reflecting upon the amount of incredible events we have here in the Whitsundays.

For the size of our population, we certainly punch above our weight in the amount of community gatherings, lively festivals, sporting events, and charity fundraisers we host over the year.  

What I love most about these occasions is that the majority are not only connecting people, they are also raising either awareness for a good cause or raising money to fund a significant project.

On Saturday, I attended the Colour Run at Coral Sea Marina where my son and I were covered in pink powder to raise awareness for child protection.

From one extreme to another, the following day, along with some of the team, I headed to the White on Whitehaven Long Table Lunch for a spectacular afternoon wearing white and drinking champagne on Whitehaven Beach.

The juxtaposition of each event was not lost on me!

As the Whitsunday weather heats up, the social events do slow down, but we do of course have the Airlie Beach Festival of Music to look forward to.

In addition, and close to my heart, is the upcoming Tiny Homes Fundraiser at Cape Gloucester Resort (check out the full story on page 21).

This event is hosted by a dedicated team of local women who are raising money to fund four tiny homes in Proserpine for other local women who are over 55 and homeless.

The committee are very close to their goal and with construction expected to start this year, they are encouraging everyone to get involved.  

I attended the last event which was held at the Bali Hut lawn of the Whitsunday Sailing Club and it was phenomenal.

Raising money while having fun and dancing the night away under the stars has to be one of my favourite things to do and this event will undoubtedly be fabulous too.

So, if you haven’t been to one yet, make sure you book a ticket and get involved!


“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give” (Winston Churchill)

Read More

Lucky To Be Alive

September 14, 2023

Simone Mitchell is lucky to be alive following a car accident while holidaying in South Australia. The young woman was driving to a friends house when one of her back tyres slipped out on the road, causing her car to flip, and roll three times, before landing upright.

A friend pulled an unconscious Simone out of the car before she was transported to Mount Gambier Hospital.

“It was a pretty hardcore accident,” Simone explained.

“I’ve broken my neck and fractured some of my vertebrae.”

Finally flying home last Saturday, Simone had spent two weeks in Mount Gambier hospital, a long way away from home.

Many of you may recognise Simone as the friendly face behind the counter at Fishi where she has worked for the past two years.

After hearing about her accident, Fishi owner and operator Bronwyn Calder reached out to the community to help fund her recovery process.

“We knew it would be a tough time, and wanted to help her out,” explained Bronwyn.

“It’s been great to see the community get behind Simone and her recovery.”

Initially the campaign began with only a simple tin next to the till, but as the community support grew, Simone’s parents set up a special fundraising page for people to donate.

“It’s been amazing,” Simone reflected.

“I only now realise the amount of people that I’ve helped or impacted and having them help me out now is amazing.

“I’m glad to have come out of the accident alive. I have a new appreciation for everything, and a second chance at life.”

Simone will be in a brace for at least six to eight weeks and will be travelling to Townsville Hospital for regularly neurosurgeon appointments.

Simone Mitchell has returned home following a serious car accident. Photo credit: Facebook

Read More

Hamo For Sale

September 14, 2023

Rumours of an impressive $1 billion price tag are fuelling speculation that Hamilton Island is now up for sale, its owners putting it on the market after 20 years.

Purchased by the Oatley family for $200 million in 2003, the Oatley family have since re-invested a further $450 million into upgrades of the yacht club and golf course, and the construction of luxury resort, Qualia.

Well known for winemaking and winning the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race nine times, the Oatley family has also been a big driving force for local tourism, creating a world-class offering here in the Whitsundays.

A spokesperson from Hamilton Island said, “as it looks to the future, the family has put in place a new leadership and approach and is conducting a review with the assistance of its advisors, to explore opportunities for growth and future prosperity.

“At this stage this review is ongoing, and no decisions have been made,” they said.

Read More

Boardwalk Closed For Upgrades

September 14, 2023

A large section of the boardwalk that runs between Airlie Beach and Cannonvale is now closed for approximately 13 weeks while upgrades are undertaken.

The works will result in a closure of the boardwalk between the VMR Boat Ramp and Shingley Drive and the route will be unpassable until early December.

Council hopes that, weather permitting, the upgrades will be completed just in time for the Christmas holiday period.

A detour has been constructed behind Mirage Whitsundays Apartments, via Altmann Avenue and Shingley Drive, the temporary pathway offers a short cut for pedestrians, scooters, and bikes.

The upgrades will expand the width of the boardwalk by approximately one metre, increasing capacity for users and helping to mitigate conflicts between pedestrians and cyclists/scooters.

The timber boardwalk will be replaced with a composite fibre material, that is more durable and less costly to maintain.  

The footings will be retained, and the hardwood timber will be extracted and used for future projects.

A section of the Airlie Beach Boardwalk will be closed until Christmas. Photo credit: Rachael Smith

Read More

Airlie High-Rise Goes Ahead

September 14, 2023

The highly controversial 47.7-metre high-rise development planned for the Airlie Beach Foreshore has been approved for a second time following a lengthy battle at the Environment and Planning Court.

The planning application was initially approved by Whitsunday Regional Council last year but local action group, Save Our Foreshore (SOF) challenged the decision and took the matter to court.

The group disputed the approval, stating that the land was only zoned for a five-storey building, not a 12-storey high-rise and claimed the decision went against the Airlie Beach Town Plan.

They also believe it contradicts the ‘small town feel’ that attracts most tourists to Airlie Beach.

Suzette Pelt, spokesperson for SOF, said that the development will “torpedo the future of the Whitsundays” and that 1,700 letters of opposition were “ignored by the councillors in their decision making”.

"We see this decision as one that will, in reality, hold the Whitsundays back,” she said.

“This decision could also set off a string of future applications along the length of Airlie Beach, resulting in what’s known as the ‘canyon effect’”.

Meanwhile, others in the community believe the development could expand the overall tourism offering as the new hotel must be of five-star standard.

It is also set to include a 500-seater function room which would attract corporate clients and enable large-scale events to be held in the region.

Once again, SOF flag this as a concern because developers, Meridien Holdings, are currently in receivership and the nature of the future development uncertain.

“The development site is problematic, the development must obtain and maintain a 5-star luxury rating, and as stated in the judgement (paragraph 123), to date no potential operator has committed to the development,” Ms Pelt said.

Whitsunday Regional Council Director of Development Services Neil McGaffin said they are still waiting to hear more about the conditions of the approval.

“The judge has ruled in Meridien/Council’s favour and the approval has been allowed, albeit adjourned for parties to provide advice to the Court on appropriate conditions of approval,” he said.

“This should be resolved within the next two – three weeks.”

Save Our Foreshore have been campaigning against a high-rise on the Airlie Beach Foreshore for many years. Photo supplied

Read More

Whitsunday Islands Selling Fast

September 14, 2023

Whitsunday Islands have become a hot commodity, with investors spending big to own their own piece of paradise.

Recently, Adelaide real estate tycoon, Mike Dobbin has purchased Poole Island, a 20-hectare island one kilometre off the Whitsunday coast.

Poole Island cost just $1 million and according to Adelaide Now, Mr Dobbin has plans to clean up the island, renovate the two homes, and offer the island as short term accommodation for families facing hardships.

This recent sale marks only one in a stream of other acquisitions.

The leasehold for Hook Island was snapped by Sydney-based Glenn Piper two years ago for $12 million and has shared plans to establish a luxury resort.

Earlier this year a Singaporean family purchased Lindeman Island for $10 million.

Currently, South Molle Island is listed for sale, with the asking price being $30 million, considering the extensive renovations needed to bring the resort back up to luxury standard.

This is only emphasised with the rumours of Hamilton Island’s upcoming sale.

This recent slurry of activity could point to rising confidence in local resort islands, many of which have either been abandoned or neglected, left to disrepair over the past decade.

1: Poole Island – Sold For $1M

2: South Molle – For Sale $30M

3: Lindeman – Sold For $10M

4: Hook Island – Sold $12M

Read More

Mango Set Back

September 14, 2023

Low Production Causes Price Rise

By Bronte Hodge

A less than fruitful mango season could impact the supermarket shelves this summer, with customers paying higher than usual prices for mangoes due to poorer growing conditions that have decreased overall production this season.

While this is bad news for consumers, especially with other concerns around the increased cost of living, it could be good news for farmers because with less mangoes on the market, they can command a higher price.

Bowen Gumlu Growers Association (BGGA) President Ry Collins, said they are expecting lower numbers this year, but it is too early to tell the scope of the reduction.

“The delayed flowering of the crop indicates a reduced crop, but it’s hard to say how much this will affect the market,” he said.

“The KP variety, that is the Kensington Pride, or better known as the Bowen Special, is seeing a smaller season, but this could be a good thing for growers.

“In the last season, we saw an oversupply of mangos, which meant the price decreased, and our farmers weren’t seeing a good return.

“If this reduction is a nationwide reduction and not just a regional decrease, then the price of the market will go up and the return for the producers will be good.

“A reduced crop is not necessarily a bad thing.”

Bowen mango grower Ben Martin agrees, saying it’s too early to really predict the incoming seasons yield.

“Numbers are being thrown around that have no weight to them,” he said.

“Yes, we will see a decrease in the crop but not drastically.”

Mr Martin explained that the reduced crops are due to warmer winter temperatures, meaning the mango trees weren’t able to flower as thoroughly as usual.

“Mangoes require cold temperatures and weather to flower, below 16 degrees is ideal, and a few nights of five or six degrees is great, but we struggled with that this winter.”

Mr Martin is also the President of the Australian Mango Industry Association and wishes to encourage consumers to not panic about this predicted reduction.

“Consumers will see less mangoes at shops and have to pay a little bit more for them, but they will still be of great quality.”


Bowen and Burdekin regions contribute between 20 and 25 per cent of all Australian mangoes.

Bowen mango farmer, Ben Martin. Photo supplied

Read More

Recession Fears

September 14, 2023

The Federal Government has just released Fair Work Legislation amendments and Federal Member for Dawson Andrew Willcox says he is worried about increases in business expenditure and the possibility of a recession.

According to Mr Willcox, the new amendments to the Fair Work Legislation are complex and are going to cost billions in wages.

“The amendments are going to cost consumers more, and this is the last thing Australians need in a cost of living crisis,” he explained.

“Rent has increased, cost of supplies has skyrocketed, and workforce shortages are a constant and never-ending battle.

“These are all costs that business must either absorb, which is unstainable, or they must pass the costs on to consumers, who can’t afford to pay more.”

The last time Australia entered a recession was in the early 90s, and with increasing financial pressures on businesses and individuals, recession is at the forefront of Mr Willcox’s mind.

“We are facing a serious threat of another recession,” Mr Willcox said.

Mr Willcox has called for the Federal Government to “do the right thing” and reverse the legislation otherwise he fears the repercussions could “grind this economy to a halt”.

“Don’t condemn us to more cost-of-living pressures. Don’t condemn us to business closures, job losses, bankruptcy, and even more homelessness.”

Read More

Yes 23, Hits The Streets

September 14, 2023

Energy is building ahead of The Voice referendum which is due to take place on October 14 and local group, Yes 23, are encouraging everyone to get involved with supporting the movement.

The group are inviting the community down to the Airlie Beach Markets to meet them this Saturday, and they will also be hosting a relaxed social gathering at Banjo’s at 4pm that day.

In addition, there will be a peaceful march this Sunday at Whitsunday Plaza from 11am.

The group will give away merchandise and participants are encouraged to bring signs.

A highly contentious issue, The Voice has become a talking point both nationally and locally.

If The Voice To Parliament goes ahead, an indigenous ‘voice’ will be enshrined in the constitution and indigenous people have a bigger say on issues that affect them.

Those who oppose The Voice, however, believe it adds race to the constitution and that it is a symbolic gesture that will not fix systemic issues.

Yes 23, however, are eager to spread the word about the positive impacts of The Voice.

Local Yes 23 coordinator, Deb Barrow, said she is getting behind the cause because she believes it will reduce the gap in issues such as infant mortality rates, overall health, and living standards.

“Every government over the generations have done the same thing,” she said.

“They’ve tried to tell the indigenous people what they need and put a lot of money into these communities, but it’s not been working.”

Louise Mahony from Yes 23 agrees, saying that for her, it is about reducing costs.

“Billions of dollars have been wasted on Aboriginal affairs and getting no-where,” she said.

“I just want us to stop wasting money!”

WHAT: Yes 23 March

WHERE: Whitsunday Plaza

WHEN: Sunday, September 17 from 11am

Deb Barrow and Louise Mahony from Yes 23. Photo credit: Rachael Smith

Read More

Sudden Closure Shocks Community

September 14, 2023

Flagstaff Hill Convention Centre and Café has unexpectedly closed, with last Sunday September 10 being its last day of operation.

The lease for the Convention Centre and Café was held by Tuan and Vi Thuy, who also own and operate Jochheim Pies in Bowen.

The owners announced the closure of Flagstaff Hill suddenly last week via a Facebook post.

Whitsunday Regional Council Mayor Julie Hall said the closure of the Flagstaff Hill Café and Convention Centre came as a shock to Council.

“The facility is currently leased to a private operator who did not indicate to Council that they would be closing prior to the end of their lease period which still has over 12 months to run,” Mayor Hall said.

Council said that they had been “working through issues raised by the community with difficulty booking any type of function or wedding at the Convention Centre.”

“We have also had contact from the State Government who have also had complaints lodged with issues in regard to the operation of the Convention Centre.”

“I can clarify that the lease conditions or minimal rent charged by Council has never been raised as an issue by the operator,” said a Council spokesperson.

“Council had also assigned officers on several occasions to assist the lessee with some of the operational issues they were experiencing in an attempt to ensure the smooth running of the facility for the operators and community.”

Tuan and Vi Thuy were unable to give a comment at this time.

The Flagstaff Hill facility had only just re-opened in October 2021 following lengthy rebuild after the previous café was irreparably damaged in the 2017 cyclone.  

The latest closure comes as another blow to the iconic local landmark.

Council will work proactively to secure another operator to ensure the best outcome.

Flagstaff Hill Convention Centre and Café has suddenly closed its door, with only two days’ notice to the community. Photo supplied

Read More

On The Beat

September 14, 2023

Single Vehicle Crash, Proserpine

Paramedics transported a male in his 70s to Proserpine Hospital in a stable condition following a single-vehicle crash on Cascara Street at 8.05pm

Hayman Island Helicopter Call Out

RACQ CQ Rescue conducted two call outs to Hayman Island on Saturday, September 9.

The first call out was for an unwell resident, the second at 9pm regarding a sick child who had been on holiday with family on the island.

Safe Night Precinct Disturbances

On September 9, at 11.30pm, police attended a large fight which erupted outside Mama Africa night club.

The four persons involved in the fight included a 32-year-old Proserpine man, a 28-year-old man from Brisbane, a 46-year-old from the Midge Point area, and an 18-year-old from the Midge Point area.

All were issued with infringement notices for public nuisance violence offences.

Another six public nuisance offences were also issued over the weekend, as well as public urination offences.

Breaching Family Violence Order

Police attended a disturbance in Jubilee Pocket, where they allege a 57-year-old Jubilee Pocket man breached a Family Protection Order and has been charged.

Read More

Scottville Catch-Up Next Week

September 14, 2023

Residents of Scottville are encouraged to attend the Whitsunday Regional Council Community Catch-up in Scottville next Wednesday.

The event will tackle topics such as town planning, land and natural resource management, an overview of upcoming projects and annual budget items, consultation and education programs.

Any other suggestions will be gathered through the Whitsunday Your Say website prior to the event.

The catch-up is being held at Scottville State School, from 10 to 12am on Wednesday 20 September.

The Whitsunday Regional Council will also hold Community Catch-ups in Cape Upstart and Shute Harbour soon.

Read More

Sharing Stories, Literacy, and Cultures:

September 14, 2023

Celebrating Indigenous Literacy Day

The Whitsunday region celebrated Indigenous Literacy Day last Wednesday, sharing indigenous stories, cultures, and languages.

Indigenous men Malcolm Coongoo and Liam Ross performed the official Welcome to Country and Smoking Ceremony to community members and children, before all attendees were invited into the Proserpine Entertainment Centre to watch a film created by the Indigenous Literacy Foundation.

The film celebrated indigenous literacy with stories and songs from indigenous communities across Australia, as well as a livestream by Foundation Ambassadors Jessica Mauboy, Justine Clarke, Gregg Dreise, and Josh Pyke.

“Indigenous Literacy Day is very important,” explained Malcolm.

“Not only for indigenous peoples, but for non-indigenous peoples as well. A lot of the things we do, we try to get people involved, share our oral history.

“We don’t have a written language, so a lot of our style, our stories, our song and dance has been passed down through the generations over the last 60,000 years and longer!”

Malcolm and Liam also shared a local indigenous story, a creation story of the Whitsundays, of the rainbow serpent and how the Great Barrier Reef got its vibrant colours.

“It’s a story that connects all of us,” said Liam.

Read More

Chamber Chat

September 14, 2023

Queensland Small Business – Beyond the pandemic

Last week the Queensland Small Business Commissioner published the above report showing that Queensland small businesses continue to not only survive but prosper with profitability up by 42 per cent outpacing the rise in wages and total expenses of 22 per cent. The report found that the pandemic had a severe but short-lived impact on household spending.

Government intervention in the forms of grants, subsidies and handout are certainly a factor in this quick recovery and have contributed to the high inflation and interest rates we now face – both likely to curb economic growth in the short term.

A recent meeting with the Commissioner provided a platform for various regional Chambers –to voice concerns and shed light on the challenges faced by small businesses. Whilst the meeting served as an opportunity for dialogue, it was apparent that regional Chambers and small business owners are fatigued over policies that yield little or no tangible action to address their concerns.

Some of the recurring issues common to the regional Chambers included housing and cost of living, regional tax incentives enlarging the insurance pool for businesses in Far North Queensland, diesel rebates for transport, outdated planning legislation and regulation, government procurement, and Transport and Main Road (TMR) narrow practices that fail to align with small business needs.

Meanwhile, the research phase of our Vision for the Whitsundays project is now open and we invite business owners, managers, and community stakeholders, and individuals to inform the project’s key findings and recommendations.

You can participate by either making a formal submission to the project, completing a quick online survey, or participate in a focus group discussion. In September, focus groups will be held on the following themes: the economic Customer Service Experience and its impact on our economic future and economic contribution Arts, Culture, and Heritage makes to the region.

Our Vision for the Whitsundays project report will be released in May 2024.

Visit our website to participate.

Read More

Council News and Views

September 14, 2023

Attracting, expanding, and supporting regional events in the Whitsunday region has been a key focus of Council.

I regularly meet with our Economic Development team to explore every opportunity to entice new events and explore how Council can better support existing events to allow them to grow their events further.

The Don River Dash that was held over the weekend in Bowen is a perfect example of a relatively new event that has grown in popularity since being first staged in 2019.

This adrenaline packed spectator friendly event with cars and motorbikes racing on the bed of the Bowen River is now recognised as the pinnacle of off-road racing on Australia’s east coast.

This year the organisers accepted over 350 open competitor entries and crowds of over 5000 spectators turned out for the two days of racing action.

The exciting news is that Council’s Economic Development team have run the Economy ID calculator and the direct flow-on into the Whitsunday region’s economy is over $7 million.

This is a real feather in the cap for the organisers and volunteers of this event and an amazing economic boost for our region.

I am proud that Whitsunday Regional Council has backed the event since it started, and this financially assisted with $25,000 in-kind support to assist the organisers as they continue to expand and grow the event further.

The Don River Dash is a prime platform to showcase the beauty of Bowen and the Whitsundays to a domestic and international audience by attracting motorsport enthusiasts.

I am confident that this event will become a hallmark event for our unique part of the world and add another bow to making the Whitsunday a great place to visit.

Congratulations also to the Whitsunday Running Club for staging another successful Whitsunday Trail Festival in Airlie Beach on Sunday.

A strong field of locals and visiting runners of all ages competed along the scenic Conway Ranges in categories from the Kids Beach Bash, Honeyeater 10.5km Challenge to the ultimate 58km challenge.

Events like these and the successful White on Whitehaven Long Lunches on Friday, Saturday and Sunday provide national and international exposure for the Whitsundays and enhance our reputation as one of Australia’s premium tourism destinations.

Read More

Did you Know? With Mayor Julie Hall

September 14, 2023

Batteries should never be put in your recycling or waste bin.

This includes rechargeable batteries and lithium-ion batteries in objects such as laptops, mobile phones, power tools, cameras, and e-vape machines.

Used batteries may still contain residual charge and often produce sparks which can lead to fires in our waste trucks and recycling facilities, putting our waste teams at risk, and potentially causing dangerous gases if waste is burned incorrectly.

To dispose of batteries safety, make sure to always place sticky tape on the terminals before placing in your nearest battery recycling collection point.

Household Battery Recycling Bins are located at all of our Whitsunday Regional Council Customer Service Centres and Libraries.

Bins can also be found at the Collinsville and Cannonvale Transfer Stations.

For further information, search for 'Household Battery Recycling Program' on Council's website.

Read More

Local Produce Celebrated At Growers Gala

September 14, 2023

North Queensland’s fresh produce industry has celebrated another great year, with the 2023 Growers Gala which was hosted by the Bowen Gumlu Growers Association on Saturday September 2.

Held at the Bowen Racecourse, over 80 guests were welcomed, including the region’s leading growers, business leaders, industry figures and dignitaries.

On the guest list was Hon Mark Furner Queensland Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries, Andrew Willcox Federal Member for Dawson, Dale Last Member for Burdekin, Mayor Julie Hall and Councillors Mike Brunker and Michelle Wright from Whitsunday Regional Council, and Mayor Lyn McLaughlin from Burdekin Shire Council.

The event celebrated the important contributions of the agricultural producers and workers who make up our communities, with two award presentations.

The Grower Recognition Award was presented to Dale Williams of Euri Gold Farm, for his continued contributions to the association, and the Industry Recognition Award was presented to Luke Jurgens from NQ Aerovation, for excellence in innovation and emerging as a leader of local industry.

L-R: Minister for Agriculture Mark Furner MP, Mayor Julie Hall, BGGA CEO Ry Collins and BGGA President Carl Walker

L-R: BGGA CEO Ry Collins, Grower recognition award recipient Dale Williams and Minister for Agriculture Mark Furner MP. Photos supplied

Read More

Local Swimmer Awarded QLD Swim Champion

September 14, 2023

Year 12 St Catherine’s Catholic College student Jy Parkinson has reached new heights, representing the school at the National School Sport Australia Swimming Championships.

Travelling to Sydney for the competition, Jy competed in five individual swim events and made five finals, which brings him into the top ten of school swimmers in Australia, in the 17–19-year-old male division.

Jy was also awarded the Queensland Male Swimming Captain and represented 163 Queensland swimmers with speech at the Championships opening ceremony.

Jy’s records include:

200 metre Butterfly in 2.11.29 with a PB of 1.30 second finishing 4th in Australia.

50 metre Butterfly in 26.73 with a PB 0.11 second finishing 5th in Australia.

100 metre Butterfly in 58.83 with a PB 0.26 second finishing 4th in Australia.

50 metre Backstroke in 28.01 with a PB 0.04 second finishing 6th in Australia.

100 metre Freestyle in 54.26 with a PB 0.24 second finishing 5th in Australia.

Jy was also a part of two Queensland relay teams, with the 100 metre Freestyle placing 5th and the 50 metre Freestyle placing 4th.

Jy Parkinson travelled to Sydney to compete in the National School Sport Australia Swimming Championships. Photo supplied

Read More

Leading Disability With Local Tourism Operators

September 14, 2023

Local tourism operators from across the region have learnt how to be champions of change by participating in a workshop to upskill their knowledge levels to create more accessible, disability-friendly workplaces.

The Accessible Tourism workshop, held at Coral Sea Resort last Friday, saw representatives from seven different local entities attend the event.

Rick Hamilton, CEO of Tourism Whitsundays said the workshop provided a huge insight into the daily challenges people with disabilities are living with.

During the session, attendees experienced what it was like to live with a disability.

“By experiencing similar limitations for ourselves and learning from the Get Skilled Access team, we were able to better understand what information and facilities can help make life and travel easier," said Rick.

By providing participants with a unique perspective, they gained valuable knowledge and the insight required to inform accessibility and inclusiveness decision-making and championing change in their respective organisations.  

Get Skilled Access team members living with a disability showed participants what their lives are like by simulating workplace challenges for staff using wheelchairs, mobility aids and low-vision glasses.

This was a Department of Tourism, Innovation and Sport initiative which engaged Get Skilled Access and TravAbility to deliver the project.

Six selected tourism destinations were chosen, including Bundaberg, Capricorn, Gladstone, Mackay, Southern Queensland, and the Whitsundays.

Operators in attendance were Adventure Whitsunday, Cruise Whitsundays, Bowen Tourism and Business, Red Cat Adventures, Whitsunday Escape, Whitsunday Sailing Club, Tourism Whitsundays. Photo supplied

Read More

New Initiative For Reef Health Research

September 14, 2023

Local tour operators are once again doing their bit for the reef thanks to the newest iteration of the Tourism Reef Protection Initiative (TRPI) which is here and ready to deliver concise, balanced, and relevant information on the health of the Great Barrier Reef.

The Tourism Reef Protection Initiative (TRPI) is a program for tourism operators to commit to and deliver reef protection and conservation services, within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

There are 26 tourism operators involved in this Initiative and Cruise Whitsundays is one of them.

General Manager Adam Hosie said he and his team are extremely proud to be involved in such a worthwhile initiative.

“With over 2,900 individual reefs making up the Great Barrier Reef, the involvement of tourism operators in supporting the Reef Authority’s monumental efforts to preserve and protect one of the planet’s most significant natural wonders is vital to success,” he said.

Cruise Whitsunday’s Marine Biologist Jemma Simpson said the increase in resourcing for our in-water survey team will make a huge difference to the resilience of the sites at Hardy Reef.

“Reef surveys and data collection have always been a key priority for Cruise Whitsundays. Happily, now through the additional funding thanks to the Tourism Reef Protection Initiative, we have been able to increase resources,” she explained.

“This project has allowed us to allocate more dedicated research days and expand the areas we monitor.”

By June this year, the Cruise Whitsundays team had conducted over 40 in-water survey days, with 188 RHIS (Reef Health Impact Surveys) completed.

“Our team has successfully removed three Crown of Thorns starfish and over 1,100 Drupella from our site,” said Jemma.

“Contributing to this initiative means that we are able to help protect our area of reef for the future.”

The project is funded by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, as part of the Australia Government’s Reef Protection Package, a $1.2 billion commitment.

$16.6 million has been allocated towards contracting marine tourism operators across the entire Great Barrier Reef network.

The Tourism Reef Protection Initiative team conducting Reef Health Surveys on Hardy Reef. Photo supplied

Read More

Lioness Escapes From Circus

September 14, 2023

June 2 1939 - Imagine this night seventy-four years ago. It was Tuesday and Sole Brothers Circus was in town. In those days, the tent was set up in the grounds on the corner of Main and Hinschen Streets, adjacent to the railway line.

As was the case, the lions and lion tamer, Mr Andrew Sole, opened the show. During the performance, an attendant accidentally left a gap in the tent while removing a trestle. Taking advantage of the situation, the lioness made a dash for freedom, going straight out the entrance and disappearing into the railway yard. With a packed house, there were fears of panic but the circus people assured the crowd to stay seated and the performance continued as if nothing had happened.

From thereon, most of the thrills happened outside the tent.

Tex Newberry, the “hot pie king”, had his cart parked on the roadway and the “Guardian” reported there were at least sixty people in the street. A group of young people gathered on the opposite corner from the circus had been jokingly discussing what they would do should a lion escape. John Maltby had declared with bravado that he would jump the nearby fence. Little did they know…

When the young men spotted an animal making its way from the tent, they thought it was just a dog until the alarm was given that it was indeed a lion. Everyone was looking for a safe place. Some scrambled onto lorries. And John did jump that fence – from a standing position! He was then able to open the gate and escort everyone to safety. Other reports relayed the story of a chap who was extremely intoxicated and on realising that it was a lioness and not a dog he was about to pat, sobered up immediately and took off. Oblivious to all the commotion, the lioness made its way over to the sugar mill where, in the darkness, another unsuspecting man mistook the animal for a dog until it let out a deep growl. He too made a beeline for safety.

By this time, with the aid of police, the circus people had organised a hunt. The police, who were having difficulty finding batteries for their torches, armed themselves with .303 rifles. Other civilians helped, including Mr Jack Ashton who was visiting from Mackay.

Jack came to Australia with the famous Buffalo Bill Circus about 1915 and decided to stay. He resided for many years in the Gregory area. Jack had amazing dexterity with the whip, rope and throwing knife and was a remarkable sharp shooter. When the lion was located, he lassoed it, however the rope was light and the animal charged, broke the rope and headed off into the cane paddock.

For two hours, the lioness eluded the search party until she was discovered near the fowl house in Mr Jim Perry’s yard – perhaps in search of food. The circus people were alerted and help soon arrived. Eventually, the lioness was caught at Number 1 Main Street. This time Jack Ashton was successful with his lasso and a large rope net was thrown over the lioness and she was carried back to her cage. Had that not been the case, Mr Sole had instructed Sergeant McLeahy, that should the lioness become dangerous, he was to shoot it.

All the while, the enterprising Tex Newbury, who was still parked in the Main Street, was trying to drum up business selling his pies with the slogan, “Buy a pie before the lion gets you!”

Story and photo courtesy Proserpine Historical Museum.

Read More

Prawn Farm Expands

September 14, 2023

Our local prawn farm is expanding its operations and once construction is complete, it will be responsible for producing almost half the farmed prawns in Queensland.

Last year, the total Queensland aquaculture production of prawns was 8,728 tonnes and once operational, the new upgraded facility will produce an additional 3,650 tonnes.

This will effectively increase the overall farmed prawn production in the state by roughly one third.

Due to begin by mid-2024, the Stage 4 expansion will be located at the existing facility between the Gregory River and Eden Lassie Creek, Edgecumbe Bay.

The expanded facility will provide for an additional 210 hectares of production ponds located immediately to the south of the existing ponds, utilising the existing intake and discharge infrastructure.

In addition, approximately 59 hectares of water treatment ponds and supporting infrastructure are proposed to be built as part of the project.

“The scale of the proposed Stage 4 is considered significant at the local, regional and state levels, and will supply the growing demand for sustainably produced protein,” said a spokesperson for De Costi Seafoods.

The company has already obtained the relevant planning and environmental approvals from both the Queensland Government and Local Government for Stage 4 of the project.

Final Federal approval is expected to be obtained early in 2024.

Stage 4 of Proserpine Prawn Farm will be underway next year. Photo credit: Declan Durrant

Read More

Bowen Golf Report

September 14, 2023

Wed 30 August – Single stableford played both men and ladies.

Ladies’ winner on a countback was Roslyn Tilden 36pts, runner up Judi Morris 36pts.  

Men’s winner was Toss Eisemann 41pts, runner up on a countback David Insch 38pts.

Saturday 2nd September – Men’s September monthly medal.

Winner on a countback was Jeff Jackson 64 nett, runner up Walter Maguire 64 nett.

Sunday 3rd September – Ladies September monthly medal.  

Winner on a countback Margaret Need 67 nett, runner up Judi Morris 67 nett.  

Congratulations to the following Bowen players on their achievements in the opens held recently around the region:

Marcus Yasso on winning the boys 18-hole event at the Bowen Junior open held on Sunday 27th August and the Mystic Sands Junior Open held on Saturday 9th September – 3 over par score, well played.

Jeremy Chrzanowski on his good performance at the Ayr Mens open held on Sunday 3rd September – Gross runner up.  

Over the weekend, the Bowen men played their Club championships.

After playing 54 holes for the weekend, the Club champion for 2023 is Jeremy Chrzanowski – 192.

B Grade Gross winner James Miller 215.  A grade nett winner Daniel Borgh.  

B grade nett winner Lester Keller.  

The C Grade players played 36 holes over the weekend.  

Gross winner Jeff Jackson 193, runner up Fred Tammist 194.  

Contributed with thanks to Grace Nott.

Read More

Matilda The Musical

September 7, 2023

Kicks Off At Cannonvale State School Tonight

Hundreds of excited students are busy practicing lines and rehearsing their moves ahead of this evening’s first performance of Matilda Jr the Musical at Cannonvale State School.

An adaption of the Roald Dahl book and multi-award-winning stage performance written by Dennis Kelly and Tim Minchin, the show will be full of music, dance, fun, laughter and of course many hilarious moments when Mrs Trunchbull’s antics cause chaos.

Saskia Hoey from Year 5 plays the scary principal, Mrs Trunchbull, and says she was thrilled to be given the part after participating in two previous school musicals.

“I am really looking forward to seeing everyone have a good time!” she said.

Willow Hammond, who plays Matilda, says she was surprised to be picked for the main role.

“I love singing and acting so I thought I’d go for one of the mains, but I was so surprised to get Matilda,” said Willow.

“I love being on stage, not just dancing, but acting too.”

The famous cake eating scene features Year 6 student, Cruze Nahas, who plays Bruce.

“It’s been great being part of the musical because I have really conquered my fears, I get really nervous, but I love singing!” he said.

Torben Bradley plays Eric and divulged that he decided to be part of the musical because his sister bet him $50 he wouldn’t get a part as a main.

Delighted to prove her wrong, Torben loves his role where he gets Mrs Trunchbull to drink a newt.

One of the most famous scenes is undoubtedly the moment that Amanda Thrip is swung around by her pigtails.

Mia Berry plays this character and said she loved the whole experience.

“I love the whole thing and practicing with everyone, and all the sets have been amazing,” she said.

“It’s my first time as a main and I love singing!”

Meanwhile, Brodie Lambie from Year 6 plays Nigel, the young boy who gets covered in a blanket of coats.

“I’ve always wanted to be a main and this is the year!” He said.

Willow Thompson is Hortensia and, having watched her three sisters perform in musicals over these years, is thrilled to have an exciting role.

“I love having a microphone and being on stage – it’s really cool!” she said.

Evie Berry from Year 5 plays Lavender and says she loved meeting all the mains.

Charlotte Behnck said her favourite part was spending time with friends and making new friends.

With Director Angel Kanniah at the helm and a sea of other teachers, parents, and volunteers all behind the scenes, the musical is bound to be a huge success.

Willow Hammond plays Matilda and Saskia Hoey plays Mrs Trunchbull in the incredible Matilda Jr the Musical which debuts this evening. Photo credit: Rachael Smith

Willow Hammond, who plays Matilda and Saskia Hoey who plays Mrs Trunchbull, lead the show at Matilda Jr the Musical. Photo credit: Rachael Smith

The main characters starring in the show

Cannonvale State School preps love performing in their first show as the ‘Miracles’ in Mummy Says I’m A Miracle

Read More

Accused Bogie Shooter Defends Himself

September 7, 2023

The man accused of killing three family members in Bogie, west of Bowen, last year has attempted to represent himself at court this week saying that he was unable to get legal aid because he was told he didn’t have enough paperwork.

On Tuesday Darryl Valroy Young appeared in Bowen Magistrates Court and his case was adjourned until next Tuesday.

It has been over a year since he allegedly murdered married couple, Mervyn and Maree Schwarz along with Maree’s son Graham Tighe.

Maree’s other son, Ross Tighe, was also shot but managed to escape, driving over 40 kilometres to raise the alarm.

Mr Young appeared by video link from Townsville Correctional Centre on Tuesday and an ABC News court report stated that he tried to represent himself because he was refused legal aid as he didn’t have enough paperwork.

The matter was adjourned once again, but Acting Magistrate Ron Muirhead told Mr Young he could not continue to delay.

Read More

Editor's Note

September 7, 2023

Hi Everyone,

It is so wonderful to hear that the Proserpine Whitsunday Uniting Church has raised $250,000 in their Brick By Brick campaign to fund the rebuild of their church.

To think this massive sum of money was raised in just four weeks, however, is astounding!

From individuals purchasing one brick to larger entities buying 250, the whole community has come together, getting behind this important building that not only holds church services but also provides a local hub and meeting place for all to enjoy.

While less and less people identify as being religious these days, Christianity remains the biggest religion in Australia, at 43.9 per cent of the population according to the Bureau of Statistics 2021 survey.

I come from a mixed family, my dad a staunch atheist and my mum a practicing Christian.

When my mum and I are together, I attend church with her every week, but I have to confess, when she’s not here to keep me honest, my attendance slips.

Despite this, I love the inclusivity of the Christian Church and always try to live by its morals.

I think that’s what I love most about love the concept of the new building that will become Proserpine Whitsunday Uniting Church.

It is not just a space for practicing Christians, it will be open to all denominations, and it will become a central location where everyone in the community feels welcome.

And while it will of course always be a sacred space, it will also be a gathering place for merriment and celebration, a venue for everyone to get together.

This means that, while many of us do not attend church on a weekly basis, it will still play an important role in all our lives.


“My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness” (Dalai Lama)

Read More

A Wedding Ring Miracle

September 7, 2023

When a honey-mooning couple embarked on an underwater adventure in the Whitsundays, they never dreamt that their day would become part of a lifelong memory, and not just for the incredible marine life they saw.

It was while snorkelling in Saba Bay, that the groom’s ring had somehow slipped off and disappeared into the water.

Distressed and disappointed, the couple’s only option was to return to the mainland, thinking the wedding ring had been lost forever.

“They were very casual but you could tell they were upset,” said Nicole Rosser from ZigZag Whitsundays.

“When items get lost under the water, they don’t often come back, but when our crew returned to the same spot the following day, they were determined to have a look.”

ZigZag regularly complete environmental surveys of the reef and so they used the opportunity to scour Saba Bay for their studies and also to try and find the ring.

Miraculously, the ring was found glittering on the seabed sometime later.

“The crew were absolutely astounded!” said Nicole.

“And when we told the couple they were happy, stunned and appreciative – fortunately, they were still in town and were able to meet the boat at the jetty, collecting the ring just 15 minutes before they had to leave for the airport!”

“Your special moments are our special moments too. We're more than just a tour—we're a community, and we take care of each other.”

Wedding ring retrieved from the ocean and returned to the happy honeymooning couple. Photo: Supplied

Read More

Songwriter Festival Success!

September 7, 2023

International Artists Inspire At Special Event

The annual Whitsundays Songwriter Festival and Residency has concluded, following a massive success with a sold-out performance event at Paradiso on Saturday evening.

With headliners Mark Sholtez, Toni Childs, and Vika and Linda joining as the professional mentors, 11 aspiring songwriters engaged in a week of dedicated support and encouragement, producing music with their idols.

The culmination of the event was the Concert and Conversation showcase, held at Paradiso Restaurant on Saturday evening, where each aspiring songwriter was given the stage to perform an original song they’d developed over the week to a live audience.

Karen Jacobsen, Co-Founder of Whitsunday Songwriter Festival and Residency said the week helped aspiring songwriters develop their original music alongside professionals that have been involved in the industry for years.

“The mission of the festival is to create and support a new generation of songwriters, and make opportunities for regional Australia, that big cities have,” she explained.

“We bring these industry connections to the regions and create a thriving hub of music and song writing here in the Whitsundays.”

On the final evening, all the songwriters performed two songs together and two songs developed during the residency.

“Brand new music is always exciting, and these songs were quite raw,” said Karen.

“One celebrated music and the art of songwriting, the other was about heartbreak, the age-old topic for all.

“It was a wonderful evening and the audience was moved to tears.”

Karen explained that each artist on the residency created new music, with even the mentors writing new songs we can expect to hear in upcoming albums.

Vika Bull, Toni Childs, Karen Jacobsen, Mark Sholtez, Francesca de Valence, and Linda Bull. Photo credit: Bronte Hodge

Read More

Intoxicated Driver Arrested Following Fatal Car Accident

September 7, 2023

A 43-year-old Proserpine woman has been charged, following a fatal car accident which occurred when her ute crossed onto the wrong side of the road and collided with a station wagon, on Strathdickie Road, on the evening of August 20.

A 67-year-old Dingo Beach man was the driver and sole occupant of the station wagon and unfortunately died at the scene.

The Proserpine woman was taken to Townsville Hospital and was later charged with dangerous operation of a vehicle causing death while adversely affected by an intoxicating substance.

So far this year Mackay and Whitsunday Police have intercepted over 670 drink drivers across our region, which is a similar figure from this time last year.

“Traditionally we see an increase in the drink driving offences as we approach Summer and the Christmas holidays,” said Shane Edwards, Senior Sergeant of Highway Patrol Mackay.

“Drink Driving is a significant contributor to the fatalities on our roads in Queensland with over 30 per cent of drivers and riders involved in fatal traffic crashes being over the legal limit.

“Alcohol impairs a drivers/riders reaction time along with their ability to make smart decisions.

“We have had 13 deaths on our Districts roads in 2023 and drink driving is being investigated as a contributing factor in around 50 per cent of those incidents.”

Mr Edwards and the Mackay Whitsunday Police urge drivers to not drink and drive.

“Have a designated driver if you plan on going out with friends

“If you see that friends have been drinking don’t let them drive, you could be saving their lives as well as other members of public.”

Read More

BRICK BY BRICK $250K Raised In 4 Weeks

September 7, 2023

Community spirit has far surpassed even the wildest of dreams of Proserpine Whitsunday Uniting Church whose Brick By Brick campaign has raised an astounding $250,000 in just four weeks.

This exceptional community effort means that the construction of the new church could begin early next year.

“We need the contract to be signed by mid-November and now that we have the funds in place we will be approaching architects and consultants in the next few weeks,” said Reverend Suzy Sutton.

“Builders can be looking out for tenders from October and contracts will be signed by the end of that month!”

Steeped in history, a church has been located at the corner of Main and Herbert Streets in Proserpine since 1899 when local families worked together to construct the building.

It is only fitting now that the community have pulled together once again to continue this legacy.

Irreparably damaged in the 2017 Cyclone Debbie, the Uniting Church was demolished in 2021.

Since then, the congregation has worshipped at a temporary location, a community hall at the end of the street.

Launching the Brick By Brick fundraiser on August 1, the community were encouraged to participate in the much-needed rebuild.

Individuals could become Community Champions and purchase a “$100 brick” and larger entities could scale right up to “Platinum”, purchasing 250 bricks for $25,000.

Rev Sutton said that she was thrilled to find out at least three platinum sponsors had come on board, but that all the individual sponsors were just as appreciated for their kind and supportive gestures.

“This amazing result means we can step forward confidently,” she said.

“We can’t believe it and all we can say is praise God!”

While Rev Sutton says she cannot wait to see the community enjoying the facility.

“The church will be multi-purpose and provide a space for many,” she said.

“It will be a hub for social life, dinners, meetings, families, markets and concerts.”

The old St James Church before it was demolished in 2021. Photo supplied

Read More

Trail Fest This Weekend

September 7, 2023

Endurance athletes from around the country are flocking into the region this week ahead of the Accom Whitsunday Trail Fest which is due to kick-off on Sunday morning.

With a variety of off-road racing events, the Trail Fest offers something for everyone, from beginners and children all the way through to experienced athletes looking to bring home a trophy.

Organised by the Whitsunday Running Club, the event is now in its 18th year and 2023 is expected to be another huge event with 120 participants registered.

Race Director Andrea Farley said she is thrilled to see competitors come from around the country and even some international guests attend this year.

“Trail Fest is a great way to explore our national parks and celebrate our region,” she said.

“It a community event, supported by local sponsors and run by volunteers from the Running Club.”

The most ambitious race on the event day calendar is the 58-kilometre Shokz Ultra which is now in its sixth year and has become a popular challenge for members of the Australian Trail Running Community.

A traditional favourite is the 28-kilometre Accom Whitsunday Trail which started back at Trail Fest’s inception in 2005.

The original and still most popular distance, this race is a point-to-point run from Brandy Creek to Airlie Beach.

Current records are held by women’s champ Montanna Mcavoy who completed the trail in 2.37.06 hours in 2022 and men’s reining champ Sam Stedman who completed the trail in 2.29.44 back in 2021.

This race maintains its position as the Whitsundays preeminent off-road race, attracting trail runners from Australia and overseas.

While many of the events are challenging for experienced runners, there is also something for beginners and children, with a range of other events perfect for those wanting to give trail running a go.

The Honeyeater Ray White Challenge 10.5-kilometre challenge is quickly becoming a popular favourite trail run for beginner runners and, while it is a challenging run, ascending into the clouds towards the lookout, the view atop is as rewarding as the race.

Children are invited to enjoy a fun and lively race at the Tarkine Kids Beach Bash which runs along the Airlie Beach Foreshore to the Dugong then back towards the start and then another lap along the beach.

At approximately 1400 meters, the race is challenging but also achievable for children from 4-12 years of age.

The day’s event concludes with the popular Survivors Beach Bash which is open for participants who ran the 28-kilometre, 58 kilometre, or volunteers.

This fun run is a great way to celebrate the event and the first male and female will win lucky dip prizes.

Winners of each category will receive a medal and there are cash prizes for anyone who beats an existing record.

The community are also invited to come down and watch or participate on the day.


4:30am      Competitors for 58 km meet.

5:00am      START – 58 km race.

5:00am      Competitors 28 km meet.

5:30am      28 km bus leaves from Race Precinct to Brandy Creek

6:30am       START – 28 km from Brandy Creek

8:30am      Race Briefing for Honeyeater Challenge

9:00am       Honeyeater 10.5

10:30am     Kids Beach Run

1:00pm       Presentations

2:30pm       Survivors Beach Bash

Trail Fest organisers, Andrea Farley, Chris Harvey, Robyn Corrigan, and Liv Compton, Photo credit: Bronte Hodge

Read More

Bowen Developments At Community Catch-Up

September 7, 2023

Bowen was host to the latest Whitsunday Regional Council community catch-up last week, an initiative to allow the council to better connect with the community it services, build relationships and gain feedback on issues.

Meeting at the Bowen PCYC, Mayor Julie Hall welcomed 20 residents to discuss ongoing and upcoming Bowen projects.

Along with hearing from members of the community, discussion included bush fire preparedness, yellow crazy ants, the proposed closure for the Cape Edgecumbe Trails upgrade, the Muller Lagoon Park Masterplan results, and storm season readiness.

Mayor Hall and Councillors also fielded questions regarding the Whitsunday Airport Masterplan and amenities upgrades in the Bowen township.

The Community Catch-ups are an initiative of Mayor Hall and Councillors to open conversation in the community.

The next Community Catch-up is scheduled for Scottville on September 20.

Council encourages residents to visit the Your Say Whitsunday portal to propose ideas or suggestions for the next catch up.

Mayor Julie Hall at the Bowen Community Catch-Up last week. Photo supplied

Read More

Funding Community Health

September 7, 2023

Whitsunday Lions Presents Donations To Community Organisations

By Bronte Hodge

Raising $10,000 from their annual Charity Golf Day, the Whitsunday Lions have distributed the monies to three local charities, The Whitsunday Suicide Prevention Network, Whitsunday Counselling and Support, and Proserpine Hospital Auxiliary, in a special ceremony held at Whitsunday Green Golf Club on Saturday.

“We’re amazed at the amount of support we get,” said Allan Gravelle, a representative from Whitsunday Lions.

“One of the really important aspects of fundraising is the number of local businesses that come and contribute, and the businesses here are very generous.”

On the Golf Day held earlier this year, Whitsunday Lions saw over 150 competitors take to Whitsunday Green Golf Course, many of which were business teams.

$4000 from the day was donated to Whitsunday Suicide Prevention Network, which will fund counselling services, including post-suicide resilience counselling.

“It is really difficult to talk about suicide,” explained Matt Stokes, Committee Member of Whitsunday Suicide Prevention Centre.

“We are very grateful for this donation to help fund our counselling services to families post suicide.”

Whitsunday Counselling and Support were the recipients of another $4000 sum.

“We would like to thank everyone for this very generous donation,” said Leanne Althaus, Administrative Services Manager.

“We are going to put this money towards establishing a teenager room, so that teenagers who are victims of domestic violence and abuse are able to engage in counselling to recover from their trauma.”

Proserpine Hospital Auxiliary received $2000, to go towards much-needed equipment for the hospital.

“Over half of the equipment at the Proserpine Hospital has been supplied by different community groups,” explained Lola Moody, a representative of the Proserpine Hospital Auxiliary.

“This donation gives us the power to buy things to make patients more comfortable and make the strain on our nurses easier, so thank you.”

Whitsundays Lions encourages any community organisations to reach out if they’re facing tough times, as they endeavour to help wherever they can.

Whitsunday Lions donated funds to Whitsunday Suicide Prevention Network, Whitsunday Counselling and Support and Proserpine Hospital Auxiliary. Photo credit: Bronte Hodge

Read More

Zebra Crossings On The Cards For Airlie Main Street

September 7, 2023

Whitsunday Regional Council have opened a consultation period asking the community’s opinion on whether to trial seven pedestrian crossings on Airlie Beach Main Street.

This move goes in hand with a Main Street upgrade which will see the lagoon and foreshore receive new landscaping, line marking, repairs, improved lighting, and deep cleaning of pavements.

The decision to trial the seven zebra crossings came from feedback gathered from a consultation period in 2022, which reported a majority of participants were in favour of prioritising pedestrians on Airlie Beach Main Street.

“The move to a pedestrian priority is a follow-up from a consultation last year,” a Council spokesperson said.

“This consultation showed there was a lean towards improving pedestrian priority.”

The last major upgrade to Airlie Beach Main Street occurred over 10 years ago, costing about $25 million for the project.

The current pedestrian walkways have been in place since this previous upgrade, and have signage stating, ‘Pedestrians only cross when road is clear’, giving motorised vehicles right of way.

“This new consultation is to gauge the sentiment for the number zebra crossings,” the Council spokesperson said.

The consultation period will run all of September, and members of the community are able to suggest ideas or share feedback through the Your Say Whitsunday Portal, or to Council at their stall at the Airlie Beach Markets.

Seven new zebra crossings have been proposed, with the community encouraged to share their thoughts to Council. Photo supplied

Read More

Chamber Launches New Initiative

September 7, 2023

The Whitsunday Coast Chamber of Commerce is excited to announce its Vision for the Whitsunday initiative.

Employing a series of workshop style focus groups, the Whitsunday Coast Chamber of Commerce are working to better futureproof their economic projection for the Whitsundays, a projection that is informed by the region’s trades, small business, commerce, and industry.  

Chamber President Allan Milostic urges both members and the broader business community to submit their ideas and concerns for consideration.

“Having a united, clear vision of the future designed by business for business is urgently needed. “What follows is relevant advocacy, representing our vision and influencing decisions across all levels of government,” Allan said.

“Coordinated advocacy is highly valued by all levels of government, and the Chamber will ensure that Proserpine and the Whitsunday coastal business centres have a strong voice in the development of this pivotal project.”

With three key pillars of engagement, the official findings of this initiative will be shared at the Chamber’s inaugural Whitsunday Business Conference in May 2024.

Businessowners and individuals are encouraged to formally submit their options to better the region to the Chamber, complete a quick survey, both of which close in December, and join a series of focus groups, all occurring throughout September and October.

Read More

A Bloomin Good Time! At The Annual Proserpine Flower Show

September 7, 2023

The 81st Proserpine Whitsunday Uniting Church Flower Show and Fete has flourished once again this year, with over 350 attendees visiting Proserpine State School to browse the various entries, enjoy the entertainment and purchase homemade goodies.

The Flower Show is the Uniting Church’s main fundraising event and aids the everyday running of the church.

“It is truly a lovely day,” said Jane Bettridge, a Committee Member of the Proserpine Whitsunday Uniting Church.

“It’s a unique event, the way it brings all aspects together, from a performance by the nursing home, to school groups, and dancers.

“The flower displays bring so much joy, and afterwards, we give the flowers to the nursing home, and they get distributed into resident’s rooms and they put big smiles onto people’s faces.”

Photo credit: Bronte Hodge and Supplied

Read More

School Musical Gala Night

September 7, 2023

Whitsunday schools gathered together for a night of musical celebration, performing for the wider community at a special concert held last Friday night.

The 2023 Gala Concert welcomed friends and family to Proserpine State High School to showcase the musical abilities of students across the region.

The line up included the Bowen State High School Band, the Proserpine Citizen’s Band, and the Little Kids Big Band, which included Proserpine State School and Cannonvale State School students.

They were joined by a range of Proserpine State High School musical ensembles, including the School Band, Strings Ensemble, Soul Band, and N’Orleans Band.

Year 12 Art students from Proserpine State High School also painted artworks during a performance, letting the music fuel their creativeness and create a beautiful piece of art to celebrate the event.

Cannonvale and Proserpine State School Strings

Proserpine State High School Strings

Proserpine State High School Year 12 Art students. Photos supplied

Read More

Welcome Surprise For Lighthouse Walkers

September 7, 2023

Visitors to the North Head Lighthouse were greeted with an unexpected surprise, when Kenny the Kensington Pride Mango Mascot snapped pictures with them as they took the walk.

The North Head Lighthouse walk is a well-loved experience, attracting visitors from across Australia.

The surprise of Kenny was a welcome sight, with many visitors posing for photos before their trek.

Leanne Abernathy, Sales and Marketing Manager of Bowen Tourism and Business said it was wonderful to see people travel from all over Queensland to do the walk.

“We even saw former locals come back and walk to the lighthouse again,” she said.

100s of people took on the lighthouse walk, a local experience only possible at super low tides.

In order to walk to North Head Lighthouse, it is best to leave from Dalrymple Point, wear good protective shoes, and be sure to leave the lighthouse one hour before low tide.

“It was great opportunity to promote Bowen mangoes to visitors as the mango picking season is about to set off in November,” explained Leanne.

Kenny the Kensington Pride Mango has been with Bowen Tourism and Business for years and is a prominent local figure in Bowen.

Making appearances at local festivals and events, Kenny has also been featured on tv twice in 2023, showcasing the best of Bowen to the wider nation.

Kenny the Kensington Pride Mango greeting visitors at the North Head Lighthouse. Photos supplied

Read More

Collinsville’s Superstar Doc

September 7, 2023

Within the small community of Collinsville, the Collinsville Multi-Purpose Health Service (MPHS) looks after every single resident, making sure everyone is in good health and good spirit.

Overseeing the Health Service is Dr Myint Soe, the medical superintendent who has been at the helm for almost 20 years, and bringing with him extensive medical experience and history, spanning three continents.

Completing his studies in Myanmar more than 40 years ago, Dr Soe graduated in 1982.

Moving on to work in a military hospital as an intern, Dr Soe encountered a range of injuries, including many mass casualties from bomb blast injuries.

Finishing his internship, he began working with a surgical team, before moving to a Myanmar township as a GP for four years.

Afterwards, he decided to pursue further study in England for a time, before moving to South Africa.

For 14 years, Dr Soe practiced a myriad of different medical fields, including being the principal medical officer in an Orthopaedic Department for seven years, however he decided to move to Australia, and take a position in the Emergency Department at Redcliffe.

It wasn’t long, however, before a small town in the north was calling his name.

“I had a friend who was working in Ayr, and he told me that there was a vacancy here in Collinsville,” Dr Soe said.

“I started here in October 2004.”

Over the years, Dr Soe has seen the growth of Collinsville, and was rewarded with a nomination for a Royal Flying Doctor Service Spirit of John Flynn award in 2021.

Dr Myint Soe has been delivering exceptional medical care to the community of Collinsville for almost 20 years. Photo supplied

Read More

Councillor Column With Mayor Julie Hall

September 7, 2023

With our Whitsunday Coast Airport recording record numbers and cruise ship visits increasing with new cruise lines utilising our revitalised Shute Harbour Marine Terminal, Council is keen to ensure a better visitor in Airlie Beach.

Prior to the September school holidays our Parks and Gardens and Infrastructure teams will continue with their refresh of the Airlie Beach Main Street, lagoon and foreshore area with upgraded landscaping, new line marking, repairs and deep cleaning of the pavements, improved lighting, and minor repairs to ensure the safety of all our locals and visitors.

We will also consult further with our community for their feedback on how best to prioritise pedestrian movements in Airlie Main Street while also ensuring traffic flow for delivery trucks, taxis and buses are not hindered severely.

Our initial community consultation last year showed that a majority were in favour of prioritising foot traffic activity to make our main street safer for pedestrians.

Over the next four weeks, commencing Monday September 11, we will consult with our stakeholders and community for their feedback on the installation of zebra crossings via Council’s Your Say Whitsunday online engagement portal - https://yoursay.whitsundayrc.qld.gov.au/ and face to face with a stall at the Airlie Beach Markets.

Stage 1 of the upgraded Airlie Beach Boardwalk was completed in June and Council is now preparing to undertake works on Stage 2.

Works will result in a closure of the Boardwalk between the VMR Boat Ramp and Shingley Drive from 11 September to early December in time for the Christmas holiday period (approx. 13 weeks, subject to weather).

During the closure, a detour will be available behind Mirage Whitsundays Apartments, via Altmann Avenue and Shingley Drive.

Keep up to date on this and all Council projects via our Your Say Whitsunday project page - yoursay.whitsundayrc.qld.gov.au.

As mentioned above our airport is smashing records so we are undertaking a review and update of the Whitsunday Coast Airport (WCA) Master Plan 2015.

The Master Plan is used to strategically guide the development and expansion of the airport and a review is now practical following the recent and significant growth in passenger numbers and aircraft traffic.

Submissions from interested parties have been received and a report is being compiled and will be placed on Council’s Your Say page on our website.

Read More

Recognised For Excellence

September 7, 2023

Bowen telehealth coordinator Jennifer Aceret has been awarded the Non-Clinical Award for the great work she has done with the Mackay Hospital and Health Service.

“I didn't know I was nominated,” Jennifer explained.

Moving into the position seven years ago, Jennifer coordinates the telehealth appointments for Bowen, which has grown from five appointments a week to more than forty.

“I transferred from Townsville Hospital to Bowen Hospital because my partner and I decided to settle and raise our family - daughter Makayla and son William - in this beautiful little town,” she said.

“I was working in more of an HR admin role in the operating theatres in Townsville, doing payroll for 950 nursing staff.

“The role here in Bowen is more patient-based admin, and because the telehealth service was in its infancy when I started, I have had the opportunity to develop and create desktop procedural manuals and orientation/training manuals for clinical staff.”

Over the past seven years, Jennifer has moulded and grown the service, using her experience from managing a private GP practice for 20 years before taking up a position with Queensland Health.

“I feel overwhelmingly blessed to win this excellence award; it’s a highlight in my Queensland Health career,” Jennifer said.

“I want to thank Julie Minogue, our Director of Nursing, for her help and support, as well as all the current and past clinicians who are the backbone of the telehealth clinic and they make my job easy.

“I also want to acknowledge the virtual health team in Mackay for their wealth of knowledge and inspiration.”

Jennifer Aceret, Coordinator of Bowen Telehealth, has been recognised for her service to the Bowen community. Photo supplied

Read More

Tourism Awards People’s Choice

September 7, 2023
With Rick Hamilton

The Whitsundays Tourism Awards judging is underway this week, with ten dedicated judges from The Whitsundays and wider tourism industry are all reading, scoring and discussing the submissions put forward by 40 local businesses.

Released this week, is the lighter side of the Awards and one that everyone can get involved in – the People’s Choice Award.

This is your chance to vote for a business you’ve had a wonderful experience with or one you think is the most deserving of the People’s Choice Award.

The winner and runners-up will be announced at the Whitsundays Tourism Awards Ceremony on Friday 20 October.

Here are the businesses you can vote for are:

• Accom Whitsunday

• Bell Tents Whitsundays

• BIG4 Adventure Whitsunday Resort

• Elysian Retreat

• InterContinental Hayman Island Resort

• Magnums Accommodation Airlie Beach

• Mirage Whitsundays

• Phoenix One

• Pinnacles Resort

• Queens Beach Tourist Village

• Tasman Holiday Parks Airlie Beach

• Bowen Tourism and Business

• Cruise Whitsundays

• Driftwood Tours

• Grand View Hotel

• Great Barrier Reef Festival

• Iconic Whitsunday Adventures

• Kiana Sail and Dive

• Little Fish Tourism Development Consulting

• Ocean Rafting

• Scamper Island Camping & Water Bikes Whitsundays

• SeaLink Whitsundays

• Shute Harbour Marine Terminal

• Whitsunday Coast Airport

• Whitsunday Segway Tours

Voting is open until 11:59pm Friday 15 September.

If you haven’t purchased your tickets for the Whitsundays Tourism Awards, get them organised soon via whitsundaystourismawards.com.au

Read More

George Celebrates 102nd Birthday

September 7, 2023

One of the oldest surviving World War II veterans in the country celebrated his 102nd birthday at the Proserpine RSL on Sunday Afternoon.

George Gnezdiloff was surrounded by friends, family and even strangers that took the time to stop-by and congratulate him on his most recent lap around the sun.

Councillor Jan Clifford attended the event to wish him well and his two daughters and their two cousins jointly hosted the lively spread for over 50 guests to enjoy.

An accomplished World War II veteran, George spent many years serving in the Australia Air Force as an aircraft wireless operator.

While abroad on the war effort, he met his wife Mary Savage, in Millom England, at a dancing hall.

He thought she was the most beautiful dancer in the building and vowed to marry her.

Engaged for a short time, Mary called off the wedding and left George.

Fortunately, she soon changed her mind and returned to George, following her heart, and moving to Australia to be with him.

In January 1946, George was officially discharged from the Air Force and worked odd jobs before Mary arrived and the pair travelled to Townsville, where George’s family lived.

In Townsville, George re-trained as a Health Inspector and was offered a position in Barcaldine.

It was in 1952 that George and Mary’s first child, Robert, was born. The young family then moved to Mareeba, where George was Health Inspector, Building Inspector, and Plumbing Inspector for 20 years, before the family decided to relocate to Proserpine.

The couple went onto to have five children, three boys and two girls, with numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren having now followed.

Moving to Proserpine in 1971, George was employed as the Chief Health Surveyor and Building Inspector for 15 years, until his retirement in 1986.

A prominent figure in Proserpine, George was instrumental in the construction of the Proserpine Nursing Home and has continued to be active in the community.

Sadly, Mary passed away in October 2015, aged 89.

For the past two years, George has resided at the Proserpine Nursing Home and, as the driving force behind its creation, now reaps the benefits of seeds planted many years ago.

Proserpine local George Gnezdiloff turned 102 over the weekend. Photo credit: Rachael Smith

Councillor Jan Clifford wishes George a happy birthday.

Read More

Humble Contributions By Local Lady

September 7, 2023
By Bronte Hodge

For Jane Bettridge, a quiet retirement was something that she steered clear of, instead filling her time giving back to the Proserpine and Whitsundays community as much as possible.

In her working life, Jane was a primary school teacher, teaching the youngest of our youth for years before she moved into retirement.

“I got grade two in my second year of teaching, and I loved it. It was my niche, I had so much fun. I never taught higher than grade three ever again,” Jane explained.

Moving back to the area in her retirement, she was looking to give back to the community that raised her in her youth.

Aligning with her values, the Whitsunday Proserpine Uniting Church was the perfect fit for her.

“It just happened, that I was on the committee. I accidently wound up on the church council as their marketing person,” Jane said.

“Somebody thought it was a great idea!

“Sometimes I think God has a very strange sense of humour, but it’s been a vertical learning curve.”

During her time as the church’s marketing guru, she has overseen the massive fundraising effort of the Whitsunday Proserpine Uniting Church Brick by Brick campaign, with the goal to fund the rebuilding of their church.

When she’s not focusing her energy on the church, Jane loves volunteering with Whitsunday Lions Club.

She began this connection following Cyclone Debbie in 2017, helping with the kitchen effort and feeding emergency services as they helped in the aftermath and clean up.

Now, she has turned her sights to the Lions Youth of the Year Program, being the local coordinator of the Whitsunday Lions.

In this role, she overlooks the program, mentoring the local youth with their confidence in public speaking.

At the end of the program, the youth present two speeches, and one impromptu speech.

“The impromptu questions are difficult, but not impossible, and the children are amazing.

“The Youth of the Year is something that reminds me that the world is in great hands, because they are truly inspiring.”

For both organisations, Jane is integral to core programs and projects, solidifying herself as an invaluable community member.

“It’s just so humbling to be a part of these things, but there are many other people in town who do more than I do.”

Jane’s humility and passion drive everything she pursues, and she is a force to be reckoned with.

In the final stages of the Whitsunday Proserpine Uniting Church Brick by Brick campaign, she is excited to witness the construction of the church, as well as begin the 2024 Lions Youth of the Year planning.

Jane Bettridge services the Proserpine and Airlie Beach community every day, contributing to better the area. Photo credit: Bronte Hodge

Read More

Full Throttle This Weekend

August 31, 2023

Helmets are on, engines are revving, and the dusty ground is about to shake when over 400 bikes, buggies, and trophy trucks take on the Don River Dash next weekend.

Now in its 5th year, this popular offroad race is now commonly considered to be in the top three races of its kind in Australia, alongside the Finke and the Hattah.

One of the nation’s best and toughest competitions, The Dash is the brainchild of motorsport royalty, Talbot Cox and Michael Marson.

Supported by the Whitsunday Regional Council, local industry and tourism organisations, the Don River Dash also entices visitors to the region, boosting the local economy.

Mayor Julie Hall said Council is proud to provide assistance to Bowen’s Don River Dash, now one of the most anticipated events on the annual calendar.

“The Don River Dash is the pinnacle of off-road racing in our region, and it has continued to grow in popularity since the first event in 2019,” Mayor Hall said.

“It puts Bowen and the Whitsundays on the map and importantly, gives our region a major economic boost throughout the three-day event.”  

Over 5000 spectators are expected to pack the sidelines and the whole community will be buzzing with life over the weekend.

This year, the event will also be live streamed, so spectators both nationally and internationally can view the action.

It is hoped this will further establish the Whitsundays as a premier off-road racing destination and assist in attracting sponsors and competitors from around the world.

Jason Stewart, Race Team Director and Owner for STE Racing, said the Don River Dash was one of the three main races on the event calendar once they recruited Callum Norton to ride for the team.

“It’s up there with the best off-road/desert races, we are super excited and can’t wait” he said.

STE Team Rider, Callum Norton, placed 2nd in 2022 and said he is thrilled to be returning for another lap in 2023.

"I’m super excited to be heading back to Bowen for the 2023 Don River Dash,” he said.

“This will be my second time competing in the event, after finishing 2nd outright last year.

“I loved the event in 2022, everyone involved were super welcoming and all working hard to give the riders, drivers, and spectators the best experience they could.

“The racetrack is one of my favourites in the country. It’s fast, sandy, rough, and great fun to race on!

“Entries look awesome again this year, so I think it’s going to be massive two days with some of the country’s best desert, off-road and motocross riders going at it for the top spot!”

The event will begin on Friday, September 8 at the Bowen Showgrounds from 5pm.

Over the weekend, spectators zones will be set up along the Don River, offering the best views of the race and all the excitement. For locations and more details head to www.donriverdash.com.au.

WHAT: Don River Dash

WHERE: Bowen Showgrounds, 25 Mt Nutt Road, Bowen

WHEN: 8-10 September 2023

Read More

Editor's Note

August 31, 2023

Hi Everyone,

Youth crime seems to be rife at the moment, the latest incident involving a 12-year-old boy arrested for arson following a house fire in Jubilee Pocket on Tuesday afternoon.

This is just the latest in a series of crimes reported on over the past few months, several car-break-ins, trespassing, and robberies have also occurred, with many residents suspecting local youth, and uploading security camera footage to social media to prove it.

At the risk of sounding old and possibly out of touch – what is going on with the youth of today?

They have such a great life here in the Whitsundays – the beach is close by, there are skate parks, basketball courts . . . do we need more for them to do?

Statistics show that youth crime has increased drastically since COVID – are youngsters feeling despondent? Bored? Fed up with following the rules?

Or is it that they just don’t care because they don’t get in any real trouble when they get caught?

I was speaking to a business owner from the Burdekin the other day and he said that in his region youngsters are frequently stealing cars and leaving them abandoned.

The police know who the culprits are, let them off with a warning and the youngsters don’t care because their slate gets wiped clean when they turn 18.

It seems there are no real repercussions, and these young offenders feel they are above the law.

In my opinion, if they are old enough to wander the streets by themselves, old enough to think of committing the crime, then they are old enough to be punished by law for their crimes.

But I have to admit . . . if it was my kid out there who had fallen down the wrong path and got himself involved with a serious crime, I might very well feel differently.


Quote of the Week: “Aging is an extraordinary process whereby you become the person you always should have been” (David Bowie)

Read More

Youth Charged For Suspicious Fire

August 31, 2023

Jubilee Pocket

A 12-year-old boy has been arrested and charged with one count of arson, following a suspicious fire in an unoccupied house in Jubilee Pocket, on Shute Harbour on Tuesday, August 29.

Police and fire crews were alerted of the blaze at 4pm on Tuesday.

One Ambulance crew also attended the scene, with Queensland Ambulance Service reporting no injuries sustained.

The fire was quickly contained, with the house known to be unoccupied.

Police spoke with a number of juveniles present and charged one 12-year-old boy with one count of arson.

The boy will be dealt with under the provisions of the Youth Justice Act.

Dozens of people took to social media, commenting about the incident on popular site Whitsundays Chat.

“12 years old, great future ahead for this young lad,” said one post.

“Might be the wake-up call he needed,” said another.

“I feel sorry for the parents going through the stress of trying to do their best and now being judged by the community.”

The Australian Bureau of Statistics reports that youth crime has spiked significantly since COVID.

In 2019, there were just 18,353 youth offenders prosecuted, compared to 61,229 in 2022.

In the past year there has been a three per cent rise, but the most significant rise has been since COVID.

Two thirds of offenders are male.

In Queensland, youth detention rates are higher than any other state or territory, according to the Productivity Commission.

More than half of all the offenders convicted are re-sentenced within 12 months of release.

A suspicious house fire engulfed a Jubilee Pocket property. Photo supplied

Read More

Hidden Hero For Legacy

August 31, 2023

Legacy Whitsundays badge stand has been a staple in the local Whitsunday shopping centres for years, raising funds for local Legacy projects and programs.

However, in a turn of events, the Whitsunday Plaza has extended a fee to the group, charging them for their space.

In frustration, one local Legacy member, turned to Facebook, explaining that the Whitsunday Plaza, has previously hosted the Legacy group at no charge, allowing the group to use their site to sell Legacy badges and other memorabilia for the charity.

In 2022, the group were able to sell their badges with no fee, however this year, the centre’s new owners have moved to charge the group $600.

“This means more than half the money I would make would go to them,” explained the Facebook post.

“It is true some larger city Legacies have some paid staff, but not Mackay Legacy Inc.

“All monies raised in the Mackay and Proserpine Districts is spent in these areas.”

Fortunately, a helpful reprieve came in the form of another local, Jeff Aquilina, owner of at Hotel Group, who offered to front the fee, so that Legacy can continue with their plans.

Jeff came across the Facebook post and sympathised with the cause.

“I am not looking for too much fuss,” said Jeff.

“When I heard Legacy had to pay for the space, I felt this was very unfair given the marvellous work they do.”

Legacy Australia is an Australian not-for-profit organisation who supports families of ex-servicepeople who have lost their life or health in conflicts.

Read More

New Agility Equipment For Stirling’s Lasting Legacy

August 31, 2023

Excited dogs and their owners have been heading down to the Cannonvale dog park to sample the newly installed dog agility equipment that will now be a permanent fixture for all the community to enjoy.

A tribute to the beautiful spirit of Stirling Edwards-Bland, the young man who tragically passed away in a road accident last year, the equipment has been purchased with money given to his family in the immediate aftermath.

His mum, Tracy Edwards-Bland, said that they wanted to use the money to give back to the community and her son’s passion for animals and love for his own dog inspired them to create this new facility.

“It would have meant a lot to him,” said Tracy.

“He was here every day with his dog and he would sit on the floor and play with all the dogs, they all knew him, he’d probably be climbing through the tunnel with them now if he was here.”

A bitter-sweet day for the family, the new equipment will bring delight to lots of people, but in many ways will always be a reminder that their son is no longer with them.

Tracy said she comes to the park regularly and brings Stirling’s Bordoodle, Lloyd, and their new Groodle, Maggie with her.

“We’d like to say thank you very much to everyone who contributed, this is all down to you,” she said.

The fundraiser was initiated by local resident Kellie Chart and raised just over $14,000, a figure which happened to be almost exactly what the equipment cost.

Supplied by Paws4Play, the equipment includes a tunnel, three jumps, weave poles, and a bridge.

The installation also includes a dog-friendly water fountain with a special bowl.

Tracy said they will soon install a plaque with Stirling’s name and a QR code which people can scan to see a website full of photos and information about Stirling.

A passionate animal-lover who had aspirations of becoming a vet, the new agility equipment is a fitting way to remember this beautiful soul who was taken too soon.

Tracy Edwards-Bland with her two dogs, Maggie and Lloyd. Photo credit: Rachael Smith

Read More

Community Forum Boasts Good News For Region

August 31, 2023

Bowen was host to the third Mackay Isaac Whitsunday Regional Community Forum of 2023 earlier this week and attendees came together to discuss pressing issues of the region.

In particular housing availability, housing affordability, sustainable and resilient infrastructure, and workforce attraction and retention were hot topics of conversation.

There was also a presentation about the Queensland Procurement Strategy, which outlined that Queensland based business will be prioritised with an estimated $180 billion in government procurement, from 2023 until the Brisbane 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

“The forums provide an opportunity to represent the voices of our communities to government, and in return it enables our communities to contribute to effective input ensuring regional and rural Queensland is included in government’s priorities, planning, and decision making,” said Carl Walker, a Bowen Farmer.

Mayor Julie Hall said she was honoured to be a guest at the forum.

“As part of the forum I was invited to do a presentation showcasing the diversity of the Bowen region and address regional challenges and opportunities,” Mayor Hall said.

“I also participated in a panel discussion with local Bowen Business representatives and stakeholders to showcase how regional areas can make the most of economic growth and infrastructure opportunities to ensure regional communities can continue to thrive,” she said.

“The Bowen Marina and foreshore and the State Development area were discussed as two of our priorities for unlocking Bowen’s liveability and regional potential and of course housing and accommodation were hot topics.”

A fourth Mackay Isaac Whitsunday Regional Community Forum is scheduled for 2024.

Forum participants attending the Coral Coast Barramundi Farm. Photo supplied

Read More

Locals Supporting Locals Meals On Wheels Day

August 31, 2023

This past Wednesday was National Meals on Wheels Day, celebrating the service’s dedication and commitment to small communities across Australia.

The Proserpine Meals on Wheels branch has been servicing Proserpine, Cannonvale, Airlie Beach, Jubilee Point, Midge Point, and Cape Gloucester since 1974, handmaking and delivering nutritious meals to members of the community.

Maxine and Neil McLoed are a local Proserpine couple who regularly use the service, with Maxine previously volunteering for over four years before her health took a turn and she became a recipient instead.

The couple say they love the service, the cherry on top is the dedicated and friendly delivery volunteers who make sure to have a chat with them each time they visit.

“The volunteers are lovely, and I even remember my clients from when I volunteered,” explained Maxine.

Lyn Forden has been volunteering with Proserpine Meals on Wheels for six years now, and loves each and every time she sees one of the clients.

“It only takes two hours out of your day to make someone happy, for a visit and a chat,” she said.

Proserpine Meals on Wheels is always welcoming new volunteers, in all aspects of the service, including drivers, cooks, and helpers.

To enquire about volunteering, contact, Helen Maynard-Turner, the local Coordinator, on prosmow@gmail.com or ring 07 4945 1733.

Lyn Forden, Meals on Wheels Proserpine volunteer, with Neil and Maxine McLoed, celebrating National Meals on Wheels Day. Photo credit: Bronte Hodge

Read More

Run With Colour

August 31, 2023

This Child Protection Week

Get your old runners on and a white top, it’s time for the Whitsunday Counselling and Support Inc Colour Run Fun!

Encompassing a jumping castle, face painting, sausage sizzle, and so much more, this free event is happening next weekend.

“We’ve designed the event to have gentle and fun educational activities for everyone,” explained Alex Sambrooks, the Therapeutic Case Manager with Whitsunday Counselling and Support.

Coinciding with National Child Protection Week, Whitsunday Counselling and Support host the Colour Fun Run for the entire community promoting the moto, ‘Child Protection is Everyone’s Business’.

The Colour Fun Run is sponsored by a range of local businesses including Coral Sea Marine, Red Cat Adventures, Ocean Rafting, Cruise Whitsundays, Paddy Shenanigans, Whitsunday Foodservice, and Sundowner.

The Colour Fun Run is set to be the best one yet, so head to the Coral See Marina for a morning of fun next Saturday

WHAT: Colour Fun Run

WHERE: Coral Sea Marina Grassed Gardens

WHEN: Saturday September 9, 9am to 12pm

Read More

Over $105,000 Raised For Two Charities

August 31, 2023

2023 Mayor’s Ball Reaches New Heights

In a fantastic effort, the 2023 Mayor’s Annual Charity Ball has raised more than $105,000, this being the highest amount ever raised since the first Whitsunday Regional Council Mayor’s Ball in 2015.

RACQ CQ Rescue and Whitsunday Housing Company were the two nominated charities, each receiving $52,914.29 at a special presentation last week.

Mayor Julie Hall said she’s elated to have raised such a huge amount and the generosity from sponsors and the community is nothing less than remarkable.

“The decision to support these charities was simple, because ultimately, Council, RACQ CQ Rescue and Whitsunday Housing Company Limited all want the same thing. That is, to serve the needs of our communities,” Mayor Hall said.

“As a Council, we are focused on doing the best by everyone living, working or visiting the Whitsundays which includes keeping everyone safe.”

RACQ CQ Rescue CEO Tim Healee said the community was indebted to Whitsunday Regional Council for their support from the 2023 Whitsunday Mayor’s Ball which helped ensure the service was available to anyone, anywhere, anytime across Central Queensland.

“We are incredibly fortunate to have such vital support from such a high-profile partner which ensures we can have a world-class aeromedical helicopter service on our doorstep and available 24/7, 365 days a year to residents, workers and visitors across Central Queensland,” Mr Healee said.

“RACQ CQ Rescue is a vital part of emergency support for all in this region and the Whitsunday region is one of our most frequented destinations. It’s reassuring to know Whitsunday Regional Council really appreciates the value of supporting our helicopter and that with their commitment we can continue to provide our vital, lifesaving service to anyone in a time of crisis,” he said.

Whitsunday Housing Company CEO Joanne Moynihan said the generosity of everyone involved will help women in the community that have been impacted by all types of personal and financial challenges.

“Homelessness does not discriminate, and it can happen to literally anyone,” Ms Moynihan said.

“I am aware you have a lot of choices when it comes to donating, and I am so grateful that you chose to contribute to our cause. To all that attended the Mayor’s Charity Ball, it’s the people in the community like you that see the purpose of our cause and we appreciate you for doing that,” she said.

“This will ensure that we get closer to our goal to complete the work on our first Tiny Homes project.”

Mayor Julie Hall with RACQ CQ Rescue Sponsorship Manager Tegan Philpott and Whitsunday Housing Company CEO Joanne Moynihan, and Sandy Clark, Fundraising Coordinator of Tiny Homes Project, accepting the massive donations. Photo credit: Bronte Hodge

Read More

On The Beat

August 31, 2023

Unprovoked Assault

On August 27, police arrested a 50-year-old Cannon Valley man for assault occasioning bodily harm that they allege occurred in Airlie Beach. It is alleged he assaulted a 50-year-old man in an unprovoked assault. He will appear in Proserpine Court at a later date.

Wilful Damage

On August 22, a 48-year-old Cairns man was arrested and charged following an incident that occurred in Jubilee Pocket. Police have charged the man with wilful damage to an AirBNB, three drug offences, and obstructing police. He will face Proserpine Court at a later date.

On August 28, a 24-year-old Cannonvale man was arrested and charged with a count of wilful damage. Police allege the man damaged the phone of a member of the public while in the Safe Night Precinct.

Read More

Monthly Meetings For Whitsunday Councillors

August 31, 2023

Whitsunday Regional Council have decided to move to monthly Ordinary Council Meetings, rather than their bi-monthly meetings, for a more streamlined focus on strategy.

The monthly meetings begin in September, with the meeting scheduled for Wednesday September 27.

“The majority of Councils in Queensland have already moved to monthly meetings so this is a positive change that will enable more effective decision-making for councillors and better efficiency of time management for senior council staff,” explained Mayor Julie Hall.

“Councillors will still meet every Wednesday, whether it be for the ordinary council meeting, a strategic briefing day or our community catch-ups.

“The new monthly format will allow council to make the decisions it needs to in a timely manner and will allow Councillors more time to focus on the strategic conversation and direction of Council.”

Mayor Hall said Council can also call special meetings in addition to the once-a-month cycle if needed for urgent matters.

“My Council is committed to working smarter, faster and better for the community with a more forward looking and strategic focus which will assist in preparing the region for the future,” she explained.

CEO Warren Bunker said he believed the meeting changes, developed in consultation with the elected members and senior staff were a step forward for Council.

“The move to monthly meetings is in line with Council’s focus on becoming more agile and efficient to deliver better outcomes for our community.”

Read More

Tournament Of The Minds Held At St Catherine’s Catholic College

August 31, 2023

More than 80 students from four different schools participated in the Regional Finals of the Tournament of the Minds competition last Sunday.

Hosted by St Catherine’s Catholic College and held at the Secondary Campus’ Multi-Purpose Hall, the event saw 14 teams take part in the state-wide competition.

Topics included The Arts, STEM, Language Literature, and Social Sciences with each team allocated 10 minutes to present to the judges and perform a spontaneous challenge on the day.

Winners included: STEM - Secondary - Bowen State High School -Team 1 - The Tweety Birds

The Arts - Secondary - St Catherine's College Team 1- Circles in Circles

Language Literature - Secondary - St Catherine's College Team 4- Just Choose Sophie

STEM- Primary - St Mary's Primary School - Team 2 - Mission Possible

Language Literature - Primary - St Mary's Primary School - Team 3-Famous Five

The Arts - Primary - St Mary's Primary School - Team 6 -Kaddies

Social Sciences - Primary - St Mary's Primary School - Team 5- Old and New

All winning teams will attend the State Finals at St Cath’s on September 10, where presentations will be filmed and sent through to the Gold Coast for judging against the other state winners.

The College would like to thank teachers and organisers for their dedication with students in the lead up to and on the day of the event.

Students of St Cath’s tested their talents at Tournament of the Minds last weekend. Photos supplied

Read More

Trees Threatened In Council Permitted Clearing Works

August 31, 2023

A series of mature blue gums and rainforest trees are under threat of being cleared and removed, following the Whitsunday Regional Council initiative to approve an existing development plan on the land.

According to the Whitsunday Conservation Council, the removal of these trees would turn a section of Waite Creek, a natural creek, into a lined drain, as well as destroy the habitats of native birds and wildlife.

“This change to the plan, permitted by Whitsunday Regional Council, is an insult to our many community members who over the last 20 years, have been left to rehabilitate several other denuded urban creeks, using grants and volunteer labour to gradually restore the protective lining of vegetation that has been removed in the past,” said Jacquie Sheils, President of the Whitsunday Conservation Council.

“Unfortunately, the clear felling of Waite Creek Cannonvale is only one of the many instances in our community which have already taken place or planned. Residents are kept in the dark until it is too late, and the damage done.”

“We cannot afford to lose anymore green canopy in our urban areas and adjacent residential acreages,” said Ms Sheils.

A council spokesperson said that a small area of vegetation clearing has been required within the Whitsunday Lakes development to address flooding impacts to land in Reef Court from the southern gully.

“After works in a relatively small length of the creek are completed, the area will be revegetated, and the remainder of the southern gully will remain untouched,” the council spokesperson said.

“Council does not take the decision lightly to remove vegetation along waterways and these decisions must be balanced against risks to life and property.”

A small section of Waite Creek that is at risk of being cleared. Photo supplied

Read More

Variety Bash Crew Stops At Bowen’s Big Mango

August 31, 2023

Bowen’s Big Mango continues to attract travellers from all states as well as overseas and they include families, grey nomads, celebrities and people travelling in unusual vehicles.

An estimated 100,000 people stop by this iconic tourist attraction each year to have a selfie taken next to one of Australia’s favourite “big things”.

This week, the Queensland Variety Bash cars are on their way to Cairns – raising money to help disadvantaged children reach their full potential.

Many of the vehicles travelled from Mackay northwest to Collinsville and then back to the Bruce Highway to make their way north.

Some, however, travelled straight up the Bruce Highway from Mackay and the Simpsons Crew from Bash 1111 Car was one of those who stopped at Bowen’s iconic tourist attraction.

This crew set themselves a fundraising goal of $8.5k and they have already passed that, raising more than $11k to help kids in need.

Manager of Bowen Tourism and Business, Leanne Abernethy said the Big Mango team was excited to welcome the Simpsons Crew as they made their way north.

“We often have unusual vehicles and people dressed up in costume call in for a selfie – and we love it when they come into the Visitor Information Centre next door to chat to the team and enjoy a delicious mango sorbet,” she said.

“It is great to see people raising money for such worthy causes.”

The Queensland Variety Bash 2023 finished in Cairns on Thursday (August 24) and raised more than $1.5 million!

The Simpsons Crew from the Variety Bash’s Car 1111 called in at the Big Mango this week. Photo supplied

Read More

Chamber Chat

August 31, 2023

Customer experience, it is one of the most important things all the businesses in our region have in common. We are all working to ensure our customers feel important and appreciated and enjoy doing business or purchasing from us. We know that good customer service reputation and reviews are a major factor in attracting new business and delivering a great service experience will likely influence a return visit or purchase.

The Chamber is keen to start a conversation on the customer service within the Whitsunday business community. What are our individual and collective strengths? How do we train and support our teams to deliver great service? As a business community, what could we do collectively to help elevate and maintain a customer service culture that is the envy of the nation? We welcome your thoughts.

Business Boost Grants are a vital pillar of the Queensland Government’s Big Plan for Small Business strategy and grants of up to $20,000 are available with a total of $2.5M allocated this round. The grants can be used for activities that will provide growth through strategic business planning, implementation of cloud platforms and online management systems. Available from 6th to 12th September at www.business.qld.gov.au/businessboost

Vision for the Whitsundays – The research phase of our Vision for the Whitsundays project is now open. The project aims to articulate an economic vision for the Whitsundays that is informed by its business community. We invite businesses to have their say on what the Whitsundays of the future looks like, current major drivers of change and points of resistance, and what we need to do now to future proof our tomorrow. There are a few ways you can participate and share your view – make a formal submission to the project, complete a short three question survey, or attend a face-to-face or virtual focus group. Visit our website to learn more and have your say. The full report will be released in May 2024.

Our next Chamber event – Chamber on Tap – will be held 5:30pm-7:00pm Thursday 14 September at the Reef Gateway Hotel, Cannonvale. This event will showcase several business support services offered to the region by the Queensland Government Department of Youth Justice, Employment, Small Business and Training such as their Mentoring for Growth program, financial counselling service, wellness coaching, industry workforce advisors, and Back to Work funding. This event is open to all. Visit our website for more information.

Read More

Councillor Column

August 31, 2023

Jan Clifford

As we emerge from “winter” and embrace the wonderful spring weather, I encourage us all to take particular care as our scaley snake friends awaken from their winter hibernation. They are usually hungry and cranky so please keep your children and your pets safe. The forest is also a source of danger to those who suffer severe allergies so again please take care.

Council has resolved to move to monthly meetings commencing this month in line with most other Queensland Councils. It is the intent to spend more time on looking at the big picture issues rather than the short council meetings we currently have. The meetings will still rotate between Proserpine and Bowen and will be live streamed. The recordings of these meetings will be kept and available for the public to view on Council’s website.

On the 15th of August, Greater Whitsunday Communities held their Greater Whitsunday Housing Summit in Mackay. The summit was attended by the three Local Governments as well as social housing providers, bankers, developers, real estate agents, state government and the mining, tourism and agriculture sectors.

There were some robust and enlightening conversations and presentations during the day. These are being collated into a report and position paper that we can use to lobby the State and Federal Governments for funding. However, everyone agreed that there is a critical shortage of housing across the wider region and that worker and affordable rentals must be addressed as a matter of extreme urgency.

Ergon are undertaking important works that started on Monday the 28th of August until the 16th of September which will affect the Central Lagoon Carpark which will limit the parking available.

Council is preparing to undertake works on the next stage of the Airlie Beach Boardwalk, which will result in the closure of the Boardwalk between the VMR Boat Ramp and Shingley Drive for around 13 weeks, from 11 September to early December. The works will expand the boardwalk by approximately 1m and see the old boards replaced with a composite fibre material.

A detour will be put in place behind Mirage Whitsundays Apartments, via Altmann Avenue and Shingley Drive. I can’t wait to see the finished product and get back out and about enjoying our wonderful foreshore area.

Read More

Did You Know?

August 31, 2023

Waste or unwanted motor oil should not be put into recycling or rubbish bins as it is unable to be correctly processed or treated this way. Furthermore, waste oil that spills into collection trucks can ignite fires when in contact with hot surfaces, for example with the exhaust of the truck.

Instead, residents can dispose of up to 20L of waste oil for free at Council landfills as well as at the Cannonvale, Collinsville and Mount Coolon Transfer Stations.

Use a clean metal or appropriate plastic container with a tightly sealed lid to collect your oil before taking it to be recycled. Appropriate plastic containers must be made of polyethylene (e.g. the original motor oil container) and not an empty milk bottle for example.

Waste oil can then be refined through the correct systems into new oil, processed into fuel oils, or used as raw materials for the petroleum industry. By recycling our waste oil efficiently, we greatly reduce the hazardous effects it could have on our delicate environment.

For more information, visit the Waste and Recycling section of our website: www.whitsundayrc.qld.gov.au

Read More

Marketing Tips

August 31, 2023

With Laura Knipe, from Tourism Whitsundays

The Whitsundays is home to some of the greatest tourism products in Australia, but how do you make your business stand out in this sea of excellence?

Whether you’re a small or well-established business, these marketing tips will put you on the path to generating outstanding marketing.

Content: Get the attention your business deserves with a combination of jaw-dropping visuals and user-generated content.

Work with local content creators to create scroll-stopping videos and images or encourage your guests to capture, post, and tag content of your product.

Sharing the real, unedited experience is an equally powerful way to showcase your strengths.

Data: Where you can, collect information from your guests, such as their age, state, occupation, and travel group status (singles, couples, families, etc.) to target your advertisements.

Log into ‘Meta Blueprint’ to learn how to target your social media activity to your most active markets.

Differentiation: Figure out what makes you and your business unique and shout it from the rooftops.

Answer the question: ‘How are you different from your competitors?’ and make sure the answers are clear in your marketing communications.

Lastly, regional tourism organisations provide marketing support to all levels of businesses. Members of Tourism Whitsundays can be included in domestic and international marketing campaigns to receive coverage across a wide range of channels.

Read More

Picture-Perfect And Prize-Winning

August 31, 2023

Peninsula Airlie Beach Brings Home National Award

For the second year in a row Peninsula Airlie Beach has received national recognition as Residential Manager of the Year – Short Term Accommodation runners-up at the ARAMA awards held down in Brisbane last month.

This latest accolade adds to their already weighty trophy cabinet, having taken out top gong for the same award last year followed by an Excellence In Customer Service Award at the at the Whitsunday Tourism Awards 2022.

This inspiring list of achievements is especially impressive considering Managers Paul and Fran Tuddenham have only been in the industry for two years.

Originally from Robina, on the Gold Coast, the couple worked in Banking and Management for over 20 years before starting a Mortgage Broking Business which they also operated for 20 years.

When they came to Airlie Beach on holiday, they took a tour of Peninsula and fell in love with the area and its stunning sea views.

Taking the career change in their stride, the couple took on the management rights of the complex and have never looked back.

Two years on and not only have they won several awards, but they have also substantially grown the business in that time.

“We have 42 units, 26 of which are in the rental pool,” explained Paul.

“When we came here, we had 12 apartments and have since grown to now manage 23 of them which is amazing!”

Paul says that the location itself makes his job and growing the business easy as Peninsula is perfectly positioned just a short 1.5-kilometre walk from Airlie Beach and has stunning views of the Coral Sea.

“You can see sea turtles off the balconies in the afternoon and all units have balconies that look out onto the Coral Sea or Coral Sea Marina,” he said.

“We love living here and we love our job – it sounds a bit cliché, but we just love building the business up, building relationships with tourism operators and we are getting a lot of repeat business.

“We find that people just love the more personal accommodation and business is really good.”

One significant change that Peninsula has adopted recently is that the units are no longer available to party-guests, with bucks and hen nights strictly prohibited.

This has created an environment where people are assured of a relaxing, quiet holiday escape where they can enjoy the serenity of the location without external noise.

Paul and Fran have also been nominated for the upcoming 2023 Whitsunday Tourism Awards which are due to be held at the Proserpine Entertainment Centre in October.

They are hoping to take home another accolade, but if they don’t, Paul says living in such a beautiful location is reward enough.

“We love Airlie Beach, so many people haven’t even been here yet, but they should definitely come, and we will make sure we look after them.”

Paul and Fran Tuddenham, Managers of Peninsula Airlie Beach. Photo supplied

Read More

New Training For Nurses

August 31, 2023

Aspiring nurses of Bowen have been given the green light, with TAFE Bowen now offering the Diploma of Nursing in the Bowen Health Hub.

Replicating a real-life hospital environmental, nursing students at the Bowen Health Hub will be able to get hands-on training for the duration of the 18-month course which is set to start on September 25.

“In Bowen, the Diploma of Nursing will be delivered online with some face-to-face training,” explained Melanie Clarke, Community and Health Faculty Manager for TAFE Queensland in Far North and North Queensland.

“During the course, students will participate in several week-long residential training blocks to gain practical, hands-on skills.

“On campus, students will train in the purpose-built Bowen Health Hub using industry standard equipment and tools.

“To ensure they are work-ready when they graduate, students will also complete a minimum of 400 hours of vocational placement in a health care facility or hospital,” Mrs Clarke said.

The Diploma of Nursing will be offered as a Fee-Free course, meaning eligible students will receive the training for free.

“We know that for some people the cost of training can be a barrier to pursuing their career goals, so Fee-Free TAFE is a great opportunity for locals seeking training,” she said.

Mrs Clarke said Diploma of Nursing graduates can choose to pathway to university.

“Our graduates are highly sought after and can enter the workforce when they finish their course or use their diploma training to pursue further studies such as a Bachelor of Nursing at university,” she said.

To enrol in the Diploma of Nursing at the TAFE Queensland Bowen campus, visit tafeqld.edu.au or call 1300 308 233 today.

Read More

Editor's Note

August 24, 2023

Hi Everyone,

My mum is a bit of a conspiracy theorist. She was enthralled by the recent investigative book on the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines doomed 370 flight and regaled me with the theory that different governments knew about a package onboard and shot down the plane.

She is also a bit of a COVID sceptic and says that, if it was up to her, she would never agree to having a vaccine in her life. Despite this, she dutifully heads to the doctors each year for a flu jab and a COVID booster.

I like listening to her theories but am more a believer in the power of good than I am in corruption so prefer to be open to the debate until the facts prove otherwise.

Despite being happy to sit on the fence with these sorts of issues, I am a staunch advocate for the right to express our views openly and unapologetically, without the fear of discrimination.

And this is one of the reasons I love living in Australia – we are a young country with a fierce spirit and a largely accepting disposition.

Believing this, I was a little surprised when information about the ‘Forest of the Fallen’ (read on page 6) silent protest was removed from one of our local community chat pages within an hour of it being posted.

The protest showed photos of people who are believed to have died or been injured following a COVID vaccination.

Whether or not this information is 100 per cent accurate, I believe it still deserves a place in our narrative and the people behind such movements have a right to be heard.

While the government are able to promote the merit of vaccinations surely pro-choice groups such as the ones holding this protest ought to be given an open platform as well.


Quote of the Week: “Upon waking in the morning, consider the privilege it is to be alive, to have the ability to think, to experience joy and to feel love” (Marcus Aurelius)

Read More

Detrimental Move For Commercial Fishing

August 24, 2023

Government Moves To Ban Gillnet Fishing

By Bronte Hodge

The Federal Government has made the move to ban commercial gillnet fishing, a decision that will drastically impact over 90 licensed fishermen in the region.

Andrew Willcox Federal Member for Dawson said the decision came without consultation and allowed no rebuttal from affected fishermen, stating the supposed dangers that gillnets pose to marine life as reason behind the ban.

Willcox has addressed Parliament, voicing his concerns for commercial fishermen in the region.

“In June, a joint media release from Federal and Queensland Labor have said they’re going to ban gillnet fishing, no consultation with the community, no consultation with our fishermen, and short time frames! This is going to happen by the end of this year,” he explained.

Willcox believes this decision has a flow on effect that will harm chandlery and fishing supply stores, plus many more marine associated businesses.

“The boatbuilders, the repairers, they’re all going to go out of business. The outboard sales and service, going out of business,” Mr Willcox said.

Banning gillnets in Australia means that rather than being able to purchase locally sourced fish, consumers will only have the option of imported fish, or selected breeds that continue to be locally sourced but at an exorbitant price point.

“The wild caught fishing industry in Queensland deserves to be protected and deserves to be supported! The fishing industry is sustainable, and the fishery is in good condition!” said Mr Willcox.

For Kev Collins, owner-operator of Fish D’Vine Restaurant and Rum Bar in Airlie Beach, this ban would detrimentally impact his business.

“People travel to the Whitsundays and North Queensland for our seafood.

“This ban will mean we have no point of difference to other big cities,” he said.

“This indiscriminately disconnected decision will take the livelihood of hundreds of commercial fishermen, and dramatically spike the market price for the remaining available fish, and ultimately takes away from Queensland tourism.”

According to Mr Collins, in the 17 years since the fishermen have been required to remain with their nets, only seven dugongs have been killed, versus the 8.5 thousand killed over the same time period, in traditional Indigenous hunting that is allowed through the Native Title Act.

The gillnets in question operate at least 60 kilometres away from the Great Barrier Reef, and with the fishermen required to remain with their nets while in the water, the danger to marine life, particularly turtles and dugongs, is drastically reduced.

For these reasons, many people in the local fishing industry do not believe gillnet fishing should be banned.

Andrew Willcox, Federal Member for Dawson, fights for local gillnet fishers. Photo: Supplied

Read More

Wedding Day Rush

August 24, 2023

Usually organised mother-of-the-groom, Leanne Kettleton, woke up on Monday morning in a panic – it was the week of her son’s wedding, and she was completely unprepared.

Working out west for long periods of time, she had just returned back to her hometown of Airlie Beach, and life was suddenly catching up with her.

Feeling overwhelmed she began ringing around trying to organise different services in preparation for the wedding which was due to take place on the Thursday.

But this was taking some time, so she decided to “put it out there into Facebook world and see what came back!”

The post on Whitsunday Chat read: “So I'm going to be 'that guy' who has not got her s*** together for reasons I don't even know. My son is getting married in Airlie on Thursday and I need to make some bookings (yes I know it's only 3 sleeps away). Can businesses or private people who do this sort of thing only comment if you are available and can help. I have already started ringing around but am hitting some brick walls so thought I'd jump on here.”

Within a few hours responses had started flying in and by Tuesday evening Leanne had connected with eight different business, from Airlie to Proserpine, who had all jumped in at the last minute to help make the day special.

From platters to nails and eyebrows, make-up to transport services – everything was sorted and Leanne could relax and look forward to the day.

“It’s been wonderful!” said Leanne.

“I am so grateful to everyone in the community, I was so stressed out on Monday but now I feel organised and it’s all thanks to them!”

Read More

Your FREE Voice In Print


Locally Owned. Community Loved.

Subscribe Free