Whitsunday Region Community News

Council Backs Hospitality Industry

Council Backs Hospitality Industry

In a heated discussion at the Council Ordinary meeting last week the Whitsunday Regional Council voted unanimously to send a carefully worded letter to the Premier, passing on feedback about how the impending mandate, which is due to forbid any unvaccinated people from entering venues from Friday 17th December, will affect the hospitality industry.

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Following a lengthy approval process, the controversial 12-storey luxury resort complex at Port of Airlie has been given the go-ahead at the Whitsunday Regional Council ordinary meeting on Wednesday last week.

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Saddle Up And Be Resilient

Saddle Up And Be Resilient

In a very first for the Cowboys, the community owned club has joined forces with the Whitsunday Suicide Prevention Network to bring one of the very best mental health curriculums to the Whitsunday Region with the Resilience Project.

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St Catherine’s Catholic College 2021

St Catherine’s Catholic College 2021

There were more than 120 students presented with awards at St Catherine's Catholic College's annual Awards Ceremony last Thursday. Students who excelled academically, on the sporting field, culturally and who embodied the College's community spirit were rewarded for their efforts throughout the year in front of their peers, family, friends, and community members.

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Bowen State High School 2021

November 25, 2021

There were 84 students in the graduating class at Bowen State High School this year and they all gathered to celebrate their successes at the end of year formal which was held in the school hall last Friday.

Each graduate was able to invite two guests to join them in the festivities which kicked-off with a two-course dinner and was followed by dancing.

Earlier that morning a large school graduation ceremony was held with over 300 people in attendance as well as members of the senior school, teachers, and family members.

Mayor Andrew Willcox and his wife, Raylene, were also guests.

“It was a very moving and emotional morning, walking down memory lane from the past 12 months to 6 years at Bowen High,” said Mr Willcox.

“Thank you for letting me be part of this very special ceremony, once again congratulations and good luck for all that awaits you in your wonderful futures.”

A school spokesperson also gave the following statement.

“Congratulations to the Graduating Class of 2021. We hope you enjoyed your graduation evening with family, friends and staff of Bowen State High School. It's now time to start your journey as young adults. Bowen High is always here to support you in the future.”

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Proserpine Scout Group Farewells Group Leader

November 25, 2021

A long-serving Proserpine Scout Group Leader said farewell this past week, closing the curtain on 24 years of service to the Whitsunday scouting community.

Wendy Harm, who started scouting back in 1997, has finally stepped away from the scouts this October following her integral role in restarting the Proserpine Scout Group.

In 2017, The Scout Association of Australia’s Qld Branch, Central Coast Region were approached by several members of the Proserpine community to reopen the local scout group, which had been closed since 2010.

In November 2018, Wendy took on the role of Group Leader of Proserpine Scout Group and the ball really started to roll.

With the previous Scout Den damaged in Cyclone Debbie, Wendy met with the local Girl Guides and reached an agreement to lease their hut next to the Scout Den, giving the group a new home in Proserpine.

After years of hard work, and a few COVID delays, the 14th of September 2020 saw the first section night for the Proserpine Scout Group, with both Cub Scouts (8-11yo) and Scouts (11-15yo) attending.

Now, with the group thriving Wendy has decided to say farewell and continue her travels around Australia.

Written with assistance from Katrina Hoare, District Commissioner of Hibiscus Coast District, Scout Association of Australia, Qld Branch

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Rural Women Supported By Councillor Clifford

November 25, 2021

Local Councillor Jan Clifford has been reappointed for a second term as Director of the Board for National Rural Women’s Coalition (NRWC), a cause that she says has been close to her heart for many years.

“It’s a chance for rural and remote women to have a voice. We are not heard; it’s as though we don’t exist,” she said.

About 40 per cent of elected councillors in local government are women, which gives many of them the opportunity to give a different perspective on a wide range of issues.

For Cr Clifford, the main issues she feels are facing the Whitsundays are climate change and a housing shortage due to an increasing number of people from southern cities choosing to relocate to Queensland.

“The people from Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane are moving up to northern Queensland in droves and buying properties without even seeing them first,” she said.

“Covid has taught us that we can all live on Zoom or Teams.

“Why wouldn’t you want to live on the edge of the coral sea, overlooking the Whitsunday Islands than be in suburbia?”

Cr Clifford is joined on the board with representatives from across the country including the Australian Local Government Women’s Association (ALGWA), Australian Women in Agriculture (AWiA), Country Women’s Association of Australia (CWAA), National Rural Health Alliance (NRHA) and Women in Seafood Australasia (WiSA).

NRWC is the largest organisation representing and advocating on issues for regional, rural and remote women in Australia.

Image: Councillor Clifford

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A Scholarship In Laura’s Honour

November 25, 2021

The Zonta Club of the Whitsundays Inc. is offering a scholarship in memory of the late Laura Morrison to a young female student from the Whitsundays region and surrounds.

The Laura Morrison Memorial Bequest Scholarship will help young, aspiring female students with the costs associated with accessing a tertiary course of their choice.

Provided to a deserving student who, because of limited financial means or distance, would otherwise struggle to access the course of their choice, the scholarship is offered by Ms Morrison’s estate in her honour.

The award will be given to a student who has graduated from secondary school no longer than 18 months prior to the start of the academic year, and is for the amount of $2000.

The Zonta Club of the Whitsundays Inc. expressed that the ideal candidate should demonstrate certain qualities.

For one, academic promise and commitment to their education, as well as engagement with extra-curricular activities, and personal qualities consistent with Zonta values

The Zonta Club of the Whitsunday Inc. are seeking applications to be made to the club by 14 January 2022, with interviews to be held in late January 2022.

Applications should include a statement on the reason for making the application, a CV and a copy of an academic transcript.

Applications may be posted to the Club at PO Box 427 Cannonvale QLD 4802 or sent by email to Zontaclub7@hotmail.com.

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Redfrogs: A Helping Hand In Schoolies Success

November 25, 2021

The town centre of Airlie Beach has been buzzing with hundreds of fun-loving school leavers for the past week – their bright pink lanyards and youthful faces beaming as they celebrate the end of their high school careers.

The main event, held at Fairy Tree Park on the Foreshore, attracted 1400 youngsters who came from as far afield as Brisbane, the Sunshine Coast and Cairns.

A large contingent from Mackay and the Whitsundays were also present.

During the event there were 65 Redfrogs who kindly volunteered their time, manning the hydration station and supporting youngsters at the chillout safe zone.

A big part of their job is ‘hotel chaplaincy’, where volunteers check-in with youngsters at their accommodation, hang out, play games, and ensure their night gets off to a good start.

They also walk kids home at the end of the night and, in the mornings, they head to the accommodation and cook pancakes which are always a huge hit.

Matthew Reeves, Redfrogs NQ coordinator, said that they have seen big numbers this year.

“It’s been really good this year, they’ve all had a lot of fun!” he said.

“The kids have all been celebrating in a safe environment – it’s been really positive.”

Image: Matthew Reeves - Redfrogs NQ coordinator, Chris George - Redfrogs QLD coordinator, Margie Murphy from Airlie Events, Andy Gourley - Redfrogs CEO and Founder, Nigel Dalton - QPS

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New Knowledge For Whitsunday Growers

November 25, 2021

The Whitsundays is set to receive a dedicated Regional Development Officer who will work with local vegetable growers to help them innovate, streamline processes, and create new pathways to benefit the industry.

The Bowen Gumlu Growers Association (BGGA) has formed a collaborative agreement with Hort Innovation, VegNET with AUSVEG who will be funding a $14.1m national program using vegetable industry levies and funds from the Australian Government.

On a ground level, this will mean local vegetable farmers will soon have access to broader industry knowledge thanks to a full-time staff member who will work in Bowen for two days, Gumlu for one day and then spread their time between Mackay and the Burdekin for the remainder of the week.

General Manager of BGGA, Ry Collins, said that he is looking forward to working with a dedicated regional development officer who has strong grower networks in vegetable producing regions.

“Working with growers to help them solve challenging issues in the field, in the shed or in the business is a key focus,” said Ry Collins.

“The close ties with our grower network and the experience we have developed in extension will support the continuation in delivering good value to growers.

There will be opportunity for industry development, helping farmers address issues such as biosecurity as well as pest and disease.

Information on expanding into new markets to find new customers will also be shared along with ideas for new technology that will improve soil quality and farming methods.

In addition, initiatives to improve environmentally conscious practices will come into play, such as cover cropping and new avenues for alternative income and carbon credits.

As one of the country’s largest food bowls, this new service will undoubtedly be highly utilised in the Whitsundays.

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Daydream Island Draws Vaccination Prize

November 25, 2021

Putting a positive spin on the impetus to get vaccinated, Daydream Island recently ran an innovative competition, offering three fantastic holiday prizes to entrants, who simply needed to get the jab to enter.

There were 350 people from across the state who entered and two of the winners live right here in the region.

Debbie Read from Mackay won the first prize, Donna Nicol received the second prize and Jessica Pini from Proserpine was the third-place winner.

Prizes included a range of getaways on Daydream Island – a generous two night stay for two adults and two children was awarded to Debbie Read.

Debbie attended the prize-giving with her husband Stuart and is looking forward to using her voucher this January, bringing along her three children for a family holiday.

Jessica’s mother, Carmella, attended the prize-giving on behalf of her daughter and said that she will be applying a ‘mum tax’ on the lucky ticket, hoping she will get to come along for the ride.

Chief Operating Officer of Daydream Island, Dilip Madhok, was pleased with the outcome and glad they had taken a positive approach by connecting government policy to a workable reality.

“If we encouraged all those 350 people to get vaccinated, then the competition served its purpose,” he said.

“The whole community here in the Whitsundays survives on hospitality and it is our social responsibility to take part in encouraging everyone to get vaccinated.”

Mayor of the Whitsundays, Andrew Willcox, commended Daydream Island for being so proactive with their campaign.

“I think it’s fantastic – it was good that it was open to everyone in the state and fortunate two people from the Whitsundays got 1st and 3rd prize.”

“I’d really like to thank Daydream Island for this initiative and providing such an incredible prize!”

Image: Chief Operating Officer of Daydream Island Dilip Madhok, Carmella Pini, Debbie Read and Mayor Andrew Willcox. Credit: Anthony Nobilia, Island Photos

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New Mandate Threatens Hospitality Businesses

November 25, 2021

Local hospitality businesses have spent the last two weeks processing the Queensland state government mandate which prohibits unvaccinated people from entering their establishments from Friday 17th December.

For many small businesses, this has been a stressful and confusing time as many feel there have been limited guidelines or information provided to assist with the process.

The new mandate has also been viewed as extremely divisive, with communities torn between allowing their loyal patrons to come into their establishment and their valued staff members to continue working if they remain unvaccinated.

Many believe that a ‘pro-choice’ approach is best and feel that the new mandate is a form of ‘medical discrimination’.

Also in contention, is the legality of enforcing the mandate along with the logistics – are staff meant to check COVID passports and refuse entry? Are the police meant to attend the scene? How will this be enforced?

There is a lot of confusion within the community and many local small business owners are feeling scared and vulnerable at a time when they believed there would be hope as borders are finally re-opened and life can return to a new normal.

One such business owner is Alex Sinclair, owner of Le Sorelle The Sisters Coffee House in Bowen.

Over the weekend, she posted a heartfelt message on Facebook, expressing an opinion that many other people in the community share.

“Wow! What an absolute roller coaster the last few weeks have been!” read the post.

“Never did we expect to have a bomb like this dropped on our industry, after what we have already been through, and right before the happiest and busiest time of the year.”

In her post, Ms Sinclair calls for all local businesses that are affected by the new mandate to sign a silent petition which she then hopes to present to Council.

By Monday morning the survey had received support from over 100 local businesses.

“A lot of people are looking to us to make a decision, they are feeling scared and vulnerable, and I want to let other businesses know that they are not alone – we are all together in this and I want to send a clear message of hope to everyone in the community,” said Ms Sinclair.

Mayor Andrew Willcox addressed the issue in his Mayoral Note on Sunday night, stating that while he encourages everyone to get vaccinated, he also finds the new rules confusing.

“These new “rules” are very unclear on how stopping unvaccinated people from entering pubs, clubs, cafes and restaurants is going to stop the spread of Covid, if and when it comes to our piece of paradise, given the fact no matter your vaccination status, you can enter a supermarket,” he said.

“I want to make one thing very clear, Whitsunday Regional Council did not make these rules. It is not a local government decision.”

Meanwhile, Livingstone Shire Council has passed a resolution ‘That Council respectfully request that the Premier take the concerns of the business community into account, and reconsiders the decision to introduce restrictions for unvaccinated people from 17 December 2021’.

Mayor Willcox has promised to raise the issue at the next Council Ordinary meeting which took place on Wednesday, the day after this article was written.

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Award Winning Truck Steams Home

November 25, 2021

The eye-catching, boldly emblazoned super-rig that proudly represents Airlie Beach Hotel has just returned from a charity event in Brisbane where it was awarded ‘Best Bonneted Kenworth’.

The 12th annual Brisbane Convoy for Kids took place last month, attracting 615 trucks and raising $60,000 for Hummingbird House, Queensland’s only children’s hospice, which provides short stay breaks, family support, and care for children with life-limiting conditions and their families.

The impressive convoy travelled along the Logan Motorway to the Redcliffe Showgrounds with hundreds of families cheering them along at every leg of the journey.

Driver, Brad Gallagher, had the Airlie Beach Hotel T909, looking immaculate for the event and says this is a standard that he adheres to in everyday practice, representing the business and the region as he drives up and down the coast from the Whitsundays to Brisbane every week.

“The owner of Airlie Beach Hotel, Mick McFie, likes it to be spotless,” Brad said.

“When I am driving to Brisbane and back, people are always taking photos – it’s like a travelling advertisement for Airlie Beach!”

The truck was bought from Kenworth’s Bayswater facility in Melbourne and the impressive ‘bling’ was added afterwards.

“It’s one of the highest spec trucks you could ever have – lots of shiny chrome and stainless,” said Brad.

Receiving its glamourous look from Bling HQ in Brisbane, the fuel tanks and AdBlue tanks were wrapped together to give the truck an old school clean, four-tank appearance.

It has a custom-made rear bar as well as step boxes which add a certain finesse.

Attracting a lot of attention wherever it goes, Brad says Mick always encourages him to let people have a look and enjoy.

“I quite often take kids for a ride around town,” he said.

“They love getting inside and it really gives kids a great experience if they haven’t seen a truck of this size up close before.”

A standout piece of transportation, this big rig can be seen outside the Airlie Beach Hotel most weeks or on the highway promoting our local region as well as local venue ‘The Pub’ to markets all around the country.

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Crushing Concludes At Prossie Mill

November 25, 2021

Last Friday night at 9.50pm the last bin was tipped at the Proserpine Mill - the steam that has emblazoned the horizon for the last six months finally stopped, the last cane train of the season made its final delivery and workers celebrated the completion of another successful harvest.

With higher than usual sugar prices this year and a harvest slightly bigger than last, both cane farmers and mill workers are pleased with result of all their dedicated work.

“We’ve finished the season at about 1.56 million tonnes, about 230,000 tonnes, very similar to last year, just up a little bit,” said Craig Muddle, Regional Operations Manager for Wilmar Sugar.

“The sugar content of the cane has been a little below budget, just due to growing conditions over the year and towards the tail end of the season we had a few storms which upset the cane supply a little bit.

“The harvesting contractors, however, did really well to keep supply up and to make sure we finished the crush, got the crop off on-time and got really good sugar prices this year.”

As always, a successful season is a team effort between the mill and the cane farmers and Manager of Canegrowers in Proserpine, Michael Porter, says that without one the other would not exist.

“We are known for producing some of the highest quality raw sugar here in Queensland – it is very highly regarded,” he said.

“Prices have been excellent this year, record levels which is a good sign and will encourage farmers to invest in their farms.”

“We have also had some spring rain which bodes very well for next season and gives farmers an opportunity to capitalise on the changing industry.”

With productivity down in both Brazil and Thailand, Australia has been able to command higher prices on the international market.

“World consumption is still rising,” said Mr Porter.

There are 157 cane farmers in the region, each managing the ever-changing weather conditions, monitoring environmental impacts and running as efficiently as possible to maximise profits.

Now the season has concluded, the farmers will look after the soil, maintain existing crops and prepare for next season.

At the mill, the permanent staff will also switch to maintenance work, inspecting all the equipment for faults and ensuring everything is working properly for next season.

The next season will begin mid-June 2022.

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Community Crusaders!

November 25, 2021

A local service run by a host of kind-hearted staff and volunteers has recently felt the love from the community they serve, when a series of much-needed facilities were kindly donated, making life easier for everyone involved.

Bowen Meals on Wheels serves 100 freshly made meals a week, delivering to over 30 clients who are elderly, recovering from illness or living with a disability.

Before COVID, they would welcome ladies from the prison to help wash the dishes each week, but restrictions meant that female prisoners have returned to Townsville and can no longer do the job.

This left the volunteers, many of whom are elderly themselves, to wash the dishes.

That was until Robert Anderson from the Free Masons managed to find funding for a $14,000 commercial dishwasher from the Hand, Heart, Pocket charity.

Upon seeking Council approval, the team was informed that they also needed a new grease trap for the premises, which was kindly paid for with a local grant from Whitsunday Regional Council.

The projects brought out some good Samaritans in the community with local tradesmen offering their time for free to help install the facilities.

The grease trap was fitted by George Fortunato, local plumber Darcy Lowcock installed the dishwasher, and builder Jared Lindsay ripped out the old washer and tiled the floor.

“We’re very well looked after by the community,” said Chris Storrie from Bowen Meals and wheels.

“We’d like to say a big thank you to everyone who was involved.”

Left to right:

Ralph Russell from Reward Hospitality who supplied and installed unit, Neville Jones and Roy Facey from Kennedy Masonic Lodge, Plumber Darcy Lowcock, builder Jared Lindsay, Adam Tester from Ad Fab Cannonvale and Robert Anderson from Kennedy Masonic Lodge

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PCYC Bowen Celebrates 10 Years

November 25, 2021

Connecting the community to a wealth of resources and reinforcing a positive, non-confrontational Police presence in town, the incredible range of facilities and outreach programs offered by the Police Citizens Youth Club (PCYC) in Bowen is an exemplary public service. First opening the doors on the 25th of November 2011, the facility has been guided by its passionate leader, Sergeant Michelle O’Regan, since inception.

With the help of PCYC staff and a dedicated team of volunteers, this inspiring leader has implemented a range of programs that see over 400 people regularly utilise the services and activities at PCYC.

Mayor of the Whitsundays, Andrew Willcox, said that the PCYC Bowen is a fundamental part of the community. “Sergeant Michelle O’Regan is a true icon in Bowen, every time we have a community event the PCYC, Michelle or the R.U.B.Y. crew turn up to support it!” he

said. “From face-painting to manning stalls, to the regular skating night – what they do is amazing!”

Senior Sergeant at Bowen Police Station, Craig Shepherd, agreed saying that the PCYC is a great resource to the community. “Michelle is always behind everything,” he said. “In smaller towns like ours, everything is interconnected, especially with the youth which is why this service is so vital.”

Sergeant O’Regan is open about her own disadvantaged upbringing and remembers being left at an unknown foster carers’ doorstep with an apple box full of her possessions when she was just five years old.  Transforming her life with the help of countless people in the community, she has now chosen to dedicate her life to giving back and is now a local leader and advocate for youth and community. “It makes sense that we need to invest in our young people – they are or future,” said Sergeant O’Regan.

“You don’t know what effect you can have on someone’s life with just one small interaction - one moment in time can change everything.  It happened for me.”

“I would like to say thank you to everyone who has been part of the PCYC journey over the past ten years – we would not have achieved the great outcomes for community without the support of the community”.

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A Safe Passage To Life After School

November 25, 2021

As part of the broader ‘Schoolies’ celebrations, the Whitsundays has welcomed a group of 170 school leavers to the region who have all enjoyed an action-packed week experiencing our unique environment with adrenaline fuelled activities.

From jet skiing to snorkelling, paddle boarding and exploring the islands, each schoolie has been immersed in nature, having fun with friends in a completely drug and alcohol-free environment.

The week-long event was organised by SU Queensland Schoolies who coordinate two party locations, one in the Sunshine Coast and the other here in the Whitsundays.

With the help of 80 volunteers, many of whom recently enjoyed an SU-Schoolie event themselves, the organisation aims to provide school leavers and with a memorable ‘rite of passage’ event in a safe and fun environment.

During the week, the young people enjoyed cruising around on a private sailing boat for three days and then spent two nights at a resort in Airlie Beach.

While on land, they were given the opportunity to go on a host of local adventures, all of which support local tourism operators.

With other young volunteers on-hand throughout the festivities, the schoolies are able to connect with older peers and get advice on the next stage of their lives.

Image: School leavers enjoy a three-day sailing adventure

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November 25, 2021

Graduates From Across The Region Celebrate

Hundreds of Year 12 students reached the pinnacle of their school careers last week and with final exams behind them, it was time to celebrate!

Graduation ceremonies saw their school achievements recognised and the glamorous school formals offered students the opportunity to dress in their finest and celebrate this huge milestone with the peers.

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Hope Over Fear – Strong Message From The Shadow Cabinet

November 11, 2021

A contingent of the Shadow Cabinet attended a networking evening jointly hosted by Member for Whitsundays Amanda Camm, Whitsunday Coast Chamber of Commerce and Proserpine Chamber of Commerce.

Held at the Coral Sea Resort in Airlie Beach on Monday night - the message was clear and concise.

“I’m going to choose hope over fear,” said Leader of the Opposition, David Crisafulli.

On the agenda for the evening were issues such as the social housing crisis, creating a plan for a post-pandemic Queensland and a 20-year tourism plan to boost the region.

During the evening our local MP was publicly thanked for her dedicated work and strong values.

“Amanda conducts herself with a set of values to be proud of,” said Mr Crisafulli.

“We may have disappointed you in the past with our level of representation, but we no longer do that.”

Embracing the philosophy of hope over fear and the LNP’s broader ethics of pro small business and pro environmental management, the Shadow Ministers assured attendees that economic development can co-exist with a plan for reducing emissions.

“I am embarrassed that we are the only state that has increased our emissions – we are deadly serious about reducing emissions, but it doesn’t mean we can’t have a viable industry as well,” Mr Crisafulli explained.

“Here in Queensland, we have the cleanest coal that is mined to the best environmental standards, with the best miners rights.”

When it came to planning ahead for the Whitsunday region, the message was also made clear.

Mr Crisafulli asserts that lifestyle will be at the forefront of what people want and with people able to work from anywhere, they will no longer want to sit on their assets and pay off large mortgages, they would rather cash in and choose lifestyle instead.

This broader societal change means that places like the Whitsundays will continue to boom and the LNP believe that creating more lifestyle activities will increase the liveability of the area.

With this in mind, the LNP plan is to spend the next 10 years developing new tourism and recreational products for the region.

Another matter addressed was the social housing crisis and worker shortage.

Councillor Al Grundy commented that planning frameworks are very constrictive and do not allow the system to be agile with many changes to development taking up to 12 months to process.

Mr Crisafulli said that he feels the current government does not trust the private sector who he believes would be key in helping to deliver social affordable housing if he was elected.

Working together with Councils and the private sector would create temporary solutions that don’t create a permanent problem.

“With us you are going to get the answer quickly,” he said.

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Take A Seat For Charity

November 11, 2021

Local resident, Tina Everett, has hand-stitched more than 10 unique and colourful chairs that she donates to charity and says that despite being asked countless times to make one specifically for sale, she always refuses.

“The only way you can get one is to buy a raffle ticket!” she laughs.

It all started when Principal Angie Kelly from Cannonvale State School, who asked for a chair so that she could read to the children during the lunch hour.

Tina was part of the P&C at the time and the chair now sits pride of place in the school library.

Since then, Tina has made chairs for the Golden Octopus Foundation, the Ronald McDonald House in Townsville as well as Whitsunday Suicide Prevention Network.

Her most recent creation has special meaning to her as it will be donated to the Proserpine Nursing Home to fund activities for residents.

Tina’s own parents resided in nursing homes in the Hunter Valley, so Tina understands how vital the service is. She decorated the chair with sentimental mementos which include a map of Australia to symbolise her parent’s emigration from Austria many years ago.

“I like to be able to help people and love to give to large groups so everyone can benefit,” said Tina.

“I put my heart into them and never sell them so make sure you buy a raffle ticket!”

Raffle tickets can be purchased from Proserpine Community Centre, Urban Village Homewares, Boomerang Bag Shop at Whitsunday Shopping Centre, Anything Office in Proserpine and the bookshop in Airlie Beach.

Image: The chair made by Tina

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The Life of Mr ‘Brockers’

November 11, 2021

Much-loved teacher at Proserpine State High School, Grant Brockley, will be remembered for his passion, dedication and sense of humour which will be deeply missed by the teachers, students and the wider community at the Proserpine State High School.

Mr Brockley had been fighting an illness over recent months and passed away in October.

A heart-felt statement from the school and his family read: Grant was infectious with both his knowledge and passion for all that he involved himself with. If people wanted to learn or be involved nothing was too much trouble. Grant had a great sense of humour, working well with everyone and would love introducing himself as “Mr Broccoli”.  

Arriving in the Whitsundays in 2001 with his wife Linda and their three children, Grant taught in the ITD (Manual Arts Department) Department for over the 20 years where he was known for building positive relationships with both staff and students.

Grant and Linda were two artists who fell in love with each other - Grant as a drummer and Linda, a visual artist.

Originally a boiler maker and then a TAFE teacher, Grant was a wealth of expertise, skills and knowledge, primarily teaching Engineering and heavily involved in the establishment of the Proserpine SHS Trade Training Centre.

He took the upmost pride in maintaining his workshop ensuring that all tools were painted and coloured coded.  At the end of each year, he loved putting on his music and maintaining the engineering workshop for the start of the new year.  

Grant was a wonderful mentor and loved having an extra-curricular activity to encourage students to perform to their best, whether it be Go Cart building or rebuilding a golf buggy to take a stretcher for the school.

Being a musician himself and involved with local musicians, Grant was greatly respected for his drumming skills. He attended many school band performances and tours and his vast musical knowledge coupled with his love of nurturing young people in the world of musos made him a winner.

He continued to help with the musicals right up to “We Will Rock You” held this year in the new Performing Arts Centre and was an amazing backstage manager and he and his crew of boys would execute all manner of staging from pulley systems to gigantic fully lit signs.

A popular teacher who over the years regularly attended school camps and ski trips, helped Year 7 students transition to high school and initiated student incentive programmes. His favourite day was the Care Carnival and Grant will be remembered as a ‘big kid’ who just loved being a part of it all. Fun was his priority and winning was a bonus.

He also coached the inaugural AFL team for the school, raised money and built the first goal posts, as well as organising the first jerseys.

He will be deeply missed by all that knew him.

Image: Mr Grant Brockley taught at Proserpine State high School for 20 years

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Bowen PCYC Hosting Community Day

November 11, 2021

PCYC Bowen is inviting the community to the ‘Braking the Cycle’ Community Fun Day, being held at the club this Saturday from 9am to 12pm.

The free community fun day will showcase firefighter road crash rescue displays and driver safety workshops, as well as activities like face painting, jumping castle and a free sausage sizzle in support of the PCYC’s program Braking the Cycle.

Braking the Cycle is PCYC Queensland’s state-wide learner driver mentor program that provides a safe vehicle, and pairs learner drivers with volunteer mentors to support drivers in undertaking their 100 hours of supervised experience.

The event is focused on road safety as well, and will have fun for all ages, such as demonstrations from Bowen Firefighters attending the day and cutting up a vehicle with the use of their equipment, such as the ‘Jaws of Life”.

We will also have Bowen driving school attend to answer any questions, as well as Traffic Police and Queensland Ambulance.

Since commencing at PCYC Bowen in 2019, Braking the Cycle has supported 27 participants to obtain their licence, with mentoring and guidance from 13 dedicated volunteer mentors.  

“Braking the Cycle not only empowers disadvantaged young people to obtain their licence, it also increases a young person’s employment and education opportunities, encourages positive community connection and improves road safety outcomes for young drivers,” said PCYC Bowen club manager Sergeant Michelle O’Regan.

“We are calling for volunteer mentors to apply to offer practical instruction and positive encouragement to help disadvantaged young people to obtain their licence.”  

If you are interested in becoming a volunteer mentor, or would like to Brake The Cycle yourself, then please contact PCYC Bowen Braking the Cycle Coordinator Kate Hickey on 0448 334 163 or kate.hickey@pcyc.org.au.

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Get Prepared For Cyclone Season

November 11, 2021

From November until April each year the Whitsunday region is at risk to a host of extreme weather events that have potential to cause disastrous situations for the community.

From cyclones to bush fires, landslides to heat waves and earthquakes – our beautiful natural environment can quickly become unpredictable, so it is essential that all residents are prepared and informed of what to do in case of an emergency.

Each year the Whitsunday Regional Council hold a ‘Cyclone Saturday’ event at the Airlie Beach Markets and a ‘Cyclone Sunday’ at the Bowen Markets.

These events took place last week and are an opportunity for the community to find out more about the different resources available.

Disaster Management Coordinator, Sandra Black, said that this years’ events saw over 500 people attend.

“We have a lot of newcomers to the area, and we saw many of them at the events, wondering what they should do,” she said.

“So many people have moved up here – so it is even more important this year.”

The events were attended by representatives of the Whitsunday Regional Council, Mayor Andrew Willcox, the SES, Rotary, Ergon Energy, the Red Cross, VMR and QFES.

Community members were given a Disaster Bag outlining essentials for their emergency kit and an emergency action guide.

Council also has an online Whitsunday Disaster Dashboard that contains real-time updates about emergency news, sand bagging, flooded roads and other vital information.

Currently the flood cameras are not operating but they will be back online by 21st November.

“The better prepared we are, the quicker we recover,” said Ms Black.

“There will be less clean-up afterwards and less burden on Council resources.”

Top Tips For Disaster Season

• Trim your trees and clean gutters

• Remove rubbish from around your property

• Make sure your generator works

• Ensure you have spare fuel

• Get a Rotary Storm Kit

• Check your torch batteries

• Have a good supply of water and food

• In business? Take photos of stock before you leave

• Check your insurance is up to date

• Have a plan to keep your pets safe

• Heatwave? Head to the shopping centre to keep cool for free

• Save the Whitsunday Disaster Dashboard on your home screen

• Like the Whitsunday Disaster and Emergency Information Facebook page

Image: Disaster Management Coordinator, Sandra Black, with Mayor Andrew Wilcox at the recent awareness event

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ELECTRIC BUS The Vehicle Of The Future?

November 11, 2021

A Smooth, Green Ride

Silent and quick, a brand-new zero carbon emission bus has been patrolling the Airlie Beach and Cannonvale roads this past week in a state government trial undertaken by local transport business Whitsunday Transit.

The electric bus, used throughout the Airlie Beach Festival of Music, is all the buzz in town after being brought up from Brisbane as part of a rotating trial which will see the model head to Mackay next.

“If the government would let me, I would consider buying one – I’ve been extremely, extremely impressed by them,” Mr Darren Crossley, owner of Whitsunday Transit said.

“It’s very easy to use, very easy to charge, and all the drivers that have driven have had lots of positive comments to say and from passengers as well.”

The bus, which charges through a purpose-built charger that plugs into three phase power, was built in China, although there are Australian options.

The Chinese company Yutong sell these models for around $650,000 dollars, where the Australian versions are between $850,000 and $950,000.

A traditional, diesel bus runs at around the $600,000 dollar mark.

The battery costs for a Yutong are currently 50 per cent the price of the bus itself, but that price may fluctuate over the next decade depending on availability and production.

The life of a battery is around 13 years before replacement, and traditionally Whitsunday Transit use buses for 20 years, which obviously comes with the occasional battery change.

The bus can travel 200km before needing to be charged.

Mr Crossley said that, with every vehicle, there are expenditures that run parallel: diesel buses in terms of fuel and increased engine maintenance, electric buses in terms of batteries and electrical costs.

The electric buses are not fitted with an engine or gearbox, only an electric motor.

At the time of writing, Mr Crossley had yet to calculate the sums in relations to savings or deficits.

A full program will be provided by the state government to Whitsunday Transit on the bus’s usage during its time at Whitsunday Transit, including full GPS tracking, power usage, how hard drivers accelerate, break, what speed and more.

“That will give me the comparison and I’ll be able to work out the cost per kilometre,” he said.

“I do believe it will work out to be more economical for me, it’s just about the reliability of the infrastructure.”

“The technology on the bus, I believe, is right, it’s good – it’s the technology from the outside in that we need to get done.

There is precedent in the region, with Emerald Coaches promising to achieve a net 0 carbon footprint by 2040 with a fleet of 120 hydrogen fuel cell electric buses – a first for an Australian private company.

“I do believe that hydrogen will be the future, but just not here yet,” Mr Crossley said.

“But give it time; within five years I think we’ll be buying 100 per cent electric -whether that be hydrogen or electric – we’re just a little hamstrung with how fast we can move in that direction at the moment.”

The bus will still be driving around the Whitsundays for another week at least, so keep your eyes out for a sneak peek at what the future looks and drives like.

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Local Reps Spruik Region

October 28, 2021

Four delegates from three local tourism information centres represented our region at the annual Queensland Visitor Information Centre Association (QICA) conference which was held last week in Miles on the Western Downs.

This was an opportunity to spruik the Whitsunday region and provide the 50 other guests, who were all staff from other information centres, details on current marketing campaigns and collaborations so that everyone could encourage tourists to visit our region.

Sales and Marketing Manager from Bowen Tourism and Business, Leanne Abernethy, said that Bowen hosted the conference two years ago so many of the delegates from across Queensland were already familiar with the area.

“They were very pleased to hear what was happening in The Whitsundays and Mackay Isaac regions,” said Ms Abernethy.

“We also made sure everyone at the conference was aware of the current passport promotion being run by the three information centres in our regions.”

This recently launched campaign offers visitors the chance to win $2100 worth of holiday vouchers when they call in at the Big Mango south of Bowen, the Whitsundays Visitor Information Centre at Proserpine and the Mackay Regional Visitor Information Centre in Sarina.

Each person needs a ‘stamp’ on their passport from all three locations in order to enter the competition.

Image: Nele Graebs from the Whitsundays Visitor Information Centre, Gabrielle Dicarlantonio and Lucy Biehl from Mackay Isaac Tourism and Leanne Abernethy from Bowen Tourism and Business visited the Big Watermelon at Chinchilla as part of the QICA conference activities on the Western Downs.

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October 28, 2021

Get Vaccinated To Help Your Local Tourism Industry

Following the announcement last week that Queensland borders will open on Friday 17th December if we reach the 80 per cent vaccination target, members of the tourism industry are imploring any local that is intending to get vaccinated to do so immediately.

The Whitsundays has one of the lowest vaccination rates in Queensland and if we do not reach the target, our region could risk become isolated from the whole country.

Image: Whitsunday tourism representatives – Nicole Rosser from Zig Zag, Nicole Graham from Lady Enid Sailing, Donna van’t Hoff from Tourism Whitsundays, Fiona McTavish from Zig Zag, Erica Filby from Ocean Rafting, Kelvin Ho from Red Cat Adventures and Jude Sutton from Zig Zag. Front row: Allan Milostic from Live Life Pharmacy and Whitsunday Life Office Manager Crissy Bottrell who received her vaccine that day

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Rural Kids Love Gymnastics

October 22, 2021

For many local schools the Bowen PCYC is the hub for gymnastics and recreational fitness, with its extensive range of equipment offering children in rural areas the first-class facilities that they would otherwise not have access to.

With Olympic-standard apparatus, the result of a $300,000 upgrade, the children can enjoy testing their skills against the climbing ladders, ropes, parallel beams, trampolines, tumble tracks, and a competition sprung floor.

Over 150 youngsters enjoy gymnastics lessons each week, and resident coach Nicole Brown (AKA Miss Nic) says that the classes provide a lot of joy to remote schools.

“The PCYC worked really hard to fundraise for these facilities and we now offer kids something they would not normally be able to have,” she said.

“Coaching is my passion, and we are always looking to encourage more kids to come along and try out gymnastics.”

The students at the Gumlu State School come to the PCYC every Thursday in term 1 and 4, enjoying gymnastics followed by a yoga session which teaches them breathing strategies and how to keep calm.

Principal Thomas Harrington said that the service means so much to his students who attend the school which is 60 kilometres from Bowen and contains only 16 students.

“It’s priceless and we love it,” he said.

“We make a full-day of it as they accommodate so much here.

“I would also like to say a massive thank you to the Gumlu Growers Association – without their support we wouldn’t be able to get here.”

The Gumlu Growers Association paid for half of the school bus and the rest was raised through Containers for Change, a local initiative operated by Mitre 10.

Class Times:

Ninja Classes – Tuesday from 3.30pm – 5.30pm

Recreational Classes – Monday and Wednesday from 3.30pm – 6pm

Kinder Class – Monday 9am – 9.45am and Wednesday 10am – 10.45

Image: Students from Gumlu State School with Principal Hutchinson and two coaches from the PCYC

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Shark Crashes Bucks Party

October 22, 2021

A 34-year-old miner from Middlemount got more than he bargained for last weekend when he attended a buck’s party on a charter boat tour around the Whitsundays Islands.

At approximately 6.30pm last Friday evening Todd Price went for a swim at Hook Passage near Saba Bay when he attracted the attention of a curious shark.

He had jumped out of the onboard hot tub and dived into the water to cool off for a few minutes when he felt something nudge his leg.

Todd was reached down and felt something that was slimy to the touch – instantly he knew it was a shark.

Panicked, he swam back towards the boat, but the shark returned, and this time grabbed him by the leg.

Pushing it away, Todd made it to the boat and was holding onto the ladder when the shark came back again and this time took a bite out of the bottom of his leg.

With all his strength, Todd managed to lift himself onto the deck to safety.

Within a few seconds everyone realised what had happened and sprang into action.

The quick-thinking crew wrapped his leg and applied pressure, called the rescue services, and sailed at top speed to Hamilton Island where Todd received medical treatment before being flown to Mackay in the RACQ CQ Rescue Helicopter.

Todd went into surgery at 10pm that evening where he was given 60 stitches to his wounds.

He has now been released from hospital and returned to Middlemount with his wife.

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The Great Barrier Reefresh

October 22, 2021

Last Thursday, tourism operators, Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS), Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and Mars Incorporated headed to Bait Reef where they began Project Reefresh, a coral restoration plan.

In years gone by, Bait Reef, situated 65 kilometres to Airlie Beach’s northeast, was home to a vast diversity of soft and hard corals before Cyclone Debbie turned much of the once sprawling ecosystem into rubble in 2017.

The main objective of Project Reefresh is to restore small parts of Bait Reef near the ‘Stepping Stones’, a once popular dive site, through the use of new coral regeneration techniques – namely Reef Stars.

American company Mars, famous for their subsidiary Mars Wrigley and responsible for well-known chocolate brands such as M&M’S and Snickers, designed the Mars Reef Stars which are steel, hexagonal frames coated in limestone.

These frames are interlocked on the seabed, resting steadily on coral rubble and giving coral an opportunity to grasp onto the devices and grow.

Onto the Reef Stars, coral fragments were attached, the participants called them fragments of opportunity.

There are 15 fragments of coral per Reef Star, and the project installed 200 stars in the area by the Stepping Stones, meaning a prospective 3000 plus coral may grow from the stars.

The other technique was the use of Coral Clips – a technique developed by the Coral Nurture Program, where a small nail is affixed into the substrate and a fragment of live coral is clipped underneath the nail.

This technique holds the fragment onto the rock and gives it an opportunity to bind and grow, and during the Reefresh expedition 1000 of these were installed.

In previous similar projects the coral fragments are noticeable within three months and have attached well to the steel framing.

In approximately fourteen months Project Reefresh expects to see an increase of the coral.

Organisations involved included Red Cat Adventures, Mars Incorporated, Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service, Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, Kiana Reef Assist and Maritime Safety Queensland.

The collaboration between multiple organisations, community members and volunteers is an effort to bring site stewardship and return tourism to the area.

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October 22, 2021

Agave Farm Paves Way For A Renewable Future

Known as a hardy and resilient plant that requires as little as 10 litres of irrigation a year, Agave is paving the way for new and innovative industry.

From a Top Shelf International form of ‘Tequila’ to an alternate source of sugar that could be processed through the mills in the off-season and its potential to be used as a renewable energy source for the future – there is no limit for this versatile little plant.

Image: Chris Monsour (left) with some of the staff at the Agave Farm. Back row: Gabor Patjas, Eszter Farkas and Brodie Ahern. Front row: Eden Hedges and Gaye Monsour.

Agave Farm – The Crop Of The Future

With 383 hectares of agricultural land and three kilometres of highway frontage, the Agave Farm on the Bruce Highway 20 minutes south of Bowen is becoming a flagship for local agricultural innovation.

Purchased by Top Shelf International (TSI), a Melbourne-based liquor company, two years ago and operated by local agronomist, Chris Monsour, the team of seven dedicated on-site workers have planted 300,000 agave plants this year, bringing the total amount to 400,000.

The crop takes four years to mature, and the first harvest is expected to take place in 2024, with anticipated production when fully functional, around 1 million bottles of agave spirit annually.

Agave’s most common use is to make alcohol, namely agave spirit which is a form of the popular drink - Tequila.

Bowen was chosen as the most suitable location for the farming of Agave because it is at a similar latitude as the town of Tequila in Mexico.

TSI intend to farm the Agave and create an Australian branded variation of the strong alcoholic beverage.

Next year the farm will start construction of a distillery which is expected to produce the agave spirit and also operate as an educational tourist destination.

“It’s a great project for the region,” said Chris.

“It’s not just an agricultural project, it’s got tourism potential, new industry opportunities, as well as employment opportunities and could one-day become a source of renewable energy.”

Known as a resilient plant, Agave can be harvested all-year round and only requires as little as 10 litres of water per plant - 40,000 litres per year for a hectare of 4000 plants - which compares favourably to the several megalitres required for the equivalent in sugar cane production.

If the project is successful, the Agave could work in synergy with the sugar mills, operating all year round and increasing production.

Agave is also the source of a low GI sweetener and is high in the dietary fibre inulin.

The sugar can also be turned into ethanol which can potentially be used for bioplastic and biofuels.

In addition, Top Shelf International hopes to lead the way in other forms of renewable energy with plans to install 40-50 hectares of solar panels on-site next year.

An electrolyser will be used to split H20 to create hydrogen which can then be used for green power generation. This will be used for the farm and any excess can be stored and used for other renewable energy purposes.

“Any excess could be used for example to power tourist boats heading out to the reef, so they don’t have to use a diesel engine,” said Chris.

“This is a good opportunity for anyone interested to explore alternative energy sources.”

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New Water Pipeline Set To Irrigate Our Region

October 15, 2021

A new pipeline linking the Burdekin River to Bowen is set to increase the irrigation potential of our region, providing for an additional 44,000 hectares of agricultural land, thanks to $6.9 million of government funding.

$5 million will be spent on a detailed investigation into the delivery of the 105-kilometre underground pipeline which is anticipated to distribute up to 100 gigalitres of water annually.

The remaining $1.9 million will deliver the detailed business case required for the Burdekin Haughton Water Supply Scheme Modernisation project.

Bowen Pipeline Company will undertake the investigations and the company’s directors, Sean and Kathryn Brown, welcomed the vote of confidence in the project’s potential.

“This is a concept that has been discussed since construction of the Burdekin Falls Dam 40 years ago and, given the enormous opportunity open to horticulture, agriculture and aquaculture, and the need for a reliable and secure source of water, now is the time to make it happen for the communities of the Bowen region,” Mr Brown said.

“We extend our greatest thanks to the Deputy Prime Minister and Mr Christensen for today’s announcement, and the contribution it will make to our aim of turning soil in 2023.”

Federal Member for Dawson George Christensen said the business case will consider the viability of new or upgraded infrastructure in the scheme, which will have the potential to recover 15 to 20 gigalitres of additional water that can be allocated to local growers and farmers who can put it to great use.

“It could also reduce the inflows to the groundwater table by up to 3,000 megalitres a year, better protecting the quality of that precious natural resource,” he said.

“The Burdekin Haughton scheme already supplies water for irrigation customers in the lower Burdekin region, backing local businesses and farmers including those producing our famous mangoes and sugar cane.

“Abundant, reliable water makes our region tick, which is why we’re working to put in place the water infrastructure that will allow our farmers and businesses to grow into the future.”

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Local Mum Wins Award

October 15, 2021

Last month, local business owner and mum extraordinaire Jasmine Kratz was a winner at the 2021 AusMumpreneur Awards, taking home Digital Services Business of the Year for Queensland for her online business Inspired Impact.

The awards, run by AusMumpreneur Network, hosts the dedicated event each year, rewarding Mums in business and celebrating their achievements.

Jasmin’s business Inspired Impact is a coaching and brand strategy service where she teaches her clients how to create successful online businesses.

She builds websites, markets and helps her clientele of small business owners get their systems looking “sexy” and tailored for the message they want to send to the world.

Jasmine said that, in today’s digital world, you need a kick-ass website and social media presence to attract and engage with your audience and customers.

“It’s been a tough year, and it’s refreshing to see how many AusMumpreneurs are creating epic businesses and impact in these times,” she said.

“Thank you to all my clients, it’s my greatest joy to lead you, together we create magical brands and online businesses that create an impact in the world.”

As a finalist in previous years, Jasmine was proud to be bringing this award home to the Whitsundays and Inspired Impact in a recognition of the best and brightest in the Mumpreneur industry.

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From the Land of the Rising Sun they also came …

October 15, 2021

In the early nineteenth century, Japanese crews manned fishing boats off the Whitsundays. Four Japanese, possibly fishermen or sugar cane workers, are buried in Proserpine cemetery, three in 1906 and one in 1908.  

Old residents of Strathdickie area tell of a rubber plantation established by an early Japanese settler on land in that area. Bushfires over the years have removed all traces of the plantation. Locals also have recalled the Japanese fishermen who collected beche-de-mer at Double Bay and trochus shells from the islands in the 1920s and 30s.

One Japanese man, Aru Fujimara, (“Fuji”), lived in the hills at North Gregory. From 1915 to 1917, Arthur Jimie Fujimara was recorded in Gray’s farm ledger as a worker on their sugar cane farm. He also grew vegetables which he sold to the green-grocer in town and he exchanged vegetables for cakes.  Later, he worked on Eddie Deicke’s farm chipping weeds in the cane fields. Fuji worked non-stop. Fuji was renowned as a fisherman. He was known as a fisherman’s “eye” - one who knew the habits of fish and where to find them. Locals remembered Fuji as an expert at throwing a cast net and he also made his own. If fish could not be caught on a line, he got them in the cast net. Fuji would not return to Japan as Japan was at war with China and he said that he would be killed if he went back. This was before World War II.

Fuji was a good-hearted man and loved to gamble, playing two-up in particular. He was married to a lady named Nena who died on Christmas Day in 1933. He later married an Australian woman but he told friends she was mean as she did not like gambling. Fuji eventually went to live in Ayr.  

Other Japanese in the district included Saichi Okokowa who, according to the 1910-11 Rates Book, occupied Portion 646 of Strathdickie. Kiyosh Yoshzaki, alias Sakamoto, who was engaged in laundry work in Proserpine for four years, was sentenced to six months in Stewart’s Creek jail for being an illegal immigrant. A Japanese laundry was operated in Mill Street (and previously in Main Street) by K. Oji and Co in the 1920s and 30s.  

During World War Two, local people were cautiously on the lookout for Japanese.  Despite many having lived in Australia for many years, they were rounded up and detained. In Ayr, Aru Fujimara was arrested and interned. Another local Japanese resident, 78-year-old Shiraki Mataki, who had lived at Strathdickie for many years, was interned a week after the Japanese invasion of Pearl Harbour.

Story and photo courtesy of Proserpine Historical Museum

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Australia Returns To Bowen

October 15, 2021

A movie that was filmed in Bowen 14 years ago is coming home and bringing with it plenty of nostalgia for that time when the cast and crew of ‘Australia’ spent several months living in our little country town.

In 2008, Bowen Summergarden Theatre held a world premiere of the movie that was largely filmed in the area and since then, it has met with global acclaim, bringing a historical slice of ‘Australia’ to households right across the world.

Baz Luhrmann co-wrote, directed and produced the movie featuring Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman. It was set in northern Australia at the beginning of WWII.

The filming was carried out in various Australian locations including Bowen where the cast enjoyed the north Queensland lifestyle and hospitality for two months.

The movie runs for 2 hours and 45 minutes and is a story of love and tragedy set on a remote cattle station and it touches on issues surrounding the bombing of Darwin and also cultural traditions and migration.

After a lengthy hiatus, Bowen Summergarden Cinema, Queensland’s longest continually running cinema, has decided to bring the epic adventure movie back to its charming local screens.

Owner of the cinema, Ben Deluca said it was an exciting time when the movie was filmed in town and he was very pleased to be able to show the film again.

Sales and Marketing Manager for Bowen Tourism and Business, Leanne Abernethy, said tourists were still very interested in seeing where the movie was filmed and thousands of people each year would visit Bowen’s Front Beach to learn more about the movie from the display there.

“At the Big Mango Visitor Information Centre, we have so many people asking about the movie,” she said.


Friday, October 15 – 6.45pm

Saturday, October 16  – 10am and 3.30pm

Sunday, October 17 – 10am and 3.30pm

Saturday, October 23 at 1pm

Sunday, October 24 at 1pm

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Crime And Punishment, Meet Thriller Author Chris Hammer At Bowen Library

October 15, 2021

Bestselling writer and journalist Chris Hammer will be the guest of a virtual event at Bowen Library on the 20th of October for a conversation about his latest crime novel “Treasure and Dirt.”

The free event will include a question and answer with Ben Hobson, author of Snake Island, hosting the virtual presentation at Bowen Library and will have limited copies of Chris’ newest novel for sale and rental.

Chris was a journalist for 30 years, working for The Bulletin, Fairfax and on the SBS program Dateline before taking the plunge into creative writing, where he made an even greater name for himself as a bestselling crime-writer in the Martin Scarsden series.

In Chris’ latest novel, published last Monday, the desolate outback town of Finnigans Gap serves as the backdrop for a Syndey homicide detective Ivan Lucic to investigate the discovery of a body in one of the towns local Opal mines.

The town, broiling with religious fanaticism, bites back at the foreign investigators and they soon find themselves faced with damning allegations against them, for in Finnigans Gap, opals, bodies and secrets don’t stay buried forever.

Chris is a leading figure in the Australian noir genre, and his newest novel doesn’t disappoint.

His novels have won countless awards and received critical acclaim, and his time in the Whitsundays serves as a fantastic opportunity for young, aspiring writers and fans to interact with a famous Australian crime author.

With a 25 minute in conversation, Chris will also have roughly thirty minutes of question time over the 6pm to 7pm runtime, and you can make bookings via Eventbrite here: shorturl.at/eosuO

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Golf Any Time You Want

October 15, 2021

Completion of the Proserpine Golf Club’s irrigation course will have the grass greener thanks to a $145,000 grant from the Liberal and Nationals Government which will enable the club to play on the course all year round.

Federal Member for Dawson George Christensen said the grant, which was awarded through the Building Better Regions Fund (BBRF), is a boost for local golfers, local tourism and local jobs.

“[This will] allow Proserpine Golf Club to lift the standard of their course and attract new members and more prestigious competitions to the region,” The Member for Dawson said.

“This is terrific news for the Proserpine Golf Club and golfers throughout the greater region who will be able to come down here and tee off on green grass rather than dust.”

The new irrigation system means the club will also be eligible to host the North Queensland Open, which attracts players and families from all over the state.

The club has matched the federal government funding with $145,000 cash and in-kind support to ensure the whole course could be fully irrigated.

“We get less people playing during these summer months, you can see the course is drying out now,” Proserpine Golf Club Treasurer Rodney Wecker said as he showed Mr Christensen the course.

“Fully irrigating our fairways will bring more locals down, we can get the kids into the game of golf during the Christmas holidays, and we can attract tournaments such as the North Queensland Open.”

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Collinsville Connect Celebrates 20 Years

October 15, 2021

One of Collinsville’s most central hubs is celebrating a milestone birthday this week, marking 20 years of serving the local community and bringing people together through access to technology and a host of significant local projects which have helped the town become what it is today.

Collinsville Connect Telecentre first opened on the 20th of October 2001 with the ambition to provide a computer library for the remote mining town.

While technology and the way we connect has certainly changed over the past two decades, the CCT has remained a relevant and important organisation for Collinsville and sees over 500 people walk through its doors each month.

Hosting school children every afternoon and a senior’s day once a week, the 10 computers are always buzzing as people connect with others around the world and learn more about technology through workshops and classes.

Centre coordinator, Sue Clark, has been with the non-for-profit since it started and says that they wouldn’t be here without support from Whitsunday Regional Council and generous donations from mining companies.

“It’s been a real privilege to have been here since the beginning,” she said.

“Over the past two decades the CCT has assisted a diverse group of local residents, from school children to seniors, mine inductees and just a few teenagers on networked games!

“None of this would have been possible without the ongoing support of the Whitsunday Regional Council and generous provision of office space for the centre.”

During its time CCT has supported a range of community projects and was the driving force behind the iconic Pit Pony bronze statue which is the town’s mascot and a drawcard for tourism.

In 2015 a crowd fundraising campaign launched by CCT raised $190,000 in just 60 days and the funds were used to commission the statue you see today.

Other projects include, Memoirs Online, a photo database of everything Collinsville which now contains more than 12,000 images and, in 2019 when the town celebrated 100 years of mining, CCT created ‘Our Stories Unearthed’, a book and website all about Collinsville’s rich history.

Steeped in history yet poised for the future, this iconic community hub will bring people together for many more years to come.

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Have Your Say On The Environment

October 15, 2021

Community members are encouraged to take five minutes out of their day to answer a multiple-choice questionnaire and provide feedback on environmental issues that could be impacting the Whitsundays.

Climate Change Innovation Hub Coordinator, Olivia Brodhurst, said that most people will think of the obvious severe weather events, but that a lot of the issues are slow and cumulative.

“In the Whitsundays we are sometimes impacted by severe weather events such as flooding and cyclones,” said Ms Brodhurst.

“But we also have more gradual, sometimes more detrimental environmental conditions that can affect our residents and their livelihoods such as water quality, erosion and higher temperatures.”

If you can see any environmental damage happening in your area, this is an opportunity to let the Council know so they can put measures in place to reduce the risk.

The Whitsunday Climate Change Innovation Hub was established in 2018 and has an office at the Whitsunday Regional Council administration building in Proserpine.

They are currently working on initiatives such as the Whitsunday Healthy Heart project.

“This will help the region achieve an Earthcheck Sustainable Destination accreditation,” said Ms Brodhurst.

“By engaging with the tourism industry, we can set targets for reduction and decarbonise to lower our contribution to climate change, the number one threat to the reef.  

“The Hub also is conducting research with Whitsunday Water and CQU that looks to optimise water pumping and treatment to best use renewable power such as solar, reservoir space and weather forecasting to reduce energy use.”

To complete the questionnaire go yoursay.whitsundayrc.qld.gov.au or scan the QR code.

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Suicide Prevention Expands

October 15, 2021

Over 20 people attended the Whitsunday Suicide Prevention Network’s (WSPN) annual general meeting (AGM) last week to celebrate a successful year of expansion which saw growth in fundraising efforts from several community groups and individuals as well as the launch of a new sub-committee in Bowen.

Combining forces and initiatives with the non-profit group, Wesley Lifeforce, which works with 25 networks in Queensland, WSPN are one of the leading organisations in the group which leverages information, connection, and networking opportunities with other like-minded organisations.

Two of the newly elected Bowen sub-committee, Sheila Colrain-Car and Dave Colrain, will be heading down to Mount Tamborine in the coming months to attend the Wesley Lifeforce Queensland Regional Forum where they will learn from other networks in an interactive workshop setting.

At the AGM, WSPN Patron and Member for Whitsunday Amanda Camm MP gave a passionate speech which thanked everyone for their dedicated efforts.

“It was wonderful to be able to recognise our amazing partners, volunteers and committed Management Committee who give of their time,” she said afterwards.

“Suicide is a sad and serious reality in our community - so many families, workplaces and community groups have been touched by suicide just as mine has.”

Ms Camm sadly lost her own father to suicide.

President of WSPN, Ron Pettersen also gave an engaging speech, thanking the many people who had contributed to and supported the organisation over the last year.

“A huge thank you to Whitsunday Triathlon Club for their walkathon, Whitsunday Sailing Club and Drew Brauer for their Drewboy fundraising event, Gill Graham and Paula Brewer for the 60s Party at the Hangar Bar fundraising event and to Blokes in Business supported by Airlie Beach Hotel and Whitsunday Bald Eagles for your fundraising efforts and donations,” he said.

“The fundraising events not only raised considerable funds for WSPN, they also significantly raised awareness of the work of our network in preventing suicide in our community and contributed to ongoing efforts to reduce the stigma surrounding suicide.”

If you are in an emergency, or at immediate risk of harm to yourself or others, please contact emergency services on 000

Crisis support numbers: Lifeline: 13 11 14 ; Suicide Call Back Service: 1300 659 467 ; Beyond Blue: 1300 22 4636

You matter.

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Airlie Rodeo A Big Bucking Success

October 15, 2021

At the entrance to the Airlie Beach 4B’s Rodeo on Saturday the 2nd of October, hundreds queued to witness a spectacle of bucking broncos, opening their wallets to show support for Cody Gibbs, a Whitsunday boy fighting an internal battle with external help.

Cody had first been diagnosed with cancer of the pineal gland, located in the middle of the brain, in October of 2018, and it sadly returned in the form of two tumours in his brain and two on his spine this year.

Led by President of Central Rodeo Cowboys Association Inc. Dan Borghero, the 4Bs Rodeo took funds from bull sponsorships, a Calcutta, raffles, and the event itself to donate towards Cody’s fight against this rare form of the disease.

With boot-heels clicking, buckles tight and Stetsons on heads, competitors got ready to face off against the unusually large stock of bulls, steers, and untamed horses.

Kicking it all off, Mayor of Whitsunday Regional Council Andrew Willcox welcomed guests to the Whitsundays and highlighted the exceptional variety the Whitsundays is home too.

“Not only do you get the beach and our beautiful islands, but you also get the outback experience with something like this,” the Mayor said.

The first of its kind event was brimming with bulls and horses as they took to the barrels, broncs, and bareback categories.

Early on little bull riders careened off steers while some held on valiantly ahead of the main events which saw many Whitsunday locals and out-of-towners win big in an excellent rodeo.

Sam Terry took home the Open saddle Bronc, Ryan Livingstone the Open Bareback, Ben Moran the Rookie Bull Ride, and Luke Hanson the Rookie Saddle Bronc.

Roughly two thousand five hundred people came through the gates on the day.

President of Central Cowboys Association Dan Borghero, and his wife Leah Borghero, who organised the event, said that it was so good to see a smile on Cody’s face, and that they were glad to have done their part, no matter how small.

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Chamber Chat

October 15, 2021

"Freedom Day" has been celebrated in NSW it seems incongruous that small businesses in the southern states will be free of the effects of lockdowns before some businesses in Queensland –however, it is a huge step towards the normality and surety that businesses need and the sooner we can get Queensland to that point, the better for everyone.

Continuing to assist impacted businesses, the State government has released another round of funding. The Tourism and Hospitality Sector Hardship grant opened on the 11th October and runs to the 22nd  of October with three levels of support. Eligible small businesses and not for profit organisations may receive $30,000 in two equal payments, medium enterprises get $50,000 whilst large businesses get $100,000.

To be eligible, you must be in the tourism sector, have a turnover in excess of $75,000, employ at least one staff member and have experienced a 70 per cent decline in turnover over a consecutive seven day period compared to same period in financial years 2019, 2020, or 2021. More information is available online at https://www.dtis.qld.gov.au/our-work/tourism-hospitality-sector-hardship-program

The Whitsunday Regional Economic Development Strategy has been prepared following extensive community and stakeholder consultation. The strategy has been recently adopted by Council and can be viewed at www.whitsundayrc.qld.gov.au

Due to speaker unavailability, the chamber's October next networking event has been pushed back one week to Thursday 21st October at 7am at the Whitsunday Sailing Club. Craig Turner and Shaun Cawood from council will expand on the development strategy as well as providing updates on the Airport and Shute Harbour.

Contributed with thanks to Allan Milostic, President of Whitsunday Coast Chamber of Commerce

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Celebrating Our Multicultural Community

October 15, 2021

A myriad of cultural performances, flavours and experiences will take centre-stage at the Whitsunday PCYC this Saturday when the Multicultural Family Day takes place to promote acceptance and understanding through a multitude of activities that bring fun and laughter to all.

The function hall will come alive with song and dance as different groups entertain the crowd and exhibit their unique cultural displays.

From the PCYC Choral C Voices to the Mommas and Poppas from Proserpine, the authentic Thai and Filipino Dancing and the Maori Haka – the cultural offering will be both diverse and insightful.

Audience participation will be encouraged, and attendees can learn how to make Bubble Tea or enter a spicy noodle eating competition, create their own Maori Poi, learn a Thai dance and watch cooking demonstrations.

In the sports hall a host of stalls will give the crowd an opportunity to interact and learn about different cultures from TAFE students who are currently studying and are looking for ways to engage with people in the community so they can practice their language skills.

QPS will be showcasing Indigenous artwork and the Lions Club will also be attending.

A bouncy castle will delight the children looking to burn of some of their boundless energy.

There will also be delicious authentic food stalls with the aromas of different countries mingling and melting together to provide a diverse mix of flavours and experiences.

The Multicultural Family Day starts at 9am with the official opening at 10am.

Mayor Andrew Willcox and Member for Whitsunday Amanda Camm will be attending, as well as Councillor Jan Clifford, Jack Lumby and Toni Kinder with a Welcome to Country sung by Aunty Sue West.

Saturday 16th October at Whitsunday PCYC from 9am – 3pm.

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Tips For A Good Cause (Good Deed)

October 15, 2021

The kind courtesy bus drivers who give patrons a free ride to and from The Pub, Airlie Beach Hotel, have just donated $1,600 to help a family whose 18-month-old daughter is currently battling brain cancer.

Diagnosed earlier this year, little Theia from Ayr has been undergoing treatment in Brisbane for the past few months and with her last round coming up next week, the family are hopeful for a good result and a bright future.

The kind donation from the courtesy bus drivers will assist the family with expenses incurred during their stay in Brisbane and any other costs associated with their daughter’s recovery.

Bus driver, Wayne Fairbrother, said that they are unable to accept tips, but passengers regularly offer them, so the team decided to start donating the money to worthy causes instead.

So far, they have given their tips to Eco Barge Clean Seas, Whitsunday Christian College to create an Autism Garden and to Cannonvale State School to be used to supplement school camp expenses for any parents who cannot afford to send their kids.

The recent donation to Theia and her family has meant a lot to the whole team.

“She’s only 18 months old and the kid’s got to have a future,” said Wayne.

“Thank you to all the people that donated. Without you, this would not have been possible.”

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Editor's Note

October 15, 2021

We’ve got a new face in town! – welcome to Rick Hamilton – the new CEO of Tourism Whitsundays.

I managed to sit down with Rick for a coffee last Friday, just three days before his 15-month extended holiday finished and his new demanding role leading the local tourism industry began.

Following six years working for Tourism and Events Queensland and, before that, a high-level role at Flight Centre and two years at Tourism Fiji, Rick decided to take a well-deserved break and renovate his cottage in Brisbane.

With his cottage complete, his two adult sons living independently and his golfing handicap at an all-time high, Rick decided it was time to get back to work and was thrilled to be offered the job at Tourism Whitsundays.

Leaving his 11-year-old cocker spaniel, Oscar, with a friend in Brisbane while he settled in, Rick has secured an apartment in Airlie Beach with the stunning ocean views he’d been craving.

Ready to drive the ailing tourism industry forward, Rick said that he is excited to get out in the community and meet local operators.

“People have been doing it really tough,” said Rick.

“I am looking forward to hearing what they say – I very much want to be part of the community.”

It’s great to see an enthusiastic and passionate advocate for our region step-up at a time when local tourism needs a boost – we welcome you Rick - and look forward to working with you and the team.


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Job Done! Garden Maintenance Made Easy At Whitpro

October 15, 2021

It won’t be long before our hot and wet tropical climate brings about an abundance of lush and quick-growing vegetation that needs constant trimming, pruning and nurturing in order to maintain your garden oasis and avoid that tangled jungle look.

That means it’s time to get your garden maintenance on-track for the summer months and with the Whitpro team, the hard work can be done for you.

A regular garden service can incorporate edging paths, mulching your garden beds, mowing your lawn, removing green waste, hedging, planting and of course weed-killing.

James Whitehead has been with the garden maintenance team at Whitpro for 11 years and as their longest serving staff member, he brings a wealth of knowledge and skill to the job.

“I’ve always had a green thumb and I just love helping local people with their gardens,” he said.

“Seeing people smile when you finish the job – getting thanks and seeing appreciation on their faces – that makes me happy.”

Green thumb top tips:

1. Is your hedge too big? Let us trim it back for you – regular trimming helps to thicken and plump-up the external foliage while maintaining that green screen to hide that ugly fence or old shed.

2. Add some colour to your garden to create a mosaic of pretty, natural elements. Cordylines and Crotons are both hardy plants that are adapted to our tropical environment and give a pop of colour to your garden.

3. Mulch is a must as it holds the moisture in the ground and prevents weed growth while adding uniformity.

4. Regular weed control is essential, especially before they drop their seeds. When a weed flowers, it begins seed setting and if it is not killed, a seed bank will be created in the soil where weeds lie dormant and will constantly plague your garden bed.

5. Avoid watering in the heat of the day as you will lose moisture due to evaporation. Watering at night can promote fungal and algae growth. The best time to water is first thing in the morning so that the foliage dries throughout the day, but the moisture remains in the roots.

All of this can be achieved through a garden maintenance plan with Whitpro, simply call the office to book your first session and discover how simple the process can be.

“Once we’ve established what you want – you can leave it up to us!” said James.

Whitpro provide all the tools and can attend to your garden during the day while you are at work so you can return home to a tidy garden – job done!

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Local Couple Celebrate 70th Wedding Anniversary

October 15, 2021

This week two local lovebirds celebrated 70 years since they walked down the aisle at St Mary’s Catholic Church in Bowen, a moment which led them to a lifetime of happy memories together with family and friends.

Colin and Pat Wright tied the knot on October 10th, 1931, when they were just 22 and 20 years old respectively, they are now both over 90 and living happily together at Murroona Gardens where they still enjoy spending time with each other.

Pat was born in Bowen, the youngest child of the Malone family, and resided at No 1 Sinclair Street until her marriage.

Colin is originally from Gladstone and moved to Bowen when he was 18 to work with Queensland railways.

Like many couples did at the time, Pat and Colin met at a dance held at the QRI Hall.

When they were first married, they lived in Dalrymple Street but in April of 1955 they moved into a brand-new home at 23 Leichhardt Street where they enjoyed building their lives together with a close community of neighbours and family close-by.

They had three children but sadly lost two at birth, and today they have one daughter, three grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

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Regional Hospitals – Closer Connections

October 7, 2021

Working in a rural hospital can often bring the team together, with both nurses and doctors more familiar with each other’s strengths and able to work cohesively to create the best possible outcomes for all patients.

There is no-one who understands this better than Nurse Educator and Acting Maternity Manager Debbie McConnell, who was trained at the Princess Alexander Hospital in Brisbane and worked at other large hospitals before transferring to Proserpine in 2006.

“I love working in rural hospitals because you know everyone; we know what our strengths are and can cover all areas, often getting called out to support each other – as a result we tend to be a closer team,” she said.

Debbie leads the way in training programs and scenario simulations, a necessary educational service which once involved staff travelling to Mackay, but now takes place at Proserpine, saving everyone a lot of travel time.

With over 200 staff at the hospital, Debbie is always busy teaching while continually learning and updating her own skills.

“I still like learning as well as teaching!” said Debbie who has a Masters in Education.

“If you look after your students here, they will want to come back and work here – we always have a lot of people wanting to come back,” she said.

Debbie lives in Bowen with her husband, who is a police sergeant, where they have raised three boys all now in their early twenties.

In her role overseeing maternity, she says she loves the social experience of caring for a mother and her newborn.

“Here you work across so many areas and can see every stage – from the moment they come in, the birth, and the time afterwards,” she said.

“We also have great community support whether it be the CWA who make quilts and hats through to the Ladies’ Auxiliary who provide liners for pool births.”

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Free Food For Everyone!

October 7, 2021

From the beginning of this month, all Whitsunday residents are eligible for food vouchers which can be redeemed at butchers and grocery stores right across the region.

The funding is part of the Drought Relief Project which has seen $88,000 put into the community over the last year, this current round of $27,000 being the last instalment of a successful assistance project coordinated by Whitsunday Neighbourhood Centre.

The eligibility criteria are not means tested which makes the vouchers available to anyone in the community regardless of income.

Chief Operating officer of Whitsunday Neighbourhood Centre, Bec Woods said that many people may think they are not ‘deserving’ enough, but would like to assure them, they do not need to be ‘doing it tough’ in order to receive a voucher.

“It’s open to anyone who lives in the region,” said Bec.

“Anyone who lives in a drought effected region is impacted in some way, whether that be through employment instability or that their business is in a decline – there are so many levels where people can be impacted.”

The vouchers are allocated by household and one representative from that household needs to attend their nearest community centre with their drivers’ licence and Medicare card.

Once they have disclosed the make-up of their household, their application will be assessed, and the vouchers given out.

The whole process only takes a few minutes.

A single person will receive roughly $60 worth of vouchers and a family of two adults and two children receives $120 in value.

Vouchers are only able to be spent at specific locations and small businesses in order to keep the money flowing through the local community.

“While we’re helping families at a grass root level, we are also supporting the economy and small business,” said Bec.

“That then has a flow-on effect to secure employment in the region and to basically make the region more stable for families.”

“We hope this provides people with that extra assistance they need just before Christmas.”

Where you can redeem and spend your vouchers:


Redeem at: Proserpine Community Centre

Spend at: IGA and Anglicare


Redeem at: Collinsville Community Association

Spend at: Foodwerks and Fletchers Butcher

Airlie and surrounds

Redeem at: Whitsunday Neighbourhood Centre

Spend at: Prickly Pineapple and Whitsunday Plaza Butcher


Redeem at: Bowen Neighbourhood Centre

Spend at: IGA, Angus Meats, Bowen Meats

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Prossie Prawns In Time for Christmas

October 7, 2021

The season is about to get started at Tassal Prawn Farm in Proserpine where the baby prawns have just moved from their hatchery into the large ponds where they will be fed and nurtured for 150 days under strict environmental conditions until the harvest begins in early December – just in time for Christmas.

Well-known for its salmon, Tassal has been operating for 35 years, specialising in aquaculture and is at the forefront of technology in the industry.

Just three years ago the company diversified into prawn farming and in a short period of time, which has seen unprecedented growth, they have become the country’s largest producers of prawns which are known as ‘Tropico’.

With 240 ponds, each measuring 1.3 hectares and producing 4000 tonnes of prawns per year, the Proserpine prawn farm is responsible for 90 per cent of our nation’s farmed prawns.

Employing 330 people at the peak of season, it is also one of our region’s largest employers of both local and seasonal workers with a vast range of jobs available from processing roles to human resources, admin to scientists – almost any vocation can be fulfilled.

Tassal operate three prawn farms - one in Mission Beach, the other in Yamba and both of these smaller operations are controlled from a large, high-tech centre at the Proserpine farm.

Looking more like a science laboratory than a farm, the control centre consists of a dozen screens which monitor the salinity of the water, the temperature of the pond and the feeding process which is all automated.

Known as a ‘Smart Farm’, all processes are designed to be as efficient and environmentally seamless as possible.

Mark Asman, Head of Aquaculture, explained that in the wild only two per cent of prawns survive compared to 90 per cent in a farm setting.

“We are trying to bring technology into farming as much as possible,” he said.

“We make sure we are efficient with our energy through initiatives such as using feed hoppers to blow feed out.

“There are acoustic devices in the ponds that listen to the prawns eating – when they’re eating and very active, more feed goes out – this slows down when they slow their eating so there is no feed waste or left in the water to contaminate the pond.”

The ponds are also equipped with paddle wheels which create current and increase the oxygen in the ponds to just the right level for optimum growth and health.

The environment of each pond is monitored from the control centre and any changes are immediately rectified by the team of scientists, marine biologists and other on-site experts.

With an investment of $140 million in the industry, which is expected to rise to $260 million when the expansion to stage four is complete, it is anticipated that Tassal prawn production will rise to 20,000 tonnes per year by 2030 and Proserpine will be responsible for 90 per cent of this production.

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VMR Whitsundays Record Breaking Year Continues

October 7, 2021

Volunteer Marine Rescue Whitsundays (VMRW) has exceeded its record number of activations with three months remaining the year, reaching 182 activations, an increase of 64 per cent on the same period last year.

Breakdowns have gone up eight per, with medivacs over 300 per cent - 86 to date compared to the entirety of last year, which had 62 medivacs.

Each year since 2019, activations have steadily increased.

“People can’t go overseas, and they’re buying boats and maybe using boats they’re not familiar with or using ones they’ve not used in a while,” President of VMR Whitsunday Mal Priday said.

“Medivacs have ramped up, but from a VMR point of view we’re happy to be providing for the community.

“We’re coping, and we now make sure we have a dedicated skipper each night for medivac in the boat designed specifically for med evac.”

Our small town VMR is the second busiest coastal rescue service in terms of medivac in the state, with only one in Brisbane topping our numbers.

We are also the fifth overall busiest in Queensland.

“The state government are moving towards the integration of coast guard and until that’s resolved we’ve got to be careful we have funds to keep running until that comes to fruition,” Mal said.

For those of us on land, supporting VMRW is vital, and making sure you maintain your boat, as well as have the proper equipment aboard when you do take to the seas is just as important.

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A Local Place To Use Your Passport

October 7, 2021

Back by popular demand, a new Visitor Information Centre Passport Competition is launching this month, with locals and tourists alike tasked with visiting three locations in the Whitsunday and Mackay regions to secure stamps on their ‘passports’ which will put them in the running to win a prize of $2,1000 worth of holiday vouchers.

Those interested simply need to head to their nearest information centre, at either Bowen, Proserpine or Sarina, to receive their passport which includes information about the region.

Participants then have until March 2022 to retrieve a stamp from each location.

Once they have all three stamps, they can drop their passport into the raffle box for their chance to win.

Tourism Whitsundays Marketing Manager, Donna van ‘t Hoff says that the Visitor Information Centres are a wealth of local knowledge.

“The helpful staff and wonderful volunteers ensure visitors get the best from our stunning regions and the passports will encourage visitors to explore more of our incredible backyards,” she said.

“The Whitsundays and Mackay have some of the very best scenery on offer in Queensland; we are blessed with natural beauty, memorable wildlife encounters, fun-filled adventures and pure relaxation whether you’re travelling through the beautiful hinterland or along the coastline.”

Jenn Honnery, Bowen Tourism and Business Chair is pleased to be working with Tourism Whitsundays on the project.

“This is a great initiative being run across two spectacular regions,” she said.

“Working in collaboration gives us a louder voice and allows The Whitsundays and Mackay message to go further and encourage holidaymakers to enjoy our backyard.”


Bowen – The Big Mango

Proserpine – Whitsunday Gold Coffee

Sarina - Lot 125 Station Lane, Sarina

Image: Nele Graebs from Proserpine Visitor Information Centre

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Tourism Whitsundays Welcomes New Chair

October 7, 2021

Local business leader Julie Telford has just been elected as Chair of the Board for Tourism Whitsundays and brings with her a wealth of industry knowledge as well as incredible passion and drive to launch local tourism into a brave new world.

Having battled the devastating effects of Cyclone Debbie and more recently the COVID-19 pandemic through her own double national award-winning business, Julie understands first-hand what it takes to forge onwards despite unprecedented hardships.

“I believe it is imperative to have had personal skin in the game during this time and to have felt first-hand the financial and emotional challenges experienced over the past two years,” she said.  

“I will use these experiences as a driving force together with my passion for our destination and industry.

“As an industry and as a community, we need to weather this storm in the best way possible, leveraging our destination's natural beauty and reputation, embracing our industry's knowledge and tenacity, and utilising the extensive networks throughout the government tourism sectors.”

Julie’s goal is to help Tourism Whitsundays return The Whitsundays overnight visitor expenditure to better than pre-Cyclone Debbie and COVID-19 figures of over $850 million and total visitation to 1 million.

She also wants to help find a solution to workforce shortages across the industry by working collaboratively with her peers.

“Collaboration within an industry is critical. We need to continue to reinforce and nurture existing partnerships and continue to develop new ones,” she said.

“We must also remain informed regarding the process of opening up to the rest of Australia and the world,” she said.

“We will need clear strategies in place to assist our industry when this happens.”

Image: Chair of the Board for Tourism Whitsundays, Julie Telford

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A Whaler Tragedy

October 7, 2021

On October 17 1963, HMAS “Sydney” was anchored at Cid Harbour on a training exercise when one of her eight-metre sailing whalers left at 5am for a circumnavigation of Hook Island. There were five junior officers on board and this was a similar exercise to ones successfully carried out the three previous days, albeit with a few difficulties.  

They were to sail anti-clockwise around the island and after passing through Hook Passage at 7.30 am they were last seen at 8.20 am by the whaler returning from the previous day’s exercise. The winds were from the south-east at 15 to 25 knots with high tide at 10.17 am. It was anticipated the whaler should be in sight around the north-western tip of Hook Island by 2 pm and back at “Sydney” by 8pm.  

When the whaler failed to return, a cutter was sent from “Sydney” to check out their progress but could find no sign.  In the early hours of October 18, they called in at Hayman Island and were told a visitor to the island had seen what could have been an up-turned boat with people clinging to it at the northern tip of Hayman.  Hayman Island’s boat “Jane” was sent to investigate but as she was leaving the jetty, her rudder shaft broke and she returned without going to the scene.  

While the navy cutter returned to “Sydney” to report the position, “Mirimar II” from Hayman Island skippered by Dally Biggs, started a search to the north-west of Hayman Island.  It was still dark when they left and blowing hard, so Dally steamed to the north-west in very uncomfortable conditions with the idea of possibly getting ahead of the missing boat and spotting it on the return trip once day broke. However, they found nothing.  

When the cutter reached “Sydney”, a search was commenced immediately, HMAS “Anzac” searching to the east of Hook Island and “Sydney” to the north-west of Hayman Island. By 10am, a Neptune aircraft was also on the scene.  

On October 21, the whaler was found by “Anzac” 64 miles north-west of Hayman dismasted and swamped, with the bodies of two of the crew still aboard, Midshipmen DJ Saunders and GT Pierce. The remaining crew, Sub-Lieutenant NJ Longstaff and Midshipmen PG Mulvany and BH Mayger were never found. The mast and sail of the whaler were later found on Hayman Reef.  

While it never will be known what happened to the whaler, in the conditions prevailing - fresh south-east winds and a flood tide - the waters around Pinnacle Point and Dolphin Point can be a very nasty area for a small boat and perhaps this had something to do with the tragedy.  

Had fate not prevented “Jane” from going to the scene, it may have been a different and happier story.  

Over the years, Whitsunday waters have claimed many a life through accident, misadventure and cyclone and each is a story of tragedy in itself.

Photo courtesy of Proserpine Historical Society.

Story extracted from Ray Blackwood’s “Historical Coastal Stories” published in museum newsletters.

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Whitsunday Community Pulls On The Blue Shirt For Prostate Cancer Awareness

October 7, 2021

The Whitsundays community came together last week to raise much needed funds and promote awareness for the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia (PCFA) by holding a “Big Aussie BBQ” at Coral Sea Marina.

Over 120 people came to enjoy a traditional Aussie barbie at The Gardens, Coral Sea Marina, digging deep and generously donating to the much-needed cause.

One in six Australian men are impacted by prostate cancer in their lifetime.

A total of over $4,375 was raised during the event alone, with 100 per cent of the proceeds donated straight to the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia.

Coral Sea Marina received generous donations from Master Butchers Whitsundays, D’Vine Catering and Events, The Prickly Pineapple, Whitsunday Foodservice, Big W, Woolworths, the Great Barrier Reef Festival, Rewards and Coles.

Whitsunday Prostate Cancer Support Group and Airlie Beach Rotary Club were behind the barbecue on the day.

Guests were invited to put on their best blue outfits or alternatively purchase a Big Aussie BBQ blue T-shirt to show their support.

Coral Sea Marina Resort Chief Executive Officer, Kate Purdie, expressed her gratitude to the local businesses involved and the local community who attended.

“Cancer of any kind is a devastating disease which affects not only those impacted, but everyone around them as well,” Mrs Purdie said.

“I lost my husband to cancer in October of 2015, so I know that experience firsthand.

“Thank you to everyone involved for your support of this worthy cause in such a warm Whitsundays fashion.”

The Marina has pledged to hold the event annually.

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Rescued Turtle Released Back Into Wild

October 7, 2021

A successful rescue has had a happy ending, following the month-long rehabilitation of a turtle that was found floating in the water at Mantaray Bay.

Released back into the wild last week, the turtle is now healthy and free to continue living in our majestic Whitsunday waters thanks to the dedicated efforts its rescuers.

First discovered by a group of three men on a jetski, it looked like the turtle had swallowed a plastic bag before trying to dive down under the water and finding itself unable to do so.

The trio plucked the traumatised reptile from the water and sped over to the nearest vessel which happened to be Thundercat, a Red Cat Adventures tour boat, with qualified marine biologist Emily Monacella onboard.

Having worked with turtles in Thailand, Emily knew exactly what to do.

“It would have been really scared,” she said.

“So, we wrapped it in a wetsuit, covered its eyes to keep it calm and left its nose out so it could breathe.

“We then poured water over it constantly.”

The team rang Eco Barge Clean Seas which is a local company that collects marine debris from local beaches and also operates a turtle rehabilitation centre from its base in Jubilee Pocket.

Because Thundercat was nearing the end of their tour, they able to speed back to the marina and when they arrived, an Eco Barge representative was waiting for them.

The turtle was transferred to the experts and moved to the rehabilitation centre where it was discovered that it definitely had ‘float’ in it.

‘Float’ is the term used when a turtle has too much oxygen in its stomach and therefore unable to descend underwater, floating helplessly on the surface.

The most likely cause was that it had ingested a plastic bag.

Red Cat Adventures are part of the Reef Search program which actively monitors the environment and all staff are trained in eco-friendly processes that likely helped save the turtle’s life.

Working alongside Emily onboard that day were skipper Shaun Brown and deckhand Amy Julian.

Image: The rescued turtle

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Bowen Rail Tracking Well As Locomotives Arrive In Townsville

October 7, 2021

Bowen Rail Company last week celebrated the arrival of its first state-of-the-art locomotive through the Port of Townsville, as the business ramps up plans to transport coal for its first customer, the Bravus Mining and Resources Carmichael Mine.

The Hon. Keith Pitt MP, Federal Minister for Resources and Water and the Hon. Scott Stewart MP, Queensland Minister for Resources welcomed the locomotives officially into north Queensland.

Bowen Rail Company, which launched in August of last year, is headquartered in Bowen and has promised to create jobs and opportunities in the region for generations to come.

“The company was honoured to have both the Federal and State Resources Ministers on hand to unveil the locomotives, with their presence reinforcing the significance of the new rail business,” Bowen Rail Company CEO Trista Brohier said.

“[The company is] the first new rail freight company to be established in Australia in decades, and now that our locomotives and wagons have arrived, we will soon get on with transporting coal from the Carmichael Mine to North Queensland Export Terminal.”

Bowen Rail Company’s fleet of locomotives are fresh out of the Caterpillar Company’s Progress Rail business in the USA and are the most technologically advanced freight locomotives Australia has ever seen.

“The locomotives boast new safety technology which improves braking and ease of operating, providing a safer environment for our train crew,” Ms Brohier said.

“They have highly intelligent IT systems that enable us to operate the trains and track their movements from anywhere in the country and they are also more fuel efficient, using 10 per cent less fuel than the existing diesel trains in Australia.”

The arrival of the locomotives marks a milestone ahead of the new regional rail company’s preparations for operation.

Bowen Rail recently announced the construction of a rail yard, which will see more than 100 construction jobs provided through local Bowen company, Hillery Group.

Recruitment is underway for train drivers and other roles including supervisors, maintenance planners, trainees and corporate positions which will see more than 50 new people employed for Bowen Rail Company throughout this initial phase.

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Sportspark Redevelopment Races Ahead

October 7, 2021

With just a few months to go until construction of the new $8 million Whitsunday Sportspark is complete, anticipation is building, and the sporting community is buzzing.

For the past 12 months Hutchinson Builders have been working tirelessly on the project and they are on-track to finalise their work by Christmas, opening the way for an extensive fit-out of the Club House which is anticipated to take an additional six months.

The grand opening is expected for June 2022 and will offer the community a modern, fully-airconditioned dining area and outdoor al fresco dining space which will cater for 120 people and overlooks the footy pitch.

To the far end of the Club House there will be a Sports Bar facility and gaming room with 47 pokie machines. This bar will overlook the AFL pitch and also offer great views of the sporting action.

For the past 18 months the five different sporting groups - Rugby Union, Touch Footie, Netball, AFL and Soccer – have been playing without any changing rooms or fixed toilet facilities and Whitsunday Sportspark Chairman Justin Butler would like to thank everyone for their patience.

“We have over 800 players come to the Sportspark each week and 1500 people if you include family members,” he said.

“Because we had to change the initial plan for a two-storey building to one-storey, it has taken something that should have been one year into two - everyone has been walking around the construction site and dealing with basic facilities – but the sporting infrastructure will be ready to role for next year.”

When it is fully open, Justin looks forward to welcoming the whole community and says that you don’t need to be involved in the sport to enjoy the facility.

“This Club House is for the community and all the profits are going back into the community,” he explained.

“If we can provide a top-quality hospitality and entertainment experience, we want people to choose to come here rather than the pubs.”

Memberships are $5 a year and you receive discounts on your food and beverages, plus a reward program whereby you can nominate your favourite sporting club and donate your points to them.

This is stage one of the masterplan, with the long term vision hoping to incorporate an aquatic centre on-site.

Image: Whitsunday Sportspark Chairman standing outside the Club House which is almost complete

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Little Trekker Found Safe

October 7, 2021

One of the most frightening experiences for any parent must be the moment you think you have lost your child and that trickling dread that you may never see them again.

This was the reality for one Whitsunday family whose toddler left the house and started wandering the neighbourhood alone last week.

Fortunately, the little trekker was found safe, and police were informed.

The young adventurer was then taken to the local station where he was cared for while officers knocked on doors throughout Jubilee Pocket in a frantic search to find the parents.

Local facebook community group, Whitsundays Chat, also embarked on their own campaign to track down the missing boy’s parents and were overwhelmed by community support which saw 16,300 post visits and 360 post shares.

Site admin, Tom Coull said that it was incredible to see so many people try to help.

“Take a bow...I have no idea about the circumstances as to how the little guy was on the street (nor is it my business) but I'm sure a couple of parents will sleep well tonight, and that's thanks to you!” said his post.

The boy was reunited with his parents who were extremely grateful for everyone’s help.

Great news all round - from a supportive community to the dedicated police officers, everyone involved deserves to be congratulated.

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Guns And Mental Health

October 7, 2021

The whirring sound of electric motors firing off tens of thousands of gel balls was music to the ears of locals and travelling gel blaster enthusiasts who participated in the Whitsunday Ballers Suicide Awareness Event last Saturday.

In collaboration with local awareness group Real Mates Talk, President of Whitsunday Ballers Shannon Taylor held a family friendly and action-packed day where members of the community were brought together to raise awareness of suicide.

Around three-quarters of the people who die by suicide in the Whitsunday, Isaac and Mackay region are men, and events like these are ways for men to destress, connect with like-minded people and build lasting friendships – all things that can help to combat depression and anxiety.

Funds from the event were donated to Real Mates Talk, who hosted a stall on the day and invited Whitsunday Ballers members and the local community to come and have a chat.

President of Whitsunday Ballers Shannon Taylor has seen the effects of depression and anxiety firsthand, with friends over the years battling the black dog, as well as his own son, meaning it’s an issue close to his heart.

“When we found out about Real Mates Talk, it gave us the opportunity to do something bigger, because so many people do this sport as an outlet [for depression],” Shannon said.

“You would be surprised how many people the sport has changed over this time; the amount of change you see in certain people is absolutely unreal.

“Putting [Real Mates Talk and Whitsunday Ballers] together was just a perfect match.”

With gold coin donations at the entrance and at the barbecue, gel blaster rental, gel ball purchasing, donations and more, the Whitsunday Ballers raised $1745 dollars for Real Mates Talk.

Teams all the way from Rockhampton and Townsville came on the day, as well as locals, to destigmatise and raise awareness of suicide.

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With Honour They Served

October 7, 2021

National Police Remembrance Day (NPRD) was held last week in Bowen at the Bowen Baptist Church on Argyle Street, on a day where the Queensland Police Service’s join with other Australasian police jurisdictions to pause and honour fallen officers.

One of the most important days on the policing calendar, NPRD is a time for members of the police service and the community to remember, honour and thank the dedicated officers who have lost their lives while on duty.

The service has been held annually throughout regional Queensland since 1989.

It is traditional for uniformed and plain clothes police officers, together with staff members to participate in these ceremonies.

Police Remembrance Day is observed every September in conjunction with the Feast of Saint Michael, the Archangel, Patron Saint of Police, who was said to always be fighting evil.

This year, the Whitsunday Police Remembrance Day was held on Wednesday September 29 in our Far North District, with Members of the public attending to support local officers.

Whitsunday Regional Council Mayor Andrew Willcox attended the ceremony and paid his respects on the day.

“This is a time to pay tribute to all those who serve and who have lost their lives in the line of duty,” Mayor Willcox said

“We honour their memory and also give thanks to the families that live on without their loved ones.”

The event was host to between 50 and 60 members of community, police force and other emergency services, including local paramedics and firefighters.

“It was a very moving service; everyone should have the right to go to work and come home to their loved ones,” Mayor Willcox said.

“It was an opportunity to remember the people who have paid the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty and an opportunity to say thank you to all those who don’t always get to come home to their loved ones.”

Mayor Willcox laid a wreath on behalf of the Whitsundays at what he said was a public giving of thanks to the police for everything they do.

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Boating Community Mourns Fallen Sailor

October 7, 2021

The tight-knit sailing community at Coral Sea Marina was rocked last week when the body of a fellow boat-owner was found floating in the water just metres from his vessel.

Known only as ‘Derek’ by local boaties, the 73 year old man is understood to have been living on his boat at the Marina since June and was due to make the long trip to his home-town of Tin Can Bay on the Sunshine Coast next week where he would have been reunited with his wife of 40 years and the rest of his family.

Derek had recently bought ‘Velella’, a small but well-equipped yacht that he had first spotted 20 years prior and looked at purchasing before the sale fell through.

When he noticed the boat was up for sale again this year, he jumped at the opportunity to fulfill his life-long dream and was about to set sail on his first adventure.

Known as an intelligent and humble man, he was respected by all that knew him, including fellow boatie, Ross Bell.

“You meet a lot of people at the Marina. Some that are acquaintances and some you are really drawn to,” said Mr Bell.

“Derek was so easy to get along with – he would always have something to contribute in conversations, he was interested in everything and a very positive person, never negative.”

Derek was passionate about wildlife, having operated a tour business at Eungella for many years.

“He’d had a varied life and operated all sorts of businesses, and had an extensive knowledge about many things,” said Mr Bell.

“His death has sent a shock wave through the whole community – he was such a nice guy – which makes it so much worse.”

The night before Derek’s death, Mr Bell and a few others enjoyed after dinner drinks with Derek who is reputed to only ever have a couple of quiet ones.

They watched him walk and board his boat before returning to their own vessels.

Known to be a little unsteady on his feet, many of Derek’s boating friends believe he could have slipped and fallen into the water.

Derek’s body was found by his neighbour, Jim Vaughan, on the morning of Tuesday 28th September.

The night of his death the local boating community gathered at Sorrento’s for a few quiet drinks to honour Derek’s life and support each other.

It is believed that his family were on their way up from the Sunshine Coast.

Image: Derek passed away last Tuesday

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Collinsville Mourns Miners

October 7, 2021
This Week Marks 67 Years Since The Mining Disaster

This Wednesday, it will have been sixty-seven years since seven men walked into the Number One Tunnel of the Collinsville Coal Mine to never return.

At 5:50pm on that tragic day, a gas outburst of ‘black damp’ filled the mine, asphyxiating the men in what was, at the time, the worst mining disaster in Queensland history.

The men, Alexander Parkinson, Henry Peterson, Frederick Walker, Arthur Shrubsole, Peter Miller, James Logan, and Herbert Ruff are remembered every year on October 13 with a Collinsville Miners’ Memorial Service held at the Collinsville Workers Club.

Last Living Survivor Shares Story

Sugar Ray Brunker was there in the Number One Tunnel in 1954 when the miners broke through a coalface, unleashing the ‘black damp’, and says he still has nightmares from that fateful day when he was only 17.

“That night it happened, me and a fella called Jack Thomas, we were working the horses,” Sugar said.

“One fella shouted out, ‘run for your lives,’ and I think that was [Henry] Petersen, but that’s only a guess.”

“We just ran and ran.”

‘Black damp’, the odourless, fog-like carbon dioxide gas can kill in three breaths, taking all of the oxygen out of the human bloodstream – on that fateful day it rushed through the tunnels, overcoming the seven miners and two pit ponies, just meters from where Sugar Ray was stood.

Sugar’s survival was thanks to that very horse, who he had been minding just before the accident.

He had stopped to fix one of his tools that had been trapped in the machinery nearby and this delay meant that when the black damp was unleashed, he was far enough away to survive.

He and Jack Thomas fled the mine, and deputies headed down to attend the incident, where one deputy walked straight into the mine and died instantly.

“I remember it was like snowy ash in my eyes as I was running, and we must’ve been lucky, running full steam through the dark,” Sugar Ray said.

“I live day by day ever since I got out of there; very thankful.”

Sugar Ray is the very last survivor of the mining disaster, as Jack Thomas passed many years ago, and Bill Davis, another young miner at the time, died earlier this year.

Often, the memorial event is the biggest held in Collinsville and is one of the most important days of remembrance on the calendar for the town.

In 1954, Collinsville had a population of around 2300, and the funeral for the seven miners was held the very next day on Thursday the 14th of October 1954, and about 2000 of those people attended as the men were buried in separate graves, side by side.

The funeral procession set off to the Collinsville Cemetery at 4:30 pm, the cortege was led by a procession of miners, with the wives and children of the deceased miners following in cars.

In the present, the day of remembrance is important for a town that is thoroughly entrenched in mining culture.

Local schoolchildren attend each year, as well as a great swath of the community and Sugar Ray, who makes the journey from where he now lives in Bowen, to remind themselves of a tragedy that rocked the entire mining industry of Queensland, as well as the heartbreaking loss of seven men.

“I think it’s great that the kids go now, and it’s a good turnout, I’ve been there that many times that I have a beer on the quiet,” Sugar said.

“I haven’t drunk for about three years now, but I will up there.”

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Council Seeks New Policy For Holiday Accommodation

September 29, 2021

New policy could soon be on its way to better control short term accommodation (STA) and Airbnb rentals in the Whitsunday region following four separate complaints from neighbours at a luxury holiday house in Cannonvale.

The Airbnb property on Woodwark Crescent has submitted a Material Change of Use application to Council which would enable it to operate as short-term holiday rental.

The decision on the application was tabled at last week’s ordinary Council meeting pending new policy to better control issues such as noise levels and street parking.

This case study is being used to set a new precedent for STAs so that Council can have more authority to control noise pollution which results from lack of supervision when holidaymakers misbehave at properties which are located in quiet residential areas.

At the meeting, Mayor Andrew Willcox agreed that better policy is needed and asked for time to workshop the issue so Council can get the framework right.

“From my point of view, we have only heard one side of the story,” said Mayor Willcox.

“I would really like to hear the other as well just to make sure we have made the full, informed decision.”

“I want to have time to develop a better way of dealing with these things so that everyone in the community can get a better understanding – those who want peace and relaxation in one area and the others can go to a busier area.”

“If people are playing-up, what are we going to do with them? What mechanisms are we going to put in-place?”

Councillor Al Grundy commented that Noosa Council caps the amount of Airbnb and STA properties allowed to operate in each residential area and Councillor Michelle Wright asserted that these properties need better control mechanisms in place.

“I believe there are holes in the legislation for any infrastructure charges,” said Cr Wright.

“Any other business needs to pay their way and so should these.”

Owner of Whitsunday Holiday Rentals, Michelle Lange, says that from a Property Management perspective there are set policies and procedures in place that have been implemented and proven effective.

“Best practice would be for all parties to work together and deliver the best outcome for Whitsunday Tourism and the community,” she said.

“The tourism industry is imperative to the Whitsundays economy, and we all need to work collaboratively to build and nurture this environment for the best outcome for tourism and the community.”

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September 29, 2021

In earlier days in Proserpine, there was no doctor, no ambulance and no chemist and accessing medical assistance meant a long arduous trip to Bowen over roughly formed roads in a horse drawn vehicle. And so, the midwife was a very important member of the community attending to women in confinement, being called on to help out at medical emergencies when the doctors weren’t available and often being paid in kind for their trouble as money was scarce.

Many of these amazing women, some known affectionately as ‘Granny’, had large families of their own, yet also looked after other women and their families.

• Mrs Ellen ‘Granny’ Atkinson, who gave birth to 13 children, attended to mothers in Foxdale and Up River area.

• Mrs Mary Atkinson lived in Strathdickie on a sugar cane farm in the late 1880s. She had 10 children. When the farm was sold, she moved to Chapman Street and opened up a nursing home to attend to mothers in confinement.

• Mrs Mary Drinkwater had 10 children. She and husband, Robert, resided in Kelsey Ck after moving from Bowen.

• Mrs Dunn ran her nursing home at No. 9 Waite Street, circa 1919.

• Mrs Sophie ‘Granny’ Jurgens was a trained midwife who would attend a birth and nurse the mother for nine days as well as cook and wash for the other family members.

• Mrs Mary Ann Compton lived at Mt Marlow on a sugar cane farm and was the local midwife in that area. She often stayed for two weeks with the family and was paid in pumpkins.

• Mrs Miller travelled to people’s homes staying for two weeks to attend the birth and nurse the mother - circa 1928.

• Charlotte Brown was a nurse and midwife who not only delivered babies but also stayed to help with the washing and day-to-day running of the house, being paid £5 for her efforts.

• Nurse K Read settled in Glen Isla and the Gregory area in 1925. Mrs Read rented rooms in the house now the site of Rotary Park in Faust Street. She continued nursing until about 1942.

• Mrs Setter was in charge of the maternity section of a nursing home run by Dr Anderson. Mr Setter had built a two-storey building in Main Street and the nursing home was in the upstairs area. About 1924, the maternity section was added to Proserpine’s first hospital and Mrs Setter then shifted to Chapman Street (site now of the squash courts). This was probably the Gloucester Private Hospital. Patricia McCormack was the first baby born there on February 19, 1927.

The challenges for these midwives were enormous but these resilient and dedicated women just ‘rolled up their sleeves’ and got on with the job. And do remember, at this time, their transport would have been by horse and sulky, on foot or by bike.

Story and photo courtesy of the Proserpine Historical Museum.

Caption: Mrs Ellen (Granny) Atkinson

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Free Course Teaches How To Be Better Parent

September 29, 2021

A new program which helps parents navigate their child’s emotional development in a positive and empowering way is due to start its free eight-week course in Bowen this week.

An initiative of Whitsunday Counselling and Support, the Circle of Security Parenting course helps mums, dads and guardians make sense of what their children are asking and understand what it is they need.

The program is based on decades of research about how secure parent-child relationships can be supported and strengthened.

During the course, participants will learn how to read emotional cues and better understand their child’s emotional world.

In turn, this will help the child manage their emotions, providing improved self-esteem and overall security.

Course presenter Andrea Bradley said that when a child misbehaves, quite often it is not about wanting attention, it is about them wanting connection.

“It is a lot about relationships, learning how to handle them and also repair them,” she said.

“A relationship is a two-way street and, especially with kids, we can forget about that and see them as the problem when sometimes it is our own behaviours that are triggered by our past and our previous experiences.

“This program teaches parents about being in the relationship and really hearing the child.”

The course starts this Tuesday 5th October for eight consecutive weeks, finishing up on Tuesday 23rd November.

It is suitable for parents and caregivers of children from 0-11 and each session is hosted at Whitsunday Counselling & Support, Shop 3/38 Herbert Street, Bowen from 10am until 12pm.

To register for the free event call 4946 2999 or admin@whitsundaycs.com.au

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Marine Radio Tower Upgrades Ensure No Black Spots

September 29, 2021

Residents using Whitsunday waterways for recreation, business or transport will now have better communications as a result of upgrades to the corroded ex Telstra SeaPhone tower at Mt Robison on Whitsunday Island.

At a height of 400 metres, the contractors tasked with job worked under extreme conditions to move the 22-metre-high structure, which weighed almost one-tonne, by helicopter to Shute Harbour Airport.

Volunteer Marine Rescue (VMR) Whitsundays were needed to move their adjacent installations and take down the aerials before reinstating the VMR and QPWS equipment, installing industrial strength AIS communications, and new aerials on their new six-metre mast.

“Thanks to Terry Kemp and Phil Pleydell for their persistence on this remarkable installation, and to NAB Foundation Community Grant Program who provided a grant of $10,000 towards the costs of the project,” said Mal Priday from VMR.

“This was truly a community project by VMR to strengthen our Marine Safety Net in the amazing Whitsundays.”

AIS Coverage from the Robison site varies from 2500 sq. kms to over 3500 sq. kms, and with the Hayman and Shute Harbour AIS equipment, the three sites will virtually eliminate any black spots in the Whitsundays.

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The Earthmoving Specialists

September 29, 2021

The longest standing earth moving business in the Whitsundays, Pat McDonnell Earthmoving in Bowen has been operating for 39 years and, with its modern and efficient machinery, they are able to shift almost any soil, stone, or debris quickly and easily.

An iconic family business, Pat McDonnell and his wife Faye started up in 1982 and, with the help of their son Dale, have successfully grown the business to include 11 tippers, three water trucks, seven front end loaders, three excavators and two graders.

They can supply topsoil, sand, quarry materials, brick loam, crusher dust, deco, landfill and screened river stone – and with the right material for almost any job, they can match your needs with the right products and the right machinery to get the job done as efficiently as possible.

In recent years, Dale McDonnell has taken over the operational side of the business and says that he always provides top level service at the right price.

“We’re down to earth, honest, reliable, and always look after our customers,” he said.

Whether you are clearing land, building a driveway, landscaping your garden or simply trying to fill a hole, the team of 12 dedicated staff at McDonnell Earthmoving can help you get the job done.

Simply call the office and one of the team will be happy to come and see you, discuss your plans and provide an obligation free quote.

Having worked on many big projects with both the Whitsunday Regional Council and Aurison Railway, McDonnell Earthmoving understand the logistics of both large and small projects.

Whatever your earthmoving need - they can move, fill or develop with ease.

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Prepare Your Air For A Whitsunday Summer

September 29, 2021

When the heat gets going, don’t be caught sweating, because the last thing you want on the first hot day of summer is to find your air conditioner lacking.

Doing a quick, annual maintenance before the summer sun comes beating down is your best approach, and here are some simple ways to get the air flowing.

Keep Your Filters Clean

The filters in your air conditioner are some of the most important parts of the system as they trap airborne dust and particles that exist in your home. Keeping them working effectively requires a bit of tender love and care, starting with a simple wash once a season.

The Right Mode For The Right Job

While it may seem obvious, how many times have you turned on the air conditioner and it’s been blowing out hot rather than cool? Make sure to change your air conditioner to cooling mode before summer strikes.

You can also easily set and forget your air conditioner’s timers to keep your rooms cool as the temperature rises.

Cool Air Falls

Use your remote to position the louvres towards the ceiling, so as the cool air falls it will be circulated evenly throughout the room.

Get The Professionals To Take A Look

Once a year you should be getting your unit serviced professionally, regardless of how thorough you may be, the professionals have all the tools and the know how to keep you cool in an Australian summer.

A professional technical will be able to do a complete check and clean all parts of your unit and make any required adjustments – so make sure you reach out before the heat hits.

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Guns And Mental Health

September 29, 2021

The whirring sound of electric motors firing off tens of thousands of gel balls was music to the ears of locals and travelling gel blaster enthusiasts who participated in the Whitsunday Ballers Suicide Awareness Event last Saturday.

In collaboration with local awareness group Real Mates Talk, President of Whitsunday Ballers Shannon Taylor held a family friendly and action-packed day where members of the community were brought together to raise awareness of suicide.

Around three-quarters of the people who die by suicide in the Whitsunday, Isaac and Mackay region are men, and events like these are ways for men to destress, connect with like-minded people and build lasting friendships – all things that can help to combat depression and anxiety.

Funds from the event were donated to Real Mates Talk, who hosted a stall on the day and invited Whitsunday Ballers members and the local community to come and have a chat.

President of Whitsunday Ballers Shannon Taylor has seen the effects of depression and anxiety firsthand, with friends over the years battling the black dog, as well as his own son, meaning it’s an issue close to his heart.

“When we found out about Real Mates Talk, it gave us the opportunity to do something bigger, because so many people do this sport as an outlet [for depression],” Shannon said.

“You would be surprised how many people the sport has changed over this time; the amount of change you see in certain people is absolutely unreal.

“Putting [Real Mates Talk and Whitsunday Ballers] together was just a perfect match.”

With gold coin donations at the entrance and at the barbecue, gel blaster rental, gel ball purchasing, donations and more, the Whitsunday Ballers raised $1745 dollars for Real Mates Talk.

Teams all the way from Rockhampton and Townsville came on the day, as well as locals, to destigmatise and raise awareness of suicide.

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Chamber Chat

September 29, 2021

With the region well into the school holiday period, business is better for those in the tourism industry and the increased trade is genuinely appreciated and needed.

And whilst there are Queenslanders visiting the region, accommodation and tour operators are nowhere near capacity, and many are concerned that this upturn in trade will suddenly stop with the school holiday period ending. With another busy season decimated by forces beyond our control, it is another stark reinforcement of the fact that until lockdowns are behind us, our massive tourism sector will struggle to survive. Alarm bells are ringing more loudly every day.

The only way Government will allow us out of the lockdown cycle is through vaccination and with and mRNA vaccinations now available with few restrictions, everyone 12 and over can get a jab through Queensland Health, several GP surgeries and all the local pharmacies

The Chamber continues to advocate alongside other Representative bodies for more substantial and targeted assistance for affected businesses. A reminder that the Business Basics Grants (Round 2) - $5k is still taking applications and the 2021 COVID-19 Business Support Grants of between $1,000 - $30,000 is open until 16th November. Information on both these packages can be found at https://www.business.qld.gov.au

At the chamber's October networking event on Thursday 14th October we were hoping to present the Regional Economic Development plan, however delays to the plan mean we will put together an alternative presentation. Stay tuned for more

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‘Tis The Start Of Giving Season

September 29, 2021

The Whitsunday Neighbourhood Centre is hosting Adopt a Family once again this year and they are calling out to the community and local businesses to get behind the initiative and help put a smile on the faces of a local family or individual who is doing it tough this year.

For over a decade, Adopt A Family has been giving presents to people who need it most and since 2016, Whitsunday Neighbourhood Centre has been coordinating the project which helps almost 50 families every year.

The process is simple, those interested are asked to pick a family, the names of which are coded to ensure privacy and give only the age and gender of its members. Once a family has been selected, the donators are asked to purchase a suitable gift voucher and Chief Executive Officer of the Whitsunday Neighbourhood Centre, Bec Woods, says that they encourage people to shop local.

“Giving gift vouchers means people have more choice and can cater Christmas more to their needs,” she said.

“We have also found that by encouraging vouchers people are more likely to use small businesses and that means that more people in the community than just the families.”

From a massage voucher for mum to a fishing voucher for dad, a local tour experience for the whole family or toys for the children, a flexible voucher lets them choose what they would enjoy most.

The first coded family names will be released on Monday 1st November and published on their Facebook page as well as in Whitsunday Life Newspaper.

Once you have picked your family and bought your vouchers simply drop them off to the Whitsunday Neighbourhood Centre. If you want to give but do not want to go through the process of selecting a family, you can purchase any voucher and drop it in, the gift will then be given to someone in need.

The appeal is run in collaboration with Proserpine Meals on Wheels, Domestic Violence Resource Service Mackay & Region, Whitsunday Housing Company Inc, Proserpine Community Centre, St Vincent de Paul Proserpine and Cannonvale and Lives Lived Well.

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School Career Day Inspires Students

September 29, 2021

Career Day was a huge success at St Catherine’s Catholic College in Proserpine with almost 40 business representatives from across the region attending the event and sharing their unique industry knowledge to inspire students and potentially shape a child’s future career.

From horticulture to tourism, beauty to law, medicine to the emergency services, the depth and breadth of the career opportunities on offer provided students with real-life, tangible information they could one day use to make an informed decision when deciding upon a career.

Communications and Publications Officer for St Cath’s, Aimee Mitchell, said that the students enjoyed talks by the Defence Force, MAS Employment, Maritime Safety Authority as well as other interesting professions.

“Our secondary students were given time to speak one-on-one with our guests and check out careers they may not have been aware of,” she said.

“Our primary students started the day with a dress up parade of what they wanted to be when they grew up. It was great to see so many great career costumes and everyone getting into the spirit of the day.”

The primary students also got the opportunity to browse the displays with the emergency services and big tractor some of the most popular experiences.

“It was great to give them some guidance so that when they leave school, they have an idea of what they want to do,” said Aimee.

“The feedback from the stall holders was excellent too, with many of them saying how well-behaved and polite the children were.”

St Cath’s is now taking enrolments for all year levels from kindy through to year 12.

Did you know?

St Cath’s was voted in the top 100 of Queensland schools, coming in at number 54.

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Local Students Learn In The Work Place

September 29, 2021

Local students are learning invaluable life skills through direct work experience by participating in practical placements at Bowen Flexi Care as part of their school-based traineeships.

General Managers of Bowen Flexi Care (BFC) Elise Woodhouse said that there are huge advantages to school-based traineeships.

"Many people prefer hands-on learning to traditional schooling pathways because it can give them a head start in a career by developing workplace skills, knowledge and confidence which can lead directly to full-time employment after completing their formal education," Ms Woodhouse said.

Gina Monks and Sam Hird who are from both Bowen State High School and Collinsville High School are being paid to put their learnt skills into practice in a real work environment at BFC.

Gina Monks said she was enthusiastic about the traineeship so far.

"It has helped me to build confidence, improve my practical knowledge, and I look forward to a career in community services," Ms Monk said.

“Working with a diverse range of people has helped me to feel connected to the community. I was born in Papua New Guinea and have moved back and forth throughout my life and I feel more connected now and able to share my culture and experiences with others through my role at BFC.”

Sam Hird has been working at Bowen Flexi Care one day a week and says he looks forward to pursuing a career in the industry when he completes his studies.

"I enjoy helping others and seeing first-hand the positive contribution we can make to the lives of others," Mr Hird said.

“I like being able to make a difference and help individuals in our community. After school, I hope to remain working at BFC because it’s a great place to work.”

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New Funding Gives Tourism Industry Hope

September 29, 2021

Whitsunday tourism and hospitality businesses are now able to apply for additional government support and receive a share of a pool of $70 million in financial aid made available to businesses impacted by border closures right across Queensland.

Many local operators have commented that their businesses are struggling more now than when the initial outbreak forced them to shut their doors.

This is because the Whitsunday tourism industry is perceived to be less affected by the impacts of ‘lockdowns’ despite being ‘locked out’ from the majority of their domestic market.

With many businesses limping along at only 15-20 per cent of their usual occupancy and the threat of borders remaining closed until after Christmas, this welcome relief comes not a moment too soon.

Out of the $70 million, $30 million will be targeted at supporting Queensland’s iconic tourism attractions and $40 million will be used to provide a second round of grants to small, medium and large employing tourism and hospitality businesses across the state that received an initial grant from the Tourism and Hospitality Sector Hardship Program.

Grants of $15,000, $25,000, and $50,000 will be available to businesses that have experienced a reduction in turnover of at least 70 per cent for at least seven consecutive days between 1 July and 30 September

Federal Member for Dawson George Christensen said that lockdowns and border closures have a significant impact on tourism businesses in the Whitsundays.

“The government understands the impact lockdowns and border closures have had on our local businesses, especially on those in the tourism sector,” Mr Christensen said.

“There has been no international tourism for more than 18 months and state border closures have all but decimated the domestic market, that is why I have pushed so hard to get the Government to provide support to struggling tourism businesses in hard-hit areas such as the Whitsundays.”

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Labor Candidate Visits Whitsundays

September 29, 2021

The Federal Seat of Dawson is up for grabs this coming election, as Liberal National Parties MP George Christensen vacates a position he has held for over 11 years.

The Dawson seat is being contested in next year’s election by the opposition’s new candidate Shane Hamilton, as well as the LNP’s replacement for Christensen, Andrew Willcox who is currently Whitsunday Regional Council Mayor.

Dawson spreads across the North Queensland coast, taking in the towns of Ayr, Bowen, Mackay, Proserpine, as well as Airlie Beach and Cannonvale, and some south-eastern suburbs of the city of Townsville.

Federal Labor announced Shane Hamilton would be their representative back in May, when Labor leader Anthony Albanese announced the decision at an underground mining training centre in Mackay.

Shane is as local as you can get, having grown up in Sarina and Mackay, with family connections to the region that go back three generations.

He has been a Project Manager in Coal mining maintenance, and thus has a strong connection with the resources industry and is a loud voice for the creation of jobs for the entire region.

Shane visited the Whitsundays with Federal Labor’s Shadow Treasurer Tim Chalmers last Tuesday evening at Whitsunday Sailing Club, where they listened to local concerns and gained the lay of the land.

Shane has promised that, if elected, he will fight to deliver real support for the tourism industry, as well as 20,000 social and affordable houses – which in turn will support jobs.

“We’re the party that looks after people, whether it’s building affordable housing and enough GPS, or enough housing for Cannonvale, Airlie beach, and Proserpine – we will do it,” he said.

Shane also attended a meeting with tourism operators the week before, where he listened to their concerns.

“I think we need to highlight the Whitsundays as the jewel in the crown. It seems that Cairns and the Gold Coast get everything,” Mr Hamilton said.

A normal House of Representatives and a half-Senate election must be held by May 21, 2022.

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New Logos Say It All

September 29, 2021

A new and vibrant logo that encapsulates the fun and adventurous holiday spirit of the Whitsundays will now be used as part of an innovative rebranding initiative for the Shute Harbour Marine Terminal and Whitsunday Coast Airport.

The Council owned locations have both received extensive upgrades that involved re-building the airport over the last five years and investing $64 million into the new marine terminal.

It is now considered an ideal time to introduce modern branding and a special logo which is unique to the area.

While the corporate logo will be retained across Council, these two sites will adopt the new Heart of the Reef themed branding.

Councillor Jan Clifford said that she loves the new look.

“The Heart of the Reef is internationally known,” said Cr Clifford.

“People come here to have fun and enjoy what we have to offer, and I think this logo says all of this.”

Mayor Andrew Willcox agreed saying that the new logos bring out the best in our region.

“They are brand new buildings and we have spent a lot of time doing them up,” he said.

“It’s great to have differentiation between them and our corporate branding – well done all round.”

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Community Swimming Pools Deserve Local Management

September 29, 2021

A risky mismanagement of our local community swimming-pools is causing concern following the intention to award the operational tender to a Sydney-based organisation who are deemed to have no local knowledge and would therefore be out of touch when serving the needs of the community.

The issue was raised by Whitsunday Swimming Club President, Darren Atwood, who gave a impassioned speech at last week’s ordinary Council meeting, asking for the tender to be kept local so that more adequate management can be provided.

Lifeguarding Services Pty Ltd based in Sydney had been awarded the tender for lifeguarding and water maintenance at Airlie Beach Lagoon and management of Proserpine Swimming Pool.

Lifeguard, Tahlia Purcell who works at the Airlie Beach Lagoon said that they had been fearing for their jobs if the new management team, who are based in the Isaac Region, were employed.

“The new Council contract wanted to get rid of all the staff and hire people from the Isaac,” she said.

“These people have never looked after a lagoon in their life, and we are very grateful that Darren went in and stood up for us, and also that Council are sitting down and talking about it.”

Mayor Andrew Willcox said that he used to be the President of the swimming club in Bowen and says he understands the implications of mismanagement.

“Sometimes when the big boys from out of town come in, they don’t understand how these little communities operate,” he said.

“I’d certainly like to have more discussion about this.”

Councillor Gary Simpson said that this should not be about cost-cutting but rather providing the best level of service for the community.

“I feel for these guys and our kids and our swimming-pools – there is more to this than counting the numbers,” he said.

Councillor Mike Brunker agreed saying that it is a “corporate model” that he feels is “not in the best interest of the swimmers”.

Whitsunday Swimming Club President, Darren Atwood, was contacted and asked to comment but he declined until an outcome is reached by working alongside council.

The contracts were due to change over on September 30 but Council unanimously agreed to defer the decision and ask for an extension of the caretaker contracts until the situation is resolved.

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$20 Million Invested To Find Gas Out West

September 29, 2021

A $20.7 million investment into the exploration of potential gas fields around the North Bowen and Galilee Basin was announced last week and dignitaries attended a meeting in Bowen to discuss the logistics of how this new industry could benefit the region.

Forecast to create 5,500 local jobs by 2030, the basins are estimated to hold enough gas to meet Australia’s east coast needs for over a decade.

Mayor Andrew Willcox said that he is excited to see the expansion of our local resource industry.

“The gas, the coal – this country is built on resources,” he said.

Member for Dawson George Christensen agreed, saying that this project is the initial stage of what he expects to be a booming industry and an excellent source of employment.

“This is a new frontier in the creation of local jobs,” he said.

“We have the well-established mining sector, but we still need to do more and that’s the future – out west.”

Minister for Resources and Water Keith Pitt said the plan would grow private sector confidence and bring forward investment to regional Queensland.

“The Plan supports industry to develop the region’s major gas resources,” he said.

“The strategic plan supports the Government’s agenda for a gas-fired recovery and will help deliver affordable gas for Australian industries and households.”

It is hoped that the initial investment into gas exploration will generate $400 million in research funding and critical infrastructure upgrades.

The plan also includes $15.7 million for gas field trials including innovative drilling programs to prove the region’s potential and $5 million for studies to support development of a new gas pipeline to the region, co-funded by the Queensland government.

Image: Whitsunday Mayor Andrew Willcox, Federal Member for Dawson George Christensen, President of Bowen Chamber of Commerce Bruce Hedditch and Minister for Resources and Water Keith Pitt

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New Biosecurity Plan Protects Our Environment

September 29, 2021

A new biosecurity plan has been adopted for the Whitsundays, with the control of feral pigs and the reduction of the spread of weeds a main focus for the team over the next four years.

The last bio-security plan came into play in 2017 and the new plan was formed in conjunction with a community consultation period which was held between 24 June and 28 July this year.

Only 12 people offered feedback through the online Your say portal, but Council officers held a pest management display at the Whitsunday and Bowen Shows which gathered further information and raised awareness.

Biosecurity involves pest, plants, animals and pathogens which have an impact on everyone’s health, environment and economy.

Here in the Whitsundays feral pigs cause over $12 million damage to agricultural production in the region each year.

In addition, 165,000 hectares of land is infested with declared weeds.

Pest plants, animals, pigs and weeds like lantana, can have a disastrous impact on agricultural production and cause major damage to the natural environment which is why the Council spend $460,000 a year on controlling these elements.

Coordinator Natural Resource Management and Climate, Scott Hardy, said that his team have identified 15 key projects which they will focus on over the next four years.

“Everyone has a bio security obligation to try and control the spread of pests,” he said.

“If landholders want to do more about the bio security threats, feral pigs and the spread of weeds they are encouraged to contact Council.”

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Vaccination Hubs Open Now

September 29, 2021

Whitsunday residents are encouraged to attend the new pop-up Medical Rescue Clinics which will be moving around the region over the next few weeks.

While pre-bookings are advised to assist with supply, anyone can simply walk-in and receive a vaccination with services open to anyone in the community.

Offering both Pfizer and Astra Zeneca, those waiting for a specific vaccine will be able to receive it.

Assistant Minister for Health and Member for Mackay Julieanne Gilbert urged everyone to come forward and avoid waiting until there is another outbreak which would mean the services are put under pressure.

“Come forward and register so you can get vaccinated to protect yourself, your family and your community,” she said.

“Early registration helps our vaccine providers plan how much vaccine they need to prepare for each clinic, and it also helps with the flow of people, and makes them run as efficiently as possible.”

Vaccination Hub Dates

Airlie Beach

WHERE: Whitsunday Arts and Culture Centre, 13 Waterson Way

WHEN: 1-5 October from 8.30pm to 4pm


WHERE: RSL Club, 27 Chapman Street

WHEN: 9 – 14 October 8.30am to 4pm and 15 October 8.30am – 12pm


WHERE: Collinsville Football Club

WHEN: 17 - 19 October from 8.30am - 4.30pm

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New Boat Ramp For Molongle Creek

September 29, 2021

A project that was first flagged back in 1962 is finally underway thanks to the dedicated lobbying of the Molongle Creek Boat Club who have just handed the ‘keys’ over to the State government who are providing $9 million for vital upgrades.

The boat ramp, which is used by the general public as well as club members, is the only ramp that links the mainland with Cape Upstart, a location that holds 240 properties, many of which are holiday rentals.

Previously, the boat ramp has only useable at high tide and proves challenging in certain seasons.

The Molongle Creek Boat Club have been using a bulldozer to dredge a channel so that people can access their homes at high tide all year round but due to increasing environmental issues, they are finding it too costly to continue this service.

Classified as a ‘private’ facility for many years, the boat club is now handing the $2 million ramp over to the state government, which will enable it to achieve a ‘public’ status that can receive funding.

Project Officer of the Molongle Creek Boat Club, Joe Linton, said that the facility was always for the benefit of the community and that they are happy to hand it over.

“We can all plan for fishing trips and when to return to our properties, but we cannot plan for a heart attack or a stinger attack and get back in a medical emergency,” he said.

“This is the biggest benefit for everyone now.”

Works began last week and the project is expected to be completed by Christmas with an estimated 144,000 cubic metres to be dredged from the seabed.

There are 13,000 boat owners that use the facility each year and between 60 and 80 boat trailers parked there on average each day.

The new facility will make Molongle Creek ramp the only all-tide service between Bowen and Townsville.

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Buck Off Melanoma!

September 29, 2021

Having raised an incredible $100,000 for melanoma research, this weeks’ Good Deed goes to Jan Brown and the volunteers for Buck Off Melanoma.

Through a combination of hugely successful events which have included a Bowen-wide scavenger hunt, a host of activities at the Speedway, regularly sausage sizzles at Home Hardware and even a Karaoke night, this dedicated team of fundraisers are punching well above their weight for a small collective of individuals in a regional town.

Jan’s son was diagnosed with melanoma in 2014 at the age of 36 and he has just turned 43 thanks to the ground-breaking drugs that are continually blocking his cancer and keeping him alive.

To keep the momentum of research moving forward and with the hope of one day finding a cure, Jan gives every free moment to raising money which goes directly to the research.

“The community have always got behind the events and it is wonderful to see such support,” she said.

In Australia, one person is lost to melanoma every five hours, with 13,000 people dying annually.

A very common disease, two out of three people in this country can expect to get melanoma in their lifetime and Queensland is known to be the melanoma capital of the world.

Constant research and scientific development are the only hope for individuals and families affected by melanoma which is referred to as the Black Beast.

“With Buck Off Melanoma we aim to buck, jump and kick until we buck it off our backs,” said Jan.

If you would like to donate, simply go to their Facebook page and enquire.

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“Who’s That Crazy Guy With The Cross?”

September 29, 2021

Last month Kevin Mudford caught the attention of many locals by walking the streets of Airlie Beach carrying a large wooden cross as part of his personal crusade to spread the word of Jesus.

For almost six years, Kevin has been travelling Australia with his wife, Dee, visiting dozens of towns and using this powerful visual message to encourage people to turn towards faith.

A born-again Christian, Kevin is a reformed addict with a criminal past; a troubled background which he now uses to help strangers who are experiencing similar issues.

Growing up in a dysfunctional family, his dad was a prisoner of war during the Vietnam conflict, and as a child Kevin experienced alcohol fuelled violence almost daily because of his father’s PTSD.

Choosing a life of crime, Kevin ran with street gangs in his home country of New Zealand, sniffing glue and stealing cars.

He went to five boys’ homes and by the time he was 15, he found himself in jail.

Most of his young adult life was spent in seven different prisons and psychiatric wards and it wasn’t until he discovered that his brother, Michael, had found Jesus, that Kevin became open to the idea himself.

“I wasn’t an easy fish to catch,” said Kevin.

When he reconnected with his brother at a Pentecostal Church, Kevin gave his life to Jesus Christ and became an Evangelist.

Thirty years ago, he moved to Australia and, since then, he’s been using his life experience to help people living with addictions and mental health issues.

Then, six years ago, he picked up the 12ft long, 7ft wide wooden cross and started marching round Australia to the sound of the gospel tunes that play from his onboard sound system.

From Darwin to Alice Springs, Townsville to Airlie Beach, Kevin has walked the streets spreading the word of God.

“The cross does the talking and I do the walking,” laughs Kevin.

“People see the cross and ask their Christian friends what it is all about – who is that crazy guy with the cross! – it really opens the conversation about Jesus.”

Kevin was in Airlie Beach for five days and said that Shute Harbour Road was a great location, with thousands of cars passing by each day.

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It’s Sexual Violence Awareness Month – Let’s Speak Up!

September 29, 2021

For generations, sexual violence has been a taboo subject that most people do not like to talk about openly. As a result, many survivors of sexual violence feel a sense of shame or that they may not be believed if they come forward about the assault.

It is estimated that 75 per cent of these types of crimes are not recorded.

In Queensland 4,859 brave individuals reported the crime of sexual violence in 2019, a figure that has increased for the eighth year in a row.

During Sexual Violence Awareness Month, the team at Whitsunday Counselling and Support are working to address this misconception and encourage anyone in the community to come and see them in a safe environment where they will always be believed.

Alexandria Sambrooks, Therapeutic Case Manager from Whitsunday Counselling Support says that the team will never be happy until there are no sexually violent crimes and that if you know someone who shares their story, you can help as well.

“Always say that you believe them – there has been such a lot of distrust around disclosure,” she said.

“If it is a good friend, a really good first step is taking the opportunity to listen and then recommend professional services.”

As a support person, you can play a significant role in helping the survivor heal from sexual violence.

“Your response and actions may impact on their ability to heal from the trauma,” said Ms Sambrooks.

“There is no set way to support everyone - remember that each individual will react differently to trauma and need different kinds of support.

“It is not only emotional support that may be required, some simple practical ideas which may be useful to offer include company; transport to appointments; childcare; grocery shopping or cooking a meal.

“It is important that you communicate with the survivor and ask her what she wants or needs. By being available, patient and understanding, you will be communicating your willingness to support her.’

What To Do If A Child Or Young Person Discloses Harm To You

• Listen carefully to all they say.

• Tell them you believe them and it’s not their fault.

• Let them know you will do everything in your power to help them, but do not make promises.

• Let the child know that you will need to tell someone to help keep them safe.

• Do not force them to talk about it, you are there to listen to what they want to tell you.

• Do not use direct or leading questions.

• Do what you need to do to make the child feel safe.

• Follow your obligation to report as soon as practically possible.

• When documenting, use the child’s exact words as best you can.

Image: Charlotte Jones, Tayla Pearson, Amanda Jensen, Alex Sambrooks and Samantha Ryder from Whitsunday Counselling and Support

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Get Ready For Snake Season

September 29, 2021

The beating sun, dips in the pool, ice cream and summer cocktails by the water; warm weather enhances our outdoor lifestyles, but the heat also brings slithering creatures that are, unfortunately, a fact of life in Australia.

The snakes are on the move, with food and mating on the mind and there are 30 species of serpents which will glide through rural, commercial, and residential properties of the Whitsundays over the next few months - 99.9 per cent of the time, they’ll go completely unnoticed.

It’s just that 0.1 per cent that you need to look out for.

Kylee Grey is a part-time snake catcher in the Cannon Valley, and she has bagged her fair share of snakes over the years, and says that they are everywhere in Queensland, and are extremely misunderstood.

“People are very afraid of them, because we fear what we don’t understand,” Kylee said.

“Springtime is the breeding and mating season for snakes and if the snake is outside, let it do what it’s doing, it’ll pass through.”

The problem during the dry season is if your home becomes hospitable for a snake; if you’re providing for their three basic needs: food, shelter, and water, then you’re giving reason for a passing snake to linger.

“If you’re providing any of those three things for it, then you deserve to have it there,” Kylee laughed.

“I try to make people aware of that; I can take the snake out of your roof but if you don’t deal with the source then they’ll come back.”

Cleaning up spilt seeds which in turn attract rats, which in turn attract snakes, keeping your yard clean of debris and the lawn cut short are all ways to mitigate a snake wanting to live on your property.

If you do find you have a snake on your property, bring the pets and children inside, wait a few hours or overnight, and most of the time the snake will continue its merry way.

If it’s safe to do so, get a picture of the snake so that snake catchers can identify it, and join the SnakeoftheWhitsundays Facebook group to make a post or contact a snake catcher in your area.

Knowing first aid for snake bites is also vital, so make sure to keep a few wide elastic bandages in your first aid kit and apply pressure and immobilise the area.

This technique can be found in more depth on St. Johns and other reputable website.

Useful information and resources can be found on the SnakesoftheWhitsundays Facebook group, and also a direct line to approved snake catchers in the Whitsunday region.

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Rodeo For Cody

September 29, 2021

This Saturday Galbraith Park Drive in Cannonvale will host what is expected to be the biggest Rodeo held in the Airlie Beach area.

The whole community is invited witness, not only a spectacle of immense athleticism, as bull riders hold onto bucking broncos, but also a spectacle of altruism.

The event will donate to the battle of Cody Gibbs, a young boy and Whitsunday local who is currently fighting a rare form of brain cancer.

Broncos Buck In Support Of Cancer Battle

The Airlie Beach 4Bs Rodeo, hosted by Central Rodeo Cowboys Association Inc, is making a big splash this year, with a bigger than ever event that will bring broncos, horses, and bulls to Airlie Beach, with more than just the goal of entertainment in mind.

In late July of this year, local boy Cody Gibbs and his family were told the news that his cancer had returned after four surgeries, five weeks of radiation, several rounds of chemo, and almost two years in remission.

Cody had first been diagnosed with cancer of the pineal gland, which is located in the middle of the brain, in October of 2018, and it has now returned in the form of two tumours in his brain and two on his spine.

In an outpouring of support, the Whitsunday community, from Proserpine, Airlie and beyond, supported the family as they work through this challenging time, with the families GoFundMe page ‘Cody’s Battle’ reaching $20,715 in donations – overtaking its goal of $20,000.

Now, at the 4Bs Rodeo in Airlie tomorrow, funds from bull sponsorships, a Calcutta, raffles and the event itself, will be donated to help Cody in his fight.

“Cody will be there on the day, depending on how he’s feeling, his mother will bring him,” Dan Borghero President of the Central Rodeo Cowboys Association Inc. said.

“We’ll bring him into the arena and let them know what the rodeo is for, so that people can donate even more to his cause.”

The event is the first of its kind, with not only bulls making the rounds but horses as well, in barrels, broncos and bareback categories.

“We have had bull rides at Airlie in the pubs, but we’re trying to bring the horses and the barrels in this event, which will make it much bigger,” Mr Borghero said.

“It will start with barrel races then junior events potty ride, junior rides, spears and work our way up to the big boys.”

“At the end of the event, we’re going to have a short go bull round.

“The top eight bull riders have another crack at the end for more money and we sell the bull riders into the crowd – it’s called a Calcutta.

“50 per cent of that money will go to whoever bought the winner and 50 per cent to Cody, and then at the end of the rodeo, we will make a decent donation.”

Gates open at 2pm, with the show starting at 4pm and tickets can be purchased at the gate at 6 Galbraith Park Drive, Cannonvale.

“People should come in and support it, buy some raffle tickets, jump into the Calcutta; the more people that can come in the more we can pass back to Cody.”

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Whitsunday Paradise – Or Whitsunday Nightmare?

September 24, 2021

The ongoing legal battle between Whitsunday Paradise developers in Bowen and Whitsunday Regional Council (WRC) is at logger-heads, with both parties believing they are right and both refusing to back down.

The main sticking-point is about the installation of water and sewerage infrastructure at the site which involves a set-up cost of $20 million, with further maintenance expenses to cater for over 2000 households when the master planned community is fully built.

Developers of Whitsunday Paradise, GRW Group, are offering to pay the $20 million up front and wish for this investment to be off-set against future costs.

Whitsunday Regional Council want GRW to pay the $20 million upfront and then continue to pay for expected upgrades and maintenance over time.

General Manager Blake Thomas for GRW says that, if this is the case, Council is asking them to pay twice which is unacceptable.

“We have offered to deliver $20 million of infrastructure upfront to resolve the Council network shortfalls. This is the standard approach under Queensland planning laws in situations where the current Council infrastructure is inadequate,” said Mr Thomas.

“However, the council wants GRW Group to pay both the $20 million upfront and also then make “pay as we go” contributions.

“The council has tried to make us pay twice for the same $20 million of infrastructure, which is a clear breach of the Planning Act 2016 and ministerial guidelines.”

Director of Planning and Development for WRC, Neil McGaffin, said that the request sounds feasible until you fully understand the system.

“They want to pay for it upfront and then be reimbursed,” said Mr McGaffin.

“It means that we are ultimately paying, and it will cost a lot more than $20 million – with 6-7000 people living there, you can’t put the connection in and not expect some upgrades.”

The main point of contention falls on the definition of ‘trunk’ infrastructure – if it is considered to be trunk, WRC will pay, if not the developers will foot the bill.

A Directions Hearing will take place on 7 October and the next step will be to enter into a ‘joint expert phase’ where each party will nominate a planning and development expert to assess the area and report back with their decision.

A second sticking point surrounds the issue of water supply in Bowen and the need for a reservoir near the site.

The developers believe that there are problems in the property market because there have been no new investments in infrastructure in Bowen.

GRW wish to entice families to Bowen and create a comfortable lifestyle which includes shops, amenities, sports grounds and more.

“To make this work now, we need to prioritise services like water security and sewerage,” said Mr Thomas.

The developers also believe that there are problems with pressure at elevated sites in Bowen and fire flow requirements are not currently being met.

GRW assert that a WRC Local Government Infrastructure Plan (LGIP) from 2019 stipulated a reservoir would be built in Bowen but just two weeks prior to formal discussions, this was removed.

Mr McGaffin said that the LGIP was created five years ago and since then the Council have invested millions into a water recycling plant as well as fixing leaks and holes in the network.

“This has shown to have brought down the water use for Bowen residents and shows that the reservoir isn’t needed at this time,” he said.

“The timing is true – we only looked at it because we had someone knocking on the door but it’s no secret, it is based on a better understanding.”

We will continue to follow the story as it progresses.

Image: Whitsunday Paradise Estate in Bowen

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The Flying Kangaroo Lands In The Whitsundays

September 24, 2021

For the first time in almost two decades the flying kangaroo is making regular trips to the Whitsundays, with the first flight touching town to a water cannon salute last Friday afternoon just in time for the start of school holidays.

With daily flights connecting Brisbane to the Whitsundays, the new 74-seat Q400 turboprop QantasLink aircraft will add more than 1000 seats each week, transporting even more visitors to our sunny shores.

Mayor Andrew Willcox, Deputy Mayor Mike Brunker and Councillors Jan Clifford and Michelle Wright and Whitsunday Coast Airport Chief Operating Officer Aviation and Tourism, Craig Turner, were on hand to greet the first flight which carried Qantas representatives Kylie Dickinson (Regional Sales and Development Manager, Queensland), Anthony Penney (Regional Manager QLD) and Alex Weston.

Mayor Willcox said it had been a dream of his to lure the Flying Kangaroo back to WCA and offer more choice for the corporate and premium leisure market.

“Whitsunday Coast Airport is stamping itself as one of the fastest growing regional airports in Australia and these new flights will create an extra 50,000 plus seats annually.

“The business and tourism sector has done it tough during the Covid-19 pandemic so it is great to see that our Council owned airport is leading from the front to support the Whitsunday region’s recovery,” he said.

“Demand for seats has been amazing and already Qantaslink flights have been increased from daily Monday to Friday to daily seven days a week and also a second return flight added three days each week.”

Watching from the sidelines was Brisbane-based self-proclaimed ‘aviation geek’ Irwin Ngeow who had flown up on the Virgin flight which had landed an hour before, just so he could watch the moment the first Qantas flight landed in the Whitsundays.

“It’s great to be able to watch it land and see the water salute,” he said.

When the Qantas pilots realised what he was doing, they invited him to join them in the cockpit on the way down to Brisbane, an invite Irwin happily accepted.

QantasLink has opened up 47 new routes in the last 18 months and their CEO John Gissing said there had already been a great response to the new flights.

“Once borders reopen, these flights will open up the Whitsunday Coast to Qantas customers across the country and ultimately from around the world who will be able to seamlessly connect through Brisbane from our extensive domestic and international networks,” he said.

“Travellers will now be able to earn and use points on flights to the Whitsunday Coast and enjoy our premium service, whether its complimentary food and drinks, baggage or access to our lounges in Brisbane.”

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Shark Attack Survivor Returns To The Whitsundays

September 24, 2021

Three years after a daring rescue saved the life of a shark attack victim at Cid Harbour, the brave survivor returns to the Whitsundays to make peace with her near-death experience and express her gratitude to the medical team that saved her life.

On the 19th September, 2018, Tasmanian resident Justine Barwick was holidaying with her husband of thirty years and their life-long friend when she decided to jump into the water for ‘one last swim’ before enjoying a glass of wine on the deck to mark the end of another spectacular day in the Whitsundays.

As soon as she resurfaced after diving from the back of the boat she was hit with a massive force and immediately knew it was a shark.

Screaming for help, she was pulled aboard, and it became clear the shark had bitten off half her thigh and Justine was losing a lot of blood.

Her quick-thinking husband and their friend called the emergency services and applied emergency first aid which likely saved her life.

Fortunately, the RACQ CQ Rescue helicopter was on another job close-by and was able to attend the scene within just ten minutes.

Under harsh conditions and with the fuel running perilously low, Justine was air-lifted from an inflatable dinghy and taken to Proserpine Hospital.

From here, the helicopter re-fuelled and Justine was given life-saving blood before being flown down to Mackay Base Hospital.

Here, she spent five hours in surgery - the medical team harvested a large piece of vein from her left leg which was used to repair the artery on her injured right leg – enabling her to keep the limb.

She was then transferred to Brisbane where a specialist team took muscle and skin from her stomach to reconstruct her leg.

Three years on and she is living a ‘new normal’ life and although she can no longer feel her right leg, she is able to walk and says she is incredibly grateful to be alive.

“The last few years have been a whirlwind!” said Justine.

“Some of the most challenging times but also some of the most rewarding.

“I take really good care of my mental health these days and try and be really honest with myself – acknowledge that the event was really traumatic and navigate this ‘new normal’ with a lifelong impairment.”

“I am so grateful to for the RACQ CQ rescue helicopter – the whole crew were absolute professionals – without their help – I don’t think I would be here – it’s as simple as that.”

Justine and her family have just spent two weeks sailing around the Whitsundays and say the region still has a special place in their hearts.

Image: Justine Barwick who survived a shark attack in the Whitsundays three years ago

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September 24, 2021

A New Type Of Black Lip Set To Put The Whitsundays On The Map

In Cameron’s Bay, halfway between Bowen and Abbot Point wharf, John Collison was out with his son when he saw oysters clinging to the roots of the mangroves and thought, there might be something in this.

Having lived in Sydney cultivating 33 years’ experience in southern New South Wales oyster farming, he’s somewhat of an expert on the matter.

He’d sold up his own oyster farm back in the south where he had been in the game of producing thousands of Sydney Rock Oysters and Pacific Oysters and moved up to the Whitsundays for warmer climes.

What he found in the mangroves on that day was Black Lip, an endemic species of oyster that lives in the warm Bowen waters, and John soon realised their great potential.

“The black lip, they’re the go; they’re like supermen - they grow fast, they don’t die and they get fat early,” John said.

“For an oyster farmer, they do everything.”

Although the plan was to retire in Bowen, John and his wife Annette bought themselves a lease out at Cameron’s Bay and began farming like the old days – although to a lesser extent.

John says there have been Federal Government rumblings on creating a Black Lip industry for the north, from Broom to around the top end of Darwin and down to Bowen.

With the seafood industries in Bowen, Townsville, Cairns and local restaurants all scrambling for fresh oysters instead of the usually frozen ones from South Australia, Tasmania and New Zealand – the new Bowen Black Lip is set to boom.

John is working closely with Terry Must from Arabon Seafoods who sells 100 dozen of the oysters through his retail outlet each week.

“They’re great oysters and people are happy with them – they passed the pub test!” said Terry.

“When people come back in, they ask for them by name.”

The biggest battle is simply meeting demand and John is expected to produce thousands of oysters this harvest.

He is also looking at creating a hatchery but in order to do this he would need to dedicate time to working with a technician to find the perfect temperature and salinity to ‘trick’ the oysters into growing there.

“I’m old; the opportunity is here, I won’t see it, but there will one day be an industry because it would be sacrilege not to let the black lips have their head,” John said.

“They’re that good an oyster.”

John has been putting out around 8,500 oysters annually and wants to take a back seat and see the industry here grow.

Lots of people have taken a look at the way that John has been operating and he is excited to show them; he truly wants to see it take off.

“I’ve told them what they need; they need hatchery oysters,” he said.

The Sydney Rock Oyster industry is worth $40 million dollars and perhaps one day the Bowen Black Lip could be a household name too.

Caption: Terry Must from Arabon Seafoods with the Black Lip oysters

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Memorial Services Honours Those Lost To Suicide

September 16, 2021

To commemorate World Suicide Day, held on 10 September, the Whitsunday Suicide Prevention Network (WSPN) hosted their annual memorial service, bringing the community together to remember those that have been lost to suicide and give their families a space to honour loved ones.

This was the fourth year the event had taken place at the Volunteer Marine Rescue (VMR) in Cannonvale and Pastor Craig Yeomans officiated the ceremony with music from Lauro Gomes providing a gentle rhythm for a time of reflection.

“I want to help people have a focus, one that acknowledges and recognises suicide as a real thing. Sometimes life is overwhelming and for some people it becomes more than they can bare,” said Pastor Yeomans.

“Today we want the focus to be on remembering the past and pondering those that are lost but also acknowledging that there are things we can do to prevent this happening in the future. Today I wanted to focus on comfort and our role in comforting others.”

After the service, everyone was invited to take a sunflower and head down to the water’s edge where the bright yellow symbols of hope were scattered over the water in memory of those that had lost their lives to suicide.

“It’s a nice sentiment to throw this memory out there to bob in the ocean,” said Craig.

“We like the idea that each sunflower reflects the memory of a loved one – similar to scattering ashes.”

Treasurer of WSPN, Paul Burke, said that usually his daughter, Danielle, would be singing at the event, much like she had done in the three years prior, but due to the Sydney lockdown, she was unable to attend. Despite this, he said he hoped the event would reach out and touch people who had been affected by suicide and remind them they are not alone.

“We hope the service brings the community a sense of comfort and hope,” said Mr Burke.

If you are in an emergency, or at immediate risk of harm to yourself or others, please contact emergency services on 000

Crisis support numbers: Lifeline: 13 11 14 ; Suicide Call Back Service: 1300 659 467 ; Beyond Blue: 1300 22 4636

You matter.

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Tourism Industry In Crisis Talks With Queensland Senator

September 16, 2021

Frank and honest conversation took place between tourism operators and politicians last week in an effort to better understand the issues many local businesses are facing and the help they need to survive the ongoing effects of the pandemic.

Queensland Senator Nita Green and Labor Candidate for Dawson Shane Hamilton organised the round-table conversation and through the open dialogue, many operators were able to voice their concerns which included issues such as staff shortages, uncertain bookings, changing border restrictions and unfair preference to larger tourism locations when it came to government support.

Despite not being in ‘lockdown’, many operators asserted that the Whitsundays is ‘locked-out’ of its market and despite suffering similar effects to businesses that are completely shut down, they are not eligible to receive the same support because they are still ‘operating’.

Some of the businesses are only at 10-15 per cent capacity and many are struggling with keeping highly trained staff on the job.

“People want highly qualified staff that really know their jobs – if we lose these guys we have to put anyone on and we are not able to maintain our standards – this could create product deficit,” said Ash Telford from Red Cat Adventures.

The table agreed that the tourism industry desperately needs a new wave of JobKeeper which would be paid through the businesses rather than the staff to ensure the money was used to keep businesses operating.

Another issue on the table was the exclusion of the marine industry from the re-insurance pool that is due to kick-off next July. Many operators pointed out that boats are the first to be effected by cyclone damage and are therefore most in need.

The mixed messages in the media are also affecting decision making with rumours that the borders will re-open at Christmas one minute and then at the end of March in a following report.

Local businesses need to know how long they are required to cope with the current environment in order to survive.

There were also fears that international borders would open before state borders if some states reach the magic 80 per cent vaccination rates required.

“Opening a bubble to Fiji or Bali is going to be a one-way trip,” said Mr Telford.

Senator Green assured him that we should all reach 80 per cent at the same time.

“The idea that people can go overseas before they come here is absolutely outrageous,” she said.

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First Flight From The North Arrives In Whitsundays

September 16, 2021

The first Skytrans flight arrived at the Whitsunday Coast Airport earlier this week marking a milestone moment where, for the first time in history, the Whitsundays is connected north to Cairns via the air.

The new route will see daily flights between Rockhampton and Cairns, transporting both tourists and workers up and down the coast with ease and at an affordable rate.

Mayor Andrew Willcox said that he was absolutely thrilled by the news.

“This is the first time ever for the Whitsundays that we’ve been able to fly north, so thank you and welcome to the Whitsundays!” he said.

“With this network with Skytrans, we can not only just fly up to Cairns but then it opens up the whole Skytrans network for us – the whole of the north!”

Whitsunday Coast Airport Chief Operating Officer Craig Turner said that his team is dedicated to thinking outside the box in their efforts to bring as many people to the Whitsundays as possible.

“What we’ve tried to do is get more flights from different routes, so every time they close the border, we give people different ways to get here,” he said.

“If we’re just relying on Brisbane, every time they turn the tap off, businesses lose more money.

“Once international borders open, we’ve never had a gateway to Cairns before and we would have people flying from Cairns to Brisbane and then to the Whitsundays – so they’ll come straight here because it’s easier now!”

There will now be 50 flights landing at Whitsunday Coast Airport each week, this figure far exceeds even the pre-Covid levels of 33 flights.

“With Qantas Flights starting daily out of Brisbane, and now Rockhampton and Cairns, plus double daily out of Brisbane in school holidays, that’s the 50 flights a week,” said Mr Turner.

Alan Milne CEO of Skytrans said that he is excited to have the first airplane on the ground here after months of planning.

“It’s a fantastic opportunity for Skytrans as well to expand our network not just for the people of the Cairns area but the people of the Whitsundays and Rockhampton as well,” he said.

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Supermarket Staff Help In Medical Emergency

September 16, 2021

When Jeremy Scarborough picked up his partner Rebekah from work and called in at Woolworths in Airlie to grab a few groceries, he was not prepared for what happened next.

Feeling a little light-headed he reached for a drink from the chiller, but his vision had suddenly blurred, and he could no longer read the label on the drink bottle. Feeling disorientated, he went to get some fresh air and without realising, tried to carry an unpaid basket of groceries straight out the door.

Fortunately, Rebekah stopped him and tried to get him to move to the counter. This was the moment he collapsed against her, and Rebekah managed to cushion his fall as he passed out on the floor, convulsing.

The quick-thinking staff at the supermarket ran over to assist. One laid a pillow under his head and placed him in the recovery position while Chelsea on the shop counter called the ambulance, and a woman named Cynthia stayed with them the whole time.

Eventually, Jeremy regained consciousness and tried to get up and move around. Disorientated, everyone ensured he stayed calm and waited for the ambulance which took him to the hospital.

“We appreciate how everyone helped us without even giving it a second’s thought,” said Rebekah.

“We took some flowers and chocolates for all the staff to say thank you – I know it was traumatic for everyone.”

This is Jeremy’s second seizure, the first one was two years ago. He is now waiting to see a specialist to see what the cause could be, but otherwise he is in good health.

Thanks to Whitsundays Chat community Facebook platform for connecting us with the story.

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Roaming Vaccinators Visit Whitsunday Islands

September 16, 2021

Over the last few weeks, a medical team from the Mackay Hospital and Health Service

visited some of the Whitsunday Islands to ensure our more remote residents are included in the vaccination roll-out this month.

First stop was Hayman Island where 228 staff and residents were vaccinated over a three-day period.

Mackay HHS Executive Director of Nursing and Midwifery and COVID-19 vaccination rollout lead, Julie Rampton, said that the response was positive from all involved.  

“The residents were extremely grateful the team was on the island and kept thanking our staff for attending,” she said.

In addition, a larger roaming vaccination team attended to 750 people on Hamilton Island last week who had pre-booked their vaccinations.

More doses were brought to the island as well and made accessible to other residents who had not yet made an appointment.

The roaming program is part of a broader initiative to accelerate COVID vaccinations in the Whitsundays.

The next stage will see a large vaccination hub come to the area, with an exact location still to be confirmed.

In the meantime, a spokesperson from the Health Minister’s office said that it is important to get vaccinated as soon as possible either through a community pharmacy or by making an appointment with a participating GP.

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Prossie’s Own Olympic Legend

September 3, 2021

Proserpine’s very own Paralympian, exceptional athlete, and all-around superstar David Nicholas OAM has won the Bronze Medal in the Men’s Cycling C3 3000 metre Individual Pursuit this past week at the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics in a fantastic performance.

It is Nicholas’ fourth Paralympics medal, with Australia currently sitting in fourth position in the Paralympics Medal Tally at the 2020 Paralympic Games.

Born with cerebral palsy that affects his speech and motor skills, David’s sporting career came as a shock to everyone, as the young man put in more hard yards than most to become the superstar he is today.

It was a start as a T38-classified athlete in middle- and long-distance running that led David on his path to Paralympic glory, when he dislocated his knee and cycling became a suggested form of rehabilitation.

His father was a high-level competitor, cycling at club level, but David had never thought to pursue it, and he soon took to the sport, falling in love with it.

With his dad as coach, he soon made a name for himself on the Australian cycling circuit, winning Gold in the 3000m individual pursuit and silver in the 1000m time trial at the 2011 UCI Road World Championships in Copenhagen.

It was a fantastic rise to fame, with his Australian Paralympic Team debut in London in 2012 where he competed in five events and medalled in two, including winning a gold medal.

In 2014, he was awarded an Order of Australia Medal for service to sport.

A fantastic achievement for one of our own local superstars, who continues to impress at every opportunity.

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September 3, 2021

KC’s – Where Everyone Is Part Of The Family

Bringing his own unique charm and charisma to KC’s, owner Geoff Small, known as ‘Smally’ to his friends, is a family man at heart and, it is this quality that makes both his customers and staff feel at home.

Having spent 15 years living in Alice Springs working closely with Aboriginal communities and setting up indigenous art exhibitions all across the country, Smally was looking for a sea change and fell in love with Airlie Beach when he got married at the Whitsunday Sailing Club in 2014.

Now with four sons, who are all under six, Smally and his wife Ismi are the proud owners of KC’s, carrying on its good name for new generations to enjoy.

“All the great people have done the fantastic work before me, if I can keep up the great steaks, live music and being a good venue – then I’m winning!” he said.

“I can’t thank the people before me enough and what a great journey it’s been!”

Smally bought the business three years ago and has constantly reinvested, improving the venue and offering a comfortable ‘pub feel’ which attracts people from all over the county.

He purchased the booking agency that operated next-door, allowing him to extend the bar and create additional seating for customers. Then, last year during the pandemic, Smally jumped to action, renovating much of the building.

“When covid first happened, I got in the next day with a grinder and a jack hammer and redesigned the kitchen,” he said.

During this time, he also added another cool room and more recently he has sectioned the footpath dining area off from the rest of the street, creating a more intimate feel.

He has also added new signage and a weatherproof awning that protects outdoor diners from rain as well as offers shade from the sun.

At the heart of the business, however, are Smally’s staff who he credits with being the most valuable asset in the business.

“The staff are amazing, and I can’t thank them enough for everything they do,” he said.

“Also, the support from everyone in Airlie Beach, I can’t thank them enough – we live in a fantastic community, and I couldn’t have asked for better.”

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Girudala - The Indigenous Community Voice

August 27, 2021

Having successfully organised one of the largest NAIDOC celebrations in Bowen, the Girudala Community Cooperative Society is now stepping back into its usual rhythm and helping hundreds of people every week through their range of services.

From health support to housing, employment initiatives and family wellbeing assistance, Operations Manager Sara Brewster says that while Girudala helps predominantly indigenous community members, they are happy to assist anyone in need.

“We have a policy at Girudala that we don’t turn anyone away if they are looking for help from any of our programs,” said Sara.

“Even if it’s a service we can’t provide ourselves – we will find a referral pathway or alternative service provider to assist.”

Girudala owns and rents out 59 properties in the Bowen and Proserpine region, opening up a large supply of affordable housing to its clients. They also have access to an additional 19 properties which have a broader eligibility criterion.

“We have a policy at Girudala that we don’t turn anyone away if they are looking for help from any of our programs,” - Sara

A lifeline to many, Girudala provides support services to elderly and frail clients who need assistance to remain living independently in their homes. These services include cleaning, mowing lawns, social support and transport.

The Society also looks after children and young people who are at risk of entry or re-entry into the child protection system. These services include child safety support, household budgeting and relationship advice as well as referrals to other relevant programs.

Working towards promoting positive, healthy living for indigenous community members, Girudala offers youth support, sexual awareness initiatives, nutritional advice, and outreach programs at schools.

A large community hall can be found at the Girudala central office at 50 George Street and the venue is used by many groups including a lunch and activity session for the elderly twice a week, an afterschool homework program, a playgroup and a weekly women’s circle.

If you would like to connect with this invaluable community service you can like them on Facebook, email reception@girudala.com.au, call 4786 1000 or simply call into the office in person.

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Loved By Many, Gone Too Young

August 27, 2021

Maria Plemenuk passed away on 9 August

The Whitsunday community said goodbye to a beautiful soul this week when 57-year-old Maria Plemenuk, a local lady loved by many, was farewelled at an emotional ceremony held at Whitsunday Catholic Church.

Best known as the friendly face at Whitsunday Hair Studio, Maria was an exceptional hairdresser and proud business owner who treated everyone she met to one of her warm smiles that shone from her heart.

Born to cane farming parents, Toppy and Rose Plemenuk, Maria attended St Catherine’s Primary school and completed her studies at Proserpine State High School.

At 16 she worked briefly for Adrian and Shirley Newell in the local News Agency until, after four months, she was offered an apprenticeship in her dream vocation with Sue and Ross Ford following her passion for hairdressing which she continued to love for 41 years.

In her spare time Maria loved to work-out with the gym ladies, following a strong fitness routine and mixing with the girls in training or boot camps.

She was also a passionate animal lover and worked closely with the local RSPCA and Fauna Rescue.

Maria passed away after a short but fierce battle with cancer, she had survived breast cancer 10 years earlier but unfortunately the cancer returned recently.  

Deciding to fight until the end, Maria knew she was in for a battle and spent the last nine months in a cancer clinic in Thailand.

She had just returned from Thailand and completed a quarantine period which she spent in the Concord Repatriation Hospital in Sydney before she passed away on 9 August.

Maria is survived by her twin sister Margaret, two brothers, John and George, as well as her mother Rose and will be sorely missed by everyone who knew her.

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August 27, 2021


You may have noticed something a little different about your FREE newspaper this week – we are now being printed on an un-coated stock and have expanded in size!

These changes are exciting as they are forming the foundations from which we can grow and expand to better deliver your weekly news.

When we started printing a weekly newspaper in July 2020, we were dedicated to giving the community ‘your free voice in print’ and that is something we remain dedicated to now.

Bringing a free voice to community news, local events, important issues and of course weekly sporting results is something that connects and unites us all through the pages we share and the people we care about.

The new format will continue to be free and it will contain the same great content but we will be expanding to offer you these exciting additional features.

• We are now available at even more locations – if your business would like to become one of our bulk stockists please let us know

• You will also notice a stitch holding the newspaper together for your convenience so it doesn’t fall apart

• The size of the newspaper is also expanding – it is taller and a little wider yet sleeker than traditional newspapers to retain that ‘boutique book’ feel we are known for

• Instead of the customary ‘grey’ paper, we have opted for a white finish which will allow all imagery to be bright and vivid on the page

• You will also notice that we still have a stitch holding the newspaper together for your convenience so it doesn’t fall apart

• In addition, the new format is more environmentally friendly so that when you’ve finished reading it, your weekly newspaper can be recycled more easily After a year of bringing you FREE weekly news, we are excited to launch this next chapter in our journey with you and are looking forward to many more years to come.


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Roads Claim Another Bowen Teen

August 26, 2021

A young Bowen teenager tragically lost his life on the Peak Downs Highway near Nebo in the early hours of Sunday morning last week when driving back to Bowen following a party in Moranbah.

18-year-old Ethan James Durnsford was the passenger in a Nissan dual-cab ute when it collided with a diesel tanker at 5.15am on Sunday morning.

Remembered as a caring and fun-loving young man who was about to start a boilermaking apprenticeship and fulfill his dream of working on his grandparent’s farm, Ethan will be missed by many.

Proud of his fiery red hair, Ethan had an easy-going and kind-hearted temperament.

He is reported to have been the kind of kid who phoned his mum every day and always told her he loved her.

This latest incident comes just a few months after 14-year-old Bowen local Bailey Pini sadly lost his life on the road and acts as a reminder for the whole community to be aware and educated in road safety measures.

1,148 people have lost their lives on Australian roads this year and 102 of those were recorded in July.

The cause of the road accident which resulted in Ethan’s death is not yet known and investigations are ongoing.

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Party Houses Slammed At Council Meeting

August 26, 2021

The misbehaviour of a few may have broader consequences for the whole community following a lengthy debate at last week’s Ordinary Meeting, during which new policy for short-term accommodation was discussed.

Council received four complaints from the neighbours of a Woodwark Crescent address following a ‘party house’ incident where it is alleged some of the house guests were urinating off the veranda, partying loudly until the early hours of the morning and parking illegally on the street.

The property in question is now applying for a licence to operate as short-term accommodation (STA) and has recently been sold - the incident in question happened before this application was received.

Councillor Jan Clifford gave a passionate speech about the rights of the neighbours who she believes are entitled to a peaceful environment.

Asking for better sanctions on an issue she feels is getting out of control, Councillor Clifford, flagged issues such as pool safety checks, carparking and capping the number of guests.

It was also suggested that a deposit scheme be laid out so that unruly guests would receive a fine if they misbehaved.

Councillor Al Grundy supported her statement and recommended Council look at action taken by other Councils, namely Noosa Council, who have strict policy allocating a quota of STAs and capping it when the limit is reached.

Councillor Brunker then asserted that if we make one rule, we need to roll it out to everyone.

“If this one is to be knocked over – knock them all over!” he said.

“This could be any house and this could happen to any neighbour.”

Whitsunday Regional Council Director of Planning and Development, Neil McGaffin said that his department had contacted the police following the complaint and confirmed this was a stand-alone incident with no future concerns flagged.

Mayor Andrew Willcox concluded by saying that there is a policy for STAs but he believes it is no longer suiting anyone’s needs.

“I am happy to revisit our policy, but I am not comfortable refusing this particular one,” he said.

“We need a discussion to raise any concerns, so we have a policy that better suits our needs”

The matter will be revisited at the next Ordinary Council meeting.

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Pulled From The Fire And Now Saying Thanks

August 19, 2021

“I was covered in soot and ash and people thought I was dead”

These were the words of Jeremy Monson who was pulled out of a Delor Vue apartment fire in Cannonvale last week after he was unable to be woken by his house mate.

Quick-thinking neighbours risked their own lives, rushing into the property and dragging him out by his wrists.

Housemate Annika had raised the alarm and escaped the burning building after attempting to wake Jeremy, thankfully with the help of bystanders they were able to pull him out just in time.

He was then air-lifted to Mackay Base Hospital where he spent two days recovering from smoke inhalation.

Upon his return, Jeremy was overwhelmed by community support – people offering him a place to stay, hugging him in the street and even buying him some personal items.

“I don’t remember a lot, but I’ve heard how it all happened since,” he said with tears in his eyes.

“Myself and Annika would like to say a big thank you to everyone – Abel, Clem, Ollie, Kale, Anthony and Patrick as well as the ambos, fieries, police, the flying doctors and all the nurses and doctors at Mackay hospital – thank you from the bottom of our hearts.”

Jeremy said that Mick, the managers and his fellow workmates at the Airlie Beach Hotel had also been very kind and generous.

One of the most heart-warming aspects of living in a small community is the show of support and outpouring of love whenever tragedy strikes – Jeremy is the latest beneficiary of our community’s kindness – well done to all involved.

Image: Fire survivor Jeremy Monson

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Inside The New Proserpine Entertainment Centre

August 19, 2021

Major structural works are complete at the Proserpine Entertainment Centre (PEC), and construction is underway on the interior of the enormous, new building, with painting, tiling and plaster boarding in progress, tracking for completion for December 2021.

Mayor Andrew Willcox, Councillors and the Executive Team of Whitsunday Regional Council were given a walkthrough of the PEC last Tuesday, with our journalist invited to attend.

The bones of the building are well in place, with areas including a new multi-purpose auditorium and stage taking shape.

Councillors walked through the wings out into the enormous auditorium, which will be home to retractable tiered seating with 380 seats, kitchen, café, bar, ticketing area, toilets and dressing rooms.

“This project is currently running on time, on budget and expected to be completed by the end of the year, weather permitting,” said Mayor Willcox.

“The PEC is the heart and soul of Proserpine, and we can’t wait to reopen this important community facility later this year.

Council are busy planning for events from January 2022 and finalising their business model for the venue.

Contractors will start to install windows soon, and electrical work and air-conditioning work is over halfway complete.

Director of Infrastructure Services Whitsunday Regional Council Adam Hagy said the project has seen extensive planning, which has led to the delivery on time and on budget.

“This is one of three important projects that closes out the recovery from Cyclone Debbie,” Mr Hagy said.

“Proserpine has had an influx of domestic tourism because council is committed to building the economic diversity in the region.

Mr Hagy and Mayor Willcox both highlighted that this project bookends the Proserpine Main Street upgrade, along with the new Council Administration Building.

Other features include a garden and street foyer, cinema screen, art installation, loading dock and scenery dock, technical theatre equipment, outdoor performance area and an upgrade to the War Memorial.

The current funding totals $18.725 million for demolition and construction and it has employed over 100 people.

Story and images by Declan Durrant

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